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THIRTY-THREE YEARS - TIME TO RETIRE FROM FIELDWORK
I have a story to tell you, well, actually a sharing. This year I retire from active fieldwork in near-death research. Yes, I'll still give talks if anyone asks me, be a consultant, continue my blog and website, but that's it. Time for me to pursue other interests and write other books, and travel more - giving talks and workshops, and just plain sightseeing and visiting with friends and family. Five more books for me to write were revealed in Guidance, two of them will be memoirs.
In the future, I want to be more personal, send out more chummy newsletters, share from that vast storehouse of spirit and joy. If you haven't signed up yet for my newsletters, it's easy to do - just go to the bottom of my Home Page at www.pmhatwater.com, and there it is. Addresses are kept confidential.
And that desire to be more personal begins now, as I think back upon 33 years of the most difficult task I was ever given, yet incredibly rewarding. First and foremost, know that for 33 years my job has been that of a researcher of near-death states. I worked in this capacity because of The Voice Like None Other and what it said to me during my third near-death experience: "Test revelation. You are to do the research. One book for each death." Books two and three were named, but not book one. I was shown what that meant and what was to be in each book, but not how to do the job or how long it might take me. I surrendered to that Voice...utterly. I put what happened to me on a "shelf" in my mind and became a "blank slate" on which others could write their experiences, so I could maintain objective detachment and simply be "present." My protocol was police investigative techniques and I held to that for all of those 33 years.
After I moved from Boise, Idaho, to Washington, D.C., I did share my own experiences to anyone interested, but abruptly quit after a starry-eyed woman came up to me after a talk I had given in the police department community room in Arlington, Virginia. She kept saying, "I wish something like that would happen to me." I was horrified at her statement. Go through what I did? I wouldn't wish that on anyone. Sure, near-death states can be incredible, but picking up the pieces of a wrecked body and an altered mind can be tough going. Shame and guilt coursed through me then. Had I misled her and the people in the audience? Had I misrepresented myself? Had I said something I shouldn't have? After that, I switched entirely to research.
Throughout the bulk of work done in the seventies, eighties, and early nineties, I never introduced myself nor did I tell anyone that I was a researcher. I didn't have to. People seemed to "pop out of the woodwork," anxious to tell me about the time they died. I didn't even have to prompt anyone. I swore I must have been wearing an invisible sign only near-death experiencers could read that said: "Tell me about your story." It was that magical. Later on, I was told that my method was based on "self-selection." Nuts to that. I never selected anyone, and neither did experiencers select me. It was pure synchronicity, plain and simple - 60% of my cases came to me in that manner.
I learned right off that questionnaires reveal very little. Really, I do not trust them, except to recheck previous observations. I say that because no experiencer has any idea how much he or she has changed until at least 7 to 10 years afterward. With child experiencers it takes 20 to 30 years, maybe more. (Children compensate, they do not integrate - thus they seldom "connect the dots" between what they have become and what happened in their early years.) You cannot dig as deep as I have or find out as much if you rely on questionnaires, no matter how cleverly you design them or the chi squares you use. Observational analysis is the best route. Over 70% of the medical procedures used today are based on the technique I used - which means my protocol is a good one. I have been heavily criticized for not comparing my work to the "classical model." Well, when I began my work, I had never heard of Raymond Moody nor his book, or that model. We know today that the classical model isn't classical. Mine, to my knownledge, is the only large scale research ever done on near-death states that was never informed by Moody or anyone else's research findings. My work is original and it is based on fieldwork - sessions held with individuals or in groups, and with "significant others" whenever possible. I cross-checked everything I discovered, again and again, and with people of different cultures, races, backgrounds. When I began I knew nothing about "papers," "peer groups," or "peer review." I only knew how to ensure that my research was objective, clear, and without influence. I'm a cop's kid. I was raised in a police station (in Twin Falls, Idaho). Dad was a marvel at teaching me police investigative techniques, even though to him we were "just playing games." Maybe he was playing but I was not. I thought Dad was "deadly" serious; so, I was too.
I owe a huge thanks to the International Association For Near-Death Studies (IANDS) for giving me a stage on which I could learn about what other people thought "research" was, and to Kenneth Ring for calling me up one day and saying, "I need to meet you. I need to know what you are doing." Was he ever surprised when he visited and stayed overnight. "You are ahead of us," he said. "Now you must come up to Storrs, Connecticut, and meet the rest of us, your peer group." Peer group? When I walked in the door of IANDS at Storrs there was Nancy Bush, the newly appointed Executive Secretary, baffled by my Western "Howdy" and whatever to say next. Many thanks to her as well for putting up with my constant "counterpoint."
Research has been my passion, my drive, my all-consuming dedication all these years, to the point that I have missed parties, avoided opportunities for fun and frolic, while maintaining the demeanor of a "monk." (I needed a lot of silence in-between forays.) Yes, I have an understanding husband named Terry, but he wasn't around in the beginning. So where did the money come from to finance my research? From giving rune casting readings over the first 900-psychic counselors phone line in the nation, and private readings too. Yup, in those early infomercials, there I was, tossing pebbles in the air, much to the delight of television audiences. I cannot speak for the honesty and accuracy of others on that line, but I can say that those who phoned me got the best I could give - a fair deal from a prayerful heart. I tell everyone I was "replaced" by Dionne Warwick. Not really, but it's a funny thought anyway. I still have copies of those old TV-outtakes.
