The Golden Thread: Interview with John E. Mack, M.D.

by Christina Zohs

GT: You have a new book out called, “Passport to the Cosmos: Human Transformation and Alien Encounters” so before we talk about that, could you tell us a little about your background.

John: I’m a psychiatrist trained in adult and child psychiatry and psychoanalysis, but I’ve always had an interest in the applications of human understanding or depth psychology — whatever one would want to call it — to problems that are not simply about patients, but about phenomena or subjects that are outside of the consulting room, such as ethnic conflict, or the threat of nuclear war.

In the last fifteen years or so I’ve been interested in what is called transpersonal psychiatry, which means psychiatry that derives from an understanding that human consciousness is more than simply what the brain does but is a factor in the universe in which human beings participate, and that is not located in our brains. Although our brains play an important part in processing information and communication it is not the primary source of consciousness. That point of view made it possible for me to then hear about people who are having experiences that did not seem to fit the notions of the material world as the predominant reality, the provable in science. What I’ve been studying over the past decade although very real as I think reality should be defined, and not necessarily purely materially real, but it’s still nonetheless very real — I would not have been open to this without having done work in the field of transpersonal psychiatry which opens the human mind, opens us to a wider definition, a wider understanding of reality so that there could be room in that. However surprising, with this phenomenon of so-called alien abduction, my own psyche in a sense had been opened to the point where I could at least listen to it. I didn’t have to reject it out of hand and pigeonhole it into something to which it would not fit. So this is a little bit about how my development made it possible for me to take this work seriously. Many people who reject this reality out of hand have not gone through that process of opening of consciousness.

GT: You also wrote the book, Abduction in which you interviewed a lot of people in regards to their alien abduction experiences, is that correct?

John: Yes, that was my first book on this subject and it came out in 1994. It was based on the interviews I had done for three to four years. There were some fifty or sixty people that I had worked with and they were principally people in this country. Since then I have worked with over two hundred people in this country and quite a few other countries, so I think I have a richer understanding of what this phenomenon is about. It doesn’t mean I know what it’s about, because it’s still quite mysterious, but at least patterns begin to emerge. This is what I tried to identify in this last book, Passport to the Cosmos.

GT: Could you tell us about your findings with your research.

John: First of all, it’s clear that this is not a phenomenon that’s restricted to American or even the western culture. I have in the book medicine men from South Africa and Brazil, and I have talked to people in so many different countries who have had these experiences, so it’s not simply some sort of projection of our aerospace technology oriented minds, not at all. It may be that the fact we have arrived at a certain level of technology in the culture has contributed to our ability to recognize UFOs and the technologies associated with the abduction phenomenon, but that does not mean that it is somehow the product of western consciousness.

GT: Have you ever had an alien abduction experence?

John: No. That’s an important point because my understanding now of what Barbara Marx Hubbard calls Conscious Evolution, and that is if we can get our egos out of the way as much as possible, we have a potential role in the evolution of consciousness in the sense of an emergence of the full spiritual and human potential. That means an ability to put our narrow economic and egoistic motivation to a degree out of the way and also to discover what is our own particular calling in that larger collective evolution. Each of us has a place to contribute to the whole and my place is to be a witness for people who have had these experiences and a bridge, from them, to the mainstream culture, but not as a direct experiencer. I’m like, hopefully, a trusted servant in reporting the experiences of other people and then in that way I am sometimes able to give them a voice where they would otherwise not have a voice, because I have a position in the culture which enables me to travel with them and have them speak in public and write, which they might not be able to do on their own. So in a sense, I’m a person who augments the message by my witnessing role.

GT: In your book you speak about the UFOs coming from what you refer to as the subtle realm. Could you explain the subtle realm?

