by Richard L. Thompson
excerpts from Chapter 10 of 'Alien
Identities: Ancient Insights into Modern UFO Phenomena'
New Dawn No. 38
In August, 1975, a 48-year-old man was
undergoing open-heart surgery. A half hour after being taken off
cardiopulmonary bypass, he suffered from cardiac arrest and had to
be revived by an injection of epinephrine into the heart and two
electric shock treatments. On awakening, he recalled the following
I was walking across this wooden
bridge over this running beautiful stream of water and on the
opposite side I was looking and there was Christ and he was
standing with a very white robe. He had jet-black hair and a
very black short beard. His teeth were extremely white and his
eyes were blue, very blue.... He looked different from any
pictures I had seen before.... My real focus was on the white
robe and if I could prove it to myself that this was really
Christ.... And during all this time the knowledge, the universal
knowledge, opened up to me and I wanted to capture all of this
so that when I was able, I could let people know what was really
around them. Only trouble was that I was unable to bring any of
This is a typical example of an
out-of-body experience, or OBE. In such an experience, a person has
the impression of leaving his physical body while continuing to see,
hear, and think as a conscious being. Out-of-body experiences often
occur when a person is in a near-fatal physical condition, and so
they are also called near-death experiences, or NDEs. With the
recent development of techniques for reviving a person who is near
death, there has been a great increase in reports of such
experiences, and a number of books have been written about them by
doctors, psychologists, and psychical researchers.
Many OBEs are difficult for an external observer to distinguish from
dreams, although persons experiencing them may regard them as real
because of their great vividness and profound psychological impact.
This is true of the OBE mentioned above, which took place entirely
in some dreamlike otherworld. There are many instances, however, in
which a person having an OBE sees his own unconscious body from a
distance. In some of these cases, persons who were supposedly
unconscious due to cardiac arrest were able to give accurate
descriptions of medical procedures being used to revive them.
Here is how cardiologist Michael Sabom summed up one man’s
description of his own resuscitation from a heart attack, as seen
during an OBE:
His description is extremely
accurate in portraying the appearance of both the technique of
CPR [cardiopulmonary resuscitation] and the proper sequence in
which this technique is performed i.e., chest thump, external
cardiac massage, airway insertion, administration of medications
Sabom said that he came to know this man
quite well and that the man gave no indication that he possessed
more than a layman’s knowledge of medicine. The man also testified
that he had not watched cardiac resuscitations on TV before his
experience. In his OBE, the man had seen the resuscitation
procedures in vivid detail, even though his heart was not
functioning at the time and his brain was deprived of oxygen. If the
experience was a dream, then how did the man acquire the accurate
knowledge of detailed medical procedures that this dream contained?
OBEs and UFOs
There has been a great deal of controversy over how to interpret
out-of-body experiences, with some favoring theories based on dreams
or hallucinations and others advocating paranormal explanations. One
topic that is generally not introduced into these discussions is the
subject of UFOs. However, it has recently emerged that out-of-body
experiences may take place in connection with UFO encounters. Many
witnesses have reported experiencing out-of-body travel during UFO
abductions, and some have also reported spontaneously experiencing
OBEs in the aftermath of UFO encounters. This leads to a completely
new controversy over out-of-body experiences - one that inevitably
brings in the body of observation and theory that has built up
around the UFO phenomenon.
One theory is that UFO-related out-of-body experiences are actually
misperceptions of physically real abduction experiences. Another is
that UFO abductions are essentially illusory. According to this
theory, OBEs are also hallucinatory experiences that are generated
by the mind, perhaps due to the influence of some external agency.
UFO abductions and OBEs go together because both are of a similar
A third theory is that UFO abductions are real events that can take
place on a gross or subtle level of material energy, and OBEs are
real events involving the temporary separation of the subtle mind
from the physical body. In a UFO abduction, the physical body may be
taken onto a UFO, and during this experience an OBE may or may not
take place. Also, some UFO abductions may take place within OBEs. In
these cases, the subtle mind is taken on board a UFO and the gross
body is left behind. I will discuss these theories after giving a
few examples of out-of-body experiences associated with UFOs.
First of all, there are reports indicating that OBEs are sometimes
induced by humanoid entities of the kind associated with UFOs. One
example of this is an experience reported by Betty Andreasson. She
said that in July of 1986 she was lying on the couch of her
trailer-home reading a Bible when she heard a whirring sound and saw
a strange being appear next to the couch.
At this point, she had the experience of seeing her own body from an
external vantage point:
I see myself standing and I see
myself laying on the couch! The being had put a small box or
something on the couch first and then I saw myself appear there.
I see myself standing up.... And I see myself moving toward the
being. And then I turn toward the couch and I reach down to
touch myself and Ahhhh! when I do, my hand goes right through
In this case, the being was of the
standard “Gray” type. After entering the out-of-body state,
underwent a strange experience involving visions of crystal spheres,
the passing shadow of a gigantic bird, and a hovering spherical
craft. This is in some ways reminiscent of the otherworldly
experiences that often occur in OBEs. However, the “Gray” aliens
were present throughout the experience.
