Monday June 19, 2023
“HERE MEN FROM THE PLANET EARTH FIRST SET FOOT UPON THE MOON JULY 1969, A.D. WE CAME IN PEACE FOR ALL MANKIND”
—Inscription on plaque attached to the ladder on the landing gear strut on the descent stage of the Apollo 11 lunar module.
Just let me cut to the quick though: You’re saying there is an intelligent species engaging with this planet?
Yes, that’s potentially extraterrestrial, yeah.
I speak for everybody sitting at home. That is a shock.
It was to me and I had a lot of sleepless nights.
—“We are not alone – The UFO whistleblower speaks”
Transcript from NewsNation June, 11 2023 interview of David Grusch by Ross Coulthart.
Where are They from? Who are They? When did They get here? Have They come in peace?
If and when the stunning claims of former intelligence officer and UFO whistleblower, David Grusch, are verified—as I strongly expect they will be—we will have to start asking ourselves some very hard questions, indeed. Not only the very existence of (apparently multiple) Others, but the endemic high strangeness of the Phenomenon, the manner in which space and time are played with in astonishing displays, and the ways in which our own consciousness and Theirs are implicated in these astounding and confounding events, all combine to shake our reality –or rather, our kindergarten ideas of it–to the core. And while many of David Grusch’s claims are familiar to longtime students of Ufology, the fact that someone of his stature, expertise, integrity, and courage is making them, backed by classified evidence, suggests that we’re all in for a lot of sleepless nights ahead. Veteran UFO investigator James Clarkson has put it thus:
“As defined in the dictionary, David Grusch is a herald. Something monumental is being announced, no less and no more than that. We are learning in part; hopefully, soon we will learn in full. . . Now that we are paying attention, we are ready for what comes next. To borrow from the famous science fiction title invented by Arthur C. Clarke, perhaps We are at Childhood’s End.” (https://jamesclarksonufo.com/ufo-news/david-grusch)
In his recent book, Them (2023), published only months before David Grusch’s revelations, Whitley Strieber wrote:
“This is all part of the message, I think: we are not in for an easy time. Admitting the new into our understanding of the world, let alone our interior universe, is an extremely difficult and stressful task. It cracks the foundation of what we know and threatens to turn the solid footing of our understood world into the shifting sand of the unknown.” (p. 80)
The hard questions will be about Them and about ourselves; and both questions and whatever answers we may come up with are inextricably intertwined, on both sides. Our conventional understanding of human origins, human history, as well as the history of the planet, will have to be reconsidered, and doubtless radically revised, in the light of new information and knowledge—these earthshaking revelations.
My question here is: will we be properly prepared for this momentous task?
Let’s just take one minor example, the one I started with: our legacy space program. I was twelve years old when Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon in that hot July of 1969. As a child of Sputnik, born in the same year that satellite launched, I suffered through “the new math,” air raid drills in school, the Cuban Missile Crisis, JFK’s assassination, the Sixties, and the hot war in Vietnam. I was not politically naive. I saw the “space race” for what it was, or seemed to be: a key part of the Cold War, run partly to juice up our technological advantage, and partly for propaganda purposes and psychological advantage over the “enemy.”
From that standpoint, the inscription on Apollo 11’s plaque—“We came in peace for all mankind”—seemed no more than pious propaganda of the most obvious and saccharine kind. No, in truth we were going for ourselves, the United States; and our deep intent was not peaceful, but martial, for this achievement was our own bold, perhaps decisive move in that continuing, nail-biting, three-dimensional chess game of Cold War.
I never missed watching a space launch on TV, from Gemini through Apollo. I’d sit for hours listening to Walter Cronkite blather on and on, bored yet strangely excited by the boredom and the waiting. We were going Out There! When Armstrong set that first foot on the moon, I turned the lights off in our den so I could snap a photograph of the historic moment on our television screen.
So was I a preternaturally wise cynic, or an inveterate dreamy idealist? Or maybe both? We have to decide whether we tolerate this kind of ambiguity and ambivalence in ourselves. Can we accept our own enigmatic nature? For soon we will be confronted with enigmas both internal and external in a signal moment of tergiversation; a moment, perhaps, of the greatest paradigm shift of all, in which our ordinary pre-reflective distinctions between “inside” and “outside” may themselves collapse into a smoldering heap of conceptual rubble.
