Chapter 3The Physics of Miracles:
The Scientific Evidence for Mind-to-Mind Connections
"Each human being . . . participates in an inseparable way in society, and in the planet. . . . Such participation goes on, perhaps ultimately to some yet more comprehensive mind . . . beyond even the human species as a whole." ~ Physicist David Bohm
In a famous scene from Shakespeare's great play, Hamlet warns Horatio that "There are more things in heaven and earth…than are dreamt of in your philosophy." In the same spirit, there is more to our life experience than meets even the scientific eye. In the previous chapter we discussed how, for thousands of years, people have looked for ways to experience expanded consciousness. Since ancient times, transcendent awareness has been sought through the esoteric practices of Yoga, meditation, and prayer. These approaches offer opportunities to participate in the experience of oceanic communication that is available to the quiet mind. But most scientists want to be sure that the quieted mind isn't deceiving itself. This chapter takes the first steps toward presenting the data scientists need for that assurance.
Scientists find truth through data. For the mystic, and many nonscientists, experience is the data. Although we shall present evidence that psychic abilities were used to successfully spy on the Russians during the Cold War, this is not the purpose we envision for psychic functioning. We discuss psychic abilities because they represent expanded awareness that is available to us all. These capacities are empowering; they allow us not only to realize our connection to one another but also to actively participate in the larger universe in which we live. We can have an effect in the world, even from our armchair.
What evidence exists that separation of consciousness is only an illusion? The answer comes from twenty-five hundred years of recorded experience of mystics, sages, and teachers, and a century of scientific research into extrasensory perception in the laboratory. This research includes evidence for telepathic mind-to-mind connections, clairvoyant descriptions of hidden objects and events, and precognitive experience of events that have not yet happened. Today this is called psi research. When we speak of consciousness in this context, we refer to our awareness of the world, as well as our awareness of our self. It is important to remember that these psychic phenomena were not invented in a laboratory but found occurring naturally in the field.
Although Buddha taught that separation is an illusion, and the great Hindu teacher Patanjali described these experiences with exquisite precision two hundred years before Christ, we know these accounts of personal experience will not convince a skeptic that psi abilities exist. In presenting the most compelling data, we will focus first on our own research into the clairvoyant perception called remote viewing. It is the ability to know and describe events and places at distant points in space and time through the application of focused attention. We have now encountered hundreds of people who have learned to describe what exists across the street, across the city, or around the planet, often with great accuracy. These results have been published in the most prestigious scientific journals in the world: The Proceedings of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Nature, and The Proceedings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
In my (Russell's) work as cofounder of the research program at
Stanford Research Institute, I investigated psi abilities for the cia
and other government agencies in the 1970s and 1980s. I spent more than
ten years conducting experiments in an electrically shielded room with
men and women who were able to describe in great detail the insides and
outsides of buildings in the Soviet Union and elsewhere. This secret program
of research and applications achieved such scientific and operational
success that it was supported in its various incarnations by the U.S.
government for more than twenty years. It is only through our persistence
with the Freedom of Information Act that we are able to tell you of these
In the Sutras of Patanjali, the great teacher was not trying to interest people in developing their psychic abilities. He was actually preparing a guide on how to know God. But the mystic knew from experience that once people learn to quiet their minds they begin to have all sorts of interesting experiences: seeing into the distance, experiencing the future, diagnosing illness, healing the sick, and much more. His goal was to help his students to achieve transcendence, not to display these powers or siddhis.
We are aware that few of our readers are interested in becoming mystics, fortune tellers, or psychic spies. But we perceive these abilities, and the mental interconnectedness that they imply, to be relevant to a discussion of the Perennial Philosophy. We believe they should be seen as matters of experience rather than belief. Patanjali was able to give step-by-step instructions for what might be called omniscience, and the quiet mind. He taught that to see the moon reflected in a pool of water, you must wait until every ripple is stilled. So it is with the mind. He taught that "Yoga (union with God) is mind wave quieting" — a first step to either knowing God or transcendence. The omniscience one achieves doesn't mean we can know everything, because we are only finite beings. But by asking one question at a time, we can know anything we need to know.
What do we mean by nonlocal mind? The Buddhists had it right: Our consciousness is both here and not-here. Some scientists have mistakenly explained consciousness as being created by and existing in the brain. Consciousness is not an epi-phenomenon of brain chemistry. It is your self-awareness, which we know from laboratory experiments can have a direct and measurable telepathic effect on my experience.
The idea of "nonlocal connections" came to the physics world's attention in 1935, when Albert Einstein, together with Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen, published a now-famous physics paper entitled, "Can a Quantum Mechanical Description of Physical Reality Be Considered Complete?"2 The paper showed that, according to Quantum Theory, photons sent off in opposite directions at the speed of light might under certain conditions maintain a connection with each other. Today we call these photons "entangled."
Einstein thought this correlation between photons traveling away from each other — which he called "ghostly action-at-a-distance" — might allow messages to be sent faster than the speed of light. This might occur if we could make changes in a beam of photons coming toward us, and observe reliable corresponding changes in another beam traveling away from us, which we can't. According to Relativity Theory, two points that are receding from each other at the speed of light cannot maintain an informational connection. Einstein therefore concluded that there must be something fundamentally wrong with Quantum Theory.
