The Telempathy Experiment
The year is 1982. Michael Jackson has released “Thriller” and “Cats” opens on Broadway. Ronald Reagan is elected President of the United States and the British win the war in the Falklands. Leonid Brezhnev dies, and Yuri Andropov is appointed his successor; the next step is “The Evil Empire” with President Reagan’s speech given just a few months later in March 8, 1983. Overwhelmed by the changing world, the Time magazine Person of the Year is: “The Computer.”
In San Francisco, a small band of intrepid pioneers is working ON computers to subvert the idea of there ever BEING an Evil Empire. These San Francisco pioneers are part of the Soviet American Exchange Project of the Esalen Institute, inspired by its co-founder Michael Murphy and generously supported by Henry Dakin of Dakin Toy company. At the Washington Research Institute, a large house owned by Mr. Dakin, we type on tiny keyboards connected to monster, humming computer processors that fill the room and whose enormity seems entirely normal, even groundbreaking.
We are bringing U.S.-astronauts and Soviet cosmonauts together to declare that there are, in fact, no boundaries from space, we are planning the world’s first global music festival, we will soon start a Youth Exchange Program and unite Soviet and American young people to climb Mount Elbrus in the Caucasus Mountains. We are called Citizen Diplomats and we are sneaking papers and information in and out of the Soviet Union. At every turn, we face censorship and strict Soviet controls on unofficial contacts with foreigners.
Over the years, deep and abiding friendships have been formed among us Citizen Diplomats since we wanted nothing so much as to change the world. One evening, a dear friend of mine, Mary Payne, and I were discussing our strange communication and our ability to communicate telepathically: we would answer questions before the other had asked them; she would think of me and I would call; I would think of a favor to ask and she would have done it already. We decided our remarkable communication was a result of the respect, caring, and love we felt for each other…
And, we concluded, if it works for us, why shouldn’t it work with the Soviets we have come to know, to love and to trust? I was writing my Ph.D at the time under Dr. Stanley Krippner at Saybrook Institute and I thought, “Let’s make an honest experiment of it!” I consulted Dr. Krippner, Steven Schwartz of the Mobius Group, Dr. Carol Irwin and Dr. Jeffrey Mishlove from John F. Kennedy University, and Larissa Vilenskaya, editor of Psi Research magazine. Again, we would have the support of Henry Daikin and his “computers.” My goal was to develop a verifiable and reliable experiment in telepathy and my advisors were enthusiastic about its potential. Over the next six months, the project and scientific design were hammered out and agreed upon by all of the mentors.
I decided to call it the “Telempathy Experiment” given that I believed the primary component in telepathic communication to be caring and empathy. That would be hard to prove, but at least I would send the missile in the right direction… And we knew exactly the people we would work with in the Soviet Union.
Mary had been well acquainted with Viktor Krivorotov in Tbilisi, Georgia. Viktor’s father was Alexei Krivorotov, a well-known psychic and healer in the USSR who was noted for his photographs of the human “aura” using Kirlian photography. That technique was developed by Semyon and Valentina Kirlian, beginning around 1939. Over the next several decades at Kazakh State University, the Kirlians developed electrophotographic techniques that used neither a lens nor a camera. Alexei built on and became famous for his aura photographs using their research.
His son Viktor had a group of seven women who met with him and his wife, Isa, three times a week to study psychic healing and “psi power”. Mary had visited with the group often in the warm Georgia summers and the bonds of friendship were well established. In August 1982, she returned to Tbilisi and delivered extensive, carefully worded instructions to her friends explaining the exact experimental design.
Meanwhile, in San Francisco, the word had gotten out among Citizen Diplomats that the Telepathy Experiment was on the way. Mary and I hosted an evening for friends we felt would be interested and able to participate in the group. Fourteen individuals became the California Telempathy Team, committed to meeting twice a week for a month in the initial round. Photographs of the Soviet and American teams were hand carried between Tbilisi and San Francisco and we learned each other’s names, hobbies, likes and dislikes. We would begin in January 1983.
Throughout the next months, I worked closely with my mentors as they selected images or “targets” to send. My research into telepathy had shown me that psi research had demonstrated that the most successful results are generated by mentally provocative images – dead babies, war images, etc. This validated my theory that it was the emotion that carried the image: a subject saw the gruesome picture, and the gut horror and “yuck” of emotional revulsion sent the image across the air waves.
