Recently we happened to read in an Indian journal an article by Sri K.P. Kesava Menon written on his 83rd birthday. Sri Menon was a former High Commissioner of India in
Ceylon, a writer, a patriot and one of India’s
foremost journalists. Even in his old age, whatever he writes is read avidly
and taken as words of wisdom .by millions in India. We quote below the
translation of a small passage from that article:-
''A person s faith takes its shape from his own experience. Is it right to deny the experience of another person simply because you have failed to get the same experience? When I look at the sky at night, I am not able to see even a single star there, because I am now blind. If a person seated next to me revels at the splendour of the millions of stars he sees in the same sky, shall I be right in accusing him that he is telling a lie? If another person who is looking through a telescope, describes about still more stars he is able to see, will it be right on my part to say that they are purely the result of his imagination? Ordinary men do not have the physical strength of a Sandow or a Joe Louis. These strong men do not have the intelligence of a Ramanujan or Einstein. If it is so, is it not possible for some persons to have more spiritual powers and more spiritual experiences than others. It is my faith which gives me peace and happiness. Similarly if others also may derive peace and happiness through other types of faiths, why should I try to shake their beliefs?" (Mathrubhoomi Weekly)
What Sri Menon says, though very misleading, may appear to be sound arguments even to many intelligent thinkers.
Let us have a psychological evaluation, and analysis of mental experiences and beliefs of man.
|KP Kesava Menon|
A young boy may be suffering from enuresis - that is the habit of urinating on the bed in sleep. He may be getting severe scolding every morning from his ignorant parents. What really happens in this boy's case is, drop by drop urine is filtered out of the kidneys and gets collected in his urinary bladder. When the bladder is full, this information is taken to the brain through the sensory nerves as electrical impulses. These impulses conjure up a dream in the mind of the child. In his dream he gets up from his bed, goes to the urinal and urinates there. The whole thing is only a dream. The fact is that the boy has urinated on the bed itself.
If one early morning, before the child is awake, some one in the house lifts him up and removes the wet bed sheet or mat, and spreads a dry one, and the child is laid back still asleep, on awakening, as usual he will look with anxiety on the bed. On seeing that everything is perfectly dry, he will jump up out of the bed with joy, and run up to the mother and say, "Mammy" last night I did not urinate on the bed. I went out and did it in the urinal."
The child is speaking the absolute truth, but it is not factual. It is absolutely true because it is a subjective experience of the child. But it is not factual, because on verification, the facts will show that the child did urinate on the bed. It is a deceptive experience, and it must not be given any credence.
Deceptive experiences or perceptions can be of three types: illusion, hallucination, and delusion.
Of these three deceptive perceptions, illusions are false sensory experiences. Hallucinations, on the other hand, are false mental experiences caused by physical, chemical, biological and psychological stimuli. Delusions, the third type, are false notions implanted in the mind by indoctrination and brainwashing.
Let us take the illusions first. They can be of five types, depending on the five senses - optical or visual illusions, auditory illusions, tactile illusions, olfactory illusions and oral or lingual illusions.
Appearance of watery patches at a distance on a tarred road on a hot bright day is an optical illusion known as mirage. It may appear to be real from a distance. Only on verification by going near it we will know the illusory nature of a mirage.
The sweet taste of water when drunk just after eating the Indian Gooseberry, known locally as Nelli, is an oral illusion. The reality that this water is not sweet, but only an illusory experience, can be verified by making others who have not eaten Nelli, to drink it.
Many persons whose minds are deluded with the belief in non-existing ghosts, demons, Satan, angels, gods, fairies, goblins etc., may see them at night or in dark places as a result of optical illusions. Due to the fear artificially created by brainwashing from childhood, most persons will not have the courage to go near and verify the truth about these apparitions. All those who have conducted investigations courageously and scientifically have come to know that such apparitions are either due to optical illusions, or mental hallucinations:
The juggling feats of magicians, and the so-called miracles of imposters in the garb of holy men, are all optical illusions. Neither the magicians, nor the miracle performing so-called holy men will allow anyone to examine their bodies and dresses for fear of their conjuring tricks, or frauds being exposed.