Physics experiments testing Einstein's conclusion have now been
carried out in several laboratories worldwide: by Stuart Freedman and
John Clauser in Berkeley in 1972, by Alain Aspect and his colleagues in
Paris in 1982, and most recently by Nicholas Gisin in Geneva. In all these
experiments, when two beams of light from the same source were simultaneously
sent off in opposite directions, the photons in these light beams remained
entangled even when seven miles apart.
These experiments demonstrate that widely separated photons do indeed appear to be correlated with each other — even after a person changes the angle at which the light is polarized at one end of the measuring system. However, because all the photons in the experiment fluctuate randomly, the person at the receiving end of the system observing fluctuating photons has no way to determine whether the sender did or did not change the polarization of the light at "his" end of the experiment. This is why one cannot send a message with this system. In recent weeks, this kind of entanglement — called nonlocal connection — has even been observed with atoms.
Einstein was correct in his analysis showing a connection between photons receding from each other at the speed of light. At this time, however, it seems that he was mistakenly concerned that this connection violates Relativity Theory; it does not appear that the entangled photons can be used to send messages. But Einstein and his colleagues' analysis in the 1930s, together with the contemporary experiments cited above, have given scientific support to the current view of nonlocal connectedness. Although these correlations themselves probably do not explain mind-to-mind connections, we view them as unequivocal laboratory evidence of the nonlocality that makes these connections possible. It is likely that this evidence for our nonlocal universe will turn out to be one of the most profound things we have learned this century.
Einstein published these ideas sixty years ago, yet today's leading physicists still do not agree on all the implications of these nonlocal connections. In fact, Nobel Prize–winning physicist Brian Josephson wrote of these experiments, "The existence of such remote influences or connections is suggested [even] more directly by experiments on phenomena such as telepathy (the connection of one mind to another) and psychokinesis (the direct influence of mind on matter), both of which are examples of so-called PSI functioning."
Are We Connected or Separate?
In the Diamond Sutra, the Buddha tells us many confusing things, such
as, "This is neither a teaching nor not a teaching." What
is a poor student to do? The four-valued logic of the second-century enlightened
master Nagarjuna helps us to understand the Buddhist concept that we are
both here and not here. Nagarjuna taught that statements about the world
can be (1) true, (2) not true, (3) both true and not true, and (4) neither
true nor not true, which he felt is usually the case.
The good news is that you don't have to possess the understanding of a dharma master (enlightened teacher) to have a meaningful and spiritual life. Our knowledge is frequently neither true nor not true. In physics, for example, we discovered the important knowledge that light is neither a wave, nor not a wave. Within the time domain, we are both eternal and not eternal. And with regard to separation, we are both separate in body and united in consciousness. Rabbi Jesus was a man, an inspired teacher, and a particle of matter two thousand years ago, yet his teaching — the Christ Spirit — is a wave that transcends all space and time, and illuminates us today. David Bohm and Basil Hiley remind us in The Undivided Universe, that "Since there is no final theory, it cannot be said that the universe is either ultimately deterministic or ultimately indeterministic. Therefore we cannot from physical theories alone draw any conclusions, for example, about the ultimate limits of human freedom."
From Theoretical Physics to Mental Connections
In recognition of Carl Sagan's admittance that some esp phenomena deserve more research, we begin with evidence from remote viewing experiments carried out at Stanford Research Institute (sri), which we consider the most robust of all direct perception experiments. We will then describe the dream telepathy and sensory deprivation experiments that Sagan found compelling. We will briefly explore the apparent ability of some people to affect the operation of computer-driven random number generators, and, finally, we will discuss our personal experience with precognition.
Carl Sagan now knows more than any of us about nonlocal mind — the mind that transcends space and time. But if we had ten minutes with the living Carl Sagan, we would show him the data from remote viewing research as our best evidence that consciousness in not limited to the physical body.
Simply put, our experience is that once a person, even a government scientist, has come to understand the sri remote viewing data, they are much less likely to deny the reality of psychic abilities than they were before. These data show that people in the laboratory week after week, year after year, have described what is going on in the world at great distances from their physical body. We present this research, and how to do it, in our previous book, Miracles of Mind.
Although we do not yet have a physical mechanism to propose for remote
viewing, the experiments are easy to do, and the data are often compelling.
David Bohm describes this interconnectedness as a holographic universe,
in which each piece is connected with each other piece. In his book The
Undivided Universe, Bohm says of this quantum-interconnectedness, "The
essential features…are that the whole universe is in some way enfolded
in everything, and that each thing is enfolded in the whole" —
which reiterates the Buddha's statement from direct experience that
"separation is an illusion."
In 1973, the first year of the sri research, Pat Price, a retired police commissioner from Burbank, California, contacted SRI and said that he would like to help with the remote viewing work. Price declared that he had used esp all his life as a police commissioner to catch lawbreakers by psychically scanning the city to locate where the frightened criminal was hiding. Price arrived at sri with a scrapbook of clippings attesting to his psychic prowess. A formal series of experiments was quickly carried out, in which Pat was asked approximately once a week to describe his mental impressions of the location where one of our experimental team had been secreted somewhere in the San Francisco Bay Area.
My job was to interview Price, to help him describe the distant location, as yet unknown to either me or my colleague Hal Puthoff. This is a called a "double blind" protocol, because neither the experimenters nor the remote viewer knows anything about the day's target, or the target pool locations from which it was selected. At the end of nine trials, a similarly "blind" judge was asked to rate each of Price's descriptions and drawings as to how well they matched each of the nine targets used in the experiment. The judge, a Stanford University English professor, achieved seven out of nine first-place matches. That indicates that if someone had been kidnapped by terrorists to one of nine suspected locations on nine consecutive weeks, Price would have found them the first place he looked seven out of the nine times. The likelihood of that happening by chance is less than one in thirty thousand. Puthoff and I published these results in the March 1976 issue of Proceedings of the ieee. The paper was called "A Perceptual Channel for Information Transfer over Kilometer Distances."
Because it appeared we could focus our psychic gaze anywhere we wished, we thought that we could approach the Central Intelligence Agency for possible financial support. We were concerned with the issues that arise when working with the CIA, but in the middle of the Cold War we felt that more information was better for the world than less information. We were in favor of intelligence, as opposed to ignorance.
After talking with many staff people, our great supporter at the Agency, Dr. Kit Green, arranged for us to have an audience with the Director for Intelligence, John McMahon. John was an "old hand" from the operational side of the Agency, and was well known to not suffer fools gladly. He listened to our description of the experiments with Pat Price and other sri remote viewers, and told us of similar experiences told to him by friends in Vietnam. McMahon concluded the interview by telling us that we were "wasting our time looking at churches and swimming pools in California." He had sites that really needed scrutinizing — ten thousand miles away in the Soviet Union.
The following week we began what was to become one of our most significant adventures. A physicist from the cia showed up at sri with geographical coordinates, latitude and longitude, for a Soviet target McMahon wanted us to describe. None of us, of course, knew anything about the site. This was to be a demonstration of ability test. They wanted any information we could give them, and were eager to learn if we could describe a target thousands of miles away with only coordinates from which to work. If we could describe the outside, which had been observed by satellite photography, at that time a top secret capability, we would then be asked to describe the inside.
Price and I locked ourselves into the small electrically shielded room on the second floor of SRI's Radio Physics building where we conducted our experiments, and I read Price the coordinates. He was silent for about a minute, and then began his description: "I am lying on my back on the roof of a two- or three-story brick building. It's a sunny day. The sun feels good. There's the most amazing thing. There's a giant gantry crane moving back and forth over my head….As I drift up in the air and look down, it seems to be riding on a track with one rail on each side of the building. I've never seen anything like that."
Pat then sketched the layout of the buildings and the crane, which he labeled as a gantry. Several days later we completed the remote viewing exercise. We were eventually told that the site was the super-secret Soviet atomic bomb laboratory at Semipalatinsk.
The astonishing accuracy of Price's drawing compared to the cia drawings of the Semipalatinsk facility is the sort of thing that I, as a physicist, would never have believed, if I had not seen it myself. Price went on to draw many other items at the site, most of which were confirmed. One of the most interesting things Price saw was the interior of the building on top of which he was "psychically" lying — an interior unknown to anyone in our government at the time.
He described a large room where people were assembling a giant, sixty-foot-in-diameter metal sphere from thick metal gores, like sections of an orange peel. He said they were having trouble welding it all together because the pieces were warping. Three years later we discovered just how accurate Price's viewing had been, when the sphere-fabricating activity at Semipalatinsk was described in the May 1977 issue of Aviation Week magazine. The account confirmed all of Price's descriptions, including the problem with the welding of the pieces. It is thought today that the Soviets were probably fabricating a particle- beam weapon designed to shoot down American spy satellites.
Our CIA contract monitor, Dr. Kenneth Kress, wrote a classified memoir describing our work for him, which was published in 1977 in the cia journal Studies in Intelligence. "Tantalizing but incomplete data have been generated by CIA-sponsored research," Kress writes. "These data show, among other things, that on occasion unexplained results of genuine intelligence significance occur." He quotes a second cia operations officer who was summoned to evaluate Price's data: "It is my considered opinion that this technique — whatever it is — offers definite operational possibilities." The following year, just before his untimely death, Price worked directly for Kress at CIA headquarters.
One intriguing aspect of Price's insights into the interior of the Soviet facility was that his perception of the sixty-foot sphere and "gores" was made without any feedback at all. We had originally expected feedback to be an important ingredient of remote viewing. But Price was not reading the mind of the sponsor, because no one in the United States knew of the sphere. Nor could Pat have been precognitively looking at his own feedback from the future, because he died in 1975, before the details of the sphere were independently confirmed. His remarkable perception was a direct experience of the site.
In 1979, after a formal Congressional investigation, Congressman Charles Rose said of this experiment in Omni magazine: "All I can say is that if the results were faked, our security system doesn't work. What these people ‘saw' was confirmed by aerial photography. There is no way it could have been faked."
