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Psychology Triggers of NDEs

The Trigger of Mental Dysfunction: Inducing OBEs and Creative Genius

Mental dysfunction may trigger religious revelations, visions, out-of-body experiences (OBEs), near-death-like experiences, and even contribute to creative genius. In this article, you will discover that the nature of mental illness is not what the popular media portrays, and not what Hollywood typically dramatizes. Instead, you will learn, for example, that a medical doctor experienced an extensive OBE which was triggered by a manic-depressive episode that was so real for her that she was reluctant to take medication that would lose it. You will also learn how the nature of schizophrenia is related to the OBE phenomenon. The differences between psychic capabilities and psychosis will also be examined; and a theoretical basis for creative genius will be proposed.

Table of Contents

  1. Schizophrenia and Out-of-Body Experiences
  2. The Brilliant Madness of Bipolar Disorder
  3. A Near-Death-Like Experience Triggered by Psychosis
  4. The Dreaming God of the Bible
  5. A Psychoanalysis of the Hebrew Prophets
    a. Dr. Somers’ Diagnosis: The Prophet Hosea
    b. Dr. Somers’ Diagnosis: The Prophet Isaiah
    c. Dr. Somers’ Diagnosis: The Prophet Jeremiah
    d. Dr. Somers’ Diagnosis: The Prophet Ezekiel
    e. Dr. Somers’ Diagnosis: The Prophet Enoch
    f. A Brief Analysis of Other Biblical Prophets
  6. The Difference Between Psychic Intuition and Psychosis
  7. Edgar Cayce’s Psychic Revelations About Schizophrenia
  8. Jack Hiller on the Origin of Selected Works of Genius
    a. The General Health and Productivity of Geniuses
    b. An Explanation for Exceptional Achievement by Geniuses From Frozen Time Theory
    c. The Nature of Transcendental Knowledge and Its Availability for Creativity
    d. Select Discoveries by Genius May Reflect Abnormal Bouts of Mental Functioning

1. Schizophrenia and Out-of-Body Experiences

The term schizophrenia literally means “split mind” but it has nothing to do with so-called “split personalities” or “multiple personality disorder” (which is now known as dissociative identity disorder.) Schizophrenia is a genetic brain disease with common symptoms being delusions that include paranoia, visual and auditory hallucinations, and disorganized thinking and speech accompanied by significant social dysfunction manifesting as psychosis. Schizophrenia has been described as a waking, perpetual nightmare by those afflicted by it. Approximately 1% of the world’s population is currently afflicted with schizophrenia. Social withdrawal, sloppiness of dress and hygiene, and loss of motivation and judgment are all common in schizophrenia (Carson, 2000). In one uncommon subtype (catatonic schizophrenia), the person may be largely mute, remain motionless in bizarre postures, or exhibit purposeless agitation, all signs of catatonia. About 30% to 50% of people with schizophrenia do not accept their condition or its treatment. People with schizophrenia often find facial emotion perception to be difficult. People with a family history of schizophrenia who suffer a transient psychosis have a 20-40% chance of being diagnosed one year later. The first-line psychiatric treatment for schizophrenia is antipsychotic medication, such as risperidone, which can reduce some of the symptoms of psychosis in about 7-14 days.

There is also scientific evidence of a relationship between schizophrenia and out-of-body experiences according to a study performed by Dr. Sohee Park, a neuroscientist from Vanderbilt University who works on schizophrenia. The test subject, known only as RM, had his first OBE at the age of 16. By the time he was 55, he has had more OBEs than he can remember. They usually happen just before falling asleep – for 10 minutes – then he views himself floating above his body and looking down on himself (called “autoscopy“.) If the same thing happens while he is awake, his sense of displacement is stronger and his real body feels like a marionette while his out-of-body self feels like a puppeteer. Then his OBE soon changes into religious delusions in which he communicates with angels and demons; and psychotic episodes follow. After four or five days of this, RM is then hospitalized.

2. The Brilliant Madness of Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder (or manic-depression) has been called a “brilliant madness” because of the expansive ideas psychosis can create. In days of old, people recognized how mental illness can even be a gift. Socrates once declared, “Our greatest blessings come to us by way of madness, provided the madness is given us by divine gift.” Plato referred to insanity as: “a divine gift and the source of the chief blessings granted to men.” Native American Indians believed that their voice hearers (shamans) revealed messages that had great spiritual significance.

The archetype of the “mad scientist” can be traced to Nikola Tesla (1856–1943), the Serbian American scientific inventor-genius and NDEr best known his astounding contributions to modern science and over 700 patents. Tesla is responsible for the invention of the electric motor, alternating electrical current, the radio, x-ray technology, remote control, robotics, the laser, florescent light bulbs, wireless communications, limitless free energy, and the magnifying transformer which became the basis for television transmission. Yet he also suffered from mental illnesses – specifically obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), attention deficit disorder (ADD) and bipolar disorder. He also suffered from numerous psychological phobias and philias such as columbiphilia (an unusual love of pigeons), kakiphobia (the fear of dirt), scotophilia (the love of the dark), pathophobia (the fear of germs), spherophobia (the fear of round objects), triphilia (an obsession with the number 3), and an uncontrollable visual and auditory visions that often tormented him which could be described as bipolar hallucinations. He also believed he was in contact with extraterrestrials on the planet Mars (which I believe were spirit beings within the “Mars” planetary afterlife realm described by Edgar Cayce and Emanuel Swedenborg among others.)

Tesla experienced an NDE as a child which makes one wonder if his “brilliant madness” was the result of his NDE. As a teenager, he was swimming in the river near his hometown in Croatia. To impress his friends he dove and swam underwater to a diving dock some distance away from the shore, intending to swim under it and emerge where his friends couldn’t see him. He swam until he was sure he was clear of the dock and came to the surface. He banged his head on a beam under the dock. He swam farther and came up again, and hit his head once more. Now out of breath, he had an out-of-body experience which gave him a view of the entire floating dock and realized that he could come up to a point between the slats and breathe that way. Luckily for him, the strategy worked. It still took him many attempts before he reached open water.

Telsa would also exhibit grandiose thoughts which intelligent mentally ill people can have. John Nash, a lifetime schizophrenic, received the Nobel Laureate in Economics and his life was portrayed in the movie A Beautiful Mind. Other famous mentally ill people are: Leo Tolstoy and Earnest Hemingway (both NDErs), Ludwig van Beethoven, Vincent Van Gogh, John Keats, Charles Dickens, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Virginia Woolf, to name just a few.

The nature of schizophrenia and other forms of psychosis are still under debate and a significant issue is the relationship between psychosis and the mystical, or religious, experience.

3. A Near-Death-Like Experience Triggered by Psychosis

Dr. Kay Redfield Jamison is the distinguished Professor of Psychiatry at the John Hopkins School of Medicine and co-author of the standard medical text taught there. Dr. Jamison is one of the foremost authorities on manic depressive illness. She is also a manic depressive herself. In her highly acclaimed book entitled An Unquiet Mind, Dr. Jamison describes a psychotic episode she had which transported her consciousness out of her body and into the solar system. Her near-death experience is similar to the out-of-body experience of Susan Blackmore‘s when she was under the influence of a psychedelic. Jamison’s consciousness traveled to Jupiter while she was enjoying the manic phase of her mental illness. The following is an excerpt from her excellent book and the account of her journey:

“People go mad in idiosyncratic ways. Perhaps it was not surprising that, as a meteorologist’s daughter, I found myself, in that glorious illusion of high summer days, gliding, flying, now and again lurching through cloud banks and ethers, past stars, and across fields of ice crystals. Even now, I can see in my mind’s rather peculiar eye an extraordinary shattering and shifting of light; inconstant but ravishing colors laid out across miles of circling rings; and the almost imperceptible, somehow surprisingly pallid, moons of this Catherine wheel of a planet. I remember singing ‘Fly Me to the Moon’ as I swept past those of Saturn, and thinking myself terribly funny. I saw and experienced that which had been only in dreams, or fitful fragments of aspiration.

“Was it real? Well, of course not, not in any meaningful sense of the word real. But did it stay with me? Absolutely. Long after my psychosis cleared, and the medications took hold, it became part of what one remembers forever, surrounded by an almost Proustian melancholy. Long since that extended voyage of my mind and soul, Saturn and its icy rings took on a elegiac beauty, and I don’t see Saturn’s image now without feeling an acute sadness at its being so far away from me, so unobtainable in so many ways. The intensity, glory, and absolute assuredness of my mind’s flight made it very difficult for me to believe, once I was better, that the illness was one I should willingly give up. Even though I was a clinician and a scientist, and even though I could read the research literature and see the inevitable, bleak consequences of not taking lithium, I for many years after my initial diagnosis was reluctant to take take my medications as prescribed. Why did it take having to go though more episodes of mania, followed by long suicidal depressions, before I would take lithium in a medically sensible way?”

Dr. Jamison says she still misses Saturn and the tremendous highs that go with manic depression; but the lithium (a simple salt/electrolyte) keeps her level and able to function as a normal person. One might say that this simple mineral found in the earth keeps manic depressives well grounded there.

Such experiences with the planets of our solar system is not unique to Redfield. In the 1970s, Ingo Swann (1933-2013), one of the most gifted OBE travellers ever to work under laboratory conditions in the U.S., carried through with a number of OBE journeys to various planets in our solar system while under laboratory conditions. Swann is considered “the father of remote viewing” and participated in the CIA’s secret psychic program called the Stagate Project. Swann was involved in a study by the Stanford Research Institute (SRI), the second largest “think tank” in the world, to see if his remote viewing powers could extend to the planet Saturn. On the evening April 27, 1973, SRI researchers recorded Swann’s remote viewing session of the planet Jupiter and Jupiter’s moons, prior to the Voyager probe’s visit there in 1979. The results of this study were published in the book entitled Mind-Reach: Scientists Look at Psychic Abilities. Swann asked for 30 minutes of silence while it took Swann about three and a half minutes to remotely view Jupiter. In the session he gave accurate reports on the physical features of Jupiter, such as its surface, atmosphere and weather. Swann’s statement of Jupiter having planetary rings, like Saturn, was controversial at the time. The 1979 Voyager probe later confirmed the existence of the rings. In a later setting, he visited the planet Mercury (and later Jupiter, under the same circumstances). Much to the gaping amazement of NASA scientists, all of his observations were later proved to be correct by probes sent to these planets (see Dr. Janet Lee Mitchell‘s “A Psychic Probe of the Planet Mercury,” Journal of the Society for Psychical Research 6, No. 4 (June 1975): pp. 17-21; and Mitchell, 1981.)

4. The Dreaming God of the Bible

Psychosis and religious visions have often been associated with each other since the earliest recorded history. Mental illness has traditionally been related to demon possession and prophetic ability as attributed to various personalities in the Bible. Saints such as Joan of Arc (1415 -1431) and Francis of Assisi (1182 -1226) heard multiple voices in their heads and the Church originally attacked them as being demon possessed. Of course, not all prophets were mentally disturbed people, many just practiced a kind of clairvoyance but remained balanced people, some even with a healthy critical intellect. So there is a very important note to make here: we must assume that people suffering from schizophrenia who are having religious hallucinations of God, may in fact be having real visions of a real God. The Talmud suggests that the prophet Hosea (8th century BCE) in the Bible was besieged with delusions of being Moses, even though the Talmud also claims that he was also the greatest prophet of his generation (Pesachim 87a). Skeptics often claim NDEs to be merely hallucinations because of their subjective nature. But this begs the question of what exactly is the difference between subjective and objective consciousness given the fact that scientists are not exactly certain what consciousness is. Or for that matter, what is the difference between a hallucination, a dream, a religious experience or any phenomena involving consciousness. Skeptics must first define what consciousness is before labeling any experience involving consciousness as being a hallucination; and this is something science has so far been unable to do.

5. A Psychopathalogical Analysis of the Hebrew Prophets

Not all mental health practitioners consider the symptoms of schizophrenia to be mental illness. Some consider it a “moral verdict” concerning certain forms of unacceptable or unintelligible behavior (Sorbin, T.B. and Monuso, J.C., , Schizophrenia: Medical Diagnosis or Moral Verdict, Pergamon, N.Y., 1980, quoted in Coleman 353.) This kind of behavior may indeed be culturally-bound (T. Szasz, The Myth of Mental Illness, in Schiff, T., ed. Mental Illness and Social Process, Harper Row, N.Y., 1967, and Laing R.D., The Divided Self, Twentieth Publications, London, 1960.) William Blake, the great English poet, artist and religious thinker has been labeled schizophrenic (Coleman, J.C., Butcher, J.N., and Carson, R.C., Abnormal Psychology and Modern Life, Scott, Foresman and Co., Glenview, Ill.,1984, pg. 379.)

