Monday, May 16, 2022

Drugs or Talk Therapy?

Reports keep coming about violence, overdose deaths, depression, anxiety and suicide,  kids and others.  All the alarm bells are ringing.  The psyche of our youth is disintegrating.  Help is needed but not on the way.  The gun psychosis of the U.S. is on full display.  While writing this yesterday the latest mass slaughter took place in Buffalo, New York.  What is to be done? Get rid of all the guns? Impossible in a nation of savages that worships the Gun and shits all over their God.  It seems to boil down to two options: drugs and talk-therapy.

 

The problem with the various drug-based therapies in vogue is the unevenness and not wholly reliable beneficial effects.  Drugs for depression are about as effective as  placebo treatments that inspire belief and confidence.  Talk therapy is usually preferred and proven to work long-term. But the most needy can’t afford a talk therapist, so they fall back on drugs, and their mixed effects and proven mortal dangers.

 

My question is, Must we pay someone we can talk to about the issues of our soul life?  Are we such a humanly destitute society? Are we so atomized and isolated that we can’t find anyone we can trust when we’re in a psychological jam?  Do we have to shell out hard cash for a little human attentiveness?   Do we have to sign up for an appointment months in advance with some kind of specialist when all we can think of is suicide?   Is there no one nearby I can turn to for the word or gesture I need to carry on?

 

In light of the problem of talk therapist shortage, I want to say something about a basic skill we have and need to function in everyday life—the ability to communicate with each other.  This is a skill that takes many forms.  An obvious distinction is between good and bad motivations.  

 

For instance, there is a large and motley category of such skills that center around advertising, profiteering, conspiracy-mongering, deliberate falsifying, assassination of character, propaganda, manipulation, denigration, vituperation—and so on.  Here the aim of communication is exploitation, mendacity, if not outright destruction.   We’re awash in seas of this psycho-spiritual trash.

 

Consider a more positive suggestion.  People are suffering—we all do, sooner or later—and nobody is listening. So it might be useful to think about learning how to listen to each other. We all know people we feel comfortable baring our souls with; others cause us politely to withdraw behind our persona—Latin for mask. When was the last ‘conversation’ you had that was actually a monologue?

 

If enough of us managed to get pretty good at listening to one another, it might reduce the talk therapist shortage. Granted that for your garden-variety egotist,  learning to listen to others might require divine intervention; but for folks who appreciate the diversity of life, tuning into the consciousness of another can be learned.

 

John Keats said that Shakespeare had “negative capacity,” his consciousness being so wide and open that he was free to inhabit all the characters he brought to life in his plays. We could use some of that negative capacity.  If only it were an active part of what we call higher education and the humanities, the benefits would overflow the boundaries of the academy and filter their way through the general population.  And we would all be a little more human than we tend to be in our current dystopia.

 

Each of us might cultivate our own “negative capacity,” our attunement to the mystery of the other. But it turns out we have another skill or human capacity that is a bit more mysterious than the thinking and feeling skills mentioned so far, also a bit more controversial, namely, intuition.

I could use the word telepathy, but better would be empathy.  Empathic is when you directly share the feeling, inhabit the perspective of another person’s world.  You feel it as if it were your own.  So, in this strong sense, to listen means the ability to stretch our identity and feel the intimacy, but at the same time,  remain detached.

 

So all this can be done, practiced and improved upon, even in the course of everyday life.  Who doesn’t have incidents in a supermarket or at a gas station or with a stranger crossed in a street—a happening, an exchange of words, a mutual glance, a nod, a smile? The field of heart and imagination is everywhere.  A slight but subtle  exchange of good spirits that can make your day.   

 

What is needed, in my opinion, are not more nurses, doctors, talk therapy, or drugs; what we need is a new world with new values that serve life, not the instruments of oppression, mendacity, and destruction. But where to begin? you ask. Learn how to listen to each other; it’s more pleasant than killing each other.

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Turn Your Brain Off And Be Enlightened

Since the mid 1970s the public has come to learn about an extraordinary phenomenon, the near-death experience (NDE).  The NDE, as I see it, is to mainstream psychology what quantum mechanics is to mainstream  physics.   In both cases, the phenomena take us beyond the limits of ordinary psychic and physical reality.  Into a new dimension of reality, we might say.

 

In brief, the NDE is an experience of transcendent importance, mystical and transformative. It is in fact the kind of experience that religious people might yearn for, and wistfully pray for, and that many mystics, yogis, and shamans spend their lives in pursuit of: disciplining their minds and bodies, hoping to encounter the transcendent reality, however conceived or imagined..

 

In researching the Smile of the Universe, about one of the great  mystic levitators known to history, Joseph of Copertino, I tried to understand the dynamics of his remarkably strange mental life.  What I found was that the ascetic practices he pursued amounted to a step-by-step equivalent of a near-death experience.  I had the pioneering studies of Dr. Bruce Greyson on NDEs before me as I pored over the mystic’s degravitated existence.

 

Joseph’s model for the perfect life was summed up in the word nulla.  Nothing! His mystical practice consisted of striving to be nothing. Meaning, we would say, egoless. Voidness and Emptiness are equivalent Eastern terms.  Joseph wanted to be nothing to make room for the divine influx into himself.  His existential style is the opposite  to the self-affirming, self-replicating manner of normal life. 

 

The prize may be boundless but getting there is something else.  To become nothing, you fast from food and sleep. You are humble and polite without limits.  There are stories of Joseph who suddenly became as silent and motionless as a statue.  It was understood he was waiting to be told what to do.   The man’s clothing was ragged and worn.  The idea of owning anything at all was anathema to him. A wealthy lady admirer brought him a new shirt and his superior insisted he accept it.  Joseph nearly had a nervous break down, as if the distraction of a woman’s gift could topple him from the soarings of his inner life.  The strange thing is that the few miserable garments he left behind and all sorts of things he touched emanated exquisite, unexplained odors for months and even years after his death.  Notably, there are accounts of near-death experiences with unexplained fragrances and now and then strains of rare music are reportedly heard.   

