How I Know the Material World Isn’t

The following was previously published in The Searchlight, the newsletter of the Academy of Spirituality and Paranormal Studies.

Physics tells us that matter consists mostly of empty space between particles.  We also know that if we examine those particles more and more closely, breaking them down into smaller and smaller parts, soon there are no parts left, no matter at all, only a vibrating “quantumstuff” of which we have little understanding.  The seeming solidity of matter is pure illusion, a convenience created for us by our senses.

Perhaps this begins to explain the phenomena I am about to describe.

Rubbery Iron

Qi Gong masters are known for being able to affect material objects by emitting Qi from their hands, even blowing out candles by simply holding their hands near the flame.  I have seen ordinary, untrained people doing something far more astonishing—bending pieces of iron rebar using nothing more than the power of their minds and their own bodies’ energy fields.

In the late 1990s I gave treatments and workshops at Desert High, a summer health-promotion program for school employees.  Participants were intended to learn healthier behaviors during the week of the program and then return to their school communities and teach others.  There was always some sort of team-building, motivational activity involving the entire group, a couple of hundred people.  One year the activity was bending rebar.

How do you get a team of six or eight humans with no special equipment to bend a thick iron rod?  Do you have some of them step on one end, perhaps, while others pull as hard as they can on the other?  Can it be done at all?  Well, it did get done, by the following unlikely method.

Two people were chosen from each team to do the bending, while the others lined up behind them to add support and cheer them on.  Here’s the tricky part.  With the two “benders” facing each other, the ends of the rebar were placed at the bases of their throats, resting just above the sternum.  Any physical pressure would have resulted in pain and perhaps even severe injury.  It was impossible to bend the rebar by physically pushing.  Likewise, any physical pressure from the other team members would have been useless and probably dangerous.

So how did the rebar get bent?  Everyone in the group had to concentrate their mental focus and their energy in the same direction, in total coordination and harmony.  A number of  teams managed this.  The bars could be seen to suddenly collapse in the middle and sag like rubber, as if they had bent on their own.  Once bent, they stayed that way.  Successful teams were given ribbons to tie onto their pieces of iron, which they displayed triumphantly.

Uri Geller had nothing on our group.

I saw this with my own eyes, but unfortunately my team wasn’t able to manage it.  For a while I was a “bender,” so I did get a sense of what the process felt like.  At one point I felt that the rebar got wobbly in the center, jellylike, and I thought it was finally going to bend, but nothing more happened.  Still, I had seen, and I knew what was possible.

The next day I gave my workshop session, which was an introduction to Qi and energy healing.  Normally, for such presentations I had to make the case that the human body is not really a solid object and that it can change for the better instantaneously.  That year, all I had to do was to remind everyone of what we had seen, that even iron isn’t solid.

Which brings up a bit of difficulty.  Iron rebar is meant to reinforce buildings.  It has to be solid; that is its purpose.  What if a whole lot of pieces of rebar, or other materials in a building, suddenly decided to change shape?  We would be in an incredible amount of trouble.  We are fortunate that the parts of the material world generally stay put and do their jobs the way they are meant to.  Exactly why they can be shifted with relative ease under some conditions, while remaining stable otherwise, is a challenge to understand, and I’m not at all sure that I can explain it.  I can only say that it must have to do with intention and the degree of focus of the human mind involved.

Moving Bones Over the Phone

If the human mind can affect inanimate objects this way, how much more can we do with living systems, which can adapt in response to influences in their environments, and which have built-in self-correcting mechanisms?  Energy healing, including treatment at a distance, is commonplace, and uses the body’s own ability to heal itself.  It is relatively non-mysterious.  However, I have encountered three healers, all of whom began as chiropractors, who can actually move the bones and other structures of the body without physically touching them.  Like iron turning to Jell-o, this phenomenon challenges us to come up with a new way of looking at our reality.

