Author of the Month

Human Devolution (cont.)
By Michael A. Cremo

For example, every physics student learns about the work of Pierre and Marie Curie, the husband and wife team who both received Nobel Prizes for their work in discovering radium. The account is found in practically every introductory physics textbook. What we do not read in the textbooks is that the Curies were heavily involved in psychical research. They were part of a large group of prominent European scientists, including other Nobel Prize winners, who were jointly conducting research into the paranormal in Paris early in the twentieth century. For two years, the group studied the Italian medium Eusapia Palladino. Historian Anna Hurwic notes in her biography of Pierre Curie (1995, p. 247), “He saw the séances as scientific experiments, tried to monitor the different parameters, took detailed notes of every observation. He was really intrigued by Eusapia Palladino.” About some séances with Eusapia, Pierre Curie wrote to physicist Georges Gouy in a letter dated July 24, 1905: “We had at the Psychology Society a few séances with the medium Eusapia Palladino. It was very interesting, and truly those phenomena that we have witnessed seemed to us to not be some magical tricks—a table lifted four feet above the floor . . . All this in a room arranged by us, with a small number of spectators all well known and without the presence of a possible accomplice.” Pierre Curie reported that on such occasions, the medium was carefully physically controlled by the scientists present. On April 14, 1906, Pierre wrote to Gouy about some further investigations he and Marie had carried out: “We had a few new ‘séances’ with Eusapia Paladina (We already had séances with her last summer). The result is that those phenomena exist for real, and I can’t doubt it any more. It is unbelievable, but it is thus, and it is impossible to negate it after the séances that we had in conditions of perfect monitoring.” He concluded, “There is, according to me a completely new domain of facts and physical states of space of which we have no idea.”

Such results, and many more like them from the hidden history of physics, suggest there is associated with the human organism a mind element that can act on ordinary matter in ways we cannot easily explain by our current physical laws. Such research continues today, although most scientists doing it are concentrating on microeffects rather than the macroeffects reported by Pierre Curie. For example, Robert Jahn, head of the engineering department at Princeton University, started to research the effects of mental attention on random number generators. A random number generator will normally generate a sequence of ones and zeros, with equal numbers of each. But Jahn, and his associates who have continued the research, found that subjects can mentally influence the random number generators to produce a statistically significant greater number of ones than zeros (or vice versa).

Evidence for a conscious self that can existence apart from mind (subtle matter) and ordinary matter comes from medical reports of out of body experiences (OBEs). During traumatic events such as heart attacks, blood stops flowing to the brain, and the subjects become unconscious. But some subjects report separating from their bodies at such times. They report consciously observing their own bodies. The reality of such experiences has been confirmed by medical researchers. For example, in February 2001, a team from the University of Southampton, in the United Kingdom, published a favorable study on OBEs in cardiac arrest patients in the journal Resuscitation (v. 48, pp. 149–156). The team was headed by Dr. Sam Parnia, a senior research fellow at the university. On February 16, 2001, a report published on the university’s web site said that the work of Dr. Parnia “suggests consciousness and the mind may continue to exist after the brain has ceased to function and the body is clinically dead.” This is exactly the Vedic conception. At death the conscious self leaves the body, accompanied by the subtle material covering of the mind, and then enters another body of gross matter. Memories from past lives are recorded in the mind, and may be accessed by the conscious self in its new body made of gross matter, as shown by psychiatrist Ian Stevenson’s extensive studies verifying past life memories of children.

If the human organism is composed of gross matter, mind, and consciousness (or spirit), it is natural to suppose that these elements come from reservoirs of such elements. This suggests that the cosmos is divided into regions, or levels, of gross matter, mind, and consciousness, each inhabited by beings adapted to life there. First, there is a region of pure consciousness. Consciousness, as we experience it, is individual and personal. This suggests that the original source of conscious selves is also individual and personal. So in addition to the individual units of consciousness existing in the realm of pure consciousness, there is also an original conscious being who is their source. When the fractional conscious selves give up their connection with their source, they are placed in lower regions of the cosmos predominated by either subtle material substance (mind) or gross material substance. There is thus a cosmic hierarchy of conscious beings. Accounts of this cosmic hierarchy of beings can be found not only in the Puranas but in the cosmologies of many other cultures. The cosmologies share many features. They generally include an original God inhabiting a realm of pure consciousness, a subordinate creator god inhabiting a subtle material region of the cosmos along with many kinds of demigods and demigoddesses, an earthly realm, dominated by gross matter, inhabited by humans like us.

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