COPYRIGHT CANADIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION
INTERVIEW WITH KEN RING
The people that I studied who have either of these kinds of experiences report similar childhood histories - histories of unusual sensitivities to paranormal or other worldly events. HIstories of child abuse and trauma to a greater extent than I found from my control groups. These persons also as adults seem to be characterized by stronger tendencies towards psychological dissociation than people in my control group. So the persons who seem vulnerable or susceptible to unusual encounters such as near death exepriences or abductions are people who have a kind of predisposition I would say. They have a kind of childhood based sensitivity in their psychological structure to these unusual experiences. These experiences don't just happen to anyone, at least as a rule - they happen to special kinds of people who have these, either acquired or perhaps native sensitivies to alternate realities and to the psychic realm.
that's one set of commonalities. There's another that we might get into at some point and that has to do with how these persons are affected by the experiences that they undergo - whether they be near death experiences or UFO encounter.
ARE THERE SIMILARITIES THERE THAT..
Many. In fact the one thing that is..runs as a constant theme through my book the Omega Project where I describe these two kinds of persons is the similarity between both types of individuals, both with respect to the kinds of factors which in childhood or in their psychological functioning dispose them to these unusual encounters, and secondly in terms of a range of after effects that extends from beliefs and values and world view issues to apparent physiological and neurological changes that follow these experiences.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO SAY IF THE PERSON CHOOSES THE EXPERIENCE OR THE EXPERIENCE CHOOSES THE PERSON?
Well I don't know if I want to put it one way or another but I would say that there is a sense in which people draw these experiences to themsleves or at least when they happen they're more likely to register these experiences as conscious events than people who do not have this particular kind of psychological profile that I'm alluding to.
So there's a match between the susceptibilty of the person in terms of their character structure and the kinds of experiences they're open to.
there is a kind of individual whom I call an encounter prone personality. By which I mean, because of that individual's psychological structure, they're open to a wide variety of unusual experiences. If they happen to be nearly run down or nearly killed by an automobile, they have what we call a near death incident - these are people who would be more likely to report an NDE or near death experience at the time. If they happen to be driving on a lonely road in New Hampshire at night and see an anomolous light in the sky, the same kind of person would be more likely to report a UFO encounter.
what I try to suggest is that there is a realm that lies outside our ordinary waking state, or ordinary consensus realm. And a realm that is also not merely fantasy or delusion or hallucination. There is an in between realm where thse experiences originate. I think these people that I'm talking about as encounter prone personalities or psychological sensitives are particularly attuned to that realm and therefore they're open to a wide variety of experiences that are in a sense embedded there. So they may have a near death experience, they may have a psychic experience, they may channel, they may have a UFO encounter and so forth.
I call it an imaginal realm - that's not my term. And I don't mean to imply that it's imaginary. I mean to imply again that there is a special alternate reality in which these experiences can said..be said to have their origin to whiich these persons are especially susceptible. And there are lots of them. I mean these..the similarity of reports among people that have UFO abductions or near death experiences is so striking that one almost has to conclude that these experiences have a kind of reality of their own. I suggest that that reality derives from this imaginal realm.
IT'S INTERESTING YOU SAY THAT BY THAT YOU DON'T MEAN THAT IT'S A FUNCTION OF THE IMAGINATION, THAT IT'S NOT REALLY THERE..
..IS IT PHYSICALLY REALLY THERE?
I'd say..in my view it's not physically really there in the way that we talk about physical reality, although it may leak into or interpenetrate into our physical realm. I say it is as real to a person's imaginal vision, if I can put it that way, as this world is to our eyes. In other words it's real within that particular state. But if you had cameras there and were focusing on it, you wouldn't see anything. You have to have, I would say a kind of clairvoyant vision or a kind of clair audience to be aware of these particular states. They're real. In fact I think one of the difficulties is that they're so real for people to have these experiences, and yet so unbelievable to the people that don't, we need another category of reality to be able to refer these experiences.
IT'S ALMOST AS IF YOU'RE HAVING THE REALITY RUG PULLED OUT FROM UNDER YOUR FEET..
..ISN'T IT? FOR SOME OF THESE PEOPLE..
..EVERYTHING THAT YOU RELATE TO, EVERY WAY YOU UNDERSTNAD YOUR WORLD IS GONE..
