The Power of Premonitions: How Knowing the Future Can Shape Our Lives

AUTHOR: Larry Dossey, M.D.



This is a well-researched and presented work on the nature of consciousness and the mind, using premonitions as the main focus. 

For those who appreciate a scientific foundation to concepts such as premonitions, telepathy, remote viewing, and in general, the use of subtle senses, this is an excellent book. 

Who is Larry Dossey, MD?

Larry Dossey is an internal medicine physician from Texas (USA) … a decorated battalion surgeon … and a past Chief of Staff for Medical City Dallas Hospital.

Deeply rooted in science, Dossey has become an advocate for the role of the mind and of spirituality in health and healing … authoring numerous books and articles, and serving as Executive Editor for two peer-reviewed journals.  

What do we mean by “premonitions”? 

Premonitions are knowledge of a future event that did not come to you through your physical senses, nor through “guessing” based on other information you have.  In other words, it’s something you know but you can’t explain how you know it.

Dossey identifies other terms used for premonitions … precognition, future knowing, foreknowledge … or, more colloquially, gut feelings, instinct, intuition, hunches, vibes, sixth sense.

Bottom line … what does the research prove?

Dossey states that experiments by highly regarded researchers have shown that everyone may have an innate ability to sense the future ….

He goes on to claim:

“Scientists around the world replicated and, indeed, have confirmed the studies, so that we can now responsibly use science and premonitions in the same sentence.” (pg. xx … yes, ‘xx’ is actually the page number)

Dossey states, “ … in exacting experiments now replicated around the world, foreknowledge has been documented beyond reasonable doubt.”  (pg. 182)

Yes, he said beyond reasonable doubt.  In other words, if you’re someone who’s open to reviewing the evidence, it’s there to be had … and it tells a compelling story.

In this book, Dossey lays out the extensive evidence that supports these claims. 

How does he approach this?

Interestingly, Dossey’s preoccupation with premonitions actually began with a dream … he experienced precognitive dreams which launched a search through scientific literature for answers.

This book lays out what he found in his search and makes sense of it all for the reader.  Considering he’s reporting on scientific literature, I believe he did an excellent job of making this a readable book.

The book is organized into five main sections:

  1. The Cases
  2. The Evidence
  3. Premonitions: Why, What, How?
  4. Why Should We Want to Cultivate Premonitions, and How Do We Do It?
  5. Premonitions and Our Worldview (my favourite section)

Following are selected highlights of what’s included, along with a few tidbits I found particularly interesting ….

Part One – The Cases

In this section, Dossey describes scores of premonitions, including people feeling physical sensations suggesting someone else was in need of help, was currently experiencing trouble, or had experienced trouble.

He also describes numerous premonitions related to massive tragic events; for example, the 9/11 attack or the sinking of the Titanic.

And he points out this is an ability that extends to the animal kingdom … relating several anecdotes of animal behaviour seeming to predict disasters or deaths … or pets preventing accidents or deaths by stopping their guardians, or pulling them out of the way in the nick of time. 

Some tidbits I found particularly notable …

The “secret” to business success

I found this super interesting … he quotes the results of a study of three hundred and eight-five CEOs which had very intriguing findings. 

First, it found a link between company performance and the intuitive skills of the CEO.  Specifically, for the companies which saw their profits more than double over the previous five years … eighty percent of their CEOs had above-average intuitive skills.

Second, and even more interesting, was related to the broader topic of ESP (extrasensory perception) … which Dossey defines to include telepathy, clairvoyance, and precognition

The study found that around eighty percent of the CEOs actually acknowledged a private belief in ESP … because they had seen it work in their own lives!

Okay, how many CEOs have you heard acknowledge this publicly??  No, me either. And this is a point that Dossey makes in his book … there are a lot more people experiencing these sorts of events than are willing to talk about it. 

Why?  Because in our (mostly western) society, it can be a big risk … we label people like this as unhinged and find ways to attack their credibility.  So sad.

Need plays a role in precognitive dreams

Another point … I was intrigued to read his conclusion that some experiences reported to him “suggest that dream premonitions are need-based, and that they are more likely to occur if one sets a specific intention or a request that needs to be met.”  (pg. 54)  

This is consistent with what I’ve learned and observed about how the Universe works … it doesn’t always respond to what you want, but it does respond to what you need.  And the more specific you are about what you’re asking for, the easier it is for the Universe to deliver. 

I found that an interesting similarity!

Part Two – The Evidence

This part lays out the evidence … research that is published in prestigious scientific journals … which continues to raise some fascinating discoveries.

“You’ll know it when … BEFORE you see it!”

One particularly interesting set of scientific experiments … that have been replicated, by the way … showed conclusively that our body reacts to an event seconds before it occurs … in fact, up to three seconds before!

This might explain something that happened to me some years ago, when I was driving down a local highway with my sister.  We approached an intersection and I started to brake, stopping for what became a red light. 