Even a Scientist Can Be Psychic
"We must close our eyes and invoke a new manner of seeing. . .
a wakefulness that is the birthright of us all,
though few put it to use." ~ Plotinus (seventeen centuries ago)
The year after Pat died we received a call from another man with extraordinary psychic ability. This time it was a creative young research physicist named Gary Langford who was working in the Intelligence Analysis group at sri. He had been following our work, and thought that he could help us, because he, like Price, had been doing distant viewing for years. He told us that he first experienced psychic functioning as a child. He was not a great baseball player, but his precognitive ability told him where to stand in the outfield to catch fly balls that would come his way.
Gary's job at sri was to read translations of Russian technology reports, look at photos of the U.S.S.R., and try to figure out what the Soviets were doing. Often when he was given a typical poor-quality photograph taken from a great altitude, he would have the experience of looking intently, and then saying something like, "It looks like a submarine off the coast." To which the others would respond incredulously, "Where the hell do you see a submarine?" And that was a problem, because there wasn't really any sub to be seen. It would frequently turn out, however, that his intuition was remarkably correct.
Gary, Pat, and many others seem to be able to move their perceptual point of view at a target. They are able to experience the target location as if they were actually there. These experienced viewers are able to psychically move around the site and relate what they see.
Gary participated in the sri program for more than a decade. Like many viewers, his accuracy in describing details was excellent at the start and did not improve greatly. What did improve was his reliability — he became correct more often. And he became increasingly able to tell when he had made really strong contact with the target he was trying to describe. When he had "that special feeling," he was almost always correct. That type of self-awareness is extremely desirable in a remote viewer. Sometimes, he did not have a confident feeling, but he gave an accurate description nonetheless. It's remarkable that we can be correct two-thirds of the time, but we are still baffled at being wrong at all.
Gary joined us as a regular viewer as we began to investigate the accuracy of remote viewing at increasing distances. We wanted to know if remote viewing accuracy would fall off like television reception does when you move too far from the transmitter. Would the mental pictures become snowy? One of Gary's first tasks was to follow me as I traveled across the U.S. as an outbound beacon. He had no idea of my itinerary.
My first stop was New Orleans, to carry out remote viewing trials with a friend in medical school at Tulane University. We bought a picture book of New Orleans sites of interest, and threw a die on the pavement to determine which of six possible targets I would visit for the trial. The target that came up was the Louisiana Superdome sports arena. Gary's interviewer for this trial was Dr. Elizabeth Rauscher, a physics professor at the University of California, Berkeley. She and I had already worked together for several years trying to develop a physical model for psi functioning. Elizabeth was an experienced interviewer, and sensitive to the nuances of the remote viewing process.
At the moment I walked toward the Superdome, Elizabeth was building rapport with Gary in the shielded room at sri. At noon, I came upon the glistening building. I was shocked by the size of it, and said into my tape recorder, "This is a remote viewing experiment with Russ Targ and Gary Langford. I am at the 80,000 seat New Orleans Superdome. It is a metal-sided building that looks like nothing so much as a great flying saucer shining in the noon day sun."
Meanwhile, back in the Menlo Park laboratory, Gary was just beginning his description for Elizabeth. "I've got a problem," he said. "All I see is a damn ufo in the middle of a city!" Elizabeth, the intrepid interviewer, told him, "That's okay, Gary. Why don't you just take a break, and then make a drawing of what you are looking at." This is what we called "debriefing the initial images." Gary then made the remarkable drawings shown in the illustration. He said he saw, "a large circular building with a white dome." He went on to describe "glass cases around the inside," which we later verified as true, even though I did not have access to the inside of the building at the time.
His ability to describe details beyond what was available to us in feedback
photos was truly amazing. It is clear that he had contact with the target,
and was not reading my mind, psychically looking over my shoulder, or
observing his feedback pictures. The Superdome photo and Gary's
drawings are both shown below. Gary described a concrete path around the
building, on which he correctly showed me walking; he also drew the many
ramps leading up into the building.
Gary has now been doing remote viewing for almost twenty years. From the hundreds of trials he has completed, it appears that he achieves this kind of accuracy about 25 percent of the time. Our work with him and others has shown that remote viewing accuracy is not at all affected by distance and the first glimpses are the most reliable.
Miracles with Army Intelligence
During the summer of 1979, my colleague Hal and I conducted remote viewing experiments with six inexperienced military men from Fort Mead. We selected the viewers who would be the most likely candidates for remote viewing from among a group of thirty men by interviewing them about their life experiences and their thoughts and beliefs about esp. We were especially looking for men who had profound esp experiences in the course of their lives and work. Most of these men wish to remain anonymous, but one of them, Joe McMoneagle, has written a thoughtful book entitled Mind Trek, describing his introduction to remote viewing at sri, and his psychic adventures since leaving.
Joe is an affable, energetic, fullback of a man. He always seemed to me to be ready to burst off running out of his leather jacket. You wouldn't have known from looking at him that ten years before, he had had a near-death experience in Germany. As he was leaving a bar, he became ill, passed out, fell to the cobblestones, and as he explained it, "was received by God." He felt embraced by a powerful light, and was delivered to the hospital with no pulse at all. But he told us that was okay with him because he was saying to himself, "So this is what God is like!" This transforming experience was his introduction and opening to a whole world of psychic awareness. The story of how he began to integrate his psychic experiences is truly extraordinary. (Let us assure you that we consider a near-death experience to be an unnecessarily high price to pay for psychic development!)
