Close Encounter Zen Lab

Spirit of Change 20th anniversary issue reprint from Jan/Feb 1996

We need to show we can meet extraterrestrial intelligences without reactionary aggression. We may not be able to know in advance whether we can stand so firm in the face of what might seem to be a being which appears terrifying.

Can we learn that any prejudice is overcome when we glimpse beyond the surface and look into the heart of the sentient being?

A special CSETI (Center for the Study of Extraterrestrial Intelligence) team of five traveled to the interior of Mexico in January 1993 to investigate the longstanding wave of sightings in the volcano zone near Mt. Popocatepetl, 40-60 miles southeast of Mexico City. Our site was well to the southeast of the now-active volcano itself; at least three hours by car from Mexico City, well out of any conventional air traffic lanes. On the third night of our research trip, we were closely approached by a very large triangular-shaped solid craft.

Our research site was a fallow field in a primitive area. Here, burros are used to carry loads of firewood to the huts scattered about the rolling terrain. The road into our site ended in desert about a mile from us. Dr. Steven Greer, director of CSETI, was the first to notice the huge craft traveling east, low on the horizon along a ridge line approximately one-half mile distant.

When the craft approached, we all used the crude, “How large is it on my thumb when held at arm’s length?” eyeball method to measure its length. Estimates varied from 300 to 900 feet. When we used our 500,000 candle power halogen field light to signal the craft, the immense craft immediately turned and slowly flew toward us, totally silent. It approached within one quarter mile, flying in front of and below the ridge line (which allowed us to estimate its distance from us). We guessed its altitude at 500 feet. In the humid, hazy, Mexican air, the only distinguishable details were three white apex lights, a central red light, the vague and dark outline of its bulk, and the little “scout ship” red light that accompanied the craft, zipping around, above and beneath it.

We five stood in a line holding hands, facing the approaching craft. I believe it echoes the sentiments of the other members when I say that as it silently approached, looming larger than life, I have never been more prepared for anything in my life. I attribute that confidence directly to the training and experience gleaned from my field work with CSETI.

I fully expected the craft would either land or somehow beam us aboard. Our team stood there unified and silent, calm despite inner excitement. There was little or no fear. We fed each other confidence and it ran through our linked hands like a ribbon of warm light.

All of us later reported a feeling that we were being observed as a unified body. We felt our effort was being noticed by another team from another place. The craft did not land, and all our camera equipment from high- to low-tech malfunctioned, but only during this close approach. We can only speculate about the reason the craft turned away from us. Perhaps it was the sight of our video camera, or perhaps it was the fact we were not in an entirely secure area. But as the craft turned away from us, we signaled to it with our large light. The huge vessel returned the identical signal. I was suddenly struck by the idea that courtesy may be a universal trait. The ship did not have to make the effort to return our light signal. Yet it did, not only showing that it was under intelligent control but that it wanted to communicate, to give us the courtesy of a reply. It was an extraordinary and lovely sight. During the entire sighting and close approach, each and every person felt the presence of other intelligent life very close at hand.

An integral part of the ongoing work of a CSETI team is to get accustomed to experiencing the unknown. We encourage ourselves to face the fear and keep going. We talk, hash it out. Our insecurities are brought into the light of day (and night). This way we build a solid foundation for what CSETI members hope to accomplish. And we do relish our roles as self-styled ambassadors. The “lab work” could span generations…or the closest encounter could happen tomorrow.

At present, there are more unknowns than knowns, more questions than answers. We are but ersatz Zen students in the Universe-ity of the Not Yet Known. We will keep on keeping on. The process is as important as the goal. Perhaps more so. If we hope to introduce evidence of close encounters with conscious beings from alternate worlds, we are going to have to show we can be trusted. We need to show we can meet ETI without reactionary aggression. We may not be able to know in advance whether we can stand so firm in the face of what might seem to be a being which appears terrifying. We work to train ourselves to face this eventuality. We can advise ourselves to let go of any subtle prejudice against conscious beings who may resemble nothing we imagine. Can we learn that any prejudice is overcome when we glimpse beyond the surface and look in to the heart of the sentient being? Interestingly, with 27 CSETI working (or welcoming) groups in place early in 1994 and several intensive missions such as Mexico under our belts, we have no reports of “abductions” happening during or subsequent to field work events.

Before we learn about other ways we may be alike, we can acknowledge that we share the quality of sentience. We may have no other common ground on which to stand when we first meet. In the process of stripping away what we think we know, of giving up the early answers when better information is obtained, of withholding judgement until the facts are in, we continue the work at hand. We grow closer to a wide-awake encounter with physical beings from elsewhere.

Reprinted with permission from Zen in the Art of Close Encounters: Crazy Wisdom and UFOs. The New Being Project, Guerneville, CA.

The late Shari Adamiak was an intrepid emissary to Other Intelligence and a member of CSETI Executive Council. CSETI’s address is CSETI, POB 15401, Asheville, NC 28813.

2007 Postscript: Visit for updated info.