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Close to Grace: The Physics of Silent Transmission

A laser is an amplified optical signal providing coherent light.


A laser pioneer explores how the coherent light of a laser beam may help explain the joy experienced in the presence of a saint or a sage.

This article appeared in our August 2003 issue. The 20th-century Indian saint Sri Ramana Maharshi (1879-1950) never traveled, lectured, or wrote books. Nevertheless, for more than 50 years he taught and guided seekers who came from all over the world to receive his teachings. Maharshi sat, lived, and slept in a modest communal hall at the base of Arunachala mountain in South India, making himself available night and day to answer the sincere questions of his students. Though his followers often sought his wisdom in his verbal teachings, Maharshi said that his greatest truth was transmitted in silence, and seekers from all cultures, backgrounds, and religions came to simply bask in his presence. Many reported that they experienced profound inner peace and well-being, and some felt propelled into a direct experience of expanded joy. Once having sat with Maharshi, and having experienced the blissful connection and overpowering feeling of love, travelers sometimes continued to experience this spiritual ecstasy from a distance. Given the large number of people who reported such experiences with Maharshi and …

Physicist Russell Targ was a pioneer in the development of the laser, and cofounder of the Stanford Research Institutes investigation into psychic abilities in the 1970s and 1980s. He is co-author of Mind Reach: Scientists Look at Psychic Abilities and The Mind Race: Understanding and Using Psychic Abilities. Targ recently retired from Lockheed Martin as a senior staff scientist, where he developed laser technology for peaceful applications. 

Jane Katra, Ph.D., holds a doctorate in health education, and has been a spiritual healer for more than 20 years. She has taught nutrition and health at the University of Oregon, and therapeutic touch at Lane Community College in Eugene, Oregon.

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