Monday, February 22, 2010

Some Good Examples of Bilocation

Some time ago I penned an article on miracles as they relate to the paranormal. This is a topic of great fascination, but it is often sidelined when someone suggests that they have no place in the secular research into the unexplained. As I suggested in that article, nothing could be further from the truth: some “miracles” are indeed topics for our study, but under a different name, while others beg to be researched from our unique prospective. To better illustrate the point, let’s take some time to look at several different kinds of miracles.

Probably the best miracle to begin with is bilocation (or in some cases trilocation); the ability of a person to physically be in more than one location at a time. The bible is filled with these accounts, but within the Catholic Church we find some of the best research on the topic, simply because bilocation is considered a sign of high religious precept in an individual, and is thus meticulously catalogued in the process of sainthood. Thus we have volumes written about saintly bilocation over a period of a thousand years or more.

What kinds of case studies exist? Let me give you just one. On September 22, 1774 Alfonso de Liguori was meditating and fasting in his cell at the Palace del Goti in Arezzo, Italy. After several hours he left his room and announced to his fellow residents that Pope Clement had died in Rome. But Rome was a day’s journey away back then; the monks only received official work of the Pontiff’s passing late the next evening.

Accompanying the news was a list of the clerics who attended to the Pope in his last hours. Included in that list was the same Alfonso de Liguori, who was reported to be praying at the bedside for several hours before the Pope’s passing. Later, this became a part of the Church’s investigation of Liguori for sainthood and dozens of eye witnesses all agreed, he was in Rome, praying and speaking to others, while in fact, he was also in his room in Arezzo more than 100 miles away.

The Liguori case underlines an important point in true bilocation; this is not a ghostly image or apparition traveling to a more distant point, the fact is made and repeated that it was a flesh and blood human being, who could talk, eat and interact in both places at once. Liguori was not the first case, nor the last to bilocate as amassed in the Vatican’s records. St. Anthony of Padua is said to have been officiating in the Church of St. Pierre in Limoges on Holy Thursday, when he remembered he had promised to be at a similar service on the other side of the town. In this case, he walked from the pulpit to the altar, knelt and began to pray while the assembled parishioners waited. At the same moment he reportedly walked out of the shadows of monastery chapel and began reading the service as planned several miles away. When he finished, he walked back into the shadows and disappeared, only to turn to his flock at the first church to continue his service.

These miracles of bilocation are not limited to Italy, or even Europe. Some of the best documented cases are from the New World. Martin de Pores is a good example; he lived his entire life in Peru, born in 1579, but his miracles are reported worldwide and are thoroughly documented in his Canonization proceedings. Martin was a mulatto, his father a ranking Spanish officer, his mother a black servant. His father saw to it that Martin was trained as a physician, but Martin succumbed to his calling to the Church, entering the Monastery of the Holy Rosary in Lima, where he served as a layman helper, doing the most menial of tasks for the rest of his life. He refused training for the priesthood, stating his goal was a life of humility in service to God.
While Martin may have wanted the simple life, it didn’t turn out that way; his bilocated travels are two-fold, most in and around Lima, but also in places as far removed as Japan, China and Algiers. The fact that he was a Spanish speaking mulatto tended to stand out in these far-away lands, where he was reported to be seen working with children, distributing candy and teaching catechism. The fact that he only spoke Spanish was not a problem, adding multilinguisity to his bilocating talents.

Probably the best documented case in Martin’s portfolio of bilocation cases was one from a Spanish man who had been imprisoned in Algiers by the Turks. On a visit to Lima he was shocked to encounter Martin at the monastery because he was certain that this was the same mulatto monk who often came to him in his cell while imprisoned in North Africa. He said that Martin would come and tend to him, bringing him food and later money, which was used by the man to pay his ransom and gain release.

Martin was often reported to appear in locked sick rooms, tending to the infirmed, changing linen and caring for them, all at the same time that he was in the close quarters of dozens of monks and priests at his monastery and each case is completely documented in the archives in Rome.

In the 20th Century the spotlight fell on Padre Pio, whose bilocations are even better documented than his predecessors. Pio is best known for his Stigmata, but was often seen in more than one place at the same time. Padre Pio was known to visit Cardinal Mindszenty of Hungary after the failed revolution against the Soviet Union, bringing with him water, wine and altar bread and then stayed to help serve Mass for the cleric, who was being held in solitary confinement.

