Telepathy Explained

Telepathy, meaning Thought-Transference, bears a misleading title.

Literally translated, it means "suffering at a distance," or, perhaps,

"feeling pain at a distance." The name should really indicate "knowing at

a distance," in order to be properly descriptive. But as the term has

acquired a forced meaning by reason of years of usage, it will probably be

continued in popular favor. After all, names do not count, so long as the

meaning is accepted and understood.

While the term itself has been generally used in the sense of conscious

and deliberate sending and receiving of thought-waves, there is a far

wider field of phenomena really covered by it, viz., the unconscious

sending and receiving of mental and emotional vibrations. I shall take up

this phase of the subject in a moment, after I have called your attention

to the mechanism whereby the waves of thought and emotion are transmitted.

In the last chapter, you will remember that I called your attention to the

fact that there is a manifestation of energy or force (in the form of

vibrations) in every mental or emotional state. This is true not only in

the case of deep thought or vivid feeling, but also in the case of general

mental "feelings," and emotional states. During such manifestations there

is a radiation of mental or emotional vibrations from the brain or nervous

centres of the system, which flows out in all directions just as do light

and wireless electricity. The principal seats or centres of these

radiations are (1) the several brains of man, viz., the cerebrum,

cerebellum, and the medulla oblongata, respectfully; and (2) the several

great centres of nerve substance in the human system, called the plexi,

such as the solar plexus, etc.

The vibrations arising from emotional excitement are sent out principally

from the plexi, or great centres of the sympathetic nervous system. Those

arising from the more strictly mental states emanate from certain centres

and points of the brain, or brains, of the person manifesting them.

Certain forms of these vibrations constitute the real essence of what is

generally called "human magnetism," which will be treated upon in the

proper place in these lessons.

I do not think it advisable to go into the technical details of the

generation and mechanism of transmission of these thought and emotional

vibrations, in these lessons. To understand the same would require a

technical knowledge of physiology and organic chemistry, which is not

possessed by the average person. Moreover, such details are neither

interesting nor instructive to the general student of occultism. But, I

think it proper to give at least a brief description of the receiving of

such vibratory-waves by other individuals.

In the first place, every great plexus, or groups of nerve ganglia, in the

human system is a receiving station, as well as a sending station. A

person manifesting strong emotional excitement tends to awaken similar

states in the nervous centres of other persons in whom the conditions are

favorable. This explains why the vibrations of anger, fear, panic, are so

contagious. It also explains the strong effect of the vibrations emanating

from the nerve centres controlling the reproductive system, in certain

cases of strong sexual excitation. Each human sympathetic nervous system

contains many receiving stations where emotional vibrations are received,

and where they tend to be transformed into similar feeling in the

receiving system, unless neutralized by other mental and emotional states

in the person.

When we come to consider the apparatus by which is received the vibrations

arising from what may be called "purely mental" operations of the brain,

such as intellectual thought, constructive imagination, etc., we find a

more specialized arrangement, as might be expected. There are several

minor receiving points of mental vibrations, regarding which I do not

consider it worth while to go into detail, because of the technical

features involved. The principal apparatus for receiving thought

vibrations of this kind is that which is known as the "pineal gland,"

which I shall now describe.

The pineal gland is a peculiar mass of nervous substance which is embedded

in the human brain, in a position near the middle of the skull almost

directly above the extreme top of the spinal column. It is shaped like a

small cone; and is of a reddish-gray color. It lies in front of the

cerebellum, and is attached to the floor of the third ventricle of the

brain. It contains a small quantity of peculiar particles of gritty,

sand-like substance, which are sometimes called "brain-sand." It derives

its scientific name from its shape, which, as I have said, resembles a

pine-cone. Physiologists are at sea regarding the function of this strange

organ, and generally content themselves with the statement that "its

functions are not understood." But occultists know that the pineal gland,

with its peculiar arrangement of nerve-cell corpuscles, and its tiny

grains of "brain-sand," is the physical telepathic receiving instrument.

Students of wireless telegraphy have noticed a startling resemblance

between the pineal gland and a part of the receiving instrument employed

in wireless telegraphy.

