Every year in September and May a huge crowd gathers at the Duomo di San Gennaro, the principal cathedral of Naples, to witness a miracle.
The miracle involves a small vial containing a brown crusty substance alleged to be the blood of San Gennaro, or St. Januarius, who was beheaded by the Roman emperor Diocletian in A.D. 305.
According to legend, after the saint was martyred a serving woman collected some of his blood as a relic.
No one knows precisely what happened after that, save that the blood didn’t turn up again until the end of the thirteenth century when it was ensconced in a silver reliquary in the cathedral.
Unfortunately, because the reliquary containing the blood is so old and fragile, the church will not allow it to be cracked open so that other tests can be done, and so the phenomenon has never been thoroughly studied.
More recently, in 1976 and 1978, it presaged the worst earthquake in Italian history and the election of a communist city government in Naples, respectively.
This suggests that, as with stigmata, miracles are produced by forces lying deep in the human mind, forces that are latent in all of us. Herbert Thurston, the priest who wrote The Physical Phenomena of Mysticism, himself was aware of this similarity and was reluctant to attribute any miracle to a truly supernatural cause (as opposed to a psychic or paranormal cause). Another piece of evidence supportive of this idea is that many stigmatists, including Padre Pio and Therese Neumann, were also renowned for their psychic abilities.
Whether this is true or not remains to be seen, but PK is clearly a factor in some of the phenomena that accompany stigmata. When blood flowed from the wounds in Therese Neumann’s feet, it always flowed toward her toes - exactly as it would have flowed from Christ’s wounds when he was on the cross - regardless of how her feet were positioned.
This meant that when she was sitting upright in bed, the blood actually flowed upward and counter to the force of gravity. This was observed by numerous witnesses, including many U.S. servicemen stationed in Germany after the war who visited Neumann to witness her miraculous abilities. Gravity-defying flows of blood have been reported in other cases of stigmata as well.2
Your first thought might be that the shadow is an assailant and you are in danger. The information contained in this thought will in turn give rise to a range of imagined activities, such as running, being hurt, and fighting. The presence of these imagined activities in your mind, however, is not a purely “mental” process, for they are inseparable from a host of related biological processes, such as excitation of nerves, rapid heart beat, release of adrenaline and other hormones, tensing of the muscles, and so on.
Conversely, if your first thought is that the shadow is just a shadow, a different set of mental and biological responses will follow. Moreover, a little reflection will reveal that we react both mentally and biologically to everything we experience.
The body can also respond, and this reveals that meaning is simultaneously both mental and physical in nature. This is odd, for we normally think of meaning as something that can only have an active effect on subjective reality, on the thoughts inside our heads, not something that can engender a response in the physical world of things and objects.
Bohm feels that examples of objectively active meaning can be found in other physical processes. One is the functioning of a computer chip. A computer chip contains information, and the meaning of the information is active in the sense that it determines how electrical currents flow through the computer.
Another is the behavior of subatomic particles.
The orthodox view in physics is that quantum waves act mechanically on a particle, controlling its movement in much the same way that the waves of the ocean might control a Ping-Pong ball floating on its surface.
But Bohm does not feel that this view can explain, for example, the coordinated dance of electrons in a plasma any more than the wave motion of water could explain a similarly well-choreographed movement of Ping-Pong balls if such a movement were discovered on the ocean’s surface. He believes the relationship between particle and quantum wave is more like a ship on automatic pilot guided by radar waves.
A quantum wave does not push an electron about any more than a radar wave pushes a ship. Rather, it provides the electron with information about its environment which the electron then uses to maneuver on its own.
It is important to note that this kind of psychokinesis would not be due to a causal process, that is, a cause-and-effect relationship involving any of the known forces in physics.
Instead, it would be the result of a kind of nonlocal “resonance of meanings,” or a kind of nonlocal interaction similar to, but not the same as, the nonlocal interconnection that allows a pair of twin photons to manifest the same angle of polarization which we saw in chapter 2 (for technical reasons Bohm believes mere quantum nonlocality cannot account for either PK or telepathy, and only a deeper form of nonlocality, a kind of “super” nonlocality, would offer such an explanation).
Jahn’s involvement in the study of PK happened quite by accident. A former consultant for both NASA and the Department of Defense, his original field of interest was deep space propulsion. In fact, he is the author of Physics of Electric Propulsion, the leading textbook in the field, and didn’t even believe in the paranormal when a student first approached him and asked him to oversee a PK experiment she wanted to do as an independent study project.
Jahn reluctantly agreed, and the results were so provocative they inspired him to found the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research (PEAR) lab in 1979. Since then PEAR researchers have not only produced compelling evidence of the existence of PK, but have gathered more data on the subject than anyone else in the country.
In other words, a REG is a kind of automatic coin-flipper capable of producing an enormous number of coin flips in a very short time. As everyone knows, if you flip a perfectly weighted coin 1,000 times, the odds are you will get a 50/50 split between heads and tails. In reality, out of any 1,000 such flips, the split may vary a little in one direction or the other, but the greater the number of flips, the closer to 50/50 the split will become.
They discovered two other things as well.
The ability to produce PK effects was not limited to a few gifted individuals but was present in the majority of volunteers they tested. This suggests that most of us possess some degree of PK. They also discovered that different volunteers produced different and consistently distinctive results, results that were so idiosyncratic that Jahn and Dunne started calling them “signatures.” 5
Normally, more balls fall in the center bins than in the outer ones, and the overall distribution looks like a bell-shaped curve.