Whitley Strieber recounted a very similar experience, in which he
awoke at about 4:30 in the morning in his country cabin and tried to
achieve an OBE using methods recommended by Robert Monroe, a
well-known investigator of out-of-body states. He said that he saw
an image of a long, bony, four-fingered hand of a “Gray” being
pointing towards a two-foot-square box on a gray floor. He then
experienced an inappropriate wave of sexual feeling, followed by an
OBE. He found himself floating above his body. He saw his cat, which
should have been in New York City, and he saw the face of a “Gray”
visitor outside one window. He found that he could move about in his
out-of-body state, and he described his adventures of passing out
through a closed window and back. During all this he experienced
himself as a “roughly spherical field.”
There are also cases in which a person has an out-of-body experience
with no obvious cause, enters a UFO in the out-of-body state, and
has an encounter with UFO entities. For example, Betty Andreasson,
after her remarriage to Bob Luca, reported a joint OBE in which they
both entered a UFO occupied by typical “Gray” beings. There she
encountered featureless human shapes glowing with light and found
that she was also in this condition. She also saw the featureless
light-forms changing into balls of light and then back into human
In another out-of-body UFO experience, a person named Emily Cronin
had the experience of standing by her car and seeing her dormant
body within the car. Here she recounts this experience under
Emily: Not in the car. But I am
in the car. It’s silly.
McCall: Don’t worry about it. Just tell me what’s going on.
Emily: That’s silly! You can’t do that!
McCall: You can’t do what?
Emily: You can’t be in the car and out of the car, too.
That’s silly! But I am.
After this, she saw a large, glowing
“bubble” hovering over some trees by the roadside. She communicated
telepathically with unseen intelligences associated with this
object, and she had a realization that all life is one and that the
intelligences were not actually alien.
In the case of Judy Doraty discussed in Chapter 9 [see
Alien Identities], the witness, Judy, experienced standing by her car and
simultaneously entering a UFO and observing what was happening
inside it. In this case, the UFO had been previously seen by Judy
and other witnesses from a normal, physically embodied point of
view. Within the UFO, Judy reportedly observed humanoid entities
cutting up a living calf and then dropping its body to the ground
using a shaft of light. This would suggest that the scene within the
UFO was grossly physical and that Judy was viewing it just as
persons having OBEs sometimes observe their own bodies.
People in their normal bodily condition usually cannot perceive
someone who is present near them in an out-of-body state. However,
Judy reported that the entities she saw in the UFO were aware of her
presence, and they communicated with her telepathically.
Betty Andreasson recalled under hypnosis that as a teenager she was
taken into an alien craft, which entered a body of water and emerged
in an underground complex. Up to this point, she seemed to be
traveling in her physical body, since the trip involved what
appeared to be great g-forces of the kind produced by ordinary
acceleration. In the underground complex, she was told by “Gray”
beings that she was going to be taken home to see the One.
the experience that unfolded next, as relived through hypnotic
Betty: We’re coming up to this
wall of glass and a big, big, big, big, big, door. It’s made
Fred Max: Does it have hinges?
Betty: No. It is so big and there is - I can’t explain it.
It is door after door after door after door. He is stopping
there and telling me to stop. I’m just stopping there. He
says: “Now you shall enter the door to see the One.”
And I’m standing there and I’m coming out of myself! There’s
two of me! There’s two of me there!... It’s like a twin.
After thus entering an out-of-body state, she went through
Betty: I went in the door and it’s very bright. I can’t take
you any further.
Fred Max: Why?
Betty: Because... I can’t take you past this door.
Fred Max: Why are you so happy?
Betty: It’s just, ah, I just can’t tell you about it....
Words cannot explain it. It’s wonderful. It’s for everybody.
I just can’t explain this. I understand that everything is
one. Everything fits together. It’s beautiful!
This sounds like a typical description
of the experience of Brahman realization, a state of consciousness
that has been sought by yogis and mystics the world over. In the
Vedic tradition, there are several schools of philosophical thought
regarding the nature of Brahman realization...
After leaving the door of the One, Betty reported encountering
mysterious white-robed beings:
“Okay, I’m outside the door and
there’s a tall person there. He’s got white hair and he’s got a
white nightgown on and he’s motioning me to come there with him.
His nightgown is, is glowing and his hair is white and he’s got
This person looked like a normal human,
in contrast to the small “Gray” beings she had encountered thus far.
In his discussion of this case, Raymond Fowler pointed out that
possibly similar beings were reported by Italian Navy personnel
during a UFO sighting on the slopes of Mount Etna on July 4, 1978.
Here a red, pulsating, domed disc landed, and the witnesses
encountered “two tall golden-haired, white-robed beings accompanied
by three or four shorter beings wearing helmets and spacesuits.” In
this case the tall white-robed beings were seen by military
personnel who were presumably in their physical bodies, in a more or
less normal state of consciousness.
In OBEs not connected with UFOs, there are frequent references to
beings in white robes. An example would be the cardiac patient’s OBE.
It is significant that although this witness thought the white-robed
being he saw was Christ, he remarked, “He looked different from any
pictures I had seen before.” Evidently, he felt some doubts about
this identification. It is also interesting that the man’s encounter
with this being was accompanied, as with Betty Andreasson, by a
mystical experience involving intimations of universal knowledge.
