The psyche, the dual aspect of reality and the will
The psychic experience of reality
As we have seen, what we consider «real» in our experience of this world has two aspects. The first, which includes everything that is considered normal and scientifically knowable (although still largely unknown), corresponds to the laws of the physical world, is by far prevalent in our culture and refers to mental functions and psychic dynamics that are considered common to all human beings, even with the unavoidable differences between one individual and another. The second, clearly minority in our culture, but recognized and more widespread in other cultures, concerns non-ordinary mental faculties and phenomena, which seem to transcend the normal laws of physics as we know them: these phenomena manifest themselves through a limited number of human beings, without ruling out the possibility of intervention of alien entities.
In both cases our knowledge of reality is still mediated by psychic experience: in fact, our perception of the real is determined by those particular aspects of the psyche that our conscious Ego experiences in relation to what happens to us during our interactions with the environment. As we have observed several times, the psychic experiences that characterize the life of an individual may be completely different from those of another: the human psyche, in its totality, can not be experienced by a single individual, as the psychic experiences involving a conscious Ego in the course of a life are but a tiny fraction of the global psyche.
The role of will
Whereas for some psychic experiences such as emotions, dreams, sensations or certain forms of feeling, our conscious Ego has a mainly passive role (possibly simply trying to determine the circumstances that favor these experiences), other psychic experiences such as thoughts, reasoning, memories and creative ideas can be actively solicited by the Ego, who experiences a need that can be felt as a form of desire or an inner command. In addition to intelligence, our conscious Ego has in fact a second important purposeful resource – to which we generally refer with the term «will» – through which it seeks to obtain certain results also in terms of psychic experiences. In some respects, our conscious Ego could be considered as an explorer of human psyche, subject to risks and dangers arising from not being able to control some dangerous aspects of the psychic experience (particularly those activated by the interaction with other humans), but capable of exploring, mapping and controlling a more or less broad «territory».
Similarly to what happens with intelligence, will too is a resource that people have to a very variable extent. A few individuals are endowed with exceptional will, by which they pursue their goals with adamant tenacity, and succeed in overcoming many obstacles, accomplishing amazing feats. The role of will in transforming the world and in «building» the socio-cultural reality is fundamental: those gifted with strong will are able to influence the psychic orientation of weaker people. In general, all persons capable of exerting a leadership in the various sectors of human activities (productive, political and cultural), are endowed with a strong will, which exerts its effects and is perceived by others in the form of charisma, attitude to command and power.
The origin of the resources of which some people are particularly gifted
It is important to point out how the origin of will, intelligence and other important talents pertaining to the human personality completely escapes the knowledge of the conscious Ego: an intelligent, or strongly volitive, or creative person, or even a person endowed with strength or beauty, can consciously use their resources, but do not know the reason why they have them to a significant extent, compared to human standards. The same can be said about people gifted with paranormal powers. In our culture we tend to attribute every faculty to our organism, and in particular to the brain functioning, limiting ourselves to those particular factors (essentially anatomical and physiological, but now also informatic) that can be object of a scientific study. In short, the fundamental basis of human talents would be exclusively genetic, and the conditions for their development would be determined by the socio-cultural milieu in which an individual is bred. If this interpretative scheme can be convincing for characteristics such as physical strength or beauty, the evaluation elements related to brain functioning for faculties such as intelligence, will or creativity are still too uncertain to be able to make us believe without any doubt the exclusively genetic origin of these faculties. When we then take into consideration those faculties that determine paranormal phenomena, things get even more complex.
The importance that a medium's psychophysical system has for the extrinsicization of paranormal phenomena is highlighted by the alterations that occur not only during the mediumistic trance, but also in those cases in which the medium remains more or less conscious. Such alterations range from a more or less intense sense of fatigue or tiredness (which, as we have seen, can also involve some sitters) to actually inexplicable physical transformations, such as weight loss, breathing difficulties and states of catalepsy or pre-coma. So if it is true that any human activity that explicates its effects in the physical dimension requires energies deriving from the functioning of the organism, we get the impression that – in addition to what can be observed in anatomical-physiological terms (nervous system and brain) – other complex systems of a non-physical nature are active. In the page dedicated to the cognitive debate on consciousness, it has been highlighted how the enigma of human consciousness can not be considered solved on the basis of current knowledge of brain functioning. When we then refer to the activity of human mind, while taking for granted that the proper functioning of the brain is an indispensable condition for such activity to take place, we do not have sufficient knowledge to say that everything is reduced to brain activity alone. Indeed, they are precisely those particular resources such as intelligence and will that lead us to hypothesize the action of something distinct from our psychophysical system.