With this in mind, it is possible to evaluate the mental health of various personalities in the Bible. Of course, to do this, one must assume the Biblical accounts of these personalities are accurate and can be accepted at face value. The psychologist Dr. Herman H. Somers (1921-2003) was a former Jesuit priest for forty years until he became a religious skeptic after discovering psychopathological elements in the utterances of some Biblical prophets. In June 1990, he published a voluminous book dealing with the Old Testament prophets called, When God Slept, Man Wrote the Bible translated from Dutch to English. Basically, it is the Bible explained by a psychologist. Here are some of the book’s most striking points:

a. Dr. Somers’ Diagnosis: The Prophet Hosea

What is important for us is to understand is whether Hosea‘s vision can be seen as a legitimate vision of God; or at best can it be called a “cultural aberration” or at its worst the writings of a schizophrenic? Many schizophrenics assume they have lost their former selves and have taken on a new identity … some believe that they are now someone else and attempt to assume the name and characteristics of the other person (Buss, A., Psychopathology, John Wiley, N.Y., 1966, pgs. 188-191). Hosea seems to have developed his own message of God telling him to marry a prostitute in Hosea 3 and it appears Hosea’s grasp of reality had disintegrated, as occurs to schizophrenics. In the latter part of his book (Hosea 4-14) Hosea describes a form of idolatry which was in fact not prevalent in Assyrian influenced Israel. Political problems abounded, both internally and externally motivated, but the temple cults were relatively clean of idolatry. Thus there appears a confusion between reality as Hosea seems to mix metaphors and reality. Jeremiah, a century later, also describes a political suicidal situation, and he does use the metaphor of idolatry to describe it. However Ezekiel, who lived at the same time described idolatry as a sin of the past as if it were present – see below. While Amos, Hosea, Jeremiah and Ezekiel are all burdened with impossible missions and hence suffer immeasurably from their task, Amos and Jeremiah reactions are within the normal range.

b. Dr. Somers’ Diagnosis: The Prophet Isaiah

For a more tragic example, we turn to Isaiah, the “man of sorrow.” He had a schizophreniform accident, a vision with schizophrenic contents, which deeply influenced his further thought, but did not form a chronic condition of schizophrenia. In this vision, he has sensory hallucinations, catastrophic revelations, and a strong delusion of being chosen by God to serve a mission. This will condition his self-image and his “prophetic” style of logorrhea, emotional exaggeration, and making predictions. Taking into account that some of Isaiah’s successful “predictions” are in fact later interpolations, we find that the remaining authentic predictions are little more than expressions of the prophet’s own vengefulness and wishful thinking. Liberation theologians get a kick out of Isaiah’s tirades against the mighty and the successful (who will be wiped away when the Lord cometh), thinking that he was a kind of social revolutionary; in fact, he was just another typical unhappy man who developed both an intense vengefulness against the successful and a, delusion of being special in a supernatural way. Unhappy and vengeful people are keen observers and critics of others’ faults. And who will believe that Isaiah’s walking barefoot and naked for three years (Isaiah 20:2-4) is not abnormal behavior but a deliberate sign of warning?

c. Dr. Somers’ Diagnosis: The Prophet Jeremiah

Jeremiah, the prophet of doom par excellence, is a clear case of paranoia querulans. Israel has fallen and will be punished. The king of Babylon who subdues Israel is merely God’s punishing arm; which will not save him, the idolater, from equally being punished in the end. Jeremiah is against everyone, including rivaling godmen and prophets, and God’s revenge will be total. His immense hatred for everyone who disagrees and his hammering on always the same allegations and promises of doom, and a secondary delusion of being persecuted, are typical signs of querulous paranoia. As Dr. Somers writes:

“The book Jeremiah teaches us nothing about God, it illustrates how a sick mind pictures God in terms of his own delusion.”

Jeremiah shows a characteristic trait of the paranoia patient: a deadly hatred against everyone who disagrees with him, a totally disproportionate reaction to the “other opinion” inspired by hurt narcissism. The inflated ego is invested with divine dignity and power. Whoever speaks up against God, must die. In a sense, this is a diagnosis of not only Jeremiah, but of prophethood itself.

d. Dr. Somers’ Diagnosis: The Prophet Ezekiel

Ezekiel, who lived in the Babylonian exile, reiterated the condemnation of unfaithful Jerusalem by his contemporary Jeremiah. But he is of a different psychological type: he is not aggressive towards his audience, rather he is indifferent. The evil has been done, the catastrophe is sure to follow, whether people listen or not. Ezekiel is an unmistakable case of schizophrenia. In the 22 years (592–570 BCE) covered by the book Ezekiel, we see a typical development of this condition: he gets hallucinatory visions, develops an increasingly bizarre behavior, isolates himself. In moments of calm, he relates his visions to others and gives detailed descriptions. Not every schizophrenia patient makes it to the status of prophethood. Ezekiel was not an extreme case, and he was a literate man who could somehow make his visions relevant through religion, which made them interesting for the Bible editors. It was also his initial deep religiosity that made him vulnerable to emotional collapse when Jerusalem fell, its temple usurped by Baal priests, and the people (at least, the elite) forced into exile in Babel. Unlike many fellow Hebrews, he could not adapt to this Pagan city full of opportunity, and his emotional collapse developed into a permanent mental affliction.

Webmaster note: Ezekiel heard a voice commanding him to lie on the right side of his body for 390 days then switch to his left side for 40 more days. A voice also told him to eat food cooked with human excrement.

e. Dr. Somers’ Diagnosis: The Prophet Enoch

The last Old Testament prophet we must mention in this brief survey, is Enoch. His book (mid-second century BC) is classed as apocryphal, but it is an integral part of the prophetic tradition. Enoch was a staunch Pharisee and leader of the Essene sect. Probably he was the sect’s “teacher of righteousness,” mentioned in the so-called Dead Sea Scrolls unearthed at Qumran. It is he who first applied the notion of the “Son of Man” (developed by Daniel as pertaining to the Israelite nation as a whole) to himself, which personalized notion Jesus in turn was to interpret as applying to himself. There can be no doubt that Jesus borrowed from Enoch: the New Testament contains 64 almost literal quotes from Enoch, plus other types of references.

Webmaster note: According to Edgar Cayce, Enoch was a previous incarnation of Jesus Christ.]

The Book of Enoch contains the writings of someone suffering from paranoid schizophrenia (with all the typical features of schizophrenia as Karl Jaspers described them). And it is these Enochian visions which constitute an essential component of the belief system of Jesus and his disciples. Once more, it should not surprise us that someone with such an affliction could be the recognized leader of a sect. Among other factors, people with a distorted consciousness are often capable of feats of asceticism which require tremendous will-power in ordinary mortals. And the common people of those days would naturally associate the abnormal with the supernatural, especially if it came clothed in the language of religion. But remarkably, in the case of Enoch, at least the guardians of the official religious tradition were suspicious of the divine character of Enoch’s book, mostly because of its very open self-centeredness. The typical thing with all people suffering from delusions, is that these delusions are very self-centered and allot special importance to the sufferer. But in the case of Enoch, it was conspicuous even to not very discriminating people that Enoch was glorifying more himself than Yahweh. Enoch claims that he had been given a divine job by God Himself, to reprimand the angels who, sometime before the Flood, had fallen in love with human females and begotten, on them the giants (remark the element of jealousy). Then, he is taken on a trip through heaven: “And I, Enoch, I alone have seen the vision, the end of everything, and no man will see the way I have seen” (Enoch 19:3). In heaven, he sees someone called the “Head of Days,” who comes to him and says: “You, you are the Son of Man, who was born for righteousness and righteousness remains with you and the righteousness of the Head of Days will not abandon you” (Enoch 71:17). In a vision of a terrible Day of Judgment, he refers to himself as the Chosen One.

f. A Brief Analysis of Other Biblical Prophets

Other prophets, such as John in the Book of Revelation, saw horrible monsters and devils which are remarkably similar to the dreams of the prophet Daniel. It is interesting that one particular near-death experiencer, Edgar Cayce, discovered that the Book of Revelation in the Bible is the record of a dream(s) by John the Revelator. This becomes apparent when the same archetypal images in Revelation can be found in dream of Daniel the prophet in the Bible. We also know from various sources that dreams, near-death experiences, and visions of the psychedelic, psychotic, and psychic are phenomena of an altered level of consciousness.

6. The Difference Between Psychic Intuition and Psychosis

At this point, one might ask, “What is the difference between being psychic and psychotic?” My own (i.e., the Webmaster’s) psychiatrist once gave me the answer which is paraphrased:

People who hear voices and see things that aren’t there can be classified into two groups. The first group are people who cannot cope with such phenomena. They are referred to as “mentally ill.” The second group can cope with them and they are referred to as “psychics.”

Historically, society in general has regarded people who talk to God as being holy. But if God talks to you, you’re considered insane.

Psychic intuition (or just “intuition“) is defined as “the ability to sense or know immediately without reasoning.” Carl Jung defined intuition as “perception via the unconscious”: using sense-perception only as a starting point, to bring forth ideas, images, possibilities, ways out of a blocked situation, by a process that is mostly unconscious. Some scientists, such as Dr. Yehuda Elkana and Dr. Gerald Holton, have contended that intuition is associated with innovation in scientific discovery. In the late 70s, Dr. Nancy Andreasen of the University of Iowa began investigating if there was a possible link between intuition and creativity. Her own intuition led her to begin investigating schizophrenic people. Schizophrenia ran in Albert Einstein‘s family and a considerable number of experts today believe Einstein had Asperger Syndrome (a form of autism) and displayed schizophrenic tendencies. Speculation also exists that Einstein’s Theory of Relativity could have only come from a schizophrenic mind capable of viewing things from the outside. Dr. Andresen’s study found very high percentage of the writers in her investigation had bipolar disorder. With modern technical advances in neuroimaging, Dr. Andreasen discovered evidence of activity in the “association cortices” of the frontal lobes which plays a role is making connections between one part of the brain and another. Creative people such as writers and artists often describe their creative process as an unconscious phenomenon with ideas and insights seem to come out of nowhere.

Researchers such as Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman are investigating the notion of “latent inhibition” (LI) which can be thought of as a fine line between novel productive thinking and pathological delusional thinking. LI is the brain’s ability to filter out information at the unconscious level thereby making available rational thoughts. In other words, LI is when the brain is biased in such a way that it ignores stimuli that has already happened in the past. For example, if somebody honks a horn every day outside of your home, it becomes less noticeable after a while, unless you really pay attention to it. People afflicted with schizophrenia have a very difficult time with LI. In such cases, the brain is overwhelmed by too many neurons competing for the attention of other neurons while the brain is bombarded with too much sensory and emotional input. LI also occurs with people who have bipolar disorder and are psychotic.

Latent inhibition appears to also connected to intuition. Decreased LI may make a person more likely to see connections that other people may not see. Psychologists such as the late Dr. Colin Martindale and the late Dr. Hans Eysenck have made the case for the important role that disinhibition plays for creative thought. A study conducted by Dr. Shelley Carson discovered that among a sample of Harvard students with a high IQ and decreased LI tended to have increased creative achievement. This suggests that a reduced LI, in combination with adequate levels of the brain’s ability to sort out the cosmic input bombarding it, can lead to the very highest levels of creative achievement which also involves intuition.

Those of above average intelligence are thought to be capable of processing LI effectively, enabling their creativity and increasing their awareness of their surroundings. Those with less than average intelligence, on the other hand, are less able to cope, and as a result are more likely to suffer from mental illness and sensory overload. It is hypothesized that a low level of latent inhibition can cause either psychosis or a high level of creative achievement or both, which is usually dependent on the individual’s intelligence. When they cannot develop the creative ideas, they become frustrated and/or depressive.

7. Edgar Cayce’s Psychic Revelations About Schizophrenia

Joseph Campbell once said that the schizophrenic is drowning in the same waters in which the mystic swims with delight. Edgar Cayce came to the same conclusion in his readings (e.g., 281-24). Cayce himself was a Christian mystic who certainly swam in deep waters. In a self-induced trance, Cayce’s unconscious mind and out-of-body condition would allow him to access seemingly unlimited amount of knowledge. Much of the knowledge he accessed were medical diagnosis and recommended treatments for those he gave readings for – including schizophrenia.