John: Yes, we in the west — and this is only recently and certainly is not true in far eastern philosophy and religion and in Native American spirituality, and wasn’t true in western psychology and spirituality until the last three hundred years — in these last three hundred years we have gradually separated the material world as an absolute, and the psyche, the spirit, as an absolute. But they’re quite separate [in that worldview]. They’re not all one as we’re coming to see more and more. Therefore, at least in western philosophy and psychology something is either in the physical material world or it’s in the world of the mind, imagination, spirit, the unseen, and those two realms are altogether separate. What the western restriction of consciousness of this represents and does not allow for, is something that seems to come from someplace unseen, someplace beyond our ability to observe it, someplace in another dimension — whatever you want to call that — what David Bohm called “from the Implicate Order” or as Grof calls from “The Holotropic World,” meaning toward wholeness, or from the spirit world. There are many terms for this. But this western dichotomizing that I just spoke of does not have any place for something which originates in that other realm, which is what I am calling the subtle realm; the unseen the fourth or fifth or sixth or whatever dimension, and that can come from those dimensions and manifest in the physical world.

Now, when things do that — to stay with the subtlety theme for a moment — when things do that, they don’t manifest in the physical world the same way that what science usually studies, manifests. In other words, when science studies curing an illness with an antibiotic you can take somebody’s temperature, you can administer the antibiotic, you can see what happens to the blood count, and you can actually physically prove and demonstrate without any question by physical means that they got better. If there is a storm you can count the number of houses that blew over. If you experiment with what animals can do, you can prove what they can or cannot do, and that kind of thing. But in this situation, the physical manifestations though apparently real are not robust enough to be able to prove them. I’ll give you an example: Budd Hopkins and others – and I’ve seen this too — have shown or found that people who have these experiences will often end up with nose bleeds, cuts on their bodies, little scoop mark lesions, funny little bumps that they think are little objects that may have been implanted under the skin, but none of this, although real, is robust enough to pass the criteria of mainstream science, because you cannot prove that those cuts were from aliens. You can’t catch the alien in the act. There’s nothing about those cuts that is so bizarre that they could not have been caused by something else, and since this culture finds this whole thing rather far out they want to stretch to something else rather than that the aliens did it or whatever these energies are.

So the subtle realm is the place it comes from, and the manifestations are subtle — not in the sense that experiencers don’t get very distressed when they have these experiences, that’s not so subtle — but subtle in terms of our ability to log it, to prove it, to even document it in sufficiently clear-cut ways as physical manifestations to satisfy the requirements of mainstream science. It’s too subtle in that sense, so you have that kind of double sense in which this is subtle.

GT: Are the aliens helping us?

John: Well, helping, again is one of those human centered words. They certainly are awakening us and the effect of that awakening could be very helpful. They don’t operate by direct assistance in the way that somebody comes and helps you physically carry a load on your back. It’s all about consciousness again. They may arouse people to be more concerned for the earth by showing them images of apocalyptic images of destruction of the earth’s living systems in a way that leaves the experiencers viscerally shaken and then from that they become responsible stewards. But this is not a direct intervention on their part. They work through change in human consciousness. That’s another example of the subtle route — by subtle I don’t mean that it isn’t powerful or energetically very important. By subtle, I mean, subtle in terms of the requirement of something being in the gross material world.

GT: Could you tell us about your future plans.

John: Well, what I’m most interested in now is the larger question of human experiences that are anomalous, in other, words, they don’t fit what’s supposed to be reality. What we tend to do in psychiatry or in this society is when people have experiences that are not within the familiar or prescribed realms, we tend to look for something wrong with that person that we attribute to psychopathology, or influences of the media, or the needs of the collective, rather than to say, well, maybe there’s something about this experience which has to be taken seriously as being valid in its own right. As Alfred North Whitehead said, “There is a provoker in the cosmos and we are receivers, It’s not simply that we’re creating this entirely from within.”

So I’m interested in the whole range of experiences like that: near death experiences, people who observe crop circles, the whole area of parapsychology where there is clear evidence that somehow the collective psyche can effect random number generators in a way where there’s no known mechanisms. In other words, anomaly meaning, that there’s no known physical relationship between the observer and the physical objects that are effected. The effect of prayer, for instance, on patients in controlled studies that have been done where people who are prayed for seem to do better even though nobody knows that they’re being prayed for. There’s a whole range of anomalies which I believe if we pull them together, we’ll see a picture that is utterly shattering to the purely materialist world view.

