THE FEAR OF DEATH IS HUMANITY’S GREAT DISEASE, THE TERROR THAT HAS CAUSED MORE SUFFERING THROUGHOUT HISTORY
THAN ALL THE PHYSICAL DISEASES COMBINED.
t h e w o r s t p i e c e o f v a n i ty e v e r hatched in the brain o f Homo sapiens. And I had failed to see how, in the great scheme o f evolution, my life had no more meaning than a virus in a pig’s nostril.” SOM E PH IL O S O P H E R S HAVE honestly confessed their emotional resistance to the idea of immortality. Sir Karl P o p p e r , a rg u a b ly th e most influential philosopher of science of th e tw en tie th century, fo u n d the p ro s p e c t o f im m o r ta l i ty “u t te r ly f r ig h te n in g ” . C am b r id ge philosop h e r C. D. Broad, who was th o r oughly informed about research in the field o f parapsychology, figured the odds were at least fifty-fifty for som e fo rm o f survival follow ing death. Yet he did not find this a happy thought. He considered this world a nasty place and fretted that the next one might be even worse. C o n s e q u e n t ly he wryly observed that if he died and found himself still conscious, he would be “slightly more annoyed than surprised”.
Some people are simply uncomfortable thinking about eternity, with all that space and time — a kind of spiritual agoraphobia. O ther objections are amazingly tangential. Karl Barth, the Swiss theologian, seemed concerned that the admission policy of heaven might be too liberal. He once asserted that God did not create heaven for geese. One wonders how he knew.
fh e reservations of skittish scientists and philosophers notwithstanding, it is only a matter of time before a nonlocal view o f consciousness is accepted within science. No o ther v iew is c a p a b l e o f e x p l a i n i n g research findings in fields such as distant healing and prayer. To date, n in e c o n t r o l l e d c linical tria ls o f r em o te , in te rc e s so ry p r a y e r and healing intentions in hum ans have been conducted. Five dem onstrate statistically positive results, far more than would be expected by chance. Eight systematic or meta-analyses of this body o f r e s e a r c h have been done; seven report positive findings. Many studies show that humans are able mentally to influence the physiology o f each o th e r at a distance, even when the distant individual is u n aw a r e that th e e f fo r t is b e in g made. In addition to these h um an studies, scores o f experiments reveal t h a t h u m a n i n t e n t i o n s c a n act remotely to influence cellular function, microbial growth, the growth o f tumours in animals, the germ ination o f seeds a n d th e g row th o f plants, and the kinetics o f biochemical reactions.
T hese studies in biological systems are buttressed by hundreds of experim en ts in non-biological settings in which h um a n in te n t io n s exert statistically significant effects. This huge body o f data is spread across d is tan t dom a in s , from the inanimate to the animate, from the invisible to the macroscopic. This suggests that a deep principle within n a tu r e has been identified — the capacity of human consciousness to m odify th e s ta te o f th e physical world. H U M A N IN T E N T I O N S O P E R A T E nonlocally not only in space but also in time. Evidence strongly suggests th a t in ten t io n s can affect certain types o f event in th e past, even though they are presumed already to have happened. A mind that is locally confined to the here-and-now is incapable of such activities. Only n o n lo c a l c o n s c io u s n e s s , a m in d un lim ited in space and time, can behave this way.
Close examination of the studies in distant healing and prayer reveals that nonlocal mind is intimately connected with love, compassion and deep caring, just as healers throughout history have maintained. This is one o f the great lessons of the healing e x p e r im e n ts : love, o p e r a t in g through nonlocal mind, can literally change the world.
B u t n o t ju s t love. S t u d ie s in remote influence show that harm can also be ex ten ded to living things. Cells can be killed or their function retarded, microbes can be inhibited o r killed, a n d the activity o f biochemical reactions can be reduced. These negative, nonlocal intentions are indistinguishable from the curses, hexes and spells that perhaps all p re-m odern cultures have believed in. In acknow ledging this side o f n o n l o c a l m i n d , t h e s e c u l t u r e s d e m o n s t r a t e a m o r e c o m p l e x , sophisticated understanding o f consciousness than do we. They accept a dark side o f consciousness as simply the way things are, and they gracefully devise methods o f protection against this shadow aspect o f the world.
It is vital that we acknowledge the shadow side o f nonlocal mind, yet there is a blithe tendency to rom anticise it and focus only on its implications for healing and immortality. But, as transpersonal psychologist Ken Wilber has said, we will either be aware o f our shadow o r bexoare of it. The key is balance — recognising all we are, warts and all.
The experiments in nonlocal, distant healing and prayer show that the prayers of all religions appear to be e f f e c t iv e . E v e n n o n - t h e i s t i c prayer, as in some forms o f B uddhism, results in healing, as do secular and so-called pagan intentions that are not associated with any traditional religion. These findings are
3 0 R e s u rg e n ce N o . 2 2 4 M ay /J une 2004