From a materialistic standpoint, physical reality is paramount. The psychological methods used to determine a person’s mental health are heavily weighted toward the materialistic view of reality. To be “out of touch” with material reality is, by psychiatric definition, to be psychotic. The Cayce readings on schizophrenia acknowledges that people experiencing psychosis, while out of touch with material reality, are closer to the “universal” or divine consciousness than most sane individuals. To explain the mystical aspects of schizophrenia, Cayce often used terminology from the Perennial Philosophy of other cultures such as kundalini, yoga, karma and possession. The therapies recommended by Cayce for schizophrenia were not only directed toward the regeneration of the nervous system, but also to help schizophrenic people to be more focused in material reality. Much of Cayce’s remedies for schizophrenia emphasizes simple, physical activities to help those afflicted to be more incarnate in their bodies and to participate in the physical world.

Cayce gave many psychic readings for persons suffering from schizophrenia; but he never used the term “schizophrenia.” In his day, the accepted medical term for schizophrenia was “dementia praecox.” Dementia refers to biological brain degeneration which results in cognitive deficiencies and psychosis. Praecox refers to the early onset of the illness which is usually in the late teens or early twenties. Cayce provided explicit descriptions of the brain deterioration in persons suffering from schizophrenia and recommended treatments for regenerating the nervous system. By doing so, Cayce acknowledged there exists mental and spiritual aspects to schizophrenia. Two books describing Edgar Cayce’s perspective on schizophrenia have been published. The Treatment of Schizophrenia: A Holistic Approach is a scholarly work written in APA (American Psychological Association) style. Case Studies in Schizophrenia is a less technical work describing individuals who sought Cayce’s help in cases of schizophrenia. Both books were written by David McMillin, MA.

8. Jack Hiller on the Origin of Selected Works of Genius

a. The General Health and Productivity of Geniuses

Jack H. Hiller, Ph.D., J.D., is the author of the book, Near-Death Experience of Space, Time, and Consciousness: How the World Was Created and Functions (2019), Volume 10, Issue 7, and the author of a series of papers in the Journal of Consciousness Exploration & Research (2019). The following is Dr. Hiller’s research on the origin of selected works of genius:

It had become common folklore early on in the development of general IQ testing that the children scoring at the extremely high levels were sickly. To test this common belief and to learn how such children would fair in life, a professor at Stanford University, Lewis Terman, began a major long term study of children, with a sample size of 1,444 scoring at the genius level on the Stanford Binet IQ Test. That study started in 1921 and continues to this day. Early on in this study, it was found that:

Based on data collected in 1921-22, Terman concluded that gifted children suffered no more health problems than normal for their age, save a little more myopia than average. He also found that the children were usually social, were well-adjusted, did better in school, and were even taller than average. A follow-up performed in 1923–1924 found that the children had maintained their high IQs and were still above average overall as a group.”

However, much later on, Terman found that this group was not characterized by a high proportion going on to be more productive of great intellectual achievements:

“Well over half of men and women in Terman’s study finished college, compared to 8% of the general population at the time. Some of Terman’s subjects reached great prominence in their fields. Among them were head writer of “I Love Lucy” (the television program) Jess Oppenheimer, American Psychological Association president and educational psychologist Lee Cronbach, Ancel Keys, and Robert Sears himself. Over fifty men became college and university faculty members. However, the majority of study participants’ lives were more mundane. By the 4th volume of Genetic Studies of Genius, Terman had noted that as adults, his subjects pursued common occupations “as humble as those of policeman, seaman, typist and filing clerk” and concluded: ‘At any rate, we have seen that intellect and achievement are far from perfectly correlated.'”

Thus, it appears that simply having good health and a bright mind are not fully adequate to account for brilliant intellectual achievements. In fact, certain well known high achievers who had a genius mentality also experienced mental disorders, such as Nobel Laureate in mathematics, John Nash, the brilliant logico-mathematician Kurt Godel, and the revolutionary inventor Nikola Tesla. In Hiller’s study of the nature of knowledge keyed to the reports of people who have had the near-death experience, one of the reasons for their productivity may have been discovered, as explained below.

b. An Explanation for Exceptional Achievement by Geniuses From Frozen Time Theory

The mind or consciousness does not limit its potential function to what the brain does when it is completely detached from it (e.g., during an NDE) or partially detached (during dreams and deep meditation) thereby enabling it to function independent of the brain/body. Normally, the mind is attached to the brain and is thus normally restricted by brain limitations.

c. The Nature of Transcendental Knowledge and Its Availability for Creativity

When the human mind is weakly or temporarily disassociated from its normal brain attachment, then the consciousness of its spirit form has available to it the eternal knowledge which may be termed “Transcendental” to distinguish it from the Mundane sorts of knowledge created by living in the material domain (the 3rd Domain), as explained by Near-Death Experience of Space, Time, and Consciousness, Chapter 10. A theory of knowledge: the Transcendental and Mundane. The universal field of consciousness (UFC), as discussed in Chapter 2 of this text, has all of its existing knowledge made available to the individual consciousness (mind) when it is detached from its material body. Some refer to all human knowledge as existing in a mystical non-material field termed the “akashic records“. For biology, Rupert Sheldrake refers to a “morphic field” for knowledge that animals may tap into without their normal sense-perception mechanism. Frozen Time Theory (presented in Chapter 1 of the text) did not attempt to distinguish among the possible categories of information of transcendental knowledge contained in the universal field of consciousness (UFC), which is most likely God’s own mind, and thus too extensive to be neatly carved up into categories from what is known by science.

d. Select Discoveries by Genius May Reflect Abnormal Bouts of Mental Functioning

Select achievements by geniuses may thus reflect their having tapped into the universal mind (i.e., the transcendental knowledge in the UFC). Geniuses, such as Kurt Godel, Nikola Tesla, and John Nash, may have tapped into the transcendental knowledge contained in the UFC when their minds separated from their normal functioning locked to the brain.

Note too, that during dreaming (or deep meditation), the mind may separate from its attachment to brain to tap into transcendental knowledge. For example, Albert Einstein attributed his breakthrough in formulating Special Relativity to a dream (the one about watching cows getting shocked on a fence whose observed shock times depended on where an observer stood); but it is also important to note that his realization for what the dream meant depended on his mental preparation about the issue involved. Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1726), one of the most influential scientists of all time, suffered from mental illness. In 1693, Newton experienced a “nervous breakdown.” According to autism expert Simon Baron-Cohen, both Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton have shown many signs of Asperger syndrome, a form of autism that does not cause learning difficulties. Dmitri Mendeleev (1834-1907) attributed his formation of the Periodic Table to realizing its patterning in a dream. Nobel laureate James Watson (b. 1928), co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, reported stumbling upon the double helix image for the DNA chain through his dream of a spiral staircase. Srinivasa Ramanujan (1887-1920) was one of India’s greatest mathematical geniuses. He made substantial contributions to analytical theory of numbers and worked on elliptical functions, continued fractions, and infinite series. He worked for five years producing startling results and proved over 3,000 theorems in his lifetime. According to Ramanujan, inspiration and insight for his work many times came to him in his dreams. Niels Bohr (1885-1962) won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1922 for his discovery of the structure of the atom. He recalled that the electrons revolving around the nucleus, like the solar system, came to him in a dream. Upon testing his “dream” hypothesis, he was able to discover that the atomic structure was, in fact, similar to it. The scientist Friedrich Kekulé (1829-1896) discovered the seemingly impossible chemical structure of benzene (C6H6) when he had a dream of a group of snakes swallowing their tails. French philosopher and mathematician, Rene Descartes (1596-1650), claimed that the dreams that he had in 1619, revealed to him the basis of the scientific method. The German born physiologist, Otto Loewi (1873-1961), won the Nobel Prize for medicine in 1936 for his work on the chemical transmission of nerve impulses which came to him in a dream. Paul McCartney is one of the most famous and successful singer/songwriters of all time. According to the Guinness Book of Records, his Beatles song “Yesterday” (1965) has the most cover versions of any song ever written and, according to record label BMI, was performed over seven million times in the 20th century. The tune for “Yesterday” came to Paul McCartney in a dream. The scientist who is credited with working out that insulin is effective in treating diabetes, Frederick Banting (1891-1941) received the Nobel Prize in Medicine at just 32 years old. He dreamt about a diabetic dog and a surgical procedure that included tying up the pancreas. This led to a breakthrough relating to the disproportionate balance between sugar and insulin. Which led to another dream indicating how insulin could be used to treat diabetes. Millions of lives have been saved or revolutionized by this discovery.

Thus, it may be no random accident that some of our geniuses have exhibited mental dysfunction during their lives, because such dysfunction may actually have contributed to their exceptional achievements.

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Psychology Triggers of NDEs

The Trigger of Psychomanteum: Dr. Raymond Moody’s Research

Would you like to have a word with your long-departed mother? How about experiencing a hug from your deceased grandfather? The world’s foremost expert on the near-death experience, Dr. Raymond Moody, experienced a hug from his deceased grandfather by using an ancient technique involving a “psychomanteum“. This technique involves gazing into a large mirror in order to receive after-death communications (ADCs) from deceased loved ones. The great prophet Nostradamus used such a reflective device to experience out-of-body travels into the future. This article describes Raymond Moody’s method in inducing after-death communications.

Dr. Raymond Moody’s Method to Induce ADCs

  1. Food: Get into a serene state of mind by eliminating caffeine and dairy products the day before your encounter. Eat simply, such as only fruit and vegetables.
  2. Location: Go to the quietest part of your home. It is important to find a comfortable place where you can truly relax. Unplug clocks and phones in that room so as not to be disturbed.
  3. Clothing: Leave your wristwatch and all jewelry off. Wear only loose, comfortable clothing.
  4. Mirror: Place a large mirror in front of comfortable chair and arrange it so that you can gaze into it without having to hold your eyes at an uncomfortable angle.
  5. Chair: Sit in your chair. Be sure that it supports the back of your head, even if you are deeply relaxed.
  6. Awareness: The goal is to ease the transition into an altered state of awareness.
  7. Posture: A relaxed posture is important.
  8. Mood: Create a mood by soothing yourself with beauty for about 15 minutes by looking or listening to works of art. Art alone is enough to induce altered states in many people. Soft music can go far to stimulate awareness.
  9. Memories: Gather photographs and personal items of your departed loved one around you. Touch them and remember your loved ones fondly. It is important to imprint that person firmly in your mind. Doing so shouldn’t be too difficult. A family album filled with great memories stirs up the conscious as well as the unconscious mind. Family films and videos do the same thing. Some people use articles of clothing associated with the person. Such items include fishing poles, woodworking tools, chess sets, pipes, glasses, old letters, and so on. Anything associated with that person is an effective way of bringing up memories and feelings.
  10. Light: In the twilight of the day, light a candle and place it behind you. Dim light from behind usually works the best, although you will have to experiment until you get the lighting just right. The twilight hours is a time that seems to better inspire altered states in many people. Later, when you become more proficient, you will find that mirror gazing is possible even in bright lights.

The technique of mirror gazing itself is remarkably easy. Seated comfortably, relax and gaze into the clear depth of the mirror without trying to see anything. Some compare this to looking off into the distance. Properly relaxed, your arms will feel very heavy and the tips of your fingers will tingle as though charged slightly by electricity. This tingling feeling almost always signals the beginning of the hypnagogic state (altered consciousness).

The mirror will most likely become cloudy now. Some people report an image that resembles the sky on a cloudy day. Others say that the mirror becomes darker. Whatever the case, this change in the clarity of the mirror signals you that the visions are about to appear.

Do not direct the experience at first or pose particular questions when the visions appear. It is best to first watch them unfold passively. Just let the images flow. Attempting to guide the images decrease the likelihood that one will see images in the mirror. After you have become more adept at mirror gazing, putting specific questions into your mind before entering the trance state can be very helpful, especially if your object is self-exploration or self-understanding. Attempting to direct images after they have begun will usually cause them to fade away. Why this happens Dr. Moody is not sure, but his guess is that conscious thought brings you out of the hypnagogic state of mind where these images occur.

How long do the images last? Usually less than a minute, especially for those unable to stay relaxed. Some of Dr. Moody’s subjects have been able to maintain images for as long as ten minutes on their first attempt. The more proficient you become at mirror gazing, the longer you will see images in the mirror.

Sometimes you may see nothing yet hear the departed person talk or feel his or her touch. Some may experience all the sensations of a given person, or location, without actually seeing anything. Sometimes, like Nostradamus, you may have the sensation of passing into the mirror, or the images may actually come out to be with you. Whatever the case, it will be obvious when the visionary experience starts and when it is over.

Dr. Moody recommends that you record the experience immediately after the session as you would a dream. Write it down in as much detail as possible. Careful record keeping will help you know what to expect the next time you mirror gaze. It will also show differences between sessions and will eventually let you know how to get the most out of your mirror-gazing experience. Recording your experiences will also help you remember them as they really were.