We came in peace for all mankind.
Even now, that phrase induces a frisson of pride, a shiver of awe. But it gets even more complicated now, doesn’t it? For one of the items of recent 20th Century history we will have to revisit in the light of any confirmation of David Grusch’s allegations is surely the history of the space program. Our previous conventional understanding of the entire raison d’être of the space program will have to be radically re-contextualized.
I’m well aware of the many stories circulating that already call that conventional understanding into question: stories that astronauts, as well as remote viewers, have had sightings and direct encounters with Others; that NASA airbrushed out certain provocative details of publicly released images; and that our intelligence surveillance satellites were picking up so-called “Fastwalkers” (UFOs) moving in and out of Earth’s atmosphere for decades.
Which is why, as I was reading through Chris Bledsoe’s recent book, Ufo of God, I couldn’t help but be struck by the fact that two key individuals who showed up at his door were associated with NASA. One of whom, the late Hal Povenmire, explicitly told Bledsoe that “he had been sent to us to debunk” Bledsoe’s original story of contact with Non-Human Intelligences (p. 209). Sent by whom? Well, one would have to suppose by his employer, NASA. That action would be odd, indeed, if NASA had not already been aware of and interested in such contacts, would it not? It would seem NASA’s apparently recent expression of interest in UAPs is just that—only apparent. That preoccupation goes back much further–indeed, doubtless to the very beginning of the space program.
It was obvious back in the 1950s and 1960s that the “space race” was part of the Cold War. Yet, looking back at what we used to call “the Cold War” in the light of David Grusch’s allegations of a worldwide competition among nations to acquire and reverse engineer crashed or abandoned UAPs for military advantage is a bracing exercise. Why did we really go Out There? What did we really hope to find, to do, and perhaps, to avoid?
We came in peace for all mankind.
The more one looks at it, the less one sees. This seemingly prosaic phrase, a straightforward expression of pious sentimentality, becomes a kind of oracular pronouncement. As the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus opined, “The Lord whose oracle is at Delphi neither speaks plainly nor conceals his meaning, but gives signs.” The Greek term is ainigmos—that is to say, the Oracle speaks enigmatically, in riddles. The Oracle was actually a priestess who would enter a trance (assisted, some scholars believe, by some entheogenic aids), and purport to speak for—in other words, “channel”—a god. Which one? Why Apollo, of course! This was same god who took us to the moon, and made Armstrong’s epochal step possible.
In mythology, Apollo was the god of reason and light, but also of dreams. Dreams, after all, have a very different vocabulary, grammar, and syntax than our ordinary, daytime languages of reason and perception. Furthermore, when she spoke for Apollo, the Oracle would not be speaking in Greek; she would babble in some sort of private, presumably sacred language, akin to speaking in tongues. This babble then had to be translated into Greek by one of the other hierophants.
However, the process of translation didn’t end there. Indeed, this is where the process of interpretation, and the riddle, begins. Above the door of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi there were three inscriptions, one of which was “Know thyself.” Before you cross the threshold and hear the god speak, know your self. But which “self’?
In his 1941 essay, “The ‘E’ at Delphi,” the great Indologist, Ananda K. Coomaraswamy argues that the “self” referred to in the Delphic inscription is the Great Self, the Self in which my being is the same as the being of the god, and indeed, the Being of the world. Tat tvam asi: Thou art That. Only those who knew their own divine nature, in other words, would be eligible to hear what the Oracle had to say. Only Apollo can truly meet Apollo. To hear the god, one must go through the sun door on up to Olympus.
Accordingly, the “sun” of which Apollo, rightly understood, is the mere symbol, is ultimately not the visible star that furnishes planet earth with essential heat and light, but rather, the Invisible Sun: the source of the solar light of absolute consciousness, the mystery of the Atman-Brahman.
