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Science & Spirituality

'Dark Matter' - The Physical Basis for Mysticism

Deno Kazanis, Ph.D.The recent scientific concept of "dark matter" suggests that we should seriously reconsider the timeless mystical perception of the physical universe. An article by Deno Kazanis, Ph.D.

This paper shows that the traditional physical description provided by mystics for subtle bodies and subtle matter would today be categorized as "dark matter," and that by taking these mystical concepts literally we can utilize this excellent mystical model as a physical basis for the understanding of numerous mystical and psychic phenomena.

Serious scientific investigations have been put forth in an effort to study phenomena such as subtle energies (qi or prana), psychic healing, clairvoyance, hands on healing, healing through prayer, near-death experiences, and out-of-body experiences to name a few.

The accumulating scientific evidence has generated various models in an effort to account for each phenomenon independently. However, these modern scientists have overlooked the traditional comprehensive physical explanation which mysticism has provided for these and other related phenomena.

Traditional mystical teachings assert that the creation of the universe is divided into several major planes of matter or consciousness, and that man, in addition to his visible body, has interpenetrating subtle bodies which are made up from each of these planes of matter. Most, if not all, of the spiritual writings and teachings that have emerged from every culture contain this concept.

Although the concepts of subtle matters and subtle bodies have been dismissed and ignored by scientists, mystics have persisted in this knowledge. Against this background we now have the recent scientific discovery of "dark matter" in the universe. Western scientists do not know what "dark matter" is, because we cannot readily detect it or see it, and yet it produces significant gravitational interactions. Theories fall into two broad categories:

(A) large objects which do not emit light, such as the remnants of burnt out stars, like black holes and white dwarfs, and

(B) small objects which are not composed of charged particles and are therefore not visible.

"Dark matter" is not a rare or insignificant ingredient, but makes up at least 90% of the mass in the universe. This article will focus on the second category for "dark matter". As the author has stated in a previous article, and as will be shown here, the known properties of the uncharged form of "dark matter" would be consistent with the physical properties associated with mystical matter from other "planes", the matter that also constitutes the subtle bodies of humankind.

We will show the role of "dark matter" subtle bodies in phenomena such as qi (or prana, or ki), clairvoyance, out-of-body experiences, near-death experiences, psychic healing, the power of prayer, and other extraordinary phenomena and will propose that this type of "dark matter" was present before (and therefore responsible for) the Big Bang which created visible matter.(1)

"Dark Matter"

Our scientific understanding of physical phenomena in general has grown enormously in the past two centuries. During the 19th century our understanding of electromagnetic phenomena was pioneered, and the knowledge that electricity and magnetism are related phenomena and that light was a form of electromagnetic energy was established.

The periodic table of the elements had been developed and essentially completed, and as we entered the 20th Century, science understood that the elements were composed of atoms, but believed those atoms to be the smallest "pieces" of solid matter. The valences of atoms were known, and therefore the chemical properties of atoms were thought to be "understood", even though it was not known "why" atoms had certain valences or what "basic force" was responsible for chemical reactions.

With the discovery of the electron and the understanding that it was a part of the atom, and after a hard fought battle with classical mechanics, a new picture of matter and the atom emerged in quantum mechanics. Amazingly, the chemical properties of matter became attributable to electrical charge (the same electrical charge found to be responsible for light in the previous century). The atom was found to be made up of low mass, negatively charged electrons moving about a small but highly massive positively charged nucleus. From the point of view of the electric field, the atom appears solid, but from the point of view of mass, the atom appears very empty. Quantum mechanics showed that not only do we see objects because of electrical charge (and not because of the properties of mass) but we can hold and feel objects because of the properties of charge (and not because of the properties of mass).(2)

Presently, scientists with highly sophisticated instruments have explored distant galaxies, and have discovered and verified the existence of "dark matter". The detection of "dark matter" has to be made indirectly, through the observation of its gravitational effect. Because it has mass, "dark matter" can exert a gravitational pull on visible matter. So, looking into outer space with our most sophisticated instruments we can observe gravitational influences on distant stars, gas clouds, nebulae, galaxies and other celestial phenomena, but we cannot see the matter which produces the influences.(3) As was stated in a Smithsonian review article, "Today, we understand that what we normally think of as the 'galaxy' -- the pinwheel of stars -- is in fact only a part of the entire structure. It is surrounded by, and immersed in, a globe of unseen dark matter that makes up at least 90 percent of its mass. The real story of the Universe, it seems, is in its dark matter."(4)

