TELEPATHY and related psychic or psi phenomena are the subject matter of the new science of parapsychology. Critics have rightly pointed to its dubious origin from magic and witchcraft and are still inclined to relegate it to the lunatic fringe of our culture. Yet since its acceptance as a legitimate subject for scientific study, in 1969, by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, parapsychology has gained academic recognition and has by now grown into a formidable research effort sponsored by government agencies, university centers, foundations, and a number of professional organizations both in this country and abroad.
It is true that psi presents us with a vision of the world—or psychic reality—in which space seems to be expanding and contracting like a rubber balloon, in which time's arrow may come to a standstill in midflight or may be seen to reverse its course, and in which matter may appear to dissolve and liquefy as in a surrealist nightmare. In the extreme case, such a vision may culminate in the collapse of the ego and its merging with the nonego. But it may also be conducive to novel, ecstatic forms of experience, to a mode of existence wholly incompatible with the accumulated wisdom and time-tested know-how handed down to us from our evolutionary past.
Still, we shall see in Part Four of this book that the theory proposed here is in no need of introducing a new deus ex machina, some novel physical, biological, bioplasmic, or other mysterious form of energy into our equation. The mystery of "ordinary" human awareness and volition is big enough to accommodate psi. Paraphrasing a famous passage from Hippocrates, On the Sacred Disease, it could be stated: "It is thus with regard to the manifestations called occult: they appear to me to be nowise more divine nor more occult than other mental manifestations, but have natural causes from which they originate ...."