Book Review – Stalking the Wild Pendulum

Itzhak Bentov–
Stalking the Wild Pendulum
On the Mechanics of Consciousness

1977 E.P. Dutton
1988 Destiny Books (Currently Available Paperback)

When I first began reading Bentov’s “Stalking the Wild Pendulum” I had no
idea that at the time that the book was written almost 30 years ago. Had I
known that I might not have bothered to read it, thinking the material was
simply far too outdated to be relevant. After all, the dominant theories in
the field of consciousness studies live brief lives before being replaced
by a newer or more refined concept. What was accepted as objective
knowledge just ten years ago about ideas like “mind, “consciousness,”
“memory,” etc., are today barely remembered relics of a rapidly evolving
science.

But if I had ignored Bentov’s book, I would have missed out on one
of the most profound and influential books I own regarding our
understanding of the nature and function of consciousness. This book was
not only ahead of its time when written, most thinkers in consciousness
studies are still working to catch up with Bentov decades later.

Regarded by his colleagues as a bonafide genius, Bentov was something of a
scientific savant, having never received much in the way of formal
education, scientific or otherwise. In fact he was expelled from
kindergarten at the age of four and, as he admits, “never managed to resume
normal studies since, not to mention graduating from anyplace.”

Yet Bentov demonstrated an understanding of complex and diverse topics
related to consciousness and physics with a much deeper and broader scope
than most of his highly educated colleagues. Bentov’s untimely and tragic
death in 1979 marked an abrupt halt to a career which, with time, would
have certainly made him a household name.

If you aren’t familiar with Bentov, a reasonable comparison might be made
to Richard Feynmann. Both men were driven by a simple, almost obsessive
desire to learn the inner workings of things. Both relied heavily on humor
and common sense to describe otherwise dauntingly complex ideas. But
whereas Feynmann dissected old radios and atoms, Bentov worked to develop a
kind of anatomy of consciousness.

In Stalking the Wild Pendulum, Bentov uses his considerable wit and wisdom
to take the reader on what one reviewer called, “a brilliantly executed
theoretical romp through the universe.”

For Bentov, the universe is comprised of sound vibrations, light rays,
subtle energies, and packets of consciousness. These elements, and others,
make up the paints and brushes with which Bentov creates a stunning
portrait of the universe. Among the ideas Bentov discusses in Stalking the
Wild Pendulum: that our brains are thought amplifiers, not thought’s
source; that the universe is a hologram, as is the brain; that we can
instantly reclaim any information ever known.

These ideas of the non-locality of consciousness and the holographic nature
of the brain, while not necessarily mainstream science, are now commonly
discussed issues in the field of consciousness studies. But it was Bentov’s
work that brought these kinds of issues to the forefront of consciousness
exploration and made them worthy of consideration using well-constructed
reasoning and inspired speculation.

Bentov is clearly viewed as a “fringe scientist” by the more established
scientific community. But, as Bentov’s friend, William A. Tiller pointed
out in the book’s Preface, “The present scientific establishment has grown
somewhat fossilized by its current ‘”world picture”‘ and is locked into a
view of reality that has outlived its usefulness.”

Bentov must be credited, at least in part, with bringing a fresh and
striking view of the universe to that “fossilized establishment,” and with
producing a remarkable theory of mind and matter. It would be a mistake to
think that Bentov is merely repackaging fringe metaphysical notions of mind
and energy into a pseudo-science. His work is founded on solid,
common-sense reasoning.

But Stalking the Wild Pendulum reads less like a scientific treatise and
more like an adventure of the mind. Einstein once said, “Imagination is
ultimately more important than knowledge.” No one embodies and applies
that maxim better then Bentov. His tools of teaching are clever analogy, compelling metaphor, and – unexpectedly perhaps – his own cartoons and illustrations.

Those who have already read The Tao of Physics, by Capra, or The Dancing Wu
Li Masters, by Zukav, will notice the influence of Bentov’s work in those
popular works.

Of particular interest is Bentov’s explanations of the nature and ability of sound waves to influence matter and mind, as well as a superb discussion on the concepts of rhythmic entrainment, beat frequencies, and holograms.

Bentov also discusses the role of meditation as means of opening a channel
of awareness capable of tapping into the vast knowledge of the entire
universe. Bentov clearly understands meditation to be potentially
transformative on all levels of human existence. Unlike many contemporary
authors in this field, Bentov manages to seamlessly integrate some rather
innovative ideas about the nature of consciousness with our still evolving
knowledge of quantum.

With the influx of books about consciousness research of late it’s easy to
get lost, intellectually. Among the quantum physicists, eastern mystics,
unified systems theorists, neuroscientists, and self-help gurus, all
seemingly intent on revising our ideas of mind, it’s often difficult to
sort out one theory from another. Bentov stands out among them, not only
for his theories, but also for the imaginative and unique manner in which
he expresses them. Indeed, anyone interested in consciousness, quantum, or
the nature of the universe will find Stalking the Wild Pendulum
challenging, enlightening, entertaining, and often dazzling.

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