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SHAMANISM, MYSTICISM AND

QUANTUM BORDERS OF REALITY

Copyright 2003 by Michael Wayne

Shamanism, Mysticism and Quantum Borders of Reality

Introduction

Not too long ago, I had a dream in which I was in a large Victorian mansion that
had many floors and many rooms on each of the floors. I was running from floor to floor,
going in and out of the rooms. I then passed a room that was on a landing, next to a flight
of stairs. This room was padlocked, chained to let out any intruders. A voice then said to
me, This room contains the secrets of your psyche. No one is allowed to enter,
including you.
This dream had a little bit of an edge to it, as though it was a scene from a horror
movie. But the image stood clear in my mind the next morning as I woke up and clearly
remembered it and wondered about its meaning.
Ive always been a more closed person, not comfortable talking about my deepest
feelings, and desirous of pushing my deeper angst well under the rug. So here I was
confronted by it in my dream. But I was curious to find out what was behind the door.
A day or so later I lay on my bed and allowed my mind to take me back into that
house. The imagery appeared in my mind and I was transplanted back to that place. I
approached the door, turned the doorknob and the door opened. There was a lot of fire
and I jumped through it. At that point I just started falling through space. I continued to
fall - or perhaps it was floating. I got the sense that I was now outside the boundaries of
space-time and that I had entered another dimension, one that some call the dreamtime.

That was the extent of my imagery. The sense I got was that in entering the land
of my subconscious, I was going beyond the linear, rational world into another world, a
world of nonordinary reality, one where the normal boundaries of physical laws are
altered. I got the sense that this world bordered on the infinite and that there was neither
a beginning nor end to its depth. It was just emptiness and I was floating through it.

Ordinary and Nonordinary Reality

Dreams of Butterflies
There is a famous story about the legendary Taoist philosopher Chuang Tzu once
dreaming he was a butterfly. As he writes:

Once I, Chuang Chou, dreamed I was a butterfly and was happy as a butterfly. I
was conscious that I was quite pleased with myself, but I did not know that I was
Chou. Suddenly I awoke, and there I was, visibly Chou. I do not know whether it
was Chou dreaming that he was a butterfly or the butterfly dreaming that it was
Chou (Chan, 1963, p. 190).

Chuang Tzu was wondering whether in his life he dreamed of himself being a
butterfly; or was it that his life was the dream of a butterfly? Either way, as you ponder
his story, you come to the awareness that at a certain level of human existence there is a
blurring of the line between our everyday world of reality and the realm of nonordinary
reality.

Flatland
How readily accessible is this nonordinary realm? It is possible to spend ones
entire lifetime without ever experiencing these realms or even without being aware of
their existence (Grof, 1994, p. 5). Ken Wilber calls a reality that ignores the existence of
inner realms as the world of Flatland. He defines flatland as the worldview that has the
idea that sensory and empirical and material is the only world there is there are no
higher or deeper potentials and what we see with our senses is what there is (Wilber,
1996, p. 11). Sad to say, this is the worldview of the great majority of Westerners.

The Nierika
A fundamental tenet of traditional cultures is the knowledge of these inner realms.
The Huichol believe there is a portal between the ordinary and nonordinary worlds. They
call this portal the Nierika. It is considered both a passageway and barrier between
worlds, and usually remains hidden and secret until the time of death (Prem Das, cited in
Halifax, 1979, p. 1).
Death is considered one of the primary ways that people learn of the nonordinary
realms. Ancient books of the dead are actually maps of the inner territories of the psyche
encountered in profound nonordinary states of consciousness; included in those states are
those associated with biological dying (Grof, 1994, p. 5).

Near-Death Experiences

The greatest proof we have of the relationship between nonordinary states of


consciousness and biological dying is research with people who have had near-death
experiences. The most profound of these experiences occur to those who for a few
moments actually clinically die and have an experience of going out of their body.
Research has shown that these people go through an event with transcendental and
mystical elements (Greyson, in Cardena, Lynn and Krippner, 2000, p. 315). Elements
that are common to the near-death experience are (Greyson, in Cardena, Lynn and
Krippner, 2000, p. 318):

Feelings of peace and quiet


Hearing unusual noises
Seeing a dark tunnel
Being out of the body
Meeting spiritual beings
Experiencing a bright light as a being of light
Panoramic life review
Experiencing a realm in which all knowledge exists
Experiencing cities of light
Experiencing a realm of bewildered spirits
Experiencing a supernatural rescue
Sensing a border or limit

Coming back into the body

For some Westerners who undergo this experience the return to ordinary reality
can have dramatic repercussions. These include long-term depression, broken
relationships, disrupted careers, feelings of severe alienation, an inability to function in
the world, long years of struggling with a keen sense of altered reality, and a divorce rate
as high as 75% (Greyson, in Cardena, Lynn and Krippner, 2000, p. 329).
I would venture to say that the reason some of the experients go through this is
that our Western culture does not encourage the exploration of the inner transcendent
realms, and thus many of these people return to a world that they feel they no longer can
fit into.
A few months ago I almost drowned and went through my own near-death
experience. The day after my experience I had a business luncheon with a lawyer friend
of mine. Because we had tried for months to get together, I did not want to cancel the
lunch. I went through with it; I did not tell him a word about my recent experience, as it
seemed inappropriate. The entire lunch seemed somewhat surreal, although I carried
myself normally and Im sure from his perspective nothing seemed amiss.
Because my wife and other people in my support network share similar values
with myself, I was able to share with them what I was going through over the next few
weeks. This helped immensely as I processed my experience and helped to ground me,
allowing me to function normally. Because of the assistance of everyone in my support
network, I dont believe I will go through the repercussions that were described above.

