Swami Rama - 08 The Swami and psychokinetic experiments
Type of Spiritual Experience
A description of the experience
Beyond Biofeedback – Drs Elmer and Alyce Green
Now let us discuss the "moving object" experiment (item 5), which we had planned to study at the end of the series with Swami Rama. One day when one of the physicians and I were interviewing the Swami in my office, he mentioned the fact that he could move objects by mind. Instantly, the doctor said, "You mean you can do it just like that, right now?" The Swami said, "Yes, there's nothing to it. I can do it in five minutes." The doctor said, "Show me." The Swami jumped up and said, "I'll do it in your office." I interrupted and said, with some irritation, "I thought you said none of this would take place except in the laboratory. We are not planning any such demonstrations until next year. We are not set up to do any of this."
The Swami looked very bothered, but said, "I have been challenged. I have to do it now."
So the three of us went to the doctor's office. At the Swami's request, I hung a pencil on a string from the corner of the desk. He knelt down close to the pencil and began saying a mantra very fast, with considerable breath force. Soon the pencil rotated.
Before my colleague could say anything, I pointed out that obviously the pencil would move, if for no reason other than because his breath was pushing it. To conduct the experiment properly, I said, we would have to make certain that no air currents were involved. The Swami jumped up and said, "All right, I will do it again." I could set it up, he said, under laboratory conditions, and he would wear a mask to prevent air currents and would be several feet away from the object. And he would "make it move." I asked him when to schedule the demonstration, and there was a long period of thinking. I asked what he was doing and he said he was calculating when he would be ready. It was necessary to say his mantra many times over a period of days in order to make the demonstration under those conditions. Finally he said that he would be ready in nine days. The time was agreed upon with the doctor, but an additional five-day delay was necessary because of his patient schedules. I arranged the experiment in a small room in the basement of the research building, blocking air vents to prevent air currents and arranging chairs so six observers and I would have a good look at the Swami and the object he would try to move.
I bought some aluminum knitting needles, ground their tips to points, and glued two of them together at right angles in the form of an X. A small hole was drilled through the place where the needles intersected and the assembly was set on a vertical axle, a steel pin that extended from a plastic block, …... The plastic block was glued to a 360o protractor so that "before" and "after" readings could be taken of the position of the needle assembly. A small bead under the needle assembly provided ample friction to prevent motion due to air currents and yet was free enough to allow easy movement. I hung a floodlight from the ceiling over the lamp table on which the fixture was placed.
I questioned the Swami about the long delay required for saying his mantra. He said that it was necessary to say it 140,000 times. I asked him why so many times were necessary and he said, "Because it says so in the Sanskrit records." I asked what would happen if he said it only 130,000 times, and he said, "I don't know, but I am afraid to try."
As the days passed the Swami was in seclusion a good deal of the time, practicing breathing exercises and repeating the mantra. Tension increased at our house every day until the day of the experiment. That morning when the Swami came out of his room he was completely at ease and said that he felt certain now that the demonstration would be a success. He said he had contacted his teacher and the teacher had said, "You have been trained to do this, do it."
"But," the Swami continued, "there will be trouble about the mask."
I had obtained a painter's mask with a foam-rubber insert through which to breathe, and when I first showed it to the Swami he said that it would not be adequate.
"How could anybody complain about this?" I said. "You can't blow air through it, that's for sure."
But he said, "Cover the mask with something to make it more sure."
I obtained a plexiglass plate and bolted it across the foam-rubber insert so that if any air could be blown through the foam rubber it would be deflected away and down, as shown in Figure 11.
Just as we were leaving the house to go to the lab, the Swami said again that there was going to be trouble about air currents. "Someone in the group is going to say that I did it with air currents. Go back and get a sheet to tie around me, up to my eyes and over the mask, just so I can see out."
We were late, however, and I knew that the participating doctors had patients scheduled immediately after the experiment. I did not want to take more precautions. I said, "I really don't care to try to cover more eventualities. There is no way to satisfy every person. I am satisfied with this mask. As far as I am concerned, there is absolutely no way in which air currents can be manipulated through this mask to control the knitting needles five feet away. There isn't time to make more arrangements. Let's go." So we went to the lab.
Doug Boyd had burned a lot of incense in the experimental room for the Swami, and I hoped the observers could tolerate it.
The Swami sat with his back to the wall on the couch shown in Figure 10, facing the low table with the needle assembly on it. Doug's chair was placed at the end of the couch. The Swami had asked that Doug sit there with a wooden stick to prop him up if he should fall to the left toward the "negative" side, he said. It was important not to touch him with the hand, only with the stick. I lit a candle that the Swami requested for focusing attention and placed it on the floor, lining it up according to the Swami's instructions so that the flame was seen by him above the left tip of the long needle. The short needle pointed at the couch.
While the Swami meditated, Doug waited by the door to the experimental room and I notified the other observers to join us. I first passed the mask around so everyone could look at it and try it on if desired. They looked at the protractor and needles and sat down while I put the mask over the Swami's nose and mouth and adjusted it. After getting into a comfortable cross-legged position and sitting silently for three or four minutes, the Swami remarked that the candle flickered sometimes (which I had noticed) and said that it was distracting him. I rose and blew out the candle. I asked him if we could record his mantra. He said no recordings could be made. (No one would have understood any recording, in fact, because he muttered at such tremendous speed.) After another brief silence he began. The mantra was quite long, possibly fifteen seconds, and was concluded with a loud exclamation, a word of command, at which time the needle rotated a small amount: The point he was focusing his eyes on moved toward him. We sat for a moment in silence, and then I got up and examined the needle. It had moved ten degrees.
The Swami asked if I wanted him to do it again. I said yes, and the performance was repeated. The needle moved another ten degrees toward him. We talked for a while in the group, looked at the mask again, glanced at the protractor, and went back upstairs.
I immediately sought out the doctor with whom the first "demonstration" had been conducted and asked him how he felt about this one. He said, "I believe that he did it with air currents."
"But," I objected, "air currents as an explanation are not reasonable."
He said, "Let's face it. This is probably the most remarkable person you or I will ever see. He can control blood flow in the palm of his hand, he can stop his heart from pumping blood. He can do things with his breath that you and I can't even imagine. I think he did it with air currents."
"But how?" I replied.
"How do I know? Maybe he bounced air off his chest."
"But," I continued, "how could he do that? He was totally covered over in his white gown-even his hands were covered."
"Don't ask me to explain, but I still think he did it with air.”
Entertained by the accuracy of the Swami's prediction, I went to his office in the research building and said, "You were right, Dr. X feels that it was done with air currents." Swami seemed irritated and said, "I told you so." He offered to do another demonstration, behind a large board, but Dr. X was already busy with his patients and this could not be arranged.