Mary Bast (real name) has a Ph.D. in social psychology and is one of the authors (under her married name of Schwab) of a textbook on social research methods (Social Research: Guides to a Decision Making Process; Gustavus, Schwab, & Sloss)(Peacock Publishers), now out of print. After more than 20 years as an executive coach, and a two-year sabbatical to write about personal transformation, Dr. Bast now works with people who have life-threatening illnesses and/or their caretakers — exploring how beliefs, behaviors, and interaction patterns can contribute either to illness or to wholeness.
Her experience occurred in 1972, when she was 34 years of age. I find it quite interesting, for it brings back memories of many other people I met back then who attended some of the various mental development training programs that were so popular then and who were amazed at what they had done. Because scientific parapsychology is such a small field, unfortunately, there was almost no research on the effects of these programs.
The Tibetans Call It a “Bardo”
Thirty-two years ago, I attended a Silva Mind Control course because I’d heard they offered a good method to stop smoking (and they did). During the course of the session we were taught a variety of visualization techniques, including the development of a “mental laboratory” complete with desk, calendar, files, visual screen, etc. We were also repeatedly told that we would have an experience of extrasensory perception on the last day of the training, which I found intriguing but presumed impossible for me.
For that last session we were each instructed to bring in three slips of paper, each with the name of an individual and the city in which they lived. We were asked to pick people with an illness or physical problem, but to divulge only their name and city.
To start the morning of that last day, we “practiced” by placing the body of someone we knew on our mental screen and “scanning” for problems of any sort. I was more or less mechanically following instructions when suddenly I “saw” a motorcycle colliding with a car at an intersection. I could not see the person’s face, but because the friend I was “scanning” owned a motorcycle, I was quite alarmed and talked to the instructor, who suggested I visualize the date of the accident and, if it had not yet happened, to send healing, white light to my friend. I relaxed, visualized the calendar in my mental laboratory, and was surprised to “see” the pages turning rapidly until they stopped at a date in June. I assumed this to be in the future, as the session I was participating in took place in February, so I did as the instructor suggested and pictured my friend bathed in white light.
After a break we were assigned partners, and my first partner, whom I had never met and did not know would be assigned to me, handed me a piece of paper with a man’s name and the city of Seattle written on it. I relaxed, closed my eyes, visualized a “man” on my mental screen, and reported to my partner that I didn’t know what it meant but that his whole left side appeared darker than his right side. “Can you pick up any emotions?” she asked.
Using one of the techniques we’d been taught, I imagined putting on this person’s head, and immediately was torn by depression, sorrow, and resentment. I could “feel” that my left side was crippled, that I had no hearing in my left ear and no sight in my left eye. When I reported this she asked, “What about your other eye and ear?”
I could somehow tell that my hearing was intact in my right ear, but that vision in my right eye was limited in some way, though I couldn’t describe exactly how. “Anything else?” she asked. I told her that was all the information I could get. I want to emphasize that my partner gave me no data at all, just asked those three questions.
When I opened my eyes and indicated that I was finished, she told me that this man was the son of a dear friend; that he was only 21 years old and very bitter because he’d been crippled on his left side in a motorcycle accident at a four-way stop where a car had failed to stop, that he had no hearing in his left ear and no sight in his left eye; that his hearing was normal in his right ear, but he had tunnel vision in his right eye. She went on to say that his recovery was slow because he was so despondent. I was really spooked by this, and almost afraid to ask when the accident had occurred. She named the same date in June that I had “seen” on my mental calendar, but I’d been off by a year. The accident I had “seen” earlier that morning, before ever being assigned to her as my partner, had occurred the previous year!
I was disoriented for several weeks after this because the world as I perceived it had changed. Prior to this I had never had an ESP experience and would never have believed that I could. Also, since early adulthood I had described myself as agnostic. After this experience I thought many times, “If this is possible, then anything is possible.” In the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, Sogyal Rinpoche refers to the word “bardo” as a juncture “when the possibility of liberation, or enlightenment, is heightened.” My experience of this different state of mind, this totally unexpected new reality, opened my mind and my heart and began a lifelong spiritual path for me.
Contributor’s Comments on the Experience
Since this dramatic ESP experience, I have had many, many instances of “knowing” something that either had not happened yet, or had happened at a distance and without my direct knowledge, and which was later confirmed. At first I was frustrated by the lack of specificity in my “knowing”, but as the years have gone by I have learned to relax into what I now believe is a universal flow. In my counseling work I have learned to slip into a meditative state, opening myself to information beyond the obvious or beyond the words my clients use to express themselves. They often comment, “I was just thinking that, but wasn’t sure I was ready to talk about it,” or “How did you know that? I’ve never told anyone.” This has been invaluable in opening up areas of growth that might otherwise have remained hidden.