If the visions do not occur during a session, then it is necessary to consider some of the possible factors involved. The most common reason for failing to see anything is trying too hard. People sometimes report that the visions miraculously begin after they give up, or at least after they entertain thoughts of doing so. Distractions are another common reason that visions fail to take place. These can include outside noise and physical discomfort. Perhaps the room is too hot or too cold, or maybe it is just too noisy. Distractions also take place in the form of diet. Some people simply cannot have visionary experiences after eating a heavy meal, though a light one is recommended since it elevates your blood sugar and keeps you from focusing on your hunger.

Dr. Moody also emphasizes that exercise is an important component of relaxation. Most people are far more relaxed after even gentle exercise and have lower blood pressure and a slower heart rate to prove it. If you are having difficulty relaxing, or letting your mind wander while mirror gazing, it might be due to a lack of exercise

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Psychology Triggers of NDEs

The Trigger of Orgasms: Margaret Birkin’s NDE

Many people are surprised to learn that NDEs and out-of-body states can be triggered by orgasms. Scientists know that the largest sex organ of the human body is the brain. Human brain wave patterns show distinct changes during orgasm which indicate the importance of the brain’s limbic system in orgasms. Male and female brains demonstrate similar changes during orgasm, with brain activity scans showing a temporary decrease in brain activity of large parts of the cerebral cortex with normal or increased activity in the limbic areas of the brain. Research has shown that the emotional centers of men’s and women’s brains also deactivate during orgasm, but to a lesser extent than in women. Brain scans on both sexes have shown that the pleasure centers of a man’s brain show more intense activity than in women during orgasm according to Judith Horstman in her book, The Scientific American Book of Love, Sex and the Brain. Traditional Eastern sexual rites, called Tantra Yoga, may have emerged from early Hindu Tantra as a means of triggering biochemical transformations in the body to create a heightened states of awareness in both partners achieved by “kundalini energy.” The French phrase “la petite mort” is translated as “the little death” which is an idiom and euphemism for orgasm. This term has generally been interpreted to describe the post-orgasmic state of unconsciousness that some people have after having a sexual experience. In a wider sense, “the little death” can refer to the spiritual release that comes with orgasm or to a short period of transcendence as a result of the expenditure of the “life force” – the feeling which is caused by the release of oxytocin in the brain after the occurrence of orgasm.

Table of Contents

  1. Margaret Birkin’s Orgasmic Near-Death Experiences
  2. The Eastern Rituals of Sexual Tantra Yoga
  3. The Transpersonal Psychology of Kundalini
  4. Kundalini Phenomenon in Near-Death Studies
    a. The Kenneth Ring and Christopher Rosing Kundalini Scale
    b. The Bruce Greyson Physio-Kundalini Syndrome Index
  5. Kundalini Symbology in Various Religious Traditions
  6. The Psychophysiological Benefits of Orgasms

1. Margaret Birkin’s Orgasmic Near-Death Experiences

In 1993, Margaret Birkin went through an experience which was not only life changing, but which even now, years later, she can still recall in every detail. Her near-death experiences are examples of how they can be triggered by sexual orgasms. The following is a description of her experiences:

“I was 46 years old when I met my second husband Peter. I had been married previously for 23 years and raised two children. My sex life with my ex-husband was OK but nothing to write home about. I had never experienced an orgasm with him in those 23 years. We had separated and were almost divorced in 1993, and Peter came into my life almost immediately that I left my marriage.

“I was attracted to Peter very much sexually. I found myself at 46 years of age becoming interested in sex again. I, who had always been shy and a little conservative, started reading books about sex and sexual positions. With Peter, I had no inhibitions at all, and I was experiencing for the first time, the most wonderful sex.

“One evening, I had an experience of the most incredible feeling. It felt as if every nerve in my body was alive with energy. This was accompanied by the most wonderful feeling of bliss. As the feeling enveloped me, I found myself leaving my body.

“I found myself in my own chest area looking up at what I knew was my crown charka. I could see a light ahead of me. All of a sudden I became frightened to move. I actually thought I was dying, and for a few seconds, I fought the sensation. I was describing to Peter what I was going through. I was still physically there in body, but my soul, spirit, whatever you want to call it, was no longer there. I was within my own chest cavity.

“The next thing I was heading upwards to the light and broke through into the most beautiful light and place of beauty. I was so amazed and it took me quite by surprise. I found myself in the realms of what I would call spirit. I was in another dimension.

“I found myself having a tour of this place. I could see auditoriums with people listening to speakers. I was aware of Halls of Learning and places of the most beautiful beauty. I did not want to return, but at this stage I started to feel the pull to go back into my body. I could not control it as it pulled me back.

“I was exhausted after that experience and had a rest for a few nights. Then we made love again. Again, I left my body.

“This time I traveled to what I call the Halls of the Masters. What amazed me was the black and white large tiled floor in this place. Many years later, a client would tell me about her visit to this place with the same black and white tiling. I felt that she had been with me. Her version of this place was the same as mine.

“As I wandered around, I saw my spiritual teacher and Master, Maitreya. He was playing chess with someone and as I moved closer, I could see it was Sai Baba. I was so amazed. They both looked up and laughed at my amazement. No words were spoken, but they seemed pleased to see me.

“As I was watching them, suddenly I moved ahead and out of their dimension, into another one.

“Here I was out into space. I was moving very slowly, but I could see ahead of me an energy which is the only way to explain it. It was a long way off and I knew that to reach it, I had to move slowly. It was an inner knowing. Again, I was physically attached to my body, but out-of-body consciously. I was able to talk to Peter, albeit very softly, as if physically miles away. This helped because I could not believe what was happening. Again, after a while I had to return to my body.

“The next time this happened, I became aware of the Universe itself, of space, of our connection to space, and to the Universe as a whole. I passed galaxies, and at one stage, passed black holes which felt as if they were the Chakras of the Universe. Still the energy in front of me seemed such a long distance away.

“Every couple of nights I took a journey. I don’t know whether Peter felt left out, but each time we had sex, I left my body and went further and further into space.

“As each night I traveled further and further from my body and the Earth realm, and the energy got closer, I became aware of the co-relation with the whole of life itself. I became in awe of the creative work of God.

“Then one night, I came closer to the energy and as I did, I felt it for the first time. It was pure love, pure unconditional love. At this point in my life, I had never seen myself as a decent person, but this energy spoke to me in thought and told me that I was a beautiful person. It told me to let go of the conditioning that I had of myself as a person with no worth.

“The love from this energy was amazing. It was so profound I sobbed uncontrollably.

“My next visit, I got closer and the same with the next visit. Finally, I was able to merge with this energy and the bliss, happiness, incredible peace that I felt inside. This being’s energy was so incredible. I did not want to leave.

“It spoke to me in thought and told me that one day when I had finished my spiritual development, this energy and I would work together. However, I had a hard path in front of me with my development and I was not to give up for in the long term. It would be worth it. It also told me that I needed to move toward it slowly, because, had I not done so, I would have burnt up within the spirit.

“They call the orgasm in some circles the little death. For me it was a death and a rebirth. I was never the same after that. I don’t think I will ever change either. It was the most amazing experience and one I know I will never forget.”

2. The Eastern Rituals of Sexual Tantra Yoga

According to the ancient practice of Tantra Yoga, the goal of the sexual act is to balances energies within the chakras of sexual partners. Once the body is awakened to it, “kundalini energy” (or just “kundalini”) rises within the body culminating with the individual personality and identity of each partner dissolving into cosmic consciousness. Hindu scriptures describe kundalini as lying “coiled” at the base of the spine like a sleeping serpent waiting to be awakened. In modern terms, kundalini has been called an unconscious, instinctive sexual drive. It is reported that kundalini awakening results in enlightenment and bliss. Other yoga practices focus on the awakening of kundalini energy through meditation, breathing rituals, or the chanting of mantras. In physical terms, one commonly reported kundalini experience is a feeling like electric current running along the spine. Practitioners of Tantra Yoga understand these effects upon the body on multiple levels. The male and female partners are conjoined physically, representing Shiva (the male principle) and Shakti (the female principle). When the fusion of these energies takes place, the result creates a unified kundalini energy field. On the individual level, each participant experiences an integration of both of their Shiva and Shakti energies. Popular Tantric authors in the West, such as Joseph Campbell, combined sexuality and spirituality to correct Western repressive attitudes towards sex. As Tantra became more popular in the West, it underwent a transformation which became synonymous with “spiritual sex” – the belief that sex is a sacred act capable of elevating its practitioners to a higher spiritual level. However, Tantra in the West often omits having the guidance of a guru and Eastern meditation and ritual rules of conduct. Kundalini is one of the components of an esoteric description of the “subtle body” (or astral body) which consists of subtle energy channels and the “chakras” (spiritual energy centers representing the endocrine system according to Edgar Cayce) within the body.

Sometimes kundalini reportedly awakens spontaneously as the result of physical or psychological trauma, or even for no apparent reason. When awakened, kundalini is said to rise up from the lower chakra, up and along the spine, and reaching the top of the head. The progress of kundalini through the different chakras leads to different levels of awakening and mystical experience, until the kundalini finally reaches the top of the head, the crown chakra, producing an extremely profound mystical experience as Margaret Birkin’s NDE shows. Other accounts of kundalini awakening have been documented as well. In his article on Kundalini in the Yoga Journal, David Eastman narrates two personal experiences. One man said he felt an activity at the base of his spine starting to flow so he relaxed and allowed it to happen. A feeling of surging energy began traveling up his back, at each chakra he felt an orgasmic electric feeling like every nerve trunk on his spine beginning to fire. A second man describes a similar experience but accompanied by a wave of euphoria and happiness softly permeating his being. He described the surging energy as being like electricity but hot, traveling from the base of his spine to the top of his head. He said the more he analyzed the experience, the less it occurred.

3. The Transpersonal Psychology of Kundalini

The Theosophical Society and interest by the psychiatrist and NDEr Carl G. Jung (1875–1961) influenced Western awareness of the idea of kundalini. Jung’s seminar on kundalini yoga, presented to the Psychological Club in Zurich in 1932, is widely regarded as a milestone in the psychological understanding of Eastern thought. Kundalini yoga presented Jung with a model for the development of higher consciousness, and he interpreted its symbols in terms of the process of individuation.

The kundalini can awaken spontaneously for no obvious reason or triggered by other intense personal experiences such as accidents, near-death experiences, childbirth, emotional trauma, extreme mental stress, etc. Some sources attribute spontaneous awakenings to possible spiritual practice in past lives. Some academics have coined the term “kundalini syndrome” to refer to physical or psychological problems arising from experiences traditionally associated with kundalini awakening. The popularization of Eastern kundalini practices has been associated with psychological problems in the West. Psychiatric literature notes that:

“… since the influx of eastern spiritual practices and the rising popularity of meditation starting in the 1960s, many people have experienced a variety of psychological difficulties, either while engaged in intensive spiritual practice or spontaneously”. (Turner et al., Page 440)

Researchers in the fields of Transpersonal Psychology, and near-death studies have described a complex pattern of sensory, motor, mental and affective symptoms associated with kundalini syndrome. According to Carl Jung:

“…the concept of kundalini has for us only one use, that is, to describe our own experiences with the unconscious.”

Spiritual crisis” or “spiritual emergencies” associated with kundalini awakening may be viewed as an acute psychotic episode by psychiatrists who are not familiar with the phenomenon. The biological changes that occur from certain Yogic practices may lead to acute psychosis. These biological alterations by yogic techniques may be used to warn people against such reactions (see Greyson, 1993, p. 46) The spiritual crisis resulting from kundalini syndrome is a form of identity crisis where an individual experiences drastic changes to their beliefs and identity which is typically due to a spontaneous spiritual experience. This “kundalini crisis” can occur to people who are unprepared or without the assistance of a good teacher to guide them. The symptoms are said to resemble those of kundalini awakening but are experienced as unpleasant, overwhelming or out of control. Unpleasant side effects are said to occur when the practitioner has not approached kundalini with due respect and in a narrow egotistical manner. Kundalini has been described as a highly creative intelligence which dwarfs our own. Kundalini awakening therefore requires surrender; it is not an energy which can be manipulated by the ego.

4. Kundalini Phenomenon in Near-Death Studies

Eastern traditions have developed elaborate lifelong practices and lifestyles with the intent of awakening kundalini and is, in fact, the implicit purpose of yoga. But if kundalini is awakened without proper guidance, as Dr. Kenneth Ring believes happens in a near-death experience, kundalini can be a raw, destructive power loosed on the individual’s body and psyche. Unfortunately, western medicine has not acknowledged the physio-kundalini model of arousal; therefore, symptoms are often misdiagnosed. Although the process of kundalini awakening is essentially a spiritual one and normally outside the domain of medical science, its symptoms imply the existence of medically verifiable physical and psychological symptoms.