..DOESN'T MAKE SENSE.
That's right and that's why I think these experiences are profoundly upsetting, disturbing and destabilizing to people, because on the one hand they're so vivid in many cases, they're so real and they have such profound effects on people. And on the other hand there's nothing that you can hold onto, you can't bring any proof of these epxeriences, you can't bring back an artificat. What I think is a big danger or I would say a limitation in our particular both cultural and scientific world view is we don't have a category for these experiences. We don't have..they don't have their own ontological status, as they do in many other cultures. If you go into say the Tibetan culture or some traditional culture, the people in that culture are very much aware of these kinds of experiences and have a place for them in their thinking because of the kind of dualistic thought that's grown up on the west between..There's mind, which is sort of not really real you know,and then there's the material world which really is the fundamental reality. We don't have an in between category. We don't have a spectrum of realities. We have only physical reality and then various things that shade off into hallucination, fantasy, reverie, fantasy and so on.
DID WE ONCE HAVE THAT CONNECTION WITH THE MIND, WITH THE OTHER WORLD IF I CAN..
Well..yes I think probably all countries have had it. Certainly before the rise of scientific traditions about the beginning of the six..seventeenth century we had it in the west as well, but of course all of us now are the descendents of the people who gave rise to that..gave voice to that scientific world view - Descartes and Newton and all you know the great voices of that particular tradition, and so we have grown up with our ontological categories pretty much intact, except when they have these experiences and then we undergo a kind of ontological wobble. We realize that something is cracking through the apparently brick wall of our notion of physical reality. But yes I think we did have those views even in the west, many many hundreds of years ago. But they have essentially been overcoated by the rise of that kind of scientific world view, mechanistic view of the universe, materialistic philosophy and so on.
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE THEORY THAT WE'VE GONE OVERBOARD WITH SCIENCE AND THAT KIND OF RATIONAL THOUGHT AND THAT AT THE END OF THIS CENTURY WE'RE BEGINNING TO..THE INCREASED ABDUCTION SITINGS AND PARANORMAL EXPERIENCES ARE REALLY JUST A WAY OF PUTTING US BACK ON COURSE..
I feel that these experiences are in a sense a corrective for a kind of paternalistic mechanistic scientific philosophy that has I suppose in some way got us into a lot of deep water because of its..the way it has been applied through particular kind of technology by thinkig about the earth as kind of a inert thing available for exploitation. And I think many people realize now we cannot continue to live this way and to have a habitable earth. In my view these experiences such as near death experiences and UFO encounters which pose such a fundamental problem to this..the conventional scientific mind if they're to be taken seriously, are forcing us to think in new ways. And one of the things that came out of my study and I know that people like John Mack have come to similar conclusions independently is a very strong ecological concern of much greater sensitivity to the problems of the earth to questions of planetary welfare that many of these people begin to voice and to voice quite emphatically as a result of coming through these experiences. So I feel in a sense that like the poets of say an earlier age, these people are kind of the sensitive souls of our era. They feel perhaps in their own psyches a kind of imperative for change that is sort of more ecologically sensitive to the requirements of living on the earth in a harmonious way with the earth and with one another. And I feel one of the effects of this is to force us to look at, from a scientific point of view with a kind of expanded focus to begin to eliminate some of the rigidities of science. I'm not against science but I'm for a more expanded science. I think that science the way it's been practised in a way has kind of choked the life out of the earth and I feel that science ought to nourish life, not kill it. So I feel like yeah there's something to what yo'ure saying. I can look at these experiences as corrective to that point of view.
One of the things that came out again very strongly in my study is that not just I who have particular views of my own but the people whom I studied who either have had these kinds of experiences or have come to have a strong interest in them, see a very strong evolutionary current at work that is pushing people toward higher levels of spiritual realization, and indeed higher levels of consciousness. Many people whom I studied have the view that these experiences themselves are a catalyst for a kind of spiritual evolution, as though that too is a part of the corrective that is necessary. Not only do we need to change our views and expand our views about the nature of scientific enquiry but we need also to allow a spiritual view of the world to infect in a positive way our scientific enterprises and out thinking in general.
