By Anupama Bhattacharya December 1997 Is paranormal a mere fantasy, a creation of irrational self-suggestion? Or is there a deeper truth that can take mankind to the threshold of a higher existence? HOW TO TAP YOUR ESPFollow your hunches. With time, the hunches will become stronger.Try to remember your dreams first thing in the morning and interpret them intuitively. They might offer strange insights. Relax. A tensed or overcrowded mind is a bad receptor of ESP. Practice telepathy with close friends. You’d be surprised how easy it is to create mind links. When practicing telepathy, start by synchronizing the time of sending and receiving messages. Increase your ESP by card guessing and other such activities. Trying too hard to concentrate can often result in negative concentration where you end up concentrating on concentration itself and not the object required. IS THE WORLD A HOLOGRAM? How can a person receive instant telepathic messages from somebody half a world away? Or will something to happen across thousands of miles? Theories of electromagnetic fields and brain currents remain mere speculations in the absence of proof. And their unscientific nature or apparently paranormal characteristics make them unacceptable to conventional scientists. The faculty of ESP itself seems rather fickle. Some people score high on one test and no more than average on another. Also, there is the non-repeatability factor in laboratory conditions. But can any scientist duplicate conditions under which the repeatability of the ESP phenomenon might be studied? ESP, which largely depends on the states of mind and level of concentration, would need identical brain patterns each time the experiment is repeated, including emotions, moods, sense perceptions et al, for the study of its repeatability under identical conditions—an impossible demand. Most scientific theories about the paranormal either discard it as illusion or fail to take into account many unanswerable questions. One cogent explanation seems to lie in the English Physicist David Bohm’s theory of a holographic universe. A hologram is a kind of optical storage system where each part contains in it the image of the whole. Thus, in a holographic universe, the parts that seem to be separated by time and space are in reality one, and any part at any given time has access to everything that is part of the universe. In his book Languages of the Brain, Karl Pribram suggests that the brain operates like a hologram, which might have access to a greater hologram, the universe. The separate realms of time and space, things and events might exist in our limited perception but intrinsically they are all one and part of the same hologram. This also seems to agree with the French philosopher Henri Bergson’s concept of time as a row of infinitesimal points, which often give glimpses of infinity. Such moments, according to Bergson, are points of intersection when time meets infinity. Experiences of ESP can also be regarded as similar intersections of time when the limited mind suddenly beholds the oneness of things in the magnificent hologram of the universe. This world is a beginning and a basewhere life and mind erect their structured dreams;An unborn power must build reality.A death bound littleness is not all we are:Immortal our forgotten vastness…Await discovery in our summit selves—Sri Aurobindo The first time I was asked to attend a séance, I laughed it off. But curiosity got the better of me and I walked into a dark and musty classroom of the Presidency College in Calcutta, India. I don’t know if any spirit really arrived—at least I could find no convincing proof. However, what struck me as strange was the keen interest verging on veneration shown by no fewer than 10 students present at the séance. What were they doing? What was the nature of their search? Was it an attempt to break free of what Colin Wilson, author of Occult and Beyond the Occult calls a state of sleepwalking? Is the cocoon of our limited perceptions seems to be breaking down while a world throbbing with inexplicable wonders is slowly but surely revealing itself? BEYOND THE SENSES Have you ever spared a thought for that hunch you occasionally have about something or someone? Or questioned those strange and seemingly illogical coincidences when you think of somebody and the person pays you a visit? Mere chance? Think again! Carl Gustav Jung, renowned psychoanalyst who hypothesized the collective unconscious, explains these phenomena by the theory of synchronicity. ‘Synchronistic events rest on the simultaneous occurrence of two different psychic states,’ he writes. Arthur Koestler, author of The Roots of Coincidence, feels that most events take place in a synchronized manner which can be put into a fixed pattern—a particular name cropping up repeatedly or a bad day when every thing seems to go wrong. While on Jung, let’s