Psychic-Mystical Aspects of Metaphysics
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Chapter 1: Introduction
Metaphysics is aimed towards explaining the fundamental concepts of existence and the universe. Metaphysics originates from Aristotle’s philosophies (Loux, 2006, p. 5). However, the first philosopher of Metaphysics known till date is Thales of Miletus. He taught that everything originates from one single cause (termed as Arche). In metaphysics we address questions regarding the purpose of existence and various ways in which life and university could exist. Metaphysics helps us to understand our position in the universe. Metaphysics defines universe as a totality of the possibilities which can be repetitive. If we add these possibilities then we can derive the basic laws of universe.
Mysticism is a phenomenon filled with subtle shades, both linguistic and metaphysical. Mysticism deals with consciousness that is beyond the stratum of normal human perceptions. It includes both experiences and divine union with the ultimate being. Mysticism originated from the ‘mystikos’ (Louth, 2007, p. 204). The mystikos were considered to be those practicing the mystery religion. Their cult involved yearly ceremonies of goddesses Persephone and Demeter. These ceremonies were conducted secretly near Athens in ancient Greece. The mystikos date back to the Mycenaean period - around 1600 B.C. It was persistent for two thousand years. During the Hellenic era, these annual ceremonies shaped up as a key carnival and extended till ancient Rome (Louth, 2007, p. 204). Mysticism is a concept that cannot be expressed or bounded by definitions. However the explanation of mysticism has taken various literary forms which we will cover in details in the fourth chapter.
Psychic is an individual competent in reception and extraction of information via mental sensory receptors. The word Psychic was coined by Fredrick Myers. He was the president and founder of the Society for Psychical Research. This term was later adopted by J.B. Rhine, who is a psychologist in Duke University. Clairaudience, Telepathy, Clairvoyance, etc are examples of some psychic abilities. The term psychic originated from the Greek word “psychikos” which means mental or related to the mind. A French astronomer named Camille Flammario is known to have first used the term psychic.
Speculations and arguments regarding the source of psychic abilities or the reasons for the same have varied theories. As per empirical data and scientific research we use only 10% of our brain. Our brain has two compartments.
The left side can be considered as the logical side, which is accountable for producing rational thought. Again it is said that the right hand side of our brain is active for creative effort, thus it is known as the creative or imaginative side- it is accountable for imaginative thoughts and intuition. Primarily, the left side of our brain is used more compared to the right. If we know the technique to balance these two sides then a pathway to ninety percent part of the brain opens up, that we generally don’t use. This is the component of our brain capable of psychic and self healing activities, if used in a proper manner.
In this thesis, we will discuss about the various philosophies related to the mystical and psychic aspects of metaphysics. We will begin with the literature review on western philosophies and eastern philosophies.
Chapter 2: Review of Literature
Western Philosophies on Metaphysics
The foremost significant work in philosophy was done by Aristotle. The main topic of this work was understanding being qua being. A common fallacy is the thinking that here Aristotle is talking about one subject “being qua being” - which is under investigation. However, instead of two objects i.e. study and subject matter, Aristotle’s description indicates towards three objects- subject matter, study and the manner of conducting the study (Furth & Aristotle, 1985, p. 27). Thus being qua being is about observing and learning about the beings and the objects that study these beings in a meticulous manner. It is the art of understanding and affirming on something- simply on the basis of its existence. The fundamental question of metaphysics is defining ousia or substance (Furth & Aristotle, 1985, p. 33). In the book Metaphysics A.1 Aristotle said that wisdom is about the cause-effect principles of matter. Therefore these causes and principles are the areas to be researched upon to answer the primary question of metaphysics. This is what Aristotle termed as “first philosophy”. In his book Γ Aristotle says that first philosophy is concerned with PNC (the principal of non contradiction). The first philosophy principles appear academic, hypothetical and remote from the genre of ordinary experience. But according to Aristotle such principles can be researched by someone, who has researched nature’s laws and principles. Physics is a field which involves understanding Nature’s laws and principles via experimentation. Thus, Aristotle has rightly termed that the focus area of first philosophy as coming “after the Physics.” But the study of beings in metaphysics differs from subjects like Natural Science or Mathematics from the perspective angle. Mathematics studies beings as quantifiable entities and Natural Science observes beings as entities involved in Nature’s laws. However, Metaphysics first enquires the cause behind the existence and survival of beings.
