Non-ordinary states of consciousness can be best explained in context of a theory of consciousness described in the NDE documentary entitled Life After Death. A psychiatrist in the documentary, named Dr. Stanislav Grof, M.D., is one of the leading researchers in non-ordinary states of consciousness. In the documentary, he explains a theory of consciousness based on these non-ordinary states. His theory suggests consciousness may not even be localized in the skull. He theorizes how the brain may actually function as a “reducing valve” reducing the cosmic energy and input which continually bombards our skull much in the same way radio signals bombard a radio receiver. Using the same analogy. our consciousness may be a product of this reducing function much like a radio broadcast heard on the radio. When this reducing function is altered (through triggers such as psychedelics, psychosis, etc.) or even shut down completely (when producing an NDE), the cosmic input which once made up our consciousness is then free to expand. This expansion may explain the various types of non-ordinary states of consciousness.
1. My Psychedelic Experience With LSD
My only experience with LSD occurred during the 70’s while in college. Although it was a very pleasurable experience for me, I can’t recommend that people try it because the quality of a psychedelic experience depends on personal and situational factors.
I ingested a half of a stamp of microdot that a friend gave me one night and spent the evening alone in my room listened to my favorite music. Before I took the acid, I was feeling very good anyway and had no problems on my mind. The acid multiplied these good feelings and made the music which I was listening to (The Eagles, Poco, James Taylor, etc.) virtually come alive. I was totally immersed into the music and experienced it in a way I never have before. I spent hours with my eyes closed fantasizing and being the music. It is just a completely different level of awareness and feeling.
In the 70’s, drugs were not an unusual thing to do. I also experimented with lesser mind-altering drugs such as pot, hash, speed and alcohol. I have had hallucinations while using these drugs as well. Although I am not really proud of the experimenting I did, my experience with mind-altering and hallucinogenic drugs turned out to be a blessing later in life when I had to begin learning to deal with psychotic hallucinations from the bipolar disorder mental illness I was born with and which manifested itself afterward.
There are many published studies of psychedelics and how they create temporary distortions of reality, alterations of body image, and disorientation as to time and place. An experience with a psychedelic generally convinces people that so-called reality is not the same for everyone and that it depends upon a person’s own perception and perspective (among other factors). This is also supported by such sources as quantum physics, Tibetan Buddhism, and near-death experiences (among other sources). When I left college, I left my experimentation with mind-altering drugs behind and I left with a better understanding of my own mind and reality. And before the 70’s were over, I had a new kind of visionary experience – of the religious kind.
2. My Christian Spiritual Experiences
Spiritual experiences, such as psychic or near-death experiences, do not distort reality as do psychedelics. These spiritual experiences result in a heightened state of mind with clarity and no distortions. My first spiritual experience occurred to me after reading the Gospel of John for the first time in my life. It is an experience commonly known as a “born again” experience or a religious conversion. For years, I didn’t have the concepts or words to describe this experience. But over the years, after learning more about my own mind and non-ordinary conscious states, I discovered a better way to define it. I define it as my born-again “walk-in” reincarnation experience.
a. An Analogy Describing My Born Again Experience
Before my born again experience, I was living inside a bubble all of my life and was not aware it. While inside my bubble, I believed anyone who was a Christian was either a religious fanatic or self-deluded. I believed the Bible was just a fairy-tale book not worthy of any kind of serious study. Then my born again Christian brother challenged me to read the Gospel of John — the most beautiful book I have ever read in my life. Upon finishing the gospel, I realized the bubble I was living in had “popped” and I had become a completely different person — a more spiritual person. And because I became a completely different person, I believe the “born again” experience should actually be called the “walk-in” experience — a type of reincarnation experience. I know this because my Higher (“angel”) Self “walked” into my body and kicked out my lower (“animalistic”) self which had been living inside the bubble. So in less time than it took for me to read the Gospel of John, I had transformed from a “hell-raising party animal” to a person embracing Christian fundamentalism — a strict and narrow mindset which many people who are “spiritual but not religious” refer to as “Spirituality 101.” Later I discovered the true role of all religions and about true spirituality in near-death experiences which led me to even greater levels of spirituality. Interesting enough, Jesus also referred to the born-again experience in terms of reincarnation — or “resurrection” as it was called in Jesus’ day. See John 3:3-7 where Jesus explains the difference between spiritual resurrection (i.e., born of the Holy Spirit) and physical resurrection (being born of water, of the flesh, childbirth, reincarnation).
