Best-selling author Larry Dossey explains how to make best use of our premonitions
PREMONITIONS IS a subject I am frequently asked about by readers. They are either puzzled by, frightened of or frustrated with the premonitions they are having. They don't know what to do with them, how to make them stop, or how to cultivate them in a useful way. In this interview with Larry Dossey, M.D., author of The Power of Premonitions: How Knowing the Future Can Shape Our Lives, based on extensive research and real-life case studies, he answers those questions.
Q: From the cases described in your book, The Power of Premonitions, there seems to be no doubt that the phenomenon of premonitions is quite real. How common are premonitions?
Dossey: Half of Americans say they have premonitions, most commonly in dreams. But waking premonitions are also very common. If we enlarge our definition of premonitions to include intuition and gut feelings, nearly everyone experiences them from time to time.
Q: Do most premonitions have some importance to the experiencer? Or are mundane premonitions (such as knowing who's calling on the phone) just as common?
Dossey: The word "premonition" literally means a "forewarning," which hints at the importance of these experiences. They often warn us of something unpleasant - a health challenge, physical disasters and impending dangers of all sorts. These are haphazardly mixed with all sorts of other premonitions, such as neutral or pleasant things - who is going to call on the phone, who I'll meet at the party, when I'll get a job promotion, when and where I'll meet my soul mate, and so on.
Q: Why do we have premonitions?
Dossey: Premonitions are a huge gift. They serve a survival function. They probably arose early in our evolutionary development in the predator-prey relationship, because any organism that knew when danger would happen in the future could take measures to avoid it. This meant they would be more likely to remain alive and procreate, passing this ability to future generations. By now, the capacity to know the future is probably engrained in our genes and is widely distributed in the human race. Recent computer-based studies - the presentiment experiments by Dean Radin and others - suggest the capacity to know the future is indeed extremely common and is present in some degree in just about everybody.
I regard premonitions as a form of preventive medicine, because they so often warn us of threats to our health. For instance, one woman reported a dream premonition of a breast cancer before it appeared on breast exam or on a mammogram, when there was no lump or symptom of any kind. She even saw the specific location. A breast biopsy confirmed her premonition, and minor surgery completely cured her.
Q: Do you have a theory as to how premonitions - seeing something that hasn't happened yet - work? What's the mechanism involved?
Dossey: Information seems to be coming from the future into the present. There are several theories how this might happen, such as "closed, time-like loops" in which time might curve back on itself, bringing information from the future into the present, which we might experience as a premonition. An old idea called the "block universe" is also occasionally put forward by physicists to explain knowledge of the future. In this hypothesis, everything that has happened or will happen is already a given; the mind could theoretically gain access to any of this information under certain conditions (dreaming, meditating, impending danger, etc.).
Nearly all the current hypotheses rely on redefining the mind as a nonlocal phenomenon that is spread throughout space and time. This means that the mind is not confined to specific points in space, such as the brain, or to specific points in time, such as the present. It is infinite in space and time. This view fully permits premonitions, a kind of knowing that is nonlocal with respect to time. I have long favored this image of consciousness, and in 1989 introduced the term "nonlocal mind" in print in my book Recovering the Soul.
Nonlocal mind is unbounded, which means that at some point minds come together and form a single, unitary mind. Some of the greatest physicists of the twentieth century have held this view, such as Schrodinger, Margenau, Bohm and Eddington. The idea of the One Mind clearly permits telepathy and clairvoyance, and the sort of person-to-person contact we often see in premonitions, such as when one individual has a premonition that another individual is in danger.