The conscious Ego and the forces acting in human dynamics
Being a witness – at least temporarily – of the great and multiform show offered by human life, considered not only in the present, but also in its historical development, the conscious Ego can feel the need to question itself about the causes that produce certain effects, and the powers that coul possibly control such causes. In practice, it is as if what happens on the stage of life suggests the presence of one or more agents who move the strings behind the scenes. Also in this case, the conscious Ego relies – at least in an initial phase – on what the psyche can offer it, through direct inner experience or through the cultural programs that are transmitted to it, to quench its thirst for knowledge: however, it realizes, sooner or later, that it can attend the show and can also take part in it, but it is not allowed to go and see and verify what happens behind the scenes, which therefore remains occult. These powers – whose very existence is questioned in our day – have been in the past and are still today interpreted and represented by the psyche as divinity, both in pluralistic (gods and goddesses) as well as in monotheistic form (God).
The identification of the Ego with the psyche's dynamics in which it is directly involved can imply the experience of divinity, which can be very intense from an emotional and sentimental point of view, and which therefore has a particular charm. In the name of faith in a divinity, some humans can perform extraordinary actions, for better or for worse, because they have the certainty of being guided by a superior power that has directly taken possession of their mind. From this point of view, psyche and reality end up coinciding, and the spread of religious faiths shows us the power of attraction and involvement of the psychic dynamics based on the experience of divinity. We must therefore necessarily recognize – as a fact evident in itself – that divinity is one of the important aspects of the human psyche, regardless of whether the single conscious Ego experiences it or not. But the moment the Ego becomes aware of its involvement in psychic dynamics, it must take note of the power that the psyche exerts, whether it manifests itself as a divinity or under the illusory guise of a faithful servant of the Ego's commands and needs. Therefore, in any case, the psyche remains the dominus – that is, the power – with which the conscious Ego must confront itself.
As a matter of fact, the individual manifestations of the psyche are nothing but a small facet of the human psyche, and the continuous exchange of information and data that takes place through the functioning of our brains determines fluctuations and changes in the psychic dynamics of each of us: we can affirm, with valid reasons, that it is much more probable that the conscious Ego is at the service of the human psyche, rather than vice versa. Regardless of how the brain determines the psyche's experiences which involve the conscious Ego, resulting in various human behaviors, the development and functioning of today's complex societies is the result of the interactions between the mental dynamics of a lot of brains, not in function of the needs of the conscious Ego (which are often not even very clear), but as a dynamic manifestation of the power of the psyche in determining the destinies of humankind and of every single individual, hand in hand with the environmental dynamics of natural origin. We can therefore observe, moment by moment, the human dynamics at the macroscopic level, looking at the functioning of social groups as collective entities, or microscopic, looking at the conditions of life and the destiny of small human groups or single persons, to get an idea of the current human conditions in their various aspects.
We first note an enormous diversity in the way in which positive and negative psychic experiences – primarily suffering, even in the form of actual physical pain – are distributed among humans. Similarly, economic resources are also unevenly distributed. The causes of these imbalances can be found both in the natural origin of our same organism, which determines considerable differences in the way in which the psychophysical resources develop and manifest themselves in each person, as well as in the different conditions of the natural environments in which the various social systems are established, and in the effects that such environmental conditions can have on the brain functioning of humans. The fact remains that, at the state of the art of the current condition of mankind, human life is still remarkably impregnated with pain, as well as with other sufferings of psychic origin such as despair and lack of confidence in the future, determined by the inability to meet the vital needs of ourselves or our families. Furthermore, injustice is very widespread, both because of political hypocrisy which – in subordinating justice to the law – then ensures that the laws circumvent the requirements of justice, to the advantage of those who hold one or the other form of power, and by the human tendency to bribe and to be bought, or to yield in the face of blackmail and threats. In any case, in percentage terms, «enjoying life» is still a luxury reserved for a minority part of humanity, and even for those who are part of this privileged minority, in general, this enjoyment is limited to some periods of their lives.
