Deep in the rainforests of the Amazon, the Achuar and the Huaorani
Indians are assembled for their daily ritual.
Every morning, each
member of the tribe awakens before dawn, and once gathered together
in that twilight hour, as the world explodes into light, they share
their dreams. This is not simply an interesting pastime, an
opportunity for storytelling: to the Achuar and the Huaorani, the
dream is owned not by the dreamer alone, but collectively by the
group, and the individual dreamer is simply the vessel the dream
decided to borrow to have a conversation with the whole tribe.
tribes view the dream as a map for their waking hours. It is a
forecaster of what is to come for all of them. In dreams they
connect with their ancestors and the rest of the universe. The dream
is what is real. It is their waking life that is the falsehood.1
Further north, a group of scientists also discovered that dreams
aren’t owned by the dreamer, asleep in a soundproof chamber behind
an electromagnetic shield, electrodes taped to his skull.
owned by Sol Fieldstein, a City College doctoral student in another
room several hundred yards away, who is examining a painting
entitled Zapatistas by Carlos Orozco Romero - a panorama of Mexican
revolutionaries, followers of Emiliano Zapata, all marching with
their shawled women under the dark clouds of an imminent storm.
Sol’s instructions are to will this image to the dreamer. A few
moments later, the dreamer, Dr William Erwin, a psychoanalyst, is
The dream he was having, he told them, was a crazy thing,
almost like a colossal Cecil B. DeMille production. What he kept
seeing was this image, under a foreboding sky, of some sort of
ancient Mexican civilization.2
The dreamer is the vessel for a borrowed thought, a collective
notion, present in the microscopic vibrations in between the
dreamers. The dream state is more authentic for it shows the
connection in bold relief. Their waking state of isolation, each in
their separate room, is, as the Amazons view it, the impostor.
One of the questions that arose from the PEAR studies was the nature
of ownership of thought. If you could influence machines, it rather
begged the question of exactly where your thoughts lie.
exactly was the human mind? The usual assumption in Western culture
is that it is located in our brains. But if this is true, how could
thoughts or intentions affect other people? Is it that the thought
is ‘out there’, somewhere else? Or is there such a thing as an
extended mind, a collective thought? Does what we think or dream
influence anyone else?
These were the kinds of questions that preoccupied William Braud.
He’d read of studies like the one with the Mexican painting, which
was one of the more dramatic of studies on telepathy conducted by
Charles Honorton, a noted consciousness researcher at the Maimonides
Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York. For a behaviorist like Braud,
the Honorton study represented a radical new education.
Braud was soft-spoken and thoughtful, with a gentle, deliberate
manner, most of his face encompassed by a generous beard. He’d begun
his career as a psychologist of the old school, with a particular
interest in the psychology and biochemistry of memory and learning.
Nevertheless, there was an errant streak in him, a fascination with
what William James, the founder of psychology in America, had termed
‘white crows’. Braud liked anomalies, the things in life that didn’t
fit, the assumptions that could be turned askew.
Just a few years after he’d got his PhD, the 1960s had loosened up
the tight hold of Pavlov and Skinner on his imagination. At the
time, Braud had been teaching classes in memory, motivation and
learning at the University of Houston. Recently, he’d become
interested in work showing a remarkable property of the human brain.
The early pioneers in biofeedback and relaxation demonstrated that
people could influence their own muscular reaction or heart rate,
just by directing their attention to parts of it in sequence.
Biofeedback even had measurable effects on brain wave activity,
blood pressure and electrical activity on the skin.3
Braud had been toying with his own studies on extrasensory
perception. One of his students who practiced hypnosis agreed to
participate in a study in which Braud attempted to transmit his
thoughts. Some amazing transferences had gone on. His student, who’d
been hypnotized and was sitting in a room down the hall from him,
unaware of Braud’s doings, seemed to have some empathetic connection
Braud had pricked his hand and placed it over a candle
flame and his student experienced pain or heat.
He’d looked at a picture of a boat and the
student remarked about a boat. He opened the door of his lab into
the brilliant Texas sunshine and the student mentioned the sun. Braud had been able to carry out his end of the experiment anywhere
- the other side of the building or many miles away from his student
in the sealed room - and get the same results.4
In 1971, when he was 29, Braud crossed paths with Edgar Mitchell,
who had just returned from his Apollo 14 flight. Mitchell had
decided to write a book about the nature of consciousness and at the
time he was scouting around for any good research of this kind.