b. My Observations of Someone’s Religious Vision
I also had paranormal religious experiences that happened to me. When I was in college, I was discussing the Book of Revelation in my apartment with my college roommate who was becoming interested in Christianity. While I was talking about the second coming of Christ, my friend’s eyes got really big in fear and he fell to the floor. I asked him what was wrong. He saw Jesus enter my apartment by walking through the front door. It was a brief but powerful vision because I knew he was sincere. But I didn’t see a thing. I believe it was his born again experience.
c. My Observations of a Group Religious Vision
I had an extended discussion about Bible prophecy with six college freshman who were becoming interested in Christianity. I was showing them how the Bible foretells a future war in the Middle East over Jerusalem, the second coming, the rapture, and a thousand year peace on Earth. I was good at this and I could tell it was having an impact them based on their excitement level. When our discussion finished, they all left in the same car.
Roughly a half-hour later, they all came back and looking like they all saw a ghost or UFO. I couldn’t understand how a group of college men could be freaking out like a bunch of children in the dark. Then they told me what happened.
They were driving out of town and into the barren countryside when, in the distance, they saw a man standing on the side of the road. By the time they passed him by, they were stunned because the man looked and was dressed like Jesus, complete with white robe and beard. Because they were out in the barren countryside, it was very unusual for anyone to be out there – not to mention a man looking like that. They were so baffled by what they saw that they had to turn the car around to get a second look. But the man was nowhere to be found. The man had vanished. Combined with our previous discussion about prophecy and the second coming of Jesus, I believe what they experienced was a group conversion experience.
My experiences with hallucinations, spiritual conversion, and my budding interest in a new phenomenon called “near-death experiences,” helped me understand and cope with the next level of altered states of conscious experience which were to come to me alone with the 80’s.
3. My Manic Depressive Psychotic Hallucinations
Beginning in 1980, I began to have yearly bouts of depression that would happen at the same time every year like clockwork. They would last as long as a month. At first, the bouts were minor. I thought they were just personality problems. I didn’t know what they were. But as they became more severe, frightening hallucinations would occur – hearing voices, seeing distorted faces, and religious delusions involving hell, demons, and the devil.
Then in 1989, I had a bout that was so severe it became a major crisis and caused me to seriously contemplate suicide for the first time in my life.
After weeks of being depressed, I was growing increasingly paranoid and began having delusions. At this time, I didn’t know what was happening to me, I didn’t know I had an illness. Because of my fundamentalist beliefs at the time, I thought I was under attack by demonic forces. I thought I was having a personality problem which brought on this spiritual battle with my mind. Delusions and hallucinations, such as hearing voices in my mind that were not mine, reading the minds of people around me, people could merely look at my face and know what I was thinking, and coincidences that would occur which seemed to reinforce my delusions.
Trying to sleep was a living hell, so I went for days without sleep. Trying to sleep meant being assaulted by what I thought were “demons” (I believe now they were earthbound human souls), contemplating homelessness and even suicide, Jesus appeared in my mind and the assault on my mind stopped. I had been laying in bed for days with no energy to do much else but hug my pillow and fight a battle in my head. Finally, I decided to just give up fighting completely and I knew this would mean demonic possession of my body and mind. But something else happened instead:
I laid there on my bed, hugging my pillow, and decided to surrender to the demons. I didn’t care what happened. To my surprise, I had a sudden realization that I was laying prone before the feet of Jesus with my arms around his ankles – hanging on for dear life just as one would hang on to a lifesaver. No demons were around. Jesus calmed the raging storm in my mind. My mind was as clear and as calm as a sea of glass. He didn’t say a word and he didn’t have to. The message was perfectly clear. At that time, I realized that Jesus was giving me the peace and clarity of mind to understand that something was going horribly wrong with my mind – that I was insane and needed a psychiatrist.
Important Note: It took Jesus to appear in my mind before I would seek the help of a psychiatrist. Admitting to yourself (and maybe even to family members) that something is wrong with your mind and you need a psychiatrist is the biggest hurdle a mentally ill person – or anyone – ever has to make. Once you are able to acknowledge or understand the problem, the recovery process begins. Then, you can receive medications that will immediately help you sleep and be less anxious. Antidepressants take longer to work, but other medication can ease much of the problems associated with depression. After admitting the problem, the rest of the way becomes much easier by comparison – believe me.
