When is a Dream More than a Dream
Section C: Transpersonal Psychology Literature - How the Focus ANE Relates
Transpersonal psychology is a relatively new discipline, first perceived in the 1960’s. A new force or focus upon mystical/psychological knowledge was emerging, and by 1968, highly respected psychologists Stanislav Grof, Abraham Maslow, and Anthony Sutich had settled upon the title “transpersonal” and established this as a recognized term (Sutich, 1976).
Nonordinary states of consciousness played an extremely important role throughout history, from the trances of medicine people to the revelations of prophets. In fact, all preindustrial cultures placed high value on the altered states as a means of connecting with spiritual dimensions. Unfortunately, the age of modern science in western civilization dismissed all visionary states as pathological distortions (Grof & Grof, 1989, p. xi).
Stanislav Grof had been one of those particularly concerned about this situation, determining that transpersonal experiences could not be adequately explained as products of neurophysiological processes because they included elements that science did not accept as objectively real. He noted, “We can encounter deities, demons, spirit guides, inhabitants of other universes or mythological figures, all of whom appear as real to us as the things we encounter in daily life.” He claimed that transpersonal experiences are “remarkable phenomena that challenge the very basis of the traditional Western world view” (Grof & Grof, 1989, p. 11). He identified these events as part of a process of spiritual emergence which promotes an understanding of unity and an increased reverence for all life.
The focus ANE qualifies as a transpersonal experience according to Grof’s criteria. It took place in an altered state of consciousness, included an extraterrestrial, and resulted in the experiencer’s spiritual advancement. In fact, all ANEs can be characterized as transpersonal experiences, although the reverse is not true. ANEs can accurately be designated as a class of transpersonal experiences.
Abraham Maslow developed the concept of self-actualization. He states that only one percent of humans are consistently successful with the difficult tasks of clearly interpreting intuitions and repeatedly making correct choices. These lucky ones come to exhibit the untainted, mature version of the essential core of human nature as it was meant to be. Fortunately, all people experience at least brief moments of self-actualization according to Maslow. He labels these “peak experiences” and describes them as highs of ecstasy, rapture, and serenity, initiated by a wide range of stimulants, which take a person beyond normal consciousness into the transpersonal realms. Maslow suggests that the divine is manifesting within a person during a peak experience - that the person is actually Godlike (Maslow, 1968).
The subject has no doubt that
the focus ANE was a peak experience. She
felt more alive and centered during it than in any other moment of her
existence. She is unable to agree
with Maslow’s proposal that a person is Godlike during these episodes,
however. The subject quite
precisely recalls that she felt surrounded and embraced by God; filled and
inspired by the Holy Spirit; but not Godlike.
Roberto Assagioli, Italian psychiatrist and founder of the original psychotherapeutic system Psychosynthesis, explains:
The inner experience of the spiritual Self, and its intimate association with the personal self, gives a sense of internal expansion, of universality, and the conviction of participating in some way in the divine nature. (Grof & Grof, 1989, p. 35)
harmonious inner awakening is characterized by a sense of joy and mental
illumination that brings with it an insight into the meaning and purpose of
life; it dispels many doubts, offers the solution of many problems, and gives an
inner source of security. (Grof
& Grof, 1989, p. 37)
Assogioli’s phrase “sense of internal expansion” reminds the subject of how she felt during the wind element of the “love of the Mother” attribute. His words “participating in some way in the divine nature” resonate with the subject’s memory of the overall focus ANE event, whereas Maslow’s choice of the word Godlike did not.
Rudolf Steiner’s theories and achievements as a philosopher, scientist, artist, and educator are strongly connected to transpersonal psychological thought, even though he died in 1925, well before the official term crystallized. Included in his brilliant, voluminous works are several models of human nature. Step 1 of the Four-Fold Model is sensory perception made possible by the physical body. In step 2, the sensory impressions stimulate imagination which then touches upon and interacts with the etheric forces of an object and the individual sensing. Step 2 is considered an elementary stage in clairvoyance. In the ascent to step 3, one becomes aware of one’s astral/soul body. Steiner’s explanation is that the astral/soul body is best understood as consciousness. During step 3, the two elements temporarily separate to take on different linking functions - the astral body to the physical and the soul body to the realm of spirit. Step 4 is intuitive knowledge made possible by spirit and the highly evolved “I” which resides there. Steiner believed that the major evolutionary challenge of humankind in the present era exists at the step 3, consciousness-soul level. He claimed that humans are currently developing the capacity to communicate with and to move into spirit (McDermott, 1984).