What’s more, the “signatures” of individuals who had participated in the REG experiments surfaced again in the pinball experiments, suggesting that the PK abilities of any given individual remain the same from experiment to experiment, but vary from individual to individual just as other talents vary.
Jahn and Dunne state,
Jahn and Dunne think their findings may explain the propensity some individuals seem to have for jinxing machinery and causing equipment to malfunction. One such individual was physicist Wolfgang Pauli, whose talents in this area are so legendary that physicists have jokingly dubbed it the “Pauli effect.”
It is said that Pauli’s mere presence in a laboratory would cause a glass apparatus to explode, or a sensitive measuring device to crack in half. In one particularly famous incident a physicist wrote Pauli to say that at least he couldn’t blame Pauli for the recent and mysterious disintegration of a complicated piece of equipment since Pauli had not been present, only to find that Pauli had been passing by the laboratory in a train at the precise moment of the mishap!
Jahn and Dunne think the famous “Gremlin effect,” the tendency of carefully tested pieces of equipment to undergo inexplicable malfunctions at the most absurdly inopportune moments, often reported by pilots, aircrew, and military operators, may also be an example of unconscious PK activity.
They believe one of these remote influence effects is PK.
However, like Bohm, they do not believe that consciousness or the material world can be productively represented in isolation, or even that PK can be thought of as the transmission of some kind of force.
If PK cannot be thought of as the transmission of some kind of force, what terminology might better sum up the interaction of mind and matter?
In thinking that is again similar to Bohm’s, Jahn and Dunne propose that PK actually involves an exchange of information between consciousness and physical reality, an exchange that should be thought of less as a flow between the mental and the material, and more as a resonance between the two.
The importance of resonance was even sensed and commented on by the volunteers in the PK experiments, in that the most frequently mentioned factor associated with a successful performance was the attainment of a feeling of “resonance” with the machine.
One volunteer described the feeling as,
Jahn and Dunne’s ideas are similar to Bohm’s in several other key ways. Like Bohm, they believe that the concepts we use to describe reality - electron, wavelength, consciousness, time, frequency - are useful only as “information-organizing categories” and possess no independent status. They also believe that all theories, including their own, are only metaphors.
Although they do not identify themselves with the holographic model (and their theory does in fact differ from Bohm’s thinking in several significant ways), they do recognize the overlap.
As might be expected, Jahn and Dunne’s work has been greeted with considerable resistance by the scientific orthodox community, but it is gaining acceptance in some quarters.
A good deal of PEAR’s funding comes from the McDonnell Foundation, created by James S. McDonnell III, of the McDonnell Douglas Corporation, and the New York Times Magazine recently devoted an article to Jahn and Dunne’s work.
Jahn and Dunne themselves remain undaunted by the fact that they are devoting so much time and effort to exploring the parameters of a phenomenon considered nonexistent by most other scientists.
As Jahn states,
Psychokinesis on a Grander Scale
Biologist Lyall Watson, author of the bestselling book Supernature and a scientist who has studied paranormal events all over the world, encountered one such individual while visiting the Philippines.
The man was one of the so-called Philippine psychic healers, but instead of touching a patient, all he did was hold his hand about ten inches over the person’s body, point at his or her skin, and an incision would appear instantaneously. Watson not only witnessed several displays of the man’s psychokinetic surgical skills, but once, when the man made a broader sweep with his finger than usual, Watson received an incision on the back of his own hand. He bears the scar to this day.11
Despite the doctors’ insistence that the sister should remain in traction for many weeks, the nuns took her home two days later and continued to pray and perform a laying on of hands. To their surprise, immediately following the laying on of hands, the sister stood up from her bed, free of the excruciating pain of the fracture and apparently healed.
It took her only two weeks to achieve a full recovery, whereupon she returned to the hospital and presented herself to her astonished doctor.12
Since the healing apparently did not take place until St. Wilfred asked the other workmen to join him, one wonders if St. Wilfred was the catalyst, or again if it was the combined unconscious PK of the entire assemblage?
The incident was witnessed by a friend of Brigham’s named J. A. K. Combs. Combs’s grandmother-in-law was considered one of the most powerful women kahunas in the islands, and once, while attending a party at the woman’s home, Combs observed her abilities firsthand.
After praying and meditating for several minutes she stood up and announced that the healing was finished. The man rose wonderingly to his feet, took a step, and then another.
He was completely healed and his leg showed no indication of the break in any way.14
The events centered around a puritanical sect of Dutch-influenced Catholics known as the Jansenists, and were precipitated by the death of a saintly and revered Jansenist deacon named Francois de Paris.
Although few people living today have even heard of the Jansenist miracles, they were one of the most talked about events in Europe for the better part of a century.
Most damning of all, it was viewed by both the papacy and King Louis XV, a devout Catholic, as Protestantism only masquerading as Catholicism.
As a result, both the church and the king were constantly maneuvering to undermine the movement’s power. One obstacle to these maneuverings, and one of the factors that contributed to the movement’s popularity, was that Jansenist leaders seemed especially skilled at performing miraculous healings. Nonetheless, the church and the monarchy persevered, causing fierce debates to rage throughout France. It was on May 1, 1727, at the height of this power struggle, that Francois de Paris died and was interred in the parish cemetery of Saint-Medard, Paris.