 

Now here’s the interesting idea.  In the archetypal NDE, we have a model  for exploring the entire hidden realm of reality that is our unexplored mind.  So the challenge as we plunge into eco-end-times will increasingly come to this.  We have to replace our little, cramped, frightened, quasi-paranoid mode of consciousness with a more open democratic consciousness, a consciousness that knows its own depths, is confident of its creative resources, and so is fearless in the face of adversity.  We know this transition is possible, and should be alert to any signs of the powers--gods or spirits, if you like--when they show signs of coming to life within us.  

 

But now for an ironic turn.  We know that the mystic’s grueling quest to transcend her or his ego can be accomplished in a flash by cardiac arrest.  Applause for science and technology!  And we obtain a shocking insight.  The nearness of death, literally or imaginatively, becomes the prelude to a sudden expansion of consciousness.  The classic NDE is telling us that another dimension of reality is close by, hidden by our, everyday consciousness, which is preoccupied with surviving in an increasingly dangerous world. 

 

But we don’t have to be mystics like Saint Joseph nor must we have an NDE to begin to explore the greater reality we’re all immersed in.  We can learn to practice turning off our brains and getting out of our egos.  And we can do it in all sorts of subtle, idiosyncratic ways.   

 

We can do it intellectually.  We can stop or fast from thinking, judging, discriminating, weighing, measuring, explaining, proving, analyzing, denying, affirming, etc. etc. We can instead learn to be present to reality, openly aware,  listening and observing with receptivity.    Disengaged from all the epistemic clutter, we can tune into what we might otherwise never even notice. 

           

We can do it emotionally.   We can get clear and lighten the load of feelings that tend to mob our consciousness.  We can do that by choosing to identify all the negative, useless feelings that foul our sense of self.   Observe them with cold detachment.  Will them to extinction.  Watch them float into non-entity.  And smile as you wave them away forever.

            

And we can do it psychologically.  But what does ‘turn off our brains’ mean psychologically?  To sum it up in a word, concentration. Narrowing, pin-pointing, and holding the focus of attention.  That simple notion holds the secret of travelling far.  The mind is a wacky monkey, and has to be reined in; if not, it will drag you all over the place. What we need for this project is a laser focus of attention.   Otherwise, it’s impossible to escape from our cultural psychosphere: our habits, ideals, expectations; the constraints of our collective imagination.  

 

There is much we have to clear out before there’s room for our greater self to break in.  Emptiness, say the mystic explorers, is the secret doorway to the hidden side of reality.  Or, to put it simply, turn your brain off and be enlightened.

 

Finally, there are many books on the subject of the NDE.  I will mention two new books, one by Dr. Bruce Greyson, After: A Doctor Explores What Near-Death Reveals About Life and Beyond. The other by Jens Amberts, see https://lifeafterlife.com/blog/why-an-afterlife-obviously-exists/ .  I will also mention my book on life after death, which covers all the types of afterlife evidence, Experiencing the Next World Now.

Monday, May 2, 2022

A Psychic Way to Deal With Putin

I was once traveling through Oaxaca, Mexico, when I bumped into a pale fellow American.  I should say he approached me, and politely asked for some money. When I gave him a few dollars, he thanked me and shook my hand.  His handshake was firm but his hand was ice cold—it was a very hot day.

 

“So how did you wind up here, down and out?,” I asked.   His face broke into a faint smile.  “Do you really want to know?” he replied, and began to tell me how he got stranded in Oaxaca, and it turned out to be a very strange story—part of which contained something I did not want to believe. 

 

I don’t recall the American’s name, but he was quick to admit he was hunting down the famous magic mushrooms of ancient Mesoamerica that grew wild thereabouts.  He was in an altered state one afternoon, he said, and passed by a small run down house with an outdoor shower visible to the side.  At the moment he passed he noticed a woman immersed in taking a shower. Her long black hair and dripping naked body riveted his attention and he stood there frozen, feasting on the epiphany of the naked showering woman.   At a certain point, he broke loose from his trance and proceeded on his way.

 

Although he didn’t know it, the woman he had just spied on for a cheap thrill, had been aware of him gawking at her in the shower.  It would be a while before the American would come to realize it. But that night when he climbed into bed and felt himself on the edge of sleep, it began. Suddenly, he felt something crawling up his left arm—and then something on his chest.  He turned on the light and was terrified to see several scorpions on him and then saw little black worms crawling between his toes and felt something on his face.  

 

This was the beginning of a hallucinogenic assault that was coming from outside himself. The effect on his health was shattering.  Eventually, he was befriended by a local Christian minister who explained that the woman he had looked at in the outdoor shower was a notable witch who caused his hallucinations.  It was a case of psychic attack.  It was a  slow process lifting the spell, and the American was convinced it  was caused by the devil-inspired witch he had gaped at in the shower.

 

Can one person really wreak havoc on another human psyche—at a distance--a force that goes through all physical barriers?    Milarepa, the great Tibetan mystic, admits that he began his career as a sorcerer, and describes how he raised storms to destroy people who had dishonored his mother.

 

It was hard to believe that some human beings can psychically influence the minds and bodies of other people at a distance.  In time I was to find such things are in fact quite real and possible.   I could go on about aboriginal men of high degree noted for their ability to sing people to death.  This negative potential shouldn’t surprise us because we have  evidence for positive psychic powers such as supernormal healings.  There’s an analogy with normal science which serves life in medicine but also serves death with its military technology.

