IMAGINE BEING PSYCHIC
The study from the human standpoint, of subconscious, subliminal, psychic, soul forces, is and should be the great study for the human family, for through self man will understand its Maker when it understands its relation to its Maker, and it will only understand that through itself, and that understanding is the knowledge as is given here in this state.
EDGAR CAYCE reading no. 374441
People who go into this without spiritual aspirations should be warned that unless they remain open-minded about the possibility of being led into deeper meanings of life, their experience will almost certainly turn out to be a blind alley. For people who covet psychic potency out of profit and power, my advice is unequivocal: either develop higher motivation or drop the whole business at once. The consequences of deliberate misuse of these abilities can be disastrous.
WHEN I LIE ON my back on a warm summer's night and gaze up at the spectacle of the stars, my mind naturally floats upward into the enormity of the universe and I seem to merge with the stars. This earthen platform of our planet, usually such a solid foundation, becomes an ever-shrinking, wobbly pebble in the huge, glittering blackness of space. My imagination, and I with it, expand into the infinite. I am engulfed in a tingling chill. Overwhelmed, I suddenly snap back to solid earth. But, I ask myself, what happened? Was what I sensed really true? Was it really possible that my mind could rise and join the stars in heaven?
As I ponder this mystery, I know I am not alone. The Native Americans, for example, have a tradition that they came from the stars and to the stars they will return. What enshrouded secret of their sacred imagination links them with the stars? Another traveler, the English "imagineer" Olaf Stapleton, shared his psychic journey into space with us in his book Star Maker. His mind encountered not only other worlds, but was able to commune with other minds, travelers all in a multidimensional universal consciousness. In an attempt to keep us grounded on earth, he called his account "science fiction." Nevertheless, in the guise of such fiction, the imagination is the first pioneer; science and technology then follow, building concrete steps for all to climb. The imagination is an unbounded traveler, often returning with surprising souvenirs to lure successive generations of adventurers. To the stars we once visited only in our dreams and in our imagination, we now sent rockets and spacecraft.
A PSYCHIC PROBE OF OUTER SPACE
In December 1973 Pioneer 10's observations about the planet Jupiter began to reach NASA scientists, who were millions of miles away on earth. Some of its observations contradicted astronomers' long-held assumptions about this revered planet. Pioneer 10's discoveriescame as no surprise, however, to two men who had "seen" Jupiter nine months earlier.
In an experiment organized by the Stanford Research Institute, two gifted psychics, Ingo Swann and Harold Sherman, traveled psychically to Jupiter while scientists recorded their impressions. Swann was in California, Sherman in Arkansas. Their impressions were amazingly similar to each other, and opposed to scientific speculation: both visualized a deadly radiation ring around Jupiter and an upper atmosphere of colorful frozen crystals; they said that the planet itself was very warm, but was whipped by violent windstorms. Pioneer 10's data later contradicted the scientists' speculation, and confirmed the amazing accuracy of the atmospheric observations of Swann and Sherman, our first psychic astronauts.
About a year later, they repeated their feat on a "visit" to Mercury. Again, they gave similar reports on what they had seen. Moreover, when the data from NASA's Mariner 10 space probe began to reach earth from Mercury, it contradicted conventional scientific speculation and confirmed the psychics' observations. Scientists had assumed that Mercury was too hot to support an atmosphere and that it revolved too slowly to have a magnetic field. But the two psychics sensed a thin atmosphere, as well as a magnetic field. Another astounding correspondence between the reports of the psychics and the data from Mariner 10 was the discovery of a helium "tail" coming out of Mercury and heading away from the sun. In To Kiss Earth Goodbye, Swann describes the excitement he felt when newspapers printed descriptions of Mercury that were much like his own psychic impressions.
