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The NDE of The Man Who Fell Off Mt. Everest

Posted on 26 October 2020, 9:25

A friend recently asked me to identify the most interesting near-death experience (NDE) I have heard or read about. I told him that I couldn’t do that without considerable thought, but one that immediately came to mind and would certainly be among those at the top of the list was that of Roger Hart, (below) a retired geophysicist.  His NDE took place on May 29, 1962, at age 21, when he was part of an American team attempting to climb Mount Everest.

 hart

I had the opportunity to interview Hart in Newport, Oregon shortly after the release of his 2003 book The Phaselock Code, subtitled Through Time, Death, and Reality, the Metaphysical Adventures of the Man Who Fell off Everest.

As captain of the cross-country team at Tufts University, Hart had just won a race against Amherst when he met Woody Sayre, a Tufts philosophy professor.  The two became friends and shared an interest in rock climbing.  Some months after their first meeting, Sayre asked Hart to be part of a team that would attempt to climb Mt. Everest without the use of supplemental oxygen. 

During that climb, a crampon gave way and Hart and Sayre fell about 180 feet down a snowy cliff. Hart recalled stars rushing by him like tracer bullets as he yelled and screamed. As soon as he thought that he was about to die, his soul ripped free. As described in the book, he shot off into starless space, floated free in gravity, and watched his body, as if in slow motion, tumble over the ice cliffs below. “I perched on the cusp of time, where, like a water drop between watersheds, I could choose between worlds.” 

Hart further recalled a great warmth and euphoria overtaking him and feeling wonderful that he was about to die.  “I could see in all directions at once, not with the seeing of eyes but the seeing of dreams. I felt no fear and no cold; space seemed to shrink around me, or perhaps I expanded to it. At any rate, I was no longer afraid of the emptiness below me.”  He remembers thinking, Here you are about to die and you feel wonderful – you are so weird!

Although it was thought to be impossible for humans to survive a night of sub-zero temperatures without a tent, Hart and Sayre endured the night huddled together with a nylon tent shell wrapped around them. The ledge on which they had landed was too narrow to pitch a tent.

Before the experience, Hart equated being alive with material success, having control of as many possessions as possible. “I did not believe anything unless I actually experienced it or could prove it scientifically, as with electromagnetic radiation, quantum mechanics, or relativity,” explained Hart, who was a research professor at the Oregon State College school of Ocean and Atmospheric Sciences before his retirement. The fall, even though it took only a few seconds as we know it, changed Hart’s ideas in that regard, convincing him that there is life after death and that spiritual intelligence guides the universe. “Before the NDE on Everest, I was a rationalist, reductive materialist and skeptic. I believed matter was the basis of life and by reducing matter to its smallest components we could understand the universe according to predetermined laws of physics.”

His graduate studies at Yale became meaningless to him and he was appalled by the greed and ambition of his fellow graduate students.  However, two of his Yale classes – quantum mechanics and statistical thermodynamics – helped him understand the experience. The pioneering NDE research of Drs. Raymond Moody and Elisabeth Kübler-Ross had not yet taken place and therefore Hart could not make any sense out of the experience. It stayed with him and “grew like a sprouting seed in my psyche.” 

Since my interview with Hart was more than 40 years after his experience, I asked him how much detail he actually remembered. “I have strong memories of the mental aspects,” he responded. “In addition, since the feeling during the NDE was so extraordinary, I’ve meditated on it, relived it so to speak, over the course of the past 40 years.” He added that beginning with Moody’s Life After Life, he’s been able to compare his experience with those of others. “There are some similarities but many differences. I felt elation, time dilation, and separation of mind from body, but I don’t recall going through a tunnel, doing a life review, or meeting with loved ones in the afterlife. I think the important thing in my case was that I abandoned the normal internal dialogue and much of the normal information processing. That allowed, momentarily, a reality free of time and interconnected with other parts of the universe, full of light with an extraordinary feeling of bliss. I believe the NDE opened new neural pathways and enabled access to a higher mind function with connections to the universal field of information.”

A second NDE while on a National Geographic sponsored expedition to the Darwin Icecap in Tierra del Fuego during 1966 added to his search for meaning and truth. Caught in a blizzard and in a state of starvation, Hart lost consciousness and found another part of himself viewing the scene below as if through a telescope from another universe. He became “sure, focused, calm, and remote” from his surroundings.

The Phaselock Code, as Hart defines it, is the field of hidden information in the fabric of reality.  Phaselock refers to the idea that the information is locked together and correlated over vast distances.  “Each of constructs our personal reality using a small part of the information from the phaselock code,” he explained his view of it. “The construction process is subconscious and most of the time we are unaware of it.  It is a matter of choosing among infinite possible interpretations.” As he further viewed it,  during an NDE and during transcendental moments the normal construction process is abandoned, allowing the experience of an expanded reality through a part of our higher mind that connects directly to the phaselock code. 

