CHANNELING AND THE SELF
with JON KLIMO
JEFFREY MISHLOVE, Ph.D.: Hello and welcome. I'm Jeffrey Mishlove. Today we're going to examine the phenomenon of channeling -- what is it, why is it happening with such frequency today, and what does it say about human personality? With me is Professor Jon Klimo of the Rosebridge Institute, a graduate psychology program in Walnut Creek, California. Professor Klimo is also a former professor of education at Rutgers University, and he is the author of a book called Channeling, a thorough exploration of this field. Welcome, Jon.
JON KLIMO: Thank you.
MISHLOVE: It's a pleasure to have you here. Let's begin by defining what channeling is.
KLIMO: Well, channeling is the most recent of a long series of terms that have been used throughout history and in all cultures for a phenomenon that really is not a recent fad or sociological anomaly. Channeling, as I define it, is receiving information from some other level of reality than the physical as we currently understand it, and coming from other than the individual self as current psychology would understand the notion of the self. And so that presupposes a multidimensional framework of reality in which the communication is taking place that goes beyond the physical, the three dimensions of space and the one of time as we understand it, and it also presupposes that the self is more permeable, the membrane separating self from other has more influx of information or information-carrying energy, than the ego, as we currently understand it.
MISHLOVE: I suppose we ought to say at the outset, though, that there are some skeptical psychologists who would certainly maintain that this is all just a product of the mind or the subconscious, or some aspect of the mind as they would claim to understand it.
KLIMO: Oh certainly, certainly. The predominant psychological explanation of channeling in mainstream thinking is that it is functional dissociation. It's very hard for the skeptic to look at the phenomenon and deem the practitioner of channeling as being pathological in any respect. Oh, there's a few cases perhaps like that, but in general they're quite functional; they satisfy many of the criteria of Maslow's self-actualizing person, in many ways. And certainly to interview them, as I have, one finds they are quite functional, even more functional than before they became involved with channeling. So given that they're functional, one can still make the case, as the skeptic often does, that it is a functional dissociation. There are two basic schools of thought that tend to embrace the phenomenon in psychological circles. One is repression, the Freudian notion that one is repressing the material that comes out in a permission-given way, under camouflaged or alternative-persona ways; that it has to have out some way, this hysterical-conversion notion, but it will come out in a way that gets past the guarding of the gate, so to speak, in other ways. And along those lines, now today there seems to be more prevalence in the spreading activation in the nervous system of the species, so speak, on the planet, to have permission to be able to come up with this bizarre material, as some would see it. And so now that it looks like it's OK to do it as a social animal in the consensus reality, what was formerly repressed because it was too altruistic, too going off the scale of normal consensus-reality functioning of the individual, becomes now able to get past the guarding of the gate in ways of taking on such a persona. The other comparable school of thought is dissociation. Around the turn of the century William James and other researchers looked at this phenomenon, the psychologists; there was a contending of forces between the repression school and dissociation school. I would say currently those who are looking seriously at channeling from the psychological and physiological community would side with the dissociation model -- that a part of the channel splits off and functions autonomously, unbeknownst to the consciousness of that channel -- whether it is happening in a kind of voice-thrown way, so that sort of clairaudiently you hear the voice or get the thought forms or the telepathic hit coming out of left field, seemingly from beyond yourself, or whether or not you leave, vacate consciousness altogether, going into a trance or highly altered state, or out to lunch, so to speak, and then your body, your mouth is taken over, your vocal cords and so on, and you speak in an autotomic way and then come back: "Oh, what happened? Let me hear the tape. I didn't know what was happening." That is a function of dissociation, in the sense that there is a house divided against itself; the left hand is not knowing what the right hand is doing, which then presupposes a model of the psyche that is more plastical, more multifarious, more hydra-headed. Each of us is a house of many mansions, even as the larger cosmological vehicle in which we're operating seems to be more like a house of many mansions.
MISHLOVE: Have you yourself had the experience of being a channel?
KLIMO: In the book I set up a spectrum of kinds of channeling, running from full-trance channeling, when one is out to lunch, so to speak, clear over to fully functional, conscious, aware of the telephone, talking to you, where I can sort of pause and I can receive information, and it seems to be coming from an individuated source other than myself. Qualitatively, phenomenologically, this source tastes different; it's not me, I know it's not self-generated; and I have no way to prove that to you or to myself, except that it just feels different than self-generated material. On the spectrum of kinds of channeling, I put bizarre trance channeling -- bizarre in the sense that in consensus reality it's seen as somewhat bizarre; in other cultures it's not necessarily -- on one end of the spectrum, and on the other end of the spectrum I put what I call open channeling. Open channeling simply means that one seems to receive information or energy from beyond oneself, but the source of that information or energy is not individuated, it's not understood as having a persona, an individual personality that either identifies itself, or you as the channel identify it.
