JZ Knight discusses spirit channeling, quantum physics and life after "What the Bleep Do We Know!?" Click to watch video clips:
It's been six years since "What the Bleep Do We Know!?" blended the woo-woo world of spiritual self-actualization with the woo-woo world of quantum physics — with a channeled 35,000-year-old spirit named Ramtha playing a prominent role in the documentary.
Today, JZ Knight, the 64-year-old woman who channels that 35,000-year-old spirit, is looking back at the "Bleep" and giving a lot of thought to what lies ahead.
When "What the Bleep" came out in 2004, the movie sparked strong criticism from scientists as well as Cosmic Log readers, who said Knight and her co-stars were distorting physics to fit a cultish "create your universe" world view. But there's no way to distort the bleepin' box-office numbers: The movie grossed $11 million for the filmmakers, almost tripling their estimated investment.
"Bleep" popularized concepts such as the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics (illustrated with multiple basketballs shooting around an outdoor court) ... as well as the idea that attitudes and expectations can alter the brain and body for good or ill (illustrated by the adventures of a deaf photographer played by Marlee Matlin).
"It was a groundbreaking movie/docudrama," Knight told me during a wide-ranging interview. "And the whole tenor of this was to empower people, from a deaf person to many basketballs on the court, not just one ... empowering people by telling them there is more than one choice, and to show them that they have a profound effect on reality."
The good, the bad and the 'Bleep'
"Bleep" has been very, very good to Knight and others who had a hand in the movie: Its writer, producer and director, Will Arntz, is about to come out with another genre-bending film titled "GhettoPhysics: Will the Real Pimps and Hos Please Stand Up?" Physicist Fred Alan Wolf (a.k.a. "Dr. Quantum") has followed up with books and DVDs (including an appearance in "The Secret," another "create your universe" flick).
And JZ Knight? She still has Ramtha, the ancient Lemurian spirit that purportedly takes over her body on occasion and makes cosmic pronouncements in an odd Britishy accent. The way Knight tells it, Ramtha showed up in her kitchen in Tacoma, Wash., back in 1977, and has been visiting ever since. The channeled spirit became such an icon that in 1987 the astronomer Carl Sagan cited Ramtha's "banal homilies" as a rich target for skepticism.
Sometimes Ramtha's pronouncements veer from the banal to the scary. Among the claims:
- Earth will be nudged out of its orbit, although that fact will be covered up for fear of creating panic. "Hell, you should be panicked," Ramtha said. (A super-slight shortening in the length of Earth's day, caused by February's 8.8 earthquake in Chile, was cited as the realization of this prediction.)
- A catastrophic event will cause the Dominican Republic to go underwater. "There will be a catastrophic earthquake, and what it will do to those people will be a warning, and they will leave in droves," Ramtha said. (Ramtha's School of Enlightenment says January's earthquake in neighboring Haiti shows the truth of this prediction.)
- The outlook for the world "is bleak, at best, and even more so if you factor in 2012," Knight said. Ramtha has been quoted as saying the world's population will be reduced by as much as two-thirds, perhaps by climate change and economic collapse.
But during our conversation, Knight struck a less apocalyptic tone.
"I would love to see a film done on our superpositions in terms of choices — and how we're wired up here to choose 'limitless' or 'limiting.' ... What do we want to see? Do we want to see '2012'? Do we want to see global meltdown? What do we want to see? Do we want to see war, do we want to see chaos? Do we want to see peace? These options start with the individual. I think that would be an extraordinary film." [Watch video clip.]
Knight herself has had alternating periods of peace and chaos: She's made millions through her seminars — enough to outfit an 80-acre campus and ranch in Yelm, Wash., south of Seattle. But she's also faced her share of legal entanglements, including a messy "new age divorce," a weird case involving a couple's confession to Ramtha, and lawsuits against alleged copycats in Europe and America.
It's enough to make a 64-year-old woman think about retirement - and that's one of the subjects that came up during our one-on-one conversation. Here are a few edited excerpts:
Cosmic Log: I'm sure some people are going to wonder, since this is in the Technology & Science section. Some folks say that you're putting out balderdash, and you're taking science in a direction where science was never meant to go. Is there something about that scientific aspect that you would want to tell people about —people who might say, "What are you doing having this charlatan on the science page?"
JZ Knight: Charlatan? Oh, be shamed! What I do is based upon the empowerment of the individual, and to clothe the aspect of the spirit, which I understand is not a scientific term. But I also understand that to understand ourselves as spiritual beings, it's not a new-age, woo-woo sort of voodoo. It's to understand in more practical terms how our brain works, for example. Science always relegates this to a concept called consciousness. ... Some scientists, and by the way, not all of them, relegate consciousness to the weeds, because they don't want to address this iffy concept. Moreover, they relegate the observer effect in quantum physics to the weeds, too. ...
