The Mystical Versus the Neurological

Author: Professor Mike Mueckler
Publisher: Alt.religion.eckankar
Publication date: 1996

E-mail David Christopher Lane directly at

I want to go back to the home base now.

   I will answer Glen's questions, because it just may open up some eyes
and ears. Not those of the eck participants on this newsgroup, but of the
lurkers, who have always been the object of my posts.  Some of this will
be repetitive to old timers on this newsgroup.
   First, the accusation is that I am somehow afraid of my visions,
experiences, etc., and therefore place a materialistic slant on them. It
seems self-evident that this explanation doesn't make any sense.  I
started having OOBEs at the age of 15 or16 prior to my exposure to
eckankar.  At that time, I was absolutely convinced that they were "real"
in the same sense that most eckists wrongfully interpret these phenomena.
I joined eckankar because it appeared to explain and to place these
experiences into a pleasing (if somewhat simple-minded) religious context
(I was raised a Catholic and fully believed in a Supreme Being, etc.). My
OOB experiences were self-induced after reading the first edition of
"Journeys Out of the Body" by Robert Monroe in 1970.  Around this time, I
also met and befriended a professional psychic and medium.  I spent much
of my last two years in high school with this gentleman, with whom I had
many interesting experiences. I mention this only to illustrate that I was
totally and completely "sold" on psychic phenomena and the supernatural.
I was fully one of "You" out there. I could not even imagine life without
a spiritual/psychic side. I initially wanted to go to college at Duke in
order to study parapsychology, because Duke had the only semi-respectable
psychic research institute in the country (I ended up going to another

   After I began my intensive training in the sciences in college, leading
through graduate school, postgraduate training, and beyond, I began to
experiment on myself and to evaluate my OOB experiences, read the
scientific literature (such as it was) on this subject and related
phenomena. At the beginning, I was still a totally committed eckist, in
fact, a "leader" in the area I lived in.  As my knowledge of science and
the scientific method grew along with my evaluation of my own experiences
and the experiences of others as documented in the scientific literature,
it became clear that the OOBE and so-called mystical experience have a
completely materialistic explanation in the neuron.  No evidence for
knowledge at a distance has ever been demonstrated in a properly designed
experiment.  I have investigated the paranormal for nearly 25 years,
and have met and spoken to JB Rhine, among others.
I have also communicated with many over the years who have had some degree of
control over the OOB state. I was a member of the Monroe Institute for a
year or two in the late seventies (that just means I took one of their
home courses).   Neither I nor anyone I have talked to has produced one
shred of evidence that the OOBE is anything but a lucid dream or
hypnagogic experience resulting from the firing of neurons.  That is, no
one has produced any evidence that one can obtain information at a
distance in this state. Certainly not the Monroe Institute, despite their
sincerity and efforts. There has been nothing but negative results after
many decades of work on the part of many dedicated investigators around
the World.  After so much negative data, in any other branch of science we
would say--enough already.

   Of course, I am very familiar with the *claims* of positive
results--these are a combination of statistical blips, wishful thinking,
sloppy, uncontrolled experiments, faulty equipment, and forgery and
fakery. Indeed, the entire field of parapsychology has been rife with
these unfortunate occurrences.  Every time the so-called positive
experiments have been repeated by others using a proper protocol, the
"positive" results vanish.  If you saw some of the so-called "positive"
data, most of you would wince and say, so what?  We are not talking about
demonstrating the existence of the soul--rather, observing something like
a tiny deviation from the statistical norm using Psi cards or the like.  A
Nobel Prize-winning physicist, Ernst Rutheford, once said--if you have to
use statistics to prove something--go back and design the experiment
properly! If a certain type of experiment is repeated often enough, the
outcome will come out "positive" a certain percentage of the time.

   How have I reached my conclusions about mystical phenomena?  By an
objective evaluation of all of the subjective and objective evidence
available to me. It would take several volumes to describe all of the
evidence I have sifted through and evaluated. In a way, I was fortunate to
have intensive training in the scientific method and extensive experience
with the Out-of-Body state. It appears to me that few if any eckists
on this group have actually had OOBEs as described by Monroe, Muldoon,
Schwann, and others. Monroe's descriptions are the least colored, but even
he embellished them considerably. For one thing, he made up the only
incident in his first book that might have provided some sort of
semi-objective evidence for the "reality" of his experiences (the pinching
episode was made up for those of you who have read the book--see Rogo's
book on Astral Projection). The pre-OOBE vibratory state described by
Monroe is a well-known phenomenon called sleep paralysis that occurs
during dreaming.  The fact that Monroe, I, and, and many others can become
conscious during sleep paralysis (which precedes the OOBE), illustrates
the dream nature of the experience. This has also been demonstrated in the
laboratory by the use of EEGs on subjects during their OOBEs. You can look
up the data yourselves.

