Editor’s Introduction:

Ranan Banerji (real name) has a Ph.D. degree with training in physics, mathematics, and computer Science. Now retired, he is Professor Emeritus at St. Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, an Elected Fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence, cited in Who’s Who in the World, an editor for Elsevier Science Publisher and a reviewer for Computing Reviewsand Mathematical Review. His experience, illustrating a kind of transcendence by contacting aspects of the mind outside of the normal sense of self, may be much more common than we think. It occurred on October 5, 1953, while on a ship in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Ranan B. Banerji

I was on a boat plying between Australia and England. That morning, standing at the rail of the boat deck looking out at the ocean, I felt the utter smallness of our boat, indeed of ourselves. And yet, looking around the deck, seeing all my fellow passengers leading their everyday lives as if there was no great ocean out there, it seemed very significant to me as revealing the human condition, this shutting out of the entire universe beyond our little shells.

It seemed to me that this was like Arjuna seeing “Viswarupa” (the nature of the world and of God) in Chapter 12 of the Hindu scripture, Bhavagad Gita. I felt a central purpose of the world leading all of us. A voice seemed to indicate to me what I was doing and planning would be good for me in ways beyond my comprehension.

Contributor’s Comments on the Experience

At this time of my life, my agnostic feeling of self-sufficiency had received a jolt (I had been jilted in love). I was feeling very lonely. I had just met on board the lady who became my wife and a major influence in my spiritual and worldly life. I was confused as to how I should respond to my feeling towards her and was inclined towards making my feeling known.

The “voice” was not an external feeling – it was more like a conviction seemingly coming from “outside of me” – but the conviction was still in my mind. I was in transition: leaving my native land for the first time to pursue a visiting research position in the US. I was in the middle of a rather difficult decision – whether to propose marriage to a woman I had met only a week ago. All these tensions seemed to disappear. My favorite joke is, “My entire spiritual life is based on Freudian bases.”