 

Now to the point about Vladimir Putin who as I write is waging a murderous war against Ukraine, one man that has his hands gripped on the throat of the world, and on his vast country with all its people hypnotized, mystified, and terrified into robotic suicidal obedience.

 

The image of this small man with a pedestrian face holding all of Russia at bay as he directs his conflicted military apparatus to kill their own neighbors,  women, children, hospitals, homes is sickening.  Call it genocide, crimes against humanity, whatever. Everything about this psychotic killer suggests he will not back down. And he’s been waving his atomic arsenal at NATO and the U.S.

 

Is there a way to slip past the no doubt numerous powerful barriers to the physical presence of this paranoid monster?  Perhaps we could find for the job a new witch of Oaxaca or a reformed Milarepa to perform the necessary ministrations, whatever it would take to stop the carnage. There is plenty of evidence that especially in certain group settings influence across space and time becomes possible. 

 

Now there must be millions of human beings exasperated by the spectacle of this insane Russian gangster conducting his criminal obliteration of anybody who opposes him.  It might turn out to be an historic experiment: millions joining their minds all over the planet at appointed times.  Now, the physicist Helmut Schmidt, based on his PK experiments, has explained the best way to succeed in a mind over matter experiment.  Don’t analyze, or calculate; just think of the goal, the final effect you’re aiming for.  You have to feel as if  has already been realized.

 

In the case of the morally demented Putin, there would be a problem.  What would be the approach?  What would millions of people who want to stop this criminal  have to do to make a difference? What goal or end-state must we fervently imagine?  Recall, the assumption is that the  group power can be negative or positive.  If positive, the strategy would be to see, will, imagine Putin  changed in heart, touched, moved, humbled—inspired with real feelings of  humanity.

 

If negative, what you imagine is very simple; you put all your consciousness into the image of the man in a coffin. It could become part of  daily meditation, one might try  sketching a few skulls, a plaintive tune might help.  And you could dwell on the lovely alliteration of dead Vlad, Vlad dead, repeat before and after every meal.  But with heart, dear reader. With heart.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Transgender and Reincarnation

People suffer in different ways because of something about their identity.  The pain may be self inflicted or it may be inflicted by others. The transgender person has an unusual but clear problem with his or her identity.  Imagine for a moment that you are a person that feels like a woman, with desires to dress, think, and behave like a woman; inwardly, you identify yourself as a woman; but the fact is that you have the body of a man.  Oops!  You have a problem. 

 

The psychiatrists speak of gender dysphoria, confusion about your identity.  You can conceal and keep your dysphoria to yourself or you may embark on transitioning toward coming out to your real self. That of course may not be an easy process, in fact, it might be horrific, depending on the people and culture around you.  In some backward parts of America today, assisting transgendered people with their needs is being criminalized. 

 

As far as I can make out from a cursory investigation, nobody seems to have a credible explanation of why so many otherwise normal people report feeling, thinking and behaving as if they were in the wrong body.   How on earth could it be that anyone should persistently feel so estranged from his or her own body? 

 

There is one possible explanation we should consider.  One of my interests is collecting stories that seem to imply some form of life after death.  The surprising fact is that there’s a real variety show of phenomena that point to the continuity of our consciousness after our body conks out—ghosts, mediumship, hauntings, apparitions, and out-of-body excursions.  There are also cases of reincarnation, a belief more common in cultures of the far East.  We not only survive but come back for another round of life.

 

If you read Dr. Ian Stevenson’s Children Who Remember Previous Lives, you can see there are cases where young people have memories, habits, skills and even physical marks that imply the reincarnation of a deceased person in a new body.

 

Now to the main point. Stevenson describes cases of persons who remember their past life as a female but find themselves strangely ensconced in the body of a male.  Or else a male’s life is remembered but in a female’s body. It is easy to see how difficult and wearing such a state of affairs could be.  Stevenson states that people  could feel they’re in the wrong body but not have clear memories of a previous life. Still, they suffer from dysphoria, a feeling that something is not right, confusion about their gender.

 

Given that so many people seem to have these feelings of alienation from their own  body, and given there’s no obvious explanation of the phenomenon, reincarnation may be the most natural explanation.  No blame is due for having these disjointed feelings.  In a way, gender dysphoria is symbolic of the mixed, conflicted, self-questioning nature of the self.  It also suggests a latent androgeny of deep consciousness.  The evolutionary thinker, Edward Carpenter, thought that the next upward step of humanity would be the evolution of an intermediate  sex, a new type of human being, the male and female principle in one body, perfectly blended and powerfully integrated.  For all we know the future holds some queer surprises for our species. Today’s dysphoria may evolve into tomorrow’s euphoria. Perhaps there’s a long-term message to all this.  Farewell fragmented humanity!

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

The UFO-Religion Connection


My own experience and certain historical facts prompt me to wonder about something—not a new idea, certainly not new to science fiction.  I’m talking about an Intelligent Agent X, from outside our planet, orchestrating certain religious events, and maybe other events of historic import.

 

This is not about science fiction.  To begin with, the American military has finally  acknowledged that an unknown, unidentified aerial presence has regularly occupied our air space, and plays with our most advanced fighter jets, demonstrating abilities that transcend terrestrial technology. This wasn’t news to many people, experiencers and those who have dipped into the vast literature of UFOs.  

 

A few examples of the UFO-religion connection.  In Fatima, Portugal, 1917, several children claimed to see the Virgin Mary who told the kids to come back to the same spot every month six times.  On her last visit, she promised, there would be a miracle for all to behold.

