Jul 20 2011

How Easy Is It To Read Minds or Control Others?

Clairvoyance is not another of many mind tricks, but is rather the ability to see that which is unseen, and is a more technical term than used by those who call themselves mind readers, or who otherwise claim to have the ability of mind reading. The word literally means “clear vision” and denotes the capacity to perceive or understand that which is not accessible to the “regular” senses. This could be  hidden object, an occluded fact, or various other potential realities; however, in popular usage, clairvoyance usually connotes such mind tricks as the ability to see into the interior lives of other people, pick up on their emotions and thoughts, or even gather insight into the person’s past or future. Rarely does it infer the use of mind control or to actually influence others through telepathic or extrasensory means.

Reading minds according to mind readers who claim the ability to do so is not as simple as listening in on a conversation. Thoughts and feelings may come to mind readers in a variety of ways, expressed symbolically, or as an intense emotion, or as a general feeling – not necessarily embodied in clear words and concepts. Some clairvoyants claim that everyone receives these messages, but that their particular gift is the ability to recognize and interpret them with clarity. Also, there is a hierarchy of information gathering that begins with gathering the hidden knowledge that subsides in the body:  movements, facial expressions, the cast of light in the countenance, and general body language. While skeptics claim that all mind tricks can be narrowed down to such interpretive skills, and that clairvoyance is merely a form of mind control for the gullible and the credulous, true clairvoyants accept these skills as the first stage of a deeper connection that culminates in reading the actual thoughts of others.

Thoughts themselves might be considered as the data in/data out that moves through the processing software of the mind, and should not be confused with the mind itself. We experience them as something akin to running streams of words – some half-rendered, others complete and rational, that come and go, often unbidden, sometimes carrying varying states of emotion or loaded with other associations. Thoughts seem to be directly connected to the physicality of the brain, the network of neurons that constantly fire, setting off millions of chemical processes, but they can also be of a spiritual nature interpenetrating the brain, causing the physical reactions. Reading another person’s thoughts may have something to do with the energy that connects all people. It stands to reason, therefore, that if those who have exercised their clairvoyant skills to mastery can pick up on thoughts, they might also be able to send their own telepathically can practice a sort of mind control over unsuspecting victims.

This is likely a vain concern. We process so many thoughts and feelings that it would take a massive amount of energy for any clairvoyant or sorcerer to direct so many thoughts into another person’s psyche so as to be able to control them, that the psychic would likely empty himself of his own identity, and therefore be incapable of actually controlling anyone. So the notion quickly becomes absurd.

Jul 6 2011

Bilocation, Astral Projection and Subjective Experience

It is widely claimed that the human person is composed of two bodies, one of which is the thick shell of the other: the physical body, and the spirit body. The spirit body is invisible and ethereal, made of a substance not perceptible to matter or to the senses, and interpenetrates the physical body in a unity of matter and spirit. It is sometimes thought that in dreams the subconscious mind can project the spirit body into other realms or universes of existence, or other physical locations.

The idea that the spirit body can leave the physical body and either penetrate other worlds of existence, or travel to other physical locations, is called astral projection. Some think of it as the experience of mind separating from the parameters of its bodily existence, usually linked by a long umbilical thread that keeps body and mind connected. The unconscious mind, it is thought by others, is familiar with the spirit body, and the body already roams spiritual realms through lucid dreaming.

Bilocation is another experience altogether, one of mind over matter. There are variations of thought about what occurs during bilocation, but the most common notion is that the physical body itself inhabits two separate spaces, often great distances apart, at the same time. There are reported events of people, often mystics or regarded as saints, being at two places at once. This is also thought to be an innate quality of the unconscious mind, perhaps suppressed into the subconscious mind through conventional concepts of logic, order and reality.

Skeptics claim that both astral travel and bilocation is bunk. The experience of mind over matter could be attributed to desires of the subconscious mind, operating in the same manner as do dreams that actually only take place in the mind, perhaps symbolic of repressed feelings of entrapment brought on by general malaise or difficult circumstances – the common desire to be somewhere else other than where one is. The unconscious mind might also play a role in originating such an experience as the desire to connect with other people in other places, as well.

Others who are usually associated with fundamentalist western religious sects – Jewish, Christian and Muslim – are more likely to interpret experiences of astral mind travel or mind over matter via bilocation as having a demonic origin, malevolent forces playing upon the frailties of the subconscious mind by convincing the practitioner that their spirit bodies are traveling elsewhere when in fact they are not.

The noted psychiatrist, Carl Jung, however claimed that the experiences of the astral body were archetypical symbols in the collective unconscious mind of man’s search for a soul. He did not view the subject as purely subjective and experienced only in the individual mind, but like an astral plane considered the collective unconscious to be an objective reality that manifest mind over matter and bridged actual distances. Whatever the case may be, the phenomena are real to the participants, and open to various modes of interpretation.

