The OA and The Flipside

Just watched the first four episodes of the new series on Netflix "The OA."

Spoiler alerts ahead!  So if you haven't watched up to episode 4, then g'wan and do so.  Y'all come back ya hear?

Okay.  Team. Gather up.  Let's get in a huddle so we can talk about this show in whispered tones.

"I think Brit Marling is an alien."  What? Who said that? No she's not. She's from Chicago. "But look at her movies, "the East," "Another Earth" - I mean, c'mon, she's obviously not from this planet.  She writes and stars in films that are about "off planet experiences."  And none more impressive than her latest offering, done with some guy name Batman." And it's produced by Brad Pitt! 


No, that's Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij.

Batman and his Robin: Brit Marling. (Cub fan? Hope so)
All right now, team. Let's get this straight. Her show is called "The OA." They may reveal what that means soon - but I'm getting "the Original Angel" as in "the original gangster..."  It may also just be omnopoetic - OA sounds like "Away" which is what happens to you when you are from "Away."  (And for those who've been up to Maine, everyone who isn't from Maine is from away. Whether it's Vermont or Mars, everyone not born in Maine for at least five generations is considered to be "from Away."  Or from "OA."  Which is OK (and not Oklahoma).

What's "The OA" about?  

It's about near death experiences who come back and may or may not act like "angels."  The argument, as put forth in the show is that people who've had an NDE have "Chosen to return to Earth" despite knowing what their adventure might entail, and so therefore can be classified as angels.

Well, team, let's clarify something off the bat.  "I'd agree with you but then we'd both be wrong" as my old professor Julian used to say.  Which means "That's not in the research."  What is in the research is that WE ALL CHOOSE to be here.  

So if you follow that argument, WE ARE ALL ANGELS.  Which may or may not be the case.  It's possible if you consider the Earth a stage that we choose to perform on - and that nothing that happens to us on stage can ever be considered "negative" - it's just an experience with another actor who we agreed to be on stage with, it's just an experience we might have agreed to explore, it's just an experience - because once we're off stage or "back home" (as people call it) then we are no longer bound by the rules of the stage.

Let me clarify.

This series is loosely based on the books by Dr. Ray Moody. (As reported in the interview with Mr. Batman in the Hollywood Reporter.)  Now I haven't seen his name mentioned in the credits, so I sincerely hope they've made some agreement with regard to his stories, which were gleaned from numerous cases over a lifetime career of dealing with Near Death studies.  

But aside from that obvious question - the question becomes "are they actually recreating real stories or are they just lifting pieces of them to fit their storyline?"

Well the answer is both.

For example, Brit's character has a "spirit guide" who speaks Arabic to her when she's on the Flipside - either via a near death experience, or in her dreams.  The guide (Kaithun - which means "origin" in Arabic) speaks to her in her native tongue, Arabic, and Brit's character speaks to her in Russian as a young girl, and later in English.

I found that to be accurate.  We all have a spirit guide (according to the research, which includes Michael Newton's and mine), sometimes more than one, and when we greet them in the afterlife they present themselves as the way they want to be presented.  They speak whatever language they speak in their mind - so we wouldn't be hearing "Russian" or "Arabic" but "mind speak" - but by having her speak in Arabic and having Brit's character understand is a cool way of presenting this fact.

Same goes for the scene where Brit's character confronts the school teacher who is adamant about expelling the bully - but Brit's character offers "You've been doing these lifetimes as a teacher for a long time now, and don't you think its about time you started to teach the person who needs the teaching the most; ie. the bully?"

This is something a spirit guide might say in an afterlife council meeting.  When examining a person's life, or helping them examine it, council members frequently make cogent and profound statements like this that offer a different perspective.

These reports can be found in the work of Dr. Bruce Greyson, my pal who invented the near death experience scale, and whose talk on consciousness "Is Consciousness Produced by the Brain" is epic.

Check it out.

It's as long as four episodes - but MORE MIND BLOWING.  And it's science to boot.  Yay.

But let's examine some of the concepts in the show.  Like "what it's like on the flipside."  Is it a green screen room where stars are all around you? (Nice effect gang).  Well it depends on the person.

Like the other day, when having lunch with Jennifer Shaffer and someone came through (a famous film director who died, but whom I had met years ago) and as I was asking him about his experience on the flipside, he said, "No one ever comes over here (to the flipside) wishing they "held back more" during their lifetime."

That's the kind of profound (new information) sentence that I could never create - and that Jennifer doesn't share, or didn't until she said it aloud.  It's not the kind of perspective we could have over here - after all, our whole lives we've been told to "restrain" and "don't do that because it's too much" or "hold back and be quiet" - when the very reason for us agreeing to come to the planet is to "go beyond the pale" "do whatever it is that we're supposed to do" "take a leap off a mountain."  After all, what's the point of being here if we don't explore it to its fullest?

Brit Marling (Getty Images)
Which brings me to the failing of the show.  I can't call it anything but that - because they just didn't do enough research to understand the architecture of the flipside - (that's a link to the audible version of my book "Hacking the Afterlife") and that's not a fault, but it is a failing.  The key story line in this season anyway, it's a scientist (inventor, who lives beyond his means, but we're told he's sold patents in the past) who has been torturing individuals who've had a near death experience, by making them go through it again and again.

