The Scientific and Spiritual Implications of Psychic Abilities
Russell Targ and Jane Katra, Ph.D.
Palo Alto, CA 94301
Since ancient times
spiritual teachers have described paths and practices that a person could
follow to achieve health, happiness, and peace of mind. Considerable recent
research has indicated that any sort of spiritual practice is likely to improve
ones prognosis for recovering from a serious illness. Many of these approaches
to spirituality involve learning to quiet the mind, rather than adhering to
a prescribed religious belief. These meditative paths would include all the
mystic branches of Buddhism, Hinduism, mystical Christianity, Kabalistic Judaism,
Sufism, and many others. What is hinted at in the subtext of these teachings
is that as one learns to quiet his or her mind, one is likely to encounter
psychic-seeming experiences or perceptions. For example, in The Sutras of
Patanjali, the Hindu master tells us that on the way to transcendence we may
experience all sorts of amazing visions, such as the ability to see into the
distance, or into the future, the ability to diagnose illness, and to cure
them. But, we are told not to get attached to these abilities – they are mere
phenomena standing as stumbling blocks on the path to enlightenment. In this
paper we describe the laboratory evidence for some of these remarkable phenomena,
and their implications for science, mental health, and peace of mind.
What do the spiritual healer, the mystic, and the scientist all have in
common? They are all in touch with their interconnected mind as well as their
community of spirit. As we move into the new millenium, in every area of human
activity we are experiencing a climax in which science and religion are finally
becoming coherent in the exclamation of a single unified truth. In my work
with remote viewing research at Stanford Research Institute, we observed the
in-flow of information that is the hallmark of psychic perception.
We also saw an out-flow of intention that plays a part in facilitating
distant healing. My purpose here is to show that the in-flow and the
out-flow reside on either side of the quiet mind, and that self awareness
can arise between these two flows. We have also noticed that narrowly focusing
on phenomena, and the seeming omniscience available from ESP may be just a
trap that prevents us from discovering who we really are, and what we should
be doing. However, as we describe in The Heart of the Mind,1 we are confident that whenever any one person demonstrates an ability beyond
the ordinary, it is can be seen as an inspiration to the rest of us, as an
indication of an immense and still largely undeveloped human potential.
The scientific and spiritual implications of psychic abilities illuminate
our observation that we live in a profoundly interconnected world. The most
exciting research in quantum physics today is the investigation of what physicist
David Bohm calls quantum-interconnectedness or non-local correlations. It
has now been demonstrated repeatedly that quanta of light that are sent off
in opposite directions at light speed, maintain their connection to one another,
and that each little photon is affected by what happens to its twin, many
kilometers away. This surprising coherence between distant entities is called
non-locality. In writing on the philosophical implications of nonlocality,
physicist Henry Stapp of the University of California at Berkeley says these
quantum connections could be the “most profound discovery in all of science.”
Psychic abilities and remote
viewing are demonstrations of our personal experience with such non-local
connection in consciousness. Mind-to-mind connections give us expanded awareness,
which is entirely consistent with life in a non-local world. Our knowledge
of these remarkable abilities allows us to awaken each morning in wonder at
the fact that our expanded awareness is not limited by either time or space.
And it should have become clear to us by now that although we reside in bodies,
there is more to us than skin and bones. Our quiet moments of self
inquiry can reveal what that “more” is.
Stanford Research Institute (SRI) conducted investigations into
the human mind's capacity for expanded awareness, also called remote viewing,
in which people are able to envision distant places and future events and
activities. For two decades SRI's research was supported by the CIA and other
government agencies. I was co-founder of this once secret program which began
in 1972. Our task was to learn to understand psychic abilities, and to use
these abilities to gather information about the Soviet Union during the Cold
War. We have found from years of experience that people can quickly learn
to do remote viewing, and can frequently incorporate this direct knowing of
the world -- both present and future -- into their lives.
