People who reject the paranormal sometimes suggest that it is only second-rate oddballs who report paranormal experiences. But this is quite false, as Walter Franklin Prince showed in his long book Noted Witnesses for Psychic Occurrences. Price documented how more than a hundred very illustrious and world-famous people had experienced the paranormal, including Elizabeth Browning, Luther Burbank, Charles Dickens, Alexandre Dumas, Victor Hugo, Rudyard Kipling, Mozart, Henri Poincare, Percy B. Shelley, Lord Alfred Tennyson, Mark Twain and Abraham Lincoln.
Prince's book came too early to mention the experiences of the leading psychiatrist Carl Jung, but if Prince's book had been written later, it would probably have included a discussion of Jung's experiences. Carl Jung was a colleague of Sigmund Freud. Jung eventually broke off from Freud's orbit, and developed his own theories about the unconscious mind. One of his most interesting ideas was the idea of the collective unconscious, the idea that the there are universal symbols or archetypes that are shared by members of a species.
In his book Memories, Dreams, Reflections Jung describes why he broke with Freud. Jung recounts how Freud tried to explain all expressions of spirituality as repressed sexuality. Freud centered all his thought around the idea of repressed sexuality. On page 150 Jung recalls a revealing incident:
I can still recall vividly how Freud said to me, “My dear Jung, promise me never to abandon the sexual theory. That is the most essential thing of all. You see, we must make a dogma of it, an unshakable bulwark.” He said this to me with great emotion, in the tone of a father saying, “And promise me this one thing, my dear son: that you will go to church every Sunday.”
On page 155 Jung recalls an astonishing incident of apparent precognition. While he and Freud stood next to a bookcase, they heard a very loud unexplained noise from the bookcase. Jung said this was an example of some weird phenomenon, but Freud declared Jung's statement was nonsense. For some reason, Jung then emphatically declared that in a moment another such loud noise would come from the bookcase. Sure enough it did. As Jung tells the story like this (using “report” to mean a loud noise):
No sooner had I said the words than the same detonation went off in the bookcase. To this day, I do not know what gave me this certainty. But I knew beyond all doubt that the report would come again. Freud only stared aghast at me...I never afterward discussed the incident with him.
On page 289 Jung tells how he was very sick, apparently close to death. He says his nurse said he was surrounded by a bright glow, and that she sometimes observed this in the dying. Jung then tells how on the brink of death he had a strange experience:
It seemed to me that I was high up in space. Far below I saw the globe of the earth, bathed in a gloriously blue light.
Later in the same mystical experience, Jung then recalls meeting a Dr. H:
As he stood before me, a mute exchange of thought took place before us. Dr. H. had been delegated by the earth to deliver a message to me that there was a protest against my going away. I had no right to leave the earth, and must return. The moment I heard that, the vision ceased.
This account by Jung was written decades before the term “near-death experience” had come into common use, and decades before the first bestseller book on such a topic. But Jung's experience can be called a near-death experience, as it includes two common elements of such accounts: a narrative of leaving the body, and a narrative in which the person on the brink of death is told he must go back to his earthly life (followed immediately by an end of the near-death experience).
On page 105 Jung recalls a strange incident from his youth. He seemed to hear a gun firing from his dining room. Going into the room, he sees that inexplicably a heavy walnut table has split: “The table top had split from the rim to beyond the center, and not along any joint; the split ran right through the solid wood.” Two weeks later, something equally weird happened with a deafening sound.
On page 312 Jung recalls a strange experience. The day after the funeral of a friend who suddenly died, Jung had a vision of seeing the friend. In the vision the friend leads him out to his house a few hundred yards away, where he shows Jung five books with red bindings above a stool. Jung then asked the man's widow to see the dead man's library, and found the five books with the red bindings above a stool. The title of the second book was The Legacy of the Dead.
On page 304 Jung makes this deep reflection:
There are indications that at least a part of the psyche is not subject to the laws of time and space. Scientific proof of this has been provided by the well-known J. B. Rhine experiments. Along with numerous cases of spontaneous foreknowledge, non-spatial perceptions, and so on – of which I have given a number of examples from my own life – these experiments prove that the psyche at time functions outside of the spatio-temporal law of causality. This indicates that our conceptions of space and time, and therefore of causality also, are incomplete. A complete picture of the world would require the addition of still another dimension; only then could the totality of phenomena be given a unified explanation.
Does some other unseen dimension interact with our world?