 

On that day, October 13, 1917, 70,000 people had gathered at the Cova, skeptics and anti-clericals among  the curious and the believers.  What happened on that  day, in front of the 70, 000, was the mass-viewing of the appearance of the sun being dislodged, dancing in the sky, and plunging toward the ground, terrifying everyone, then shooting back up toward the heavens, and settling back into its proper place.  This is known as the ‘Miracle of the Sun,” and all witnesses, including journalists and anti-religionists witnessed the fantastic event. 

 

The first thing to note is that this dance of the sun was a mass illusion; if it was for real, our solar system would have been catastrophically shaken up. So without denying what people saw, or any of the other remarkable phenomena, the question is how was this miraculous illusion produced?

 

Religious believers will say God. But something is amiss in the picture. After the apparent sun dance, the ‘sun,’ the light, is observed to zigzag  away, in a falling leaf pattern, so often reported of UFO lights in motion.  There were also sounds and other UAP markers in the vicinity of where the children witnessed an apparition of the Lady who said she was from Heaven.  For details on the UFO-Fatima  connection, see Jacques Vallee’s classic The Invisible College.   

 

It appears that we can interact with intelligent agents operating outside our daily 3-D waking world.  Could the visions of Mary have been produced by a highly evolved intelligence with superhuman technologies.   Can it be that a more evolved intelligence has intervened in the affairs of human life by orchestrating the miraculous effects of a particular religious story?

 

Let me touch on two more examples where it seems possible to think of UAP influence acting on two different religions.  But first a remark on something notable about UAP phenomena of all sorts.  They often but not always begin as points of light that expand and morph into almost anything.  The initial light of a visitation may also appear in some form of fire. One thing we can say: these visitors are shapeshifters.

 

My first example is from Exodus 4 in the Bible which memorializes the crucial event that freed the Jews from Egyptian bondage. The story is that Moses was astonished by a bush he encountered that appeared to be on fire.  Out of that burning bush emerged the voice of Yahweh that instructed what Moses had to do to free his people.  He encouraged Moses by promising him miraculous assistance, and this would turn out to be true.

 

Now, voices coming from bushes is a type of UPA motif.  If, as we now know, our air  space is occupied by unknown intelligences, contact and supervision from aliens  becomes possible. Another example may be the inception of Christianity.  For this we turn to the first written history of the Christian movement, Acts of the Apostles, by an author whose literary style mirrors that of Luke, author of the third Gospel, a physician by profession from Syria.

 

In Chapter  2, we read: “When Pentecost day came round, they had all met together when suddenly there came from Heaven a sound as of a violent wind which filled the entire house in which they were sitting; and there appeared to them tongues as of fire; these separated and came to rest on the head of each of them.” This description  is consistent with any number of UAP encounters in the literature.  We have to remember; the alien presence is a shapeshifter, can create and manipulate hallucinations. In this case, the intervention (the Apostles called it the Holy Spirit) became the inspiration of the early Christian Church.   

 

My aim is to post a broad question. A super-advanced technology and unknown intelligence has been interacting with us, in all likelihood, throughout human history.  A world of strange facts is forcing us to think outside the box of our routine assumptions and habits of mind. The literature, by the way, is quite clear: there are all sorts of visitors, invaders, kidnappers—good guys and bad guys. So, the moral terrain is slippery.   Watch out for the dark side; cooperate, if possible, with the good side.  What do you all make of it?

Friday, March 18, 2022

A Native American Renaissance?

It’s hard to watch and listen to the daily news, witnessing the brutal crimes against humanity in Ukraine, inflicted by a little Russian psychopath, and not think about the greater slaughter-house of history. But something is new this time around. This time, even if we’re thousands of miles away from the horrors, thanks to gutsy reporters and their phones and cameras, we are brought up close and personal to what’s happening. This could have an impact on the evolution of war.

 

Trying to eat something around dinner time yesterday, I glanced up at my TV screen, and watched the corpses of children, wrapped in rags, being thrown into a long ditch that was their ad hoc burial ground.  A short while before that, I listened on the radio to Ukrainian women sobbing as they described how they were torn away from home, family, suddenly, in the middle of the night.  I could hear the pain in this woman’s voice and I could hear her gasping as she struggled to put into words her shattered sense of reality.  

 

This called to mind another group of women closer to home whose people have suffered grievously.  I had recently watched a series of documentaries on PBS about the history and revival of Native American culture and its budding renaissance.  There are 574 Indian tribes and traditions that have survived in the U.S.   A major theme of the documentaries was to inform present viewers of the biological and cultural genocide inflicted on Native Americans.  It was not enough to steal their land; in addition, they sought  to wipe out their history, cultures and languages, and turn them into facsimiles of the conquering invaders.  As for the situation today, one out of two or three native women have suffered rape, mostly by non-Indian men.

 

The European invaders managed to wipe out some one hundred million North and South ‘American’ native peoples (see David Stannard’s American Holocaust). But they were unable to turn every Indian into a dead Indian.  So they tried to isolate them on reservations, as if they were wild animals torn out of nature and put in zoos.  Another method designed to contribute to the extinction of the people whose land they stole was for the state to forcibly abduct children from their families in the reservations and put them in Christian schools or allow white families to adopt them and, if need be, beat them into their proper state-defined identity.  It was not until 1978 that forced native adoptions became illegal in the U.S..

 

The films were not just meant to educate us about the physical and cultural genocide of native Americans; they were also about a looming renaissance of native culture: the philosophy, spirituality, arts and crafts. One of the most important lessons we can learn from native culture is a different model of how to relate to the natural world and other living things. 

 

Most obvious is the contrast between native and scientific-capitalist attitudes toward nature. Nature for the conquering white culture became a treasure-trove of raw materials for the purpose of gratifying the insatiable needs of consumer societies.