Jun 22 2011

Do Animals Have Spirits and Do They Go to Heaven?

Human beings are of course animals, but animals that have evolved in body, mind, spirit and other powers so as to be distinct from the rest of the animal kingdom. The evolution of the human mind, evidenced in self-awareness, speech and language, signs and symbols, the depth of the unconscious mind and the technological heights of the scientific mind, all contribute to expanding the gap between the human person and other animals. In fact, the distinctive aspect is that of personhood itself.

What is a person? We know from experience the difference between a human being with whom we are familiar and a dog, that qualitatively while we may love both, there is a marked difference in the way we relate to each. We may cynically say we would prefer the undivided camaraderie of a dog to a lover, but most of us really desire the complexity of communion that only another human being can bring. The human is a unique combination of body, mind and spirit that is different in quality from that of a canine.
The difference in quality seems to be distinctively centered on the spiritual aspect of the human. The mark of spirituality is personification itself, which is rooted in consciousness, both of others and of one’s self. The Greek word for “person” means mask or face, and its meaning infers the idea that we derive our personhood through the awareness of others and a relationship to others that demands we “interface” with them. This face is our humanness, and it is the chief quality of the human spirit, manifest in the soul and produced through the complexities of the human mind.

Other animals do not share this attribute. They do not put on a “face” in order to commune with each other, develop layers of conscious thought, and plough through the unconscious mind to root out psychopathologies, or develop a scientific mind in the pursuit of progress or deeper understanding of themselves or the world around them. Animals have souls (if a soul is body, mind, but not spirit), but they are not spiritual creatures precisely because they are not personal creatures. Their interaction with us and with each other is governed by instinct and other genetic or innate qualities.

Other animals are nevertheless valuable because as living organisms they have an experience of mind, but one that is unlike the human mind. They have no unconscious mind. They have no scientific mind. But they suffer, they foster various emotions, they are privy to desire. As sentient entities, they have intrinsic value even if they are not spiritual beings. The human spirit – an evolutionary addition – marks our species as one that can summon the idea of God, and as persons that have the opportunity to relate face to face with divinity, contemplate an afterlife, paradise, and eternality; and it is that attribute that may carry us forward into such realities. This is not the case for other animals, which seem to manifest essence absent individual personhood.

Jun 15 2011

Telekinesis and Psychokinetic Powers

There are many mysteries implicit in the psyche of the human animal, unknown regions of the subconscious mind, and uncharted parts of the brain with innate functions yet to be exercised. Some people who practice a science of the mind claim to have the ability to perform what seem to be supernatural feats, but which ultimately have a rational explanation, even if it is beyond human reason.  The art of telekinesis, which is an aspect of psychokinesis, is the apparent ability to move objects (including oneself in the case of levitation) without using physical force, to exercise mind over matter by channeling energy from the mind, body, spirit and soul from the point of the body’s own centers of energy to influence the physical world around them.

Among these are those who claim to possess the power to bend spoons or read cards by merely manifesting the intent, and art or science of the mind that in a benchmark of parapsychological research.  Skeptics often allege that such feats are the product of sleight of hand, parlor tricks, and clever magic tricks that can be reproduced in a similar environment without controls, and definitely not an example of mind over matter. Believers, however, persist in their claim that the phenomena is real, that the subconscious mind retains innate powers that most people have merely failed to develop.

Such assertions are not the sole property of self-named psychics, paranormal celebrities, or even, indeed, magicians, but have an ancient root in many of the world’s religions. Some of the powers in that context include clairvoyance or telepathy, the ability to know the thoughts and intents of another person’s heart, communication with the dead, levitation, turning objects into living creatures or vice versa, and multitudes of other claims. In the Old Testament, Joseph interprets dreams and turns staffs into snakes. In the New Testament, Jesus is resurrected from death, and a later believer is baptized in one location and comes up out of the water in another, hundreds of kilometers away.

The science of the mind that can produce such feats as mind over matter, whether it arises from the subconscious mind or is a concerted effort of the mind, body and spirit, also is evidenced in numerous claims of healers, both in conventional religion and in animist or shamanic practices. Healers influence the physical aspect of the human body by casting out disease or miraculously generating new cells – in elaborate cases, bringing the dead to life. Modern practitioners sometimes refuse medical attention because they would see it as a denial of their faith in the power of the mind over matter and in God.

In any case, there is a connection between modern claims to psychokinesis, telekinesis and religious faith in the supernatural, although people in the latter category often critical and skeptical of the former. One might, however, consider the whole basis of spiritual life as a paranormal claim, the notion that there is more to existence than physical reality.