Can you imagine traveling psychically to another planet? How do you imagine that these two psychics made the trip? Words like "travel," of course, suggest physical movement. Swann describes the psychic probe into outer space as an experiment in "out-of-body travel," suggesting psychic movement through space. In an out-of-body experience, our consciousness appears to leave our physical body--we may see our body lyingmotionless below. In this extremely liberated state, travel to distant places is possible. Is this what Swann did? Perhaps, instead of "traveling," Swann expanded the range of his awareness beyond the bounds of his body and near vicinity to include the distant planets. Or perhaps he saw into the future, and examined the reports of the NASA spacecraft as they were analyzed by scientists. Either interpretation assumes a considerable psychic feat. Yet how we imagine the operation of psychic awareness will prove quite important.
BECOME AN INSTANT PSYCHIC
Imagine, if you will, that you can take a pill that will make you instantly psychic. Suddenly, you are able to experience the world from the point of view of people nearby; you know their thoughts, feel their feelings. What would that be like?
In a study conducted by Charles Tart, Ph.D. (a psychology professor at the University of California at Davis and a long-time researcher of psychic phenomena), a group of college students and residents of a community in California were asked to contemplate taking such a pill. Their reactions were mostly negative.
The most frequently expressed worry concerned lack of control--people were afraid of becoming overloaded, of being continually bombarded with information from other people's minds. One person thought that he would pick up on other people's dreams and not be able to sleep. Many expressed concern about such negative side effects as being driven crazy by the experience, and needing to retreat to a place of solitude. Others worried about being confused--not knowing how to tell whose thoughts they were getting, or-even worse--not being able to distinguish their own thoughts from those of others. That possibility was particularly scary.
Have you ever walked into a roomful of people and felt the "bad vibes" in the room? During meetings at work, for example, you can tell that something is wrong--people are upset, something is not right. That'salmost like mind reading. Would you like to know more, to be even more psychic in a situation like that? What would that be like? The following imaginary account of a mind-reading experience, inspired by Dr. Tart's "pill," illustrates what might happen:
I look over at Martha, and I begin to feel her anger. Now I can also hear her thoughts, the cursing and the accusations that are going through her mind. As I tune in more closely, I feel the frustration behind the anger--the hurt feelings and the disappointment. I also experience some of her memories, and understand the personal context that is making this frustration so important at this particular meeting. The patterns in her life, how she dealt with frustrations and anger in the past, and how her self-esteem was affected by frustrations--all this flashes into my mind.
I also tune into her body. Her heart is pounding faster, and I can feel the heart pressing against the resistance in the arteries that are clogged with cholesterol. I can sense her blood pressure rising. I get an image that, somewhere down the road, a heart attack is in store for her as a result of the food she eats and her patterns of frustration and anger. My heart goes out to her, and I wish that she could relax. But I also sense her fear. Relaxing at this moment would seem threatening. She doesn't want to lower her defenses, so she feels trapped in her cage of anger and resentment. I know all this and more in a split second.
My eyes move to Bob, sitting next to Martha. I can see what his life is like, and how it affects him in this meeting. But just then Fred begins to speak, and the tone of his voice expresses volumes of information--in the pitch and the rhythm of his speech I can sense his nervousness and his attempt to take control of a sticky situation; from the tentativeness and forced gentleness of the words I can hear how he is attempting to deal with stress.
So while I am looking at Martha's face and seeing her life unfold before me, I am also experiencing the sounds of Fred's voice, and his life is also unfolding before me. It is a bit confusing, to say the least. I want to regain some focus, as I have my own business to bring up and feelings to express about this meeting. But with all this other information I'm getting about the people in the room, Iknow that I will feel the impact of my own behaviors and viewpoints upon their goals, desires, and feelings. I just don't know how I'm going to be able to process all this and still function at my own job. I'm going to try to tune out some of the noise and focus on my own objectives.
This person feels overwhelmed and confused. Concentrating so much on the feelings of other people makes it difficult to stay in touch with his own thoughts and goals. Fortunately, he is making an attempt to take control by focusing the gift and turning down some of the input. Knowing what the other people at the meeting are thinking and feeling tends to inhibit action and makes the person a bit more cautious, less willing to do what is in his own self-interest. Such a concern for others could be a deterrent to the competitive spirit!
