Saturday, April 4, 2009

Mind, Soul and Reality

Stanislav Grof has a successful life in the United States these days, however he wasn't always a US citizen and earlier in his career he could not have foreseen the new areas he would explore. Grof began studying nonordinary states of consciousness in the 1950s in his native Prague, Czechoslovakia. Starting out in his career Grof was a believer in the tenets of Marxism and thought that there was no reality beyond the material world we see around us. Many scientists and psychiatrists felt that the unusual states of consciousness induced by LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide) and other psychotropic drugs were nothing more than the brain's way of reacting to a foreign substance. Of course, many scientists probably still feel this way. But while Grof continued his research at the Psychiatric Research Institute in Prague, he began to feel there was a continuity of experience in his patient's records that was hard to explain by the brain reacting to noxious chemicals theory. "Rather than being unrelated and random, the experiential content seemed to represent a successive unfolding of deeper and deeper levels of the unconscious," stated Grof in his 1976 book, Realms of the Human Unconscious. What Grof and his colleagues discovered is that serial LSD sessions jumpstarted the psychotherapeutic process and greatly shortened the time needed to treat many psychiatric disorders.

Repressed traumatic memories that had disabled the patient for many years were brought to the surface and the terrible hold they had over the patient was diminished or banished completely. Sometimes such crippling disorders of the mind were even cured including one of the most terrible of them all-schizophrenia. More incredible was the fact that many patients moved beyond personal issues into transpersonal areas that had never before been explored by Western psychology. One common experience was the reliving of what it was like to be in the womb. The following is from page 67 of Michael Talbot's, The Holographic Universe: "At first Grof thought these were just imagined experiences, but as the evidence continued to amass he realized that the knowledge of embryology inherent in the descriptions was often far superior to the patient's previous education in the area. Patients accurately described certain characterisitics of the heart sounds of their mother, the nature of the acoustic phenomena in the peritoneal cavity, specific details about the various cellular and biochemical processes taking place. They also described important thoughts and feelings their mother had during pregnancy and events such as physical trauma she had experienced." There were occasions that Grof could directly question the mother and other people involved in the experience the patient was reporting and was able to verify them.

Even more astonishing, patients began reporting experiences that extended far beyond the boundaries of the ego. They would report what it was like to be other living creatures and even inanimate objects. Patients were also able to explore ancestral memories. Again from page 68 of Talbot's book: "One woman experienced what it was like to be her mother at the age of three and accurately described a frightening event that had befallen her mother at the time. The woman also gave a precise description of the house her mother had lived in as well as the white pinafore she had been wearing-all details her mother later confirmed and admitted she had never talked about before.. Other patients gave equally accurate descriptions of events that had befallen ancestors who had lived decades and even centuries before." Racial and collective memories could also be accessed by the patients. Patients of Slavic descent relived the experience of what it was like to participate in the conquests of Genghis Khan, to undergo tribal initiation rites, and even to die as a human sacrifice of the Aztecs. Once again both the quality and quantity of the historical facts they reported contained a degree of information that was totally at odds with the patient's education, race, and previous exposure to the subject. An uneducated patient gave a very insightful and detailed account of Egyptian embalming and mummification procedures-all the way down to what certain amulets symbolized, the materials used, the sizes of those materials and other esoteric data about Egyptian funeral services. Certain patients with no knowledge or connection to the Far East and other areas of the world were able to describe what it was like to have an Asian psyche and also had esoteric knowledge of Hindu, Taoist and Buddhist teachings.