Because Western culture doesnt have a paradigm that enables the transcendent
experience to be synthesized into everyday life, it has to be shocking to those who
involuntarily are pushed into that realm, as happens to those who undergo a near-death
experience.

Dreams and the Soul

Westerners do not fully understand the realm of the psyche, the soul or the
transcendent; to many it is a deep, dark chasm that is best maintained with a padlock. It
is better to sweep it under the rug, to not delve into it and understand it. It may rear its
head in dreams, but because Westerners are not sensitized to their dreams, it will be
quickly discarded.
Many traditional cultures look to their dreams for guidance, to help them shape
the lives of their people. Central to the practices of many traditional cultures is the predawn ritual of dream sharing. Dreams are shared and used by the entire community and
individuals dream not only for themselves but also for the community as a whole. In
their dreams they will find access to forces that are not revealed in everyday awareness.
They believe that something akin to a soul-body leaves their physical body to travel
within a parallel world (Schlitz, 1998, p. 1).
Traditional cultures use their dreams to develop both individually and
collectively, whereas Westerners have no similar protocol, as the dreams of Westerners
dont develop with age; instead their dreams stay at the level of a child (Wellman and

Halonen, 1998). One member of an Amazon tribe said about Westerners, I didnt know
people in the north dreamed (Schlitz, 1998, p. 4).
And to traditional cultures, it is understood that people are not the only ones who
dream. The Bugi, who have inhabited the coasts of Sulawesi since before recorded time,
sail in large wooden-hulled schooners with enormous black sails. These ships are called
prahu. Prahus have no motors, navigational equipment, nor modern technology of any
kind, yet they sail great distances. Their belief is that every prahu has a dream and that
this dream exists before the ship is built. The prahu builders will enter the dream of the
prahu to see where it will sail and what storms it will encounter, so they know how to
focus their work and what parts of the prahu will need special attention (Perkins, 1997, p.
47-48).
Westerners consider the waking state the only reality and dreams to be unreal and
unimportant. Traditional cultures believe the dream state to have greater potential for
understanding and spiritual progress than the so-called waking state, and both states to be
equally real or unreal (LaBerge and Gackenbach, in Cardena, Lynn and Krippner, 2000,
p. 175).
In Tibetan Buddhism there is a form of yoga called Tibetan dream yoga. It
consists of four stages (Laberge and Gackenbach, in Cardena, Lynn and Krippner, 2000,
p. 175):

1) Comprehending the nature of the dream (i.e., that it is a dream and thus, a
construction of the mind)

2) Practicing the transformation of dream content until one experientially


understands that all of the contents of dreaming consciousness can be changed
by will and that dreams are essentially unstable
3) Realizing that the sensory experiences of waking consciousness are just as
illusory as dreams and that, in a sense, its all a dream
4) Meditating on the thatness of the dream state, which results in union with a
clear light.

The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science

Logical Empiricism
Within Western society there are certain precepts, which we can call metaphysical
foundations. These are assumptions of the way the world operates that are based not on
research or scientific theory, yet are neither articulated nor brought into question during
the course of modern research. These assumptions do not reside within the material
world as such, nor can they be proven by empirical experiments, but they form the
ground out of which all our conceptual ideas about the physical world reside (Clark, in
Harman and Clark, 1994, p. x). Like Wilbers Flatland, these metaphysical foundations
are based on the premise that if you cant experience it with your senses, it doesnt exist.
The most important of the metaphysical foundations are objectivism, positivism
and reductionism (Harman, in Harman and Clark, 1994, p. 8). These lead to the
assumption of logical empiricism, which is the belief in the premise that the basic stuff of
the universe is what physicists study: namely, matter and physical energy ultimately,

fundamental particles, their associated fields and interrelationships (Harman, in


Harman and Clark, 1994, p. 8).

Anomalies
Yet as science studies things large and small, from the depths of the
submicroscopic to the infinite expanse of the cosmos (and everything in between), there
are areas that do not easily fit into these metaphysical assumptions. These are such
concepts as non-local causality, self-organizing systems, nonlinear dynamics, turbulence,
consciousness, synchronicity, superpositioning, and more. There is even some evidence
that the speed of light is capable of going faster than what Einstein has postulated to be
an absolute (Glanz, 2000, p. 1).
Some would point to all these areas as anomalies, statistical warts that fall outside
the normal purview. But the reality is that these so-called anomalies are not so much
demonstrations of shortfalls in our knowledge of mechanisms as much as indicators of
the inadequacy of the present day scientific approach and the metaphysical foundations
and principles it adheres to.

The Incorporation of Quantum Thought


When we extend our borders of everyday reality to include quantum thought,
much of the anomalous areas then begin to make sense and can be explained through
scientific terms. Science can then be used to help us probe deeper, to question, to
analyze, to criticize, to synthesize. Instead of a science that thinks in an exclusionary
manner, quick to dismiss that which doesnt fit into its narrow paradigm, we can have a