A telepathic connection to people around you would certainly affect your relationship with them. Almost half the people in Dr. Tart's study expressed some doubt about their ability to handle such telepathic information maturely. What if they heard thoughts that they weren't supposed to know? Would they be able to resist taking advantage of someone whose thoughts they knew? What if they heard unkind thoughts about themselves, things that hurt their feelings, things they wish they hadn't heard? What would they do then?
One man confessed to having a lot of nasty, mean, selfish thoughts, thoughts that might cause him to be rejected or to become the target of ridicule should other people become aware of them. It feels good to be loved in spite of our negative aspects, he said, but he wasn't so sure that he would be able to love people no matter what they were thinking. Others confided a similar worry. They wouldn't want their own thoughts read, and were not so sure that it was fair to read someone else's thoughts. To some it seemed like an invasion of privacy; others were concerned with encountering thoughts that might prove troublesome or upsetting. Mind reading could lead to concern over what other people think, which is already a problem for many people.
Some people had positive responses as well, althoughthey were less specific. Dr. Tart pointed out that the most frequently mentioned positive remark was that mind reading would be "interesting," or something similarly vague. The most specific positive reaction was that mind reading might improve communication through increased empathy. One person suggested that by reading other people's thoughts you could come up with a lot of ideas that you'd never think of yourself-"you'd be a genius in no time."
Are you surprised at the results of the survey, or sympathetic with the concerns? It is interesting that the people in the study were more likely to imagine negative consequences than positive ones, and to describe them in such vivid terms. Clearly, the negative side of psychic awareness seemed more real to them than the positive side. This response could have been due to the way the proposition was worded, of course, but this study is not the only source of evidence available that points to a fear of ESP. The fear seems to be real. In the course of this book, as we develop our psychic awareness, we will examine the sources of these fears and learn an approach that will help to overcome them.
Few people in Dr. Tart's study had much to say about the positive use of psychic awareness. Instead, they envisioned themselves as passive victims of unscreened information. Perhaps it was because the ability was thrust upon them suddenly, with no time to prepare themselves for a new way of experiencing the world. Unfair as it may seem, psychic ability can appear in just that way. Consider the case of Peter Hurkos.
Peter, a Dutch housepainter, was a member of the Netherlands' underground resistance to the Nazis during World War II. In his autobiography, Psychic, he describes how one day he fell from his ladder thirty feet to the ground. As he fell, his life flashed before his eyes. The last thing he remembers is the cry, "I don't want to die!" The next thing he knew, he was in a hospital. The doctor told him that it was a miracle he had survived such a severe head injury.
Later that day, Peter noticed another patient in a bed nearby. To his astonishment, he found that he knew allabout this man. But he was a stranger! How was it possible? When the nurse examined Peter, he discovered that he knew things about her. When another patient said goodbye and wished him well, Peter found he was overcome with fear for him. He blurted out a warning to be careful. Peter shouted out that the man was a British agent and had been found out by the Germans and was to be killed. Two days later, the man was killed.
Peter was confused by these impressions, which had come spontaneously with the conviction of truth. When he went home four months later, he hid in his room with his "curse," refusing to come out. He was bombarded with visual impressions that made him very quiet and very afraid. He was finally drawn out by an inexplicable urge to read the Bible. He realized there wasn't one in the house, and he had to go out and buy one. As he read, he began to feel better about his condition. He found that his power was increasing, and also troubling him less. He discovered that he had what he terms the "power of faith." He decided to go out and rejoin his colleagues in the underground movement. There he found he could turn his "curse" into a "gift," by aiding in the war effort in a unique way: one of his first accomplishments was to identify Nazi spies within the underground community. After the war, he developed his psychic ability to solve crimes and locate missing people.
PSYCHICS VIEW THEIR ABILITY
Being able to relate his psychic ability to biblical stories helped Peter Hurkos to conceive of it as the "power of faith." Being able to put his psychic ability to good use made it possible for him to value his gift and to develop it further. Like the subjects in Dr. Tart's survey, Peter was confronted with the sudden appearance of acute psychic sensitivity. Just as the subjects imagined, Peter experienced himself as an overwhelmed victim of an ability he could not control. Only when he developed a new perspective on his psychic gift, which gave him a sense of purpose and the ability to direct it toward specificgoals, was it possible for Peter to have positive feelings about psychic awareness.