On October 4, 2006, I was in a minor car accident.  I already had a phone appointment scheduled for the next day with Kam Yuen, DC, the originator of the Yuen Method of healing; I had read about him, and was curious.  I had hoped to work on some chronic problems, but the appointment had to be given over to helping my jammed ankle, neck and shoulders.  Dr. Yuen, three states west in California, took a remote look at me and found those traumatized joints without me telling him where I was hurting.  Then he proceeded to get the kinks out of them and relieve the pain.  I could feel the bones and connective tissue being pushed back where they belonged.  The treatment took place entirely in Dr. Yuen’s mind— not even in my own— but nothing more than the mind was needed.

This would have seemed totally unbelievable to me if I had not been working similarly with my own chiropractor, James Rolwing, at home in Albuquerque.  Dr. Rolwing was originally a “normal” chiropractor, who primarily used an activator, a spring-loaded tool that gives a relatively gentle push to bones, making high-force techniques unnecessary.  In more recent times he’s gone from low-force to often using no force at all.  This development began with his attempts to improve his diagnostic intuition by using a plastic skeleton as a proxy, scanning over it with his hands, trying to get a hit on what was going on with the next patient before the person came in.  He didn’t expect this to turn into a mode of treatment, but soon he found that if he pushed on parts of the skeleton, the corresponding parts of the patient would move, as if by sympathetic magic.  He has done this to me many times, and it’s been a huge help to me because it avoids having to apply a physical blow to areas where I have damaged and hypersensitive nerves.  While the treatment is so non-physical, the results are very much apparent in the material world.  The bone is in one place, then it’s in another.  The change can be measured with nothing more sophisticated than a ruler.

I don’t have this skill myself— yet.  I did give it a shot one day at Dr. Rolwing’s office, while he was busy answering the phone.  We weren’t finished with my adjustment, and I could feel that a vertebra in the middle of my back was not quite right.  I went over to the skeleton and scanned its spine, moving my hand up and down until it “stuck” to one of the plastic vertebrae.  It was then a simple matter to tweak the plastic slightly, and I felt the response in my own spine.  That was the only time, so far, that I’ve been able to do this “voodoo chiropractic.”  Perhaps being in that environment, working with a tool that is used this way all the time, made it easier for me to put my mental focus in the right place, to be open to the shift in my reality.  But I know that a fake skeleton isn’t necessary to get such an effect, nor is any other material-world tool.  In fact, Dr. Rolwing sometimes does his adjustments in the air, so to speak, without using any object to represent the patient.

Having seen all that, I was ready to meet Richard Bartlett, DC, ND, the originator of a form of healing called Matrix Energetics.  At a Matrix workshop in May 2008, I saw Dr. Bartlett make structural changes, as well as energetic ones, by simply waving his hand at the patient.  (I don’t suppose even the hand-waving was necessary.)  Matrix work is all about seeing reality as it is at the quantum level, where everything is probability; we can choose the manifestation we want out of everything that is possible.  If the current reality contains pain and suffering, you pick a different one.  Your material structure obligingly goes along.  At least some of the time.

Dr. Bartlett makes frequent references to physics in explaining his methods, but I don’t think that physics has yet made room for all these phenomena, even though we experience them in the macroscopic, Newtonian world.  Still, I believe that metaphysics is only physics that we haven’t learned to understand, and I’m sure that physics will eventually expand to include everything that we observe and experience, in all our realities.

References:

Herbert, Nick, Quantum Reality: Beyond the New Physics, Anchor Books, 1985

Bartlett, Richard, Matrix Energetics: The Science and Art of Transformation, Beyond Words Publishing Co., 2007

Since writing this in 2008, I have actually begun to be able to do what Dr. Rolwing does, a little bit.  It’s not that I can claim to have real psychokinetic abilities, I hasten to add.  My experience, and what I’ve been told, seem to indicate that affecting a living system is different from, easier than, trying to move inanimate matter.

At the moment I’m listening to an audio course called “Consciousness and Its Implications,” which discusses the question of whether physics includes all phenomena, including those we call mental, or mind is something outside of the purview of physics.  I would still prefer to believe, as I stated above, that everything is physics, and that our understanding of that science can potentially expand to take in everything that there is.  But I’m keeping an open mind.

I always chuckle when I hear references to “the new physics,” as in the title of Dr. Bartlett’s book.  That “new” physics is a century old.  It’s just that we still haven’t wrapped our brains around it.  Let’s get with the program, folks!

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