The requests of the conscious Ego to the psyche
As we have already pointed out in relation to the complexity of the cognitive framework by which we try to understand human life in its various manifestations (and in particular our life), what presents to our consciousness in terms of thoughts, reasoning, evaluations and convictions is always the result of a particular «psychic research»: it is as if the conscious Ego exerted intentional and volitional forms of solicitation on mental activity in order to obtain from the psyche the answers and the orientations that can then be object of evaluation by intelligence. Also in this case, it is an essentially creative mental activity, the complexity of which is evident, especially as regards the critical evaluation phase of the psychic arguments. For most people, the ability to carry out this research and evaluation activity is limited, since their conscious Ego is almost always dominated by the power of conviction exerted by some psychic instances. Whether manifesting itself as a program acquired through socio-cultural influence, or as an autonomous creation, psychic experience usually conquers the conscious Ego which, not having the resources to evaluate it with sufficient critical detachment, identifies him/herself with it.
Psychic processes, in all their complexity, are something substantially different from the brain activity that determines them: the conscious Ego experiences various aspects of the psyche, but remains almost always unaware of the brain functions that determine them in an unconscious way. Equally obscure, to the conscious Ego, are the motivations that drive him/her to act, inducing the psychic experiences in which h/she is involved and, ultimately, his/her very existence. Generally, during the youth the Ego is so identified with its own psychic experiences that can not even realize the possibility (and the need) to overcome this condition of complete identification, which for many people lasts for a lifetime. During the mature age the commitments and responsibilities related to social role and emotional bonds reinforce certain psychic attitudes with which the Ego continues to identify itself, even if sometimes it feels like a prisoner. Especially in our complex societies formed by masses of millions of persons, the power of conviction of certain psychic tunings is strengthened as they spread and become more and more shared: numbers and quantity often end up prevaling over any critical evaluation founded on intelligence.
The evolution of the conscious Ego: the experimental phase of identification with the psyche
Driven by the energies that determine the phenomenon of life, the conscious Ego is involved in the various psychic experiences deriving from the interaction between our own body and the environment and our autonomous mental activity. The interactions between the body and the environment are partly determined by the Ego itself through its own will (translated into forms of behavior), and partly due to casual events or the voluntary action of other people. The psychic reactions experienced by the Ego as a consequence of such events may be the most diverse, and the same sensitive nature of the conscious Ego causes them to have effects evaluated by the Ego as positive, neutral or negative. During the exploratory phase of human life, which generally corresponds to childhood, adolescence and youth, the conscious Ego identifies itself with the psychic experiences in which it is involved, and uses the resources it may have (will, intelligence, creativity) in an almost automatic way, according to what are perceived as commands or desires: he/she tries to avoid negative psychic experiences and to get positive ones (seesawing between the events that determine one and the other). Often the results obtained do not correspond to the intentions, also because many events of life are inevitable and the Ego must anyway suffer their consequences, which can determine in many people a persistent feeling of weakness and vulnerability, permanently associated with the condition of the conscious Ego in human life.
In some cases the strategies adopted by the Ego work, at least in part, and as a consequence they are acquired by a person as behavioral patterns that are repeated until they are firmly fixed throughout life, thus preventing the Ego from evolving and to free itself from the subjection to certain psychic experiences, with which he/she continues to identify. This is the condition favored by our society and culture, and therefore it is not surprising that many people adapt and conform to this scheme that is continually proposed and spread as a model. This is a step forward compared to the failing condition of a weak and vulnerable Ego, forced to surrender to the difficulties of life and the consequences of a psychic nature that he/she fails to manage, but even in this case the Ego remains a prisoner of psychic instances to which he/she must submit and of their power in terms of advantages/disadvantages for the quality of the experience of human life: in fact, the Ego is not able to plan and perform an autonomous action in the light of a well-founded knowledge, but must in any case obey the commands determined by instances whose origin and purposes remain unknown to him/her. The main consequence of this attitude of subordination is the acknowledgment of a «higher will» that determines the destiny and functioning of each one of us and of all mankind as a whole, both for good and evil. But, in most cases, the Ego can not even reach this rudimentary form of knowledge, and is limited to automatically support the expected and acquired operating modes, from birth to death.