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science that can think in an inclusive manner, that can help to explain things which seem
to be beyond comprehension.
Zombies. For instance, in the country of Haiti, in the year 1962, a man by the
name of Clairvius Narcisse died. Eighteen years later, in 1980, Narcisse was found
walking in a marketplace, claiming to be a zombie. There was no doubt that he had died,
nor was there any doubt that he was who he said he was. Because of the publicity
surrounding Narcisse, other Haitians surfaced with similar tales, also claiming to be
zombies.
Scientists from the U.S. researched the matter and determined that Voodoo priests
and sorcerers created herbal decoctions that could paralyze a persons central nervous
system; after the person was buried the priest would come and give them the antidote,
which would revive them, yet keep them in a drugged state. The priest then would give
periodic doses of the decoction to the person to maintain the drugged state. Thus the
person perceived of themselves as zombies, controlled by someone they considered being
their master (Nardo and Belgum, 1991).
360 degrees. Not all scenarios can be explained so readily; yet there can still be
open-minded scientific discussions on them. As long as science starts with the
assumption that reality goes far beyond our senses, then our metaphysical foundations
can be much broader. With the understandings of superpositioning, coherence and
decoherence, non-local causality, and nonlinear dynamics, the scope, depth and breadth
of science can virtually cover all areas considered anomalous.
What these modern sciences tell us is that true reality exhibits a 360-degree
nature. What this means is that reality exists twofold: both in a linear fashion, neatly laid

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out from past to present to future; and in a nonlinear fashion, with the past, present and
future all around us, occurring at all times, in many dimensions.
Superpositioning has shown us that in the quantum realm, electrons exist in all
possible states at all times and communicate to one another about their positions.
Although in our macroscopic world the electron takes just one position of density, the
communication continues, non-locally, between the electrons of the macroscopic world
and the quantum world.
The electrons of the quantum world inform the electrons of the macroscopic
world that it is possible to continue to move and be in many places at once. Gravity and
thermodynamics offset this information by informing the macroscopic electrons that they
cannot move and that they are dense and absolute. Yet what the macroscopic electrons
do, in its attempt to mirror the quantum electrons, is follow a path of nonlinear dynamics,
of creating fractals and strange attractors. In this way, the electrons of our everyday
world open the floodgates of uncertainty, to show that even in our everyday reality there
are movements that happen that are beyond linear mathematical formulation. Thus, all
around us, at all times, exists a world of each and every possibility.

Non-local Causality
Electrons talk in an indigenous language of wavelengths and frequencies in the
superpositioned state. And as I said above, the communication continues even when
electrons transition into density. The ability for electrons to communicate across
boundaries of space and time is considered non-local causality.

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Even consciousness follows these rules. It is a quantum system that decoheres


into density. Each of us has our own mind, with its own level of consciousness this is
the result of quantum decoherence into density. At this level we experience ourselves as
separate from others. Yet at the root of our individual consciousness is a non-local mind,
a universal consciousness, in which our thoughts are ultimately connected into a
universal mind. It is most probable that the electrons of local and non-local
consciousness, or individual and universal mind, communicate in the same indigenous
language as all other electrons. As physicist Arthur Eddington said, The stuff of the
world is mind-stuffThe mind-stuff is not spread in space and timeRecognizing that
the physical world is entirely abstract and without actuality apart from its linkage to
consciousness, we restore consciousness to the fundamental position (Wald, in Harman
and Clark, 1994, p. 130).

The World of the Mystic and Shaman

Once we understand this basic concept, that the mind and consciousness transcend
normal boundaries and spread beyond four-dimensional space-time, we can begin to
understand more fully the world of the mystic, the world of nonordinary reality and the
world of the shaman. Traditional cultures, unencumbered by the weightiness of
analytical thinking, have always accepted these worlds. Westerners are just coming
around.

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Yet at the same time, taking these traditional worldviews and synthesizing them
with progressive scientific thinking can only bode well for all. We can start to get a
better understanding of how the shaman operates and how he or she effects a cure.
I have undergone shamanic journeying and have been awed by the insights gained
from them. Are my insights mere fragments from a fertile imagination? I dont think so.
I tend to believe that I am tapping into the larger universal field of consciousness. All it
takes to reach into that field is a shifting of the mind.

Trance Ritual
The shifting of the mind in shamanism and mysticism is generally achieved
through some sort of trance ritual. Drumming, dancing, chanting, singing, meditating
and other modalities are often used.
A Bar Mitzvah. I remember a few years ago, attending my nephews Bar
Mitzvah. As the service went on, the rabbi and his assistants started speaking faster and
faster, repeating the same phrases over and over, building the energy in the room into a
crescendo.
At a certain point, as they continued with their ritual, there was a certain shift in
energy and consciousness. A few people sighed and started crying; I could feel in myself
my heart opening up and a sense of lightness within. Shortly after, the ceremony ended
and the rabbi declared my nephew to be blessed.
Excitation of electrons. I believe that ceremony was a trance ritual. It worked up
to a feverish pitch whereby the energy in the room palpably shifted. I have speculated
that what they did was excite the vibrations of the electrons in the room until they were

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moving at a rate that allowed them to resonate more effectively with the quantum state.
Since the quantum state is akin to the state of Spirit, in essence through the ritual they
were able to make us closely connected to Spirit; or perhaps for a moment we became
Spirit.
Perhaps this is the key to entering nonordinary states of reality. If one excites
their electrons in whatever way one deems appropriate, they will then be further aligned
with the quantum world. By being aligned with the quantum world, they will transition
from the world of everyday reality to the quantum world of nonordinary reality, a reality
that exists everywhere and anywhere, at a panoramic setting of 360 degrees.

The Path of the Shaman

Technicians of the Sacred


The ability to enter a nonordinary reality is the hallmark of the mystic. A shaman
fits into this definition of a mystic, for a shaman readily traverses through various worlds
as a great specialist in the human soul (Eliade, 1972, p. 8). The path the shaman takes is
first and foremost spiritual; they are technicians of the sacred (Achterberg, 1985, p. 12).
Shamanism is the oldest and most widespread method of healing with the
imagination over 20,000 years old (Achterberg, 1985, p. 15). Shamans induce a state of
mind that transcends ordinary reality, allowing them to access inner intuitive wisdom and
bring it back for the benefit of others (Neimark, 1993, p. 52).