Braud and one other academic were the only people in Houston
involved in any credible study of the nature of consciousness. It
was only natural that he and Mitchell would find each other. They
began meeting regularly and comparing notes on research that existed
in this area.
There was plenty of research on telepathy. There’d been the highly
successful card experiments of Joseph Rhine, used by Mitchell in
outer space. Even more convincing were the studies of the Maimonides
Medical Center in Brooklyn in the late 1960s, conducted in its
special dream research laboratory. Montague Ullman and Stanley
Krippner had conducted numerous experiments like the one with the
Mexican painting to see if thoughts could be sent and incorporated
The Maimonides work had been so successful
5 that when
analyzed by a University of California statistician who was expert
in psychic research, the total series had showed an astonishing
accuracy rate of 84 per cent. The odds of this happening by chance
were a quarter of a million to one.6
There’d even been some evidence that people can empathetically feel
another’s pain. A psychologist named Charles Tart in Berkeley had
designed a particularly brutal study, administering electric shocks
to himself to see if he could ‘send’ his pain and have it register
with a receiver, who was hooked up to machines which would measure
heart rate, blood volume and other physiological changes.7
found was that his receivers were aware of his pain, but not on a
conscious level. Any empathy they might have had was registering
physiologically through decreased blood volume or faster beating of
the heart - but not consciously. When questioned, the participants
hadn’t any idea when Tart was getting the shocks.8
Tart also had shown that when two participants hypnotize each other,
they experience intense common hallucinations. They also claimed to
have shared an extrasensory communication, where they knew each
other’s thoughts and feelings.9
It got so that Braud’s white crows were beginning to take over,
crowding out his academic work. Braud’s own belief system had moved
in small deliberate steps from his original ideas, which had
embraced the simple cause-and-effect equations of brain chemistry,
to more complex ideas about consciousness. His own tentative
experiments had been so breathtakingly dramatic that they had
convinced him that something far more complex than chemicals was at
work in the brain - if any of this was happening in the brain at
As he’d become interested in altered consciousness and the effect of
relaxation on physiology, so Braud had been lured away from his
behaviorist theories. Mitchell had been receiving some funding from
the Mind Science Foundation, an organization devoted to
consciousness research. As it happened, the Foundation was planning
to move to San Antonio and needed another senior scientist.
with all the freedom it offered for experimentation into the nature
of consciousness, was exactly what Braud was looking for.
The world of consciousness research was a small one. One of the
other members of the Foundation was Helmut Schmidt, and Braud soon
met Schmidt and his REG machines. It was there that he began to
wonder how far the influence of the human mind worked. After all,
human beings, like REGs, qualify as systems with considerable
plasticity and lability - potential for change.
systems were always in flux and might also be susceptible to
psychokinetic influence on some level - quantum or otherwise.
It was only one small step further for Braud to consider that if
people could affect their own bodies through attention, then they
just might be able to create the same effect in someone else. And if
we could create order in inanimate objects such as REG machines,
perhaps we could also establish order in other living things.
these thoughts were leading up to was a model of consciousness that
was not even limited by the body, but was an ethereal presence that
trespassed into other bodies and living things and affected them as
if they were its own.
Braud decided to develop a series of experiments to explore just how
much influence individual intention might have on other living
things. These were difficult studies to design. The problem with
most living systems is their sheer dynamism. There are so many
variables that it is hard
to measure change. Braud decided to begin with simple animals and
slowly advance in evolutionary complexity. He needed a simple system
with some capability of changing in easily measurable ways. Research
of his chanced upon a perfect candidate. He discovered that the
small knife fish (Gymnotus carapo) emits a weak electrical signal,
which is probably used for navigational purposes.
signal would allow him to quantify its direction precisely.
Electrodes fastened to the side of a small tank would pick up the
electrical activity of the fish’s emissions and give an influencer
immediate feedback on an oscilloscope screen. The question was
whether people could change the fish’s swimming orientation.
Mongolian gerbils were another good candidate because they like to
run in activity wheels. This also gave Braud something to measure.
He could quantify the velocity of a gerbil on its run and then see
if human intention could make it go faster.