This wasn’t what I wanted to do, however. I asked my mentors to chose only emotional uplifting and peace inspiring images, or at least, neutral images carrying universal information and energy. We wanted to inspire the highest forms of communication rather than the lowest.
My advisors selected sixteen images and grouped them into four “target groups” of four distinct images each and sealed them into envelopes. At no time did I, nor anyone in the Telempathy Group, see the images we would send or receive. Each week, one envelope would be chosen and the remaining three would become the “dummy targets” from which the advisors would select the image closest to the reports and illustrations from the groups. Again, to eliminate the possibility of “contamination,” no one participating in the actual “T Groups” on either side of the world knew or had seen the targets. They were selected randomly each week during the group meeting.
It took time to arrange since we were smuggling information into and out of the Soviet Union. Yet, over the next few months, the targets and photographs of the California group were delivered to Tbilisi, and photographs of the Soviets were delivered to the United States. We determined meeting times, and the sequence for each meeting. Tbilisi is exactly twelve hours separated from San Francisco, and we would meet Tuesdays and Thursdays at 8:00 in the evenings, they at 8:00 in the morning.
In terms of the sequence of the meetings with Viktor and his group we jointly decided on the following: We would take one half hour for each group to come together and “catch up”. At precisely 8:30 (am or pm) we would take five minutes of writing in our journals to clear our thoughts from the day followed by five minutes of silent meditation focused on relaxing the face. Then we would have five minutes of a dynamic “Aum”. Before the actual sending or receiving of the target, we would take five minutes to pass around and quietly look at the photographs of the distant group, and they, at our faces. If we were sending, we would send them love. If we were receiving, we would focus on receiving their love.
This synchronization time was followed by ten minutes of transmission time during which each group was either sending or receiving an image. California “received” on Tuesdays and “sent” on Thursdays, when one of the four envelopes was chosen and opened. Each participant recorded their notes and impressions in their journals and a “group consensus” was also compiled.
By the end of the month, eight sessions later, us Californians felt as though we were lifelong friends of the Soviet team, and we had all contributed to global peace and healing regardless of the outcome of the experiment. In March 1983, copies of the transcripts from the San Francisco group were translated and carried to Tbilisi and their transcripts were returned to the US and translated.
The results were astonishing.
In one session, the Soviets had telempathically sent the Americans an image of a red rose. The American group consensus for that session recorded a flower and several Americans in the group recorded and illustrated a rose. Another time, the Soviets telempathically sent a rooster and several Americans recorded images of a rooster. In another session, the Soviets telempathically sent a butterfly and the American group consensus was a butterfly, with many individuals receiving it. Not all of the results were so dramatic, but the advisors determined that we had a 60% “hit” rate. In addition, it was clear that the Soviets were stronger at sending than receiving and the Americans were better at receiving than sending: Americans received Soviet images better than Soviets received American images.
Below are transcripts from two sessions: On January 4, 1983, the Soviets sent a rooster and their transcript read as follows:
Target: ROOSTER (Cheerfulness of morning awakening)
We met at 8 pm and shared our state of mind, everyone was in a heightened mood: “up.”
10 people participated (List of names)
1. We had not yet received photographs of the California group so we looked at the photos we had of our friends in the USA.
2. We looked at a magazine about San Francisco.
3. Otari chose the sealed envelope and opened it to see the rooster image.
4. We listened to Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. We all felt it intensely.
5. Our hands were joined for the first five minutes and then for the next five, we transmitted without this bodily contact. Each person felt the intensification of energy when our hands were joined.
6. Most people had trouble holding the rooster image for the last five minutes.
7. Each person wrote a report and then talked with the group about feelings, actions, impressions.
8. This first session elicited emotional enthusiasm, a “high” in everyone.
The journal of one of the Americans was as follows:
I saw a group of trees with the sun shining through them.
Strong heart feelings of the people in Georgia and a sense of being with them. I had a sense of being out of my body and going to them, but no clear pictures.
I felt very present in my body and pictured a white screen to receive.
The first images were clear and passed through my mind. I couldn’t hold them or recreate them. Kept seeing pastoral images and the following:
Trees with sun shining through them
A sparkly blue stream
Whirling, yellow sun.
State of mind: It is the first day of my period. Feeling very clear and I arrived into San Francisco from San Diego yesterday. I felt distracted by the sounds of pens writing and by the presence of people. Wondered how clear it would be if I were alone. Clearly observed that thoughts of a personal nature were from me; the pastoral images were of a different texture and were very clear as though they passed through me without touching me.