My first book, "Coming Back to Life," almost killed me. I couldn't get words on paper. Nothing would come. But I was so determined that I would sit at the typewriter every day with paper in it, waiting. Sometimes all I could do after hours of waiting was cry, so I'd cry. At least I was at that machine. Finally, words came and I finished the book. I took it to New York City to a former agent of Ken's. I was sitting in front of her when she took my manuscript and dumped it into the wastebasket, saving only the Table of Contents. In shock I managed to whisper, "If the book is so bad why did you keep the Table of Contents?" She said she wanted publishers to know what was coming. "When you stop trying to be like Ken Ring and find your own voice, you really have important things to say." Do you have any idea how tough it was for me to write - anything? The leg problems I suffered in dying came back and I could no longer walk without extreme pain, and then there was those chronic rib dislocations from a myriad of accidents that made it almost impossible for me to lift even a glass of water to my lips. I remember lying flat on the floor to keep my ribs aligned while screaming at God, "This will not stop me." There was so much pain and so much heart-break, that, for the agent to dump my work after I had managed to finish it - well, that was almost too much to bear. What did I do? I gritted my teeth and kept researching and writing and finding a way to say what I needed to say in a language form that could be published.
"Coming Back to Life" was a first in the field - to talk about hellish experiences, near-death-like experiences, what I suspected was happening to the brain/mind assembly, physiological aftereffects as well as psychological, the difficulty many people had with aftereffects, and on and on. My own story, a brief version of it, was in Chapter Two. The book sold out nationally in two printings in less than five months and was on its way to a third printing when Dodd, Mead & Company, its publisher, was taken over by a corporate raider in a hostile takeover. I lost everything including most of my advance - another agent stole it.
Crash! What do you do when your world ends and you "fail" to keep your word? (I had given God my word the book would go out and help people all over the world. Yes, I was that naïve.) Well, I just kept writing, and working on research, and digging deeper, and discovering ever so much more. Attacks came, seven years of attacks against me and what I was doing. I sank into a dark depression, only to come out more determined that ever to finish my work. Other books of mine either tanked or sold little either because of false claims made against me or because the publishers lost in buy-out wars, cobbled up by corporate giants who cared not a whit for true authorship. When people accuse me of taking advantage of my subject to make a bundle of money, I can't help but laugh. Cashiering at Wal-Mart would have made me a fortune by comparison. Fame? What's that?
So, what stands out most for me from those 33 years? The sweeping, overwhelming flow of non-stop energy that filled my body after I died, enough to do what I did and more. And all those eyes, thousands and thousands of eyes, all of them mirroring me, my soul, their souls, all our souls, recognizing each other, honoring each other, looking deep. "Forever is in their eyes, the forever we seek in the research we claim to do.
People make fun of me about the three books I was supposed to write. Obviously I've written a lot more than three books. Honestly, I never, never, chose to do a single one. Nope. Each book came to me in a flurry of sparkles, bright winking sparkles, spelling out in sparkle-language what I was to do, then they'd ploop down on my desk. Always I would go to God about this in prayer. "Is this what you want? Did I interpret things right? Are you sure?" If I got the high sign while in prayer and meditation, I would then outline the book and get to work with details and research, always "checking in" throughout the entire process via flow states and five-minute meditations. I never recognized what was really happening, that I was really working on a theoretical model of Brain Shift/Spirit Shift - the transformative process. As things turned out, though, that was exactly what I was doing right along. Phases two and three of the model were available over my website. The book that sums up my work and completes the model comes out in late January, 2011. It is NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCES: THE REST OF THE STORY, hardcover, through Hampton/Red Wheel. To complete the model, I brought forth research I had done with altered states of consciousness, mysticism, psychic phenomena, and the transformative state long before I died. This "other work" easily involved around 3,000 people. That means NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCES: THE REST OF THE STORY covers 43 years of work with nearly 7,000 people. (I guess I never did anything small.)
Two years ago Guidance came saying "Wrap it up." The first year was surprisingly difficult. Emotions. I had so shelved my own experiences and how they had affected me, that my emotions, those tucked-away feelings, almost got the best of me. My mother and father died, contributing to a deep grief about childhood lost. I couldn't get my bearings, until, quite suddenly, everything made sense and my final book on near-death findings took on a life of its own. The result comes out late January, 2011. Still, to satisfy my heart's longing, I desired to complete my own story, put it in a little book, and publish it. No takers. So, my webmaster (and now publisher) Steff and I decided we'd do it. . . via Kindle. And it's now out: I DIED THREE TIMES IN 1977 - THE COMPLETE STORY, sales price. . . $3.95. Stigmarion in Russia is the only publisher on this planet to want to publish a real paper version; their's debuts Winter, 2010/2011. All I've got to say about this is - God certainly has a sense of humor!
Thank you one and all for putting up with me all these years. And thank you, everyone of you who opposed me, slapped me (yes, I was physically slapped), threatened me, and to this day enjoy stripping my work apart. You all gave me incredible strength and taught me what the "dark side" really is - the balancer of light and the redeemer of courage. Without darkness, none of us could ever know who we really are and how much we can really learn and grow and reach and stretch and smile and laugh and love and dance with God. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the French Philosopher and Jesuit Priest, once said: "Research is the highest form of worship." He's right. It is.
The website www.pmhatwater.com will continue and expand and change, as I do. There's a lot more ahead of me, so stay tuned.
God bless you all, PMH
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