Mind and Matter XII Mind over Matter XI Review and Assessment “look at other people and ask yourself if you are really seeing them.

Mind and Matter XII
Mind over Matter XI
Review and Assessment
“look at other people and ask yourself if you are
really seeing them or just your thoughts about
them.... Without knowing it, we are coloring
everything, putting our spin on it all.”
―Jon Kabat-Zinn
Topics for today
• Mind over Matter IX
– Yoga siddhis
• Review of some of the evidence on mind and matter
• Attempts to make sense of it all
– Certainties
– Probabilities
– Possibilities
Topics for today
• Mind over Matter IX
– Yoga siddhis
• Review of some of the evidence on mind and matter
• Attempts to make sense of it all
– Certainties
– Probabilities
– Possibilities
• Siddhi — A Sanskrit noun which can be translated
as "perfection”, "accomplishment", "attainment",
or "success”
• Siddhis are said to be spiritual, magical,
supranormal, paranormal, or supernatural powers
acquired through practices like meditation or yoga
• Described, for example, in Dean Radin,
Supernormal: Science, Yoga, and the evidence for
extraordinary psychic abilities. Deepak Chopra
Books, 2013.
• Supernatural or natural?
– Depends on the conception of what is natural
• Different ancient texts list different siddhis, such as . .
– ri-kāla-jñatvam: knowing the past, present and future
– advandvam: tolerance of heat, cold and other dualities
– para citta ādi abhijñatā: knowing the minds of others
– anūrmi-mattvam: being undisturbed by hunger, thirst,
and other bodily appetites
– dūra-darśanam: seeing things far away
– Aadhyaatmik: freedom form pain
– Others mentioned in Buddhist texts: levitation,
clairvoyance, bilocation, having access to memories
from past lives
Control of heart rate (I)
• Experiments reported by J. Hoenig, 1968
– Medical research on yoga, Confinia Psychiatrica 11, 69-89
• Example: A yogi in a meditative state for up to nine hours . .
– Heart rate gradually decreased from 100 to 40
– Then gradually increased to 100
– And so on, continuing in cycles of 20-25 minutes
• Some yogis have claimed that they can reduce rate to zero
– Examination of one with EKG showed that heart did not actually stop
– Another case – a non-yogi practicing “complete physical and mental
relaxation” – EKG showed “slowing of the sinus rate progressively to
the point of sinus arrest for a period of a few seconds: (McClure, 1959)
Control of heart rate (II) (E. Kelly, 2007: 1177f)
• A case reported by Kothari, Bordia & Gupta
American Heart Journal 86, 282-284 (1973)
Indian Journal of Medical Research 61, 1645-1660 (1973)
• A yogi was confined to a small underground pit for eight days
– Connected to an EKG with 12 leads “short enough not to allow any
– Almost immediately after the pit was sealed, a significant sinus
tachycardia developed and progressed until it reached 250 beats
per minute, but without any sign of ischemia
– The tachycardia continued for 29 hours
– Then suddenly “a straight line had replaced the [EKG] tracing”
– The investigators wanted to terminate the experiment, fearing that
the yogi was dead, but his attendants insisted that it continue
– The flat line state persisted for five more days
– Then half an hour before the scheduled end of the experiment
sinus tachychardia again developed
– Subject had been in complete isolation and darkness for eight days
– Tachycardia continued for two hours after the yogi was removed
from the pit
Change in body temperature of this yogi
• On emerging from the pit (after eight days) . .
– body temperature was 94.6o F
– (temperature in the pit was normal and comfortable — 24-33o C)
• Subject shivered severely for two hours
Changes in skin temperature (I)
• Report by A. R. Luria, The Mind of a Mnemonist (1968: 140f)
• Subject deliberately . .
– raised the temperature of one hand by 2o celcius
– and then lowered the temperature on the other hand by
– Did it my imagining one hand being placed on a hot stove
and the other being immersed in cold water
Changes in skin temperature (II)
• Report on a yogi by M. Murphy
The Future of the Body (1992: 532)
– Subject induced a difference of 11o F between
left and right sides of the palm of one hand
– Skin color changed to pink on the hot side,
grey on the cold side
Tummo (I)
• Tummo is a practice best known among Tibetan monks
– Tummo: “inner fire”, “blazing radiance”
– producing bodily heat in cold environments
– extreme cold tolerated for minutes to hours
• Report on 3 Tibetan monks by Benson et al.