Psychic dynamics and technological progress
An aspect of today's world that particularly strikes us, as it represents a radical change compared to any previous historical era, is given by the fact that in any nation there is at least one airport where civil aircraft land and take off, and that the sea and land transport systems – consisting mainly of motorized ships and vehicles – are now globalized. Communication systems are also standardized and spread all over the planet: the differences in coverage and efficiency between one area and another can be remarkable, but on the whole the network extends to virtually all areas of the world, thanks to satellite systems. The garments can be more or less refined in some areas, or worn and discolored in other; they can be shaped according to local cultural canons, or follow Western standards; in any case, they too are the object of mass technological production, concentrated in some areas and then globally spread. Poverty is now measured quantitatively, on the basis of the difficulty of the various segments of a nation's population to get basic goods – especially water, food and medicines – and consumer goods of various kinds. Currently, about 10% of the world population lives in conditions of extreme poverty, that is, with less than two dollars a day. Another three billion people, however, still live in precarious conditions of relative misery.
Despite this situation of progressive technological and economic leveling of living conditions, the cultural programs that rule social customs and habits, conditioning the mentality of people, still differ considerably from one geographical area to another. In the past, however, cultural differences were much more varied and accentuated than today, as evidenced by the testimonies of explorers and geographers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, who offer surprising reports of encounters with indigenous cultures in territories not yet explored by Europeans. Before that, the discovery of the Amerindian civilizations and those of the Far East and the Indian subcontinent, had helped to awaken in those scholars belonging to Western culture gifted with a fairly developed smart consciousness some rather disturbing questions about the origin and effects of the human psyche. Of course, the term psyche was not even used, and the problematic issues were focused on the various aspects of divinity. In our medieval culture, the divine was commonly seen as that superior power that helped human beings belonging to a community to overcome the difficulties of life and, if necessary, to prevail over their enemies, especially if the latter worshiped different gods. The bond between religion and the natural necessities of life was therefore very close.
In its institutionalized aspects, Christian religion also played a social role of primary importance, based much more on the need to feel protected by an almighty God, than on the universal love that some aspects of the Christian message could have inspired. Good and evil continued to exist as essential elements of the experience of human life, and to the humanized God, source of all good, had to be opposed a plurality of demonic beings, the cause of all evil, frequently associated with the divinities of non-Christian populations. After the impact with Islam, a religion that – although different from Christianity – did not show substantial differences in relation to the conception of a unique God to whose will humankind was subject, and the various schisms and religious wars that divided the same Christian communities, the exploratory journeys of Africa, the Americas and the Far East, brought very different cultures into contact with each other, each observing the other according to their own psychology. Certainly, the fact that it was Europeans who discovered and explored the other continents, and largely imposed their dominance – militarily or economically – over the cultures that there existed, is symptomatic of how – at least in some respects – European culture was more open, more curious and more inclined to expand than other cultures, and had developed a more advanced technology (with the exception, in part, of Chinese culture).
But the fact that the world was populated by so many human beings, with cultures so different from each other, and so distant that they had not had any contact with each other for centuries or millennia, was also a shock for the European culture, which at first reacted with a defense of the superiority of its own religion, on the basis of the need to spread Christianity's saving message among those poor people who had not had the grace of being able to listen to it (it was not well understood on the basis of which obscure divine design). However, other advanced cultures, such as Indian, Chinese or Japanese, showed that they could easily do without the Christian religion, continuing to exist according to their own religious and spiritual traditions, and therefore subject to psychic programs very different from those more widespread in Europe. As a consequence of this shock, the psyche's activity of the most intelligent of Europeans soon began to orient philosophical and cognitive thought towards the observation of the various physical and human aspects of our world, in their multiform manifestations. The feeling of protective security offered by our religion began to lose its effectiveness, since what was held to be absolute proved to be relative.