The thought of being mentally ill brought all the images of Hollywood to mind: Charles Manson, straight-jackets, insane asylums, lobotomies, brain electrocutions.
Instead, what I found instead was: a doctor who knew exactly what was wrong, a diagnosis of bipolar disorder which is a genetic mood disorder, and prescriptions for medications – many of which began working that day.
In later years, as my illness fully manifested, I would have bouts mania or psychotic depression that would require visits to a psychiatric hospital – the psych ward – where my medicine could be adjusted and myself monitored. The longest stay in the hospital for me was about a month. It was nothing like Hollywood portrays. When I first knew I had to check in to a psych ward, as I mentioned before, all the images of Hollywood movies came to my mind: being committed against my will for life, people walking around in a medicated stupor, retarded-like people staring at you, sadistic medical technicians, insane laughter, Jack Nicholson with a lobotomy, torture therapy, rats, filth, bugs. Instead, what I found was: a normal hospital environment, normal-looking people with mental problems, regular doctor visits, group discussions, recreation rooms, and 24 hour care.
Since I was first diagnosed, I have been on medications which make the bouts less severe and the hallucinations infrequent. My only regret is that I went untreated for more than 10 years. I could have saved myself a lot of headaches (This is a lesson for those suffering depression. The sooner you seek help, the sooner you’ll feel better.)
One brief note: Years later, I came across both Dr. George Ritchie’s NDE account and Howard Storm’s NDE account of a realm in hell, where they described a kind of battlefield of human souls who were locked into harmful mind-sets. Reading these accounts for the first time frightened me because they are remarkable description of the battle I had in my mind with “demons” while I was in a state of profound psychotic depression. Below are excerpts of what I am referring to:
a. Dr. George Ritchie’s NDE Observations of Earthbound Souls
Dr. George Ritchie’s near-death experience excerpt of hell’s battlefield which is a good description of my battle with “demons” during a psychotic hallucination. It was a psychotic depression that caused me to hallucinate very frightening religious images. But mostly it was a battle for my very sanity and for what I thought was the possession of my soul:
“So far in our journeying we had visited places where the living and the dead existed side by side: indeed where disembodied beings, completely unsuspected by the living, hovered right on top of the physical things and people where their desire was focused.
“Now, however, although we were apparently still somewhere on the surface of the Earth, I could see no living man or woman. The plain was crowded, even jammed with hordes of ghostly discarnate beings; nowhere was there a solid, light-surrounded person to be seen. All of these thousands of people were apparently no more substantial than I myself. And they were the most frustrated, the angriest, the most completely miserable beings I had ever laid eyes on. “Lord Jesus!” I cried. ‘Where are we?’
“At first I thought we were looking at some great battlefield. Everywhere spirits were locked in what looked like fights to the death, writhing, punching, gouging. No weapons of any sort, I saw as I looked closer, only bare hands and feet and teeth. And then I noticed that no one was apparently being injured. There was no blood, no bodies strewed on the ground. A blow that ought to have eliminated an opponent would leave him exactly as before. If I suspected that I was seeing hell, now I was sure of it. These creatures seemed locked into habits of mind and emotion, into hatred, lust, destructive thought-patterns.
“Even more hideous than the bites and kicks they exchanged, were the sexual abuses many were performing in feverish pantomime. Perversions I had never dreamed of were being vainly attempted all around us. It was impossible to tell if the howls of frustration which reached us were actual sounds or only the transference of despairing thoughts. Indeed in this disembodied world it didn’t seem to matter. Whatever anyone thought, however fleetingly or unwillingly, was instantly apparent to all around him, more completely than words could have expressed it, faster than sound waves could have carried it. And the thoughts most frequently communicated had to do with the superior knowledge, or abilities, or background of the thinker.
“‘I told you so!’ “I always knew!’
“‘Didn’t I warn you!’ were shrieked into the echoing air over and over. With a feeling of sick familiarity I recognized here my own thinking. In these yelps of envy and wounded self-importance I heard myself all too well. Once again, however, no condemnation came from the presence at my side, only a compassion for these unhappy creatures that was breaking his heart.
