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Author Topic: Stanislav Grof - Great Book :cool:  (Read 1032 times)
Posts: 2,392

Stanislav Grof - Great Book :cool:
« on: 11 February 2007 »

For those who havent heard of him wikipedia ( starts:

Stanislav Grof (born 1931 in Prague, Czechoslovakia) is one of the founders of the field of transpersonal psychology and a pioneering researcher into the use of altered states of consciousness for purposes of healing, growth, and insight.

Grof is known in particular for his early studies of LSD and its effects on the psyche—the field of psychedelic psychotherapy. He constructed a theoretical framework for pre- and perinatal psychology and transpersonal psychology in which LSD trips and other powerfully emotional experiences were mapped onto one's early fetal and neonatal experiences. Over time, this theory developed into an in-depth cartography of the deep human psyche. Following the legal suppression of LSD use in the late 1960s, Grof went on to discover that many of these states of mind could be explored without drugs and instead by using certain breathing techniques in a supportive environment. He continues this work today under the title "Holotropic Breathwork".

And before you all switch off due to mention of LSD lol 'altered states of consciousness' (however induced) are probably key to all the interesting/funny stuff - ie energy and consciousness...

I have just started on a cracking collection of essentially stories of his experiences over the past n decades... written in real TTEM-story section stylee - ie as it happened and a few pages each.

Here is a scanned snip from the introduction (and before the publishers start suing me for breach of copyright lol its in order to publicise the work and make them even richer  Happy lol).

"When the Impossible Happens: Adventures in Non-Ordinary Realities" is a collection of stories describing various events in my professional and personal life that forced me to abandon my skeptical and materialistic scientific perspective on life and embrace the Eastern spiritual philosophies and mystical teachings of the world. They also generated in me great respect for the ritual and spiritual life and for the healing traditions of native cultures that Western science dismisses as products of primitive superstition. I am aware of the fact that reading these stories will not convey the full power of the actual real-life experiences that they describe. However, I hope that in their totality they will give the reader a taste of the reenchantment of the universe that they brought into my own life.

The first part of the book consists of stories that involve what C. G. Jung described as synchronicity—highly implausible coincidences that cannot be explained by the principle of linear causality, the principle that is the cornerstone of Western scientific thinking. By showing that the world of matter can enter into playful interaction with the human psyche, the existence of synchronicities undermines the very foundations of the Cartesian-Newtonian paradigm and of the monistic materialistic worldview. It abolishes the basic metaphysical assumptions held by the Western academic community that consciousness and matter are two separate entities, that matter is primary and consciousness its epiphenomenon, and that the events in the world are governed exclusively by chains of causes and effects.

Parts 2, 3, and 4 of the book feature stories that challenge the current scientific understanding of the nature of memory and its limits. Mainstream psychiatrists and neurophysiologists assume that the brain of the newborn is not mature enough to record the memory of hours of stressful and painful experiences during biological birth. The work with holotropic states of consciousness clearly demonstrates that each of us carries in the unconscious psyche not only the memory of our delivery and the trauma associated with it, but also memories of our prenatal life and early embryonal existence, our conception, and of the lives of our human and animal ancestors.
It is not very plausible that our entire biological history could be stored in the DNA and that, under special circumstances, this record could be translated into a vivid experience. However, the above memories—embryonal, ancestral, racial, and phylogenetic—at least come from situations for which it is possible to imagine material substrate capable of carrying information. Many experiences in holotropic states present an even more formidable conceptual problem because they suggest the existence of memory without any material substrate whatsoever.

Here belong, for example, experiential sequences portraying events from human history stored in the archives of the collective unconscious as envisioned by C. G. Jung, past-life memories, and experiential identification with the members of other species. All these experiences clearly transcend ancestral, racial, and biological lines of any kind, and it is impossible to imagine any physical medium in which they could be recorded. They seem to be stored in fields that are currently unknown to science or embedded in the field of consciousness itself.

