On the Consciousness Frontier with Russell Targ

How does a laser physicist working for the CIA find his way to a spiritual awakening? Russell Targ, Ph.D., has made that journey from materialist/reductionist to psychic spy to spiritual seeker, and speaks openly about it.

Targ’s psychic experiences began even before he did remote-viewing—the skill by which people envision distant places, activities, and times. The ESP work was supported by the CIA and other agencies for 20 years; governments want to use mind-to-mind connections for “defense.”

Later, after a diagnosis of cancer, Targ learned firsthand about spiritual healing—different than psychic healing. A sub-category is spiritual healing at a distance. He believes that both remote viewing and distant healing are manifes­tations of “nonlocal mind.” Mind cannot be confined to points in space such as brains and bodies, nor localized to points in time such as the present.


Russell Targ is a tall man, slightly stooped in posture, exuding both the dignity of a well-known researcher a few years ago retired as a senior staff scientist for Lockheed Martin and the joy of ongoing discoveries. He peers at the world through thick glasses, but poor physical vision only seems to sharpen his other faculties. In San Francisco over dinner I met Targ and his daughter, psychiatrist Dr. Elisabeth Targ, before he gave the final speech in a series that El­isabeth organized for a hospital staff.

Her own research findings support her father’s growing knowledge of the role of consciousness in healing. For ex­ample, a mainstream peer-reviewed medical journal (The Western Journal of Medicine, 169, December, 1998, pages 356-363) published Fred Sicher, Dr. Elizabeth Targ, and others describing a study of distant-healing on a group of men with advanced AIDS. The treated group had fewer severe new diseases and fewer hospital visits and significantly improved feelings of health. The researchers suggested that experienced healers around the U.S.A. could medically benefit a targeted group of AIDS patients in as short a time span as ten weeks.

Everyone knows that an invisible mind moves your physical body and tells it when to tighten muscles or to breathe expansively. What is news is the power of mind by which thoughts create effects at a distance.

Co-Authors Targ And Katra

Russell Targ and Jane Katra, another Ph.D., have written books about this psychic Internet—Jung’s collective un­conscious. Targ and Katra call it our community of spirit. Users hooked up to this exchange-of-information are those people who have learned to stop their thoughts and rest their attention.

Jane Katra also came from a culture of conventional intellectuals and never expected to be outside it. Her story is told in Katra and Targ’s 1998 book Miracles of Mind: Exploring Nonlocal Consciousness and Spiritual Healing. Her doctorate is in health education, and she taught at the University of Oregon. At the end of a long trip in Southeast Asia in 1974, she was struck with an excruciating headache and then a near-death-like dream. During the inner expe­rience, Katra was told that she would become a healer. To her dismay, the prophetic instructions were correct. Back home, university colleagues and family became uncomfortable with the new Jane, but she had to honor the gift by us­ing it to help people. As the doors to academia closed for her, she found other methods for earning her living without charging clients for the healings. Life then opened new doors, such as the parapsychology conference where she met her friend Russell Targ.

Remote Viewing

Targ and Hal Puthoff, Ph.D. co-founded the once-secret remote viewing program at Stanford Research Institute. Katra and Targ’s book is the first to publish some of the declassified drawings of that work, obtained by Targ under the Freedom of Information Act. The classified experiments had been first supported in 1972 by the CIA, joined in 1995 by other agencies including the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Army, Navy, and NASA.

One of the most amazing examples of the covertly funded remote viewing that penetrated the Iron Curtain was the work of a talented police officer, Pat Price. He was given only the latitude and longitude of what turned out to be a secret Soviet atom bomb lab in Siberia. Without knowing any more than the coordinates of the target, he precisely sketched the buildings and an unusual large crane that was later verified by satellite when it was moved outdoors— after Pat Price’s death.

Targ was usually the interviewer in an electrically shielded room where Price and other viewers tuned into a dis­tant target. Psychically they would track the whereabouts of Puthoff as he traveled in other countries. Price would de­scribe and sketch an assortment of volcanic mountains, marketplaces and churches, for example, and later they would learn the specific locations in a country such as Costa Rica where Puthoff had been at the times recorded on Price’s drawings.

