5 - A Pocketful of Miracles

Miracles happen, not in opposition to Nature, but in opposition to what we know of Nature.
 - St. Augustine

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.

The miracle is that twice yearly, when the crowd shouts at the vial, the brown crusty substance changes into a bubbling, bright red liquid. There is little doubt that the liquid is real blood. In 1902 a group of scientists from the University of Naples made a spectroscopic analysis of the liquid by passing a beam of light through it, verifying that it was blood.


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.

But there is further evidence that the transformation is a more than ordinary event. Occasionally throughout history (the first written account of the public performance of the miracle dates back to 1389) when the vial is brought out, the blood refuses to liquefy. Although rare, this is considered a very bad omen by the citizens of Naples. In the past, the failure of the miracle has directly preceded the eruption of Vesuvius and the Napoleonic invasion of Naples.


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.

Is the liquefaction of San Gennaro’s blood a miracle? It appears to be, at least in the sense that it seems impossible to explain by known scientific laws. Is the liquefaction caused by San Gennaro himself? My own feeling is that its more likely cause is the intense devotion and belief of the people witnessing the miracle. I say this because nearly all of the miracles performed by saints and wonder-workers of the world’s great religions have also been duplicated by psychics.


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.

One psychic ability that appears to play a role in miracles is psychokinesis or PK. Since the miracle of San Gennaro involves a physical alteration of matter, PK is certainly a likely suspect. Rogo believes PK is also responsible for some of the more dramatic aspects of stigmata. He feels that it is well within the normal biological capabilities of the body to cause small blood vessels under the skin to break and produce superficial bleeding, but only PK can account for the rapid appearance of large wounds.1


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

Such events leave us agog because our current worldview does not provide us with a context with which to understand PK. Bohm believes viewing the universe as a holomovement does provide us with a context. To explain what he means he asks us to consider the following situation. Imagine you are walking down a street late one night and a shadow suddenly looms up out of nowhere.


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.

According to Bohm, the important point to be gleaned from this is that consciousness is not the only thing that can respond to meaning.


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.



“can thus serve as the link or ‘bridge’ between these two sides of reality,” Bohm states. “This link is indivisible in the sense that information contained in thought, which we feel to be on the ‘mental’ side, is at the same time a neurophysiological, chemical, and physical activity, which is clearly what is meant by this thought on the ‘material’ side.”3

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.

In other words, Bohm believes that an electron is not only mind-like, but is a highly complex entity, a far cry from the standard view that an electron is a simple, structureless point. The active use of information by electrons, and indeed by all subatomic particles, indicates that the ability to respond to meaning is a characteristic not only of consciousness but of all matter. It is this intrinsic commonality, says Bohm, that offers a possible explanation for PK.


He states,

“On this basis, psychokinesis could arise if the mental processes of one or more people were focused on meanings that were in harmony with those guiding the basic processes of the material systems in which this psychokinesis was to be brought about’”4

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).



The Gremlin in the Machine
Another researcher whose ideas about PK are similar to Bohm’s, but who has taken them one step further, is Robert G. Jahn, a professor of aerospace sciences and dean emeritus of the School of Engineering and Applied Science at Princeton University.


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 one series of experiments Jahn and his associate, clinical psychologist Brenda Dunne, employed a device called a random event generator, or REG. By relying on an unpredictable natural process such as radioactive decay, a REG is able to produce a string of random binary numbers. Such a string might look something like this: 1, 2, 1, 2, 2, 1, 1, 2, 1, 1, 1, 2, 1.


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.

What Jahn and Dunne did was have volunteers sit in front of the REG and concentrate on having it produce an abnormally large number of either heads or tails. Over the course of literally hundreds of thousands of trials they discovered that, through concentration alone, the volunteers did indeed have a small but statistically significant effect on the REG’s output.


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

In another series of experiments Jahn and Dunne employed a pinball-like device that allows 9,000 three-quarter-inch marbles to circulate around 330 nylon pegs and distribute themselves into 19 collecting bins at the bottom. The device is contained in a shallow vertical frame ten feet high and six feet wide with a clear glass front so that volunteers can see the marbles as they fall and collect, in the bins.


Normally, more balls fall in the center bins than in the outer ones, and the overall distribution looks like a bell-shaped curve.

As with the REG, Jahn and Dunne had volunteers sit in front of the machine and try to make more balls land in the outer bins than in the center ones. Again, over the course of a large number of runs, the operators were able to create a small but measurable shift in where the balls landed. In the REG experiments the volunteers only exerted a PK effect on microscopic processes, the decay of a radioactive substance, but the pinball experiments revealed that test subjects could use PK to influence objects in the everyday world as well.


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,

“While small segments of these results might reasonably be discounted as falling too close to chance behavior to justify revision of prevailing scientific tenets, taken in concert the entire ensemble establishes an incontrovertible aberration of substantial proportions.” 6

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.

If our minds can reach out and alter the movement of a cascade of marbles or the operation of a machine, what strange alchemy might account for such an ability? Jahn and Dunne believe that since all known physical processes possess a wave/particle duality, it is not unreasonable to assume that consciousness does as well. When it is particle-like, consciousness would appear to be localized in our heads, but in its wavelike aspect, consciousness, like all wave phenomena, could also produce remote influence effects.


They believe one of these remote influence effects is PK.

But Jahn and Dunne do not stop here. They believe that reality is itself the result of the interface between the waves aspects of consciousness and the wave patterns of matter.


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.