Put another way, if we walk through the temple door and approach the Oracle from the standpoint of our little self—the “What’s in it for me?” grasping, fearful, egoic self—we are sure to misconstrue the meaning of her pronouncements. We will be stumped by the riddle and not even know it—or we will, but only when it’s too late.
Such was the moral of the infamous cautionary tale of King Croesus of Lydia, who made a substantial financial gift to the Oracle in order to ask her if he should invade Persia. The message of the Oracle was: “If you go to war you will cause the destruction of a great empire.” Believing his invasion plan to have been green-lighted by none other than the god, he boldly ventured forth to make war on the Persians–and was summarily captured. A great empire was indeed destroyed—his own. As the Proverb says, “Pride goeth before the fall.” Or, as Simon and Garfunkel sang in “The Boxer”:
“Still, a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest”
Everything is deeply complicated, and the more we try to simplify these complexities according to some fixed, narrow interpretive schemata—whether scientific, technological, military, religious, philosophical, or psychological—the more likely we will wind up slicing and dicing ourselves with Occam’s Razor. As we approach the twin enigmas of ourselves and Them, it will be incumbent upon us to become aware of our own limitations of self-understanding, so we might better transcend them.
A more recent story with a hermeneutic twist that rivals the ancient tale of Croesus is the classic 1962 episode of The Twilight Zone entitled, “To Serve Man.” The plot involves a troubled planet Earth, beset by wars, famines, and other woes, which is suddenly visited by nine-foot-tall telepathic aliens. These visitors hand over magical advanced technology that wipes out hunger, delivers cost-free energy, and ends wars. Earth is poised to become a peaceful paradise of plenty. The alien representative expresses their altruistic intent to help humans overcome their various crises. Before departing for their home world, they promise to return, and in the meantime leave behind a copy of their “bible,” which is naturally written in their native language. Code-breaking US intelligence officers are able to decipher enough of the hieroglyphics to get the book’s title: To Serve Man, a message which comports well with the aliens’ stated intentions.
Subsequently, the aliens return to pick up any earthlings who are interested in traveling to the visitors’ home planet. There are many happy volunteers lined up to board the alien ship, including one of the decoders. As he’s about to board the craft, his co-worker rushes to the ship as it’s about to depart, yelling for him to turn around. They’ve finally deciphered the rest of the text. “It’s a cookbook!” she screams. Too late! He’s hoisted onto the vessel, bound for breakfast—only it’s he and his many travel companions, along all the rest of us fatted calfs left behind in our earthly pen, placidly awaiting our fate, who are the items on the menu.
After many years of research, the great student of anomalies Charles Fort famously concluded that “the Earth is a farm,” and “we are someone else’s property.” Other veteran researchers and experiencers have said similar things. Robert Monroe, the famed out-of-body explorer and founder of the Monroe Institute in Virginia, used the image of cattle in one of his books to suggest that humans are being “milked” by parasitic Others who live off of our surplus emotional energies, especially the strongest ones of fear and love. Whitley Strieber has on occasion expressed the view that what he used to call the Visitors (or at least some of them) are intent on stealing no less than our very souls. And, of course, the late, great John Keel, perhaps the most pessimistic of all, wrote in the conclusion to Disneyland of the Gods:
“We are biochemical robots, helplessly controlled by forces that can scramble our brains, destroy our memories and use us in any way they see fit” (p. 174).
To be sure, there are certain items that could be used as evidence to support a somewhat darker view.
David Grusch himself said in his interview with Ross Coulthart, “I think what appears to be malevolent activity [on the part of the non-human intelligences] has has happened.” It’s not entirely clear what Grusch is referencing here—almost certainly because some of the events of which he has direct or indirect knowledge are classified—but he does mention “witness testimony” and “nuclear site probing activities.” By “witness testimony” I take it he means reports of abductions and the kind of physical examinations and harvesting of sexual/genetic material reported by experiencers such as Strieber and numerous others. And there is no denying that abductees have experienced physical and psychological trauma, which is often, if not characteristically exacerbated by the derisive reception—laughter, ridicule, defamatory remarks—that experiencers have suffered. To this list one could add cattle mutilations, as well as the Brazilian UFO cases investigated and reported, for example, by Dr. Jacques Vallée in his 1990 book, Confrontations. In these episodes, box-like craft (called chupas by the locals) have reportedly attacked, and apparently, in some cases, even killed people with some sort of light beams.