Scientific and technological progress, which began in the seventeenth century, has continued until today without interruption, spreading – as we have seen – almost all over the world and allowing mankind to acquire unprecedented control over nature. However, the need to focus mental energies and intellectual resources on the objective physical world, has relegated to the background – nay, it has almost completely removed – the spirit, leaving humanity in its current state of extreme ignorance and insecurity about the meaning and value of the life of every human being, not under the social profile, but in relation to their inner evolution. Be careful, it is not that this process has depended on precise conscious choices by individual or culturally interconnected persons: we have to deal with dynamics of the psyche that determine the behavior and orient the thinking of human beings, re-elaborating and modifying pre-existing psychic dynamics precisely through human experience. But if we compare very different psychic attunements, such as those currently used to increase technological and economic progress, and those by which Indian ascetics, or our medieval saints, could perform miracles – or, as we use to say today, determine paranormal phenomena – we can well realize the complete subordination of the conscious Ego to the psyche's dynamics that involve it, influencing the functioning of its mind.
The Ego, the psyche, the divinity and the spirits
On the basis of what has been observed so far in relation to different cultures and the way in which, through the psyche's dynamics, they involve and condition the Ego, we now try to make an evaluation of the human experience in this life and in relation to a possible future spiritual life. I have already pointed out in the page on the limits of paranormal phenomena how, beyond the sense of the marvelous that these apparently impossible events arouse in the mind of the witness, they do not go beyond certain limits, and – when compared with the equally extraordinary achievements of today's technology – do not represent any particular advantage in relation to human needs. Even when, in the past, there have been challenges and clashes between cultures, technology has always prevailed over so-called magic, and any powers deriving from the asceticism of spiritual life have remained confined to the anthropological or ethnic curiosities, to the interesting but uncertain or unreliable cultural phenomena. The abundant nineteenth-century literature on evidences of the amazing powers of shamans, sorcerers, fakirs, yogis, etc. – in addition to the miraculous tradition of the saints of the Christian religion – is considered today with a certain diffidence (in some respects understandable) regarding the reliability of the testimonies.
Ascetic life, which not infrequently involved a mortification of the body and its needs (in a world in which bodily existence was already rather precarious), when it was not imposed by cultural programs, was a choice determined by psychics experiences that fascinated the conscious Ego. These dynamics of the psyche could also ensnare the Ego with the call of the extraordinary powers – in Sanskrit, siddhi – that it could have acquired, but they did not free it from its subjection to the psyche itself. On the other hand, good mediums show to have remarkable powers – which, as well as siddhis, can be attributed to spirits, but which depend at least in part on something that is associated with the same mediums – even without living an ascetic life. Furthermore, the same dynamics of the psyche that, in various cultures, made human beings sensitive to the call of a form of spiritual life, never ignored an element of divine grace, highlighting how, in the absence of it, the sole determination of the Ego wasn't enough to get the desired results. Here comes back, in a different form, the issue of the individual destiny, determined by a higher entity that transcends the resources available to the conscious Ego, and at the same time grants those same resources, shifting – so to speak – the Ego's center of gravity from its own human self-reference to a more spiritual dimension.
The way the psyche's dynamics work, from this point of view, appears to our intellect – which, without any doubt, has its limits – truly strange, almost disconcerting, given that they can both reveal and conceal the divine element, based on purposes that remain unfathomable for us. Each of us directly experiences a particular, limited range of psychic dynamics involving our conscious Ego, but in the complex network of interconnected brains that forms a society, dominant psychic programs are formed and spread which determine the overall functioning and destiny of that society and, in the interaction between various societies and cultures, also of humankind as a whole. Currently, in our culture, a program prevails that induces us to attribute to the conscious Ego the responsibility for the choices we make and the consequences that derive from them, without providing us with any reliable knowledge regarding the information and resources of which the conscious Ego can rely to make those choices. We therefore rely on a naive and trusting involvement in a program whose aims we don't know at all, hoping, in a way, to be able to get some advantage. Moreover, as long as the conscious Ego identifies itself with the psyche's dynamics in which it is involved, the problem does not even arise, since the whole process occurs in an automatic and immediate way.
