Friday, September 16, 2016

Paranormal phenomena and the paradigm problem

Allen Hynek, Flying Saucer Review editor Gordon Creighton and Swedish ufologist Sven Schalin adopted Anthroposophy as their worldview, Fate magazine editor Ray Palmer championed the teachings of the channeled "Bible" Oahspe, Finnish ufologist Joel Rehnström is a representative of The Urantia Foundation, Swedish publisher and new age activist Edith Nicolaisen was very influenced by Max Heindel, founder of Rosicrucian Fellowship, psychiatrist Dr. Nils-Olof Jacobsson, author of Life After Death and student of paranormal phenomena is an advocate of Danish mystic Martinus, as are several others in the UFO movement. The worldview or personal philosophy of individuals involved in UFO and paranormal research provides an interesting cultural and sociological study in itself.

Witnesses to UFO and paranormal phenomena and investigators of these observations share a common problem. From different perspectives and experiences both groups sooner or later come to realize that the  mainstream materialist, reductionist worldview or paradigm becomes untenable when faced with the large quantity of well documented, unexplained empirical data. A natural reaction to this heureka moment is interpreting the phenomena in the light of the religious or metaphysical cultural frame of reference inherited from birth. The other alternative is entering an ardous existential journey in the jungle of conflicting philosophies and teachings, trying to find a worldview making sense of the unknown phenomena.

Let me present this problem from the viewpiont of two very different individuals, UFO witness Peggy Robert och journalist and UFO investigator John Keel. In September 1973 Peggy Robert had a close encounter with a oscillating, saucer-shaped craft. She noticed entities moving back and forth behind windows. This UFO observation became a turning point in the life of Peggy Robert. Before this happened she described herself as a typical ego tripping materialist basically interested in expensive clothes, jewellery, cars and the good life. "Now I knew there was something else in other dimensions, life that is different and more evolved... After this contact with the UFO I couldn´t accept Christianity as presented in the churches. Now I started an intensive period of searching." Peggy contacted many alternative religious and spiritual groups. She went to India to meet the Indian guru Sai Baba and for a time found inner peace with his teachings. Back in Sweden she studied alternative medicine,.Reflexology, Acupressure and nutrition.

Peggy Robert

After a lifetime of travel, field investigation and study of UFO, Fortean and paranormal phenomena John Keel reached the conclusion shared by many researchers into these areas: we live in a multiverse inhabited by a variety of diverse intelligences. This discovery changed his outlook on life and his continuing search. In the classic Operation Trojan Horse (1970), he wrote: "Previous to all this I was a typical hard-boiled skeptic. I sneered at the occult. I had once published a book, Jadoo, which denigrated the mystical legends of the Orient… But my experiences over the past few years have changed both me and my outlook, just as similar experiences haved changed so many others. I have stood on many a winding hilltop staring in amazement at the multicoloured objects cavorting about the night skies. I have dealt with thousands of honest, sincere witnesses by mail, phone and in person. My skepticism has melted away, and I have turned from science to philosophy in my search for the elusive truth".

John Keel and girlfriend during a visit to Sweden 1976

Neither Peggy Robert nor John Keel evidently found ”the elusive truth”, a tenable philosophy, worldview or paradigm that could replace materialist reductionism. But John Keel sensed the direction research was going. In his last book, The Eighth Tower (1975), he wrote: "Today many scientific disciplines are moving in the same direction, not realizing they are mapping a very old country. In a few years, perhaps even in our own lifetime, all sciences will suddenly converge at a single point, and the mysteries of the superspectrum will unravel in our hands."

Many UFO witnesses and investigators have crossed the borderline into the multiverse by accepting some alternative philosophy, teaching or guru as their new worldview. And here comes the tricky part. They are mostly exclusive and present very different ”facts” regarding reality. Here is a short list of options: Anthroposophy, Gurdjieff, Urantia, Sai Baba, Bahai, Edgar Cayce, Swedenborg, Maurice Doreal, Richard Kieninger, Sture Johansson, AMORC, Nicholas Roerich, I Am Movement, Martinus, Theosophy, Scientology, Spiritualism, Aetherius Society, René Guenon, Alice Bailey, Meher Baba, Oahspe, Subud, Eckankar, Bo Yin Ra, Lobsang Rampa, Rosicrucian Fellowship, Sri Chinmoy, Benjamin Creme ….. The list could go on and on with hundreds of groups and teachers.

I have the deepest sympathy for research collegues and friends who refrain from theories and when encountering some of the more devoted adherents of these worldviews, who have found ”The Truth”, simply refuse to even consider their opinions or take some time to study the teachings. After many years of studying various spiritual teachings and worldviews my reaction in 1986-87 was rather similar. I was simply fed up with all the irrational and inhuman ideas encountered in different groups and organizations Disappointed with what I experienced in the spiritual underground I abandoned my spiritual quest in 1986 and for a couple of years became active within the Swedish Humanist movement, Humanisterna. During these years I was a harsh critic of various New Age ideologies. It was a consistent and necessary psychological reaction in my life even though, in culture radical zeal, as secular humanist, I threw out the baby with the bathwater. I never climbed so far out on a limb though as K. Gösta Rehn, the Swedish UFO research pioneer. His assessment of the theories of John Keel and Jacques Vallee was  ”a terrible blind alley”.

K. Gösta Rehn

If there is a multiverse inhabited by various sentient beings of different evolution and intelligence there must also be a science of the multiverse. Which implies that it is reasonable to assume the existence of "scientists" of the multiverse or custodians of knowledge not discovered by mainstream science. This is the position maintained by The Esoteric Tradition or The Ancient Wisdom.
Readers of my blog, books and articles are aware of that I regard myself as an esotericist in the Blavatsky, Bailey, Laurency tradition and advocate the Esoteric Tradition as a valid alternative working hypothesis in researching UFO and paranormal phenomena. With what I have presented above is this a reasonable and intellectually tenable position?

Helena Petrovna Blavatsky

For me to accept, as a hypothesis, a multiverse worldview or philosophy the following demands must be met:

The basic scientific, ontological and epistemological issues and problems must be addressed in a rational and intellectual manner, not by obscure mysticism.

The worldview is presented as facts and a science of the multiverse.

The language and terminology must appeal to scholars and researchers.

New empirical data indicating a multiverse can be interpreted and understood within the worldview.

The ethical message is a combination of humanism, goodwill and idealism.

These demands I have found reasonably met in the Esoteric Tradition as represented by Helena Blavatsky, Alice Bailey and Henry T. Laurency. There are of course statements in these teachings which I find problematic but the basic philosophy is in my view of an intellectual quality unsurpassed.

In the recently released documentary Ghost Rockets my UFO-Sweden collegue and friend Clas Svahn adress the paradigm problem with this excellent quote: "To believe is one thing, To know is something entirely different". The most important thing to realize for any researcher with intellectual integrity, proposing a new theory, paradigm or working hypothesis is - it may be wrong. This of course also goes for the multiverse worldview of esotericism. But after 45+ years of research and study I have found no worldview that can challenge the Esoteric Tradition.  History will prove or disprove if this really is the Ancient Wisdom.