“I am not the first person to realize that the mind survives the body, or that the reality of the universe is a marvelous field of information and infinite potentials,” he mused, “or that we ourselves create time by opening static time capsules in the field of information. But I had the joy of discovering these ideas independently before I was exposed to them by others.”

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.
His forthcoming book, No One Really Dies: 25 Reasons to Believe in an Afterlife is due in February 2021.

Next blog post:  November 9


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Amazing Physical Mediumship Still Exists, But ...

Posted on 12 October 2020, 12:12

We don’t hear much about physical mediumship these days, but apparently it still exists here and there.  Stewart Alexander, whose 2010 book, An Extraordinary Journey, has been revised and republished by White Crow Books, must certainly be one of the best physical mediums living.  However, we don’t hear much about him, because he has come to understand that the nature of such mediumship is beyond science and human comprehension and will always result in cynicism and contempt by those blind to any evidence suggesting spirits and survival.  “Having studied extensively the history of physical mediumship over the past forty years, I am very aware that almost without exception those mediums who cooperated with the researchers, in the hope of establishing their mediumship on a scientific level, invariably failed and were forever surrounded in bitter dispute and allegations of fraud,” Alexander explains, adding that even when tests were inconclusive (the usual case) more tests were demanded.  He sees it as a “no-win” situation.

 stewart
New edition.

In effect, Alexander has concluded that no amount of evidence will convince those who quite simply refuse to believe that two plus two does not always equal four. This ‘will to disbelieve’ plus the risk of serious injury if some ‘doubting Thomas’ decides to flip a light switch on while ectoplasm is being exuded from his body, prompted Alexander to give up public demonstrations in late 2008, limiting himself to mostly small home circles among friends.

Although Alexander is the author of the book, there are plenty of testimonials and quoted reports in the book to lend credibility to his mediumship. The late Dr. David Fontana, a professor of psychology and former president of the Society for Psychical Research, expressed high praise for Alexander in the Foreword of the book. “Those of us who know and admire Stewart and his mediumship, and all those who have been fortunate enough to have had sittings with him, will be delighted to see this book in print,” Fontana wrote. “It provides us with an exceptionally clear, well-written and convincing account of what it is to be a physical medium, and of what it means to act as a channel between one level of reality and another.”

In the 2020 edition of the book, journalist Leslie Kean provides an Epilogue in which she states that the 2010 edition changed her life. “It opened the door to a wondrous and unexplored new world,” she writes, going on to explain that she had not encountered anything like it before.  She made contact with Alexander, attended a 2015 seminar he gave, and then had two sittings with him, which she describes in her popular 2017 book, Surviving Death: A Journalist Investigates Evidence of an Afterlife

Jon Beecher, the owner of White Crow Books, recalls attending an Alexander séance in 2017.  He met a man whose wife had passed away a few years earlier, leaving him with five children to raise.  During the séance, Alexander’s voice changed to a more feminine one and became tearful with joy.  The voice, apparently that of the widow of the man Beecher had been talking with, communicated with that man and mentioned three of his children by name.  After the séance, Beecher again chatted with the man, who said he was mystified as to how “Alexander” could have known the names of his children.

Chapter 11 of the current book sets forth a report from the July 2009 issue of the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research by investigator Lew Sutton, a retired engineer whose career involved research into the atmosphere for designing the parameters of future satellite communication systems. Sutton notes the strict controls taken before the start of each séance, including Alexander being secured to his chair by straps that had to be cut by pliers at the end of the séance.  After an opening prayer and music, a spirit control known as White Feather speaks through Alexander, who is apparently in trance, and gives an opening greeting.  White Feather is followed by spirit communicators known as Christopher, Freda Johnson, and Walter Stinson, the latter the primary control of his (Stinson’s) sister, Mina Crandon, aka “Margery,” many years earlier. Freda would introduce loved ones who wished to communicate with sitters and would act as a go-between when the loved ones couldn’t directly communicate.

Sutton also describes the appearance of a materialized hand. “After a few moments a blob or what is announced to be ectoplasm is seen to appear on the illuminated translucent table top on the edge nearest the medium. Slowly it forms into a large hand – which Walter claims is his. It is certainly larger than Stewart’s hand. The materialized hand moves toward the sitter’s hand and then strokes and/or grasps it before withdrawing and melting away.  The hand is invariably reported as feeling normal and warm.”