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The Lama as Shaman


In Tibetan Buddhism, the Lama is the shaman, the psychic healer and guide of
souls. Reciting chants from ritual texts from the secret books of Guru Rinpoche, this
allows the Lama to enter into an altered state of consciousness, leaving his body behind
to seek passage into other worlds, the hidden lands. He returns with treasures of
knowledge and power and thus is able to restore lost souls to wholeness (Rochlin, Spera
and Standlee, 1985).

Maintaining a Foot in Both Worlds


Yet at the same time, just as quantum reality and everyday reality together form
the entire panoramic view of reality; the shaman must keep a foot in both worlds to
understand the fullness of human existence. The shamans who completely go off, who
cant keep operating in this world while theyre in an altered state, are considered fools or
incompetents, or neophytes. The shamans in the Amazon who take ayahuasca and other
extremely powerful hallucinogens can actually do surgery under the influence (Gray, p.
2).

Trance Surgery
Speaking of performing surgery while in an altered state (this reminds me of a
story I was recently told by a retired nurse about doctors in the hospital she used to work
in who performed surgery while inebriated), in Brazil there are people who perform what
is called trance surgery. To perform surgery while in a trance state is a very concrete
representation of maintaining a foot in both worlds. Within a manner of minutes, the

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surgeon (who is generally not someone trained in Western medicine or surgical


techniques) goes into a trance state in which their body is used by a possessing spirit or
intelligent entity as a vehicle for its own medical purposes. Healing skills supposedly
unknown to the healer are manifested during trance behaviors. These trance surgeons
usually perform no rituals; they work with their eyes open, conversing with those present.
One of the most incredible aspects of these phenomena is that the surgical
instruments are not sterilized, nor are the patients anesthetized. Yet accounts of infection
and inflammation are rare, and patients generally appear to experience little or no pain
and minimal bleeding. And furthermore, many patients experience either temporary or
permanent cures of their ailments (Don and Moura, 2000, pp. 43-44).

Sai Baba
A trance surgeon who practices in England, a man by the name of Stephen Turoff,
claims that his inspiration comes from the Indian mystic Sai Baba. Sai Baba is
considered a national treasure of India and at age 13 declared himself an avatar, an
incarnation of God on earth. He has performed many miracles, which he calls mere
calling cards, toys and tricks to gain our interest and to demonstrate the illusion of our
physical bodies and the material world to which we are all so attached (Solomon, 1997,
pp. 96-97).
A psychiatrist who has witnessed Sai Baba first hand reports that Sai Baba has
manifested objects out of thin air, resurrected the dead, and healed people of cancer. He
writes, there is no miracle known to humankind that Sai Baba has not performed
(Gersten, 1998, p. 59).

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The Babalawo
To the Westerner, these stories seem preposterous. There is just no way
something like this can be true, as it eludes rational and linear common sense.
Phillip John Neimark is one person who can vouch for the illusion of rationality
and the sanctity of the sacred. A white, Jewish middle-age businessman who lives in
Chicago, he made his first million at the age of 30; now he is also a high priest, or
babalawo, in the Ifa religion. As Neimark tells it, I was totally committed to the
Cartesian, Newtonian universe and I lived my life absolutely on that basis. If you
couldnt prove God, He didnt exist. In fact, I militantly attacked and dismissed any
other paradigm. His antique Jaguar had a license plate bearing Aristotles empirical
dictum, A is A (Neimark, 1993, p. 47).
Through a series of life and spiritual crises, Neimark found himself inducted into
the Ifa religion and became a high priest of the religion. Now he says I dont care how
you do it. I dont care how anybody does it. Just connect to that divine energy.
Otherwise you will not get out of this lifetime nearly what you should (Neimark, 1993,
p. 54).

Into the Mystic

As Phillip John Neimark has shown, one doesnt have to be of a particular culture
or background to live the life of the shaman or mystic. All it takes is an innate
understanding that the world is full of Spirit, and that Spirit controls the invisible forces
of nature.

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Who knows the mysterious ways of the invisible forces that control our lives?
This is what the shaman, the mystic and the forward thinking scientist are all trying to
ascertain.

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ANNOTATED BIBLIOGRAPHY
Achterberg, Jeanne (1985). Imagery in Healing: Shamanism and Modern
Medicine. Boston: Shambhala.

I found this book to be an excellent bridge between the worlds of shamanism and
traditional practices of medicine on the one hand and modern scientific concepts that are
prevalent in mind-body medicine on the other. Achterbergs main thesis is that
shamanism is the medicine of the imagination, and then she builds her case from there,
showing that the worlds of imagery as conceived by the shaman during his journey can
be correlated to the inner realms visited by people during work in guided imagery.

Chan, Wing-Tsit (1963). A Source Book in Chinese Philosophy. Princeton:


Princeton University Press.

Dr. Chans book is a very scholarly, well-researched compendium of all the


various schools of Chinese philosophy and thought that developed and evolved over the
countless thousands of years of Chinese society. He has also translated and included in
this volume four books that stand out in the annals of Chinese thought: the Great
Learning, the Doctrine of the Mean, the Lao Tzu, and the Tung-shu. This is a book that
any serious student of Chinese philosophy should have on their bookshelf.

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Clark, Jane (1994). Forward. In Harman, Willis and Clark, Jane. New
Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science. Sausalito: Institute of Noetic Sciences;
pp. ix-xiii.

Jane Clarks forward to the book Willis Harman and she edited helps set the tone
for understanding the mindset of the various scientists who contributed to this volume.
She discusses the genesis of this project Harmans discovery of a 1924 book by E. A.
Burtt entitled The Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science. Burtt deeply influenced
Harman by hypothesizing that behind the methodology of science are assumptions that
humans make, things taken for granted without questioning where the belief patterns
stem from.

