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Insights at the Edge
Tami Simon's in-depth audio podcast interviews with leading spiritual teachers and luminaries.
Listen in as they explore their latest challenges and breakthroughs—the leading edge of their work.
Exploring the Mystery of Hands-on Healing
Tami Simon speaks with William Bengston, a professor of sociology at St. Joseph’s College in New York. In addition to numerous publications and conference presentations, he has been a pioneer in the clinical research of energy medicine. He’s the author of the Sounds True audio-learning program, Hands-On Healing where he explores his research and demonstrates the techniques he’s refined to produce full cures of cancer in experimental mice. William speaks about his work and the amazing results he has documented, the image cycling technique—which lies at the heart of his energy healing approach and his concept of resonant bonding. (56 minutes)
William Bengston podcast
Tami Simon: You’re listening to “Insights at the Edge.” Today I speak with William Bengston. William is a professor of sociology at St. Joseph’s College in New York. In addition to numerous publications and conference presentations, he has been the pioneer in the clinical research of energy medicine. He’s the author the Sounds True book The Energy Cure: Unraveling the Mystery of Hands-On Healing, as well as the Sounds True audio learning program Hands-On Healing: A Training Course in the Energy Cure, where he explores his research and demonstrates the techniques he’s refined to produce full cures of cancer in experimental mice.
In this episode, William and I spoke about his work and the amazing results he’s documented; the image-cycling technique, which lies at the heart of his energy-healing approach; and his concept of resonant bonding, or the ways in which organisms connect or entangle with one another. Here’s my very far-reaching and intriguing conversation with William Bengston.
We’re talking with Bill Bengston. Tell us a little bit about your quest—when it started, when you became interested in hands-on healing.
William Bengston: I became interested in hands-on healing coming from the vantage point of a skeptic. To this day, I remain a skeptic. By “skeptic,” I mean I’m someone who doesn’t know the answer. I don’t have any strong belief system one way or the other. I’ve met, for example, people who believe strongly in the legitimacy of a particular hands-on technique, and I’ve met people who strongly disbelieve in the legitimacy of a particular hands-on technique. I wouldn’t say I fall into either camp. I’m rather data driven, and so I consider my best position, from a personal point of view, to be one of open-minded skepticism.
WB: I think that the word “skeptic” has been misused very much. For example, I’ve spoken at skeptical societies, and it turns out they’re not skeptics at all. They’re believers! They believe in the illegitimacy of whatever they’re debunking!
WB: That, to me, is a believer. I’m not a believer one way or the other, because I don’t know enough, frankly.
TS: OK, but yet you’re teaching people how to do hands-on healing, so you must have some conviction in what you’re doing.
WB: I have a tremendous amount of conviction in what I’m doing, but what happens is I’m constantly surprised at what happens when I do what I do, and so I really default to the position of saying, “This is an experience, it’s an interesting journey, and I’m interested in what other people can do with what I seem to have discovered or stumbled upon.”
The explicit answer to your question is that many, many years ago, by happenstance I ran into an untaught gentleman who found out, quite spontaneously, that he was what he called a psychic. I was a skeptic back then, too, and this was in the early 1970s, so I started to give him objects to read, and I would design studies and double-blind studies, and I couldn’t make his effect go away.
TS: Can you give me an example of one of the studies you designed early on to test this person?
WB: Sure. In one particular study, he was doing psychometry (which means “divination of the facts concerning an object or its owner through contact with or proximity to the object”), and he was doing physical diagnoses of what people’s ailments were. In anecdotal experience, he seemed to be remarkably, remarkably accurate. I wanted to take this into a very controlled setting, so I got a friend of mine who worked in a hospital to get a friend of his who was an admitting nurse to get patients as they were coming into a hospital to sign a blank index card. They consented to do this. They just said, “Can we play with this?”
The blank index card was put into an opaque envelope, which was put into another opaque envelope. I then went and picked up the opaque envelopes, having no idea even the gender of the person. I would hand an envelope to my friend who I was investigating, he would do a physical diagnosis, and then we would then check the diagnosis of the medical community and compare it to his diagnosis. We did eight of those. On one particular case, I thought that I had found him to make a mistake, but it turns out there was a medical diagnostic mistake. This guy was really on the money!
TS: So all he had to go on was the name of the person?
WB: He had no name. He had nothing. He was handed an opaque envelope, and there was no chance—
TS: What was written on the index card?
WB: A name, but he couldn’t see the name.
TS: He couldn’t see it, but the name was there?
WB: The name was there. The person had signed a blank index card, which was placed inside the envelope. There would be no possibility of giving a sensory cue. I didn’t know the answer, and we wouldn’t know the answer for about a month later. After he had finished his reading, we would go back and check it against the medical records to see if there was a match.
TS: OK. So you were a skeptic, but what did you make of this? How did you interpret this?
WB: Well, it’s remarkable stuff! I interpreted it as: I want to keep going! His readings turned into healings quite spontaneously. As he was doing intuitive diagnoses of the physical conditions of people, he was also then starting, quite spontaneously and without any teacher or experience, to get these symptoms on himself. People were alleging through anecdote that when he was getting the symptoms on himself, the symptoms were leaving them.