A few weeks after our interviews, I was sitting with Joe in our remote viewing lab in California. I explained that all we wanted him to do was describe his mental pictures of our researcher's location. I told him I had no idea where that might be, but if he would like to make some little sketches of what he saw in his mind's eye, that these often match the place where the researchers are hiding. It also turned out that he had much better than average drawing skills.
When the time came for Joe to do his first trial, he saw a number of shapes: a teepee, a barbell, a piano keyboard, and a building, all of which he drew around the edge of a piece of paper. Joe says in his book, "I actually began to feel like I was more at my imaginary building than in the room talking with Russell Targ." I asked Joe to pull away from the building and describe its general shape. He said, "It's like an inverted rectangle with a square fastened to the back of it, or a rectangle laid down behind it. It's like two buildings in one."
After the interview, Joe made the detailed drawing we show in the figure. In the upper part of the picture you can see Joe's rendering of what he called the "keyboard effect," together with a planter in front of the building. He clearly shows the tall pillared-front of a building, with the lower extensions to the left and right. The lower part of the figure is a photograph of the Stanford University Art Museum, where the researchers had been sent by their random number generator. Joe was a natural. Needless to say, the judges had no trouble matching his drawings with the Art Museum when they visited it, even though there were many small unrelated sketches around the edges of the page.
Joe went on to complete a highly successful series of trials with us, and he was able to greatly improve his accuracy, even over this very good sketch. My associates and I proceeded to work with five other men who showed us that psi abilities come in all sizes and shapes of people.
The overall results from the formal judging of this study were highly significant. Four of the six government viewers each produced statistically meaningful results — a highly improbable result, with odds of greater than one in ten thousand. All of them went on to teach many others in the U.S. Armed Services how to successfully perform remote viewing. In 1984 Joe was granted a National Legion of Merit Award for excellence in his military intelligence career, including his operational remote viewing.
By the end of the first decade of such research, twenty-eight experimental series had been published from several labs worldwide. In an analysis of these papers, it was found that more than half, (fifteen out of twenty-eight) showed statistically significant results, where only one in twenty would be expected to reach significance by chance.10 In our work at sri, we found that a viewer would, in general, give descriptions of distant geographical locations that could be successfully matched first place by a judge in four out of six trials. Such a hit rate gives a statistically significant result, and is extraordinarily high compared with usual laboratory experience in ESP testing.
Telepathy in Our Dreams
Psychic dreams have been with us since the days of Cassandra in ancient Greece, and Joseph and Pharaoh in the Old Testament. From the data collected by parapsychologist Louisa Rhine, it appears that more than half of all spontaneous ESP experiences take place in dreams. Sigmund Freud wrote about the telepathic content of dreams, and in Parapsychology and the Unconscious, psychiatrist Jule Eisenbud has written about patients who have dreamed of events in Eisenbud's own life.
Dramatic stories of telepathic dreams abound: Toward the end of World War II, several prisoners made a daring escape from the Sobibor concentration camp. One of the survivors of this courageous break is Esther Robb, who described a dream she had the night before the escape in a 1998 National Public Radio interview:
In her dream, her deceased mother was urging her to press on to reach a strange-looking barn. The next day, the twenty-year-old Esther successfully escaped the camp, climbed the fence, and walked over the bodies of people who had already fallen on mines outside the barrier. Traveling with serious wounds, she survived days of starvation and hiding in the woods. She finally saw a wooden structure far in the distance, and realized that it was the barn that her mother had shown her in her dream.
When darkness came, she managed to sneak into the barn and climb into its hay loft. As she reached the top step of the ladder, a strong hand grabbed her ankle, and called out for her to stop. It was the hand of her brother, who had just escaped from a different camp, and had found his way to the same barn.
Based on the idea that dreams might hold reliable esp information, in the 1960s researchers at Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn, New York, undertook a decade-long study of psychic events in dreams. This pioneering team included psychiatrist Dr. Montague Ullman, the hospital's research director, psychologist Stanley Krippner, and writer and researcher Alan Vaughan. The team performed many innovative experiments in which a subject was asked to go to sleep and dream about a randomly chosen painting that a sender would be looking at throughout the night. The researchers attached electrodes to the subjects' heads to determine from brain waves and rapid eye movements (r.e.m.) when they had entered dreaming sleep.
In the Maimonides experiments the researchers would, at the first signs of r.e.m. activity, alert the sender — who sat ninety-eight feet away in another part of the hospital — to pay particular attention to the picture he or she was sending. At the end of each dream period throughout the night, the experimenters would awaken the subject and ask them to describe their dreams.
The results were remarkable. In series after series, which they describe in their book Dream Telepathy, the sleeper was able to relate dream experiences that were strongly correlated with the pictures that the sender was looking at. These statistically significant correlations were made by "blind" judges who had to match each of the eight dream reports against eight pictures used in the experiments.
Two series of particularly successful trials were carried out with psychologist William Erwin as the sleeping subject. "Multi-sensory" materials were given to the sender to help him or her empathize with and experience the picture that they were to send. For example, when the target picture was Katz's Interior of a Synagogue, the multisensory materials for the sender's environment included candles like those in the painting, a candleholder, matches, and a button with Hebrew writing. In Erwin's first dream he described "something about school." In his second dream he found himself a small boy in a little town. Summing up his dreams, Erwin said: "Some kind of impression of school…going to school….The building that I was speaking of — I spent a little time with the boy in it…It could have been an experience that Sol (the sender) had because he was sort of exploring….During one of the studies he talked something about a synagogue. Maybe it was the one where he was dealing with the Yellow Rabbi."
