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96 of 101 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Paradigm Busters
Stan Grof's new book, "When the Impossible Happens," has become an instant transpersonal classic. The most personable and accessible of his many projects, I recommend this book enthusiastically to anyone interested in human consciousness, including the study of synchronicities, pre- and perinatal experiences, racial and collective memories, ESP and paranormal abilities,...
Published on December 7, 2006 by Renn Butler

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15 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed
I had high hopes, but was disappointed almost immediately. I have read so many books surrounding all aspects of the topics he covers. I guess I buy into a lot of what he is saying, but only because I have read better written books elsewhere that say some of the same things. There is very little reference to real scientific study or even fleshed out theories about what he...
Published on October 11, 2010 by Mickibell


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96 of 101 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Paradigm Busters, December 7, 2006
This review is from: When the Impossible Happens: Adventures in Non-Ordinary Reality (Paperback)
Stan Grof's new book, "When the Impossible Happens," has become an instant transpersonal classic. The most personable and accessible of his many projects, I recommend this book enthusiastically to anyone interested in human consciousness, including the study of synchronicities, pre- and perinatal experiences, racial and collective memories, ESP and paranormal abilities, karma and reincarnation, the convergence of science and mysticism, and survival of consciousness after death.

Drawing upon fifty years of disciplined research into the extraordinary properties of the human psyche, Grof presents a series of representative experiences of himself, his colleagues, and his patients of powerful journeys in non-ordinary or holotropic ("moving toward wholeness") states of consciousness. The content of many of these experiences were then objectively verified afterward, often to incredible surprise. These included obstetric details from birth, experiences of the subject's mother during pregnancy, obscure episodes from the lives of parents and ancestors, unknowable details from past lives, minute physiological characteristics of various animal and plant species, arcane details of world mythologies of which the subject clearly had no prior knowledge, and many other examples. A number of these fit the criteria for later objective verification through hospital records or research libraries; that is, they have the credibility of paradigm busters. The sheer volume and quality of these remarkable documented experiences suggest a radical revisioning of the outmoded mechanistic and monistic vision of reality, and point instead toward a cosmos governed by higher intelligence, numinous meaning, and even sophisticated humor.

What makes this book so special is the depth of personal sharing. While Grof dutifully and carefully presented in previous books the implications of his many years of research, his career trajectory and perhaps the entire culture have finally reached a tipping point where the "anomalous" clinical facts can be openly shared with much more personal color, vivacity, and self-referencing irony. I felt I learned more about the inner flavor of Grof's own life from this book than from all his other writing combined, a life of exceptional quality, depth, and service to others. He describes his first LSD session in Prague in 1956 in which he was taken on a profoundly unexpected journey into cosmic consciousness, spontaneous spiritual experiences in the presence of his wife's guru, Swami Muktananda, his involvement in the making of the movie Brainstorm, inspired umbanda ceremonies, UFO's in the Amazon, and incredible terrifying experiments in astral projection.

He recalls breakthrough LSD sessions and celebratory vodka parties with Russian colleagues in '60's Leningrad, earthy centenarian shamans at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, psychedelic toads in the Arizona desert, past lives spent in Ukranian monasteries and ancient Egypt, his auspicious yet doomed fairytale wedding in Iceland, life-changing contact with Absolute Consciousness, and his frustrated search for the infamous Mayan Crystal Skull. Grof covers this rich experiential territory with the disciplined curiosity of a seasoned connoisseur. Here are vivid psychedelic adventures on every continent - magnificent sunsets at Ayers Rock in Australia, death-rebirth sequences in pre-Columbian sites in Mexico, gorgeous psychedelic sunrises off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. He describes influential friendships and collaborations with his partner Christina, astrologer Richard Tarnas, and mythologist Joseph Campbell, meetings with archetypal figures such as Czech Republic President Václav Havel, Sai Baba, Mother Teresa, and Carl Sagan, and star-studded conferences of the International Transpersonal Association held on every continent. Grof remembers with us a lifetime of exquisite culinary feasts, spectacular natural panoramas, forays into the world's great art museums, and sampling of exotic psychoactive compounds from the planet's rich pharmacopoeia.

