As soon as Dr Alan Hugenot finished school, he was drafted into the Vietnam War and joined the navy. This introduced him to a love of ships, which led to a distinguished career as a naval architect. In 1970 – five years before Raymond Moody published his book Life after Life and coined the phrase Near Death Experience (NDE) – Alan experienced an NDE during a coma while in intensive care following a serious motorbike accident which left him hospitalised for 33 days.
Even though medical staff dismissed his experience, his NDE showed him that consciousness survives after death and prompted his life-long exploration into spiritualism and mediumship. Since retirement he works with Spiritualist churches throughout the US and is affiliated with some of the world’s leading paranormal research institutes in the world. He has also taken part in many interviews on consciousness and is the author of The New Science of Consciousness Survival and the Metaparadigm Shift to a Conscious Universe.
Sue: It is such a pleasure to talk with you about your extraordinary life! Back in 1970 when you had your NDE, how was this received by your doctors?
Alan: They wanted to put me in the nut house. They told me I was delusional and crazy and what I was describing couldn’t happen. But as time went by a bunch of paranormal research organisations were formed, and it’s become okay to talk about these things. You aren’t regarded as crazy anymore.
Sue: Were you brought up in a religious family?
Alan: I was brought up a Baptist. I was taught that spiritualism was the work of the devil. I knew what I experienced was true, but I still had to overcome this programming. So, as I approached retirement age, I decided it was the right time to study and become a medium. I studied with the Morris Platt Institute, which is part of the National Association of Spiritualist Churches. This was a correspondence course, and in those days you had to read about fifty books. It took me four years to get through the course. I then had to become a member of a spiritualist’s church before I could work as a platform medium. The first time I did this, I was getting names and all kinds of information. Afterwards, the organist told me I should go to the Arthur Findlay College in the UK.
I then happened to fall into a conversation with the mystic Suzanne Geismann at a convention, and she told me, ‘Oh, you need to go to the Arthur Findlay College!’ I’ve been there five different times now. That’s when I decided to write about the science of consciousness and survival and how Field Theory relates to what’s happening during an NDE.
Sue: What happened to you when you had your NDE?
Alan: I was in a motorcycle wreck and had severe head injuries. I went into a coma for about twelve hours, and that’s when I had the NDE experience. I didn’t have a life review or anything like that. I just woke up with the Light. I felt I was being nurtured as if I was a little baby. The Light never identified itself, but to me it felt as if I was home. I thought, ‘I’m home. I’m back where I belong.’ Then I got a message telling me I had to go back and finish my destiny. I remember thinking, ‘But this is my home. This is good and I’m staying right here.’ But the message said, no – I had to go back. I kept on getting this message so that’s what happened.
I remember slamming back into my body and all the pain of this life – not the pain of my injuries in the hospital – but the pain of this life. I remember thinking, ‘I didn’t want to come back – back into the pain of all this.’
Sue: I imagine it must have been really hard for you.
Alan: Put it this way, I’m not suicidal or anything like that, but I can’t wait to get back there! In the message I was told it was only going to be a little while, but it’s been over fifty years.
Sue: I guess time in the linear sense that we understand it, doesn’t hold the same meaning over there. I’ve spoken to a lot of people who have had NDEs and everyone says the same thing, ‘I can’t wait to go home again.’ Does anyone have a negative experience?
Alan: I was on the board of the International Association of Near Death Experiences for quite a while, and we studied negative NDEs as well. It’s interesting that those who reported a negative experience – if they stay with it long enough – it usually turned into a positive one. Pim van Lommel, the Dutch cardiologist, has studied near-death experiences in patients who survived a cardiac arrest for the past twenty years, and says that those who reported negative experiences were less that 1%.
Sue: Did you go through a tunnel?
Alan: I just woke up with the Light. But I had an experience that most people don’t have which was coming back through flames. P. M. H. Atwater talks about these flames – some people say it’s our extra consciousness being annihilated as you return into the physical. Ancient teachings of Thoth/Hermes speak about the soul being encased in fire. Well, that’s right. It is encased in fire. In the mystery religions before Christianity, they would call it the baptism of fire – that’s how you become enlightened.
