The theory of survival, the case
of the non-physical body and
the reality of the out-of-body
experiences can all be accorded
a very high degree of probability.

Robert Crookall

The belief that the physical body has subtle energy counterparts has been around for a long time. In the East it has flourished continuously in the teachings of the ancient Vedic masters dating back to or before the time of Abraham. In the West, however, beginning in Agreda’s own seventeenth century, the idea of there being both solid and subtle bodies and realms began to give way to a mechanistic worldview that only now is being seriously challenged. For religion this has meant centuries’ long deprivation of the angels, saints and other spirit beings who formerly engaged and enlivened the higher human faculties of intuition and spiritual vision.

Leading the swing back are those physicists and material scientists who, at the forefront of their fields, are widening the scope of relativity theory to include consciousness along with energy and matter as interchangeable. In this chapter we seek to discover how this may be relevant to the Agreda story and the case for consciousness as having means other than the physical body in which to travel. Another question addressed is how the pathways of ancient yoga and quantum physics appear to be converging.

Similar to our own times of transition, Agreda’s 1600s were witness to a change of guard in the then prevailing worldview. It was a time when Europe was just awakening to the realization there was an entire unexplored new world out there. For the reigning monarchies that meant new territories to claim; for the seventeenth-century church it meant an entire new mission field of souls to be saved. Unfortunately, and as history records, the two became enmeshed. As a result the seeds of both scientific and ecclesiastical materialism began to take root.

Perhaps for the young Mary it was also a time when the impossible no longer seemed so. Perhaps in her youthful imagination going to the other side of the world was no different than when young persons today fantasize going to the Moon, or Mar, or Jupiter. But then isn’t this the very nature of a paradigm shift?—a time for re-envisioning the possible.

The scientists who today are leading the way are doing so along lines that eventually will change all of our minds about the nature of reality. As the scope of relativity theory broadens, what new light will this cast onto Agreda’s teleportations? How might her paranormal travels help build a case for consciousness as unfettered from the physical body? As science pursues the infinitely small—the realm of the inner—will what is unearthed persuade religion that uncertainty is not the enemy of Truth?

It is unlikely the Vedic or Yogic masters of old would have had a problem with the young nun’s teleportations from Spain to the American Southwest. A difficulty, however, does exist in the West, and most apparently in the mindset of the scientific materialist who continues to dismiss what can’t be explained in mechanistic terms. And equally limiting is the tendency of those who see the supernatural hand of God (or the devil) everywhere, rather than allow that the divine (and sometimes the diabolic) works also in accord with natural law. The point here is subtle but important, and highly relevant to the sweeping changes both science and religion are undergoing. By implication the term “supernatural” separates and distances God and the spirit realm from creation. Whereas, in allowing that God also works through natural means and human channels, the divine and the human, spirit and matter, are understood as an ongoing co-creative process.

According to Brian Greene, Columbia University physics and mathematics professor, and superstring theorist, it was not until the mid 1980s that a resolution was forthcoming for “the central problem of modern physics.”

 [This theory] unifies the laws of the large and the small, the laws that govern physics out to the furthest reaches of the cosmos and down to the smallest speck of matter, . . . .

Einstein showed the world that space and time behave in astoundingly unfamilar ways. Now cutting-edge research has integrated his discoveries into a quantum universe with numerous hidden dimensions coiled into the fabric of the cosmos—dimensions whose lavishly entwined geometry may well hold the key to some of the most profound questions ever posed.1

 Clearly, in these early years of the twenty-first century, a major cosmological revamping is underway. With science in the lead, how will theology be impacted? Will an increase in interdisciplinary exchange and reconciliation result? As an understanding of the cosmos expands, will narrow attitudes follow suit by becoming less certain and more tentative in their assumptions? Will human arrogance give way to a new sense of humility and awe as the Mind of the Creator is revealed in the intricacies, precision and wisdom of creation?

If, as is currently being considered, the universe consists of multiple nested dimensions of varying frequencies, do these multiple worlds occupy the same space? And if they do exist simultaneously, how will this alter an understanding of time as sequential? If, indeed this is the direction in which physics is moving, how will the old and new worldviews be bridged? How are our conditioned and deeply embedded mindsets to be overcome? Perhaps it is here Agreda can help. Not only was she at home in a world that was multidimensional, but she also overcame the time and space reality-consensus of her day.