For a phenomenon thought
in many circles not to exist, we certainly know a great deal about how to
increase and decrease ESPs accuracy and reliability. Remote viewers can often
contact, experience and describe a hidden object, or a remote natural or architectural
site, based on the presence of a cooperative person at the distant location,
or when given geographical coordinates, or some other target demarcation --
which we call an address. Shape, form and color are described much more reliably
than the target's name, function, or other analytical information. In addition
to vivid visual imagery, viewers sometimes describe associated feelings, sounds,
smells and even electrical or magnetic fields. Blueprint accuracy has occasionally
been achieved in these double-blind experiments, and reliability in a series
can be as high as 80 per cent. For example, the authors recently achieved
11 hits out of 12 trials in such a series2 With practice, people
become increasingly able to separate out the psychic signal from the
mental noise of memory, analysis, and imagination. Targets and target
details as small as 1 mm can be sensed. Moreover, again and again we have
seen that accuracy and resolution of remote viewing targets are not sensitive
to variations in distance. In 1984 I organized a pair of successful 10,000
mile remote viewing experiments between Moscow and San Francisco with famed
Russian healer, Djuna Davitashvili. Djuna’s task was to describe where our
colleague would be hiding in San Francisco. She had to focus her attention
ten thousand miles to the west, and two hours into the future to correctly
describe his location. These experiments were performed under the auspices
and control of the USSR Academy of Sciences.
Ten years earlier, in 1974, my colleague Hal Puthoff
and I carried out a demonstration of psychic abilities for the CIA in which
Pat Price, a retired police commissioner, described the inside and outside
of a secret Soviet weapons laboratory in the far reaches of Siberia – given
only the geographical coordinates of latitude and longitude for a reference.
(That is, with no on- site cooperation.) This trial was such a stunning success
that we were forced to undergo a formal Congressional investigation to determine
if there had been a breach in National Security. Of course, none was ever
found, and we were supported by the government for another fifteen years.
As I sat with Price in these experiments at SRI, he made the sketch shown
below right, to illustrate his mental impressions of a giant gantry crane
that he psychically “saw” rolling back and forth over a building at the target
Above right is Pat Price’s
drawing of his psychic impressions of a gantry crane at the secret Soviet
research and development site at Semipalatinsk, showing remarkable similarity
to a later CIA drawing based on satellite photography shown at left. Note, for
example, that both cranes have eight wheels.
Here is a CIA artist tracing of a satellite photograph
of the Semipalatinsk target site. Such tracings were made by the CIA to conceal
the accuracy of detail of satellite photography at that time.
Data from our formal and controlled
SRI investigations were highly statistically significant (thousands of times
greater than chance expectation), and have been published in the world’s most
prestigious journals, such as Nature, The Proceedings of the Institute
of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and The Proceedings of the
American Academy of Sciences. 3 The twenty years of remote
viewing research we conducted for the CIA is outlined in Miracles of Mind:
Exploring Nonlocal Consciousness and Spiritual Healing, co-authored by
Targ and Katra.4
One day, while
we were working with Pat Price, he didn’t arrive for the scheduled experiment.
So, in the spirit of “the show must go on, ” I spontaneously decided to undertake
the remote viewing myself. Prior to that, I had been only an interviewer and
facilitator for such trials. In this series we were trying to describe the
day-to-day activities of Hal Puthoff as he traveled through Columbia, in South
America. We would not receive any feedback until he returned, and I therefore
had no clues at all as to what he was doing. I closed my eyes and immediately
had an image of an island airport. The surprisingly accurate sketch I drew
is shown below. What we learned from this trial, is that even a scientist
can be psychic, when the necessity level is high enough.
Sketch produced by physicist Russell Targ, when he spontaneously
took the role of remote viewer in the absence of psychic Pat Price.
This photograph shows the target, which was an airport
on an island off San Andres, Columbia. Targ correctly saw, "Ocean at
the end of a runway."
Recent research in areas as different as distant healing and quantum
physics are in agreement with the oldest spiritual teachings of the sages
of India, who taught that “separation is an illusion.” This concept suggests
that there is no distance for consciousness, and we have an intuitive inner
knowledge of time and space. In fact, we now know that information from the
future regularly filters into our dreams – one could fairly say that these
precognitive dreams indicate that the future affects our past. That is, our
dream tonight may sometimes be caused by an event which we will experience
at a later time – strongly violating our ordinary understanding of causality.
In research by the authors, who are respectively a physicist and a spiritual
healer, we have been exploring how our mind’s ability to transcend the limits
of space and time is linked to our now well-documented capacity for distant
We do not yet know the physics
underlying psychic abilities. But, researchers in the field of parapsychology
agree on the undeniable observation that it is no more difficult to psychically
describe a picture or an event in the near future, than it to describe such
a target in the present, when it is hidden from view.5 It is as
though our bodies reside in the familiar four-dimensional geometry of Einstein’s
space-time, while our consciousness has access to another aspect of this geometry
that allows us to find a mental path of zero distance to seemingly distant
locations. This is how a physicist expresses such an idea, while mystics
for the past three millennia tell us from their experience that “separation
is an illusion – and we are all one in spirit, or consciousness.” From experimentation
in laboratories around the globe, it is clear that we significantly misapprehend
the physical nature of the space-time in which we reside. It is this knowledge,
together with our experience, that drives our passion to understand and learn
more about the universe and the transformational opportunities offered us.