While defining being and its existence, Aristotle said that the faculty of sensation is present in all beings, however only in case of some, this sensation acts as a generator of memory. Memory is the key driver in the learning process. Therefore, those having the power of memory are better learners and are termed more intelligent than others. Memory and sensation together helps animals to learn. However, there is more important than plain learning that human beings express. This is what Aristotle termed as “connected experience” (Furth & Aristotle, 1985, p. 47).
Categories, is Aristotle’s work on logic that directs the manner of making a proposition and inferring from the same. Aristotle divided all beings into ten categories and determines the first category i.e. substance (ousia) as most important. Thus, the books Ζ, Η, and Θ of Aristotle deal with the study of substance. In his book Γ.2 Aristotle says that beings can be termed as substances only in their key sense and to non-substantial categories in secondary sense (Bohn & Aristotle, 1998, p. 2). However, it is still a topic of argument amongst philosophers regarding non-substantial categories.
Aristotle on Psychic
In De Anima Aristotle tries to define soul. In the second chapter he defines soul as that, which can be distinguished from another by the property of possessing life. Here he termed the self nutrition capability of plants as the only psychic power it possesses. He terms mind as eternal, because of its capability of solitary functioning- which differs itself from all other psychic powers. Aristotle defines psychic states in human as the states that are causally relevant to teleological explanation of the organism’s movements.
Eastern Philosophies on Metaphysics
The eastern world philosophy concentrates on the unity of all living entities and the energy flow connecting them. Therefore the concept of every living entity being connected to another is the main essence of Eastern Philosophy. In this section we are going to discuss Taoism, Buddhism and Hinduism in context of metaphysics.
The Tao Philosophies
Taoism was introduced as the State religion of China in 440 B.C. by Lao Tzu. Taoism believed in a life that balanced with nature and this balance is the key to a prosperous life. The word Tao means a force that interconnects all lives or living beings. The principles or the mechanism of this connection was, however, unknown to ancient Tao philosophers(Tao Longevity, 2004). Taoism defines the psychic powers as the key to augment the vital energy that is flowing through the cosmos- interconnecting all living beings. A practice in Taoism- known as SunDo directs individuals to enhance their vital energy by practicing lower abdominal breathing. This is also known as Taoist alchemy or metaphysics(Tao Longevity, 2004). Taoism believes that the energy from the third eye sustains the vitalities like awareness and mental attentiveness. The navel chakra radiates essence which is symbolic of physical fitness. Finally the heart chakra represents the source of energy that is emanated from the spirits of every living human. Complete development of these three qualities leads to enhancement of psychic powers (understanding of self and the surroundings).
The Vedic Philosophies
Vedas are the sacred texts of Aryans. The Vedic metaphysics believes in harmony that allows fusion of contrasting social values. Thus the Vedic prayer to the supreme creator is “OM Shanti Shanti Shanti” – requesting the Lord to create and maintain peace all around (Sabhlok, 2011, p. 21). Around 8000 hymns in Vedas relate to metaphysics (Kapoor, p. 236). Vedic metaphysics defines weakness a consequence of desire for material pleasure, sensual pleasure and other psychic conditions. The remedy for such weakness in Vedic metaphysics is defined as Vidya or knowledge (Sabhlok, 2011, p. 25). The psi phenomenon in Vedic metaphysics is defined as the connection via a medium that is related to awareness or intellect (buddhi) and thought process (chinta) rather than senses and body (Sabhlok, 2011, p. 18). The divine instruments for enhancement of psychic power in Vedas have been identified as: mind (manas), spirit (jiva), soul (atma), pride (ahamkar), intellect (buddhi). The Nirguna Brahma is the supreme reality in the Vedas. The Vedic God has been termed as non describable. According to Sankrachrya- ‘words recoil before him’. He is beyond any categorisation and is the ultimate reality.
The Vedas term corruption as the root for social destruction and cause of destruction of peace or shanti. History shows that the Roman Empire which was built upon conquered wealth got destroyed because of the materialism and corruption. Same was the story of the Indian Nanda dynasty (Kapoor, 2002, p.323). It was more important to remove corruption than build a mighty army in order to sustain an empire. Donations and presents are considered to be a form of corruption. However the Vedas say that any gift or amount given as charity, solely for the purpose of giving and with no other hidden intentions are Sattavic gifts and should not be termed as any form of corruption. These are seen in the Vedas as a divine gift from the Almighty. According to the Vedas charitable acts helps to purify one’s soul.
