Wednesday, February 14, 2024

What Our Minds Can Do To Our Bodies

It’s not every day that the New York Times reports on the mysteries of mind and body.  There was, however, a report in the Times (Sept 9, 2023) by Ruth Graham of an apparent case of bodily incorruption in America. It happened to Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster from the Abbey of Our Lady of Ephesus, a small order located in the hills north of Kansas city.  Four years after her death it was decided to move her body to a more conspicuous place inside the church.  Upon opening her coffin and expecting to find dust and bones, they found Wilhelmina (a Black woman) with her body and face intact.  This was immediately construed as a possible miracle of incorruption, and since then she has drawn thousands of visitors from all parts to witness the extraordinary phenomenon. 


Bodily incorruption is a well-documented phenomenon, in which the dead bodies of people who were intensely serious about their religious practice don’t decompose in the normal way, but for decades and more remain intact.  They may emit a sweet fragrance instead of the stench of decomposition; or exude blood or oils. And these anomalies persist.  For example, Bernadette Soubirous (1844-1879) whose dead body has remained intact for over a hundred years, without any artificial embalming techniques.  Something about her intense spiritual life had this highly symbolic effect on her corpse.  Needless to say, a mystery as to how this is possible.


Fortunately, this strange power (whatever it is) that acts on dead bodies is also known to act on and heal living bodies.  Medical psychology provides our first example with the abundance of data on the placebo effect, which is a mental effect, based on belief.  Studies have repeatedly demonstrated that in many cases, those who believe and expect improvement from doing or ingesting something, show significant improvement.  This leads to another possibility.  Maybe the drugs that work do so in part because the user believes in them.   There is evidence that mental states and intentions sometimes serve as healing agents.


There are cases where the mental effects are dramatic, and shocking to common sense, as well to science. Stories from Bible-related beliefs and practices, from indigenous and shamanic societies, and from modern hospital settings, all, if true,  attest to the healing power of our mental life.   We could call it psychic or spiritual power or the energy of the soul.  There are cases where the healing power certainly seems super-natural, meaning beyond what we’re accustomed to find in nature.  All that means is that there are things about nature that we have yet to understand. 


Some cases illustrate extraordinary powers over physical reality The story of Pierre de Rudder is thoroughly documented and thoroughly extraordinary. The most striking point: the healing was total and instantaneous.  For eight years de Rudder endured a broken leg that festered and was pain-wracked. His benefactors provided the best possible medical care, but without even slight success.  After eight years, on April 7th, 1875 he with his wife’s assistance hobbled with cane to a train station that took him to the Lourdes sanctuary in Oostacker, near Ghent.

Many witnessed him that morning before embarking on his voyage.  The broken bones were such that he could turn his dangling lower leg so that his foot hung  backwards.  Upon arrival at the grotto he stood before a statue of the Madonna. De Rudder prayed that he be made well, so he could work and care for his wife and children. Quite suddenly, standing before the statue, he found himself instantaneously and totally healed.  He dropped his cane and was able to walk and move exactly as he did eight years ago before the tree fell on him and crushed his left leg.  He was suddenly exactly as he was before the tree had fallen on him, which had sent him into eight years of moral and physical anguish.


When he returned home sound and well the town and all who knew him were amazed and word of the event quickly spread all over the country and other parts of Europe. In spite of all the witnesses and doctors who knew de Rudder’s condition for eight years, the anti-clericals tried desperately to prove nothing miraculous occurred.  When de Rudder died years later his bones were unearthed and a strip of newly materialized white bone was visible that formed on the day he was healed.  The doctors were amazed by his sudden complete healing, a process that if it occurred naturally would have taken  months at the very least.


Extraordinary healing phenomena from  placebo effects to instantaneous healings of the de Rudder type are one example of macro-PK phenomena. The message here is that human beings possess extraordinary self-healing powers.  These powers, in my view, seem to be part of human evolutionary potential.  If you read Consuming Visions by Suzanne K. Kaufman, which is about the Lourdes Shrine, you will learn how incredibly fanatical was the response to reports of de Rudder’s instantaneous healing. The established materialist medical community and their anti clerical comrades were gobsmacked by what was being called a proven miracle.