The fifth part of the book consists of stories illustrating phenomena traditionally studied by parapsychologists—telepathy and clairvoyance, psychometry, experiences of astral realms, communication with discarnate entities and spirit guides, encounters with archetypal beings, channeling, mind-over-matter phenomena (siddhis), and out-of-body experiences during which disembodied consciousness accurately perceives immediate or remote environments. Unbiased study of these extraordinary experiences and events suggests that materialistic science has been premature in ridiculing this entire realm and the researchers who study it. These observations reveal the existence of "anomalous phenomena" that might in the future lead to a radical revision of the scientific worldview and its basic metaphysical assumptions.

A special section in the book (Part 6) is dedicated to stories describing observations that challenge the most fundamental assumptions of mainstream psychiatrists concerning the nature of psychotic episodes, currently considered manifestations of serious mental diseases. It also includes accounts of surprising positive results of highly unorthodox and controversial approaches to treatment. An example of such psychiatric "heresy" is seeing episodes of non-ordinary states of consciousness as crises of spiritual opening ("spiritual emergencies"), rather than as psychotic episodes. Another example is approaching symptoms as expressing a self-healing attempt of the psyche and working with them. The most radical and unusual situations described in this section of the book involve the use of psychedelics to activate, rather than suppress, psychotic symptoms, dramatic improvements achieved by a method resembling exorcism, and therapeutic breakthroughs featuring psychodynam-ic mechanisms that would not make any sense to traditional psychiatrists.

The appendix of the book focuses on the attitude of traditional scientists toward the paradigm-breaking observations generated by consciousness research and transpersonal psychology, the extension of traditional psychological study into the realm of spirituality, body-mind connections, and transformation. The first story is an extreme but typical example of resistance to the new data found in many members of the academic community. It involves a brilliant, world-renowned scientist who defends his intellectual convictions with such stubbornness and determination that it matches the position of a religious fundamentalist. The second story illustrates what happens when traditionally trained professionals with a materialistic orientation have the opportunity to experience holotropic states of consciousness. The third one describes how my own determined resistance to astrology, a discipline mocked and ridiculed by "serious" scientists, had to succumb to the influx of convincing observations.

This book is a very personal statement, revealing many intimate details of my private and professional life. Most clinicians and researchers would hesitate to disclose so much subjective information because of their concern that this would damage their scientific reputation. The reason that I share with so much honesty the trials and tribulations of my personal quest is that I want this information to ease the struggle and quandary of people involved in serious self-exploration and help them avoid the mistakes and pitfalls that are integral parts of any venture into new, unexplored territories.

I hope that open-minded readers will see the personal stories that I share in these memoirs of my unconventional quest as a testimony to the passion with which I have pursued the search for knowledge and wisdom hidden in the deep recesses of the human psyche. If this book provides useful information and assistance for even a small fraction of the thousands of people experiencing holotropic states of consciousness and exploring non-ordinary realities, my sacrifice of personal privacy has not been in vain.

Stanislav Grof, M.D., Ph.D.
Mill Valley, California
August 2005

It really is a great read 

« Last Edit: 11 February 2007 by Mike » Logged

"If I hear Truth couched in a Sufi way or a Christian Mystic way or a Psychotherapeutic way or in a Paleontological way or whatever, you know, its still Truth for me." Ajahn Viradhammo
Senior Member
Posts: 376

Re: Stanislav Grof - Great Book :cool:
« Reply #1 on: 12 February 2007 »


Interesting this link comes up now. A number of therapists I have worked with over the years have told me I have been practising "primal scream" and breathwork. I just thought I was doing what I do  smiley.

Since my trip to Costa Rica I have been talking about my experiences with my therapist. She reminded me she has been pointing me at both Janov and Grof for some time. Looks like it is about time I read them.  smiley Although I am glad I have been directly experiencing this stuff before having concepts of it.

I think you missed out the name of this book in the link.

With metta,


Posts: 2,392

Re: Stanislav Grof - Great Book :cool:
« Reply #2 on: 12 February 2007 »

I think you missed out the name of this book in the link.