Braud wanted to test the effects of intention on human cells,
ideally those of the immune system, for if an outside agent could
influence the immune system, the prospects for healing were immense.
But this represented a challenge far too great for his laboratory.
The immune system was an entity with so much complexity that in any
study of human intention, it would be almost impossible to quantify
what had changed and who was responsible for the changing.
A far better candidate was the red blood cell. When red blood cells
are placed in a solution with the same saline (salt) levels as blood
plasma, their membranes remain intact and will survive for a long
time. Add too much or too little salt to the solution and the
membranes of the blood cells weaken and finally burst, causing the
hemoglobin of the cell to spill out into the solution, a process
Controlling the rate is often a matter of
varying the amount of salt in the solution. Since the solution
becomes more transparent as hemolysis carries on, you can also
quantify the rate of this process by measuring the amount of light
transmitted through the solution with a gadget called a
Here was another system which was easy to
measure. Braud decided to enlist some volunteers, place them in a
distant room and determine whether, by simple wishing, they could
‘protect’ these cells from bursting by slowing their rate of
hemolysis once a fatal amount of salt had been added into the test
All these studies met with success.10
Braud’s volunteers had been
able to change the direction of fish, speed up gerbils and protect
blood cells to a significant extent. Braud was ready to move on to
human beings, but he needed some method of isolating physical
A perfect device for this, as any police detective knows,
is one that measures electrodermal activity (EDA). With lie detector
tests, the machine picks up any increase in the electrical
conductivity of the skin, which is caused by increased activity of
the sweat glands, which in turn are governed by the sympathetic
nervous system. As doctors can measure electrical activity of the
heart and brain with ECG (electrocardiogram) and (EEG)
electroencephalogram) machines, respectively, so too can the lie
detector record increased electrodermal activity.
readings show that the sympathetic nervous system, which governs
emotional states, is in overdrive. This would indicate stress,
emotion or mood swings - any sort of heightened arousal - which is
more likely if someone is lying. These are often referred to as
‘fight or flight’ responses, which rise and become more pronounced
when we face something dangerous or upsetting: our hearts race, our
pupils dilate, our skin tends to sweat more and blood drains from
our extremities to go to the sites in the body where it is most
Taking these readings can give you a measure of unconscious
response, when the sympathetic nervous system is stressed before the
person being tested is even consciously aware of it. By the same
token, low levels of EDA would be indicative of little stress and a
state of calm - the natural state of truth telling.
Braud launched his human experimentation with what would become one
of his signature studies: the effect of being stared at. Researchers
into the nature of consciousness are particularly fond of the
phenomenon because it is a relatively easy extrasensory experiment
with which to judge success.
With transmitted thoughts, there are
many variables to consider when determining whether the receiver’s
response matches the sender’s thoughts. With staring, the receiver
either feels it or doesn’t. It is the closest you can get to
reducing subjective feelings to the simple binary multiple choice of
a REG machine.
In Braud’s hands, staring and being stared at became state of the
art, a stalker’s paradise. Participants would be placed in a room
and be attached to silver chloride palmar electrodes, a skin
resistance amplifier and a computer. The only other equipment in the
room was a Hitachi color Camcorder VM-2250, which was to be the
implement of spying. This small video camera would be attached to a
19-inch Sony Trinitron in another room, two hallways and four doors
This would allow the starer
to view the subject peacefully without the possibility of any form
of sensory cueing.
Pure chance, as arrived at by artful mathematical calculation - a
computer’s random algorithm - governed the starer’s script.
Whenever the script dictated, the starer would stare intently at the
subject on the monitor and attempt to gain his or her attention.
Meanwhile, in the other room, the staree, relaxed in a reclining
chair, had been told to think about anything other than wondering
when he or she was being stared at.
Braud carried out this experiment sixteen times. In most cases,
those being stared at showed significantly greater electrodermal
activity during the staring sessions than would be expected by
chance (59 per cent against the expected 50 per cent) - even though
they were not consciously aware of it. With his second group of
participants, Braud decided to try something different. In this
case, he had them meet each other beforehand.
