Experiencing the World of Michael Grosso

Michael Grosso is a teacher, author, and painter, whose interests span psychical research, metaphysical art, the parapsychology of religion, and, primarily, philosophy. He received his Ph.D. in philosophy, and studied classical Greek, at Columbia University, and has taught at City University of New York, Marymount Manhattan College, and City University of New Jersey. He is currently affiliated with the Division of Personality Studies of the University of Virginia.

Michael has published books on topics ranging from life after death to the mythologies of endtime - some titles include The Millennium Myth, Soulmaking, and Frontiers of the Soul. His most recent book, Experiencing the Next World Now (Amazon US and UK), presents the best current evidence for life after death, but also offers the reader practical methods for 'peeking through the keyhole' at what may lie beyond.

GT: Hi Michael, thanks for taking the time to talk with us. Could you begin by introducing yourself to readers with a short history of how and why you began your research into the idea of ‘the afterlife’?

MG: Probably what first got me going was realizing one day I was going to die. 'So what does this mean?', I thought. But there was something else. I kept having experiences that contradicted the mainline materialism dished up in the schools--especially graduate school in which belief in spirits was sheer heresy. What I experienced and what the standard view of reality was, were at odds. That got me to study psychical research: what was really going on?

GT: Could you describe in more detail these experiences which led you to re-evaluate the standard view of reality?

MG: I actually had a variety of paranormal experiences. One of the most striking was a series of three dreams in which I saw Ronald Reagan being shot. From the images I could see he was shot in the shoulder (he was), and the last dream was symbolic, in which I saw the President naked from the waist up and beaming with health. I inferred he would survive any attack (correct). I reported these dreams to my students who were duly astonished when the man was actually shot. I've seen apparitions of dead people that conveyed veridical information, for example, a dead great aunt I had never met but whom I later identified in a photo I'd never seen. I also projected my tangible double across the Atlantic ocean to my girlfriend. For details, see my book Soulmaking (1997) Hampton Roads Publishing (available from Amazon US and UK).

GT: Your latest book, Experiencing the Next World Now contains a broad review of the evidence for the survival of consciousness after death, to this point. Could you share with readers which cases you would consider the ‘best of the best’? And, to provide some balance, what do you see as the main arguments against the survival hypothesis?

MG: The whole pattern of survival-related stories--not individual startling cases--is what persuades me that some people continue to be conscious after they shed their bodies. There are types of case, certain features of cases, that suggest survival. For example, if there is verified intelligence from a deceased person, like when a lost will is found through a deceased agent. Or suppose a stranger intrudes on a mediumistic performance, and correctly identifies himself. There are records of known deceased researchers communicating through several mediums at a time. Numerous, detailed reports of reincarnation memories, behaviors, and related birth marks and birth deffects, strengthen the survival hypothesis. The near-death experience is suggestive. Parts of the brain go out of commission during cardiac arrest and general anaesthesia. Without these parts, conscious experience is believed to be impossible. But under these conditiuons, in the famous near-death experience, people not only have conscious experiences, they have enhanced experiences. And then there are those excursions out of the body, verified objectively, which point to the separability of consciousness from the body. It's really the detailed pattern that convinces me something very interesting is going on.

GT: The book goes beyond the idea of simply serving up evidence from others on ‘survival’ though, and encourages readers toward personal experience through methods of altering consciousness. Now we all know that the ‘New Age’/’Metaphysical’ section at the local bookstore is filled with titles by self-appointed experts on such ideas – how do we sort the wheat from the chaff and find the genuine methods which might provide something worthwhile? To my mind, perhaps the best idea is to trust those with a history – for example, shamanic methods of altering consciousness and other ancient rites. Would you agree with this, or do you believe we need to formulate new methods for our modern lifestyle?

MG: I think there is a wealth of traditiional materials we can draw upon to guide us to "experience the next world now." We could model ourselves after native vision questers, Tibetan dreamers, Sufi color enthusiasts, or Chinese foetal breathers.

I try to understand the psychology at work in a given system, and to adapt that understanding to my practical life. The idea is to reconstitute myself in such a way that I become more transparent, more porous to trans- or sub-liminal impressions, images, energies. The Kingdom of Heaven is within us; it's another state of consciousness.

GT: Having said that, do you think it is necessary that people have guidance in this sort of exploration? Despite the 'gnostic dream' of doing it all yourself - away from the rigidity of organised religion - many of the ancient systems employed 'superiors' to help the neophyte understand and integrate their experiences.

MG: Of course it's always wise to allow oneself to be guided by those more knowledgeable in any field of endeavor. Trouble is, there are few clear and unequivocal experts in this realm of experience, which depends on luck, context, and inspiration--a little like art or any creative venture. There is bound to be an element of risk in stepping beyond the enchanted boundary and fools and the foolhardy should beware. But how can we legislate against self-exploration?

