The quests for meaning and peace of mind compel us all. These heart-felt desires are the subject of this book.
Why do we feel greater peace sitting in a seaside cabin in the midst of a tumultuous thunderstorm than sitting at the dinner table with our loving family in suburban San Francisco?
And how was it possible for psychiatrist and writer Viktor Frankl to find meaning and spirit amidst the atrocities and suffering of a Nazi concentration camp? Both the thunderstorm and the concentration camp teach us that to experience meaning in our lives we must direct our attention beyond the consciousness of our separate self.
Clearly, we perceive something greater than ourselves in the power of a raging thunderstorm. Unable to schedule, organize, or control it, we can only surrender to the experience. The storm declares, “Here I am. I’m in control — you just let go!” And what we release, if only for a moment, is our usual focus on ourselves: our body, our thoughts, emotions, desires, memories, imagination — even our fears. We are given a rare opportunity for the continual chatter of our minds to be silent. Rather than anguishing about future or past events over which we have no control, we can become still and simply experience being aware in the present moment.
During his three years in Auschwitz and other concentration camps, Frankl discovered that the prisoners who survived transcended their own suffering, shared their meager food, and focused their attention on relieving the misery of prisoners around them. Frankl even found kindness among the German guards. His message to us now is as relevant as it was in the twentieth century: open our hearts or perish. He wrote that even under the torturous conditions of the death camps people had the spiritual freedom to choose the attitudes they wished to embody. “It is this spiritual freedom — which cannot be taken away — that makes life meaningful and purposeful,” he wrote.
We have written this book to describe a comprehensible spirituality, one in which experience takes primacy over religious belief. We are in part responding to the opinions of one of the most notable scientists of the twentieth century, Carl Sagan, expressed in one of his final books, The Demon-Haunted World. In that book, Sagan stirred together flying saucers, crop circles, alien abductions, and God, and declared that he found them all incomprehensible.
We base our response to Sagan on a description of the experience of God, rather than a doctrine of belief. As scientists we are convinced that a person need not believe or take on faith anything about the existence of universal spirit, because the experience of God is a testable hypothesis. However, philosophical proof is not at all the purpose of this book. Instead, we offer a plausible argument to anyone seeking a spiritual life who at the same time desires to remain a critical and discerning participant in the twenty-first century. We can include God in our lives without giving up our minds, if we can transcend our usual analytical thoughts and learn to become mindful.
Jane Katra, Ph.D., has been a practicing spiritual healer for thirty-seven years. She taught public health at the University of Oregon in the 1980s, and continues to take part in remote viewing, psychokinesis, healing, and distant mental influence research. She is the author, with Russell Targ, of Miracles of Mind. Katra currently teaches classes on psychic abilities, higher consciousness, and the evolution of humanity, and speaks publicly on the transformative effects of near-death experiences and after-death communications.
Russell Targ was a pioneer in the development of the laser and co-founder of the Stanford Research Institute’s investigation into psychic abilities (remote viewing) in the 1970s and 1980s. He has published more than a hundred scientific papers on lasers, plasma physics and ESP research, and his books include Mind Reach, The Mind Race, and Limitless Mind. A retired senior staff scientist for Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space Co., Targ now lives in Palo Alto, California and teaches remote viewing workshops internationally.