...what you want me to make it easy for you  grin ... maybe I should read it for you too tongue ...anyway you are correct it is absent in the link but is at the beginning of the second quote wink

But its a great read - all told as personal stories and experiences and of course used as points to hang the whole thing off. It really is very admirable as well as a cracking read 

"If I hear Truth couched in a Sufi way or a Christian Mystic way or a Psychotherapeutic way or in a Paleontological way or whatever, you know, its still Truth for me." Ajahn Viradhammo
Posts: 2,392

Re: Stanislav Grof - Great Book :cool:
« Reply #3 on: 13 February 2007 »

Here are the contents of "When The Impossible Happens" to further whet the appetite...  cool

Discovering Cosmic Consciousness: My First LSD Session    xxix

The Mystery of Synchronicity: Twilight of the Clockwork Universe   
The Way of the Animal Powers: Praying Mantis in Manhattan
The Dying Queen: When Dreams Foretell What Comes by Day   
The Rainbow Bridge of the Gods: In the Realm of the Nordic Sagas
The Play of Consciousness: Swami Muktananda and Siddha Yoga   
The Guru in the Life of His Devotees: Is the Siddha Yogi a Cosmic Puppeteer?   
Dance of the White Swan: Underworld Journey in the Salish Spirit Canoe   
The Making of Brainstorm: Our Hollywood Adventure   
The Watercourse Way: Meetings with President Vaclav Havel   
Under the Spell of Saturn: The Death of My Mother   
Blessing of the Gods: Don Jose Matsuwa and the Huichol Rain Ceremony   
Sri Yantra in the Oregon Desert: UFO Visit or a Spectacular Hoax?
A Lesson in Forgiveness: Peyote Ceremony with Potawatomi Indians

Trailing Clouds of Glory: Remembering Birth and Prenatal Life   
The Challenges of Noon Delivery: The Story of Leni   
The Scent of Fresh Leather: The Story of Kurt   
The Vision of the Old Oak Tree: The Story of Anne-Marie   
Prenatal Visit to the Annual Village Mart: The Story of Richard   
Winning the Sperm Race: Experiencing the Cellular Level of Consciousness

Revisiting History: Farther Reaches of Human Memory
Episode from the Russo-Finnish War: The Story of Inga   
The Little Girl with White Pinafores: The Story of Nadja   
Retrieving Memories of the Stolen Generations: The Story of Marianne
Ancestral Memory or Past-Life Experience? The Story of Renata

Have We Lived Before? Reincarnation and the Akashic Record
The Siege of Dun an Oir: The Story of Karl
The Karmic Triangle: Time Travel to Ancient Egypt
In the Catacombs of Pechorskaya Lavra: Past Life in Czarist Russia
When Spiritual Experiences Can Be Dangerous: Revisiting the Salem Witch-Hunt

ESP and Beyond: Exploring the World of the Paranormal   
Seeing without the Eyes (Mindsight): The Story of Ted   
Messages from the Astral Realm: The Story of Richard   
Proof for the Existence of the Beyond? The Story of Walter   
Cut Roses in Aunt Anne's Rose Garden: The Story of Kurt   
Luiz Gasparetto: Painters and Paintings from the Beyond   
A Party for Exu: Interview with the Orixas   
The Taboo against Knowing That We Are Clairvoyant: Sessions with Ann Armstrong
Ants of the Great Mother Goddess: A Visit to Palenque   
Uluru and Alcheringa: An Adventure in Dreamtime
Temptations of a Non-Local Universe: Failed Experiment in Astral Projection
Channeling the Avatar: My Mother, Sai Baba, and Holotropic Breathwork
When All Is One, There Is No Problem: Feats of the Korean Sword Master
Strange Legacy of the Ancient Maya: Mystery of the Crystal Skull
The Wonders of Synesthesia: Hugo Zucarelli and the Holophonic Sound
Gateway to the Absolute: The Secret of the Toad of Light
Matter and Consciousness: Ketamine and the Reenchantment ofthe World
On the Inca Trail: Discovering the Secret of Trephination
UFOs in the Amazon: Alien Encounter ofthe Third Kind   