MISHLOVE: It seems to me that in a sense we wouldn't even have the word channeling the way we're using it as coming from outside the self, if we didn't already have this notion that we identify ourselves with what must be a small part of who we really are.
KLIMO: Yes. You asked me do I channel myself, and I introduced the notion of open channeling, which is really just a change of terminology for earlier notions of creativity, intuition, creative artistic inspiration. Being a poet and a painter in my background also, I was drawn toward the study of channeling in regard to the aspect of where does it come from, this self-transcending influx of material where one seems to get out of the way and allow it to come through. In that regard the artist throughout history -- the person under inspiration, suffering this breathing in from beyond oneself -- seems to again make more permeable those normally opaque membranes between self and other, whether it comes from the personal unconscious, the collective unconscious, the universal mind, some pantheistic ground of being.
MISHLOVE: Today in our culture what we're seeing are ostensible spirit guides -- the Lazarises, the Tom McPhersons, Jesus Christ who would come through psychologist Helen Schucman and dictate A Course in Miracles, the Michaels and Ramthas -- beings who claim that they emanate from other dimensions of time and space. You'd have to say it's becoming a fad right now. Why do you think it's happening right now?
KLIMO: Well, again, I used earlier the phrase permission-giving device. It would seem that in the culture, as in other cultures, that permission has been given -- that one is born into a culture where there's permission given for altered-state activities, for harvesting information, energies, healing energies, guidance information from other levels of reality, or other precincts of the self that fall outside of the normal demarcation known as personality, the individual, the identity of the individual day to day. Sociologically speaking, one could say that there's a spreading activation in the human family, in the global village now, and the media spreads it also, so that one at least unconsciously looks around and says, "This is going on; maybe I can do it too." And then either in this dissociated way -- parts splitting off and coming out, or repressed material coming out -- one lets material come forth. Now, it is not in the Freudian sense negative repressed material, like the rape artist, the noble savage that wants to have the pleasure principle run rampant. Most of the channeled material that I'm familiar with is very beautiful, it is in line with the perennial wisdom. Whatever is coming out of the larger self that is given permission to come out -- because it seems to be happening more in the culture now, bandied around by the media and so on -- it seems to be a notion of the unconscious -- material coming across a threshold into local, individuated consciousness, whether it seems to be coming from another persona or welling up from within; but it feels different than oneself and one's own ground.
MISHLOVE: You find it to be uplifting, this kind of material.
KLIMO: When you do an analysis of it -- now, some people say it's sort of poor fortune cookies; it's "A rose is a rose is a rose; love is peace is God," and it's frustrating in that sense.
MISHLOVE: Back in the nineteenth century, Helmholtz, the great physicist, looked at this kind of material, and he said that maybe these spirits are real; he says, "I don't know why they keep coming forth with such mindless drivel."
KLIMO: Well, a good percentage of the sources of the information -- and I did a chapter on kinds of sources channeled -- are deceased human spirits, supposedly. And they often just get on the hot line, get on the horn, once they have a live channel to speak to living loved ones, and it's sort of like almost tapping in on Ma Bell's phone lines and overhearing, "I'm still here; how are you? I still love you." And it's really not too interesting except for people who are plugged into that love line, so to speak. In analyzing, really when you try to prove, to make a case irrefutably that the sources are who they say they are, one has to do an analysis of the information. Ninety-nine percent of the channeling today, in this recent resurgence of it, although it is time-old, is information channeling. It's not energy channeling, physical mediumship as it was a lot in the last century. So really one can just analyze what was said and then see if one can make a case, could it only have come from that person? We've been involved with some research like that; there is some research like that. But in general one is thrown back pretty much on faith, because one can listen to the material and think, well, does that transcend the boundaries, the resources, of the individual channel? Is it something that they could no way know? And then the parapsychologist can say, well, channeling is just a cover for a generalized ESP, and that the channel goes into an altered state and is able to go out on the ethers and cannibalize some other embodied brain-minds, such material, and cook it up together in their own creative unconscious.
MISHLOVE: So that would suggest that it's really impossible to prove that the so-called entities really are distinct.