So here we have three cases in which white-robed beings are
described. In one, a person had apparently been physically abducted
by ufonauts, then had an OBE involving a mystical experience, and
finally met a being of this type. In another, these beings were seen
along with a UFO by military personnel who were walking about in an
apparently normal state. In yet another, a being of this type was
encountered in an OBE that occurred during a medical emergency and
was not connected with UFOs.
[British UFO investigator] Jenny Randles discussed a possibly
related case, in which a medically instigated OBE led to a meeting
with a tall white-haired being from a UFO. This experience was
reported to her by Robert Harland, a professional magician and,
alas, a self-confessed phony medium. Harland told Randles that he
went to a dentist in 1964 for major oral surgery. An anesthetic gas
was administered, and he had an OBE. From an out-of-body
perspective, he saw that the dentist banged his knee, and the
dentist later verified this.
Thus far, this was a typical OBE of the kind associated with
physical trauma. But then Harland saw a tall being with long white
hair drift through the ceiling and explain telepathically that they
must go together. They floated through the roof into a UFO. He was
shown around. The UFO’s operation was explained, and he was given a
message to convey about a terrible holocaust in which the Earth’s
crust would split apart. He was then told he would have to fight his
way back to his body. Indeed, small, ugly creatures tried to prevent
his return, but he made it and awoke to see the dentist thumping him
and looking very worried. He had nearly died in the chair.
One can always hypothesize that the beings seen in these four cases
were simply dreams or hallucinations, although this raises the
question of why people would independently have such similar dreams.
If we leave the dream hypothesis in the background and consider that
the beings might actually exist, then the question is: Are these
beings operating in gross physical bodies or bodies made of some
kind of subtle energy? The observations of the Italian naval
personnel would suggest the former, while the stories of the cardiac
patient and Mr. Harland would suggest the latter.
or Subtle Form?
One interpretation of this bewildering data is to interpret all UFO
abductions as strictly physical and reject OBEs as a mistaken idea.
This approach has been taken by David Jacobs, an associate professor
of history at Temple University in Philadelphia and an active
investigator of UFO abductions. Jacobs wrote the following about
Part of these anomalous memories and dreams might be the unaware
abductees’ knowledge that they have had Out of Body Experiences. It
is common for abductees to feel that they in some way left their
body, usually during the night in bed.... A few unaware abductees
claim that they have not only had Out of Body Experiences but that
they have experienced Astral Travel as well. They know that they
have in some mysterious way experienced a strange displacement in
location.... The only way that they can reconcile what has happened
to them is through the only available explanation - astral travel,
no matter how ill-defined that might be.
Jacobs’s idea was that abductions by UFO entities really happen but
that out-of-body experiences are a “new age” misconception adopted
by “unaware” abductees. He maintained that abductees will generally
abandon their false ideas about OBEs when they become aware of what
really happened to them. Thus,
“knowledge of the abductions finally
gives them the answers they were seeking and the majority of
them let go of previously held belief structures that were never
This interpretation seems unsatisfactory
because it blurs the distinction between,
(1) abduction experiences in
the physical body during which an OBE takes place
(2) abduction experiences
occurring entirely in an out-of-body state and accompanied by
memories of seeing the gross body as it is left behind
The same can be said of the
interpretation of all abduction experiences as being entirely
psychical or mental. For example, Jenny Randles has used accounts
such as Robert Harland’s to argue that UFO abductions are entirely
mental experiences induced in psychically susceptible and visually
creative persons by alien beings that “have harnessed the power of
consciousness to cross the gulfs of space and seek out new life
This interpretation also blurs the distinction between points (1)
and (2). If all abduction experiences occur entirely in the mind,
then why do some seem to the witnesses to occur on the bodily
platform of experience, while others, such as Harland’s or Emily
Cronin’s, occur in an out-of-body state?
After-effects of UFO Abductions
Of course, a further objection to the all-mental theory is that
scars and infectious diseases have been reported in connection with
UFO abductions. Budd Hopkins is well known for his claim that
abductees sometimes bear scars, which they associate directly or
indirectly with UFO encounters. One example is Virginia Horton,
whose illusory deer encounter is mentioned above [see
Alien Identities, pages 249-50].
She also told of a deep, profusely
bleeding but painless cut that she received as a six-year-old child.
In her conscious recollections, the cut was memorable because at the
time she was unable to explain to her elders how she had gotten it.
Under hypnosis, she related an elaborate abduction scenario in which
aliens of the typical “Gray” variety took her into a circular room
illuminated by diffuse, pearly gray light and made the cut with some
kind of machine. They explained to her that “we need a little, bitty
piece of you for understanding.”
The noted UFO researcher Raymond Fowler has also described under
hypnosis a nightmarish, dreamlike experience in which he seemed to
be manipulated by beings that he could not see. This would seem to
be a good candidate for a purely mental experience but for the fact
that it occurred on the night before a mysterious, unexplained scar
appeared on his leg. This scar was said by a dermatologist to
resemble the mark made by a punch biopsy.
