A Physicist’s Perspective on Parapsychology
On telepathy, Kaku describes some of the scientific experiments conducted by Society of Psychical Research and Rhine Research centre in US and concludes
“The vast majority of result showed absolutely no evidence of telepathy. But a small minority of experiments seemed to show small but remarkable correlation in the data that could not be explained by pure chance. The problem was that these experiments often could not be duplicated by other researchers”
The above statement by Kaku indicates some of the limitations of scientific experiments based on the traditional externalised methods of science in validating psychological phenomenon. After arriving at this sceptical conclusion, Kaku describes some of the research work in trying to discern the thought-patterns by measuring the electrical activity of the brain through technical gizmos like MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and PET (Positron Emission Tomography). But these experiments cannot be put under the category of telepathy and not very interesting or helpful to understand telepathy from a deeper psychological perspective.
Telepathy is not something extraordinary or exceptional. As a faculty or power, it exists in all human beings at various levels of development from rudimentary, unconscious state in the masses to a very conscious, well developed form in the psychic, occultist and spiritually advanced seeker, sage and the yogi. Most of us, even with a little bit of inner sensitivity, can senses the feelings of the other person, and know with a visceral gut instinct whether he or she likes us or not, whatever may be the outer appearance. Those who are much more , inwardly sensitive at the mental level can perhaps know the thoughts of others. When we approach a person with negative thoughts and feeling, it creates an inner revolt and disturbance in the person; because thoughts and feelings are not mere abstractions, but psychic energy which can go out and hit at the psyche of the other person. As the Mother of Sri Aurobindo Ashram points out, “When we meet a person, our criticising thoughts give to him, so to say, a blow on the nose which naturally creates a revolt in him”. People, who belong to nations which have a long tradition and culture of psychic and spiritual development like India or China, may be much more inwardly sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of others than those who belong to a more externalised culture. The Mother wrote in a note: “Europeans attach the greatest importance to the words uttered. Indians are much more sensitive to the feeling”. Commenting further on this note, Mother says: “It’s about a remark by B. She said something to someone with very kind and extremely polite words, but in her, she doesn’t like the person she spoke to and she was shocked because the other became indignant. But I understood immediately. She said, ‘Why? I was very polite’. But they feel, deep down, they sense the feeling with which you say the thing”. These things can’t be detected by externalised scientific experiments but they are the experiences of inwardly sensitive people.
On the other parapsychological phenomena, psychokinesis, which means the ability to move physical objects by the power of mind or thought, Kaku’s approach, is more or less similar to that of telepathy. He describes some scientific experiments on telekinesis and what he describes as the “most rigorous” one by Princeton University in US, and states: “The results seem to conform that the effects of psychokinesis exists, but the effects are quite tiny, no more than a few parts per ten thousands on average”. And his conclusions on the possibilities of psychokinesis are based on physics and not on psychology. He says that psychokinesis violates the laws of physics. None of the fundamental forces of nature like electromagnetic, nuclear or gravitational can explain telekinesis. “The Human Body”, says Kaku “can produce only about one fifth of a horse power. No matter how hard we concentrate, we can not amass enough energy to perform the feats and miracles ascribed to psychokinesis”. In the other sections of this chapter, Kaku narrates some of the technological possibilities of telekinesis like how paralysed patients can move their limbs or type by their thoughts and other high tech phenomena like nano robots. But telekinesis happens not by the power of the body, but by the power of mind! And other technological feats of telekinesis may be interesting for brain or neuro scientists, but may not be of much interest to a psychologist studying the potentialities of the human mind.
Nevertheless, there is an element of truth in some of the conclusions of Kaku on psychokinesis based on scientific studies, like for example, where he says that the possibility exists, but the effects are negligible. In our present condition of human evolution, the ability to move physical objects by the direct action of mind is an exceptional faculty or power possessed only by a few inwardly advanced occultists. The Mother studied Occultism under the guidance of a couple who were such accomplished occultists. In her conversations, Mother talks about psychokinetic powers displayed by her occult teachers like for example, lifting a large table and making chapels kept at a distance come to her by the direct action of the mind. But a scientist like Kaku may not accept them unless he sees it with his own eyes and testing it rigorously to ensure that it was not some clever trick of magic!
The parapsychological phenomena like telepathy and telekinesis can be understood much better in the light of yogic psychology of India. According to this paradigm of psychology, body and brain are different from the mind. The source of thought is the mind and not the brain. Our brain is an instrument in our body for expressing thought and not the origin of thought. And our individual human mind is only a part of the universal mind, connected with other minds in the unity of energy and substance of the universal mind. In other words, we may say, our individual human mind is a receiving and transmitting center of the universal mind. At a lesser collective level, in the mental atmosphere, our thoughts, feelings and desires circulate freely, moving from one mind to another. We receive the thoughts of others, feeling it as our own and similarly we transmit our thoughts into the mind of others.
Those who are inwardly advanced and who are in some form of living inner contact or union or identity with the universal mind, and fully conscious of the inner connectivity of our minds, telepathy becomes something natural and spontaneous. Beyond the universal mind, there is the spiritual consciousness of our deepest, highest and universal self where we can feel a oneness and identity with all human beings. Great yogis who live in union with their highest self can know, feel and see the thoughts, feeling and motives of others by identity, by becoming one with them in consciousness. They can know or see the entire inner being of a person and its movements, which she herself may not know. Sri Aurobindo, in the following verses describes this yogic experience:
“The world’s thought streams travelled into his ken…
A pure perception lent its lucent joy….
In beings it knew what lurked to them unknown
It seized the idea in the mind, the wish in the heart
The motives which from their own sight men hide
He felt the beating life in other men
Invade him with their happiness and their grief
Their love, their anger, their unspoken hopes
Entered in currents or in pouring waves
Into the immobile ocean of his calm.”
Similarly with psychokinesis. In the yogic perspective, our human organism may be viewed as made of four types of energies-physical, vital, mental and spiritual. Our body is made of physical or biological energy. Our emotions, sensations, desires and the dynamic faculties of thoughts, perceptions, and ideas are made of vital and mental energies. Beyond all these are the spiritual energies of our deepest and highest self. A yogi who has achieved higher levels of mastery over his mental and vital energies can project and direct these energies by his will on a physical object and can make its move. As Sri Aurobindo describes some of the higher potentialities of our mind:
“Mind is a mediator divinity…
A simple fiat of its thinking force…
Can liberate the energy dump and pent
Communicates without means the unspoken thought
It moves events by its silent will
Acts at a distance without hand or feet…”
This may appear as ‘impossible’ in our present condition of evolution. We think we have reached the peaks of mental development with our reason, science and technology. But what we have achieved so far in our mental development with our science and technology may appear as an infant’s play with toys in comparison to the yet unrealised potentialities and powers of our mind, which may manifest in the future evolution of our race. A human civilisation of the future which has developed these higher potentialities of the mind-like for example, direct communication of mind with mind or without the need of speech or language or direct action of mind over matter with highly developed powers of psychokinesis – our present capabilities of mind using clumsy and complicated technological instruments, may appear infantile.