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#4703 - Sunday, September 9, 2012 - Editor: Jerry Katz

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  • Jerry Katz
    #4703 - Sunday, September 9, 2012 - Editor: Jerry Katz The Nonduality Highlights http://groups.yahoo.com/group/NDhighlights/ ... Mark s on a weekend hiatus. I
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 10, 2012
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       #4703 - Sunday, September 9, 2012 - Editor: Jerry Katz

      Mark's on a weekend hiatus. I know how much many of us look forward to his Highlights issues, but I'm not going to attempt to do what Mark does with such consistent brilliance.
      Many of us, en route to stumbling upon nonduality, spent some time in the land of parapsychology. I guess it would only be a matter of time before parapsychology stumbled upon nonduality. Today's article is an excerpt from a book review of YOGA AND PARAPSYCHOLOGY: EMPIRICAL RESEARCH AND THEORETICAL ESSAYS. Edited by K. Ramakrishna Rao. I don't know whether this is the first in depth inclusion of nondualism within establishment parapsychology (i.e., The Journal of Parapsychology), but I believe it's the first I've encountered.


      Publication: The Journal of Parapsychology
      Author: Solfvin, Jerry
      Date published: April 1, 2011
      YOGA AND PARAPSYCHOLOGY: EMPIRICAL RESEARCH AND THEORETICAL ESSAYS. Edited by K. Ramakrishna Rao. Delhi, India: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, 2010. Pp. 516. $74.00 (hardcover). ISBN 9788120834736.
      As world political and economic events outside of die academy continue to ramp up the booty for the deepening of real and lasting EastWest communication and understanding, it may be an especially propitious time to do so within the academy as well. K. Ramakrishna Rao has become a passionate and indefatigable leader in this great endeavor. He has published in recent years several important contributions toward an East-West bridge on academic topics, including Consciousness Studies: Cross-Cultural Perspectives (Rao, 2002), Towards a Spiritual Psychology (Rao & Marwaha, 2005), and the outstanding and sorely needed Handbook of Indian Psychology (Rao, Paranjpe, & Dalai, 2008) . Now he follows this with an edited volume aimed squarely at the specific field with which his name was most closely associated for so many years - parapsychology. It is at once a parting shot - in the sense that it summarizes the locus of his life's work in this small field - as well as an opening shot in the sense that it includes the inaugural lectures Rao gathered to launch his Institute for Human Science & Service (IHSS) in Andhra Pradesh, India, in 2006.
      In Rao's preface, he clearly states why he believes yoga and parapsychology need to be studied together: "A serious and scientific study of the two and the resultant synergy of their confluence could result in resolving many of the riddles that puzzle parapsychology today and be the harbinger of a vibrant science opening to new frontiers. Further, it could be seen as a productive East-West meet in a profound sense" (p. xv). But the real message lying just beneath the surface is that western parapsychologists need to pay more attention to eastern approaches to this topic. I couldn't agree more! Specifically, India offers a virtual treasure chest of gifts for the field of parapsychology, if westerners would only "wake up" to it. Some already have.
      Rao takes on the role of guru to wake us up to the all-too-painful fact that western parapsychologists try to ignore in what must be the ultimate case of collective denial in the history of science. "Wake up," Rao seems to say, and open your eyes to the elephant in die room. Western science does not want us! How many carcasses of brilliant and creative colleagues must we see strewn by the roadside before we'll wake up? In fact, real parapsychology (as represented by the PA) is not wanted in the West by science, religion, or society (except perhaps as a titillating back alley for selling horror films through unbelievably bizarre fantabulations and distortions of psi phenomena). In India, on die other hand, real parapsychology is welcomed, respected, and even revered. Of course, I am stating this much more strongly than Rao does, but that is, in my opinion, die key take-away message of this tome.
      Rao's introductory chapter, 'Yoga and Parapsychology," sets the tone by reviewing the current state of parapsychological research separately from western and eastern viewpoints. Rao here establishes the chorus that will be repeated throughout this book - that western science suffers from an assumptive base which rules out psi, thus forcing parapsychology into the paradox of using science to demolish the very assumptive base of science itself.
      After Rao's intro, the volume continues with two substantial contributions from state-of-the-art western parapsychologists, Jim Kennedy and Jim Carpenter. I've always enjoyed Jim Kennedy's thoughtful work and this piece is no exception, although I was puzzled why it is featured in this compendium. Kennedy wrestles with the sticky problem of the evasiveness of psi in research settings, and then takes the reader on a tortuous romp through a hodge-podge of parapsychological topics in search of a crack in the wall that might shed some light on the topic. This leads to the connections between psi, mysticism, and spirituality, which is clearly relevant to the current volume. As I ponder Kennedy's chapter, I wonder if Rao chose this, in part, as an example of how "pure" western dualistic science deals with psi and spirituality. It is an excellent illustration of just that. For example, Kennedy concludes, "Further exploration of the relationship between spirituality and psi may find that the most appropriate model is to view the source of psi as largely external to living persons" (p. 60) . By contrast, nondualistic Indian psychology is unlikely to highlight such separations. This is classic western thinking - the separation (analysis) into elements, the "who's doing it?" approach to psi.
      What a fine choice Rao has made in selecting the next chapter, Jim Carpenter's outline of his "first sight" model of psi and the mind, which is a tour of Carpenter's many-mansioned and very deep mind. Carpenter certainly - and thankfully - puts the psychohgy back into parapsychology at a time when straight western psychology (whatever that is!) has all but abandoned mind, spirit, and consciousness to philosophers, physicists, and neuroscientists. Carpenter, a personality theorist and clinical psychologist, talks and listens to his human clients and engages in parapsychology the same way.
      A great discovery here is just how closely attuned Carpenter's thinking is with the Hindu Vedas. Carpenter's first sight conception of human nature is, "each person is not contained within personal, physical boundaries, but ontologically and epistemologically extends beyond that into intimate commerce with all the rest of reality, including all other persons" (p. 99). And like the Hindu scriptures, Carpenter's model does not deal with (or even concern itself with) "proof of the existence of psi. Neither does he try to solve the problem of the connection between mind and body - rather, "the split between them is not assumed to begin with" (p. 72). By not assuming the separation, he has no conceptual problem with the "possibility" of psi phenomena.
      This is nondualism, which is at the core of many East-West misunderstandings regarding mind and spirit. Stated simply, western dualists tend to forget/ignore that "separation" is an assumption that is added on. Or, as Carpenter phrases it, "In a phenomenological approach, a dualistic split between the subjective and objective aspects of experience is eschewed, and the need for providing some sort of physical mechanism linking mind to world or present to future event is avoided" (pp. 100-101). This key foundational brick is right out of the Hindu Advaita Vedanta (= nondual philosophy) , even though Carpenter is not a Hindu devotee, nor even an Indophile.
      This chapter is the best and most compelling explanation I have come across of Carpenter's first sight model. I look forward to the book Carpenter will soon be publishing on this issue, and I hope he'll include reference to its reflections in eastern philosophy.
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