Sue: Would you prefer you hadn’t had this experience?
Alan: Absolutely not. It’s the best thing that ever happened to me. My accident was pretty bad – my femur was all busted up and I’ve got steel in my leg and tendons missing. But it helped me to I realise that I am valuable to the Universe. I’m not just one of 7.5 billion people on the planet. I’m valuable – each one of us is valuable. We are all part of the whole. No matter what the obstacle is or what I’m faced with, I’m very much at peace about it because it’s happening for my highest good. It’s getting that perspective – that’s what my NDE was about for me. Everything that we do in life is based on our perspective because it’s how we see things.
Sue: What did your NDE show you about consciousness?
Alan: Consciousness has two elements that I have been able to confirm. All of physics knows that when we observe something, our observation precipitates the quantum reaction that we call the creation of reality. We are also now discovering what we call the fullness of time that Frances Banks channelled to Helen Greaves in the Testimony of Light.You have to have both observation and the fullness of time – that’s how consciousness works. We have to wait for the corn kernel to grow with the fullness of time before we can harvest it. It’s like this with the whole of creation. It has to have time to work out.
If you think about Einstein’s equation E = MC2, matter is created from energy and time. Similarly, consciousness involves observation and time, but I think there’s other factors we haven’t found yet. For example, what moves form to reality; from the implicate order to the explicate order?
Sue: Wow! Creating an equation for consciousness could be the next step?
Alan: Yes. Right now, we have two of the factors, but there may be three or four more. David Bohm’s work was all about implicate and explicative order. We can measure them and see them and know they have taken place but how does that work? To me it’s obvious that consciousness is real. I take people to task who won’t go there in my book. I ask them, ‘Why can’t you just expand your thinking? ‘Why can’t you see that the dark energy that we’ve discovered in the universe through the Hubble Telescope allows a lot of room for the unknown?
We’ve discovered that 96% of the universe is dark energy. Yet, we have these physicists saying that the remaining 4% is ‘everything’. I’m saying, NO! There’s consciousness. There’s life after death and this other 96% that we can’t even discern, much less identify. But they say, ‘No. I don’t believe that.’ But, they don’t see that this is just their belief, isn’t it! It’s not science. It’s their belief.
There’s still so much to discover. All the information I am receiving from the other side is about the importance of the fullness of time. We have to work this consciousness equation just like Schrödinger’s wave function to understand it.
I love how Carl Sagan always said, ‘Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known!’ And he also said, ‘Science is not only compatible with spirituality; it is a profound source of spirituality.’
Sue. With all you know about consciousness and the other side, do you feel integrated into the physical world?
Alan: Well, the whole thing is about learning to balance your higher power and the physical world. One thing I do know is that I have a totally different feeling about materialism and money to most people. I don’t throw my money away and I don’t give my money way to frivolous causes or anything like that, but I don’t hoard it either. It doesn’t matter. I can’t take any of it with me. I look at owning things as more of a stewardship. I attribute this to the near-death experience.
Sue: I’m really interested about the language around spiritualism and spirit guides – a lot of people speak about their spirit guides. I am curious how this is for you.
Alan: I definitely have guides and I know who they are. I wake up every morning at 3:00 am and go sit in my darkroom because it’s like a cave. I light a candle and then I start writing in my journal. That’s how I get messages from various scientists on the other side, and messages to go look in certain books to find important information. Sometimes a book falls right off the shelf.
I also talk with Helen, who’s my mother-in-law. I never actually met her because she died five years before I met my wife. But, I know it’s Helen because mediums and spiritualists frequently describe her so accurately. When I was at the Arthur Findlay College, Helen kept on coming through (five of my first eight readings!). So finally, I said to her, ‘Okay, I’m here but I would like to talk my other relatives too!’ Helen disappeared for three days – I could feel she was having a real snit. But on the fourth day she came back again, and I have been talking to her regularly ever since.
Sue: Do you think this communication involves some kind of thought projection? Or do you think they are actually disincarnated spirits?