KLIMO: At this juncture, yes, because even if it sounds like something that only your great-grandmother could have said, or it's supposed to the spirit of Einstein, and Einstein is saying where the will was left, or his one missing theory -- you know, you look in manuscripts that are yellowed in that museum, and you find it -- the diehards are still going to say, "Yeah, but the channel went into an altered state, something we're all capable of, got resonant, sympathetically resonantly entrained with, locked onto, coupled with, this holographic implicate-order data base of information somewhere that is floating there, but it doesn't necessarily prove, even though it is very interesting information, that Einstein survived physical death, or that any of us will."
MISHLOVE: But you know, I think personally I might be convinced, if for example someone through a channel were to come up with theoretical scientific work that only an Einstein could have done. And I wonder if there's anything of that sort.
KLIMO: Well, I'm particularly interested in the kinds of channeled material that is technical in nature. One can only read so much of the, so to speak, heart-chakra kinds of channeled material before it all starts to sound the same -- not that it isn't true, isn't beautiful, isn't good, but the information quotient, sort of the protein level of the density of the information, doesn't feed you if you're more analytically oriented, as I sometimes am. And so there is a large -- not the kind of things that are being bandied around in the media, necessarily -- but there's a goodly percentage of channeled material from extraterrestrials -- my eyes twinkle a little bit, trying to say that it's for sure who they are --
MISHLOVE: So-called space brothers.
KLIMO: -- space brothers, as well as deceased human scientists, that is quite detailed in nature, where they say, look, your current world view and science is a limit case, it's locked in a local paradigm, it is going through transition; that is why channeling is taking place. There's more bleed-through or cross talk interdimensionally; there's more of an expanding of the notion of the self, of the individual human being -- and that's what channeling really is, this bleed-through, this permeability increasing now, this house of many mansions having more cross talk across its vestibules and its locus of consciousness.
MISHLOVE: Well, are there any instances of this kind of information in which qualified scientists have looked at it and said, "My God, this is significant from a scientific point of view!"?
KLIMO: That research is the next step. I hope that my book, being the first serious study of this phenomenon, the most recent resurgence of it, will spearhead that kind of research, because I am ready with whole bookshelves worth of channeled material from small press situations, often one-book things, where the person's deceased, a relative, they just took it down in automatic writing and published it for their loved ones -- fascinating material that is analytical, detailed, technical, scientific in nature, that I would love to have a critique and feedback on, from members of the community who'd be open to it.
MISHLOVE: But to date that hasn't happened.
KLIMO: Virtually none. And until that happens we're left with people saying, "What do you think of J.Z. Knight and her radiant horses? What do you think of that Tom McPherson on the TV show, through Kevin Ryerson?" It's almost like prime-time domain, and I think what we need to home in on now is verifiability of the sources being who they say they are, and essentially, engineering-wise, the usefulness quotient of the material. Irrespective of being able to ultimately prove the locus of the source of it, at least if we can harvest it in this larger intuitive, creative influx of material these days, is it useful? Can we apply it on this plane of existence?
MISHLOVE: For me, I have no question that it's useful in some instances, and I know several examples. For example, Ralph Waldo Emerson claims that the essays which he wrote, which are examples of some of the finest in the English language, were channeled through him. He would go into a trance and say that later on he read these essays for the first time with great interest -- after he'd already written them.
KLIMO: Yes. Well, I tell you, you asked me earlier, do I channel myself, and I qualified it with open channeling, where there's no identifiable individual source, but it seems to be a self-transcending influx of information. I do, and many of us do -- most of the writers I've talked to, at some time or other. Public speakers, like Marilyn Ferguson, whom I interviewed, said very often she gets up, and many of her fellow speakers who are going around talking on these topics don't know where the next line is coming from -- they sort of get out of the way, make a little prayer that it be good material, relevant to people, and let it come forth.
MISHLOVE: William Butler Yeats, when he wrote his poetry -- I believe his wife was a channel, and she would give him in trance, from a so-called spirit guide, all of the images which he used in his poetry.
KLIMO: Which is what I think the healthy side of this is. Rather than identify it as some kind of pathology like multiple-personality disorder, or schizophrenia, or that it is some kind of bizarre thing that you are only going to see on a TV set and not in your next-door neighbor or a member of the family or in yourself, I'd rather see it as an extension of intuition, creative inspiration, that self-transcending accessing of larger mind, larger energy, larger cognition -- you pull back the magic fairy circle one has supposedly drawn around Jon Klimo or Jeffrey Mishlove, so that with a willing suspension of that belief, that that is the demarcation, that like a suggestology or an auto-hypnosis, one allows, one operates as if it were the case that one could access more than one has personally experienced in the past. And then it happens very often.