"Dark matter" at this time can refer to any matter which is not readily detectable by ordinary astronomical observation, yet can produce a gravitational interaction. As mentioned, there are two broad categories for the explanation of "dark matter". It can be burnt out stars -- white dwarfs or black holes, or, more relevant to this paper, it can be matter which is not composed of electrically charged particles. This simple property makes this matter invisible to our normal vision, and also would give "dark matter" the ability to interpenetrate with visible matter, i.e., it could pass right through visible matter. Although the existence of uncharged particles is not new, the discovery of "dark matter" seems different from what is known to date in that it makes up at least 90% of the universe, and is apparently stable. This huge mass of stable matter possibly void of charged particles presents a universe very different from that envisioned by scientists just a few years ago, and suggests something very new (or perhaps very old). The property of "interpenetrability" of this type of "dark matter" with visible matter strikes a cord with the subtle matter of the mystical traditions. To clarify this let us explore the doctrine of subtle matter and the subtle bodies.


Mysticism is a discipline involved with knowledge and techniques which are of value in assisting the individual toward spiritual growth. It is a very pragmatic discipline, concerned with direct experience, or awareness of spiritual truth, of ultimate reality, etc., which can be attained through immediate intuition, insight, or illumination. Mystical methodology is not based on external experimentation, but internal observation. According to Lama Anagarika Govinda, "The mystic anatomy and physiology ... is not founded on the 'object-isolating' investigations of science, but on subjective -- though not less unprejudiced -- observations of inner processes, i.e., not on the dissection of dead bodies or on the external observation of the functions of human and animal organisms, but on the self-observation and on the direct experience of processes and sensations within one's body."(5) Mysticism regards intellectual knowledge as an aid to the direct experience of ultimate "truths", but not as an end in itself. This can be contrasted with modern science which is primarily an intellectual process, quite suspicious and skeptical of direct knowledge through experience.

As an age old tradition which continues to develop, mysticism is expansive, covering numerous concepts and doctrines. Exemplary among mystical teachings are those of India and Tibet, and of particular interest to this paper are those beliefs related to the subtle bodies of man (which form the physical basis of mysticism). According to this knowledge man is composed of several interpenetrating sheaths or subtle bodies called kosas, which are made up of matter from different planes, each of different relative density. The densest of these sheaths is what we normally regard as our physical body, the body that is visible to our normal vision, and which western science has explored in great detail. The other sheaths are not visible to our every day vision. The second sheath is a subtle, fine-material sheath named the prana-maya-kosa, known also as the prana or etheric body. This kosa gives the visible body life and consciousness through the prana. In western mysticism, the astral body is noted in addition to the etheric body, and is apparently combined with the pranic subtle body. The next even finer sheath is our 'thought body' or 'personality', the mano-maya-kosa (mental body). This body is necessary for rational and intellectual thinking. The fourth sheath is the body of our potential consciousness, named the vijnana-maya-kosa, which extends far beyond our active thoughts. It comprises the totality of our spiritual capacities and is apparently equivalent to the soul in western mysticism. "The last and finest sheath, which penetrates all previous ones, is the body of the highest, universal consciousness ... (ananda-maya-kosa). It is only experienced in a state of enlightenment, or in the highest states of meditation (dhyana), and corresponds in the terminology of the Mahayana to the 'Body of Inspiration' or 'Body of Bliss'."(6) These sheaths are not separate layers forming around a center, but are mutually penetrating forms of matter, from the finest ma tter down to the densest f orm of matter, which appears before us as our visible body. "The corresponding finer or subtler sheaths penetrate, and thus contain the grosser ones. Just as the material body is built up through nourishment, while being penetrated and kept alive by the vital forces of the prana, in the same way the body of active thought-consciousness penetrates the functions of prana and determines the form of bodily appearance."(7) Mind body, prana body, and visible body, however, are viewed as being penetrated and motivated by the still deeper and finer matter, in which the material that our thought and imagination draws its substance, is stored up. "It is therefore only the spiritual body ... which penetrates all the five layers and thus integrates all organs and faculties of the individual into one complete whole."(8) In mysticism, the finest matters appear to be associated with the deepest truths, or spiritual understandings.