Joseph Campbell is famous for teaching that our lives are fulfilled only
when we “follow our bliss” – or passion. For Thomas Aquinas this passion was
pursued through conscious reasoning. He wrote that:
The ultimate human felicity is found in the operation of the intellect, since no desire carries us to
such heights as the desire to understand the truth. Indeed all our desires
for pleasure or for other things can be satisfied, but the desire to understand
does not rest until it reaches God.
However, those who truly understand the truth of God tell us that God can not be understood – only experienced.
Distant Mental Influence of Living Systems
More than thirty years of investigations clearly show
that one person’s thoughts can affect the physiological functioning of another,
distant person. We do not yet understand the causal mechanism involved, but
the results are indisputable, and have obvious implications for our ability
to facilitate healing in others. We take for granted the calming effects that
a mother’s gentle cooing has on her distressed infant, not really thinking
about the effects of her soothing intentions. How do we know that our
thoughts affect others? A significant body of research now exists demonstrating
that one person’s focused intentions can directly influence the physiological
processes of someone far away. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto
you” takes on new meaning when you realize we are all truly connected, as
the following research studies show.
in the area of Distant Mental Influence of Living Systems (DMILS) have been
carried out by psychologist William Braud at the Institute of Transpersonal
Psychology in Palo Alto, California, and anthropologist Marilyn Schlitz, Research
Director for the Institute of Noetic Sciences.6 They have repeatedly
shown that if a person simply attends fully to a distant person whose physiological
activity is being monitored, he or she (acting as a sender) can influence
the distant person's autonomic galvanic skin responses. In four separate
experiments involving 78 sessions, one person staring intently at a closed-circuit
TV monitor image of a distant participant, influenced the remote person's
electrodermal (GSR) responses. In these cases no techniques of intentional
focusing or mental imaging were used by the influencer. He or she simply
stared at the "staree's" image on the video screen during the thirty-second
trials which were randomly interspersed with control periods.
In these studies,
Braud and Schlitz discovered something even more interesting than this telepathically-induced
effect on our unconscious system. They found that the most anxious and introverted
people being stared at had the greatest magnitudes of unconscious electrodermal
responses. In other words, the more shy and introverted people reacted with
significantly more stress to being stared at than did the sociable and extroverted
people. Quiet introverts may possess, or have developed, a sensitivity of
consciousness that others are less aware of. This experiment gives scientific
validation to the common human experience of feeling stared at and turning
around to find that someone is, indeed, staring at you.
We are all familiar with the idea of premonition, in
which one has an intuitive apprehension of something about to happen in the
future — usually something “bad!” There is also the experience of presentiment, wherein one has an inner sensation -- a gut feeling that something
strange is about to occur. An example would be for you to suddenly stop on
your walk down the street because you felt “uneasy,” only to have a flower
pot then fall off a window ledge and land at your feet — instead of on your
head. That, of course, would be a useful presentiment.
In the laboratory, we know that
showing a frightening picture to a person produces a significant change in
his or her physiology. Their blood pressure, heart rate, and skin resistance
all change. This fight-or-flight reaction is called an “orienting response.”
Researcher Dean Radin at the Boundary Institute, in Los Altos, California,
has shown in his research that this orienting response is also observed in
a person’s physiology a few seconds before viewing the scary picture!
If ESP were an electro-magnetic phenomenon, this would be called an advanced
In balanced, double-blind experiments, Radin has demonstrated
that just before viewing scenes of violence or sexuality, your body
apparently reacts to defend itself against the oncoming insult or surprise.