My sister turned to me and asked, “How did you know the light was going to turn red?” 

“What do you mean?”

“You started slowing down before the light turned.”

“Well … it turned yellow, I guess.” 

“No, it didn’t.  It was still green when you started to brake.”

I shrugged it off, figuring she must have been wrong … but she was pretty insistent about it.  That was kind of odd, so the incident stuck with me.  Now I get it ….

And as it turns out, it’s not just us two-legged types who have this ability! Apparently, experiments show that earthworms react one second before a positive or negative stimulus.

And wait, there’s more!  There are experiments that analyzed the activity of certain types of remote viewing, which is mentally tuning into an unknown scene that someone else … far, far away … is viewing, and being able to describe what they’re seeing.  

(Pause … stop to absorb …)

Say what??  Yes, this type of remote viewing is “looking through someone else’s eyes” … except you don’t know who they are, where they are, or what they’re looking at!  And you’re expected to describe what they see.  (By the way, remote viewing was carried out for several years by the CIA … Project Stargate).

So, difficult though it may be to wrap your mind around just the idea of remote viewing, these particular experiments weren’t about testing its validity … that’s already been done.  Rather, they were about the effect of precognition during this activity.

And what these experiments found was fairly mind-blowing … 

Some remote viewers could correctly perceive the scene days before the other person was at the site they were to view … or … before the site was even selected! 

Up to one hundred and fifty hours before!

WOW!  Okay, so how does that happen?  It raises some very interesting paradoxes that require a re-examination of what we think we know about time and consciousness … which Dossey also tackles in this book.

Part Three – Premonitions: Why, What, How?

In this section, Dossey tells us about the nature of premonitions … that they are symbolic, brief and incomplete … and he discusses why this might be.

He addresses why reports of premonitions are not as frequent as the rate at which premonitions actually occur, and what causes people not to raise them.

He reveals a possible answer for why premonitions are so often about disasters or other potential tragic events.

Part Four – Why Should We Want to Cultivate Premonitions, and How Do We Do It?

I was interested to read there are several characteristics that seem to correlate with being prone to having premonitions and other experiences of psychic phenomena.  In fact, they appear to be ones that can be cultivated if you want to increase your chances of experiencing this type of phenomena.

For example, a few items on the list are … make a place for variety, risk, novelty, playfulness, generosity and mystery in your lifeplay with metaphorsshun literalism …. (Wait a minute!  Shun literalism?  But that’s one of my signature trademarks!  Hmm ….)

I thought the quote he included from Rumi in this list of characteristics said it all … “Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment.”  (pg. 137)

I’ll see it when I believe it!

Dossey also explains the critical role that belief plays in whether or not you experience precognitive ability … and also the strong influence of what others think … do they support it or pooh-pooh it?  Apparently, this either reinforces your experience or … you guessed it … suppresses it. 

As you may have noticed in my other posts, I’ve experienced this particular issue first-hand and have wrestled with it for years!  Overcoming doubt and skepticism, and allowing belief and knowing to emerge instead, has been a long, long journey.

Many medical practitioners know more than they let on …

He discusses examples of “premonitions” in the medical field and the prevalence of these experiences among doctors and surgeons … and, again, their reluctance to admit their experience due to the resistance present in our culture.  

But not all cultures … for there are several cultures in the world in which premonitions are both expected and respected

Iceland is mentioned as one … in one survey, only three percent of Icelanders considered precognition in dreams to be unlikely or impossible.  That means ninety-seven percent got it.

Interestingly, I’m half-Icelandic (courtesy of Mom’s lineage) … this could explain a lot.

Part Five – Premonitions and Our Worldview

This final section was my favourite, because it’s where Dossey tries to tackle the difficult questions this all raises … How can we reconcile what the research is telling us about the proven existence of precognitive ability with our understanding of time and consciousness?

The most fundamental question … If time runs only sequentially, how can we know in the present what’s going to happen in the future?

Maybe our consciousness can “travel” into the future and come back with an answer? 

Nope, not according to mainstream scientific thinking which, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, still promotes that the brain is what produces consciousness, and that it remains physically within the body.  Which means … it ain’t goin’ nowhere!

Hmm, very perplexing questions … and Dossey tackles them head on.

To sum up

In my opinion, Dossey provides a balanced view of extensive research.

Throughout the book, he quotes research and opinions of a multitude of experts in varying fields … classical physics, quantum physics, medicine, parapsychology, biology, history, astronomy, philosophy, consciousness, and others.

He relates competing, contradictory views from different sources and addresses objections to the research and conclusions he presents.

In addition to including an extensive list of references, he closes with quotations from “some of the most prestigious and respected scientists of the twentieth century” who support the view that consciousness is omnipresent, eternal, and unified … thereby making room for the possibility of premonitions.

And if premonitions are valid, what else is … ?


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