Tiller, whose work at Stanford was discussed in the last chapter, is hopefully optimistic in what East and West and science and spirituality are bringing to the spirit/matter/energy/consciousness equation. He writes:

[The ancient Vedic seers] saw no fundamental difference between the material and the spiritual worlds or between the realms of mind and matter. Therefore, to them, it was of utmost importance that thought, speech and action be life-supporting—in harmony with all other levels of the universe.

[This was because] if cosmic order is disrupted and harmony between the various planes of creation broken, then suffering is the inevitable result.2

 Again from Greene we hear:

[M]ost of us take for granted that our universe has three spatial dimensions. But this is not so according to string theory which claims that our universe has many more dimensions than meet the eye—dimensions that are tightly curled into the folded fabric of the cosmos.3

 “String theory,” he promises, “is the story of space and time since Einstein.”  Moreover, if these new insights into the nature of space and time are changing the face of western science, can the organized church in the West do otherwise than follow? if, that is, it hopes to survive.

With the universe emerging as multiple enfolded or nested dimensions of varying frequencies, it follows that there exist as well an infinite number of worlds, dimensions, or even universes. It may even turn out that they occupy no space at all. In any event this, in the beginning years of the twenty-first century, is where “string theory” with its presently proposed “eleven dimensions” promises to take us.

In this chapter, by bringing earlier research in the field of parapsychology together with the more recent directions of physics the hope is that each can illuminate the other.

A significant study published in the 1960s was Aniela Jaffé’s Apparitions and Precognition.4 Jaffé, who was Jung's secretary and disciple, interpreted the phenomena under her investigation as “archetypal projections.” If by this we were to understand she viewed the paranormal appearances she studied as having originated in the deeper levels of the collective unconsciousness, would this mean she understood them as being totally subjective even if in appearance they were convincingly objective to their observers?

Around the same time Jaffe was conducting her study, Jung was struggling to understand the subjective/objective nature of Ufos which resulted in his book titled Flying Saucers, a Modern Myth. Here he considered their collective psychological implications as well as the objective investigative findings of sightings. In the end, however, he could not say that they were strictly subjective without any objective reality. Rather, he noted:

The only thing we know with tolerable certainty about Ufos is that they possess a surface which can be seen by the eye and at the same time throws back a radar echo.

In seeking to understand the psychology of what persists in being a baffling phenomenon he had to conclude that there is both a "psychic" faculty to matter and a manner of "materiality" to the psyche. But he sensed that physics was moving in a direction that would resolve the question of how matter and psyche are related, and until then,

It accords better with experience to suppose that living matter has a psychic aspect, and the psyche a physical aspect. If we give due consideration to the facts of parapsychology, then the hypothesis of the psychic aspect must be extended beyond the sphere of biochemical processes to matter in general. In that case all reality would be grounded on a yet unknown substrate possessing material and at the same time psychic qualities. In view of the trend of modern theoretical physics, the assumption should arouse fewer resistances than before. It should also do away with the awkward hypothesis of psychophysical parallelism, and afford us an opportunity to construct a new world model closer to the idea of the unus mundus. The "acausal" correspondences between mutually independent psychic and physical events, i.e., synchronistic phenomena . . . would then become more understandable, for every physical event would involve a psychic one, and vice versa.5

Jung, in his discussions of the paranormal, sounds at times very tentative and unsure as to substance of the phenomena, or whether the origin is from inner or outer space. Both Jung and Jaffé, in characterizing the paranormal as archetypal, are more interesting in the meaning, in the message, in the why of what is happening, and why now. For Jung, his interest is also based on a vivid personal experience which he writes about in his autobiography (edited by Jaffé). Here he describes his experience as “utterly real” and "having all the quality of absolute objectivity.

Dr. Jung had broken his foot and then suffered a heart attack.  In a state of unconsciousness, he experienced deliriums and visions. Later his nurse told him, "It was as if you were surrounded by a bright glow," a phenomenon, she explained, she sometimes had observed in the dying. Interestingly, the eminent psychiatrist’s personal experiences were similar to those described by Mary Agreda three centuries earlier.  He recalled:

I had reached the outermost limit and did not know whether I was in a dream or in ecstasy.  At any rate, extremely strange things began to happen to me.  It seemed to me that I was high up in space.  Far below I saw the globe of the earth, bathed in a gloriously blue light.  I saw the deep blue sea and the continents.  Far below my feet lay Ceylon, and in the distance ahead of me the sub-continent of India.  My field of vision did not include the whole earth, but its global shape was plainly distinguishable and its outline shone with a silvery gleam through that wonderful blue light....

