Dr. Robert Davis, What Peak Experiences Reveal About Consciousness |419|

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Dr. Robert Davis, What Peak Experiences Reveal About Consciousness |419|
by Alex Tsakiris | Jul 16 | Consciousness Research, Consciousness Science, Others, Spirituality
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Dr. Robert Davis’ research into peak experiences reveals multiple paths to extended consciousness realms.

photo by: Skeptiko

Alex Tsakiris: Today we welcome Dr Robert Davis to Skeptiko. Bob is an internationally recognized expert in the field of sensory neuroscience. I was just browsing his curriculum vitae before we talked here and way beyond my comprehension, but I have to take it for what it’s worth. He’s a guy who’s had a stellar academic career, all the usual stuff, articles in scholarly papers, NIH grants, called to conferences to speak, all of this stuff.

And then, like we like to say on Skeptiko, you know, the universe knocked more or less. Bob and his wife had a rather lengthy UFO sighting a few years back that led to his first book, The UFO Phenomenon. Then he had a rather remarkable shared near-death experience or shared death experience, I should say, if you know what that is, leading to his second book, Life After Death.

And to top it all off, he has this rather remarkable Kundalini experience, a peak experience that more or less leads to his third book, and one that we’re going to talk a lot about today, Unseen Forces: The Integration of Science, Reality and You.
 
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Dr. Davis said, "Instead of trying to remember the year America was discovered, let’s focus a little bit more on really, maybe enhancing our potential abilities and maybe the brain is impeding these abilities."
But I wonder, let's say if we should manage to, "beat the game" with our enhanced abilities if we wouldn't spoil the illusion and wonder of this life the Game Master has provided for us. you have to admit, with our human limited knowledge of it all, it is a wondrous life.
 
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Another great interview. Dr. Davis is obviously both very smart and very humble.

He started to talk about the ego and that maybe all this extended consciousness gets experienced when the ego is diminished (my theory). I sat up and was ready to hear what he said, but then the topic shifted. Maybe he could come back and maybe that specific topic could get some focus. I also was interested when he mentioned "intent" a couple of times (also part of my theory - we can use our intent to direct our awareness to focus on reality beyond the island of the ego). Would also like him to discuss that some more.

Loved Alex's mention that yogic thinking says to ignore all of the images and parlor tricks (I also firmly believe that all of that stuff - including the being of light - is all archetypical representation as opposed to the real God/ultimate truth) - another topic to explore in greater depth if Dr. Davis comes back (hope he does).

Also, so refreshing to hear him say "I don't know" more than once.

And finally, so refreshing to not have some ignorant fool jawing off with absolute certainty about their pet conspiracy theory!!!!! :)
 
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I really hope that Robert will come to this forum to talk with us all. I'd love to talk to him about neuroscience and AI, and that simulation hypothesis. I am sure others would be bursting with questions too.

David
 
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Another great interview. Dr. Davis is obviously both very smart and very humble.

He started to talk about the ego and that maybe all this extended consciousness gets experienced when the ego is diminished (my theory). I sat up and was ready to hear what he said, but then the topic shifted. Maybe he could come back and maybe that specific topic could get some focus. I also was interested when he mentioned "intent" a couple of times (also part of my theory - we can use our intent to direct our awareness to focus on reality beyond the island of the ego). Would also like him to discuss that some more.

Loved Alex's mention that yogic thinking says to ignore all of the images and parlor tricks (I also firmly believe that all of that stuff - including the being of light - is all archetypical representation as opposed to the real God/ultimate truth) - another topic to explore in greater depth if Dr. Davis comes back (hope he does).

Also, so refreshing to hear him say "I don't know" more than once.

And finally, so refreshing to not have some ignorant fool jawing off with absolute certainty about their pet conspiracy theory!!!!! :)
I think Bob might join us here... I encourage you to give him a nudge by sending him an email and telling him you enjoy the show :)
 
#7
Yeah - like most people here (I think) conspiracies just don't seem as important as transcendental issues!