The recognition – by the conscious Ego – of its dependence on the psyche's dynamics or, if you like, on the brain functioning, puts it in the uncomfortable position of not knowing what its role is in relation to the powers that determine its destiny. Centuries ago the life conditions – particularly harsh, difficult and painful – could make the Ego particularly sensitive to a promise of liberation and redemption, convincing it of the ephemeral and transitory character of human existence, and of the liberating role of death in relation to the imprisonment of the soul in the body. The psyche's dynamics prevailing at that time were such as to make the negative element of life prevail: such is in fact for the conscious Ego the experience of suffering, when it cannot find the resources to avoid it and is forced to endure it. Thanks to the commitment and efforts of generations of human beings, today things are very different, at least for a part of humankind, and instead of suffering we can experience very different psychic dynamics, which can be framed in the context of an increased interest for life and the possibilities it offers to the conscious Ego. But if it is actually possible, at least for those who are lucky enough, to live a full, interesting and sufficiently free from suffering life, so that the final balance can be considered positive, the Ego must anyway deal with life's transience and the final experience of its conclusion, in the different ways in which it occurs.
Therefore, as far as the experience of human life is concerned, the conscious Ego trusts – in one form or another, and often without realizing it – to divinity, at the very moment in which it has to accept its dependence on the psyche and on the instruments that determine its psychic experiences (its brain and the acquired cultural programs), realizing that it does not know, and therefore is not able to adequately control, the functioning of these tools. As for the possibility of continuing to exist in another dimension once the brain has stopped working, the Ego must rely on the spirits, since it must anyway hypothesize a form of spiritual existence. When I use the term divinity, I do not mean to refer to a God as it is commonly conceived in a religious context, but simply to a form of power – distinct from those that are under the control of humans – which determines the existence and functioning of instruments such as the brain or cultural programs. This power could also be constituted by a plurality of entities, organized in a more or less complex way, and possibly even in competition with each other. Not knowing them directly can also lead us to doubt their existence, or to deny it. However, the effects of the psyche's dynamics, which each of us experiences every day, cannot be denied.
Some people have had or have a direct experience of the spirits in various circumstances, while most of us have never seen or heard of them. The historical evidence relating to the existence and activity of spirits in their various forms (ghosts, phantoms, demons, angelic entities, etc.) and in the context of different cultures, form a very voluminous corpus: the reliability of many of them can be questioned, but even after eliminating the unreliable ones, there remains a conspicuous number of phenomena attested by a plurality of trustworthy witnesses. Since the second half of the nineteenth century, and for over a century and a half, the reports of mediumistic séances have represented a remarkable reserve of spiritistic experiences that anyone who wishes can draw on. Through their communications and actions, spirits show that they are intelligent and autonomous entities, even if not always reliable. Furthermore, psychic contaminations are often found between the mental contents of the mediums or the sitters and what is communicated by the spirits. These facts have induced various scholars of mediumistic phenomena to abandon the spirit theory, in favor of a theory based on an energy of an unknown nature – called psi – which would make paranormal phenomena possible. The fact remains that various physical phenomena (PK), such as those found in some cases of poltergeists, are difficult to explain without resorting to the intervention of an autonomous agent, unless the mind of some human beings is recognized as having the ability to carry out, consciously or unconsciously, magical interventions on physical matter (which seems even more bewildering).
Even if we wanted to validate this theory, we should be able to understand whether the mental processes which can activate psi are determined by the brain functioning – as we believe it happens for psychic processes – or should be attributed to an autonomous and not physical mental form, albeit connected with the mind of some people. In the absence of satisfactory answers to these questions, everyone can opt for the theory that is most congenial to them: the origin of mediumistic phenomena remains mysterious, like the origin of the psyche's dynamics. What may interest us is that many of these spirits openly claim – and in some cases prove with stringent and irrefutable evidence – to be the manifestation of the conscious Ego of a personality already lived in this world, still endowed, at least in part, with memories of their earthly life. However, things are not always in these terms (see for instance the page on the Gordon Davis case), and therefore there is space for doubts and the search for alternative hypotheses. But as far as physical phenomena are concerned, the aspects of what is recorded and investigated in our dimension have represented (and still represent) a real brain teaser even for science.
