Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Starfire Tor predictions for 2011 (Dreamland, January 2011)

I've had high expectations for Starfire Tor's predictions for the coming year.  Although her concepts of "timelines" and "time shifts" sound quite exotic and far-fetched, they are essentially identical to Seth's notions of "probabilities."   That Starfire was able to articulate such a complex model, which she apparently learned intuitively, is quite amazing. Seth's notions of "probabilities" is a difficult one to grasp, but is worth the effort, since it seems to explain a number of paranormal time anomalies.

So while I think her methodology is sound, I'm not sure that it can be used to actually predict the future.

I've said over and over that while I think precognition is real and that we can glimpse the future, I'm skeptical of most of the public figures who insist that they can turn this faculty on at will. A sampling of any Coast To Coast guest seer will prove this; they all have abysmal success rates, yet they continue to be invited onto the show every January to make the usual calamitous predictions of nuclear war and asteroid strikes.

Which is the trap that Starfire Tor fell into. She made two major predictions: An asteroid strike, with widespread death and destruction; and an electromagnetic pulse bomb that results in the failure of unshielded electronic devices over a wide area.

(Note to self: Go back and erase this blog entry in the event that these predictions come true.)

I do not think that her predictions are probable, however, because she completely missed the two big events of the past few months: the 10.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami off of Japan, and the major political upheavals in the Middle East.

I have actually been pulling for Starfire because I think that she is onto something quite valid, but I have to reject the catastrophism that permeates much New Age-think.

On Starfire's earlier guest spot on Coast To Coast, she traipsed very close to predicting the tsunami when she made a vague mention of floods, but she failed to get specific.  I remember that a caller to the show did say that he foresaw a "nuclear explosion," which in fact did occur when hydrogen ignited at several Japanese nuclear reactors following the earthquake.

There are complex reasons why I think that deliberate attempts at precognition usually fail, which I would like to write about later... because they might give some insight into the complex relationship between the mortal self in time.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Sent from my iPad

Well, I went and done it--allowed Steve Jobs to convince me that I needed an iPad. Now, all I need to do is allow a few days to learn what for. I should mention that I'm showing definite sings of rheumatoid arthritis, which affects primarily to typing arm. If it were in my left arm, I would say this thing is definitely too heavy... But for now, it's manageable.

The "killer app" on the iPad is something not mentioned anywhere, to my knowledge: the Safari browser. It's not the crippled mobile app that's on the iPhone, but appears to identify itself--and function--as a full browser, with about 80% of the functionality of the desktop version. This, to me, shows Apple's genius, because it's running on a mobile OS. It's small details like this that sets the iPad apart. I'm sure that other tablets use, or will use, a similar configuration, but it's important to remember that four years ago, people were looking at the iPhone and thinking, "I don't get it. What's the big deal?" At the time, the best I could do was run a very crippled mobile Opera on a Samsung phone with a screen the size of a matchbook. Four years later, we have a light-weight but sophisticated mobile OS that is able to run full-feature apps that approach desktop functionality. What will we see in another four years?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

New AT&T terms of service

AT&T DSL customers have received their new Terms Of Service today; no surprises. Essentially, was correct. We are now metered. No surprise. But the new TOS raised a couple of red flags in my mind.

One item of note; I'm not sure if it was in the previous Terms Of Service, but it seems significant:

Violation of Intellectual Property Rights: IP Service(s) shall not be used to publish, submit/receive upload/download, post, use, copy or otherwise reproduce, transmit, re-transmit, distribute or store any content/material or to engage in any activity that infringes, misappropriates or otherwise violates the intellectual property rights or privacy or publicity rights of AT&T or any individual, group or entity, including but not limited to any rights protected by any copyright, patent, trademark laws, trade secret, trade dress, right of privacy, right of publicity, moral rights or other intellectual property right now known or later recognized by statute, judicial decision or regulation.

I am not sure how AT&T might determine that a user has violated someone's intellectual property rights, but I am assuming that this might include observation or examination of sites visited, as well as files downloaded. It's widely assumed that all 'net services that define themselves as "broadband" throttle P2P traffic. Is the active monitoring of an account ethical? While it may be legal, I'm not sure that it's ethical.

