Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Nature is Not Straight or Conservative

The Catholic Church has recently come out with a pronouncement against the concept of being transgender.  Now, despite Pope Francis showing the LGBT community a notably rare degree of compassion and humanity, he is opposed to the idea of transgender because he thinks it philosophically defective. He perceives transgendered reality as an attempts to deconstruct nature. 

Monday, August 26, 2019

Retrieving the Soul of Psychotherapy

I recall the first paper I wrote in college for a psychology course.  I don’t know where the idea came from, but I objected to any kind of psychotherapy that tried to make people ‘normal’.  I had no idea what normal meant and I had a feeling that most people who seemed normal were really quite crazy.  I have never abandoned that admittedly hasty intuition.  My idea was that any attempt to work on improving ourselves and our lives should go all out. The goal should not be to adapt to prevailing norms but to transcend mere normality and aim for the supernormal and the extraordinary.

Monday, August 19, 2019

New Evidence for Life After Death

Most of us are struggling to survive on earth and don’t have time to think about life after death. As it happens, there is much information about this subject, and some progress in the field is notable.  Thanks to new technologies, what may lie behind the veil of bodily death is being gradually scoped out.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

An Unclassifiable Miracle

I am not bashful about confronting incomprehensible phenomena; but some phenomena especially flabbergast me.  Examples might be precognition and materialization, where the one upsets our idea of time and the other our idea of being and nothing. I’m not sure how to describe the example I want to describe in this post.  This story is extra strange, and I don’t now how to classify it. It illustrates two things.  Human beings can be unspeakably barbarous for unspeakably vile reasons. But human beings at the same time can produce phenomena that totally baffles the rational mind.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Living Without Eating

Searching for the outer limits of human potential has taken me to some strange places.  The result has led me to wonder what it really means to be a human being. There are in fact disturbing signs that human evolution is not yet complete. Enough indications point to a possibly more evolved version of our species yet to emerge.  To help me understand what the possible future human might be like, I have focused on saints, yogis, mediums, shamans and mystics, unique individuals noted for their unusual abilities.  Piecing together these various abilities, a picture is beginning to crystallize.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Fighting Back With Concentration

How could a pebble become your best friend?  I found out while listening to an interview on NPR about a recently closed state reform school in Florida.  Dozier’s School for Boys was for juvenile delinquents, and the school was notorious for beating, torturing, and even murdering its young inmates.  I was struck by something that one of the former victims of this American nightmare said on the radio.  It was central to the theme of consciousness.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Consciousness, the State, and Marijuana

The other day I found a book by Lisa Brooks called Medical Marijuana—very informative and well illustrated—of all places, in a big supermarket.  My, how things have changed!  I recalled the movie Reefer Madness, that famously grotesque travesty of the poor weed.  Since the 1930s marijuana has been maligned and demonized  in the U.S.; along with the people who smoked and sold it who were jailed, especially, of course, if poor and black. Now American supermarkets are selling books about its benefits.  And they’re huge! After eight decades of being lied to by the state concerning cannabis, the truth of its benefits is at last becoming known.  That merits at least two cheers.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Icon of the Impossible

In my view, art is a psychic phenomenon, and the artist is a medium.  Painting, for example, we can think of as a form of materialization.  I have a feeling, an image, an idea; art is how I materialize my inner reality. How I make it public. Art translates the intangible and the invisible into something we can touch and see.  To do this I need paint and canvas to materialize my idea or vision. 

But I want to ask a strange question.  What about the possibility of materializing the vision straight from the imagination? That would be something entirely different, a new type of artistic creativity.  As it turns out, it is possible to make a case for materialization.  There are mediums, saints, and yogis said to be able to perform such feats of metaphysical magic.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Mind Bending Metal

Can people really bend metal with their mind?   I’ve seen it done at scholarly gatherings and at spoon bending parties on New York’s West Side.  I’ve done it myself.  In fact, there’s a serious literature on the subject.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

A More Direct Approach to Afterlife Research

Each soul will feel and know itself to be immortal, will feel
and know that the entire universe with all its good and with all
its beauty is for it and belongs to it forever.