GT: In your essay “The Flatliner Paradigm”, you explain your own feelings about the possibility of survival of consciousness: “When I look closely within myself, what I feel constraining me toward belief in probable extinction is the sense that I do not inhabit the kind of universe where the leap into a new mode of existence after biological death is possible or, at any rate, probable.”

Do you think this is based on valid reasoning, or is your concern perhaps a result of inculcation in the materialist paradigm? I’d appreciate hearing more of your ‘inner dialogue’ on this subject.

MG: Thanks for that question. There is no doubt about the hypnotic spell of the materialist paradigm. In spite of direct experiences of my own, my views on survival remain in skeptical suspense. On the other hand, there's nothing we know about the universe that forbids the idea of conscious survival. After all, against the miracle of there being a universe in the first place, and of dumb matter evolving into an Einstein or Nicole Kidman, and then consciousness appearing on the scene, it seems like just another evolutionary lift-off into novelty for consciousness to slip away from its neural substrate..

GT: Do you think that quantum physics might play a role in allowing humanity to accept better some of these models? Some of the concepts in modern physics surely throw our whole concept of reality into doubt?

MG: I think concepts of modern physics could play a role in two ways. First, they show that our naive mechanistic and materialistic views of the world are a misleading facade for what ultimate reality may really consist of. Next to quantum realities, nonlocality, etc., what's the big deal about the paranormal? Second, on some interpretations of quantum physics mind proves to be an integral feature of our description of reality.

GT: Nevertheless, the scientific paradigm is still very much grounded in Newtonian physics. In fact, you have written that “thanks to scientific materialism, the dominant metaphysical conceit of the age, anything supporting the reality of minds as substances…tends to be ignored, if not repressed, by the watchdogs of mainstream culture.”

Could you say who you regard as the ‘watchdogs’, and can you cite examples of the repression of evidence?

MG: The watchdogs are embedded in all layers of the culture, the press, the scientific establishment, the university, the religious establishment, etc. The repression takes the form of negative hallucinations; the evidence is not noticed, discussed, regarded. Here's an amusing example. I gave a copy of Alan Gauld's Mediumship and Survival to a fellow philosopher; he refused to look at it. "It's just a book," he said.

GT: So, with the materialist paradigm as entrenched as it is, one would think that it would require some ‘shock’ to move towards contemplation of the survival hypothesis rather than simple accumulation of experimental data. While veridical out-of-body experiences (OBEs) are not in themselves proof of survival, do you think solid evidence on this front could be used an ‘assault’ on the current paradigm?

MG: Why just veridical OBEs? I believe there's a huge amount of data, normal, abnormal, and supernormal, from hypnotic reversals of congenital disease (icthyosis) and placebos that invert physiological responses to Joseph of Copertino's levitations that assaults the paradigm. Then there's strictly normal stuff like subjective consciousness, its unity, memory, dreams, free voluntary acts, etc. that can't be digested by physicalism. Very few are willing to look at all this with a cool comprehensive eye.

GT: Well, I was thinking more in terms of what it would take to win over your CSICOPs out there - and I think it would have to be something very straightforward to remove room for doubting. I would say positive results in viewing hidden symbols or numbers through out-of-body experience would constitute extremely strong evidence. Having said that, scientists such as Dean Radin might argue that we're already at that point with the mass of positive results over the past decade in related fields (remote viewing, precognition etc).

MR: I agree with Dean and believe there is ample data out there already, experimental and spontaneous cases, that suffice to prove to any rational and open-minded person that psi is a fact of nature and that a decent case can be made for postmortem survival. I often tell diehard disbelievers to read the first ten or fifteen volumes of the English Proceedings for Psychical Research and then come back for a chat.

GT: Lastly, I'd like to cover the question of whether we are seeing a core mechanism at work behind many seemingly different experiences. Ken Ring has written about the integration of near-death experience (NDE) study with other areas such as shamanism and abductions. Jacques Vallee and John Keel have long espoused a psychical aspect to the UFO question. John Mack has now brought a similar question to bear in abduction research, and of late research into entheogens (for example, Rick Strassman with DMT and Karl Jansen with Ketamine) has contemplated the same areas. Your book covers these topics as well. Are we seeing some great awakening to the unity of these experiences, and perhaps a validation of Henri Corbin’s ideas of the imaginal realms (versus the imaginary or utopian)?

MG: I could add to that list of names. It would be nice if someone made an anthology of theoretical papers on the unity you allude to. We could use a good general theory of psi-mediated anomalies; I think it would shed light on certain points in religious studies. As for the imaginal world, surcharged and undergirded by the psychokinetic and extrasensorial properties of psi, it's a potent theoretical construct. We could use it to corral all manner of mind-monster and metaphysical wild bunch.

GT: Sounds like a good project for the weekend at the very least, Michael! Thanks for taking the time to chat with us here at the Daily Grail, and best wishes for the success of your book.

Experiencing the Next World Now by Michael Grosso is available from Amazon US and UK. More information about Michael Grosso, including a range of thought-provoking articles by him, is available from his personal website.