A question in Metaphysics is that “Is the world reality or illusion?” According to the Shuniya Vadins, the entire universe is void (Shunya), just like most part of an atom and only the spirit of the divine Lord reside there (Sabhlok, 2011, p. 160).
Vedas also reflect on the power of Nature. Mankind grows up with Prakiriti and therefore is much familiar to Mother Nature and her boons as well as her wrath (Sabhlok, 2011, p. 4). In Rig Veda Nature has been described as Prakriti and in Yadur Veda as immortal mother. Earth is described as the kind and extremely tolerant Prithvi Devi. Nature is also described as the material cause or Matar in the Vedas that came in contact with Pitar (father in heaven). According to Bhagwat Gita- Nature is the foundation for determination of all causes, effects and agents (Sabhlok, 2011, p. 4).
The Vedas defines consciousness as the key to identify reality. The Veda defines psychic healing or psycho kinesis as a result of self consciousness (Atman). It defines telepathy and the phenomenon of precognition as the sensory organs of Atman or eyes and hands of the soul. The psi phenomenon is basically defined in the Vedas as sensory reception by our soul, rather than our body. According to the Vedas- this psychic level is where we experience inner consciousness and have minimum level of awareness. In yogic philosophy, persons achieving such level of consciousness are termed as Siddhis.
The Buddhist Philosophies
Buddhism dates back to 6th century BC. Unlike other religions Buddhism is concerned with life more than afterlife. It guides us and tells us about how we should spend our life. Buddhism directs four noble truths. Buddhism says that suffering of mankind can be ended by following the eight fold path. Metaphysics of Buddhism depends on the basic principle that although the world exists, it is not permanent. Therefore the sufferings endured by the beings in the world are also not permanent. Buddhist philosophy has two divisions- Hinayana and Mahayana. Mahayana is based on idealistic metaphysics and Hinayana is based on realistic metaphysics. Another name foe Hinayana is Theravada. Its’ metaphysical basis is ontology. In Theravada the world is compared to the peeling of an onion. Every entity depends on another, thus a single entity cannot be independent and therefore cannot be real. Therefore we can understand that the world is not permanent in this case. But in order to free ourselves from suffering we should spiritually understand the transitional reality. This will help us to lead a life with minimal suffering. In case of Mahayana, individual consciousness is considered to be independent from the world. Mahayana has three schools of thought: Yogachara, Sautantrika and Madhyamaika. Yogachara defines world as an abstract reality. It considers the world as unreal because of its non existence. It recognises only the existence of consciousness. This solitary state of existence is termed as Nirvana in the Yogachara school of thought. The Madhyamaika philosophy denies the existence of world just like Yogachara. However, in this case the existence of “I” or consciousness is analysed and scrutinised. Such scrutiny reveals that consciousness is inter wound with the world and cannot exist independently. Thus it denies both the world and consciousness or “I”. According to Sautantrika school of thought, the existence of world is based on our inference or our senses. Thus existence of the world is dependent on our collective consciousness.
Chapter 3: Findings
Physics and Metaphysics
The interrelationship between different types of energies is an area of limitation of Quantum mechanics. Quantum theory assumes energy is transferred in packets- as light or as it is scientifically termed-photon particle. But atomic ultra structure has revealed that neutrinos are of two types and are also in photonic or energy packet form. This assumption is the reason of limitation of Quantum Mechanics, since all energies are not in packet forms. The wave particle duality concept or the uncertainty principle explains not only movements of matter but also forms of time itself. It considers not only the three dimensions, but also the fourth and the fifth dimension that vibrate like the three dimensions. In fact, these vibrations are responsible for the two forms of energy and gravity fields that generate the magnetic and light field. This is a significant property in to be considered in order to analyse the movement of pure energy- whether it is in packet form or not.