                                    Richard Bucke, M.D., Cosmic Consciousness

A More Direct Approach to Afterlife Research

In our age of science, it’s tempting to ask: Is there a life after death?  What was once religious belief, an aspect of mythology, may now be reframed as a scientific question that appeals to evidence and allows you to draw conclusions. 
            Psychical research, launched by Henry Sidgwick and Frederic Myers in 1882, focuses on proof based on inference to the best explanation. In one case, somebody sees the apparition of a known dead person; the apparition describes where he hid his last written will and testament. No living person knows where the document  was hidden. Interested parties go to the unknown place as described by the apparition; the last will is found there and is validated by the courts.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Should Science Care About Life After Death?

I am puzzled by the seeming lack of interest in one of the great mysteries.  I have also noticed an active revulsion on the part of friends I have known toward even thinking about it.  I once performed an experiment with two colleagues.  I tried to place a copy of the best book I knew on mediumship by the British psychologist, Alan Gauld, into their hands, in hopes of them reading it.  I failed on both counts.  Each of my colleagues literally recoiled from the sight of Gauld’s book, and each of them invented the most baroque reason for not being free to turn a page at least for a year!

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Forgive Or Not To Forgive?

Few of us go through life without having been injured, wounded, sometimes devastated by the actions of individuals or institutions.  We’re creatures of memory and carry our injuries with us, which can be quietly nagging or secretly poisonous.   Seemingly invisible or forgotten, we have to deal with them, one way or another.  I have an unoriginal suggestion. One way is through conscious acts of forgiveness.  

Forgiveness can change one’s whole outlook on life, as in the story of Louis Zamperini, an American soldier who returned to Japan and embraced with forgiveness three of the men who tortured him in the Second World War.  It was only after this that his nightmares from the war ceased.  It was the beginning of something new; he became a teacher, a healer, and a force for good.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Rigid Disbelief: An Obstacle to Healing

The psychologist, William McDougall, recounts the case of a client who came to him after a year of struggling with his affliction. A young man got his left hand violently caught in a hay-rake, and emerged from the accident with his forearm reduced to a state of paralysis and anesthesia.  Several doctors, including one that left scars from a failed electrical treatment, treated him without success; another offer was to simplify matters by amputating the apparently useless limb.
According to McDougall, the young man was absolutely convinced he could not be healed. No one had helped him so far; so he thought of himself as a hopeless case.  The man needed to be disabused of the false belief he had embraced.  “It was only through a course of education, persuasion, and suggestion (waking and hypnotic) and encouragement continued over some weeks that the cure was effected. The essential step was to shake and undermine his fixed belief in the permanent nature of the paralysis.” (See his Outline of Abnormal Psychology.)

Friday, May 31, 2019

Awakening Our Better Angels

Our normal consciousness conceals a world of possible states, each with it uses and unknown functions: I mean stuff we call creative, paranormal, and mystical. I believe all these are pointing toward our potential future—we don’t have to look far to see we’re a long way from getting there.  
Potential, however, does not necessarily imply probable.  Dante had to make his way through Hell and Purgatory before the first glimpse of Heaven was possible.

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Bullying Our Way to Heaven and Empire

I was out for a Sunday stroll on the outdoor mall.  I noticed up ahead two young men trying to hand out some leaflets.  The two had evangelically bland, scrubbed faces and attire to match.  I could see that no one was accepting the leaflets; others went out of their way to avoid the two men completely.

I walked right up to them and the tall guy held out a leaflet.  I accepted it, nodded, said, “Thank you,” and moved on.  I opened the leaflet. The first page was covered with one sentence from a letter of St. Paul’s to the Hebrews (9:27).  In all caps it said: “A man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.  The word die was in red italics and judgment in italics.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Awakening Psychokinesis

Awakening Psychokinesis

Psychokinesis is the the power of our intangible thoughts to produce tangible effects.
It is direct action of mind on matter—on our own bodies, and sometimes, on external bodies.  But that’s magic! you might say.  Correct, as discussed in Dean Radin’s book, Real Magic, an excellent primer on the science of magic.  Consider the greatest magician of all time--God.  We read in the Book of Genesis: “And God said, ‘Let there be light!’ And there was light.”  Now that’s PK!  Psychokinesis--which means mind-moving, mind-transforming.

If I had one phrase to distill what I’ve learned from my research, it would be this: PK is the spark of divine creativity in us all.  For indeed as the poet said we are “made in the image and likeness of God.”  We’re not just carbon-based physical organisms; but minds, a source of consciousness with powers that boggle known science.   

