This article follows on from part 1, so please read, if you’re not already familiar with it, at least the opening section of that regarding Brian O’Leary before proceeding here.
I’m now going to describe a similar incident in my own life. I was attending a course experimenting with ESP. There were six Wednesday evenings, then a whole day Sunday workshop, and the following experiment took place on this last day. Each participant had been instructed to think in advance merely of the name of a person that no one else on the course would know and their town of residence.
We broke into groups of three, one person providing the name and town, thus the inquirer, another trying to tune into that person psychically, and the third acting as secretary, writing down everything that was said. The psychic person was instructed not to censor anything, and say absolutely everything that came into their head. If something meaningful and relevant emerged, the inquirer was told to ask neutral questions to try to take the psychic further, but obviously without giving away any information, thus something along the lines of “can you say anything more about that?”
I won’t go into detail about how the psychic state was induced, merely report on two significant moments. When I was acting as the inquirer, I provided the name and town of a friend of mine who was at that time taking his final exams in psychology over a hundred miles away. He was renowned for having illegible handwriting; anyone who knew him would say that. Within a few moments of my having said the name and town, the psychic said: “I see large halls. I see lots of handwriting in front of me, and I can’t understand any of it”. I was very impressed, and therefore asked “can you say anything more about the halls?”. I was hoping to get the answer that they were university examination halls. The psychic was unable, however, to say anything more.
While I was acting as the psychic, some way into the session a voice inside my head said “say alligator”. For some time, even though we had been instructed to censor nothing, I resisted saying this. It’s hard to say why; perhaps it just seemed ridiculous, perhaps I was expecting images rather than words. Eventually, however, I did say “a voice is telling me to say alligator”. In the feedback session that followed, it was revealed that the inquirer and former partner (the named person not present in the room) had had a holiday in Florida, the most memorable moment of which was watching alligators, and this for some reason had become a significant turning point in their relationship.
This experience was very impressive, but did not have such a dramatic effect on me as his did on Brian O’Leary, apparently his first encounter with psi. As I said, this was the last day of the course, and by that time I had already become convinced of the reality of ESP.
It’s possible, and sceptics might well say, that the two examples above are merely coincidences; I obviously prefer to believe otherwise. How can you tell? What fascinates me the most is that a voice inside my head said “say alligator”. Who or what was that voice? How did it know about the alligator? It would seem that I was not tuning in psychically to that person, rather that I was being given information, but by whom?
For me, this was clear evidence that thoughts are not generated by the brain, or at least not all of them. Some independent consciousness, which had access to my mind, also had access to information from the external world in some inexplicable way.
Here is a quote from Sam Harris, who featured in part 1: “Most scientists consider themselves physicalists; this means, among other things, that they believe that our mental and spiritual lives are wholly dependent upon the workings of our brains… Indeed, many scientists purvey this conviction as though it were itself a special sacrament, conferring intellectual integrity upon any man, or woman, or child who is man enough to swallow it”¹.
For me, scientists can go on saying things like this for all eternity. I have evidence from my own life that they don’t know what they’re talking about.
1. The End of Faith, Free Press, 2006, p208