However, such strong anticipatory shock reactions did not precede the viewing
of a picture of a wastebasket, or flower garden. Of course, fear is much easier
to measure physiologically than bliss. Here, it seems, your direct physical
perception of the shocking picture, when it occurs, causes you to have a unique
-- five seconds earlier -- physical response. Your future is affecting
your past. These intriguing experiments are also described in Radin’s comprehensive
book The Conscious Universe. 7
From the dawn of history certain
individuals have been recognized as possessing special healing gifts. The
Pharaohs of ancient Egypt viewed healers as revered advisors. And it was
healers who actually founded the world’s great religions: Gautama Buddha,
Jesus of Nazareth, and the prophet Muhammad were all gifted healers. The earliest
Christians were primarily a healing community. And centuries before Jesus,
the Hebrew prophets Elijah, Elisha, and Isaiah were acknowledged healers;
and Moses is said to have healed many Israelites from serpent bites.
men and healing shamans throughout Africa, Asia, and the Americas held some
of most esteemed positions in their tribes. In contrast, the progression of
Western thought has largely ignored the broad range of mind-to-mind healing
that has worked in other cultures. With our reverence for Humanism and Reason,
we have much to relearn about the role of consciousness in healing. Only now
are we realizing the power of the mind to heal through the scientific method.
In recent years, a number of pioneering experiments have explored the role
one person’s consciousness may have on another person’s health.
In his 1993 book Healing Research,
psychiatrist Dr. Daniel Benor examined over 150 controlled studies from
around the world. He reviewed psychic, mental, and spiritual healing experiments
done on a variety of living organisms -- enzymes, cell cultures, bacteria,
yeasts, plants, animals, and humans. More than half of the studies demonstrate
An important study by Fred Sicher,
Dr. Elisabeth Targ, and others was published in the December, 1998 issue of
The Western Medical Journal describing healing research carried out
at California Pacific Medical Center.9 It describes the positive
therapeutic effects of distant healing on men with advanced AIDS.
In this mainstream medical journal
the researchers defined non-local or distant healing as an act of “mentation
intended to benefit another person’s physical and/or emotional well-being
at a distance;” adding that, “It has been found in some form in nearly every
culture since prehistoric time.” Their research hypothesized that an intensive
ten-week distant healing intervention by experienced healers located around
the U.S. would benefit the medical outcomes for a population of advanced AIDS
patients in the San Francisco area.
The researchers performed two
separate, randomized, double-blind studies: a pilot study involving twenty
male subjects stratified by number of AIDS-defining illnesses, and a replication
study of forty men carefully matched into pairs by age, T-cell count, and
number of AIDS-defining illnesses. The participants’ conditions were assessed
by psychometric testing and blood testing at enrollment, after the distant
healing intervention, and six-months later, when physicians reviewed their
In the pilot study, four of the
ten control subjects died, while all of subjects in the treatment group survived.
But this result was possibly confounded by unequal age distributions in the
In the replication study, men
with AIDs were again recruited from the San Francisco Bay Area. They were
told that they had a fifty-fifty chance of being in the treatment group, or
the control group. All subjects were pair-matched for age, CD4 count, and
AIDS defining diseases. Forty distant healers from all parts of the country
took part in the study. Each of them had more than five years experience in
their particular form of healing. They were from Christian, Jewish, Buddhist,
Native American, and shamanic traditions, in addition to secular “bio-energetic”
schools. Each subject in the healing group was treated by a total of ten different
healers on a rotating healing schedule. Healers were asked to work on their
assigned subject for approximately one hour per day for six consecutive days,
with instructions to “direct an intention of health and well-being” to the
subject they were attending to. None of the forty subjects in the study ever
met the healers, nor did they or the experimenters know into which group anyone
had been randomized.
By the mid-point of the
study neither group of subjects was able to significantly guess whether or
not they were in the healing condition. However, by the end of the study,
there were many fewer opportunistic illnesses, allowing the healing group
to be able to identify itself -- with significant odds against chance. Since
all subjects were being treated with Triple-Drug Therapy, there were no deaths
in either group. The treatment group experienced significantly better medical
and quality of life outcomes (odds of 100 to 1) on many quantitative measures,
including fewer outpatient doctor visits (185 vs. 260); fewer days of hospitalization
(10 vs. 68); less severe illnesses acquired during the study, as measured
by illness severity scores (16 vs. 43); and significantly less emotional distress.
Dr. Targ concludes, “Decreased hospital visits, fewer
severe new diseases, and greatly improved subjective health supports the hypothesis
of positive therapeutic effects of distant healing.”
The editor of the journal introduced the paper thus:
“The paper published below is meant to advance science and debate. It has
been reviewed, revised, and re-reviewed by nationally known experts in biostatistics,
and complementary medicine…. We have chosen to publish this provocative paper
to stimulate other studies of distant healing, and other complementary practices
and agents. It is time for more light, less dark, less heat.”