In Many Voices: The Autobiography of a Medium, the psychic Eileen Garrett describes how she, too, wondered about the nature of her ability and its source. Her psychic ability appeared suddenly, at a seance she was attending. She spontaneously went into a trance and a "spirit" spoke through her. People seemed to be helped by what the "spirits" that spoke through her offered. She spent the rest of her life investigating the nature of her psychic ability. Near the end of her life, she realized that she most valued her psychic gift just because of what it taught her about her true, inner nature.
Edgar Cayce was also an involuntary psychic, and he struggled against his gift until he realized that it could help people. The human side to his story is well told in Thomas Sugrue's biography, There Is a River. Cayce had lost his voice because of a paralysis of his throat muscles. After seeking treatments by several doctors and being diagnosed as incurable, he tried hypnosis. Under hypnosis, Cayce spoke in a normal voice. In one session, he diagnosed the condition himself and developed a cure. Hearing of this accomplishment, someone asked Cayce if he could--under hypnosis--diagnose and prescribe a cure for their daughter, whom doctors had not been able to treat. Cayce tried it and was successful.
For some time, Cayce was suspicious of his "sleeping" talent, afraid that it might be a sign of devilish influences. Although he didn't like being a "freak," the fact that he seemed to be able to help people with their problems finally convinced him that he should persist in his efforts. All his life, however, he questioned the source of this ability and its meaning. In some of his trances, he was asked about his psychic ability. The information that came helped him to bridge the gap between his down-to-earth, traditional Christian belief system and the infinite riches that seemed to lie dormant within his unconscious. Thus his psychic awareness led him on an investigation into greater self-realization. It was that search for the meaning of his psychic gift that provides the basis of this book.
When we study the lives and insights of other psychics, as Cayce suggested we do, we discover a common theme. It is this: that psychic ability is best used not for personal profit, but to help others and to learn more about oneself.
STUDENTS OF PSYCHIC ABILITY EXPRESS THEIR FEARS
It is not just the gifted and accomplished psychics who confront doubts and fears concerning their psychic ability. Ordinary people who deliberately set out to develop psychic ability, even under experienced guidance, also run into such obstacles. Consider, for example, the results of another study by Dr. Tart.
In this study, Dr. Tart interviewed people involved in a psychic development training seminar. They were students of Helen Palmer, a professional psychic in Berkeley, California, who is so much in demand that her waiting list for appointments is over a year long. Her students had primarily positive feelings about their psychic development; but when they were questioned concerning their fears, they shared a number of revealing observations.
Most were concerned about opening up to the unknown. They feared a loss of control, and worried about becoming possessed or taken over by an outside influence. Many feared losing control of their life in general and asked, "Will I ever be able to get back to normal?"
As the psychic opens to other realities, things can get confusing. Previous bases of security can be threatened. Knowing what is "real" and what is "not real" is very important to one's sense of stability. Once-familiar boundaries no longer provide secure comfort. Yet the psychic still has to live in the consensual world--what we call the "real world"--and sometimes a psychic is afraid of getting hurt by being so open. The feeling of being different can create a sense of isolation; and the inability to communicate their experience, or sensingthat their communications frighten other people, can further alienate psychics.
Psychics typically perform services for others, and this activity brings up other fears concerning loss of control. For example, having to depend upon other people for validation ("Am I crazy, or does my reading seem meaningful to you?") and not always getting it. When other people are critical or skeptical, it can create confusion and self-doubt for the psychic. It is frightening to realize that one depends for validation upon people whose own problems prevent them from recognizing the validity of one's psychic information.
Interacting with people on such an intimate level can raise other control issues. The psychic may be concerned about becoming contaminated with the other person's problems, getting sick or emotionally upset. This concern forces the psychic toward continual self-examination and self-development.
In addition to concerns about control, psychic ability raises issues of power, ethics, and evil. Feeling people's negative thoughts toward you stimulates a desire to respond in kind, but powerful energies are involved. It can be frightening and tiresome.
