Category Archives: New Age books

Natalie Sudman’s “Application of Impossible Things” is a different kind of near death experience book

Review by KEN KORCZAK

After getting blown up by a roadside bomb in Iraq, civilian contract worker NATALIE SUDMAN “blinked” and found herself in another reality. It was a strange place indeed. Sudman discovered herself standing center stage in what she struggles to describe as perhaps a vast stadium filled with thousands of beings — but who or what kind of beings?

Souls? Personalities? Entities? Spirits? People?

None of the terms seemed quite adequate or accurate. Sudman realized that she was having a near death experience (NDE) after suffering severe trauma to her body. But this event didn’t have any of the classic attributes popularly associated with the NDE.

There was no tunnel of light, no greeting on “the other side” by dead relatives, no experience of a spirit detaching and flying away from her physical body. She just “blinked” and she was there. Once arrived, she felt instantly at home and did not want to go back.

She also became immediately aware of her first function in the afterlife: She acted as a kind of cosmic computer cache with the purpose of “downloading” all of her “stored” information to the waiting gathering of souls — who absorbed the information “with gratitude.”

NATALIE SUDMAN

By now you may be getting the idea that APPLICATION OF IMPOSSIBLE THINGS is yet another near death experience book, but one that makes a significant departure from what have become the conventions of the genre.

This is not airy fairy New Agey fare but more of a thinking man’s (in this case, a thinking woman’s) report on the afterlife. Sudman is at once a serious, sober observer of the extraordinary situation she encountered, but also an often funny and charming writer with something entirely different to say.

This is a book about the ultimate issues of all reality — What is life? Who are we? What are we? What is the meaning of life? What does it mean to be a conscious human being? Why are we here? — and Sudman has a truly remarkable ability to delve into these weighty questions while never talking down to us, and at the same time, challenging us to expand our way of thinking.

This is a slim volume at just over 100 pages, but it has the effect of reading a book of 200 or 300 pages. Each paragraph seems impregnated with richer meaning, as if there is information coming at you from the spaces in between the words and sentences. If you read it twice, don’t be surprised is if you get as much more even more out of it the second time around.

It’s perhaps important to note that Sudman was not a New Age type or any sort of formal spiritual seeker before she was encountered a roadside bomb on Nov. 24, 2007. She was an archaeologist by profession, and then had transitioned to working as a project engineer for a civilian contractor in the Basrah South Region Office in Iraq. She was managing the building of a health care center at Khor Az Aubair at the time of the incident that transformed her life.

She comes to the NDE subject as an outsider with a fresh perspective, and so perhaps without the baggage of those who spend their lives immersed in mystical esoterica — and yet, many can expect to have their old and calcified belief systems rattled by what Sudman suggests here.

Open-minded skeptics only need apply.

Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: MINNESOTA PARANORMALA

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The Convoluted Universe by Dolores Cannon: Fantastic Flights of Astounding New Age Revelation Will Be a Challenge for Even the Most Open Minded

Review by KEN KORCZAK

If you’re a hard core rational-materialistic skeptic and you have accepted Carl Sagan as your personal savior you need not apply to THE CONVOLUTED UNIVERSE.

Author and hypnotherapist DOLORES CANNON doesn’t just throw out the scientific method playbook, she sends it through a paper shredder. That includes methods of hypnotism that wouldn’t remotely be considered legitimate by anyone in the mainstream psychological community.

But no matter! All is well!

Cannon herself makes no bones about her methodology and where her works stands in the greater context. She’s unfettered and free-wheeling, traveling the New Age universe as light as a butterfly flitting from one astonishing flower to the next.

Her method is to put her subjects into what she calls a “somnambulistic trance.” This allows her direct access to the subconscious — but even here Cannon parts ways with standard definitions. She says the kind of “subconscious” she is dealing with is not the same at that defined by modern psychology.

The result is direct communication with extraterrestrials, energy beings, spirit guides, astral entities of amazing variety — including the spirits of former residents of the the vanished super civilization of Atlantis.

If you are thinking by now that I am a typical skeptic who is hostile to Cannon’s brand of unbounded flights of fantastic New Age revelation — you would be wrong.

I see no harm in being an open minded skeptic and taking the work of Ms. Cannon at face value. After all, she lays all her cards on the table. She’s not trying to hoodwink anyone. She’s sincere. She’s just doing what she’s doing — she’s putting it all out there for the reader to decide what they want to believe — or not.

Her amazing 50 years of unstoppable, dedicated work at putting people into trance and recording their transcripts has produced reams of information. Cannon displays not an iota of selectivity for the type or quality of the information she records, choosing instead to dump everything into the pages of her massive books. The Convoluted Universe clocks in at well over 500 pages and is just the first in a series of several, but also builds on at least a half-dozen earlier works.