I knew that I was on the point of departing from earth. Later I discovered how high in space one would have to be to have so extensive a view--approximately a thousand miles!  The sight of the earth from this height was the most glorious thing I had ever seen.

He continued, telling of an experience in a temple he found floating in space, a temple similar to one he actually had visited at Candy, Ceylon.  Of this he wrote:

It was as if I were in an ecstasy.  I felt as though I were floating in space, as though I were safe in the womb of the universe--in a tremendous void, but filled with the highest possible feeling of happiness.  “This is eternal bliss,” I thought.  “This cannot be described; it is far too wonderful!"6

 The visions, he said, lasted about an hour, as compared to Agreda’s ecstasies which she estimated as being two to three hours’ duration. He described what he experienced as being "so fantastically beautiful that by comparison this world appeared downright ridiculous.

With Jung’s physical body in Switzerland under the keen eye of his no-nonsense nurse, what was the “substance” of the “body” in which he found himself a thousand miles above and on the other side of the earth.

Sri Aurobindo, in The Life Divine, spells out the Vedic understanding of “the divine gradations of substance.”

And if there is, as there must be in the nature of things, an ascending series in the scale of substance from Matter to Spirit, it must be marked by a progressive diminution of these capacities most characteristic of the physical principle and a progressive increase of the opposite characterists which will lead us to the formula of pure spiritual self-extension.7

Also invaluable to this study was the paranormal research of Dr. Robert Crookall with his hundreds of case histories categorized as "astral projections."  He explained the appearance of a duplicate or "double" of the physical body as a projection of a super-physical body, a body frequently referred to as the "astral” or emotional body.  His theory was that this “finer” body interpenetrates the physical body and can be exteriorized under certain conditions and techniques. Dr. Crookall was a former principal geologist of His Majesty's Geological Survey in London, and at one time a demonstrator in botany for the University of Aberdeen. The evidence he gathered was over more than half a century and has been published in numerous books.  In the preface of one he wrote:

These experiences are of great importance [in that] they provide material towards the answer to the psalmist's question 'What is man?8

As physicists join parapsychologists in exploring what there is about human consciousness that enables it under certain circumstances to alter matter, consciousness and the universe as well as spirit and matter become more intricately related. And as they do the question of what it is to be human becomes more pertinent. Drawing again on ancient Vedic wisdom, Aurobindo defines the human being as “no less than the meaning of the Universe unfolding itself in the individual”9 Tiller’s thoughts are similar when he says, “I tend to think that consciousness is a correlate of spirit entering dense matter.”10

Common to Crookall’s findings and upheld by Jung’s personal experience and Agreda’s teleportations, was the matter of assistance provided by spiritual beings from other dimensions. Mary explained to Benavides that she was "carried on the wings of St. Michael and St. Francis.” She added she was also aided by the "ministry of angels" who were her guardians, as well as by the "guardian angels of the various territories where she traveled."11 This was consistent with Jung’s theory that archetypes served as guides. Also worth noting was Crookall’s finding that nine out of ten of his subjects said they had been helped or hindered by "spirits from the other side." In comparison Agreda’s “guides” appeared to have been more typical or archetypal. Certainly, being "carried on the wings" of saints and angels would seem more the makeup of dreams, visions and apparitions.

We might have learned more from Benavides had his intention to discuss Agreda’s teleportations with her in greater detail been carried out. But unfortunately he died before doing so. From her own writings, however, it can be concluded that her hundreds of visits to the Southwest were of a similar nature to Crookhall’s case histories of “astral projections.” It was from these studies that he came to the conclusion that spiritual development plays an important role in a person’s ability to transcend physical limitations. Thus he substantiated our thesis that the reason Agreda’s excursions were so extensive and numerous was due to her exceptional spiritual grounding.

On this matter of spiritual development Tiller seems in agreement in postulating that the higher one’s consciousness the more a person is able to function at higher as well as lower dimensional levels. In the context of these remarks he refers to the “energy bands” available to a person. In the following remarks he could be speaking of Agreda:

Generally, a saint has reached a high state of inner self-management at mental and emotional levels so that the body substance radiation fields are harmonious and synchronized. . . . Such individuals have an abundance of energy to expend in life even with negligible physical food intake. Such individuals often manifest a large “light” nimbus or halo (or aura) around the head and body.12

 In assessing Agreda’s journeys the question of whether “in” or “out-of” the body is becoming of less consequence. Particularly is this so if indeed her trans Atlantic flights were not contrary to natural law but according to principles not yet fully understood.

