“Second in importance among the changes which have come over the study of mysticism, I should reckon the work done during the last decade upon the psychology of prayer and contemplation. I cannot comment here upon the highly technical discussion between experts as to the place where the line is to be drawn between ‘natural’ and ‘supernatural’, ‘active’ and ‘infused’ operations of the soul in communion with God; or the exact distinction between ‘ordinary’ and ‘extraordinary’ contemplation. But the fact that these discussions have taken place is itself significant; and requires from religious psychology the acknowledgment of a genuine two-foldness in human nature—the difference in kind between Animus the surface-self and Anima the transcendental self, in touch with supernatural realities.” ~Evelyn Underhill.
What Underhill wrote decades ago is even more true today. Academia and scientists are doing even more serious studies of things that were once considered supernatural and not worthy of consideration by real science. Contrary to what many of those who worship at the order of physical science expected, what they are finding is there there is much that is true in these mystical or religious activities.
Numerous studies have been done into the effects of praying and most have come to the conclusion that when people, individually or as a group, pray for something such as the healing of a sick friend, there are real results. Materialists might argue that it is not the praying but the mental belief in the prayer that makes a difference. That may well be true, but it really doesn’t matter. The point is, when people send positive energy to another, it often does benefit that person. It really doesn’t matter if the person sending those thoughts and energies is doing it by saying prayers or just visualizing light or energy going to the sick person. If the person believe it will work, it probably will.
But what about the cases where prayer doesn’t seem to help? There are several possibilities. The suffering person may have a karmic debt that must be paid before he can get well. Or he may have a deep subconscious belief that he deserves to be sick or deserves to suffer for some reason. Or it may be that the person doesn’t believe in the healing power of prayer or similar methods and is therefore rejecting any benefit they may provide.
Other examples of prayer or positive thoughts benefiting others can be found in the experiments done with plants in the 1970s, and the experiments done by Dr. Emoto of Japan with water.
In the 1970s there were a number of experiments done similar to this: seeds of some plant are put in four pots, watered and given plant food or fertilizer. While the plants grew, a person or group sent positive thought or prayers to two of the plants, and nothing to the other two. A neutral person who did not know what was going on monitored the growth. In most cases, the plants that were scent positive energy grew faster and healthier than the others, as much as twenty or thirty percent faster. In a similar kind of experiment, these people were shown photos of fields of crops. They scent thoughts of good health to the crops in the photo, and also scent thought that the field would be free of insect pests. The fields thus treated grew better crops with far less insect damage than other fields.
Japans Dr. Emoto started his experiments about two or three decades ago. He discovered a method of photographing the tiny crystals that form in water when it is rapidly frozen. More significantly, he found that the shape of those crystals can be made to vary by using positive or negative thoughts. In his earliest experiments, jars of water had words tapped to the jar. Those with positive words and phrases such as “I love you” produced attractive, intricate and symmetrical crystals when frozen, while the water from jars with negative things like “I hate you” printed on them produced malformed crystals, or no crystal shapes at all. As we are more than seventy percent water, that should tell you how significant this is for human behavior.
Of course, there is a danger with science getting too involved in the esoteric. We have seen what happened in the field of medicine when science got involved. The natural herbs, plants, and minerals used by medicine men, shaman, and with doctors were studied and the active ingredient identified, then synthesized. Drugs were then made from the synthetics. What we are now seeing is that separating and synthesizing the active ingredient, and leaving out everything else can lead to problems. Very often the active ingredient can have some negative side effects that often become worse, or get added to, in the synthetic version. But in the natural herb there are additional ingredients that tend to block or reverse those negative effects that are not in the synthesized version. So we don’t want science attempting to synthesize spiritual practices. That could be a real disaster.