The psychic force
In 1871 the illustrious English physicist and chemist Sir William Crookes (1832-1919) conducted some experiments, in a laboratory set up at his home, with the famous Scottish medium (naturalized American) Daniel Dunglas Home (1833-1886). The measurement of some forces by the dynamometers of the prepared devices, without the medium exerting any physical pressure on them (for an accurate description of the experiments, see the second article of the collection Researches in the Phenomena of Spiritualism by Sir William Crookes, which can be downloaded from the Library), led Crookes and his collaborators to hypothesize the existence of a psychic force. Here is what Edward William Cox (1809-1879), a barrister, publisher and politician, and a member of the London Dialectical Society committee charged – in 1869 – to investigate mediumistic phenomena, wrote on the merits to Crookes, after witnessing his experiments: «My dear Sir, having been present, for the purpose of scrutiny, at the trial of the experiments reported in this paper, I readily bear my testimony to the perfect accuracy of your description of them, and to the care and caution with which the various crucial tests were applied. The results appear to me conclusively to establish the important fact, that there is a force proceeding from the nerve-system capable of imparting motion and weight to solid bodies within the sphere of its influence».
«I noticed that the force was exhibited in tremulous pulsations, and not in the form of steady continuous pressure, the indicator rising and falling incessantly throughout the experiment. This fact seems to me of great significance, as tending to confirm the opinion that assigns its source to the nerve organisation, and it goes far to establish Dr. Richardson's important descovery of a nerve atmosphere of various intensity enveloping the human structure... Allow me to add that I can find no evidence even tending to prove that this force is other than a force proceeding from, or directly dependent upon, the human organisation, and therefore, like all other forces of nature, wholly within the province of that strictly scientific investigation to which you have bee the first to subject it... Now that it is proven by mechanical tests to be a fact in nature (and if a fact, it is impossible to exaggerate its importance to physiology and the light it must throw upon the obscure laws of life, of mind and the science of medicine) it cannot fail to command the immediate and most earnest examination and discussion by physiologists and by all who take an interest in that knowledge of "man" which has been truly termed "the noblest study of mankind"... I venture to suggest that the force be termed the Psychic Force; the persons in whom it is manifested in extraordinary power Psychics; and the science relating to it Psychism, as being a branch of Psychology».
Crookes himself had proposed to call Psychic Force the energy that determined the movements of objects and the weight variations measured in the course of his experiments. In this case we find the confident hope – which at that time was widespread not only among men of science, but in society and culture – that scientific research would come to know and control all aspects of reality, framing them in the laws of nature. The next 150 years, which have elapsed from that period to our days, would have shown the naivety of this hope, especially as regards psychology and the various aspects of the so-called social sciences. Although Crookes, in his early experiments, strictly adhered to a physical interpretation of the observed facts – thus excluding any intervention of spirit entities – much of the scientific establishment refused to take into account his invitation to seriously and methodically investigate the psychic phenomena with physical effects. Observing the state of prostration and exhaustion in which the medium Home found himself at the end of the experimental sessions, and according to the natural laws of energy conservation, Crookes also hypothesized a correlation between the vital energy – a concept not well defined, but widespread at that time – and the psychic force, in the sense that the latter manifested its effects at the expense of the former.
As we have seen in the page dedicated to Crawford's experiments – carried out over forty years after those by Crookes – in the case of physical phenomena of a mediumistic origin there is actually a force exerted on the objects of the physical world and emanating from the medium's body: the origin and characteristics of this force, however, remain unknown, and are not such as to allow us to exclude, without any doubt, the intervention of alien entities, as Crookes himself, and also Crawford, later had to recognize. First of all we ask ourselves a question: why a force that – to be considered as natural – should be attributable to an organic cause (in a similar way, for example, to the electricity produced by the torpedo fish) is produced only by such a small number of individuals? Crookes believed that all human beings were gifted with it, usually to a very small extent, while only a few – the psychics – had it in a significant amount. But then it would be more reasonable to expect a continuous range of shades between those who are not very gifted and those who are extremely gifted. Furthermore, the psychic character of this force would make its organic origin attributable to some particular characteristic of the cerebral circuits, otherwise we would necessarily have to trace it back to something non-physical connected to the human mind. But, at least up to date, no energy field determined by brain functioning has been detected, having enough power to be able to determine the physical effects found by Crookes and other researchers.
