The Reality of Psychic Perception
Everyone agrees that we have physical bodies, thoughts and emotions—but the fact that the latter two have an existence and reality independent of the physical body is highly debated. And it is this fact that accounts for the other debated topics of telepathy, clairvoyance, and the ability of mediums1 to communicate with “the dead." I have absolutely no doubt in the reality of these phenomena based on my own research and experience. I have had personal contact with a psychic medium, conducted a series of informal remote viewing experiments, studied well documented evidence (including Upton Sinclair’s “Mental Radio”), and discussed other accounts with sources that I trust. While there are not yet any widely accepted scientific theories2 that explain them, they have been known and explored for thousands of years.
Many Eastern religions and esoteric teachings describe seven "planes," or dimensions of consciousness. The lower four are: physical, astral, mental and buddhic. We all know of the physical plane that we perceive with our five senses, and learn about from science for areas that are outside the range of our sensory perception. The astral plane is also called the plane of emotions, and above that is the mental plane, where true thought originates. Above these are higher spiritual planes, where the soul is said to have its existence. Although described as being above and below one another, they are actually interpenetrating. Our consciousness, which is more complex than we realize, simultaneously exists on all of these levels, even though we are not usually consciously aware of them.
It is at the astral and mental levels that psychic perception occurs. The astral plane is described as "highly elastic," meaning that even though it has an objective reality of it's own, it can easily be distorted by own personal thoughts, emotions, or desires. So, while it is possible for someone who "travels astrally," for example during an out of body experience (OBE), to perceive real information from the physical world, it is equally likely that they may experience pure fantasy3. Carl Japikse gave the following description of non-physical perception in a response to a post on the Light website forum:
"There are three levels of nonphysical perception: astral, mental, and spiritual. The first two are psychic forms of perception; the last is intuition. Astral perception tends to be somewhat inaccurate, as our perceptions are colored by assumptions and emotions. Mental perception is much more accurate, but less common. Intuitive perception is rare."
Intuition is described in Carl's class on "The Higher Mental Skills." It can be developed by contemplating and studying divine archetypes over a period of many years.
In the demonstration of remote viewing that I witnessed, some of these ideas were clearly demonstrated to me. Even though the viewer did give very accurate descriptions of particular physical objects, a few of them were augmented with details from his imagination. Also, some of the impressions that he gave were mixed with descriptions of objects that I did not recognize. These could have come from other sources or have been imagined. I realize how mediums such as Allison Dubois, John Edward, or Laurie Campbell can provide very accurate information mixed with information that may not be correct, or may be out of context. Of course, skeptics only focus on to the latter, and attempt to explain away any accurate information as coincidence, guessing, or "cold reading."
The Internet is full of information about the astral realms, astral travel, OBE, etc., but like any other topic, you’ll probably find some valid and some invalid information (probably more invalid information on this topic). One good source of information, particularly on astral dimensions, is the work of Robert Bruce. He has done significant and serious hands-on experimentation of these subjects for years. Even if you are not interested in developing the ability to have conscious OBEs, you might find his personal insights on these topics helpful. I was particularly impressed with his description of what he calls "The Incredible Mind-Split," in his book "Astral Dynamics." I have read many sources that discuss consciousness operating simultaneously on multiple levels, but found this very difficult to understand, until I read his personal description of it.
The best reference that I have found on the nature and purpose of the psychic abilities is “The Revelation of Light,” by Robert R. Leichtman and Carl Japikse. With regard to psychic perception, Leichtman and Japikse are speaking from personal experience. C. Normal Shealy, M.D. describes them in a foreword to “The Art of Living, Vol. I”:
"Dr. Robert Leichtman is the best clairvoyant I have personally investigated. His forte is reading the personality of individuals he has never seen; knowing only their names and addresses, he delivers more incisive and accurate information than that usually obtained with extensive personal testing. I have found him to be ninety-six percent accurate in the work he has done for me. Mr. Japikse is also an excellent clairvoyant who works closely with Dr. Leichtman and teaches the same principles. The ability of these two gentlemen to intuitively perceive the psychological natures of people makes their insights into the art of living even more worthy of careful study."
They give a simple, understandable, and useful explanation of this topic. For example, they describe ways of examining our own subconscious (the link to psychic perception) and becoming familiar with the ability to differentiate between ideas that originate in our own minds versus ideas that are perceived psychically from another individual or mass consciousness. This often occurs without us even realizing it. They give advice that is useful even to those of us who are not “overtly psychic.” Carl Japikse has also written “Its All in the Mind,” a set of fourteen mystery stories that illustrate the practical use of these skills in solving crimes.
1 One scientific study with mediums is documented in "The Afterlife Experiments", by Prof. Gary Schwartz. Other research includes the work of Dr. Pim van Lommel.
2 There is one scientific theory that does. It is "The Theory of Enformed Systems", by Don Watson. Another article discussing explanations from physics is here.
3 An account of "astral travel" with real perception is given here by Dick Allgire, a television journalist.