The problem with this all-in approach is that a lot of the information often tilts toward the 100% absurd, no matter how open-minded we choose to be. For example:

* The Loch Ness monster is real! It’s a vegetarian that lays its eggs in the mud, and it lives in a cave deep beneath the lake!

* Bigfoot is real, too! It likes to snack on butterflies and uses it’s powers of ESP to avoid contact with human beings!

Dolores Cannon

* The Bermuda Triangle? Well, of course, the strange phenomenon there is caused by some kind of giant cracked lens or crystaline super machine left over from the days of Atlantis. It’s sitting at the bottom of the Caribbean sea where it occasionally causes trouble by sending out cosmic rays that alter space and time, sending sundry hapless ships or airplanes careening off into an alternate universe! Darn!

But wait a minute — I will now say with complete absence of mockery or sarcasm — that I find a lot of the material here compelling. After all, even a blind squirrel sometimes finds a nut.

That is, some of Cannon’s hypnotized subjects are far more credible than others. Some of them channel esoteric information that smacks of legitimacy — such as the subjects who insistently contend that human beings are confused about the nature of physical reality.

The general belief is that first comes a biological lump called a brain, and from that springs consciousness. But the nonphysical entities Cannon’s subjects channel say just the opposite it true: That consciousness comes first and the brain is a receiving device that captures and interprets the information — but then biases and distortions creep into our interpretation of reality because of phony belief systems, phony fears and our phony ego-infected human personalities.

I think that’s right. Even the great Swiss psychologist Carl Jung said: “Consciousness precedes being.” That’s not only the case, but it’s the situation to a much greater degree than any of us might imagine. To this end, some of Cannon’s subjects offer remarkably insightful metaphors that help us see ourselves as beings of nonphysical consciousness or beings, of pure energy-intelligence, rather than biologically programmed meat machines.

If we accept the premise that Consciousness — Consciousness with a Big C — does not originate from physical biological matter, then we have to consider that at least some of the information produced by Cannon has value. I think it does.

Don’t worry. You don’t have to believe everything you read. No one’s putting a gun to your head. Go ahead and give the book a read. Be a skeptic, but an open-minded skeptic. And always remember what the great biologist J.B.S. Haldane said:

The Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.”

Ken Korczak is a former newspaper reporter, government information officer, served as an advocate for homeless people as a VISTA Volunteer, and taught journalism at the University of North Dakota for five years. He is the author of: MINNESOTA PARANORMALA

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Exploration of the NDE by a maverick researcher: PMH Atwater’s “Near Death Experiences” provides insights that others have missed

Review by: KEN KORCZAK

Think about this; The majority of top books about near death experiences are not written by fringy New Agers, but rather accomplished medical doctors or highly respected mainstream academicians.

Take that, skeptics!

Raymond Moody M.D. blew the doors open on the NDE issue with his monumental book Life After Life which came out in 1975. Professor and psychologist Kenneth Ring scored in 1980 with Life at Death. Of course, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross M.D. became practically the patron saint of the NDE movement, even though her ground-breaking 1969 book On Death and Dying never dealt with NDEs, per se. In fact, Kübler-Ross wanted to include this kind of information in her book, but her peers urged her not to, saying it would destroy the credibility of her book.

And they keep coming – the latest mega-best-selling NDE book is by Dr. Eben Alexander, a neurosurgeon of fine reputation, credentials and pedigree. His book PROOF OF HEAVEN published in 2012 was on the New York Times best seller list for four weeks.

But now enter PMH ATWATER: She is an Idaho woman who began her career as a housewife, secretary and prize-winning county fair cook. But early on she began writing copy for the Idaho Department of Commerce and Development and then started contributing to a regional publication, Sunset magazine. In 1976 at age 39 she found herself suddenly a divorced mother of three – but the next year is when her life was shattered and changed forever.

In 1977 Atwater suffered a miscarriage which resulted in massive internal hemorrhaging. She experienced clinical death and a brief NDE. Two days later a blood clot brought her to the brink of death again, and another much more involved NDE ensued. Then about three months later a possible heart attack or stroke sent her beyond the veil one more time.This time she experienced an NDE of epic proportions.

As Atwater likes to say: “I died three times in 1977.

She reports many of the standard features of the NDE – a journey to a heavenly realm, meeting deceased relatives, even a conversation with none other than Jesus. (Although this is not a Christian-oriented book). She also experienced the overwhelming cosmic and universal love that composes the very fabric of all reality.

These experiences were so profound it launched her on a lifetime investigation of the NDE. Even though Raymond Moody’s book had been on the shelves for a couple of years by that time, Atwater claims to have known nothing about Moody’s work or any other NDE work that had been going on at the time.