The thought vibrations coming in contact with the nervous system of the

receiving person, set up a peculiar vibration in the substance of the

pineal gland and thus the first step in the transformation of these

vibrations into thought-forms in the mind of the person is under way. The

remainder of the process is too technical, both in the physiological as

well as in the occult sense, to be taken up in detail at this place. The

student will do well to get the idea of the workings of wireless

telegraphy well fixed in his mind, for this will set up the right

conception of the working of ordinary telepathy, without the necessity of

complicated technical diagrams and descriptions.

And, now then, let us see what results from the sending forth and

receiving of these mental and emotional waves of force and energy. It is a

most interesting subject, I assure you. While the phenomena of the astral

plane is probably more fascinating to the average student, I would impress

upon you the importance of mastering the occult phenomena of the physical

plane, before passing on to that of the higher planes.

In the first place, as all occultists know, each person is constantly

surrounded with what has been called an "atmosphere" composed of mental

and emotional vibrations which are emanated from his personality. The

atmosphere of each person depends upon the general character of the

thoughts and feelings of the person in question. Consequently, as no two

persons are precisely alike in character, it follows that no two personal

atmospheres are exactly alike. Each person has a psychic atmosphere of his

or her own. These atmospheric vibrations do not extend very far from the

presence of the person, and, consequently affect only those coming near to


In the same way, every group or crowd of persons has its own psychic

atmosphere, composed of a blending of the individual psychic atmospheres

of the persons composing the crowd, group or assemblage, and representing

the general average of the thought and feelings of the crowd. There are no

two group atmospheres exactly alike, for the reason that no two groups of

persons, large or small, are exactly alike. Actors know that each audience

which they face has its own psychic atmosphere, and the actors are

affected by it. Preachers, lawyers, and speakers in general are quite

aware of this fact, and freely admit it, though they may not be acquainted

with the causes or laws governing the phenomena.

Following the same psychic law, it will be found that every town or large

city, or even every small village or section of a larger town, will be

found to have its own distinctive psychic atmosphere, which is very

perceptible to strangers visiting the place, and which affect those who

take up their residence in the place. In large cities, it has been noticed

that every building has its own peculiar vibrations which arise from the

general character of those occupying it. Different church buildings

likewise reflect the character of the general habits of thought and

feeling of those worshipping in them. Likewise, certain business streets

have pleasant or unpleasant vibrations in their atmosphere, from the same

causes. Every person recognizes the truth of these statements, though but

few are able to account for the facts in a scientific manner.

The beginner in the study of psychic phenomena often asks how these things

can be, when the thought which has occasioned the vibrations have long

since passed away. The explanation is simple, when properly explained. It

is something like this: just as heat remains in a room after the stove has

ceased to throw out heat-waves, so do the vibrations of thought and

feeling persist long after the thought or feeling has died away. Or, if

you prefer a more material illustration, we may say that if a package of

perfumery has been opened in a room, and then removed, the air will remain

charged with the odor for a long time afterwards.

So, you see, the same principle applies in the case of psychic vibrations.

The person carries around with him the general atmosphere of his

characteristic mental and emotional vibrations. And, in the same way, the

house, store, church, street, town, or city, etc., is permeated with the

psychic vibrations of those who have frequented them. Nearly every one

realizes the different feeling that impresses him when he enters a strange

house, apartment, store or church. Each one has its own difference of

psychic effect. And, so does each person create his or her psychic effect

upon those coming in contact with him or her, or who comes into his or her

presence or vicinity.

The next question asked by the thoughtful new student is this: If persons

are constantly sending forth psychic vibrations, and if such vibrations

persist for some time, why are we not overwhelmed with the force of them;

and why are they not all so mixed up as to lose all their effect. I shall

now answer this very important question.

In the first place, though we are constantly affected more or less by the

multitude of psychic vibrations beating upon us, still the greater part of

them do not consciously impress us. For an example, we have but to

consider how few of the sounds or sights of a busy street are impressed

upon our consciousness. We hear and see only a few of the things which

attract our attention and interest. The rest are lost to us, although our

eyes and ears receive them all. In the same way, we are impressed only by

the stronger vibrations which reach us, and then only by those which we

have attracted to ourselves, or which prove attractive to us by reason of

our own likes and dislikes.

