Thursday, May 26, 2011

Psychic Phenomena Today (abhinna)

Wisdom Quarterly

What the West has labelled psychokinesis, ESP, or paranormal activity has a long history in Buddhism and India. Hinduism calls these natural powers, dormant in the vast majority of people, siddhis. Buddhism refers to them as abhinna (abhijñā, abhiññā) or "higher knowledges." They are rooted in meditative absorptions ("right concentration" or samma samadhi) either developed in this life or in past lives. The karmic ability manifests as a natural inclination or ability, which leads us to conclude that "either you're born with it or you're not." No one is "born" with it, as such. Everyone develops it. But having developed it in the past, it may manifest spontaneously. Then it will be misconstrued as having no cause, that is, something someone is simply born with for no reason. Whereas there are many stories of such things in Buddhist texts, Katie presents a modern case of paranormal powers:

The Gold Leaf Lady

and Other Parapsychological Investigations

Prof. Stephen E. Braude, Univ. of Maryland

Katie, the Gold Leaf Lady

I was seated across a table from a woman, no more than three feet away. And while we were talking, a small piece of gold-colored foil appeared suddenly on her face. I knew that her hands were nowhere near her face when this happened. In fact, I was certain they were in full view on the table the entire time. I knew also that if her husband, seated next to her, had placed the material on her face, I would have seen it clearly. But nobody’s hands had been anywhere near her face. So I knew that the material hadn’t been placed there; it appeared there, evidently without normal assistance.

This was one of several similar incidents that occurred during my most fascinating paranormal investigation: the case of a woman much of whose body -- not just parts of her face -- would break out in what looked like gold leaf. But first, some background. We need to be clear about just how unusual and potentially important this case is.

Parapsychologists study several interesting phenomena, but they focus primarily on the evidence for extrasensory perception (ESP), psychokinesis (PK), and survival of bodily death. Of course, many consider all of these incredible and unworthy of serious attention. Others agree that they’re extraordinary, but believe they’re both possible and worth studying. And still others consider at least some of the phenomena to be natural and part of everyday life. In fact, many would say ESP is merely a form of intuition and leave the matter there. More