Fowler cited research into scars and other medical sequel of UFO
encounters that was carried out by Dr. Richard N. Neal, a specialist
in obstetrics and gynecology at the Beach Medical Center in
Lawndale, California. Neal maintained that scars tend to show up on
the bodies of abductees in a consistent manner. Thus,
been observed on the calf (including just over tibia or shin bone),
thigh, hip, shoulder, knee, spinal column and on the right sides of
the back and forehead.”
These scars tend to be either thin, straight
hairline cuts about 2-3 inches long or circular depressions about
1/8-inch to 3/4-inch in diameter and as much as 1/4-inch deep.
Other kinds of bodily marks have also been noted, such as rashes on
the upper chest or the legs that are often geometrical in shape.
First or second degree burns have been noted, as well as infections
and unusual growths. For example, there are two examples of women
reporting severe vaginal infections after UFO abductions that
involved gynecological examinations.
The very fact that abduction witnesses report invasive physical
examinations suggests that their experiences are not simply mental.
Dr. Neal pointed out,
“Aliens have taken blood, oocytes (ova) from
females and spermatozoa from males, and tissue scrapings from their
subjects’ ears, eyes, noses, calfs, thighs and hips.”
tubes are inserted into women’s navels - an operation that was
Betty Hill as a pregnancy test by her captors. It has
been pointed out that this operation is similar to a gynecological
testing procedure called laparoscopy that was developed years after
Betty and Barney Hill’s abduction experience in September of 1961.
Finally, we shouldn’t overlook the controversial topic of probes
that are inserted into the nose by alien entities. As Dr. Neal put
“Many abductees have described a thin probe with a tiny ball on
its end being inserted into the nostril - usually on the right side.
They are able to hear a ‘crushing’ type sound as the bone in this
area is apparently being penetrated. Many will have nosebleeds
following these examinations.”
Fowler and Hopkins give examples of
this, and it seems to come up repeatedly in UFO accounts.
From time to time, investigators have claimed that such probes have
been recovered from people’s bodies for examination. However, I have
yet to see any reliable publication describing a systematic study of
a recovered probe.
One could postulate that people may imagine physical experiences,
such as having probes inserted into their bodies. However, it is not
clear what their inner motive would be for imagining such things.
Many UFO abductees reporting these experiences have been tested
psychologically and found to be quite normal. So their testimony
cannot be attributed to abnormal mental processes.
One could also postulate that beings acting on a subtle level might
be able to invoke in people’s minds traumatic experiences that would
result in physical symptoms. There are cases in which people have
developed bleeding wounds called stigmata, apparently under the
influence of intense religious emotions. There are also reports that
a particular pattern of reddened skin, such as a cross, can be
produced by hypnotic suggestion. Could it be that the physical
symptoms of UFO abductions are similarly produced by some form of
One reply to this is that some abduction cases involve physical
traces on objects or on the ground that suggest the presence of some
physically real agent. Examples would be the ground traces reported
by Budd Hopkins in the Kathie Davis case, or the strange shiny spots
appearing on the car of
Betty and Barney Hill after their UFO
experience. Also, there are abduction cases, such as those of Travis
Walton, William Herrmann, and Filiberto Cardenas, in which the
abductee was dropped off by the UFO miles from his pickup point.
There is certainly a great deal of
evidence indicating that UFOs can become manifest as physically real
vehicles, and there is also much evidence suggesting that people are
sometimes physically taken on board these vehicles. However, since
some UFO abductions do seem to involve out-of-body experiences, the
idea that trauma on a subtle, mental level can bring about gross
physical effects should be carefully considered. To illustrate what
might happen, consider the following account of a near-death
experience occurring in India:
In the late 1940s, an Indian man named Durga Jatav suffered for
several weeks from a disease diagnosed as typhoid. At a certain
point his body became cold for a couple of hours, and his family
thought he had died. But he revived and told his family that he had
been taken to another place by ten people. After attempting to
escape from them, they cut off his legs at the knees to prevent
Then they took him to a place where
about forty or fifty people were sitting. They looked up his
“papers,” declared that the wrong man had been fetched, and ordered
his captors to take him back. When he pointed out that his legs had
been cut off, he was shown several pairs of legs and recognized his
own. These were somehow reattached, and he was warned not to
“stretch” his knees until they had a chance to heal.
After his revival, his sister and a neighbor both noticed that he
had deep folds or fissures in the skin on the fronts of his knees,
even though such marks had not been there previously. The marks were
still visible in 1979, but X-rays taken in 1981 showed no
abnormality beneath the surface of the skin. Could it be that the
experience of having his legs cut off in a subtle realm caused these
marks on his physical legs?
Ian Stevenson has assembled a large amount of evidence indicating
that young children who spontaneously remember previous lives
sometimes bear birthmarks on their bodies corresponding to injuries
received during those lives. He has about 200 cases of this type,
and he says that in fifteen he has been able to match up birthmarks
with postmortem reports describing the previous body. Regarding
these birthmarks, he made the following observation:
“Some marks are simply areas of
increased pigmentation; in other cases, the birthmark is
three-dimensional, the area being partly or wholly elevated,
depressed, or puckered. I have examined at least two hundred of
this kind, and many of them cannot be distinguished, at least by
me, from the scars of healed wounds.”
The point about scars is especially
significant in connection with UFO abductions.
