I would like to share with you part of a very interesting interview with Mr. Cleve Backster, published in The Sun Magazine by Derrick Jensen in 1997. Mr. Cleve Backster was a polygraph specialist who worked for the CIA and later founded The Backster School of Lie Detection, where he trained police officers and even FBI agents. Suddenly his life turned upside down on February 2nd, 1966. Here is an excerpt from the article:
The initial observation involved a dracaena cane plant I had in my lab in Manhattan. I wasn’t particularly interested in plants, but there was a going-out-of-business sale at a florist on the ground floor of the building, and the secretary had bought a couple of plants for the office: a rubber plant and this dracaena cane.
I had done a saturation watering of these plants — putting them under the faucet until the water ran out the bottom of the pots — and was curious to see how long it would take the moisture to get to the top. I was especially interested in the dracaena, because the water had to climb up a long trunk, then out to the end of the long leaves. I thought that if I put the galvanic-skin-response detector of the polygraph at the end of the leaf, a drop in resistance would be recorded on the paper as the moisture arrived between the electrodes.
That, at least, is my cover story. I’m not sure whether there was another, more profound, reason for my action. It could be that my subconscious was nudging me into doing this — I don’t know.
In any case, I noticed something on the chart that resembled a human response on a polygraph: not at all what I would have expected from water entering a leaf.
Lie detectors work on the principle that when people perceive a threat to their well-being, they respond physiologically in predictable ways.
For instance, if you were conducting a polygraph test as part of a murder investigation, you might ask a suspect, “Was it you who fired the fatal shot?” If the true answer were yes, the suspect would fear getting caught in a lie, and the electrodes on his or her skin would pick up the physiological response to that fear. So I began to think of ways to threaten the well-being of the plant. First, I tried dipping one of its leaves into a cup of warm coffee. The plant, if anything, showed boredom — the line on the chart kept trending downward.
Then, at thirteen minutes, fifty-five seconds chart time, the thought entered my mind to burn the leaf. I didn’t verbalize the idea; I didn’t touch the plant; I didn’t touch the equipment. Yet the plant went wild. The pen jumped right off the top of the chart. The only thing it could have been reacting to was the mental change.
Next, I got some matches from my secretary’s desk and, lighting one, made a few passes at the leaf. I realized, though, that I was already seeing such an extreme reaction that any increase wouldn’t be noticeable. So I tried a different approach: I removed the threat by returning the matches to the secretary’s desk. The plant calmed right back down.
I immediately understood something important was going on. I could think of no conventional scientific explanation. There was no one else in the lab suite, and I wasn’t doing anything that might have provided a mechanistic trigger. From that moment on, my consciousness hasn’t been the same. My whole life has been devoted to looking into this phenomenon.
How has the scientific community received your work?
With the exception of marginalized scientists like Sheldrake, the response has been first derision, then hostility, and now mostly silence. […] At the same time that scientists were ridiculing my work, the popular press was paying very close attention to it, in dozens of articles and in books, such as Peter Tompkins’ The Secret Life of Plants. I never asked for any of the attention, and have never profited from it. People have always come to me seeking information.
What is their main criticism?
The big problem — and this is a big problem as far as consciousness research in general is concerned — is repeatability. The events I’ve observed have all been spontaneous. They have to be. If you plan them out in advance, you’ve already changed them. It all boils down to this:
repeatability and spontaneity do not go together, and as long as members of the scientific community overemphasize repeatability in scientific methodology, they’re not going to get very far in consciousness research. Not only is spontaneity important, but so is intent. You can’t pretend. If you say you are going to burn a leaf on the plant, but don’t mean it, nothing will happen.
And so the excerpt from the interview with Backster ends… I found this article very inspiring! I don’t really care what the scientists and scholars think or say about Mr. Backster. Considering my personal knowledge, his research has a great impact on both a scientific and spiritual level. This article leads us to so many different topics: consciousness, the implications of a non-local connection, but most of all, intention. This is the main topic I would like to write about. He highlights that if he gets close to the plant with the intention of burning it – he said: “I didn’t verbalize the idea” – the plant reacts, but if he does not have the intention of doing it and only fakes the act, the plant does not react.
Intention works if you are aware of what you want, if you are present in yourself at the moment you express your request. It can be a life project that you wish to achieve: a new job, a healthier living choice, a different car, etc. What makes it so difficult for your intention to realize itself?
Suddenly many things enter your life, things that divert you from your goal. Therefore other feelings arise: doubt, fear, suspicious, mistrust, etc. These thoughts modify your initial intention, transforming it into something else.
Freedom will guide the intention that you have expressed to where it best fits. The heart has created it with love and love always knows where the best place to be is.
Pietro Abelardo, a French philosopher and theologist said: “God does not consider the action you do but He looks at the soul with which you have done it; the value of the doer does not consist in the action but in the intention”.
For those who would like to read the entire article, click here!
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