“The message may be more subtle than that,” says Jahn. “It may be that such concepts are simply unviable, that we cannot talk profitably about an abstract environment or an abstract consciousness. The only thing we can experience is the interpenetration of the two in some way.” 7

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,

“a state of immersion in the process which leads to a loss of awareness of myself. I don’t feel any direct control over the device, more like a marginal influence when I’m in resonance with the machine. It’s like being in a canoe; when it goes where I want, I flow with it. When it doesn’t I try to break the flow and give it a chance to get back in resonance with me." 8

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.

“To the extent that we’re talking about a rather basic reliance on wave mechanical behavior, there is some commonality between what we’re postulating and the holographic idea,” says Jahn.


“It gives to consciousness the capacity to function in a wave mechanical sense and thereby to avail itself, one way or another, of all of space and time.”9

Dunne agrees:

“In some sense the holographic model could be perceived as addressing the mechanism whereby the consciousness interacts with that wave mechanical, aboriginal, sensible muchness, and somehow manages to convert it into usable information. In another sense, if you imagine that the individual consciousness has its own characteristic wave patterns, you could view it - metaphorically, of course - as the laser of a particular frequency that intersects with a specific pattern in the cosmic hologram.”10

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,

“My sense of the importance of this topic is much higher than anything else I’ve ever worked on.”11



Psychokinesis on a Grander Scale
So far, PK effects produced in the lab have been limited to relatively small objects, but the evidence suggests that some individuals at least can use PK to bring about even greater changes in the physical world.


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

There is evidence that PK abilities can also be used to heal bones. Several examples of such healings have been reported by Dr. Rex Gardner, a physician at Sunderland District General Hospital in England. One interesting aspect of a 1983 article in the British Medical Journal is that Gardner, an avid investigator of miracles, presents contemporary miraculous healings side by side with examples of virtually identical healings collected by seventh-century English historian and theologian the Venerable Bede.

The present-day healing involved a group of Lutheran nuns living in Darmstadt, Germany. The nuns were building a chapel when one of the sisters broke through a freshly cemented floor and fell onto a wooden beam below. She was rushed to the hospital where X rays revealed that she had a compound pelvic fracture. Instead of relying on standard medical techniques, the nuns held an all-night prayer vigil.


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

Although Gardner does not try to account for this or any of the other healings he discusses in his article, PK seems a likely explanation. Given that the natural healing of a fracture is a lengthy process, and even the miraculous regeneration of Michelli’s pelvis took several months, it is suggested that perhaps the unconscious PK abilities of the nuns performing the laying on of hands accomplished the task.

Gardner describes a similar healing that occurred in the seventh Century during the building of the church at Hexham, England, and involving St. Wilfrid, then the bishop of Hexham. During the construction of the church a mason named Bothelm fell from a great height, breaking both his arms and legs. As he lay dying, Wilfrid prayed over him and asked the other workmen to join him. They did, “the breath of life returned” to Bothelm, and he healed rapidly.


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?

Dr. William Tufts Brigham, the curator of the Bishop Museum in Honolulu and a noted botanist who devoted much of his private life to investigating the paranormal, recorded an incident in which a broken bone was instantaneously healed by a native Hawaiian shaman, or kahuna.


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.

On the occasion in question, one of the guests slipped and fell in the beach sand, breaking his leg so severely that the bone ends pressed visibly out against the skin. Recognizing the seriousness of the break, Combs recommended that the man be taken to a hospital immediately, but the elderly kahuna would hear none of it Kneeling beside the man, she straightened his leg and pushed on the area where the fractured bones pressed out against his skin.


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



Mass Psychokinesis in Eighteenth-Century France
Such incidents notwithstanding, one of the most astounding manifestations of psychokinesis, and one of the most remarkable displays of miraculous events ever recorded, took place in Paris in the first half of the eighteenth century.


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.

To understand fully the Jansenist miracles, it is necessary to know a little about the historical events that preceded Francois de Paris’s death. Jansenism was founded in the early seventeenth century, and from the start it was at odds with both the Roman Catholic Church and the French monarchy. Many of the beliefs diverged sharply with standard church doctrine but it was a popular movement and quickly gained followers among the French populace.


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.

Because of the abbe’s saintly reputation, worshipers began to gather at his tomb, and from the beginning a host of miraculous healings were reported. The ailments thus cured included cancerous tumors, paralysis, deafness, arthritis, rheumatism, ulcerous sores, persistent fevers, prolonged hemorrhaging, and blindness. But this was not all.


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.

It was while they were in this fitful and trancelike state that the “convulsionaires,” as they have come to be called, displayed the most phenomenal of their talents. One was the ability to endure without harm an almost unimaginable variety of physical tortures. These ineluded severe beatings, blows from both heavy and sharp objects, and strangulation - all with no sign of injury, or even the slightest trace of wounds or bruises.

What makes these miraculous events so unique is that they were witnessed by literally thousands of observers. The frenzied gatherings around Abbe Paris’s tomb were by no means short-lived.


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.

Moreover, many of the witnesses, such as the investigators from the Roman Catholic Church, had a vested interest in refuting the Jansenist miracles, but they still went away confirming them (the Roman Catholic Church later remedied this embarrassing state of affairs by conceding that the miracles existed but were the work of the devil, hence proving that the Jansenists were depraved).

One investigator, a member of the Paris Parliament named Louis-Basile Carre de Montgeron, witnessed enough miracles to fill four thick volumes on the subject, which he published in 1737 under the title La Verite des Miracles.


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.


He wrote,

“At the twenty-fifth blow the stone upon which I struck, which had been shaken by the preceding efforts, suddenly became loose and fell on the other side of the wall, making an aperture more than half a foot in size.”15

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

In fact, it appears that nothing could harm the convulsionaires. They could not be hurt by the blows of metal rods, chains, or timbers. The strongest men could not choke them.


