If you’ve ever had to be in two places at the same time, you’ve probably wished there was a way to accomplish that. Outside the worlds of sci-fi and fantasy, however, that remains a distinct impossibility… or does it? Some mystic traditions from around the world have reported such a phenomenon, and as unbelievable as it sounds, witnesses provide corroborating stories that raises both intrigue and skepticism.
Bilocation describes the ability to simultaneously exist in two places, with the “copy” acting independently of the original. It is further distinguished from the phenomenon of astral projection in that there is no sensation of leaving the body and traveling to a distant location; in fact, the “copy” has a physical presence, and is able to hold conversations with people and interact with objects. The sheer volume of witness accounts throughout history suggest that this is not as rare an occurrence as one might believe, with consistent details threaded through various accounts.
Surprisingly, one of the best catalogs of episodes of bilocation can be found within the possession of the Christian church, as bilocation is one of the miracles used as a criterion for canonization. Countless eyewitness accounts of individuals who exhibited this paranormal ability are purportedly organized and archived by the Catholic church for use in the evaluation of candidates for sainthood. Where bilocation is concerned, multiple cases describe what can only be interpreted as events of bilocation. For example, one case study from 1774 describes a priest, Alfonso de Liguori, who was observed to be resting in his easy chair after Mass. According to reports, at one point later that day he walked out of his room and announced the passing of Pope Clement… who was over a hundred miles away. At the time, Rome was typically a day’s journey away and Fr. de Liguori’s peers would not receive news from the Vatican of the Pope’s death until next evening. What was even more surprising was a list of the clerics attending the Pope in his last hours that accompanied the announcement. In that list, Fr. de Liguori was described as praying at the bedside of Pope Clement! Corroboration by witnesses at both locations described how the bilocated priest was not only praying, but interacting with others as well.
Such an ability has not been restricted to the male clergy, or to the Christian tradition, for that matter. Numerous individuals who demonstrated the same ability have been documented in yogic and Buddhist traditions throughout history. While it seems at first that perhaps some divine element is related to this ability, it should be noted that secular instances of bilocating individuals have also been reported.
In all these witness accounts, what does seem common among all individuals who have bilocated is a committed sense of purpose, where they felt they HAD to be somewhere else at the same time. Does this represent an ability driven by strength of individual will and intensity of purpose? Some case studies would suggest this, though the number of individuals who self-report are few. More tantalizing is the notion that some believe bilocating is an innate ability that can be trained or developed, rather than existing as a spontaneous paranormal phenomena accessible to a select few.
What does science have to say about something like this? There is something of an analogy that can be found in the field of quantum mechanics, where a particle may simultaneously exist in two or more energy states (quantum superposition), or exist as part of a pair that exhibit similar characteristics regardless of the distance separating them (quantum entanglement). However, the “spookiness” of these interactions can hardly be used to extrapolate more macroscopic counterparts.
For now, the only way a regular human being can be present in multiple locations simultaneously is through modern communications technology. That said, continuing discoveries in quantum physics may allow us to harness the power of quantum supercomputers one day, which may increase the speed and signal fidelity of how we communicate. So until the time comes when bilocation can be proven or refuted without a doubt, regardless of how we get to that point, we as a species can still look forward to the possibility that no physical distance will prevent us from being present where we are needed.