In the case of Durga Jatav, one can imagine that some psychical
influence injected into his brain the idea that his legs had been
cut off, and this in turn resulted in the fissures in his knees.
However, if a wound in one life can affect a body in another, then
more must be involved than just the brain.
An explanation can be devised if we introduce the idea that the
soul, encased in a body made of subtle energy, is able to
transmigrate from one gross physical body to another. In that case,
one can suppose that the fatal injury in one life traumatized the
subtle body, and this resulted in birthmarks in the developing
embryo in the next life. One could likewise suppose that Durga
Jatav’s subtle body was traumatized in a subtle domain, and this
resulted in the knee fissures when his subtle body was returned to
his gross body.
A wide variety of physical effects can apparently be produced by
subtle action. Here is an example involving a man named Mangal Singh
who experienced a [Near-Death Experience] NDE in about 1977 while in
his early 70s. He described his experience as follows:
I was lying down on a cot when two people came, lifted me up, and
took me along. I heard a hissing sound, but I couldn’t see anything.
Then I came to a gate. There was grass, and the ground seemed to be
sloping. A man was there, and he reprimanded the men who had brought
“Why have you brought the wrong
person? Why have you not brought the man you had been sent for?”
The two men ran away, and the senior
man said, “You go back.”
Suddenly I saw two big pots of
boiling water, although there was no fire, no firewood, and no
fireplace. Then the man pushed me with his hand and said, “You
had better hurry up and go back.”
When he touched me, I suddenly became
aware of how hot his hand was. Then I realized why the pots were
boiling. The heat was coming from his hands.
On returning to consciousness, Mangal felt a severe burning
sensation in his left arm. This area developed the appearance of a
boil and left a residual mark after healing. He was apparently
unable to describe the appearance of the “men” he had met.
The stories of Durga Jatav and Mangal Singh are part of a group of
sixteen Indian near-death accounts collected by Satwant Pasricha and
Ian Stevenson. They observed that in these cases messengers
typically come to take the witness, in contrast to Western NDEs, in
which the witness generally meets other beings only after being
translated to “another world.” Pasricha and Stevenson noted that
their Indian subjects naturally identify these messengers with the
Yamadutas, the agents of Yamaraja, the lord of the dead in
They also pointed out that the evident cultural differences between
Indian and Western NDEs do not necessarily demonstrate that these
experiences are simply unreal mental concoctions. It is possible
that persons near death are treated differently in different
cultures by personalities on the subtle level. There could be
different policies for groups of people with different karmic
According to Vedic literature, the transmigration of souls is
regulated by the Yamadutas, or servants of Yamaraja. The
serve as functionaries in the celestial hierarchy, and they are
equipped with mystic powers, or siddhis, that enable them to carry
out their duties. They are described as having a very negative,
fearful disposition. Nonetheless, they are employed by higher
authorities for the positive purpose of reforming the consciousness
of souls entangled in material illusion.
Generally, when the Yamadutas take a person, he doesn’t return to
tell the tale. But Vedic accounts do mention some cases where
someone returns. There is the story from the Bhagavata Purana of
Ajamila, a sinful man who uttered “Narayana,” a name of God, when
seeing the Yamadutas at the time of death.
As a result of this action, several
effulgent servants of Narayana intervened and told the Yamadutas not
to touch Ajamila. There followed a debate between the Yamadutas and
the servants of Narayana on the laws regarding the treatment of
departed souls. Finally, the Yamadutas accepted defeat in this
debate and departed from the scene, and Ajamila was revived from
There are UFO encounter cases involving the capture-by-mistake theme
of the Indian NDEs. In Chapter 9 [see
Alien Identities], I presented
the story of a woman and her son who were abducted by strange beings
and taken on board a UFO while driving near Cimarron, New Mexico.
In this case, the woman and boy were
physically dragged away by strange “men.” The woman was subjected to
a harrowing physical examination, after which a tall, authoritative
“man” appeared on the scene and angrily declared that the woman
should not have been taken and should be sent back. Not only that,
but the tall man placed his hand on the woman’s forehead, and she
was burned by it. This is reminiscent of the Indian NDE cases, and
of the case of Mangal Singh, in particular.
However, the woman came down with a severe vaginal infection after
the experience, apparently as a result of the examination she
received on the UFO. Was this due to a subtle examination, or was it
caused by a botched physical examination?
Another example illustrating the theme of capture by mistake is an
encounter story related by Emily Cronin. (This is a different
encounter than the one mentioned previously.) On this occasion,
Emily, her young son, and her friend Jan were resting by the side of
a road called Ridge Route near Los Angeles. She consciously
remembered seeing a bright yellow light, hearing a high-pitched
whine that seemed to have a paralyzing effect, and feeling the car
Under hypnosis, she said that a strange,
tall figure in black was looking in the back window of the car and
was shaking it. Two other similar beings were standing to one side,
telepathically telling the first being that this was a mistake and
they shouldn’t be there. When Emily managed to move one finger by
strongly focusing her will, the noise stopped, the light and figures
vanished, and everything was back to normal. Here, the way the
experience ended suggests that it occurred on a subtle level.