With the Four-Fold model as a reference point, Steiner may well have evaluated the focus ANE as follows. While sleeping on the night of February 14/15, 1988, the experiencer’s astral body served as a link to her physical body. The soul body, having split away temporarily from the astral, acted as a link to the spiritual realms. The result was step 4, intuitive knowledge - the “love of the Father,” the “love of the Mother,” and the understanding of life eternal. Steiner would probably have deemed the subject a participant in the step 3 evolutionary work.
Steiner is not the only thinker involved with transpersonal material who claims that senses can emanate from the powers of the imagination. Fred Wolf is a successful modern-day physicist who has expanded his investigations into the laws of the universe to include the shamanic world. While meeting with the Chumash medicine people, members of a tribe in the Amazonian rain forest, he was informed by their representative:
(modern Westerners) have lost five of our senses.
The senses of our imagination, five of our ten senses, have been removed
from our education. The first five
are the normal ones. Then you have
the imaginal senses. The sense of
self-healing...the sense of self-destruction...the sense of penetration - to be
able to penetrate other levels, other worlds, other dimensions.
The sense of perception - to be able to see and understand what you are
perceiving in those other worlds. And,
the sense of revelation - to be able to use what you have perceived because it
has been revealed to you. These are
the ten senses the Chumash work with. (Wolf,
1991, pp. 162 - 163)
If the Chumash medicine people critiqued the focus ANE, they would probably conclude that the imaginal senses of penetration, perception, and revelation had been functioning normally.
It is fortunate that the Chumash medicine people chose to reveal their age-old knowledge to Fred Wolf. For, John Mack, in one of his talks at the Association for Research and Enlightenment (ARE) in spring 1995, mentions that a Cherokee medicine woman sought him out when she heard of his work with alleged UFO abductees. She revealed that meetings with other-dimensional beings are fairly common amongst native peoples, but that the whole phenomena is considered sacred and is rarely discussed (Mack, 1995).
In Up From Eden: A Transpersonal View of Human Evolution, Ken Wilber writes of shamans operating at consciousness levels above that of the ordinary human. Wilber divides the spectrum of human consciousness into eight levels, which coincide with prehistoric and historic eras. According to his theory, the bulk of humankind now functions at level 4, the egoic/science level. Shamans and authentic psychics enter level 5, the realm of psychic awareness and the beginning of superconsciousess. Interestingly, shamans emerged during the period of level 2, the body-self period. This was the time of the Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon man, when people had first come to realize they were individuals and separate from nature. Even at this early date, shamans had developed the ability to access level 5. Wilber explains that a small percentage of individuals have always had the adeptness to leap several rungs of consciousness beyond the majority position (Wilber, 1996).
Level 6 is the realm of subtle awareness, archetypal oneness, light, and bliss. This is the atmosphere and essence of the focus ANE. According to Wilber’s eight levels theory, it is perfectly possible that the focus ANE experiencer temporarily exited the egoic/science level 4 and vaulted to level 6.
The preceding transpersonal ideas and theories make a strong case for the focus ANE being an event which occurred outside the dimensions of ordinary human consciousness.
Section D: UFO Literature - How the Focus ANE Relates
The experiencer is adamant. The UFO element is integral to the focus ANE. A reference to the experiencer’s written record of the focus ANE on page 5, reminds that the flying saucer is not part of the original memory. Rather, as pointed out, the recollection is triggered by Bob’s recounting of his powerful dream on the same night. Nonetheless, from the instant the triggered memory surfaced, the experiencer has never had any question in her mind - the UFO is an authentic attribute of the focus ANE.
UFO literature divides into two broad, basic categories: 1) the literature that deals with waking-life sightings of UFO spacecraft/occupants and the accompanying physical evidence; and 2) the encounter/abduction literature - accounts by and about people who believe they have had interaction with UFO occupants, frequently termed extraterrestrials or aliens (Thompson, 1991). The fact that the “sighting” of the UFO in the focus ANE took place while the experiencer was technically asleep, and because there was no discernible physical evidence left by the spacecraft, the focus ANE does not qualify for inclusion in the first category - traditional mainstream scientific UFO research. This study would not be advanced by attempts to meaningfully reference a body of literature which does not address material of the type the focus ANE contains.
category of UFO literature yields the pertinent data.