TS: OK, so he would work on someone who, let’s say, had back pain. He would get the back pain and—
WB: He wasn’t working on them! He was just doing a reading!
TS: So just in the diagnostic process?
WB: I hand him my watch. He says, “Oh, I’m feeling this, this, and this.” I’m then reporting, “Wow! It just left me!” So let’s say I have a migraine headache. I hand him my watch; he gets the headache! I don’t tell him I have a headache; I’m not even in the same room. When he got it, I would report that it had left me.
He thought that was crazy; I thought that was crazy. The interesting part was, I was investigating someone who was also skeptical, and he was open to me because I’m kind of relentless after data. So I set about doing study after study after study. Then one time when he was telling me a story about one of these diagnoses, I was in physical pain too—I used to have a bad back—and so I said to him, quite spontaneously as we were sitting in a kitchen, “Would you put your hands on my back?” I had chronic lower-back pain, and I had been in pain for five years or so; it was nothing more than other people with chronic lower back pain, it was nothing critical, but I had given up a swimming scholarship and it was annoying. So I said to him, “Well, you’re doing this. Can you put your hands on my back?”
He said, “Then what?”
And I said, “I don’t know! Make it better!”
He touched me, and my back became Novocain-ed, at least it felt like it was Novocain-ed, and then the Novocain feeling wore off from the outside in, and I haven’t had a back pain since! That was over 35 years ago. I became very interested.
He was shaken up by that, because he was a person without a teacher, without a school of thought, without a grounding in anything, and this was happening to him. And then we started to watch, he and I, as he put his hands on patient after patient after patient— I don’t know if you’d call them patients. Maybe volunteers. And we watched what happened. On some things, he was able to effect very immediate and drastic changes. On other things, he wasn’t. I became fascinated by the patterns.
TS: What were you able to discover about those patterns? Why did some people heal and other people didn’t?
WB: I don’t know, and I still don’t know to this day why some people heal. There certainly is variance in the rate with which people do get better. If you could somehow put together, as a thought experiment, 100 people who have a particular condition— Of course, you can’t do this in the real world. I’ve done it with mice, but in the case of people, let’s say 100 people have condition X. There’s going to be a range of speed with which they respond or don’t respond to healing. That’s, to me, still a great unknown.
If I were to guess, it tends to be the longer the person has had the condition, the harder it is, or the longer it takes to fix. That would be one speculation. The person’s mental attitude mattered. If they were a believer in this healing stuff, it tended to take longer to heal than if they were a skeptic.
TS: Hmm. That’s kind of counterintuitive.
WB: I’m not sure. I guess it depends on your set of assumptions. A believer, I think, has a stake in the outcome and has more of an ego involvement in what’s going on, and so I think—to use this expression loosely, I think they’re more likely to get in the way. A skeptic who is just willing to let it rip is likely to get better faster.
WB: I think a young person, all other things being equal, is likely to get better faster. I also think a person who is otherwise healthy except for the condition is likely to get better faster.
We found that my friend couldn’t do certain things. He couldn’t affect certain things at all. The standing joke that I go around telling is that he couldn’t affect a wart. A wart is supposed to be the easiest thing for a healer to fix, and this guy could treat a wart all day and all night, and nothing would happen. Benign tumors were very, very difficult for him. Malignant tumors were easy, but benign tumors were very difficult, so—
TS: OK, let’s pause there, because you gave a speculative observation about perhaps why someone who is a skeptic might heal faster than a believer. Just give me a possibility of how he could heal people of malignant tumors, but not a wart. How does that make any sense?
WB: It doesn’t! It doesn’t make any sense to me because I don’t understand how all this stuff works, and so I don’t know enough to say that the wart doesn’t make sense, and a malignant tumor does. That would imply that I had some sort of theoretical position from which I could make predictions. I’m perfectly open to saying that, in the over 30 years of research that I’ve done, I went the first 20 without getting a single hypothesis right. That implies, of course, by extension, that I really don’t understand this stuff at all! Even if I can produce it and even if I can understand the correlates to it, I don’t understand really all of the things that are going on.
TS: Do you have any hypotheses in your work?
WB: Oh, I have some now that are actually working and under laboratory conditions.
TS: So could you tell me what those are?
WB: Well, I took the observation that malignant tumors are a lot easier to fix, certainly easier to fix than a wart, and I took that into the lab. I started doing experiments with mice. At this point I’ve done ten experiments on laboratory mice in five different labs in two medical schools. I’ve done hundreds and hundreds of mice at this point, and I can make certain kinds of hypotheses.
In my first experiment, we certainly didn’t know what was going to happen, and it turns out that I was the stand-in healer for the first experiment. It was done at City University of New York. I took a cage of mice that were injected with a cancer that caused 100-percent fatality in 27 days, and I treated them using techniques of healing that he and I worked out, and the mice got better. They not only got better, but they lived their full life span, and they were immune to future injections. That’s very interesting! That’s a pattern that has sustained itself. So in a mouse model—and actually, by now, several mouse models—we have cures where there has never been a cure before: full-life-span cure, immune for life, etc., etc.