Along with these sheaths or mystical bodies are the energy centers or chakras, which are also not visible to our normal vision. The chakras "collect, transform and distribute the forces flowing through them. ... From them radiate secondary streams of psychic force, comparable to the spokes of a wheel, the ribs of an umbrella, or the petals of a lotus. In other words, these chakras are at points in which 'psychic forces' and bodily functions merge into each other or penetrate each other."(9) There are seven centers of psycho-cosmic force, the lowest of these is the Muladhara chakra (Root-support), and is located (relative to the visible body), at the base of the spine (the sacral plexus). The next-higher one is called the Svadhisthana chakra. In Tibetan Buddhism, this center is usually not mentioned or regarded as an independent center, but is combined with the Muladhara chakra, under the name 'sang-na', the 'Secret Place'. It corresponds to the sacral plexus, and stands for the whole realm of reproductive forces. The next center is at the solar plexus and is called Manipura chakra (naval-lotus), and stands for the forces of transformation, in the physical as well as in the psychic sense. The center that corresponds to the heart area is called the Anahata chakra, which regulates and controls the organs of respiration, just as the heart does. The three highest centers are the Throat center, Visuddha (pure) chakra, corresponding to the plexus cervicus in the visible body; the Ajna (command) chakra, corresponding to the position between the eyebrows (the medulla oblongata); and the Crown chakra called Sahasrara-Padma, the 'Thousand-petalled Lotus', which is associated with the pituitary gland in the visible body. In Tibetan Buddhism, the Ajna chakra is not separately mentioned, but is regarded as part of the Sahasrara-Padma or Crown chakra.(10)

Connecting the sheaths (kosas) and chakras are subtle vessels called nadis, which serve as conductors of the energies that flow through the subtle bodies. To a certain extent, they parallel the nerve-system in the body, and they are very numerous. However, there are three major nadis - the central channel or susumna, which runs like a hollow channel through the center of the spinal column (relative to the visible body) and the ida and pingala, which are two channels wrapped around the susumna-nadi in a spiral fashion, starting from the left and the right nostrils respectively, and meeting susumna in the perineum at the base of the spine. They establish a direct connection among the seven chakras. In Tibetan descriptions, pingala and ida are often simply called the 'right and left nadi', and there is no mention of a spiral movement of these nadis around the susumna.(11)

With our ordinary vision we cannot see the mystical subtle bodies, or the chakras, or the nadis, but all these bodies and chakras interact with each other to form the whole human being. To function as a human being, we are constantly using these subtle bodies even though we are not conscious of them. To the true practitioner of mysticism, these truths are as real to them as scientific truths are to the scientist. By turning inward mysticism has concentrated its exploration of the universe on those concepts which are of value to spiritual growth.

East meets west

The "dark matter" of interest to this paper can be defined as matter which is void of charged particles and therefore cannot be seen with our normal vision and can interpenetrate with visible matter. For example, if the universe contained "atoms" which were held together by a "force" other than the electromagnetic force, these "atoms" would not be visible to our normal vision and could interpenetrate with visible atoms. Recalling what we know of the mystical properties of subtle bodies and subtle matter, the subtle bodies capable of interpenetrating our visible body must be composed of various forms of uncharged "dark matter", if they physically exist (have mass). Interpenetration with visible matter is a property of "dark matter" which is void of charged particles. What the mystics were describing was a type of "dark matter" long before scientists discovered "dark matter". How could they have known that such a matter could exist? In our everyday life we are unaware of the existence of these subtle bodies, but the true mystics have developed techniques which makes it possible for them to experience the universe from the perspective of their subtle bodies. In so doing they can look out upon the universe and observe the "dark matter" with their "dark matter" subtle body vision. Long before "dark matter" was discovered, C.W. Leadbeater said "All these varieties of finer matter exist not only in the world without, but they exist in man also. He has not only the physical body which we see, but he has within him what we may describe as bodies appropriate to these various planes of nature, and consisting in each case of their matter."(12) Through our visible body we are able to experience the visible world, and through the different unique types of subtle matter of which we consist, man can experience the corresponding outer world when he becomes conscious of that respective subtl e body. Again, Leadbeater says "The soul of man has not one body but many bodies, for when he is suffici ently evolved he is able to express himself on all these different levels of nature, and he is therefore provided with a suitable vehicle of matter belonging to each, and it is through these various vehicles that he is able to receive impressions from the world to which they correspond."(13) To the mystic who has acquired awareness of his subtle bodies, "dark matter" is not dark.