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the shadow's picture
Member since:
24 June 2004
Last activity:
7 years 20 weeks

I enjoyed the interview Greg.Grosso seems to have a very good grip on the idea of other consiousness.
It is true what he says about the watchdogs of our society and how they control many facets of dissemination of knowledge and even our opinions.
Since my friend's granddaughter died a few years ago I have found myself wondering about morphine and the effect it has on the soul still in a dying body.
Doctors say that morphine in large quantities causes hallucinations and this is so, and as it depresses the breathing mechanism it will kill also, and is used for this purpose, to hasten death in cases where death is imminent.
But what if morphine actually causes the splitting of the conscious from the unconscious as I hear about some of the drugs used for OBEs.
The soul leaves the body under the pressure of the drug and the hallucinations are actually the other dimension the soul has entered, the body of course being too close to death to bring back the soul.

People make the admission when someone is dying, with or without morphine,and talking to people who aren't there and seeing places we can't see, that the poor soul is wandering.......

Maybe the soul is wandering indeed.

shadows

plw12752anderson's picture
Member since:
1 May 2004
Last activity:
6 years 35 weeks

Dear shadows, In the book DMT The Spirit Molecule there were clear cases of this very phenomena you speak of. Fascinating read and I really enjoyed the book, I have an autographed copy and this is one that I won't be loaning out to people as it's chock full of incidents that were so close to what I had experienced during my NDE. It was assuring to know that others had lived to tell their experience after heart attacks and different types of surgeries and even car wrecks and accidents. I have just about all of the books by P.M.H. Atwater which describes what you mention also. Dear Greg, Fine interview, you simply get better and better. I'm so proud of all the work your doing. Why not write that book that brings all the different lines of thought together and make a buck or two in the process! Now I've got to go out and get a few of Mr. Grosso's book! Thanks, Pam -----------------------------Truth is stranger than fiction.

plw12752anderson's picture
Member since:
1 May 2004
Last activity:
6 years 35 weeks

In Jan of 2000 I went to live with my mother since her health was failing. I have two sisters (one older by 11 years and one younger by 3 years) who were still working and since I had retired felt it incumbent upon me to care for her. Especially since I lived so near to her and they didn't. We got along famously and mother and I shared so much and she even got well enough to go back to work for a short while in February and March. But, one evening she came in looking awful, her color was not right and she was quite ill feeling. She died a few days later. No one, not even her doctor realized how sick she was. On the afternoon of her death as she passed the sun was setting. The huge square window in ICU perfectly framed an orange sun blazing like a fireball, she went with tears of farewell in her eyes, I knew she had gone into the light. That eve, both of my sisters locked me out of my mother's home (unbeknownst to me my brother-in-law had changed out the locks), I was puzzled and grief stricken with mother's death and did not want to fight with them over anything. I went to my home, weary from days of little or no sleep and fell into a deep slumber, my mother came to me in a dream. She was standing in the doorway to her kitchen, with curlers in her hair and in her dressing robe smearing face cream on her forehead. She pointed to the garbage can and started waving her arm back and forth as if to warn me as to what was in it. A week later, after her burial, my sister called a family meeting. This was to be the reading of the will. I was told not to bring my husband nor my children or grandchildren but to come alone. The will that my sister brought out was my parents first will written in 1962 shortly after my older sister had married in the fall of 1961. I stood up and said "Where is the will that was written by them in 1998?" My sister said there was no such will. I told her that our neighbor had gone with my mother to the bank to be a witness for it and that was how I knew that there was another will. She became quite agitated and flustered and quite angry. "This is their ONLY will!" she screamed. At which point I walked out of the room to call the neighbor to please come over and verify this information to my sister. My elder sister's husband grabbed the phone from me and said that I needed to quit causing a problem. Since I knew what kind of a man he was (prone to violence) I said fine but that I needed to go to my room, the room I had been sleeping in while living with mother. I went in and locked the door. Shortly my husband and neighbor (who had relayed my conversation and subsequent abrupt hang-up) showed up and verified that there was another will and it was in mother's vault at the bank. At which point my younger sister broke down crying and admitted that my older sister had shredded the real will in the paper shredder on the night my mother had died. Which, by my estimates, was about the same time I had had the dream of my mother. It took a law suit to resolve the will but not in time to recover what all was taken from my mother's home. At least the financial end of it all was distributed evenly between us, the three daughters. Later, my neighbor confided that the bulk of my mother's estate was to have been left to my eldest son, therefore I believe that when my sister read that fact in the latest will she was overcome with fury and set about to destroy what she thought was all of the evidence as the bank manager (who also was a witness on that will) had died only months before my mother and my sister was not aware of the neighbor witnessing the document. My mother's elderly sister took over the distribution of the funds as she no longer trusted my elder sister. I was astounded that all this took place and yet it all turned out well. Maybe not as my sister wanted, but fair. -----------------------------Truth is stranger than fiction.