also look into morphogenetic resonance or the hundredth monkey phenomenon. It has been noticed that when some skill is learnt by a certain number of a particular species, the others pick it up faster. It agrees with the theory of the collective unconscious except that there seem to be exclusive memory banks for each species—dogs never seem to tap cat memories! Anil Bakshi, director of Personnel Search Associates in Delhi, India, feels that most paranormal capabilities can be developed through practice. ‘I got involved with the paranormal after a friend of mine told me about his experiences. He guided me in developing my potentials and I worked hard on it. Now I can tell people’s past, present and future. I’m not very accurate as yet, but I believe one an achieve this power through practice.’ For Shamshir Luthra, radio jockey and compere, the paranormal manifests itself in rather strange ways: ‘Whenever people come in contact with me, their lives invariably change—usually with drastic results.’ But he ads that it is not as bad as it seems. ‘The bad luck affects only the first time. My continued presence in people’s lives seems to bring a lot of good results.’ Many people believe that those who experience the paranormal or dabble in it are slightly soft in the head (psychic for them is synonymous with insane). And not without reason! Mentally imbalanced people generally have strong extrasensory powers. This is because paranormal is a function of the right brain and it is only when the analytical left brain is put aside that psychic experiences break through. That is why most people experience the paranormal during states of sleep and rest when the mind is fully receptive. This is also the reason that animals seem to have strong extrasensory perception (ESP)—the analytical faculty does not exist in them. Many parapsychologists even believe that in the far reaches of prehistory, our predecessors were not only equipped with strong ESP but also with a third eye in the middle of the forehead, which could look into other planes. But over millions of years, the disuse of the organ made it atrophy. And it gradually sank into the folds of the brain. Scientific evidence indicates that there might be some truth in this. The pineal gland, located at the site of the traditional third eye, has been found to have a certain amount of light sensitivity, indicating that it might be the remnant of an organ of sight. Psychic surgery, popular in Brazil and the Philippines, is another phenomenon that defies all explanation. In his book The Flying Cow, Guy Playfair describes his mind-boggling observation of a psychic surgeon, Edivaldo Silva, who performed operations by plunging his hands inside people’s bodies—right through the skin—and leaving the flesh intact after operation. Pranic healing and reiki practitioners also claim to channel cosmic energy for healing purposes. Paranormal manifests itself in varied forms—dreams, foresight, psychokinesis, déjà vu, and telepathy—each ultimately opening the mind to a reality beyond our limited perceptions. However, even though paranormal abilities can be directed for personal growth, like the mythical Pandora’s box, you may release a nightmarish horde of uncontrollable forces if you dabble in the unknown without comprehending it. DREAM VOYAGES As a child, I had recurring dreams of an inexplicably beautiful place somewhere in the mountains. Though I never came across it in real life, it made me wonder if there are other worlds, perhaps as real as ours, which we occasionally visit in our dreams. Dreams have fascinated and awed thinkers from time immemorial. The old epics from Iliad to Ramayana are replete with dream interpretations. Sigmund Freud perceived in dreams a revelation of the repressed animal instincts of human nature. For Jung, dreams were not only a door to the psyche but also a glimpse into the hidden wonders of the universe. The real answer seems closer to Jung than Freud. The precognitive power of certain dreams, along with telepathic visions, implies that dreams comprise something more than ordinary fears and desires of the psyche. Dreaming takes place during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. In REM, if any external stimulus is provided, the sensation is somehow incorporated into the dream. For example, if a person is sprayed with water during REM sleep, he might dream of a shower. But what happens when dreams invade reality? In 1959, a New York disc jockey, Peter Tripp, attempted a publicity stunt by staying awake for 201 hours. After three days, he began to hallucinate and turned paranoid. It was almost as though his sleep-deprivation was allowing dream images to break into his waking consciousness. However, as Bharati Ramachandran, a journalist based in Bangalore, India, discovered, dreams can also opens avenues o
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