I don't think that it is a charlatan to say — and to suggest, which I do and have been doing for 33 years — that one of the best-kept secrets is quantum physics. [Hear her explanation in a video clip.]
Q: I wanted to talk about Ramtha a little bit. To me, coming from the outside, that has been a huge distraction. It almost turns people off, at least from my perspective. I'm just curious whether you could step away, just as you're speaking now, and whether that works better for people nowadays — rather than having people fixating on this 35,000-year-old warrior.
A: I have learned, in 33 years of having this phenomenon in my life, that if I was faint of heart and weak of spirit, and if I really, really cared what everybody said, I would have denied my vision. But I allow people to have their truth. ... I would never deny this being, and I never have. I've been tested by scientists, and they know something extraordinary is happening, They just don't know it's him. Or have any proof. He doesn't have a Social Security number.
But there is an extraordinary element that is occurring in my brain and in my body at the time that I actually — for your viewers, plug your ears, I'm going to say the word — "leave my body." There's an extraordinary presence that has been registered. I will never convince people that extra dimensions exist, even though science suggests it. ...
Q: So when you mention other dimensions, people fixate on the timeline and say, "There's no way that 'Lemurians' could have existed back then."
A: How do they know?
Q: Well, I think the archaeological record would probably be problematic ...
A: I think the jury is still out on that, as every year we're discovering more and more mysteries about our planet, and about time, than we knew 10 years ago. ... There are tablets at museums around the world with stories that date back 455,000 years. And I think if we go to present-day Iraq and look at how far back they go, that would boggle your mind a bit. And that's certainly a lot older than 35,000 years ago. ...
Is there survival after death? And if there is, to what realm of reality? Is reality simply this, or is reality multidimensional, multi-universe, multi-time? I say it's all of that. Well, then, is it possible for a being that lived at that time to return and speak to this time? Yes. But we have to subscribe to the view that people live beyond death. I have found that a lot of scientists, by the way, actually subscribe to the progression of self in some form after death. And of course, there are those who are strictly linear, who say, 'No, when you die, it's over, you're food to the worm.'"
[The references to tales that go back 450,000 years are made mostly by Ramtha, Zecharia Sitchin and their followers. The mainstream view among anthropologists is that various ancestors in the genus Homo existed at that time, but that those hominids did not leave any records behind — except for their bones and possibly stone tools. However, the humans of 35,000 years ago did leave behind artifacts ranging from beads to flutes to prehistoric porn.]
Q: When I look back at the news stories about you, there's talk about a court case here, or an auction there. Is there some sort of transition? I keep wondering whether you'd want to get off this merry-go-round ...
A: In terms of dying?
Q: Mmm, no...
Q: Retiring in terms of, well, do I really need to go through these things that come with having a public life?
A: Public life is very difficult, and it's difficult for the most famous people, that you know happen to be friends of mine. So it really doesn't matter whether you're a channel, or a super-mega-star, or a super-mega-producer or director. It doesn't matter. It's just the stage they appear on, and the stage they appear on can be very difficult.
Having to live with what I've lived with for 33 years has not been easy. But I celebrate that, because I know that adversity does build greatness, if to no one but yourself. And at the end of the day that's what matters. I have changed, and been remolded and remade, and I'm so much wiser than I was 10 years ago, 20 years ago, five years ago. When you're alone and you're having your coffee at sunset, you weigh whether it's worth it or not. ...
But to answer your question, yes, I'm 64. And I've lived a magnificent life. After a while, you say, "All right, I think I'd like to write my memoirs now. Tell some really great stories. Or I'd like to retire."
I tried retirement for a while, and I got bored with it. ... I just don't know where I am right now with that. I have a lot of great doors that have opened. You'd think they would shut in your retirement. But it's quite the opposite.
Q: And Ramtha?
A: First off, it isn't as if I can just call him up on my cell phone and say, 'Hey, pick up, pick up, pick up.' There really is a being there. The communication is sort of two-way.
I always knew that this body of work would have to do with 'What are we? What is our purpose? Can we make a difference?' Really, can we make a difference? Yes, this is how you can. There's more to you than meets the eye. That body of work has yet to be plumbed for all the good things that will come out of it.
What will happen to Ramtha? I'm sure me saying, "Hey, this is it," is not going to mean he hangs his hat up.
More Q&As from the speculative fringe:
- Zecharia Sitchin: Looking for alien DNA
- Robert Lanza: The cosmos in your head
- Paul Davies: The self-made universe
- Neil deGrasse Tyson: Black holes for beginners
- Kevin Grazier: Battlestar Galactica's science guru