By Celia Coates
I was reaching for a large book on my shelves when I noticed a small, rather ragged paperback with the title BETWEEN TWO WORLDS – and an author named Nandor Fodor. I opened it , saw that it had been published in 1964 (no wonder it was ragged) and then I read,
“We are witnessing today the growth of a new mysticism, no longer based on faith and belief but on new scientific discoveries. Materialism has been dealt a deadly blow. Strange as it may seem, matter has no substance. It is an illusion of our senses. Atomic research has revealed it to be a state of incredible energies bound and interlocked…. Almost daily new horizons open up before science; gradually the conclusion is being forced on us that mind, life, logos, spirit, or God is the only reality in this mysterious universe.”
That would be a fine opening statement for a book even now, but that it appeared in 1964 is remarkable. Materialism has not been dealt a deadly blow – at least not in our overall belief system. Nandor Fodor was an unusual pioneer in his thinking and in publishing this book. He was a journalist who became both a psychoanalyst and a parapsychologist who wrote this about himself,
“I have no drums to beat, no isms to serve. Like Lewis Carroll’s child, ‘with pure unclouded brow and gleaming eyes of wonder’ I sat before the unknown, and sailed into it, for the best years of my life. I can only say that my three score and ten years have been marvellously lit up by the excitement and unceasing wonder of this quest.”
Fodor was a colleague of Freud’s and it was fascinating to read that Freud described having had auditory hallucinations,
“When as a young man I lived alone in a strange city, I frequently heard my name being pronounced by an unmistakable, dear voice. And I then made note of the exact moment of the hallucinations in order to inquire carefully of those at home what had occurred at that time. There was nothing to it.”
At least Freud inquired about this unusual experience before dismissing it.
Freud’s discoveries early in the Twentieth Century about the mind and his concept of the three levels of awareness – conscious, subconscious, and unconscious – first shocked and then transformed our lives, at least here in the West. We had to deal with hidden forces, with unknown complexities, that directed our behavior, could produce shame (all that sexual and Oedipal stuff), and were not necessarily under out control. It was a grand addition to understanding the nature of being human, but it also became a constraint against exploring anything “paranormal.” Since those voices Freud heard were, as far as he knew, neither produced by his family nor originated in his own mind, he dismissed them. They couldn’t be real. Although the orthodoxy of Freudian thinking has less of a grip now than it once did, it still constrains the field of psychology. It is all too easy to dismiss psychic events as personal delusions or at least misguided perceptions. Elmer Green once said that physicists are more open-minded than psychologists. Those who treat mental illness have had to be especially on guard against seeming crazy themselves.
Here is one of those happy “accidents” – at the same time that I found Fodor’s book, I was reading a much newer book, HEALING DREAMS by Marc Ian Barasch. He told a story of a San Francisco psychiatrist, Louis Vuksinick, who was working with his psychoanalyst on a dream that he described this way,
“I am looking up at the huge mountain which dominated the front view from my childhood home. A bright mystical light is glowing about three-quarters of the way up the center of the mountain. It marks the confluence of two great rivers, the Snake and the Siskiyou. Behind the confluence is a cave with a treasure. The scene then becomes a photograph with the date 1932 boldly displayed.”
His psychoanalyst went the traditional Freudian route and interpreted the mountain as symbolizing his father and the cave his mother. Vuksinick added,
“Even the mystical lights, he told me, were parental symbols – the whole thing was nothing but disguised family issues.”
Four nights later, “Vuksinick dreamed that Jung himself appeared and handed him a book on dreams.” Barasch continued, “The next day, thumbing through the index of a Jungian text, Vuksinick found that, rather than as a reflection of Oedipal conflict, Jung interpreted a confluence of rivers as a symbol of the powerful fluxes that lead to psychological integration.”
The Snake River and the date 1932 also had great meaning. Vuksinick went on to have a kundalini awakening, a personal transformation that has been envisioned for centuries as the uncoiling of the energetic snake that lies at the base of the spine, and1932 was the year that Carl Jung gave his first lecture on kundalini at the Jung Institute. Barasch added,
“Vuksinick had never been exposed to, or even interested in, Eastern philosophy or religion. But his dreams, it appeared, had other designs.”
Fodor did not turn aside from exploring mysteries, he kept his “gleaming eyes of wonder “. He wrote,
“…(W)e are apt to shy away from the thought of how little we know of the world. We should, instead, express concern or wonder over the blind spots that orthodox science still contains regarding phenomena that have been with us throughout the ages of man – phenomena that should, perhaps, have transformed our life in this universe. For, it appears, that the age-old claims of religion, metaphysics, certain Eastern teachings and modern parapsychology cannot be ignored with impunity.”
He went on to write,
“I have worked my way through orthodox religions, Spiritualism, and psychical research to psychoanalysis, mainly in the hope of finding the missing answers. Some I have found, many more I have missed. A new ism may be necessary. Parapsychology, as psychical research is called today, has made a significant inroad but hardly covered more than the initial part of a long journey. But every journey begins with the first step, and the outlines of a new ultra-science are perhaps already discernible along the path. I do not know what it will be like. All I know is that human destiny will be profoundly affected by it and that eventually, and hopefully, we shall understand the meaning of human life.”
Nandor Fodor was born in Hungary on May 13, 1895 and died in New York City on May 17,1964, the same year that BETWEEN TWO WORLDS was published. There have been many advances in the study of the “paranormal” and in the practice of psychotherapy, but we still have a long way to go before our societies can reach the balance and wisdom that Fodor found as he explored the two worlds of the psychological self and the many dimensions of reality.
* * * * *
BETWEEN TWO WORLDS by Nandor Fodor, Paperback Library Inc. New York, 1967, printed by arrangement with Prentice Hall, original edition, 1964,
HEALING DREAMS: Exploring the Dreams That Can Transform Your Life, by Marc Ian Barasch, Riverhead Books, 2000.
The image that heads this post is by Tom Swinnen, from Pexels.