… and then I Danced with a Billionaire
Robert Bigelow asked, “Can we survive death?”
He offered a reward of more than $1 million to anyone who could help him answer that question. Most of us would be interested in the answer. Mr. Bigelow, however, is not just anyone or just any 76-year-old mourning his wife and confronting his own mortality. He’s a maverick Las Vegas real estate and aerospace mogul with billionaire allure and the resources to fund his restless curiosity, embracing outer and inner space, UFOs, and the spirit realm.
Mr. Bigelow believes we can. The owner of Bigelow Aerospace and Budget Suites of America is not easily put off. He amassed a fortune to pursue his interests. That included the designing and building of inflatable astronaut habitats for NASA, like his soft-sided expandable activity module called BEAM attached to the International Space Station.
Can you imagine my excitement to learn that the speech Jeffrey Mishlove and I collaborated on won a Cicero Speechwriters Award from the Professional Speechwriters Association in the category of acceptance speeches?
An Exploration of Life After Death
In June 2020, four months after bone marrow disease and leukemia took the life of his 72-year-old wife of 55 years, Diane Mona Bigelow, Mr. Bigelow quietly founded the Bigelow Institute for Consciousness Studies to support research into what happens after death.
Robert Bigelow put up the prize money in perhaps the biggest essay contest of all time to solve the biggest question of all time. Throughout 2021, 1,200 people from around the world competed in the contest to show that there is life after death. Nearly $2 million in prize money was awarded to the winners for the best evidence of “the survival of consciousness after permanent bodily death.”
Six expert judges had the tough job of judging hundreds of essays offering evidence of the afterlife by some very smart people from all over the world.
On Saturday, December 4, 2021, the nearly year-long contest was complete with the awarding of prizes in the Bigelow Aerospace hangar. Jeffrey Mishlove, a former Las Vegas resident, took home half a million dollars for his winning essay.
Can you imagine my excitement at being there to watch the winner deliver his speech? I had the honor of helping Jeffrey Mishlove craft his speech, and I was sitting on the edge of my seat.
“What a way to celebrate my 75th birthday!
Thank you, Robert Bigelow. You, more than any other individual, are bringing public attention to the enormous body of evidence favoring life after death. These prizes that you are giving out to 29 members of the community of people investigating the survival of human consciousness are an incredible boost to the whole community. And, if I may say so, on behalf of all the prize winners, a great gift to humanity.
The last time I received an award was over 20 years ago when all I got was this little plaque. Back then I had more hair.
I also want to thank everyone here for being vaccinated. We are here to study the afterlife, not to go there. There will be time enough for that later.
If you had met me when I was 25, you would have seen a criminology graduate student volunteering in the psychiatric ward of San Quentin prison, conducting group therapy sessions with murderers and rapists.
Imagine how I felt in March 1972, waking from a dream that felt more real than real. I was crying tears of joy and simultaneously singing one of the most sacred songs from my Jewish religious tradition. Although I didn’t realize it then, that was the moment that led me to my destiny to be here with you today.
My Great-Uncle Harry appeared to me in that dream. We communicated at a soul-to-soul level. I was so touched, I wrote home and asked how Uncle Harry was. My mother immediately phoned back, and she said, ‘Jeffrey, how did you know? That was just when Uncle Harry died!’
There’s an old song from World War I that goes, ‘How do you keep them down on the farm once they’ve seen gay Paree?’ After an experience of the afterlife, how could I go back to running therapy groups at San Quentin?
Against all odds and all advice, I took a step and created an individual, interdisciplinary doctoral major in parapsychology. Even today, if a student says, ‘I would like to have a career in parapsychology,’ they will hear from every knowledgeable person: ‘Get a degree in some conventional field first, establish yourself. Wait until you become tenured. Then you can begin to explore the parapsychological dimensions of life.’
Imagine my pride in 1980 when I opened the package that contained my doctoral diploma and saw my degree from the University of California at Berkeley. I wonder if they were embarrassed to give it to me. To this day, it remains the only doctoral diploma that says “Parapsychology” ever awarded by an accredited American University.
Of course, that made it impossible for me to have a conventional academic career, but along the way I was able to found a couple of academic programs that did receive accreditation for advanced distance learning degrees that offered courses in parapsychology.
But mostly I’ve been able to pursue my interests through radio, television, and video. I’ve been blessed to have in-depth, intimate conversations with the thought leaders in our field. In fact, many of my fellow prize winners and other contestants were included in my essay. It featured 70 video excerpts with 18 individuals talking about their personal experiences of the afterlife and another 18 scholars commenting on these experiences.
Throughout my media career, I’ve been shining the spotlight on others. So, in part, my essay is definitely a product of our research community.
In 1994, I had the privilege of interviewing Francis Crick who won the Nobel Prize for his participation in the discovery of the double helix structure of the DNA molecule. I’m sure you will agree that this was one of the greatest discoveries of the 20th century. It was his intention to launch a research effort to demonstrate that consciousness is produced by the brain.
Yet he said on camera, ‘Jeffrey, this is just an unproven hypothesis. Science has yet to establish that consciousness is created by the brain. In fact, the religious point of view that consciousness survives death might actually be correct.’
