A. White, Ph.D. (Hon.)*
is dedicated to the magnificent lifework of
this under-known genius and
1: The Making of an Exceptional Human Being
Who Is Rhea A. White?
Rhea A. White is a phenomenon, a
singularity, a world treasure, though relatively few are aware of this fact yet.
She and her inspired life’s work are the abiding "North Star" that
has guided much of my vocational interests reflected in this and another
developing website; you
will notice her influence
on many pages here. Because of a dramatic near-death experience
and how it changed her life, White has a gifted, experiential grasp of the inherent human need for meaning and purpose and also the direction this naturally must take sooner or later toward the transcendent by way of direct, personal
experience. This understanding is the basis for her "Experiential
Paradigm," described below.
From the most tentative beginnings of my own chosen work, Rhea has been a sun-warming, ever-steady wind in my
sails. She has sustained me and this vision with love, faith and unflagging encouragement and support, and I've often thought of her as one of the defining miracles in my life.
Who IS Rhea A. White?
Metamorphosis: The Dramatic Emergence of a Rare Human Being
The search for clarity about the issues of death and dying and in relation to our daily lives is each person's unique and ultimately unavoidable journey; it's never a matter of “if” and always a question of “when” and “how.”
Perhaps this sounds a bit ironic, but for those of us who are more fortunate, I believe, this becomes a compelling concern fairly early in our
lives. Because only as we confront our profound and apparent vulnerability, creatured within this physical consensus reality, do we have the possibility of becoming aware of what we truly are, which is not these bodies at all, and of how we truly are, which can never be what we call “dead.”
Only when we know-that-we-know these things from our own personal, direct experience can we begin to catch a glimmer of the implications of this knowledge within our everyday
lives. Only when we in fact know these things can we truly live.
For White, these matters took overwhelming precedence in her life when she was 20 years
old. In 1952, on a snow-blanketed afternoon she and her friend Stuart were trying to get to a dance, driving 330 miles to her school, Penn State, for her sorority pledge dance, from his school,
Syracuse University. She was driving and they were struggling up a hill cluttered with other cars, mired to the fenders this way and that, but the couple appeared to be making fairly steady
progress. As they neared the top of the hill, however, it looked as though the snow might finally get the best of them, too.
Rhea was driving and having a time of it keeping the car moving forward.
Stuart suggested she let him try, so they switched places. They
had just about crested the hill when a big, lumbering coal truck came barreling from the opposite direction and hit their car
head-on. Rhea's friend, who had only moments before taken the driver's seat, was killed instantly, and his body pushed her through the windshield, where she ended up on the accident-exposed engine with eleven broken
bones. It was then she had the experience that changed her life.
How impossibly strange to experience such a terrifying, tragic,
agonizing moment as simultaneously the most wondrous thrill of one's life!
Yet it was just these excruciating circumstances that precipitated her into a subsequently life-changing near-death experience
[NDE] in which she felt herself being held in “the everlasting arms”
that went on forever.
knew -- and knew-that-she-knew -- she wasn’t dead! As if that wasn't convincing enough, an authoritative Voice said to her,
This was more
than two decades before the physician, Raymond Moody, Jr., gave such
events a name and some credibility, and in the process, brought a great
healing epiphany to many folks who had had NDEs (and many who hadn't).
Moody’s work lent great validity and insight years later, when White
looked back on her own experience, which, up to that point she had
called her “accident.”
As so often
occurs with people who have these deep, anomalous experiences, this
event changed Rhea’s life from one centered in a promising golf career
to a search for the spiritual meaning of her life. Pursuing a determined
quest to make sense of what had happened to her, she entered the field
of parapsychology, hoping to find answers there, which must have been a
tremendous shock to her family. (Even today, how many people do you know
who are parapsychologists?)
The Parapsychology Stage
in order to acquire some respectability as a discipline, had bound its
“soul” to the largely inappropriate materialistic and reductionistic
constraints of Western science. It didn’t take long for White to
realize that as things were, it was highly unlikely she would discover
any liberating insights here. Nevertheless, she stuck it out and became
over the course of four-plus decades, one of parapsychology’s
outstanding contributors, most notably as the editor of the prestigious
Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research [JASPR].
wanted to know about anything to do with parapsychology, the source
people most often suggested you talk to was its primary bibliographer,
Rhea A. White.
White sensed that
in their resolute search for quantitative proof under laboratory
conditions, parapsychologists mainly ignored the most priceless and
telling treasure available to them – their subjects, the people who
had had these anomalous and extraordinary experiences, as well as the
experiences themselves, their content and meaning. At the 1984 annual convention of the Parapsychological Association, the professional society of parapsychologists, she expressed her concerns about their field of
study. She reminded them that,
"(R)eputable pollsters, such as Gallup and the National Opinion Research Center of the University of Chicago, were indicating that almost half of the population reports having had at least one psychic or mystical experience, yet parapsychologists had nothing to do with or to say to these people."
They were blindsided to the value of the experiencer
hirself and hir
experiences, charged with transformative meaning and an incomparable knowledge that had the potential to powerfully and positively impact on human values and priorities, and by inference on the plight of the Earth as well.
In 1989, White
her REAL work began!
*NOTE: Rhea White was awarded an Honorary
Ph.D. earlier this year
by the esteemed Institute of Transpersonal Psychology,
no less, in Palo Alto,
CA. She has contributed so much and such
important works in her genuinely self-made field having to do with the
study of exceptional human experiences. Many will probably be as
surprised as I that she doesn't have a number of Ph.D.'s to her credit!
Congratulations, Dr. (Hon.) White! Your life
is an extraordinary achievement and a great gift to all of us that no
degree can begin to reflect. All the more wonderful in a way that
it was bestowed unsought, because it shows a specially appreciative
recognition from your professional peers in the world of consciousness
research. What a great honor to be recognized in this way by this
singularly prestigious university.