What the bleep do we know that we don’t know that we know? A sudden shift in your energy or feelings in the presence of a stranger – or a life memory that floats to the surface – may be telling you something about that other person. A sudden twinge or pain that has no obvious explanation may be an inner beeper, alerting you to something that is happening, or will happen, at a distance from you in space and time. Or a song that starts playing on your inner soundtrack. Or a smell that doesn’t have a physical source.
Facts before theories, always. Let me give a few personal examples of how this works. I’ll confine myself, for now, to four modes of knowing that seem to involve somatic cognition – of the body picking up something in the field, through the physical senses, before the mind-brain perceives it.
Smelling across an ocean
I’m cooking goulash for dinner when I notice a smell in the house that isn’t coming from anything there. It’s the smell of cheap cologne, laid on heavily. My wife smells it too. We discuss it and agree that it’s the smell of a little-girl pretend perfume one of my daughters bought at the local general store when she was out here on vacation from school in England. She’s now back at school on the other side of the ocean. Is it possible we are both sensing her, across the distance? The next day, when I talk to her on the phone, her first question is, “Daddy, were you cooking that Hungarian dish that smells really bad last night? I was thinking of you and I smelled it in my room.” Seems like this may have been a case of two-way clairolfaction (good luck on finding that word in a dictionary).
The White Queen Gambit
I go to the doctor for my annual physical. The nurse who is checking my blood pressure is alarmed by the size of the numbers, especially since my blood pressure has been well regulated for many years. I tell her not to worry; we’ll see what happens next. Puzzled, she sticks a needle into a vein in my arm to draw some blood – and produces a gusher. Blood goes spurting high into the air and comes down spattering my new linen pants. Horrified, the nurse rushed to get the gusher capped and mop my pants with hydrogen peroxide. I now suggest that she takes my blood pressure again. She’s amazed that the numbers have come down to a perfectly normal reading. I tell her my body has just played the White Queen Gambit. In Through the Looking Glass, the White Queen screams before she pricks her finger, so she doesn’t need to holler when this actually happens. It often seems to me that in a similar way the body knows things before they happen and reacts physically ahead of the event that explains the reaction. An old word for this is presentiment.
Viral fear, over the teacups
I’m interviewing a powerful man for a magazine article and afternoon tea is served. I can’t hold the cup steady and spill the hot liquid into the saucer. I realize that, on a somatic level, I am full of fear. I can’t find an immediate explanation. Though I’m in the presence of an important person, I am in no way in awe of him and am a veteran of hundreds of similar interviews. Slowly it dawns on me that my body has picked up on his fear, and is responding as if it were my own. Within six months, the sources of the other man’s fear became public knowledge. He was ousted from his post, forced to flee his country, and diagnosed with the cancer that killed him. This is one of countless examples of how we move in an energetic minefield of overlapping energy fields. I’ve learned to check whether any sudden shift in my own energy and bodily sensations may be related to picking up another person’s energy state.
The suicide’s bridge
A friend tells me she’s worried about a male acquaintance who is is seriously depressed. Would I be willing to counsel him? I say that I’ll think about it, but rarely conduct private sessions. That afternoon, I have to lie down and take a nap. I wake feeling as if I’ve been shot in the head, with a blurry recollection of pushing away a gray figure that was flapping around like a bat. My friend phones me that evening to tell me her depressed acquaintance killed himself that afternoon – by shooting himself in the head. He did this in the period of my nap. After discussion, we agreed that in his panic and confusion – as he began to realize that suicide is never an escape – he tried to get to my friend for help and, failing to get her attention, then traveled along a psychic bridge between her and me. He did not do this in a wholly disembodied form, but in an energy vehicle sufficiently dense for me to pick up, on a somatic level, what he had done to himself and what followed. This goes beyond our general understanding of telepathy.
There are various models for understanding such phenomena. The great pioneer in this area was the Victorian researcher of the “supernormal”, Frederick W.H. Myers, whose classical education and literary flair has given us many of the key words we use to name and discuss such things – telepathy is his best-known coinage. In his “Scheme of Vital Faculty”, an essay appended to his master work Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death Myers attempted to present a coherent schema of all the modes of subliminal knowledge. Our “official science” (to borrow William James’ phrase) has yet to catch up with him. Theories of quantum nonlocal connection or “entanglement” (which Einstein, shaking his mane, called “spooky action at a distance”) give us some promising ways of looking at some of these phenomena. Our primary requirement, however, is to gather a personal inventory of instances and modes of supernormal knowing that will encourage us to expand our attention and speed the access to consciousness of what the bleep we don’t know that we know.