He asked them to carry
out a series of exercises that involved staring into each other’s
eyes and looking intently at each other when they talked.
was to reduce any discomfort over being stared at and also to get
them to know each other. When this group underwent the trial, they
got opposite results from the earlier tests. They were at their
calmest precisely when they were being stared at. Like the Stockholm
Syndrome, a psychological condition where prisoners begin to love
their jailers, the starers had begun to love being stared at. In a
manner of speaking, they’d become addicted to it.
They were more
relaxed when being stared at, even at a distance, and they missed it
when no one was looking at them.11
From these latest studies, Braud grew even more convinced that
people had some means of communicating and responding to remote
attention, even when they weren’t aware of it.12
Like those people
given Charles Tart’s electric shocks, the person being stared at was
not conscious of any of this. Awareness occurred only deep in a
Much of this research inspired an important consideration - the
degree to which necessity dictated the size of the effect. It was
obvious now to Braud that random systems or those with a high
potential for influence could be affected by human intention.
was the effect any larger if the system needed changing? If it was
possible to calm someone down, would the effect be more exaggerated
in someone who needed calming down - someone, say, with loads of
nervous energy? In other words, did need allow someone greater
access to effects from The Field? Were the more
organized of us - biologically speaking - better at accessing this
information and drawing it to the attention of others?
In 1983, Braud tested out this theory with a series of studies in
collaboration with an anthropologist called Marilyn Schlitz, another
consciousness researcher who’d worked with Helmut Schmidt. Braud and
Schlitz selected a group of highly nervous people, as evidenced by
high sympathetic nervous system activity, and another calmer group.
Using a similar protocol to the staring studies, Braud and Schlitz
by turns tried to calm down members of both groups. Success or
failure would be measured again by a polygraph tracing of a person’s
The volunteers were also asked to participate in another experiment,
in which they’d attempt to calm themselves down with standard
When they finished the study, Schlitz and Braud noticed a huge
disparity between results of the two groups.13
As they suspected,
the effect was far larger in the group needing the calming down. In
fact, it was the greatest effect achieved in any of Braud’s studies.
The calm group, on the other hand, had registered almost no change;
their effect only differed slightly from chance.
Strangest of all, the size of the effect on the agitated group by
those trying to calm them down was only slightly less than the
effect that people had on themselves when using relaxation
techniques. In statistical terms, it meant that other people could
have almost the same mind–body effect on you that you could have on
yourself. Letting someone else express a good intention for you was
almost as good as using biofeedback on yourself.
Braud tried a similar study showing that you could also help someone
else focus his or her attention by remote influence. Once again, the
effects were largest among those whose attention seemed to wander
A meta-analysis is a scientific method of assessing whether an
observed effect is real and significant by pooling the data from a
large body of often disparate individual studies. In effect, it
combines single studies, which may sometimes be discounted as too
small to be definitive, into one giant experiment. Although there
are problems comparing studies of different shapes and sizes, it may
give you some idea about whether the effect you are studying is big
or small. Schlitz and Braud had conducted a meta-analysis on all of
the studies they could find investigating the effect of
intention on other living things.
Research conducted all over the
world had shown that human intention could affect bacteria and
yeast, plants, ants, chicks, mice and rats, cats and dogs, human
cellular preparations and enzyme activity. Studies on humans had
shown that one set of people could successfully affect the eye or
gross motor movements, breathing and even the brain rhythms of
another set. The effects were small, but they occurred consistently
and had been achieved by ordinary people who had been recruited to
try out this ability for the very first time.
Overall, according to Schlitz and Braud’s meta-analysis, the studies
had a success rate of 37 per cent against the expected result of 5
per cent by chance.15 The EDA studies alone had a success rate of 47
per cent compared with the 5 per cent success rate expected by
These results gave Braud several important clues about the nature of
remote influence. It was apparent that ordinary humans had the
ability to influence other living things on many levels: muscle
activity, motor activity, cellular changes, nervous system activity.
One other strange possibility was suggested by all these studies:
the influence increased depending on how much it mattered to the
influencer, or how much he or she could relate to the object of
The smallest effects were found in the fish studies;
these increased in experiments dealing with cuddly gerbils; they
increased yet again with human cells; and they were at their
greatest when people were attempting to influence another person.
But the greatest effect of all occurred when the people to be
influenced really needed it.
Those who required something - calming
down, focusing attention - seemed more receptive to influence than
others. And strangest of all, your influence on others was only
marginally less than your influence on yourself.
