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Journal of the Society for Psychical Research - Volume 48 number 768 - June 1976 - Page 315


Dr. Puharich and Uri Geller

H.C. Berendt



Based on a lecture given before the Parapsychologische Arbeitsgruppe, Basel on September 5th 1974.



 In a previous paper a double aspect of the personality of Uri Geller and came to the conclusion that he might use sleight of hand in conjunction with a genuine psychic gift. At that time the Stanford report had not yet been published, and only some hints about the results were available. In the meantime, Andrija Puharich's book Uri has appeared, throwing new light on Uri Geller, as well as - inevitably - upon the personality of Puharich himself. In the present paper I intend to show that the close contact between Puharich and Uri also exhibits an element of a double aspect. While in the case of Uri this double aspect concerned his reliability and the production of paranormal (or pseudo-paranormal) effects, this time the double aspect involves the question of whether Puharich's book must be taken at face value regarding events based on external reality; or whether (at least some of) the events described represent either inner experiences, or fantasies.
 Puharich's reports certainly strike us as fantastic as we follow him through his book. Sometimes they concern Uri alone, sometimes he himself is involved. It does not seem to matter whether he observed the paranormal phenomena on his own; whether they happened to Uri in his presence; or whether only the two of them saw what was happening while other persons also present at the scene saw nothing out of the ordinary. In still other cases, additional witnesses are also mentioned.

Among other things Puharich registered the following phenomena:

-Compass needles turned 90 degrees without visible causes.

-Matches "jumped" a distance of over an inch when Uri kept his hand underneath a glass plate on which they were placed.

-A car was driven over a pre-determined course by Uri, who as the driver, was blindfolded, whilst the windshield was covered with paper to render it opaque.

-20 out of 20 target figures, colours and symbols, were correctly guessed, without a single miss.

-A steel chain broke after 20 seconds.

-A ring disappeared from a sealed box.

-Tape cassettes disappeared or their text was mysteriously erased.

-A red light appeared over the mountains of Sinai, - visible to Uri and Puharich but not to the group of soldiers with them.

-the inner part of a Parker ball-point pen (provided with a special identification mark) disappeared from a closed box - to reappear in the vicinity of Tel Aviv, where Uri recovered it after returning from a visit to an object "in a blue light", said to be a UFO.

-A number of photographs of UFO's disappeared or disintegrated: only two were left.

-Wrist watches stopped of a sudden; or their hands were moved by invisible forces.

-A camera case was mysteriously "transported" from the USA to Uri's flat, where it "rematerialized".

-A live hawk circled in front of the window of a Tel Aviv hotel. Later, the same hawk appeared in the states, portending some danger.

-Some of Puharich's keys, left behind in New York, reappeared in his Tel Aviv hotel in the presence of three witnesses.

-Uri received a letter in Puharich's handwriting and signed by him, which Puharich claims never to have written.

-In Munich, ten persons witnessed the materialisation of a crystal ball; the levitation of 20kg of cinema apparatus; a steel wire turned into gold (or the colour of gold).