 

The selfish exploitation of nature to serve the manufactured needs of one species is supremely stupid and, as we’re learning from the onset of climate catastrophe, suicidal.  The indigenous peoples everywhere who have adapted to their environment and survived for thousands of years have much to teach us.  I believe we all stand to gain from the fruits of the burgeoning Native American Renaissance.

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Dangerous Miracles

“We who are about to die demand a miracle,” wrote the poet W. H. Auden during the dawning crisis of World War II.  We could say the same in early 2022—with war, plague, and climate catastrophe looming before us.   But what kind of a miracle should we demand? 

 

It’s an interesting question. Suppose we had the power to perform one miracle, with the intent of improving the lot of the human race?  What miracle would you, dear reader, prefer?  

 

Here’s the first miracle I would perform, as an immediate boon to all humans as well as to all living creatures of nature.  I would transform all cowardice and mendacity into the courage to speak truth to power.  I admit it’s hard to imagine how this would play out among some folks.  The danger? It might cause mass disorientation and suicide among the base of various true believers.  

 

The truth is that miracles can be dangerous.  Let me try another.  Suppose for a miracle we instill a simple but indestructible quantum of basic decency in every human being so that crimes, legal, emotional, and spiritual, just fade away.  Obviously, that won’t work.  It would mean the end of police, lawyers, jails, the business of incarceration, guns, the weapon’s industries, government itself, and of course the entertainment industries.

 

That extra injection of simple humanity would be a radically subversive miracle.  So cross that one off; it’s easy to imagine a horrible backlash.  The problem with this miracle is its jarring prematurity.

 

Let’s then suppose we miraculously grant perfect health to everybody.  That would be a great miracle for Americans, millions of whom have poor or no health coverage. But I’m not sure everybody would be happy with this miracle, for example, the pharmaceutical industries.  To stay rich for these folks it’s essential that we have plenty of illness, crime, mental distress, boredom, fear and plain old  unhappiness.  Perfect health and profound happiness would really upset the world order.  And enemies of that miracle would come rapidly crawling out of the woodwork, all aflame with righteous indignation!  So you can forget that miracle.

 

Suppose somebody chose to endow us with miraculous powers to move about in space, so that we could levitate and even have sex afloat in the air like Tibetan tantric yogis.  That would be a fun miracle, don’t you think?  And very convenient.  No more crowded planes, hanging around bus stops, having to bring your car in for an oil change.  Yes, it’s an image of paradise.   Imagine how beautiful the world would be without automobiles, without the energy industries and all the pollution, garbage, overheating, and so on.  Sadly, here too we run into vested interests, strongly at odds with the drift of our miracle.   

 

The way the world is set up, and the way people seem to be made, may not welcome our miraculous potentials.  Perhaps we need to pick our miracles more carefully. They all seem to have dangerous consequences.

 

One well documented miracle is inedia, the ability to live for long periods of time without food or drink, and to function quite well, even better than normal.  Suppose for a moment that people were suddenly turning into well-adjusted happy inediacs.  This would alarm the food and drink industries, and it wouldn’t be good news for farmers.  And all those advertisers would be left in the lurch.  Sorry.  Goodbye inedia.

 

Problems arise at the interpersonal level.  I have known cases of relationships breaking up on account of one member having some kind of metaphysical break-through.  One woman was having precognitive experiences that caused her boyfriend to treat her like “a lucky charm” to support his appetite for gambling.  That wrecked the relationship.

 

So it’s hard to pick a miracle without risk of danger.  To be on the safe side, let’s choose a miracle guaranteed to benefit everybody.  For example, let everybody love everybody else unconditionally. How could that go wrong?  Come to think of it, I’m sure there would be a movement, organized protest against being forced by a miracle into eternal affability.   Their motto: Back to Normality, Nihilism, and Nastiness!

 

For a more positive approach to the topic of miracles, see below:

 

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1949501132/theanomalist

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Change Your Vocabulary and Change Your Reality

 

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. 

 

As people grow up in our scientific culture—especially where capitalism and consumerism thrive—traditional religions recede in importance.   But human nature remains the same, and the issues of love, death, injustice, natural calamity, happiness, suffering, meaning and purpose all remain. The pews may be thinning out, but people still have the need for meaning and transcendence.  So the search is on and new games of the spirit are afoot.

 

Words matter. The vocabulary of organized religion is a turn-off for many today, which explains why the distinction between religious and spiritual is so popular.  People understand the distinction.  You can be spiritual without being religious.

 

There is another distinction some of us might find useful, but this one might at first seem extreme.  Suppose we bracket the use of the term God and substitute the term consciousness.   A religious person says, I believe in God; immediately there’s a problem.  What does that mean?  What could it mean?  God?  A non-religious person doesn’t believe in such an entity as often defined.  

 

But now a spiritual person might say: I believe in consciousness.  The term, consciousness, completely unlike the term God, we all know refers to something.  There is no agonizing mystery, no soul-racking search for consciousness; we exist in our consciousness, and the whole of our existence is known and experienced through our consciousness.  We cannot doubt our relationship to consciousness, but we can doubt our relationship to God. We cannot doubt the existence of our consciousness; but we can doubt the existence of God. 

 

This shift in terminology has a future. In fact, it has a past in Indian thought where the divine is conceived as pure, transcendent consciousness.  In Indian thought, there are thousands of gods, all in different ways manifestations of primordial consciousness, which is beyond all creeds and religions, but is their root and ideal aim.

 

Consciousness has a lot going for it as a candidate for a new terminology of transcendence.  Unlike the term God, we know it refers to something real—inescapably and fundamentally so.  In contrast, the notion of God has become a dubious idea, and is too often used as part of the vocabulary of political oppression  if not outright murder and empire.  