Two other studies of distant
healing have been published in prestigious medical journals. In 1988 Dr. Randolph
Byrd published in The Southern Medical Journal a successful double-blind
demonstration of distant healing. The study involved 393 of his cardiac patients,
at San Francisco General Hospital.10 And in 1999, cardiologist
William Harris of the University of Missouri in Kansas City, published a similar
successful study with 990 heart patients. His paper appeared in The Archives
of Internal Medicine.11
Scientists don’t yet clearly understand how the mind-stuff
of one’s own intentions results in the contractions of one’s muscles. It remains
a mystery, how the invisible mind moves the physical body. But we do
know now that it is more powerful than we previously thought. Twentieth century
science has documented that our thoughts affect others — that we are all interconnected
through our consciousness. We aren’t even alone in experiencing the effects
of our own thoughts!
We are actually already hooked up to the psychic Internet
— Jung’s “collective unconscious.” But the users are primarily those who have
learned to stop their thoughts and rest their attention. They are tuning in
to access and affect the exchange of information.
Why Would A Scientist Pray?
Today, many of us are searching
for a comprehensible spirituality, one in which experience takes primacy over
religious belief. It is evident that a person need not believe or
take on faith anything about the existence of universal spirit, because the
experience of God is a testable hypothesis, as we describe below. However,
philosophical proof is not our purpose. Rather, we have become aware that
this experience is available to anyone seeking a spiritual life who at the
same time desires to remain a critical and discerning participant in the twenty-first
century. We can include God in our lives without giving up our minds, if we
can transcend our usual analytical thoughts and learn to become mindful.
A scientist might pray, or search for “the peace which passes understanding”
as a way to experience the truth without conscious thought.
In his 1939 essay “Science
and Religion,” Albert Einstein suggested that we each have the potential for
a greater awareness of truth than analysis alone can offer: “Objective knowledge
provides us with powerful instruments for the achievements of certain ends.
But, the ultimate goal itself, and the longing to reach it, must come from
Wisdom teachers throughout history
have shown that the experience of God is possible without belonging to a church
or following a religion, as long as one’s basic motive is to discover truth.
Dr. Herbert Benson recently proposed that we — our bodies and our brains —
are “hard-wired for God.” By this he means that throughout the past twenty-five
hundred years — from Buddha, Jesus, and the Baal Shem Tov (the founder
of Hassidic Judaism), to such poets as Rumi, Blake, and Emerson — mystics
have shared a common experience that is actually available to us all. In all
the mystic paths, the experience of God is celebrated, rather than
the belief in God, or the religious ritual. The
Sufi poet Rumi shared his thoughts which arose after experiencing his own
All day I think about it, then at night I say it.
Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be
I have no idea.
My soul is from elsewhere, I’m sure of that,
And I intend to end up there.
Whenever we sit peacefully
and quiet our mind, we have an opportunity to experience an oceanic connection
with something outside our separate self. To many, that connection is experienced
as an overpowering feeling of love, and it may well constitute part of our
evolutionary process as a species.
This feeling of universal love, without any particular object, is often
associated with the realization that we reside within an extended community
of spirit enveloping all living beings. Such feelings of unbounded interconnected
consciousness have been described by many as an experience of God. The gift
of a quiet mind allows us to understand what it means to be in love,
like being immersed in loving syrup, as contrasted with being in love with
another person. It is possible to reside in love (or gratitude) as a way of
life. This experience is the source of the often-heard expression that “God
is love,” which in an ordinary context is easily dismissed as a simple cliché,
or worse, as not even comprehensible.
These oceanic, loving, peaceful
experiences are examples of the compelling feeling of “oneness” that mystics
have been urging us to explore for millennia. Jesus called this state of awareness
“the peace that passes all understanding,” and a “kingdom which is not of
this world.” Hindus call it “bliss,” or ananda. And Buddha called
it a state of “no-mind,” meaning the absence of thoughts disrupting awareness
of indivisible unity.
This state is available to us
now, while we reside in the world, whether or not we know or follow
any religious teachings. Psychologist Joan Borysenko has written, “When the
heart is open, we overcome the illusion that we are separate from one another.”