PK, moreover, is not rare.  There is normal PK, evident all day as we direct the movements of our bodies, restraining and shaping them in various ways; there is abnormal PK in the form of ulcers, high blood pressure, and other psychosomatic diseases; and finally supernormal PK—effects like levitation, shapeshifting, bilocation, weather control, materialization, dematerialization, instantaneous healings, placebo, nocebo, stigmata, odor of sanctity, and much more.  There is a mountain of facts that supports the idea that we humans own a spark of supernormal capacity—a spark that can sometimes ignite a fire.

So, with some hesitation, . we might ask: How can we ignite the fire of our potential soul power? Which is what I mean by the technical term psychokinesis.  According to physicist Helmut Schmidt, PK is a goal-oriented process.  Suppose in a test you’re trying to influence the fall of dice, say, to get sevens.  You don’t concentrate on how to make it happen. Instead, you keep your attention on the goal, the end-state, the thing itself—in this case, to roll sevens.  Don’t calculate, worry or strain.   The ‘method’ is to fix attention on the goal; hold it there firmly; visualize what you want to actually happen. The image of the goal becomes the lodestar of your consciousness.

This may be useful in shaping the course of everyday life.  The important thing is having our aims clearly and steadily before our consciousness.   But this is hard to do, especially for us in our hyper-active techno-culture defined by endless distractions.  If you really want to perform a ‘miracle,’ all of you has to be present.    

Often, ironically, the ‘miracles’ in our lives occur when we least expect them.  Sometimes you can aim too hard; like trying too hard to remember something—stop trying, give up, and then it comes back.  Sometimes we have to give up before something we’re aiming for can happen.  Total concentration is required, but being too anxious about success will get in the way. The big idea is that we can shape the course of our journey.  It’s either that or we get blown hither and yon, slaves of chance and fate, fodder for the dark forces.

I have defined PK in such a way as to show it represents a spectrum from normal to abnormal and supernormal.  The supernormal and ‘miraculous’ potentials are rooted in our normal everyday minds.  As human beings we’re capable of doing far more than we might normally suppose.  We find evidence for this all the time.  It would be useful to learn how to activate that potential.  In fact, thanks to the explorer instinct of our species, many ways have been discovered.  The physicist Helmut Schmidt, along with mystics, shamans, and magicians from all traditions provide various hints and rules.  It’s up to us to make use of them.

Monday, May 6, 2019

The Need for a Science of Spirituality

Ever since the rise of modern science in 17th century Europe, science and spirituality have been estranged.  This has been worse than unfortunate because science and spirituality are major parts of human experience, and it won’t do to have them perennially at odds with each other.  So one of the mega thought-memes of modern history has been trying to harmonize these two dimensions of experience that so powerfully influence our lives.  The challenge is how to integrate them and do justice to the best they have to offer while being wary of the worst as well.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Transcendent Diet

by Michael Grosso:

Diet in ancient Greek refers to one’s way of life. What you eat,  how you exercise, the kind of society you keep, etc. Diet assumes you’re capable of self-discipline.  Looking for an art form you can practice?  Look no further than the raw material handed to you called daily life. Your ‘diet’ is the art you practice to shape your day to day existence.  Could there be any higher art form?

A good diet should cover both mind and body. Now one problem we all know about is obesity—but there are two kinds of ‘obesity’. Some folks are not literally fat, but their minds might be ‘overweight’.  They might need to lighten up mentally. Their ‘obesity’ lies in the medley of thoughts and emotions that drive their minds. This kind of obesity is easy to conceal; that of the body is quickly exposed, even to the casual observer.  

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

An American PK Super-Star

by Michael Grosso:

One of the odd facts about our scientific world are the periodic intrusions of events completely at odds with familiar reality.  We don’t expect alien light-beings to materialize in our living rooms or ghosts to physically attack us in haunted houses, but they do, and that’s not all.  

Take, for example, the case of a man who apparently had super psychokinetic powers, but was of fairly low moral stature, and in fact may have been a murderer. Fortunately, Dr. Jeffrey Mishlove, who wrote the story of Ted Owens, treats his subject with the nuanced approach that it demands. Mishlove knew Owens (d. 1987) for years and had access to the data based on interviews, reportage, and media coverage. The PK Man is not a book for people with a fundamentalist cast of mind; one has to be mentally agile to cover this terrain.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

A Terrifying Case of Precognition

by Michael Grosso:

One thing I keep learning about our mysterious minds—in every category of a phenomenon—say, a mystical experience, a reported alien contact, or the effects of psychokinesis—there are endless variations.  Nothing is mechanical, or exactly predictable about mental life.  No matter how time-tested a rule, it will always be broken.