The question: can a thing be justifiably considered strictly as a particle, or a wave, is addressed in the uncertainty principle. If one insists that a thing is a particle, then we should be able to determine quantitatively its fundamental properties like momentum or position which are inseparably associated with particles. Such measurements though extremely simple with macroscopic bodies (e.g. the planets, a football, a tennis ball, etc.), would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, in the case of very small particle like the electron. It is so, because the electron is too small to be seen directly and hence it can be observed only indirectly by perturbing it with an outside agency like an electric or magnetic field or a light photon. But, exposure of the electron to any such force will at once change its position or velocity (and hence its momentum). Heisenberg expressed this situation by stating that, the more accurately the position of a particle like the electron is defined, less accurately its velocity is known and vice versa. This principle was propounded by Heisenberg. The principle can be also expressed as “It is impossible to measure simultaneously the exact velocity and the exact position of a small particle like the electron”. If ∂x represents the uncertainty in defining the position, and the uncertainty in defining the velocity is expressed as ∂v, the mathematical expression for the uncertainty principle takes the form: , where h= Planck’s constant, whose value is 6.624×10-27 erg-sec. This equation implies that it is impossible to know simultaneously the velocity as well as the position of a small particle likes the electron accurately, which is the alternative statement of the uncertainty principle which has been already pointed out.
The classical atomic model, which incorporates the concept of the electron moving in a definite orbit, where both its position and velocity (and hence, momentum) are exactly known, must be replaced, because it is in contradiction to the fundamental scientific principle - the uncertainty principle. Therefore, the wave-mechanical atom, expressing the position and velocity in terms of probability, is a logical and inevitable outcome which led to the concept of atomic orbital.
The Uncertainty Principle helps in the understanding the reason behind the nature of organisation of this universe. The organisation of the universe in its present form is because of the fact that it could not have been organised in any other form considering the physical laws of existence.
Other than the Uncertainty Principle, the concept of relativity in 21st century physics does not take into consideration all forms of energy that travels at a faster rate than that of light energy. Mainly the concepts of two different movements of time, the two different forms of gravity and instantaneous transfer of energy into actual space dimensions have been missed. The time differences in fourth and fifth dimensions were not accounted in the concept of relativity.
Thirdly, we come to the String Theory. The String Theory failed to understand matter energy relationship and its explanation required 26 dimensions, whereas it could have been done in 5 dimensions. The fact that it cannot be proved or rejected on the basis of experimentation shows that some element is missing.
The Quark Theory is also incomplete because it tries to fit in Nature. But quarks have not been observed in nature and there is much to doubt regarding their true existence.
Particle physics has failed to understand that matter affects other matters as well as itself in the universe. This is why many of the fundamental particles in physics appear to have been created.
The concept of virtual particles is foggy in the sense that if they are capable of creating magnetic field, then it is unlikely that they will remain undetected. Besides, virtual particles should travel exactly equal to the speed of light in order to retain their theoretical properties.
To this date, physics or any other domain of science has failed to define God or at least explain the concept. Metaphysics defines God as the sum of energy, space and matter. Physics has failed to explain the reason for energy being perpetual. Metaphysics says that energy cannot be created or destroyed because energy is basically the vibrations of the dimensions of space.
Metaphysics also defines space as indivisible. The energy in parts of space is due to the energy difference in itself. Space is a form of energy. This has been discussed in details in the following section.
Psychic Powers and Energy
In order to understand the energy involved in psychic abilities or psi, we first need to discuss the different forms of energy known to us in the universe.
Speed of time depends on the reference of the observer to the speed of light. The simplest definition of energy is the kinetic energy of an object measured with respect to a reference frame. Thus fundamental energy is explained in terms of frame of reference. To reach the reference frame of comparatively faster object energy is required. And time is distorted in such kinetic energy fields and is affected by the uncertainty principle. Time can be considered as a scaffold in which energy is transferred.
The movement of sub atomic particles, for e.g. electron from one point in the space to another point via absorption of energy is considered from the point of view of the observed as a jump in space. But there is another theory about the space being curved towards an object – a fundamental property that makes the object instantaneously skip trillions of minuscule steps in space. Metaphysical scholars describe this as an illusion due to the difference in time’s rate.
Time passes at different rates depending on the speed of the observer’s reference frame with respect to time. When the speed of the observers’ reference frame is close to the speed of light, then time runs slow. And when the observer’s speed of reference frame is minimal compared to the speed of light- then time runs fast(Reynolds, 2002, p. 188). Therefore if the speed of the observer becomes equal to the speed of light, then these differences are eliminated, and the object travelling at light speed can move through space instantaneously.
