MANY of us are so preoccupied with future expectations, things like the latest smart phone, we can fail to attend to the immediate spiritual values of life.
A famous attention experiment at Harvard, for example, showed that many people missed seeing a 200-pound gorilla walking right through a small group of basketball players.
And missed the gorilla in the room more than once!
The Stroop Effect in psychology is also an example of attention interference.
When the word ‘red’ is printed in blue ink instead of red ink, naming the color of the word takes longer. It is also more prone to errors.
The Stroop Test, widely used in clinical practice, has been one of the most cited papers in the history of experimental psychology.
You can take the test now online. And you can save the results, then compare with friends as a fascinating example of human psychic variability:
Interference (Stroop) Test:
However interesting this phenom, it cannot hold a candle to a lesser known effect involving the multiple senses of a unique synesthete from Zurich, Switzerland named Elizabeth Sulser.
“Her particular combination of senses is so unique that she is the only person in the world documented to have it.”
“If you could only see clairvoyantly a person playing a piano, you would see the sound as plainly as you hear it….so much better you can see it.” Blavatsky said (Secret Doctrine Dialogues). “That is paradoxical, but it is perfectly occult and true.”
Musical notes prompt different shapes and colors to appear in Sulser’s direct field of vision, while intervals induce various flavors on her tongue.
Elizabeth has an extremely rare neurological condition — the involuntary fusion of sound, sight and taste. Says Elizabeth: “I didn’t know what it was, I was very frightened of myself, and I thought I would get crazy.”
Blind Man Sees
A clinically blind man who clearly saw what he should not have seen. surprised science writer, Andrea Gawrylewski, reporting in The Scientist. As she described the experiment she had to wonder:
“How much can you see with a non-functioning visual cortex?”
“With lesions on both sides of his visual cortex,” reports a paper published in Current Biology, “he was able to flawlessly navigate an obstacle course.” Biologists and neurologists are still searching for the hardware (neurons) responsible for this seeming impossibility.
Hopelessly searching, according to Theosophy, because the sense organs responsive for the effect are astral, and not discoverable on the physical brain plane.
“It remains to be determined which of the several extra-striate pathways,” the article comments, “account for this patient’s intact navigation skills.”
“It is not fully understood how this is possible,” according to the paper.
The event may be one of modern science’s many stubborn puzzles. As noted Theosophy readily sees an answer, i.e. explaining the “extra-striate pathways” as “astral,” an unaccepted sense in modern science.
Indeed, it is by virtue of this inner power, when developed to its fullest unerring potential, H. P. Blavatsky explained, is how the ancients achieved their Gnosis, or true spiritual insights.
How’d He Do That?
Mainstream Science is still myopic to the emerging cognitive evidence that consciousness may not be dependent on the physical brain. As Blavatsky points out in The Secret Doctrine (2:149), “The whole issue of the quarrel between the profane and esoteric sciences:
“…depends upon the belief in, and demonstration of, the existence of an astral body within the physical, the former independent of the latter.”
The Real Senses
The real organs of sense are in what is called the astral body, W. Q. Judge says in The Ocean of Theosophy: “These [inner] organs of sight, touch, hearing and tasting…
“are interior, and their outer organs are but mediators between the visible universe and the real perceiver within. “
Science & The Sacred
—Suspending Our Sense of Awe—
It is referred to by biologist Rupert Sheldrake in this video clip, as the “morphogenetic field,” a term coined by him.
All the ancient occultists and yogis knew about the existence of this field, also called the invisible (to ordinary persons) “astral body.”
Among may other functions and divisions, this field is the substratum or design pattern for our bodies and their organs of sense.
“The astral body has in it the real organs of the outer sense organs,” W. Q. Judge writes, and “in it are the sight, hearing, power to smell, and the sense of touch.”
“It has a complete system of nerves and arteries of its own for the conveyance of the astral fluid which is to that body as our blood is to the physical. It is the real personal man.”
Fields R Fundamental
The Astral Perispirit
“The astral perisprit is contained and confined within the physical body as ether in a bottle, or magnetism in magnetized iron,” wrote Mme. Blavatsky.
“Its inherent activity causes the incessant physical operations of the animal organism and ultimately results in the destruction of the latter by overuse and its own escape.
“It is a centre and engine of force, fed from the universal supply of force, and moved by the same general laws which pervade all nature and produce all cosmical phenomena.”
Thus the magnetism of the magnet is indistinguishable from the iron filings, Blavatsky concludes, which are ‘dancing’ in perfect synchrony with their invisible partner.
Picture the analogy of a handful of iron filings scattered randomly on a piece of paper. Hold a magnet beneath the paper. Then, watch how the presence of the magnet causes the hundreds of little bits of iron to instantly arrange themselves in perfect symmetry, matching the pattern of the magnetic field.
In this simple grade school experiment you have the principle of how the human form, or any form in nature, is assembled in lock step uniformity with its bioelectric astral model — its subtle, invisible “pattern body.”
“This inner being [astral entity] is, so to say, inextricably entangled in the body, cell for cell and fibre for fibre.”
Using the analogy of a mango, Judge describes the astral entanglement as “ the way the fibre of the mango fruit exists in the mango…
“…we have the inside nut with thousands of fine fibres spreading out from it through the yellow pulp around…there is great difficulty in distinguishing the pulp from the fibre.”
“Now, this ethereal body has its own organs,” Judge explains, “which are the essence or real basis of the senses described by men. The outer eye is only the instrument
“by which the real power of sight experiences that which relates to sight; the ear has its inner master – the power of hearing, and so on with every organ.”
There are cases, Judge says, “where certain parts of this inner body have by some means
“developed beyond the rest… and we have one who can see or hear clairvoyantly or clairaudiently.”
Presumably, such was the case of the clinically blind man. He may have possessed an inherent natural clairvoyant ability that manifested with the loss of his physical sight. His astral eyes, the matrix of the physical sight, took over the business of seeing.
Astral effects suggest a most intriguing topic: ‘synesthesia’. This involves “an experience by one sensory system while encountering stimuli through another sensory system.
“For instance, some synesthetics experience colors when they hear sounds or music. Others see distinct colors when they see letters and numbers.” (Greg Clayton)
Sometimes painting in response to music, Theosophy inspired synesthete artist Wassily Kandinsky sought to create a visual representation of musical sounds, instruments, melodies and rhythms. Click here to view his work.
Kandinsky wrote a manifesto for abstract art, called Concerning the Spiritual in Art (Uber das Geistige in der Kunst). “All art students are advised to read [this] short masterpiece by Wassily Kandinsky,” a reviewer notes. “This classic best explains the concepts that lead to abstract painting in the modern era. Kandinsky recognized the connection between music and painting.”
“… he showed something of the influence Theosophy had on him by a reference to both Theosophy and H.P. Blavatsky.”