The mourners also started to experience strange involuntary spasms or convulsions and to undergo the most amazing contortions of their limbs. These seizures quickly proved contagious, spreading like a brush fire until the streets were packed with men, women, and children, all twisting and writhing as if caught up in a surreal enchantment.
The cemetery and the streets surrounding it were crowded day and night for years, and even two decades later miracles were still being reported (to give some idea of the enormity of the phenomena, in 1733 it was noted in the public records that over 3,000 volunteers were needed simply to assist the convulsionaires and make sure, for example, that the female participants did not become immodestly exposed during their seizures).
As a result, the supernormal abilities of the convulsionaires became an international cause célèbre, and thousands flocked to see them, including individuals from all social strata and officials from every educational, religious, and governmental institution imaginable; numerous accounts, both official and unofficial, of the miracles witnessed are recorded in the documents of the time.
In the work he provides numerous examples of the convulsionaries’ apparent invulnerability to torture. In one instance a twenty-year-old convulsionaire named Jeanne Maulet leaned against a stone wall while a volunteer from the crowd, “a very strong man,” delivered one hundred blows to her stomach with a thirty-pound hammer (the convulsionaires themselves asked to be tortured because they said it relieved the excruciating pain of the convulsions).
To test the force of the blows, Montgeron himself then took the hammer and tried it on the stone wall against which the girl had leaned.
Montgeron describes another instance in which a convulsionaire bent back into an arc so that her lower back was supported by “the sharp point of a peg.”
She then asked that a fifty-pound stone attached to a rope be hoisted to “an extreme height” and allowed to fall with all its weight on her stomach. The stone was hoisted up and allowed to fall again and again, but the woman seemed completely unaffected by it. She effortlessly maintained her awkward position, suffered no pain or harm, and walked away from the ordeal without even so much as a mark on the flesh of her back.
Montgeron noted that while the
ordeal was in progress she kept crying out, “Strike harder, harder!”16
Some were crucified and afterward showed no trace of wounds.17 Most mind-boggling of all, they could not even be cut or punctured with knives, swords, or hatchets!
Montgeron cites an incident in which the sharpened point of an iron drill was held against the stomach of a convulsionaire and then pounded so violently with a hammer that it seemed “as if it would penetrate through to the spine and rupture all the entrails.”
But it didn’t, and the convulsionaire maintained an,
Invulnerability was not the only talent the Jansenists displayed during their seizures.
Some became clairvoyant and were able to “discern hidden things.” Others could read even when their eyes were closed and tightly bandaged, and instances of levitation were reported. One of the levitators, an abbe named Bescherand from Montpellier, was so “forcibly lifted into the air” during his convulsions that even when witnesses tried to hold him down they could not succeed in keeping him from rising up off of the ground.19
When King Louis XV tried unsuccessfully to stop the convulsionaires by closing the cemetery of Saint-Medard, Voltaire quipped,
And in his Philosophical Essays the Scottish philosopher David Hume wrote,
How are we to explain the miracles produced by the convulsionaires?
Although Bohm is willing to consider the possibility of PK and other paranormal phenomena, he prefers not to speculate about specific events such as the supernormal abilities of the Jansenists. But once again, if we take the testimony of so many witnesses seriously, unless we are willing to concede that God favored the Jansenist Catholics over the Roman, PK seems the likely explanation.
That some kind of psychic functioning was involved is strongly suggested by the appearance of other psychic abilities, such as clairvoyance, during the seizures. In addition, we have already looked at a number of examples where intense faith and hysteria have triggered the deeper forces of the mind, and these too were present in ample portions.
In fact, instead of being produced by one individual, the psychokinetic effects may have been created by the combined fervor and belief of all those present, and this might account for the unusual vigor of the manifestations. This idea is not new. In the 1920s the great Harvard psychologist William McDougall also suggested that religious miracles might be the result of the collective psychic powers of large numbers of worshipers.
Similarly, when individuals tried to strangle the Jansenists, perhaps their hands were held in place by PK and although they thought they were squeezing flesh, they were really only flexing in the nothingness.
There is the problem of inertia - the tendency of an object in motion to stay in motion - to consider. When a fifty-pound stone or a piece of timber comes crashing down, it carries with it a lot of energy, and when it is stopped in its tracks, the energy has to go somewhere.
For example, if a person in a suit of armor is struck by a thirty-pound hammer, although the metal of the armor may deflect the blow, the person is still considerably shaken. In the case of Jeanne Maulet it appears that the energy somehow bypassed her body and was transferred to the wall behind her, for as Montgeron noted, the stone was “shaken by the efforts.”
But in the case of the woman who was arched and had the fifty-pound stone dropped on her abdomen, the matter is less clear. One wonders why she wasn’t driven into the ground like a croquet hoop, or why, when they were struck with timbers, the convulsionaires were not knocked off their feet? Where did the deflected energy go?
As we have seen, Bohm believes that consciousness and matter are just different aspects of the same fundamental something, a something that has its origins in the implicate order. Some researchers believe this suggests that the consciousness may be able to do much more than make a few psychokinetic changes in the material world.
For example, Grof believes that if the implicate and explicate orders are an accurate description of reality,
Put another way, in addition to psychokinetically moving objects around, the mind may also be able to reach down and reprogram the cosmic motion picture projector that created those objects in the first place.
