Updated: Jan 4
Darren and I share a guilty pleasure ... the love of UFOs. Yes, we've listened to the podcasts, seen the documentaries and wondered (maybe even hoped) that they are real. With the Pentagon recently coming out and confirming the existence of UFOs, it feels that Ufologists world over are finally being vindicated. Although presence of UFOs does not automatically mean that we are being visited by alien civilisations, it remains a possibility - and it is that possibility that is sooo seductive - it would change everything.
It's official - UFOs or UAPs exist
They are being rebranded though into UAP - Unidentified Aerial Phenomena - possibly to give them more credibility and distance it from the 'tin-foil hat' people who have spent all these decades tellling us just that - there are objects flying around in the sky that we cannot identify.
Myth confirmed as fact
Stories about these unidentified flying object have been circulating for decades, with people in the hundreds and thousands claiming encounters (there are several types). As with all myths there have been as many die-hard advocates of the phenomenon as there have been skeptics, questioning everything from the 'grainy' footage to the mental health of the witnesses.
At any rate, on December 2017 the New York Times reported that a covert government program was seriously investigating UFOs and the previously leaked footage of UFOs seen during a military drill were indeed legitimate.
It was a moment of vindication for UFO advocates who had dared to make the same claim (based on leaked evidence from whistle blowers) only to be branded as crackpots by the mass media.
Media attention on UFOs has become even more heightened over the past few months as the world awaits a much anticipated report from the US government officials which is suppose to disclose everything the Pentagon knows of UFOs, encounters and aliens... As some impassioned senators in the US congress claim - 'we have a right to know'.
UFOs is not equal to aliens
It is important to note that the confirmation of UFOs (or UAPs) from official sources have come (disappointedly) with a caveat - they do not know the origin of these crafts and can only confirm that it is not their technology.
They have expounded the possibility that these could be from other advanced military nations such as China or Russia. And to-date they have not found any convincing evidence to say they are extraterrestrial.
Some prominent physicists are also skeptical of the 'extraterritorial' evidence e.g. this tongue-in-cheek tweet from Prof. Brian Cox and this exchange between Joe Rogan and Neil de Grasse Tyson. There are others e.g. Prof. Michio Kaku though that say that scientists to keep an open mind.
The Ufologists' warnings
At this watershed moment, I thinks it's important to pay attention to some of the other things that the UFO advocates (or ufologists) have been saying for some time now. After all these are the folks who have been trying to set the record straight for some time now - often at a high personal and professional cost.
Three things in particular stands out to me...and no, you no longer have to go searching in the deepest and darkest corners of the internet to hear what they have to say - even Netflix has a documentary on it.
First thing: Don't expect full disclosure.
'They have been hiding the facts for decades. Why bother with full disclosure now? Many people in powerful positions have much to lose so they will never tell you the full story.'
If early reports into 'the report' is anything to go by, this is indeed turning out to be the case...
So why go through this farce act of disclosure and admission of the existence of UFOs anyway.
Second thing: Expect everything to be opportunistically framed as an issue of 'national security'.
According to the Ufologists, this disclosure had been planned years ago as a way of justifying continued investment into the military. All 'they' have been waiting for is the right timing ...
Wars have well and truly fallen out of fashion these days. The average punter would rather see government funding go into healthcare, education, provision of food, comfortable homes, good lifestyles, great retirements and conservation of the environment.
Funding state-sanctioned slaughter based on ideological differences is no longer something the public supports. So how to justify continued investment in weapons that can annihilate the human race? Create a new enemy of course.
This narrative (of extraterrestrials posing an existential threat) does not need much convincing as thanks to Hollywood it is already rooted deep within our psyches. How many flicks have you seen portraying aliens to be vicious forces here to conquer and colonise, if not to annihilate, the human race?
The fear it seems 'they' want to tap into, is one we harbour deep within; one day our deeds will be done unto us.
So is this a case of humanity projecting it's colonial past on unknown alien race or a plausible scenario extrapolated from tangible evidence? The public seems to think the latter.
When the New York Times story first broke, instead of seeing the public succumb to 'mass hysteria' (which is apparently the reason we have not been told anything in the past), what followed was a largely "maybe the aliens can save us from ourselves" kind of response.