Nature 232:1225-1227 (1982)
They keep warm while meditating in cold Himalayan
mountain conditions
– Temperature rise was measured in their fingers and toes
– Increased by amounts ranging from 3.15o C up to 8.3o C
Tummo (II)
• A Western practitioner: Wim Hof (Netherlands)
– Described in Hof & Rosales, Becoming the Ice Man (2012)
– Ran a full marathon above the arctic circle at -4o F
• on the snow, barefoot, wearing only running shorts
– Sat still while submerged in ice water for an hour and 44
– Climbed to top of Mt. Kilimanjaro wearing only shorts
Living well without eating food (I)
• In some cases, also no drinking of any liquid
• According to ordinary medical lore . .
– the human body can last about five days without water
– at most a few weeks without food
• Phenomenon described in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali
– Pada III.30: liberation from hunger and thirst
• Also known as a Qigong practice: Bigu
• Also known in Christian mysticism: inedia
• A.k.a. breatharianism:
– transmuting ambient energy from the air into nutrients
• Numerous cases throughout history
• Currently dozens to hundreds of cases worldwide (Radin 2013)
Living well without eating food (II)
• Thérèse Neumann
• From the 1923 until her death
in 1962, she apparently
consumed no food other than
the Eucharist (daily)
• Drank no water from 1926
until her death
• In July 1927 a medical doctor
and four Franciscan nurses
kept a watch on her 24 hours
a day for a two-week period.
They confirmed that she had
consumed nothing except for
one consecrated sacred Host
per day
Living well without eating food (III):
Prahlad Jani (I) (Radin 2013)
• Prahlad Jani, an Indian sadhu, age 81 in 2012
• Has not eaten for most of his 81 years
• Had a mystical experience at age 11
– The goddess Amba appeared to him
– Told him that he would no longer require food
• Has lived in a cave since the 1970’s
• Tested in 2003 at Sterling Hospital in Ahmedabad
– by Dr. Sudhir Shah and his medical team
– Monitored around the clock for 10 days by
• medical staff
• video cameras
– Did not eat or drink anything
– Did not go to bathroom
– No changes observed in his physiological condition
Living well without eating food (IV):
Prahlad Jani (II) (Radin 2013)
• Prahlad Jani, an Indian sadhu (cont’d)
• Tested again, April 22 though May 6, 2010
• Observed by a team of 35 researchers
– from Indian Defence Institute of Physiology and Allied Sciences
– and other organizations
Was monitored continuously
No food or water ingested
No visits to bathroom
No deleterious effects observed in physical condition
Living well without eating food (V)
• Michael Werner, Switzerland (Radin 2013, Werner 2005, 2007)
– A chemist (Ph.D.)
– Managing director of a Swiss pharmaceutical research institute
• Followed a 21-day training process
– Developed by Jasmuheen, an Australian spiritual teacher
– Aim: to allow a person to transition from eating to not-eating
– Werner claims that the process was relatively easy
• Claims he has not eaten solid food since 2001
• Ten-day observational test
– in intensive care ward of a hospital in Switzerland
– Similar to the tests used in the case of Prahlad Jani
Living well without eating food (VI)
• Why are these results not widely known?
• Dean Radin (2013: 127): “There is social pressure in
the scientific community to publish results that
conform to mainstream beliefs and expectations,
and equally strong pressure to withhold results that
might be perceived as strange or questionable”
• Numerous reports, from ancient times to modern
• 200-300 cases in the descriptions of the Christian
• E.g. St. Joseph of Cupertino (1603-1663)
– “…was observed to levitate by thousands of witnesses,
usually in broad daylight, over a period of thirty-five years”
(Radin 2013:62)
– Reports include depositions provided under oath, including
150 eyewitness reports from kings, popes, and princesses
(M. Grosso 2013)
• A secular case: Daniel Dunglas Home (1833-1886)
• Many instances, over a period of several years
• Was observed to levitate in daylight by hundreds of witnesses (Radin)
Daniel Dunglas Home (1833-1886)
In 1868, Home performed his most
famous feat of levitation at
London's Ashley House in the
apartment of Lord Adare. In the
company of Lord Adare, Master
Lindsay, and Captain Wynne, Home
allegedly floated out one window
and in through another. The two
rooms were on the third floor of
the building and connected only by
a narrow ledge.