Thus, not only could the conventionally recognized rules of nature, such as inertia, be completely bypassed, but the mind could alter and reshape the material world in ways far more dramatic than even psychokinesis implies.
However, because of their faith, they survived the fire unscathed, and came out with their hair unhinged, their clothing unharmed, and not even the smell of fire upon them. It seems that challenges to faith, such as the one King Louis XV tried to impose on the Jansenists, have engendered miracles in more than one instance.
As Brigham watched, the kahunas took off their sandals and started to recite the lengthy prayers necessary to protect them as they strolled out onto the barely hardened molten rock.
But as he faced the baking heat of the lava he had second and even third thoughts.
After they finished invoking the gods, the oldest kahuna scampered out onto the lava and crossed the 150 feet without harm. Impressed, but still adamant about not going, Brigham stood up to watch the next kahuna, only to be given a shove that forced him to break into a run to keep from falling face first onto the incandescent rock.
The kahunas had also suffered no harm and were rolling in laughter at Brigham’s shock.
The convulsionaires also occasionally displayed complete immunity to fire. The two most famous of these “human salamanders” - in the middle ages the term salamander referred to a mythological lizard believed to live in fire - were Marie Sonnet and Gabrielle Moler.
On one occasion, and in the presence of numerous witnesses, including Montgeron, Sonnet stretched herself on two chairs over a blazing fire and remained there for half an hour. Neither she nor her clothing showed any ill effects. In another instance she sat with her feet in a brazier full of burning coals. As with Brigham, her shoes and stockings burned off, but her feet were unharmed.22
When he ordered them shot, the musket balls would be found flattened between their clothing and their skin. When he closed their hands upon burning coals, they were not harmed, and when he wrapped them head to toe in cotton soaked with oil and set them on fire, they did not burn.24
The head of the French troops sent to subdue the Camisards, a colonel named Jean Cavalier, was later exiled to England where he wrote a book on the event in 1707 entitled A Cry from the Desert.25
As for Abbe du Chayla, he was eventually
murdered by the Camisards during a retaliatory raid. Unlike some of
them, he possessed no special invulnerability.26
According to witnesses, on one occasion her hand dropped so close to a burning candle while she was in trance that the flames licked around her fingers. One of the individuals present was Dr. Dozous, the municipal physician of Lourdes. Being of quick mind, Dozous timed the event and noted that it was a full ten minutes before she came out of trance and removed her hand.
He later wrote,
On September 7,1871, the New York Herald reported that Nathan Coker, an elderly Negro blacksmith living in Easton, Maryland, could handle red-hot metal without being harmed.
In the presence of a committee that included several doctors, he heated an iron shovel until it was incandescent and then held it against the soles of his feet until it was cool. He also licked the edge of the red-hot shovel and poured melted lead shot in his mouth, allowing it to run over his teeth and gums until it solidified.
After each of these feats the doctors examined him and found no trace of injury.28
The pit of flaming embers the Grosvenors watched Mohotty walk through was twenty-feet long and measured 1328 degrees Fahrenheit on the National Geographic team’s thermometers. In the May 1959 issue of the Atlantic Monthly, Dr. Leonard Feinberg of the University of Illinois reports witnessing another Ceylonese fire-walking ritual during which the natives carried red-hot iron pots on their heads without being harmed.
In an article in Psychiatric Quarterly, psychiatrist Berthold Schwarz reports watching Appalachian Pentecostals hold their hands in an acetylene flame without being harmed,30 and so on, and so on...
As has been mentioned, according to the holographic idea, matter is also a kind of habit and is constantly born anew out of the implicate, just as the shape of a fountain is created anew out of the constant flow of water that gives it form.
Peat humorously refers to the repetitious nature of this process as one of the universe’s neuroses.
Indeed, given that the universe and the laws of physics that govern it are also products of this flux, then they, too, must be viewed as habits.
Clearly they are habits that are deeply ingrained in the holomovement, but supernormal talents such as immunity to fire indicate that, despite their seeming constancy, at least some of the rules that govern reality can be suspended.
This means the laws of physics are not set in stone, but are more like Shainberg’s vortices, whirlpools of such vast inertial power that they are as fixed in the holomovement as our own habits and deeply held convictions are fixed in our thoughts.
At this point we might ask, if consciousness can make such extraordinary alterations under special circumstances, what role does it play in the creation of our day-to-day reality? Opinions are extremely varied. In private conversation Bohm admits to believing that the universe is all “thought” and reality exists only in what we think,32 but again he prefers not to speculate about miraculous occurrences.
Pribram is similarly reticent to comment on specific events but does believe a number of different potential realities exist and consciousness has a certain amount of latitude in choosing which one manifests.
After years of firsthand experiences with the miraculous, Watson is bolder.
(Watson, who was once enthusiastic about the holographic idea, is no longer convinced that any current theory in physics can adequately explain the supernormal abilities of the mind).34
However, he has also been greatly influenced by anthropologist Carlos Castaneda’s now famous otherworldly experiences with the Yaqui Indian shaman, Don Juan.
In stark contrast to Pribram, he believes that the seemingly inexhaustible array of “separate realities” Castaneda experienced under Don Juan’s tutelage - and indeed even the equally vast array of realities we experience during ordinary dreaming - indicate that there are an infinite number of potential realities enfolded in the implicate.