 

Benefits of this experiment in vocabulary? What do we gain if we substitute the term consciousness for the term God?  Again, to quote an Indian text (Rig Veda) that struck me true when I first read it: “Truth is one; people call it variously.”  Most of the great mystics point to the one mind that undergirds our evolving human experience.  Our own consciousness is part of that transcendent reality, but our awareness of it is eclipsed by the struggle for existence. So near and yet so far, we live in oblivion to our hidden identity. 

 

A new vocabulary may help us awaken to that hidden dimension of ourselves. It is an experiment to perform, a way of seeing how the world appears through the lens of a different language, as when we substitute ‘spiritual’ for ‘religious’, and ‘consciousness’ for ‘God’. Let’s push the idea a little, and suggest a few other changes of vocabulary.  

 

For example, I would substitute arts of transcendence for religion; an enchanting perspective for revealed truth; experimental protocol for doctrine and dogma; imagination for faith; distant conversation for prayer; athlete of consciousness for saint; a contraction of consciousness for sin; the great adventure for death;--and I could go on.  Each of these changes could open new ways of looking at old issues, if we sat down and tried in detail to imagine how revising our vocabulary may be a way of revising our awareness of things, and of our very sense of reality.

 

                    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Art and the Planet

It seems we have entered the early stages of endtime.  Climate catastrophe,  social discord, the rise of fascism, war real and pending everywhere, etc., etc. It’s full steam ahead!  That’s how it looks to many observers. If so, what can we do about it? 

 

There are three great styles of shaping our experience on Earth: art, religion and scientific technology.   Religion and scientific technology have been the leaders which, in my opinion, seem to have made a mess of things.

 

Without doubting the marvelous achievements of science and religion, the way they have been  socially and ecologically used, on balance, has brought us to the present horrible impasse. The U.N. in 2020 declared that unless humans substantially change the way they live on Earth, climate-warming will devastate us.   We’re being run over by a monster truck that we built and set loose on ourselves.

 

So how are we supposed to change the way we live?   Two things must be done to minimize the climate disruptions already pounding us.  The first is to end consumerism, which is turning nature into a garbage disposal system, and heating up the atmosphere. Corporate capitalism, militarism, and consumerism are destroying plants and animals everywhere, destroying the planetary ecosystem.

 

The second thing humans need to change is their attitude toward the natural world, the true mother of our being.  In our relentlessly mechanized culture, nature for most of us is disappearing, dissolving, evaporating.  Our perceptual environment is almost entirely manufactured and abstracted from living nature.  Increasingly, all we know of nature comes to us through a supermarket, a video screen, a digital transaction with Amazon.  Humans enjoy the benefits of consumerism but set into motion a force that is turning Earth into a hellish movie spectacular.  

 

We’re looking at a real challenge. A call for new kinds of heroes.  What must be done will require a complete reversal of mainstream attitudes.   Given the mixed record of science and religion in the assault on nature, I want to say something about the third moment of human spiritual evolution—art.  Art, unlike religion and science, has little in the way of blood and murder on its conscience. Art has served many needs and ideas in history, but is rarely used for deliberate, destructive purposes.

 

Perhaps we need to turn to the artist that is in us all—the sleeping spark of spiritual fire.  As things fall apart and the center is lost, we’ll just have to improvise, reorient ourselves.  In a sense, all forms of art begin as improvisation.  You spontaneously try something new,  When all the conventional vehicles of invention, of moving forward, are blocked, all we can do is try something we never tried before. It’s then that you ignore your inner hobgoblins, and do what you never did before.

 

Chalk it up to no rule of science and nothing in your holy writ  It was the soul of the improviser that spoke to you, the secret artist that’s shaping your life.  Suddenly, a plan, a motif, a flash of an idea—and there you are, poised for the next move, ready to see what you missed before. 

 

Of course, there is more to art than improvisation.  There is the spirit of art in a period of chaotic disintegration.  The spirit of art is deeper than painting, music, and all the rest of the arts and the Muses; it is the subterranean genius that wreaks havoc on or inspires everyday life.

 

As conditions around us are disrupted, we’re forced to draw on inner resources to cope with altered circumstances.  New ways of seeing and acting will be necessary. Improvising the way we live will become the main art form.  The way we breathe will become art.  Who knows?  Perhaps all the horrors are a prelude to a renaissance of life on Earth.  Readers, thinkers, dreamers? Thoughts? Words of light?  A little dance with the world spirit?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

From Insomnia to the Edge of the Unknown

I go through spells of insomnia.  At first they almost panicked me.  My fear was that I might no longer be able to fall asleep.  It’s usually so easy, but I couldn’t do it any more.  If this keeps up, I will go crazy, I concluded.   I would go two or three nights in a row, and not recall falling asleep. Fear of not sleeping made me insomniac.  

 

Not being able to sleep, I decided to try different forms of meditation.  My basic move was to control my breath and consciously relax my muscles, especially the muscles in my face, throat, tongue, and eyes.  As a result, I rested and stopped feeling the need for sleep.  I realized I could stay awake, and I felt no fatigue when I got out of bed in the morning.

 

I decided not to resist the insomnia. Go with the insomnia, I said. Thinking about being awake was keeping me awake, so I stopped trying to sleep.  But to do that I had to stop thinking.  So I tried to stop my mind completely.   

           

After practicing this for a while, I started to sleep again but very little.  And I almost never dreamed.  But falling asleep had become interesting.  Despite feeling the delicious tug of imminent sleep coming over me, I became curious about something else. 