There didn't seem to be a limit to whatever source the patients were acquring there knowledge from. The patients described so many different aspects of reality that the whole array of existence seemed to be with their grasp-knowing what it was like to be a plant, animal, a blood cell, an atom, a star-even the consciousness of the entire planet and even the cosmos itself. The patients would gain eerily accurate precognitive information. At times they also encountered many different types of nonhuman intelligences. Every now and then subjects would seem tto transcend "our" level of reality and perceive other universes and levels of reality. From page 69 of The Holographic Universe, "In one session a young man suffering from depression found himself in what seemed to be another dimension. It had an eerie luminescence, and although he could not see anyone he sensed that it was crowded with discarnate beings. Suddenly he sensed a prescence very close to him, and to his surprise it began to communicate with him telepathically. It asked him to please contact a couple who lived in the Moravian city of Kromeriz and let them know that their son Ladislav was well taken care of and doing all right. It gave him the couple's name, street address, and telephone number. The information meant nothing to either Grof or the young man and seemed totally unrelated to the young man's treatment. Still, Grof could not put it out of his mind. "After some hesitation and with mixed feelings, I finally decided to do what certainly would have made me the target of my colleagues jokes, had they found out," says Grof. "I went to the telephone, dialed the number in Kromeriz and asked if I could speak to Ladislav. To my astonishment, the woman on the other side of the line started to cry. When she calmed down, she told me with a broken voice: 'Our son is not with us anymore; he passed away, we lost him three weeks ago.' " I am calling this a rough draft because as someone whose dance card isn't what you would call full-I forgot a social engagement this afternoon-so I need to get off the puter. When I am back on tomorrow I want to check and make sure the post "reads" right and that I have credited Michael Talbot's book properly. I used to own two books by Stanislav and Christina Grof that had a huge variety of experiences in them in regards to psychotropic and holotropic breathwork therapy-sadly I don't anymore, but I would like to see if any of these experiences are mentioned on the net. I haven't done anything new here in a while and I hope to start a new series soon about many different theories and experiences of the mind and reality. Thanks so much for all of your wonderful comments!


Autumnforest said...

Wonderful article! Wow! Lots to think about. I think what comes to mind for me is that we are more than the boundaries of our bodies. As someone who's had the ability to read objects and have precognitive dreams about airline disasters, I know that we can be outside our body and experience much more. Perhaps for reasons of survival, man has evolved to make it harder to reach beyond himself so he can deal with the mortal world he must live within on a daily basis. That huge part of our brains we don't use--we must find a way to stimulate them. LSD and peyote might be some of the ways, as is astral projection and remote viewing, but I suspect in the future we will be able to go to the exact part of the brain we desire to stimulate, stimulate it, and experience things that used to be balked at like precognition, psychic abilities, savant artistry, and channeling. I can't wait!

Anonymous said...

Sounds pretty interesting, especially the common threads that seem to run through the experiences. I'll look forward to hearing more.

Sub Specie Aeternitatis said...

Good post. I'm looking for a copy of the Grof book on the 'net right now.

Middle Ditch said...

Another great read Devin

Devin said...

Autumnforest thanks so much for your great comment-I agree wholeheartedly about finding a way to stimulate the parts of the brain we dont use-thanks for stopping by-best as always!!

Aggie-thanks so much for stopping by-I hope to have the next part of the series here in a couple of days-it will be a pretty free flowing "ideas" series-best to you as always!!

Sub-specie-thanks so much for stopping by and commenting-the Grofs have many books published-I wonder if any of the older ones might be available on best to you!!

MD-I am so glad you enjoyed the post-thanks for stopping by and commenting-i hope to have more to the series here soon-best to you always!!

nolocontendere said...

I blew an excellent opportunity to do a little experiment. About ten years ago I was pretty close to my two grandkids. One was a girl about 3 and 1/2 who was wise beyond her years, just a little old lady in a tiny body. She was on my lap and we got to talking and the subject turned to what she could remember and who she was "before". She was wrinkling her forehead trying to figure out how what she was remembering could jive with who she was now. I didn't have the ability to ask the right questions and anyway her mom walked in.
I'm convinced little children don't fully integrate into their new body for a few years, and with the right probing some of them might have quite an interesting story to tell.

Michael Skaggs said...

I liked this! I have the Holographic Universe book, good article Devin!

You should really check out Gregg Braden's Divine Matrix book when you get the chance. Its another great read.

Be well bro!

WV = ROMEesti

Devin said...

nolocontendre-thanks so much for stopping by! I very much agree with you and your story is not unique -I think this happens much more than is realized -best to you as always!!

Michael-thanks so much for stopping by -I have been trying to find the Braden book for a bit now-at discount book stores and library-no luck yet-if you liked holographic you might like the next posts (dont know how many)-of course a great deal is taken straight from the book-I think Braden's work would fit right in with this "unintended" series-best to you as always!!

Anadæ Effro said...