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,

“expression of perfect rapture,” crying, “Oh, that does me good! Courage, brother; strike twice as hard, if you can!”18

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

Although we have all but forgotten about the Jansenist miracles today, they were far from ignored by the intelligentsia of the time. The niece of the mathematician and philosopher Pascal succeeded in having a severe ulcer in her eye vanish within hours as the result of a Jansenist miracle.


When King Louis XV tried unsuccessfully to stop the convulsionaires by closing the cemetery of Saint-Medard, Voltaire quipped,

“God was forbidden, by order of the King, to work any miracles there.”

And in his Philosophical Essays the Scottish philosopher David Hume wrote,

“There surely never was so great a number of miracles ascribed to one person as those which were lately said to have been wrought in France upon the tomb of Abbe Paris. Many of the miracles were immediately proved upon the spot, before judges of unquestioned credit and distinction, in a learned age, and on the most eminent theatre that is now in the world.”

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.

PK would explain many of the convulsionaire’s seeming invulnerabilities. In the case of Jeanne Maulet it could be argued that she unconsciously used PK to block the effect of the hammer blows. If the convulsionaires were unconsciously using PK to take control of chains, timbers, and knives, and stop them in their tracks at the precise moment of impact, it would also explain why these objects left no marks or bruises.


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.



Reprogramming the Cosmic Motion Picture Projector
PK does not explain every aspect of the convulsionaires’ invulnerability, however.


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?

Again, the holographic view of reality provides a possible answer.


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,

“it is conceivable that certain unusual states of consciousness could mediate direct experience of, and intervention in, the implicate order. It would thus be possible to modify phenomena in the phenomenal world by influencing their generative matrix.”20

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.

That this or some other theory must be true is evidenced in another supernormal ability displayed by various individuals throughout history: invulnerability to fire. In his book The Physical Phenomena of Mysticism, Thurston gives numerous examples of saints who possessed this ability, one of the most famous being St. Francis of Paula. Not only could St. Francis of Paula hold burning embers in his hands without being harmed, but at his canonization hearings in 1519 eight eyewitnesses testified that they had seen him walk unharmed through the roaring flames of a furnace to repair one of the furnace’s broken walls.

The account brings to mind the Old Testament story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. After capturing Jerusalem, King Nebuchadnezzar ordered everyone to worship a statue of himself. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused, so Nebuchadnezzar ordered them thrown into a furnace so “exceeding hot” that the flames even burned up the men who threw them in.


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.

Although the kahunas of Hawaii do not walk through roaring furnaces, there are reports that they can stroll across hot lava without being harmed. Brigham told of meeting three kahunas who promised to perform the feat for him, and of following them on a lengthy trek to a lava flow near the erupting Kilauea. They chose a 150-foot-wide lava flow that had cooled enough to support their weight, but was so hot that patches of incandescence still coursed through its surface.


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.

As it turned out, the kahunas had told Brigham earlier that they could confer their fire immunity on him if he wanted to join them, and he had bravely agreed.


But as he faced the baking heat of the lava he had second and even third thoughts.

“The upshot of the matter was that I sat tight and refused to take off my boots,” Brigham wrote in his account of the incident.

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.

And run Brigham did. When he reached higher ground on the other side he discovered that one of his boots had burned off and his socks were on fire. But, miraculously, his feet were completely unharmed.


The kahunas had also suffered no harm and were rolling in laughter at Brigham’s shock.

“I laughed too,” wrote Brigham. “I was never so relieved in my life as I was to find that I was safe. There is little more that I can tell of this experience. I had a sensation of intense heat on my face and body, but almost no sensation in my feet.”21

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

Gabrielle Moler’s exploits were even more dumbfounding. In addition to being impervious to the thrusts of swords and blows delivered by a shovel, she could stick her head into a roaring hearth fire and hold it there without suffering any injury. Eyewitnesses report that afterward her clothing was so hot it could barely be touched, yet her hair, eyelashes, and eyebrows were never so much as singed.23 No doubt she was great fun at parties.

Actually the Jansenists were not the first convulsionary movement in France. In the late 1600s, when King Louis XIV tried to purge the country of the unabashedly Protestant Huguenots, a group of Huguenot resistors in the valley of the Cevennes and known as the Camisards displayed similar abilities. In an official report sent to Rome, one of the persecutors, a prior named Abbe du Chayla, complained that no matter what he did, he could not succeed in harming the Camisards.


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

As if this weren’t enough, Claris, the Camisard leader, ordered that a pyre be built and then climbed to the top of it to deliver an ecstatic speech. In the presence of six hundred witnesses he ordered the pyre be set on fire and continued to rant as the flames rose above his head. After the pyre was completely consumed, Claris remained, unharmed and with no mark of the fire on his hair or clothing.


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
Literally hundreds of credible accounts of fire immunity exist It is reported that when Bernadette of Lourdes was in ecstasy she was also impervious to fire.


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,

“I saw it with my own eyes. But I swear, if anyone had tried to make me believe such a story I would have laughed him to scorn.’*27

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

While on a hunting trip in 1927 in the Tennessee mountains, K. R. Wissen, a New York physician, encountered a twelve-year-old boy who was similarly impervious. Wissen watched the boy handle red-hot irons out of a fireplace with impunity. The boy told Wissen he had discovered his ability by accident when he picked up a red-hot horseshoe in his uncle’s blacksmith shop.29


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...



The Laws of Physics as Habits and Realities Both Potential and Real
Just as it is hard to imagine where the deflected energy goes in some of the examples of PK we have looked at, it is equally difficult to understand where the energy of a red-hot iron pot goes while the pot is resting flat against the hair and flesh of a Ceylonese native’s head.