David
nothing is "important" from that perspective. my friend rick archer from buddha at the gas pump, who is a very spiritual/transcendental guy, thinks climate change is "important." one of the primary reasons it's not "important" is because it is "conspiracy" ( i.e. only supported by fake science... as opposed to the many real environment crises that might end life as we know it :))
 
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nothing is "important" from that perspective. my friend rick archer from buddha at the gas pump, who is a very spiritual/transcendental guy, thinks climate change is "important." one of the primary reasons it's not "important" is because it is "conspiracy" ( i.e. only supported by fake science... as opposed to the many real environment crises that might end life as we know it :))
I think Eric Newhill agrees with us that 'climate change' is nonsense, but he is the one who rails most against conspiracy theory. I guess these science foul-ups are a bit different. You have too many scientists chasing too few posts, and to keep their careers they need results, and the data is so noisy it can be easily massaged, and their institutions get a lot of money because CC is supposed to be dangerous, and then ambitious politicians like AOC get involved, etc etc.

Fundamentally, the UN has really gone bad, instead of concentrating on peace issues, it now funds very dodgy research of all kinds. Read this exposé of the WHO work on the subject of red meat and cancer:

http://www.diagnosisdiet.com/meat-and-cancer/

I mean you could claim that science is riddled with conspiracies, but I don't think it would help.

David
 
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nothing is "important" from that perspective. my friend rick archer from buddha at the gas pump, who is a very spiritual/transcendental guy, thinks climate change is "important." one of the primary reasons it's not "important" is because it is "conspiracy" ( i.e. only supported by fake science... as opposed to the many real environment crises that might end life as we know it :))
Ha! Good point...and you got me there. I am one that thinks that anthropomorphic climate change is speculative pseudo-science at best and probably a conspiracy. So I am a conspiracy theorist too - but not hard core. I merely say that what I see is suggestive of a conspiracy, but I don't know for sure and I'm willing to be convinced otherwise. It's the quality of the "evidence" that one is basing one's opinion upon that divides honest skepticism from conspiracy theory.
 
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I think Eric Newhill agrees with us that 'climate change' is nonsense, but he is the one who rails most against conspiracy theory. I guess these science foul-ups are a bit different. You have too many scientists chasing too few posts, and to keep their careers they need results, and the data is so noisy it can be easily massaged, and their institutions get a lot of money because CC is supposed to be dangerous, and then ambitious politicians like AOC get involved, etc etc.

Fundamentally, the UN has really gone bad, instead of concentrating on peace issues, it now funds very dodgy research of all kinds. Read this exposé of the WHO work on the subject of red meat and cancer:

http://www.diagnosisdiet.com/meat-and-cancer/

I mean you could claim that science is riddled with conspiracies, but I don't think it would help.

David
And....AOC's chief of staff and financial backer, Chakrabarti spilled the beans last week in an interview. He admitted that the Green New deal is really a way to spread socialism ("change the entire economy of the US" is how he actually put it). He admits - this is straight from his own mouth on video - that they are using the fear of death by climate to drive the policy. It was an afterthought.

I do believe there is self-organizing group think that looks like a conspiracy, but isn't. Of course I do admit that sometimes there are actual conspiracies. Again, it's the quality of the evidence that matters to me and most conspiracy theories fall way short of anything that would stand up in a court of law, which is my bottom line standard; in fact most conspiracy theories depend on exactly the kind of "evidence" that isn't permitted in a court room because it's too sketchy/faulty.

I further think that there is a lot of info that the general public should not/cannot have access to. Some of the reasons should be obvious (e.g. national security). IMO, it's NOT a conspiracy, in many cases, if the govt keeps secrets from the people. I always find myself in these Col Jessup moments, but seriously, most can't handle the truth. The costs and benefits of disseminating it must be weighed carefully.

So I think all of that does harm to the valid study of valid extended consciousness phenomena, as well as undermines civil society. If there's a true need to 'water the tree of liberty" , put me on the front line. I'm there. But that's not something to be undertaken lightly over stupid rumors, innuendo and badly connected dots; yet that's where all the conspiracy theory leads to when we believe that everyone who has anything got it by cheating, oppressing, belonging to exclusive secret societies...whatever...... That's all I'm saying.

..................alright. Please! Enough already. Back to extended consciousness studies!
 
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Ha! Good point...and you got me there. I am one that thinks that anthropomorphic climate change is speculative pseudo-science at best and probably a conspiracy. So I am a conspiracy theorist too - but not hard core. I
I am damn sure it is pseudo-science, but strangely the 'conspiracy' is almost transparent.

