Magazine Book Review.
OLD AND NEW EVIDENCE ON THE MEANING OF LIFE
Old and New Evidence on the Meaning of Life by J.H.M. Whiteman, Colin Smythe, Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire,
England, 1986, 267 pages.
thousands of books on mysticism have been written, few have broken new
ground. Thus it is a great
pleasure to read J.H.M. Whiteman’s magnum opus
Old and New Evidence on the
Meaning of Life which not only covers unexplored territory but
also sets forth one of the first scientifically appropriate studies of
the mystical dimension.
most works of its kind (which simply cross-reference each other),
Whiteman deals with mysticism in a precise and rational manner,
defining his terms cogently and setting up a rigorous methodology for
interested seekers to test the reality of transmundane experiences.
I am not indulging in hyperbole when I say that
Old and New Evidence on the Meaning of Life, subtitled “Volume 1;
An Introduction to Scientific Mysticism,” is one of the best
books ever published on the subject in English.
into four main sections, the book begins with an explanation of the
five chief types of stabilised nonphysical (SNP) states of
consciousness (focusing particularly on separative experiences where
mind and body seem apart from one another) and the requisite skills,
like active and continuous recollection, necessary for releasing and
controlling these forms of awareness.
Whiteman then proceeds, in Chapter Three, “A Scientific
Evaluation of ‘Other-World’ States,” to develop an ingenious
rating system for measuring the relative degree of reality in any nonphysical experience: an assessment schema (for
what) he calls “The
General Index of Reality (GIR).”
Part Two he tests his rating system on a variety of otherworldly
experiences, including out-of-body experiences of Muldoon and Monroe,
the fantasy excursion of Jung and the questionable accounts of
reincarnation memories. The
result is an impressive objective
criterion for gauging the reality of mystical encounters.
like other pioneers in the field such as
’s Aaron Talsky, has noted that there is a hierarchical spectrum of
nonphysical experiences, each with an ascending degree of vividness
and certainty. Thus it is
vitally important not to dismiss all nonphysical experiences as
fantasy, since there are fundamental differences between lucid dreams,
OBEs, NDEs and conscious meditation transports.
As Whiteman reports of his own mystical excursion, “Suddenly
I was carried into full
interior wakefulness –into a real state with clear consciousness of separation.
By this term I mean the waking of the reflective consciousness
in an interior space and time, existing in its own right, independent
of physical space and time, but not out of touch with it.”
completes his study with a rich, suggestive overview of mystical
transformation and a provocative reinterpretation of 20th-
watershed text in the history of paranormal research,
Old and New Evidence on the Meaning of Life deserves a wide reading.
book is being distributed in this country by Samuel Weiser, Inc.,