Specific mention of "synagogue" and "Rabbi" were enough to give this picture the highest rating in the group. The results of this study were significant at one thousand to one odds when evaluated by outside judges, who were successfully able to match each of the eight dream descriptions with the correct picture.
These experiments were important to psi research for two reasons. First, they were successful year after year for a decade, giving researchers a stable phenomenon to investigate. Even more important, this approach provided a valuable insight into the pictorial and nonanalytic processes underlying psi functioning. In the 1960s, researchers considered psi to be a weak perceptual ability, often masked by internal and external mental and somatic sensory noise. These experiments led researchers to ask, "Can we find a way to let subjects rest in a dream-like state, but still be awake enough to tell us what they are experiencing?"
Telepathy in a Controlled Environment
The ganzfeld, meaning "whole field," is a controlled environment used in esp research in which all ordinary inputs to the psi subject are limited by sensory isolation. The ganzfeld idea appeared in the 1960s, when it was thought that altered states of consciousness would lead to more effective psychic functioning. The receiving person is located in a sound-proof room, with a uniform and featureless visual field. This is simply accomplished by taping Ping-Pong ball halves over the viewer's eyes and bathing them in uniform red light, while playing "white" noise through earphones.
Like the dream telepathy experiments, the ganzfeld studies investigated telepathic communication between a sender person and a receiver person. For more than fifteen years, this approach was pioneered by Dr. Charles Honorton, who was Dr. Stanley Krippner's successor at the Maimonides Hospital Research Center. In 1994, Honorton coauthored a fifteen-page paper with psychologist Dr. Daryl Bem, a professor from Cornell University and a former skeptic. With its appearance in the mainstream Psychological Bulletin, the article signified a landmark accomplishment in the field of psi research. The paper described a series of experiments that were called "The Auto-Ganzfeld" because the researcher, sender, and receiver were all isolated from each other, and the researcher was isolated from the selection of the target video tapes, which were chosen and shown to the viewer automatically by a computer.
In these experiments, the receiver was generally a volunteer from the community whose task was to remain awake, and to describe into a tape recorder all the impressions that passed through his or her mind during a thirty-minute session. Meanwhile, the sender would view a randomly chosen video tape that played repeatedly throughout the session.
At the end of each trial, the computer controlling the experiment would show the receiver the chosen segment and three other video segments, in random order. The receiver's task was then to decide which of the four mini-movies the sender had been watching. By chance, one would expect a one-out-of-four success rate in this process. In the entire series of eleven experiments, which involved 240 people in 354 sessions, the hit rate was one out of three correct, which departs from chance expectation by 500 to 1. More important, in some of these trials, the receiver's narration was so accurate that it sounded as if the viewer were watching the target video tape right next to the sender!
We often compare PSI to musical ability: it is widely distributed in the population, with everyone enjoying some aptitude —as even the most nonmusical person can learn to play a little Mozart on the piano. On the other hand, there is no substitute for innate talent or practice.
In our society, psychic functioning is to some extent forbidden, or considered evidence of mental illness. The ganzfeld ritual of securing the Ping-Pong balls over your eyes, turning on the red lights and white noise in the earphones, and slamming the heavy door of the electrically shielded, sound-proof booth has a powerful permission-giving effect on the viewer.
A large, recent ganzfeld series conducted at the Rhine Research Center in Durham, North Carolina, with more than two hundred trials, found that almost all the psi in the experiment was contributed by pairs of people who were either parents and children, or siblings. The thirty trials with these two groups of blood relations achieved an average 50 percent hit rate, where only 25 percent would be expected by chance. The siblings were by far the strongest group in the study, while married couples scored below chance expectation. An additional subclass of people were independently significant: left-handers, who scored a 45 percent hit rate. Researchers conjecture that left-handed people have more connections between the left and right brain hemispheres, which might give the analytical part of the brain access to the nonanalytic pictures and emotions experienced as a result of the ganzfeld stimulus.
Viewing the Future (Precognition)
Nonlocality includes both time and space. The data from remote viewing
provides evidence that our minds have access to events occurring both
in distant places and in the future. We have a fundamental problem when
writing about time because no one knows how to measure it. Rulers measure
distance but clocks do not measure time; they simply tick at the rate
of one tick per second. Time is a mental construct and cannot be measured
by scientific instruments.
It has often been said that time was invented by God so that everything wouldn't happen at once. A Course In Miracles teaches that we invented time ourselves. In modern physics, time is simply seen as the "distance" between events that occur at the same place.
Precognitive dreams are probably the most common psychic event in the life of the average person. These dreams give us a glimpse of events that we will experience the next day or in the near future. In fact, we believe that the precognitive dream is caused by the experience that we actually will have at a later time.
