Last week I established the most interesting email contact with Ken Ebert from Taos, New Mexico when he contacted me after seeing my website. I have added Ken’s original email and his excerpt about his NDE to the case histories part of this page and on my website www.drpennysartori.com
Over the past few days I have been asking Ken quite a lot of questions which I think will also be of great interest to the readers of this blog so, with Ken’s permission, I’ve posted some of our email conversation below.
The conversation was quite long so I’ve put it in two parts – the first is posted today and keep checking the blog for the second posting.
Dr Penny Sartori: One aspect of NDEs that particularly interests me is that some NDErs are left with electrical sensitivity or some kind of change in their electromagnetic field. This really fascinates me. Some people find that watches won’t work for them after their NDE and electrical items such as kettles, toasters or computers just malfunction or even blow up in their presence. Do you find that you have this? Can you wear a watch?
Ken: I got a laugh when you asked about the watches – haven’t worn one since 1985. Those first few years after the NDE I also sometimes blew out light bulbs just being near them. The other thing was that I could “feel” light as a texture, i.e. passing by a lamp would sometimes feel as if brushing a woolly substance. I still get that to some degree, but only when I am fatigued. Another unusual phenomenon was that my hearing became very acute. I first verified this by turning on and off a motion detector silent alarm. I could hear the transmitter in the thing. This still sometimes happens, but not often. But I also could pick out conversations in a noisy room. Still can, but I do not like the aural sensitivity. The store where I work is a 10,000 square foot room and I can, if I try, pick out conversation on the far side of the store, but I keep my filters up because I get overwhelmed by sound if I do not squelch it with my mind. The useful part of this sensitivity is that if something is relevant to me but is spoken below my range of hearing I can hear it anyway, almost as if it was spoken right in my ear.
Dr Penny Sartori: One thing I’ve been open to exploring further is the possibility that rather than the brain creating consciousness it just mediates it. Therefore as we die or have a NDE there are certain neurological processes that occur. However, the predominant mode of thought is that these processes create the experience of the NDE but I am suggesting that they are the neurological correlates that allow the NDE to be experienced as opposed to creating it. Would you agree with this in light of your experience?
Ken: I totally agree with this. I think that to relegate the NDE to epiphenomenon is just foolish anthropocentric arrogance. Harsh words, but the “place” I went in the NDE journey was and is quite real, and a free-standing reality that does NOT require my participation, much less existence, to be real. I find the humanist approach to be almost as silly: that these experiences are creations of the psyche. I strongly feel that we have neurological correlates, maybe such as the DMT that Rick Strassman speaks of, that allow instead of create. I would say that, for example, if Rick Strassman is correct and DMT does play a role in these experiences, then the DMT is a facilitator rather than a source. The way I see it is best described by what Carlos Castaneda called “the knock of the Spirit”. The call of the Spirit to me in my NDE would trigger harmonic resonance in my central nervous system, which would subsequently come up with the most efficacious means of transmitting and translating that call from Spirit.
I do not believe that the brain creates consciousness. It’s a tricky thing but I have done a lot of reflection on this perspective, and I reckon that we are fairly swimming in a sea of consciousness. The closest academic description I have come across is from panpsychism, which states that “mind” exists in all matter. I was delighted to discover the work of philosopher Christian de Quincey because his lovely writing about panpsychism and philosophy in general so well described many of the notions I have developed to clothe the mysterious intelligence that is consciousness. I call it “getting a look at the critter”. It is very hard to describe but I think you will see it in my book. It is movement and repetition in these ethereal phenomenon that denote to me that there is intelligence behind them. That is another thing that De Quincey verified for me: the value of story, of narrative. I used, with permission, a lengthy quote from his book Radical Nature that tells of stories and how they allow us inclusion in the overall story of life.
Dr Penny Sartori: I have read Dr Rick Strassman’s book DMT: The Spirit Molecule (a few years ago) and really enjoyed it. Did you think it explained your experience? Was your NDE like some of the cases he cited? I have briefly mentioned his work in my books but said that maybe the experiences were somewhat influenced by expectation because they were induced in experimental conditions. Whereas NDEs are totally unexpected. It would be interesting to see what you think of this.
Ken: As for Rick’s work with DMT I do agree that the unplanned nature of the NDE gives a different set and setting to the experience, whereas the clinical setting of Rick’s work unavoidably coloured the outcomes. What drew me into his work is the concept of a potential biological mechanism, DMT, for these experiences. When I really started delving into this stuff, around 1990, I felt certain that there was a valid physical mechanism involved, that the NDE was a natural phenomenon, even perhaps a spiritual support mechanism which alluded to the veracity of spiritual involvement on the physical plane. When Rick’s book was recommended to me I was delighted to hear his theories. His new book, on the possible role of DMT in Biblical prophecy, comes out in October.
I hope you all found that as fascinating as I did. Keep checking the blog for Part 2 of our conversation.