Significantly, AT&T is assuming a rather broad police authority over a customer's usage. Is this appropriate? Do other ISPs do this? I don't know. We all know that the RIAA has targeted specific users with allegations of violations of IP rights and have issued subpoenas to the offending users' ISP. Some ISPs comply; some don't. The most common argument that non-compliant ISPs make is that they do not have the time or manpower to track down the users when there's no benefit in it for them. Does this clause suggest that AT&T will actively assist various Intellectual Property claimants to the detriment of their users? And if they assist the RIAA and other IP rights claimants, will there be a monetary benefit for AT&T?

Will AT&T monitor their users' activity online to the extent that they prohibit free expression? For example, if I decide to defame AT&T on this blog; or if I slander someone; if I post negative remarks about a powerful politician... Will AT&T yank my service?

The slippery slope toward effective censorship can begin rather innocuously when a service provider suggests that their users need to be "monitored" for [fill in the blank] activities.

I did visit the the "My Usage Details" site that AT&T has been running since January of this year, and my usage (surprisingly) does not exceed the cap. My January total was 109 GB. I will freely admit that I am a heavy Internet user, and I will have to say that the 109 GB total is probably in line with what I actually used.

Now, the digerati have generally argued that placing usage caps on broadband service is simply a grab for money, and is not dictated by economic necessity; in other words, excessive usage does not really cost the ISP that much. Instead, the ISPs are using the actions of a few heavy users as a justification for imposing caps on everyone, which are not justified by any excess costs incurred by the heavy users. It's a persuasive argument.

Nevertheless, since there's nothing I can do about the cap on my DSL service, what I *will* do is divert much of my traffic to my unlimited 3G account, which I have had for four years and have barely used.

Now, it seems irrational that a company would place a usage cap on a wired service, where overages might cost a few dollars, when the effect will be to drive power users to wireless data, where there are bandwidth constraints. But AT&T has no choice; unlike wired DSL service, where AT&T has no real competition in many markets, there *is* competition in the wireless spectrum.

This suggests to me that the future is wireless broadband, and ISPs that cling to outdated wired services are dooming themselves to extinction.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Precognitive dream: reading a newspaper headline from two years in the future

In 1995 I had a strange little dream involving me pulling the local newspaper out of the newspaper chute at my childhood home. I opened up the newspaper and saw a headline in bold print, "FM Back." According to the dream, "Apparently, Fleetwood Mac was regrouping with the original lineup and coming to Nashville with a major concert. I saw photos of Lindsey Buckingham and Mick Fleetwood. I went inside the house and saw my mother in the kitchen; she looked like she did before she became very sick."

I don't think I've posted this before, but I thought about it after listening to the Starfire Tor guest interview on "Coast To Coast" (hosted by Whitley Strieber). As fantastic and improbable as the dream seemed to be at the time (March 15, 1995), it came to pass to the letter two years later:

8:26 AM (ET) 7/19

Fleetwood Mac To Tour Again

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- It's no rumor. Fleetwood Mac is back.

They may have gone their separate ways, but the chemistry was still there when they got together for a documentary.

"Fleetwood Mac: Classic Albums," was scheduled to air Tuesday on VH-1. The band, which won a Grammy in 1976 for its album "Rumours," is planning a 45-day tour.

The reunion started when Lindsey Buckingham wanted help on a solo project and called on Mick Fleetwood. He brought in John McVie and before long, the band was back, including Stevie Nicks and McVie's ex-wife, Christine.

I have regarded it as one of my clearest precognitive dreams, and it's similar to Whitley Strieber's more tangible experience of reading a newspaper movie review months before it was published.

Looking at the dream now, six years later, I notice a small detail that I didn't pay much attention to at the time.... The dream setting was strongly suggested to be in the 1970s, before my mother became sick, when it was indeed my habit, pre-Internet, to retrieve the newspaper from the newspaper chute before walking down to the house. So there is that element of nostalgia; my mother had died a couple of years before this dream, and I was magically back in 1977, when Fleetwood Mac was my favorite band, and I was reading a newspaper headline predicting an event to occur in 1997.