“What was keeping them here? Why didn’t each one just get up and leave? I could see no reason why the person being screamed at by that man with the contorted face didn’t simply walk away. Or why that young woman didn’t put a thousand miles between herself and the other one who was so furiously beating her with insubstantial fists? They couldn’t actually hold onto their victims, any of these insanely angry beings. There were no fences. Nothing apparently prevented them from simply going off alone.
“Unless – unless there was no alone in this realm of disembodied spirits. No private corners in a universe where there were no walls. No place that was not inhabited by other beings to whom one was totally exposed at all times. What was it going to be like, I thought with sudden panic, to live forever where my most private thoughts were not private at all? No disguising them, no covering them up, no way to pretend I was anything but what I actually was. How unbearable. Unless of course everyone around me had the same kind of thoughts – Unless there was a kind of consolation in finding others as loathsome as one’s self, even if all we could do was hurl our venom at each other.
“Perhaps this was the explanation for this hideous plain. Perhaps in the course of eons or of seconds, each creature here had sought out the company of others as pride and hate-filled as himself, until together they formed this society of the damned. Perhaps it was not Jesus who had abandoned them, but they who had fled from the light that showed up their darkness. There were beings arguing over some religious or political point, trying to kill the ones who did not agree with them. I thought when I saw this: “No wonder our world is in such a mess and we have had so many tragic religious wars. No wonder this was breaking Christ’s heart, the one who came to teach us peace and love.”
b. Howard Storm’s NDE of Experiencing Earthbound Souls
The following is an excerpt of Howard Storm’s near-death experience of hell’s “battlefield” which is a good description of the “hand-to-hand combat” with harmful earthbound souls whom I fought in my mind during a psychotic hallucination:
“Finally, I told them that I wouldn’t go any farther. At that time they changed completely. They became much more aggressive and insisted that I was going with them. A number of them began to push and shove me, and I responded by hitting back at them. A wild orgy of frenzied taunting, screaming and hitting ensued. I fought like a wild man. All the while it was obvious that they were having great fun. It seemed to be, almost, a game for them, with me as the center-piece of their amusement. My pain became their pleasure. They seemed to want to make me hurt by clawing at me and biting me. Whenever I would get one off me, there were five more to replace the one.
“By this time it was almost complete darkness, and I had the sense that instead of there being twenty or thirty, there were an innumerable host of them. Each one seemed set on coming in for the sport they got from hurting me. My attempts to fight back only provoked greater merriment. They began to physically humiliate me in the most degrading ways. As I continued to fight on and on, I was aware that they weren’t in any hurry to win. They were playing with me just as a cat plays with a mouse. Every new assault brought howls of cacophony. Then at some point, they began to tear off pieces of my flesh. To my horror I realized I was being taken apart and eaten alive, slowly, so that their entertainment would last as long a possible.
“At no time did I ever have any sense that the beings who seduced and attacked me were anything other than human beings. The best way I can describe them is to think of the worst imaginable person stripped of every impulse to do good. Some of them seemed to be able to tell others what to do, but I had no sense of any structure or hierarchy in an organizational sense. They didn’t appear to be controlled or directed by anyone. Basically they were a mob of beings totally driven by unbridled cruelty and passions.
“During our struggle I noticed that they seemed to feel no pain. Other than that they appeared to possess no special non-human or super-human abilities. Although during my initial experience with them I assumed that they were clothed, in our intimate physical contact I never felt any clothing whatsoever.
“Fighting well and hard for a long time, ultimately I was spent. Lying there exhausted amongst them, they began to calm down since I was no longer the amusement that I had been. Most of the beings gave up in disappointment because I was no longer amusing, but a few still picked and gnawed at me and ridiculed me for no longer being any fun. By this time I had been pretty much taken apart. People were still picking at me, occasionally, and I just lay there all torn up, unable to resist.
“Exactly what happened was … and I’m not going to try and explain this. From inside of me I felt a voice, my voice, say, ‘Pray to God.’ My mind responded to that, ‘I don’t pray. I don’t know how to pray.’ This is a guy lying on the ground in the darkness surrounded by what appeared to be dozens if not hundreds and hundreds of vicious creatures who had just torn him up. The situation seemed utterly hopeless, and I seemed beyond any possible help whether I believed in God or not.