Das, Prem (1979). Cited in Halifax, Joan. Shamanic Voices. New York: Viking
Penguin.

What I appreciated about Halifaxs book is that she created a volume that allowed
the shamans to have their voices heard directly without filters. Instead of an objectively
written anthropological text detailing the history, mythology and arcana of various
traditional cultures rites and rituals, Halifax, after a brief introductory first chapter, turns
the book over to the various shamans. We hear from them, in their voices, telling us
about their beliefs, visions, journeys, dreams, and prophecies. Some of these shamans are
dead now, so in these pages we have their knowledge maintained for eternity. Halifax is

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to be commended for having collected the voices of the medicine healers from various
cultures around the world.

Don, Norman S., and Moura, Gilda (July 2000). Trance surgery in Brazil.
Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine. 6, (4), pp. 39-48.

A few months ago I had watched a video on Reubens Faria, a Brazilian computer
engineer who one day started channeling the spirit of Dr. Fritz, a German surgeon. From
this point on, Faria began performing surgery on his fellow countrymen, using no
anesthesia and no sterilization techniques. The techniques are crude, yet the results are
outstanding. Faria was due to make a speaking tour this past summer around the U.S.,
but legal difficulties in his homeland forced the cancellation of the trip. Serendipitously
for me, this article appeared in a recent edition of Alternative Therapies magazine.
Written by a research psychiatrist and a clinical psychologist, this article is both an
excellent overview of the phenomena of mediumship in Brazil and an examination of the
authenticity of trance surgery. When forward-thinking scientists are willing to tackle
mind-bending scenarios, everyone profits because the tendency for knee-jerk dismissal,
which is common among those steeped in a strict biomedical ethic, is eliminated.

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Eliade, Mircea (1964). Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy. Princeton:


Princeton University Press.

Virtually every source of reading I did pertaining to shamanism kept referring to


Eliades work, so I knew it was imperative that Eliades book be a core component of my
study. A masterpiece of anthropological research, Eliade studied virtually every culture
in which shamanism played a part, discussing their rites, rituals, initiations, cosmologies,
obtaining of powers, and so on. Eliade also showed the many parallels among each of the
various traditional cultures. Of particular historical interest to me was his discussion of
the Asian shamans, and how it tied into Buddhism, Tantra, Hinduism and Taoism. When
I was in acupuncture school, I had a class on the history of medicine, and I recall the
teacher discussing briefly that shamanism was the forerunner of traditional Chinese
medicine. Eliades research helped me to more fully understand this connection between
shamanism and Chinese medicine. In fact, Eliades book allowed me to more clearly
understand that medicines roots, whether traditional or biomedical, are founded in
shamanic traditions.

Gersten, Dennis (April 1998). Holy madness in healing. Psychology Today. 31,
(2), pp. 59-61.

Gersten is an author and psychiatrist in private practice in San Diego. Psychology


Today wrote a brief forward to his article, stating that they didnt know if what he was
saying was the writing of a madman or someone who might be a little enlightened.

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Gersten says that the information on Sai Baba that he puts forth in the article was
considered so controversial that his publisher took it out of a recent book. His main point
is that as a psychiatrist and spiritual seeker, he attempts to look for the spark of God in
every person. And he believes this is the future of psychiatry, to look for love, hope,
faith and miracles; and that instead of offering Prozac, the psychiatrist should bring God
into the office and offer miracles and spiritual ecstasy.

Glanz, James (May 30, 2000). Light exceeds its own speed limit, or does it? The
New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/library/national/science/053000sciphysics-light.html; pp. 1-5.

Glanz article discusses two recent experiments that have shown the possibility
that light does move faster than 186,000 miles per second. Although the documented
proof of non-local causality has already opened the door to this speculation, there has
been no demonstrable proof in that regard. One of the experiments, by Lijun Wang of the
NEC Research Institute in Princeton, NJ, found that a specially prepared pulse of light
was able to travel at speeds up to 300 times the normal speeds of light. Glanz comments
on these findings, That is so fast thatthe main part of the pulse exits the far side of the
chamber even before it enters at the near side. Incidentally, Glanz and George Johnson
are the two science writers for The New York Times whose primary focus is physics. I
look forward to every Tuesdays edition of The Times to see if either of these excellent
writers has their byline in the newspaper.

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Greyson, Bruce (2000). Near-Death Experiences. In Cardena, Etzel, Lynn,


Steven Jay, and Krippner, Stanley. The Varieties of Anomalous Experience.
Washington, DC: American Psychological Association; pp. 315-352.

This chapter discusses near-death experiences both from a subjective and


objective viewpoint. Its subjective approach informs the reader what the near-death
experience is like and the commons elements that occur amongst experients. Its objective
discussion attempts to dissect a number of issues pertinent to experients. First, it looks at
the aftereffects and how many of these people had their attitudes, beliefs and values
permanently changed. Next the personality profile of experients were examined, to see if
there is a certain type of person who is more prone to such an experience. The next
discussion aimed at understanding clinical issues and risks and discussed the problems
some experients have in integrating the underlying transcendental meaning of the
occurrence with their life. Lastly, theories hypothesizing the physiology of the neardeath experience were presented. Having recently gone through my own near-death
experience, this chapter held particular interest to me; I could especially understand what
Greyson was saying when he wrote that experients go through a tremendous
transformative process.

Grof, Stanislav. (Winter, 1994). Alternative cosmologies and altered states.