Kundalini syndrome has been reported in the West predominantly by people who have had a near-death experience or have been practicing kundalini yoga (Greyson, 1993, p. 45,55-56). “Kundalini awakening” is a term used in both transpersonal psychology (Turner et al, 1995, p. 440) and near-death studies (Kason, 2000) The term “kundalini awakening” is closer in relationship to the language of Hinduism and the yogic tradition, than the terminology of “syndrome.” Dr. Bruce Greyson is one of the researchers who uses both the terminology of “syndrome” (Greyson, 1993, 2000), and the terminology of “awakening” (Greyson, 1993). In his 1993-article Greyson reviews many of the discussions of kundalini syndrome (Greyson, 1993, p.44-48). Researchers in the fields of transpersonal psychology and near-death studies have suggested some common criteria that describe this condition, of which the most prominent feature is a feeling of energy or heat moving along the spine (Kason 2000, p. 223).

a. The Kenneth Ring and Christopher Rosing Kundalini Scale

Among the first studies to comment upon symptoms of kundalini was conducted by Drs. Kenneth Ring and Christopher Rosing‘s Omega Project (Ring & Rosing, 1990). In this study the researchers found that near-death experiencers reported several psychophysical changes in the wake of their near-death experience, including symptoms that could be interpreted as kundalini-activity. They developed the Kundalini Scale, a nine-item scale to assess psychophysical changes, and symptoms of kundalini activation, in near-death experiencers.

The Ring & Rosing Kundalini Scale

  1. Feelings of energy in the hands.
  2. Feeling deep ecstatic sensations.
  3. Experiencing severe, or migraine type, headaches.
  4. Awareness of energy discharges, or currents, flowing through the body.
  5. Sensations of tickling, itching or tingling on, or underneath, the skin.
  6. Awareness of internal lights or colors.
  7. Hands feeling hot.
  8. Sensations of extreme heat or cold moving through the body.
  9. The body shakes, vibrates or trembles.

NDE expert Dr. Bruce Greyson notes that contemporary western culture is poorly equipped to deal with signs of kundalini activity; therefore, kundalini activity might lead to major disruptions in the social and psychological functioning of people experiencing kundalini symptoms (Greyson, 1993, p. 46). According to Greyson, such kundalini disruptions are often confused with psychotic disorders. Greyson underlines the importance of differentiating between kundalini phenomena on the one hand, and mental illness or psychopathology on the other hand. As a consequence of his research findings, Greyson finds support for the claim that the phenomenon of kundalini can be understood as a non-pathological force. He also implies that kundalini phenomena are not common in mental illness, and that it should be possible to differentiate this phenomenon from mental illness (Greyson, 1993, p. 54,57). Many reported cases of kundalini syndrome may rather be signs of an energetic state of bioenergy. The difference between bioenergy and kundalini was noticed by researchers such as Greyson, as referring to researchers who believe kundalini syndrome symptoms are a less profound effect of bioenergy (Greyson, 1993, p. 44).

b. The Bruce Greyson Physio-Kundalini Syndrome Index

In a 1993 study conducted by Greyson (Greyson, 1993) at an inpatient psychiatric unit of the University of Connecticut Health Center, Greyson developed a Physio-Kundalini Syndrome Index , a 19-item questionnaire, in order to study kundalini and its effects (Greyson, 1993, p.49; 2000, p. 124). Greyson administered this Index to patients admitted to the unit. The Index includes 4 major categories: motor symptoms, somatosensory symptoms, audiovisual symptoms and mental symptoms:

The Greyson Physio-Kundalini Syndrome Index

Motor symptoms:

1. Body assuming and maintaining strange positions for no apparent reason.
2. Body becoming frozen or locked into strange positions and immovable.
3. Breathing spontaneously stopping or becoming rapid, shallow, or deep for no apparent reason.
4. Spontaneous involuntary bodily movements.

Somatosensory Symptoms:

5. Spontaneous deep ecstatic tickle or orgasmic feeling.
6. Physical sensations starting in the feet, legs or pelvis, and moving up the back and neck to the top of the head, down the forehead, over the face, then to the throat, and ending in the abdomen.
7. Extreme sensations of heat or cold moving through the body.
8. Moving pockets of bodily heat or cold being extreme enough to burn or otherwise affect someone else or an inanimate object.
9. Pains in specific parts of the body that begin and end abruptly.
10. Tingling, vibration, itching or tickling on the skin or inside the body.

Audiovisual Symptoms:

11. Internal noises, such as whistling, hissing, chirping, roaring or flutelike sounds.
12. Internal voices.
13. Internal lights or colors illuminating parts of the body.
14. Internal lights bright enough to illuminate a dark room.

Mental Symptoms:

15. Observing oneself, including one’s thoughts, as if one were a bystander.
16. Sudden, intense ecstasy, bliss, peace, love, devotion, joy, or cosmic unity.
17. Sudden intense fear, anxiety, depression, hatred or confusion.
18. Thoughts spontaneously speeding up, slowing down, or stopping altogether.
19. Experiencing oneself as physically larger than the body.

From this study, Dr. Greyson found that psychiatric patients reported physio-kundalini symptoms, but to a lesser degree than a group of near-death experiencers described in a previous study. Greyson followed up his previous interest in the subject with a new study in 2000, published in the Journal of Transpersonal Psychology under the title Some Neuropsychological Correlates of the Physio-Kundalini Syndrome. In this study, a group of 321 volunteers from IANDS, responded to the Physio-kundalini syndrome index, as well as standardized tests designed to measure neuropsychological traits. Using statistical regression analysis, Greyson’s study supports the hypothesis that persons with aroused kundalini would be good hypnotic subjects, have vivid mental imagery, be creative, enjoy a rich fantasy life, and exercise unusual access to internal states. Greyson concludes his study by stating how kundalini researchers may find his data to be consistent with the yogic tradition’s claim that kundalini is the organizing force behind biological and spiritual evolution.

As a group, near-death experiencers reported experiencing almost twice as many physio-Kundalini items as did people who had close brushes with death but no NDE, and people who had never come close to death. As a check on whether the physio-Kundalini questionnaire might be measuring nonspecific strange experiences, Dr. Greyson threw into the analysis the responses of a group of hospitalized psychiatric patients. They reported the same number of Physio-Kundalini Index items as did the non-NDE control group. There were two unexpected and ambiguous “control” groups in my studies: people who claimed to have had NDEs but described experiences with virtually no typical NDE features; and people who denied having had NDEs but then went on to describe prototypical near-death experiences. In their responses to the physio-Kundalini questionnaire, the group that made unsupported claims of NDEs were comparable to the non-NDE control group, while the group that denied having NDEs (but according to their responses on the NDE scale, did) were comparable to the group of NDErs. In regard to awakening Kundalini, then, having an experience mattered, but thinking you had one didn’t.

5. Kundalini Symbology in Various Religious Traditions

The serpent (or snake) is one of the oldest and most widespread religious symbols. As mentioned previously, Eastern traditions believe kundalini energy nourishes the “Tree of Life” (along the spine) within us and is coiled up like a serpent and therefore it has been called the “serpent power” – the residual power of pure desire. It has been suggested by Joseph Campbell that the symbol of snakes coiled around a staff is an ancient representation of kundalini physiology. Historically, serpents and snakes represent fertility or a creative life force. As snakes shed their skin through sloughing, they are symbols of rebirth, transformation, immortality, and healing. The Gnostic ouroboros is represented as a snake eating its own tail and is a symbol of eternity and continual renewal of life.

In many religions, the serpent is coiled around a Tree of Life situated in a divine garden. In the Abrahamic religions, the serpent represents sexual desire. According to the Rabbinical tradition, in the Garden of Eden, the serpent represents sexual passion. In the Genesis story of the Hebrew Bible, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is situated in the Garden of Eden together with the Tree of Life and the serpent. The serpent in the Garden of Eden lured Eve with the promise of forbidden knowledge, convincing her that despite God’s warning, death would not be the result. This serpent is identified with wisdom:

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made.” (Genesis 3:1).

Although a serpent is identified as Satan in Revelation 12:9, in Genesis the serpent is merely portrayed as a trickster, promoting as good what God had directly forbidden, and particularly cunning in its deception:

“You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman. “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” (Genesis 3:4-5)

“And the Lord God said, ‘The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.'” (Genesis 3:22)

According to the Hebrew Bible, a copper snake wrapped around a pole is used for healing. During the Exodus the Israelites lost faith and were smitten by fiery serpents. So God told Moses to “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived. (Numbers 21:8-9) An apt description of the healing qualities of the awakened kundalini. Some of the Israelites even began to worship this symbol, and the practice of worshiping the brazen serpent on the pole as a god was either passed on, or was revived later. When the reformer King Hezekiah came to the throne of Judah in the late 8th century BCE:

“He removed the high places, smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles. He broke into pieces the bronze snake Moses had made, for up to that time the Israelites had been burning incense to it. (It was called Nehushtan.)” (2 Kings 18:4).

Bronze and stone serpent artifacts have been found in excavations in Canaan, Gezer and other parts of Israel.

This Hebrew symbol becomes significant in Christianity when Christ suggests kundalini awakening as the true destiny of all his followers:

“Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” (John 3:14-15)

According to NDE and kundalini expert, Barbara Whitfield (herself an NDEr), though the vocabulary of the kundalini hypothesis is foreign to mainstream scientists in the West, the concept of kundalini bears some resemblance to the more familiar “born-again experience” of the “Holy Spirit” described by many Christians. The New Testament describes the Holy Spirit as manifesting as “tongues of fire” over the heads of the apostles during the Pentecost. (Acts 2:1-4) In the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas (saying 101) and elsewhere, Christ says unequivocally that “the Holy Spirit is my mother.” In Luke 17:20-21, Jesus proclaims that “the Kingdom of God is within you.” The arousing of kundalini is said by some to be the one and only way of attaining divine wisdom or “gnosis” (self-knowledge). Self-realization is said to be equivalent to divine wisdom. The awakening of the kundalini shows itself as “awakening of inner knowledge” and brings with itself “pure joy, pure knowledge and pure love.”

Under yet another Tree (the Bodhi tree of Enlightenment), the Buddha sat in ecstatic meditation. According to Buddhist mythology, when a storm arose, the mighty serpent king Mucalinda rose up from his place beneath the Earth and enveloped the Buddha in seven coils for seven days, not to break his ecstatic state.

Serpents are connected with poison and medicine. The snake’s venom is associated with the chemicals of plants and fungi that have the power to either heal, poison or provide expanded consciousness (and even the elixir of life and immortality) through divine intoxication. Because of its herbal knowledge and psychoactive association the snake was often considered one of the wisest animals, being (close to the) divine. Its divine aspect combined with its habitat in the Earth between the roots of plants made it an animal with properties connected to the afterlife and immortality. Asclepius, the Greek God of medicine and healing, carried a staff with one serpent wrapped around it, which has become the symbol of modern medicine.

6. The Psychophysiological Benefits of Orgasms

Orgasms in both sexes can be extremely pleasurable and are often felt throughout the body, causing a mental state that is often described as transcendental. During ejaculation, the brain releases an increase of the hormone oxytocin. For this reason, oxytocin is sometimes referred to as the “bonding hormone.” Oxytocin evokes feelings of contentment, reductions in anxiety, and feelings of calmness and security between sexual partners. This suggests oxytocin may be important for inhibiting areas of the brain associated with fear and anxiety; thereby allowing orgasms to occur. Oxytocin also functions to protect against stress. Meta-analyses conducted in 2003 demonstrated that oxytocin can alleviate mood and reduce stress with a good efficiency. Other health benefits of orgasms include: (a) the obvious pleasurable physiological changes while having sex; (b) normal or increased activity in the limbic areas of the brain; and (c) the treatment of sexual dysfunctions such as anorgasmia. These beneficial effects have an impact on cultural views of having orgasms as well, such as the belief that frequent, satisfactory orgasms are important in sexual relationships, and theories about the biological and evolutionary functions of orgasm.

For at least two thousand years of European history until the late 19th century, so-called “female hysteria” was thought to be caused by disturbances of the uterus (from the Greek “hysteria” = uterus). Women considered to be suffering from it exhibited a wide array of symptoms including faintness, nervousness, sexual desire, insomnia, fluid retention, heaviness in the abdomen, muscle spasm, shortness of breath, irritability, loss of appetite for food or sex, and “a tendency to cause trouble”. By the middle to late 19th century, female hysteria was considered to be what medical science now recognizes to be sexual dysfunction. As unethical as it may seem, the typical treatment for female hysteria in those days was performed by a physician massaging the patient’s genitalia using a vibrator or water spray to cause orgasm. In the early 1890s, Sigmund Freud published a series of articles on hysteria which popularized his own views of on the subject. By the 1920s, the Freudian psychoanalytic school of psychology attributed hysterical symptoms to the unconscious mind’s attempt to protect the patient from psychic stress and recommended the clinical use of hypnosis as a treatment.