It is indeed much more plausible, in the light of the experiments carried out by Crawford and the testimonies of many people who have witnessed physical events of mediumistic origin, that the psychic force is produced through a transformation of a part of the organic matter that makes up the medium's body, and that this transformation is made possible by the intervention of non-physical entities, whose origin and characteristics remain unknown to us. If we want to trace all these factors back to a more or less unconscious psychism (mainly for reasons of defense of the current prevailing cultural programs), it is necessary to broaden the boundaries of this psychism to include not only what is determined by our organic nervous system, but also elements attributable to non-physical mental structures, capable of producing effects on our organic system. It must be admitted, in any case, that in the psyche there are and operate elements whose nature we can define as spiritual. When Crookes hypothesized the existence of a psychic force, he believed that this force had features similar to those of other known physical forces, namely that it obeyed constant and consistent laws that scientists could discover. But nothing like that happened.
Characteristics of the psyche are changeability and uncertainty, which sharply contrast with the reliability required of natural forces. Furthermore, the control of psychic force is almost never exercised by the conscious will of the medium (who, in many cases, is in a trance state while physical events occur). For these reasons the proponents of the psychic origin of paranormal phenomena of a physical type have always had to resort to the unconscious, with all the ambiguities and uncertainties that this insecure and undoubtedly unscientific concept entails. In fact, if by this term we intend to refer to the unconscious activities of the neural circuits of the brain, we must then explain how these circuits can generate and direct consistent forces capable of operating, for example, levitations of objects weighing several pounds. If, on the other hand, we use the term unconscious to designate an unidentified mental activity, endowed with particular powers, but at least in part released from the physical support constituted by the brain of the medium, then we still fall within an energetic dimension of a psychic (or, if we like, also spiritual) kind, so meaning that we refer to an energy different from the other energies known to us.
If we want to make a parallel with electromagnetic energy, we know that it exists – without us being directly aware of it – in the form of fields whose variations generate certain effects in physical bodies. We therefore perceive effects, such as lightning or the attraction of a magnet on iron pieces, but we do not perceive the electromagnetic energy per se: nothing distinguishes, at sight, a live cable from an uncharged one, but if I touch the live cable I can even die. In this respect, the psyche can also be considered as a form of energy, and all the different types of energy present in the universe could be considered, based on the psychic experience we have of them, as manifestations of a cosmic Mind, about which we are unable to know if it has a form of consciousness of its own. The fact that psychic force, or – as a today's parapsychologist would define it – psi, is associated with certain persons who are particularly gifted with it, does not authorize us to attribute it to an organic cause, unless someone would be able to identify its cause in some peculiar feature of the organic systems of these gifted people.
Rather, one gets the impression that the brain of a genuine (non-fraudulent) medium is able to tune psychic energies that normal brains are not able to tune: if this happens due to the activation of particular neural circuits, of extraordinary programs, or due to the presence of a parallel non-organic mind, we are unable to say. As for individual psychic experiences, we know that the assimilation of minimal doses of certain substances with a structure similar to that of neurotransmitters can cause remarkable experiences, whose subjective character does not prevent the conscious Ego from perceiving them as extremely real and meaningful. But in the case of physical phenomena, we are dealing with forces that act concretely and objectively on the elements of our physical world, so we cannot get by exclusively with neural circuits and hallucinations. As, in order to normally apply forces to physical objects, we need a skeletal and muscular system that uses autonomous energy sources, independent and quantitatively more relevant than those used by our brain to make decisions and transmit commands, so also in the case of psychic forces it is necessary to identify an autonomous system which, although ordinarily invisible, is capable of exerting an effect on physical objects. This is what Crawford tried to do with his experiments.
