"From ghosties and ghoulies and creepies and crawlies and long-leggedy beasties and things that go bump in the night ..." Good Lord deliver us.
Is this a Scottish traditional prayer, as some claim? Or Cornish, according to others? Or simply Celtic?
What are those "things that go bump in the night"?
Some have linked the prayer with Romans 8:38 in the Holy Bible:
"For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
I have recently come back from a conference, the third in the highly successful Body and Beyond series, organized by the Scientific and Medical Network to explore aspects of the subtle body; that is, that part of us beyond the physical body, our consciousness, or our soul, as indicated by different spiritual traditions and our own personal experiences.
Talking about psychic phenomena, about near death and out of body experiences, about ghosties and ghoulies, for example, seems to be a turnoff for many people. And of course for much the same reasoning, religion gets a tough time in this scientific era from those many who dismiss such notions as fairy tales, fabrics of the imagination which do not stand up to scientific scrutiny.
But the fact is that science itself is quietly having a makeover, beyond the gaze of the general public.
What do I mean?
Let's go back a bit to the story of Dean Radin, as related by Larry Dossey in an interview on premonitions some while back.
Dean was brought up within an artistic family and wanted to be a concert violinist; so as a youngster he clocked up something like 10,000 hours of violin practice. And he is convinced that this early background encouraged his sense of the supernatural. Some will know what I mean when I say that great art, in this case the sublime sound of the violin skillfully played, puts us in touch, as very few things can, with the spirit within us, perhaps even with our soul. So it was with Radin, who changed his career path and became a highly trained scientist, in the fields of mathematics, physics and engineering.
Radin has since become known for his pioneering work into the study of consciousness and in particular its ability to extend beyond the individual brain and body to envelop people at a distance, even outside the present moment. Of course the conventional view is that consciousness, whatever we understand by it, is confined to the individual, and dies with us, and Radin’s ideas seem crazy to many, but there is plenty of scientific evidence to the contrary, and this is just the kind of stuff that the Scientific and Medical Network discuss in depth and with scientific rigor at their meetings and conferences.
The fact is that experts in Near Death Experiences such as psychologist and medical doctor Raymond Moody (who coined the phrase) and neuropsychiatrist Peter Fenwick, believe on evidence that consciousness does survive death. Larry Dossey, in Recovering the Soul: A Scientific and Spiritual Search, calls this consciousness ‘non-local’ and demonstrates it in non-local healing phenomena that 'appear almost always to involve consciousness: the empathic, loving intent of one individual to help another.’ The Institute of Noetic Sciences has conducted its own studies on distance healing and the relationship between consciousness and healing.
We call these happenings psychic or psi phenomena. And these ideas are all coming from highly educated, highly intelligent and highly trained scientists.
There are clearly links between us at some deep level in our consciousness otherwise psychic phenomena such as Near Death Experiences and distance healing would not be possible. But they are real; they do exist.
If there is so much scientific evidence for this idea of extended consciousness why are so many people so skeptical and why are so few scientists engaged in research in this field?
Put bluntly, it is because this would be a bad career move! Science has its own ideas about what is publicly acceptable, and highly controversial topics attract the least funding. It’s really that simple. (Scientist Rupert Sheldrake did nothing for his own academic career at the time when he propounded his own theories of morphic resonance, although he's certainly made up for it since!) For much the same reason, unexpected or supposedly 'inexplicable' experimental results can be suppressed and never published. Few scientists can afford to put their livelihood on the line by going 'outside the box' in their research.
Of course, as Radin himself admits, there is ample scope for scholarly debate about these topics, and not every informed scientist is going to reach the same conclusions. But, he writes, 'I've also learned that those who assert with great confidence that there isn't any scientifically valid evidence for psychic abilities just don't know what they're talking about. In addition, the rants one finds in various online 'skeptical' forums appear to be motivated by fundamentalist beliefs of the scientistic or religious kind, and not by a rational assessment of the relevant literature.'
So what does this have to do with prayer and religious mysticism?
I shall come back to that in my next post.
Article adapted from Why Religions Work: God's Place in the World Today
© Eleanor Stoneham 2012
My book Why Religions Work explores religious tolerance issues. It could not be more relevant at the moment with the world in its present state.
This blog has concentrated recently on the wonderful pilgrimages I have been on - to the Holy Land and to Turkey and more recently to Holy Georgia , Greece "In the Steps of St Paul" , Ethiopia and most recently my experiences in Iran.
"If I was allowed another life I would go to all the places of God's Earth. What better way to worship God than to look on all his works?" from The Chains of Heaven: an Ethiopian Romance Philip Marsden