It seemed like a mortal threat to the skittish tribe of know-it-alls.  The issue was degraded into an attack on the clerics who had an incredibly potent case of something beyond any natural explanation.  In my view, extraordinary phenomena are worthy of close scientific investigation for one very good reason; they  represent capacities we need to liberate and harness for the enrichment of human life.


This remarkable self-healing capacity, however, is not the only part of our latent evolutionary potential.   I’ll mention three more examples.  I’ve written two books about levitation (The Man Who Could Fly and Wings of Ecstasy, available via Amazon).  Gravity is one of the basic physical constituents of the universe.  There is compelling evidence for the reality of levitation.  It is related to altered states of consciousness, a state in which one’s ego is completely transcended.

Think about it.  Suppose we could learn to move through space, free from the constraints of gravity?  The evidence proves it possible.  If some people can do it, then all people might learn to or naturally evolve the capacity.  Should this happen, the world-threatening problem of energy would be drastically reduced, and with wholesome effects on the environment.


For this reason alone, scientists should be trying to understand how to develop that capacity, given its enormous practical utility.  But there’s a lot more to this possible project.  The potential for a new human in the history of entertainment needs to be underscored.   Surely, should our anti-gravity potential begin to unfold, learning how to enjoy and even cultivate the sportive side of levitation would open a new field for entrepreneurs.    There is reason to believe this line of thought already has a history, as described in Glenn Mullin’s The Flying Mystics of Tibetan Buddhism.


We’re thinking about the more extraordinary properties of our consciousness.    Lurking in the invisible planet of our mental life are seeds of a more developed humanity.  Why assume our present human type is the apex of what is possible in nature?  Given that humans are prone to unremitting mutual slaughter and that we have too often treated our mother nature with enormous brutality and self-defeating stupidity, we can only hope that a higher version of our  species is at least possible.


Now to my fourth example: another way we might evolve beyond our present species persona, so to speak. But this is not about what our minds can do to our bodies.  It is about how our minds relate to other minds and bodies.   For this  what we need is a particular form of consciousness.  We all, almost all, possess some germ of this particular form of consciousness, some more than others, true, but on the whole, this is a relatively rare and somewhat weakly evolved, aspect of consciousness.  


It shows up in a dramatic way during the near-death experience, during the life-review, in which people report entering into the subjectivity of those they  interacted with in life.  In this state, your consciousness is bifocal; you relive a moment of your past from your point of view but at the same time from the point of view of the other.  It’s more than guesswork and good will; your newly expanded consciousness enables you to be conscious of others from their point of view.  Imagine how thongs might radically change when our normal consciousness naturally can overflow into the inner world of the people and natural world around us. We can practice even now with our consciousness overflowing into aspects of the world around us. Try  going for a walk now on the streets of your everyday life, and you can even now try to imagine how it will look and feel with a more evolved bifocal consciousness.


What I’ve learned about extraordinary human potential I discuss in my book: Smile of the Universe:  Miracles in an Age of Disbelief. (Available at Amazon or Anomalist Books















Miguel said...

As I was reading your essay, and specifically the segment about levitation, I wondered whether similar gravity-altering processes, along with macro-pk, are behind some of the feats of human strength that sometimes pop up in news reports of emergency situations, such as that of a bystander who suddenly is able to miraculously lift a car off of an accident victim. This latest case of that type is of a guy who was able to bend an SUV door in order to get an accident victim out of his burning car, Perhaps this latter case only involved macro-pk. Talk about spoon bending!!

BTW, if I may be allowed to poke some fun at your typo in this sentence: "Imagine how thongs might radically change when our normal consciousness naturally can overflow into the inner world of the people and natural world around us". Indeed, but who needs thongs?! Let us all go 'au naturel' ... well, at least in our inner worlds! :)

Michael Grosso said...

Thank you Miguel for your comment about those "feats of human strength" that are sometimes reported in situations of crisis. I think our latent higher capacities do from time to time show up in rare day to day challenging circumstances. A further argument suggesting we maybe able ultimately to gain common access to these normally hidden capacities.

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