In a recent post, I talked about my friendship with a stinkbug. The big issue there was the nature and scope of consciousness. I think it important to spotlight the outlaws of nature—monks that levitate, affectionate insects, milk that dematerializes before statues of Ganesha—that sort of thing. The anomalous, the preternatural, the supernormal: there is much to investigate, if you’re interested.
But few of us are paying attention. The reason is that the “educated” classes typically dismiss claims that threaten the creed of scientific materialism. So I feel it a duty to fight back. My method is to hunt down the most provocative counter-examples to the reigning dogma of physicalism. I do it for love of truth, however corny and old-fashioned that may sound.
I have, for example, focused on a very spectacular form of mind over matter—bodily levitation (see my books The Man Who could Fly (2016) and Wings of Ecstasy (2018). I chose this case because the phenomenon is as easy to grasp (a person in the air) as it is extraordinary—and because of the wealth of eye-witness testimony.
But calling attention to queer phenomena is part of larger purpose. My aim is to construct an accurate model of human potential. The mainline picture is deeply defective. With a better model we can learn to dip into the treasure-trove of our natural endowments, and thus enrich our identity, the sense of inhabiting a wider existence.
I believe that from time to time we should pause and take stock of our internal resources, our perhaps unknown virtues and unrealized powers.
So to another example of psychic interactions with pets. There are many astonishing stories about the emotional attachment that dogs, cats, birds, and other creatures have with us humans. There is one type I want to describe because it stretches my general concept of mind.
I have an example obtained in writing from an impeccable witness, a former president of a college in New York City who prefers to remain anonymous. The basic fact was that a boy, forced to move to Manhattan from a place across the East River about thirty miles away, had to leave his dog behind with friends of his Mom. Months later, the weary, bedraggled dog showed up at the boy’s school on his lunch break—needless to say, to the boy’s amazed delight. All the identifying marks were present. It was his dog, and he too was much in need of lunch.
Until recently the established scientific view has been that animals are machines, devoid of inner life. Fortunately, a new awareness of the inner life of non-humans is dawning. Animals have uncanny abilities that challenge conventional views of mind and body. In the story I just mentioned, the dog leaves its known and only habitat and makes its way by means unknown through some thirty miles of highways, trees, hills, buildings, humans; somehow crosses the East River, by swimming, or bridge, or public transportation, and finds his human boy companion—on his lunch break at a school in a place he had never seen or known.
How was this possible? What physical links can be named that would even be conceivable as a possible explanation? Could the dog have tracked the smells associated with the boy through the chaos of thirty miles of sensory impressions? I can’t think of any physical links that could account for the dog’s performance.
The only links connecting the dog and the boy that might explain their reunion were mental. Memories, feelings, desires, images that boy and dog had of each other. These, and these alone, we must assume, provide the “bridge” connecting the two. The dog, telepathically in tune with the boy, uses its clairvoyance to orient himself in space; meanwhile the emotions of need, love, and loyalty inspires him to triumph over all the physical and logistical obstacles. Clearly, the animal decided (or was moved) to leave its familiar world and embark upon an adventure of reunion with the boy—come what may!
What made it possible was the fact that the mental life of the dog transcended the limits of its brain. Something guided him to a small boy’s body among millions of other possible bodies on the teeming island of Manhattan. What drew these two bodies together in space were their shared psychic links. Once we assume that all sentient beings inhabit one mind, and are in principle, connected, the coming together of two conscious beings—in spite of all physical constraints—ought not to surprise us. But the facts—as do countless other facts—don’t square with the widely errant reductionist bias that would deny their validity.
In a book by Vincent Gaddis called The Strange World of Animals and Pets, I learned of an astonishing cat called Fingal who deserves to be canonized as a saint among nonhumans; he was supernormally concerned for the well being of other pets in his neighborhood, in particular, a turtle who was always toppling on to his backside, and flying into a panic. At such times Fingal invariably came to the rescue, and when soon after the turtle suddenly died, Fingal perched himself on the turtle’s burial site, and remained there for days in deep mourning.
Parapsychologist J.B. Rhine collected many striking stories of cross-species telepathy, of psi-trailing—cats and dogs and birds tracking their human companions under conditions apparently impossible. All these stories imply the existence of supernormal abilities of the sort that must leave poor neuro-fundamentalists furiously scratching their heads.
The idea that more of nature than science first supposed is conscious and even capable of feeling cannot be welcomed by the profiteers who view nature as a factory for the extraction of saleable goods. The temptation to view the natural world as an inexhaustible resource for financial gain is the true story of the “fall of man,” not Eve’s plucking an apple from the Tree of Life.