The gravitational field of an accelerating object is the second most complicated form of energy. Energy is added or absorbed from the object or from the dimensions of space. There is a second type of gravity that leads to the space being wrapped around the object- leading to the formation of the fifth dimension.
It has been mathematically proved that magnetic field is a form of energy. However, scholars or metaphysics suggest there is a connection between gravity and magnetic field since its source is from the structure of matter and it itself is an extension of matter.
Strong Field and Weak Field
The weak field is a trillion times weaker than the magnetic force and is actually a by product of the strong force. The strong field is exactly opposite of magnetic energy. In this case the instantaneous speed of an object is directly proportional to its mass.
Matter is in pervasive motion. This motion is the fuel for the energy of matter. The acceleration of a matter is because of absorption of energy. And time measures such movement; therefore it has been defined in the earlier discussion as a framework for the transmission of energy and not a form of energy itself. (Reynolds, 2002, p. 188)
The vibration of the dimensions of space- length, thickness and height and is what we know as light energy. The energy in a light particle or photon is directly proportional to the combinations of Planck’s constant.
Matter can be termed as energy in its solid form. It is not a pure form of energy- since pure form of energy cannot bind with any other form of energy. Matter has instantaneous affect on other matter due to gravity leading to vibration of matter in space.
Three Dimensions of Space
The three dimensions of space- thickness, length, breadth are a form of energy that generates a magnetic field. Since, in case of magnetic field an area of space has more energy than the adjacent area. This difference in energy is not caused by any movement but due to the holding of energy by these three dimensions of space.
Thought Process and Energy
Metaphysics suggest that the endeavour of measuring and observing an object radiates or absorbs energy from the substance or space itself.
After discussing the above forms of energy, we come to field that deals with the very foundation of psychic abilities or psi. Metaphysical researchers suggest that any idea or thought has some kind of minute effect in the universe. Ideas expressed or unexpressed remain as a form of energy. A hypothesis in this case is that there can’t be a concept of generation of new idea- since all ideas exists in this universe in some form or the other. We can conclude by saying that our brain or mind is also a mystical form of energy. Such forms of energy do not travel in particulate or wave form in the space.
Matter and Psi
The common theory of formation of substance is that the universe initially was made up of electrons and anti electrons. This theory is in disparity to itself because such existence would be preposterous, since the particle and anti-particle would have neutralised each other leaving nothing else but emptiness. Contemporary researchers have found that it is possible to produce matter from pure energy. A carrier matter is required even at the preliminary stage to transmit this energy.
Exploring the Psychic Phenomenon
The main concept of psychic comes from extrasensory perception. Extrasensory perception is related to senses that are not common to us or known to us. These are basically sensory transmissions related to the mind. Amongst the early scholars dealing with psychic research J.B Rhine is mentionable. He and his wife tried to establish psychology as a part of empirical science. They used to perform their research experiments in Duke University during the 1930s.The life works of J.B. Rhine’s was mainly dedicated towards structuring psychical science and defining the terms like Extrasensory Perception, Psi. He also tried to design tests and experiments to assess their validity. Louisa Rhine, on the other hand, was dedicated towards collecting accounts of paranormal or psychic experiences.
The development of Zener cards marked a stepping stone towards scientifically assessing extrasensory phenomenon. It is a pack of twenty five cards that bears various symbols like square, circle, cross, wavy lines, and star. These cards are used for experimentation especially in case of telepathy. Generally there are two participants in this kind of experiments. The sender needs to look at the symbols and mentally choose any one of them. And the receiver has to guess which symbol has been chosen. Of course the orders of these cards are always random in case of these experiments, so that no prior technique can be used by the receiver. Clairvoyance can also be tested with the help of these cards. In this experiment only one participant is the subject. The card, in this case, remains hidden. The receiver should guess or determine accurately the location of the cards. Like telepathy, in this experiment also, the cards should be hidden cautiously, so that it is not seen by anybody other than the person in charge of the experiment. Another type of experiment with the help of these cards is the precognition experiment. In this case the order of the cards is shuffled randomly. Only one subject can participate in this test at a time. The receiver or the subject would need to guess the exact order, after it has been shuffled. Initially these cards were randomly shuffled by hand. Later on machines were used. Following this was the trend of using random number tables. Now-a-days computers are used for such shuffling. The advantage of using extra sensory perception cards is that a statistical measurement can be done to determine that how many hits (or positive results) can be obtained by chance. So the chance factor can be eliminated and the final results would consist of real hits.