The evolution of the conscious Ego: the phase of critical detachment
The critical phase begins when the conscious Ego manages to differentiate itself, at least in part, from the psychic experiences that involve it, thus acquiring its own autonomy. In this phase the Ego can not be considered free from the influence of psyche, and less than ever is able to control at will the psychic experiences in which it continues to be involved, nevertheless the center of gravity of the relationship between the Ego and the psyche it is somehow displaced: the Ego does not fully identify with psychic experiences, but manages to evaluate it critically, as an energy the power of which must be recognized and to which it is often forced to submit, but with respect to which it feels to be something different and independent. This phase shows different degrees, ranging from a condition (usually unpleasant) in which the Ego feels itself as a prisoner of its psychic experiences, with almost no ability to control them, to a condition of serene detachment, through which the Ego can observe and evaluate every psychic instance determined by its mental activity, deciding the level of involvement with which it wants to participate in that experience.
While in the identification phase the Ego and the psyche are one thing, and therefore the Ego exists only in so far as the psychic experience that dominates it exists, in the phase of critical detachment the Ego begins to feel its own autonomous existence founded on a mental experience different from that which characterizes the human psyche. It could be argued that somehow this is a psychic experience, since everything the conscious Ego experiences must be part of the psyche: the fundamental difference lies, however, in this, that while the ordinary tunings of human psyche tend to overwhelm and subjugate the Ego, the tunings activated in the phase of critical detachment recognize to the Ego its own existential autonomy and support it in the search for liberation from all those psychic experiences in which he/she was passively involved in the course of life. One of the most insidious activities of human psyche consists in giving to the Ego the illusion of «worth» something by means of the power exerted over other people, affirming by force, by cunning, by will or by other talents the importance of one's own psychic personality, by which the Ego itself is completely subjugated. On the other hand, the Ego of many people is dominated by psychic instances characterized by need for security, fear, need to feel associated with others and to be guided to face the risks of life: these people willingly recognize, in an often uncritical way, a value and a power to their leaders and models of reference.
In the phase of critical detachment, the Ego first takes note of the transitory and temporary character of our human experience, considering it in its aspects of transformation and evolution: as years pass by, it becomes evident how particular psychic dynamics correspond to each age, and how the the same condition of the conscious Ego can change over time. When this does not happen, the Ego remains lifelong enmeshed in the psychic tunings that condition it, and comes to death without there being a true evolution. This risk is evident especially in cultures where the level of socialization is particularly high (like our), given that the strength of collective psychic elements – which are often activated automatically and uncritically when many people interact – exerts a conditioning power on our mind, hindering the critical evolution of the Ego. It follows the necessity and usefulness of periods of meditative and contemplative isolation, during which the Ego can observe with more attention and in a more reflective and critical way the psychic dynamics in which it is involved.
The evolution of the conscious Ego: the liberation phase
After several decades of life, when the body ages and mental faculties enter a phase of progressive deterioration, the conscious Ego must take note of how much the psychic experience is connected to mental activity, and how the latter depends on the brain's functioning and integrity. The same intellectual faculties, which constitute one of the most important resources available to the Ego, may be altered by the degeneration of brain functions due to the aging process, yet one gets the impression that, despite everything, the Ego's sense of identity does not run out, remaining the same from the first years of life up to death, provided that consciousness remains active: what substantially changes is the psychic experience, not the Ego's identity. It is also true that in certain particular states, such as coma and other conditions of unconsciousness, the same premises that underlie the conscious Ego's existence are lacking. With these premises it becomes very difficult, as we have repeatedly observed, to sustain the possibility of a spiritual existence of the Ego, freed from the mental activity connected to the brain's functioning. Death, which nevertheless constitutes an inevitable event for every living organism, coincides with the phase of liberation of the conscious Ego from human psyche. However, for there to be liberation, there must be something that can be liberated, so that we might be in a position to hypothesize a continuation of the existence of the conscious Ego and a connection between the experience of earthly life and a new form of otherworldly existence.