Moreover, because the holographic
mechanisms the brain uses to construct everyday reality are the same
ones it uses to construct our dreams and the realities we experience
during Castanedaesque altered states of consciousness, he
believes all three types of reality are fundamentally the same.35
Although some might use this lack of consensus to criticize it, it should be remembered that Darwin’s theory of evolution, certainly one of the most potent and successful ideas science has ever produced, is also still very much in a state of flux, and evolutionary theorists continue to debate its scope, interpretation, regulatory mechanisms, and ramifications.
Jahn and Dunne offer yet another opinion on the role consciousness plays in the creation of day-to-day reality, and although it differs from one of Bohm’s basic premises, because of the possible insight it offers into the process by which miracles are effected, it deserves our attention.
As has been mentioned, this is the view held by most physicists. However, Jahn and Dunne’s position differs from the mainstream in an important way.
Most physicists would reject the idea that the interplay between consciousness and the subatomic world could in any way be used to explain PK, let alone miracles.
In fact, the majority of physicists not only ignore any implications this interplay might have but actually behave as if it doesn’t exist.
This bizarre I’m-not-going-to-think-about-it-even-when-I-know-it’s-true attitude keeps many physicists from considering even the philosophical implications of quantum physics’ most incredible findings.
As N. David Mermin, a physicist at Cornell University, points out, physicists fall into three categories:
Jahn and Dunne are not so timid.
They believe that instead of discovering particles, physicists may actually be creating them. As evidence, they cite a recently discovered subatomic particle called an anomalon, whose properties vary from laboratory to laboratory. Imagine owning a car that had a different color and different features depending on who drove it! This is very curious and seems to suggest that an anomalon’s reality depends on who finds/creates it.39
For years the neutrino was only an idea, but then in 1957 physicists discovered evidence of its existence. In more recent years, however, physicists have realized that if the neutrino possessed some mass, it would solve several even thornier problems than the one facing Pauli, and lo and behold in 1980 evidence started to come in that the neutrino had a small but measurable mass!
This is not all.
As it turned out, only laboratories in the Soviet Union discovered neutrinos with mass. Laboratories in the United States did not. This remained true for the better part of the 1980s, and although other laboratories have now duplicated the Soviet findings, the situation is still unresolved.40
This was the first time Tom had ever met the hypnotist.
Then, after having Laura stand directly in front of the chair in which Tom was sitting, the hypnotist awakened him and asked him if he could see her.
The hypnotist asked Tom if he was certain, and again, despite Laura’s rising giggles, he answered no. Then the hypnotist went behind Laura so he was hidden from Tom’s view and pulled an object out of his pocket. He kept the object carefully concealed so that no one in the room could see it, and pressed it against the small of Laura’s back. He asked Tom to identify the object. Tom leaned forward as if staring directly through Laura’s stomach and said that it was a watch.
The hypnotist nodded and asked if Tom could read the watch’s inscription. Tom squinted as if struggling to make out the writing and recited both the name of the watch’s owner (which happened to be a person unknown to any of us in the room) and the message. The hypnotist then revealed that the object was indeed a watch and passed it around the room so that everyone could see that Tom had read its inscription correctly.
The British physicist Sir William Barrett found evidence of the phenomenon in a series of experiments with a young girl.
After hypnotizing the girl he told her that she would taste everything he tasted.
In his book Experiments in Distant Influence the Soviet physiologist Leonid Vasiliev cites a German study conducted in the 1950s that produced similar findings.
In that study, the hypnotized subject not only tasted what the hypnotist tasted, but blinked when a light was flashed in the hypnotist’s eyes, sneezed when the hypnotist took a whiff of ammonia, heard the ticking of a watch held to the hypnotist’s ear, and experienced pain when the hypnotist pricked himself with a needle - all done in a manner that safeguarded against her obtaining the information through normal sensory cues.42
They found that individual after individual could remote-view simply by relaxing and describing whatever images came into their minds.43
Puthoff and Targ’s findings have been duplicated by dozens of laboratories around the world, indicating that remote viewing is probably a widespread latent ability in all of us.
A light flashed in a test subject’s eyes will register in the EEG readings of a test subject isolated in another room,46 and even the blood volume of a test subject’s finger changes - as measured by a plethysinograph, a sensitive indicator of autonomic nervous system functioning - when a “sender” in another room encounters the name of someone they know while reading a list composed mainly of names unknown to them.47
Intriguingly, this question has been answered in an experiment conducted by Charles Tart, a professor of psychology at the Davis campus of the University of California, Tart found two graduate students, Anne and Bill, who could go into deep trance and were also skilled hypnotists in their own right. He had Anne hypnotize Bill and after he was hypnotized, he had Bill hypnotize her in return.
Tart’s reasoning was that the already powerful rapport that exists between hypnotist and subject would be strengthened by using this unusual procedure.
Although Tart could not see what Anne and Bill were seeing, from the way they were talking he quickly realized they were experiencing the same hallucinated reality.
As he states, after,
Anne and Bill’s ocean world is the perfect example of a holographic reality - a three-dimensional construct created out of interconnectedness, sustained by the flow of consciousness, and ultimately as plastic as the thought processes that engendered it. This plasticity was evident in several of its features.
Although it was three-dimensional, its space was more flexible than the space of everyday reality and sometimes took on an elasticity Anne and Bill had no words to describe. Even stranger, although they were clearly highly skilled at sculpting a shared world outside themselves, they frequently forgot to sculpt their own bodies, and existed more often than not as floating faces or heads.
