Author: Professor Mike Mueckler Publisher: Alt.religion.eckankar Publication date: 1996
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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 university). 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 "experience". 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 Professor 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
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I want to go back to the home base now.