I mean, at some level it is obvious we are being conned. That change of name from "Global warming" to "Climate change" tells you everything. They rebranded the theory because global temperatures were not increasing appreciably, and chose to call it something that could not possibly be tested! The media was remarkably silent when that happened, and connive to back it up. We seem to be having a somewhat cool summer on the whole, but every time it warms up a bit the BBC fires up with CC warnings. At other times they report a heat wave somewhere else, or any other form of bad weather they can find.

The underlying problem is that I think science as a whole has become choked with false ideas, nobody wants to criticise another field for fear of the glass house effect - not the greenhouse effect, but the 'fact' that people who live in glass houses don't throw stones!

This actually seagues back into the subject of this thread, because we see this problem in brain science too. I'd love to ask Dr Davis about the Hard Problem argument. I mean it took a philosopher to pinpoint what is wrong with that area of science, and yet most scientists shuffle uneasily round that argument, rather than discuss it head on.

Also, if we are the product of evolution by natural selection, in what way would PE's help us survive? I would have thought any hungry predator that found someone having a peak experience, would enjoy a good meal without expending much effort! I'd love to put that to Dr Davis too. I hope he is reading this thread!

David
 
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And all the evidence for measles vaccination is also pseduo-science sponsored by big pharma right? In reality it cases severe autism, the ‘real’ evidence really favors that hypothesis. And E.T. is hidden in Area 51, and everybody claiming everything different is just a bunch of socialists?
 
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Truth does not come in bundles. Especially if the bundle is a set of straw man arguments posed in an eristic fashion - this is a key sign of scientific illiteracy.

The opposite of conspiracy theory is called an Asch Conformity. Every issue which has a sufficient level of backing demands fair account and representation, otherwise it is simply a tool for propaganda. To accuse any idea that is different, of constituting a 'conspiracy' is a form of mental weakness/vulnerability:
Asch Conformity – participants in an argument fed false or misleading information, who conform to the majority opinion on at least half of these misleading ideas, are reported as reacting with what gestalt psychologist Solomon Asch called a “distortion of perception”. These participants (social skeptics or sycophants inside public discourse) will express belief that misleading or false answers are correct, unaware as to the actual veracity or lack thereof, of the answers originating from the majority to which they have paid reverence (appeal to authority).​

How and Why We Know What We Know
 
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I had to listen to this show twice. Even so, I was not finally clear on where the peak experience conversation went. Robert had a number of experiences that were of interest by themselves - and there does seem to be a thematic connection on some level between his 'UFO' experience and the kundalini experience - both tend toward a holistic awareness. In fact over recent Skeptiko shows there has been a general vector toward holistic awareness from a variety of angles.

Do NDEs, peak experiences, UFO/ET encounters, OOBEs etc all belong on a spectrum of a common theme? I keep coming back to my animist passion to note that a consistent theme is the pervasiveness of consciousness in all things. We go back to the ancient Greek Thales - everything is full of gods.

So are these experiences intentional disruptions of the concrete mentality that materialism has drawn us into? Or are they violations of the norm (what ever that is) - because being in physical body with a brain means that awareness of the physical becomes the dominant mode of consciousness - from which we must be shocked now and then - because we are more than what our body and its brain determines.

Alex and Robert carried on a theme that has popped up before - peak (or enlightenment) experiences don't lead to bliss - but often turmoil. Well, of course they do. If a radical experience 'flips' you, your normal is wrecked - and not everything (like a spouse) wants to go to your new normal. But this isn't just peak experiences. The same is true of illness, acquired disability, religious conversion, change of politics, the illicit discovery that sex isn't miserable all the time, or the sudden realisation that life is getting on and you are still a boring fart at 50. All these things alter consciousness in some way and precipitate change.

The problem with peak experiences (and why nobody seems to be talking about them) is that if you haven't had one you have nothing to say - and if you have there is often nothing you can say other than describe the outer contours . But let's not think that the only 'spiritual experiences' are the ones that flood you with light and bliss. I don't want to diminish or invalidate them - just not place them on a pedestal as some 'pure' event. They are certainly singular and indicative. But they are not experiential magic. They are an experience that informs, rather than transforms. They can say "Here is something beyond what you know and have." The transformation occurs when you respond to the opportunity revealed - and that may be a long slow (and painful) extrication from a situation you are in.