Psychic Phenomenon- From the ancient civilisations to nineteenth century
The origins of fortune telling and divination dates back to several thousand years when, astrology was the most celebrated type of fortune telling. The basis of astrology is the position of celestial body in space. Based on the changes of their position, it is believed that future events can be guessed. Also there were prophets, who claimed to have the abilities like precognition and clairvoyance. Prophets or Astrologers were part of the noble population in the early days. They were priests, advisors, and people belonging to the upper echelons of the society. A legend on precognition and prophets is The Delphic Oracle. The priestess Pythia residing over the oracle is believed to possess prophetic abilities.
Michel de Nostredame, popularly known as Nostradamus is believed to have possessed psychic abilities. He was a French apothecary. His prophecies mainly deal with plague, disaster, battles, murders, etc.
In the mid nineteenth century, amongst the mentionable development is the advent of modern spiritualism. The basic idea is that spirits or souls can be contacted via mediums. Daniel Dunglas Home is a psychic who became famous during that period mainly because of his levitation qualities and reported communication abilities with the dead.
Modern Research and Beliefs
In the year 1990 a survey was conducted by the National Academy of Sciences. The survey results showed that only 2% of the respondents believed in the scientific validation of psychic abilities and psychic philosophies. Another 2% of the population asserted to the fact that these phenomenon may occur at certain times (Loux, 2002, p. 56). However, when asked about whether research in this fields should be encouraged or not, maximum respondents (sixty three percent) replied negatively. Twenty two percent of the population believed it should be discouraged and only ten percent of the population believed research in this field should be encouraged. However, in the year 2005, The Gallup Organization conducted a survey in which as many as forty one percent of the respondents said that they believed in extra sensory perception. Among these, thirty one percent believed in telepathy and twenty six percent believed in clairvoyance. Again in the year 2006 researchers Bryan Farha and Gary Steward of the Oklahoma City University and University of Central Oklahoma organised an opinion poll amongst 439 college students. The data suggested that the trend of belief in psychic phenomenon was more in senior students and graduates than in fresher. As many as thirty four percent of graduates and thirty one percent of senior college students asserted to the fact that they believe in psychic abilities, however the percentage was only twenty three in case of fresher students.
The above data suggests that there has been an uptrend in belief and knowledge of psychic abilities. However, research endeavours in this field are still limited. To explore the mystical area of metaphysics, more research endeavours are required. It should be noted that although the philosophy of metaphysics is unique and different from any other domains of science, research in modern metaphysics has strictly been empirical type. Since the ideology of this subject is different, therefore the methodologies need to be adapted accordingly. Thus the research procedure on human brain should reflect more of a metaphysical angle than empirical angle. Else it cannot be considered under the domain of psychic research. With due reference to the differences in metaphysics and empirical science, it should also be remembered that both the domains seek the answers to the same question – the reason of our existence. Thus the motive behind both these domains is the same. Only the nature of reasoning and the method of searching the answers are different.
Chapter 4: Discussion
Empirical Science vs. Metaphysical Science
The meaning of the term empirical is anything that is derived from experimentation and observation. Empirical science is considered with scientific evidence that has been empirically derived. An empirical scientist would move on the basis of some hypothesis. Then the scientist needs to design an experiment which would verify the truth of the hypothesis.
Empirical science acts on the basis of logic and evidence. However Metaphysical science is concerned with the mechanism of logic itself. Empirical Science tries to derive evidence from interaction between entities and then concluding the laws governing those entities. However, metaphysical science is concerned with the relationship between all entities. Empirical science assumes, perception as a tool that will guide us to reality. Whereas metaphysical investigates perception itself and accounts it as evidence. Metaphysics is concerned with analysing the nature of reality and distinguishes between what is real and what is not. Interestingly, Empirical science also aims to answer the same questions, but in a different manner. Thus, we must remember that empirical science and metaphysical science are connected to some extent. The Western philosopher, Aristotle was considered as one of the greatest scientists of that time. His methods cannot be distinguished as either science or philosophy.
