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Mudrashram Institute of Spiritual Studies



When Prophecy Goes Haywire: Reflections
on Another Failed Doomsday Prediction


By George A. Boyd ©2011

In the aftermath of Reverend Harold Camping’s prediction of the Rapture on May 21, 2011, which did not occur as envisioned, it leads us to inquire why this mantic failure may have occurred. We need to also examine how ostensibly Divinely inspired clergy, and soothsayers of sundry spiritual sects, might rightly direct their enthusiasm and more accurately practice their prophetic art. To understand what happened, and why this prophecy did not come true, we must first understand the different strata of the mind that look into the future: what each predicts, and how each is subject to error.

Level of the Mind


How It Predicts the Future

Potential Drawbacks

Conscious mind


It uses deductive reasoning and inference to construct a trend line analysis, and to project a probable future.

Incorrect premises, unforeseen factors, and lack of correct information on which to base the prediction will yield erroneous results.


It uses faith and hope to believe that a desired outcome will come true. The cord of faith must be activated for this expectation to operate

The idea that is embraced by hope and buoyed up by faith may not be a rational one. This conduit of misguided enthusiasm has led many “true believers” to be swindled by con-men and fleeced by self-serving salesman, seduced by demagogues and dictators, and led astray by inspired but incorrect religious beliefs disseminated by their clergy and other spiritual teachers.

Subconscious mind

Attentional Principle

It views the track of the Soul and examines the stages of the Path that have been opened (Initiatory future). With further meditation training, some individuals are able to read the track of future lives out-pictured in the mind of God (Vision of future incarnations).

The relative skill of reading this material varied widely. It is common to introduce unwitting distortions into these readings through imagination, misinterpretation, and projection of the unconscious mind.

Subconscious mind

Individual spirit

It looks forward on its path to see the attainment of blessedness (Heaven), beatitude in the Presence of God, and ultimate reunion with its Source.

Distortion creeps into this perception when individuals are taught that they will be magically “raptured,” or that they will go to heaven when they die if they are faithful believers and lead a good and righteous life. As a result of these beliefs, the spirit does not open the Nadamic channels, and does not actually go to these landmarks upon the path.

Metaconscious mind

Concrete mind

It plans the future after the Self has decided upon a goal, and maintains positive expectations of a successful outcome.

Incorrect information, inadequate preparation for the task, or inability to predict and deal with unanticipated contingencies my lead to failure.

Metaconscious mind


It predicts the future based on mathematical or statistical models. Success of prediction is based on the theoretician’s ability to include all relevant factors that have bearing on the outcome, and to lower the incidence of error through careful design of the model. This produced predictions that are correlational estimates couched in a margin of error; these models do not purport to be able to predict with 100% accuracy.

Incorrect information (data), incorrect assumptions, experimenter or subject bias, using an incorrect statistical modeling method, and not anticipating relevant factors all lead to false predictions.

Superconscious mind

Archetypal inspiration

This type of prophecy is common in the Subtle Realm. These prophetic dreams and visions arise from trance communion with the gods, goddesses, and spirits of their faith. These prophecies are sometimes uttered aloud during ecstatic trance states engendered by the ingestion of psychoactive substances such as anesthetic or psychedelic drugs; long hours of dancing; or undergoing “possession” by spirits. The material received is often cryptic, vague, and ambiguous; typically must be interpreted by a priest or shaman.

The vague symbolic material received in these trances is broad enough so it could be construed to apply to a variety of scenarios, or interpreted as applying to many different situations. It is common to misinterpret the meaning of these mysterious prophetic utterances.

Superconscious mind

Occult Manipulation

In this method, the occultist anchors suggestions in the mind of others and induces them to act in the way they have been commanded. This method uses intimidation or threats to induce fear. It gives false information to induce willing compliance. It makes false promises to create hope and expectation. Its objective is to create an outcome that they direct.

It may not be possible to reliably create the future through these means, as those who are the unwilling victims of this method do not always go along. Some individuals may realize they are being manipulated, and do not allow themselves to succumb to fear, lies, or false promises. Others may develop conspiracy theories that suspects this manipulation, but may attribute it to non-related or erroneous perpetrators.

Superconscious mind

Empirical Science

Scientific method builds hypotheses to predict the future, but tests these hypotheses by experiment. Predictions can be made about the behavior of people or other objects of inquiry. The same methodical method is used to test each hypothesis, and to control for potential bias or error.

Science uses the intellect to design experiments and to formulate hypotheses; it is therefore subject to all of the limitations of intellectual problem solving strategies. Its range of acceptable subject matter is limited to what can be observed by the senses or detected with instruments, so it is largely confined to making predictions about the material world or material phenomena. As a result of this, it tends to reduce complex phenomena to materially observable ones—so consciousness is equated with the activity of the brain, electrical brain waves, or orderly patterns of movement of subatomic particles.