As we have seen, the reality of paranormal phenomena demonstrates with deeds the existence of energies and entities that are not part of the ordinary psychic experience of this world, but which seem to belong to a parallel dimension that only occasionally, through people endowed with particular faculties, connects to our physical dimension. The interpretative framework that human psyche offers us regarding these phenomena is heterogeneous and uncertain, totally unreliable from a cognitive point of view: we go from the attribution to our psychophysical system of extraordinary faculties, normally dormant, to the acknowledgment of a spiritual nature associated with our body and brain, which could even constitute a second energetic body (ethereal or astral) able to survive the death of the physical body, until the admission of the existence of alien entities (spirits) that can interact with humans in a singular staging made of inexplicable actions, verifiable truths, half-truths, and even deceptions. Any psychic theory advanced so far to explain these facts lacks that clarity, objectivity and intellectual validity that should characterize scientific theories.
The importance of non-ordinary psychic experiences – such as many NDEs or some experiences induced by psychoactive substances – lies in the fact that the conscious Ego is liberated, at least temporarily, from its state of subjection towards the ordinary tunings of the human psyche and from internal conflicts that prevent our Ego from knowing in a clear and unequivocal way the meaning of human life and the possible existence that awaits us after death. This kind of liberation can be sought and obtained in a more stable way through ascetic practices such as yoga and meditation, which however require the withdrawal of psychophysical energies from the interaction with the reality of the environment. In any case, all these non-ordinary psychic experiences remain connected to the existence in life of the body, and therefore the doubt can always remain that they too are particular forms of mental activity, determined by the functioning of the brain. The only phase of definitive liberation from the human psyche is given by the death of the body and the extinction of brain activity. It is a door through which, at least until today, all of us humans must pass: once the time of our life in this world has come to an end, we will experience other forms of existence directly, or our conscious Ego will be definitely deleted.
The psychic orientation towards life or towards death
In some historical periods, sociocultural systems have manifested a psychic orientation mainly focused on earthly life, on the ability to transform the world, to contrive, to create, and also to «have fun», living an intense life through all the (psychic) experiences that different natural and human environments of our planet can offer. In our current society this vision is prevalent, but it is not cartain that it will be so in the future: some crisis signs already suggest a possible trend inversion, even if not in the short term. When the psychic orientation is tuned on life, death becomes an event to be exorcised, removing it as far as possible from thoughts and investigations of cultural relevance. All psychophysical energies are oriented in the sense of living this life fully, and we must recognize that the technological evolution that characterize our age makes available to a large number of humans a range of fascinating and interesting experiences: obviously, it's not all gold what glitters, and it does not hurt to remember that each coin has two sides, but it can hardly be maintained that life in our day, despite all its contradictions and difficulties, is entirely depicted in the definition «tears' valley».
In other ages, or in cultures different from ours, the psychic orientation can instead be mainly focused on the destiny that awaits the conscious Ego after death, and this earthly life is interpreted only as an itinerary to travel in order to achieve that goal and obtain some form of reward (or avoid some presumed punishment). This orientation was predominant in Europe during the Middle Ages, but even in our days we can observe that those people who commit suicide in order to perform hostile and destructive actions towards other humans and towards a culture different from their own, do so because their Ego is fanatically enslaved by a psychic instance that promises a reward in the afterlife. When the psychic orientation towards a presumed life after death prevails, earthly life ends up losing interest and human existence miserably drags itself into conditions that seem to justify the scarce value attributed to it by the psyche.
In our day and in our culture any sane person should be able to understand how an interesting and rewarding human life is far more advantageous to the Ego than a life of hardship, misery and suffering. It is therefore hard to understand for what distorted reason the reward of a presumed «paradise» in the afterlife should be subordinated to the sacrifices and sufferings of this life. However, the subordination of the conscious Ego of most humans to these psychic tunings is still too strong to allow us to believe that we are already in a position to determine the history of humanity and the future conditions of human life. As has been repeatedly highlighted in these pages, the human psyche is an autonomous and mercurial phenomenon, subject to transformations determined by contrasts and conflicts within it, and according to the place and time in which a person was born and lives, undergoing his/her own destiny, one or the other psychic orientation may prevail. On the other hand, we must remember that the conscious Ego has an individual and subjective significance, while the effects of psychic orientations involve millions of people, conditioning each individual, since in our days hardly (and with some discomfort) we can live as hermits.
