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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

The 'spirit' side of pyschic phenomena: toward a spiritist explanation of psi events


If every effect has a cause, every intelligent effect 
must have an intelligent cause.
 (A. Kardec, "Spiritism in its simplest expression", History of Spiritism.)

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed 
about with so great a cloud of witnesses,
let us lay aside every weight, 
and the sin which doth so easily beset us, 
and let us run with patience 
the race that is set before us. (Paul, Heb. 12:1,KJV)

Recent debates about the nature and cause of many psychic phenomena have been polarized between two antagonistic explanations. On one side, the so called "super-psi" supporters seek to explain all events by hypothesizing the existence of yet unknown human "superpowers" which would be responsible for all events. On the other hand, proponents of human-spirit interaction explain many facts as an interplay between an unknown force of Nature - the Spirits - and the human mind. Moreover, the existence of Spirits is directly linked to the idea of survival, therefore, modern spiritualists and spiritist are naturally called "survivalists".

Much o what we read about super-psi was laid out during the onset of "metapsychics" (1) as a rejection of spiritualist explanations in terms of spirit influence. At that time, psychic researchers were seeking scientific acceptance (that is, to be accepted by academic mainstream), so that they avoided at all cost what is still today regarded a "non-naturalistic" explanation: the existence of Spirits. However, the idea of a "super mind" poses a simple but often neglected consequence: the lack of modern versions of old outbreaks such as table turning, raps, materializations and even less impressive occurrences such as somnambulism clairvoyance (which was studied by A. Kardec in the XIX century and many other pioneers) and mesmerism. If super-psi really exists, we need to explain the lack of super-psi minds nowadays given the fact that population has grown since the XIX century.

It is easier to recognize the need of an external and independent cause necessary to initiate and feed the phenomena. This cause was correctly found in the Spirits. Many say that the idea of independent minds floating around us and providing the "hardware" for life after death still need to be proven. However, since they are really subtle forces, we should proceed more scientifically and admit the existence of Spirits beforehand and see the consequences.

Virtual particles and information carriers

In physics, the idea of "mediating particles" or "force carriers" are invoked to explain many of Nature's forces. The so called "virtual particles" (3) are not directly observable but are important elements believed to exist in many physical events involving the fundamental forces. There is no distinction between "real" and "virtual" particles except that the later have a much shorter lifetime than the former. However, the unique features of the quantum world allow "virtual particles" to behave in ways that are not permitted to the real ones - for example - as interpretations of the theory say, virtual particles can travel backward in time. Virtual particles are incessantly created and destroyed in vacuum. This comparison is just an imaginable metaphor to explain the role of spirit in psychic events: they are the mediating ingredients necessary for the onset and maintenance of all physic phenomena. Spirits are the information "carriers" for certain humans who are able to get in contact with them.
Feynman diagram showing the exchange of a virtual photon in an electron-electron interaction. The idea of "virtual particles" is a metaphor for the role played by Spirit in psychic phenomena as information "carriers" for many psi-events.  
Part of the "super-psi" features associated to events as near death (NDE) or "out-of-body" (OBE) experiences are entirely due to our very spirit nature. Therefore, the interplay between the spirit nature of the human being and the external spirit forces is surely the best starting hypothesis for the variety and intensity of psychic experience in general. Some examples are commented below.

Examples

Psychic readings. The unconventional or controversial characters of many descriptions reporting, for instance, photograph "readings" can be explained by assuming Spirits directly assisting mediums. It is necessary to admit we are surrounded by a "cloud of witnesses" or, as we can read in (4):
Spirits are everywhere, on our side, they jostle us and watch us constantly. By their incessant presence, they are the agents of several phenomena, playing an important role in the moral world and, to a certain degree, in the physical one. They represent, so to say, one of nature's forces.
Hence the mysterious power certain mediums can have of peering into the future or of knowing the circumstances of a murder, the character of a dead person etc. However, much still needs to be known about the mechanism of medium acknowledgement: Spirits access the internal memories of mediums in order to build symbolic messages which are reinterpreted by the medium's mind (also a spirit) often with several distortions. This is the source of frequent inaccuracies in medium's readings. 