But if consciousness can mediate directly in the implicate order, it becomes a more tractable problem. Again, rather than being due to some undiscovered energy or law of physics (such as some kind of insulating force field) that operates within the framework of reality, it would result from activity on an even more fundamental level and involve the processes that create both the physical universe and the laws of physics in the first place.

Looked at another way, the ability of consciousness to shift from one entire reality to another suggests that the usually inviolate rule that fire burns human flesh may only be one program in the cosmic computer, but a program that has been repeated so often it has become one of nature’s habits.


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.

“When you have a neurosis you tend to repeat the same pattern in your life, or do the same action, as if there’s a memory built up and the thing is stuck with that,” he says.


“I tend to think things like chairs and tables are like that also. They’re a sort of material neurosis, a repetition. But there is something subtler going on, a constant enfolding and unfolding. In this sense chairs and tables are just habits in this flux, but the flux is the reality, even if we tend only to see the habit.”31

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.

Grof s proposal that altered states of consciousness may be required in order to make such changes in the implicate is also attested to by the frequency with which fire immunity is associated with heightened faith and religious zeal. The pattern that began to take shape in the last chapter continues, and its message becomes increasingly clear - the deeper and more emotionally charged our beliefs, the greater the changes; we can make in both our bodies and reality itself.

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.

“I don’t believe anything goes,” he says, “but there are a lot of worlds out there that we don’t understand.”33

After years of firsthand experiences with the miraculous, Watson is bolder.

“I have no doubt that reality is in a very large part a construct of the imagination. I am not speaking as a particle physicist or even as someone who is totally aware of what’s going on in the frontier of that discipline, but I think we have the capacity to change the world around us in quite fundamental ways

(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

Gordon Globus, a professor of psychiatry and philosophy at the University of California at Irvine, has a different but similar view. Globus thinks the holographic theory is correct in its assertion that the mind constructs concrete reality out of the raw material of the implicate.


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


Does Consciousness Create Subatomic Particles or Not Create Subatomic Particles, That is the Question
This difference of opinion indicates once again that the holographic theory is still very much an idea in the making, not unlike a newly formed Pacific island whose volcanic activity keeps it from having clearly defined shores.


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.

The difference of opinion also reveals just how complex a puzzle miracles are.


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.

Unlike Bohm, Jahn and Dunne believe subatomic particles do not possess a distinct reality until consciousness enters the picture.

“I think we have long since passed the place in high energy physics where we’re examining the structure of a passive universe,” Jahn states. “I think we’re into the domain where the interplay of consciousness in the environment is taking place on such a primary scale that we are indeed creating reality by any reasonable definition of the term.”36

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.

“Most physicists develop a somewhat schizophrenic view,” says quantum theorist Fritz Eohrlich of Syracuse University. “On the one hand they accept the standard interpretation of quantum theory. On the other they insist on the reality of quantum systems even when these are not observed.”37

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:

  1. a small minority is troubled by the philosophical implications

  2. a second group has elaborate reasons why they are not troubled, but their explanations tend “to miss the point entirely”

  3. a third group has no elaborate explanations but also refuses to say why they aren’t troubled

“Their position is unassailable,” says Mermin.38

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

Similar evidence may also be found in another subatomic particle. In the 1930s Pauli proposed the existence of a massless particle called a neutrino to solve an outstanding problem concerning radioactivity.


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

Is it possible that the different properties displayed by neutrinos are due at least in part to the changing expectations and different cultural biases of the physicists who searched for them? If so, such a state of affairs raises an interesting question. If physicists do not discover the subatomic world but create it, why do some particles, such as electrons, appear to have a stable reality no matter who observes them? In other words, why does a physics student with no knowledge of an electron still discover the same characteristics that a seasoned physicist discovers?

One possible answer is that our perceptions of the world may not be based solely on the information we receive through our five senses.

As fantastic as this may sound, a very good case can be made for such a notion. Before explaining, I would like to relate an occurrence I witnessed in the middle 1970s. My father had hired a professional hypnotist to entertain a group of friends at his house and had invited me to attend the event. After quickly determining the hypnotic susceptibility of the various individuals present, the hypnotist chose a friend of my father’s named Tom as his subject.


This was the first time Tom had ever met the hypnotist.

Tom proved to be a very good subject, and within seconds the hypnotist had him in a deep trance. He then proceeded with the usual tricks performed by stage hypnotists. He convinced Tom there was a giraffe in the room and had Tom gaping in wonder. He told Tom that a potato was really an apple and had Tom eat it with gusto. But the highlight of the evening was when he told Tom that when he came out of trance, his teenage daughter, Laura, would be completely invisible to him.


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.

Tom looked around the room and his gaze appeared to pass right through his giggling daughter. “No,” he replied.


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.

When I talked to Tom afterward, he said that his daughter had been absolutely invisible to him. All he had seen was the hypnotist standing and holding a watch cupped in the palm of his hand. Had the hypnotist let him leave without telling him what was going on, he never would have known he wasn’t perceiving normal consensus reality.

Obviously Tom’s perception of the watch was not based on information he was receiving through his five senses. Where was he getting the information from? One explanation is that he was obtaining it telepathically from someone else’s mind, in this case, the hypnotist’s. The ability of hypnotized individuals to “tap” into the senses of other people has been reported by other investigators.


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.