Possibly the best document case of bilocation concerning Pio was in conjunction with the passing of Msgr. Damiani at Montevideo, Uruguay. According to a contemporary account the Apostolic delegate and five Bishops were lodged in the residence, prior to a cornerstone ceremony at a new seminary. The Archbishop Barbiere was one of them and he wrote that while in his room, the door was pushed open slightly and he heard a knock at the door, followed by a voice that said, “Go to the room of Msgr. Damiani, he is dying?” The Bishop was able to see the figure of a Capuchin Monk as he walked away. Once in the Monsignor’s room, they found that he had indeed suffered a massive heart attack and was dying. On the nightstand the Monsignor scribbled a note, “Padre Pio came!” Later Pio admitted that he had promised Damiani that he would be at his bedside at the moment of his death, but also noted that he warned his friend that he would not be in Italy, but America. Pio was never willing to discuss the affair publically, but Barbiere swore that it was Pio he saw that evening in Uruguay. Pio of course never left Europe.
Bilocation is certainly not limited to men, there a countless cases of female bilocators, but it should also be noted that not all of them are tied to service in the Catholic Church. One notable case is that of Teresa Higginson, who was a secular teacher in England in 1844. Her case is unique because she documented her experiences first hand. She wrote about a bilocation to an Africa village, where she taught even though she herself was mystified as to how she attained a working knowledge of the local language. Quoting a letter written by Higginson, “This has astonished me a little, that I perfectly understand all that they wish to communicate to me and they comprehend all that I say to them…”

The Higginson bilocations are well documented, but this phenomena is not limited to Christian practitioners, similar cases can be found in Hindu and Buddhist texts; Yogic bilocation was reported and investigated by members of the ASPR in the 1970s. The only difference is how the different groups explain the phenomena in their doctrine. Martin de Porres suggested, “If God can multiply the loaves and fishes, why couldn’t he duplicate me?” A simple answer from a basically simple man, but yogic literature would disagree. Yogis believe that man can expand his ethereal double to the point where it can be bilocated. While the theory suggests ethereal realization, some maintain that the “body” can materialize to the point of being human, with enough practice and meditation.

That takes us to the present and future; can what we report as miracles actually be a trainable ability in any human? Well, that seems to be the argument once you turn your attention to the Out of Body Experience (OOBE) which were the center of interest at the PRF at Duke in the 1970s. Here too there are dozens of cases and more than a few that never ended up in the official case notes. The OOBE experiments were not limited to Duke’s PRF, there were many others, too numerous to mention here, but most are well documented. The cases that I am most familiar with are those involving S. Keith “Blue” Harary, who could reportedly induce OOBE at will. I had personally witnessed some of these experiments, both the official ones and those not documented and came away impressed that he could indeed travel to another location and report what was happening there, as well as be able to motivate animal reactions to his ethereal visitations. Could he make himself visible? I doubt it, but what I saw was a good representation of astral projection at the very least.

Nevertheless, there are several differences between bilocation and OOBE. First, the bilocation experience can last for long periods, while the OOBE is much shorter in duration. Likewise in bilocation, the subject can talk and interact as well as perform physical acts and carry objects, where the OOBE is not interactive. More importantly, the bilocator’s travel is instantaneous, where in OOBE there is a reported feeling of travel to the location. Finally, the bilocator never reports the feeling of leaving their body and witnesses say they were physically present, while the OOBE is just the opposite. That being said, can we actually tie the two phenomena?

My thoughts on this are very basic; I would be hard put to categorize bilocation as a natural or normal phenomenon, thus it is, regardless of religious significance, paranormal, just like OOBE. Some have argued that bilocation is in fact OOBE to its logical limits, suggesting that with concentration and practice a person who has mastered OOBE should at some point be able to manifest themselves in a distant location, while visible elsewhere. I think that might be a stretch. It seems that the religious nature of the bilocator’s activities is somehow a key here.

Every century has its bilocator, but the nature of the individual enabled seems to require a dedication that we simple do not see in science or research. The bilocator is a willing subject who is not traveling as a tourist, but rather has a mission, that might be the answer.

Of course, you can’t talk about bilocation or OOBE without giving time to the subject of remote viewing. If anything came from the OOBE studies of the 70s it is the government’s interest in the ability to visit locations for the purpose of see what is there. While the continued existence of this program is debated, there is no doubt that the government had a keen interest in the topic and in fact recruited many top people in the OOBE field to engage in what was then “secret” research. Noteworthy is the fact that Blue Harary was not one of them. In fact Blue disavowed anything noteworthy coming from the experiments he was engaged in while at Duke, which was a surprise considering what I had seen.

Today, there are others who admit to participating in remote viewing, the reported ability to project a person’s conscious mind to a remote location, while drawing a picture of the landscape during the excursion. Is remote viewing another form of OOBE or Bilocation? There are similarities, no doubt, but the available research is just too sketchy to make any assumptions. Some believe the program is alive and well, others say it was a dead end, but the project, as far as we all know it was intriguing.

Ultimately, this is all interrelated and should be of interest to the paranormal investigator. How are they related to the typical ghost we are not really sure, but it is reasonable to draw some assumptions given the available information and further study is certainly warranted.

© 2010 Rick Moran and the ASUP, Inc.

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