Robert talked about mostly accidental peak experiences, but he did talk about studying people who seek them intentionally through meditation. That's been done. I read a book on that theme back around 2003 but the title presently escapes me.

I have had peak experiences - not for a long time though. Life has become kinda settled and not a lot shocks me these days. In my mid teens I was literally blasted off my feet by what seem like an electric shock (don't think it was lightening because there was no damage). I was walking solo near Frenchmans Cap in Tasmania. When I came to I was sprawled on the ground. No idea how long I was out for. I got up pretty blissed out. This was way before I did drugs. I could recite a bunch more - just the outer experiences. None of the inner stuff can be conveyed.

Recently I have been dosing myself to the hilt in the works of Graham Hancock - 4 audiobooks in a row in a very short time. Hancock's one big thing is that there was advanced human civilisation that got wiped out in a major cataclysm around 11,000 years ago. I buy that. So, right at the end of listening to the last audiobook, I have one of my regular dreams in which I am completely conscious of what is going on. Hancock has been discussing the fact that the flood myth traditions all say that humans were behaving badly prior to the catastrophic flood and that there were warnings that persistence in the offending behaviour would not end well. So Hancock ends with this theme, and relates it to how things are not going well now and the reality is that we are in the alley for being hit some time, in the not too distant future, by large chunks of rock that routinely participate in relative near misses to the Earth.

The materialist would argue that whether we are hit or narrowly missed is down to the mechanics of stuff flying through space and chance. Animists would say that's not the case. There's a moral dimension to this. That is what intrigues me. The moral dimension is integral to the animistic consciousness. But is it real? Chance or morality? Which rules? This was in my mind powerfully as I drifted off to sleep.

In my dream there are some impressive dudes talking to me about the nature and importance of love. In the dream I know these guys are the guardians of humanity. When I wake I am in a altered state of consciousness and I struggle to focus. That was a few days ago now. I know I have changed. I know I had an informational session but I know I was also hungry and responsive. Now I know I am deeply and fundamentally changed by that dream. Its not the same thing as a blast of electric energy rushing up your spine and blowing your brains out. Its better. Its useful.
 
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So are these experiences intentional disruptions of the concrete mentality that materialism has drawn us into?
I think that is a very significant question - worth discussing about a lot of related phenomena too - does some entity intend them to happen?

For example, a lot of people reckon NDE's are planned and intended to achieve something - but suppose the NDE kicks off for purely random reasons, but then opens a corner on the bigger reality? Could this be true of UFO's too?

David
 
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#17
I think that is a very significant question - worth discussing about a lot of related phenomena too - does some entity intend them to happen?

For example, a lot of people reckon NDE's are planned and intended to achieve something - but suppose the NDE kicks off for purely random reasons, but then opens a corner on the bigger reality? Could this be true UDO's too?

David
David,
Personally, I have a problem with the idea that everything that happens to us is planned. But on a more general point, why is it always all or nothing with some people? Why not sometimes things are part of plan; deliberately conceived or mechanical as a part of a larger natural process (e.g. does water "plan" to flow downhill?) and at other times, the result of choices we make at some level and at other times still, the result of chaos (shit happens?).

As for entities/intelligences manipulating us for good or ill, I'm sure it happens; sometimes. However, my main issue with that whole line of thought, which I've mention before, is that we don't know who we are yet. We - the extent of our field of consciousness - are clearly much larger than what our every day ego wants us to believe we are. So when we have these extended consciousness experiences, it is entirely possible that it is our larger selves doing it to us and that it is our larger selves that we are meeting. It seems poorly thought out to me that the same people that say we have a "higher self" etc (basically acknowledging that we are much more than we appear to be) and that all consciousness is ONE (or at least deeply interconnected) at some ultimate level, also continue to make distinctions between "inside"/"outside", Us v Them and so on.

Alex doesn't like the "blob" and neither do I, but who or what is doing the differentiation? It might be us. Again, we just don't know because we don't understand who/what we are, nor the limits (if any) of our perceptual powers.

The gods, aliens, devils, "intelligences" may very well be us. In fact, this an hypothesis that I lean towards. As I've mentioned before, one piece of "evidence" (such that it is) is that when we have these experiences, we are not ourselves as we normally experience ourselves. Is it possible that some people then mistakenly assume that they have been taken over/possessed/hypnotized/manipulated by alien/demonic/angelic intelligences? I think so - or at least it needs to be seriously considered.

