Thursday 30 January 2020

The implications of telepathy

I have pretty much always believed that telepathy was a reality; from manyfold personal experience. Indeed, if telepathy is assumed to be possible, then many other supposedly 'paranormal' phenomena become straightforwardly explicable.

But for most of my (pre-Christian) life, belief in telepathy did not have any challenging implications - because my hypothetical explanation for telepathy was purely materialistic; it simply slotted into my mainstream, scientistic world view: part of the world of observation, hypothesis, testing...

This was because I regarded telepathy in terms of some kind of sensory process of communication. I assumed that some kind of thought waves or forms were being 'beamed' between people's brains - or else there was a tuning-into thoughts; but that because this process was unreliable, not under control of human will but rather 'instinctive'; therefore the mechanism had not (yet) been unravelled by science.

However, I now regard what I used to call telepathy as a instance of direct knowing, of intuition; which I now understand to be more like two people thinking the same thought simultaneously.

It is not a form of communication, and nothing like a signal passes between brains. Rather, the telepathic process entails two people being simultaneously attuned to the 'collective consciousness', the 'inner world' - the single world within every person, every 'thing' - the same world we visit in dreams, the world of 'the gods' (the Ancient Egyptian dwat) and of 'the dead' (Hades/ Sheol).

When telepathy is understood in this way, it becomes an instance of (become 'evidence' of) something that goes beyond science, goes beyond the mainstream modern world view - it becomes an experience of a life beyond the senses/ models/ data; and itself a taste of primary thinking and direct knowing.

Telepathy therefore opens us to a qualitatively different way of being, beyond observations and hypotheses; and becomes a possible model for gaining knowledge on other topics of concern. If telepathy usually happens with people who are important to us, especially people we love; then the telepathic kind of thinking may become a direct way of experiencing, learning, and knowing matters that are important to us - matters of love.

Note: This example illustrates how metaphysical assumptions - the basic framework of our understanding of reality - are more important than our specific observations or beliefs. In other words; metaphysics shapes evidence; metaphysics tells us what counts as evidence, and what that evidence means. By contrast, evidence cannot rationally affect metaphysics. Metaphysics is primary - evidence (including science, history etc.) is secondary. The implications of telepathy therefore depended on my metaphysical understanding of reality; and when my understanding of reality changed - the implications of telepathy changed. 


Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

The content of most telepathic information is so personal that it's hard to think of it as part of a "collective" anything. I mean, what are the most common telepathic "messages"? That a specific person is in distress, or dying, or about to telephone you.

Kirstie said...

I think the telepathic experiences you are describing, WJT are collective in that they are a common experience for many but don't seem to have any residual, long-lasting effect to the individual. Whereas, what I think Bruce is trying to explain is some telepathic experiences between two individuals reveal deeper universal truths rather than mere coincidences. Some knowledge is passed between the individuals rather than just acknowledging the coincidence. If that makes sense?

Bruce Charlton said...

@Wm and Kirstie - I think that telepathy is not really explicable in terms of messages physically going between people's brains - like a radio transmitter.

Ultimately we are converned with Beings, whose consciousness has (over time) separated out from a unified consciousness - in which the situation is one of every spiritual Being thinking the same thing (within the scope of their capacity). So, telepathy is, in a sense, a natural and spontaneous thing which is removed/ lost as consciousness develops.

Hence telepathy is more common as we go back through known history - and in the hunter gatherer first contact records, telepathy seems to be almost universal although varying in strength. Telepathy (or unity of thinking) is an explanation of some animal behaviour - Barfield used to mention flocks of birds as they fly, as a way of thinking of it.

So modern telepathy is a kind of recovery of something that used to be normal. Either we might consciously 'open ourselves' to it (in a Final Participation way, which Iis what I favour and value) --- or it may emerge unconsciousness and involuntarily when consciousness is diminished; during sleep, delirium, psychosis generally... which is what Steiner called an 'atavistic' phenomenon: meaning reverting to an earlier stage of consciousness, always with some diminution of function, awareness, freedom.

Because Final Participation telepathy is free, voluntary, conscious; suggests that it may be restricted to happening between two specific Beings (e.g. two people) - whereas the atavistic clairvoyance 'just happened', as a substrate of life, and there was no 'privacy'.

Jeff said...

Interesting. Are you aware of Rupert Sheldrake's work on this?

I can embarrassingly say that every time when I was young and was looking lustily at a woman's behind she would have a sixth sense and turn around and catch me.

Bruce Charlton said...

@Jeff - Yes, I know it. I accept his observations, but fit them into a different metaphysical system (his is Aristotelian, broadly).

Tom Hart said...

A few weeks ago, I woke up thinking of the Jesuit expression, “Give me a child until he is seven and I will show you the man.” It’s not a phrase I think of all that often, but I kept thinking about it in the shower and for about fifteen minutes or so. I then thought, “What is Theodore Dalrymple up to?”. I hadn’t read him in ages, about six months. I opened my computer and searched his name. The first article I clicked on opened with the expression: “Give me a child until he is seven and I will show you the man.” I think that’s extraordinary synchronicity; it’s not telepathy, but I’ve had some telepathic experiences as well—it must be related.

Bruce Charlton said...

@TH - Impressive. I think Steiner took seven year units too far; but I agree that it is a better unit than most:

Tom Hart said...

@BC I didn’t know Steiner had an interest in the number seven. I’ve been reading the Bible out loud recently and I was struck by how important certain numbers, particularly seven, are in the scripture. I’ve always liked the number; the seven times table was my favourite. I’ve seen elsewhere people describe the solar numbers 333, 666, 999 as the means to get things done in the world—since the world is ruled by the prince of darkness. Accordingly, 777 is the holy counterpoint: you work six days a week and on the seventh rest and contemplate God. The Buddha was supposed to have been enlightened seven years after he left his palace and I recall hearing that Buddhists expect a person to heed the call to follow the path seven years after first hearing the message.

I wonder if this non-decimal aspect is connected to Michell’s The New View over Atlantis? He thought sacred numbers—particularly the solar numbers above—were very important and at risk from the decimal system.