UFOs and the
Recycling of Souls
Western [Out-of-Body Experiences] OBEs occurring during medical
emergencies are naturally related with death, and the persons
experiencing them often connect them with the fate of the soul in
the next life. In India, of course, these experiences are associated
with the process of transmigration, whereby the soul, riding in the
subtle body, is transferred to a new situation at the time of death.
Given all the parallels that exist between OBEs and UFO abductions,
could it be that some UFO entities are involved with the
transmigration of the soul? It turns out that ideas along these
lines have been discussed in the UFO literature.
For example, Whitley Strieber has said that his visitors told him,
“We recycle souls.” Strieber’s visitor experiences inspired him with
the following general idea:
“Could it be that the soul is not
only real, but the flux of souls between life and death is a
process directed by consciousness and supported by artistry and
This idea is completely Vedic, and so is
the corollary that our actions are watched and appraised by beings
who control our destination after death. Appraising modern
attitudes, Strieber noted,
“Because we have deluded ourselves into
ignoring the reality of the soul, we imagine everything we do to be
some kind of secret,” and he asked, “Who watches us?”
The following story gives some indication of how Strieber arrived at
these ideas. He related that his visitors invisibly spoke to him,
repeatedly warning him not to eat sweets. After several weeks of
these warnings, he asked why he shouldn’t eat sweets, and they said,
“We will show you.”
Six days later, he learned through an acquaintance about a woman in
Australia who was dying from diabetes. During the previous evening,
the woman had seen seven little men “like Chinese mushrooms” who
appeared and descended from the ceiling. They lifted the sick lady
to the ceiling, and as she protested they put her on the floor. Then
she had a vision of sitting in a park, putting on a flowing blue
robe, and watching the sun set as a desolate wind blew all symbols
of death. After this experience, the woman declined quickly.
Strieber was told that the woman was very conservative and probably
had given no thought at all to such topics as UFOs and humanoid
Strieber took this unexpected story from Australia as a graphic
answer to his question as to why he shouldn’t eat sweets. The story
involved beings similar to his visitors; it involved diabetes, a
disorder of the body’s sugar metabolism; and it came from a bare
acquaintance on the other side of the world shortly after he asked
his question. Since the woman’s encounter with the beings involved
symbolic intimations of her death, it struck him that his visitors
might have some connection with what happens to people after death.
The relationship between Strieber’s visitors and the Vedic Yamadutas
is difficult to ascertain. There are differences between these two
groups indicating that they play different roles, and there are also
similarities suggesting that they may be closely related.
For example, one difference is that the
Yamadutas normally act only on the subtle level, whereas Strieber
maintained that when he was abducted on one occasion, he was able to
physically take his cat with him - an indication that his trip took
place on the physical platform. Nonetheless, there are also
similarities. For example, the Yamadutas look strange and
frightening, they emanate a strongly negative mood, they can travel
invisibly and pass through walls, and they can induce OBEs in human
Similar remarks can be made about the beings who repeatedly abducted
Betty Andreasson, but in her case there are additional
complications. For example, during one UFO abduction she had a
classical mystical experience, and then she saw white-robed beings
similar to those connected with mystical insights in Western NDEs.
To understand fully what is going on here, we will need much more
information. I suspect that we are seeing a few traces of a complex
universal control system involving many different types of
and the Government
It may come as no surprise that references to the soul, OBEs, and
reincarnation come up in the lore on UFOs and the U.S. Government.
In addition, some of this material shows connections with Whitley
Strieber’s testimony. Here is the story:
Strieber described dreams or visions in which his visitors were
found to live in a strange desert setting where ancient buildings
were built into cliffs under a tan sky. Now according to Linda Howe,
an Air Force intelligence officer named Richard Doty informed her in
1983 about EBEs - Extraterrestrial Biological Entities - that were
allegedly in contact with the U.S. Government.
Supposedly, these EBEs come from a
desert planet where they live in buildings like those of the Pueblo
Indians. One of them is said to have informed an Air Force Colonel
that “our souls recycle, that reincarnation is real. It’s the
machinery of the universe.”
This provides a link between the Strieber visitors, the highly
physical aliens spoken of in connection with the U.S. Government,
and reincarnation. The similarities are so close that we seem to be
faced with two alternatives. Either Strieber wrote material from
Government/EBE stories into his book, or he was independently
reporting experiences that tend to corroborate some of those
There is another story connecting UFOs, OBEs, and the U.S.
Government. This involves the thoroughly physical case occurring in
October of 1973 in which a UFO was said to approach an Army Reserve
helicopter flying from Columbus, Ohio, to Cleveland. At about 11:02
p.m. the crew members saw a red light on the eastern horizon that
seemed to be on a collision course with the helicopter.
The pilot, Capt. Lawrence J. Coyne,
tried to radio a nearby airport, but after an initial response he
couldn’t get through. To avoid collision, he sent the helicopter
into a dive. A cigar-shaped, metallic object took up a position
directly over the helicopter and flooded the cockpit with green
light. After a short interval, the object continued to the west, but
Coyne found that the helicopter was at 3,500 feet and climbing at
1,000 feet per minute, even though they had initiated a dive from
2,500 feet to 1,700 feet. Once the object had departed the radio
There were ground witnesses. A family consisting of a mother and
four adolescent children were driving on a rural road below. They
saw the encounter between the object and the helicopter and noted
the green light. Also, Jeanne Elias, who was in bed at home watching
the TV news, heard the diving helicopter and hid her head under her
pillow. Her 14-year-old son woke up and saw the green light, which
lit up his whole bedroom. The object was explained as a meteor by
the famous UFO debunker Philip Klass.