Above all, he describes the dramatic healing effects of inner self-exploration, both with psychedelics and with comparable non-drug techniques such as Holotropic Breathwork. Deep and systematic exploration of this type has resulted consistently in emotional and psychosomatic healing, spiritual awakening, and spontaneous emergence of positive ecological and humanitarian values. This type of transformation in sufficient numbers, Grof convincingly asserts, may be an important missing ingredient enhancing our species' chances for survival.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!, January 4, 2007
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This review is from: When the Impossible Happens: Adventures in Non-Ordinary Reality (Paperback)
Grof describes in a very intimate and almost autobiographical manner his experiences with witnessing altered states of consciousness in others (namely his patients) and his own experiences with non-ordinary reality. It is a fantastic read, truly an adventure into this rarely explored part of the subconscious mind. I also thought he was quite brave in his candor in revealing his own experiences, particularly as a person from a traditional medical/psychiatric background. His work and explorations, I feel, are ground breaking and opens up a whole realm of possibilities for future work in the study of the human psyche. His book shows that we are truly much more than we could ever imagine we are! I highly recommend it.
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Light but entertaining read, June 19, 2007
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This review is from: When the Impossible Happens: Adventures in Non-Ordinary Reality (Paperback)
Most of Stan Grof's books are full of Big Thoughts, but this one is on the light side. Good bedside reading. Short chapters are just the right size for a one a night rhythm.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars And important stepping stone to a new Universal Vision, November 29, 2007
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This review is from: When the Impossible Happens: Adventures in Non-Ordinary Reality (Paperback)
Grof throws it all at you in this delightful little book on consciousness and transpersonal psychology, which is also an easy read. He discusses and elaborates on many topics that are of interest in exploring paradigm shifting views on the nature of consciousness and existence and so migrating us out of the straight jacket of materialistic monism and Freudian psychology, that have so dominated western thinking.

Topics reviewed include Holotropic breathwork, Crop Circles, Siddha Yoga, LSD and Ketamine Based therapy sessions, past life regression therapy, Synchronicities, Shamanic Influences, Primal Therapy, ESP, Remote viewing, Basic Perinatal Matrices (BPM), Astrological Archetypes etc. and it is mostly through direct experiential based vignetttes garnered from the authors 50 years in the field.

The Holotropic breathwork itself seems like a variant on Osho's dynamic kundalini pranayama, and active meditations that is combined with music. Knowing from my own experience the relationship between breathing rhythm and the quality and one's conscious state and moods, ( a fact that is also known for millennia from the teachings of Siddhas such as Thirumoolar), it is highly likely that it can be used to raise deep unconscious and traumatic states so that they can be therapeutically resolved. Just like people remember things based on a trigger from the time the memory was implanted, each traumatic event in a person past life or past lives will have its own characteristic breathing rhythm and going into this upsetting breathing rhythm can be used as a trigger to raise it once again. Unfortunately, in this book Grof does not go into too much detail on how the mechanics of this breathwork but does describe some stories of those who were able to use successfully to heal themselves from trauma or phobias developed in the birth canal and in past lives.

The LSD experiences he describes paint reality in the same words as those of the yogic Siddhas, namely that the real world a highly expansive interconnected infinite and spaceless intelligence capable of manifold manifestations and meanings. That it is never separate from the experiencer but a is a vast phenomenal game of play of the cosmic consciousness. That the apparent separation and sedimentations of objects arises out of conditioning and dullness and lack of flexibility in the conscious apparatus. That LSD can be used to alleviate this dullness and conditioning temporarily and so dehypnotize one from the dream of separation and limitations. That the experiences induced by it are not neurochemical artifacts, symptoms of a toxic psychosis as mainstream psychologists called it, but genuine manifestations of the human psyche itself. Personally, I use yoga, pranayama and meditation to achieve the same results.

On one occasion, in an LSD session, and OBE the author takes a trip to his mother's house and the experience is so real, that he believes like in the dream of Chuang Tzu that it is his life in America that is a dream. He considers taking back a picture from the house to proof to himself that the nature of the world is entirely dream but is fearful that he may find out something he doesn't want to know and messing with powers beyond his conscious abilities to assimilate. He should have took the picture, and then he would have known that all is dream. Also, there are no powers to be fearful off because there are no devilish mystic archetypes or black forces beyond your own mind. Unpowered by your mind, they dissolve into nothingness.

In another experience, he describes a ketamine session in which he experiences identification with petroleum as an evil metaphysical archetypal entity and later he says "I became every jew in the nazi gas chambers, every sprayed ant and cockroach, every fly caught in the sticky goo of the fly-traps". I think the author needs to make a clearer distinction here, that he did not become these things, in his Ketamine session, he has just achieved a clear and noise free perspective as one gets in the Eka Grata state of consciousness. You can experience things close up and real, to the exclusion of all else. However, you are still only experiencing it from the outside and so seeing only surfaces and heightened sensory perceptions and thought superimpositions based on your understandings and unconscious reservoir of experiences- you are not experiencing it from within as it is in the field of the one-consciousness. This is a qualitatively different experience.

In another session, he experiences himself becoming a towel at a neighboring swimming pool in Esalen, and seeing all those at the pool and watching all that was going on. This is a remote viewing experiencing and he says later those at the pool validated what he saw and experienced and he takes this as indicative of proof that he did astrally project and have an OBE.

However, I feel the author may need to take the quantum leap in consciousness into better understanding himself on this one and in so doing transmigrating his current conscious onthological vision.