As Anne reports, on one occasion when Bill told her to give him her hand,
How did this experiment in mutual hypnosis end?
Sadly, the idea that these spectacular visions were somehow real, perhaps even more real than everyday reality, so frightened both Anne and Bill that they became increasingly nervous about what they were doing. They eventually stopped their explorations, and one of them, Bill, even gave up hypnosis entirely.
This possibility may be supported by another unusual feature of hypnosis. Unlike other altered states of consciousness, hypnosis is not associated with any unusual EEG patterns. Physiologically speaking, the mental state hypnosis most closely resembles is our normal waking consciousness. Does this mean that normal waking consciousness is itself a kind of hypnosis, and we are all constantly tapping into reality-fields?
This means that we can do more than just tap into the senses of other people. We can also tap into reality itself to gain information. As bizarre as this sounds, it is not so strange when one remembers that in a holographic universe, consciousness pervades all matter, and “meaning” has an active presence in both the mental and physical worlds.
In like manner, remote viewing can be looked at as a resonance of meaning conveyed from an object to a mind.
Jahn and Dunne have a similar view.
Although they believe reality is established only in the interaction of a consciousness with its environment, they are very liberal in how they define consciousness. As they see it, anything capable of generating, receiving, or utilizing information can qualify. Thus, animals, viruses, DNA, machines (artificially intelligent and otherwise), and so-called nonliving objects may all have the prerequisite properties to take part in the creation of reality.54
Instead of being a “thing” that exists separately from the universe, it would be part of the interconnectedness of all things - connected to the thoughts of every person who ever came in contact with it, connected to the consciousness that pervades every animal and object that was ever associated with its existence, connected via the implicate to its own past, and connected to the mind of the psychometrist holding it.
At present the puzzle remains unresolved, but our ability to interconnect with one another and conjure up realities that are as real as our normal waking reality is not the only clue that this may be the case.
Indeed, the evidence of the miraculous indicates that
we have scarcely even begun to fathom our talents in this area.
Consider the following miraculous healing reported by Gardner. In
1982 an English physician named Ruth Coggin, working in Pakistan,
was visited by a thirty-five-year-old Pakistani woman named Kamro.
Kamro was eight months pregnant and for the better part of her
pregnancy had suffered from bleeding and intermittent abdominal
pain. Coggin recommended that she go into the hospital immediately,
but Kamro refused.
By the time Coggin delivered Kamro’s healthy baby daughter, “deep pools of unclotted blood” filled her bed and continued to flow from her incision. Coggin managed to obtain two pints of blood to transfuse the gravely anemic woman, but it was not nearly enough to replace the staggering loss. Having no other options, Coggin resorted to prayer.
Then they waited.
Although his original intention had been to visit a famous matan do’ok, a type of Indonesian wonder-worker who was said to be able to make it rain on demand, he was diverted by accounts of an unusually active buan, an evil spirit, wreaking havoc in a house in a nearby village.
She was also treated with indifference by the family, and it was immediately plain to Watson that she was the source of the psychic disturbance.
Watson immediately leapt up from the table, but the show wasn’t over. Suddenly a series of loud rapping sounds issued from the table, and it began to wobble.
The family also jumped up and all watched as the table bucked “like the lid on a box containing some wild animal,” and finally flipped over on its side. Watson first reacted by running out of the house with the rest of the family, but when he recovered his senses he returned and searched the room for evidence of any trickery that might account for the occurrence. He found none.56
Even materialization has a long and illustrious history in the annals of poltergeist research. For instance, in his classic work on the subject, Can We Explain the Poltergeist, A. R. G. Owen, a fellow and lecturer in Mathematics at Trinity College, Cambridge, gives numerous examples of objects materializing out of thin air in poltergeist cases dating from A.D. 530 to modern times.57
Small stones and not salt, however, are the objects that materialize most often.
Since our poltergeist left my family’s home and followed me when I went away to college, and since its activity very definitely seemed connected to my moods - its antics becoming more malicious when I was angry or my spirits were low, and more impish and whimsical when my mood was brighter - I have always accepted the idea that poltergeists are manifestations of the unconscious psychokinetic ability of the person around whom they are most active.
My mother tells me that even when I was a toddler pots and pans had already begun to jump inexplicably from the middle of the kitchen table to the floor. I have written about some of these experiences in my book Beyond the Quantum.
On rarer occasions it materialized other objects including coins, a necklace, and several odder trifles. Unfortunately, I usually did not see the actual materializations, but only witnessed their aftermath, such as when a pile of spaghetti noodles (sans sauce) fell on my chest one day while I was taking a nap in my New York apartment.
Given that I was alone in a room with no open windows or doors, there was no one else in my apartment, and there was no sign that anyone had either cooked spaghetti or broken in to throw spaghetti at me, I can only assume that, for reasons unknown, the handful of cold spaghetti noodles that dropped out of midair and onto my chest materialized out of nowhere.
It was not quite as spectacular as a shower of salt lasting several seconds, but it taught me that such things were possible.
He also materializes an endless supply of Indian delicacies and sweets, and out of his hands pour volumes of mbuti, or sacred ash. These events have been witnessed by literally thousands of individuals, including both scientists and magicians, and no one has ever detected any hint of trickery.
One witness is psychologist Erlendur Haraldsson of the University of Iceland.
When Haraldsson asked what a double rudraksha was, neither Sai Baba nor the interpreter knew the English equivalent of the term.