This is very interesting, but among the anomalies in all this work is that the control mice, the mice that were not actually treated by me, under certain conditions they would remit, too. That really bothered me. In order to get mice to die, we had to send them to another city! If they were in the same building, and anyone who knew the healing techniques came into contact with them, even for a few moments, they would all remit. That was very, very puzzling, and so we tried all sorts of permutations: putting controls in clean rooms, putting them in different buildings, sending them to other cities, and all this kind of thing.
After, oh boy, over 20 years of hypothesizing and running tests— Each one of these tests takes a long time; you’ve got a full-life-span cure of two years and such, so it takes a while to get this stuff done. So what happened was I came to a theoretical understanding of resonant bonding, of entanglement. The classical experimental design that everybody who’s trained in science goes under is that you take a group of volunteers—mice, people, whatever it might be—and you randomly split them up into two groups. You do one thing to one group of subjects, and you do nothing to the other. The group you do nothing to is the control group, and the group you do something to is the experimental group, and the difference between the two is the treatment effect. My problem was I didn’t have, technically, a treatment effect, because all the mice were getting cured in a mouse model that should have resulted in 100 percent death. It turns out, I think, that somehow—and I don’t know the mechanism yet, but somehow—the mice in my experiments become bonded to each other, so that a treatment of one mouse becomes a treatment to all mice.
TS: So this makes sense to me. I mean, I understand at least the concept of resonant bonding when you start with one group, because they have already built a bond, so even if you ship them to another city, there would be some kind of energetic connection there. But couldn’t you have a control that would test a completely different group of mice that had never bonded, but you had injected with the same illness, and then you’re working on one group? I mean a group of mice that didn’t know each other?
WB: You could, but that would be violation of standard scientific procedure.
TS: That shows you how much I know about standard scientific procedure!
WB: Well, actually, your method would probably work, but people would look at it and go, “But it’s not the same mice.” But it would probably work. Now the reason that I could make a conclusion about resonant bonding is that the models of mice that I used had a 100-percent death rate.
TS: This could be a real tongue twister if we took it down that road. Yes. OK.
WB: It has 100 percent death, and so I know what should have happened.
WB: The mice should have died. In one mouse model, they all should have died by day 27. In another mouse model, they all should have died by approximately day 50—and by day, I mean days after injection of the cancer. Thousands and thousands and thousands of studies are done on these mice. There’s nothing exotic about what mice I have. In the kinds of mouse models that I use, no mouse has ever had a remission, and I was getting all of them remitting. I’m slightly simplifying the data, but in essence all of the mice were remitting.
And so the question was, “What’s wrong?” We were giving them double the lethal dosages, we were giving them double injections, we tried any way we could to kill these mice, and five different labs and two medical schools whose day job is to do this could not kill these mice. And so I came to the conclusion, and now I have some pretty good evidence, I think, that there is the possibility of bonded groups.
One of the questions I need to work out now is: What’s the mechanism of the bonding? Is it the similar experience of the mice? Is it the consciousness of the experimenter? And if a bond can be made, can a bond be broken?
Everyone has had a subjective experience of the creation of bonds. You’ve felt close to people, places, things, and at other times felt not close to the same people, places, and things. Clearly, bonds are fluid, and I think that if we set up the right experimental conditions, we have— Well, we have, for example, placebo effects. What’s a placebo effect? A placebo effect is getting an effect in a group with no active agent. I’m wondering, and I’m working on some placebo problems, if perhaps placebo effects aren’t just suggestion. Perhaps placebo effects are actually resonant bonding between two groups.
TS: OK, so this is very interesting to me, this idea of one of your hypotheses: that resonant bonding exists, and you want to look more into it. That doesn’t really tell us very much in terms of hypotheses about how a hands-on healing technique works in the first place on any one mouse. Do you have any hypotheses about that?
WB: I have a strong hypothesis that I’m clueless! But as a follow-up to that, I’ve looked at correlates of healing, so I’ve looked at surrounding secondary effects. I’ll give you a couple of examples—and I have a bunch.
I’m interested also in what happens to the healer and what happens to the healee, so I have used myself as a guinea pig, and to date I have spent 13 hours having my head examined in an MRI.
WB: I haven’t published these data yet; it’s interesting. I have a paper about to come out on EEG work, where I did a relatively sophisticated EEG analysis that sampled two brains at a distance, sampling 38 leads every 500ths of a second to see what happens when these healing techniques are going on: what happens to the person doing the techniques and what happens to the recipient of the techniques, even though they’re spatially separated. The paper that’s going to come out will demonstrate, I think, some really interesting brain effects. Among the things that we discovered was that my brain goes to a very specific frequency, harmonizes with itself, harmonizes with itself a third time, so I have intra-brain triple harmonics. And there’s also the entanglement with the other brain that matches the frequency. This has never been seen in EEG research.
That’s interesting, but it doesn’t really address your question “Does that have anything to do with healing?” So it’s a secondary physiological correlate that I don’t know for sure whether I’ve nailed down the healing effect.
TS: Could you explain to me again exactly what’s going on inside your brain, one more time, the harmonics that are created? I don’t quite get that.
