Sharing Dreams

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.


The 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.


They are 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 awakened.


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.
the field

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.


Where 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 with him.


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 into dreams.


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


What Tart 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
the field

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 all.

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.


The job, 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.


These dynamic 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.


What 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
sharing dreams

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.


The electrical 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 called ‘hemolysis’.


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 spectrophotometer.


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 tube.

All these studies met with success.10


Braud’s volunteers had been able to change the direction of fish, speed up gerbils and protect human red the field blood cells to a significant extent. Braud was ready to move on to human beings, but he needed some method of isolating physical effects.


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.


Higher EDA 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 needed.


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 away.


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.


The idea 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 subliminal level.

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.


But 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 electrodermal activity.

The volunteers were also asked to participate in another experiment, in which they’d attempt to calm themselves down with standard relaxation methods.

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 the most.14

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 chance.16

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 influence.


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 influence, and
the field

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 dreaming.


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 negative.

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 it? Braud 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 happen.24


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.


Another 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


Braud suspected 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.


However, any 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 Field.

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 always prevailed.30

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 own.

As quantum mechanics govern living systems, quantum uncertainty and probability are features of all our bodily processes. We are walking REG machines.


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 people who the field undergo regression therapy or claim to remember past lives, a phenomenon which mainly occurs among very young children.31


EEG 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.


Over time, 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 neighboring towns.

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 been coherent.

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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