The Path Of Self Inquiry
Early in the twentieth century, two of the world’s greatest logicians, Ludwig
Wittgenstein and Alfred Ayer attempted to describe the physics and metaphysics
of what can be known about reality. These Logical Positivists proclaimed that
nothing meaningful could be said about God, because no experiment could be
designed to either prove or disprove (verify or falsify) whatever one might
say. But, by the end of their lives, both Wittgenstein and Ayer were willing
to seriously examine the idea that the experience of mystics might actually
be considered data — something observable in an experiment. In fact, in Wittgenstein’s
last book, On Certainty, he gave primacy to experience over
theory. This pre-eminent logician tells us, “The solution to the riddle of
life in space and time lies outside space and time.”
For thousands of years,
various wisdom teachers have presented a world view to all who will listen.
They have described a “sit down and be quiet” practice that is available for
all to observe and experience. They then invite us to examine our experience,
and see if it corresponds with their teaching. Ultimately, this seems like
an acceptably scientific, empirical approach to spirituality.
Thirty years ago national U.S.
magazines proclaimed on their covers that “God is dead.” Today, we would say
that God is neither alive nor dead, but rather manifesting as activity
in consciousness -- transcending and transforming one’s ordinary awareness.
God is an active personal experience rather than a distant entity in the sky.
Our five familiar senses bring us data of the material world, while filtering
out and limiting our exposure to the wider, transcendent world of active awareness
available to the quiet mind. The direction of our attention is the most powerful
tool we have to transform our lives.
After centuries of academic bombast, we are finally coming to recognize
how tentative so-called scientific truth really is. In a scientific world
increasingly governed by so-called laws of “indeterminacy” (Werner Heisenberg)
and “nonlocality” (John Bell) in physics and “incompleteness” (Kurt Gödel) in
mathematics, we are beginning to find room for the experience of God.
Philosopher Ken Wilber makes this point with great force in his book Quantum
Questions.12 He asserts convincingly that although physics
will never explain spirituality, the spiritual realms may be explored by the
The preposterous claim that
all religious experience is private and noncommunicable is stopped dead by,
to give only one example, the transmission of the Buddha’s enlightenment all
the way down to present-day Buddhist masters (which allows it to be experienced
and discussed today).
Wilber describes three different, but equally valid,
avenues of scientific empiricism: The eye of the flesh, which informs
us about the world of our senses; the eye of the mind, which allows
us access to mathematics, ideas, and logic; and the eye of contemplation,
which is our window to the world of spiritual experience. None of these approaches
suggest that we must embrace any body of dogma, or that we need to integrate
Santa Claus into a scientific view of the modern world. They do, however,
invite us to look beyond our thinking mind to discover who we are.
People everywhere are searching
for ways to bring meaning into their stressful lives. Our days are filled
with an increasing number of activities, and a decreasing amount of time in
which to do them. We look for happiness through the acquisition of things.
We want things, and we want them desperately. We want them now, and we want
them to last forever. Despite owning more possessions than any people in history,
despite our advanced learning, sophisticated communication and technological
apparatus, our lives often seem overshadowed by feelings of isolation, despair,
and powerlessness. And we feel this during the greatest period of prosperity
and good health in history. We seem unable to change the course of our individual
lives, our communities, or our environment, where life often seems hopelessly
threatened. This frustration occurs because our wealth and all its distractions
cannot substitute for what is really essential – our ability to take control
of our own minds, and investigate the source of our consciousness.
The Perennial Philosophy first described by Aldous Huxley is the thread
of universal truth that permeates all the world’s spiritual traditions. It
teaches us that alongside the actions we take to improve our world, we also
have the opportunity to experience either unity and peace, or isolation and
fear. And from the ancient Hindu Vedas, as well as the contemporary
teaching of A Course in Miracles, we learn that we give all the
meaning there is, to everything we experience. While we can’t always control
the events around us, we do have power over how we experience those
events. At any moment, we can individually and collectively affect the course
of our lives by choosing to direct our attention to the aspect of ourselves
which is aware - and through the practice of self inquiry, to
awareness itself. We can ask, “Who is aware?” and then, “Who wants to know?”
The choice of where we put our attention is ultimately our most powerful freedom.