Braud had even seen cases of telepathy during the influence
sessions. At the beginning of one session, one influencer happened
to remark that the electrodermal tracings of the subject were so
regimented that they reminded him of a German techno-pop musical
band called Kraftwerk. When Braud returned to the recipient’s room
at the end of the session, the first thing she said was that early
in the session, for some odd reason, she kept thinking of the pop
group Kraftwerk. In Braud’s work this kind of association was
becoming the norm, rather than the exception.17
Every scientist engaged in consciousness research was thinking the
same thought. Why was it that some people were more able to
some conditions more conducive to influence, than others? It was
like a secret labyrinth that certain people could maneuver around
more easily than others. Jahn and Dunne had found that archetypal or
mythical images triggering the unconscious produced the strongest
psychokinetic effects. The highly successful Maimonides research on
telepathy had been conducted when the participants were asleep and
Even when only dabbling, Braud showed great success during
hypnosis. In Tart’s studies, and in his own remote staring studies,
the communication had occurred subconsciously, without the recipient
being aware of it.
Braud had looked hard for the common thread in all these
experiments. He’d noticed several characteristics which tended to
more readily guarantee success: some sort of relaxation technique
(through meditation, biofeedback or another method); reduced sensory
input or physical activity; dreams or other internal states and
feelings; and a reliance on right-brain functioning.
Braud and others found what had been termed the ‘sheep/goat’ effect
- these effects work better if you believe they will and less than
average if you believe they won’t. In each case, like a REG machine,
you are affecting the result - even if (as a goat) your effect is
Another important characteristic appeared to be an altered view of
the world. People were more likely to succeed if, instead of
believing in a distinction between themselves and the world, and
seeing individual people and things as isolated and divisible, they
viewed everything as a connected continuum of interrelations - and
also if they understood that there were other ways to communicate
than through the usual channels.18
It seemed that when the left brain was quieted and the right brain
predominated, ordinary people could gain access to this information.
Braud had read the Vedas, India’s bible of the ancient Hindus, which
described siddhis, or psychic events, that would occur during
profound meditative states. In the highest state, the meditator
experiences feelings of a type of omniscient knowing - a sense of
seeing everywhere at once.
The subject enters a state of unity with
the single object being focused upon. He or she also experiences the
ability to achieve gross psychokinetic effects such as levitation
and moving objects at a distance.19
In nearly every instance, the
recipient had eliminated the sensory bombardment of the everyday and
tapped into a deep well of alert receptivity.
Could it be that this communication is like any ordinary form of
communication, but the noise of our everyday lives stops us hearing
realized that if he could create a state of sensory deprivation in a
person, his mind might more readily notice the subtle effects not
perceived by the ordinary chattering brain. Would perception improve
if you deprived it of ordinary stimuli? Would this allow you access
to The Field?
This was precisely the theory of Mahareshi Mahesh Yogi, the founder
of Transcendental Meditation. Several studies carried out by the
Moscow Brain Research Institute’s Laboratory of Neurocybernetics
examining the effect of TM on the brain show an increase in areas of
the cortex taking part in the perception of information and also an
increase in the functioning relationship of the left and right
hemispheres of the brain.
The studies would suggest that meditation
opens the doors of perception a little wider.20
Braud had heard about the ganzfeld, which is German for ‘whole
field’, a method of cutting out sensory input, and he began
conducting ESP studies using a classic ganzfeld protocol. His
volunteers would sit in a comfortable reclining chair in a
soundproof room with soft lighting. Half spheres like halved
ping-pong balls would be placed over their eyes and they would wear
headphones, which played continuous, quiet static. Braud told the
volunteers to speak for twenty minutes about any impressions that
popped into their heads.
Thereafter, the study would follow the usual design of a telepathy
experiment. Braud’s hunch proved correct. The ganzfeld experiments
were among the most successful of all.
When Braud’s own studies were combined with twenty-seven others,
twenty-three, or 82 per cent, were found to have success rates
higher than chance. The median effect size was 0.32 - not dissimilar
to PEAR’s REG effect size.21
Important shifts in thinking often occur in interesting
synchronicities. Charles Honorton of the Maimonides clinic in
Brooklyn and Adrian Parker, a psychologist at the University of
Edinburgh, had been wondering exactly the same thing as Braud and
also began looking into the ganzfeld as a means of exploring the
nature of human consciousness.