Although physically we are destined to traverse time in a strict chronological manner, Seth argues (and Starfire Tor demonstrates) that our non-physical essence is in fact independent of chronological time. We can, if we choose, order our experiences not chronologically but thematically, as a novelist might. Since we create our own narratives, it is to our benefit to remember that our essential selves are not slaves to the clock, and with this freedom we can make tangible changes in our chronological experiences. This is the true meaning of precognitive experiences; they are messages passed through time from one part of ourselves to another.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

A couple of "Coast To Coast" shows of note

On December 20 of last year, Whitley Strieber appeared on C2C, and it's always enjoyable to listen to him; even if you do not agree with him, you have to concede that he is an interesting speaker. On this show he focused largely on impending climate change. He grew testy with one caller who implied that our current climate upheavals are simply the result of natural cycles that should not alarm us. Strieber was correct to be angry; what he did not say, but has said before, is that climate change deniers are largely confined to certain segments of the American population who have allowed themselves to be brainwashed by propaganda put forth by the petroleum industry and the last Presidential administration, which they financed. I can't say that I've ever been persuaded by Strieber's superstorm argument. My belief is that while climate change is very real, predicting the future is a perilous enterprise. We simply do not have enough data to say, exactly, what climate change is going to look like in ten or twenty years. I have some ideas which I will write about down the road, though.

The second C2C was one that I wanted to enjoy: it was an interview with Dr. Sam Parnia of the Weill Cornell Medical Center, broadcast on January 3. Unfortunately, my enjoyment was stolen from me by a series of inane and irrelevant questions from George Noory, who peppered the good doctor with queries about ectoplasm, the "soul," demons, hell, and whatnot. Thankfully, Mr. Noory cut to the callers when he realized that he was dropping the ball. However, Dr. Parnia was able to make one very important point: "death," as we define it, is not a single moment in time, but instead is a process that unfolds in a series of stages over many minutes, up to an hour, after the heart ceases to function (cardiac arrest being the traditional boundary between "life" and "death"). In fact, Dr. Parnia was able to state with assurance that consciousness persists for many minutes after the body appears to be dead and in fact seems to be able to operate independent of the body. This assertion by a scientist is in fact profoundly significant. It reminds me of something that Seth said in "Seth Speaks," which didn't make a whole lot of sense to me when I first read it, but does in light of what Dr. Parnia says: "There is no separate, indivisible, specific point of death.... Your consciousness may withdraw from your body slowly or quickly, according to many variables."

Rather than attempting to define the "soul," as Mr. Noory spent so much time trying to do, he might better have asked the doctor to define "consciousness." Because the nature of, and the definition of, consciousness, is at the heart of debate of "life after death." We have tremendous semantic and logical barriers in understanding what consciousness is, simply because it is very difficult for consciousness to step outside of itself and observe itself objectively. But I think that we should try, because the study of the nature of consciousness is integral to any examination of the metaphysical and the paranormal. We cannot separate our consciousness from what that consciousness observes, though we may think that the reality that we perceive is objective to a large degree. And when our physical cells are finished, it's that consciousness that survives and moves into environments beyond the physical.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Seth addresses the topic of "ghosts" in "Seth Speaks"

I thought this was interesting, and it's consistent with what I've read from reliable sources. In a nutshell, Seth ascribes many appearances of ghosts to projections of disturbed, deceased personalities who, unwittingly, send out thought forms to their former "haunts":

There are obviously as many kinds of ghosts and apparitions as there are people. They are as alert or as unalert to their situation as you are to your own. They are not fully focused in physical reality, however, either in personality or in form, and this is their main distinction. Some apparitions are thought-forms sent by survival personalities out of lingering deep anxiety. They portray the same compulsive-type behavior that can be seen in many instances in your ordinary experience.

The same mechanism that causes a disturbed woman, say, to perform repetitive action such as a constant washing and rewashing of hands, also causes a particular kind of apparition to return time and time again to one place. In such cases the behavior is often composed of repetitive action.

For various reasons, such a personality has not learned to assimilate its own experience. The characteristics of such apparitions follow those of a disturbed personality - with some exceptions, however. The whole consciousness is not present. The personality itself seems to be having a nightmare, or a series of recurring dreams, during which it returns to the physical environment. The personality itself is "safe and sound," but certain portions of it work out unresolved problems, and discharge energy in such a fashion.