It should anyway be remembered that both Crookes and Crawford, while strictly following the experimental investigation of the forces that intervened in physical occurrences of mediumistic origin, later recognized the intelligent character of the energies (or energetic entities) that activated these forces, and their intentional commitment to collaborate in the success of the experiments. While recognizing the mental character of these energetic entities, and their connection with the psyche of the medium – whose presence was indispensable for the phenomena to occur – it was often evident their independence from the conscious mental activity of the medium, who sometimes went into complete trance just while the phenomena were most intense. As I have already observed, the recourse to the medium's unconscious does not clarify anything regarding the nature and characteristics of these energetic entities: it is obvious, in fact, that the brain of the medium must have certain resources that allow to tune energies otherwise not accessible, but then the mediumistic activity develops and proceeds autonomously and intelligently, often using the medium's psychophysical structure as a completely passive instrument.
It is interesting to note that on page 100 of the aforementioned book by Crookes, Researches in the Phenomena of Spiritualism, the author – after having classified the various mediumistic phenomena he had directly witnessed – lists in these terms some of the theories advanced to explain the phenomena: «I now approach the "Spiritual" theories. It must be remembered that the word "spirits" is used in a very vague sense by the generality of people. Fourth Theory – The result of the spirit of the medium, perhaps in association with the spirits of some or all of the people present. Fifth Theory – The actions of evil spirits or devils. personifying who or what they please, in order to undermine Christianity and ruin men's souls. Sixth Theory – The actions of a separate order of beings, living on this earth, but invisible and immaterial to us. Able, however, occasionally to manifest their presence. Known in almost all countries and ages as demons (not necessarily bad), gnomes, fairies, kobolds, elves, goblins, Puck, etc. Seventh Theory – The actions of departed human beings – the spiritual theory par excellence. Eight Theory – (The Psychic Force Theory) – This is a necessary adjunct to the 4th ,5th, 6th and 7th, theories rather than a theory by itself». A century and a half has passed since 1873, when these words were written, but Crookes' considerations are still valid.
In light of all the previous observations, we can consider the brain as an instrument that – in addition to performing other important functions – tunes psychic experiences, so that they can interact with the physical dimension of this world. This is why our entire human life depends on our brain's functioning. However, psychic experiences are not an arbitrary product of the brain, but seem to come from a dimension to which we do not ordinarily have access: the only thing we are able to consciously feel is the psychic experience as it shows itself to our ordinary perception, mediated by the brain activity. The conscious Ego is connected to the brain – almost as if it were imprisoned there – precisely to experience all those particular psychic attunements in which it is involved in the course of life. It seems to me that when we try to deal with the contradictions and conflicts determined by our psychic attunements, or by their interaction with the psychic attunements of other people, we find ourselves facing problems similar to those relating to the causes of mediumistic phenomena. From the point of view of the conscious Ego, there is no substantial difference between attributing a certain non-ordinary event to an alien entity (a spirit) or to a particular psychic dynamic which – being unconscious – is equally alien to me as a spirit.
What inspires our choices, our behaviors, our orientations, our desires? Of course, for the most part these are choices that we feel necessary, as they are imposed by the very needs of life, and above all by the socio-cultural programs that we have assimilated and on the basis of which we function. But there always remains, in the conscious Ego's acquiescence towards the psychic dynamics that involve it, the impression that something alien tries to dominate us, exerting a power over us that we can only escape with a constant and intense commitment. Even in the sixteenth century, for example, European culture could produce Jesuits and Franciscans who, regardless of every fatigue, every danger and every disease, and showing that they did not have the slightest regard for the needs of their own body, went to lands far away not only to spread the Christian religion – which for them represented the only salvation – but also to try to alleviate, with charity works, the human sufferings they encountered in those places. The contempt for their own life was often combined with an authentic vocation to martyrdom, considered as a special manifestation of divine grace. The free choice (even in the context of the hardship of life at that time, from which no one escaped) with which these figures of heroes of other times lived their lives and met their destiny, was determined by psychic tunings that, evidently, could not be traced back to the body's needs for survival and well-being.