In my theory, during these experiences, our ego has been bypassed for whatever reason and therefore normal perceptual modalities have broken down because in my theory, the ego is the construct that arises from a mix of personal innate psychological tendencies, our personal history during this lifetime, our culture and all that entails. It is literally describing what is acceptable reality and who we are, constantly, via a running internal dialogue. It has built up mechanisms to defend its definitions and constraints. So, our normal cognition breaks down (or at least lessens its grip) when the ego is diminished by drugs, meditation, dying/confronted by impending death, dreaming, hypnotism....anything that silences that internal dialogue, yet leaves us aware. We experience the arising expanded consciousness states via senses we don't normally use (at least not consciously). We (or at least me) experiences them as though through someone else's mind, yet I know it is my mind. I would like to hear Dr. Davis' thoughts about all of that. Though that is more of a psychological/spiritual explanation that a physiological one.

Then there is the "oceanic experience". I have had a couple or three major immersions. At that point, the sense of self as a continuous individual is even further diminished. And yet, IMO, it still feels "natural", albeit at an ecstatic/blissful level. During the experience, I can periodically recognize that there is a still a "me" way down in the background, though it fades in and out.
 
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and while I'm riffing along....

I said in my last comment, "In my theory, during these experiences, our ego has been bypassed for whatever reason and therefore normal perceptual modalities have broken down because in my theory, the ego is the construct that arises from a mix of personal innate psychological tendencies, our personal history during this lifetime, our culture and all that entails. It is literally describing what is acceptable reality and who we are, constantly, via a running internal dialogue. It has built up mechanisms to defend its definitions and constraints."

So there is, indeed, a "conspiracy" of sorts here; a battle for your mind, mind control, etc, etc, etc. He - or they - who control the societal narrative have considerable input into what your ego will be, which, in turn, controls what you will be conditioned to perceive. The ego's narrative defines everything that you will experience, including the experience of yourself.

There has never been a society in which this is not the case. People that want to get beyond it go live alone in a cave in the Himalayas and practice meditation and self-denial.

This is the juncture at which morality comes into play. Do we want a Christian model? Do we want to build a world based on love and compassion or a world based on hate and slavery? So many choices and so many nuances and trade-offs. But the key is that we are creating a reality when we create the ego. We are deciding what perceptual bandwidths will be attended to by each person living in the consensus reality.

Yet, we must ask then if consensus reality is a bad thing? If there was no ego, there would be little differentiation and we would be moving closer to being the dreaded "blob" of consciousness. I think, sans ego, there would still be some amount of differentiation at a deep level because I think that at a very primal level there are basic forces or energies that are the building blocks of all that follows and those energies, urges, karmic forces (give 'em a name) are the source of being and differentiation. Some yogic types say that it is possible to go even beyond those to the very source itself; "OM". But OM is "The Blob".

So if you want to avoid The Blob, you are going to need an ego. An ego requires societal input to be complete, but the ego is not the totality of oneself. Therefore, there will always be a "conspiracy" to deny the totality of the self. The real question is, who gets to have input into the ego building and what kind of input is acceptable.

One thing that life has taught me is that all attempts to control fail sooner or later. The tighter the attempted control, the more counter forces build up. The meme masters who make the biggest contributions to the consensus reality cannot absolutely control the ego. The ego, in turn, cannot absolutely control the totality of the being. The wider self comes knocking, sometimes in a state of revolution. OBEs happen. There are aliens in the sky. Spirits are talking, oceanic experiences come flooding through.

IMO, the trick is to have an ego, but maintain it in a very clean state (remove the "junk"), don't allow it to get out of control in its tyranny, and to always remember that there is a wider being that you can access. This is one reason I still will use a psychedelic ritualistically once a year or so. It helps me stay balanced. Meditation is good too for this purpose. When I Think of it, this is also my outlook on grosser reflections of our being, like government. We need it for now to do this thing we're doing, but it should know its proper place and it should be kept as clean as possible.
 
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#20
And all the evidence for measles vaccination is also pseduo-science sponsored by big pharma right? In reality it cases severe autism, the ‘real’ evidence really favors that hypothesis.
Probably right.
And E.T. is hidden in Area 51, and everybody claiming everything different is just a bunch of socialists?
I don't think it helps to cram several issues into one assertion!

David
 
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