“Standing behind the girl, whose eyes I had securely bandaged, I took up some salt and put it in my mouth; instantly she sputtered and exclaimed, ‘What for are you putting salt in my mouth?’ Then I tried sugar; she said ‘That’s better’; asked what it was like, she said ‘Sweet’ Then mustard, pepper, ginger, et cetera were tried; each was named and apparently tasted by the girl when I put them in my own mouth,”41

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

Our ability to tap into the senses of others is not limited to hypnotic states. In a now famous series of experiments physicists Harold Puthoff and Russell Targ of the Stanford Research Institute in California found that just about everyone they tested had a capacity they call “remote viewing,” the ability to describe accurately what a distant test subject is seeing.


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.

The Princeton Anomalies Research lab has also corroborated Puthoff and Targ’s findings. In one study Jahn himself served as the receiver and tried to perceive what a colleague was observing in Paris, a city Jahn has never visited. In addition to seeing a bustling street, an image of a knight in armor came into Jahn’s mind. It later turned out that the sender was standing in front of a government building ornamented with statuary of historical military figures, one of whom was a knight in armor.44

So it appears that we are deeply interconnected with each other in yet another way, a situation that is not so strange in a holographic universe. Moreover, these interconnections manifest even when we are not consciously aware of them. Studies have shown that when a person in one room is given an electric shock, it will register in the polygraph readings of a person in another room.45


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

Given both our deep interconnectedness and our ability to construct entirely convincing realities out of information received via this interconnectedness, such as Tom did, what would happen if two or more hypnotized individuals tried to construct the same imaginary reality?


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.

He was right. When they opened their eyes in this mutually hypnotized state everything looked gray. However, the grayness quickly gave way to vivid colors and glowing lights, and in a few moments they found themselves on a beach of unearthly beauty. The sand sparkled like diamonds, the sea was filled with enormous frothing bubbles and glistened like champagne, and the shoreline was dotted with translucent crystalline rocks pulsing with internal light.


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.

Of course, this was immediately obvious to Anne and Bill and they set about to explore their newfound world, swimming in the ocean and studying the glowing crystalline rocks. Unfortunately for Tart they also stopped talking, or at least they stopped talking from Tart’s perspective. When he questioned them about their silence they told him that in their shared dreamworld they were talking, a phenomenon Tart feels involved some kind of paranormal communication between the two.

In session after session Anne and Bill continued to construct various realities, and all were as real, available to the five senses, and dimensionalty realized, as anything they experienced in their normal waking state. In fact, Tart resolved that the worlds Anne and Bill visited we’re actually more real than the pale, lunar version of reality with which most of us must be content.


As he states, after,

“they had been talking about their experiences to each other for some time, and found they had been discussing details of the experiences they had shared for which there were no verbal stimuli on the tapes, they felt they must have actually been ‘in’ the non-worldly locales they had experienced.”48

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,

“I had to kind of conjure up a hand."49

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.

The extrasensory interconnectedness that allowed Anne and Bill to construct their shared reality might almost be viewed as a kind of field effect between them, a “reality-field” if you will. One wonders what would have happened if the hypnotist at my father’s house had put all of us into a trance? In light of the evidence above, there is every reason to believe that if our rapport were deep enough, Laura would have become invisible to us all. We would have collectively constructed a reality-field of a watch, read its inscription, and been completely convinced that what we were perceiving was real.

If consciousness plays a role in the creation of subatomic particles, is it possible that our observations of the subatomic world are also reality-fie Ids of a kind? If Jahn can perceive a suit of armor through the senses of a friend in Paris, is it any more farfetched to believe that physicists all around the world are unconsciously interconnecting with one another and using a form of mutual hypnosis similar to that used by Tart’s subjects to create the consensus characteristics they observe in an electron?


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?

Novelist Josephson has suggested that something like this may be going on. Like Globus, he takes Castaneda’s work seriously and has attempted to relate it to quantum physics. He proposes that objective reality is produced out of the collective memories of the human race while anomalous events, such as those experienced by Castaneda, are the manifestation of the individual will.50

Human consciousness may not be the only thing that participates in the creation of reality-fields. Remote viewing experiments have shown that people can accurately describe distant locations even when there are no human observers present at the locations.51 Similarly, subjects can identify the contents of a sealed box randomly selected from a group of sealed boxes and whose contents are therefore completely unknown.52


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.

Bohm believes the ubiquitousness of meaning offers a possible explanation for both telepathy and remote viewing. He thinks both may actually be just different forms of psychokinesis. Just as PK is a resonance of meaning conveyed from a mind to an object, telepathy can be viewed as a resonance of meaning conveyed from a mind to a mind, says Bohm.


In like manner, remote viewing can be looked at as a resonance of meaning conveyed from an object to a mind.

“When harmony or resonance of ‘meanings’ is established, the action works both ways, so that the ‘meanings’ of the distant system could act in the viewer to produce a kind of inverse psychokinesis that would, in effect, transmit an image of that system to him,” he states.53

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

If such assertions are true, and we can obtain information not only from the minds of other human beings but from the living hologram of reality itself, psychometry - the ability to obtain information about an object’s history simply by touching it - would also be explained. Rather than being inanimate, such an object would be suffused with its own kind of consciousness.


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.



You Can Get Something for Nothing
Do physicists play a role in the creation of subatomic particles?


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.

Nonetheless, two days later her bleeding became so severe that she was admitted on an emergency basis.

Coggin’s examination revealed that Kamro’s blood loss had been “very heavy,” and her feet and abdomen were pathologically swollen. The next day Kamro had “another heavy bleed,” forcing Coggin to perform a cesarean section. As soon as Coggin opened the uterus even more copious amounts of dark blood flooded out and continued to flow so heavily it became clear that Kamro had virtually no clotting ability.


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.