MISHLOVE: And yet it seems so complicated. I think we ought to point out the classic study of Leon Festinger, the sociologist who wrote When Prophecy Fails, who looked at cases of people involved in channeling, coming up often with accurate, perhaps psychic, telepathic information, but then using it in a way sometimes to support their cult, to support their ego -- that this would make them somehow special or different. And there seem to be -- I don't know if I'd go so far as to call it psychopathology, but ego traps involved here.
KLIMO: Yes. And there's a sort of interesting transpersonal notion of ego here too. Just given again as a heuristic device, just say for the time being there may be other levels of reality that are populated by colleagues, by fellow sentient beings with intentionality and capacity to communicate -- just suppose for the time being that there's a whole menagerie of them, there's plant beings, there's angels, there's extraterrestrials, there's dead human beings. I've got a whole chapter on that.
MISHLOVE: Gnomes and elves and fairies.
KLIMO: Yes. And let's say that's the case, just for the time being. It is not fair to us, just because we're incarnate spirits or consciousnesses embodied within this demarcation to our local phenomenology of it, that we should demote ourselves and look out there, orient with our backs turned to our own kingdom within, our own resources, our own possibilities, and look out there for the latest channel on the block, the latest guru, be they incarnate or discarnate. And there often one is warned, especially by those who profess to know more about the occult and esoteric end of looking at channeling -- and I've looked a wide variety, including scientific lenses looking at it -- that just because somebody's dead, or just because somebody's a discarnate, doesn't necesarily mean they have infinite wisdom, that they are omniscient, or that they have gotten past all ego that there is to get past. They may get off on having incarnate followers, just the way an embodied personality could get off on having fellow incarnate followers. And so basically the rule of thumb I find in the best of the channeled material, and what I would suggest to anybody in their own consumer's guide to channeling, is that one look for the message which is usually in the best of the channeled material, both the channels and their sources, saying eventually you should be your own channel, your own connection with larger mind, larger possibilities, larger ground of being, holographic data pool, extra-dimensional, implicate order, whatever you want to call it -- that you can tap into if you give yourself permission to do it and go within in. It's through the eye of the needle; the kingdom lies within, in this kind of toroidal, extradimensional, internal knowing; by the inner, one can go out on the planes of what is often called other levels of reality and have commerce there and harvest material from there. But the locus of it, the secret of it, is by this gate through oneself -- not out there on the latest tape or guru or weekend or workshop or book. And the best of that material that currently is out there is saying, here, can't you get "it." The "it" is to go within, and that you have the same relationship with the universal ground that I have, whether I'm incarnate or discarnate, whether I'm a channel or a channel source.
MISHLOVE: Well, you earlier hypothesized, let's suppose there are these realms of fairies and goblins and angels and elemental creatures, and the whole zoology of spirit forms. Ultimately one wants to ask, well, do they really exist or not, or are they, as some psychologists would simply say, projections of our imagination, of our own thoughts? What's your intuition there?
KLIMO: Well, after two long chapters, the two longest chapters in my book, about different speculations -- cognitive and experimental psychology, clinical psychology, physiology, medical models, physics, paraphysics, and so on -- looking at the phenomena under all those different lenses, trying to take it very seriously as one would look at any anomaly, like lucid dreaming or out-of-body experience or near-death experience or PK and so on -- I said, I can't keep it out any longer. I know I'm trying to be neutral, I know I'm trying to be objective, but damn it, I've got to have my speculation. I'm basically a creative artist myself, and I feel I'm on a roll, I feel I'm channeling my answer here. Let me at least get it in the book there somewhere. At least we have Jon Klimo's version along with all these discarnate and incarnate versions too. And what it was, was that one of the chief speculations of what is going on in channeling from mainstream psychology is a kind of multiple personality, or if you want to look at a non-pathological version, a co-consciousness -- that we're multi-mind, as Robert Ornstein says in his latest book.
MISHLOVE: We have many ego states.
KLIMO: Yes. We have many subminds, or subcomponents, neural
nets that fire that may have a localization that when you return to that
specific state and come out of that, you experience things, you construe
meaning that way -- you can have asthmatic responses or all kinds of physiological
correlates that go with it, that seem to believe psychosomatically, both
mentally and physically, there is a bodily subset that goes with it, and
a mental or a kind of personality signature that you could give projective
testing to and it would test as different than Jeffrey Mishlove, for example.
