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No. 122: Mar-Apr 1999

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Exceptional Human Experiences

Surely everyone reading this has had at least one experience that seemed to transcend the orderly ebb and flow of daily life. It's just as easy to be skeptical about these experiences -- to shrug them off -- as it is to overvalue them.

There exists a unique organization dedicated to exploring this neglected body of phenomena lurking at the edges of normal human perception and experience. It is called the Exceptional Human Experience Network (EHEN). S.V. Brown, Director of R&D for the EHEN, has written a paper describing the mission of the Network. With her permission, we reproduce the paper's abstract.

"The Exceptional Human Experience Network has a different approach to anomalous, out-of-the-ordinary Exceptional Experiences (EEs). By taking the emphasis off proof, or artificially trying to "cause" or stage events in the laboratory, or passively collecting case reports, we are actively trying to understand what these types of experiences and the experiencers are telling us as a whole. Inspection of the data indicates that there is a distinctive, recognizable patterning or clustering of inner and outer events: triggers, concommitants, and aftereffects which are similar across experiencer reports from over 100 different types of EEs. Preliminary study shows that those individuals who begin to explore their EEs and question conventional answers may undergo a series of similar developmental, predictable, humanizing, and transformative stages of expanding conscious awareness, which we call the Exceptional Human Experience Process (EHE Process). When EEers begin to comprehend and realize that their experiences are more than external phenomena happening "outside" of them and instead signify a whole inner and outer personally meaningful experience, the EE becomes potentiated into an EHE. EHEers report greater numbers of EHEs including meaningful insights, heightened creativity, and "lucky coincidences." Over time, or additional EEs/EHEs, or with a tremendous burst of insight, a subjective threshold is crossed. The experiencer's lifeview and whole worldview changes, and a new perspective (i.e., double vision) is forged. Fresh transpersonal connections with a new vision of self and the world become established. In hindsight, advanced EHEers report that the whole process was life-changing and somehow felt "destined." It is at this stage of the EHE Process where the EHEer has literally transcended everyday "normal reality" and discovered with clarity and quiet wisdom his or her unique "calling" in life, and the calling to an evolution of consciousness for all life."

(Brown, Suzanne V.; "Exceptional Human Experiences: Rethinking Anomalies and Shifting Paradigms -- An Introduction and Background Paper," Exceptional Human Experience, 15:21, no. 1, June 1997. Journal and Network address: 414 Rockledge Road, New Bern, NC 28562)

From Science Frontiers #122, MAR-APR 1999. 1999-2000 William R. Corliss