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The Exceptional Outer Space Experience Project
Rhea A. White
The Exceptional Human Experience Network (EHE Network or EHEN) is interested in studying accounts of outer space experiences in any form and would appreciate it if people would send us descriptions of their experiences. An exceptional outer space experience can occur in several forms: an out-of-body experience, a dream, a near-death experience, a drug-induced experience, a waking vision, or actually being in outer space (several have been reported by astronauts). Also relevant are imaginative fantasies, excerpts from fiction, plays, poetry, movies, TV shows, tapes, and the seeming fancies of children. We are not interested in science fiction accounts of the technology of outer space or even actual outer space technologies. Neither are we interested in extrapolations based on physical data concerning what the experience of being in outer space is like, nor in logical extrapolations from these data. We are only interested in any depiction of what it feels like or the experience of being in outer space, and also very important, its effect on or its meaning for the experiencer.
I am personally interested in outer space experiences because it was one aspect of my own near-death experience of many years ago, but even more, the experiential accounts of others that I have studied. I have a hunch that they suggest that the exceptional outer space experience is important because it may be required to enable us to fully explore outer space as humans rather than as robot-like persons. It seems natural that it is going to become psychologically and especially spiritually important in the coming decades as our attempts to physically explore space become more successful. It may sound like a far-out proposal to suggest that dreams. visions, OBEs. fiction, and poetry could shed light on outer space, but so is going to outer space itself. Too often in our fascination with technology and pure empiricism we have allowed our physical grasp to exceed that of our hearts and souls. Here is a frontier where body, mind, heart, and soul can move, dialogue, dance together. It could even serve as a rallying point where the imaginings of young children and the wisdom of elders may have important roles to play, as both age groups are free of many of the preoccupations of life and livelihood that so absorb the attention and energy of those who are in early and middle adulthood.
To recapitulate: what we are interested in are nonordinary ways of knowing and feeling that involve the experience of being in outer space: spontaneous fantasies, one could:say, or the stuff EHEs are made of. The most important element is the feeling, sometimes amounting to conviction, that you actually are out in space, in consciousness, if not in body. The outer space experience (OSE) could be considered a form of out-of-body experience (OBE).
The other component we are interested in learning more about is the effect the OSE has on the experiencer's attitude toward self, others, earth, universe, God/Goddess, and also if it had no effect or only minor ones.
In the EHE Network's newsletter, EHE News, we are publishing an ongoing annotated bibliography of sources of outer space EHEs. Sometimes the relevant document is only a chapter, a paragraph, or even a sentence or phrase. We are interested in anything that might draw us inside this experience in all its forms.
Already, even after compiling the first list of sources, the amazing variation of relevant material that came readily to hand is astonishing. Until I started looking, I had no idea of how much there was or and how many-faceted the accounts would be. It could be that many people are having OSEs but have had few outlets in which they could share them. This website is the place for those literally "far-out" experiences!
Here I will briefly mention some of those described more fully in an annotated bibliography in the September 1996 issue of EHE News. Public health professor Leonard Duhl views the universe itself as inseparable from the self and the health of all living things. Futurist Barbara Marx Hubbard predicts that as we explore deeper into space we will live as long as we need to and may even live in successive bodies while maintaining continuity of consciousness. The Foundation for Spacious Skies exists solely to look into ways of obtaining inspiration from looking at the sky. Theorist Dana Wilde proposes that limitations in space travel represent but the current limits of our capacity to imagine and that the vast distance between galaxies and stars should be viewed as invitations to expand the human spirit. He insists that to simply entertain the thought of being there in our physical bodies is not enough. These writers seem to be saying that this enterprise involves the whole person and is at the leading edge of what it is to be human. Perhaps the key to the strong impact of these outer space experiences is provided by Peter Russell, who suggests that our true selves are "nowhere and nowhen." If we feel we do not belong, perhaps it is that we do not belong only here but "we are potentially everywhere, and in essence nowhere" (pp. 25-26). He calls humans "extraspatiotemperals."
Also included with the bibliography is a subsection of 12 firsthand accounts of various kinds of outer space EHEs. The circumstances under which they occurred were widely varied even in such a small sample. One was associated with a near-death experience, one with a non near-death experience, one during extreme sensory isolation, two when looking at the stars, one involved the sun and another the moon, two occurred while flying airplanes, and one each while soaring, sky diving, and parachute jumping. Based on the OSEs I have read thus far, they occur most often in dreams, OBEs, and NDEs, but the sample is far too small to draw any conclusions. Please help us to learn more by sending us your experiences. We are also interested in published accounts you may have read (with complete citations, please). We may want to publish some of the personal accounts received or include them in our database of experiences in order to facilitate research. We also would like to post some of them on this website and perhaps quote from them in our publications, so please indicate whether we have your permission to do so, and whether you want us to use your real name or a pseudonym.
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