are EEs and EHEs?
An Exceptional Experience, or EE, is any type of anomalous (out of the
ordinary) experience. We have classified them into 5 major types
that cover the wide range of anomalous experience: psychical,
mystical, encounter, death-related, and enhanced experiences. We
view EEs as potentials for personal, life enriching, and even
transformational growth. We believe that by working with and
sharing these experiences, individuals can gain new perspectives and
meaningful insights into themselves and the world. When this
happens, the Exceptional Experiences is potentiated and humanized.
It becomes an Exceptional Human Experience, or EHE.
are EEs different from EHEs?
An EE is the actual experience itself. The EHE happens when we
have been changed in some way by the EE when the exceptional experience
has had some effect on us: our thinking, our behavior, our
perspective, our life.
is it important for me to understand and follow-up on my EEs/EHEs?
From reading biographies and autobiographies of well-known people and
also accounts of EHEs and EHE autobiographies, it appears that EHEs can
play a role in self-actualization. If you are a person who wants
to know who you really are and who does not want to stop becoming more
consciously aware of the nature of life and human reality, you need to
pay attention to these experiences in order to keep on growing.
They provide an important impetus to reaching new levels of
consciousness. Sometimes they can assist you by making important
connections not otherwise possible by logic and linear thinking.
do scientists have to say about EHEs?
It depends on which science you mean. For example, physicists,
chemists, astronomers, geologists, oceanographers, and biologists report
having had them and even being influenced by them, but they do not study
do social scientists say about EHEs?
In effect, the approach we take to EHEs is similar to that taken by many
anthropologists, sociologists, and other social scientists. The
main interest is in human experiences rather than truth-claims for those
experiences. They are considered "real" if they affect
human lives. In this sense, EHEs are definitely
"real." Social scientists have conducted surveys of
various exceptional experiences, primarily to study a number of
demographic and other variables.
do psychologists/psychiatrists say about EHEs?
Many mainline psychologists and psychiatrists would classify them as
part of abnormal psychology. However, humanistic psychologists
such as Abraham Maslow and Stanley Krippner and psychiatrists such as
Carl Jung and Stanislav Grof have incorporated them in their theories of
human psychology and view them in a self-potentiating way. We are
encouraged by the growing number of counselors and clinical groups who
are beginning to help people work with their experiences.
do organized religions say about EHEs?
Almost all the founders of the major religions were EHEers. At
least one of their major EHEs led to the founding of a specific
religion, whether it be Moses and the burning bush, or the illuminations
of Jesus, Buddha, and Mohammed. Theologians who develop the dogma
of a particular religion generally admit the existence of various EHEs,
and even have specific terms for them, such as the siddhis of Hinduism,
the barokas of Islam, and the charism of Christianity. However,
many of these theologians, Eastern as well as Western, warn that special
spiritual experiences and gifts can inhibit spiritual growth if viewed
as ends in themselves. Also implied here is the idea that these
experiences belong primarily to the life of the spirit, not to the
secular world. Here our position differs from the standard,
organized religious viewpoint. Our view is that all exceptional
and exceptional human experiences are indications that the entire
universe is sacred.
does history tell us about EHEs?
History and biography are treasure troves of information about specific
EHEs. EHEs have changed history, not only directly, as when Moses
led the Hebrews out of Egypt, but indirectly, through cultural
changes. Some examples are the invention of the cotton gin and the
sewing machine, as well as many scientific and medical discoveries that
have had their origins in dreams and visions. Most if not all
innovators are likely to have had EEs. However, although they may
have developed them in their work, most do not develop them in their own
lives. This calls for a greater change of overall perspective and
incorporating a new awareness. Such people [are] harder to find.
do other cultures tell us about EHEs?
A cross-cultural study of EEs and EHEs is very much needed.
anomalous or exceptional experiences depend on what a culture considers
to be acceptable and normal. Many experiences that are considered
anomalous in Western societies would be considered normal in many
indigenous cultures. Second, the Experiential
paradigm, which is
an outgrowth of Western EHEs, is similar in many respects to the
worldviews of many nonwestern peoples. Westerners have much more
to learn from other cultures than they have, at this point, to
share. However, if we in the West develop our EHEs so that they
are an accepted part of our culture, this situation will change
drastically. In fact, there may no longer be a need to point out
cultural differences, but only to note our human commonalities.
is EHEN's perspective different from the mainstream?
Many psychologists, psychotherapists, and religionists have observed the
important role that illness (both physical and mental), abuse, and
disaster may play in a person's life by forcing him or her to reach a
higher and deeper level of adjustment to life than he or she had
Vocation article speaks about illness in this light, as well.]. However, what they do not seem to note is that the
impetus for positive change inherent in these otherwise
"negative" experiences is often provided by exceptional or
exceptional human experiences. Some examples are:
out-of-body experiences during physical abuse, or near-death experiences
when life itself is threatened, or inner voices or apparitions or
hallucinatory voices during disaster conditions that lead to life-saving
choices and actions. In such cases, the preexisting condition,
such as illness or abuse, is given due consideration, but not the
"miracles" or "saving graces" that reversed a
negative situation. However, if we consider the many forms that
miracles and grace take, each one is a form of exceptional human
experience and should be recognized as such.
you think that the mainstream perspective is changing?