Exploring the outer edges of familiar reality can be scary, even for those who are accustomed to doing so. It involves a transformation of self that makes it a grow-or-perish situation. As one psychic put it, "You don't work on yourself in order to become a better psychic reader, you work on being a psychic reader in order to work on yourself."
In examining these statements from developing psychics, we can first note the repetition of the concern about loss of control that we encountered with the subjects who were simply imagining what it might be like to be psychic. Perhaps their imagination tuned into something real.
Second, we can notice the concern about being different, or seeming weird or frightening to others. These concerns express a feeling of loneliness. In his autobiography, Ingo Swann wrote,
I have never said it before, but as awareness begins to become less dependent on sensory perceptions and one begins to be aware of other magnitudes, it is possible to come to the threshold of a type of loneliness native to the psychic state. It is a brand of loneliness characterized by a sort of beautiful sadness; one can sense that all beings probably experience it at one time or another.
Some are fascinated by this; others recoil and refuse to hear about it. This special loneliness seems to have many levels of emotion within it, and in art as well as life it can be dramatized through many artificial conditions--through sex, food, thinking, all the things some people do in excess to try to hide the beautiful sadness of their intuited loneliness.
To simply know or be familiar with oneself and others as bodies is not enough to many people. Yet to reach out mentally, emotionally, or psychically to touch the being of others always seems a risky business because the searcher himself collides with the wall of loneliness. People aware of themselves as more than mere physical bioelectrical systems, aware of more than just eating, fornicating, aging and dying bodies, run headlong into the isolation imposed upon them as a result of the obiter dictum that holds that, if a person feels he is more than just body, he is wrong. (To Kiss Earth Goodbye, pp. 65-66)
Ingo learned early in life not to share his experiences with others. In his youth, he made a conscious decision to stop the "traveling" he had grown to love so much, and gradually his psychic facility faded into the background. It wasn't until he was an adult, living in a community that was interested in psychic phenomena, that he allowed it to reemerge. Accounts of children who were taught that their psychic perceptions were wrong are fairly common. These children soon learn to suppress their awareness in order to avoid criticism, scorn, and rejection.
A third concern expressed by the psychics in Tart's study is fear of contamination. As the boundaries between the psychic and other people are reduced, the psychic begins to want some way to keep the other person out. Edgar Cayce experienced this problem. Thosewho were around him on a daily basis learned how their moods would invariably affect him, much to their chagrin and embarrassment. His associates served as buffers for Mr. Cayce. They kept the people who came to him for help at a distance, so that he would not be affected by their moods. Harmon Bro, in Edgar Cayce on Religion and Psychic Experience, observed that although Cayce was a compassionate and caring person, he nevertheless often engaged people in only light conversations or entertained them with stories, as a means of keeping himself from being affected by their moods. Here he had developed a means of controlling the fact that the boundary between him and others was very weak.
Finally, note Tart's concluding observations: developing psychic awareness involves some sort of transformation of self; the psychics decided that if they were going to survive it, they should look at it as a means of personal growth. Although it is very important to consider what you will do with your psychic ability, it seems even more important to consider first what the ability will do with you!
THE VALUE OF EDGAR CAYCE'S APPROACH TO THE DEVELOPMENT OF PSYCHIC AWARENESS
Developing psychic abilities can indeed take us into ponderous situations. Loss of control, loss of a stable sense of self, loss of secure boundaries between yourself and the people around you, loss of limits on your sense of power, and loss of confidence in what is reality--these are no small matters. What will replace the sense of lost control? If the old self-concept is lost, what concept of self will replace it? If boundaries between you and others are dissolved, how will you discriminate between what is right for you and the needs of others? If you discover new, unlimited power within yourself, what will you do with your negative feelings? If you cannot trust "reality," what can you trust?
In the face of such concerns, which arise naturally during the development of psychic awareness, the perspective offered by the Edgar Cayce readings promises comfort, security, and a positive direction. To begin, it might be helpful to compare what you imagine it is like to be psychic with the vision of psychic ability provided by Cayce.