A 2011 study performed by Rutgers University, was the first to map the connection between female genitalia and the brain. Brain scans of several women stimulating themselves while in a functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) machine demonstrated how the brain registers distinct feelings between (a) stimulating the clitoris, (b) stimulating the cervix, and (c) stimulating the vaginal wall where the “G-Spot” is reported to be. A paper published in March of 2012 in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, provided documented evidence that vaginal and clitoral orgasms are separate phenomena that activate different areas of the brain and possibly suggest key psychological differences between women.

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Psychology Triggers of NDEs

The Trigger of Hypnosis: Palden Jenkins’ NDE

On August 13, 1974, Palden Jenkins (www.palden.co.uk) and an Australian named Paul, a very close friend and “soul-brother,” ate a bunch of wild herbs — one of which was Hemlock Water Dropwort, Europe’s most poisonous plant. When Paul began to get extremely sick, Jenkins told Mike’s wife to get help at the nearest house which was a half-a-mile away. Fortunately, Jenkins had first aid training and was able help Paul somewhat. Unfortunately, they were 30 to 40 miles away from the nearest hospital in Snowdonia, North Wales. As Jenkins was looking after Paul, Jenkins started to get sick himself and lose consciousness. The next thing Jenkins knew he woke up in the hospital after being unconscious for eight days. Unfortunately, Paul died of a brain hemorrhage due to the Hemlock’s enormous nerve poison. Later, Jenkins underwent hypnotic regression during which he discovered he had a near-death experience while he was sick and unconscious. The following is his NDE testimony while under hypnosis:

“In the inner world, Paul and I were walking hand in hand towards the Pearly Gates. It really was the Pearly Gates! I never knew the Pearly Gates actually existed, but they did — at least, in my experience. The wise guardian of the gate came. He welcomed us and addressed Paul. This wise being said some things to Paul such as, ‘Off you go. Go in through the gates.’

“I was about to follow and he said, ‘Stop! You’re not finished yet.’

“I think he told me some things that I have no way of remembering what he said. I just remember the feeling of it.

“I underwent a kind of panic and disorientation because, at that particular moment, I was quite relieved to be out of this life business and going in to the Pearly Gates. That was alright by me. So I was a bit panicked to be told it wasn’t going to happen. It was as if this being kind of just fixed me in an energy field.” (I’ve found I can do this sometimes. For example, with Tulki, my son, there are times when Tulki loses it and I can kind of fix him in an energy field and he’ll immediately just straighten up.)

“Then he fixed me. He said something like, ‘The whole of your self is going to dissolve,’ or words to that effect, ‘and you are going to become something different.’ It wasn’t exactly words, but that’s the kind of impression.

“I was calmer, but still a little bit disoriented. I had enough of the experience of near-death from a couple of accidents earlier in life and I knew that the best thing to do at the moment was to let go. Let be. And so I did just that.

“Then there was this beautiful experience. I was standing there as if this cloud of diamond fog (mist, diamond mist) kind of separated me from within myself. My selfhood kind of evaporating upwards – disappearing upwards into the Void. It was as if my being was just being lifted up. My pain and the human woes were getting lifted up. It was one of those feelings of ‘Aahhhhh! Aahhhhhh!’ (sounding hugely relieved).

“Then there was a pause. He (the wise guardian) was still standing in front of me and had me fixed in an energy pod — a non-visible energy pod. Then suddenly it was as if another person suddenly dropped into me from above. It just came ‘joomph!’ into me. It occupied my body. At that very moment (this gets confusing now), the old me just went ‘pop!’ It kind of popped out to the side — back and to the side.

“Suddenly (now this is the interesting bit), it (the other person) was standing perhaps a yard behind the body or energy-body that was me. The remarkable thing was that I was experiencing this from both places at the same time. The first experience was the me that had popped out. The second experience was the me into which this being had plopped. I was experiencing it simultaneously. I’ve experienced this since then in various ways. Because I do quite a lot of inner work nowadays, I experienced this since then. There was a poignant moment where the being that plopped out (I can remember the thought going on) thought, ‘Well, what happens now?’

“I didn’t feel as if anything bad was going on. There was a very matter-of-fact feeling to it; but, in another way it was like, ‘Whoaa!’ It was amazing.

“Then the Pearly Gates gentleman said something to me to indicate or instruct me in what I needed to do next.

“Then, I was in my etheric body and I was still me; but, I was over there as well. I reached in to my heart and reached straight in to my heart. As I did that, it was as if there was a spark. I can only call it a static, stationary spark. It was totally of the nature of a spark but it was not sparking. I hope this is making sense!

“I reached in and just took hold of the spark and I pulled it out of myself. It was almost like it was the length of my body. It was a very strange experience because I was totally willing for this to happen. But it was very weird, because I was taking my life essence out. Myself! And the heart was the nexus of it. I don’t know if anything intervened. I don’t think anything came in at that time, but basically, I took that spark and I just inserted it and pushed it in to the other me.

[Webmaster note: Jenkins experience with the “spark” pulled from his “etheric body” is a good description of the so-called “silver cord“. The rest of Jenkins’ testimony is a question and answer session with his hypnotherapist.]

Hypnotherapist: “The one that popped out?”

Paul Jenkins: “No. The one that had popped out was the me I’ve just been talking about from which I took the spark. I was putting the spark into the me that was still there – the me that had the other being who’d plopped into me, right?

“It was a little bit tricky. It involved some fitting and I had to do it quite carefully. It was as if there were thought waves coming from the Pearly Gates gentleman as well, who was helping and guiding this, but it was me doing it. I had to fit this into the other me. Now at the same time, I was experiencing this from the other me. And I was experiencing (This is confusing) both.”

Hypnotherapist: “You were both?”

Palden Jenkins: “Yes, I was both. I was both doing it and being done to.

“There was a point where it just went ‘click!’ It clicked in. Suddenly I could feel a slight bias of consciousness toward the me that had plopped out at that stage. But suddenly the consciousness clicked over to the other one much more, and so I was still conscious of the me that had popped out, but less so. It was as if the center of gravity of consciousness had shifted into the being out of whom I had popped and into which this other being had dropped. But the thing was, this other one who came in was me.”

Hypnotherapist: “That makes sense. That’s how I’ve always thought of walk-ins – as another aspect of yourself.”

Palden Jenkins: “Well, the way I came to understand it a bit later on, was as if we were brother souls. Actually, I use that word quite consciously to put in the masculine. In fact, I had some imagery (this is digressing a bit) where it was as if we were brother souls with a long-term specialist contract. The contract was that we were like marathon-runners and handing over the baton whenever necessary.”

[Webmaster note: Jenkins could be describing Paul as his “soulmate“.]

Palden Jenkins: “I had reached a dead end in my awakening. I think it was possibly do to the use of acid and psychedelics in the 60s, but not in the negative, judgmental way that a lot of people would think. There was nothing going wrong; but the problem was, I was no longer going to be able to integrate into the modern world properly. I had gone off too much. I was still sane. But in a sense, I was in the 14th century or prehistoric times or somewhere else. I was not going to be able to integrate again – this was the insight I got. So I needed to be re-booted and have some parts replaced.

“So there was this transfer of this, what I can only call, life-energy or life-spark. I was very aware that as soon as it clicked in, that being into whom it had clicked (who was me) was suddenly energized. I got an image here of Commander Data of Star Trek. There’s a part of me which is a bit like Data in a way. Sometimes I go into this super-brain kind of consciousness which is a bit like Data. I’ve even got that little turn of the head sometimes. It was as if the being that had just received the spark suddenly just clicked. Also, my consciousness had shifted over. I was still in two but the center of gravity had shifted.”

Hypnotherapist: “Was there anything else?”

Palden Jenkins: “There was some sort of interaction between these two selves. It was as if we were saying, “Hello.” It was a bit like some of the imagery that comes up in my life is about SAS work (Special Operations). It was a bit like we had met in the middle of the wilderness and there were some messages to get over before we parted company again. It was one of these quick five minute intense exchanges where this essential exchange had to go on with no niceties and no cups of tea. But it was through thought. Then there came a point where that came to a completion.

“Then, from the viewpoint of the me who had hopped out and then given its spark away, suddenly I felt as if the plug was pulled out. I started evaporating – dematerializing. There was this slightly tingly diamond evaporation. It was quite blissful – intensely blissful. That part of myself was dissolving – dematerializing. As soon as the spark had been given over and the essential exchanges had been made, there was no longer a purpose for that soul to be a constituted soul. So it just started evaporating. Now I was watching it from my other side or self.

“There was a feeling of an ‘out-of-your-body and your-body’s-been-really-cold’ deathly kind of sense. Then you come back in and perhaps you’ve had a hot drink or perhaps someone’s given you a massage or something like that and you can feel the life-energy gradually filling your body. You can feel the systems coming up again – the warmth rising. There was an experience like that.

“Now I’m a single being but I’ve got a new (the same body) personality with many of the same brain-thoughts and things like that. I’ve got a new (what I can only call) soul, but that’s not an adequate word for what had popped inside me. It was anchored by this spark which had activated the system and reintegrated it into one being. I was quite also surprised at the comfort of that.

“That’s where I think this business of brother souls comes in. It’s as if it was all very finely pre-calculated so that it would all exactly work. It was fascinating.

“Then I was with this Pearly Gates man, and he was giving me some quite lengthy instructions which (you know how it is in dreamtime; time is a very difficult thing to estimate.) was probably ten minutes of teachings or instructions or exchanges. Then it was over.

“Suddenly, there was this process starting up where there was a rumble and a feeling that I was starting to get heavier. Then there was this faaalling … faaalling … aaaaaaah … kind of feeling. A feeling of going into the soup – going down into the thickness.

“There was an element in me of reluctance – but not exactly. It was the same feeling I had experienced in the pre-birth experience as well – a poignant mixture of reluctance and willingness – kind of ‘job-to-be-done’ approach to things. It was kind of a, ‘Right lads, come on. We’ve got to get on with it and the sooner we get this over with the better.’ That kind of approach. I’ve always been like that really.

“I’m a Virgo – a very Saturnine Virgo. I’ve always been somewhat unwilling to be alive. But I also know that there is no alternative until the job’s done and that I would regret it if I did otherwise. It’s that kind of strange poignant mixture. This was the reincarnation process. It was like going down into the treacle – into the density. And that was really the end of the experience.

“I think I’ve included all the details, at least, the details that I’ve uncovered and I can remember. Actually, I only got this in the regression I did in 1994, twenty years after. I put in a lot of effort. I realized, golly, it’s twenty years, so I decided I’d make an effort to try and get it.” (Palden Jenkins)

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Psychology Triggers of NDEs

The Trigger of Falling from Heights: Norman Paulsen’s NDE

Norman Paulsen is a life-long student of Jesus Christ as well as a direct disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda, the first yoga master of India to live and teach in the West. Paulsen founded the Sunburst Sangha-Community which is composed of people who desire to practice a conscious way of life based upon the teachings of an eightfold path of right living and twelve divine virtues. These teachings promote virtuous thought, positive action, and the attainment of constant communion with God. Their mission is to create a fertile environment, within and without, that cultivates spiritual growth and nurtures each seeker’s direct experience of the Divine — the journey of Self-realization! The name “Sunburst” evokes the brilliance of “I Am That I Am” — the living divine presence destined to awaken within each soul as the pure Self. Their teachings are offered with the intention to guide one to the realization of the teacher within. Here one will find meditation techniques in the Kriya Yoga tradition, as well as mindfulness practices and timeless principles of virtue (see the Rainbow Path) to support one’s journey.

Paulsen is the author of the book Sacred Science: Meditation, Transformation, Illumination. He is also author of Christ Consciousness in which he describes his near-death experience. His NDE led him to create concepts and a meditation offering a path to the pure Self within, and the Kingdom of Heaven. The path “leads the reader through meditation, conduct, study, speech, association, nourishment, work and recreation, and the vessel is virtue. To attempt to live the 12 virtues … loyalty, patience, honesty, perseverance, compassion, continence, equanimity, courage, humility, temperance, charity and faith, is to … plant positive seeds in the field of power around us.”

