Interview with Nelson Abreu: Researching Out of Body Experiences
Nelson Abreu is a Power Systems Engineer based in Florida, USA. Nelson was an intern at the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Laboratory, is a contributing author on “Filters and Reflections: Perspectives on Reality” from International Consciousness Research Laboratories, and is a volunteer lecturer and researcher with the International Academy of Consciousness. Nelson’s research speciality is Out of Body Experiences.
Q : Nelson, let’s start with you. I understand you were an intern at the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) Laboratory. What can you tell us about your time there?
A: I was fortunate enough to have Brenda Dunne and Robert Jahn as mentors. They were very supportive of my student club at the University of Florida, where they lectured on a couple of occasions. I got to experience the PEAR Laboratory — the random mechanical cascade, the water fountain, the robot, the pendulum, and other stochastic devices that were similarly affected by the users intention, despite their divergent properties — before it closed its doors after 3 decades of ground-breaking research on anomalous consciousness-machine interactions and remote perception. Bob and Brenda are so well read, articulate, and possess a rare balance of objectivity and desire to understand and explore the subjective.
The statistical anomalies that draw your attention at first were already great achievements of science. However, what makes these researchers so exceptional is that they are really trying to understand consciousness itself not just the phenomena. And they have been brave enough to go beyond the conventional paradigm in such an institution as Princeton, but also beyond the essentially materialistic epistemology that defines much of parapsychology. They have now moved the work to a new phase as International Consciousness Research Laboratories and have just finished a sequel to Margins of Reality. I was also honoured to contribute to a recent ICRL anthology entitled Filters and Reflections: Perspectives on Reality, where I was able to weave my research on out-of-body experience and with PEAR’s.
Q: These days your research interests centre upon Out of Body Experiences. Clearly, a scientific research program into such a phenomenon can prove challenging. What are the current approaches, protocols and difficulties that researchers face?
A: Few would question whether we dream. When it comes to OBEs, it isn’t so, since very few people have the experience with some frequency. One of the ways we address this is by training individuals to have experiences more often, rather than “waiting” for spontaneous ones. Until 16 years of age, I do not recall having a single ‘projection’ of consciousness or an OBE. Through training, I began having more and more experiences.
Now, suppose that we have a group of highly talented projectors. What does the researcher do? He or she can ask them about their experiences - and IAC’s survey (by Wagner Alegretti and Nanci Trivellato) is one of the most extensive ever. The researcher could ask them to observe a remote target as has been done in two IAC experiment programs, and ASPR’s classic “fly in” experiment. However, unless the researcher has his/her own repeated, fully-lucid, fully-recalled, validated experiences, one could always find a way to dismiss the information. And even if one is very open-minded, how will the researcher truly understand the phenomenon without experiencing it?
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