Why people refuse to believe in the paranormal
About a week before Halloween, the Inquirer ran stories about numerous encounters with ghosts by people, from celebrities to ordinary folk. Such stories have become an annual ritual of newspapers, magazines, TV and radio shows.
Despite the first-person stories and documented research of respected parapsychologists all over the world, people, especially our Western-influenced countrymen, still doubt the existence of spirits of the dead manifesting themselves to the living.
I remember an article in the Inquirer’s Nov. 1 issue entitled, “I don’t believe in ghosts, but…,” written by a 75-year-old contributor. The author narrated close encounters she has had with ghostly apparitions, including mysterious movements and eerie sounds. Yet, in the end, when she rhetorically asked, “Do I believe in ghosts?” she replied, “No!”
I find her conclusion to be logically inconsistent, yet not surprising at all. It is a common mental weakness. Once our mind accepts a point of view or opinion as the only correct and valid one (e.g. “ghosts do not exist”), all other contradictory things will be rejected, even if it goes against reason.
Therefore, I understand why that contributor couldn’t accept the existence of ghosts, despite her numerous close encounters.
As the great 16th-century British essayist and philosopher Sir Francis Bacon said, “Once an opinion takes a firm hold in one’s mind, it will make all kinds of excuses, logical distinctions and arguments so that by this pernicious device, his original opinion would remain intact,” or something to that effect.
This is the mindset we find among devotees of organized religion, science, cults or even political systems. This mindset leads to intolerance and fanaticism.
The great astronomer Galileo was arrested and tried by the Holy Inquisition. His views, to be proved to be scientifically correct, were regarded at the time to be heretical, or against the official teachings of the Church.
That was also the reason a young, brave French maiden named Joan of Arc was burned at the stakes by religious authorities. Four hundred years later, the Church apologized for murdering her, and even declared her a saint.
We find examples of such a hardened way of thinking in almost every field.
In the early ’90s, I remember meeting a writer of Omni magazine in a Filipino faith healer’s clinic. He was sent by his publication to see if the much publicized Philippine psychic surgery method was true or not. He observed at close range the healer making an incision on the patient’s body, blood flowing out, then removing a small tumor.
After this, the healer closed the incision and hardly any trace of the operation could be seen. The American writer was in shock.
Unable to believe what he was seeing, he stood motionless, his mouth open, for about half a minute. He couldn’t talk so his wife and I helped him to a chair and gave him water to drink.
When he came to his senses, he mumbled, “I see it, but I can’t believe it.”
A month later, Omni published his story where he concluded that what he had seen in the Philippines was all fakery, because he couldn’t believe nor accept what he had witnessed. It went against his rational, scientific and logical thinking. Therefore, his mind simply rejected it.
As the late Indian spiritual guru and philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti said, “When thinking begins with a conclusion, thinking stops.”
If we accept the scientific assumption that only the things that can be seen, felt, heard, smelled or tasted are real, then everything else outside this paradigm is unreal, nonexistent and purely imaginary.
My next Soulmates, Karma and Reincarnation seminar is on Nov. 23, from 1-7 p.m., at Rm. 308 Prince Plaza I, Legaspi St., Greenbelt, Makati City. Call tel. nos. 8107245 or 0908-3537885.
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