Sai Baba tried to continue with the discussion, but Haraldsson remained insistent.
When Haraldsson indicated that he wanted to keep the double-seed as a memento, Sai Baba agreed, but first asked to see it again.
Haraldsson later discovered that double rudrakshas were extremely rare botanical anomalies.
Several Indian botanists he consulted said they had never even seen one, and when he finally found a small, malformed specimen in a shop in Madras, the shopkeeper wanted the Indian equivalent of almost three hundred dollars for it.
A London goldsmith confirmed that the gold in the ornamentation had a purity of at least twenty-two carats.
He can produce exotic objects such as grains of rice with tiny, perfectly carved pictures of Krishna on them, out-of-season fruits (a near impossibility in an area of the country that has no electricity or refrigeration), and anomalous fruits, such as apples that, when peeled, turn out to be an apple on one side and another fruit on the other.
On one of his visits, Haraldsson, along with Dr. Karlis Osis, the director of research for the American Society for Psychical Research, actually saw some of the ash in the process of materializing.
As Haraldsson reports,
Haraldsson notes that Sai Baba’s manifestations are not the result of mass hypnosis because he freely allows his open-air demonstrations to be filmed, and everything he does still shows up in the film.
Similarly, the production of specific objects, the rarity of some of the objects, the hotness of the food, and the sheer volume of the materializations seem to rule against deception as a possibility.
Haraldsson also points out that no one has ever come forth with any credible evidence that Sai Baba is faking his abilities, in addition, Sai Baba has been producing a continuous flow of objects for half a century, since he was fourteen, a fact that is further testament to both the volume of the materializations and the significance of his untarnished reputation. Is Sai Baba producing objects out of nothingness? At present the jury is still out, but Haraldsson makes it clear what his position is.
He believes Sai Baba’s demonstrations remind us of the “enormous potentials that may lie dormant somewhere within all human beings.”60
Interestingly, Yogananda cautioned that such powers, or siddis, are not always evidence that the person possessing them is spiritually evolved.
Have such individuals discovered a way to tap just a little of the enormous sea of cosmic energy that Bohm says fills every cubic centimeter of empty space?
Then, in 1927, she gave up both food and water entirely.
The sisters discovered several unusual things about Neumann. She never went to the bathroom (even after a period of six weeks she only had one bowel movement, and the excrement, examined by a Dr. Reismanns, contained only a small amount of mucus and bile, but no traces of food). She also showed no signs of dehydration, even though the average human expels about four hundred grams (fourteen ounces) of water daily in the air he or she exhales, and a like amount through the pores.
And her weight remained constant; although she lost nearly nine pounds (in blood) during the weekly opening of her stigmata, her weight returned to normal within a day or two later.
So it appears that she was not only materializing the enormous amount of blood necessary to perpetuate her stigmata, but also regularly materializing the water and nutrients she needed to stay alive and in good health. Inedia is not unique to Neumann. In The Physical Phenomena of Mysticism, Thurston gives several examples of stigmatists who went for years without eating or drinking.
Compelling accounts of bleeding statues, paintings, icons, and even rocks that have historical or religious significance abound in the literature on the miraculous. There are also dozens of stories of Madonnas and other icons shedding tears. A virtual epidemic of “weeping Madonnas” swept Italy in 1953.62
And in India, followers of Sai Baba showed Haraldsson pictures of the ascetic that were miraculously exuding sacred ash.
Still, it is not all the mind can do.
So far we have looked at miracles that involve only “parts” of reality - examples of people psychokinetic ally moving parts around, of people altering parts (the laws of physics) to make themselves immune to fire, and of people materializing parts (blood, salt, stones, jewelry, ash, nutrients, and tears). But if reality is really an unbroken whole, why do miracles seem to involve only parts?
He saw her perform miraculous healings, and once, when she was engaged in a power struggle with the local Moslem religious leader, he saw her use the power of her mind to set the minaret of the local mosque on fire.
Entranced, Watson continued to watch as she gestured toward the trees, and although she scarcely seemed to move, there was something hypnotic about her subtle gesticulations. Then she did something that both shocked and dismayed Watson.
She caused the entire grove of trees suddenly to blink out of existence.
As Watson states,
A few seconds later she caused the grove to reappear, and from the way the little girl leapt to her feet and rushed around touching the trees, Watson was certain that she had shared the experience also.
But Tia was not finished. She caused the grove to blink on and off several times as both she and the little girl linked hands, dancing and giggling at the wonder of it all.
Watson simply walked away, his head reeling.
Don Juan and Castaneda are in the desert at night searching for a spirit when they come upon a creature that looks like a calf but has the ears of a wolf and the beak of a bird. It is curled up and screaming as if in the throes of an agonizing death.
They were speaking an unrecognizable foreign language, and from their boisterous behavior it appeared that they were drunk. In addition, one of the women was carrying a green umbrella, which was strange because the sky was totally cloudless and there had been no forecast of rain.
The umbrella did something that I can only describe as “flickering” like a lantern flame about to go out. It emitted an odd, crackling sound like the sound of cellophane being crumpled, and in a dazzling array of sparkling, multicolored light, its ends curled up, its color changed, and it reshaped itself into a gnarled, brown-gray stick. I was so stunned I didn’t say anything for several seconds.
My professor spoke first and said in a quiet, shocked voice that she had thought the object had been an umbrella.