She writes,

“We prayed with the patient after explaining to her about Jesus in whose name we had prayed for her before the operation, and who was a great healer, I also told her that we were not going to worry. I had seen Jesus heal this condition before and was sure He was going to heal her.”55

Then they waited.

For the next several hours Kamro continued to bleed, but instead of getting worse, her general condition stabilized. That evening Coggin prayed with Kamro again, and although her “brisk bleeding” continued unabated, she seemed unaffected by the loss. Forty-eight hours after the operation her blood finally began to clot and her recovery started in full. Ten days later she went home with her baby.

Although Coggin had no way of measuring Kamro’s actual blood loss, she had no doubts that the young mother had lost more than her total blood volume during the surgery and the profuse bleeding that ensued. After Gardner examined the documentation of the case, he agreed. The trouble with this conclusion is that human beings cannot produce new blood fast enough to cover such catastrophic losses; if they could, many fewer people would bleed to death. This leaves one with the unsettling conclusion that Kamro’s new blood must have materialized out of thin air.

The ability to create an infinitesimal particle or two pales in comparison to the materialization of the ten to twelve pints of blood necessary to replenish the average human body. And blood is not the only thing we can create out of thin air. In June of 1974, while traveling in Timor Timur, a small island in easternmost Indonesia, Watson encountered an equally confounding example of materialization.


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.

The family living in the house consisted of a married couple, their two small boys, and the husband’s unmarried younger half-sister. The couple and their children were typically Indonesian in appearance, with dark complexions and curly hair, but the half-sister, whose name was Alin, was physically very different and had a much lighter complexion and features that were almost Chinese, which accounted for her inability to obtain a husband.


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.

That evening during dinner in the family’s grass-roofed home, Watson witnessed several startling phenomena. First, without warning, the couple’s eight-year-old boy screamed and dropped his cup on the table as the back of his hand began to bleed inexplicably. Watson, who was sitting next to the boy, examined his hand and saw that there was a semicircle of fresh punctures on it, like a human bite, but with a diameter larger than the boy’s. Alin, always the odd person out, was busy at the fire opposite the boy when this occurred.

As Watson was examining the wounds, the lamp flame turned blue and abruptly flared up, and in the suddenly brighter light a shower of salt began to pour down over the food until it was completely covered and inedible.

“It wasn’t a sudden deluge, but a slow and deliberate action which lasted long enough for me to look up and see that it seemed to begin in midair, just about eye level, perhaps four feet over the table,” says Watson.

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

The events that took place in the little Indonesian hut are classic examples of a poltergeist haunting, a type of haunting typified by mysterious sounds and psychokinetic activity rather than the appearances of ghosts or apparitions. Because poltergeists tend to center more around people, in this case Alin, rather than places, many parapsychologists believe they are actually manifestations of the unconscious psychokinetic ability of the person around whom they are most active.


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.

In the Introduction I mentioned that I had experienced firsthand many of the paranormal phenomena that would be discussed in this book and would relate a few of my own experiences. It is thus time to come clean and confess that I know how Watson must have felt after witnessing the sudden onslaught of psychokinetic activity in the little Indonesian hut because when I was a child, the house in which my family had recently moved (a new house that my parents themselves had built) became the site of an active poltergeist haunting.


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.

This connection to my emotions displayed itself frequently. If I was in a good mood, I might wake up to find all of my socks draped over the house plants. If I was in a darker frame of mind, the poltergeist might manifest by hurling a small object across the room or occasionally even by breaking something. Over the years both I and various family members and friends witnessed a wide range of psychokinetic activity.


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.

I do not make these disclosures lightly. I am aware of how alien such occurrences are to most people’s experience and fully understand the skepticism with which they will be greeted in some quarters. Nonetheless, I am compelled to talk about them because I think it is vitally important that we try to understand such phenomena and not just sweep them under the carpet.

Still it is with some trepidation that I admit that my own poltergeist also occasionally materialized objects. The materializations started when I was six years old, and inexplicable showers of gravel rained down on our roof at night. Later it took to pelting me inside my home with small polished stones and pieces of broken glass with edges worn like the shards of drift glass one finds on the beach.


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.

On a few occasions, however, I did see objects actually materialize. For example, in 1976 I was working in my study when I happened to look up and see a small brown object appear suddenly in midair just a few inches below the ceiling. As soon as it popped into existence it zoomed down at a sharp angle and landed at my feet. When I picked it up I saw that it was a piece of brown drift glass that originally might have been used in making beer bottles.


It was not quite as spectacular as a shower of salt lasting several seconds, but it taught me that such things were possible.

Perhaps the most famous modern-day materializations are those produced by Sathya Sai Baba, a sixty-four-year-old Indian holy man living in a distant corner of the state of Andhra Pradesh in southern India. According to numerous eyewitnesses, Sai Baba is able to produce much more than salt and a few stones. He plucks lockets, rings, and jewelry out of the air and passes them out as gifts.


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.

Haraldsson has spent over ten years studying Sai Baba and has published his findings in a recent book entitled Modern Miracles: An Investigative Report on Psychic Phenomena Associated with Sathya Sai Baba. Although Haraldsson admits that he cannot prove conclusively that Sai Baba’s productions are not the result of deception and sleight of hand, he offers a large amount of evidence that strongly suggests something supernormal is taking place.

For starters, Sai Baba can materialize specific objects on request. Once when Haraldsson was having a conversation with him about spiritual and ethical issues, Sai Baba said that daily life and spiritual life should “grow together like a double rudraksha.”


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.

“Then suddenly, with a sign of impatience, Sai Baba closed his list and waved his hand for a second or two. As he opened it, he turned to me and said: ‘This is it.’ In his palm was an acorn-like object. This was two rudrakshas grown together like a twin orange or a twin apple,” says Haraldsson.