Psychic awareness seems, at first, way out of normal experience. As much as we might like such a gift, it nevertheless seems to be an oddity, like the awesome powers of the cartoon superheroes. Cayce, on the other hand, would have us stretch our imagination to realize that psychic awareness is part of our natural endowment. It is an ability that has been forgotten and needs to be remembered, not something new that needs to be added. We are already psychic. We use our psychic ability daily, although only minimally and usually unconsciously. Learning to use our psychic abilities in a conscious manner can help us, not only in daily life, but to awaken to our true identity as companions of the Creator.
As you begin to become conscious of psychic awareness, your self-identity will change. The fear described by the psychics is a signal from your old self, warning you that your accustomed identity is being threatened. Psychic awareness, imagined from the point of view of your normal identity, is inherently frightening, for it threatens to extinguish that identity. Before we try to develop conscious psychic awareness, Cayce would have us first prepare ourselves to accept a new identity. He would have us develop an awareness of our spiritual identity, one that is based on nonmaterial, infinite, and eternal components, to supplement our personal identity, which is fixed within the body. It is much easier for a consciousness rooted in a spiritual identity that exists beyond the constraints of time and space to accept the functioning of psychic ability as a natural talent. Not only does such a shift in identity make psychic functioning more natural, but it provides us with other needed benefits as well.
Being psychic means that the boundaries we have setup between ourselves and others will fall. We have seen how scary that can be. Cayce suggests that when we prepare to become psychically aware, we think about the nature of our relationships with other people. If we can identify with our spiritual being, we will realize that we are intimately connected at the spiritual level with all other beings. At that level, there are no boundaries. We then discover that we are not alone in this world, not cut off from nature and the people around us.
Boundaries protect us, but we pay for that protection. Many of us experience anxieties as we wonder how we will survive the threats to our existence, our livelihood, our concept of who we are and what we need in this competitive world. It's hard to grow up and have to learn what you need to know and do in order to survive. The world expects so much of us; there is so much to learn and we have to work so hard to compete for what we want. Realizing our spiritual identity, and the psychic awareness that comes with it, can put an end to such worries. It shows us that we already have all we need within ourselves: life itself, with the Creator as its source and being. The issue of "loss of control," which figures so largely in Dr. Tart's studies, becomes less of an issue. Trust in life replaces a need to be in control.
It is much like what happens to people who undergo a near-death experience. In these cases, through an accident or surgery, the person comes close to death, or perhaps is even clinically dead for a few minutes. Many people who go through such an experience report encountering intense light, meeting loving "spirits," and getting a glimpse of a heavenly existence. Returning reluctantly to the land of the living, these people find that they no longer fear death. Consequently, they no longer fear life, but can accept it and love it more fully. Often, as in the case of the woman portrayed in the movie Resurrection, they return with psychic abilities.
Psychic awareness, in the manner Cayce would have us develop it, is meaningfully approached as a path of spiritual growth, of enlargement of the self-concept to include experiences that will help us to feel more alive, more in touch with others, more a part of life--an eternalpart of a process that cannot be destroyed. In that context, our ethics and values change and our approach to life changes. We undergo a radical transformation of our lives. In this way, we can gain the same benefits of a near-death experience without having to have a close brush with death.
Loving others, being concerned for their welfare, and wanting to serve them--these altruistic attitudes appear more spontaneous and natural and less like moral injunctions; more like "wants" and less like "shoulds." Such a shift in attitude alleviates fears about the ethical implications of psychic ability. It is much easier to handle telepathic intimacy when we feel loving toward others than when we are suspicious or afraid. Love replaces the need for power.
Preparing the way by building a proper foundation ensures that the development of psychic awareness becomes a natural expression of an enlightened consciousness--one that is willing, ready, and able to fulfill the purpose of this dimension of life. To our ordinary personality, psychic awareness is like having a tiger by the tail. To a personality that has realized the reality of its spiritual being, psychic awareness is a natural expression of transpersonal consciousness. Psychic ability becomes not an end in itself, not a quest for power and ultimately a tremendous burden. Instead, it is a means of self-realization, of developing true individuality, of living life more fully, more creatively, and more in harmony with all the blessings we can share. Now, to be able to imagine that!
Copyright © 1988 by Henry Reed.