There are subdivisions. Two
sections are the contactee and the abductee.
Contactees are most often defined as people who claim to have had
encounters with friendly extraterrestrials and to have traveled to distant
galaxies where secrets of the universe are revealed and unique missions
assigned. Unfortunately, most
serious UFO researchers have distanced themselves from the contactees
(Thompson, 1991, pp. 144-148). The
result is a shortage of legitimate, thoughtfully analyzed material from these
Jung provides one of the exceptions. For instance, he includes a lengthy discussion of contactee Orfeo M. Angelucci’s fascinating close encounters of the fourth kind in his groundbreaking work Flying Saucers. Mr. Angelucci mentions elements identical to some in the focus ANE. During one UFO visitation he claims to have been positioned in a reclining chair while listening to a disembodied voice speak with divine wisdom (Jung, 1978, pp. 112-115).
(UFOs) have become a living myth. We
have here a golden opportunity of seeing how a legend is formed, and how in a
difficult and dark time for humanity a miraculous tale grows up of an attempted
intervention by extra-terrestrial “heavenly” powers.
(Jung, 1978, p. 16)
To the innocent focus ANE experiencer, the February 1988 event did indeed seem like an intervention by extraterrestrial “heavenly” powers. The focus ANE may be the sort of vehicle involved in myth-making.
Although the typically positive contactee encounter and the focus ANE are similar in tone and theme, they are not one and the same. For, most of the publicized contactee encounters are said to occur during the day while the human is in the waking state. This places contactee material outside the study’s definition of an ANE.
The focus ANE, for all its positive qualities, is more closely akin to the abduction experiences. This body of literature also separates into two major groups - that with a primarily negative focus and that with a primarily positive.
Budd Hopkins, award-winning artist, respected UFO researcher, and author whose bestseller Intruders became a successful mini-series on a major television network, is a prime proponent of the negative school. He accepts reports of abduction experiences at face value, positioning them exclusively within a UFO frame of reference. “Abductions are a decidedly recent, unique, discrete class of events, with no meaningful precursors,” Hopkins states (Thompson, 1991, p. 124). He contends that extraterrestrials can’t be trusted under any circumstances and that their activities are totally self-serving. According to Hopkins, aliens just mess up people’s lives (Hopkins, 1995). Many UFO researchers have embraced his theories. He proposes that UFO occupants visit Earth to obtain human genetic material to restore their own dying race by creating a hybrid species (Thompson, 1991, p. 169).
Both the experiencer of the focus ANE and Mr. Hopkins are residents of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. In 1995, a meeting was arranged by a mutual acquaintance. Mr. Hopkins listened to a verbal account of the focus ANE, showed little interest, and offered no insightful comments. As he hurried the subject on her way, he remarked that there is only so much time in a day, and that some UFO abductees are in dire need of help. Although the subject expressed interest in joining one of Mr. Hopkins support groups, he never contacted her. The focus ANE likely raised some questions in Hopkins’ mind about his theories. But, the questions remain. Why was he was unwilling to address them? The focus ANE experiencer may have been blessed by an agape-style spiritual awakening. Nonetheless, to speculate along the lines of Hopkins’ thinking, could not unscrupulous, technologically advanced extraterrestrials have stimulated/simulated this event for their own selfish unfathomable purposes? For whatever reasons, champions of the negative school appear to generally avoid addressing the positive accounts in any capacity. To Mr. Hopkins credit, he has elevated public awareness and encouraged growing acceptance of the existence of a UFO abduction phenomenon. Consequently, many fledgling researchers have taken courage and forged ahead in their quests to unlock this controversial mystery.