IF THE..WOULD YOU AGREE THAT IT'S A MODERN FORM OF MYTH THAT THE UFO, THE SPACESHIP, THE ALIEN IS REALLY NOT VERY MUCH DIFFERNT FROM THE IRISH FAIRY?
I think there are obvious similarities. I think the myth of the extraterrestrial is a myth that really speaks to us in our own language in terms of the imagery of a space age with the notion that of course there must be life on other planets in our galaxy or certainly in our galaxy and in other galaxies that it's a myth that speaks to us in a particularly vivid and compelling way.
BUT IS THE MESSAGE THE SAME AS..?
NOt necessarily because the way I think about the idea of fairy lore was that's an earth centred idea that we share our earth with other beings who may inhabit other realities. I think the myth of the extraterrestrial is saying more than that. It's saying somehing like we share this galaxy, this universe with other beings and that we need to see our planet as a part of the cosmos. So I'd say that instead of it being earth centred, it's sort of cosmic centred. But in some sense it may perform a similar function except I think it's expanding our horizons far more than the idea of faires might have done at the time when they were in vogue at least in certain countries, the Celtic tradition and so on.
I've met, of course, many [12:00:40] people who are skeptical or worse in the sense of outright debunkers of these experiences, but these people, by and large, I would say, haven't [12:00:50] really studied the phenomenon up close. They tend to be people who are -- who have read about it in books or have kind of prefabricated ideas about what -- what's possible and what's not. I have found actually overall the kind of contact that I've had with people who have what I call extraordinary encounters [12:01:10] such as inner death experiences to be by and large very consistent and mutually reinforcing so far as the -- the [12:01:20] subjective reality of those experiences for those individuals.
[12:04:10] EVEN PEOPLE WHO HAVE NOT HAD A NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE OR AN ENCOUNTER OR EVEN A UFO SITING ARE STILL FASCINATED BY THE STORIES AND CAN SIT AROUND FOR HOURS AND JUST LISTEN TO THEM. [12:04:20]
I WONDER, IS THAT BECAUSE THERE'S A SYMBOLISM TO WHAT'S HAPPENING?
Well, before I speak to the question of the symbolism, I want to add something, just to -- sort of the stem of your question. Not only [12:04:30] are people who have heard about these experiences fascinated by them; but according to the research that we've recently done at the University of Connecticutt, many of these people change in the same way [12:04:40] as persons who've actually had the experience themselves.
So there's a -- this -- the effects of these experiences aren't limited [12:05:10] by any means to the people who've had them. But even as people become interested in them, they begin to show some of the same shifts.
As for the symbolism of these experiences, I suppose the symbolism is a little bit different for the near death experience as for the UFO encounter. But they share one thing in common and that is there is [12:05:30] the idea of an initiatory journey. In both cases, persons who've had near death experiences or UFO encounters, especially of the abduction kind, [12:05:40] first find themselves an ordinary, physical reality. Then for any one of a combination of circumstances, they find themselves whisked away out of that reality [12:05:50] into another world, into something that really is other worldly or extra-terresterial or whatever term you'd like to use for it. There, certain things are impressed upon them in a very deep way so as to affect their psyche. They learn certain things about the nature of reality and about themselves and they come back from these experiences [12:06:10] transformed by them, often with very considerable healing gifts or with gifts of spiritual (unclear) that most of them would claim they did not have before. [12:06:20]
So if there's a symbolism in common for both of these experience, it's probably that of the initiatory journey, the hero's journey. Or one might even say the Shamanic [12:06:30] journey. I think the study of Shamanism, for example, can give us many important clues as to the structure and to the meaning of these experiences. And that's why [12:06:40] I see the near death experience and the UFO encounter -- however different these experiences may be in their content and in terms of the [12:06:50] kinds of emotions they arouse in people -- as having very much the same underlying structure and possibly the same kind of meaning.
I think that one of the things that's happened in the last twenty years in the field of near death studies and it's beginning to happen [12:10:30] in the field of UF0 abductions is that many people -- and I think this is certainly true for a very substantial segment of the western population, who are at least open to [12:10:40] and curious about these experiences -- are beginning to accord them a hearing. They may not necessarily believe literally in the existence of these experiences in the way that people who have actually [12:10:50] had these encounters do, but they're at least prepared to say well maybe I have to open a few more windows in my house (unclear) and look outside before I make up my mind about what is real and what is not.