They are in themselves quite harmless. Only your interpretation of their actions can cause difficulties.

One of Seth's core concepts is that our thought forms exist as tangible, though invisible, objects, much to our unawareness. These thought forms can be perceived by a few people. It would only be logical, then, that as we who are alive project our emotions and thoughts into non-physical realms, those who have passed on would project similar exteriorizations into the physical, which would then occasionally be witnessed by the living.

I wonder how EVP fits this model... While most EVP seem non-interactive, some EVP suggest a surprising time and situational awareness by the EVP'er. Still, I find Seth's explanation more reasonable than the truism accepted by most ghost hunters: that ghosts are the complete personalities of those who have failed to "pass on."

A bit later, Seth mentions that between lives there exists "a midplane of existence; a rest area, comparatively speaking" where personalities reside between incarnations, and it is from this area that "some disturbed personalities have those dreams of returning to the physical environment."

The concept is simple and elegant: As we, the living, often unwittingly project portions of ourselves in the dream or out-of-body state, so do the deceased.

Seth is somewhat vague about the nature of this "midplane of existence," but I tend to accept the findings of Dr. Michael Newton (and, to a lesser extent, those of his disciples).

Seth does indicate that this midplane would be familiar to those still living, because it is visited occasionally by the living in dreams, and communications with deceased friends and relatives are initiated here: "[I]t is from this area that most communication from relatives occurs. This is usually the level that is visited by the living in projections from the dream state." Elsewhere he states, "Some dead friends and relatives do visit you, projecting from their own level of reality into yours, but you cannot as a rule perceive their forms. They are not more ghostly, or 'dead,' however, than you are when you project into their reality - as you do, from the sleep state."

The notion that we visit the afterworld in dreams is common in metaphysical literature, and it's one that I've spent a lot of time debating myself. Quite regularly, I find myself wondering whether a specific dream is the product of such a visit, or merely a "dream." However, with several thousand recorded dreams under my belt, I can say that I've found more than several that have common themes and locales that consistently suggest that this has happened. And while my dream communications with deceased relatives are rare, to me, they definitely seem like real contacts to me. Certainly an interesting concept to ponder.

By the way, Seth hints that such visitations by non-physical personalities are quite common, but we ignore the signs:

Your rooms are full now of thought forms that you do not perceive; and again, you are as much a ghostly phenomenon now as you will be after death. You are simply not aware of the fact. You ignore certain temperature variations and stirrings of air as imagination, that are instead indicative of such thought forms. You thrust into the background telepathic communications that often accompany such forms, and you turn aside from all clues that other realities exist quite validly with your own, and that in the midst of one existence you are surrounded by intangible but valid evidence.

I am probably as guilty of this neglect as anyone else... having experienced so many oddities in my life--and because I know the dangers of succumbing to fears and superstitions--I err on the side of the material and rational. But in Seth's view, such paranormal happenings are as natural as we are, and they become unreal only when we willfully deny their existence.

Seth concludes: "The very words 'life' and 'death' serve to limit your understanding, to set up barriers where none intrinsically exist." I did not fully appreciate this sentence when I first read it, almost thirty years ago, but I am beginning to now. Advances in physics suggest that time is not the absolute that we perceive it to be; and the time barrier that seems to exist between us, the living, and those who have passed on, becomes less absolute with each passing moment.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Thoughts about materialist-based skepticism

I enjoy listening to scientists--and other thinkers who believe that reality is material-based--discuss paranormal phenomena... even when they do not "believe" that such phenomena are what they are purported to be. In fact, I am more inclined to listen to a materialist skeptic than I am to a uncritical believer.

My reasoning is simple: Either paranormal phenomena are what they purport to be, or they aren't. Either Aunt Sally visited you after she died, or she didn't; either you had a real encounter with a presence from another world, or you confabulated it. The materialists' refusal to believe such phenomena will not change the reality of it, nor does their disbelief threaten me. I think that if such phenomena are "real" (i.e., that they are what they seem to be, genuine encounters from outside our reality), then proof will inevitably follow, someday.

On the other hand, an uncritical belief in a phenomenon that does not exist can lead to distortions, errors, and dead-ends. Witness the problems in much of the "alien abduction" literature.