And that is how deep our faith in our governments, leaders and our own selves runs these days...
If early reports are anything to go by, the 'powers to be' seem to have gone back to Plan A; deny any evidence of extra-terrestrial life and blame it all on the new economic rival, the Chinese, and for good measure, an old foe, the Russians. Create an impression that they are well ahead of the US technologically, creating an impetus for more funding to preserve good old American supremacy...
It seems it's easier to continue pitching humanity against each other than to create a new enemy... at least for now.
The question remains - how much of what comes out in 'official reports' from obscure government agencies can we really trust? After all, two decades ago the same intelligence units reported existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, a narrative that was heartily embraced and propagated by the media at the time. The wars that followed have cost hundreds of thousands in human lives and traumatised many others...
Third thing: The aliens are move evolved and have moved beyond the exploitative and scarcity mindset that the human civilisation is trapped in.
Ufologists however remain convinced that this isn't a human invention.
Given the speed and maneuverability of these crafts, they claim that the UFOs and hence their pilots have extraterrestrial origins. Drawing on their personal or other eye witness accounts of alien encounters, they also claim that the aliens are here in peace.
Further, the extra-terrestrials ability to undertake inter-galactic travel puts these civilisations' technologies well ahead of ours. Their technologies are also said to have moved beyond the need for exploitative extraction of precious metals, minerals and energy. As for the small-minded and destructive acts of war, this simply does not register.
They are not here to mine, colonise or conquer our planet. Rather they are here with the very benevolent aim to conserve it.
They are here to prevent us from blowing ourselves up...
I have to admit that all this has a strong pull on the heart strings. Who doesn't love a good story with heroic aliens that instills hope aye? Here again we need to thank Hollywood to have predisposed us to such narratives - noting Superman and Thor were both aliens too :-)
But there is some logic that supports this assertion too.
Why wait till now to conquer us? Should they not have struck pre-nuclear age or even before the discovery of gun powder? Would it not have been an easier task centuries ago?
Besides, at the risk of sounding defeatist, do we really have any hope of taking on a civilisation that has mastered inter-galactic travel and have spaceships that resemble annimated tic tacs? How much chance did indigenous communities have against colonisers who came armed with gunpower (and exotic new diseases)?
How advanced are we as a civilisation anyway?
We have no doubt made plenty of advances over the past three hundred years - thanks mainly to the modern scientific movement. This has brought us (well some of us) many of the material comforts we enjoy today - plumbing, central heating, antibiotics, transportation, air travel, the internet, social media...
In spite of these advances however, we have not as yet fathomed the true nature of the 'known' fundamental building blocks of our universe - energy and matter. Sure we have figured out a few useful applications but we still don't understand what energy and matter actually are?
Besides, every time we come up with a 'useful application' we seem to create a new set of problems ... culmination of which is the environmental and climate crisis which we are facing today.
And what of the 'known unknowns' of life? What about our minds and consciousness? What it is, where does it come from and what role it plays in shaping our reality... There are many fundamental questions that modern science has not answered as yet.
One thing I often wonder about is why, in spite of all our material comforts, is our mental health deteriorating so rapidly? It has become so pervasive that all of us know someone in our close circle who has been touched by mental health related issues - depression, drugs, addiction, suicide.
Outwardly our lives have become rather 'instagrammable'. Inside it seems, we are mostly a mess.
An important caveat to note - There are pockets of human knowledge that we have as of yet not tapped into.
It's important at this point to pause and recognise that what we identify as the modern scientific movement is very much a 'European' scientific movement. It's roots and lineage is highly euro-centric. It has not been built upon the approaches and insights of other equally 'scientific' traditions in the East - rather due to pervasive racists attitudes of the past 300 years, these have largely been ignored if not, gone unacknowledged.
Scholars and practitioners of Eastern contemplative traditions have been calling this out as the opportunity to progress our scientific understanding. The missing answers they claim lie in the ancient Vedic, Yogic and Buddhist wisdom traditions who for thousands of years have been singularly focused on understanding the true nature of mind and consciousness and by extension, the nature of reality.
What makes these traditions unique is that their paths, practices, discoveries and insights have been methodically taught and preserved through a strong teacher-student lineage that can be traced back over 3000-5000 years, and remains in place today. The discoveries and insights themselves have been replicated independently by 'yogis' who have walked this path over thousands of years - the Buddha being one of them.