Noetic Sciences Review.
http://www.noetic.org/ions/archivelisting_frame.asp?ID=448; pp. 1-15.

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Grofs article comes from a talk he gave entitled The Sacred Source: Life, Death,
and the Survival of Consciousness. Grof begins his paper by discussing the difference
in attitudes between East and West in regards to dying; included in that discussion is the
Easts belief that death is merely an evolution to another plane, allowing for a continuum
of the journey of the soul. He then goes on to examine various forms of experiential
training for dying involving nonordinary states of consciousness; in this discussion he
includes shamanism, rites of passage and ancient books of the dead. From there he
discusses how nonordinary states of consciousness can be tapped into by the nondying as
well. He concludes by discussing the implications for that in terms of the Newtonian
perspective, in that within the Newtonian framework, there are no explanations for
nonordinary states of consciousness.

Harman, Willis (1994). A Re-examination of the Metaphysical Foundations of


Modern Science: Why is it Necessary? In Harman, Willis and Clark, Jane. New
Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science. Sausalito: Institute of Noetic Sciences;
pp. 1-13.

Harman begins the chapter with a quote attributed to an anonymous scientist that
philosophy of science is about as useful to scientists as ornithology is to birds. He goes
on to address the belief of many scientists that all problems are eventually solvable by
science. He then discusses six topics that he calls anomalous areas that demonstrate
major failures of the prevailing worldview to accommodate well substantiated evidence.
Harman is to be applauded not only for writing this chapter but also for rounding up the

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writers who contributed to this volume, for each one helped chip away at the myth of an
omnipotent science capable of answering all of the questions posed. Because it is a
textbook, it allows the reader to develop concrete ammunition to help counter the
arguments of scientific materialism.

LaBerge, Stephen, and Gackenbach, Jayne (2000). Lucid Dreaming. In Cardena,


Etzel, Lynn, Steven Jay, and Krippner, Stanley. The Varieties of Anomalous Experience.
Washington, DC: American Psychological Association; pp. 151-182.

I really wasnt aware that much of the concept of lucid dreaming before reading
this chapter. Nor at first did I think it to be that big a deal if someone was able to be
aware that they were dreaming whilst they were dreaming. But after reading this chapter,
in combination with a couple of other sources, cited and uncited, that I used for this
paper, I came to understand the importance traditional cultures put on dreams, and how
these types of dreams are akin to lucid dreaming. Even Chuang Tzus butterfly dream,
cited earlier in my paper, can be understood to be a lucid dream. Lucid dreaming is a
type of altered state and is something, as I said above, that traditional cultures have
valued for thousands of years.

Miller, D. Patrick. Altered states: An interview with Leslie Gray. The Sun.
http://www.woodfish.org/altered.html. pp. 1-10.

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This article came from Grays website. Gray is a Native American with a Ph.D.
in clinical psychology and considers herself a bridge between the methodology of modern
science and the healing ways of her indigenous ancestors. She is both a university
instructor and a clinician. In her practice she provides a form of therapy she calls
shamanic counseling, that adapts shamanic practice for contemporary urban dwellers.
What I appreciate about her work is her desire to synthesize the best of both worlds, of
shamanism and psychotherapy. As she says, becoming a master shaman is a difficult
endeavor, as it forces the initiate to undergo tremendous suffering. For the modern day
therapist/healer who is seriously interested in learning the shamanic arts, it may not be
practical to undergo such an arduous initiation process. On the other hand, by blending
the techniques in with psychotherapeutic approaches, and especially an integral
psychological approach, it can have profound applications regardless of whether the
therapist puts themselves through the years of suffering expected of the master shaman.

Nardo, Don, and Belgum, Erik. Voodoo. San Diego: Greenhaven Press.

This was a fascinating introductory overview of the religion of Voodoo, long


parodied in the West as the cult of sorcerers and witch doctors who stick pins in dolls to
exact their punishment. Interestingly, the authors are quick to point out there are no such
things as Voodoo dolls in Haiti; it is in New Orleans where this practice got started.
Furthermore, the authors also are quick to point out that only a small minority of Voodoo
practitioners practice the evil aspects of Voodoo: this is the black magic sect. Instead
most Voodoo practitioners use their powers only for the benefit of the public good. One

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of my former patients was Haitian, and he once told me the story of how he took his aunt,
who had been sick with a mysterious stomach ailment, to a Voodoo doctor. The doctor
examined her finger and made his diagnosis from that. There was some emotional
component, he told her based on his finger diagnosis, and gave her some herbs to drink.
My former patient told me that his aunt made a quick recovery. After reading this book, I
rented the film The Serpent and the Rainbow. This was originally a book by
anthropologist Wade Davis based on his experiences in Haiti; Davis exploits were
discussed in Nardos and Belgums book. The movie, a pure fictionalization that was
inspired by Davis book, was made by famed horrormeister Wes Craven. Based on
Cravens pedigree, I really didnt know what to expect. The movie turned out to be a
very fascinating look at Haitian culture, with a few sensational elements thrown in for
good measure. Craven, incidentally, has been desirous of being seen as a serious
filmmaker, Nightmare on Elm Street (which when you think about it, delves into the
realm of dreams and lucid dreaming) not withstanding. Recently he made the film
Music of the Heart, with Meryl Streep, the true story of a dedicated music teachers
desire to touch the lives and hearts of her inner city pupils. Its a long way from Elm
Street to Harlem, but Craven has been working at evolving his vision from black magic
into white magic, the magic of love. I have the sense that Voodoo, like all traditional
medicines, is first and foremost about the magic of love; also about the magic of love is
the story of a music teacher who felt inspired to make a difference, as Craven showed us
in Music of the Heart.