So we should always welcome what science has to say, even if we don't initially think that it will help the "cause." At the very least, we can learn what we can safely disbelieve.

Reference to the "fringe dweller" phenomenon in "Seth Speaks"

As I peruse "Seth Speaks" again for the first time in a decade, I continually find topical references to current paranormal literature. Many of the phenomena that Seth discussed weren't really mainstream paranormal topics at the time of the book's publication, but they are becoming more so now.

One of the most important books that I've read lately has been Monica Holy's "Fringe Dweller on the Night Shift," which is a description of her personal experiences of "astral rescue." The idea that physically incarnated people travel out-of-body on "psychic rescues" has appeared here and there in the literature, but Ms. Holy's book is the first one, as far as I know, to extensively discuss it from a personal perspective. The theory (or belief) behind "astral rescue" is that certain select individuals engage in a sort of spirit rescue effort during the dream state, as they travel out-of-body and provide aid to those who are dying.

Seth mentions this specifically in his chapter on the immediate conditions of the after-death state:

If you firmly believe that your consciousness is a product of your physical body, then you may attempt to cling to it. There is an order of personalities, an honorary guard, so to speak, who are ever ready to lend assistance and aid, however.

Now this honorary guard is made up of people in your terms both living and dead. Those who are living in your system of reality perform these activities in an "out-of-body" experience while the physical body sleeps. They are familiar with the projection of consciousness, with the sensations involved, and they help orient those who will not be returning to the physical body.

These people are particularly helpful because they are still involved with physical reality, and have a more immediate understanding of the feelings and emotions involved at your end. Such persons may or may not have a memory of their nightly activities. Experiences with projection of consciousness and knowledge of the mobility of consciousness, are therefore very helpful as preparations for death. You can experience the after-death environment beforehand, so to speak, and learn the conditions that will be encountered.

I have had several dreams of such "spirit rescues"; have I been engaging in such spirit rescues? Or simply remembering what Seth described and dreaming of performing spirit rescues? I don't know. Such are the pitfalls of trying to extract information from dreams... Was the experience "real"? Or was it just a dream?

In any case, here's one of my experiences:

September 30, 1990. Sunday. 4:55 a.m.
I dreamed that I was giving detailed instructions to someone in the astral state concerning procedures for adjusting to death. I think that the person who died was [***]. I remember instructing him in how to control mental images and how to navigate in the astral state. I told him that he had three days to adjust before going to a higher state. I think that I told him that it wasn't a good idea to go near his body during the three days of adjustment.

I then floated quickly away from this scene and arrived at a car parked by a city street. Someone was with me in the astral state. I sensed that someone in the car had passed out, and I went into the car and tried to resuscitate a woman who I thought was out of her body. I performed a procedure similar to CPR, and I think I revived her, but I'm not sure if she was really passed out

By the way, the person mentioned in the dream was quite alive at that time, though elderly, with a heart condition. I've attempted to find out when he ultimately passed away, without any success. One of the paradoxes of the Internet is that you are very quickly "forgotten" once you die, and it's almost impossible to find the most basic information about people (including obituaries of locally prominent people) after you've been dead a few months. Your online presence vanishes quite swiftly once you are gone to this world.

Even if the identity of the person that I was assisting was unclear, I notated the dream by saying that it was the first significant dream that I had had in a long time and that the dream seemed very vivid, realistic, and colorful--all markers of a recalled OOBE.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

This week's synchronicities

Generally when I go to town (I live in the country) I generally run into at least one fellow Mason. Even while in the bloodmobile yesterday, one of the Red Cross personnel told me that he was a back-slid Mason (non-payment of dues).  This has been a constant for me for the past couple of years, and it's one of the reasons that I assign a sort of mystical importance to the fraternity. Synchronities are, in my opinion, signals from the "greater self" that are meant to draw our attention to particular themes or lessons.