Can the psyche determine reality?
It is therefore necessary to consider a last and important question: what is the role of the psyche in defining and determining reality? We have seen how the conscious Ego is subjected to the psyche and how difficult it is even to be able to evaluate our psychic experience in a critically detached way, yet we rarely doubt the existence of an objective and absolute reality, and we are led to believe that many aspects of our psychic experience are nothing but the mental reflection of this reality. This substantially objective and indubitable vision of reality is typical of the culture of our time, given that – in other ages – different cultures (such as Hinduism) proposed alternative interpretations. We are thus dealing, also in this case, with a psychic orientation, through which the psyche describes and interprets itself as the reality of the objective world.
We have already highlighted how the creative, imaginative and planning activity of the human mind is able to transform the reality of this world in an increasingly effective and substantial way, but this phenomenon, despite its surprising complexity, occurs according to a pre-established order, and according to laws that our human intellect evaluates as absolute and immutable. In the sphere of paranormal phenomena, instead, events occur on the basis of which we have the impression (or rather, the certainty) that some kind of mental activity, and the resulting psychic tunings, may have a direct effect on reality, altering it in an incomprehensible way for us. Such phenomena of a physical nature are those known, already repeatedly witnessed, and reported also in these pages: apports, materializations, matter transmutations, movements, levitations, direct voices, etc. The most common interpretation is that these are direct effects, determined by particular mental faculties, on an objective and absolute physical reality. Various texts have been written on the merits: among them, in Italy, Operazioni psichiche sulla materia (Psychic Operations on Matter), by Nicola Riccardi (Editrice Luce e Ombra, 1970), and Pensiero e volontà - Forze plasticizzanti e organizzanti (Thought and Will - Molding and Organizing Forces) by Ernesto Bozzano (Editrice Luce e Ombra, 1967). However, these texts are characterized by a certain imprecision and confusion in the use of terms such as mind, psyche, consciousness, unconscious, will, etc., which already in themselves lead (as we have pointed out in the Definitions page) to interpretative misunderstandings. Therefore some clarification may be appropriate.
You can define the will as an energy, or a faculty, an amount of which the conscious Ego can have to intentionally achieve a purpose. The motivations for which the will is activated are determined by the psyche (desires, commands, positive and negative impulses), but the process by which the will is activated must pass through the Ego's consciousness. Therefore it does not seem to me proper to refer to an unconscious will. As already highlighted in the pages dedicated to the unconscious, all psychic processes can be considered unconscious, until they become conscious. But the only mental activities that we can rightly consider unconscious are those that, although not coming to the consciousness of the Ego, are however determined by the functioning of our nervous system and brain. Every other reference to the unconscious assumes a metaphysical value, since it is not possible for us to have any cognitive certainty in this regard.
The ability to perform or to determine some paranormal phenomena at will can be defined as magical power. There are certainly persons who train themselves in this sense, and some of them can achieve significant results. They generally remain in the shadows, unless they are part of cultures that recognize their skills and give them a social role. To mention an example, one of these particularly gifted people was Gustavo Rol, who could activate at will some of his extraordinary faculties, while – according to what he himself stated – in most cases the phenomena occurred independently, in a way which surprised both him and the other people present. It is evident that we can not speak of will in all those cases where mediums go into a trance: if the trance is total, the medium is in a state of complete unconsciousness with respect to the paranormal manifestations that occur, while if it is partial the medium assists to what happens, and in some cases is able to interact with the entities that manifest themselves, but without being able in any way to determine the phenomena at will. It is therefore not correct, in all these cases, to refer to the will as a force that can produce direct effects on the physical world, unless it is attributed to something distinct from the conscious Ego.