Precognition subverts our commonsense idea of time and our intuitive sense of cause and effect.  Since when does the effect come before the cause?   Precognition—also called foreknowledge and prophecy—is to know of specific events that have yet to occur.  That may sound impossible, but plenty of evidence says it’s a real effect.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Our Worst Enemy Can Be Ourselves

by Michael Grosso:

I think that anybody given to self-observation will notice that sometimes our worst enemy is ourselves.  They say we have guardian angels; I think we also have inner saboteurs.  There is, I believe, a war going on in us all the time.  But the enemy is not Satan but rather our rogue thoughts.
So I perk up at stories that show how people wreak havoc on themselves with their own beliefs. 

Walter Cannon has described the phenomenon of voodoo death.  A perfectly healthy man learns that some sorcerer has pointed the bone at him, with the intent of a spell to kill him.  The victim is terrified and feels defenseless. He lies down, his whole vital apparatus crashes, and he dies.  Voodoo death illustrates the violence we can inflict on ourselves--all by virtue of what we believe and what we expect.

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Experiment With a Ouija Board

by Michael Grosso:

Since the beginning people have performed experiments, made conscious efforts to pierce the veil that hides the invisible world. All cultures have devised methods of interrogating the Transcendent.  The forms of yoga come to mind, prayer and meditation, ascetic disciplines like fasting and breath-control, the native American vision quest, the classical mystery rites of Eleusis and Dionysos, and so  on and so forth.  Human tradition is replete with methods of inducing experiences of other worlds.[i]

Since the quest of Gilgamesh to discover the plant of immortality, it has insinuated itself into what seems like a game, playing with a Ouija board.  This is a device for stirring up the unconscious and talking with spirits, (best to avoid if mentally unbalanced).  The first time I tried it, the experience was quite interesting and made a memorable impression.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Leaving the World Together

by Michael Grosso:

A story appeared from the News on my Smartphone.  It read, all caps: “Michigan Couple Married 56 Years Die Hours Apart While Holding Hands”. The report states that Judy and Will Webb, both 77 years old, died a few hours apart, first Will (at 2 a.m.) and then Judy, a few hours later. Was the close timing of their deaths a coincidence?  If it was just a coincidence, it was certainly a meaningful one.

But I think more was involved than mere coincidence.  It turns out that Judy and Will had a very unusual 56 years together.  Apart from the longevity of their marriage, according to daughter MaryBeth, Judy and Will were inseparable, and spent virtually every day of their wedded 56 years together—not just in spirit but in body.  It’s a bit difficult to imagine and I want to call it a miracle, or at least, a wonder of the natural world. I say this not to be cynical, but to point out that we live in distracting times when holding attention on anything is becoming increasingly difficult.

More than a meaningful coincidence, I think that Will’s unconscious acted on his body so that he could follow his wife even if it meant himself dying.  Their mental rapport was more powerful than Will’s immune system. Will was not altogether well, but when Judy got ill, he got seriously ill himself.  According to daughter MaryBeth, “everything that happened to her happened to him in another place”.  While they were separated physically, Will was unconsciously mimicking his wife’s symptoms.  It was the only way they could remain together.  It’s also possible that Judy somehow cooperated in reproducing her symptoms in Will.  Something seems to have arranged it so Will could die more or less with his wife.

Frederic Myers, the poet and great psychical researcher, believed that the deepest kind of love is a form of exalted telepathy—a mental rapport that can transcend distance, physical obstacles, even death—and so it seems in the story of Judy and Will. There are, in fact, many examples of strange coincidences in the timing that people deploy in making their exit from the world.  A favorite of mine is the coincidence that Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died on the same Independence Day, July 4, 1826.  It was exactly 50 years since the birth of the nation, the two founders seeming to bow to each other as they stepped off the stage of life into history and eternity.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Shared Near-Death Experience?

by Michael Grosso:

I recently heard a story from somebody who was at the bedside of a dying loved one.   People who come close to death often report extraordinary experiences—a world beyond suddenly opens up to the dying person’s consciousness—a world of light, love, and people who previously had passed.  These experiences are not only a challenge to science but radically change the people who have them.

One aspect of these experiences is rarely reported but is extremely interesting from a theoretical point of view. The person at the bedside of a dying loved one mentioned above had an extraordinary experience. He shared, as he put it, the “journey to the light” joining in the experience of dying person.  The effect of the experience on the dying person was transformative, but the person who shared the experience was also deeply move and changed.   

So here we have a double mystery; first, the transformative effects on people actually near physical death; but the second surprise is that bystanders to the dying person can somehow enter into the transformative space of the dying person.  This is strange because it suggests that a healthy person can, under certain circumstances, temporarily enter the ‘next’ or ‘other’ or ‘after’ world.  This, I suppose, would be like another person entering my dream space while I’m having a dream—could anything be more intimate?

So, how is possible to share the near-death experience of another person?   Clearly, the only way two brains can interact is by means of sensory signaling.  Viewing ourselves as just physical organisms, sharing a near-death experience would be impossible.  In fact, the classic near-death experience itself would be impossible.

We have to look to our minds to understand how sharing a near-death is possible. Assume that telepathy is a fact of nature—the evidence is overwhelming—then telepathy shows how minds can and do directly interact.  So it is possible to ‘enter’ the mind of another.  Sharing a near-death experience with a dying person might be an elaborate form of telepathic rapport.

I would appreciate hearing from anyone who has had an experience in which they seemed to tune into the experience of a dying person.  In my next post, I want to explore the idea of a possible global near-death experience.  (See my The Final Choice: Death or Transcendence? (2018). It is, after all, during supreme stress that higher forms of consciousness can suddenly break open.  As we edge toward increasing global disturbances, we should see signs breaking out everywhere of a new consciousness.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Can We Scare Ourselves To Death?

by Michael Grosso:

A woman once told me a strange story about her husband.  When he was a teenager he stopped at a carnival to consult with a fortune teller.  She told him he was going to have a wonderful life but that he would die when he was 35 years old.  As his 35th birthday approached, he took ill and by the time he was 35 passed away.  The autopsy indicated there was no explanation of his death.  His death was an extreme example of nocebo, the opposite of placebo: he believed he was going to die, which apparently caused him to die.    

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Doors of Transcendence

by Michael Grosso:

What happens when we sense being stalled in our lives, trapped, stuck at a place we’re not happy to be?  In spite of the funk, we may sense something new, something higher beckoning us—but to go forward, we need a push, a jolt.

At such times, what can we do? How do we get that push or jolt? Folks from the get-go have tried to figure it out.  If we’re willing to try, there are many ways.  There are many doors to transcendence; many patterns of behavior known to facilitate breakthroughs to higher consciousness.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Tattoos and the Soul

by Michael Grosso:

The other morning I went for a haircut.  While the barber was cutting my hair, he and a pal of his were talking excitedly about tattoos, a topic I know nothing about. My barber and his friend were discussing the stigma attached to having  tattoos.  They were saying you get put in a box, classified as odd and possibly dangerous.  Or worse.  Something about it was suspicious, tattooing images and symbols on your body, turning yourself into a walking hieroglyph.  

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Empathy and Telepathy

by Michael Grosso:
The world would be better off if there was more empathy.   People everywhere and always treat each other abominably.  Many are the reasons for all the abuse, injustice,  and killing: material gain, fanatical ideology, some twisted idea of duty, demented forms of pleasure, and so on.   The victim is objectified, turned into a thing, a cipher; to be used and abused or just destroyed.  What seems to be missing is awareness of what’s going on inside the person being abused or savaged. 

What’s missing we call empathy, and people with a stark deficit in empathy we call psychopaths.  So, to be human, we need more than rational skills. We need to have some sense of the inner side of other people.  We need to cultivate our ability to enter—to feel and imagine—the soul of another human being.  Empathy is our best counterpoint to psychopathy.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Webinar on Ecstasy, Levitation, and Immortality

by Michael Grosso:

 I’m assembling a webinar on ecstasy, levitation, and immortality for the Forever Family Foundation that supports afterlife research. As to where I’m coming from, I sporadically have experiences I can’t explain—from PK to precognition.  I’ve been trying to figure out all the strange experiences I’ve had for many years.  

The focus here is on PK (psychokinesis)—stuff about “mind over matter”. In light of all the available evidence, I’m convinced we have powers quite beyond what we normally suppose. The people who know this best are people who have the crucial experiences. Experience, of course, can  rip open your sense of the possible, and on this topic I have observed levitation twice. No mistake about it, raw experience opens the mind.   