The combined meta-analysis of all ganzfeld experiments produced a result with odds against chance of
ten billion to one.22
Braud even experienced some premonitions when using the ganzfeld on
himself. One evening, sitting on the floor of the living-room in his
apartment in Houston, the half ping-pong balls and headphones in
place, he suddenly experienced an intense and vivid vision of a
motorcycle, with bright headlights and wet streets.
Soon after he’d finished his session, his wife returned home. At the
very point he’d had his vision, she told him, she’d nearly collided
with a motorcycle. There had been bright headlights shining at her
and the streets were drenched with rain.23
Thoughts about the significance of his work percolated up in Braud’s
mind to a disquieting realization. If we could intend good things to
happen to other people, we might also be able to make bad things
There’d been many anecdotal stories of voodoo effects, and
it made perfect sense, given the experimental results he’d been
getting, that bad intentions could have an effect. Was it possible
to protect yourself from them?
Some preliminary work of Braud’s reassured him. One of his studies
showed that it was possible for you to block or prevent any
influences you didn’t want.25
This was possible through
psychological ‘shielding strategies’. You could visualize a safe or
protective shield, or barrier or screen, which would prevent
penetration of the influence.26
In this experiment, participants
were told to attempt to ‘shield’ themselves against the influence of
two experimenters, who attempted to raise their EDA levels. The same
was tried on another group, but they were told not to try to block
any remote influence. Those doing the influencing weren’t aware of
who was blocking their attempts and who wasn’t. At the end of the
experiment, the shielded group showed far fewer physical effects
than those who just allowed themselves to be affected.27
All the early ESP work had created a model of a mental radio, where
one subject was sending thoughts to someone else. Braud now believed
that the truth was far more complex. It appeared that the mental and
physical structures of the sender’s consciousness are able to exert
an ordering influence on the less-organized recipient.
possibility was that it was all there all the time, in some type of
field, like the Zero Point Field, which could be tapped into and
mobilized when necessary. This was the view of David Bohm, who’d
postulated that all information was present in some invisible
domain, or higher reality (the implicate order), but active
information could be called up, like a fire brigade, at time of
need, when it would be necessary and meaningful.28
the answer might be a mixture of the latter two - a field of all
information and an ability of human beings to provide information
which would help to better order other people and things. In
ordinary perception, the capacity
of the dendritic networks in our brains to receive information from
the Zero Point Field is strictly limited, as Pribram demonstrated.
We are tuned in to only a limited range of frequencies.
state of altered consciousness - meditation, relaxation, the ganzfeld, dreams - relaxes this constraint. According to systems
theorist Ervin Laszlo, it is as though we are a radio and our
‘bandwidth’ expands.29 The receptive patches in our brains become
more receptive to a larger number of wavelengths in the Zero Point
Our ability to pick up signals also increases during the kind of
deep interpersonal connection examined by Braud. When two people
‘relax’ their bandwidths and attempt to establish some kind of deep
connection, their brain patterns become highly synchronized.
Studies in Mexico similar to Braud’s, where a pair of volunteers in
separate rooms were asked to feel each other’s presence, showed that
the brain waves of both participants, as measured by EEG readings,
began to synchronize. At the same time, electrical activity within
each hemisphere of the brain of each participant also synchronized,
a phenomenon which usually only occurs in meditation. Nevertheless,
it was the participant with the most cohesive brain-wave patterns
who tended to influence the other. The most ordered brain pattern
In this circumstance, a type of ‘coherent domain’ gets established,
just as with molecules of water. The ordinary boundary of
separateness is crossed. The brain of each member of the pair
becomes less highly tuned in to their own separate information and
more receptive to that of the other. In effect, they pick up someone
else’s information from the Zero Point Field as if it were their
As quantum mechanics govern living systems, quantum uncertainty and
probability are features of all our bodily processes. We are walking
At any moment of our lives, any one of the microscopic
processes that make up our mental and physical existence can be
influenced to take one of many paths. In the circumstance of Braud’s
studies, in which two people have a ‘synchronized’ bandwidth, the
observer with the greater degree of coherence, or order, influences
the probabilistic processes of the less organized recipient. The
more ordered of Braud’s pairs affects some quantum state in the more
disordered other and nudges it to toward a greater degree of order.