WB: In my brain, when I do a healing technique, my brain goes in pulses, not all the time. It’s not a toggle on/off, but my brain goes in pulses to a particular frequency, a recognizable frequency, and then my brain harmonizes with itself with the exact double frequency.
TS: That’s the part where I got lost. What do you mean when you say your brain “harmonizes with itself”?
WB: Let’s say the brain is at 7.5 hertz, just to make up a number.
WB: It will also have, in the same spot in the brain, 15 hertz.
TS: OK, I’m with you now.
WB: And then it will do a 7.5 in addition to that, and all three are harmonizing with themselves.
WB: And then it appears in the recipient’s brain. That’s interesting. I don’t know if that has anything to do with healing, but it’s interesting, and it goes to the idea of an entanglement. It goes to the possibility of simultaneity, at least. I don’t know if one causes the other. That’s what I mean by a physiological correlate.
If we look at physical space and we put a random even generator—essentially an electronic coin flipper that flips 200 times a second, ones and zeroes—then by the laws of statistics, it should be exactly half ones and half zeroes. If I do a mental technique or a healing technique on the machine itself, nothing happens to the machine, nothing at all. If I treat a cage of mice and the machine is in the room, it goes blooey! That’s interesting.
We’ve done studies with geomagnetic probes, which are about to come out in a journal, and that is the same thing. If I do a healing technique on a geomagnetic probe, looking for micro-pulsations, nothing happens, but if I treat a person or a mouse and the probe is in the room, the probe goes nutty.
TS: Can you help me understand why this might be happening?
WB: I’d love to. That’s the fun of research. If I knew more, I could even make predictions as to why that should happen, but as I’ve owned up already, I don’t understand how this works. The mother-lode question is, “What is it?” When I left here last night, I was out to dinner with a physicist friend of mine, and we were planning research, hoping to do research on trying to find out what it is, and how do we filter, how do we stop? Because unless we know what it is, we can look at all the correlates we want, and it doesn’t necessarily isolate what the healing is. We don’t know, for example—
TS: And by it you mean the mechanism of healing? What is the mechanism that allows hands-on healing to be effective?
WB: Yes. What happens even when healing occurs: Is there any energy in healing? Is it energy, or is it information? It’s very possible, and it’s one of my speculations at this point, that healing is not—this is heretical, I understand—the giving of energy. Even though we, in common parlance, talk about “energy healing” and there are “energy healing” societies and all those kinds of things. Healing may, in fact—and I’m speculating here, so don’t take this as a mechanist claim—but healing may not be energetic. Healing may be informational, and it may not be due to the healer themselves. It may be a response to need, so that a healing attempt on a healthy organism will produce a very different response than a healing attempt on an unhealthy organism. My suspicion is that the healing comes from the recipient.
TS: OK, so now I’m going to have to slow you down again. Just bear with me, Bill. I want to understand. I don’t know if I follow the difference, first of all, between something very simple, I think, which is: What’s the difference between energy and information? You said, “It could be this, it could be that, it could be energy or information.” What’s the difference?
WB: The word “energy” implies a power source that travels over space, diminishing with the square of the distance. So the light in this room diminishes as it moves, but there’s an energetic transference of light and photons and all that. The word “information” means giving of—I’m not sure how to categorize information, but let’s say it means giving stuff that could be used, but without an energy source per se.
WB: So for example—and again, this is speculative, and I’ve got a multi-decade history of always being wrong—a mouse, or let’s just say an organism, who has an illness may be missing information. What the healer may do is not energetically do anything, but rather supply the information that the mouse can use.
TS: Wow. That’s very interesting.
WB: And if that’s the case, then we’re talking about a source of information, the specific transmission of the details of that information, contingent on the specific needs of the organism. For example, if you did— I think there are fundamental methodological flaws in a whole bunch of healing research. If you did a study of, for example, cancer in a petri dish, I think it’s fundamentally flawed, because the cancer in a petri dish has no need. My prediction, though I’ve never tested this, is that if you treated cancer in a petri dish, the cancer should thrive! What is the cancer? It’s happy cancer! It’s running around in a petri dish, having a ball!
TS: How do we know that the work that you’re doing with mice transfers into humans? I mean, there’s a big difference between humans and mice, right?
WB: They’re pretty close, which is why—
TS: I feel close to mice, which is why your intention to kill all of these mice is, you know, a little hard to hear, but anyway . . .
WB: Well, me, too! I mean I’m not having fun! And so I rationalize it as “It’s got a greater good.” Right now, I’m trying to figure out how to reproduce the healing without me, because if I’m the only person who can do this, then it’s not particularly interesting. If you can understand the mechanism so that I become irrelevant, that’s interesting. So the goal is always to be irrelevant, I would hope.
The reason that you study mice is because they are so similar to people. We have ancestors—our distant ancestors, at least a couple generations—who were mouselike. We’re 99.something percent genetically identical to a mouse. You do a little fiddle here, a little fiddle there, and you’ve got a person. But you don’t need to do much fiddling; they’ve got the same organ systems, the same structure, the same—I mean, there’s differences, physiologically, but they’re really close, which is why almost all research— For example, if you’re doing drug research, you’re always starting with mice, because if it doesn’t work in mice, it’s probably not going to work in people. And then there’s going to be some problems with the transitions from mice to people.