When Haraldsson indicated that he wanted to keep the double-seed as a memento, Sai Baba agreed, but first asked to see it again.

“He enclosed the rudraksha in both his hands, blew on it, and opened his hands toward me. The double rudraksha was now covered, on the top and bottom, by two golden shields held together by a short golden chain. On the top was a golden cross with a small ruby affixed to it, and a tiny opening so that it could hang on a chain around the neck.”58

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.

Such gifts are not rare. Sai Baba frequently hands out costly rings, jewels, and objects made of gold to the throngs who visit him daily and who venerate him as a saint. He also materializes vast quantities of food, and when the various delicacies he produces fall from his hands they are sizzling hot, so hot that people sometimes cannot even hold them. He can make sweet syrups and fragrant oils pour from his hands (and even his feet), and when he is finished there is no trace of the sticky substance on his skin.


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.

Equally astonishing are his productions of sacred ash. Every time he walks among the crowds that visit him, prodigious amounts of it pour from his hands. He scatters it everywhere, into offered containers and outstretched hands, over heads, and in long serpentine trails on the ground. In a single transit of the grounds around his ashram he can produce enough of it to fill several drums.


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,

“His palm was open and turned downwards, and he waved his hand in a few quick, small circles. As he did, a grey substance appeared in the air just below his palm.


Dr. Osis, who sat slightly closer, observed that this material first appeared entirely in the form of granules (that crumbled into ash when touched) and might have disintegrated earlier if Sai Baba had produced them by a sleight of hand that was undetectable to us.”59

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

Accounts of individuals who can materialize are not unknown in India. In his book Autobiography of a Yogi, Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952), the first eminent holy man of India to set up permanent residence in the West, describes his meetings with several Hindu ascetics who could materialize out-of-season fruits, gold plates, and other objects.


Interestingly, Yogananda cautioned that such powers, or siddis, are not always evidence that the person possessing them is spiritually evolved.

“The world [is] nothing but an objectivized dream,” says Yogananda, and “whatever your powerful mind believes very intensely instantly comes to pass.” 61

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?

A remarkable series of materializations that has received even greater confirmation than that bestowed by Haraldsson on Sai Baba was produced by Therese Neumann. In addition to her stigmata, Neumann also displayed inedia, the supernormal ability to live without food. Her inedia began in 1923 when she “transferred” the throat disease of a young priest to her own body and subsisted solely on liquids for several years.


Then, in 1927, she gave up both food and water entirely.

When the local bishop in Regensburg first learned of Neumann’s fast, he sent a commission into her home to investigate. From July 14, 1927, to July 29, 1927, and under the supervision of a medical doctor named Seidl, four Franciscan nursing sisters scrutinized her every move. They watched her day and night, and the water she used for washing and rinsing her mouth was carefully measured and weighed.


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.

At the end of the inquiry Dr. Seidl and the sisters were completely convinced that Neumann had not eaten or drunk a thing for the entire fourteen days. The test seems conclusive, for while the human body can survive two weeks without food, it can rarely survive half that time without water. Yet this was nothing for Neumann; she did not eat or drink a thing for the next thirty-five years.


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.

Materialization may be more common than we realize.


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.



Changing the Whole Picture
In a way materialization challenges our conventional ideas about reality most of all, for although we can, with effort, hammer things such as PK into our current world view, the creation of an object out of thin air rocks the very foundation of that world view.


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?

If miracles are examples of the mind’s own latent abilities, the answer, of course, is because we ourselves are so deeply programmed to see the world in terms of parts. This implies that if we were not so inculcated in thinking in terms of parts, if we viewed the world differently, miracles would also be different. Bather than finding so many examples of miracles in which the parts of reality had been transformed, we would find more instances in which the whole of reality had been transformed. In fact a few such examples exist, but they are rare and offer an even graver challenge to our conventional ideas about reality than materializations do.

Watson provides one. While he was in Indonesia he also encountered another young woman with power. The woman’s name was Tia, but unlike Alin’s power, hers did not seem to be an expression of an unconscious psychic gift. Instead it was consciously controlled and stemmed from Tia’s natural connection to forces that lie dormant in most of us. Tia was, in short, a shaman in the making. Watson witnessed many examples of her gifts.


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.

But he witnessed one of Tia’s most awesome displays when he accidentally stumbled upon her talking with a little girl in a shady grove of kenari trees. Even at a distance, Watson could tell from Tia’s gestures that she was trying to communicate something important to the child. Although he could not hear their conversation, he could tell from her air of frustration that she was not succeeding. Finally, she appeared to get an idea and started an eerie dance.

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,

“One moment Tia danced in a grove of shady kenari; the next she was standing alone in the hard, bright light of the sun.”63

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.

In 1975 when I was a senior at Michigan State University I had a similarly profound and reality-challenging experience. I was having dinner with one of my professors at a local restaurant, and we were discussing the philosophical implications of Carlos Castaneda’s experiences. In particular our conversation centered around an incident Castaneda relates in Journey to Ixtlan.


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.

At first Castaneda is terrified, but after telling himself that what he is seeing can’t possibly be real, his vision changes and he sees that the dying spirit is actually a fallen tree branch trembling in the wind. Castaneda proudly points out the thing’s true identity, but as usual the old Yaqui shaman rebukes him. He tells Castaneda that the branch was a dying spirit while it was alive with power, but that it had transformed into a tree branch when Castaneda doubted its existence. However, he stresses that both realities were equally real.