Levitation videos
• A Russian girl
– http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=QZ7aiN53p8M&feature=
– 0.48
• A modern African shaman
– https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tW6pVFOpE6Q
– 2:20
Topics for today
• Mind over Matter IX
– Yoga siddhis
• Review of some of the evidence on mind and matter
• Attempts to make sense of it all
– Certainties
– Probabilities
– Possibilities
Placebo and Nocebo (XI)
Studies (ix): Skin Allergy
Y. Ikemi & S. Nakagawa, A psychosomatic study of contagious
dermatitis, Kyoshu Journal of Medical Science 13, (1982)
• Study of contact dermatitis
• Thirteen hypersensitive subjects
• Touched on one arm with leaves from harmless tree
– But told that they were from lacquer tree
• Lacquer tree produces effects like those of poison ivy
• Touched on other arm with leaves from lacquer tree
– But told that they were from a harmless tree
• Results
– All thirteen subjects had skin reactions to harmless leaves
– Only two had reactions to the leaves from lacquer tree
Mind in Disease and Death
Representative Cases (3): A woman’s death belief
• Study by Walters (1944)
• Woman who believed she was going to die
– Believed she would die at the same age as her mother
– Mother died at age 42
– Two weeks before anniversary of mother’s death, became
excited and fearful
– Lapsed into a coma on the anniversary of mother’s death
– Died the next day, in the 7th month of her 42nd year
Mind in Disease and Death
Representative Cases (4): The man with a mean mother
– Study by Mathis (1964)
– Mother cursed him for going against her wishes
• Said, “Something dire is going to happen to you”
– Two days later, first asthma attack, age 53
– Further asthma attacks after encounters with mother
– On the day of death..
• At 5:00 pm, “excellent physical and mental condition”
reported by physician
• At 5:30 pm, telephone conversation with mother, who
repeated the warning
• 6:35 pm, was found comatose
• 6:55 pm, pronounced dead
Faith Healing V: The shrine at Lourdes II
The case of Vittorio Micheli (Garner 1974)
• Sarcoma in left pelvis
– X-rays showed “almost complete destruction of left pelvis”
Visited Lourdes in May 1963
Felt immediate disappearance of long-standing pain
Felt subjective sense of being cured
One month later, was walking
3 months later, x-rays “showed that the sarcoma had
regressed and the bone…was recuperating”
False pregnancy: pseudocyesis (I)
• Known to physicians since the time of Hippocrates
– Hippocrates reported 12 cases
• Numerous cases reported in the medical literature
– Bivin & Klinger (1937) reviewed 444 cases from 18th and
19th centuries
– Murray & Abraham (1978) reviewed 68 additional cases
– DeVane, Vera, Buhi & Kaira (1985), five more cases
– Whelan & Stewart (1990), six more cases
– Signer et al. (1992), six more
“Pseudocyesis provides a valuable opportunity for exploring the
mysterious no-man’s land between mind and body”
(Ramachandran & Blakeslee, Phantoms in the Brain, 1998)
Stigmata (VI)
• More recent case (Lifschutz 1974)
– A 10-year-old girl in California, deeply religious
– No signs of psychopathology
– The stigmata appeared for a period of 19 days up to
Good Friday of 1972
– The last time was on Good Friday, 1972
• The phenomena
– Bleeding, hands, feet, forehead
– No lesions: blood oozed from unbroken skin
– A physician who was present “observed the blood
[on her palm] increase in volume four fold”
• Contributing mental factors
– Read a book about the crucifixion one week before
– Saw a movie on the crucifixion three days after
reading the book
Phenomena similar to stigmata (V):
Dream induced
• Physiological response to a dream (Tuke, 1884)
• A man dreamed he had been hit in the chest with a stone
• “The vivid shock awoke him, and then he found that
there was on his chest…a round mark, having the
appearance of a bruise”
• The next day it was swollen
• Went to doctor for treatment
Autonomic effects (II)
False pregnancy
• False pregnancy in a (homosexual) man (D. Barrett, 1988)
Was undergoing hypnotherapy to quit smoking
Given suggestion to imagine himself as the person he would like to be
Had long wished he were a woman and wanted to bear a child
After three months, went to hospital
Enlarged abdomen
Morning nausea
Nipple secretions
“noticeable” enlargement of one breast
Hypnotic analgesia (II)
Pain relief during surgery (cont’d)
• Later use of hypnotic analgesia (Bramwell, 1903)
after advent of chemical anesthesia
Tooth extraction
Eye surgery
Removal of tonsils
Uterine tumors
Breast tumors
An unintended sunburn
J. M. Bellis, in American Journal of Clinical Hypnosis 8 (1966)
• Hypnotic suggestion:
– Imagine being on a beach on a sunny day
• Purpose: to induce relaxation
• Result:
– Immediately upon awakening her face was
“beet-red…and the redness extended over
her shoulders and half-way down her arms”
– The redness conformed to the lines of
subject’s dress
Difference in addiction
• A woman with M.P.D. (Coons, 1988; Miller & Triggiano, 1992)
– One personality addicted to heroin
