Confusing yet challenging lessons from parapsychology

I became interested in parapsychology and psychic phenomena when I was studying psychology. The annals of parapsychology were housed next to the annals of philosophy and the books I sought. So I read my way through a lot of what was there. I noticed that in the annals of philosophy there were contributions from Fellows of the Royal Society of the UK who had attained great competence in fields of science; yet in these contributions they had transcended their own areas of expertise. This was illuminating. My reading of parapsychology touched a chord from my limited experience and my cultural background.

People who could tell one’s future (not always reliably), or see things which were lost (thus helping recovery, generally with great accuracy) were fairly commonplace in our background. The reading of horoscopes, based on the minute of one’s birth, was taken for granted; since these readings referred to probabilities based on the strength of various planetary influences, precision was not expected. People who read the future were often wandering yogis, who seemed to have the greater credibility by virtue of their chosen path. There were palmists of varying accuracy. They and the seers could be anyone. Horoscope casting seemed to be the province of experts. Occasionally, a serious amateur might have a go, as did one of my early neighbours. Clairvoyants in suburbia, however, were not within our experience.

Yet, at eighteen, I saw my father dead, lying on a particular bed (which he never used) and covered with a sheet. A week later, that was exactly how he was, having died suddenly. I did not like the experience and did not want any more like that.

A few years earlier, I had seen what appeared to be levitation – a man on a mattress had together risen off the ground. I knew that it could not happen. I also knew that I had seen it. I therefore did not talk about it. In Melbourne, in the late Forties, two of us had seen something move in the sky in a manner that simply was not possible, unless it was a spaceship. Again, I did not speak of it. Who would believe it?

In between my father’s death and my observation of the object in the sky, I had experienced something very frightening – but I do not believe that it was clairvoyance. I was so ill with dengue fever that no one could touch my bed without causing me terrible pain. One day, I saw myself up above my bed, with my body laid out and covered by a sheet. As my father was in a similar presentation next to me, I remember becoming very fearful and breaking out in a sweat, which actually wet the bed. I recovered thereafter. That was probably a nightmare, by day.

Then there were those two men. The yogi subsequently turned out to be accurate. The other man, who saw me in my mother’s house with him there, was obviously in tune with the future too. So the future seemed to be there waiting to be read, and had been read accurately. What price any individual effort to choose one’s destiny?

More than thirty years later, I was seeking spiritual development, somewhat seriously, trying to know or understand, both by reading and by meditation. At the same time, I set out to understand the cosmology being purveyed by those men of science, the physicists. I was pleasantly surprised to see a convergence and (sometimes) congruence in the semantics involved; the scientists read like the mystics, and were becoming a little incomprehensible like the mystics, with the big difference that mathematical modelling had replaced mystical experiences.

(These extracts from ‘Destiny Will Out’ touch upon the vast arena of psychic phenomena which have been well documented by reliable researchers. Attempts to discount reliably recorded experiences are common. The basis of such scepticism? “Where is the proof?” Well, how does one obtain proof of an intuitive insight? What are the sceptics afraid of? Don’t they also know the limits of the scientific method?

We are then offered explanations which are clearly simplistic. For instance ‘punctuated equilibrium’ is the term offered to explain the sudden arrival of fully formed new species; the supposed pathway for this occurring is unconvincing guesswork, intended to deny anything beyond (tentatively) agreed conclusions about the physical world. That cosmic catastrophes might be the cause obviously cannot be accepted. Why not?

The history of science is replete with the damage done to learning by experts who will not discard or even modify their beliefs; most knowledge is no more than temporarily-held belief. That is how progress is achieved. An open mind will allow us to explore what might be available for humans to know, assuming that we not looking into a hologram!)