Furthermore, looking at the accounts of individuals who have experienced these other planes of matter (such as during near-death experiences or in mystical states), it would appear that the sense of time and space associated with these various forms of subtle matter are different from that associated with visible matter. Each subtle body seems to have a unique sense of time and space, and this suggests that time-space relationships are dependent upon the type of matter one is conscious of or experiencing. Clearly this would make it very difficult to communicate these experiences to those familiar with only our usual sense of time and space. Examples of descriptions of mystical impressions of these planes of matter might be found in the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg or Rudolf Steiner, or the art of Alex Gray.


We need to consider where subtle "dark matter" came from. Our scientific understanding of the Big Bang as a single energy event which presumably created simultaneously all matter and time and space, is, interestingly enough, not the likely source of the "dark matter" we are discussing. The traditional view of mysticism is that the more dense forms of matter were born out of the finer forms of matter, a Creation which "is divided into seven major planes of consciousness or matter"(14). Our present scientific understanding of the origins of the Universe indicate that matter was created out of the Big Bang about 15 billion years ago. Our understanding of this event is sufficient that these unique types of subtle "dark matter" were not very likely formed in that event. Subtle "dark matter", however, could have existed before the Big Bang, because our comprehension of the Big Bang is based on the behavior of visible (luminous) matter. The microwave background radiation of the universe (the "echo" of the Big Bang), and primordial nucleosynthesis (Big Bang atomic nuclear production) are the two quantitative tests supporting the hot Big Bang Theory. Of course both of these phenomena are based on radiation producing (luminous matter) observation, as is also the red shift which originally indicated an expanding universe. We can no longer assume that all matter was created at the Big Bang, even though luminous matter clearly was. Some form of "dark matter" may have existed before the Big Bang. While this may seem like a highly speculative consideration, it is equally speculative to presume at this time that all forms of "dark matter" were created out of the Big Bang. Thus the concept of "dark matter" forces us to reconsider the presently held belief that nothing existed (except perhaps a singularity) before the Big Bang. It would be premature to conclude, with our present knowledge of the Universe, that ALL forms of matter were created at the Big Bang.(15)

The cosmological value of this possibility will be in its ability to resolve any anomalies which presently exist in our understanding of the universe. To have some sort of primordial "dark matter" present before the Big Bang would indicate that the Big Bang was created out of a certain percentage of this primordial "dark matter," but not all of it was "converted" to luminous matter. Thus we still have much of this primordial "dark matter" around.

The existence of subtle "dark matter" before the Big Bang may explain the cosmological issue concerning why matter is not spread evenly through the universe, as cosmologists would expect. Instead the stars are gathered into galaxies, galaxies are gathered into groups and clusters, and these, in turn, are gathered into superclusters. Until about 300,000 years after the Big Bang, the visible matter in the Universe was a hot, turbulent plasma. "If any clumping had started, the intense pressure of the radiation in the plasma would have blown it apart. Only after 300,000 years or so, when the Universe had cooled off to the point that those nuclei could capture electrons (and thus become the atoms we are familiar with) could gravitational collecting get started. Unfortunately for Cosmologists, by then it was too late -- not only was matter too thinly spread to form superclusters, clusters and groups, it was too diffuse even to make the kinds of galaxies we see all around us."(16) What is needed to account for this is "dark matter" which is unaffected by light or this intense radiation, i.e. matter not composed of charged particles, an example of which is subtle "dark matter". Intense radiation would pass through this "dark matter" and so it would not experience the intense pressure. Thus the formation of clumps early on would be possible. Measurements made by the Cosmic Background Explorer satellite (COBE) of radiation emitted around this time of interest shows that visible matter in the universe was indeed highly clustered, even back then. Physicists have hypothesized a class of "dark matter" subatomic particles known as weakly interacting massive particles (WIMP's) which could explain the clustering. WIMP's would have been produced at the Big Bang, are without charge, but would be more massive than neutrons and protons which make up the nucleus of the atom. They remain undetected to date. "Dark matter" present before ( and clearly after) the Big Bang seems a plausible alternative.

