The title of this post is from a chapter in a book I’ve written due to be published in the coming year.[i] There’s a curious philosophical battle going on about the nature of mind. The nub of the great controversy is the relationship between our minds and bodies. Most people – not philosophers – generally assume and act as if they were made of both, mind and body. I’m sitting in a body at my computer and using my fingers to tap out the letters and sentences you’re reading. So I am in a clear sense a body. But the physical side of writing is not enough to account for the meaningful sentences that appear on the screen; that presupposes the operation of a mind. So it’s obvious to me that I am a mind using a body.
But mainstream educated opinion would dispute what may appear as self-evident. The mainstream view is typically some form of materialism where the role of mind is reduced to near nothing. So the items below, selected from my chapter, involve a triple heresy. First, I stick to the account of myself as a mind using a body. Second, I think that different kinds of evidence show that our personal minds are part of a greater mind, a “mind at large.” And third, I’m convinced it’s possible for us to engage in meaningful and sometimes helpful dialogue with this mind at large. Here are three examples (from the chapter in my book) of how it might work. I argue for the presence of a greater mind, a presence we can interact with. One big idea that I pursue is that such interactions are likely to increase exponentially as the world-crisis deepens.
My first example is from the psychical researcher, Zoe Richmond, put together a collection of apparitions with evidence of purpose. This type is important for survival researchers, for it shows conscious agency on the part of the apparently surviving entity. In Richmond's collection, the purpose of some of the ghostly apparitions was to help. For example, there’s a story of a British General Maisey during a siege in Delhi in 1857. The General described how a voice called after him, causing him to take a sudden turn off the road; just as he left the road, the spot he was at was torn up "by a shower of grapeshot," which would have killed him. Much to the astonishment of Maisey, no one of his fellow soldiers called him. Whether we think of this as resulting from the General's own precognitive talent or the prescience of a friendly spirit, something got him to move that saved his life.
This story is similar to one from my collection. The incident took place in 1967 in Vietnam. A young soldier was stationed in Bien Hoa; during the night, the air-raid siren rang and all personnel had to rush into an underground bunker. Celestino G, the young man in question, did not enter the bunker but hid behind a reinforced partition outside the bunker.
While crouching behind the partition, the young soldier heard a voice: "Celestino—come back here!" "What for?" he shouted. Celestino didn't move but again he heard a voice call him back into the bunker. This time he got up and entered the bunker, sitting at the first support beam; but once again the voice cried to him to come further back. He rose and sat by the second support beam inside the bunker.
"OK?" he asked. No response from the voice this time. In the meantime, an Air Force sergeant sat down beside the reinforced partition, and lit a cigarette at the exact spot where Celestino sat a few moments ago. The next moment, a rocket exploded where the sergeant was sitting, killing sixteen men, every man up to the second support beam. Celestino suffered minor bruises and later discovered no one had been calling him. The possibility that one of the dead men called him is ruled out, because none of the survivors remember anyone calling Celestino, although they did remember him seeming to carry on a conversation with an invisible person.
If this warning came from Celestino’s own precognitive ability, why all the resistance? The voice had to call him three times; after all, if Celestino "knew" subliminally what was coming, why not just move away? In any case, it certainly looks as if some rather exact information about an essentially incalculable event was involved, for the voice insisted on Celestino moving back to the second support beam, which was just beyond the rocket's fatal outreach. Assuming this story is true— and having interviewed Celestino in depth myself, I have no reason to doubt it—the "intelligence" behind the voice knew where the rocket would land and precisely how far its kill-power would reach. It somehow knew this before the event even occurred.
Consider one more example where an apparition of a dead person helps avert a probably fatal accident. A seventeen-year-old girl approached a red light at an intersection. At my request, she wrote about what happened:
"While waiting for the light to turn green, I looked around at some children playing on the sidewalk. I glanced at the light—it had just turned green; I raised my foot from the brake, and put it on the gas pedal. The car slowly started forward. I glanced down to press the cigarette lighter. As I looked up, my mother, who had been dead since I was five, was standing in front of my car. I had only gone about five feet. I slammed on my brake. As I did, a tractor trailer ran the red light at about 40 m.p.h., and my mother was gone."
Again, was the apparition of the mother a projection from the young woman's unconscious? Or was it the saving act of a dead mother? Or was it something else? It’s hard to know for sure. One thing seems certain: this, as the other two stories, are signs of the active presence of an unknown mental agency with a potential to help us. Perhaps we can learn to tease the Hidden Helper out of the shadows and mobilize it to intervene when needed. One could argue that this is what the history of religion is all about.