“The voice again told me to pray to God. It was a dilemma since I didn’t know how. The voice told me a third time to pray to God. I started saying things like, ‘The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want … God bless America’ and anything else that seemed to have a religious connotation. And these people went into a frenzy, as if I had thrown boiling oil all over them. They began yelling and screaming at me, telling me to quit, that there was no God, and no one could hear me. While they screamed and yelled obscenities, they also began backing away from me as if I were poison. As they were retreating, they became more rabid, cursing and screaming that what I was saying was worthless and that I was a coward.
“I screamed back at them, ‘Our Father who art in heaven,’ and similar ideas. This continued for some time until, suddenly, I was aware that they had left. It was dark, and I was alone yelling things that sounded churchy. It was pleasing to me that these churchy sayings had such an effect on those awful beings.
“Lying there for a long time, I was in such a state of hopelessness, and blackness, and despair, that I had no way of measuring how long it was. I was just lying there in an unknown place all torn and ripped. And I had no strength; it was all gone. It seemed as if I were sort of fading out, that any effort on my part would expend the last energy I had. My conscious sense was that I was perishing, or just sinking into the darkness.
“Now I didn’t know if I was even in the world. But I did know that I was here. I was real, all my senses worked too painfully well. I didn’t know how I had arrived here. There was no direction to follow even if I had been physically able to move. The agony that I had suffered during the day was nothing compared to what I was feeling now. I knew then that this was the absolute end of my existence, and it was more horrible than anything I could possibly have imagined.
“Then a most unusual thing happened. I heard very clearly, once again in my own voice, something that I had learned in nursery Sunday School. It was the little song, ‘Jesus loves me, yes I know …’ and it kept repeating. I don’t know why, but all of a sudden I wanted to believe that. Not having anything left, I wanted to cling to that thought. And I, inside, screamed, ‘Jesus, please save me.’
“That thought was screamed with every ounce of strength and feeling left in me. When I did that, I saw, off in the darkness somewhere, the tiniest little star. Not knowing what it was, I presumed it must be a comet or a meteor, because it was moving rapidly. Then I realized it was coming toward me. It was getting very bright, rapidly. When the light came near, its radiance spilled over me, and I just rose up not with my effort I just lifted up. Then I saw and I saw this very plainly I saw all my wounds, all my tears, all my brokenness, melt away. And I became whole in this radiance.”
c. My Analysis of Dr. George Ritchie and Howard Storm’s Earthbound Experiences
These two descriptions of a hellish battlefield in the realm of thought are remarkable descriptions of what I believed was happening to me while in a state of profound psychotic depression. This is one of the reason’s why these two NDEs are at the top of my list for being the most credible from my perspective.
By the time of my after-death communication (ADC) of my mother, I was a self-proclaimed expert on hallucinations. Not only had I lost my fear of the hellish hallucinations I have experienced, I was understanding them in light of near-death experiences. People have near-death experiences and religious visions from manic depressive hallucinations.
4. My Pre-Birth Memory of My Mission From God
In the early 60s when I was a child, I used to play with a old, broken television set. For some reason, I knew that I could rebuild it into a machine that would answer any questions that people put to it – like an oracle. This idea of mine was very strong in my head when I was a kid and eventually I didn’t think anymore about it. When I went to college in the 70’s, I took a computer programming class and, at that time, there were no personal computers or computer monitors – only huge mainframe computers and teletypewriters with no monitors. Then, personal computers with television-like monitors came out, and I believe that was the beginning of the fruition of my childhood oracle idea involving televisions. Then, I went back to college to further my education right when the Internet was beginning to take off. I learned the technology behind the Internet, how to create websites, and got my BS degree in Computer Science. While I was taking a class on website design, something reminded me of my childhood oracle idea. At some point in college, as I was learning web design, I knew I was going to create a website on the Internet devoted to what I have been learning about NDEs. And I began to believe that this was the fulfillment of my childhood idea. In 1996, I began this NDE website (www.near-death.com) with the knowledge that I was fulfilling that childhood idea of working on a computer that acts as an oracle which will answer questions put to it and present the results in a television format. What I ended up creating was create a large database of NDE information on the Internet for anyone to do keyword searches on from their personal computers.
