Does the Future Guide the Past?
This is an article from Arnie Gottfried:
Classic concepts of time are flying out the window as scientists report on effects that precede the causes that made them. What does this all mean for us?
Have you ever walked into a test situation wishing that you had studied some more? There may be a solution. New research suggests that you might be able to score higher marks today if you make up those study hours… tomorrow.
Daryl Bem, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Cornell, has published a major study in a mainstream journal demonstrating exactly that. He conducted nine well-controlled trials on 1,000 experimental subjects and found conclusive evidence for precognition – that people on the whole have some ability to access information from unforeseeable future events.
For instance, students were given lists of words to learn after which they took a memory test. After that test was complete, half the students were randomly assigned to study the words again. Bem found that those that were randomly selected to study again afterwards actually got higher scores on the test they had taken previously.
How could this be, you may ask? How does the brain of student on Tuesday come up with answers he only will learn on Wednesday?
Bem’s results are controversial to say the least but his methods are anything but. Bem himself is highly regarded in his field and everything about his experimental design and methodology was squeaky clean. But what theoretical basis is there for things like this to occur?
One place to look is physics. For almost a century it has been known that electrons seem to magically jump across space, time and energy levels on a continuous basis. Today physicists talk about timelines being a two-way street.
More than that, it is now widely accepted among physicists that there exists some transcendent realm of consciousness called the “field” where past, present and future impose no limitations at all. In fact it has recently been discovered that all matter in the universe is constantly being recreated from this field by a process called “vacuum fluctuations.”
One of the fingerprints of this timeless quality that reality has shows up in what is called a “delayed choice” experiment. An electron gun is fired at a barrier with two narrow slits. After the electron crosses the barrier, the observer makes the choice whether to observe the electron as a wave or as a particle. If he chooses to observe it as a particle, then its history was that it traveled through one slit and not the other. If he chooses to observe it as a wave then it must have gone through both slits. Experiments have verified that this works. The later observation creates the previous reality.
Psychology is not the only field that’s having fun with the power of mind over matter. Other studies have been done in medicine. An Israeli study published in the British Medical Journal reports on the effects on health outcomes of one person praying for another. An earlier study of 990 heart patients showed that on average, those that were randomly assigned to be prayed for recovered more quickly and with fewer complications. The Israeli study of 3000 bloodstream infection patients goes much further. They have shown that when a purely random selection of these patients were prayed for several years later, that group’s past recovery rate was significantly greater.
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I love living in a Lubavitch community.
Between prayer services one day, I took these findings to three of my more knowledgeable friends and asked, “Do we find anything like this in Torah sources?” One of them said, “Ridiculous.” Another cited various examples of retroactive reality from the Talmud and Midrash.
The third quoted me a fascinating case described in Likkutei Sichos (Vol.28, p.154, footnote 26) in the context of the liberation of the Previous Rebbe from Soviet prison. He had been incarcerated and even sentenced to death for promoting Jewish education and observance which was considered counterrevolutionary activity.
The Rebbe comments on the fact that while his predecessor was in jail, a number of Soviet Jews risked their lives to demand his release. Considering the political climate of the time, their protestations should have proved ineffective and moreover should have cost them their lives or at least their liberty. Yet we find that the authorities at the time were sympathetic and even later no harm came to any of those Jews, which was really quite miraculous as anyone intimately familiar with Soviet Russia will attest.
How did they all get away with it? The Rebbe explains this by asking and answering another question. Upon his release, the Previous Rebbe first said the discourse entitled “Hashem li b’oz-rye – G-d is with me through my helpers” and only on a later occasion said the discourse “Baruch HaGomel – Blessed is the One who delivers”. One would think that the Rebbe should have first said the discourse focused on thanking G-d for saving him and only after that acknowledge the indirect aid through his helpers.
The Rebbe explains: With the discourse “Hashem li b’oz-rye” the Previous Rebbe was channeling the revelation of the Divine Name that transcends time into his helpers retroactively. By investing timeless G-dliness into their souls at the later time, he empowered them with this very same divine energy at the earlier time too, so they could stand up effectively to the hostile authorities and not be harmed in the process.
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The Rebbe says, “M’darf leben mit di tzait – we have to live with the times.” The best way to bring Moshiach is to start living today as we will tomorrow when the redemption is already here. This will create a triple bond between the present and the future. Our good behavior will bring it on, our brighter future will shine back upon us and light up our lives. And that synergy will propel us to greater heights yet until the ultimate joy with the coming of Moshiach NOW!