 

I felt myself slipping into the mental zone called hypnagogia.[1]  It’s a brief, intermediate state that transpires just before falling asleep.  But I liked to linger there on the threshold, both awake and immersed in dream space.   

 

It was always unpredictable as to what turned up on one of my visits to Hypnagogia—that strange country between dream and reality.  As part of the experiment, I would pay attention to what I was thinking about just before drifting off. The results?  The hypnagogic  images that  flashed on my mind’s eye were always discontinuous; they showed no connection at all with my preceding thoughts.  Landscapes, buildings; quick, disjointed scenes from unknown latitudes of mind at large were common. Where was it all coming from?  My own jumbled memory or fragments of a greater mind I was learning to tune into?

 

Anyway, let me describe the contents of my more recent bouts of hypnagogic reverie. I started seeing people, their faces, and up close.  And during this period of time I saw them night after night.  Strange but uniquely real-looking people would appear before me—and very close, breathing close.  At first the figures emerged nearby but looked away, as if they were not aware of me at all; I peered at the details of their skin and features, eyes, nose, mouth.  Incredibly, emitting the aura of breathing reality.   Sometimes I found myself amid crowds of people in noisy, unfamiliar neighborhoods. 

 

Once I recall two men drawing close and facing me but almost with indifference.  Then I started to see women up close and others who seemed to approach me. I knew they were phantoms, quasi-dream figures, but I found the sense of them being real people compelling and therefore extremely puzzling. I wondered if I had drifted into a region of lost souls, victims of metaphysical displacement.     

 

Other times the figures began to look as if they were conscious of me, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to attract their attention. A few times the women leaned toward me and muttered something I couldn’t quite hear.  I wanted to observe them but it began to feel as if they were observing me. The beings that crowded around me night after night made more aggressive gestures.  They would come at me and I would feel forced to open my eyes and wave them off.  I became fascinated but also slightly unnerved by my insomniac visitors.   

 

Legions of twilight beings of unknown provenance seemed to hover around me, but by this time the insomnia was in abeyance.  I wonder about those staring, poking phantoms that turned up in my nights of insomnia.  Right now I can think of three possible explanations. 

 

Begin with the most obvious.  The phantoms I saw were nothing more than creatures of my own dream life.  As far as the realism, originality, and uniqueness of the faces; first, we build up a store of memories of thousands of faces we might evoke in a hypnagogic reverie.  We have to acknowledge the dream-artist within us all, the incredible power of the dreaming imagination to conjure up scenes, characters, and dramatic events in compelling detail.  Imagine—a secret Shakespeare inside us all!

 

A second possibility is that I’m picking up on the dream life of other people. Studies show that dreams are a common vehicle for telepathy or precognition.  I know from experience that the hypnagogic state is, as they say, “psi-conducive.”  I was dozing on a bus ride to Provincetown, and slipped into that mental zone we’re calling hypnagogia—“leading to sleep.” The sense of being awake is intact but the perceptual environment becomes surreal. In that bus ride I drifted off and hallucinated Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

 

I woke up and resumed looking out the window.  Impulsively, I reached under my seat and pulled up some newspapers (never seen before) and open at random to a page with a feature story about Walt Disney, the creator of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs!  Coincidence—or clairvoyance?

 

A third possibility, I won’t rule out.  Some of the faces seemed like apparitions of dead souls.  Perhaps a brief glance into what seems like a world intensely concrete but also quite fleeting.  Mavromatis’s findings confirm my experience of the otherness of the hypnagogic state, which is as uncontrollable and unpredictable as it is strange and mysterious.

 

Hypnagogia is the original twilight zone. Getting there through insomnia may be tricky but is a gateway to an unknown world, a territory worthy of exploration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



[1] The book to read on this subject is by Andreas Mavromatis, titled Hypnagogia.

Monday, January 10, 2022

Coincidence: An Ally to Our Creativity

I have worked out a method of painting that might be of interest to folks in the arts, including the art of living.  Cezanne liked to speak of his paintings as “experiments,” his attempt to materialize an idea on a piece of canvas.. 

 

All forms of art are magical in their intent, which is to materialize for one or several senses one’s vision, passion, dream.  It could be a song, a sketch, a play, a painting. Anything at all in daily life can be done with mind and heart, even the performance of a duty.  It can all be done with or without art. 

 

I like to think of art as a natural tendency to fashion some sign of our inward life; something of use, beauty, spirit. To make it tangible, visible, audible.  Art is how each of us lives our life; it’s an art form we can’t avoid practicing—the way we shape and tune our lives.

 

We may feel inclined to try our hand at cooking or drumming or singing, or whatever, but it’s starting that stymies us.  How to start? How does one launch an attempt at creating something new?  I wonder how God got to actually creating the universe.  Did She scheme and plot in linear fashion or was it a divine whim, an overflow of high spirits?   My guess is that it was on impulse, a sudden uprush of cosmic inspiration.

 

Nobody knows, but I’m curious.  I fall back on my method for starting a painting—creating an image de novo.  First there’s an idea, a sketch, a feeling.  And then I decide to do one thing to the canvas, a line, a brush stroke, a quick outline.  I work rapidly, following my first impressions, letting my unconscious blithely cover the whole canvas, without hesitation, undeterred by crude gestures. I let things go their own way, wipe things out, paint over. I’m at it until the first thin layer of paint covers the entire canvas or sheet of paper.      

 

Now I look at what is before me.  Because I let my mood go where it wanted, the forms I painted were touched with chaos.  Certain patterns emerged I had not consciously planned.  But they open possibilities of composition and color I hadn’t thought of.  Chaos and spontaneity create opportunities for expressive composition that were unplanned and unexpected.  Risking a little chaos we may see new connections. Too much order can stifle our inventive potentials.   Crisis and uncertainty can make us more alert to creative coincidences.