Somewhat, yes. The large influx of women psychotherapists is
making a difference because as caretakers women are more concerned with
what actually happened and setting it right rather than applying and
proving a pet theory. They also may be more comfortable with their
own special EHEs and actively use them in their work. This makes
them more sensitive to and aware of the importance of the client's
exceptional experiences and the role EEs can play in life change.
The media, also, are playing a large role in making people aware of EEs
and EHEs. And third, more people seem willing to admit that they
have had EEs and to share them with others. This has a domino
effect and can induce others to spontaneously share experiences that
they have never told anyone before.
is it important to study EHEs?
Accounts of EHEs have existed as long as the written word. Yet it
is the rare parent who talks about them to his or her children.
Rarely are they taught in school, and when they are ... mentioned, it is
often to make light of them or explain them away. This irony is
not lost on us. EHEs are behind some of the most important events
in history and some of the most significant inventions, theories and
discoveries. They have saved many lives and transformed
others. They are among the most important experiences humans can
have. Therefore it is important to study them in an unbiased
manner. And if justified, to honor them as important so that they
can be considered normal and healthy rather than strange or even
abnormal. Thus, they can be recognized and responded to in a
life-potentiating way by future generations.
proofs do you have that these EEs/EHEs really happened to the claimants?
Some scientists concentrate on the exceptional or anomalous quality of
these experiences in order to "prove" that they actually
happened. So far this approach, which has been used largely with
UFOs and parapsychological phenomena, has not made significant
advances. It seems more useful to use NDE researchers as a
model. They admit they are working with narratives people tell of
their experiences. They compare narratives, do content analyses,
and use other standard research approaches. However, they don't
try to prove whether the experience "really" happened as the
person describes it. That is, they may try to ascertain, if
possible, how close the person was to actual death, but they do not try
to prove that the NDEr really talked to Jesus or an angel. They
simply let the person tell their story and try to learn from it.
You start with the story, and you never claim it is more than a
story. NDE researchers have also studied the aftereffects of
NDEs. Some of these aftereffects are so transformative and
life-potentiating that they not only change the people involved, but
also other people who interact with them and even those who simply read
or hear their stories. If this is fantasy and not reality, bring
on the fantasy and let it take the place of what is supposed to be
"reality." Obviously what we often call
"reality" is very limited and suffers from tunnel
vision. Moreover, the aftereffects can be publicly observed by
others. You don't have to just take the EHEer's word. For
example, if they were once criminals and now are law-abiding and even
law-promoting citizens, this can be observed. If they once were
cowering women who let their husbands abuse them and now will take none
of it, this is demonstrably real. Even if EHE accounts are
"just" narratives, they nonetheless often lead to observable
changes that fall into patterns that can be observed by others. Of
such stuff is reality made. On the other hand, the most that can
be said when an EHE is explained away is that the status quo has been
restored or strengthened. There is no change or growth in the
will documenting and sharing my own account/EHE autobiography help me?
It will provide you with landmarks: peaks and valleys of
experience that will help to sustain you along your path and enable you
to remember other meaningful experiences in your life. You will
develop a repertoire of your own narratives, as it were, all eventually
pointing to your own, unique path and to the end of all paths, which is
knowledge of the oneness of all things. If you don't become aware
of your EHE autobiography and work on experiences, it will not be lived
in the world. You have to know who you are to be who you are; and
you have to be who you are to know who you are.
do I work with my own EE/EHE?
Eventually on our website, in written form, and in workshops we hope to
provide examples and guidelines for people requesting information about
specific types of EEs and EHEs. As a first step, we strongly
encourage you to begin by writing your own EHE autobiography.
do I learn more about my type of EE/EHE?
Become a member of the EHE Network. Regularly visit our Website to
catch recent developments and new additions. In the Website, we
will be rotating specific examples from our databanks, flyers, and other
publications to illustrate the various types of EEs/EHEs. Visit
our Information Exchange: it provides a wealth of general and
specialized publications and products to learn more. The Education
Exchange also offers educational programs for different audiences and
needs. Both Exchanges are updated regularly with new offerings.
I send you an anonymous account?
We are just as happy with anonymous accounts as those accompanied by
names. It is the experience that is the thing and how it affects a
person and what the person does with it. Sometimes we would like
to ask for more information about your account, so we would like at
least your email address. You can sign your account with a
pseudonym or "anonymous" or give us your real name and
address, but tell us not to reveal it to anyone else.
are EHEs different from Projects of Transcendence?