Other current UFO researchers are open to the positive aspects of abduction encounters. Edith Fiore, a prominent California psychologist, counsels people who believe they have been abducted by aliens. Fiore explains, “Dreams are very commonly the tip of the iceberg” (1989, p. xvii). Client Victoria reported, “They (the extraterrestrials) stand around me in a circle (and say) you’ll think it was a dream” (Fiore, 1989, p. 200). Client Gloria conveyed, “Whether it’s through mental telepathy, whether it’s through dream states. They just have to do it their way” (Fiore, 1989, p. 165). Client Linda relates a story similar to many told to Fiore. “They’re (the aliens) instructing us. They’re telling us we have to learn these things. It’s for our survival. The world will come to an end if we don’t learn these things” (Fiore, 1989, p. 96). Exactly what it is the extraterrestrials are teaching, however, is not consciously available to Linda and the others. Fiore helps her clients appreciate the positive aspects of their encounters. Like many of Fiore’s clients, the focus ANE experiencer confronted a UFO in an incident which seemed like a dream. However, unlike the Fiore clients who sense the full lesson of their events is veiled, the focus ANE experiencer has trusted that her lesson was straightforward and complete: God’s love is all encompassing, life is eternal, and non-Earthly beings share the universe. There may, of course, be more to the content of the focus ANE, residing in the deep recesses of the experiencer’s subconscious.
Dr. John Mack, Harvard psychiatrist, is the most famous of the current positive- school UFO abduction researchers. Interestingly, it was a meeting with Budd Hopkins which caused Mack to seriously pursue his own research on this issue (Mack, 1995). Mack stresses that alleged abductees are a diverse collection of individuals who are certainly not all mentally disturbed. He points out that the abduction phenomenon has undeniable experiential truth which is both traumatic and transformative. Often, it is bizarre, unsettling dreams of UFOs and extraterrestrials which drive people to seek Mack’s help. Like many therapists who work with those who feel they’ve been abducted, Mack utilizes hypnotic regression. The consistency from client to client of the precise details and story lines which emerge from these hypnotic sessions is strong evidence to Mack that the experiences are more than dreams, which tend to be unique (Mack, 1994). Many of Mack’s clients state that during their encounters the aliens warn them about the serious repercussions of human destructiveness toward fellow humans and the planet. A spiritual transformation takes place within these people. They understand they have a mission to assist in bringing about a change in human consciousness (Mack, 1994, p. 394). Mack’s promotion of all this information nearly cost him his position at Harvard. Mack notes:
UFO abduction phenomenon, which strikes at the heart of the Western paradigm and
reveals us to be utterly without control, is more readily accepted at the
grassroots level than by the culturally sophisticated or most intellectually
advanced among us. (1994, p. 409)
The focus ANE experiencer offered to meet with John Mack in 1993, and he accepted. Certain attributes of the subject’s story peaked his interest, and he asked her to research some details for possible inclusion in his 1994 book. The scenario of the focus ANE is similar to many of Mack’s cases - a dreamlike event involving UFOs has a transformative impact on the experiencer. The person then embarks on a mission to change human consciousness, in this case starting with her own. Dire warnings from the aliens that humans should become more environmentally responsible are noticeably missing from the focus ANE.
To the surprise of the subject, Mack informed her that although clearly “something happened,” he did not think it was an abduction as he understands UFO abductions. He suggested she see a psychologist colleague of his and join a UFO support group on Cape Cod. An appointment with that psychologist yielded a mutual realization that continued visits were not necessary or appropriate. The Cape Cod UFO “grassroots” support group gave two reasons for turning down the subject’s request to join: 1) she was not negatively traumatized by UFOs; and 2) she was considering researching and writing about her ANE (anathema to this “underground” group). The subject later read Mack’s 1994 book Abduction: Human Encounters With Aliens. The anonymous individuals whom Mack showcased provide hundreds of specific, sometimes horrifying details on their lifelong series of encounters. Most, in addition to being inspired, are also disturbed by the events. The one-time nature of the focus ANE and its uplifting message of eternal love does render it different.
Section E: Attributes of Focus ANE Compared to Attributes of Other ANEs Found in the Literature
The focus ANE remains with the experiencer as indelible images - with visual, mental, emotional, sensual, and spiritual attributes. During the literature review, the subject discovered that many other ANEs had similar components. Table 2 was created so that these elements could be viewed simultaneously and compared conveniently.
