Linking to the Past | March 2004

FMBR Editorial: March, 2004

Linking to the Past

William C. Gough

Can our actions in the present affect the past? An article that a college classmate of mine, Dr. Benson Harer, Jr., M.D., sent me made me think about this question. The article, from the British Medical Journal (BMJ), was on "Retroactive Prayer: A Preposterous Hypothesis?" written by Brian Olshansky and Larry Dossey. The authors enlarged upon a study of retroactive prayer by L. Leibovici published in 2001 in BMJ that raised questions about conventional notions of time, space, prayer, and causality. The study considered the hypothesis that "retroactive" prayer offered 4-10 years later affects the outcome of patients. It was a randomized, controlled, and double blind study that looked at the data for 3,393 patients with bloodstream infections. The patients were divided into two groups -- prayer versus no prayer. The results showed that with retroactive prayer the length of stay in the hospital and duration of fever were shorter -- mortality was similar in both groups. Also, a pilot study at Duke University's School of Medicine on "retroactive therapeutic intent" employing a well designed protocol was reported in the American Heart Journal. Prayers from religious groups around the world were used after people had received emergency treatment for an imminent heart attack. The recipients of the retroactive therapeutic intent experienced a 50-100% reduction in side effects compared with the controls.

These articles made me think about the hypothesis that there exists an underlying unity, a substructure or foundation that underpins the entire universe -- a domain of "unbounded potential" that we and the ancients have called the Absolute. It is and always will be; there is no time, no space, only complete interconnectiveness. From the Absolute emerges an "arrow of time" which creates the characteristics of the physical world -- time passes. Hence, each individual has two ways of experiencing reality: with an arrow of time in the physical, or without time via the Absolute where one can move forward or backward in "time." Under this hypotheses the past, present, and future are all interconnected. There has been extensive research on precognition, but what do we know about retrocognition, "backward-in-time," direct mental influences? Many years of experiments on the existence of retroactive intentional influence have been conducted and are summarized by Dr. William Braud. These studies show that mental intentions in the present can have direct, observable influences on the past. In addition, Princeton University did a comprehensive examination of precognition in 227 remote viewing experiments. They discovered, that besides confirming the accuracy of precognition, no evidence was found to suggest deterioration of information obtained in the remote viewing experiments with retro-cognition, i.e., when the viewers perceptions were produced after the target visitation.

This caused me to think of the experience of  synchronicity -- the incredible coincidences that sometimes occur in our lives. Many of these involve past actions that become linked to a future event. For example, best-selling author and pilot, Richard Bach, was barnstorming in the Midwest in 1966 with a rare biplane, a 1929 Detroit-Parts P-2A Speedster, of which only eight had been built. In Palmyra, Wis., Bach loaned the plane to a friend, who upended the craft as he came in for a landing. Bach recounted in his book Nothing by Chance that they were able to fix everything except for one strut. That repair looked hopeless because of the rarity of the wanted part. Just then, a man came up and asked if he might help. Bach said sarcastically, "Sure. Do you happen to have an inter-wing strut for a 1929 Detroit-Parks Speedster, model P-2A?" The man walked over to his hanger and came back shortly with the part. Bach concludes: "The odds against our breaking the biplane in a little town that happened to be home to a man with the 40-year old part to repair it; the odds that he would be on the scene when the event happened; the odds that we'd push the plane right next to his hangar, within ten feet of the part we needed -- the odds were so high that coincidence was a foolish answer."

As I thought about the above synchronistic event, an event in my own life took on new meaning. Recently I read an article in the Los Altos Town Crier about the oldest businesses in town. One was the Yamane Jeweler, a family business established in 1950. Then my gold Waltham wristwatch, given to me in 1948 by my parents, broke. Although I had never visited their store, I took it to the Yamane Jeweler. My watch needed major repairs including replacement of rusted parts. The son of the original owner wasn't sure that he could still obtain replacement parts. Then I received a call, he had found an old Waltham wristwatch in a box of watches his father had kept for 50 years when people did not pick them up. He wanted me to come to the store. When I looked at the watch, it was identical to mine -- engraved to G.A. Jennings, Xmas 1947. The son said that after his father retired, he had gone through the box of old watches, and when he saw my watch he remembered having seen one similar in the box. Using parts from this second watch, my watch was repaired and now runs perfectly.

What are the odds that I would read about an unfamiliar watch store shortly before my watch breaks, then go to that store where years before someone had brought in and never picked up an identical watch purchased six months before mine, that during the intervening years the watch had been saved by the owner, that the son of the owner remembers the discarded watch, that it had the parts in good condition necessary to fix my watch, and that a college classmate would suddenly send me an article that made me rethink the meaning of the synchronistic event and therefore write this editorial. Our links to the past appear to be more than our DNA or the archeology and history that we absorb through books and the media. Could there be a unity and connectiveness of all humans across both space and time? Are linkages to the past continually operating in the background of our lives? Was my intention in the present altering past events? Were my deceased parents helping me? Are these effects mediated divinely? What factors enhance the strength and one's awareness of this linkage to the past? Let me know what you think.

William C. Gough, FMBR Chairman of the Board