An EHE is the result of a single experience. It can alter your
whole life course, and it can change how you do everything. If it
changes your life to the degree that you discover or participate in an
ongoing activity, such as painting or writing, or dancing, or a sports
activity, or any new activity that enables you to spend a good portion
of your recreational or even your work time expressing your EHEs or a
spin-off of them, this is a Project of
Transcendence. It is a
"project" in that it is not only based on one or more EHEs,
but by simply partaking in it, it is conducive to additional EHEs.
You continue to grow because of them and they continue to grow because
of you. An offshoot of a Project of Transcendence is that to an
extent it through your works, services, creativity, life, and very being
begins to influence others and even society, even if only in a small
you starting a religion here?
There is nowhere one can go where the sacred is not. In a sense,
ours is a secular approach that is rooted in the sacred or a way of
involving everyone by enabling them to find their unique spiritual path
in the process of which the entire universe becomes secularized and
spiritualized. It is true that by helping people to find their
spiritual paths and live them, we are fostering spiritual activity,
experiences, and knowings. But although ritual and singing and
even meditation may become an aspect of living out one's experiences
fully, every person will develop in their own unique way, and not at all
in an institutional way, though they may use religious practices
... at times in conjunction with other peoples, including institutions,
if they choose. Moreover, EHEs do not take people out of the world
but into its heart. These aims and practices are counter to any
institutionalized religion. Also, although religions may be
ecumenical, they are distinct and separate. The primary
characteristic of EHEs is connection, or contacting the sameness that
lies only in our differences.
do EHEs have in common with the creative process?
EHEs are related to the creative process in two ways. First,
creative insight itself is a form of exceptional human experience.
Second, the stages of the creative process are very much like the stages
of the EHE process. This is probably because throughout the EHE
process the person's own self is being created and developed.
are EHEs leading us?
It seems to us that EHEs are leading us first toward a more integrated
sense of self. Second, they are leading us toward a sense of
oneness with other humans, other life forms, and the Earth itself.
As presented in our flyer "Import of
EHEs," we suggest that
ultimately they are leading us to a sense of oneness with the universe
and with the self that is all things. It's like finding your
individual way, and when you arrive at your destination, everyone and
everything is there to greet you as if your entrance were the most
natural and wonderful thing that ever happened.
is EHEN different from other human potential organizations?
We agree that there are many human potential organizations today,
several of which have a distinctive spiritual flavor. This fact in
itself lends much to our understanding that there is a demand for
combining the secular with the sacred in our lives. However, even
casual browsing of the different offerings available on the Web will
quickly show that most "organizations" are simply public
sounding boards for personal opinion. Instead, EHEN is based on
wide-based study and scholarship, as well as findings gleaned from
hundreds of narrative reports of experiencers from various backgrounds
counseling information do you have to help in my client practice?
We encourage health-care practitioners and counselors to look at
EEers/EHEers in a new light and carry these insights over into their
practices. Of particular relevance are our flyers: "The
Experiential Paradigm," "EHE
of EHEs," and "Aftereffects of
EHEs." We suggest
these resources, along with "EHE Counseling: An Ongoing
Annotated Bibliography" that is published in most issues of EHE
News, for core background materials. We highly recommend a
subscription to EHE and EHE News to learn how others work with these
experiences and "How to Write an EHE Autobiography" as a
client tool. These are other publications relevant to your
practice can be located at the Information Exchange. Also, check
out our Education Exchange for relevant seminars and services.
bibliographic references do you have for my field of study?
Over 500 cross-indexed abstracts are published each year in EHE.
These references include over 40 subject categories, covering a variety
of multidisciplinary topics related to EHEs. The Information
Exchange on our Website is updated regularly and offers reference books,
flyers, and information packets, some including bibliographies specific
to topics of interest. In addition, you may request a customized
PsiLine electronic database literature search specific to your
particular interest. [Looks like a line got left out...] database
electronic search of the literature.
suggestions do you have for conducting research on EHEs?
Almost any field of study, from the arts and humanities to the sciences
can benefit from EHE research. You can find several examples in
our journal EHE, both from the articles and in the abstracts. Also
from our Information Exchange, we offer a compilation of current theses
and dissertations relevant to EHE study. Our own research casts a
wide net, adopting a very different approach which emphasizes
experiences rather than experiment, connection rather than causality,
patterns rather than proofs, and wholeness rather than separation.
Researchers work from within the Experiential Paradigm and begin by
asking different questions, which in turn can lead to fresh discoveries,
and even whole new conceptual leaps of knowledge.
future plans do you have for EHEN?
All future development projects and programs remain firmly rooted in
EHEN's core mission to provide quality scholarship and encourage
experiencers to look at their EEs/EHEs from a fresh, life-enriching
perspective. We have a number of exciting branches of development
currently underway and planned. Se our flyer "Future
Plans" to learn more.