The Communities of Man | May 1988

FMBR Editorial: May, 1988

The Communities of Man

Marshall Pease

Man is a two-sided creature. On the one hand, he is individualistic, self-aware, often self-centered. Yet he is also a participant in many communities from which he acquires much of his reality. As David Bohm says: "Meaning unfolds into the whole community and unfolds from the community into each person." This is a truism, but one that seems to have profound implications that have been largely overlooked. Specifically, it may provide the proper context in which to understand psychic phenomena.

Consider language. Language is defined by the community, but it primarily serves individuality as a means of transmitting information. It also is the basis of what we call rationality, and seems to be the organizing principle behind the explicit memories that bind time and purpose. Language, then, may be said to be the means of manifesting, perhaps creating, man the individual.

We do, of course, use language to talk about and analyze communities and their sociology, but the discussion and analysis is by individuals. Rarely if ever do we deal consciously with the deeper realities of communion. We suggest however that psychic phenomena are functions of our communal sides. If this is true, how can we deal with them "rationally?"

A closely related aspect arises from what we usually mean by information. If the primary function of language is to transmit information, what is transmitted must generally be data that can be put explicitly in words. There are exceptions such as poetry, art, and music; what these media seek to transmit are concepts and feelings inexpressible in ordinary (prose) speech. But those are exceptions, generally outside the scope of science.

When scientists test for telepathy or clairvoyance, for example, they look for the transmission or acquisition of testable information -- i.e., verbally explicit data. When they examine PK (psychokinesis), they look for events that, again, are precisely defined and testable. The scientific study of psychic phenomena must usually choose an approach that depends on language, and so on the individualistic side of man.

What if the true reality of psychic events lie on the communal side? If so, perhaps the psychic effects we see and measure are only accidental by-products of communion.

There are indications that this is so. To cite just one, psychic experiments are recognized as highly sensitive to the beliefs and expectations of the experimenters, undercutting the objectivity so desired by science. If the results of an experiment are generated, not by the subjects as individuals, but by the whole community of the experiment, then this effect becomes inevitable.

This suggests that to better understand psychic phenomena we may need to come to better terms with our own communal natures. Maybe this is the reality and the paradigm we seek.

Marshall Pease, May 1988