If you dream of a very large black automobile passing in front of your window, and wake up the next morning and see a hearse leading a funeral procession driving down your street, we would say that last night's dream was caused by your experience of seeing the hearse the next morning. This is an example of the future affecting the past, much like the feedback in remote viewing. There is strong evidence for this kind of occurrence, which we discuss at the end of this chapter. However, it appears impossible for a future event to change the known or already-experienced past.
Nothing in the future can prevent something that has already happened. This is the so-called "intervention paradox," illustrated by the example in which you, in the present, kill your grandmother when she was a child, and you therefore cease to exist. While this is interesting to think about, there is not a drop of evidence to make us think it can occur.
To know that a dream is precognitive, you have to recognize that it is not caused by the previous day's mental residue, your wishes or anxieties. We find that precognitive dreams have an unusual clarity, but often contain bizarre and unfamiliar material. Dream experts speak of "preternatural clarity," which transcends wish fulfillment or anxiety. For example, if you are unprepared for an exam, and dream about failing it, we would not consider that to be precognition. On the other hand, if you have taken hundreds of plane flights, and then experience a frightening dream about a crash, you might reconsider your travel plans.
You might ask, "How can I dream about being in a plane crash, if I don't actually get to experience it?" The answer may be that you dream about the real crash, and then dramatize the events to include yourself in it. In one true case, a good friend dreamed about being in a plane crash, and then saw a plane crash at close range the next day. Since he was supposed to have been on that very plane, he had no trouble putting himself on the plane in his dream the previous night. We would say that the frightening crash he experienced was the cause of his earlier dream. This is called retro-causality, and it may be the basis of most precognition. There is obviously no law against precognition, since under the right conditions, it is a common occurrence, and hundreds of laboratory experiments show that it appears to work exactly as well as real-time esp.
It's About Time
In a summary of research data from 1935 to 1989 for what we call paranormal foreknowledge of the future, researchers Charles Honorton and Diane Ferari described 309 precognition experiments using esp test cards with five different symbols. The experiments were carried out by sixty-two different investigators involving more than fifty thousand participants in more than two million trials.18 The percipients had to use their intuitive abilities to determine which randomly selected symbol from five potential choices they would be shown later on. In these experiments, the target picture was not even determined at the time of their intuitive guessing.
Thirty percent of these studies were statistically significant in showing that people can describe future events, where only five percent would be expected by chance. This gave overall significance of greater than 1020 (100 billion billion) to one, which is statistically akin to throwing seventy pennies in the air and having every one come down heads. This body of data offers very strong evidence for confirming the existence of foreknowledge of the future. Clearly, we have some contact with the future. This connection shows unequivocally that we misunderstand our relationship to the dimension of time we take so much for granted.
The authors have personally conducted experimental series in which people have described and experienced events that didn't occur until two or three days in the future. One of these involved precognitive forecasting of changes in the silver commodity market without actually making any trades. The authors were successful in eleven out of twelve individual calls. This is one reason we have no doubt that the precognitive channel is available.
We know from the experimental psi data that a viewer in the laboratory, by focusing his or her attention, can reliably describe any location on the planet. We know, also, that this same viewer is not bound by present time. Dean Radin's comprehensive book The Conscious Universe discusses the published research investigating esp in dreams. Between 1966 and 1973, 450 dream telepathy sessions were reported, with an overall score of 63 percent correct. When analyzed statistically as a group, the dreamers dreamed of the picture they were shown at a later time at a success rate of odds greater than a million to one.
The familiar "river of time" model renders precognition less magical. On the average, we know that rivers flow downstream; that is, causes come before events. If we look closely at the fine structure of the stream, however, we will recognize eddies in its flow. A boulder may create a wake downstream, with the cause clearly coming before the effect. But upstream we may find a great whirlpool that comes, of course, from the boulder downstream. We may experience the effect before we see its cause. An effect preceding its cause is called retro-causality, and from the data, we believe that it is not such a rare occurrence.
Feeling the Future
We are all familiar with the idea of premonition, in which one has inner knowledge of something to happen in the future — usually something bad! There is also the experience of presentiment, where 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 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 has recently shown at the University of Nevada that this orienting response is also observed in a person's physiology a few seconds before viewing the scary picture!
In balanced, double-blind experiments, Radin has shown that just before viewing scenes of violence, your body steels itself against the insult, but that no strong anticipatory reaction precedes viewing a picture of a flower garden. Of course, fear is much easier to measure physiologically than bliss. Here, it seems, your direct physical perception of the picture, when it occurs, causes you to have a unique, earlier physical response. Your future is affecting your past. These experiments are also described in Radin's previously mentioned book, The Conscious Universe.
So Can the Future Affect the Past?
Similar experiments were carried out by Helmut Schmidt at the Mind Science Foundation in Austin, Texas. Schmidt examined the behavior of electronic random-number generators that produce long, haphazard strings of 1s and 0s. He had already shown through a lifetime of work that a person could mentally interact with the machine from a distance, apparently by psi, to obtain more 1s or 0s just by paying attention to the desired outcome. In his latest and most remarkable experiments, he has shown that even after the machine has generated a tape recording of its output of 1s and 0s, a person can still affect the outcome by paying attention to the tape, so long as no one has seen the data beforehand. We could call this retro psychokinesis or retro-pk.