In the second place, the effect of certain thought vibrations is

neutralized by the effect of the vibrations of thoughts of an opposite

character. Just as a mixture of black and white produces the neutral color

of grey, so do two currents of opposing thought vibrations tend to resolve

themselves into a neutral vibration which has little or no effect upon

those coming in contact with them. You may think of numerous

correspondences to this in the world of material things. For instance, a

mixture of very hot and very cold water, will produce a neutral lukewarm

liquid, neither hot nor cold. In the same way, two things of opposing

taste characteristics, when blended, will produce a neutral taste having

but little effect upon one. The principle is universal, and is readily


In the third place, there is that which we may call an "affinity" between

thoughts and feelings of a similar character. Not only do the vibrations

of similar thoughts tend to coalesce and combine; but, more than this,

each one of us attracts to himself or herself the thought vibrations which

are in general accord with corresponding thoughts in our own minds, or

feelings in our own nature. Like attracts like. In the same way, the

character of our thoughts and feelings act to repel thought or emotional

vibrations of an opposite or inharmonious nature. As all occultists know,

everyone draws thought vibrations in harmony with his or her own; and also

repels thought vibrations of an inharmonious nature.

These are the general laws and principles governing the phenomena of this

phase of telepathic vibrations. There is much more to be said on the

subject, of course, but if you will note carefully the leading principles

and laws of manifestation just mentioned, you will be able to reason

correctly regarding any phase of this class of phenomena which may come

before you for attention. Once you learn a general rule, the rest becomes

merely a matter of application and interpretation. Let us now proceed to a

consideration of other phases of the general subject of telepathic


We now come to the phase of what may be called direct telepathy--that is

where a thought is consciously, and more or less purposely, directed

toward another person. We come across many interesting cases of this kind

where persons find themselves thinking intently of certain other persons,

and afterwards are told by the other persons that "I found myself thinking

intently about you, at such and such a time," etc. In some of these cases

it is difficult to determine which one started the thinking. Again, how

often do we find ourselves thinking of a person, when all of a sudden the

person comes into sight. Again, we think intently and earnestly about a

certain question; and then, all of a sudden, other folks whom we meet

begin talking to us about the same thing. These instances are too common

to need more than a passing notice.

A little more purpose is displayed in that class of phenomena in which we

intently wish that a certain person shall do a certain thing, and lo! we

soon learn that that certain person has done it. A number of years ago, a

popular writer wrote an article in which he mentioned what seemed to him

to be a curious instance of some form of mental influence or telepathy. He

said that he had found out that if he would sit down and carefully write a

letter to some person from whom he had not heard for a long time, and then

destroy the letter instead of sending it, he would be almost certain to

receive a letter from that person within a few days. He did not attempt to

account for the phenomenon, he merely called the attention of his readers

to it. Many persons have followed the suggestion, often with very

wonderful results. There is nothing miraculous, or supernatural about such

occurrences. It is merely one phase of telepathy. The concentrated thought

of the writer of the letter is directed toward the other person, and that

person begins to think of the first one; then he thinks he will write to

him; then he actually does write. Distance, space, and direction have no

importance in this experiment--it is not necessary to even know where the

second person is, in fact.

There are often found persons so closely in psychic harmony with each

other that they very often are able to ask questions and receive answers

from each other, even though great distances separate them. Some

particular times there is a better psychic harmony existing between the

same persons than is found at other times. All this, of course, affects

the success of the experiment. It is surprising what wonderful results

along these lines may be obtained by almost any person of average

intelligence, after a little careful, patient, conscientious practice.

But there have been phenomena obtained as the result of long series of

careful experiments which are, in a way, even more wonderful than these

somewhat less deliberate experiments just mentioned. I allude to the

experiments of a number of earnest, careful scientific students, who

surrounded themselves with every precaution against over-enthusiasm,

fraud, and coincidence. Prominent among this class of investigations we

find those conducted by the Society for Psychical Research, of England,

which really established a firm basis for the work of other investigators

who followed the general methods of the said society. In the following

chapter, I shall give you a somewhat extended statement of the results of

such investigations, because this information is important to every

student of psychic phenomena, not only because it establishes a firm

scientific basis for his studies and beliefs, but also because it gives

him important information which he may apply in the course of his own

experimental work.

I may mention that the investigations into the subject of telepathy, and

kindred subjects, under the auspices of the society just mentioned, were

conducted by men of careful scientific training and experience, and under

the general supervision and approval of the officers of the society, among

which have been numbered such eminent men as Prof. Henry Sidgwick, of

Cambridge University; Prof. Balfour Stewart, a Fellow of the Royal Society

of England; Rt. Hon. A.J. Balfour, the eminent English statesman; Prof.