Laszlo believes that this notion of ‘expanded’ bandwidth would
account for a number of puzzling and highly detailed reports of
undergo regression therapy or claim to remember past lives, a
phenomenon which mainly occurs among very young children.31
studies of the brains of children under five show that they
permanently function in alpha mode - the state of altered
consciousness in an adult - rather than the beta mode of ordinary
mature consciousness. Children are open to far more information in
The Field than the average adult. In effect, a child walks around in
a state of a permanent hallucination.
If a small child claims to
remember a past life, the child might not be able to distinguish his
own experiences from someone else’s information, as stored in the
Zero Point Field. Some common trait - a disability or special gift,
say - might trigger an association, and the child would pick up this
information as if it were his own past-life ‘memory’. It is not
reincarnation, but just accidentally tuning into somebody else’s
radio station by someone who has the capacity to receive a large
number of stations at any one time.32
The model suggested by Braud’s work is of a universe, to some
degree, under our control. Our wishes and intentions create our
reality. We might be able to use them to have a happier life, to
block unfavorable influences, to keep ourselves enclosed in a
protective fence of goodwill. Be careful what you wish for, thought
Braud. Each of us has the ability to make it come true.
In his own casual and quiet way, Braud began testing out this idea,
using intentions to achieve certain outcomes. It only seemed to
work, he discovered, when he used gentle wishing, rather than
intense willing or striving. It was like trying to will yourself to
sleep: the harder you try, the more you interfere with the process.
It seemed to Braud that humans operated on two levels - the hard,
motivated striving of the world and the relaxed, passive, receptive
world of The Field - and the two seemed incompatible.
when Braud’s desired outcomes seemed to occur more often than
expected by chance, he developed a reputation as a ‘good wisher.’33
Braud’s work offered further proof of what many other scientists
were beginning to realize. Our natural state of being is a
relationship - a tango - a constant state of one influencing the other. Just as the
subatomic particles that compose us cannot be separated from the
space and particles surrounding them, so living beings cannot be
isolated from each other. A living system of greater coherence could
exchange information and create or restore coherence in a
disordered, random or chaotic system.
The natural state of the
living world appeared to be order - a drive toward
greater coherence. Negentropy appeared to be the stronger force. By
the act of observation and intention, we have the ability to extend
a kind of super-radiance to the world.
This tango appears to extend to our thoughts as well as our bodily
processes. Our dreams, as well as our waking hours, may be shared
between ourselves and everyone who has ever lived. We carry on an
incessant dialogue with The Field, enriching as well as taking from
it. Many of humankind’s greatest achievements may result from an
individual suddenly gaining access to a shared accumulation of
information - a collective effort in the Zero Point Field - in what
we consider a moment of inspiration.
What we call ‘genius’ may
simply be a greater ability to access the Zero Point Field. In that
sense, our intelligence, creativity and imagination are not locked
in our brains but exist as an interaction with The Field.34
The most fundamental question Braud’s work raises has to do with
individuality. Where does each of us end and where do we begin? If
every outcome, each event, was a relationship and thoughts were a
communal process, we may need a strong community of good intention
to function well in the world. Many other studies have shown that
strong community involvement was one of the most important
indicators of health.35
The most interesting example of this was a small town in
Pennsylvania called Roseto. This tiny town was entirely populated
with immigrants from the same area of Italy. Along with the people
themselves, their culture had been transplanted in its entirety. The
town shared a very cohesive sense of community; rich lived cheek by
jowl with poor, but such was the sense of interrelation that
jealousy seemed to be minimized.
Roseto had an amazing health
record. Despite the prevalence of a number of high-risk factors in
the community - smoking, economic stress, high-fat diets - the
people of Roseto had a heart-attack rate less than half that of
One generation later, the cohesiveness of the town broke up; the
youth didn’t carry on the sense of community, and before long it
began to resemble a typical American town - a collection of isolated
individuals. In parallel, the heart-attack rate quickly escalated to
that of its neighbors.36
For those few precious years, Roseto had
Braud had shown that human beings trespass over individual
boundaries. What he didn’t yet know was how far we could travel.
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