Alan: I think they remain individuated. I can’t explain scientifically exactly how it happens. All I know is that I’ve had times when I’m giving a reading to somebody and I get a fact they don’t know. It comes from the other side. I’m not reading the mind of the person in front of me because they have to check the fact out with, for example, a cousin and then come back to tell me what I said was true. It’s ridiculous to me to say I was reading the cousin’s mind, especially when the cousin is in New York and I am in San Francisco. This is not thought projection or me reading their mind.
My feeling – and I really believe this – is that when we reach the other side, we are the same individuals who were here, and we move through different levels over there until we get to some place where it all becomes One. But we remain individuated for the first couple of levels.
I like what St Paul says in Second Corinthians, Chapter 12. He says, ‘I know a man that went to the 3rd heaven’ (that’s 3 levels up). He’s talking about his own near-death experience on the road to Damascus, but he talks about it in the third person. I can relate to this, because when I had my own near-death experience, I couldn’t talk about it either. Nobody would listen. St. Paul is doing the same thing. He’s hiding his own experience, just like all the near-death experiences that people hid to begin with. Yet, now they are beginning to talk about it more openly because it is no longer a fringe area; it’s become mainstream science.
Sue: It reminds me of Jesus saying to his disciples ‘My Father’s house has many rooms’; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?’ As you say, there seems to be many different levels of existence – or rooms.
Alan: I’m a member of The Parapsychological Association, which is very much on the scientific edge of this. The Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) is near where I live. It has funding to scientifically investigate mediumship and trance mediumship, and they’ve tested me there. They put me in a Faraday Cage so I am completely isolated. One time, we tried a new triple blind protocol and I gave every one of their employees a reading without knowing who they were. I have a series of questions, which I post for all discarnate communicators to answer. (i.e. What is your name? What is your relationship to the sitter? What colour was your hair? etc.) so I put these questions on a form and I just filled them out the form for each person. They would come in and sit without saying a word, and I would write my impressions.
The scientists then later handed three of the forms to each one person and allowed them to see if they could identify which form belonged to some deceased person they knew. It was fantastically successful. Some of the people would see me later and come running up to say how good it was, and I would have to stop them saying, ‘Unfortunately, if you tell me anything about the results, you will un-blind the experiment. All the sceptics will say that I ‘pre-conceived’ your answers, rather than hearing them from the deceased. So, they then asked, ‘Can I tell you if it was good or bad?’ And, I would say to them, ‘Yes, that would not un-blind the experiment.’ Their responses were, ‘OMG! It was fantastic!’
IONS is studying things like this with all their energy. They get a lot of funding from individuals and Portuguese corporate companies for different kinds of research. But we’re not as yet getting National Science Foundationfunding.
Sue: I understand Edgar Mitchell set up IONS after having profound experiences during his Apollo 14 space mission.
Alan: Yes. When he came back, he decided to set up IONS. It’s now one of the best scientific organisations in parapsychology. Another very important organisation is the Institute of Perceptive Studies at the University of Virginia. Ian Stevenson who studied children who remembered their past lives was part of it and so was Bruce Greyson. IPS is funded by Chester Carlton, the guy who invented the Xerox machine. He wanted to know about reincarnation and the research with children remembering their past lives is a long-term fifty-year study. So, there’s a lot going on around this.
Sue: This is really exciting!
Alan: Then you have Gary Schwartz at University of Arizona doing studies on soul phone. It’s a cell phone that talks to spirits! This is the cutting edge of consciousness.
Sue: Do you feel like you’ve incarnated at this particular time onto the planet to help humanity through a great transition?
Alan: I think each one of us has been put here to fulfil our destiny. Of course, we don’t know what that is. We are in what Betty White calls the obstructed universe, which she communicated to her husband Stuart Edward White after she died. We can’t see everything. But as Francis Banks says, when you get there [to the other side] you get to look at two blueprints: the blueprint of what you did and the blueprint of what you were going to do. There’s a difference between the two.
What Helen [spirit guide] tells me is that she can see a little farther down the path than I can. Even though she can’t see the end result, she can help me by putting a step in front of me that I should take. But she can’t tell me where that’s going. So, each of us is here for a purpose. We don’t know what that purpose is. We need to discover it one step at a time.