William James, the eminent American psychologist; Sir William Crookes, the

great chemist and discoverer of physical laws, who invented the celebrated

"Crookes' Tubes," without which the discovery of the X Rays,

radio-activity, etc., would have been impossible; Frederick W.H. Myers,

the celebrated explorer of the astral planes, and writer upon psychic

phenomena; Sir Oliver Lodge, the popular English scientist; and other men

of international reputation and high standing. The character of these men

at once gives the stamp of honesty and scientific accuracy to all the work

of the society.

In order that you may understand the spirit which animated these

scientific investigators in their work of the exploration of this new and

strange region of Nature, I ask you to carefully read the following words

of the presidential address of Sir William Crookes, before the Royal

Society, at Bristol, England, in 1898. Remember, please, that this address

was made before an assemblage of distinguished scientists, many of them

rank materialists and, quite skeptical of all occult phenomena--this was

nearly twenty years ago, remember. Sir William Crookes, facing this

gathering, as its president, said:

"Were I now introducing for the first time these inquiries to the world of

science, I should choose a starting point different from that of old

(where we formerly began). It would be well to begin with Telepathy; with

that fundamental law, as I believe it to be, that thoughts and images may

be transferred from one mind to another without the agency of the

recognized organs of sense--that knowledge may enter the human mind

without being communicated in any hitherto known or recognized ways. * * *

If telepathy takes place, we have two physical facts--the physical change

in the brain of A, the suggestor, and the analogous physical change in the

brain of B, the recipient of the suggestion. Between these two physical

events there must exist a train of physical causes. * * * It is

unscientific to call in the aid of mysterious agencies, when with every

fresh advance in knowledge it is shown that either vibrations have powers

and attributes abundantly able to any demand--even the transmission of


"It is supposed by some physiologists that the essential cells of nerves

do not actually touch, but are separated by a narrow gap which widens in

sleep while it narrows almost to extinction during mental activity. This

condition is so singularly like a Branly or Lodge coherer (a device which

led to the discovery of wireless telegraphy) as to suggest a further

analogy. The structure of brain and nerve being similar, it is conceivable

that there may be present masses of such nerve coherers in the brain,

whose special function it may be to receive impulses brought from without,

through the connecting sequence of ether waves of appropriate order of


"Roentgen has familiarized us with an order of vibrations of extreme

minuteness as compared with the smallest waves with which we have hitherto

been acquainted: and there is no reason to suppose that we have here

reached the limit of frequency. It is known that the action of thought is

accompanied by certain molecular movements in the brain, and here we have

physical vibrations capable from their extreme minuteness of acting direct

upon individual molecules, while their rapidity approaches that of

internal and external movements of the atoms themselves. A formidable

range of phenomena must be scientifically sifted before we effectually

grasp a faculty so strange, so bewildering, and for ages so inscrutable,

as the direct action of mind upon mind.

"In the old Egyptian days, a well known inscription was carved over the

portal of the Temple of Isis: 'I am whatever has been, is, or ever will

be; and my veil no man hath yet lifted.' Not thus do modern seekers after

truth confront Nature--the word that stands for the baffling mysteries of

the Universe. Steadily, unflinchingly, we strive to pierce the inmost

heart of Nature, from what she is to reconstruct what she has been, and

to prophesy what she shall be. Veil after veil we have lifted, and her

face grows more beautiful, august and wonderful, with every barrier that

is withdrawn."

You will notice that this address made nearly twenty years ago, and from

the standpoint of physical science is in full accord with the ideas of

occultism as old as the hills. And yet, the speaker had worked out the

idea independently. He also investigated higher forms of psychic

phenomena, with results that startled the world. But, you will notice that

he does not attempt to give any other than purely physical laws the credit

for the ordinary phenomena of telepathy. And he was thoroughly right in

this, as we have seen. He escaped the common error of confusing

physical-sense phenomena with the phenomena of the astral-senses. Each

plane has its own phenomena--and each class is surely wonderful enough.

And, again, remember that both physical and astral phenomena are purely

natural; there is no need for seeking any supernatural agencies to account

for these natural facts.