Inspection of the “Related Source” column reveals a preponderance of UFO references - 43 of 60 entries. Indeed, many UFO abduction accounts comply with this study’s definition of an ANE. Perhaps because the UFO issue has so excited the world for the past 50 years, a plethora of information exists. As well, modern scientific investigative techniques frequently yield legions of specific bits of data, ideally suited for inclusion in a table format. ANE accounts involving fairies, heavenly beings, demigods, or nature spirits, etc., tend to be from earlier times and are recorded and remembered as folk tales and myths. If interested parties of past centuries had had the inclination to painstaking scrutinize their ANEs and the capacity to catalog voluminous details, the “Related Sources” column might read quite differently.
Inasmuch as UFOlogy continues to be a controversial area of study, UFO-related entries for Table 2 are selected primarily from the writings of persons with irrefutable, mainstream, scientific credentials outside UFOlogy. For example, Dr. T. Bullard is a top midwestern folklorist; Dr. John Mack is a professor at Harvard Medical School and a psychiatrist; Dr. Edith Fiore is a high-profile California psychotherapist; Dr. Kenneth Ring is a prominent professor of social science at the University of Connecticut and the first researcher of near-death experiences to offer scientific validation; Hilary Evans is a leading author and Parapsychologist; and, Frenchman Dr. Jacques Vallee is a former astronomer, turned computer-conferencing pioneer.
One of America’s most prominent UFO researchers, Whitley Strieber, whose works yielded suitable entries for Table 2, is not cited due to his lack of “scientific” background and his controversiality. (Mr. Strieber is an author of horror novels.) It may be unfair to give less credence to the UFO findings and theories of people like Mr. Strieber, but that is the prevalent tendency. After all, there is no university degree in UFOlogy at present. And, it is widely known, for instance, that Whitley Strieber had a strong influence on Dr. Kenneth Ring’s research direction. In the end, all UFO researchers establish and earn their own credibility.
In some instances, Table 2 (see following page) reveals exact consistency between details of the focus ANE and other ANEs. Attribute “A” is the dentist-style chair, the image at the start of the focus ANE. In summarizing his findings on various UFO cases, Bullard wrote, “a chair marks the beginning of the journey in the Walton, Higdon, and Andreasson (abduction) cases” (1982, p. 337). Table 2 discloses that the appearance of chairs in UFO stories have included the qualifying adjectives reclining, dentist-style, and body-fitting. Attribute A, then, is a common element in many UFO accounts.
In the focus ANE the experiencer thinks she is held firmly in the chair by tiny arms and hands (Attribute B). Table 2 shows that other ANEs feature straps and little arms/hands. Linda, one of Fiore’s clients, explained, “they strap us in something, and a protective arm comes across” (Fiore, 1989, p. 106). Attribute B, as well, is typically found in UFO stories.
Attribute C is “paralyzed physically.” In the focus ANE, the subject initially realizes she is paralyzed when she attempts to move her head to see what is happening while she is in the dentist-chair. Mack has discovered that experiencers often feel paralyzed early in the abduction process (Mack, 1994, p. 19). This attribute, too, is a frequent component of alleged UFO abductions.
UFO sources do not predominate in connection with Attribute D, feelings of bliss and the love of Father/Mother God. Near-death experience (NDE) literature produces the most accurate and numerous matches. After his NDE, Jung related:
It was as if I were in an ecstasy. I felt as though I were floating in space, as though I were safe in the womb of the universe in a tremendous void, but filled with the highest possible feeling of happiness. This is eternal Bliss. This cannot be described; it is far too wonderful. (1961, p. 293)
Jung's words aptly apply to the memories the subject holds of the focus ANE.
Attribute E is the disembodied divine voice - more specifically, a voice which is confirming that sensations being experienced are God’s male/female love. The Bible characteristically depicts the voice of God in dreams/visions as foretelling and commanding (Berne & Savory, 1984), not narrating a sampling of universal love. However, Bullard’s discussion of the conversion of saints portrays the divine voice in a role similar to that of the voice in the focus ANE. After a dormant period during which the future saint leads a worldly life, he/she seeks God and encounters heavenly and satanic beings. Hearing divine voices, the saint-candidate comes to understand God’s purposes more fully and undergoes a spiritual conversion (Bullard, 1982, p. 405). Likewise, the subject in the focus ANE is converted after hearing the divine voice and feeling the love. But, contrary to the future saint’s focussed intention, there is no conscious seeking of enlightenment prior to the focus ANE by the experiencer.
