I’m assembling a webinar on ecstasy, levitation, and immortality for the Forever Family Foundation that supports afterlife research. As to where I’m coming from, I sporadically have experiences I can’t explain—from PK to precognition. I’ve been trying to figure out all the strange experiences I’ve had for many years.
The focus here is on PK (psychokinesis)—stuff about “mind over matter”. In light of all the available evidence, I’m convinced we have powers quite beyond what we normally suppose. The people who know this best are people who have the crucial experiences. Experience, of course, can rip open your sense of the possible, and on this topic I have observed levitation twice. No mistake about it, raw experience opens the mind.
My own experiences woke me up, but they were small potatoes when compared to those of St. Joseph of Copertino. His is the story of a rare type: a person famous for his mystical experiences, but also for an astonishing array of paranormal phenomena. To excel in both is an intellectual show-stopper. Being human, Joseph’s story says something about all human beings—about, as we say, ‘human potential.’
I believe that the real super-magic displayed by Joseph in 17th century Europe must be part of our latent capacity—most of the time below the threshold of awareness—but under the right conditions, capable of springing to life.
In the webinar I focus on a case of a man extraordinary in several ways: the amount and variety of his remarkable phenomena and the large amount of evidence to back up the remarkable claims.
And yet, when we look at the friar’s miserable origins, it’s amazing that he survived at all. His part of Italy was impoverished then, occupied by the Spanish, and struggling with a Counter-Reformation. Add to all this was the radically destabilizing Scientific Revolution.
As for Joseph’s outsider life , already three siblings had predeceased him. When he was seven he was incapacitated for five years by a huge gangrenous growth on his backside. His father, Felix, was in flight from the law because of a debt he incurred on behalf of friends; his mother, Frances, homeless, was a harsh moralist, and emitted little or no maternal warmth toward her son. School kids mocked and nicknamed him Boccaperta (Gaping Mouth) because when he heard music or noticed something carina, he’d slip into a trance and gape with open mouth. He gave the impression of being stupid; in fact, he had a knack for withdrawing very deeply into himself.
Joseph’s early life was as unpromising as you could imagine. But despite his clumsiness, intensity, and otherworldliness, he was finally ordained as a priest.
Soon after, Joseph’s gaucheries and absent-mindedness began to morph into dramatically visible and quite shocking phenomena. In Grottella, contemplating a painting of the Virgin and Child, he not only went into ecstasy but exploded with a piercing scream, rose into the air and hovered there like a bird—to the astonishment of witnesses nearby. His first recorded levitation.
It was an overture to a thirty-five year career of surrealist performance art. By performance I don’t mean something “fake”; I mean real events that prompt you to rethink the nature of your mind. One’s awareness is shocked into a new sense of reality—or say, surreality.
Looking at the narrative of Joseph’s life, we see various proofs of consciousness defying the laws of physical reality. The most dramatic example is levitation where ecstasy can bend gravity, one of the basic forces of nature. In Joseph’s world, consciousness renders food, drink and sleep virtually unnecessary. And we don’t want to forget this: Joseph’s consciousness had healing effects on suffering, even dying, bodies. Also—to go on—toying with our metaphysics, the friar’s consciousness turned its nose up at time, as proven so often by his demonstrated foreknowledge. (He was facile at foretelling the demise of souls.)
Also, let’s remember, in Joseph’s world, the barriers that separate our interior selves melt away and leave us open to each other. This condition of openness we call telepathy, feeling at a distance, and Joseph knew things about people he met that they had forgotten or repressed. So—and this is my point--something in us has the potential to transcend gravity, space, time, our bodies—and if so, can death be far behind?
What difference does all this make? For one thing, the extraordinary phenomena completely upend the reigning dogma of materialism. In fact, they force us to expand our concept of mind and recognize (don’t be shy!) great latent creative powers. If this is true, there are practical implications, which could be very interesting.
If we are part of a greater, deeper mind and consciousness, there must be ways to engage the power and wisdom hidden in the depths. We may call it God (I prefer Goddess), guardian angel, or Cosmic Consciousness. We may engage as a religious or spiritual person; as a curious, open-minded scientist; or as a free-lance artist-explorer in dialogue with the Transcendent. Some good news. There is room for traditional and for more independent methods and room for amiable discussion.
As for practical hints, I would suggest as useful these three: Own your own mind, and learn to concentrate it. Practice living as lightly as possible—things, ideas, ego. And last but not least, according to the flying friar himself, love, love, and more love.
For the webinar, Feb. 6, see below: