Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Ghost Encounter

To add to the fun of Halloween , let me tell you a true ghost story.  Some years ago I met a woman who told me about a ghost that was bothering her family where she lived in a small town of New Jersey.  This woman was a nurse and a brilliant student of anthropology. She had two younger daughters.  She explained that this ghost liked to appear in the bathroom where she and her daughters showered.  In short, this ghost was a double creep—a creepy ghost and creepy gaper at the girls while they showered.  All in all, about nine people , including her husband and friends had some kind contact with the creepy phantom.


So I asked her if she would mind allowing me to spend a night in her house, to see if the ghost would pay me a visit.  She agreed and when I arrived rather late one evening she set me up downstairs on a couch facing a fireplace where this dirty-minded apparition liked to show up.  So I installed myself on the couch with my notebook and pencil, and the rest of the family all went upstairs and left me alone on my ghost watch. 


It was well after midnight and I was wide awake and reading a book.  I did not expect anything to happen.  Suddenly—it was well after one in the morning—I heard the sound of a gong ring.  Startled, I looked around and noticed a gong and a stick hanging on the wall.  I got up and used the stick to strike the gong—it produced the exact sound I just heard.  Well, I’ll be! I thought, the dirty old ghost is here—where else could that sound have come from? 


I went back to my couch, gleeful at my success over what I heard.  I leaned back and wrote up the time and what I heard.  I then looked up and peered into the fireplace about ten feet away from me.  Something moved.  Then I noticed a human form, sort of transparent rippling in the corner, which then charged right toward me.  It immediately wrapped itself around me, and I was paralyzed.  I wanted to cry out—“He’s here!” but couldn’t.  I was too astonished to feel fear when after a long two seconds it vanished and let me go.  I then wrote it up and recounted my experience in the morning to my friend over breakfast.


This was not my only encounter with ghosts, but it was by far the most interesting.

Happy Halloween, folks! I can assure you.  Ghosts are real.


Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Sliding Toward Endtimes


There is an ancient myth about the death and rebirth of the world that repeats itself throughout history.  I wrote about this age-old human obsession in The Millennium Myth.  In the research for this book, I kept coming across examples of prophets of various creeds predicting doom and end of the world.  It was tedious, a continuous stream of false endtime predictions.  All failed.           


Until the climate scientists of the 21st century began to predict a coming world climate disaster. You don’t have to look far for signs of having entered the spring of end times—for example, the fact that the summer of 2023 was the hottest in human history.  The process that is fueling the world-wide climate chaos is out of control. Things are going to get worse, “worse” enough to prompt Noam Chomsky to talk of “world civilization” crashing.


Since the industrial revolution, human activities are responsible for the planet heating up—burning fossil fuels, consumerism, etc..  This evolving disaster is not the result of angry deities trying to teach us a lesson. It is science now that assumes the prophetic mantle.  Fires, floods, droughts, swamping of coastal cities, permafrost melting, bio habitats destroyed, migrations of peoples everywhere, growing food shortage, etc. are here already and will get worse.


 Climate chaos is a clarion call to humanity to learn how to live in harmony with each other and with the Earth that mothers our existence.   Humanity has never been in a situation of peril where, paradoxically, the enemy is ourselves: the destructive way we treat the environment and each other, human against human. In 2023, for example, the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) parceled out $2.04 trillion dollars to the army, air force, space force, navy and marines.  All that colossal wealth and power spent to defend ourselves and kill anyone who seriously threatens us.


There is little reason to believe at least right now that enough committed humanity is coming together to cope with the forces that threaten to bring down world civilization.  At first the title of my book, The Final Choice: Death or Transcendence, seemed a  little over the top.  The notion of finality made me uncomfortable.  I rejected the idea of finality. We’re never completely cornered or locked down.  A way out is always possible. 


On the other hand, sometimes there are fateful moments of decision.  We’re forced to make a move.  Large consequences may follow that are irreversible. I believe we are in the midst of such a historic moment. By “we” I mean the collective drift of human behavior.


The endtime process is  entrenched in global habits, beliefs  and practices.  Stopping, even slowing, this process demands radical changes in the way humans live on Earth.  This is a message that the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Gutteres, has repeated, if there is any hope of palliating the pains and losses of future generations.


It’s not hard to figure out the path of possible progress, which has two components.  We have to revise the way we relate to the natural world around us and we have to revise the way we relate to each other in human society.   In both areas, we need to move from discord and exploitation to new forms of creative harmony.   


The fact is that we are sliding toward a rendezvous with terminal history.  A fully ripe awareness of what is undoubtedly looming could be useful.  It  might serve as a stimulus to transformation in whatever form it may assume.  We might entertain the possibility of a kind of collective near-death experience that will awaken us to a greater consciousness—the will to fashion a new Earth where all forms of life may flourish in harmony.  

Monday, September 25, 2023

Is Reading a Form of Magic?

The word magic may suggest much that is negative, like conjuring and con-artistry.   But there are positive senses of the word.  I would mention a brilliant book by the scientist Dean Radin, Real Magic, a report on what parapsychology tells us about the ‘magic’ of our own mental life.  In  essence, it consists of our minds having the potential to sense beyond the limits of the senses and to know and do things beyond the constraints of time and space.  In this strong sense, we are all potential magicians.


What I want to suggest is an unnoticed sense in which we are magicians.  And this turns out to be something ordinary that most of us do a little or sometimes quite a lot.  I am talking about the psychic ability to read. It does seem  that with the Internet, smart phones, the omnipresence of podcasting, etc., reading in the soulful sense as a form of communication is dying out.   Of course, people read for information, for the news, to play all sorts of games, and, needless to say, to buy and sell things.  There’s a certain magic in all that, I’m sure.


But a recent Gallup shows that since 1990 Americans are reading fewer and fewer books.  No doubt this in part is due to the more passive forms of mental activity based on lapping up what appears on the screens of our smart phones and computers. 


Reading a book requires the participation of an active mind, all the powers of our consciousness—books on history, drama, poetry, novels, short stories, philosophy, spirituality, all the arts.  I call this soulful reading—reading that stretches the intellect, calls for our empathy, excites and refines our imagination, is attuned to wonder and adventure, and challenges our critical skills.


Soulful reading is really a kind of out-of-body experience.  To learn, feel, embrace something new is to get beyond oneself , expand awareness and enrich one’s identity.  When you discover a new idea or emotion through something you’ve read, it’s a kind of telepathy.  Your mind provides the feeling and brings the content of what you’re reading to life. Reading inert words on a page is nothing without feeling, intelligence and imagination. Reading with soul is a creative act; without soul, words are signals without meaning.   


The Nazis and other Fascist movements burnt books, aiming to extinguish the option to free thinking.  Efforts to crush the freedom to read are turning up today in the United States, centered on books deemed inappropriate by Christian nationalists  and other fanatics.  This seems to complement the already documented decline of reading, tracked by Gallup.


Knowing how to read with soul is not only the key to engaging deeply with our human history and the treasures of world culture, it’s essential to being an intelligent  citizen, capable of grasping the written laws, rights, and ideals of our nation. Book reading skills are essential to understanding and supporting the principles of the U. S.  Constitution.


As we plough on toward an increasingly problematic future, there are two ways that promise to color the outcome, two different objects to lay on the table beside our beds before we retire: a gun or a book.





Wednesday, September 13, 2023

The Healing Power of Mind

It’s easy to underestimate the power of our minds—beliefs, attitudes, emotions—and their impact on our health and physical well being.  An example that science fully acknowledges is the power of the placebo. For example, it is well known that drugs used to alleviate depression are just slightly more effective than placebos.  In other words, the mere belief in the healing power of something can produce health benefits.  So, in fact, there is a whole literature of healing phenomena associated with religious beliefs at shrines, with relics, in the context of prayer, etc. 


Sometimes we find cases where the effects prompt us to believe in healing miracles. One of the weirdest but well documented mind-body phenomena involves effects on dead bodies, specifically, on the bodies of people who in life were known for their spiritual gifts and intensity.  I’m referring to the phenomenon of incorruption.  There are cases of spiritually evolved persons whose dead bodies do not follow the natural pattern of decomposition.  For example, there is the case of Bernadette Soubirous (1844-1879) whose dead body has remained intact for over a hundred years, without any artificial embalming techniques.


I’m raising this question because of a recent report of Ruth Graham in the New York Times (Sept 9, 2023) of an apparent case of such bodily incorruption in America. It happened to Sister Wilhelmina Lancaster from the Abbey of Our Lady of Ephesus, a small order located in the hills north of Kansas city.  Four years after her death it was decided to move her body to a more conspicuous place inside the church.  Upon opening her coffin and expecting to find dust and bones, they found Wilhelmina (who was Black) with her body and face intact.  This was immediately construed as a possible miracle of incorruption, and since then she has drawn thousands of visitors from all parts to witness the extraordinary phenomenon. 


Only in an odd sense can we describe this as a case that proves the healing power of mind.  What it does seem to illustrate is the power of the mind to symbolically point to the power of the mind suspending the normal effects of bodily death.  There are, moreover, also numerous accounts of healings of living bodies that challenge science.  But that’s another side of the story of the potential creative power of our minds.  For a full account of the extraordinary creative powers of the human mind, you might try reading Smile of the Universe: Miracles in an Age of Disbelief. Available from Anomalist Books or Amazon. (Author, myself.)



Tuesday, August 29, 2023

A Simple Way to Get Inspired

The Cambridge philosopher of mind, H.H. Price, devised an experiment meant to elicit a creative response from the subconscious mind.  The idea was simple enough.  Before going to sleep, you formulate your request and pose the question to your subconscious mind.  Clearly, you ask for an answer, the insight, whatever, to come to your mind in the morning.  The talk with your subconscious mind might conceivably stimulate dreams that would be part of the answer.  Or, hopefully, your first thoughts upon awakening will contain a response to your request. Price reports that the majority of efforts with this experiment were useful to him.


The experiment seems to make sense.   If there is a portion of our mental life alive and well below the threshold of our ordinary awareness, why not become an activist, why not get curious about what lies hidden in our deep mind. It is a mind whose depth and breadth is quite unknown.  Why not try to interact with it? 


Religion is performing this experiment all the time with prayer and all manner of rite and ritual. There are all sorts of practices designed to breach the barriers and make  contact with our creative selves.  The practices are not as easy or simple as Professor Price’s experiment.  Fasting, solitude, sacred dance, the erotic, hyperventilation, psychedelics. Or, less daunting, I would say, is using the arts to open the sluices to the magical source within.   


A curious image emerges.   We travel on the road of life in the amazing but difficult world around us.  At the same we travel on the same road but also with an amazing  world within us.  We’re in both worlds, seemingly more invested and attached to the world outside us, but  haunted and mystified by the world inside us.


And yet the creative source within us poses no more of a challenge than learning how to ask a question.  My experience has been, If you keep asking, answers sooner or later come.  Knock on the door hard enough and the door will eventually open.  Thoughts or questions on the process I’m talking about?   



Thursday, August 24, 2023

Art As School For Empathy

What the world needs today is a super-dose of empathy.  Given the fact that there are from twenty-three to thirty wars raging all over the planet and that almost everywhere conflict and polarization reign on many fundamental issues.


We need to step outside ourselves and enter into the perspective of others—even other animals and forms of nature. What might it feel like to be an owl or a bear?  But how do we do it? We can use imagination and our own experience to get a feel for the other person. But, if you’re trapped in your ego, this will be impossible.  


The ability to enter into the soul of the other is contrary to our self-centered instincts.  Our consciousness is centered around the black hole of our egos.  But, no matter how ego-bound we are, there are ways to step beyond ourselves.


There are two common inroads to that larger world—play and art.  Children and their play instincts reveal a natural tendency to “make believe” and enter new and other worlds. I love observing children trailing after their parents as they walk down the street.  The children are running and leaping this way and that, reacting and trying to engage with every novel scene, a dog walking by, the pattern of bricks on the ground, a squirrel or bird that shoots by, not to mention people who look and smile at them. Kids at play are marvels of empathy and imagination, without knowing what the words mean.


But they grow up.  They (we) are shaped and constrained by the reality-principle. Still, all adults retain a streak of playfulness and empathic curiosity, which can come to life through the arts, either as passive consumers or active creators.


In both cases, the raw power we have to work with is imagination. There are images that glamorize and fascinate us. The italics signal I’m using these words in the old magical sense of witchcraft and shamanism.  These two words suggest a type of possession, an altered state where one temporarily loses autonomy.  The gate opens and for a moment anything can enter, angel or demon.  


The arts are a place where it’s okay to revolt against the tyranny of the reality-principle.  The arts open spaces where we can explore the impossible, the fantastic, the surreal, the ideal—the prodigiously ugly and the divinely beautiful.


For that we need a great deal of inner spaciousness and receptivity.  The arts share in common the freedom to expand our experience,  our ideas of what is possible, our hope of doing what’s never been done before.  It doesn’t have to be world-shaking; all it needs is to be person-making.


Back to the need for empathic potential. The arts in a wide sense offer a way to re-imagine the world and alter the quality of our mental life. 

But we should know what we’re up against.  How much of the nation’s treasure is given to the study of higher forms of empathic consciousness?  Answer—next to zero!  


But when it comes to having the best technology for slaughtering other human beings, Congress approved 840 billion dollars for the Annual (2023) Defense Budget, a number to send the ‘defense’ industries into prolonged ecstasies.


Fortunately, we can practice our arts and work on our consciousness in our own space, by working with the material at hand and in the context of where life is happening.


And where death and destruction are happening.  The ‘news’ that I listen to nowadays, NPR, BBC, etc., is changing so now it sounds more and more like a mortuary cavalcade, stories everywhere of groups of people, small and large, losing their homes, belongings, lives, resulting from our overheating planet, wars everywhere and daily mass shootings in America.


The game of life on Earth has turned into something highly dangerous and volatile.  The hard part to digest is that the rules of the game have changed.  The danger and destructive chaos are part of an evolving process that’s accelerating faster than scientists originally predicted.


It’s hard to imagine how we can prepare for what is coming.  For centuries so-called prophets of various stripes have been predicting cosmic disaster for an imperfect humanity.  But today the climate scientists, using the methods of science, are predicting the apocalypse. This time we better pay close attention.  And we should also be aware that science and technology made global warming possible, causing all the climate mayhem. And now, we hope, the same science and technology will save the world with new ideas about green energy.  But it won’t happen without a revolution of consciousness.  And every one of us has a role to play.



Wednesday, August 9, 2023

Secret of Never Getting Tired

A jazz musician and friend of mine once joined me during a lesson I took from my teacher of sound yoga, Swami Nadabrahmananda. It was summertime in an ashram in Upstate New York. We had finished with my lesson and decided to step outside for some fresh air and a little stroll. Outside, Nada, (as students addressed the 81 year old Swami) turned to my  friend, and said, “How are you?” John replied, “Tired.”  He had been on the road, doing various gigs, and was always feeling a bit deprived of sleep. 


Nada looked at John with a warm smile, and said, “Tired?  What tired?”  He erupted into a mild burst of laughter, and remarked, “I never tired.” What John didn’t know was that there were certain very unusual things about the Swami’s physiology.  Two things I’ll mention.  Nada slept on average two hours a night.  Moreover, he never dreamed.  He once spent three nights in a sleep lab in Ottowa, Canada, and the scientists there determined there were no signs of dream sleep.


Why would somebody not dream?  After getting to know Nada, I had an idea why he never dreamed.  The reason, I would suggest, was that, as he told me many times, he saw the world as a dream—not in a metaphoric sense but somehow literally.    In other words, his waking consciousness was so out of this world it affected his mental life.  Ordinary physiological needs may be suspended, as when saints and yogis go on shockingly long fasts.  Nada seemed immune to the normal effects of fatigue.


I once asked the celestial musician, “So what is the secret of never getting tired?” His reply was intriguing.  By not thinking!  He elaborated, adding that he never busied himself with making plans. And he never bothered to ruminate on things done and finished. His economy of consciousness was not consumerist.


In one of his favorite sayings, “God is the driver.”  I might put it like this.  Nada lived beyond the constraints of his ego in harmony with his creative subconscious.  I’m reminded of an idea from parapsychology, the notion of “release of effort” as a way to access latent powers of the mind.  Memory is the most obvious example.  You try very hard to remember something you know.  You stop trying, walk away, and a while later the memory returns, unbidden.


According to Nada, it’s the ego and its constant efforts to certify itself that fatigues our self, which is linked to and draws upon a bottomless sea of spiritual energy.  The problem is that the ego doesn’t know how to float or sail, but is more like a deadweight that sooner or later sinks us.   


For the full story of this remarkable man, you can get my book from Amazon,

Yoga of Sound: The Life and Teachings of the Celestial Songman, Swami Nada Brahmananda.





Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Benefits of Being Baffled

From time to time I have experiences I don’t understand.  Wow, wasn’t that cool!  Some incident that downright seems anomalous.  Events that seem to violate the habits of nature.  It’s easy enough to kick back and just revel in the wonder of something unexplained. But anomalies might be steps on the way to new ways of being in the world.


Here’s an incident that took place not long ago.  Nothing at all of great note but enough to get me thinking.   I woke up one morning, and immediately pulled all the sheets and pillow cases from my bed and took them down into the basement to the washing machine. 


This was already anomalous.  I have never and would never  begin my day by washing laundry.  It was not my conscious decision.  I recall the sensation of practically being directed to the basement.


When I went downstairs I was surprised.  The floor was all wet and I saw the sink was overflowing with water. I plunged my hand deep down and could feel that the mouth of the drain was clogged.  I cleaned out the muck and the sink emptied out.    I caught it just in time, and avoided a nasty flood in my basement.   Again, nothing earth-shaking but uncannily suggestive.


I was forced to infer that somehow a part of me was in touch with the danger below and managed to get me out of bed so I could do something about it.  Some deep aspect of myself must be aware of the world around me.  Once I assume this as a working hypothesis, it opens to a world of possibilities—of possible experiments.


There must be a way to engage with that hidden part of myself that can be more helpful, more actively involved in my creative life process.  Whatever we’re doing  in our moment to moment lives, more could always be made of the experience, if our full creative potential were active.


The various religions seem preoccupied with methods of engaging with this elusive greater mind that haunts and plays with us.  People in the arts often have ways of tuning into their source of inspiration.  My point is simple. There must be ways to explore these latent inner resources.


As our lives get more complicated and challenged. i, e., encroaching climate chaos—we’ll need to make full use of our basic human skills.  I think it important never to underestimate what may lie latent within us.


Nothing seems more creatively promising than a near-death experience  (NDE).  Much research on this phenomenon proves it can release an array of extended mental capacities.  They range from mystical to psychokinetic effects, and generally transform one’s personality. Very interesting, but most of us prefer not to have to nearly die to trigger an adventure of transcendence. 


There are less dramatic ways to explore the mysteries of higher consciousness.  Being near death is potent because of what it does to our normal consciousness. It wrenches us completely from our normal sensory consciousness and from our normal  sense of self. The hypnotic fixation on the external world is shattered.  A latent sphere of possible consciousness opens up.


Have a look at some less violent ways to access our normally unconscious creative  potentials.  A dream is a kind of near-death; a mental retreat from the external world.  The creative potential of dreams is well documented.  We can learn to dialogue with our dream life. (It takes practice.) We can deploy psychoactive substances to engage with the hidden dimension of our mental life. These tactics parallel what happens in the near-death state; they disrupt the normal habits of mental perception.  But in so doing they open us up to new forms of experience. 


There are purely physical things we can do to alter our relation to the creative unconscious.  Consider fasting, which is a kind of near-death gesture.  A withdrawal from our devouring self; a suspension of our compulsion to consume; a flirtation with the idea of angels that feed on love. And then there is breath, in Greek, psyche, the word for soul. Or what the Indian calls pranayama, controlling spirit, from the Latin for wind. To control the breath is a way to control the mind.  In yoga we stop, control, and manipulate our breath, a way of playing with death, and therefore of expanding consciousness.


So it’s alright being baffled once in a while, if it sparks a bit of self-exploration. My point is that many pathways are open to people curious about exploring their larger selves. There is room in us all to evolve in different ways.  Not a bad idea to ponder in light of the difficulties we are facing today, turning our beautiful  planet into hell on Earth.







Tuesday, July 18, 2023

Consciousness the Key to Survival

Call it whatever you like, but I believe there is a spark of divinity, a seed of a great evolutionary future latent in the core of human beings.  The stories of the great seekers of ultimate reality are often wildly original. At the same time, there are striking commonalities.  I found this to be the case in my study of two extraordinary persons, for example, the strange flying mystic, Joseph of Copertino,  I was aware of the mainstream recoil from talk of things like levitation—especially, if they are associated with organized religion and  antiquated theology.  But after reading an essay on Joseph and his marvels, I decided to go back to the original eyewitness accounts of his life and astonishing phenomena.  If all the things about the saint were true, it would be a fantastic challenge to science.  It would also provide crucial data that supports Henri Bergson’s vision of creative evolution.  In other words, we are not the final product of human evolution.


But then another turn enabled me to actually meet the last living master of Taan or vibration yoga, also known as nada yoga.  In this case, I was able to sit down and interact with a person I like to call a human singularity.  Now the two men came from different traditions and eras, saint Joseph from 17th century Catholicism and swami Nada from 20th century Hinduism.  I was curious whether amid the cultural disparities there were commonalities.


I should state what my overarching concern is.   As people everywhere on earth are  learning, since the Industrial Revolution, human technological activities among the rich and powerful countries are warming up the planet, causing catastrophic climate changes everywhere and faster than the science has predicted.  It is a matter of hard  fact to say that humans have set in motion a process that, as we speak, is doomward bound for much of life on earth. Call this point number one. 


The second point: How do we stop, slow up, get a handle on this self-destroying process we have created and save ourselves and our planet?   The first thing I would say is crucial and should be obvious:  We have to understand what is happening, how we have set this process in motion.  We also have to understand that to deal with it everybody has a role to play.  We go backward if we don’t get these absolutely basic points.  Unprecedented disaster is encroaching upon us and we all need to face this truth.  And we all need to play our part in the effort to minimize the disaster and discover new and less destructive ways of inhabiting our planet.  So far all I have said is common sense and should be obvious to anyone.   If you’re standing on train tracks and see and hear a locomotive roaring toward you, you have to get out of the way. But the full nature of this challenge calls for more than common sense. It calls for a radical critique of the assumptions that led to our suicidal planetary lifestyle.  


Looking further into this frightening future, something beyond common sense is going to be needed when food, water, and infrastructure give way. This already describes the circumstances of millions of people today, the result of a way of life  that has poisoned and overheated the planet with rampant technology.


United Nations leader, Antonio Gutteres, throws down the real gauntlet. The only way to cope with this fast advancing global peril is by changing the way we live on Earth. We need to realize that human and all life depends on the health of the  Earth.  The Earth is not a shopping mall, not a resource we can endlessly exploit for the sake of capitalism and consumerism. 


We have to learn to use technology to enhance not exploit nature, treasure and cultivate its wonders, not turn them into commodities. It’s been said, and seems obvious, we can change our life only if we change of consciousness—our beliefs, aims, and values.   We hear it from many quarters: what the world needs is a change of heart, a deepening of consciousness, a new perspective on how to live.   After all, how we live is mediated through our consciousness at any given moment.  It makes a difference, if our consciousness is colored by hatred, contempt, paranoid suspicion, ignorant fanaticism OR by curiosity, gratitude, love, imagination, empathy.


There are people among us who seem to inhabit a form of consciousness that is higher, richer, more challenging than what is normal and customary. I mentioned the saint and the yogi.  The one thing these two had in common was to focus upon on their inner life and the life, progress, and expansion  of their consciousness.  How they did this I describe in detail in The Man Who Could Fly and the Yoga of Sound.  That potential for evolution lies in us all.  Each of us will have to work on ourselves in whatever way it works, as the crisis of climate Armageddon intensifies.







Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Marijuana: Your Mental Magnifying Glass

America seems to have slipped into what could turn into a renaissance of consciousness. The shadow of illegality seems to be lifting from certain agents of possible self-transformation.   Psychedelics are in the midst of new forms of flourishing, in therapeutic settings but also in so-called “recreational” settings.  


The latter term has some funny connotations.  There’s a harmless sense of recreation as fun—and who doesn’t love new ways of having fun?    But notice the word “recreate”.  Psychedelics are sometimes used to recreate ourselves—in other words, refashion our perceptions of reality. That’s a pretty big thing.  Psychedelics, like near-death experiences, can tune us into whole new dimensions of reality. 


I want in this post to say a few things about our Lady of Marijuana, the Queen of Cannabis, or what I like to call my faithful friend—Weed.    In fact, what I want to say about Weed is addressed to folks that for one reason or another have never touched  the stuff.  I’m not interested in the cause of the resistance or indifference toward this plant, which government retards have maligned and lied about for decades. I would point out the parallel mendacity for about the same time period with regard to UFOs or UAPs.


However, since 2017 both the weed and the alien phenomenon are being treated with growing respect and candor.  I have bought in my local supermarket books and pamphlets on the health benefits of marijuana!  Meanwhile there are unfortunates still in jail for life because they used or sold the weed.  But the doors are opening to the mysteries of mental space and to the mysteries of outer space. Good news for anyone with an appetite for mental adventure. 


I want to make two points about the green plant.  The first—all that marijuana does is illuminate and intensify what’s already there.  Stan Grof spoke of psychedelics as “non-specific amplifiers of consciousness. The weed is no more than a mental magnifying glass. Old potheads will recall getting the “munchies” when they first inhaled a joint.  Food tasted better, music blew you way, your lover’s body became a new country to explore. And so on.  Simple intensification of the senses can alter your world-view in a benign way.


But the magnifying glass can work in other, more subtle ways.  It can magnify access to the subconscious mind and thus draw on its resources and creative potential.    In everyday life our attention is absorbed in the business of making it through the day in one piece, hopefully with ego and body intact.  The weed, respectfully deployed, can open and enlarge the flow of perception and of imagination.   


This leads to my second thought. I call weed the interesting drug—the drug that can make just about anything interesting. One toke of the green lady and all sorts of things can take hold of my curious attention.  Anything I observe, touch, think about is suddenly aglow with meaning and with mystery.  I pick up a book of poetry and the first poem I read surprises me with freshness.  I step outside and quickly get lost in clusters of birdsong around me.  I click on the radio and some disaster on the other side of the planet touches my heart.  I lie back  and muse on the weirdness of my existence.  Wherever I direct my consciousness—an ant wandering on my keyboard—I see the glorious will to live--a tiny symbol of the great mystery of life. 


Surely such a magnifying glass is a useful tool.  It can help us to see and sense the world around and within us more clearly. It does so with a greater than normal degree of vividness, intensity, and meaningfulness.  Needless to say, the utility of a psychic magnifying glass depends on the eyes that are looking through it.


I’m tempted to end this budding train of thought with an account of my first encounter with the Lady of Marijuana. But I would rather listen to your thoughts about how we might establish a more intimate relationship with the plant world.  We could count it as a step toward coping with the menace of climate chaos.   



Monday, June 12, 2023

Interview on Life After Death


                                        On Life After Death       

 1-Good evening, Professor Michael Grosso.  You taught philosophy at the University. What made you interested in the afterlife and its manifestations?

To begin with, before I knew what a “crisis apparition” was, my mother told me a story. She saw an apparition of her brother at the moment he died in a hospital several miles away.  As a young adult I once saw an apparition of my dead grandmother along with a woman I never saw before whom I later identified in a photograph as my grandmother’s sister, a woman long deceased I had never met or known.  This, along with my my growing interest in the mind-body problem, prompted me to investigate the various forms of alleged afterlife evidence.


2-After your research experience of many years, what is consciousness and what role does it play for you?

Consciousness is what I call the most obvious scientific mystery.  Even reductive materialists like Stephen Pinker admit they are clueless when it comes to explaining the origin of consciousness, without which there is no awareness of the being of anything.  Consciousness appears to us as the fundamental, irreducible, many-layered fact of being. To me consciousness is the premise of my current existence and a beacon pointing to unknown regions and dimensions of possible exploration.


3-You wrote a book "Experiencing the Next World Now". Many experiences such as those of the NDE show how beyond the veil of perception of the senses and social and religious superstructures one can experience an altered state of consciousness that can show us the life of consciousness beyond matter. What do you imagine the life of consciousness in the non-physical dimension will be like?

I think the closest analogy to our possible afterlife mode of being is the dream. The world of our dreams is purely mental and infinitely plastic in its phenomenology, ranging from hellish nightmares to heavenly epiphanies.  The dream is often a vehicle of paranormal cognition and creative breakthrough, the intermediate zone between our embodied and our possible disembodied postmortem existence.  The world of the arts seems to me our best source of clues to the nature of an afterlife. 


4-The experiences of NDE and OBE or the ASC seem in many cases to produce a change of personality in those who live these experiences and a compassionate openness towards others. Without mentioning the many studies on the symptomatology of these experiences, I ask you what is your opinion on the matter.

This is a complex question.  “Compassionate openness towards others,” that is the question, the central issue, indeed, the global challenge. At last count, about 23 or 24 wars are raging on earth now, and governments everywhere are spending their wealth on beefing up more diabolical weaponry.  My impression is that radically powerful ASCs (like OBEs, NDEs, and psychedelics) can sometimes decisively alter the personality toward openness and compassion.  The most dramatic is the life review of the NDE, in which the subject relives the injuries imposed on others, but from the point of view of the injured party.  In short, if we somehow for a moment attain to a godlike perspective on the world, we would see and feel far more than we usually do. To reach that point of view you have to break out of your personal perspective.  But most of us suffer from a certain sclerosis of the imagination.  To combat this, in my opinion, is a renaissance of the humanities.   


5-Your blog Consciousness Unbound is very interesting and deals with many topics concerning consciousness, spirituality and peak experiences. You are also interested in psychic research. Recent scientific studies (Korotkov, 2013) demonstrate that human consciousness possesses measurable magnetic energy. How do you think this magnetism relates or not to life in matter and life experiences in the after-death dimension?

Bravo! I want to read that paper.  I see this finding as supporting a general claim about the reality of psychokinesis (PK), which is very general. The bare claim: mental states--volitions, emotions, fantasies, frustrations, etc.—can have direct influence on physical states.  This should be obvious to any introspective person. An angry thought will raise my blood pressure. Fear will make my hands cold and my gut writhe. Etc. But there is also evidence that mental states can influence external physical states, experimental and spontaneous.  There are distinct categories of  PK phenomena, and not the least is a vast literature on paranormal healing, and growing; there is the world of the poltergeist, all sorts of unaccountable physical hijinx; the experimental data on materialization; the world of apports and hauntings,where all sorts of physical events are reported.  Not only is the idea of PK induced magnetism plausible, but in fact the PK phenomena take us beyond the laws of physics today.  The roles of hyperspace and quantum mechanics have been discussed in efforts to make sense of the physical phenomena, all of which must have bearing on our thoughts of post-biological survival.    


6-The ecstatic path in mysticism as an experience of contact with the divine. Is this path predestined in some men or is it for everyone?

In moods of evolutionary optimism, I like to imagine a time when human common sense will have absorbed something of a mystical tincture, so there might be a developmental trend toward a higher mode of consciousness.  Another optimistic fantasy I entertain would be something like reinventing the ancient Greek Eleusinian Mystery practices, in which people would undergo a ritual transformation, a long fast crowned by drinking a psychedelic brew that induced a vision of Persephone, goddess of the underworld.  This was a psychic and a social form of human transformation we might reconstruct for today’s world.  Not about a Greek goddess but suited to each person’s spiritual symbols and metaphors.


7-Materialistic science does not share the existence of the soul in metaphysical terms since it believes that, despite several studies, it is not measurable. How can post-materialism tell us about the soul and its functions?

Measure has to do with mathematized physical space, not applicable to the way the concept of soul is used.  Soul is less a thing than a process of mental life. The post-materialist is already engaged with soul life through his feelings, memories, dreams, desires, reasonings, passions, the whole of one’s mental life, conscious and subliminal. Soul, as Keats wrote in a famous letter, is what we are forever making in the face of a daunting but equally wondrous stream of complex experience.  The soul-deprived and soul-hungry need but turn the mysterious beam of their consciousness on themselves.  

8-A science of states of consciousness. There are many studies now analyzing alleged ASC experiences. But there is still no science and perhaps there is no need. It seems more useful to understand the mechanisms of the activation of these states and their usefulness for human evolution. What is your point of view?

I couldn’t agree more.  We need to understand that there are mechanisms, practices we can pursue that promise to open us to altered modes of perception and altered modes of action. The science, or knowledge, that we need is personal and indeed existential. An ironical twist here: objective science is telling us we have ten years before climate catastrophe overtakes us and destroys world civilization. All we have to fight back is the soul and its elusive science.   

9-What does soulmaking mean to you today?

For me, soulmaking means two great things conducive to saving the world from human greed, malice and suicidal stupidity. Two items, mutually supportive: empathy for all sentient beings, including those we righteously loathe and despise and radically rethinking and transforming our relationship to the natural world, shifting from the murderously exploitative to a life-affirming partnersnhip.


10-You have written a book "Frontiers of the Soul". Chapters on the parapsychology of religion. God, the myth, the spiritual experience. The new forms of contemporary spirituality seem to slowly detach from religion and be "spiritual but not religious". Do you think this was an element that already belonged to the mystics of the past and is only now being revealed?

Yes, I do.  The part of religion many people crave is the part that touches and frees their soul and spirit, expands their sense of life, extends it perhaps into a fuller mode of afterlife existence. The part of religion that is detestable is the cruelty and fanaticism, and the unholy lust for power that drives the dialectic of damnable  religionism.

11 -Beyond physicalism and the irreducible mind. The challenge to reductive and monist scientific materialism is not really a challenge since it is expressed as the result of a limited paradigm for minds that do not have access to the transpersonal dimension. The question is: In your opinion is scientific materialism to be limited or the type of men who propose it to be unsuitable for a broader science that includes the non-material dimension?

Scientific materialism is not a crime but it leaves out the inner dimension of the human adventure and has become the servant of two trends that singly and combined are driving the entire planet toward climate/nuclear Armageddon: consumerism and militarism.  The details for the latter proposition are before us in the news every hour of every day.


12- We were delighted with Julian Jaynes's theories on the collapse of the bicameral mind and the birth of consciousness to find a theory that defines the mind that speaks to the divine. Can you tell us about your opinion on the relationship of mind and soul and their relationship to human consciousness?

Thanks for this concluding question that has baffled and inspired the humblest and the greatest of minds.  When I was about 18 years old I walked into the Vedanta Society somewere on New York’s East Side.  The first thing I saw on the wall was a quote from the Rig Veda: “Truth is one; people call it variously.” That confirmed my own intuition, and it’s what I believe today.  From the Upanishads I further refined the intuition of a single source of divine power and illumination, the root of all the insights, visions, and inspirations that gave rise to the great historical religions; the magical and shamanic traditions; the isolated flowerings of genius in all walks of life—a process that never stops. 

The situation today is unique, however. It now appears as the result of encroaching climate catastrophe that we can speak of a global near-death experience.  I’ll end with a question: will these mega challenges serve in the long run to awaken the latent consciousness we associate with near-death transformation? 

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Music in the Age of Conflicts

According to a Hindu teaching, we’re at the tail end of the Kali Yuga, the Age of Conflicts.  Unfortunately, we can see for ourselves the discords and conflicts that pervade life on earth today. Conflict is rife in impoverished as well as advanced countries  like the United States.   This so-called  reign of Kali is evident in at least three ways.


The first is within ourselves.  Our inner conflicts are real enough and can dominate our lives. Perhaps one clear indicator of being in conflict with oneself is suicide.   The data is complicated, but suicide is a leading cause of death among children and teenagers in America, a country ruled by the cult of the gun and the worship of money.  The happiest nations have the higher rates of suicide, but it’s the people at the bottom that mostly kill themselves.  Needless to say, suicide is the most extreme symptom of inner conflict.  Most of us experience our inner conflicts in less extreme ways that we call neurosis and psychosis.


The second place is on the field of murderous battle—between groups of people, sometimes between nations.  Accounts vary but about forty wars are at present underway on our polluted planet, the most perilous the one the Russians are waging against Ukraine, a war in danger of mushrooming into atomic conflict.  Conflicts are rooted in ideological differences.  In the United States, the conflict is between the two governing parties, marked by further divisions in the factions themselves, that spill over into forms of mutual annihilation.  Kali’s hand is at work in family life, in news media and platforms, and in the entertainment industries.


There’s a third category of conflict that only recently has become horribly evident. This is the conflict between humans and the natural environment.  The assault on nature has been catastrophic—the result of flooding the atmosphere with greenhouse gases.  Habitat destruction and species extinction are off the charts.  Droughts, floods, tornadoes, water shortage, killer heat waves, pollution of rivers and seas, new pandemics pending, food shortage, and so on.  The third category is worsening by the hour.


So, we’re in conflict with ourselves, with other human beings, and full scale with all aspects of the natural world.  How could music make a difference?  The connecting link between music and conflict is harmony and rhythm. Music, in a deep metaphoric sense, is any way we can harmonize with our experience, with ourselves, with the people and world around us.  In this sense, music is the art of living in harmony, in rhythmic accord, with all the categories of possible experience.   



Understanding music in this way, life itself becomes the instrument we use to make our ‘music.’ This more comprehensive  idea of music requires that we practice and learn to improvise.  Every situation of life presents an opportunity to make ‘music’ in the creative way we attempt to conduct ourselves.  This expanded idea of music reminds us of the Muses, the Greek goddesses that dwell on Mount Helicon who inspire all forms of creativity—artistic, moral,  and scientific. 


There is a sense of music I want to entertain that takes us back to Pythagoras, the Greek philosopher, born in Samos around 560 BC, a mathematician who discovered the theorem after his name. He also was the first to discover the mathematics of vibration, the scales and intervals of music.  Pythagoras spoke of the so-called “music of the spheres,” based probably on an unusual experience of transcendent music he is said to have had.


There is a well known phenomenon I describe in the Yoga of Sound, sometimes reported in near-death experiences, a kind of multi-voice chorus of ecstatic music.  Scott Rogo wrote two books on the subject, full of first-person accounts of this amazing experience, which occurs in various circumstances.


Pythagoras devised a model of science that went out of fashion with the rise of mechanistic science and modern technology. He believed in reincarnation, and founded a vegetarian community.  Music and science were stepping stones toward a life of peace and friendship, and the good life was based on harmonic values and practices.  


This Pythagorean is the exact opposite of the prevailing paradigm of science today.  Science today is the absolute, cringing, no-cost-barred servant of two things that are destroying our planet: militarism and consumerism.  The  U.S. 2023 military budget, with an upgrade of our world-destroying nuclear arsenal, is $886 billion.  Pythagoras would have us use that $886 billion and all military personnel to clean up the environment; educate, feed, heal the needy and the forgotten: indeed, aim to create a paradise for all life forms.  But the possibility of this depends on getting rid of the prevailing materialist mindset.  


As far then as music and the Age of Kali, two points are worth recalling. First, no matter what the future may bring, music, in the wide sense suggested above, can serve as and ally in the art of living.  But the power of the alliance depends on how much of us we invest in our chosen life-affirming practice.


The sayings and stories in my book about Nada Brahmananda make good company.   His message was, no matter who you are or where you are, you can always be learning to tune into the infinite vibe that is deep within us all.   Just keep tapping with your foot, your mind on the one point of light.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Science and Super Humanity

I believe a science of superhumanity is possible; my belief is based on a mass of empirical data. We need to think carefully about this possibility. So far, despite their great achievements, science and technology have brought us to the brink of nuclear annihilation and climate catastrophe.  But science also holds out a promise of human transformation and planetary revival The human situation is up for grabs, we’re at a crossroads.  But there is a problem with the concept of truth..


Can  a society with a twisted sense of truth long survive?  Can we manage when  basic factual truth is in jeopardy?  We are, after all, hacking our way through an age of fake news. The fakery is pervasive. Capitalism, politics, spying, advertising, business, the infinite varieties of scamming and conning. This grand falsification process is mediated by our communication technologies. And ‘communication’ is changing.  It is now possible to construct auditory, visual, and behavioral replicas of real people that come to life in digital space. AI ChatGPT and related programs enormously raise the specter of new forms of deception.   


From all sides it seems the idea of truth is facing a crisis.  To fend off the agents of falsification that plague us, beware the shysters constantly trying to con us. The general rule is, the bigger the capitalist entity, the more ruthless the likely deception.  We should suspect the claims of certain politicians and their acolytes.  By far the most spectacular  is the phenomenon of the Trumpian base and cynical Republican affiliates. Truth here lies in bloody pieces thrown into our faces, thanks to the pathological liar and rapist, Donald Trump.


We’re not surprised by all the lying and chicanery that revolve around politics and the American gods of money and power. But what about science? Science, by definition, is an institution dedicated to knowledge and truth.  We expect more from scientists when it comes to matters of truth.  Follow the facts wherever they lead us is the ideal of authentic scientists.   


But scientists are human beings and subject to forces that can deform their sense of truth. Some scientists are known to take bribes from corporate entities in exchange for endorsing—lying about—the endorsed product.  The money motive for lying here is plain enough.


Scientists are sometimes paid or compelled to lie by the government for security reasons.  For example, since 1947 the U.S. Government and scientific personnel actively concealed the truth about UFOs and UAPs from the American people for various ill-conceived reasons. So, when a psychiatrist like John Mack reported his research on alien abduction he was attacked by his Harvard compatriots.  Since 2017 the Government has opened the question for discussion, and admitted the reality of an alien technology that regularly enters our airspace—a “technology” that clearly transcends anything known to current science.  In fact, the presence of this super-technology operating with impunity in our midst is a topic of great significance—but oddly has  retired to the files of YouTube and is rarely discussed in mainline venues.   


There’s something else. A scientist may deny or trivialize a matter of fact because it has implications he doesn’t like.  This is the more egregious sin against science.  The example that comes to mind is the Big Bang Theory of the birth of the universe 13.7 billion years ago.  This is the theory widely accepted by scientists today, especially in light of the most recent research.  The theory at first was dismissed with contempt, for example, by Einstein, by Eddington, and by many of the leading lights in the field of cosmology.  Why the contempt?  The Big Bang seemed to imply something obnoxious to  physicists firmly committed to materialism and atheism.


In 1927, Georges LemaĆ®tre published a paper that predicted the expansion of the universe of galaxies.  There were observations beginning to suggest that startling fact. The idea of an expanding universe was not consistent with what Einstein, Eddington and others believed to be an eternal, static, steady-state universe.


LemaĆ®tre inferred that an expanding universe must have originated at a previous time from a super dense singularity of some physical reality.  The universe exploded out of this physical singularity creating time and space, a universe that is still expanding  and at an accelerating rate.  Big Bang cosmology has clearly ousted the steady-state cosmology, in spite of the physicists that first rejected the theory.  The  atheists were appalled. In a broad way, the Big Bang seems consistent with Biblical creationism. But so what? The truth is that nobody has a clue to what really caused the Big Bang, if there was a Big Bang.  The universe seems to be an effect with an unknown cause, but a reality with a finite history.  Sorry, Einstein.


The atheist physicists had a hard time processing this cosmological surprise.  Moreover, Lemaitre, in addition to being a brilliant mathematician and physicist, was a Catholic priest.  But, as Lemaitre rightly understood and clearly stated, the Big Bang model of cosmic creation favors no religion.  Nonetheless, the antagonism toward the theory was (and still is) weighty, precisely because it can be construed as having religious significance.  But the resistance is not science; it’s ideology and fascist metaphysics.


There is another example of science in denial (or in retreat) from a mass of highly significant empirical data.  In a way that exactly parallels the hostile reception of the Big Bang theory, most  scientists (not necessarily physicists) have been and still are instinctively on guard and reluctant (at least publicly) to engage with the wide world of paranormal phenomena. Paranormal phenomena like levitation, precognition, instantaneous healing, the materialization of physical objects, indications of postmortem survival, and so on, are construed as supportive of mentalistic worldviews where miracles, life after death, and supernatural beings are treated as real. All this is rightly construed as a mortal threat to reductive scientific materialism.


Respect for factual truth needs to be instilled in the common consciousness.    Without it we’re easily misled and manipulated. Materialist science would deny  truths that may hold the secret of our evolutionary advance as a species. The unidentified beings the government lied about point to our potential evolution. For a more exact picture of what that may look like, see the data we call supernormal or miraculous—our extended mental, physical and spiritual powers.  In a fact-based model of what is possible, we can contemplate an outline of our futuristic identity.  My next post will sketch a more detailed picture of a fact-based futuristic version of our bedevilled species.   






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