As far as the cases Grusch couldn’t discuss in detail in his interview, they probably involve UAP encounters with military aircraft that became confrontational. In such instances, however, it might be problematic to discern the difference between outright aggression on their part on the one hand, and a self-protective defensive response to perceived, or possible threats from us, on the other. If some UAPs have indeed crashed, then, ipso facto, they are not invulnerable. Interpreting the intentions behind such defensive responses as “malevolent” would be a stretch.
In the case of the probing of nuclear installations that resulted in the disabling of missiles (or, with the Soviet Union, readying their nuclear missiles to launch at the US) is equally tricky. While, in pure military terms, such acts are technically violations of restricted airspace and installations and are perceived as security threats and displays of aggression, read differently such acts might not be evidence of bad intentions. They might be seen as an effort on Their part to communicate, in a most dramatic and unequivocal fashion, the fact of their superior power—not to use it against us: “See what we can do!” Grusch himself is clearly aware of the problematic nature of ascribing and characterizing the motives of these Non-Human Intelligences: “I think at least if we look at it through a humanistic lens, it does appear negative, at least to us.”
However, “negative” is not necessarily “malevolent.” When the doctor prescribes an uncomfortable procedure, or a drug that has some unpleasant side-effects, the experience might be negative, but the doctor’s intent is not to cause harm, but to cure–or at least to ameliorate. When a parent disciplines a child by temporarily removing certain privileges, the child will experience this as something negative, but the intent of the parents is not malevolent or even punitive; it’s pedagogical. A lesson needs to be learned, and that can be painful. Grusch is absolutely correct: we see things through certain lenses, and we have to become very conscious of this, because we may need to change the lenses, get rid of them altogether, or somehow compensate for their distortions and their restrictions of our perspectives and perceptions. Glasses may be too rose-colored (all the Others are benevolent), or too dark-colored (all the Others are malevolent), or simply the wrong prescription. We need to compensate.
Without trying to deny or minimize the physical or psychological pain suffered by individual experiencers of abductions or encounters, I would submit that the darkest, more thoroughly pessimistic views that I referenced above may be, at least in part, unconscious projections of our own unassimilated collective guilt for having used and abused this planet, and the animal and plant species that inhabit it, for millennia. When indigenous peoples practiced their original spiritual traditions, there was an awareness of the sacredness of all life—of the inherent consciousness of plants, animals, and even minerals—that was reflected in their myths and rituals, a central theme of which was making of atonement with the beings whose sacrificed lives furnished the food and substance of our life. It was only later “civilization” that de-sacralized the earth, introduced the notion of property, and turned the world into a mere thing: a lifeless, insensate rock to be carved up and used for our own purposes as we see fit. We created the ideology of instrumentalism, the tools of dismemberment; and our nightmare is to have these same instruments turned around and used on us by powerful Others with superior capabilities beyond our very ken.
We humans are a strange, highly combustible admixture of shadow and light: lofty idealism and crass cynicism; sheer courage and rank cowardice; selfless generosity and selfish egotism; cruel violence and gentle compassion; and perhaps, ultimately, human and non-human DNA. Should we expect Them to be any less complex in motivation and character than we are? Or any less ambiguous and mysterious to us than we are to ourselves?
We may very well be enigmas to one another; and if we do not wish to repeat the error of Croesus, and rush in like a fool, blinded by our small-minded, childish assumptions, silly prejudices, and wishful thinking, then we will have to step back, silence our petty fears, and allow our greater being and deeper consciousness to give us novel insights and guide our quest for understanding. The formless silence of the Self, or what the late quantum physicist David Bohm called the Implicate Order, has always been the source of true inspiration and the forms of human creativity.
We came in peace for all mankind.
This is the koan, the riddle, the enigma. Meanwhile, after David Grusch talks, Apollo waits. Time will tell.