 

As to my method, I set to work exploring latent possibilities of the image I’ve begun to materialize.  What I have so far is a ghostly presence that may appear at first depressingly lackluster.  And so it is with many of our ventures into the art of living, we start out with a rush of enthusiasm but run into difficulties, and the whole idea now seems hopeless and we feel feel like losers.  But my stubborn self and dream hunter goes on, a brushstroke here and there, and for a while I am in limbo (oh yes, how like life, I say to myself).

 

But my method is to keep going until the moment comes when finally I see the arc of my efforts, the form of my fantasy.   The shivering ghost is partially embodied, but now I see how the whole painting will look--the sight of my idea taking shape in space before me, each stroke making the image more real, more completely present.

 

It always surprises me, painting the mental image in my psyche onto the physical canvas.  The end of the experiment is the painting—a materialized psychic image.  This way of looking at the art of painting is also a message about the art of living.  If you want creative coincidences in life, you may have to be willing to entertain a little bit of Chaos. 

 

Not the chaos of violent insurrection, rather the chaos of creative imagination, the ability to cut loose from stale habits of perception and travel on new roads of thought and feeling. You don’t have to travel far to change your mind. Sitting still, we can expand our worldview.  Our days are pages in the unfolding artwork of our lives.  

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Cracking the UFO Mystery


The United States government has acknowledged that something visible and intelligent has repeatedly been observed in our air space whose nature, purpose, and origin are unknown.  The good news--no signs of mass panic or hysteria.  Even so, the apparent superhuman technology of the UFOs—their ability to play games with us in space as if we were children—are reasons the Government might be feeling uneasy these days.

 

We cannot deny the presence of entirely unknown powers beyond human capacity.  The phenomenon emanates from a source outside ordinary terrestrial existence.  No one seems to know what is really going on here. I would like to toss out a few speculations on how we might understand the phenomenon.  

There are two forms of my explanation, based on the premise of the existence of paranormal data (ESP and PK). The big psi-hitters we find among yogis, shamans, saints, near-death experiencers, and other rightly disposed personality types.

 

We don’t know the limits of human psi-powers.  Joseph of Copertino’s telepathic abilities were so extensive that his superiors insisted that he stop commenting on the thoughts of the brothers around him whenever they strayed from their prayers or spiritual thoughts.  Talk about not respecting boundaries!  Joseph moved weighty objects around that would normally require ten men.  On one testy occasion in a dispute he sent a bolt of force that knocked somebody off his horse; the dispute ended in a warm embrace  between the two men. 

 

Joseph affected his clothing or even the walls around him so that things he used or touched were collected and preserved as sacred relics because they emanated unearthly fragrances, sometimes persisting for years.  The friar managed to make light of gravitation and was (shall we say) a frequent flyer and several times was caught bilocating; he was seen by, and interacted with, people in two different cities at the same time.  (There are sworn affidavits for this admirable performance, documented in The Man Who Could Fly.)

 

Imagine if Joseph appeared in a space suit to somebody in contemporary America, say, Mitch McConnel; it would be reported as a case of alien visitation.    I have no difficulty supposing that somewhere in the galaxies, much, much older and more evolved lifeforms have developed the psychic powers we humans possess. Improving on Joseph’s supernormal relationship to mass and space, the more evolved intelligent lifeforms might have learned to cruise around the galaxies, unobstructed by time or space.   

 

If so, it must have been quite a bonanza to stumble on our beautiful planet, now dominated by an intelligent species whose psychospiritual evolution is obviously stunted.  If they’ve been visiting and observing us since the first cave painters and the great ancient civilizations, they may have noticed when we figured out how to blow up the whole planet up with nuclear weapons in the 1940s.  But their excitement (assuming they have emotions) must have really peaked when they realized we were on a path of destroying the entire life ecologies of the planet by overheating the planet. 

 

The visitors are by no means all nice guys. Anyone who reads Bob Pratt’s masterful and truly frightening UFO Danger Zone will be convinced of that.  Another problem is that the visitors have strong leanings toward deceit and mendacity.   These visitors supposedly from outer space resemble us terrestrials, lots of liars and psychopaths, types we’re  familiar with.    

 

But another interpretation is possible.  The visitors are real.  But they come not from outer but from inner space, from another dimension of our subliminal being.  We scarcely know the limits or the boundaries of our minds because all our minds are aspects of the one mind that lies hidden beneath the threshold of ordinary awareness. 

 

Beneath that threshold, even as we walk in our sunlit working world, our deep stories are unfolding, our dream selves are active, but in ways we can only guess or infer as possible.  What indeed is happening below the threshold?  And how, if possible, to connect with the wonders churning in the psychic underground of our being.  The more evolved beings, the configurations of higher consciousness, the elves and fairies, angels and demons, gods and goddesses—they’re alive and well, nested in the crannies of the subliminal universe.  They’re waiting, yearning for the right time, the right person, the right synchronicity—to connect with us..

 

So what I’m suggesting: the UFO visitors come from outer space, beings much more evolved from potentials we already possess in germ or they come from the subliminal depths of our own living psyches.   Both options are a mind stretch.

 

The crisis of survival we’re facing as a species is forcing a confrontation with our cosmic brothers and sisters or with the hidden agents of our own potential evolution.  These are possible explanations, as far as I can see.  I know they sound a bit extreme; but the ultimate facts of nature may be more far out than anything we can imagine. And equally real are the shockingly strange powers that people and circumstances sometimes exhibit.   As to the latter, my book, Smile of the Universe: Miracles in an Age of Disbelief should ground the reader in the solid fare of true weirdness and authentic impossibilities.  

 

 


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