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Introduction to Writing EHE Autobiographies
Rhea A. White
I have been reading accounts of exceptional experiences for years, primarily those collected by parapsychologists and collections of mystical experiences, which I found very meaningful. The accounts of parapsychological experiences, however, were disappointing. Somehow they stopped too soon. They didn’t lead anywhere. They seemed truncated somehow. They stopped in a sense where they just started to be good (which for me meant "meaningful"). Accounts would often end with "It still remains vividly etched in my memory, although I never told anybody about it until now." Or, "This experience stands out from all the others in my life." Or, "It is the most important experience of my life, even though I am not clear why." Sometimes they end by wistfully wondering, "I wish I knew why it happened to me!" The mystical experiences, on the other hand, were intrinsically meaningful. More often than not, the account of the experience included some of the aftereffects that resulted from it, usually the affirmation that they now know God exists or that the "universe is friendly" or the perception that "we are all connected."
I decided that in part the fault lay with the people who investigated the experiences. The parapsychologists were almost solely interested in the factuality of details, obtaining confirmation from witnesses, corroborating events discerned by some form of ESP by finding accounts of the events perceived in newspapers or from other persons involved. And there it stopped.
When I began to collect accounts of all kinds of anomalous experiences, I included such questions as "What do you think is the meaning of your experience? Can you recall any prior circumstances that may have led to or triggered the experience? How has the experience affected you, your life, and your worldview?
When people responded to these questions, all of a sudden psychical experiences, UFO encounters, and death-related experiences became highly meaningful. In order to capture the meaning, it is essential that the experiencer describe not only the experience itself, but any predisposing circumstances, the special qualities of the experience itself whether or not they can be verified, and above all, the aftereffects of the experience. As with dreams, associations to the experience can also be useful and sometimes even enlightening, especially when their meanings are amplified.
At the request of William G. Braud, I wrote about the exceptional experiences that led me to become a parapsychologist and to remain in that field for 40 years. He and Russell Targ and Montague Ullman did the same, for a symposium on the unusual experiences of parapsychologists given at the 1993 annual convention of the Parapsychological Association. (It is posted below.) For me, this marked the beginning of the EHE autobiography technique. By writing about my experiences and trying to connect them, I became aware of new insights and made meaningful connections not seen previously. In checking my personal journal for details about some experiences, I uncovered some I had forgotten.
It became apparent to me that it is not sufficient simply to describe one exceptional experience isolated from others. By teasing out the meaning of our experiences and seeing how they fit into the narrative of our lives as a whole, we can learn immeasurably more (that is, become more consciously aware of ourselves, our lives, and gain an increased sense of meaning, personal, social, global, and even cosmic), than previously we would even have considered inconceivable.)
In an EHE autobiography, I ask people to write about all their EEs/EHEs, or at least the most important of each type, if they have had many experiences, and to try to see meaningful connections between them. This helps experiencers to become more self-aware, more integrated and connected, and clearer about the meaning and purpose of their lives. The best way to understand and grow from your exceptional experiences is to write your EHE autobiography, in the course of which you attempt to potentiate the meaning of each one as fully as possible, thus uncovering more of your heretofore hidden human potential. EHE autobiographies are not only of great value to researchers, but experiencers note that the process of writing an EHE autobiography is a good way not only to remember forgotten experiences but also to discover their personal, human, social, global, and cosmic meanings.
Several EHE autobiographies by others that have been published in Exceptional Human Experience or in EHE News are posted here. I will also post here later an unpublished paper I gave at the 1995 meeting of the Association for the Study of Dreams in New York City because it was while writing my partial EHE autobiography that I stumbled upon the dream accounts in my personal journal from the 1950s and finally, after nearly 36 years, I was able to potentiate their meaning. They presaged the development of the EHE concept, which did not dawn on me consciously until 1989.
We will also post an article on writing an EHE autobiography first written in 1994 but revised several times since, and by Suzanne Brown, written in 1997. Because writing an EHE autobiography also involves describing each experience fully, I recommend reading the two pieces by us on writing an account of an EHE. These may be found in the section on Working With EHEs.
The EHE autobiographies below are partial EHE autobiographies, but all of them describe initiatory EHEs that took the experiencers over time, along with additional EEs and EHEs, into the EHE process and awareness of the Experiential Paradigm. All of the authors have had many other experiences, because once you pay attention to your experiences and learn the lesson each one conveys, you have more experiences as you advance. Usually it is an EHE that opens the door to a new level of yourself and of the EHE process. Each of the autobiographers would need to write a book in order to do justice to their experiences and the impact of their aftereffects. Nonetheless, each essay illustrates the important role that these odd experiences our society teaches us to shun have on the growth and well being of the experiencers. We hope that reading these EHE autobiographical essays will encourage others to submit theirs to the EHE Network, preferably in electronic format on disk or by e-mail attachment, or typed, by mail.
When you submit your essay, please indicate whether we can post your essay on this website and whether you want us to use your name and e-mail address or just your name, or only your initials, or a pseudonym of your choice. We hope you will be willing to share it with visitors to our site because the act of disclosing experiences sometimes never shared before can have a very beneficial effect on the experiencer, and also on those who read it. It is similar to tearing down the walls surrounding a beautiful garden you have nurtured so other people can enjoy the wonder, awe, and beauty of it as well. Their joy reflects back on the gardener/experiencer, not to the glorification of his or her ego but to the Self we all are, which is like a diamond whose different facets are reflected in each person’s EHE autobiography. Based on my most important EHE as well as the words of the founders of the world’s religions and the spirituality of indigenous (First) peoples as well, what gives each of us the feeling of uniqueness is at base the One without a second, the Self that is the basis of all that exists. Each EHE we have brings us closer in some way to this basic knowing of the More that we all are.
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