“Remote viewing” is a more recent and neutral term for paranormal travel. Under this idiom experiments have been carried out and documented at so prodigious an establishment as Stanford Research Institute. The implications are far reaching:

It is important to note that extensive, independent replication of remote viewing results has been documented. [This is in reference to The Mind Race by R, Targ, R and K. Harary] Here, we see applied mental activity producing results that seriously bring into question our understanding of space-time and which must certainly involve some subtle energy linkage. It is almost as if there is another level of structure in our brains wherein the internal points of the structure are in interactive communication with external distant space coordinates at the physical level of reality.13

 Sean David Morton, a voice from the younger generation and an accomplished remote viewer, describes his approach to “Spiritual Remote Viewing” as “the systematic activation of the energy fields and centers of the chakra system, coupled with expanding one’s connection to the universal love vibration.” He goes on to explain that this opens a person to “the God Force” through which, because we live in a universe of all wisdom, all knowledge and all desired information, it then becomes possible to view any person, place, thing or event in time and space.”14

For research purposes controlled experiments and learned practices may have the advantage over those spontaneously experienced and reported on at a later date. In studies that attempt to reconstruct spontaneous occurrences certain aspects of the incidents under question sometimes appear missing. Possibly this is because at the time the experiences were occurring the subjects were not in an observer mode but rather fully present to the experience. Even St. Paul had difficulty pinpointing the exact nature of his ascents to higher dimensions, as did Agreda who agreed that neither could she say whether her travels were “in the body” or “out of the body.

Such tentative evaluations, it could be said, actually lend more rather than less credulity to incidents occurring spontaneously. It rings true that during the progression of a paranormal event a person would be so absorbed in the experience as to be neither objectively or subjectively observant. Being immersed in the moment, the person’s perception would be free from both subjective and objective judgment. Only afterwards, in recalling the experience, would it be viewed in part subjectively and in part objectively, depending on the nature of the questions asked by those facilitating the recall.

In acknowledgment of the difficulties involved in recollections of this nature, Jaffé proposed the likelihood of subjectivity and objectivity being merged, and sometimes even crossing over with the subject becoming the object. Perhaps it will turn out to be as with sub-atomic particles with the observer having an effect on the outcome of what is being observed. If so, then the principle of uncertainty applies here and gives pause to consider if reality isn’t more fluid than previously believed.

What at this point can be affirmed is that experiences do happen in which persons believe themselves to be fully conscious yet distanced from their ordinary physical selves. As for those to whom a paranormal image appears, their understanding is complicated by how similar to the physical body a more subtle-energy form of it can appear. Yet this alone can’t be held as proof that an actual projection of consciousness in some form of body is underway. There are alternate explanations, as there are for the considerable information about the Southwest and its peoples that Agreda gathered. Even this could have been gained through the alternate paranormal gifts of telepathy or clairvoyance.

Padre Pio, well known for his gift of bilocation, and who attained sainthood as recently as 2002, was being cautiously discrete when he described the distant appearances attributed to him as “an extension of his personality.” Significantly, although a stigmatist and credited with numerous miracles, he is best remembered for his compassion for the sick and the poor, as is Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Popular recognition of both of these lives suggests a move away from viewing a saint as someone who performs miracles to one who fulfills the mandate of Jesus towards caring for those in need.

As mentioned earlier, paranormal travel—in or out of some sort of body—often has been accompanied by reports of scintillating radiations about the person. Light of this description was observed around the person of Mary and may explain why her sister nuns and the beggar at the gate claimed her usually dark countenance was transformed when she was in trance, taking on an alabaster quality. This matter of an aura of light about her was also part of the historical records in which a group of Native Americans, some years after Agreda’s death, told a Catholic priest that “their Lady in Blue” appeared to them from the heights and wrapped in a cloud so bright that it blinded them for a few moments. When they recovered their sight, they said, they saw she was dressed similar to the priests, except for a blue mantle that she wore over a long brown robe.

Were they seeing a vision or observing the phenomenon of teleportation? And should a distinction be made according to whether an image observed is of a person still living in a physical body or not? When the above incident occurred Agreda was still living. Nevertheless, could the visionary quality of her appearance have been an objectification of her inner radiance? Could those who witnessed the vision have done so because they were attuned to their Lady in Blue’s frequency? Was it a case of being on her “energy band”? Or sometimes is it enough to say that an incident was a unique manifestation of God’s love through a human channel for a divine purpose?