Recent research into the nature of "dark matter" has yielded some interesting results. Astronomers in Australia directed their telescopes at the Large Magellanic Cloud (a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way) in a sophisticated effort to detect massive pieces of "dark matter" in the Milky Way. We know we can't detect "dark matter" directly -- it wouldn't be "dark" if we could. This technique involves taking advantage of the focusing effect of light by gravity. What can be looked for is a brightening and fading of the background stars in the Magellanic Cloud, apparently due to a massive piece of "dark matter" passing between us and the Cloud. The brightening effect can potentially last from hours to years, depending on the size of the "dark matter". This technique involves taking pictures each night for several years, of 9 to 10 million stars in the Cloud and computer analyzing the photographs for changes in brightness. The researchers observed several such brightening and fading events with an average time of two and a half months. This gave "dark matter" size estimates from one-tenth the mass of the Sun to the mass of the Sun. This is the right size range for white dwarfs.(17) This would account for about 20% of the "dark matter" in the Universe. However, these events could be caused by anything which could produce gravity, even massive pieces of subtle "dark matter", as discussed in this paper.

It is known today that man is composed of matter created by the Big Bang and aged in the stars, but this new understanding of subtle "dark matter" makes, as Ajit Mookerjee says, "The individual manifestation ... like a spark of the cosmos, as the human organism, the microcosm, parallels everything in the macrocosm. The complete drama of the universe is repeated here, in this very body."(18) Mysticism would say that we are composed of sheaths of matter, matter which was created at each major event in the universe, when different types of matter were "condensed" or formed, and the last of these "events" was the Big Bang, which was the beginning of our visible matter. The seven days of Creation may refer to the seven stages or events in the Creation of the Universe. This can be viewed from the point of view of consciousness or matter, since the sense of time and space appears to be associated with the type of matter involved. Instead of the universe going from no time-space-matter, to our present sense of time-space-matter, the universe was created in different stages of time-space-matter. So time and space are dependent upon the form of matter one is dealing with or conscious of. It would appear then that consciousness on the subjective level equates to matter and the time-space associated with it on the objective level. One cannot say which causes which, or which is more fundamental, and, therefore, ultimately, consciousness and matter are the same thing.

This suggests that the physics of subtle "dark matter" is incomparable. This would suggest a universe composed of various "unique" types of matter with unique properties, a unique force to interact with, and a unique sense of time-space. These various types of "dark matter" which make up the various kosas, may have to be named "pranic" matter, "mano" matter, "vijnana" matter, etc. We can further state that each unique type of "dark matter" can strongly interact with its own type in a way analogous to how visible matter interacts with visible matter. Each type of "dark matter" can generate its own unique form of energy, in a manner perhaps analogous to how charge generates electromagnetic energy. Long range interactions can then occur between corresponding forms of subtle "dark matter". This is not readily visible or detectable by electromagnetic seeking devices (including our eyes), but could be observed when one experience one's corresponding subtle body and sees the world through it.

The existence of the subtle bodies and chakras provides a strong theoretical basis for the explanation of numerous phenomena, such as qi (ki, prana), out of body experiences, near death experiences, clairvoyance, energy healing through touch and prayer, reincarnation, and other related phenomena. And exploration of these phenomena provide very convincing evidence for the existence of subtle bodies, and that the universe includes enormously more than comes within the range of ordinary vision and present day science. Furthermore, a "dark matter" subtle body theory can shed light and provide possible insights into numerous other topics. Let us take a look at some of these phenomena.

Subtle energies

The concept of a subtle energy, or qi, appears to be universal. It is regarded as the primordial life force itself, and is given different names by different cultures (qi in China, prana in India, ankh in Ancient Egypt, arunquiltha by the Australian Aborigine, mana in Polynesia, pneuma in Ancient Greece, tane in Hawaii, orenda by the Iroquois, ki in Japan, etc.).