Sunday, January 20, 2019

The Power of Dreaming Together

by Michael Grosso:

I once took a workshop with dream researcher and psychiatrist, Monty Ullman. In the group, led by Monty, we shared and interpreted each other’s dreams.  I learned some very interesting things from this workshop.  For example, after listening to others interpret my dreams in ways that made sense and that I missed, I realized the fertility of dream symbolism.  In other words, my own interpretation was limited; working with a group opened me to new ways of probing the possible meaning of my dream. The group dynamic can prevent us from being blindsided by our own limitations.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Unknown Friends That Help Us

by Michael Grosso:
It gives us a curious slant on life to know we may have unknown friends.  Unknown in that we really don’t know how they operate, who they are, or where they come from. Sometimes they seem to come from the other side--in this example, not surprisingly, from a mother. Theresa Cheung, a University of Cambridge graduate, with a master’s in theology and English, said that while driving towards a junction behind a truck, she was about to turn left but her dead mother’s voice told her to shift to the right lane. She said: “Even though she had died a few years earlier, it was my mother’s voice, and I obeyed instantly. If I had turned left, you wouldn’t be reading this now, because I would have driven into a pile-up that claimed the lives of three people in cars directly behind the truck.  I can’t explain that voice; it must have been my mother guiding me … It proved to me there is an afterlife.” (Daily and Sunday Express. 2018. weird/935615/life-after-death-afterlife-what-happens-when-you-die)  

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

A New Angle on the Mystery of Mind

by Michael Grosso:
Darold Treffert is a psychiatrist who studies the unexplained creative powers of children with savant-syndrome.  Kids who suffer from autism sometimes possess extraordinary mental abilities. There is also something Treffert calls “sudden savant syndrome”—a phenomenon that really challenges our picture of the human mind. We each may have a “guardian angel” in the form of latent genius that awaits the right stimulus to bring it forth.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Awakening Our Higher Mental Powers

by Michael Grosso:

I’ve been tracking what I call human singularities—people who embody rare and extraordinary talents—like Joseph of Copertino, or Arigo, or Lurancy Vennum, etc.. I’m trying to paint a composite picture of what I believe is our latent super-humanity. All the strange manifestations must have some purpose, some meaning.

There is reason to doubt that we--as a species--have reached the climax of our full evolutionary potential. Far from it!  Look around at the world—the greed, the violence, and the stupidity spreading havoc and mayhem everywhere. The growing dangers of social instability, risk of nuclear war and oncoming eco-catastrophe cry out for sweeping change.  

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Change Your Vocabulary and Change Your Reality

by Michael Grosso:

We underestimate how words can change our sense of reality. Words can corner and confine us; they can also open doors and free us. Nowadays we often hear people say that they are spiritual but not religious.  What that usually means is something like this: I no longer attend religious services nor do I accept as absolutely true any of the major claims of the basic religions.  Still, I have spiritual needs, interests, and inclinations. I just don’t rely on organized religion to explore and satisfy these needs. Religion is associated with established doctrines, rules, and social organization; spirituality, with search, personal practice, and experience.  

Sunday, December 2, 2018

The Death of Higher Education in America

by Michael Grosso:

The other day I heard a report on NPR about a festival of the book and of art and music in Mosul, a city in Iraq coming back to life from being under the heel of Isis terrorists. Under the previous regime, reading books, listening to music and making art were forbidden on pain of death.  I was moved by the sound of Iraqi music and by the story of a man who learned English by means of a book he hid in his house during the terror. He spoke of the joy of his humanity restored through being able to walk through the streets with a book in his hand and music in the air. 

This story reminded  me of an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education by Eric Hayot, titled “The Imminent Death of the Humanities” (July 6, 2018). Fewer students are majoring in the humanities these days and so are jobs for Ph.D.s in the humanities fewer. “The humanities are institutionally more alone and more vulnerable than ever before, “ writes Hayot, “more at the mercy of a university’s financial decisions or a new dean’s desire to prove his or her toughness by consolidating departments or reducing faculty size.” The doomsday clock is apparently striking midnight for higher education in America.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Music as Medicine for the Soul

by Michael Grosso:
On Thanksgiving Day I caught a holiday special on NPR. The hour long show featured stories of Americans especially grateful for music.  Each story had one or more narrator with samplings of the music that inspired them.  The stories and the music touched me, and I remembered the words of the philosopher Nietzsche (himself a musician) who said: “Without music, life would be a mistake.”