Sue: There’s a lot of talk about humanity making a transition from the 3rd dimension to the 5th Dimension. I wonder about that. Do your guides talk with you about this?
Alan: I think it’s very interesting that we have three dimensions here on earth, but String Theory suggests there are eleven dimensions. When you look at the Tree of Life from the Kabbalah teachings, it shows there are seven levels beyond here, and then there’s Yahweh (or God), which is the 8th level. Those eight plus our three add up to eleven, So, all of this relates to itself.
We’re not going to experience the 4th and 5th dimensions in this physical world. But consciousness obviously exists in those other dimensions and we experience consciousness every day. Therefore, we are actually participating in those dimensions. It makes a heck of lot of sense if someone is talking to me from other dimensions. But you have to study all of this to find the synergy within it.
The problem we have in this world is that people specialise. They become, for example, an eye doctor or a heart specialist but they don’t know about all the synergies that lie in between. They think, ‘I know all I need to know.’ Well, no, they don’t – they need to open up more.
Sue: Yes, this is about life-long learning. But as you say, we are living in the age of the expert.
Alan: Yes, we are. And, we need to consider our learning is not just about this lifetime. It could be about several lifetimes – a really long stretch of learning that we have to go through.
Sue: Why do we need to do this learning?
Alan: I don’t know! What I do know is that there’s this progression that we’re going through. And, we progress on the other side as well. So, reincarnation makes sense if we are progressing though many lifetimes. I don’t understand all of the ‘whys’ of everything. I don’t think we can as long as we’re in the obstructed universe that Betty White speaks of.
Betty describes our obstructed universe as being the same as the unobstructed universe. But our big obstruction is that we think in 3D. We experience this obstructed universe with our five senses but we also have a sixth sense. That’s what we are tapping into when we communicate with the other side. I do all my readings with people through feeling. I feel names and personalities – it’s all heart felt. I have to turn my brain off. The more I do this, the better I work.
Sue: Would you describe it as a telepathic communication?
Alan: It’s all felt. They don’t whisper in my ear. They just make me feel, and I also experience it as certain signs and symbols.
Sue: Why do you think we need to incarnate into a physical existence? It’s hard work here!
Alan: It is hard work here. But, we come here to learn something – to become a craftsman – you have to have an obstacle to overcome. And in this obstructive universe we have these obstacles that fall in front of us. We have to earn to make a living, all this kind of stuff – these are obstacles we go through. That’s the learning process and that’s the progression. It’s why we are here, to have those obstructions and overcome them.
Sue: For me it’s learning about love with a capital L and taking this learning back into the soup of consciousness when we die.
Alan: Yes, when we are on the other side, we have more consciousness than we do here. We are obstructed here – it’s part of this physical existence. As soon as we go out of the physical, there’s no obstruction. There’s nothing to overcome. So, we need the physical to learn how to overcome the lessons these obstacles bring to us.
Sue: The one thing that really caught my attention about Alice Bailey’s esoteric teachings, is how she says the next step for humanity is to overcome the fear of death. I am wondering where you are with that.
Alan: Well, it’s very interesting right now because we have Covid-19. I’ve noticed in the boating world how people are buying yachts like you wouldn’t believe. People are afraid they’re going to die so they had better buy a boat now, and it’s also a good way to have ‘social distance’. People are doing the same with houses.
On the other hand, part of overcoming the fear of death is realising, ‘Yes, you are going to die’. You have to accept the fact it’s going to happen and then you have to become comfortable with it. Otherwise people just carry on speeding along thinking there’s no end to life. But the simple truth is, if you’re born, you’re going to die. This pandemic is making people accept that death is real. As they do that, they will lose their fear of it. I believe we are making progress in that direction right across the world.
Sue: It will be a huge breakthrough if we can do that.
Alan: When people are no longer afraid of death, they will start looking at life differently. People are beginning to think it doesn’t make sense that we die and that’s it. You have to look at all the wisdom traditions.
