The supernatural

I’m planning to add more examples to the series on vasanas but before I do, I’d like to say a few words about the supernatural because it’s going to be an element in future articles.

I’m using the words “supernatural” and “magic” ironically in this essay. I don’t believe anything is really supernatural. Things either happen or they don’t. There’s no point in dividing those that happen into “supernatural” and “natural.”

The first article in the series involved ordinary thoughts and observations. Nothing in that post seems magical or supernatural. Everything described there could have happened in a typical psychotherapist’s office during conversations between the therapist and client.

The second one is a little different because it involves astral travel and energetic changes in chakras. If you are skeptical about the existence of those things, the article can still be interesting because you can say to yourself, “Julia imagined that part of her experience,” and the article as a whole can still be plausible.

The third article in the series will be very different because like the second, it will involve a seemingly supernatural element, only this time you won’t be able to disregard that element by ascribing it to somebody’s imagination. With the third article, if the seemingly magical thing didn’t happen, the entire account will be inexplicable.

During the last few years I have witnessed many things that I found difficult to believe. Should I write about them? If I write about them, some of my readers may decide that I’m a crackpot and stop reading this blog.

Before Röntgen discovered X-rays in 1895, the idea that cameras can take pictures of bones inside living bodies probably would have seemed nonsensical and supernatural to most people. But it turned out that X-rays exist. Now we take them for granted.

Similarly, until a physicist named Jean-Baptise Biot inspected meteorites in a town named l’Aigle in 1803, few sensible persons believed that rocks fall from the sky. Now we take meteorites for granted.

I think the universe is filled with things like that. Things whose Röntgens and Biots have not yet appeared. These things aren’t supernatural. They just haven’t been discovered yet by science. As Shakespeare said,

There are more things in heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

The skeptical reader may object, “But Freddie, lots of things like telepathy and telekinesis have been investigated by science and the results have been negative.”

Yep, I agree. Rupert Sheldrake’s efforts to investigate the existence of the “psychic staring effect” is a good example.

Charlatans often answer this objection by claiming that circumstances are unfavorable for the exercise of their magical powers. For example, when James Randi used to debunk fake fork benders on TV, the con artists often said things like, “Your skepticism is making it impossible for me to concentrate.”

But what if there is some truth to what the charlatans say? I don’t mean that they aren’t charlatans. I mean what if it’s true that in general, people have to be in certain states of consciousness to do some of these things, and what if it’s difficult to create those states on demand in a lab?

I have a story along those lines but I’ll save it for the next post.

2 thoughts to “The supernatural”

  1. Very interesting point of view. I too was very skeptical of “supernatural” phenomenons, if only because there are so many charlatans. However in the last two years I have lived too many things that would have seemed supernatural before and now only seem natural, which have lead me to be far more open minded about anything that isn’t tangible or cannot be proven at this time with the tools and minds we have.

    That being said, the reason I am writing is that through reading so many scientific studies in the last years, one thing that became apparent to me (for which I can offer no real proof of, it’s just my current opinion based on the analysis of the data) is that very often the belief held by the scientists running an experiment seem to affect its result. Which isn’t surprising to anyone interested in quantum physics I suppose but leaves me wishing there were more triple blind studies to remove expectations and beliefs from the equation.

    1. I agree with you but I think there’s probably another complicating factor: in many cases the subjects would need to be in a certain state to demonstrate the effect, and neither the subjects nor researchers know how to get them into that state. That’s the point of this other post which you may not have seen yet. I don’t think triple blind can help with that.

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