Now let us turn our attention to hallucinations. As mentioned earlier, hallucinations are abnormal or deceptive mental experiences resulting from physical, chemical, biological and psychological causes.
Physical Stimuli: Doctors Walter Hess of Switzerland, J. Delgado of Yale University, and James Olds of Michigan University have succeeded in creating artificially emotions such as rage, fear, hunger, sorrow, sleep, melancholia, jubilation, love, eroticism, anxiety, aggression, extroversion, introversion, friendliness, hatred, pain, pleasure etc., by stimulating the various control of the brain by electrical impulses, exactly like what happens in normal life.
Rhythmical sensory stimulations like drumming, clapping of hands in unison, chanting of refrains, singing, poetry recitation, slogan-shouting during mass demonstrations, dancing, physical jerks, alternate flashing of light and darkness into the eye, looking intensely on psychedelic patterns, bright flames, crystals and black spots on white back-ground - the usual practices adopted by light readers, crystal gazers and anjanakkarayas - can cause hallucinatory experiences in the subject.
The bizarre behaviour of persons during devil dances, voodoo dances, Rock'n Roll, Baila, Twist, Kavadi dance, Kolam dance, temple poojas, revival meetings and Pentecostal sessions, cricket matches, fire-walking, pop music etc., are all due to the rhythmical stimulations of the nervous system.
Then come the chemical stimulations. Even from primitive times our forefathers knew the technique of producing hallucinations by consuming toddy, arrack, opium, ganja and Datura, which, in Sinhalese is known as Aththana and in Tamil as Poomathai.
Temple in Muthumudali Street in Madras is famous among the Hindus in Tamil
Nadu, because of the unusual religious ecstasy experienced by devotees who take
part in the pooja and the prasadam there.
|Dr Albert Hoffman|
In recent times, numerous hallucinatory drugs like Lysergic acid diethylamide or L.S.D. to be short, Marijuana, Heroine, Mescaline etc., are used as mental boosters, and lagerctil, Librium, valium, Miltown, Amital Sodium etc., as mental sedatives or hypnogens. Dr. Albert Hoffman describes his own experience after taking a small dose of L.S.D. thus: - "I saw my own spirit getting out of my body. It remained suspended in space, and I was looking on my own dead body and crying".
One-millionth grain of L.S.D. can induce in a person transient hallucinations causing ecstasy and schizophrenia, which often gives rise to religious experiences. The discovery of chemical substances of the L.S.D. group in the blood stream of schizophrenics and persons suffering from religio-mania made Doctor Quastel and Doctor Wheatly to conclude that the hallucinatory experiences of visionaries ascetics, mystics, Sadhus and the devotees who enter into trance at religious ceremonies and devil dances are all due to the derangement of their body chemistry.
Now, we will consider the third stimuli - the biological causes: Professors Orlando Miller and Allen Fisher, both of
have discovered that certain abnormal behaviour patterns in men are associated
with their chromosomal abnormalities. Men with predominating sadistic
tendencies have 22 pairs of XX chromosomes, and one of XYY chromosome, instead
of the normal 22 pairs of XX and one of XY chromosomes.
Mental disturbances can also be caused by acute shortage of certain vitamins and enzymes in the body. The disease known as Beri Beri is caused by an acute shortage of Vitamin B 1. Insane behaviour is an important symptom of this disease. Mental derangement is also associated with another vitamin-deficiency disease known as pellagra. Such persons can be brought back to sanity by the administration of the vitamin - Nicotinic acid.
Like vitamins and enzymes, imbalance of certain hormones - the secretions of endocrinal glands - also can produce mental abnormalities. Persons who suffer from an insufficient supply of parathyroxine - the hormone secreted by the-parathyroid gland - are subject to severe hallucinations.