Her illustration demonstrates that this would be described as a “direct hit” since she so clearly received the rooster image.
Another direct hit occurred as follows:
January 11, 1983, the Soviet transcript reads as follows
Target: BUTTERFLY (Ephemeral tenderness and beauty)
1. All 10 people participated
2. The envelope was opened before we listened to music
3. Galina wanted the butterfly chosen before the envelope was opened
4. Otari saw the film “Butterfly” the night before
5. There were very emotional arguments in the group 30 minutes before listening to the music
6. Several letters with photos of the California group were received before this connection with the USA. This aroused many positive emotions
The group report and consensus of the reception of the BUTTERFLY were as follows:
Fifteen Americans were present. Images received and agreed upon by the group were:
A simple triangle, a mountain, a pyramid image
Wings, a bird, a butterfly
A mandala, a sense of a bright flash
Thus, the image of a butterfly was a direct hit by the group, as well as by individuals.
The journal of one of the Americans was as follows:
A CAT sprawled out on the back of an easy chair.
A slightly long-haired tiger cat.
Later again the cat but could be black this time and moving through space.
A doorway with an awning. AN ARCHED SHAPED DOOR, very old and made of wood, like a door leading to a church or cathedral. Something holy about it by very simple, very earthy and humble. A somewhat medieval quality.
Lots of light, sparkly hello light— very cool and soothing.
Then, once again a WINGED CREATURE. Could be a great BUTTERFLY, or some kind of bird with large wings, in the air but nonmoving. Then changing into a kind of ribbon and a BOW.
Over-all, lots of feeling. They are actually in this room with us. Almost as if they are slipping into our bodies, or moving inside out circle and being with us. There is a lot of warmth.
Also an EYE.
Again a direct hit.
By the end of that first month, we so longed to meet them in person, this in the days before Facebook and Zoom and Instagram and What’s App. Phone calls were severely restricted so travel to the Soviet Union was the only way to meet and connect with them.
And we did. Prior to obtaining the results of the experiments, eight of us decided to travel there to “meet our friends.” We booked our travel through the Citizen Exchange Council, sorted out the red tape, secured visas, and flew to Moscow. Under the watchful eyes of our official Intourist guide, we toured St. Basils, Lenin’s tomb, the Kremlin, and traveled outside of Moscow to a countryside dacha. Next, we flew to St. Petersburg and visited, of course, the Hermitage. Then, finally, we were off to Georgia.
In Tbilisi, the warmth of Georgia only accented the warmth of the reception we received from the Soviet Telempathy Group. It really WAS the meeting of individuals who “knew” each other and were lifelong friends. We knew their names and faces, we knew their joys and sorrows, we knew their delights and hardships. We knew their taste in music and song. We knew each other. As one of us wrote, “I remember staring into each other’s eyes with love. Holding, hugging, tears of joy, the feeling of being in the presence of this circle, the two circles joined.”
On the most memorable of days, we hiked together into the mountains around Tbilisi where we explored an old monastery, shared a sun-drenched picnic in the grass, played games with riotous laughter, and laid next to each other in a wondrous circle of love and companionship.
We spent three days with them and parting was indeed a sweet sorrow. On the Aeroflot plane back to Moscow we were reminded of the Georgian spirit and verve as farmers filled the plane with melons destined for the markets in the cold north, laughing and rolling them down the aisles until everyone had melons on their laps to “carry on” to Moscow. The year is 2021. With the election of Joe Biden, democracy has reemerged by a thread in America and US-Russian relations have plunged into a new Cold War. The Covid pandemic has the planet in its grip, the global economy is in free fall. There will be no redo of “Cats” since lights are off on Broadway. Netflix is the entertainment king. Yet, in Russia, thousands of people have begun protesting in the streets against Putin in the largest demonstrations in decades. A nuclear treaty has been signed and Citizen Diplomats continue their work in education and healing. We look forward to again sharing an international circle of love and companionship.
 Henry S. Dakin: From Physics to Metaphysics & Guns to Toys, ed. Vergilia Dakin, Laura Gaile Drewes, Petaluma 2020.
Cite this article as: Joan Channon “The Telempathy Experiment”, in New Age in Russia, 16/03/2021, https://newageru.hypotheses.org/5603