Sunday, October 06, 2013
Shamanic Out-Of-Body Experience and the Computer Norman W Wilson, PhD Altered states of consciousness have various descriptors including trance, hallucination, or hypnotic state. Whatever the description there are certain identifiable traits or characteristics. As a shaman travels to another realm, he or she may experience any number of these characteristics. Chief among these are the following: Different sense of time Change in emotional expression Dissolution of the boundaries between self and environment Visual imagery A sense of the ineffable. Out-of-body experience This last characteristic of an altered state of consciousness has made international news. Contemporary researchers claim they have developed virtual-reality avatars to simulate out-of-body experiences (Feb. 17, 2011. The Guardian, UK). The group successfully 'projected' people into digital avatars that could move around in a virtual environment. According to the group's report, the participants experienced the digital body as if it were their own. The study did not address the altered state of consciousness created through hypnosis to allow an out-of-body experience. Nor was there any indication of an emotional change in the participants. The Telegraph (UK) (Feb. 18, 2011) reported "Out-of-body experiences are just the product of a confused mind and that scientists now claim they have dispelled this myth by artificially creating an out-of-body experience using computers and cameras." Neurologist, Olaf Blanke of the Brain Mind Institute of Ecole Polytechnique Federal de Lausanne, Switzerland, reported the study at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Even though both reports are interesting, neither expose the fact that the participants were aware they were using a computer program, and this may have impacted the assigned results. There is room to raise significant questions about the claimed role of the senses, particularly those of sight and touch in creating an artificial illusional world. The shaman while in an altered state of consciousness senses his movement from one plane to another. Persons going through an out-of-body experience sense personal physical movement. When it is a shamanic created altered state of consciousness, however, all the senses come into play. Advances in 3D production techniques and the availability of 3D television do not create the same experience as a shamanic trance. In the 3D experience, the person is the observer and is affected visually, for example, ducking because it appears something has been thrown at him. In this experience as in the experiments carried on in the Blanke study, there is no operative control by the participant. The shaman, however, is in control and directs his involvement. There is one additional difference between the computerized experience and the shamanic experience. The shaman seeks answers to a question for help with a person who is suffering, whereas the other, entertains.