TS: OK, so this is a critical question, and it involves us tracking back a little bit in your personal story. You mentioned that you want to become replaceable, and you want what you’re doing to become reproducible, because that’s the only way that it will really be effective.
WB: It’s the only way it’s interesting.
TS: Yes, but let’s track back. Here you met this healer when you were a relatively young person, and you started studying his tremendous abilities that were curious, miraculous to you. You couldn’t understand them. How did you become a healer?
WB: Same theme. I asked him how to make himself irrelevant, because otherwise he’s just a freak. Through incessant questions on my part about what he was doing—without, of course, being taught and such, having no teacher or school, so we were flabbergasted on a daily basis—and what we could do to reproduce what he was doing so it wouldn’t be unique. The healing techniques that I used on the mice came out of that, and so they’re completely faith-free, belief-free.
The most important criterion for my experiment is that you be an extreme skeptic. I’ve never dealt with a believer. I have no idea whether a believer can do this stuff. I’m not being facetious; I have no idea if a disbeliever can do it. These were people who were extremely skeptical, and actually thought I was kidding when I told them what I wanted them to do. And so in student logs of when they were given cancerous mice to fix and fixed them, they actually thought I was doing studies in gullibility. In order to get into the experiment, you had to audibly laugh in my face when I told you what the task would be. You had to be at that level of being incredulous.
TS: OK, but I still want a little more detail here. What was the name of the healer that you studied?
WB: Bennett Mayrick.
TS: Bennett. So what did Bennett teach you? And did Bennett teach other people besides you?
WB: Oh, yes. Bennett and I evolved—through introspection and many questions and trying to figure out stuff—a technique of very rapid mental-imaging, and also to do that conjoined to certain kinds of hands-on practices.
TS: OK, but let’s pause for a second. Bennett wasn’t using a technique like that.
WB: No, he came about it naturally. He did, eventually, to enhance his own ability.
TS: So how did you discover that this rapid image-cycling had anything to do with healing? I mean, here’s Bennett: He just happens to have this gift, it seems.
WB: To this day, I can’t connect a particular technique to a particular healing effect, so if you want me to be a stickler empiricist, I don’t have any idea what produces what. This system we evolved involved a sequence of skills to build up, and he made the prediction that if this sequence of skills were built up—and he made this, I don’t know, call it a psychic prediction—that it would be able to reproduce what he did.
TS: So is it fair to say that if someone who had this spontaneous gift then said, “I’m going to try to see how this thing that happens spontaneously could be taught to other people,” and then developed a method, but it wasn’t the method he used to become—
WB: Not to become, but to enhance, and he eventually used the method himself.
TS: And for you, your gifts opened up through the practice of this method. You didn’t have gifts before?
WB: I don’t know. I have no pre- and post-test. And this goes to a controversial question that I’ve posed before, and it’s going to be somewhat ironic, sitting here, and that is: Is there any evidence that healing can be taught? I put out a paper in 2008 asking the question. I’m not suggesting it can’t, but I’m suggesting no one’s ever done pre/post tests, and no one’s ever done it in really controlled conditions. It is certainly the case that almost everybody who heals has been taught by someone else, including myself.
I have an enormous amount of evidence of a healing effect under experimental conditions, but I can’t sit here and tell you that it is due to rapid image-cycling, how much is due to rapid image-cycling versus hands-on, whether the hands-on or the rapid image-cycling is what produces it, in conjunction what produces what. I have no way to parse that out. Actually, I do have a way to parse that out, but I just don’t have the facilities or the life span to do it. And so right now, I’m taking an awkward path, because my real driving passion is to find out what produces what. The only way I can do that is if my physicist friends come through and figure out a way to measure
it.If I could have a direct measurement of
it,I could parse this out very quickly within my life span.
TS: OK, so let’s just slow down here for one second. “A direct measurement of
it.” What might that look like, if you had a fantasy research experiment, and you had all the resources in the world to measure
it.How would you go about it?
WB: That’s actually what we were talking about for three hours over dinner last night: What might
itbe? How could we get at
it’s properties? Every time either one of us suggested a possibility, the other one could shoot it down. To cut to the bottom line, I really don’t know. So if I put out a frequency, I don’t know if it has something to do with healing. If it’s a frequency, it’s transmitted by some sort of energy, and so if there is an energy transmission, then the energy transmission by anything we know must diminish with distance. Healing, so far, in anything I’ve looked at, does not.
So for example, in the geomagnetic micro-pulsations, we’ve tried those at two inches, and we’ve tried them at 2,000 miles. You get the same deviation of what should happen. It’s identical. Everything about it is identical; superimpose one to the other. What’s the difference? I don’t know what the difference is! So we get anomalous productions of waves regardless of distance, which implies it’s not a conventional energy, or certainly not an energy that we can put our finger on, because no matter what energy you have, it diminishes with distance. So there’s a problem.
If it’s an energy that rides a carrier wave around the planet, there would have to be a way to harmonize with that carrier wave. And then, even if you explain it by that mechanism, you would predict that the signal would not diminish with distance, but you would have to come up with some mechanism by which consciousness itself would be able to harmonize with the carrier wave.