Psi-tracking of distant spots. Although OBE are invoked to explain the access to hidden information from distant places, we should not disregard the important "guiding" role played by Spirits. Some Brazilian mediums (e. g. Yvonne Pereira) reported being allowed to visit certain places only under the supervision of their spirit guides. Therefore, many mediums cannot control where they go: the uncontrollable character of the psi experience is directly related to the spirit (external) influence.

No more raps or table turnings (6). In the past, the table turning phenomena triggered the Spiritualist movement. Raps and other physical effects were historically reported in the United States (1848) from which the phenomena spread to the world. This was described as an "organized invasion" (5) so common were the events. Why the silence today?  Again the explanation is found in the Spirits.  The conditions for the existence of such organized invasion no longer exist, they ceased to support the phenomena although some scattered events appear from time to time (7), mainly in the form of the so called "poltergeist". These are again quite uncontrollable phenomena which show up as suddenly as go away, but some form of "benign" physical effects are still alive today in the form of healing manifestations.  

Failure to replicate telepathy and other tests in parapsychology. Since the human mind is not an isolated system, but suffers the influence of both physical and spiritual surroundings, Spirits are behind the many failures to replicate parapsychology tests. We should not limit the Spirit influence to well recognized mediums. In fact, every person may be influenced by Spirits to a certain degree. Those who have the highest level of influence are called mediums or psychics. Since Spirits are independent, they may accept to collaborate with a given experiment (in spite of researcher's ignorance of that influence) in which case the scores will be high. Add to this, the need of tuning between Spirits and the participants: the simple presence of Spirits in the physical environment of the experiment does not warrant success. 

Telepathy is often seen as a case of "mind-to-mind" interaction. However, given the spirit nature of man, one cannot disregard the important role played by Spirits in many telepathy experiments. As "information carriers" they may enhance or undermine the level of information exchanged among experiment's participants.
Final remarks 

The two causes, spirit nature of the human mind and the Spirit's influence, cannot be separated when an explanation for the many psychic phenomena should be given. In fact, they are complementary: the mediums ability to perform a given psychic act is much enhanced by the presence and spirit intervention. Not only that, Spirits apply direct control despite the medium's will to the contrary. Although it is possible to find instances in which the event is probably caused by the mediums ability (for example, during NDE or OBE), in many of these cases guiding Spirits may be under control. In summary, psychic events are maximized every time the following ingredients are present (7):
  • A person able to get in contact with the Spirits (medium or psychic);
  • The presence of one or many spirits;  
  • An ideal "tuning" between the person and the Spirit(s);
  • If maximum control is required, an agreement with the Spirit(s) should be obtained first in which case replication will be easily achieved.
Experimenter intention and presence (the so called "Experimenter effect", 8) may be ultimately associated to the Spirits. Negative or positive intentions require a constant positive and negative mind state which acts like "spirit evocations", therefore, the environment becomes naturally favourable or detrimental to a given experimental result in many parapsychology tests. 
Control theory requires that all causes necessary and sufficient for a given phenomenon should be acknowledged and properly managed. Therefore, replicability or reproducibility of psi experiments will only happen when Spirits are taken into account as necessary causes.
This text is based in part on many spirit teachings about the subject as available in the Spiritist literature (Kardec's and other sources in Portuguese). 

References

(1) See C. Richet (1923) "Mediums and Metapsychics" published in Charles Richet's "Thirty Years of Psychical Research", London: W. Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. and available at http://www.survivalafterdeath.info/articles/richet/mediums.htm



(4) Kardec A. "What is Spiritism?", Chapter II - Elementary notions of Spiritism: On Spirits.

(5) Doyle A. C. (2007). The history of Spiritualism. Book Tree.

(6)  Colborn, M.L.C. (2007). The decline effect in spontaneous and experimental psychical research. JSPR 71, 1-22

(6) A recent report occurred in Brazil. Several ones are described (in Portuguese) here

(7) To know more, read "The mediums' Book", by A. Kardec. An online version can be accessed here.

(8) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Observer-expectancy_effect