December 31, 1999
John E. Mack’s newest book, Passport to the Cosmos: Human Transformation and Alien Encounters, is the culmination of five years of additional research (since 1994’s Abduction) with more than 200 people who have reported encounters with beings often described as aliens (“experiencers”). A trade paperback edition is being released in November 2000. The book is dedicated to the experiencers with whom Dr. Mack has worked over the past ten years.
“I am interested in the meaning of these experiences for the so-called abductees and for humankind more generally,” Dr. Mack, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, writes in the preface. “In that sense, Passport to the Cosmos is not simply about abductions but has to do with what such anomalous experiences and related phenomena can tell us about ourselves and our evolving knowledge of the nature of reality.”
Dr. Mack presents common themes that have emerged in his work with experiencers from the West, as well as experiencers from indigenous cultures from northern Brazil to South Africa.
In an interview soon after publication, Dr. Mack said, “I have come to feel this phenomena is a very complex engagement of a larger intelligence (‘Source’ is the word most often used) through perhaps intermediaries (the ‘aliens’), towards some apparent end, which is the evolution of consciousness and the preservation of this planet.”
“The people who have the experiences move. They change. They grow. They transform. They become Earth-conscious. That is why I seek to give them voice, for they become passionate on behalf of the stewardship of the Earth.”
Passport to the Cosmos is arranged in topical chapters that explore the emergent themes through the lenses of philosophy, anthropology, theology, developmental and transpersonal psychology, trauma theory, consciousness research, and physics. These explorations are laid out in four sections. The first one introduces the phenomenon and asks the reader to question the way in which one’s worldview affects the ability to integrate new information.
Next, Dr. Mack explores the theme of “protecting the Earth”, an environmental message many experiencers receive, and examines reported reproductive procedures that seem to suggest a “hybrid project” has joined humanity and the alien beings in a sense that may be both literal and symbolic.
A cross-cultural perspective is explored at length in the third section. The experiences and philosophies of experiencers who have lived in indigenous cultures — including Native American Choctaw member Sequoyah Trueblood, Brazilian shaman and anthropologist Bernardo Peixoto of the Ureu-eu-wau-wau (“People of the Stars”), and South African sangoma Vusumazulu Credo Mutwa — are compared and contrasted with those of experiencers whose upbringing has been solely in the Western worldview. Dr. Mack suggests that much can be learned from indigenous cultures about ways to approach this phenomenon that may enhance both the acquisition of information and our integration of it.
The final section of Passport to the Cosmos explores the trauma and transformation that experiencers go through as they enter into a relationship with their experiences. The experiences, Dr. Mack concludes, ask much of the participants — experiencers, researchers, and the greater public alike. However, Dr. Mack believes that if humanity can successfully move beyond the terror of the unfamiliar on both an individual and institutional level, we can learn much more about humanity’s relationship to the cosmos in which we live.
During an interview on NBC’s The Today Show, host Matt Lauer asked Dr. Mack, “Why would it benefit me to read these people’s stories in this book?”
“The purpose of doing this work,” Dr. Mack replied, “is to open us to the idea that the universe may be vastly more interesting, containing entities, energies, beings that we did not know existed. When we open that consciousness, we open to a larger reality. We’re not simply Earth-bound in our consciousness as if we were the top intelligence in the cosmos. We come more modestly to realize we are in connection with energies, beings, whatever it may be that is beyond ourselves. And that would be a very healthy development for this species, it seems to me.”
On that theme, Dr. Mack replied to radio host Bob Hieronimus’ inquiry about why he chose the title Passport to the Cosmos. “Passport is a word used to maintain borders between countries. These experiences, by cracking open that ethnonational bias or restricted consciousness, if you will, that mistaken identity that we are simply members of a certain country, people discover they are citizens of a much larger reality, of a cosmic reality. They are citizens of universal experience. And the universe is not particularly concerned with white people, black people, Americans versus Russians — the universe as far as I can tell is not dividing itself that way. The idea of the title is that this experience can expand our sense of who we are beyond our national prejudices.”
Soon after the hardcover’s release, calls and letters from the public were arriving at PEER daily. A stockbroker from Cocoa Beach, Florida, wrote, “Why do we pick up books we have never heard of, and then are tremendously influenced by them forever? Yours has done that to me. Passport to the Cosmos has opened up an entirely new perception of the universe for me.”