So I haven’t solved the problem. I’ve come up with the mechanism that would predict nondiminishment with distance, but I haven’t solved the problem of, “How does this happen in the first place?” And so I’ve spent quite a bit of time kicking this around, and your question, I think, is exactly the right question to ask. I’m just saying I’m not smart enough to figure it out yet, nor do I know anyone who knows.
There’s a group I’m associated with very strongly, the Society for Scientific Exploration. If you’re interested in research, I can’t give you a better group that I’m aware of than the Society for Scientific Exploration. Just for a plug for it: scientificexploration.org. This is a group of scientists from around the world, about 1,000 strong, who are not afraid to look at things that are outside the mainstream. It’s an extraordinary group of people, with extraordinary interests and extraordinary abilities, and we’ve kicked this around and kicked this around. They’re not just about healing. They’re about anomalies in whatever field, so we’ve got them doing alternative energy this summer, and specializing—
Last year, I was the program coordinator at the annual meeting. We did it at the University of Virginia; we focused in part on healing, and it was really intense. We had people from all over the place kicking this around and just talking until midnight, and every time someone comes up with something, it’s shot down. Certainly I myself have not been able to figure it out, and it probably will require some conceptual shift that no one’s been able to come up with yet, but we don’t know what that shift is.
TS: OK, so meanwhile, we’re living in this mystery with some hypotheses now that you’ve been able to identify and float forward, and yet you’re teaching a technique, a technique that you and Bennett evolved together called the image-cycling technique. Could you describe that for us? What is the image-cycling technique? I know we don’t know if it works or not, but you’re teaching it because you somehow believe it.
WB: I know that people experience very interesting phenomena when they do it, but whether that is explicitly related to certain kinds of healing, I don’t know, anymore than I could answer you why a malignant growth is easier to fix than a benign growth.
WB: Now, if you switch healing modalities, I’m told— Because I’m not an expert in cross-healing stuff. So there’s a variety of schools and approaches, and there are people who laugh at me, for example, when I tell them that I can’t do a wart, because any putz can do it. And there are people who say, “Well, I can do this, but I can’t do that.” It doesn’t match my experience. It doesn’t mean mine’s better; that’s never even actually occurred to me! It’s rather that: Isn’t it an interesting phenomenon that different kinds of approaches and different kinds of methods seem to produce different things?
Now maybe we can backtrack through that, just the clinical or experimental application, to try to figure out what the characteristics are. So wouldn’t it be neat if technique A produced a different response than technique B? Clinically, I mean, you know that’s a different question, but experimentally to try to find out what it is, and to find out what’s happening inside them as they do their techniques. So if you’re doing healing modality A and I’m doing healing modality B, are our brains similar? I’d like to know. Maybe healing has nothing to do with the brain! But I’m fairly convinced, in a transitory way, that healing has very little to do with conscious awareness. I think that healing is closer to an autonomic response to need.
And so I’ll give you another experiment. This is really interesting, as long as you don’t ask me, “What does it mean?” I’m in an enclosed MRI, and my left hand is sticking out of the MRI, so basically that’s as far as I can move. I can just stretch my hand out, and into my hand are dropped envelopes, some with pictures and hair samples of cancerous animals, and some with nothing in them. So I’m just sitting in an MRI, and if you’ve ever been in an MRI, it’s ugly, noisy, and all that stuff. Fortunately I’m not claustrophobic, so that doesn’t bother me, but I’m just lying there and “Thump! Thump! Thump!” And it’s really ugly and my hand’s sticking out and they’re dropping envelopes in there, and I can obviously feel the envelopes hitting my hand. Now, if something hits your hand, it’s going to produce, clearly, a response in the brain, the tactile awareness, etc., etc., but I don’t know anything. I mean I know nothing! I’m just hanging out, and so I feel the envelope, and then I feel another envelope, and then I feel another, and then they’re taking pictures of my brain. It turns out that my brain’s very different if the envelope has pictures and hair samples of animals with cancer. That’s interesting, whatever that means.
TS: Now, Bill, I’m curious, first of all, about the image-cycling technique that you and Bennett developed, so I’d love to hear a description of it. But also I’d like to know, as you have used this technique and worked on actual, real people, what kinds of results you’ve gotten.
WB: Well, I need to preface that by saying that clinical work, which is where this all started, watching Ben, is very, very frustrating to me, because you have condition A and it goes away, you have condition B and it doesn’t go away, and there’s all sorts of things that seem to have no effect, but you never know why. And so I can’t isolate variables. I can’t know what otherwise would have happened, unless you’re dealing— The advantage of the mouse model, the advantage of working with animals, is that you know from thousands and thousands of experiments what would have otherwise happened. The mice are going to die in a certain time frame, and it’s really mapped out, and there’s thousands and thousands of studies about it, etc., etc.
If you work with people, it’s tough. Sometimes they get better, sometimes they don’t, and sometimes they don’t even come back, so you can’t even follow through! When you ask, “What happens with a person?” it really depends. I mean, I’ve got to qualify that all over the place, because certainly the most common response of people coming for treatment to Ben was that they never came back. Did they ever get better? Did they die? What happened? I have no idea! And so you’ve got, in the case of people in particular, what’s known as a huge file-drawer problem. I can’t give you the percentage of success to the percentage of failure, because I don’t know all the missing data. There’s a huge file of missing data in people.
