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Is the reality we live in
the actual reality?
But, what is reality?
Could we say it is
what we detect with our senses
or with the help of technology?
But, if we would say so,
then what about the period
when microorganisms were not known?
They were real at that time, of course,
even though they were not acknowledged.
And what about our sky?
Does it look like this?
Or like this?
Perhaps like this?
It turns out that all of these
are real pictures
of the exact same region of the sky,
but the cameras used to take them
captured different wavelengths
of the electromagnetic spectrum.
But would a non-informed person
consider this our real sky?
I’d say, most probably not.
So, we see that defining
reality is not so easy.
My own understanding of reality
happened to be challenged
when I was very young.
And that one experience
made me become a researcher
of paranormal phenomena
and non-ordinary reality.
But I must say that it's,
somehow, a challenge for me,
because as a researcher
I see how complex it is
to explain this sort of phenomena
and even more complex it is
to find concrete evidences [of them].
But, as a person, I cannot deny
the experiences that I had.
So, that's kind of a dilemma,
and I deal with it thinking, "This
is something that needs further study."
And I and try to contribute to this.
My experience happened when I was
very young, about 7 or 8 years old,
and an uncle and aunt of mine
went on a trip to São Paulo,
a big city I had only
heard about at that time.
A few nights later, during my sleep,
I felt myself floating upwards,
and somehow I ended up in São Paulo,
in a room where my uncle
was lying on the bed.
And I saw he had some little tubes
inserted into his nostrils
and there was a bag with a liquid
that would be injected into his arms.
I also saw something even stranger.
He had a thin clear tube
that was connected
from his abdomen, as far as I could tell,
to a glass jar placed on the floor,
which held a slightly reddish liquid.
That blew my mind.
I didn’t have a clue of what that was,
because I'm from a very small town
in Brazil, that you can see here.
This is the whole town,
compared to a little part of São Paulo,
which you saw before.
Wonderful people live there,
but at that time, almost 50 years ago,
it had no book stores,
no libraries, no movie theatres,
of course, no universities.
But I must say I had
a very happy childhood,
because I grew up with six siblings,
we were always playing around,
but we had no illnesses in the family.
We didn’t have either money enough
to have a TV in our house or to buy books.
So, I had never seen
anything like that before.
When they came back from their trip
I just said to my aunt,
"Hey, I saw uncle Gino
laying down on bed and in such room,"
and I described what I had seen.
She was baffled
and just changed the subject.
But later that day,
I overheard her telling my mother,
"How on earth could Nanci have known that
if not even you or anyone else knew
he was going for a bladder surgery?
Because we didn’t tell anybody,
as we didn’t want you to worry about it."
So, that experience,
as well as others I’ve had,
compelled me to seek
further studies in this [field].
I found out that this experience is called
an OBE or out-of-body experience,
which is a phenomenon,
according to the current model,
in which the consciousness
moves away from the human body,
being able to experience a reality
that is subtler than this ordinary one.
In my search for serious studies
I found that science was
- I'm afraid maybe it still is -
far from understanding
or even acknowledging a reality
that is beyond the boundaries
of this standard material world.
So I thought,
"How are meaningful experiences
such as mine examined?"
And then I decided that one day
I'd join the small group of individuals
who were dedicated studying it.
Among the bodies of work
that I researched,
one that I found to be among
the most scientific at that time
was that of Robert Crookall.
He compiled thousands of OBE accounts
in order to compare them
and see if there were common elements.
He concluded that these experiences
are not a result of beliefs of any kind
and are independent of cultural aspects.
Now, we must say that interpretation
of the experience, yes,
that may be influenced by one’s beliefs
because, unavoidably, most individuals
would interpret their experiences
according to their own belief system.
This is where current research on OBEs
and expanded states of consciousness
comes into play,
because it may help reveal
which elements make
an experience reliable.
And I’d say that education on this topic
could also reduce
this degree of subjectivity
in the interpretation of the experience.
There have been a number of surveys
and laboratory experiments
under controlled conditions
to investigate OBEs.
I also have conducted several of them,
with published results -
but no conclusive evidences yet.
I'd love to share them with you,
but we don’t have time.
But, perhaps I can at least share with you
what are some of the common sensations
that one would experience
when in partial or complete
separation from the body.
I myself have experienced
many of these sensations
since I was very young.
For example, I vividly remember moments
when I was relaxed, just lying in bed,
and I would feel a very strong
vibration inside my body,
as if all my cells were connected
to some sort of electricity
or being activated by a live energy.
And I came to learn later
that this vibrating sensation
is referred to as "vibrational state"
and is quite common
among those who have had OBEs.
In many instances, also,
I would see my body
from a third person vantage point.
Especially when I was a kid,
in a childlike manner of thinking,
I would wonder,
"How can I be sleeping if I'm awake?"
Because that state was
totally different from a dream,
but I still didn’t know it was an OBE.
Common sensations also
are those of floating, swaying,
sometimes falling or jerk awake.
But a stranger sensation
that I have had many times
was that of feeling
I couldn’t move my body,
as if I were paralyzed.
I wouldn’t exactly call it pleasant,
especially when you don't know what it is.
But I came to learn later
that this is a natural sensation,
that it's part of the first stages
of detaching from the body
or returning to it.
These are just some examples.
But I must say
that fear of these sensations
may hinder the OBE occurrence.
