The Maharishi Effect is an interesting phenomenon in my opinion, as it provides us with not only the possibility that we are each connected in some way; but that the actions or behaviours of others can be affected by the focus of just a few. As someone that has personally struggled with belief or religion, this concept really changes the game.
The understanding is that, if a group of individuals work together in a meditative practice this action will have a wider benefit or effect on both the surrounding lives and society in general. The groups consciousness radiates outwards causing a more orderly and harmonious state in the surrounding society. I am not going to lie this does all sound a little like hippy spiritual fluff to me, until I read about it in David Vernon’s book ‘Dark Cognition – Evidence for Psi and its Implications for Consciousness.’ Vernon does a brilliant job of not only outlining what the Maharishi effect is, but then provides evidence to support it through research.
What is also interesting about the Maharishi Effect is that no external conditions are required; it just needs to have a minimum group size to allow there to be an impact on the wider field of consciousness. Also, this does not mean that all those practicing the meditation need to to be doing so together at precisely the same time. Equally they do not need to focus their intent specifically on a collective goal, like reducing crime.
To use a more spiritual term, it is more like ripples in a pond. Each person practicing this kind of meditation, could be seen as throwing their pebbles into a pond. The more that do so the further and more obvious the ripples become.
Vernon goes on to discuss a great deal of the research around the Maharishi Effect; including that which appears to indicate a potential reduction in crime when the group practicing the meditation in a particular area reaches about 1%.
So, based on the research outlined in Vernon’s book alone; we may begin to believe that when a group focus their consciousness through something like meditation, then they could do good for the surrounding community. If this is true then maybe we are more capable of helping our fellow person than we realise. Imagine what changes, small at first, we could make to the world with such focus of our consciousness.
Whilst the concept of 1% helping their local community through their meditative practices is a really nice starting point; and could be something we could all think about more deeply, the idea of the Maharishi Effect had me thinking about concepts like ghost hunting. What if groups of ghost hunters were influencing each other through their focussed behaviour during their ghost hunts. Think about it? Vernon outlines the research regarding the Maharishi effect in his book, which seems to state that if around 1% of a community focus their consciousness through meditation, then a change may occur. So, is it possible that if a percentage of a ghost hunting group are focussed in a similar fashion, then that may result in some kind of psi activity occurring? Whilst it may not follow the same route as we see in the Maharishi Effect, I think it could be argued that the groups attention and intention being focussed on a similar area may be what has generated some genuine psi effects. Albeit that many ghost hunters may confuse these for ghosts or spirits of those that have passed away.
If we take into consideration the Philip Experiment. This involved a group that created a character called ‘Philip,’ with a complete character back story too. They then focussed their attention on communicating with him in order to learn more about him. This would be through similar means as the ghost hunters would do today.
The point here being that the group were focussing their attention and intention onto a common element. This in my opinion provides similarities to the Maharishi Effect, which suggest the implications here could be greater than expected.
The Scole Experiment, in my opinion could equally fall into the understanding of the Maharishi Effect. Again this is something performed in a seance room environment; and in which the group focus their attention and intent in order to obtain results that were considered to be paranormal by many witnesses. Oddly here there were many different characters that came through, many unknown, but some were a little too familiar to SPR members; like FWH Myers. Rather than actual communication with spirits could this be psi at work, generated by the focus of the group? The rippling effect radiating out to capture and obtain information or generate physical phenomena this time.
It is of course difficult to say and as such, much of the paranormal activity out there is placed under a multitude of categories. As such each new day appears to bring with it some new way of looking at the phenomena. Something I am probably equally guilty of too, as I attempt to make sense of it all in my own way through my own psi theories. Often which are scribbled in my journal and later find themselves to be blog posts. A little like this one.
The paranormal can sometimes become quite blurred in my opinion. Many see no different between psychical research, the paranormal investigation of a spontaneous case, the paranormal investigation of a purported haunted location, a ghost hunt and a ghost hunting event. However, all of these can be very different indeed and as such provide some extremely different variations on evidence and the understanding of what evidence actually is to us all.
That said, as researchers we must seek out patterns, similarities, elements that cross many areas. We must simplify the equation in front of us to gain a better understanding of psychical research as a whole. We certainly need to, in my opinion, find ways to tie both the laboratory research and field research together in a way that works. Whilst materialistic science may seek out a repeatable experiment to test psi, this may not be as obviously possible as we may hope. That said we do still continue to capture a great deal of information pertaining to peoples many odd experiences. Something we should not disregard, but equally need to be cautious about how we evaluate them.
The reason I state this is simple; sometimes many ghost hunters provide ‘evidence,’ which has not been properly evaluated. Witness statements are not assessed in the reality of the situation to determine if there may be a simple logical explanation for the experience. Equally audio, photographs and video are presented as being proof positive of the afterlife. Something which they are not in any shape or form. If we are to prove the survival hypothesis, we still have a way to go yet.
Phenomena like the Maharishi Effect, which have plenty of research and experimentation behind them, are excellent places for us to begin to focus our field research. How could such aspects begin to be connected to the work done in the field? How could we begin to link the ongoing experiences of the ghost hunters to research like this, if that is even possible? This is where we now need to focus our efforts, not in continuously repeating what has been done to death over the last decade.
The Maharishi Effect provides us with an understanding that group focus can impact the greater community. If this is so then we must understand the importance of the ghost hunter group within the ghost hunt itself. We ourselves impact the experiences we have and as such whilst the source may not be deceased parties, the fact its our collective consciousness provides a much more interesting conversation than a location based ghost story.
We need to see and feel beyond the self to the many in order to take the next step.