In the case of what responded: Malignant tumors of all stripe responded. Benign tumors don’t. Conditions that exist for a long time don’t. Almost no effect on Parkinson’s. No effect at all on a wart, at least that I could determine.
TS: Have you ever worked with a person who had a malignant tumor that didn’t get better?
WB: Yes. People who have malignant tumors and don’t get better have all been in the category of taking some sort of therapy whose intention was to kill—not the organism, but to kill selectively. So for example, the subjective sense is if someone’s had, for example, radiation treatments, to me it’s like trying to charge a battery that won’t take a charge. I don’t think, for example, Ben was strong enough to overcome radiation treatment. I don’t think he was strong enough to over— He was treating the chemotherapy, rather than the cancer. If the person didn’t have any treatment—and that’s a rare person!—if the person didn’t, then cancer responds pretty quickly, but it depends on the aggressiveness of the cancer.
This goes also to a file-drawer problem, so a very aggressive cancer is easier to treat than a less-aggressive one. This is also true in mouse models, so if you have a very aggressive form of cancer in animals, it will go away quicker than if you have a less aggressive form. That’s been the clinical experience, too. So with an aggressive cancer, it’s kind of like taking the energy of the system and playing the tape backward. If you have a cancer that just kind of lopes along and just hangs out and goes dormant and such, it’s very hard to do.
I don’t think that healing is anymore than giving the missing piece the information, the link, which allows the organism to do it. That’s why I think, for example, the in vitro model of trying to kill cancer in a petri dish: You talk about the mice and say, “It’s kind of offensive that you’re doing these horrible things!” And I agree with you. I don’t have a plan B, but I agree with you. But I think it’s worse to try to kill a cancer cell in a petri dish! That is so offensive to me, because you’re asking them to do a study on killing, and while I don’t completely dismiss the possibility that you can kill through killing techniques, I don’t advocate them.
TS: Do you have any data—you said you were the data man—on the numbers of people with malignant tumors that you’ve worked with, and how many got better and how many didn’t?
WB: It’s difficult for me to think of a case of someone who had just the healing and didn’t get better.
TS: OK, so tell me this image-cycling technique. Describe to me the technique you use and that you teach other people.
WB: The image-cycling technique involves extremely rapid imaging of things that are important to you and very specific, that you’re imaging in consort with the experience of an emotion. That’s as short as I can make it.
TS: That was pretty succinct.
WB: So if I am doing the technique now, I might be imaging several hundred images a second of things that have been prepared by me in advance.
TS: Hundreds of images in one second?
WB: Yes. I could go faster than that, but hundreds of images a second of things in a list of images that I’ve prepared, that are idiosyncratic to me and the things that I want. This is done in response to emotion. That’s the real short version. That’s the three-by-five index card.
TS: OK, but hold on. I’m imagining like a filmstrip of images.
TS: And yet I can’t imagine that many in a second. A second seems pretty fast to me.
TS: Am I not cycling fast enough?
WB: Yes. You’re not cycling fast enough.
TS: I’m slow.
WB: Well, frankly, I’ve probably put in more practice than you have, and it’s a skill that is awkward to begin and awkward to master, like any other skill. I liken it to playing sports: if you have never played tennis before and I’m a competitive tennis player, and you and I played on opposite sides, we wouldn’t be playing the same game.
TS: OK, so the idea is I do this rapid image-cycling with the emotion connected, while my hands are on someone, or while I’m directing the energy of my hands to another person?
WB: You would do the rapid image-cycling in response to any emotion—any emotion!—and if you have mastered it, you’ve done it without detracting from the experience you’re having. In kind of an analogous way— I think the best analogies I can come up with are in sports, so I’ll go back to tennis. First of all, the first time you go out on a tennis court and try to hit a ball, it’s ugly. It’s going in the wrong direction, it’s going straight up, it’s going backward, and you think this can’t be done. Many hours later, you’re playing a game that’s reasonable, maybe a couple of years later. You keep getting better, so it’s not like, “OK, I’m done! Here’s your graduation certificate. You’re a tennis player.” There’s no such thing as a tennis player. It’s a continuum of skill. If you get good at it— First of all, you put in a lot of time, but if you get good at it, the other thing you do is that you don’t pay attention to what you’re doing. There’s enormous literature on this, and it’s mostly surrounding sports, but I think it works in life, generally, and it’s called flow.
WB: I used to be a tournament ping-pong player. You can’t have a faster game than ping-pong. I mean, it’s brutal! So the ball’s coming at you at like 120 miles an hour, and you’re 15 feet away. You get hurt if you get hit by a ping-pong ball, and so not many people play like that. It hurts, so you know you’ll have a welt for quite a bit of time. You can’t think about ping-pong and be any good at it.
WB: You’ve got to practice your brains out, and then you have to experience. I don’t know how else to describe it. You experience it as—I’ve been in tournaments playing against people who hit the ball real hard, and I can’t even see the ball, and I find my body in a particular position, and I’m hitting the ball back harder at them than they hit it at me, and I have no— I’m watching! I’m a spectator! This is almost an out-of-body experience.