It works as a metaphor - for what people assume is going on during their lifetimes on Earth - that we're in some kind of grand experiment, and since we don't die, we can't die, no one dies, it's not that big of a deal that the "scientist in the sky" is putting us through this.  As a metaphor - I get it.  But it's sooooo wrong.

Let's go back to the Angel concept.  "They choose to come here so they have a noble cause by coming back from their death experience."  Well, yeah, that's true. But WE ALL CHOOSE TO COME HERE. Not just the near death folks.  They're often given a choice - "You can stay here, back home, or you can go back to your life and finish what it was you were going to do."  People who have these experiences (Dr. Eben Alexander "Proof of Heaven" or Trumpo (prescient name, isn't it?) in "Heaven is for Real" or Dr. Rajiv Parti, or David Bennett, (Voyage of Purpose) or Anita Moorjani... to name a few) - all of them chose to come back here.  But my point is that they also chose to live this lifetime. To examine these realities. And to experience being outside of it.

That's just in the research. 

Eventually, Brit and Batman-glij will get to the Flipside books where they can read transcripts of people saying precisely the above.  And see the cites and quotations, and interviews with scientists who explain and explore why this is the case.  And it will likely become part of their universe.

At least I hope so.

(If so, give me a call. I'm in the DGA/WGA)

But the reason I use the word "failing," (being a former music critic at Variety, I was excoriated for never having a "bad word" to say about musicians) is because these characters (SPOILER ALERT!) spend 7 years being tortured by this crazed NDE "scientist" when all he needed to do WAS ONE SESSION WITH A MICHAEL NEWTON TRAINED THERAPIST to examine what these people were seeing.  (In LA, I recommend Scott De Tamble, but outside of LA, check the Newton Institute searchable website for someone you click with.)

I've done that - I've filmed these sessions - people who've had a near death experience, RE-LIVING - OR GOING THROUGH THE NDE AGAIN - while under hypnosis. They're able to revisit EVERYTHING they experienced during the NDE (without the pain) and are able to examine, explore, and understand - as well as meet spirit guides who help them explore and understand these profound concepts.

One 6-8 hour session, and the crazed scientist would have had ALL THE EVIDENCE he needed.  Because these session are replicable and they're consistent. Which is what science requires for experience to become data.  Consistent and Replicable: Dr. Helen Wambach reported on thousands of cases, I've filmed 35, Michael Newton wrote about his career of over 7000, there are over 200 hypnotherapists Newton trained that are currently working across the globe, and they've had thousands of cases as well.  And everyone says basically the same thing about the journey of souls.

Relatively - meaning, no matter who asks the question, no matter what the background of the subject, they experience the same hallmarks others do who've never heard of the research.

Doesn't matter what age, what religion, what background - basically, those who can take that adventure into the between lives arena, report the SAME HALLMARKS.

This is not my opinion, belief, or some form of philosophy. I'm just reporting these research. It is what it is.

On the other side of the coin, we have a film like Collateral Beauty. I haven't seen it yet - but have seen the trailer and read the reviews.  Sorry to hear that it's not well regarded.

I hear there's a copy of Michael Newton's "Journey of Souls" on a desk in the film about grieving and "the dead."  I'm sorry that the box office numbers have been bad for this film, like I say, I've yet to see it, but it's the kind of thing that those in the industry will say "It's too much of a downer, this death thing."

I agree.

It is a downer. Unless you realize no one dies.  There's no point in consoling Will Smith if he's going to spend the rest of his days believing that his daughter is gone, or "lost" or some other version of "resting in peace." Never to be seen again.  Or floating on a cloud.

That's not in the data. That's not in the reports.  What is in the reports, talking to people who used to be on the planet and no longer are, is that they're on to another adventure. Just like this one.  They're not "gone." They're just not here.  I'm sorry if that's upsetting, or beyond logic.  It is consistent in the data.  It is what it is.

Doesn't mean the topic will ever be "commercial," or that it will be for everyone. (ie "The ABC Afterlife Spectacular," brought to you by Heavenly Acres.") After all, we all agreed to be on stage here together, who wants to have a show where some nut is always turning on the lights and shouting "Hey! It's only a show! This is only a stage! Stop worrying so much about how the play ends! They all end! They all have a new beginning. Stop worrying about how you or your loved ones are going to get off stage!  Just enjoy the show!  And turn off the damned lights!!!!"

So, this Brit and Batman-glee-Jay (sorry, it's easier to remember) - some would argue that they must have had off-world experiences in order to be able to create this kind of prescient and sentient material.  

Pete Smith, President of the Newton Institute told me (In "It's a Wonderful Afterlife" that up to 30% of their clients claim they've had "off world" experiences, either in a past life, or by being visited by people who aren't from "around here."

Are these two filmmakers people who've had "off world experience" and are bringing their higher conscious selves to the screen?  Could be. 

The only way to know would be to put them under deep hypnosis and find out... and if you're interested, let me know. I've filmed 35 sessions so far - and a session with you both would be FANTASTIC.

Brad, you can come along as well. Get a handle on why you chose this lifetime. Ask Angie, she knows me from "Salt."  I drove her out of Korea.

Stay tuned.

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