One day Price didn’t show up for a scheduled experiment, so Targ did the remote-viewing trial himself. Although his psychic experiences began at university while performing as an amateur magician, he hadn’t taken part in a for­mal experiment before. He started the tape recorder, closed his eyes, and saw what looked like an airport with a run­way leading to the ocean. He sketched a building on the left and grass and sand on the right. Later, he saw the photo of where Puthoff had been at that time—a matching airport on an island off the coast of Colombia.

Remote viewing is not mind-reading, because viewers often see things that are unknown to anyone else at the time. Miracles of Mind gives the how-to for readers to try remote viewing with the help of friends.

Data that proves the interconnectedness of consciousness can help us see the interdependence of humankind and how it can be used for survival instead of weaponry. Targ believes that the knowledge should be available to human­kind.

On the negative side, Katra and Targ describe some of the past Russian psychic experiments and find them dis­turbing. Reverence for life was missing.

In 1992, Russell Targ was pale and losing weight. CAT scans and x-rays showed spots on his internal organs that medical doctors said was metastatic cancer. They instructed him to put his affairs in order and begin chemotherapy very soon. Instead, he asked Jane Katra to work with him as an immune-system coach and spiritual healer.

She intuitively knew that he should not empower the concept of saying he was sick. As well as spiritual healing and affirmations, she explored with him how he could “change the host so that the disease could no longer recognize him.” Attitudes, emotional expression, and social connections were changed. Targ tried unfamiliar behaviors: early-morning jogging, giving thanks at mealtimes, and other expressions of gratitude.

He has been well ever since. Blood tests and x-rays show no sign of illness! Whether or not cancer was a misdiag­nosis, Katra saved him from chemotherapy.

Targ and Katra now write about the difference between psychic and spiritual healing—loving-your-neighbor-as­yourself. Realizing that people are truly connected even at far distances, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” has new meaning.

A form of psychic connection—distant hypnosis—is similar to spiritual healing in that they both involve exchang­ing of information in ways that we don’t understand. Targ and Katra see distant-hypnosis as separating people men­tally or psychically. One person wills a specific outcome for another, whether or not the other wants that outcome. In contrast, distant spiritual healing comes from a joining of minds, resonance, and entering a universal consciousness. “It involves a surrender of individual will on the part of the healer, with no personal effort exerted, no specific out­come designated—a ‘letting’ instead of a doing.” The willingness to be used for the well-being of another in an imper­sonal, nonemotional way has been called compassion or love. Katra and Targ say that state activates spiritual healing.

Regarding experiences such as remote viewing, they conclude that narrowly focusing on phenomena, no matter how fascinating, may be a trap. The excitement may prevent us from discovering who we really are. Playing with ex­trasensory perception (ESP) makes us feel omniscient; that may keep us from finding out what we should be doing in life. On the other hand, Targ and Katra indicated in their 1999 book The Heart of the Mind that when any person demonstrates an extraordinary ability, it can inspire the rest of us with the immensity of the largely undeveloped hu­man potential.

Russell Targ provides what I see as an encouraging example to other scientists who may be tentatively peeking over the virtual Iron Curtain that divides skeptics from those who admit to believing in a Divine Intelligence. He shows that you don’t have to leave your scientific thinking at the door when entering the domains of spiritual aware­ness. As a dinner companion, for example, he effortlessly exhibited the sophisticated intellect that is so admired by ac­ademics, along with subtle humor and a sense of irony about his situation. Still skeptical on various topics, he does not even embrace the concepts of zero-point energy that have been championed by his famous colleague, Dr. Puthoff.

However, on the topic of nonlocal consciousness he does not hesitate to handle “spiritual and philosophical dyna­mite.”

Russell Targ and Jane Katra, Ph.D, Miracles of Mind: Exploring Nonlocal Consciousness and Spiritual Healing, New World Library, CA, 1998. Targ and Katra The Heart of the Mind: How to Experience God Without Belief, New World Library, CA, 1999.

By Jeane Manning

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