Consciousness does not go out and astrally project or have OBEs etc. It is always stationary, what changes is that different perspectives and views are brought into the field of consciousness as the objects of consciousness. I feel the author still things that consciousness (transpersonal or to alternative) exists in the field of the world and travels around it freely - he needs to make the radical revision that the world exists only in his field of consciousness. A Course in Miracles says this very succinctly in the line "Ideas leave not their Source" . Remote viewing works because all mind is joined and this mind is spaceless, - moreover there are no objects and no world apart from mind - they represent just projections of thoughts. It is this that makes it possible to experience things in remote corner of the world from your own living room. The Zen folk say this also very clearly when they say "No Vehicle - is the Great Vehicle of Zen" and the Buddha is one who travels all day without traveling anywhere at all.

In this case, he simply brought the experience of the being a towel at the swimming pool and his friends there into his field of consciousness. It is a conscious substitution interposing one thought stream with another and not a going out of mind. Their words and actions just represent his own ideas projected out of his mind - afterwards they have to validate what he saw because there is no "they" and no out-there - just his own mind validating his own thoughts and conscious experience at a later time.

Anyway, thought the book was a thought provoking read but good conceptual content and is open to later validation by each reader by their own direct experiences. It represents new life and oxygen and a major revision to the stuffy, reactionary, conditioned and positively Victorian and Pavlovian thought systems underscored by current psychological modalites that depend heavily on neuroleptic bombardment, Freudian psychology and rigid DSM IV diagnoses.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Space is NOT the final frontier!, May 24, 2008
By 
Michael (Racine, WI, United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: When the Impossible Happens: Adventures in Non-Ordinary Reality (Paperback)
Sorry Captain Kirk.

Space is limited to the known universe which, vast as it is, pales in comparison to the unknown universes that exist just behind the shadows of our consciousness.

Like millions, I too have enjoyed the fabulous imaginary worlds, incredible futures and technological wizardry that bubble up from the minds of great science fiction writers.

Then I began to read about a part of each of us that we know relatively little about: our consciousness. What we know about consciousness comes from the very limited vantage point of our waking state, and a bit more from our dreams. This experience fools us into believing that this reality is all there is.

Western Science reinforces this idea since it is grounded in a philosophical worldview spread by a distinctly un-spiritual Christian mindset that sees true mystical experiences as the domain of only saints and psychotics.

But in 1943, a Swiss chemist named Albert Hofmann gave to the world a molecule that could allow anyone to experience conscious states far beyond our survival-mode highly-filtered reality.

This molecule, of course, was LSD and before the United States government rushed to judgement and declared all psychedelic substances as wholly unbeneficial for human research, amazing results were being published in the literature about the effectiveness of psychedelics in psychotherapy, in drug and alcohol addiction, in easing the fear of death in terminal patients and in non medical areas as creativity, problem solving and other intellectual and artistic endeavors.

One of the original researchers in the area of psychedelics was psychiatrist Stanislav Grof who added enormously to our knowledge of the mind and expanded greatly on both Freud and Jung in their understanding of how the mind works.

Realizing that much of what was being discovered regarding the psychedelic states of consciousness had been explored for thousands of years in Eastern philosophies as well as indigenous shamanism, he developed his Holotropic Breathwork technique to achieve these same states of consciousness after psychedelics were banned around the world in 1970.

His astounding findings over the past fifty years using both psychedelics and Holotropic Breathwork is the subject of this book and for me goes far beyond the imaginary worlds of science fiction into realms of reality that offer glimpses of not only our consciousness before and after our material deaths, but even the ability to experience the consciousness of any material entity; organic or inorganic.

Dr. Grof's work has given Western man something those in the East have known for millennia; that this span of time we call "our life" is simply a tiny momentary escape from the unlimited pool of consciousness that makes up the ALL of a Creative Consciousness.

The only downside to reading this book is that I fear I can never read science fiction again without feeling that no matter how creative and exciting the book is, it can't begin to compare with what exists just beyond the limits of our physical universe through our own consciousness.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An open mind ponders the possibilities, February 22, 2010
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M. Mann (Eugene, Oregon) - See all my reviews
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I like the book. The subjects are fascinating and Grof tells his anecdotes well. I would love to see more formal statistical modeling of the anecdotal evidence.

There is a dichotomy between the anecdotal and the modern scientific view that is most excellently expressed in the anecdotal story of the author's meeting with Carl Sagan. Sagan actually shows his bias and a lack of scientific inquiry. There is room on the boat for all ideas, and Sagan shows typical scientific arrogance when it comes to discussing ideas that are beyond his scientific expertise. "I just know it's wrong" is not a scientific argument.