Perhaps an inquiry into the phenomenal is always complicated by its many possible variations, a disparity Crookall attributes to the countless planes of spiritual evolvement on which persons find themselves. He asks, “If the so-called astral world is thought-created does this mean it is as subject to variation as the realm of imagination?”

And how safe is the astral realm? In teleportation and related paranormal occurrences in which the knowing self experiences a separation from the physical body certain precautionary measures are advised. Hugh Lynn Cayce warns that when entering the world of spirits there is danger of possession.15 There is also the question of vulnerability; of why one person is more vulnerable than another. What can Agreda’s life teach about spiritual protection?

For those who practice self-examination as unflinchingly as she did, the dangers are greatly lessened. First concerns need be: What are my motives? What are my purposes? In Agreda the character traits that lend protection in the development of paranormal gifts are clearly observable.  Mainly they comprise her marked degree of humility and her strong desire to be of service. In addition, the personal integrity and self-discipline she demonstrated would similarly serve others who venture into realms where light and dark forces co-exist, as is held to be the case in the lower regions of what is referred to as the “astral realm.” Could Jesus have been referring to this plane of existence when he spoke of  the “outer darkness” where “men weep and gnash their teeth.”16

Another question of protection concerns the spiritual beings Agreda named as accompanying her. Is their help automatic or do they wait to be called upon for assistance?

Self-deception is another cause of vulnerability in the pursuit of spiritual or even psychological wholeness. Here Agreda’s faithfulness in keeping a spiritual journal is confirmation of her alertness to this danger, and a good practice for anyone venturing into the deeper levels of the psyche.

Undoubtedly all of the above characteristics and practices, while they served Agreda in good stead, would not have been enough without the divine endowments of her compassion for others and her unreserved willingness to be God’s instrument.

Finally, there is the issue of one’s self-image or identity—the question of who am I?—an identity St. Paul refers to as a human trinity of body, soul and spirit. In addition to a physical self, he explains, we have another self--the soul animated by the divine breath of life. And while many accept the term “soul,” they reject its synonym, the psyche, or the psychic self that includes the mental and emotional levels of being. But Paul pointed as well to a third human component—the spirit.

Whereas some persons appear mainly to be living in and for their physical selves, others identify primarily with their mental and emotional selves. More rare are those who like Agreda know themselves to be spiritual beings temporarily in physical bodies for the purpose of enlarging their souls’ capacity for the compassion and wisdom necessary to serve God’s higher purposes.

After so thorough going an examination of paranormal travel as that upon which this chapter is based, its conclusion is that in the western world there is no other case on record where the psychic vehicle had as highly a developed consciousness as did Mary of Agreda, or afterwards as vivid a memory of the events. Moreover, not only was she able to transcend worlds, but she also attained what today would be recognized as a remarkably high degree of integration or wholeness of being, one that enabled her to excel in her duties as an abbess and as a notable mystic, and to do so with a rare mental acuity and emotional equanimity that would be as admirable now as then.

As more is learned and accepted concerning the vital forces and the subtle vibratory fields of the human energy system greater understanding of the laws governing what now is considered the paranormal will be forthcoming. But how will this new knowledge be used? Will humanity collectively be able to attain a level of wisdom and compassion approaching Agreda’s? Because of her life we know that it is humanly possible, and in her life we have a map for how to get there.


Chapter IX

  1. Brian Greene, The Elegant Universe, Vantage Books, NY, 1999, pp x-xi

  2. Tiller, op cit, p

  3. Green, op cit

  4. New York, 1963

  5. From Collected Words, Volume 10, NY, 1964, pp. 411 - 415

  6. Memories, Dreams, Reflections, NY, 1961

  7. The Life Divine, Pondicherry, 1970, p 253

  8. The Study of Astral Projection, NY 1966

  9. Aurobindo, op cit, p 42

  10. Tiller, op cit p 87

  11. Fray Alonzo de Benavides, “Tanto que se saco,” in Palou, Life of Serra (Pasadena, 1913)

  12. Tiller, op cit p 89

  13. ibid p 23

  14. “What is Spiritual Remote Viewing?”

  15. Venture Inward, NY, 1964

  16. Matthew reports Jesus uses this imagery in three different places: 8:12; 22:13; and 25:30

Go to Chapter X
Return to Contents
Return to Mary of Agreda