Midweek Mysticism: How does extrasensory perception work?
It is all too easy to take mysticism less than seriously; to imagine that if it does exist in some form, it’s only psychological — by implication sub-reality. Anything beyond that is often met with rolled eyes and frank disbelief.
The Oxford Dictionary has built that scepticism into its definition of extrasensory perception (ESP): “The supposed faculty of perceiving things by means other than the known senses, e.g. by telepathy or clairvoyance.”
That “supposed” is meant to be a killer blow. Oxford should do its homework. Here then, especially for the OUP and the Physics Faculty, is a short tutorial which might in a perfect world get that “supposed” deleted from the OED.
I discovered the key to clairvoyance (French for “clear seeing”) while reading psychology at university. Bored stiff with experiments on rats and other behavioural studies, I decided to probe much deeper — into the nature of consciousness itself.
Psychologist Carl Jung was my role model. Spurred on by his own experiments with the Chinese Book of Changes, I Ching, I eventually developed a method of communing with my own consciousness without any props at all. I didn’t know it at the time, but this is the essence of all mysticism.
I quickly realised I had to leave psychology books behind and venture into religious and spiritual literature to find confirmation of the new insights. Some went back centuries, such as The Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross, an impeccable textbook of the mechanisms of such experiences, once you learn to skip around all the churchified piety, essential in those days to stay alive.
The end result of the practice is a kind of plopping out of our human reality into another aspect of being. I later learnt that this experience is known as “Seeing into the nature of reality”.
During the event, the body and senses continue doing what they are doing in complete ignorance of the mystical experience taking place beyond them. The disembodied subject (soul) sees but not with human eyes, which are still seeing the normal world.
This is a completely separate faculty which remains totally in the background in our normal lives, but which explains many types of extrasensory perception.
The mystic remembers what happened during the encounter, but not with the brain. The bodily thoughts and emotions fail to register the occasion at all — later there’s a spill-over from the higher faculty into basic memory, which is why I can write about it here.
This mysterious disjunction is the split between the physical world and the spiritual.
We spend much of our lives sunk deep in the thoughts and feelings of our brainview, mostly unaware that there is a realm beyond it which watches over us at all times. The experience also acts as a pointer to our personal survival after death.
Ancient Taoist “Immortals” discovered this mystery space and recognised its implications. When we get to know that realm through direct experience, we live the life of an “Immortal” here on Earth — although little actually changes psychologically.
For most people, premonitions and other intimations of future events are shrugged off as coincidental. It’s when something suddenly filters down to us from that upper realm, whether it be a warning, or a solution to a mulled-over problem, that we know we are seeing with eyes beyond the senses.
Genuine mystics get to recognise an otherworldly “ping” in consciousness that signals a message from outside the brainview and take it very seriously.
I firmly believe that everyone has this faculty and, just as our brain-centred intelligence and knowledge has to be worked on, so must this.
The flaw in standard western education is that it is totally brain-based and even denies the existence of anything higher. That could be a fatal weakness in the West’s worldview. Look around you, does everything in the world seem fine and dandy?
We stand on the brink of disaster every day. Currently, the Middle East is in flames. I’m reminded of John Buchan’s master novel of the First World War, Greenmantle in which that very phrase is used. The Foreign Secretary is right to be alarmed.
The simple response to this failure is that children should be taught to pay attention to what is real and in front of their face. Their cartoon world of violent video games and other entertainments has severely distorted their ability to engage with reality and recognise danger signs.
In their world, everything is fictional and hence becomes an alternative reality, masking real life and its pressing problems.
The next generation is staggeringly ill-prepared to take over the reins of Planet Earth. Our schools in particular should be training youngsters in quiescent non-thinking to open up this path of connection with their latent faculties.
Otherwise the oft-repeated path to death and destruction will come round again, this time with more powerful weapons and even more nihilistic intentions.
The brain should be an ally, not a destructive force in human life.
Coming soon: Mystology: A different way of looking at the world. Also a website, mystology.com.
Author of The Eternal Quest for Immortality: Is it staring you in the face? Available from Amazon and all good booksellers.