by Barbara Bibas Montero
Dr. Mack’s pedigree lends credibility to the alien experience phenomena. He is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, psychologist and professor of psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School. He co-founded the Center for Psychology & Social Change and is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author.
In 1992, Dr. Mack co-chaired the Conference Committee for the Abduction Study Conference held at MIT, a scientific assembly on alien encounters. In 1993, he founded the Program for Extraordinary Experience Research (PEER) to explore varieties of anomalous experience. He has worked along with his colleagues at PEER with over 200 individuals from all over the world who have experienced encounters with unknown intelligences.
He will be one of the speakers at the upcoming Prophets Conference to be held November 16-18, 2001 in the Florida Keys.
Barbara Bibas Montero: Would you briefly comment on the purpose of The Prophets Conference and what you plan to talk about?
John Mack: My topic is “Witnessing: Abductees as Sacred Truth-Tellers,” whereby I will discuss the elements of an expanded epistemology to help legitimize experiences that are giving us vital information about the cosmos but which cannot be substantiated. The conference cultivates an evolving worldview, which starts with an attitude of mind, a philosophical shift wherein assumptions are to be questioned, and nature approached with a sense of mystery, openness and uncertainty. Miracles are not dubious exceptions but abound if we are open to their presence all around us. The primary purpose is to try to move beyond survival, competition and conquest in order to explore new possibilities and creative opportunities.
BBM: Alien abduction experiences are frequently described as horrific and terrifying ordeals, but in your new book Passport to the Cosmos, you reveal that anomalous experiencers, as you call them, are actually benefiting from these encounters, not only physically but also existentially. What does this mean for us?
JM: People consistently misunderstand what I mean when I speak about the alien encounters having a central spiritual dimension. They think if the aliens aren’t nice to us, or ask our permission, then it can’t be spiritual, since spiritual has been watered down to angelic. The abduction experience entails confronting pain, terror, and the feeling of possible annihilation and death. Even after one has been returned to their familiar surroundings, apparently with few traces of physical injury, one is holding enormous energies in their body, so much so that people may literally vibrate through the intensity, and weep or scream when they are recalling the experience. It is not dissimilar to a shamanic initiation or a “dark night of the soul” seen in other initiatory experiences in other spiritual traditions.
The abduction encounters appear to bring about an expansion of consciousness or identity. The expanded consciousness involves a number of things. The experiencers open to a new whole-Earth consciousness; they become sensitive to what’s occurring on the planet; the environmental crisis and the interconnectedness of all life. The deeper anguish is no longer about these little beings doing things, it becomes an awareness of the divine and the sensation of connection. It can be quite painful for them to observe the ways in which our society keeps people separate from each other and how we are destroying the planet.
BBM: There’s a quote in your book, Passport to the Cosmos, by anthropologist Jeremy Narby who says, “we see what we believe, and not just the contrary, and to change what we see, it is sometimes necessary to change what we believe.” Do you believe this to be true with your own experience with anomalous experiencers and how has this influenced
JM: What I want to convey is that an inquiry should begin from a position of “not knowing,” with an attitude of humility. The alien encounter experiences seem to involve dimensions of the self which are not material, yet we experience them powerfully. In Eastern and other spiritual traditions, this is commonplace. It is only in the West that we have narrowed our reality to radical separation and we have no place to put this kind of experiences. It is as if our third dimensional world is a subset within this deeper larger reality. We need to learn from experiences that don’t fit the material worldview, and better understand ourselves in the universe.
BBM: What are your plans for the future regarding your work?
JM: Well, for many years I’ve had the sense that our understanding of people, the world we live in, our relationships, our relationship to the cosmos, is hugely incomplete. I never knew in what way exactly. Maybe it had something to do with what I felt was missing in our knowledge – namely that which goes beyond our immediate material world.
My interest is more in what is in the way of acceptance of these truths, for this resistance is now contributing directly and indirectly to the continuing destruction of the life of this planet. The current administration in the U.S. has even set as one of its goals turning back hard-won regulations to protect our fragile ecology. This blindness, which places the interests of particular groups ahead of preservation for eternity the magic of the natural world that is our home, is a direct outgrowth of the restricted consciousness brought about by a worldview that denies even the existence of the realms under consideration here.
What I would like to see, and am working toward through my organization, is the development of a “science of human experience”. Surely we need to expand the ways of knowing we use to learn about the world, whether or not we call these spiritual, holistic, sacred, or experiential.
BBM: A vast majority of people are unaware of aliens or don’t want to be aware. Should there be more aggressive measures taken to release the findings/information to the public via mainstream media about their existence?
JM: Those of us who have been exploring the spiritual depths of the encounter phenomenon are coming increasingly to recognize its esoteric and sacred character and its richness as a source of knowledge. As to the challenges we face in bringing forth this knowledge, one has to ask what would it require, what change in us would have to happen for us to begin to credit this kind of a source for information. It would require a shift in gears to look more at what blocks us into this narrow worldview. How it came about that we shut down our intuitive capabilities, our hearts’ knowledge/mind of a larger, more complex reality? How did this happen, and would it take to open that up again?
In regard to the media, mainstream media’s ability to handle complex issues with depth and sensitivity is rarely demonstrated. Yet it is startling how effective some of the experiencers themselves are when they speak before even minimally open-minded audiences. Their authenticity and power, the convincing quality of their conveying of what has happened to them is a mind-shatterer. Some people write to us to say, “I never really had even considered these things; this has changed my life”. For this phenomenon in itself to have much power to change anything or open consciousness, it has to be part of what they call a “from the bottom up grass roots psycho-spiritual revolution”.
BBM: Is there anything else you would like to discuss for the benefit of our readers?
JM: Although the alien encounter experiences can be a source of personal transformation and awakening of consciousness for the experiencers and and those whom they affect directly and indirectly, it has become increasingly apparent that without a more direct engagement with the social and political problems that threaten the planet’s life, the contribution to social change by my organization will be unnecessarily limited. We are, therefore, developing a variety of programs, which have in common their derivation from a spiritual worldview. We have the potential to make a difference in such diverse fields as the cleansing of the oceans, the transformation of the mental health system, and the development of the field of spiritually based activism itself. Activism from a spiritual point of view is a kind of service, inclusive and participatory. It is non-confrontational, and not fear, anger, or revenge based. It comes from the heart, and can be effective. I hope some people who have had an interest in my work will also have an interest in taking this more proactive approach toward healing the world.
Barbara Bibas Montero is a writer, a business entrepreneur and a proud mother of two beautiful daughters. She has authored a number of books, short stories and magazine articles. On her business side, she co-founded a global financial technology company and has held management positions with several large multinational corporations. Even though she has an extensive business background, her journey has led her to pursue writing stories of the incredible and matters of the heart. She recently co-authored a book called The Veil, which is about true stories of the paranormal. Her short stories include Behind the Veil (within the book Transitions of the Soul) and Two Angels from Austria (within the book Bekindr.) Barbara received her undergraduate degree in English from Boston College and her MBA at Thunderbird School of Global Management. Presently, she is a Wharton School fellow for executives.
© 2001 Barbara Bibas Montero
Originally published in
Nov/Dec 2001, pp. 24-25