– The other personalities had no addiction
and did not exhibit withdrawal symptoms
• When the addicted personality “took over”, needle track
marks would develop in the arms
Differences in visual acuity
• An early report (Dufay 1876, Alvarado 1989)
– A woman with severe myopia requiring glasses
– When in somnambulistic state had excellent
vision without glasses
• Could do needlework and thread needles in dim light
Other differences in vision
• A color-blind patient with MPD (B. G. Braun, 1983)
– Color-blindness “documented by the isochromatic color-blindness test”
– The color-blindness disappeared after successful integration of the
• Optical differences between different personalities
A patient with two personalities (Birnbaum & Thomann, 1996)
Required different corrective lenses for the different personalities
Differences in corneal curvature
Differences in astygmatism
Difference in visual acuity (S. D. Miller, 1991)
• A patient with two personalities
– First personality:
• 20/15 visual acuity in both eyes
– Second personality
• 20/30 in one eye, 20/50 in the other
– And an outward rotation of the left eye
Birthmarks and birth defects in reincarnation cases
• Extensive research since about 1970
– Ian Stevenson
(Kelly 232f)
• Two-volume monograph, 1997
– J. B. Tucker
– Others
• Examples
– Boy with cluster of hypopigmented birthmarks on chest
• corresponding to wounds in prior life
– 33 cases in Stevenson 1997
• In 18 of these, birthmarks correspond to entry and exit
gunshot wounds
• In one case, entry wound on throat
(Kelly 234)
Topics for today
• Mind over Matter IX
• Review of some of the evidence on mind and matter
• Attempts to make sense of it all
– Certainties
– Probabilities
– Possibilities
The old view of the world, supported by classical
physics, has been demonstrated to be false
So what are we left with?
Many theories have been proposed
Many of them are pretty wild
None of them is generally accepted
We are left with
– A few certainties
– Some probabilities
– Some possibilities
Some Certainties: Conclusions that are
(1) supported by conclusive evidence
(2) and the evidence is very widely known
• Classical (Newtonian) physics is not a valid theory of reality
• The world view provided by our senses and perceptual
systems is wrong
– In particular, our notions about the substantial nature
of matter
The external world of physics has thus become a world
of shadows. In removing our illusions we have removed
the substance, for indeed we have seen that substance
is one of the greatest of our illusions.
—Sir Arthur Eddington
(The Nature of the Physical World, 1928)
“It’s a crazy world we live in”
Quantum mechanics and common sense contradict
each other; in almost all cases, when physicists are
able to test which is “correct”, quantum mechanics
wins and common sense loses. It’s a crazy world we
live in. One gets the idea that we are missing
something fundamental in our understanding of the
Alex, of Indiana, posted to NYTIMES.COM
(Science Times, 3 June 2014)
Some Virtual Certainties: Conclusions that are
(1) supported by conclusive evidence
(2) but the evidence is not yet very widely accepted
• Some aspects of mind, including consciousness
exist separately from and/or beyond the brain
• Some aspects of mind, including consciousness,
survive the death of the body
– Abundant evidence has been published
– For summary, see:
Chris Carter, Science and the Afterlife Experience (2012)
Max Planck’s opinion
“I regard consciousness as
fundamental. I regard
matter as derivative from
consciousness. We cannot
get behind consciousness.
Everything that we talk
about, everything that we
regard as existing,
postulates consciousness.”
A letter to NYT Science Times
Perhaps the $4.5 billion focus on the brain is
misdirected. It is consciousness that is the real
mystery, and the assumption that consciousness
is a byproduct of the brain may be erroneous.
We may be looking in all the wrong places.
—Shelli Joye (Northern California)
posted to NYTimes.com
Science Times, November 18, 2014
Some probabilities
• If consciousness has reality apart from body, then
– It does not have to be bounded by the body
– In that case, the consciousness (or some aspect of
the mind) of one person is not necessarily separate
from those of others
• The “real world” that we have believed in because of
our sense perceptions is not only unlike what we
perceive, it is not even real at all
– It is a mental construct, built by our minds
Some Possibilities
• Idealism
– Eastern
– Western
• A Dream
– If a dream, it is a collective dream
• All people see (approximately) the same moon
– But one aspect of the dream is the perceived separation
• A Mathematical Construct
• The holographic theory of the cosmos
The paradoxical cube
The paradoxical cube
The paradoxical cube
Wolf’s view
Our minds may enter into nature in a way we had not
imagined possible. Perhaps much of what is taken to
be real is determined by thought. The order of the
universe may be the order of our own minds.