Most of the NPR stories revolved around love and death. There were stories about music leading to romantic encounters that led to happy, enduring love.  Other stories told how music can heal deep wounds that life inflicts on us.  In one sad tale, a woman describes how she lost her true love in a cruel, untimely fashion; yet, in the end, their shared love of music saved her from despair, and in her ongoing  love of music has come to feel she’s gone beyond the pains of her loss.  She lives, she seemed to say, in a mental atmosphere beyond anything that death could do to her—thanks to the subtle effect of music on her consciousness.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Pseudo-Skepticism: A Case Study

by Michael Grosso:

Mendacity of all kinds is a part of human experience, but the potential for propagating it has hugely increased—thanks to modern technology.  There is talk of a crisis of truth, capped by the Trumpian meme of “fake news”. Rampant in venues outside politics, fake news spreads lies for political, economic, and ideological purposes.

There’s a species of it I call pseudo-skepticism—a form of fake news, evident in Joe Nickell’s case who writes for the so-called Skeptical Inquirer.  “So-called”, I say, because the term skeptical implies doubt and open-minded inquiry; it doesn’t mean using every dirty trick of omission and distortion to arrive at a foregone conclusion.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Stories Pointing to Another World

by Michael Grosso:
Most of us are too busy struggling to survive on Earth to think about what might come after death. But experiences I’ve had have forced me to think about this question, experiences that stopped me cold because I couldn’t explain them. Things happen that force people to ponder the possibility of others worlds.   Well, you ask, are there any? 

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Mark Twain And The World of Dreams

by Michael Grosso:

The dream is the greatest of all psychic phenomena, for like a god the dreamer is a creator of worlds.  But what are dreams?  Shadows of our waking life, airy nothings? Perhaps not, say some who don’t mind subverting conventional wisdom. According to philosophers C.D. Broad and H.H. Price, our waking minds are immersed in an extended dream world, which continues with its business, even as we carry on in waking reality.

Moreover, there’s a flimsy partition between waking and dream reality.  Dozing off at your desk or on a train ride can plunge you into another world, incongruous and unexpected.  Ingest a magic mushroom or smoke some weed, and a pile of garbage may become an enchanting landscape.  Nearly die and you may find yourself whirling out of your body into a strange light and meeting your dead granny and uncle Harry.     

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Mystery in the Mirror

by Michael Grosso:
The other day I woke up and proceeded to wash and shave.  It was still a little dark, so I turned on the overhead light and was startled by the image of myself in the mirror.  “Who’s that?” It flashed on me that I was staring at a mystery.

First my body.  I recalled that about 95 percent of the physical universe, matter and energy, is “dark”—in short, unknown, a mystery.  My second thought was that the origins of living matter is also a mystery. Then something else struck me as strange as I looked at my mirror image.  My mind was invisible! 

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Why Do We Have Psychic Powers?

by Michael Grosso:

In the attempt to understand the nature of mind, I’ve traveled all over the map of human experience. Inevitably, I was drawn to the outer limits of mental experience, abnormal and supernormal.  For example, I found all sorts of evidence suggesting the reality of a “next” world. Up until modern scientific times, belief in an afterlife was common and widespread. However, modern science is supposed to have proven the afterlife is a fairy tale.

But that is complete nonsense.  Modern science has never investigated the question because it has focused on physics, chemistry, biology, and other physical sciences. The investigation of psychic powers has been conducted by individuals, groups, and special societies such as the English and American Societies for Psychical Research. A minority of mavericks has always had to battle the physicalist establishment that ignored or dismissed their findings. This unscientific attitude continues to poison the 21sst century, easily proven by reading accounts of anything paranormal in Wikipedia.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Are Miracles For Real?

by Michael Grosso:
Are Miracles For Real?

According to Skeats’ Etymological Dictionary, the word miracle is rooted in the smi of Sanskrit, related to our smile.  In this sense of the word, a miracle is something that makes us smile with awe and wonder.  It’s not often that we can do that; but it doesn’t seem like a bad thing.  And yet, nothing irritates some materialists more than talk of ‘miracles.’ Why is that? Materialists are atheists, but miracle suggests the idea of a God who can suspend the laws of nature and thus perform miracles.

Now that sounds spooky and potentially full of unnerving surprises.  Materialists seem to prefer an orderly universe that can be predicted and of course controlled. Sorry, but the universe is not only spooky, it’s top-heavy with mysteries and enigmas larded with puzzles and conundrums.

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