This would surprise many people who think that science has already proven that the brain creates consciousness.
Another person whom I included in my essay is my good friend Russell Targ, who worked closely for a decade with one of our judges, Hal Putoff, to bring remote viewing to the general public. And today we can say there are 10s of 1000s of people practicing remote viewing.
In 2002, Russell’s beautiful daughter Elisabeth, who was a friend of mine, died, at the age of 41. She was a vibrant person, a psychiatrist, and a parapsychology researcher herself.
Shortly after her death, Russell, Elisabeth’s husband, and even total strangers received communications from her. For example, Elisabeth’s friend Jane Katra was interviewing for a job at Duke University. During a break, she was approached by a staff member who asked her if she knew a woman with long dark hair who had recently died.
‘She’s with me now,’ the staff member said, ‘and she’s urging me to give you a message to pass on to her father, who doesn’t believe in the afterlife. But this will convince him. She’s telling me that when she was two years old, he forced her to wear a red dress that she refused to wear and tore it off.’
When Russell heard this, he realized that he was the only living person who knew about this event. This convinced Russell Targ, a hardnosed laser physicist, of the reality of Elisabeth’s postmortem existence.
A year after her death, Elisabeth appeared to me in a dream. Like my dream of Uncle Harry, this one was also more real than real. I said to her, ‘Elisabeth, I am so glad to see you. I am so impressed with the many communications that you have provided, especially the physical ones.’
Just as I was saying, ‘especially the physical ones,’ the phone that was next to my bed rang. It was three in the morning. I picked it up.
As a parapsychologist, I would consider this an example of instrumental trans-communication.
Since this award was announced, many people have told me – including Russell Targ – ‘Jeffrey, this award is a vindication of your risky decision nearly 50 years ago to pursue a doctoral degree in parapsychology.’
And I think it’s true. But the question is why are we award recipients in this room, so many intelligent, educated people, risking our careers by studying survival after death?
In my opinion, the answer is simple. It’s about self-knowledge. Knowledge of the afterlife is ultimately knowledge about human consciousness. And to the extent that the human civilization is not exploring this field, we are woefully lacking in self-knowledge. And that is a very serious gap in our understanding.
I’ll take it even one step further. Robert Bigelow suggested I might comment on where this interest in the afterlife is going. Here’s my opinion. If the human race is ever to enter the community of interstellar space-traveling civilizations, we have to have knowledge of hyperspace, and that means knowledge of the hyperspace relationships to consciousness itself. It means an understanding of the afterlife.
And if you’re listening, Bill Gates, Richard Branson, Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, McKenzie Scott, and other billionaires, especially those who are interested in exploring outer space, and I hope you’re listening, I urge you to follow the example of Robert Bigelow and put a portion of your vast wealth into researching inner space and the frontiers of human consciousness.
Thank you very much.”
Jeffrey was the only person who did not stand behind the lectern, spoke without notes, received spontaneous applause within the presentation, and an extended standing ovation.
I heard many individuals who believe they should have won the award tell him,
“We could tell by your speech you were the obvious choice to win.”
“For twenty years I have been attending National Speakers Association conferences with my wife Janelle Barlow, Ph.D. I learned more about speaking from working on this speech with Patricia Fripp than in the prior twenty years. Her suggestions and guidance were invaluable.” Jeffrey Mishlove, Ph.D.
This is a much longer post than usual. Being at this event was a true highlight of 2021. If you are still reading, please check the links of the people mentioned in Jeffrey’s speech. Take the time to watch Russell Targ’s Ex TEDx talk: The Reality of ESP: A Physicist’s Proof of Psychic Abilities
Read about the amazing contributions of Elisabeth Targ in her much too short life.
Robert Bigelow. Who is the man who is willing to invest so much to find the answer to the question so many of us are curious about?
Hal Puthoff is one of the judges that Jeffrey mentions.
Jane Katra, Ph.D. Elizabeth’s friend was interviewing for a job at Duke University when she received a message from Elizabeth, after her death.
Francis Crick, Nobel prize winner said to Jeffrey, “The religious point of view that consciousness survives death might actually be correct.”
Jeffrey’s Miishlove, Ph.D. interview as part of his New Thinking Allowed YouTube Interview series. The Life, Death, and Afterlife of Elisabeth Targ with Russell Targ
If you are interested in knowing more about Jeffrey Mishlove, his amazing interview series, and how he has the knowledge to write an essay that was awarded $500,000.00 save the link. You will want to come back frequently.
And yes, after the celebrations we had a great DJ and Robert Bigelow was on the dance floor. I do believe it is the first and only billionaire I have danced with. As the song does, “Oh, what a night!”
Jeffrey Mishlove, Ph.D., is the host of the New Thinking Allowed channel on YouTube. He is the author of The Roots of Consciousness, Psi Development Systems, and The PK Man. Between 1986 and 2002 he hosted and co-produced the original Thinking Allowed public television series. He is the recipient of the only doctoral diploma in “parapsychology” ever awarded by an accredited university (University of California, Berkeley, 1980).
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