In my conversation with my professor, I admitted that I was intrigued by Don Juan’s assertion that two mutually exclusive realities could each be real and felt that the notion could explain many paranormal events. Moments after discussing this incident we left the restaurant and, because it was a clear summer night, we decided to stroll. As we continued to converse I became aware of a small group of people walking ahead of us.


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.

Not wanting to collide with the group, we dropped back a little, and as we did, the woman suddenly began swinging the umbrella in a wild and erratic manner. She traced out huge arcs in the air, and several times as she spun around, the tip of the umbrella nearly grazed us. We slowed our pace even more, but it became increasingly apparent that her performance was designed to attract our attention. Finally, after she had our gaze firmly fixed on what she was doing, she held the umbrella with both hands over her head and then threw it dramatically at our feet.

We both stared at it dumbly, wondering why she had done such a thing, when suddenly something remarkable began to happen.


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.


The only 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 crumpled.


What Does It All Mean?
This incident raises many questions for which I have no answers.


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.

I do not even know why I have had the privilege of experiencing so many paranormal occurrences, save that it appears to be related to the fact that I was born with a great deal of native psychic ability. As an adolescent I started having vivid and detailed dreams about events that would later happen. I often knew things about people I had no right knowing. When I was seventeen I spontaneously developed the ability to see an energy field, or “aura,” around living things, and to this day can often determine things about a person’s health by the pattern and colors of the mist of light that I see surrounding them.


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.

What I do know is that the “umbrella incident,” as I have come to call it, entailed a radical alteration in the world. In this chapter we have looked at miracles that have involved increasingly greater shifts in reality.


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.

The question becomes, Is it a hologram that is relatively stable for long periods of time and subject to only minimal alterations by consciousness, as Bohm suggests? Or is it a hologram that only seems stable, but under special circumstances can be changed and reshaped in virtually limitless ways, as the evidence of the miraculous suggests?


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.

“The world is not necessarily as solid as we perceive it,” he says.64

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.

“We’ve created it as a vehicle of experience, and we’ve created the laws that govern it,” he asserts. “And when we get to the frontiers of our understanding, we can in fact shift the laws so that we’re also creating the physics as we go along.”65

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.

Saying that reality is created by the integration of all living things is really no different from saying that the universe is comprised of reality fields. If this is true, it explains why the reality of some subatomic particles, such as electrons, seems relatively fixed, while the reality of others, such as anomalons, appears to be more plastic. It may be that the reality fields we now perceive as electrons became part of the cosmic hologram long ago, perhaps long before human beings were even part of the integration of all things.


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.

This may also explain why aspirin helps prevent heart attacks in Americans, but not in the British. It, too, may be a relatively recent reality field and one that is still in the making. There is even evidence that the ability to materialize blood is a comparatively recent reality field. Rogo notes that accounts of blood miracles began with the fourteenth-century miracle of San Gennaro.


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.

Indeed, if the universe is a holodeck, all things that appear stable and eternal, from the laws of physics to the substance of galaxies, would have to be viewed as reality fields, will-o’-the-wisps no more or less real than the props in a giant, mutually shared dream. All permanence would have to be looked at as illusory, and only consciousness would be eternal, the consciousness of the living universe.

Of course, there is one other possibility. It may be that only anomalous events, such as the umbrella incident, are reality fields, and the world at large is still every bit as stable and unaffected by consciousness as we have been taught to believe. The problem with this assumption is that it can never be proved. The only litmus test we have of determining whether something is real, say a purple elephant that has just strolled into our living room, is to find out if other people can see it as well.


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.

And personal philosophies vary.


Jahn prefers to think that only the reality created by the interactions of consciousness are real.

“The question of whether there’s an ‘out there’ out there is abstract. If we have no way of verifying the abstraction, there is no profit in attempting to model it,” he says.66

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.

“I’m interested in nice theories,” he says, “and a nice theory postulates existence.”67

However, he admits that this is merely his bias, and there is no empirical way to prove such an assumption.

As for me, as a result of my own experiences I agree with Don Juan when he states,

“We are perceivers. We are an awareness; we are not objects; we have no solidity. We are boundless. The world of objects and solidity is a way of making our passage on earth convenient. It is only a description that was created to help us. We, or rather our reason, forget that the description is only a description and thus we entrap the totality of ourselves in a vicious circle from which we rarely emerge in our lifetime.”68

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.

If this is true, the laws of physics and the substance of galaxies are not the only things that are reality fields. Even our bodies, the vehicles of our consciousness in this life, would have to be looked upon as no more or less real than anomalous and champagne beaches.


Or as Keith Floyd, a psychologist at Virginia Intermont College and another supporter of the holographic idea, states,

“Contrary to what everyone knows is so, it may not be the brain that produces consciousness, but rather consciousness that creates the appearance of the brain - matter, space, time and everything else we are pleased to interpret as the physical universe,”69

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.

An incident that further underscores the holographic and immaterial nature of the body can be found in phenomena produced by an Icelandic medium named Indridi Indridason. In 1905 several of Iceland’s leading scientists decided to investigate the paranormal and chose Indridason as one of their subjects. At the time, Indridason was just a country bumpkin with no previous experience with things psychic, but he quickly proved to be a spectacularly talented medium. He could go into trance quickly and produce dramatic displays of PK.


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

Such events again offer us a tantalizing glimpse of the enormous potentialities that may lie dormant in all of us. As we have seen, our current scientific understanding of the universe is completely incapable of explaining the various phenomena we have examined in this chapter and therefore has no choice but to ignore them.


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.

If this is true, the apparent solidity of the world is only a small part of what is available to our perception. Although most of us are indeed entrapped in our current description of the universe, a few individuals do have the ability to see beyond the world’s solidity.


In the next chapter we will take a look at some of these individuals and examine what they see.


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