I have just finished Paratopia 103 with Lynn ("Piglett Shameful"), and I think that these type of personal accounts of the paranormal are very important in collecting data that can be useful. After all, we collect, study, and analyze physical data almost reflexively, but most paranormal data is often regarded as too "squishy" to be analyzed. But Lynn said something that, to me, rang a bell and was quite significant. She described seeing a presence (after her prayer) that manifested as a sort of shadow filled with "sparkles." My wife saw the very same manifestation--and used almost identical terminology to describe it. What's unique about my wife's account was that she was actually witnessing an OOBE that I was having at that same moment.  Afterward, we wrote down our observations and "compared notes." This proved to be a pivotal experience for me and it taught me several things. Foremost, it proved to me that my OOBEs were "real," and not just lucid dreams.  Second, if you observe any presence that is shadowy and filled with sparkles, chances are, the presence is physically incarnated. Presences that are ghost images, projections of the percipient, or entities that seem to be angels, demons, or "aliens" are not (to my knowledge) described as having "sparkles." It's a strange but important detail, and I'm sure it means something; what it is, is unknown.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Joe McMoneagle on Dreamland

Just like any year is a good one when there is a new Marshall Crenshaw album, I know it's going to be a good podcast when Joe McMoneagle is guest. The recent Dreamland was no exception, and I think that Marla Frees did the best she could with the short time allotted her. Unfortunately, the interview barely had time to scratch the surface and so no new ground was covered. That he was interviewed by Strieber in the subscriber section is a further incentive for me to subscribe, though I think that they discussed the peer-reviewed article that Slashdot ridiculed and mainstream science ignored.

Joe McMoneagle is a what I consider to be a "real deal" and I consider his material significant.  He's made one very astute observation--that "psychic" abilities are often learned in childhood as a survival mechanism due to abuse or neglect.

I wonder if he's divulged any information on what he considers the major (but secret) reason the US invaded Iraq--he teased the listeners with this tidbit during the interview, but Marla didn't follow up on it. He seemed clearly angry over the WMD lie, but he quickly pivoted and said that while the WMD story was an obvious lie, there was reason for the invasion, a reason was kept from the public. What was it?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Ran across an interesting Seth piece today...

It's from a writer who goes by the name of Tom Dark (not sure if this is a pseudonym) and it discusses Seth Cultists. Tom indicates that he was acquainted with Robert Butts and, particularly, Sue Watson. I thought the piece was fascinating because there's not a whole lot out there about from folks who actually knew the Buttses; indeed, not a whole lot out there about Seth in general. I'm a subscriber of an email list administered by a couple of students in Jane Roberts' class, but have never really felt compelled to enroll in the classes they are offering. Mr. Dark highlights a problem that I think is probably exaggerated--the danger that the Seth works will engender a cult. He cites an unpublished Seth session wherein Seth calls the New Agers "imbecilic personalities" and dismisses New Age gatherings as "psychic sideshows." If Seth indeed said this--which I really doubt; it's more in line with what Jane herself might say--he's probably right. It's fairly clear, however, that Jane Roberts intensely disliked the New Age movement in general, and her refusal to market herself when she was alive has probably guaranteed that Seth will never be the household name that Ramtha is (or was).

Add to this, the fact that the Seth books are so damn unwieldy, both intricately complex and willfully oblique, it's no surprise that robed teens aren't on corners chanting "Hare Sethna" and Seth's "followers" aren't booking the Deepak Chopra circuit.

What it does create, however, is a wide-open field for Seth scholarship, which some have attempted (and have done well at). I found an essay online by Paul M. Helfrich, who does a better job than I can ever hope to do at pulling together a series of Seth quotations that explain "The Origin of the Universe and of the Species--an Integral Conscious Creation Myth." Despite its ponderous title, the essay is a fascinating attempt to explain the creation of our physical universe from the non-physical perspective--and, surprisingly, Seth's, story largely mirrors the creation myths told by indigenous peoples.

So maybe I can throw a few feeble words onto the screen in the coming months and see if any stick. In order to do this, however, I realize that I will have to go back and re-read much of the Seth material from scratch. There's simply too much wealth of information to begin to parse; and I've been lucky in my twenty-five-plus years of study to scratch the surface of a few basic concepts. Mr. Dark notes, pointedly, that many associated with the Seth phenomenon seem to been largely uninfluenced by any of Seth's writings. He may be right--but I suspect that every reader who approaches this tome will, by necessity, be able to pick out only fractions of the material for personal application... and with so much to assimilate, individual approachers will derive vastly different applications from the same material.

What I'd like to do first, though, is see if I can find Whitley Strieber's hypnosis session where he revisits an apparent past life during the time of Christ, and see if his story bears any similarity to Seth's description in "Seth Speaks."