Unorthodox Psychiatry: Surprising Alternatives to Traditional Treatment
The Pain That Survived Three Centuries: The Story of Norbert
The Malekulan Pig Goddess: The Story of Otto
Interview with the Devil: The Story of Flora
Embodying the Daphne Archetype: The Story of Martha
Healing Depression by a Sephardic Prayer: The Story of Gladys
The Stormy Search for the Self: The Story of Karen
When Hearing Voices Is Not Schizophrenia: The Story of Eva   
Psychiatric Heresy That Brought Fruit: The Story of Milada
The Magic of Sandplay: When a Kitten Can Be Therapist

PART   7
Transpersonal Psychology and Mainstream Science
When Science Becomes Scientism: Carl Sagan and His Demon-Haunted World
Journey to the East: Bringing LSD to the Soviet Union
Psyche and Cosmos: What the Planets Can Reveal about Consciousness




"If I hear Truth couched in a Sufi way or a Christian Mystic way or a Psychotherapeutic way or in a Paleontological way or whatever, you know, its still Truth for me." Ajahn Viradhammo
Posts: 2,392

Re: Stanislav Grof - Great Book :cool:
« Reply #4 on: 10 March 2007 »

A few more snips:

One of the most remarkable features of deep experientital work using non-ordinary states of consciousness is the effect it has on out way of life and on the strategy we use in dealing with challenges and projects. The model offered in this regard in technological scoieties is to define the goal we want to achieve and pursue it with focused energy and unswerving determination. This includes identifying and removing the obstacles that stand in the way and fighting potential enemies. The life of an individual following this recipe resembles a wrestling or boxing match.

I have worked with many peop-le who were able to gain insight into the psychological forces underlying this strategy and to transcend it. They discovered that this approach to existence relfects the fact that we have not overcome the imprint that the trauma of our birth has left in our psyche and that we are separated and alientated fromt he spiritual domain. Our striving for external achievements is a projection of a deeper and much more fundamanetal drive to psychologically complete the birth process and to make a spiritual connection. There is no end to our hunger for external conquests because we cannot get enough of what we do not really want and need.

For those individuals who reached this insight, life dominated by pursuit of material goals appears to be a "treadmill" or "rat-race" type of existence that does not and cannot really bring satisfaction. From this new perspective, this strategy of life is unsuccesful, even if we achieve the goals we pursue. Respoinsible and systematic deep self-exploration can help us to come to terms with the trauma of birth and make a deep spiritual connection. This moves us in the direction of what Taoist spiritual teachers call wu wei or "creative quietude", which is not action involving ambitious determined effort, but doing by being.

Among the most interesting phenomenon I have encountered in my research of holotropic states of consciousness have been without any doubt past-life experiences. They occurred with extraordinary frequency in psychedelic sessions of my clients, in sessions of Holotropic Breathwork, and in the course of spontaneous psychospiritual crises ("spiritual emergencies") of the people we have worked with. This happened in spite of the fact that I initially did not take the idea of reincarnation and karma seriously and saw it as a product of wishful fantasy of people who could not accept the grim reality of impermanence and death. In addition, these experiences were contrary to the beliefs of the culture I grew up in becuase the concept of reincarnation is rejected both by mainstream science and by the theologians of our dominant religion. It is one of the rare issues about which materialistic science and Christianity are in agreement.

...I have to agree with Chris Bache that "the evidence in this area is so rich and extraordinary that scientists who do not think the problem of reincarnation deserves serious attention are either uninformed or boneheaded".

I cant give a feeling here for the a-m-a-z-i-n-g experiences he relates... but here is an example tiny snip:

In the middle of a joint ketamine session we were having in the bedroom of our Big Sur house, I found myself suddenly in the Esalen bath and realised that I had become a wet towel hanging over the railing overlooking the ocean. From this perspective, I was able to witness in detail what was happening there and correctly identify the people who were in the bath at the time. Towards the end of the session, I described this bizarre episode to Christina and was astounded to find out that she had had exactly the same experience. The following morning, we were able to verify the accuracy of our joint experience by talking with the people involved

 Uh?  Uh?  Uh?

By far the best collection of true and incredible stories I have ever come across... totally devoid of any speculative content whatsoever.




ps reviews

"If I hear Truth couched in a Sufi way or a Christian Mystic way or a Psychotherapeutic way or in a Paleontological way or whatever, you know, its still Truth for me." Ajahn Viradhammo
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