A common observation, according to Sutton, is that of the table levitating about 30 cm (approximate one foot) above the floor. Also, the aluminum trumpets though which the voices came had luminous tabs and could be seen by all sitters moving from the floor to airborne positions, then floating around the room.  “Occasionally, the trumpet will shoot towards someone and stop dead millimetres from their face and then sometimes caress their head or gently traverse around them,” Sutton explains.  “They have also been known to land on people’s hands.  All these actions indicate a controlling intelligence with a great spatial awareness in total darkness.”  He notes that the trumpets will often touch the ceiling, a height of over four meters, (over 12 feet).  He further notes that Alexander has been seen to levitate (or to be levitated by the spirits) up to 90 cm (about three feet) above the floor.  Although it is dark, luminous tabs are attached to his knees.

The voices coming through the trumpets usually begin as a soft whisper and then become louder so that everyone can hear what is being said.  Dr. Franklin Barnett, said to be a nineteenth century Scottish physician who also worked through medium George Valiantine during the 1920s, frequently speaks as does Walter Stinson.  Sutton says that two hands were touching his head while his wife experienced the same sensation as Barnett spoke to her through a trumpet.  At the same time, a voice was coming through the other trumpet on the other side of the room. 

Dr. Barnett apparently does some healing as well.  Sutton reports that his wife had a medically incurable problem that was leading to a loss of sight in one eye. She could not make out the lettering on an eye chart before Barnett’s healing, but had excellent eyesight in the three years after that healing to the time of his report. 

While the physical phenomena do not in themselves prove survival, Sutton records that there was much audible evidence in the form of personal communication from loved ones who had passed on, by both trumpet and by trance voice (from the medium’s vocal cords).  “Sometimes this evidence is outstanding,” Sutton writes, mentioning a case when a father discussed a particularly unfortunate and sad event that occurred at his funeral.

At the end of the many seances observed by Sutton over a four-year period, the sitters could confirm that Alexander was still tightly secured to his chair as he slowly returned to normal consciousness.

Journalist Kean observed much the same thing as Sutton during her sittings with Alexander in 2015.  She refers to the “straps” binding Alexander to the chair as thick cable ties and she confirms that they were tightly binding him. She describes seeing the two trumpets “come alive” and “dance” around the room, one of them tapping her face gently before a male voice, mostly unintelligible, came through.  At a later sitting, Dr. Barnett spoke clearly, as did Walter.  She observed a grayish-black foggy cloud (ectoplasm) come toward her over the table and witnessed it take on the shape of a hand, which formed a fist and banged three times on the table to demonstrate its solidity.  “From the gaseous ectoplasmic energy, a solid living hand had emerged,” she writes, going on to tell of another hand materialization, said to be Walter’s, form in front of her from a cloud.  Walter explained to her how he did it, but you’ll have to check her book for that information as well as the other phenomena she witnessed.

Kean also reports on several intriguing book tests. In one, during 2016, a man named Kevin Kussow, whose father had died two days earlier, was told to go to his father’s bookcase, to the second shelf and take the second or third book from the left, open to page 84, and near the top he would find a sentence mentioning animals or an animal. Further down would be the names “George” and “Smith.”  Kevin followed the instructions, found the second book to be a thin paper pamphlet, but the third was entitled Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. He opened to page 84 and found reference to “Little Raven” and on the next line to “hunting buffalo.”  Farther down the page there was reference to Smith, a post trader and a “half-breed” named George.

The debunker would likely say that Alexander had a very clever confederate involved in everything recorded by Sutton, Kean, Fontana, and many others.  The debunker would have every one dwell on that possibility and ignore the veridical information coming from the voices, the healings, and the actual observations that must certainly go beyond countless group hallucinations, mass hypnotisms, or wills to believe. But how does one prove that a sly confederate was not the case, beyond suggesting that so many people could not have been duped so many times over so many years under such controlled conditions? 

One might also ask why his friends in the home circle continue with such “nonsense” to this day?  After more than a quarter of a century, wouldn’t they be on to his “tricks” by this time? What is the motivation for it all?  “If people attend a physical séance looking for ‘loopholes’ they will find them,” Alexander laments. “If none are to be bound then they will create them.  In finding them or in creating them the accusers will refuse to face the facts which fail utterly to fit neatly into their own conclusions.”

Is it any wonder that Alexander has thrown in the towel on being tested by more researchers and that he is content to keep his mediumship low-key?  “At best,” he ends his book, “it would be seen that paranormal action was a reality but it would doubtlessly be explained away as an abnormal physiological function possessed by and unconsciously directed by the medium.”

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.
His forthcoming book, No One Really Dies: 25 Reasons to Believe in an Afterlife is due in February 2021.
       

Next blog post:  October 26

An Extraordinary Journey: The Memoirs of a Physical Medium by Stewart Alexander is published by White Crow Books.

 


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When Skeptics Attack: Skeptical Organizations and Websites by Craig Weiler – If you really want to get to the heart of skepticism, the best way to do that is to look at the organizations that skeptics create and see how they operate. The behavior of these organizations is the behavior of the individuals, writ large. There are two national organizations worth considering: the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI). Read here
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