Abstract Details

Brain and Physiological Activity of Sender and Receiver During Local and Remote Periods of "Spiritual Transmission"  Arnaud Delorme , Dean Radin; Leena Michel; Rael Cahn; Cassandra Vieten (Ions (Petaluma), CERCO, UPS-CNRS, Paul Sabatier University, Faculte de Medecine, Toulouse, France)   C16

Practitioners from a wide variety of spiritual traditions occasionally report strong psychophysiological responses when they are in the presence of a spiritual teacher who has achieved some level of mastery, particularly when the teacher directs attention or intention toward the practitioner. While many such anecdotal reports of this phenomenon exist, almost no empirical research has been conducted to examine it. There are no studies published that we are aware of in the major scientific databases referring to empirical laboratory studies of spiritual transmission (shaktipat). The aim of the proposed work is to objectively examine the psychophysiological correlates of spiritual transmission in both transmitters and recipients under controlled laboratory conditions. Spiritual transmission is said to occur through sight, sound, touch, or thought. For example, the teacher may simply gaze at the student, speak words or make sounds, touch the student with their hands or with a feather, or transmit spiritual energy through intention or thought. Proximity does not appear to be required. There are many anecdotal accounts of recipients who experienced transmission by looking at a photograph of a spiritual teacher. In the devotional traditions of Hinduism, practitioners often place photos of their teachers in their environments (home, car, workplace) to remain in connection with the teacher's transmission. We run a block-design protocol in which we tested 3 different senders experienced in spiritual transmission, and 10 different receivers who were either disciples of the guru or naive subjects. Experiments were performed at two locations in California in two different laboratories. Senders and receivers sat in different rooms at about 30 meters distance of each other. Two conditions alternated: a condition of active spiritual transmission and a condition of rest. We recorded distant spiritual transmission and rest for 5 consecutive sessions of 5 minutes each. On 2 of the 5 sessions (sessions 2 and 4), the sender was instructed to give spiritual transmission. During rest (sessions 1, 3, and 5), the sender remained silent and attempted to keep his mind out of the spiritual transmission state. The receiving subjects were asked to stay in a meditative and receptive mental state. We used the EEGLAB software (www.sccn.ucsd.edu/eeglab) to analyze the electro-encephalographic signals from both senders and receivers focusing on the brain activity during the spiritual transmission mental state compared to the brain activity during the rest state. For some of the subjects, we also performed correlation analysis between scalp channels of senders and receivers. False detection rate (FDR) was used to correct for multiple comparisons. We report significant activity in receivers when senders are performing spiritual transmission at a distance. We also report significant brain correlations between senders and receivers in some of the testing sessions. These results suggest that spiritual transmission to an isolated person at a distance appears to produce measurable physiological effects in some distant receivers.

Brain, EEG, physiological activity, remote interaction, spiritual transmission