In the west, one finds "many published reports of experiments in which persons were able to influence a variety of cellular and other biological systems through mental means. The target for these investigations have included bacteria, yeast, fungi, mobile algae, plants, protozoa, larvae, insects, chicks, mice, rats, gerbils, cats, dogs, and well as cellular preparations (blood cells, neurons, cancer cells) and enzyme activities. In human 'target persons,' eye movements, muscular movements, electrodermal activity, plethysmographic activity, respiration and brain rhythms have been affected through direct mental influence."(19) However, western science can't precisely say what subtle energies are, can't specify the mechanism of subtle energies, can't credit a given therapeutic result to subtle energies with certainty, and can't say who is a legitimate subtle energy practitioner.(20)

Subtle energy, or qi has both local and nonlocal effects and is associated with prevention of disease, healing, the martial arts, as well as spiritual growth. In Esoteric Taoism, circulation of qi along pathways inside the "body" is capable of producing improvements in health and life, and there are many methods of circulating qi, from acupuncture/acupressure, to specialized movements (qi-gong), to meditation. Through Taoist meditation techniques one can attract external qi in through the chakras. In Kriya Yoga, prana can be developed through asanas (postures), mudras (gestures), mantras (seed-sound syllables), and bandhas (muscular contractions).(21) Qi or prana has properties that are not explainable in terms of physical matter as we know it. Although some have suggested that qi is a form of electromagnetic energy, it would have been all too easily detectable if this were so. Furthermore, it would require an entire electromagnetic information transmitting system, and a complete information receiving and interpreting system, which living systems do not seem to have. Traditionally, prana is associated with the subtle body called the prana-maya-kosa. The failure of the west to verify such a subtle body has led to alternative models about qi or prana. But with the understanding that "dark matter" (pranic matter) makes up the prana-maya-kosa, it would appear that qi or prana is simply a form of "dark matter" and/or the energy transmitted by "dark matter", which is why it has been so difficult to establish a physical basis. Direct interactions between subtle bodies composed of pranic matter is quite possible, and skilled practitioners of qi or prana have perfected techniques which enable them to transmit this energy externally. Qi can also affect the subtle bodies by entering through the chakras and transmitted through the body by the nadis. We should also mention that qi and prana are discussed in various ways, and so although one normally is referring to the "dark matter" and/o r the energy transmitted by this "pranic" matter, some references to finer forms of qi may be in regard to the finer forms of "dark matter" (such as mano matter or vijnana matter) and/or the energy transmitted by them.

Alternative methods of healing

There is a large body of research which has been performed that supports both local and nonlocal energy based alternative therapies, such as the power of prayer, spiritual and psychic healing, hands on healing techniques (biofield), and oriental medicine. Numerous models have been proposed to explain these phenomena. In view of our understanding of subtle "dark matter" and the knowledge of the subtle bodies of mysticism, let us see what insights the combining of science and mysticism shed of the process by which these alternative therapies operate.

The very ancient alternative therapy is Traditional Oriental Medicine, contains the basic feature of this therapy is the qi (or prana). This concept has already been discussed. Qi energy can effect the subtle bodies through the meridians or the chakras. The visible physical body can in turn be easily effected. This "dark matter" subtle body explanation for qi can also implement a basis for essentially all biofield therapies and therefore provide and satisfy the desired scientific basis.

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Keywords: spirituality and science, spirituality and physics, physics and religion, belief systems, consciousness, spirituality and quantum physics, spiritual, spirituality

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Deno Kazanis was born in Chicago and educated at the University of Illinois and the University of Cincinnati in physics, and at The Pennsylvania State University in biophysics.

In addition to his western academic training, he has studied Tibetan Buddhism under Khenpo Konchog Gyaltsen, Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche and Dr. Yeshi Donden, former physician to His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

He has also studied Taoism under Master Mantak Chia and Tai Chi Chuan.
Journeys Out of the Body
The Reintegration of Science and Spirituality
by Deno Kazanis, Ph.D.

The Reintegration of Science and Spirituality, in a surprising manner, provides a basis in physics for mystical/spiritual phenomena.

New discoveries from science regarding dark matter are used to explain unanswered questions on the nature of paranormal phenomena, non-local mind, the power of prayer, out-of-body experiences, near-death experiences, reincarnation, and a whole range of mystical phenomena.

Dr. Deno Kazanis also presents an inspiring perspective on the traditional teachings and practices mankind has utilized to experience these phenomena.
More info