TS: Yes, so is the idea behind doing the image-cycling technique that you get into a flow state?
TS: That’s the idea.
WB: Yes, and it takes a long time. For some. Some people take to it better.
TS: Why do you suspect that this it that we can’t measure occurs when the healer is in a flow state, or is more likely to occur when the healer is in a flow state?
WB: The best I can I can give you is an intuitive hunch. So if I go into very, very rapid imaging, something happens to me physiologically. I can demonstrate the physiological changes. I can do it in an EEG, in an MRI, I can do the physiological correlates all around me; the random-event generators go nutty when I do it, the micro-pulsations go nutty, stuff goes nutty around me. I feel something. That may be a complete and utter delusion, but I feel something. As in most things, I feel the flow, and if you’re feeling the flow and you’re connecting it to, “Boy, when I felt the flow, I was really good playing X.” All I can give you is an intuitive hunch, but something happens. I’m not up to saying, “Look at this data.” I’m not up to it, so I’m leaving it to my intuitive hunch. And you want to know what the intuitive hunch is. I’m simply telling you it’s an intuitive hunch; it’s an experience that I have.
TS: OK. I can imagine someone who maybe is listening to this—they’ve gotten this far, the kind of person I’m thinking of!—who might feel aggravated in this way: “I know someone who’s died of cancer. I know someone who flew around to seven, eight, ten different healers, energy healers, hands-on healers, different kinds, and they died. And here’s Sounds True publishing this book called The Energy Cure, and a hands-on healing training program, and you know, it’s just one more false promise out there. Bill’s been very careful to say he’s not making any promises and he’s not sure or clear—”
TS: But I can imagine people thinking, “But you know, my friend died, and my mother died, and I don’t like hearing this. It upsets me. It gives people false hope.”
WB: I’m not trying to give people false hope. I’m trying to say that this is an exciting possibility. The energy cure is a cure in experimental animals under controlled conditions, and so it is, as far as I’m aware, the only cure that people have come up with under controlled conditions. There may be others, and I just don’t know of them. This is slightly misleading: As I say, I don’t know if it’s energy, and so I’m using that in a common parlance. I can’t dispute that it is. I don’t know that it is.
But I understand the basis of your question. It’s frustration, and I share the frustration, because what I would like to do is make me irrelevant. And by making me irrelevant, I want, literally or metaphorically, is a vaccine to do without me what seems to happen with the animals when I do it. I understand the frustration, and trust me, it’s not just cancer. I’m frustrated all over the place, and I have friends who’ve died of cancer.
TS: Did you try to work on them?
WB: No. I don’t get involved unless there’s medical supervision. The people have to be ready for medical supervision, and that’s a very hard thing to do. It’s still at a very difficult and awkward state. I’ve had people die of all sorts of things, and I know people who’ve died also, that other healers claim to be able to fix, and so I share the frustration and I don’t minimize it at all. My conclusion: Boy, would I like to take this to the next step! I’m also talking to a medical school now about a clinical trial, but I don’t know where it’s going to go. I really don’t know where it’s going to go, and it is certainly the case that I do not understand the basic mechanism. That’s just the raw, honest truth!
TS: Mm-hmm. So finally, Bill, you’ve mentioned several times your desire to become replaceable. I’m curious just how much success you’ve had with that so far. What has been your success in teaching other people to use the image-cycling technique and be effective as healers?
WB: Well, I’ve had a number of student volunteers, faculty volunteers, all skeptics, learn the techniques, put their hands around cages of mice, and produce full cures. I’ve had a number of people take workshops in learning the kinds of things that I’m trying to put on the podcast here, and go out and report interesting anecdotes. But I make a distinction between experimental conditions and anecdotes. People have reported back to me, anecdotally, of cures of a variety of conditions. Sometimes it doesn’t have to be life threatening. It could be pain. It could be accelerated wound-healing. It could be things of that sort. I’ve heard anecdotes all over the place. I don’t know what to do with the anecdotes yet.
Actually, part of what I seek here is more anecdotes, in that I’m trying to teach whenever I can, whenever I get a chance, and have people try to master this. I’d like to have people make support groups for each other who have tried to master this, groups who have practice sessions and such, and I’d like to feed into some central location what their experiences have been—and at the end of this podcast, I’m going to give a location to feed into.
And so this is a work in progress. It’s a quasi-social experiment. Let’s see where this goes! I think it’s interesting, I think it’s worth pursuing, and I’d like to pursue this in conjunction with the attempt to, under more traditional medical, physical conditions, to also reproduce the effect without me.
TS: Wonderful! What is that email address if people want to be in contact with you about their own experiences with hands-on healing?
WB: It’s email@example.com.
TS: Fabulous! I’ve been talking to Bill Bengston. He’s the author of a new Sounds True book called The Energy Cure: Unraveling the Mystery of Hands-On Healing, as well as an audio learning course called Hands-On Healing: A Training Course in the Energy Cure and specifically the image-cycling technique that Bill teaches. Thanks a lot for taking the time to talk with us, and I really appreciate the passion.