Our choice of attitude and focus affects not only our own perceptions and
experiences, but also the experiences and behaviors of others. Spiritual teacher
Gangaji, who points to the path of self-inquiry, reminds us that we are “already
completely whole, totally free, and permanently at peace.” She suggests that
we are beings of consciousness, participating in what the authors would call
non-local awareness. She writes:
“What is choiceless is
the truth of who you are. Choice lies in the mind’s ability to either deny
that truth or accept it… That choice is free will. You are naturally consciousness…
You are naturally one with God.” 13
Mahatma Gandhi taught that “The
only devils in the world are those running around in our own hearts. That
is where the battles should be fought.” Heaven and Hell are available for
the asking, but no experience can take place in our lives except in our
consciousness, and with our agreement. A master told his student: “You
don’t have to look for God. God is here now. If you were ever here, you would
We conclude that the
scientific and spiritual implications of psychic abilities are evident in
the continually unfolding mystery of the space-time in which we live. And
a quiet mind has the opportunity for experiencing itself as love that is timeless,
eternal, and unseparated by our bodies.
If one wishes to investigate
this perennial experience, he or she can follow the suggestions offered by
A Course in Miracles which, like the Vedas, teaches that walking
with God is like surrendering to gratitude, or the experience of oneness that
is available at all times. It is not talking about self-improvement,
but rather self-realization. It has the following to say about the purpose of this surrender -- and the life-changing power of transcendence packed into the
simple-seeming idea that “I rest in God:”
This thought will bring you the rest and quiet, peace
and stillness, and the safety and happiness you seek. … This thought has the
power to wake the sleeping truth in you whose vision sees beyond appearances
to that same truth in everyone and everything there is. Here is the end of
suffering for all the world, and everyone who ever came and yet will come
to linger for a while. … Completely undismayed, this thought will carry you
through storms and strife, past misery and pain, past loss and death, and
onward to the certainty of God.14
1. Jane Katra and Russell Targ, The Heart of the Mind: How to experience God without Belief, Novato, CA, New World Library,1999
2. R. Targ, J. Katra, D. Brown, and W. Wiegand, “Viewing the future: A pilot study with an error-detecting protocol,” Journal of Scientific Exploration, 9:3, pp. 367-380, 1995.
3. H. E. Puthoff & R. Targ, “A Perceptual Channel for Information Transfer Over Kilometer distances: Historical Perspective and Recent Research.” Proc. IEEE, Vol. 64, no. 3, pp. 329 - 254, , March, 1976; R. Targ and H. Puthoff, “Information transfer under conditions of sensory shielding.” Nature, 251, 602-607, 1975; H. E. Puthoff , R. Targ & E.C. May, “Experimental Psi Research: Implication for Physics,” in the AAAS
Proceedings of the 1979 Symposium on the Role of Consciousness in the Physical World, 1981.
4. Russell Targ and Jane Katra,
Miracles of Mind: Exploring Nonlocal Consciousness and Spiritual Healing.
Novato, CA: New World Library, 1998.
5. B. J. Dunne, R. G. Jahn, and
R. D. Nelson, “Precognitive Remote Perception,” Princeton Engineering Anomalies
Research Laboratory (Report). Princeton, N.J., August, 1983.
6. Marilyn Schlitz and Stephen LaBerge, “ Covert Observation Increases Skin Conductance in Subjects Unaware of When They
are Being Observed: A Replication,” Journal of Parapsychology,
September 1997, 185-196; W. Braud & M. Schlitz, “Psychokinetic Influence on Electro-Dermal Activity,” Journal of Parapsychology, 47, 1983, pp. 95-119.
7. Dean Radin, The Conscious Universe. San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1997.
8. Daniel J. Benor, Healing Research. Volume 1. Munich, Germany: Helix Verlag, 1992.
9. Fred Sicher, Elisabeth Targ, Dan Moore, & Helene Smith, “A Randomized Double-Blind Study of the Effect of Distant Healing in a Population With Advanced AIDS,” Western Journal of Medicine, 169, December 1998, pp. 356-363.
10. Randolph C. Byrd, “Positive Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer in a Coronary Care Unit Population,” Southern Medical Journal, 81: 7, July 1988, pp. 826-829.
11. William S. Harris. et al, “A Randomized, Controlled Trial of the Effects of Remote Intercessory Prayer on Outcomes in Patients Admitted to the Coronary Care Unit,” Archives of Internal Medicine, 159, Oct. 25, 1999, pp. 2273-2278.
12. Ken Wilber, Quantum Questions: Mystical Writings of the World’s Great Physicists. Boston: Shambhala, 1984.
13. Gangaji, freedom & resolve:
The living edge of surrender. Novato, California: The Gangaji Foundation,
14. A Course in Miracles, Workbook lesson 109. Glen Ellen, CA: Foundation for Inner Peace, 1975.