Sue: Yes, it’s extraordinary when you look at the Hindu Vedic texts about reincarnation which date back thousands of years. What’s your take on this?
Alan: Based on the studies Ian Stevenson did at the University of Virginia, it’s obvious that children do remember past lives. He collected some incredible stories. It became very apparent that Marta who lived in Paraguay and was fifty years old the last time he interviewed her, clearly remembered living two lives.
There’s another example of a young boy who remembered being shot down as a pilot in World War 2. He even remembered the names of the people who were with him on the aircraft carrier. At first his parents (who were protestants) didn’t believe any of it, but after finding the aircraft carrier and some of the former crew, they do now!
That tells me it is possible to reincarnate. Do we do it every time? No, that’s not proven. Does everyone reincarnate? No, that’s not proven either. We don’t all reincarnate every time, but it is something that happens, and we don’t know the whys and wherefores.
Sue: Do you think some people incarnate in soul groups?
Alan: That makes a lot of sense. Some people meet and the connection is so thick it’s as if they’ve known each other for a long time. So, I think it’s probably true that they do move in groups. But I can’t say this scientifically because we haven’t done any studies on this.
Sue: I just wonder if some souls come as groups to work together in some way, whether that’s for good or bad.
Alan: It seems to me that there’s some truth in groups travelling together with a mission. One of the biggest problems to me is this whole idea of good and bad. You can’t have good without evil. At the same time, it’s a judgement call about what’s good and what’s evil. It’s about perception – even understanding evil is strictly a perception. Personally, I refused to see anything as bad.
Sue: Is this because you had a near-death experience and you know you come from a place of acceptance and love?
Alan: Yes, it’s easier for me to make that decision because of the experience I had. It’s harder for most people to decide that evil is a perspective – a viewpoint.
Sue: How do you work with the fact that there’s some pretty dodgy stuff happening in the world?
Alan: If I start fighting the ‘evil’, I won’t be doing good. So, I don’t waste any time on it. If you don’t waste time on it, it doesn’t bother you. It doesn’t come knocking at your door. It has no effect on you.
Sue: I’m curious what you think about the akashic records and whether you believe they exist?
Alan: I believe that all things are recorded somewhere. I believe that we move culturally as a group so we can’t escape the Akashic Records. Okay, we can think differently, but we can’t escape the result of our corporate history together. Even though we are co-creators, there’s a whole lot of stuff that’s pre-determined, which we can’t change. We are all part of the stream that we are in, and we can’t create out of that stream. For example, we can’t suddenly grow three arms – that’s not in our DNA.
Coming back again to the obstructed universe, if we restrict ourselves to living in the standard 3D model, we remain in our little 4% known universe box. But if we expand our consciousness, we increase our knowledge and improve our perspective.
Sue: Obviously we are facing global crises at the moment. How do you see this unfolding?
Alan: I see a lot of good happening even though some people are having bad experiences. I met someone last week who had lost his job as an airline pilot. But I can tell you this: if you look for the good you will find the good. And if you look for the bad, you’ll find the bad. It’s all about perspective. There could be fantastic opportunities coming for this airline pilot, but maybe it isn’t time for expansion. Maybe it’s about planting new seeds to grow in the fullness of time. One thing that’s guaranteed about life is that it will continue to change. If you’re afraid of change, it’s like being afraid of death. You have to go on with the changes. Change is inevitable.
Sue: Is there anything else you would like to say about that fact consciousness is rolling on regardless of what we are doing.
Alan: I want to say to everybody, don’t fear death! It’s just the next stage. I love the song, Goin’ Home: I’m going home through an open door, it’s not far. That song is telling the truth. It’s right there. You just need to take off this body and leave it like an old jacket and you’re still you. You’re still alive. You’re still conscious. There’s nothing to fear. Everything stops being painful. So, quit worrying about it.
The platform demonstrations we do in the spiritualist church is to show people that life is continuous. Spiritualism is not really a religion. It’s a philosophy; a way of looking at what happens when we die. There’s no reward or punishment thing. It’s about progress. And, if you’re a ‘bad’ guy, you’ve got a lot of progress you haven’t done yet!