Friday, December 21, 2018

Awakening Our Higher Mental Powers



I’ve been tracking what I call human singularities—people who embody rare and extraordinary talents—like Joseph of Copertino, or Arigo, or Lurancy Vennum, etc.. I’m trying to paint a composite picture of what I believe is our latent super-humanity. All the strange manifestations must have some purpose, some meaning.

There is reason to doubt that we--as a species--have reached the climax of our full evolutionary potential. Far from it!  Look around at the world—the greed, the violence, and the stupidity spreading havoc and mayhem everywhere. The growing dangers of social instability, risk of nuclear war and oncoming eco-catastrophe cry out for sweeping change.  

Politics alone—without a deep collective change of consciousness—will never save us. The change we need is inner, psychic, intellectual, and spiritual. The good news is that there’s evidence for mutations of mental capacity of a very high order.

The question is, How to awaken these much needed, often ignored and despised potentials? It is worth noting that American popular culture is awash in images of supermen and wonderwomen.  In some way, perhaps, is the collective imagination priming us for some great transformation to come?

There is one key psychological mechanism. All the evidence points in one direction—the phenomena emerge when we’re in a state of ecstasy—beside our normal, everyday selves.  The psychological term for this is dissociation. Suppose you’re listening to music so intently that for a few seconds you cease being aware of your self.  That is the beginning of ecstasy. Going out of yourself—literally, “standing outside yourself.”  It’s a matter of degree. When a mystic like Joseph of Copertino got lost in music, you could set his robe on fire and he wouldn’t react! Probably the most reliable path to ecstasy is to be madly in love—but that is another discussion.

There are many ways to dissociate from all the distractions, ways to break into our deeper selves.  One is through mesmerism or, as we say today, hypnotism.  In 1784, the Marquis de Puysegur, an artillery officer who had trained himself in the methods of Anton Mesmer “took his freshly acquired skills to the provinces and began a series of animal-magnetic experiments that would change the course and the history of psychiatry and psychology.”[i]

The crucial discovery occurred when Puysegur “magnetized” (hypnotized) a twenty-three-year-old peasant, Victor Race, who was suffering from an infected lung, and putting him in a state of consciousness with unique characteristics.  Puysegur called this state “magnetic sleep.” But magnetism had nothing to do with this newly identified state of mind.  So-called “magnetic sleep” is a state that seems to fuse the waking and subliminal mind; in other words, it’s a technique for breaking the spell of our everyday mental habits.   

During this strange sleep-walking kind of consciousness, the subject may find himself in telepathic rapport with the magnetizer, and in a highly suggestible state.  Upon returning to his waking self, Victor forgot everything that occurred while ‘magnetized’; it appeared as if he had become two persons.   

But here is the big point. The most striking change that Puysegur noticed about Victor was the change in his personality.  He wrote that in a “magnetized state, Victor is no longer a naïve peasant who can barely speak a sentence.  He is someone whom I do not know how to name” (ibid.p.39).

In this new state of consciousness, Victor displayed extended cognitive powers, telepathic and clairvoyant. Puysegur’s work bore much fruit: a range of interesting effects were repeatedly observed.  For example, ‘magnetized’ somnambulists became proficient at clairvoyant diagnosis of bodily ills, their own and that of others, providing useful therapeutic recipes.  During this altered state the sick one becomes the healer, and here we have the seeds of a new health-care paradigm.

This is the important idea. Seemingly ordinary human beings may well possess extraordinary abilities, and by learning to enter into the right state of mind, each of us may tease out the hidden genius within.  Accidents happen all the time that force open these latent abilities in surprising ways: through near-death experiences, certain forms of autism, even, oddly enough, through head injuries or crises of loss of loved ones.

But must we rely on these unpredictable miracles of personal growth?  Why not reorganize society in ways that fully acknowledge our hidden human potentials? Why not design systems of education that promise to emancipate them? Failing to do any of these things, there remains the possibility that such powers may emerge through something like a global near-death experience. For discussion of that last somewhat grim possibility, see my book, The Final Choice: Death or Transcendence (2017).


[i] See Adam Crabtree’s superb study, From Mesmer to Freud, 1988.

6 comments:

rawgod said...

Crying for change is one thing, creating change is a whole 'nuther thing. And this is where we need theoretical creative thinkers. People who can think outside the box outside the box. But we call these people crazy, and pay them no attention. This is the eternal paradox of humanity. New ideas take time to work into the human consciousness, and the one thing we are running out of is time.

We must learn to look in the dark corners where the weirdos write, and learn how to think like them in orďer to see what they see. That is the only hope for humanity--if there is stil hope for us!

Elizabeth said...

Great post, Michael.

A good example of the trauma of loss of a loved one as a breakthrough of our higher mental powers is evidential medium Suzanne Giesemann. If you have not heard of her yet, look her up.

Unknown said...

Michael, your proposal to “reorganize society in ways that fully acknowledge our hidden human potentials” may come, not in the redesigning of our educational system or in some ‘global near-death experience’, but in the very system that has alienated us from spiritual selves to begin with: Science & Technology! My bet is that some of those efforts at arresting mental and other forms of illness through evolving sophisticated technologies (e.g., deep brain stimulation for depression, neural implants for Parkinson’s) may end up giving rise to technologies that will, inadvertently perhaps, result in new ways to unlock the inner mental powers that you describe in your post. A somewhat outdated example that comes to mind is Michael Persinger’s (RIP) God helmet, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_O_aGlm9QjU. But, other lines of promising research are currently on-going that, for example, attempt to marry newly developed brain technology with virtual reality and video game design to help unlock our own mind’s healing potential (e.g., https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EaO-Qd216p8). My own personal hope is that this same technology will inevitably lead us to rediscover our inner spiritual selves.

Merry Christmas!!

Michael Grosso said...

Yes, Unknown, new technologies of the brain may yet be discovered that will liberate our higher powers--you forgot to mention using psychoactive chemistry. And, of course, the oldest technology of the brain is meditation, which is a form of education. Unlike you,I believe spontaneous experience, as in the past, will continue to surprise us with examples of conscious transformation--

Anonymous said...

The use of 'Ki' or 'Qi', and spiritual development to the 'Kundalini' and then beyond, is well-documented. For a first hand account read any of Dr. Glenn Morris's books. He was a psychologist who in his 40s deliberately went through the Kundalini. He details his spiritual and psychic experiences.

Dr. Yang, Jwing-Ming (a mechanical engineer) has very technical books detailing the underlying steps towards spiritual development (including Kundalini), as does Mantak Chia. Another author along the same technical lines is Michael Winn. They might not mean much without appropriate experiences, so probably best to read Dr. Morris's books first, which are very inspirational, very mind-opening.

Michael Grosso said...

Yes, thanks Anonymous--this is a conceptually useful comment. It seems that in most traditions we find terminology describing a mental or spiritual power like kundalini or ki or animal magnetism or holy spirit,etc.--and in the secular department we have psychokinesis or telekinesis.

MG

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