A niece of mine, who used to see my dead mother's spirit whenever she looked towards the sky, was brought by me to
from my ancestral home in Kerala. After a thorough medical check-up, it was
discovered that she had a defective parathyroid To rectify this deficiency she
was given an extra dose of calcium. With the rectification of her body-chemistry
ended the appearance of my mother's spirit before her.
Now let us consider the psychological causes. It is a well-known fact in psychology that human mind is susceptible to suggestions. These suggestions can be by autohypnosis, otherwise known as auto-suggestion, or by hetero-hypnosis. Just as many mental disorders can be cured by hypnotism, it is possible to induce psychic and psycho-somatic ailments by hypnotic suggestions.
Religious indoctrination and brainwashing are slow and continuous process of hypnosis. Talking like a possessed person, often in a changed voice and fabricated language - this in psychology is known as Glossolalia -, ecstatic trance during temple poojas and devil dances, healing by faith, prayer, poojas, pilgrimages, blessing, anointing, sacrifice, charm, offerings, drinking or bathing in so-called holy waters etc., are nothing but the effects of auto - or hetero hypnosis on the subject's suggestible mind.
The late Dr. Behanan Kovoor of the United Nations - a younger brother of mine - and myself had our university education in
about thousand five hundred miles away from our home in Kerala. Almost all the
Hindu families in our neighbourhood requested us to bring for them at least a
small quantity of the sacred water from the river Ganges.
Though prohibited by law now, more than half a century ago, it was a usual
practice for the Hindus living in the Gangetic plane, to ceremoniously deposit
the dead bodies of their kith and kin, into the sacred river Ganges,
so that they may attain moksha or
salvation. Numerous corpses in varying stages of decomposition could be seen
floating in this so-called holy river at any time. Instead of taking this
highly polluted water to our good neighbours, we used to fill two bottles with
tap water from the nearest Railway Station to our home town, and distribute it
to our neighbours as sacred water from the Ganges.
We perpetrated this fraud for four consecutive years, and every time we
returned from Calcutta
we had to give patient hearing to the marvellous cures affected by the previous
The tap water from Kottarakkara Railway Station became a curative medicine for those credulous folks purely as the result of suggestion on the minds of our gullible neighbors.
Deep mediation and chanting of refrains have self-hypnotizing effects. Utterances of persons in deep meditation or trance, are nothing but the hallucinations of deranged mm~, and should not be regarded as divine revelations or occult messages. L.S.D. and Ganja also can produce the same effect. Neurotics and psychotics in meditation, who claim to have received divine revelations, who claim to have achieved enlightenment, who claim to possess paranormal miraculous powers, and those who profess to possess the power to know all the secrets of the unknown and the unknowable, are all fit subjects for the psychiatrist's couch, and not saints and sages to be adored, worshipped or counseled. Diversity in religions is due to the diversity of hallucinations of their respective founders.
Lastly let us consider the third type of deception perceptions: the delusions.
Delusions are accumulated false beliefs resulting from indoctrination and brainwashing from impressionable ages. Beliefs n ghosts, demons, satan, angels, gods, astrology, palmistry, numerology, necromancy, charms, curse, blessings, seth kavi, vas kavi, omens, sacrifices, pirith nool, pilgrimages, anjana eliya, light reading, card reading, tumbler talk, clairvoyance, clairaudience, telepathy, precognition, telekinesis, holy persons, holy places, holy objects, holy times, hell, heaven, rebirth, purgatory, materialization, levitation, transmigration, etc are some of our delusions.
As Sri Menon says, it may be that some persons may derive mental peace and happiness by his or her blind beliefs. Similar results, no doubt, can be obtained by consuming L.S.D, Ganja, opium toddy, or kasippu also! But it is not a question whether any type of experience induces peace or happiness, but whether it is true.
(Exposing Paranormal Claims - Abrahama Kovoor, Published by B. Premanand, Indian CSICOP, 15-3-2000)
(Exposing Paranormal Claims - Abrahama Kovoor, Published by B. Premanand, Indian CSICOP, 15-3-2000)