A Lesser Known World


-Arushi Kothari

Ever got this feeling in the back of your throat that something bad is going to happen? Ever had an out of body experience? I know I might sound a bit touched, but believe me all my senses are right here with me, sitting nice and tight.

Before I even mention the word ‘parapsychology’ in my article, there will be hundreds, no thousands of scientifically inclined brains ready to roll their eyes and crucify me for writing something that cannot be explained by science and logic. Well, folks everything isn’t 2+2=4 (I’ve got that right, at least eh?)

The term parapsychology was coined by a philosopher named Max Dessoir for the study of ‘unusual’ events related to human experience including telepathy, prerecognition, reincarnation etc. (I’ll stop right here,  because the daggers from you-know-who are coming awfully close to the heart)

But, if these phenomena were mere imaginations of a few ‘free minds’, how can research conducted in 30 nations verify the possibility of its existence. I say possibility because voluntary participation is difficult to obtain. Also, methodological problems, cases of fraud etc have made many, uncertain about its results. But isn’t that a mark of an embryo science?

Now that I think I have established what parapsychology is, I’d like to clarify what it is definitely not. Parapsychology is not the study of “anything paranormal” or bizarre. Nor is parapsychology concerned with astrology, UFOs, searching for Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, paganism, Satanism, vampires, alchemy, or witchcraft.

This field boldly establishes or at least tries to establish that what science knows about the nature of universe is incomplete and that the fundamental assumptions about the separation of the mind and body are incorrect.

Let me take a simple example of telepathy. The term coined by Frederic Myers, founder of Society for Psychical Research refers to the transfer of information on thoughts or feelings between individuals by means other than the five classical senses. But let me voice the more pertinent question. Can there really be any such thing as someone who is ‘telepathic’? Most people would probably answer ‘only in some fantasy novel’. But there are a lot of things that have been a ‘mere fantasy’ in the past. Putting entire books on a hand-held device without needing any paper, using the Internet to talk instantly to people thousands or millions of miles away, being able to reach the moon (why not mars, then at least we would be able to know the origins of the XY chromosome)and so on. Nearly all the things that science knows and can understand today have been mystical once upon a time. The sun, the moon, the entire universe. So why can’t telepathy be yet another mystery-a truly natural phenomenon, one that science has yet to fully flesh out for itself, one which can be made into a ‘technology’ by those who do comprehend it? Some telepathic experiments have produced intriguing results. But nothing is accepted as ‘scientific’ unless it’s shown to be measurable, consistent, and repeatable. Unfortunately, results of experiments on telepathy usually fall short on the consistent or repeatable parts, so that many doubt the truth of telepathy. Then there are researchers who argue that this is merely like Edison’s experiments to create the light bulb-he failed 10,000 times before he finally got it right, but that never meant that electric lights were ‘not real’. They say we just have to design better experiments around this phenomenon.

The concept of reincarnation has been mentioned in texts of various religions. But to look at it more ‘scientifically’, research conducted by a psychiatrist named Ian Stevenson on 2500 cases indicates the existence of a “past life”. After all the past life regression therapy does indicate towards the existence of reincarnation. Brian Weiss’ book ‘Many lives, many masters’ is after all about one of his patients “Catherine” who began discussing past life experiences under hypnosis. Since 1980, Weiss claims to have regressed more than 4,000 patients.

The concept of field consciousness is based on the Jungian idea of collective unconscious. The idea is that if a group of people’s thoughts and attention are concentrated on the achievement of one goal, such as the healthy recovery of a sick friend, the outcome may change. This is yet another evidence of existence of ‘parapsychological activities’.

Time for another question. What makes humans different from machines? It is the ability to think independently and manipulate the external environment. After all the machine is a man’s creation. So why are we geared up to underestimate the potential of that same mind which has accomplished so much?

I would have loved to end my article with a typical ‘I told you so’ statement, topped off with a smug knowing expression. But the next time you feel uncomfortable and weird in a room without any reason, and feel that somebody or something is around you, are the times when you will truly find me gleefully gloating.



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