People who have NDEs are sometimes given information about their mission in life learned before they were born. We are all on a mission from God in this world whether we realize it or not. And as the years go by, I become more and more satisfied that I am fulfilling my mission by doing just what I am doing now with this website. And I believe my childhood idea was an early memory of my mission. You can read more information about pre-birth memories on my website.
5. My Past-Life Memory as My Grandmother’s Father
When I moved up to northern California from southern California in 1995, I moved in with my grandparents (who were in their late 80s then) temporarily until I could figure out where to go next. But, I ended up staying with them to finishing my last semester in college which I did. At some point, I knew that if I didn’t move out, I would end up taking care of them to the end. I eventually made the decision that I would stay with them to the end. I loved them very much and there where more like parents to me than grandparents. My grandparents and I go way back to when I was a child in the early 60’s and I have many fond memories of them. My grandmother and I had a lot in common. We were both manic depressives who experienced suicidal depressions. She was a fundamentalist Christian and we loved to sit and talk about the Bible. Although she thought my NDE books were “nutty” and even worse, our religious faith had a lot in common. Over the years, I attempted to persuade her from the Bible that when people die, they don’t sleep in their graves and they don’t come out like Frankenstein when Jesus comes. Their idea of death was the traditional view and it was not a good view to have when you’re almost into your 90s.
As the years went by, her health began to deteriorate to the point where she couldn’t take care of herself anymore. It was a slow deterioration and I spent several years moving her around, putting her on the toilet, changing her diapers, etc… It was a labor of love because I loved her so much and we didn’t want to put her in a nursing home. I am a big person and she was not. I found myself talking and thinking of her as more of a daughter of mine that I never had. I was on temporary state disability and almost on permanent federal disability, so I had plenty of time and opportunity to help her all the way to the end. But eventually, her health problems became so severe that we had to put her in a nursing home. After about a year of being there, she died. It was October 2002.
But years before her death, while I was her full-time caregiver, she told me about her father for whom I knew virtually nothing about. She told me about his alcohol problem which caused a lot family problems. He used to make his own beer which many people around the turn of the century did. He even did a little bootlegging. My grandmother told me that her father’s brother owned a bar and both of them had a drinking problem. Eventually, her father lost his job and spent family money on booze. He was eventually kicked out of the house because my grandmother’s mother just had enough. He made many attempts to try to get back into the family, but my grandmother’s mother would not permit it. He would show up at the door and even try to sneak into the house. The final time he showed up with a gun to his head. When he was refused entry, he shot and killed himself in front of his family.
While my grandmother was telling me about her father, a very strong realization was occurring in my mind. As she was talking about him, I remember thinking that it seemed as though she was talking about me. I say this for many reasons. First of all, while she was describing her father and his life, it became obvious to me that he was manic depressive and it was probably from him that my grandmother and I inherited the gene for depression. The combination of alcohol, suicide, genetic predisposition, and his behavior, all made me understand his problem and attempts to self-medicate. But also, I identified with him because I had dealt with my own similar problems with alcohol, suicidal depression, strange behavior, and relations with women. However, it was the fact that I was taking care of my grandmother in her last final years at the time that made this past life realization a reality. If I am the reincarnation of my grandmother’s father, then this explains why I ended up in the position of taking care of my grandmother. I was paying the karmic debt I owed her from my previous life as her father when she was a young girl and I killed himself in this manner. All this went through my mind while my grandmother told me the story about her father. It was much more than an epiphany. And the whole situation made perfect sense: my strong love and feelings for my grandmother, my manic depressive struggles, my former alcohol and drug problems, my episodes of suicidal psychosis, my feelings for her as a daughter, and being her caregiver for the last seven years of her life.
Although I cannot prove that I am the reincarnation of my great grandfather Henry Bollinger (which doesn’t really matter anyway because this life is the one we must focus on), I am convinced that everyone has a past life. NDE insights suggests that past lives generally stay within the family. Birds of a feather flock together. Before learning about Henry Bollinger, I used to wonder who I might have been in a past life. I didn’t seem to really fit anyone in my family’s past who fit the bill. But on the day that my grandmother told me the story about her father, I became aware that she was talking about a man who failed her as a father by killing himself, but who came back to redeem himself at the end of her life to care for her when she really needed it the most – in her final years.