In the aftermath of this case, Capt. Coyne reported receiving a call
from the “Department of the Army, Surgeon General’s office,” asking
whether he had had any unusual dreams after the UFO incident. As it
happened, he reported a vivid dream of an OBE.
Sgt. John Healey, one of the helicopter crewmen, reported,
“As time would go by, the Pentagon
would call us up and ask us, well, has this incident happened to
you since the occurrence? And in two of the instances that I
recall, what they questioned me, was, number one, have I ever
dreamed of body separation, and I have - I dreamed that I was
dead in bed and that my spirit or whatever was floating, looking
down at me lying dead in bed,... and the other thing was if I
had ever dreamed of anything in spherical shape. Which
definitely had not occurred to me.”
He went on to say that the Pentagon
would often call Coyne with such questions, asking about all the
crew members, and the Pentagon people seemed to believe what they
were told. One wonders who in the Pentagon might be interested in
the UFO/OBE connection.
the Subtle, and Beyond
In summary, the available evidence suggests that UFO abductions and
close encounters may occur both in an ordinary bodily state and in
an out-of-body state. In the former, the subtle senses of the
witness operate through the medium of the gross sense organs (such
as eyes and ears), and in the latter, perception occurs directly
through the senses of the subtle body. Experiences involving a
combination of in-body and out-of-body phases may also occur, and
the Doraty case suggests that it is possible to perceive through
gross bodily senses and through subtle senses at the same time. This
has been called bilocation.
The evidence also suggests that the UFO occupants themselves can
operate both on a physical and on a subtle level. They can perceive
the subtle form of a human being, and they can arrange things so
that a human being can see them in the out-of-body state. They can
make themselves physically manifest and visible to ordinary eyes, or
they can become unmanifest and invisible. They can also make their
vehicles and other paraphernalia visible on either a gross or subtle
There is also evidence indicating that UFO entities can enter into a
person’s mind and control it in a manner reminiscent of traditional
spirit possession. In her survey of UFO abductees, Karla Turner
“in some cases there seems to be a
merging and the abductee then begins to feel or think what the
ET is feeling or thinking.”
She also observed that,
“We have ET takeover of a human’s
body.... The person is still there but they’re not in control.
Sometimes they’re not even aware until somebody tells them
afterwards... that they were doing or saying things that are not
characteristic of the person.”
In the Bhagavata Purana a mystic siddhi
is described which enables a grossly embodied being to leave his
gross body behind and enter in subtle form into another person’s
body. This is illustrated by the following story in the Mahabharata:
A king named Kalmashapada once arrogantly insulted and struck the
sage Shakti because the latter would not give way to the king on a
narrow forest path. Shakti, a son of the famous sage Vasishtha, then
cursed the king to become a man-eater.
While the king and Shakti were quarreling, Vishvamitra, an enemy of
Vasishtha and a powerful yogi, approached invisibly with the aim of
gaining something for himself. After seeing what happened and
evaluating the condition of the king’s mind, Vishvamitra waited
until the king returned to his capital city and then ordered a
Rakshasa to approach him. By the sage’s curse and the order of
Vishvamitra, the Rakshasa was able to enter the king and possess
The king was severely harassed by the Rakshasa within him, but he
was able to protect himself with his own willpower. Later the king
was asked by a brahmana for a meal with meat. The request slipped
the king’s mind, but late that night he remembered it and asked a
cook to prepare the meal for the brahmana, who was waiting at a
certain place. Unable to find any meat, the cook asked the king what
The Rakshasa then exerted his influence,
and the king ordered the cook repeatedly to get human meat. The cook
did this, using flesh from an executed prisoner. The brahmana, on
seeing the resulting meal, realized that it was unfit to eat, and he
also cursed the king to become a man-eater. As a result of this
second curse, the Rakshasa was able to completely take over the
king, and driven by madness and a desire for vengeance, the king
began to kill and devour first Shakti and then the other sons of
The Rakshasas were mentioned in Chapter 6 [see
Alien Identities] in
connection with the illusory deer that Ravana used to abduct Sita,
and in Chapter 8 in connection with Bhima and his Rakshasi wife,
Hidimba. They were beings with powerfully structured gross bodies,
and they were also known for their mastery of mystic powers.
Before meeting Hidimba, Bhima engaged in an intense hand-to-hand
struggle with her brother Hidimba and killed him by strangulation
after exhausting him in the fight. This battle was thoroughly
physical. But in the story of king Kalmashapada, the Rakshasa
ordered by Vishvamitra was able to act on a subtle level and possess
the king in the manner of a traditional evil spirit.