Psychokinesis on the Internet
Presently, in 1998, a retro-pk website on the Internet has collected trials from thousands of people, and is presently showing 2.5 standard deviations from chance expectation, which corresponds to odds of about one in five hundred. We do not believe the person is actually changing the tape, which may be a punched-hole paper tape. Rather, Schmidt and others believe the person with the tape in his hand is reaching back in time to affect the machine at the time of its operation. Schmidt has even demonstrated that the prerecorded but unobserved breathing rate of a person in the past can be affected by the mental activity of a person at a later time!
Similar experiments have been carried out in the Princeton Anomalies Research Laboratory. Over a period of many years, these researchers have shown that individuals can change the distribution of 1s and 0s produced by their random-number generator. But one of their most interesting findings is that pairs of people working together obtain improved performance over people working by themselves. And, most significant, so-called "bonded pairs" (boyfriend/girlfriend and the like) working together with coherent intentions, produced by far the greatest effect in changing the output of the machine.
Journeys Out of the Body
One teaching common to many spiritual thought systems is that if we visualize ourselves and our world as affirmative and loving then we experience an affirmative and loving world. This is sometimes interpreted to mean that our thoughts themselves affect the physical world — that our minds can reach beyond the body.
A striking example of this idea was an investigation of out-of-body experiences (oobes) conducted by Karlis Osis and Donna McKormick in 1980, when Osis was director of research at the American Society for Psychical Research (aspr). We have already described laboratory remote viewing. But a continuum exists from ordinary remote viewing, in which a person sees a distant landscape mentally, to an out-of-body experience in which a person can take to this distant place all of his or her sensitivity, emotion, even sexuality. The person is then in a position to have a full range of experiences at that location. This is described in detail in Robert Monroe's book Journeys Out of the Body.
In the ASPR experiments, an experienced oobe practitioner, Alex Tanous, was asked to describe various objects Osis had arranged on a little shelf in a sealed box. This box was an electrically shielded container, which also contained a sensitive set of strain gauges that generate an electrical signal when perturbed or moved in any way. Tanous described many of the target arrangements successfully. Osis found in examining the data from the strain gauge that the largest electrical signals were generated when Tanous was giving the most accurate descriptions of the targets in the box. This is not something we have ever been able to observe with ordinary remote viewing. But it strongly supports Tanous's claim that he experiences warmth, tactile sensations, and vision when he travels to a distant location. It is a full-body experience for him, not just a change in point of view.
Blind People "See" in Near-Death Experiences
These data correlate strongly with reports from those who have had near-death experiences (ndes). Researcher Dr. Kenneth Ring describes reports from blind people who have had ndes during which they apparently "see" with eyeless vision. They accurately describe the surroundings, people, and activities taking place in the vicinity of their comatose body as it is lying on the ground, or on a hospital operating table during their trauma.
Such experiences are often accompanied by a life review, and profound experiences of loving and being love, which have life-changing effects on survivors. For us, the data from both oobe experiments and nde survivors strongly supports the idea of a self-aware consciousness separate from the physical body.
Precognition in the Lab
For years, parapsychologists have been trying to find ways to encourage their subjects to receive psychic glimpses of the future. Earlier in this chapter we mentioned a large retrospective analysis of 309 precognition experiments carried out over 50 years between 1935 and 1987. There is overwhelming evidence for the existence of precognition, but more importantly we have learned more successful and less successful ways to do experiments. Four different factors were found to vary significantly with success or failure. It is important to keep these ingredients in mind, if you want your own psi experiments to succeed.
Experiments are much more successful when they are carried out with subjects who are experienced and interested in the outcome. For example, running esp experiments in a whole classroom of moderately bored students will rarely show any kind of esp success. Participants who are enthusiastic about the experiment are the most successful in these precognition studies. The difference in scoring between these two kinds of tests, with experienced and inexperienced subjects, was significant at 1000 to 1 against chance.
The most comprehensive laboratory examination of precognition was performed by Dr. Robert Jahn, Brenda Dunne, and Dr. Roger Nelson at Princeton University.25 They conducted 227 formal experiments in which a viewer was asked to describe where one of the researchers would be hiding at some preselected later time. They discovered, much to their surprise, that the accuracy of the description was the same whether the viewer had to look hours, days, or weeks into the future. As judges compared descriptions with target locations, the overall statistical significance of the combined experiments departed from what you would expect from chance by a probability of one in a hundred billion!
It is difficult to read about their work and not be convinced of the reality of precognition, even though we don't understand how it works. The most important finding of the combined data — from dozens of such precognition experiments from many laboratories throughout the world — is that it is no harder to psychically see the future than it is to psychically see hidden events in the present. This is the mystery that captivates us.
Eternity and Timelessness
The great significance of this work does not come from statistics. What is exciting is that these findings strongly reinforce the idea of our connectivity through time as well as space. They demonstrate that we are more than bodies, and that our minds have no boundaries, just as the Perennial Philosophy teaches.
In the next chapter we discuss the evidence that some aspect of our personality survives bodily death. We end this section with the words of philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, who reminds us with his usual precision of the difference between eternity and timelessness. In the Tractatus he writes: "If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration, but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present. Our life has no end in just the same way in which our visual field has no limits." Maybe this is the same thing Indian sage Ramana Maharshi meant when he said, "The real Self is continuous and unaffected..."