PMH Atwater

She embarked on her own research largely uninfluenced by others. Her methods were not scientific. Rather, she employed what she called “police investigation techniques.” Her father, a professional police officer, thoroughly schooled her in the investigative methodology of cops as she was growing up and frequently hanging around the police station.

To this end, Atwater interviewed (interrogated?) more than 3,000 people who claimed to have experienced their own NDEs, and so this book, her 10th on the subject, describes her theories and conclusions about NDEs.

I have taken some pains to point out that Atwater is different from others in NDE research because it suggests her work offers a fresh look at NDEs. We might consider Atwater something of a maverick within the field. This is interesting for two reasons:

1. Unlike most others in the NDE field, she is an “experiencer” herself, and thus is coming at the subject from the inside, so to speak, rather than as an outside objective observer.

2. She is not shackled by the “group think” or materialistic bias I think we can fairly attribute to the scientific community.

Of course, not being bothered by the scientific method is both a benefit and a drawback. Science has been successful because the scientific method works and brings results. (What would you rather have when the chips are really down; hands-on faith healing or a shot of penicillin?)

On the other hand, the exploration of the NDE might be one of those areas that simply isn’t accessible to the scientific method; at the very least, applying a rational-materialistic overlay to the NDE may be akin to fixing your car’s transmission with a roll of duct tape.

To this end, Atwater scores a couple of major body blows against scientific skeptics of the NDE, including:

• The universal acceptance of the “tunnel phenomenon.” Atwater points out that perhaps less than 10% of all NDErs report traveling through a tunnel on their way to the “other side.” Yet, the skeptics apply this tunnel experience universally to the NDE phenomenon. They say the “tunnel” can be explained by the way brain cells shut down as their oxygen supply is depleted. But as Atwater found, most people don’t experience the tunnel – how then are they still experiencing full-blown NDEs?

• The skeptic’s explanation for NDE relies heavily on the idea that an NDE is extremely brief, and that people don’t truly die during their experience, but rather, are thrust into a deep state of unconsciousness with loss of brain function. However, Atwater points out that some people who “return from the dead” do so not after a minute or two – but sometimes after several days. There are cases of people waking up on slabs while in a morgue cooler. They displayed no vital signs or brain activity for days at a time, yet they return to normal functioning.

• Severe oxygen deprivation does not always result in brain damage. Many people have been resuscitated well beyond the point where damage to the brain can be expected – yet they return without a hint of brain damage. Atwater contents the brain-oxygen connection is not well understood and is often misinterpreted by medical science.

• Scientists are coming at the issue with the assumption that all knowledge and experience is generated from within the brain – while there is good evidence from a variety of fields to suggest that knowledge and information may originate outside the brain, and the brain rather works like a radio receiver and organizer of knowledge that is “out there.”

And there’s more – including Atwater’s extremely excellent point that skeptics are failing to consider all the evidence – especially in documenting the long-term after effects of the NDE. That includes the deep personality changes that are displayed over a lifetime. Typical of science, it tends to focus in on and look too narrowly at certain factors, points of data and observed phenomenon. The method is radically reductionist– and this causes skeptics to simply disregard vast sums of data that are relevant to the overall phenomenon.

Unfortunately, Atwater in the later chapters veers off wildly into Fruitloop-O-Topia, making larger observations that, from my point of view, border on the bizarre.

For example, Atwater contends that millions of people experiencing NDEs is actually a form of consciousness evolution and is responsible for a new breed of advanced, highly intelligent children (born since 1982) emerging into our society with superior abilities. That’s complete and unsupportable nonsense.

But she makes other bizarre claims as well – such as suggesting that the downfall of Maoist China was triggered by Tangshan earthquake in 1976 which killed more than 242,000 people. Atwater contends that potentially thousands of people who survived the quake experienced NDEs and thus fueled with their expanded consciousness the transformation of China. Well, if that’s true, then Atwater must also explain why China today is veering toward large-scale environmental collapse as it pursues an aggressive, militaristic, paranoid and virulent form of hyper-capitalism that is rapidly polluting our beautiful green earth — and on such a massive scale that it may push the entire planet to the brink of a black, gritty, dystopia.

There are other 100% inane observations as well –such as saying that Pluto has suddenly changed its color and that the other planets are also brightening – say what? – and even if this is true, how is this relevant to the NDE?

It’s not. It’s just nutty.

The good and the fascinating of NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE: THE REST OF THE STORY far outweigh the flights of fancy and the David Wilcock-like lunacy that comes forth in the final chapters.

Even so, I say you buy it and read it. It’s a significant and worthy contribution to the NDE field of literature.

Ken Korczak is the author of: MINNESOTA PARANORMALA

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“The Mystery Experience”: Author and philosopher Tim Freke says forget about “full realization” and don’t worry about enlightenment; get with Cosmic Love and you’ll have all you need

Review by KEN KORCZAK

While I was reading The Mystery Experience by TIM FREKE I kept thinking about how many weight-loss books are published every year. Here in the U.S. we have an obesity epidemic despite the fact that whole forests have been cleared by the weight-loss book industry in past decades and millions of people have read them.