Superconscious mind

“Intuitive Science”

Psychic seers use symbolic arrays such as Numerology, Astrology, I Ching, and the Tarot as divinatory templates. The ability of divinatory systems to predict the future is purported based on synchronicity, where an intrapsychic impression or temporal event is mirrored in the divinatory array. Psychics may alternately use non-structured readings to assess the querent, including aura readings (readings of energy around the body), discernment of entities or spirits in people’s unconscious mind, or readings of energy or resonance in objects (psychometry).

As the symbols used by these psychic soothsayers can have many meanings, it takes great skill and discernment to determine which potential meaning of the symbol applies to the querent’s life and situation. Sometimes the symbolic ideas shared with the querent are so broadly applicable that they would apply, no matter what the querent is experiencing. No two psychics will view a structured reading in the same way, so a querent will receive widely divergent interpretations of the same numerological, astrological, I Ching, Tarot, or other divinatory system. This variability between psychic readers can also be observed in unstructured readings.

Superconscious mind


This predicts outcome based on past experience and knowledge of metaphysical laws.

Wisdom may not be able to make predictions of consequences for areas in which one does not have life experience, or when the individual does not have knowledge of a metaphysical law.

Superconscious mind

Revelatory Mind

This center awakens during the First Planetary Initiation, but may be prematurely activated in those that contemplate the Moon Soul nucleus of identity. This center allows interpretation of scripture. It may devise different numerical codes to represent spiritual ideas and do calculations with them (Gematria). It can give interpretations of symbols and dreams.

Since many different interpretations can be assigned to numbers, (e.g., “888=Christ,” but this number might also have other meanings) or many different filters can be applied to a symbol (e.g., Babylon can be viewed as a city, a civilization, a type of political or religious system, among many others), it is difficult to know the accuracy of any interpretation or prediction made through this center.
Reverend Camping’s odd calculations of the date of the Rapture and the end of the world derived from this center, which appears to be highly active in him.

Superconscious mind

The mirror of future lives, civilizations, and epochs

There are a number of vantage points in the First Esoteric Planetary Initiation, the Third Planetary Initiation, the First Cosmic Initiation, the Fourth Cosmic Initiation, on certain Supracosmic paths, and on certain Transcendental paths (particularly T5) where an individual can glimpse visions of their own and other’s future lives, the future of civilizations, and the coming and going of Great Epochs (e.g., Yugas or Kalpas).

Since none of these vantage points gives the same information, and there is no way to validate this information—which can span trillions of years—these visions of “potential futures” remain highly speculative at best, and delusional at worst.

As can be seen from this examination of the strata of prediction is that each type of vision of the future has drawbacks and sources of potential error; only reason, intellect, and the structured approach of Science have put procedures in place to attempt to control for error. These admit, with appropriate humility, that even their best estimates are sometimes erroneous.

The inherent limitation of Science to not be able to give information about “non-physical” phenomena (e.g., the Soul, the spirit, the attentional principle, the spiritual “Planes” or worlds of dimension, and God), leaves these “non-scientific” realms of human experience open to the vagaries of highly imaginative and speculative interpretive systems that give highly variable and widely divergent predictions and observations.

This wide divergence of opinion is characteristic of religion; we may speculate that those who constructed the orderly edifices of reason, intellect, and Science, did so in reaction to the wild flights of fancy to which the highly enthusiastic religious mind is liable.

We suggest to Mr. Camping and others who listen to the whisperings of the revelatory mind—that while this material is fascinating and compelling—it has a track record of poor predictive ability. If one alters the symbolic filtering in just the right way, multiple patterns or events can be recognized as the fulfillment of prophecy; using any computed phrase in combination with others can yield any number of dates for “Divine Advents” or eschatological catastrophes. Depending on what concepts are combined (e.g., “Advent” + “redemption” + “second coming” yields different dates than if other phrases are chosen), almost any potential end of the world scenario can be constructed.

We offer to those who drink deeply of these sweet nepenthes of delirious delights, articles on our website and in our books that may clarify how to approach interpretation of scriptures and teasing out the meaning in symbolic material.

In our book, Religions, Cults, and Terrorism: What the Heck Are We Doing?, we refer the reader to the articles, “Levels of Meaning in Scripture,” “Digging Deeper into Interpretation,” and the “Seven Veils of Religious Truths.”

In our book, The Psychic Realm: Finding Safe Passage through the Worlds of Illusion, we refer the reader to the article, “On Developing Discernment.”

On our website, we refer the reader to our article, “Symbolic Meditation.”

We suggest that we must approach divination, and symbolic and scriptural interpretation with much humility and much care, realizing that the numinous realm of symbols is fraught with mystery and danger, for if we tread here without firm tracks under our feet, we may be swept away by the Sirens of the Astral and be lost beneath the waves of the unconscious—subject to all of its illusions and distortions.



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