October 5, 2009

Exploring Consciousness

Jeffrey Mishlove, PhD, has been studying parapsychology for decades and has been on the forefront of the exploration of consciousness since the early 1980s.
The president of the Intuition Network, Mishlove has been a writer, television host and producer, psychotherapist, businessman and researcher of extraordinary human capacities and psychic abilities.

He will be presenting the keynote address at the International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS) October 16-17 in San Diego. Vision Magazine recently had the great opportunity to speak with him about near-death experiences (NDEs), as well as the world of parapsychology and its implications for humanity.

Vision Magazine: Are there any physiological changes that happen to people that have had NDEs?
Jeffrey Mishlove: It really depends on the situation. I am not a medical doctor; I am a parapsychologist. My work focuses strictly on the psycholog-ical dimensions, and you might even say the spiritual dimensions. People will have NDEs for a variety of physical causes and I’m sure that there can be complications associated with them on occasion.

There are a whole spectrum of experiences related to NDEs that are very interesting to me and my work as a parapsychologist. I’ve also researched out-of-body experiences (OBEs), remote viewing experiences, and lucid dreaming.

VM: What sorts of psychological changes can occur in people who have these experiences?
JM: In terms of personal change, NDEs are the most profound. They can be very dramatic and people who encounter the near-death state often have life reviews in which their whole lives flash in front of them and they begin to take stock of themselves, much the way, according to various mythological accounts, it occurs on judgment day after death. People sometimes come out of that experience with a sense of renewed purpose and vigor; they want to make up for past mistakes or change their lives dramatically. On occasion though, it can be disheartening; some people come out of that experience thinking that their lives have been a mess and it can be very depressing. In some cases, it takes years for people to work through the implications of the insights that will occur in a near-death state.

VM: Can you talk a bit about the Intuition Network?
JM: The Intuition Network is an informal network which includes people who are professionals in the field of intuition. There are intuitive readers and researchers, as well as people who write about or teach seminars on intuition. We have formed a mutual support group because often, when people in this field have an NDE, it’s hard to talk about it. They feel alone and we want to provide a place for them to express and understand the experience.
The same is true for people who are gifted in the area of intuition. Many people feel isolated and we try to overcome that by creating opportunities for individuals who are gifted with these talents to provide support for each other. The main activity of the Intuition Network is an online discussion group for leaders in the field.

VM: You were the first person to receive a PhD in parapsychology from Berkeley. Are you still the only person to have received this degree?
JM: Yes, and that was nearly 30 years ago. It’s been a bit disheartening that more people haven’t come into the field. But our culture seems to be moving overall in a different direction, more toward materialism. While there is enormous popular interest, there’s less support for parapsychology or near-death studies within academia, in terms of courses, research or funding at the university level. Because of this, I helped to found the University of Philosophical Research, which offers accredited master’s degrees through online courses in Consciousness Studies and Transformational Psychology.

VM: After all your years of research, what has been your most significant discovery?
JM: My most significant discovery has been in the area of remote viewing. Researchers have been able to demonstrate over and over again that without any special training, many individuals are capable of engaging in a clairvoyant process, or seeing at a distance. The government trains soldiers in the military to do this and there is supported research from the last 20 years showing good results.

VM: What are some practical applications for remote viewing?
JM: Remote viewing has been used in archeology. It’s also used by medical practitioners to offer diagnoses. But for the average person, I think that the important thing is just to be aware that these abilities exist. For most people, it may be that once every few years, something dramatic will happen. The tendency is to try and push it out of their minds and act as though it didn’t happen. This is because it’s hard to talk about it when other people may become sarcastic or unfriendly. But if you know that there’s solid research and that the experience is very likely an important and meaningful one, you can then begin to integrate it into your life.

VM: Do you believe that human consciousness is expanding?
JM: Yes, I think that’s fair to say. A nice analogy would be to say that the human life span is expanding. People are living longer than their parents or grandparents did and at the same time, human culture is expanding as well. There is an explosion of knowledge going on and very slowly, human consciousness is expanding, by which I mean the capacity to take all of this in and integrate it.

Compassion is very important. I would say that this is the bottom line. I’ve conducted hundreds and hundreds of television and radio interviews, and the point I’d like to emphasize is that usually at the end of every interview, we’d come around to an understanding of the fundamental truth of all mystical traditions. It is a concept that I believe to be well supported in scientific theory, and it is that we’re all interconnected. We’re not isolated from anything. The idea of “us” and “them,” (as if you can separate yourself from other groups) is really counter to reality and self. We are part and parcel of everything, like it or not.

VM: What has been a dominant influence in your life?
JM: There have been mentors who have been very influential. My life has also been dramatically changed by dreams. I feel like I’ve been guided by dreams and that there is a higher spiritual intelligence that can reach out to us in dreams and altered states of consciousness. I had a dream on one occasion that led me to produce the television show, “Thinking Allowed,” which ran for 16 years every week on public television stations all over North America.

Another very important dream that led me to get my doctoral degree in parapsychology occurred in 1973 when a great uncle of mine appeared to me in a dream and began talking to me deeply about my life. When I woke up, I was actually singing and crying at the same time. I woke up from that dream and knew that it was significant. I wrote home and asked, “How’s Uncle Harry?” My mother called me instantly and said, “How did you know Uncle Harry just died?” That experience was so important that if I spent my whole life just trying to understand what was behind that dream, then that would be a life well spent.

VM: What can we expect from the upcoming IANDS conference?
JM: The theme of the conference is how higher consciousness, which often results from NDEs, can be put to good social purposes—not just to feel good, but to actually do good in the world. It’s about integrating the inner journey with the commitment to making the world a better place.

VM: How can people do that in their everyday lives?
JM: It’s going to be different for each person, but let me say this: People who begin a journey of spiritual exploration or meditation—which is a way of gradually inducing the kind of consciousness that can hit people over the head like a sledge hammer when they have an NDE—almost inevitably discover that consciousness itself has innate healing properties. Further, directing positive thoughts to others can be beneficial for healing. There’s quite a lot of research that’s been conducted on psychic and distant healing which uses double blind laboratory methods to show that directed thought or prayer is actually effective.
It goes back to the idea that we’re all connected. We can have a healing influence throughout the entire day by holding positive thoughts and by learning how to discern and remove negative thoughts from our stream of consciousness. It’s a subtle way in which we all can improve our environment.

Copyright: Sydney L. Murray, Vision Magazine