Isn't Autumn sage in her observations, Devin? I, too, believe that sump'n happened to dumb down the human species, something that di'n affect us elves, though. Expanded consciousness can ebb & flow over all areas of perception. Some of us are more able to access various levels of it naturally, whereas others need chemical adjuncts to attain that same awareness, as Stanislav Grof's research clearly ascertained in a scientific test setting.

Ever hear of Julian Jaynes before? He's not that popular, havin' never really caught on in academia. But he's worth the gander.

Speaking of interfacing with the "stoner", stone, and/or mineral kingdoms, please, please, PLEASE, do have thy(s)elf a gander at this MySpace™ page. Thank you. It was there at Untermyer Park, under merely a quarter hit of Windowpane in 1972, that the pair of Etruscan sphinxes (facing them, the one on your left is female, the one on your right, male) had come to life for me, their paws raising & lowering in stoic greeting, their beautifully coiffed heads slowly turning from upraised wing to upraised wing. Pretty nifty effect.

Was it just a typical hallucination of the psychedelic compound that I'd imbibed? Or, on another level, was the elixir allowing me to rend the Veil, permitting me to see something that the sphinxes were imprinted long ago to do, acting as sentries to this vast & sprawling Græco-Roman estate?

That problem child of Dr Albert Hofmann, boy! BTW, April 16th is Bicycle Day, the day that his Philosopher's Stone first took affect on him, riding home from his laboratory on his bicycle. Be careful how you pedal home.

A veteran of the psychedelic experience,
Anadæ Effro ( :-)}

Devin said...

Anadae -I agree very much about Autumnforest-I am so lucky to have someone of her intellectual caliber (as with so many others who comment here) to leave comments here!! Her blog always gives me oodles of things to ponder on! I have indeed heard of Julian Jaynes (breakdown of the bicameral mind man??) Thanks so very much for commenting Anadae and thanks as always for your links -BTW I have been trying and trying to find a good "In-the Gno" book around the discount bookstores and libraries -havent hit any paydirt yet at all-haha the closest I came was a book entitled "Fairies" :-) but it was little more than a picture book with little intellectual content -I would definitely like to do more hidden folk and gnome posts as they interest me and i noticed on sitemeter that the hidden folk series generally runs only second to the Belmez Faces on this blog of things people look at -I am sure there is mucho info on the web about the subject -but because of my back I like to work out of great books better as I can lay down in the comfort of my bed and take notes -sometimes if i just type one and definitely two posts in a day my back hurts just from that -well I am being overly wordy yet again -friends always and thanks so much for stopping by!!

Devin said...

I can't wait to read the links btw Anadae -I have always so wanted to have a psychedelic experience myself-but I am nervous of my own psychology with this because of my over-worrying-OCD and analytical personality-the closest I ever got was Salvia (legal of course:-)but for the third dose which i thought would work I couldn't find a "sitter"-Nando actually threatened me somewhat if I tried it -so I chickened out-I do hope to be doing some things out of Breaking Open the Head and am going to ask permission of another blogger and author if I can quote some of his material for this series as I feel it would fit right in perfectly with the series-as maybe many blogs I link to would-so no one be surprised if you get asked for permisssion to quote liberally from posts you have done:-)-all the best!!

Anadæ Effro said...

Correction: 1973 was my welcome wagon to Wonderland, not a year earlier. I'm honoured that you consult with me for additional literature on the Good Neighbours, my peops. I will shortly coordinate a list for you of additional titles to sate your ever-searching mind & transmit it to your electronic address. And yes, Autumn is, indeed, truly blessed with many praeternarural gifts. Ghost-hunting & parapsychology suit her most appropriately, don't they? ~ AE (+:-)} PS My wv is alicis for Alice is!

Devin said...

Hey Anadae-can't tell you how much I appreciate your efforts on my behalf!! I never knew I would be this poor and it is so difficult to find cheap quality books-I have found some real treasures recently as far as library sales go-but as I complained to another of the wonderful people I privately email-there is a paucity-drought-dearth-hehe tryin to think of right word;-) of paranormal books at such sales as these-and yes I daresay I think Autumn could and should try to have her own show on cable!! I am sure it would eclipse so much of the other shows about the paranormal I have taken a peek at over the years!-best to you as always!!