 Throughout the whole book, Puharich maintains the appearance of Unidentified Flying Objects - UFO's - from some extraterrestrial source, observed by Uri Geller and himself and for the most part only by them.
 While Puharich's report may make the parapsychologist sit up and think, it - or at least part of it - may strike the ordinary reader as utterly unbelievable and fantastic. We should therefore ask ourselves who this author of Uri is and what evidence he offers for his statements. However, the first obstacle is mentioned by Puharich himself: How, he complains twice in the book, can the reader believe me, considering the fact that - except for some 8mm films of successful experiments and two photographs of UFO's - the whole material has been destroyed by the Inergy (i.e. Intelligent Energy from outer space) that caused them to happen? It does indeed make it difficult for the reader!
 As for the man himself, Dr. A. Puharich is a well known neurophysiologist, who for many years work at a university in the United States, where he still keeps his own experimental laboratory. He has had over fifty of his inventions in the field of medical electronics patented, and so, being a man of independent means, he has for a good many years devoted his time to parapsychology. He has written two books reporting, among other things his careful experiments with the late Eileen Garrett, and has published a number of papers on parapsychology.
 In August 1971 I became personally acquainted with Puharich and was delighted with his charm, his bright intellect and his rich experience in parapsychology. The occasion of our meeting was the Parapsychology Foundation conference at Le Piol in southern France to which Puharich had come directly from Israel, thus interrupting his first contacts with Uri Geller. (He mentions the meeting at Le Piol in his book Uri.)
 The conference was the first one to be held after Mrs Garrett's death, and the honour of giving the eulogy fell to Puharich. He spoke in a warm and moving way. At a later stage of the conference he read his paper on proto-communication and impressed the audience with his knowledge of atomic physics. These details are given here to throw some light on Puharich's personality - he is assuredly no illiterate phantast, nor a formidable believer in fairy tales!
 We are lead to ask whether his experiences with Uri Geller are perhaps not entirely linked to external reality. Could it be that they are inner experiences projected into the outer world? But if so, what is the function of Uri Geller?
 Already long before Uri came into his life, Puharich had an experience of utmost significance. In 1952, 19 years before he met Uri Geller, Dr. Vinod, an Indian living in the States, told him in a state of trance about the existence in outer space of the "nine wise entities", and communicated to Puharich some of their wisdom. The problem of an "unearthly" force came up next in 1963, on the occasion of Puharich's visit to Rio de Janeiro, to get an insight into the work of a psychic healer, Arigo. Arigo stated to him as he did to others that a certain "Dr. Fritz" was directing his work from a "dematerialized plane".
 The existence of UFO's had already been taken into consideration at this earlier stage, and UFO's came to play a decisive role in Puharich's outlook after he had succeeded in hypnotising Uri Geller, something which nobody had been able to do previously. As the forgotten events of Uri's childhood emerged under hypnosis, his memory brought up a figure disappearing - in bright light - back into a UFO, after having imparted to the three-year old Uri his future importance for mankind.
 Ever since the time of the hypnosis a deep bond of friendship joined the hypnotiser and the "psi-powered" Uri, leading to a relationship which I should like to call a scientific "symbiosis". This does not prevent Puharich from remarking on Uri's greed for money and publicity, and taxing him with being an egomaniac. Yet he is absolutely convinced of Uri's paranormal powers and performances. Moreover, Puharich's belief in Uri Geller and the extraterrestrial forces may partly be due to the impression made on him by Sullivan's "Life on other Worlds". There are the strange happenings on the plane of outer-space forces, who - through Uri! - reveal their supernormal abilities. But the task is not Uri's alone. Again and again these entities make themselves clear to Puharich in words such as "We have tested you; we have chosen you, and only you may work with Uri. You have to understand the difficult work of convincing mankind of our real existence."
 The reader who is aquatinted with Raudive's book will be reminded of a similar wording…
 Is Puharich himself an egomaniac? Is he a religious visionary who presents his ideas in a form suitable to the atomic age? Are there psychological or even psychopathological factors involved?
 Clearly several points claim our attention:

1. The importance of Puharich's own personality;

2. The question of the reliability of his report;

3. The almost complete lack of any material evidence for his report; and

4. The fact that only he and Uri Geller see the lights and UFO's , while "normal" persons observe nothing unusual.
 To round off the picture, it seems sometimes that Puharich tends to feel persecuted by various powers of this world, including the Israeli secret service.
 Egomania and ideas of persecution may perhaps be interpreted on the basis of a personality which does not make any distinction between subjective and external reality.
 In trying to explain the de- and re-materialisation of objects or electronic devices, Puharich gives the Inergy "forces" credit for accomplishing the changes, using Uri Geller as their agent. It is here that Uri once more comes into the picture. If indeed he has the mental powers to bend and break metallic objects, he is bound to interfere with atomic structures and to cause electronic changes. In that case, he may also be able to produce the Raudive effect on tapes, which is actually the main link between Puharich and the "computer-like" beings that come through "Spectra" from the star called "Hoovah".
 Returning to the beginning of the book, where Dr. Vinod speaks in his trance about the nine wise entities: could it not be that Vinod "picked-up" telepathically the ideas that were forming in Puharich's searching mind, and that he gave expression to Puharich's thoughts? Since they come from another person, Puharich may have accepted them as coming from "outside", as an objectivation of his own thoughts. Since a strong mental bond seems to have been established between Puharich and Uri after the initial hypnosis, might it not be conceivable that this time Uri telepathically "reproduced" the world of Puharich's thought? If so, Uri would be using his abilities to produce the Raudive effect on tapes, or to dissolve the recorded electronic order produced by the voices in the same way.
 If we are right in assuming that Uri Geller uses his medial powers to "produce" Puharich's ideas, we are still faced with the question of the origin of these forces. Are they earthly powers as yet unknown, but which may find an explanation in the future - or do they indeed come from outer space? We should in this connection consider the phenomena of fatigue. Supposing Uri Geller's performances are genuine, and knowing that Uri shows no strain even after a great many successful appearances, could this be due to the fact that Uri has become the means to fulfil the designs of the outer forces? On the other hand, his lack of fatigue may stem from the structure of his personality as a human being, with an unusually quick power of regeneration of Psi forces.*
 The wisdom of outer space is the central point in Puharich's book. From time to time these forces wish to help mankind and come down to our earth. The last time they did so was 6000 years ago. But why do they choose our small planet and if so, why Israel? They answer questions put by Puharich, yet much remains enigmatic. A few things get an explanation, for instance, that the cosmic forces are built on rotations, or "spins" (p. 198). But this was precisely the subject of Puharich's paper at Le Piol, i.e., that the rotating forces in the atomic nuclei are of the utmost importance for what is happening inside them, as well as in connection with psi effects.
 It seems strange that from the outer cosmos should come an answer about precisely those forces which Puharich had already considered to be central to the microcosmos. Or could it be that Puharich's Inner world of ideas is represented by the words on the tapes (later destroyed), which had been recorded with the help of Uri's telepathic and PK gift? Or that the tapes are in fact an outward projection of an unconscious inner answer to Puharich's own problems, doubts and hopes?
 Reading the reports in "Nature", and the "New Scientist", beginning with the October 1974 issues of both publications, my assumption of Uri Geller's power of projecting Puharich's ideas with the help of the Raudive effect (i.e. to produce voices on previous empty and unused tapes) seems on the whole to be strengthened by an acknowledgement of Uri Geller's mental and/or PK powers. The debate is however still in progress. We should perhaps thank Dr. Hanlon for going beyond the call of scientific duty in his use of Occam's Razor for the many reports on observations , suggestions for possibilities of fraud or deception and in proposing "natural" explanations of Uri's different abilities. A proper critique of methods has always been indispensable for real progress in parapsychology and for conducting experiments whose results can be placed beyond reasonable doubt. On the other hand, it seems to me that Dr. Hanlon has overshot the mark, and that Dr. Hasted's dismissal of the former's critique as a "witchhunt" seems well justified. I am not in a position to judge the extent of Dr. Hanlon's acquaintance with the relevant literature of the last decades. At any rate one gets the impression that he may not be sufficiently familiar with the fact that there are many reports of thought- transference and telepathic drawings by well known authors and experimenters, e.g. Upton Sinclair, Rene warcollier… obtained under controlled conditions which completely rule out Hanlon's theories (or hunches ?) as to the probable methods of , or reasons for, cheating or deception. The meeting ground of Dr. Hanlon's report and my own paper lies in his opinion that, for Puharich, the existence of Spectra and Hoova are facts embedded in external reality. Both can demand Puharich's obedience to their demands, even if doing so might involve (through the agency of Uri Geller) something which ordinary mortals would have no choice but to label fraud or deception…
 The Geller effect is still heatedly debated, even after the publication of important parts of the SRI report - based on a high-level scientific investigation. In my own view, at least some of the Geller experiments were genuine. But as to the "how" and "why", we have as yet no explanation. The answer, given on tapes as coming from the flying saucer "Spectra" (or from Puharich?) is this: "The human mind is too small to grasp the immensity of the cosmos". We should, perhaps, leave it at that for the time being, even while uneasily aware of the self-serving nature of such a claim…
 In the present paper I have tried to throw some light on the Uri Geller-Puharich affair. I should finally like to mention some of C.G. Jung's ideas about "things to be seen in the skies", that is about the UFO's. The subtitle of Jung's book, A modern Myth, already suggests his main trend of thought. He does not deny the possibility of real flying saucers, yet he is certain of the symbolic character of these round objects, which have appeared also in the dreams of his patients, where they portray the Inner Self. He also mentions (p. 112) the double aspect of numbers, which are the basis of all modern science and technology, but have their mystical aspect too.
 Should this explanation be acceptable, it would have various implications for our own approach:

1. We must not regard Puharich's book as pure fantasy, lacking an internal foundation for his account.

2. We have to suspend our occasional doubts as to whether the author is really convinced of the reality of his reports. He is convinced, and, subjectively, has given an honest report.

3. The role of Uri Geller in the report would confirm our opinion about his abilities because of his telepathic report of Puharich's thought on the one hand, and also because of all the psi phenomena - including those experienced by the author Puharich - which so frequently appear throughout the book.

It is still to early to form a final judgement on the whole complex matter, and we are well advised to accept a saying of the "nine wise entities" : "Delay is not denial, we must be patient".

H.C. Berendt


©The Society for Psychical Research - Reproduced with permission



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