Fred Alan Wolf
Taking the Quantum Leap (1981:6)
• The view that reality as we can know it, is fundamentally
mental, mentally constructed, or otherwise immaterial
• Eastern
• Hindu
o The concept of MAYA
o Vedanta, …
• Buddhist
• Western
Plato, Neoplatonists
German idealism
o Kant, Hegel, Schopenhauer, …
George Berkeley
Charles Sanders Peirce
The “Mathematical Construct” possibility
• A question to ponder: What kind of reality do mathematical
objects and systems have?
Geometric objects
Complex geometric objects resulting from algebraic geometry
• The difference between
– Exploring and Discovering – Science
– Proving – Mathematics
The “Mathematical Construct” hypothesis and consistency
• Consistency
– A basic property of all mathematical systems:
– Everything logically follows, inevitably, from what precedes
• But this same principle holds for the physical universe of
classical (Newtonian) physics
Atomic structure follows from the properties of subatomic particles
Molecular structure follows from the properties of atoms
Biological structures follow from the properties of molecules
Galactic structures follow from the properties of stars etc.
Events follow from prior states and conditions
Therefore, we can logically/mentally construct prior states from
knowledge of existing states
– Maybe John Wheeler wasn’t so crazy after all
Ron Garret: Consistency defines reality (I)
• The Universe is comprehensible because large parts of it
are consistent. This consistency allows us to understand
our experiences in terms of stories whose explanatory
power endures from one moment to the next.
• Consistency defines reality. We distinguish between the
perceptions that we have while sleeping from those we
have while awake precisely because our wakeful
perceptions are more amenable to consistent storytelling.
We call our wakeful perceptions "reality" and our sleepful
ones "dreams" for precisely this reason.
Ron Garret: Consistency defines reality (II)
• It is so deeply ingrained in our psyche to believe that the
universe is consistent because reality is in some sense real
that the suggestion that reality is simply a mental construct
that our brains concoct to explain consistency in perception
sounds preposterous on its face.
• The point is that the Universe is comprehensible because it
is consistent. This is important because comprehensibility
cannot be described mathematically, but consistency can.
The Holographic Universe Possibility
The “Holographic Universe” Possibility (I)
From Michael Talbot, The Holographic Universe, 2011
• In the movie Star Wars, Luke
Skywalker's adventure begins when a
beam of light shoots out of the robot
Artoo Detoo and projects a miniature
three-dimensional image of Princess
• The image is a hologram, a threedimensional picture made with the
aid of a laser, and the technological
magic required to make such images
is remarkable.
Michael Talbot (1953-1992)
The “Holographic Universe” Theory (II)
From Michael Talbot, The Holographic Universe, 2011
• ... some scientists are beginning to believe the universe
itself is a kind of giant hologram, a splendidly detailed
illusion no more or less real than the image of Princess
Leia that starts Luke on his quest.
• Put another way, there is evidence to suggest that our
world and everything in it—from snowflakes to maple
trees to falling stars and spinning electrons—are also only
ghostly images, projections from a level of reality so
beyond our own it is literally beyond both space and time.
The “Holographic Universe” Theory (III)
From Michael Talbot, The Holographic Universe, 2011
• The main architects of this astonishing idea are two
… eminent thinkers: University of London physicist
David Bohm, a protégé of Einstein’s…; and Karl
Pribram, a neurophysiologist at Stanford University.
• Bohm became convinced of the universe's
holographic nature only after years of dissatisfaction
with standard theories' inability to explain all of the
phenomena encountered in quantum physics.
The “Holographic Universe” Theory (IV)
A different version, considered more respectable by physicists
Information from Wikipedia
• Inspired by black hole thermodynamics
• The holographic principle resolves the black hole
information paradox within the framework of string theory
• Susskind, Leonard (1995). "The World as a Hologram".
Journal of Mathematical Physics 36 (11): 6377–6396.
• The theory suggests that the entire universe can be seen as
a two-dimensional information structure “painted” on the
cosmological horizon such that the three dimensions we
observe are an effective description only at macroscopic
scales and at low energies
• The “cosmological horizon” has a finite area and grows with
Roger Penrose’s opinion
In my view the conscious
brain does not act
according to classical
physics. It doesn’t even
act according to
conventional quantum
mechanics. It acts
according to a theory we
don’t yet have.
Roger Penrose (1931- )
T h a t ’s
i t !

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