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review of e. baptist’s pamphlet

[Letter to the Editor, Buddha Jayanti, 15th October 1955] Ånåpånasati and the Brahmavihåras Sir, In Mr. Egerton Baptist’s reply (C. B. J. 15/9/55) to my review of his pamphlet he disagrees with my statement that telepathy has nothing to do with the physical propagation of waves. To support his point he speaks of the electroencephalograph, an instrument that measures the electrical rhythms of the brain. These rhythms or ‘brain waves’ he maintains, are synonymous with ‘thought-waves’. An eminent authority on electroencephalography, Dr. W. Grey Walter1 of the Burden Neurological Institute, Bristol, who has himself pioneered most of the developments in this branch of science in Great Britain during the last twenty years, and who is an editor of the International EEG Journal, is actually one of the sources for my assertion. On p. 175 of his book The Living Brain (Duckworth, 1953), he says that all investigations hitherto of the functioning of the brain have entirely failed to account for telepathy or allied phenomena. It has ‘often been suggested’ he continues ‘that … electrical sensitivity of the brain might be a means of communicating with some all-pervading influence. Quite apart from any philosophic objection there may be to such an argument, the actual scale and properties of the brain’s electrical mechanisms offer no support for it.’ And he goes on to say that since neither distance nor intervening obstacles appear to make the slightest difference to the strength of messages received telepathically the phenomena cannot be explained by the laws of matter as we now formulate them. I should, perhaps, make it clear that I am not denying the effects, sometimes considerable, that thoughts of mettå have on other living beings: What I am denying is that such thoughts are transmitted by any wave mechanism known to modern science. To say that ‘brain waves’ and ‘thought waves’ are synonymous is to confuse mind and matter, nåma and r¨pa, two items that the Buddha takes good care to distinguish. Mr. Baptist also says that I and certain other monks living in my temple are of the opinion that the Venerable Buddhaghosa was a worldling. Though I said nothing of this in my review, Mr. Baptist is correctly informed. Our source for this opinion is the Venerable Buddhaghosa himself, who, at the conclusion of the Visuddhi Magga, says:

1.  Guy Walter erected the first autonomous robotic animals, and he became recognized as a founding father of cybernetics.


Early Writings (Seeking the Path - Ñāṇavīra Thera)  

Part B includes two early essays (Nibbana and Anatta and Sketch for a Proof of Rebirth) as well as notes from a Commonplace Book and Margina...