Near-death experience literature typically reports a divine voice informing the sick individual it is not yet time to die. “Then came Voices telling me I had to return to complete my mission” (Ring, 1992, p. 95). Jung tells us that, “Voices from the aether also occur in the UFO literature” (1978, p.47). The NDE and the UFO voices are reminiscent of those in the Bible - commanding and foretelling. The disembodied voice which narrates parts of the focus ANE is benign, with a completely positive message. It serves a function qualitatively different from that of the disembodied voices featured in most of the other ANE examples. The focus ANE voice is most akin to that in the vision of the yogi described in the introductory chapter. Both of those divine voices add an auditory explanation to a blissful event.
Attribute F is the (black) Void. In the Attribute D section, Jung was quoted as saying of his NDE, “...I (was) safe in the womb of the universe in a tremendous void...” (1961, p. 293). Mack adds, “Abductees have repeatedly described to me a loving, totally engulfing feeling they experience when they look into these (aliens’) huge, black all-knowing eyes” (Mack, 1994, p. 415). The essence of the focus ANE’s black void is similar to what Jung describes. Nonetheless, there is the possibility that the focus ANE experiencer, while restrained in the dentist-style chair, was forced to stare into the black eyes of her abductors, remembering only a loving, totally engulfing feeling.
Exhilarating energy or wind is Attribute G. In the focus ANE an apparatus with a narrow rim is fitted over the experiencer’s mouth just prior to her sense of being physically filled with energizing wind. One of Dr. Fiore’s hypnotized clients recounts, “A tube with something on the end of it....Two to three inches in diameter....and now I get the feeling it might have been...some kind of a vacuum apparatus. I’m put into...a recliner chair” (Fiore, 1989, pg. 76). Mack’s patient Joe claimed, “I become wind. I become space. I become matter. I spin, swirl, slow, fall...In the alien form Joe said he could experience different energies” (Mack, 1994, p. 173). Attribute G appears to be a UFO type.
Attribute H is triggered memories. Bob’s waking-life version of his powerful dream of February 14/15, 1988, is the catalyst which elicits the experiencer’s memory of the focus ANE’s final segment. Mack suggests that alien beings may have the power to block memory (Mack, 1994, p. 399). The reasons why certain events or words trigger UFO memories remains a mystery, but Vallee theorizes that some parts of the human mind may be inaccessible to extraterrestrial manipulation (Vallee, 1975, p. 59). Ring documents an event nearly identical to Attribute G in which one person’s comments trigger a UFO memory in another, resulting in their shared conviction that they were abducted together (Ring, 1992, p. 57).
Attribute I, a beam of light, frequently appears in UFO literature, but it is not exclusive to it. The beam of light is what apparently transported the subject from the UFO back to her husband’s side in the final, triggered-memory section of the focus ANE. “In the literature of ancient India, whole armies rode to battles in the air upon spectacular flying chariots..many demigods flew by an act of will or hitched a ride on a passing beam of light (Bullard, 1982, pg. 78). Fiore’s alleged UFO abductee client Ted remembers:
sitting in a chair in a room in a craft. I’m
in a chair that’s similar to a dentist’s chair
(Fiore, 1989, p. 141)...It’s like a beam of light came down through the
apartment, surrounded me and changed me into a different molecular structure,
and then it took me back into the small spaceship..I was taken on board a larger
spaceship or space station. I’m
in the chair. (Fiore, 1989, p. 143)
Thus, multiple cultural traditions depict beams of light as transporting beings, emanating from an otherworldly source, and being a sign of the divine. The beam of light assumes all these functions in the focus ANE.
The final attribute presented in Table 2 is the effect the focus ANE had on the experiencer’s belief system. Upon awakening in the morning following the focus ANE, the former agnostic immediately recognizes her new-found, unshakable faith in God and her excitement about the meaning of life. The energy continues to motivate her years later. Evans observed, “the most impressive feature of encounters with divinities is the sense of conviction of the witness” (Evans, 1987, p. 44). Seven out of ten entries under Attribute J are from UFO sources, indicating that UFO and spiritual events can be intertwined. UFO researcher Brad Steiger points out that, “throughout the centuries, revelators and contact experiencers with the Other have proclaimed the same things” (Steiger, 1976, p. 224).
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