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Neimark, Jill (Sept./Oct. 1993). Shaman in Chicago. Psychology Today. 26, (5),
pp. 46-56.

This article should be subtitled My uncle the shaman. Jill Neimark, a writer for
Psychology Today, is the niece of Phillip John Neimark, the subject of the piece. Phillip,
a nice Jewish mensch from Chicago, is the last person you would think would become a
high priest in a religion that counts animal sacrifice as one of its most sacred rituals its
seen as a necessary sacrament that leads to actual miracles. His own brother is quoted as
saying What Phil is doing is evil. Yet in the brothers freezer, the author points out, are
prime ribs, which he will consume as one of his dinners. I found Phils journey from
atheist to shaman to be fascinating and his well-articulated statements to be bright,
insightful and compelling. I dont foresee myself converting to the Ifa religion nor
partaking of blood sacrifices in the near future, but I still learned something from reading
this article. And as a Jew raised in an analytical and cerebral environment, I could relate
to Phillip Neimarks journey.

Perkins, John (1997). Shapeshifting. Rochester, VT: Destiny Books.

Perkins book is the only popular book on shamanism in my bibliography. I


wanted to stay away from such books because I tend to wonder how much of what the
author is writing is truth and how much is embellishment? I leafed through another book
I considered for my readings, Hank Wesselmans Spiritwalker. I didnt go through much
of it so Im not sure of the story, but I know it starts out where hes telling his tale of

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experiences he had wherein he went into spontaneous nonordinary states of


consciousness, which then led him to grander adventures. This might be all well and
true, but how do we know when someones stories are true and when theyre just
delusions of grandeur? Leslie Gray discusses Carlos Castaneda on her website, and states
her belief that Castaneda made up some of the material. Anyway, I had heard Perkins
name mentioned by various sources, and since I came across his book in a bookstore, I
decided to buy it. His book is a personal account of various shamanic experiences.
Theres not a lot of depth to it nor much analysis. Theres a lot of asking the reader to
accept what he says at face value. I found some interesting information in his book, and
Im not one to dismiss something just because I dont agree with the subtext; yet because
I tend to be a critical thinker, I would have appreciated if Perkins were the same. It
seems the popular shamanism books are renewing the romanticized version of traditional
cultures as noble, wise and pure of heart. I think they are as flawed as the rest of the
human race and have their screw-ups just the same as everyone else. Thus it takes a
sense of critical thinking to separate the wheat from the chaff and know what to consider
worthwhile information and what to consider simple-minded jargon.

Rochlin, Sheldon, Spera, Mark and Standlee, Loren (Video, 1985). Nepal: Land
of the Gods. New York: Mystic Fire Video.

I really enjoyed watching this documentary about the spiritual ways and means of
Nepal. It was well researched and gave a good sense of the history, tradition and spiritual
practices of the Nepalese. It was an outstanding lesson about Hinduism, Buddhism,

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Tantra and Lamaism. The focus of most of the film was on Divine consciousness and
what modalities the Nepalese use to attain that state. The last part of the film was on the
Sherpas and their animistic and shamanistic culture. I found their beliefs in a world full
of spirit entities fascinating, and it correlated with Eliades discussion of Asian shamans.
What I also found interesting was the difference between the non-Sherpa Nepalese and
the Sherpas. The non-Sherpas didnt appear to give much, if any, focus or thought to an
animistic world filled with spirits, while the Sherpas did. I wondered why that was, and
speculated that as Buddhism and other traditional spiritual practices become more
refined, the tendency is to drop the animistic aspects and focus more on the direct union
with Divine consciousness. I wonder the same thing about contemporary people who talk
of having spirit guides. I myself have never been comfortable with that concept (perhaps
its the analytical and cerebral Jew in me), and I prefer aligning myself more with the
Divine consciousness and receiving any messages via my intuition. Perhaps there is no
difference between receiving messages from guides or from intuition, but yet, on
receiving messages from my intuition, I try to discern whether its my intuition or
whether its my own insecurities and neuroses coming through. Those speaking with
perceived guides may not discriminate at all and reckon that anything they hear from a
guide is a divinely inspired message. Thus they cant make a critical determination
between fact and fancy. After all, the Son of Sam serial killer claimed his sinister
messages were divine inspirations that came to him from his dog Sam. So it may be that
the more refined and evolved a persons consciousness becomes, the less apt they are to
focus on external voices and spirits and more apt they are to listen to their own inner
voice of intuition, which in actuality is Divine guidance.

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Schlitz, Marilyn (Spring 1998). Amazon dreaming. Noetic Sciences Review.


http://www.noetic.org/ions/archivelisting_frame.asp?ID=275; pp. 1-6.

Schlitz writes of her communion with the Achuar peoples of the Amazon, and
their practice of dream sharing. She is putting together a research project on this practice.
Just like the Dream Yoga of Tibet that I mention in my paper, the Achuar believe the
waking state is an illusion and the true nature of reality is perceived and manipulated
within dreams and hallucinogenic visions. Their belief is when one dreams, ones soul
leaves the body and travels to parallel worlds. Schlitz then points out that in the West
there is no sense that dreams hold any soul visions. Perhaps it was Freud who first
pioneered in the West the meanings of dreams in relation to the psyche; yet Freud
interpreted dreams within a personal context and not as having deeper collective and
cultural significance. The Achuar, on the other hand, looked to understand the meaning
of dreams both for the individual and the community. Probably the only work in the
West in understanding dreams the way the Achuar do is the research work into lucid
dreaming.

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Solomon, Grant (1997). Stephen Turoff: Psychic Surgeon. London: Thorsons.