   I have also had the more "mystical" type of experience.  It's really no
different.  I have described some of my inner experiences (dreams)
involving Twitchell and Gross before on this newsgroup, and the fact that
Gross asked me to contribute some of my experiences to the aborted
biography Brad Steiger started working on. As I recall, one of my
experiences (dreams) is actually reported in one of the eck discourses.
All neurological gobbledegook.  Fun, but mundane.  This is also a
hypnagogic state where one gains partial control over dream-like images.
These are mixed with subconscious desires and images. One can hear, see,
and experience, virtually anything, including other "planes", sounds,
masters, etc. I believe most people can learn to induce these
experiences.  But it takes enormous willpower, patience, and something few
people have--lots of time.  I spent a couple of hours a day for a year or
solearning to "catch hold of" the hypnagogic state.  I could do it because
I was a teenager with all the free time on my hands that I needed.

   Am I somehow afraid of the Truth?  That is not logical and sounds like
classic psychological projection.  Who in their right mind would be afraid
of immortality?  It was a great intellectual struggle for me to break free
of my ingrained religious  beliefs.  Indeed, this takes a great deal of
courage from anyone.  What doesn't take a lick of courage is to accept
other peoples explanation of YOUR experience, which is what every eckist
does. I did it, too, because it was easy.  They tell you exactly what you
want to hear. How many of you have gone out on your own and attempted to
objectively evaluate your "inner" experiences and directly challenged your
most cherished beliefs? On the other hand, how many of you accept whatever
Klemp tells you as fact?  Have you REALLY proven it to yourself? You don't
have to put up a facade. These explanations are provided by those ignorant
of physiology, the same way the Shamans used to provide religious
explanations for mental illness, the stars in the night sky, etc.  As
science has advanced, these silly explanations have been swept under the
rug by all religions as hidden embarrassments.  One by one. Do you want to
look under the rug forever for your explanations?

   What do my own personal inner experiences prove or disprove?
Absolutely nothing. The objective data concerning the phenomena in
question are more than sufficient to identify them as neurological states
and to disprove the supernatural hypothesis. I happened to be in the
unusual position of having the scientific training, to have the desire,
and to have developed the subjective abilities to put these phenomena to a
personal test. That is all.

   Ask yourself what evidence you really and truly have that confirms your
religious beliefs. How convincing is that evidence?  Would it convince a
dispassionate observer? Would you stake your child's life on it?  Would
trained scientific observers with no interest at stake in the outcome draw
the same conclusions?  Can you imagine life without immortality, without a
soul, without a master--with only organic molecules in a self-replicating
system?  A life that ends when the brain ceases to function? I have
imagined it both ways, and am forced to accept the correct interpretation.
If you can't even imagine it both ways, how can you begin to go beyond
mere religious faith?

To paraphrase an eck master:  You can DISprove it for yourself--if you are
bold  and adventuresome.  If you are not, then remain an eckist.

A closing prediction: The very youngest eckists among us will live to see
the day neurobiologists can explain the so-called mystical experience
(i.e., hallucination, lucid dream) at the cellular/molecular levels.  No
question about it. Eckankar will have passed into oblivion long before
this, however. Or perhaps eckists will transform into a new type of drug
culture, where one takes a specific neurotransmitter to induce a specific

One last thing.  It is certainly possible that my materialistic views are
completely wrong.  Scientific theories are constantly in a state of flux
as we gather more data. I would place the odds that I am wrong in this
regard at one in a thousand or less. Religion has been given a fair shake
for millenia, and has proven to be a miserable failure at explaining
anything or bringing about harmony to the human civilization.  The further
we advance in our knowledge of the universe through application of the
scientific method, the more religious viewpoints have to be abandoned. The
odds are getting less and less every day.

Mike Mueckler

Department of Cell Biology and Physiology
Washington University School of Medicine
660 S. Euclid Ave.
St. Louis, MO  63110
Phone: 314-362-4160
Fax: 314-362-7463

E-mail The Neural Surfer directly at

I want to go back to the home base now.