Norman was working as a lineman for the telephone company. He climbed a telephone pole and snapped his safety strap into place but because he was in a hurry, he made the mistake of not looking to see that his safety strap was securely in place. It wasn’t. When he leaned back on the tool belt, it came undone. The result is Paulsen’s NDE as described in his book, Christ Consciousness:


I was falling backward. I could hardly believe what was happening. It was too late to grab the pole or anything with my hands.

“Oh God, this is it!”

I was more than thirty feet above the ground, too high to survive this fall without injury. I watched the pole move quickly away from my field of vision as I plummeted earthward, head first.

I tried to prepare myself for the shock that was about to come when I hit the ground. Instead, I felt nothing at all. There was a bright flash of light, like the sun shining in my face and then silence.

I am standing stationary in the air, high above the familiar coastline of Santa Barbara. There, far below, waves on the surface of the ocean are moving inward toward the shore. My memory is beginning to reveal what has happened. My physical body has suffered a bad fall; it is lying somewhere down below.

I have been pulled forth from the physical body by the dual forces of Christ. My physical body may be dead or badly injured. The all-pervading sounds of Hum and Om fill the sea of life surrounding me. To the northwest a vision of unparalleled magnificence confronts me; the astral world is suspended rainbow-like on the horizon.

I am moving northward now, impelled by silent motion, my arms outstretched before me. I am flying higher and higher without effort. There below me is the whole coastline of California! The soft, astral colors surrounding the Earth hang like a perpetual aurora borealis in every direction. My thoughts now reveal facts long known from deep within my soul. To leave the Earth in my present form, I must exit through the north polar vortex. Here, there is a door.

Moving northward, my thoughts remind me of all my earthly commitments left behind. There below is San Luis Obispo on the west coast. An astral image of a meditating Buddha – it must be representing Dad! I have not said goodbye to him. This really troubles me; now the image is slowly disappearing like a fog.

A distant memory reminds me of my destination out there through the north polar vortex. Here the moving currents meet, creating an aperture in the magnetic field. The Northern Hemisphere is spread out beneath me now; how fantastic! Large portions of it are visible through the haze of astral clouds; the colors are more magnificent than any I have ever seen. Again my thoughts reveal facts long known from deep within my soul.

Mother Earth is operated by two master forces of vortex, one descending through the Earth’s core at the North Pole, and one ascending through and around the surface at the South Pole. The movement of astral and physical energies from the South Pole to North Pole swings the needle of the compass perpetually toward the magnetic North Pole. Mother Earth, with her forces of nature, spins on divine time amidst the forces of vortex, her original creators. Dead worlds, such as our moon, cease to spin, as the forces of vortex are removed.

The physical body of man is similar to Mother Earth. Both are created and operated by the actions of vortex, masculine and feminine, the right and left hands of God. The crown of our head at birth, and for months thereafter, is soft and throbbing with each heartbeat. It is here that we find the long lost door to Divine Spirit and the gateway to the kingdom of heaven, at the magnetic north pole of man. It is also through this door on the crown of the head, that the divine masculine creative force enters into the tree of life, our spinal column. It moves downward in a counterclockwise vortex. The magnetic south pole of man is the lower end of the spine. Here the divine feminine force enters, moving upward in a clockwise vortex. It is from the movements of these sacred dual forces of life and consciousness that Divine Spirit spun and wove the creation and all the images contained therein into visible form. The motion of these sacred forces of vortex, and the understanding thereof, provides the key to the hidden door, which opens into the timeless existence of Divine Spirit, Mother-Father God, I Am That I Am.

Our Divine Parents hold the expanding spheres of creation in Their right and left hands of vortex, producing duality in the creation. All visible forms are the production and the reproduction of the sacred forces of vortex moving on invisible arcs to themes reflecting the golden proportions of 1.618.

The physical bodies of man and woman on Earth evolved forth from the mud of the waters and did not have immortal life. Humanity today can receive the gift of immortality (Christ consciousness) only when we allow the angels to descend with the masculine and feminine sacred forces of vortex, bringing about the anointment and the Baptism of Fire! These dual and divine forces of Christ can unite within us and bring about the conception and birth of the divine spiritual embryo, the Christ child, within our heart centers. Human beings, as the sons and daughters of man, existing in simple and self-conscious states, have little present knowledge of the sacred forces of vortex administered by the angels. They are unaware of their predestined bonding and union within (the birth of Christ consciousness around the divine spiritual embryo). Because these divine forces find it very difficult to enter humanity on Earth at this time, humankind ceases to spin or move on God’s time. Human beings find themselves out of harmony with the garden of the world and all its creatures, including their own brothers and sisters, with whom they are constantly at war. The family of man unfortunately, with the exception of a small minority, has become a dead world unto itself, like our moon. Ceasing to spin on God’s time, man is always too early or too late.

These things passed before me as I observed the fantastic blue orb of Mother Earth beneath me, surely the only perfect poem. Magnificent are the divine images of Your creation, Father-Mother! Oh, let me be with You always, just as a humble son. I truly love You, and all I see and know of You, my heavenly Father and Mother.

I reflected again on the image of my earthly father. I must somehow say goodbye to him before I leave. Turning, I observed a swirling white mass of light particles moving downward beneath me like a sparkling spiral stairway. Yes, a stairway to heaven does exist. I am now moving downward within the brilliant white fiery substance.

There is my body lying at the foot of the telephone pole, covered with blankets. Without sensation, I enter it again. My eyes open to see concerned faces looking down upon me.

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Psychology Triggers of NDEs

The Trigger of Extreme Stress: Melanie’s NDE

Melanie was under extreme stress one day and thought her head was going to explode. She laid down on her bed and started to do some muscle relaxing techniques in order to calm down. After a short while, she could no longer feel her body at all. She felt like she was floating outside of her body.

The following is Melanie’s near-death experience which was triggered by experiencing extreme stress.


I was outside of my body. I had my eyes closed. Then suddenly this bright light was in front of me. It was huge, bright white light, but it did not hurt to look at. In fact, it was restful to look at. It engulfed me with calmness and love and yet it did not touch me. I just looked at it for a while.

I then came back [to reality], I opened my eyes and sat bolt upright and I knew without any doubt that:

(1) That bright light was God.

(2) That I had remembered my near-death experience of when I was 11 years old. I had tonsillitis at that time and almost died because of a complicated during surgery.

To this day I KNOW that, that was what this was. I know that the two experiences were one in the same.

What impact has this had on my life? Many. But I have been surrounded with extremely stressful situations (especially in the last 5 years) since that time, and most people have said to me that they would have not been able to cope.

And yet, I seem to be able to cope with anything/everything, because I feel that light is inside of me, protecting me from harm, and coping with me. I have this feeling of fearlessness. I certainly have no fear of death.

I believe that there is one God – whom is that light of love. I believe that light could be the Christian God, the Muslim God, the Hindu God, the Jewish God, the Buddhist God and I believe that does not matter. I also have a strong faith in reincarnation and rebirth (and that these two messages are written in all faiths).

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Psychology Triggers of NDEs

The Trigger of Extreme Meditation: Joni Maggi’s NDE

Meditation is a technique to tune up the instrument that is our body, mind and emotions to more clearly perceive reality. This could be described as expanding our consciousness and understanding our true nature. Through meditation we can realize and be aware of many states of consciousness. Near-death experiences often describe going into the light and this can be achieved through meditation. A British doctor, Sam Parnia, who studied 63 patients who were revived after being declared clinically dead, concluded that consciousness doesn’t die and that the brain is merely a receiving station for consciousness. This agrees with the notion that meditation is the practice of using your receiving station to connect with your higher states of consciousness. The following is Joni Maggi’s NDE which was triggered through meditation. Her experience is not unique and there have been others who have had an NDE triggered by meditation. Her experience also appears in Kevin Williams‘ book, Nothing Better Than Death.


Close your eyes for a moment and try to imagine that you are face to face with the sun! What an extraordinary feeling! I thought to myself:

“How can I be face to face with the sun and not feel the burning heat?”

This first thought shocked and puzzled me – to be thinking in the way I would normally think.

It was literally so bright that I could not sustain the gaze so I turned away. At that moment I noticed a silver cord, attached around the navel area going down, down, down to a person I saw lying on my bed. It was me! I had a curious non-interest in it.

Suddenly, I was in dark outer space, floating as it were on my back, in what I can only describe as total “bliss” (one of a few words which I’ll explain later I had never understood before that point!)

I’m not sure how long this ecstatic feeling lasted but it was what I suppose is called Cosmic Consciousness or cosmic bliss. I knew that: the Universe is upheld by love (though if you ask me now I would not be able to explain that!)

I knew that the planets are alive and conscious. I knew that they would never bump into each other on purpose or cause any damage – there was no violence but rather a total harmony in their existence.

I then looked down and could see the Earth – far far away and down in this dark sky. I knew that it was a place of violence, a realm shrouded in darkness and difficulties, so to speak.

At one point I saw what I can only describe as a group of beings – perhaps Beings of Light would describe them best. I then zoomed over to them – literally willed myself over to them (swoosh!) and was there instantaneously.

They were seated (?) in an oval circle and there seemed to be a leader of some sort at the head of the group.

First of all, I felt the most overwhelming love coming from them! It cannot be compared to anything here on Earth. For one, I felt that it was an inclusive group – rather than an exclusive one. (Here on Earth we seem to have trouble letting new people into groups but there it was as if all of them at the same time were welcoming me!)

I heard them – in my mind – say, “Welcome home! You have been on such a long journey!”

I had the feeling that they were sharing life experiences and learning from each other, as if in a sort of classroom.

I didn’t have time to find out because at this point I said to the leader, again telepathically, “I cannot stay! I have to bring up my son!” with a real sense of urgency.

At the time my son was 4 years old and I knew somehow that I had the absolute obligation to bring him up and take care of him. Years later, when I thought of this, I understood that we live in a “moral Universe“.

I immediately started coming down again. And as I was coming down, I saw – as if written on the entire dark sky – this message:

“There is nothing worth worrying about! Not even death!”

And again I knew – or understood in an instant that death is exactly like falling asleep.

What happens is that you let go of daily consciousness and slip into another. Or for that matter, like waking up – you let go of sleeping consciousness and find yourself in our recognized reality. It was an incredible feeling of peace to know that there is no death!

All of a sudden, I was awake and I literally ran to my table to write everything down because I knew that the ‘veils’ (another new word for me) were going to fall and that I would forget or lose the feeling of the experience. I had the feeling that a shaft of light had come down through the top of my head. The top of my head was literally tender!

The third word I came to know was “grace” (which up to that point I thought meant the prayer that Christians say at the dinner table.)

I had been an atheist – or agnostic – up until my experience but after that, though the veils did fall down again, I have spent the last 20 years, trying to recapture that feeling, that absolute knowing. I feel closer and closer to it all the time now.

I felt that I had been given a gift of tremendous value! I could not, and can not to this day understand how that works or what that means. I only know that I had been in a state of emotional crisis – I was living at the time in South America and undergoing a painful separation from my husband so I found myself alone, depressed and with a very young child. I had also been asking myself the question:

“What one thought gives peace?” for a very long time.

Somehow, I feel that my earnest and extremely deep need to find an answer to the ups and downs of life was answered in that unspeakably profound experience.

This is the first time I am sharing my experience so openly with others because my family and friends, of course, at the time did not believe me or understand me. Plus the fact that I myself had lost contact with the light and only years later did I start to remember it and piece it together again coherently.

Now, it is probably the most important thing I can do – to remember it and to share it with others. If it hadn’t been for the experience I probably would not have pursued the spiritual path with such relentless passion as I understand that there is a spiritual need which cannot be filled by any other thing than … how shall I call it? The “spirit.”

I also know that it was real! Actually, I could say that it was the only real thing that has ever happened to me. At this point I cherish sharing my experience with others and hope to learn afresh from their experiences to continue to get a wider and wider appreciation and understanding of this phenomenon.

I still have many unanswered questions:

“Why was I blessed with this experience?” (I think it was because without it I never would have been able to go on, but even so, who “gave” it to me or how did I receive it?)

“Why are other people not given the same experience, though some search for it so longingly?”

And it has only whetted my appetite to know more – everything! – about our life purposes, life after death, etc!

Unfortunately I cannot – as I mentioned, retrieve the feeling of it and sometimes I still forget and find myself in darkness and pain. But just remembering it and sharing it helps me – and who knows maybe others – to know more and more about it, especially now that these phenomena are coming more and more to light!