This story illustrates the idea that beings of essentially inimical
motivation may have the power to act both on the subtle and gross
platforms of existence. The Vedic literature also describes a
completely transcendental level of existence, and it is similarly
possible for suitably qualified beings to function on both the
transcendental and the physical planes. I will present three
accounts illustrating this that date back roughly 500 years. As with
the UFO stories that we have been considering, these stories display
a bewildering combination of what appear to be physical phenomena
and phenomena occurring on another plane of existence.
All three accounts are religious in nature, which means that they
have to do with spiritual worship and meditation. Although some
would categorically reject such material as admissible evidence, I
disagree. If so many strange phenomena mentioned could be true, it
doesn’t make sense to think that phenomena reported in religious
contexts must all necessarily be false. In fact, I think that an
imbalanced picture will be created if events of a positive spiritual
nature are excluded, while those of a negative or at best neutral
character are extensively presented.
The first example involves the Vaishnava saint Narottama Dasa
Thakura, who lived in India in the 16th century. Narottama would
regularly meditate on living in the spiritual world in his
siddha-deha, or perfected spiritual form. There he would perform the
service of boiling milk for Krishna, and he would actually
experience this as real in all respects. In Vaishnava philosophy,
Krishna is the Supreme Lord, and He lives in the transcendental
realm in an eternal personal form. In that realm, many simple acts
of service serve as media for the exchange of intense love between
Krishna and His devotees.
On occasion, the milk would boil over, and in his meditation
Narottama would burn his hands while trying to stop it. It turned
out, however, that upon awakening from his reverie, he would find
that his hands were actually burned.
This story can be compared with the two near-death experiences
mentioned above, in which physical effects resulted from subtle
experiences. One might argue that in all these cases, the physical
effects were somehow impressed on the body by the power of the mind,
as a consequence of intense mental experiences.
From the Vedic point of view, this idea
is acceptable as long as we understand that the mind of the
individual involved had actually been functioning in another realm
of existence. But more is involved than some kind of psychosomatic
influence of the mind on the body. To illustrate this point,
consider the next story.
The Vaishnava saint Shrinivasa Acarya was a contemporary of
Narottama Dasa Thakura’s. On one occasion, he was meditating on the
pastimes of Lord Caitanya, who is an incarnation of Krishna.
Shrinivasa was meditating on Krishna’s form as Lord Caitanya by
placing a garland of aromatic flowers around His neck and fanning
Him with a camara whisk:
As Shrinivasa served the Lord in this way, he could not keep his
composure and, looking at the Lord’s magnificent form, he began to
exhibit ecstatic symptoms. This pleased Lord Caitanya, who then took
the same garland of flowers that Shrinivasa had given Him and placed
it around Shrinivasa’s neck. After the Lord made this loving
gesture, Shrinivasa’s meditation broke; but the garland was still
adorning his own chest. Its fragrance was unlike anything he had
In this case, an object that was observed in trance in another world
appeared in physical form in this world. This is certainly not a
psychosomatic effect, but one might imagine that the mind of Shrinivasa, charged with intense spiritual emotion, might have
paranormally manifested the garland as a physical object. Now,
however, I turn to an example in which a human being in this world
first meets someone from a higher realm and later visits that realm
through meditative trance and again meets the same person.
In this account, a Vaishnava saint named Duhkhi Krishnadasa was
performing the daily service of sweeping a certain sacred area in
the town of Vrindavana, a famous pilgrimage place in India. While
doing this one day, he found a golden anklet that seemed to emanate
a remarkable aura. Impressed by the influence that it had on his
consciousness, he considered it to be very important, and he buried
it in a secret place.
Shortly thereafter an old lady came to him, asking for the anklet
and saying that it belonged to her daughter-in-law. Because of its
spiritual influence, Duhkhi Krishnadasa was convinced that the
anklet must really belong to Radharani, the eternal consort of
Krishna. After a long discussion, the old lady finally admitted that
this was so, and revealed that her true identity was Lalita-sundari,
one of Radharani’s servants.
At this point, Duhkhi Krishnadas wanted to see his visitor in her
true form, but she said he would be unable to bear such a
revelation. After being convinced of his sincere desire, however,
she finally acquiesced to his request and revealed her true,
incomparable beauty. After giving him several benedictions and
receiving the anklet from him, she disappeared, and he was unable to
find where she had gone.
One of the benedictions given to Duhkhi Krishnadasa was a special
tilaka mark on his forehead, and a new name, Shyamananda. Since
Lalita had sworn him to secrecy about their meeting, it was
difficult for Shyamananda to explain the tilaka and new name to his
guru, who thought that he had simply concocted them. In the course
of dealing with this difficult situation, Shyamananda again met
Lalita-sundari. This time, however, he met her by entering into her
transcendental realm in a state of meditation.
In this case, Duhkhi Krishnadasa met Lalita-sundari in this world,
in his physical body, and he also met her in another world that he
entered in his spiritual form by meditation. Thus both Duhkhi
Krishnadasa and Lalita-sundari were able to operate on different
planes of existence. It is significant also that Lalita-sundari was
able to assume a disguised form.
Thus in both ancient and recent Vedic traditions there are accounts
of beings who can operate on different planes of existence. These
beings may be materialistic in orientation, like Vishvamitra Muni
and the Rakshasa, or they may be spiritually advanced. The UFO
literature likewise seems to contain examples of activity on both
subtle and gross physical planes.