I found this book in a bookstore while perusing shelves. I was curious about the
subject and decided to purchase it. Like his counterparts in Brazil, Turoff is a trance
surgeon, performing gross surgery on people while having had no training or background
in biomedicine. He has a spirit team; entities from another dimension who work through
Turoff to perform the work. Interestingly, one of the entities who work through Turoff is
Jose Arigo, who was one of the original trance surgeons of Brazil, and was the first
person to channel the spirit of Dr. Fritz. The skeptic in me can dismiss it, yet having seen
a video on Dr. Fritz, I know there is something to this phenomena. To explain it would
go beyond current logic. In my paper I have tried to hypothesize one possibility as an
explanation. The author of this book, Grant Solomon, while close to and a fan of Stephen
Turoff, attempts to maintain a degree of objectivity in his writing, as he presents the
skeptics view, and doesnt readily dismiss their objections out of hand. In his postscript
Solomon writes that as he was sitting in his publishers office in London to discuss the
book, he peered out the window and saw Sai Baba walking by, although Sai Baba was in
India at the time. Solomon then writes, I am aware that for some, this admission will
damage my credibility beyond recovery. But please be assured that I sincerely believe it
to be the truth. My only query on this is who is this guy Sai Baba? And can any of the
things he has been reported to do be true?

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Wald, George (1994). The Cosmology of Life and Mind. In Harman, Willis and
Clark, Jane. New Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science. Sausalito: Institute of
Noetic Sciences; pp. 123-131.

Wald examines the worlds of cosmology and consciousness, showing the


interrelatedness of the two. Furthermore, he discusses that neither of these two areas can
be answered irrefutably by the hard sciences. In fact what Wald says is that in science
the questions are so much more important than the answers. He believes that the
mistakes in science come when the scientists try to come up with final answers. All
sciences answers are tentative, Wald states, and breed further questions. This is the kind
of scientist I admire, one who always probes and penetrates and never ceases to accept
that there are absolutes. In the last paragraph of the chapter, Wald summarizes his points
by discussing Bohrs principle of complementarity (mind and matter as complementary
aspects of reality). In doing so, he quotes from the Hindu Upanishads to show that it is
easier to speak of these principles of physics in the East than in the West. In India it has
always been believed that mind pervades the universe and is primary to matter. This, too,
is the point Wald makes, and is the point I also firmly believe to be true.

Wellman, Jan and Hallonen, Arto (Video, 1998). A Dreamer and the Dreamtime.
Finland: Mandrake Productions.

Here is another resource about the dream cultures of traditional civilizations. The
indigenous peoples profiled in this documentary are the Temiar Senoi, a tribe living in

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Malaysia. The film runs a parallel story to the story of the tribe and their dream
techniques, showing the work of various scientists doing dream research, and especially
those working in the field of lucid dreaming. The Temiar Senoi, like other cultures
immersed in the dream world, listen to the personal and collective meanings of their
dreams, and follow these visions accordingly. Their harmonious and non-violent way of
living has been claimed to be a direct result of their dream directed habits. An interesting
segment in the film was a scene in which a Westerner was having a nightmare; the point
of that was that because Westerners dont have a dream culture, they are doomed to be
tormented by their dreams. And these dreams spill over into everyday life, whereby a
Westerner continually is in battle with their internal demons for control of their psyche
and soul.

Wilber, Ken (1996). A Brief History of Everything. Boston: Shambhala.

Wilber, one of the foremost theorists of the West, has the ability to synthesize
wide-ranging material and then present it in a coherent, lucid and logical framework. I
am truly indebted to the commitment he has to his work and presenting his material. I
have found his maps of the evolution of consciousness, his theories of ascending and
descending cultures, and his quadrant theory to be brilliant and enlightening. I resisted
reading this book for a few years because I did not believe there could be such a thing as
a theory of everything. Im still not sure if there can be such a thing, but if anyone were
capable of creating one, Wilber would be the best candidate. Another point Wilber
makes that is relevant to this paper is that just because someone has a mystical experience

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does not necessarily make them more enlightened. While Maslow called these peak
experiences, Wilber calls them peek experiences. What he means is that these
mystical experiences are just a peek of what lies ahead, but in the interim one still has
work to do to climb the ladder of the evolution of consciousness. Wilber advocates a
marriage of Freud and the Buddha to achieve this ascent; another phrase he has used to
explain this type of work is integral transformative practices. Wilber believes that
integral transformative practices will protect practitioners from what he calls the pre/trans
fallacy, the mistaken belief that undeveloped and unevolved behaviors, what are more
prepersonal or prerational, can be mistaken to be transpersonal or transrational behaviors.
Just because someone is a shaman and bangs on a drum and has mystical visions doesnt
necessarily make them a transpersonal visionary. They may be lacking any sort of
rational understanding of personal and collective emotional, physical, psychological,
existential and spiritual needs, especially from a Western mindset. And its not enough to
say Westerners are bad, traditional cultures are good, because the bottom line is that we
are all human beings with the same physiological, emotional and spiritual makeup. Thus,
as Wilber points out, there are holistic thinking Newtonian types, and there are atomistic
thinking, new paradigm, ecophilosopher types. In other words, it is not enough to be
accepted as a guru just because one espouses all the right words, as we have seen by the
various gurus who have been uncovered as frauds in recent times. Instead, what is
needed is for people to understand the steps leading towards an evolution of
consciousness and follow this path accordingly. The ones who understand this path more
fully will become the teachers and leaders, and their titles may be shaman, psychologist,
medical doctor, acupuncturist, spiritual teacher, artist, musician, politician, business

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executive, professor, public school teacher, writer, policeman, carpenter, short order
cook, and/or countless other myriad occupations.

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