Modern Understanding of Mysticism
In order to understand the modern concept of mysticism, we need to refer to Neo-Platonism and Platonism, because these are the building blocks of modern concept of mysticism. Platonism is defined as Plato’s philosophy or any other philosophy that is the derivative of Plato’s philosophy(Underhill, 2003, p. 230). Platonism distinguishes between perceptible and intelligible realism. The central concept in Platonism revolves around the Theory of Forms. The highest form has been defined as the form of good by Book VI of the Republic. The basis of Platonic philosophy is to recognise the ultimate form of good. A derivative of Platonism is Neo-Platonism. Its area of focus is the spiritual as well as the cosmological areas of Platonism. Philosopher Plotinus propounded Neo-Platonism. Modern form of mysticism is basically the divine union with the ultimate being or enlightenment into conscious cognition. It is direct interaction with the divine spirit via extrasensory preceptors. Modern mysticism may be of two types- dualistic and non dualistic. (Underhill, 2003, p. 230) Dualism of mysticism is when there is a distinction between self and the divine being. Non dualism is when that distinction is not there. Many of the world religions have been inspired by Mysticism (for example Buddhism, Christianity, etc). The concept of enlightenment arose from mysticism, where enlightenment means attainment of mysticism (irrespective of faith).
Parapsychology- A Psychic Phenomenon
The term parapsychology was used by philosopher Max Dessoir in the year 1888. J.B. Rhine replaced the term psychical research in the 1930s and used this term instead. Parapsychology deals with certain alleged mysterious, paranormal or supernatural events like psycho kinesis, precognition, clairvoyance, near death experience, telepathy, apparitional experiences and reincarnation.
The term telepathy means transfer of information from one entity to another without the aid of any known sensory or physical interactional channels. The word has been derived from the Greek work “tele” which means communication and the word “pathe”, which means hardship or experience. The proper expression for telepathy is thought transference. The term was coined by Fredrick W.H. Myers. However the reality of telepathy has not been yet convincingly established. The results of experiments concerned with telepathy have failed to provide any conclusive evidence so far. Precognition or second eye generally relates to the phenomenon of acquiring knowledge of future phenomenon that cannot be acquired via normal sensory perceptions in the present(Mathew, 2005). This is a type of extra sensory perception. However, the existence of precognition has not been recognised by the scientific community, since it lacks proper evidence. Another aspect is that, till date demonstration of such event has not been received under controlled environment. Clairvoyance is also a type of extra sensory perception. This is the phenomenon of obtaining information about an individual, place, thing or event via uncommon sensory channels(Mathew, 2005). Telekinesis or Psycho kinesis is the phenomenon of observable influence of mind on any object. Reincarnation relates to the basic idea that soul remains even after our body perishes. Scientists account near death experience as hallucinatory, however paranormal researchers and scholars account them as proof of the existence of afterlife.
Chapter 5: Summary and Conclusion
Although researchers and philosophers have tried to carry on research to empirically prove psychic phenomenon, according to many critics like Ed J. Gracely, evidence cannot suffice for universal acceptance o psychic phenomenon. The reason is that the probability of this phenomenon is rare and is subject specific. It is still not clear why extra sensory perception abilities are exhibited by only few. This field has been categorised as various critics as pseudoscience. Another point is that for many psychic activities there is a non paranormal explanation. For example magicians like Derren Brown have shown various tricks and techniques the result of which appears similar to popular psychic phenomenon. However, there are psychological explanations to these phenomenon’s, rather than paranormal ones.
Although there are various criticisms on Psychic phenomenon and research on extra sensory perceptions, it has to be taken into account that these are quite unexplored areas of metaphysics in terms of empirical research. And in many cases metaphysics has been able to describe these extra sensory phenomenon and define its mechanism. Any other dimension of science has still not been able to give any conclusive explanation. From the concept of God to the concept of summation of all possibilities, metaphysics gives a conclusive view and reasoning of what is now and what is beyond now. The various eastern and western philosophies as well as the scientific energy theories discussed are directed towards understanding the fundamental questions of metaphysics. Psychic and mysticism is also a part of that fundamental question, since it also a part of the study of substance and the various energy system in this universe connecting beings.
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