Yet millions are still fat. It this bizarre, or is it something “paralogical,” as Freke might call it?

I mean, everyone already knows how to lose weight, right? You eat less and exercise more. That’s it. And yet, weight-loss books, some of them hundreds of pages long, keep spewing forth from publishing houses. The armies of the obese keep buying them – looking for that key, that fix, that cure, that “secret” method to stop being fat and flabby!

Why?

Why not just eat less and exercise more? Ask any weight-challenged person and he or she will quickly tell you: “It isn’t just that easy!

Well, I never said it was easy – sure, a few will have hormone or biological component exacerbating their obesity– but the fact remains that the best way for most to lose weight is no secret at all — to eat less and exercise more.

So wherever you find an agonizing problem with a simple solution that people cannot accept, you will find an almost unlimited opportunity to sell thousands of books that talk about anything but the most simple solution to the problem – and the more elaborate the solution the better.

That’s sort of what this book, THE MYSTERY EXPERIENCE, is. It’s an extremely elaborate solution to a universal problem – except that the solution is about a billion times more elusive than the “secret” to weight loss – making it all the better for the book seller and seminar promoter.

Tim Freke

The problem here is what Buddha called the “Dukkha” – the dull, aching misery of daily life that we all feel, which sometimes inflames into true suffering, only to recede again, but never completely. I like the way the great American writer Henry David Thoreau put it: “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.

Tim Freke experiences this too. His solution is to not deny the Dukkha, or meditate it out of existence — just the opposite – he opts to acknowledge it, embrace it forever, and use it – as a “paralogical” lever to induce a communion with that ultimate source of cosmic bliss, the Universal Loving Energy or Consciousness of All That Is, God, or whatever you want to call “IT.”

His solution is a positive addiction to what he calls the “WOW!” experience.

Resorting to an addiction is a common and desperate attempt to fight the Dukkha. Some people drink, some take drugs, smoke a lot of pot, others watch TV and play video games. Some practice meditation or give themselves over to the teaching of a guru. Some people eat, become obsessed with accumulating money, and some flit off to an Amazon rainforest to imbibe in hallucinogens with a jungle shaman. Some buy into a mainstream system of religion, others try to have all the sex they can have before they die.

Certainly, some addictions are positive addictions, while others are negative and destructive. But in the end, an addiction is an addiction. Like Deepak Chopra said: “A positive mind is still an agitated mind.”

Tim Freke has opted for a positive addiction – to that ineffable experience of cosmic bliss of Ultimate Love. He was fortunate to have this “WOW” thing drop spontaneously upon him like a bomb when he was 12, which led him to commit the rest of his life to pursuing more of the same, and to figuring out just what all that WOW is and what it means.

But wait a minute – is Tim Freke’s addiction to something that is real, or is it an elaborate self-delusion? Well, yes and no.

Clearly, the Cosmic Love he speaks of is well-documented throughout history and throughout all cultures- and while IT could never be nailed down in a laboratory setting – I am satisfied that there truly is an ultimate field of energy that is pure love and that we are all connected to it, whether we know it or not. In a deeper sense, however, it’s still a delusion when we experience it – but so what? The fact that it’s a delusion doesn’t make it bad – something that is not real cannot be good or bad.

So is there anything wrong, then, with a guy like Time Freke being addicted his quasi-delusional Universal Field of Love and basking in its all-embracing warmth and joy?

There’s nothing wrong with it.

It makes him feel good, and if he can teach it to others, a lot of other people will feel very good, too. Indeed, Tim Freke makes his living writing and selling books about Cosmic Love – and also conducting seminars throughout the world, which anyone with something like $45 to $90 can attend, not including travel and hotel expenses. No harm done, I say.

My only purpose here is to point out what is manifest: Like weight loss books, thousands of people will read Tim Freke’s books, thousands will attend his seminars, and he’ll write even more books, and people will buy them too. And then they’ll continue to buy dozens of other such books by other writers. Hundreds of books offering salvation from the Dukkha will endlessly grind out of the publishing mills or be produced by self-publishers – and millions will keep buying them.

Does it sound familiar? It sounds like the weight-loss book industry wherein millions are sold and the problem always remains. The “secret” is ever elusive. It reminds me of what Jesus said: “The poor will always be with us.”

And as long as there are the poor – spiritually and materially – there will always be a Jesus figure. And as long as the Dukkha remains manifest in the experience of human consciousness, there will always be a Tim Freke with a book and a seminar at the ready – and lots of others, too.

Ken Korczak is the author of: THE FAIRY REDEMPTION OF JUBAL CRANCH