I asked her if she had seen something extraordinary happen and she nodded. We both wrote down what we thought had transpired and our accounts matched exactly.
vague difference in our descriptions was that my professor said the
umbrella had “sizzled” when it transformed into a stick, a sound not
too terribly dissimilar from the crackly sound of cellophane being
I do not know who the people were who threw the umbrella at our feet, or if they were even aware of the magical transformation that took place as they strolled away, although the woman’s bizarre and seemingly purposeful performance suggests that they were not completely unwitting.
Both my professor and I were so transfixed by the magical transformation of the umbrella that by the time we had the presence of mind to ask them, they were long gone. I do not know why the event happened, save that it seems obvious it was connected in some way to our talk about Castaneda encountering a similar occurrence.
Above and beyond that, all I can say is that we are all gifted with different aptitudes and qualities. Some of us are natural artists. Some dancers. I seem to have been born with the chemistry necessary to trigger shifts in reality, to catalyze somehow the forces required to precipitate paranormal events. 1 am grateful for this capacity because it has taught me a great deal about the universe, but I do not know why I have it.
PK is easier for us to fathom than the ability to pluck an object out of the air, and the materialization of an object is easier for most of us to accept than the appearance and disappearance of an entire grove of trees, or the paranormal appearance of a group of people capable of transmogrifying matter from one form into another. More and more these incidents suggest that reality is, in a very real sense, a hologram, a construct.
Some researchers who have embraced the holographic idea believe the latter is the ease.
For example, Grof not only takes materialization and other extreme paranormal phenomena seriously, but feels that reality is indeed cloud-built and pliant to the subtle authority of consciousness.
Physicist William Tiller, head of the Department of Materials Science at Stanford University and another supporter of the holographic idea, agrees.
Tiller thinks reality is similar to the “holodeck” on the television show Star Trek: The Next Generation. In the series, the holodeck is an environment in which occupants can call up a holographic simulation of literally any reality they desire, a lush forest, a bustling city. They can also change each simulation in any way they want, such as cause a lamp to materialize or make an unwanted table disappear.
Tiller thinks the universe is also a kind of holodeck created by the “integration” of all living things.
If Tiller is right and the universe is an enormous holodeck, the ability to materialize a gold ring or cause a grove of kenari trees to flick on and off is no longer so strange.
Even the umbrella incident can be viewed as a temporary aberration in the holographic simulation we call ordinary reality.
Although my professor and I were unaware that we possessed such an ability, it may be that the emotional fervor of our discussion about Castaneda caused our unconscious minds to change the hologram of reality to better reflect what we were believing at the moment.
Given Ullman’s assertion that our psyche is constantly trying to teach us things we are unaware of in our waking state, our unconscious may even be programmed to produce occasionally such miracles in order to offer us glimpses of reality’s true nature, to show us that the world we create for ourselves is ultimately as creatively infinite as the reality of our dreams.
Hence, electrons may be so deeply ingrained in the hologram they are no longer as susceptible to the influence of human consciousness as other newer reality fields. Similarly, anomalons may vary from lab to lab because they are more recent reality fields and are still inchoate, still floundering around in search of an identity, as it were.
In a sense, they are like the champagne beach Tart’s subjects perceived while it was still in its gray state and had not yet fully coalesced out of the implicate.
The fact that no blood miracles are known to predate San Gennaro seems to indicate that the ability flickered into existence at that time. Once it was thus established it would be easier for others to tap into the reality field of its possibility, which may explain why there have been numerous blood miracles since San Gennaro, but none before.
But once we admit that two or more people can create a reality - whether it is a transforming umbrella or a vanishing grove of kenari trees - we no longer have any way of proving that everything else in the world is not created by the mind. It all boils down to a matter of personal philosophy.
Jahn prefers to think that only the reality created by the interactions of consciousness are real.
Globus, who willingly admits that reality is a construct of consciousness, prefers to think that there is a world beyond the bubble of our perceptions.
However, he admits that this is merely his bias, and there is no empirical way to prove such an assumption.
Put another way, there is no reality above and beyond that created by the integration of all consciousnesses, and the holographic universe can potentially be sculpted in virtually limitless ways by the mind.
Or as Keith Floyd, a psychologist at Virginia Intermont College and another supporter of the holographic idea, states,
This is perhaps most disturbing of all, for we are so deeply convinced that our bodies are solid and objectively real it is difficult for us even to entertain the idea that we, too, may be no more than will-o’-the-wisps.
But there is compelling evidence that this is also the case. Another phenomenon often associated with saints is bilocation, or the ability to be in two places at once.
According to Haraldsson, Sai Baba does biolocation one better.
Numerous witnesses have reported watching him snap his fingers and vanish, instantly reappearing a hundred or more yards away. Such incidents very much suggest that our bodies are not objects, but holographic projections that can blink “off” in one location and “on” in another with the same ease that an image might vanish and reappear on a video screen.
But most bizarre of all, sometimes while he was deep in trance, different parts of his body would completely dematerialize. As the astonished scientists watched, an arm or a hand would fade out of existence, only to re materialize before he awakened.70
However, if researchers such as Grof and Tiller are correct and the mind is able to intercede in the implicate order, the holographic plate that gives birth to the hologram we call the universe, and thus create any reality or laws of physics that it wants to, then not only are such things possible, but virtually anything is possible.
In the next chapter we will take a look at some of these individuals and examine what they see.