Grof likewise fails us with his lack of statistical data that back up his claims, expecting us to see his anecdotes as evidence when in reality his data hold nothing more than face value. Without data, the anecdote becomes just one more datum without a hypothesis. Great stories, but what are they REALLY about?
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Grat view of Transpersonal Psychology, April 8, 2007
This review is from: When the Impossible Happens: Adventures in Non-Ordinary Reality (Paperback)
If you are interested in C.G. Jung or have ever wondered about the dimensions of the world around you then this is the book for you. Grof is a transpersonal psychology pioneer and has opened up a new paradigm for trascendental thinking. These are basic stories and will keep you guessing about trying these yourself. I wish we could all have these experiences
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Autobiographical Insights into Unseen Reality, February 21, 2007
By 
HarbinCreative "Sculptor and Educator" (Westlake Village, CA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: When the Impossible Happens: Adventures in Non-Ordinary Reality (Paperback)
Dr. Grof is world-renowned as a famous scientist and intrepid explorer of psychic phenomena. The world could use a lot more like him. This latest work, which I have recommended to all my various "on-the-enlightened-path"

friends, is a very personal account of Dr. Grof's many experiences and observations of that "other world" which we get glimpses of but are afraid to explore. He fearlessly exposes his own history, his shortcomings, his "ahah!"

moments of enlightenment. This is not a dry read from an eminent scientists. If you want to expand your consciousness, open up your mind, read this book and pass it on.
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15 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed, October 11, 2010
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This review is from: When the Impossible Happens: Adventures in Non-Ordinary Reality (Paperback)
I had high hopes, but was disappointed almost immediately. I have read so many books surrounding all aspects of the topics he covers. I guess I buy into a lot of what he is saying, but only because I have read better written books elsewhere that say some of the same things. There is very little reference to real scientific study or even fleshed out theories about what he thinks is going on. Most of the book is a trip down memory lane for him about his days of doing drugs and going through his spiritual search that most of the country was doing at the same time. I realize his search has continued, and although he references (quite often) his seminars/classes, etc., it just seems to be a continuation of dropping another hit of acid (or some other drug he just had to try) and the trip that followed.

I agree with another reviewer that his name dropping became quite annoying. It took up so much of the book for him to talk about who he met, who was a guest presenter that day, and most of all...who he became great friends with. Much of that was unnecessary to the story line in the book and did appear to be pretentious.

Like I mentioned before, I believe that some of what he presents is likely true and even interesting, but it just feels like he cheated his way to these experiences by continuously taking drugs to get there. I didn't feel any real spiritual connection with him or view him as scientific or an expert. Just someone that did a lot of drugs, rubbed shoulders with lots of famous people, and wrote a book about it. I'm sure there was more to it, but I didn't get a good feel for much else.

On the other side, I did give it three stars as I feel the subject matter is important, and for me, was just another confirmation of many of the beliefs and parts of reality that I find interesting. I just think there are much better books out there. I would recommend The Holographic Universe by Michael Talbot.
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19 of 28 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars nice cover but dubious information, August 23, 2007
By 
Bart Connelly "bartc9000" (Marlborough, MA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: When the Impossible Happens: Adventures in Non-Ordinary Reality (Paperback)
I would be glad to be proven wrong but having read half of this book it has lead me to feel skeptical...even though I was looking for information to make me believe more (see angels and aliens, deepak chopra, etc.)

Unfortunately this book reminds me more of the whitley streiber style of taking too much time talking of personal experiences (with much apparent filler of unrelated personal life details and name dropping).

And also of the Streiber style of completely condemning the scientific method and methodology in general. At least STan does not go so far as to talk of a scientific conspiracy but he does throw the baby out with the bath water.

Case in point and the chapter that really disappointed me was on the quartz crystal skull. Stan gives vague annecdotes with little research into these episodes, including a jaguar in the living room which left Stan's subject in (giggles here) "metaphysical horror". The chapter ends not with an assessment of this mysterious object but stans failure to meditate infront of it and instead right a fiction story.

Hey, kudos to him for researching the mysterious, but am I the only one who is disappointed their is not a more sober, investigative approach? Stan to me gave me no more insight into the supernatural than you may get from someone at a busstop with unsubstantiated claims other than his apparent own experiences which even those have little to back up.

BTW: found much more intriguing info on the skull on wikipedia of all places.

I hope stan's other books are better, with less filler of his personal life and less like flaky books like "connecting the dots' and more like "angels and aliens" or the spirit molecule. the last two being much more sober, investigative and objective.

I like books on spiritualism and the supernatural a lot but am very tired of people exploiting the genre with their empty supposed studies. Anyways the cover was cool. I will do my research better next time.
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When the Impossible Happens: Adventures in Non-Ordinary Reality
When the Impossible Happens: Adventures in Non-Ordinary Reality by Stanislav Grof (Paperback - April 1, 2006)
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