Now, given that the entities -- whether they're clairaudiently heard, clairvoyantly
seen, or one gets out of the way as a trance channel and one has them speak
through one -- that those supposedly channeled sources, according to this
mainstream view, are alter or subpersonalities in an otherwise functional
being; now, I take that model and expand it cosmologically. And this is
what holds the most water for me, as a creative person and as a speculative
interdisciplinarian, which I am as I handled it in the book. Imagine a
big-bang theory in which everything explodes out from some unity or thesis
state or undifferentiated state, like symmetry breaking, like the physicists
would say; it goes from symmetrical into nonsymmetrical, out of phase with
itself, becomes differentiated. Now, imagine that the whole universe has
done that, as the physical scientist says that's what all particulate matter
is, and all the different states of energy and matter are. Now, imagine
that psychically or consciously, that we -- let's just deal with beings
on this planet now -- we are sub or alter personalities of some subsuming
Personality, with a
MISHLOVE: In other words, we were all at one time connected intimately to the oneness of things, and we sort of spread out like drops of ink that have been thrown against the wall.
KLIMO: Yes. My favorite philosopher, Hegel -- maybe I'm an incarnation of him, I don't know -- said that everything is basically absolute spirit, and then it broke up from this thesis state of absolute spirit into antithetical state. We are essentially that antithetical state. What's the problem with the planet, what's the difficulty in making clucking sounds in the mouth to communicate with each other, is we are an antithesis. We are not one; we not in identity condition; we are not in each other's skin and psyche, and telepathically in bed together, so to speak. We are dissociated from each other, both physically and mentally and ego-wise, and so on. So we are all sub or alter personalities, split apart, just like in a multiple-personality individual -- again, pathology aside -- and we have a subsuming parent psyche. When a therapist is working with a multiple-personality-disorder person, and they're interrogating one of these sub or alter personalities, and trying to give it the cognition that you came from Mary here; Mary houses you, and we've got to have you integrated back into Mary so Mary can be a functioning member of society, not be split apart and against herself. I think the whole species on this planet is in a dissociated state, separated from itself, from a kind of conjoint, simultaneous kind of telepathic quality of at-oneness in spite of the skulls and the separations.
MISHLOVE: You mean we might be considered like cells of a larger organism.
MISHLOVE: Unaware of the fact that we really are one organism.
KLIMO: Precisely. And to the degree to which you can alter consciousness, leave the state-specific state that locks you into only one construal of reality, tuning into only one wave band, only one explicate order out of the frequency domains that are possible to tune from -- the actualizing of probabilities, collapsing the wave function, as a physicist would say -- you will get other channels, you will get other realized worlds. But because we are sort of locked into a consensus reality and all the physiological and psychological correlates that attend to it, we don't kind of get bumped off target and spontaneously get sent into an altered state. I think there's a spreading activation in the human family now, a spreading contagion, a benign contagion, to have more permeability of membrane between self and other. Now, if you can embrace for the moment that we are dissociated parts of a larger group mind, then why not say within the godhead, within the house of many mansions, within this cosmological, pantheistic, universal, absolute spirit or mind, which has its extended body and its extended mind, why can't there be sub or alter personalities elsewhere in the house, in nonphysical states or subtle-energy or higher-energy states or higher-frequency states? And if we can talk to each other -- we are doing it -- it's not so far-fetched that other sub or alter personalities that are also experiencing dissociation from each other within the singular unifying godhead we are all shards of, we are all alter personalities of, we're going to occasionally hear from those precincts too. And as we sort of increase the frequency on the planet, as often new agers say, many channeled sources say, then there is a higher probability of getting cooked together -- the polymorphous perverse, the semantical, under the covers together of our shared knowledge, begins to pool.
MISHLOVE: It seems to suggest then, John, that underneath the surface features of the skin-encapsulated beings that we are, that we really are the same -- that if we go deep inside of you in all the many, many subpersonalities, and deep inside of me, that there's some overlap there, maybe complete overlap.
KLIMO: Yes. In a book by Jung and Kerenyi, Essays On a Science of Mythology, they coin the term the mythological fundamentalist. The mythological fundamentalist, according to Jung and Kerenyi, if you go down, down, down, down in this archaeological dig, so to speak, eventually you get past personality, personal unconscious, even collective unconscious; you get down where the carbon in me is essentially identical or coextensive on the same stratum of being as the carbon in you. Well, essentially, it's going to be this way, psychically or spiritually or mentalistically; the thought forms are coextensive on the same level of reality.
MISHLOVE: Jon Klimo, we're out of time.
KLIMO: I just got going.
MISHLOVE: Well, we'll have to continue. Thank you very much for being with me.
KLIMO: Thank you for having me.
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