The investigative and cognitive attention towards the functioning of our body, which has characterized the last centuries of our culture, also has a psychic origin: the psychic tunings that induce certain people to devote themselves to scientific research are, in a certain sense, antithetical to those which – in almost all cultures – led other human beings to pursue an ascetic life. In any case, we must take take into account the predominant importance of the psyche in determining human orientations, going beyond the same needs of natural origin. In a certain sense, in our culture, we have made a transition from theology to psychology, but this does not mean that we have solved the problems that the human condition poses to the conscious Ego, which – as we have repeatedly observed – continues to be involved in the psychic dynamics determined by its individual destiny, be they of natural or cultural origin. If we want to try to understand the future destiny of mankind, what surprises us most are precisely the limited resources of our consciousness which, instead of expanding – as it should be – seem to shrink, leaving humans increasingly confined to the role of more or less intelligent and efficient automata, at the mercy of the forces that govern the collective psychic dynamics: under these conditions, any project to be able to control human life on the basis of the authentic evolutionary needs of the conscious Ego turns out to be completely illusory.
Within certain limits, it is well understandable how the conscious Ego tries to satisfy its aspiration for happiness, whatever this term means, already in the context of the experience of human life: all the ascetic paths of the past, based on the mortification of the flesh, on the renunciation of the ephemeral enticements of the desire for power, wealth, and what was called the vanity of the pleasures offered by worldly life, on putting oneself at the complete service of the suffering part of humanity, regardless of the needs of one's body and the risks it had to face, were based on the absolute fideistic certainty in a different existence after death, in which all these orientations – of which today we can recognize the evident psychic origin – represented a way to increase, so to speak, our own capital, or our own score. The fact remains that also the pursuit of happiness during human life is determined by our psyche, and must confront the direction of the arrow of time which, as the end of our life approaches, also reduces the same psychophysical resources on which our human capacity to be happy is based (not to mention those cases in which the months or years preceding death are characterized by physical suffering, caused by illnesses, and by forms of senile dementia).
In any case, even this pursuit of human happiness still requires a commitment to live, and to make adequately function the social organizations within which billions of human beings manage to stay in this world at the same time, although in very different conditions, and often in a conflictual way. Therefore, for most of humanity, the pursuit of happiness simply translates into an attempt to improve – even slightly – their own miserable human condition, sometimes exploiting the misfortunes of other desperate poor people. We also have the impression that even in the most economically advanced societies, the complexity of the problems to be faced and the competition for the exploitation of Earth's resources are determining forms of social unease which, in the near future, will turn into real crises, to which the rulers on duty – chosen on the basis of their ability to win the consensus of masses of human automata, almost always through lying, promising, deceiving and corrupting – will no longer be able to find any remedy. For these reasons, it is understandable that a connection can be established between the search for a hedonistic human happiness – based on the submission of the conscious Ego to certain psychic tunings – and the crisis that is facing our culture, technically advanced, but at the same time extremely fragile in the defense of those ethical values which should constitute the foundation of human relationships: loyalty, sincerity, trust, spirit of justice, not causing harm to others, commitment to the common good, recognition of the needs of the spirit as well as those of the body.
When good and evil are equally and indifferently mixed in the context of the psyche, the conscious Ego cannot be considered capable of exercising a prudent choice unless it is first enabled to free itself from enslavement to psychic attunements, given that this state of submission is at first determined – for better or for worse – by the same environmental and cultural conditions in which the psychophysical system of a human being develops. If consciousness does not evolve, becoming over time smart enough to be able to understand the problem of the condition in which the Ego finds itself, every consequence of the psychic dynamics will have to be borne by the Ego itself, which can end being destroyed. From this point of view, only the spirit can come to the aid of the Ego, in one form or another. The Ego's fragility and weakness, which must always be recognized, cannot be transformed into the weight of a guilt that falls only and exclusively on its shoulders, due to the fact that the superior powers that oversee the things of this world are, by their nature, unquestionable. The same order of things, which determined the Ego's fragility, must also be able to give a meaning to this fragility, and to show a path of liberation, provided that the Ego feels the need to follow it.