The hypotheses on the faculties attributed to the unconscious or to the spirit
In the literature of the last century, many authors often referred to a will linked to the unconscious (especially the medium's one), considering it a faculty sufficient to explain many paranormal phenomena. However, this personification of the unconscious has not been sufficiently explained or justified (nor can it be seen on what knowledge basis an explanation may be founded, given the confusion inherent in the term used): in particular it is never possible to understand if this personified unconscious is determined or not by an unconscious brain activity, and in what relationship it is with the conscious Ego. In conceptions such as those of Frederic Myers (the Subliminal Self) or Carl Gustav Jung (das Selbst) it seems that human personality consists of two parts, of which one (the Ego) is conscious and the other unconscious, even if it is not it is clear whether the latter has its own form of consciousness and its own will, distinct from those of the Ego: the only thing that can be said with some coherence is that the body-mind system of a person would be governed by both these parts, often in conflict with each other, prevailing now one now the other. Since the concept of unconscious has been elaborated above all to explain some effects of a psychic nature that can also act on the somatic system, the personalization of the unconscious takes on a metaphysical character: one could equally and rightly claim that these effects are determined by one or some entities distinct from the conscious Ego, more or less friendly or hostile towards the latter, which are able to exert a power on the body-mind organism of a person (see the page on the alien spirit).
This conception contrasts, within certain limits, with the spiritualists one, which consider the human being as composed of two parts: the body (with its nervous and cerebral system) would be the tool that allows us to interact with the physical dimension of this world, while the spirit (of a nonphysical nature) would constitute our most authentic essence and, under normal conditions, would exert its influence on the conscious Ego, trying to orient its involvement and reactions to psychic experiences, while in particular conditions it could take the upper hand by manifesting an effective power (however limited) both on the physical world and on the psyche. For this reason paranormal phenomena can be classified into two basic categories: those with physical effects and those of a psychic nature.
The spiritualist interpretation has at least the advantage of being clearer and more comprehensible, avoiding the ambiguity present in expressions such as «psyche dominates matter» or «the paranormal faculties of the psyche». What is involved and can be dominated by the psyche is the conscious Ego: for there to be psychic experience a conscious subject is needed, able to record this experience. In fact, according to our definition of the psyche (see the page about Definitions), the psychic experience is determined by mental activity and is acquired and memorized by a conscious subject. Therefore it is not correct to attribute any presumed «psychic power» to a medium who is in a state of total unconsciousness during a trance. Instead, it is more plausible to associate to the psychophysical system of the medium a distinct entity (a spirit) capable of exerting certain effects on physical reality by drawing on the energies of the «instrument» (the medium's body and mind) and other sitters. present. Although this hypothesis does not give us any useful information, from a cognitive point of view, about the nature and origin of the spirits, and about their relationship with the conscious Ego of humans (apart from the fact that to us they are invisible and imperceptible entities under normal conditions), it at least identifies some subjects – distinct from the conscious Ego – to whom intelligence, intentionality and will can be attributed. Alternatively, we would be in a position to attribute to the psyche, in its totality, an autonomous intelligence, will and consciousness, and the ability to exercise on the physical world a direct power, freed from the intellect and the creative faculties of the conscious Ego. All this contrasts with what we have stated so far about the psyche.
Finally, we should examine the hypothesis, advanced by some scholars, that paranormal phenomena may be caused by particular faculties due to the unconscious brain functioning of some persons. This means that some neuronal circuits, normally inhibited or not present in most people, should come into operation by activating, nobody knows how, the acquisition of information generally unavailable or the effect of forces which can act directly on elements of the physical world. In this case it would be reasonable to speak of unconscious effects and faculties, in the sense that the cerebral activity that determines them remains unconscious, and the medium is not aware of any psychic activity, at least until she/he awakens from trance. It is a hypothesis that can account for the more or less intense physical and mental alterations involving the medium's body, especially when certain physical phenomena such as materializations, levitations or displacements of heavy objects occur, but which can not prescind from recognizing the existence of a form of energy (which manifests as «ectoplasm», sometimes perceptible, others less, emanating from the physical and mental system of the medium) that is externalized in order to exert its effects on the objects of the physical world.
We would therefore be again in the condition of having to attribute to the physical and mental system of our human organism a dual nature: a properly physical one, which can be perceived with ordinary senses and can be studied according to the laws of physics and chemistry, and a non-physical (spiritual) one – subjectively perceivable only by some people gifted with non-ordinary faculties – which follows different laws than those that rule the physical world. The substantial difference between this hypothesis and the spiritualist one is given by the fact that in this case also the existence of the spirit is subordinated to the functioning of the organic body-brain system, and therefore any possibility of survival of the spirit after death becomes at least improbable, while the spiritualist hypothesis recognizes to the spirit its own autonomy with respect to the body and a form of immortality.