I would like to say
that all of my out-of-body
adventures were very enjoyable.
in my regular waking state,
I would sense some sort of subtle energies
or invisible presences around me.
That made me scared as a child.
This led me to study
sensitive kids to find out
why they experience
these kind of phenomena;
how they interpret them;
what sort of consequences they would face
both during childhood or later,
in adult life, because of this;
and how parents and society
normally react to their sensitivity.
But I must say that, it's obvious,
not only kids have
As adults we can have them too.
This is a natural phenomenon
that arguably can be
learned and developed.
So, it is not only "special" people
who can have it.
But the problem here is:
how do we go about studying
this type of phenomena,
with a true scientific spirit?
To start with, we must stop
just dismissing the phenomena or saying
there's something wrong with the person
because these are not
And we must acknowledge
that there may be facts
about human manifestation
that we don’t know or understand
and we must search for explanations
with no presumptions
or preconceived ideas.
So far, most of the academic research
has been dedicated to the study
of the so-called physical world,
which is of essential importance,
of course, and must be the first step.
However, if we even consider
the possibility of the existence
of a reality that's subtler than this one,
but which is just as real,
even though it may escape
our regular senses,
we must find ways to research it.
If OBEs allow the direct
observation of it, then, maybe,
until proper technology is developed,
OBEs are the natural tools
because they would allow researchers
to witness this reality
and verify its possible
interaction with our reality.
If we were ever to get to this point
- let’s imagine we could
have this type of research -
what sort of consequences
would that bring to science?
Well, this knowledge
could bring very useful insights
into many different domains
of scientific research,
from medicine to physics.
In turn, this could promote
a scientific view
that would acknowledge
our individuality, us as individuals,
that exists beyond the brain,
which would encourage the integration
of variables and factors
that are not strictly physical
into the scientific process.
For example, medicine.
Medicine could benefit from identifying
when these more subtle
elements could be interfering
with patients’ health
or inexplicably curing them.
Physics could examine
phenomena and their outcome
taking matter and energy
from a multidimensional perspective.
But we face three big challenges,
at least, on this process.
First: how can we separate
those who only dream, fantasize, imagine,
or, maybe, have brain characteristics
that gives them perceptions
that they consider to be non-physical
from those who have real experiences,
with lucidity, awareness,
clarity of thought, and detachment
from preconceived notions or beliefs?
Probably, what we need here is to identify
which elements separate real,
from fantasy or brain creations.
But without acknowledging
not even this first step
scientists can take.
Second, we also need to learn
how to separate or distinguish
serious scientific initiatives
from unsubstantiated information,
or worse, I must say.
there are individuals or groups
that all together disregard
the basic scientific principles
or the scientific knowledge
when studying the so-called
This is not good,
because besides not furthering
scientific progress at all,
this may give the impression
that all of those who dedicate themselves
to study these non-ordinary phenomena
and reality have the same attitude.
This is not the case, I can assure you.
And we also need to develop
to investigate this intangible reality
and its related phenomena.
At this point,
we could wonder, why bother?
Why bother at all studying them?
If science is about understanding
ourselves and the universe
or pursuing knowledge
of the natural world,
then, verifying this reality
could enlighten us
about what we and the world actually are.
And in turn, maybe this could change
the core paradigm upon which
our society and knowledge are based.
But, it's interesting to remember
that OBEs are not only a tool
for gathering scientific observations.
It's also a tool for personal exploration.
What would be some
of the personal uses of OBEs?
What would you say?
Checking up on the spouse?
Spying on the neighbor?
Not quite. At least it was not for me.
In my case - let me share with you
how I feel about my case.
In my case, I feel
that I have a better sense
of what being in this world is about.
Somehow I feel that I follow
my own personal principles,
I don't need an external or imposed
set of beliefs to guide me.
And my principles are a result
of conclusions and observations
that I’ve made also during
The first conclusion, a logical
and natural one, I guess,
is that we are not only this body.
This idea can make us
think about the hypothesis
that we do not cease to exist
at the point of death.
But, please understand I'm not saying
this so you take this to be your truth.
I'm just saying what is
my relative truth at this moment
and how I deal with this reality
or what I think about it.
Also, although this tends to give us
a sense of tranquillity
and peace of mind, at the same time,
it kind of gives us an urge or desire
to take meaningful steps in our lives,
so that when we finish this life,
at the end of it,
we look back and we feel
that we have accomplished
the greater goal that we had always had.
I also observed
that there is some
sort of multidimensional energies
that interconnect us all.
This notion tends to make us think
about the consequences of our actions
and, eventually, leads to realizing
that being ethical really matters.
These are not only my conclusions,
because research on OBEs
and near-death experiences
points to the same results.
But, what would be the social implications
if we had a society in which the majority
of the individuals would know about this,
- but know for a fact,
based on their experiences,
not just following a set of rules -
know that the world
is not purely physical?
What would this imply?
If we just conclude
from what we’ve discussed,
they would probably polish
their personal principles,
they would mind the lasting effects
or consequences of their actions,
forming a society with greater
humanitarian and planetary concerns,
where goals would be
more than only becoming wealthier,
maybe more about altruism.
While I have a few seconds left
let me propose that we let our minds
run free for a moment and conjecture.
Would we, one day,
evolve from Homo sapiens
to Homo projectius,
meaning that we would become
individuals or beings
who would naturally project
outside of our bodies
also having some sort
of multidimensional awareness?
Well, that's an intriguing
thought, at least.
Thank you for your attention.