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Psychology Triggers of NDEs

The Trigger of Extreme Gravity: Dr. James Winnery’s NDE Research

The scientific method requires a phenomenon to be able to be reproducible under laboratory conditions for it to be declared a “real” phenomenon. In the early days, near-death experiences were thought by some to be just “phantom” visions and nothing more than imagination. But then Dr. James E. Whinnery, a chemistry professor with West Texas A&M, became involved with research involving fighter pilots being subjected to extreme gravitational forces in a giant centrifuge to simulate the extreme conditions that can occur during aerial combat maneuvering. Strangely enough, it turns out that under extreme g-forces, fighter pilots lose consciousness (known as “G-LOC“) and have a near-death experience. Whinnery wrote a technical report for the National Institute for Discovery Science about the phenomenon and in doing so proved the near-death experience to be a real phenomenon. Dr. Whinnery published his study, Psychophysiologic Correlates of Unconsciousness and Near-Death Experiences (PDF), in the Journal of Near-Death Studies. The following is a summary of his technical report of how NDEs are triggered by severe gravitational forces.

NDE Research By Dr. James Winnery

Scientific research has tried to unlock the secrets of death and what happens to consciousness after death. Our scientific understanding of the mind/brain chemistry involved in the processes of death remains relatively limited. In spite of the findings reported from these studies, little emphasis has been placed on the loss of consciousness. The results of the loss and recovery of consciousness experiments in healthy humans may provide insight into the normal processes in the brain that occurs in association with NDEs.

This report focuses on the mind/brain events associated with acceleration gravitationally-induced loss of consciousness, also known as G-LOC, in completely healthy individuals. Acceleration of gravitational stress is a unique aspect of flying fighter aircraft during aerial combat maneuvering. Modern fighter aircraft can attain high levels of gravitational forces that puts most humans at risk for G-LOC.

The gravitational-stress reduces blood flow to the head and causes pooling of blood in the abdomen and extremities which result in G-LOC. A solution for the G-LOC problem requires a thorough understanding of the alterations of consciousness. Although preventing further losses of aircrew and aircraft is the goal of fighter aviation medicine, the results from experiments involving G-LOC in completely healthy humans should be of interest to a broad range of scientific disciplines.

The results to be discussed represent data collected from over fifteen years of acceleration research and more than 700 episodes of G-LOC that occurred in fighter aircraft and during gravitational centrifuge exposure. The research subjects averaged in age of 32 years. All of them were healthy after having successfully completed a military physical examination. The G-LOC episodes from the centrifuge were all recorded on videotape for analysis.

When gravitational stress is applied well above tolerance, there is a short time period during which normal brain function persists, despite loss of adequate blood flow. At the end of this period, consciousness is lost, and the gravitational stress is reduced back to normal conditions. The length of the unconsciousness averaged 12 seconds with a -5 to +5 standard deviation and a range of 2 to 38 seconds. The estimated average length of time blood flow to the central nervous system was altered during the loss and recovery of consciousness was approximately 15 to 20 seconds.

Convulsive activity was observed in 70% of the G-LOC episodes. The convulsive activity began on the average 7.7 seconds after the onset of unconsciousness and lasted 3.9 seconds. The convulsions would cease with the return of consciousness. Upon recovery of consciousness, there is a period of relative incapacitation that lasts on the average about 12 seconds, in which there exists confusion/disorientation.

It is possible to classify the G-LOC episodes. The G-LOC experience includes specific visual symptoms (tunnel vision through blackout), convulsive activity, memory alterations, dreamlets, and other psychological symptoms. The major, overall G-LOC experience characteristics that have commonality with NDEs are shown below.

G-LOC Characteristics in Common With NDEs

  1. Tunnel vision / Bright light
  2. Floating
  3. Automatic movement
  4. Autoscopy
  5. Out-of-body experience
  6. Not wanting to be disturbed
  7. Paralysis
  8. Vivid dreamlets / Beautiful places
    a. Euphoria
    b. Dissociation
  9. Pleasurable
  10. Psychologic state alteration
  11. Friends/Family inclusion
  12. Prior memories/Thoughts inclusion
  13. Very memorable (when remembered)
  14. Confabulation
  15. Strong urge to understand

The G-LOC syndrome, however, suggests that loss of consciousness may be considered to be an evolutionarily developed protective mechanism that is evoked in a stepwise sequence in the face of excessive gravitational stress, well before any pathologic alterations of the nervous system occurs. Specific states of consciousness, subconsciousness, and unconsciousness are induced during loss and recovery of consciousness. One additional state of consciousness, a state that corresponds to a critically low range of blood flow, is where death occurs. The magnitude and duration of the gravity induced reduction of activity in the cephalic nervous system determines just how near to the state of death the individual comes.

Conclusion

Altered brain states, whether resulting from G-LOC or the NDE, can produce vivid experiences to those who have them. Some differences between G-LOC and the NDE would be expected, if for no other reasons than the circumstances that cause them and the magnitude of the insults to the nervous system, which are different. The G-LOC syndrome symptoms are the normal responses of completely healthy individuals to relatively minimal periods of cephalic nervous system ischemia. If there are unique characteristics associated with the NDE, then their isolation would appear to be facilitated by focusing on what the real differences are in the individuals, their physical states, the environmental situation, the type of insult, and the symptomology between G-LOC and the NDE.

The mind/brain events of the NDE may be at least partially open to experimental investigation in healthy humans and not solely upon clinical happenstance. The need to understand the states of consciousness, subconsciousness, and unconsciousness, along with the mechanisms that cause the transition between these states is shared by those investigating NDEs and G-LOC.

Loss-of-consciousness episodes of all types appear to have an explainable physiologic basis. They are, therefore, open for scientific investigation. At least the loss of consciousness aspect of the NDE, therefore, has a potentially explainable and experimentally explorable basis. It would be odd if the symptoms associated with loss and recovery of consciousness were not part of the NDE. The fact that many of the NDE symptoms are very similar to those resulting from loss and recovery of consciousness suggests that individuals who report their NDEs have provided accurate symptom descriptions. This includes those symptoms beyond the scope of G-LOC experimentation, which are unique to the NDE.

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Psychology Triggers of NDEs

The Trigger of Dreams: Ray Meir’s Near-Death Experience

Throughout history and in many cultures, the phenomenon of contacting the deceased through dreams have been well documented. Such dream experiences of the deceased are reported in many sacred texts such as the Bible. One particular example in the Bible is the story of Jacob’s ladder in Genesis 28:10-17. A more contemporary example is the amazing case of Claire Sylvia who was able to successfully contact the deceased owner of her organ transplant through her dreams. There have also been reports of near-death experiences (NDEs) being triggered through dreams. One example is the case of Ray Meir who, in March of 2002, had to undergo a number (4) catherization involving no anesthesia to determine if there was problems with his heart. The first procedure was exploratory and the results were that Meir had three arteries blocked, one of which was 99% blocked. During the second procedure, Meir had a near-death experience (NDE) triggered by a dream he had while the procedure was taking place. The following article describes Meir’s experience in his own words.


On the last procedure (one week later) we had problems. The local anesthetic was injected and the cath was inserted.

Within seconds of the cath incretion I fell asleep … (remember no anesthetics were administered).

I dreamed that I was in a very dark vast peaceful area (much like floating through outer space, total darkness). However, the feeling was extremely peaceful and I felt very comfortable.

I was surrounded by a total darkness, and I could not see anything in any direction (including down since I was floating). However, when I looked forward I saw a very (extremely) bright light. Much like looking at headlights in a car on a dark road, except that there was only one light and it was extremely bright. However, I did not have to shade my eyes because instead of bothering me the light was attracting me to it.

The feeling was extremely peaceful and I felt very much at peace.

I felt a great love emanating from the light.

As I walked towards the light (I’m still surrounded in darkness except for the light in front of me, which was attracting me to it) much like a child walking to its father, I felt very much at ease, and very much in peace with myself and my surroundings.

As I walked towards the light I noticed that there were two silhouettes of persons standing on either side of the light. However, I could not make out the persons in the silhouettes.

I continued to walk towards the light and at one point my entire surroundings light up (much like walking into a lighted room). I was now within the light along with the silhouettes.

I could now clearly see them. They were my mother and my father. They passed away in 1997 and 1999. There was a another person standing between them. It seemed as if this person was glowing, a halo around him (the light was emanating from the person). I could now clearly see the person also. It was Jesus Christ.

No words were spoken by anyone. We just looked at each other. Their facial expressions were very comforting, as if looking at me with approval and love. Much the way a mother or a father would look at a child that they had not seen in a long time, but were happy (approved of him/her) to see him/her.

The time passed quite fast and the next thing that I remember is wakening in the operating room, and asking “What happened.”

I remember seeing the nurse standing over me and telling me to wake up. I had a pain on my chest, much like getting hit with a baseball bat, and my chest area felt as if was burned. Much like a severe sun burn.

I was then given medications and transferred to the ICU. I was later told that I had coded. According to the nurse, within minutes of commencing the procedure my blood pressure immediately dropped and my heart stopped beating. I have been told that I flat-lined and had to be paddled 5x before my heart began to beat again. Later my doctor explained that my BP was 120/80, immediately dropped to 0/0, and would not rise. Then immediately returned to 120/80, after the fifth resuscitation procedure. The BP never dropped I just bottomed out and then returned to normal.

I sincerely believe that I died on the table, and came back. I sincerely believe that I saw my parents and the Son of God. I sincerely believe that God has placed me back on this Earth for a purpose.

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Psychology Triggers of NDEs

The Trigger of Brain Stimulation: Dr. Bruce Greyson’s NDE Research

Doctors say they have triggered out-of-body experiences (OBEs) in a female patient by stimulating her brain. They believe their work may help to explain mysterious incidents when people report experiences of “leaving” their body and watching it from above. The doctors did not set out to achieve the effect – they were actually treating the women for epilepsy. Neurologist Professor Dr. Olaf Blanke and colleagues at University Hospitals of Geneva and Lausanne in Switzerland were using electrodes to stimulate the brain. They found that stimulating one spot – the angular gyrus in the right cortex – repeatedly caused out-of-body experiences (OBEs).

Initially, the stimulations caused the woman to feel she was “sinking” into the bed, or falling from a height. When the current amplitude was increased, she reported leaving her body. She told the doctors, “I see myself lying in bed, from above, but I only see my legs and lower trunk.” Further stimulations led to a feeling of lightness and “floating” close to the ceiling. The patient was then asked to watch her real legs as current was passed through the electrodes attached to her head. This time she reported her legs “becoming shorter”. If bent, her legs appeared to be moving quickly towards her face, causing her to take evasive action. A similar effect happened when she was asked to look at her outstretched arms. The left arm appeared shortened, but the right arm was unaffected. If both arms were bent by 90 degrees at the elbow, the woman felt her left lower arm and hand were moving towards her face.

The doctors believe the angular gyrus plays an important role in matching up visual information and the brain’s touch and balance representation of the body. When the two become dissociated, an out-of-body-experience may result. Writing in the journal Nature, the Swiss team said out-of-body experiences tended to be short-lived, and to disappear when a person attempts to inspect the illusory body or body part. Professor Blanke believes that out-of-body sensations may be caused by an overactive angular gyrus. Alternatively, the electrical stimulation might actually have depressed activity in the area.

He said it was impossible to rule out possibility that other areas of the brain were also involved. He said there was no evidence to suggest that out-of-body experiences were linked to epilepsy. He states, “OBEs have been reported in neurological patients with epilepsy, migraine and after cerebral strokes, but they also appear in healthy subjects. Awareness of a biological basis of OBEs might allow some patients who suffer frequently from OBEs to talk about them more openly. In addition, physicians might take the phenomenon more seriously and carry out necessary investigations such as an EEG, MRI, and neurological examinations.”

However, researchers say that brain-mapping results do not entirely explain these strange reports – nor do reductionist arguments fully explain them. Neurologist Dr. Bruce Greyson of the University of Virginia said the experiment does not necessarily prove that all OBEs are illusions. He said it is possible that some OBEs occur in different ways than the scientists suspect. “We cannot assume from the fact that electrical stimulation of the brain can induce OBE-like illusions that all OBEs are therefore illusions,” replied University of Virginia neurologist Dr. Bruce Greyson.

Dr. Blanke concedes, “We do not fully understand the neurological mechanism that causes OBEs.”

The Swiss researchers mapped the brain activity of a 43-year old woman who had been experiencing seizures for 11 years. They implanted electrodes to stimulate portions of her brain’s right temporal lobe. The temporal lobe, which includes the angular gyrus structure, is associated with perception of sound, touch, memory and speech. Dr. Blanke suspects that the right angular gyrus integrates signals from the visual system, as well as information on touch and balance.

Millions of people have reported OBEs, but relatively few have been clinically analyzed.

In 2001, the British medical journal Lancet published a Dutch study in which 344 cardiac patients were resuscitated from clinical death. About 12 percent reported out-of-body experiences, seeing light at the end of a tunnel, and speaking to dead relatives.