The passive and active role of the conscious Ego
In the complexity of human life we have the impression that the Ego, substantially passive towards the psychic experience, can play an active role in deciding, in acting and in determining not only the reality, but also its own psychic orientations, using the volitional resources available to it. However, if we ask ourselves, as we have done several times in these pages, what is the reliable background of knowledge on which the Ego bases its decisions and actions, our intelligence, for how much effort it can make, always brings us back to the starting point: each person decides, acts and wants because something orients him/her, drives (and forces) him/her in this sense. We may say: «I want, I decide, I believe...», but if we ask ourselves what is the reason for our orientation, we almost always must answer: «because I can not help». While the psychic experiences involving the conscious Ego appear, so to speak, before its eyes, the dynamics (also of a psychic origin?) that determine its orientation and its choices act behind it and maneuver it behind the scenes. As a result, the character and behavior of humans can be so varied, different and conflicting.
Again we find ourselves in the condition of having to attribute the Ego's orientation either to a cause that we can define as «organic» (the brain's functioning) – integrated by the cultural interactions that elaborate over time the operational programs on which the brain works – or to an entity of a spiritual nature, which is able to influence the functioning of our brain. The most plausible hypothesis is that both these causes can act, and often conflict with each other, also putting at risk the mental equilibrium of the conscious Ego. But what disturbs us most is the lack of a clear and evident cognitive framework: everything seems to take place in a sly, subterranean, often unconscious way, and the conscious Ego is relegated to the rank of a puppet whose very existence appears as temporary and illusory. This temporary and illusory character of human life is sustained in no uncertain terms by the organic hypothesis, according to which the conscious Ego is nothing but an epiphenomenon deriving from the brain's functioning, destined to extinguish with the dissolution of this organ. But also the spiritual hypothesis – which is based on clues, some times contradictory, and on intuitions that are hardly verifiable – lacks the necessary cognitive elements to establish with certainty what the relationship between the spirit and the conscious Ego is, and how the conscious Ego can continue to «live», moving into another dimension, after the brain has ceased functioning. As we have seen, the various mediumistic phenomena on which the spiritualist hypothesis is based could also be attributed in large part to the intervention of alien entities which – evoked by human beings and through the psychophysical energies provided by the latter – succeed in set up a show of extraordinary events (which however can not go beyond certain limits), drawing on the resources and psychic information available to them. Not that this must necessarily be the most correct interpretation of mediumistic manifestations, but doubts remain, because of the artificial or alien character of many spirit entities.
In light of the above considerations, it is not surprising that the conscious Ego, not being able to have a reliable knowledge about its human condition and destiny, is subjected to the allure of those psychical elaborations that show this world as «ruled» by higher entities, which in some cases can intervene to directly influence life events. As we have seen, they are above all the paranormal phenomena that corroborate the hypothesis that such entities exist and actually act. Moreover, as in the course of this life the conscious Ego must endure disappointments and sufferings, without there being a significant and justified correlation between what he/she is able to foresee, to choose or to do, and what must then endure, the Ego feels attracted by the hope that, once this life is over, something superior will reward it by placing it in a more satisfying condition, according to its true nature and the needs deriving from it: most of NDEs that we examined confirm this aspiration, which takes shape in a psychic experience of a different nature, but still real.
The acknowledgment, by the Ego, of what we could designate as its most authentic essence, does not present the requisites of a consolatory psychic elaboration, but is the distillate of the experience of a life, purified of slags, distortions, conditioning and desires caused by the psychic tunings activated through human interactions. In recognizing one's existence, the Ego can discover and affirm the right to be what it is, in accordance with the creative principle from which it originated. Once its own essence is discovered, the conscious Ego is able to understand and appreciate the different aspects of earthly life that have aroused its interest, but at the same time it feels the need to go further, without denying them. The detachment from human life thus becomes the necessary condition for the embryo, which has now become mature, to break from within the shell of the egg that contains it and made it grow, to enter a new phase of its existence. The persistence of the bonds with this earthly life can constitute an impediment to this process of rebirth, as it continues to activate essentially human psychic instances, from which instead the Ego should progressively free itself. This phase of liberation should not be considered as a volitional decision-making process, typical of the modes of human functioning, but as the inevitable and beneficial consequence of the Ego's acknowledgment and conquest of its own autonomous spiritual essence, now free and released from the conditioning of human psyche.