The rigour and empirical approach of these traditions rivals that of modern sciences and the discoveries and insights they have produced mirrors that of modern quantum physics. Their techniques are also proving indispensable to maintaining good mental health.
Further, the 'technologies' developed by these 'yogic' traditions to to investigate and understand the nature of mind, consciousness and the fabric of reality is also anything but exploitative - rather it involves using one's own faculties to refine their attention state and focusing it inwards to investigate and understand the true nature of mind, consciousness and ultimately reality.
'Yogis' (meaning practitioners of advanced meditation techniques and supporting ethical codes) in these traditions have consistently reported experiences of transcending to higher levels of consciousness - to a form of collective consciousness from which everything else arise. In the process they report experiencing a spontaneous transformation that opens up boundless love and compassion for other sentient beings, whilst acquiring abilities (siddhis) to transcend physical limitations of space, time and matter.
One of the seminal yogic texts famous in the West, Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda, lays out one of the yogic path (it's important to note there are several) with tales of 'sadhus' (accomplished yogis) displaying extraordinary 'siddhis' acquired through their practice - from communicating telepathically, to levitating, communing with animals, being present in two places at the same time, being able to remote view, and do astro-travel!
As a side note, this is one of the books that made a huge impression on Apple founder, Steve Jobs. He is said to have arranged for this book to be handed out at his memorial service with a message to "actualise yourselves...".
All these powers no doubt sounds very fantastic but it's also a distraction and an entrapment, and one all disciplined yogis avoid. When acquired they stay quiet about it, incase talking about it and getting fandom from it re-creates the 'roots of pride and ego' that they had worked so hard to dissolve to get here in the first place...
This approach has given these traditions and its practitioners a rather esoteric reputation and is one of the reasons why their accomplishments has not quite made it into the media. And when it does, it's always been reported with a highly skeptical lens...
We too need to avoid being infatuated by the siddhis and instead focus on the deeper insights that has come out of these contemplative traditions.
They never talk about a singular 'universe', singular god, and time as being linear. Rather, everything is multi-dimensional, with multiple forms and manifestations arising from a collective force, all of which plays out over cyclical space-time that neither has a beginning and nor an ending.
Admittedly these realisations are not as yet in my direct experience and so it's best if I stop here. To learn more it is best to refer to more realised beings who can, not only explain these in more detail, but also show us the path to realise them for yourself.
So what does this all have to do with UFOs?
The possibility being expounded by some UFOlogists is that the civilations visiting us may have realised the higher state of consciousness referred to in Eastern wisdom traditions.
Their technologies and abilities stem from the universal consciousness and this is what opens the key to inter-galactic travel, telepathic communication and so much more.
What brings them here is deep compassion for beings on this planet. And the way to connect with them is by elevating our own consciousness.
Whether we choose to believe this or not, the possibility of extraterrestrial lifeforms visiting us, who are more advanced, likely benevolent and open to connecting raises interesting questions for us as a human race?
What does this mean for us as members of the human race?
For one, we are not alone and perhaps have never been. For another, there are other civilisations actively watching us, monitoring us and perhaps even safeguarding us.
We may be one of many intergalactic civilisations, possibly a rather primitive one which other civilisations have deemed best be left alone; not dissimilar to the policies adopted by governments here for the last remaining uncontacted peoples on Earth. That is until we emerge from the fog and choose to make contact ourselves.
Imagine if all this were to be true...
Would we hold our current systems of power, governance and control with the same regard?
How seriously would we take the state and church (i.e. organised religion)?
Would we look beyond the façade of celebrity?
Would we see the flaws that are inherent in modern economic systems and corporations?
What about all the rich billionaires who are emblematic of that which is fundamentally wrong in our capitalist system? Would we be infatuated with their space exploitation ambitions?
Would we look beyond our galaxies for leadership?
I find it difficult to say whether all this is a sad predicament or a hopeful one ... What I am hopeful about is that confirmation of extra terrestrial civilisations may be the catalyst we need to finally come together as one human race. It may even get us to finally acknowledge all other lifeforms on Earth as being of equal importance.