You mentioned to me earlier about Ramtha, well, channeling is a tough one. I don’t get into channeling too much even though I think sometimes very important information comes to people from unknown sources like that. The channeling is so particularly suspect in the western materialist world view because if you don’t have a place for the fact that there are spirits in the universe to begin with, or beings, gods or whatever that can communicate to us, if that basic premise isn’t accepted, then to try to include channeling as one of the anomalous experiences, it is tricky. I mean, I think as part of the human experience, it doesn’t fit the mainstream definitions of reality and communication and relationship.

I brought that up because you spoke of Ramtha, but it would apply to anything of the “ascended masters,” or “the Emmanuel.” There’s a huge, huge rich human experience with communications from other entities which we call chan neling. They are a good example of another kind of anomalous. But it’s not anomalous in the sense that it’s considered odd around the world — most cultures wouldn’t have such a problem with it as ours does — but it’s anomalous for this culture because it doesn’t fit our purely materialist notions of communication. There’s no electronics. It doesn’t come over the airwaves.

GT: Well, in regards to Ramtha, few years ago here at RSE we had several scientists from around the US and some around the world who came to study Ramtha, JZ and the students. They studied us for about a year, they wrote papers, and they presented these papers at the Conference of Contemporary Spirituality. The scientists were all very excited by their findings and they said that something was definitely going on here; But the most dramatic results were from parapsychologists Stanley Krippner and Ian Wickramaskera who monitored eight physiological measurements on JZ before and while she was channeling Ramtha, and when Ramtha came in on the picture, the needles dropped suddenly. It was very dramatic and they repeated the testings several times. It was definite proof in the scientific community that something was definitely happening here and they wanted to go further with it. So when I send you the newspaper with the interview, I will also send you some articles to do with the conference and other written documentation from the conference.

John: Yes, please do. I want to take all these things that are not supposed to be in the western world view and show them and get some kind of classification, or taxonomy of non-ordinary experiences And show that there are so many that really don’t fit the purely materialist mechanistic world view. I think this can help to bring about the change in world view to understand the universe -much more as mysterious dimensions that go way beyond what we can prove. I think that also means to discover that we are much more connected with the ultimate creative principle, the divine goddess, and from that we can rediscover our sacred relationship with the earth and other living things. So it would give us pause in terms of how we treat the planet. That’s where I see my own research going, to look more deeply into the whole range of anomalies that are right in front of our eyes in a way, and try to get a rational organizing of what all of those are and what is their collective impact on our current world view.

GT: Are you going to write a book about it?

John: Well, I don’t know. It depends on time, energy, everything. At least I would like to work on it, and where it will end up — hopefully in a book — you never know.

GT: Is there anything you would like to add?

John: I think that behind this strange phenomenon — at least it seems strange to the western mind, not to native cultures — is some kind of worry; a cosmic worry about this species, us, and what we’re doing to the earth. The information that the experiencers get from this subtle realm, the aliens, or whatever you want to call it, is consistently about the earth, that the earth is in terrible peril, that it is not okay for this one species to destroy God’s work at the rate we’re doing it, and the other living forms that we’re annihilating at a terrific rate. So it’s like we’re getting some kind of feedback from the cosmos that is awakening us to ourselves and how we’re out of balance in the web of nature.

GT: Thank you very much for your time.

Christina Zohs is the former editor of The Golden Thread Newspaper and The Golden Thread Magazine. She is now publisher of Yes News, presenting features on Ramtha, along with interviews, science, history, religion, politics, reviews, personal stories and more.

© 2000 Christina Zohs
This interview originally appeared in
The Golden Thread, February 2000, Vol. 5, No. 2

  Subject Area: Interviews