Basically, I'm approaching it from a scholastic angle. One of the few things that I think I do okay at is literary analysis. I think I can drill into the material and come up with some interesting stuff--particularly since, like Mr. Dark, I've actually tried to put the material to personal use. I promise that nothing I do will be any threat to any New Agers who want to found the next Seth International Congress.

Monday, March 7, 2011

More reading in "Seth Speaks"

I am still looking for that quotation that I thought I remembered, so I am going back through my Jane Roberts books, particularly "Seth Speaks," which is where I think it ought to be. Even though I've read this book many times, I still find large swaths of information that seems entirely "new" to me. And I realized why so many people like "Seth Speaks": it's essentially the most concise and organized compendium of "Seth-thought."

While perusing, I found an interesting tidbit regarding the Essenes (a topic that interests probably only me and a couple of other people). Seth indicates that the Essenes "had deep roots in some of the mystery religions of the Greeks." A few sentences later, Seth notes that the Essenes were "a surviving group from a larger and more ancient brotherhood." While these groups split and infiltrated different cultures, evolving along the way, they all had certain commonalities. One common feature of these groups was the use of secrecy; of having an inner core group of "secrets" that were protected by layers of lesser truths, or outright fabrications. Individuals were tested (or "tried") at progressive levels before he was allowed access to the core secrets.

Those who are familiar with Freemasonry will recognize this process immediately. Freemasonry places such a strong emphasis on secrecy, and on protecting this secrecy, that many non-Masons often go to extraordinary lengths to discover what is hidden. This, of course, raises the question: Is Freemasonry a continuation of these ancient schools, or merely a modern revival of them? While I won't divulge any of the secrets of Freemasonry, I will say that much of the secrecy of Freemasonry is symbolic rather than actual... which causes me to lean toward the notion that Freemasonry is a continuation of these ancient practices, rather than a modern re-invention of them. Why re-invent a ritual of secrecy in the mid-1700s when there were really no secrets to protect?

Which is not to say that there are no secrets being protected within modern Freemasonry; there are, thought not necessarily the ones that people think they are.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Dream of Alzheimer's

I dreamed the other day that I had developed Alzheimer's and had nine years left. According to the dream, my memories would gradually disintegrate; all the Masonic ritual that I had spent countless hours committing to memory would vanish.

It was not a particularly disturbing dream, nor is it far-fetched. Dementia hit both my father and his mother, so I imagine that I stand a better-than-half chance of acquiring this disease, and I'm not particularly optimistic that medicine will find a treatment for it anytime soon. However, it struck my father and grandmother in their 70s, and I'm a bit away from that. And while many of my dreams are precognitive, I recognize the predictive qualities only in retrospect.

Still, the dream felt oddly "real." I do know that in the late '70s, I recorded a number of strange dreams that involved me trapped in bizarre, meaningless, and endless patterns. Years later, I recognized those dreams as a prediction of obsessive-compulsive disorder that would flare up soon after the dreams.

The dream might also be a way of indirectly addressing the question that's been occupying me lately, "What is consciousness, what is the self, and where does it reside?" Materialists say that consciousness resides in the brain. Seth had a unique perspective on dementia, senility, and Alzheimer's: He said that this condition is chosen by personalities who prefer to exit physical reality gradually. As aspects of awareness are lost to this reality, those portions of the personality are transferred bit-by-bit to other levels of existence. In my father's case, soon after he lost the ability to speak or communicate in any meaningful way, I had vivid dreams of him speaking clearly and attempting to convey important messages to me. It's reassuring to believe that if this is indeed my fate, "I" will not necessarily disappear, but rather, the world will gradually disappear to me.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A few thoughts about a few things

I composed a couple of entries about Dr. Raymond Moody's visit to Paratopia but never posted them, mostly because I wasn't sure of what I wanted to say (I'm only sure of what I want to say when no one is reading it). But my basic thought is that, even though Dr. Moody has been a regular on paranormal-themed shows, he's always been a favorite of mine... I've bought all his books from way-back-when, even his book on Elvis Presley, which is actually pretty good. He's an anomaly in the field of the paranormal because even though he regards paranormal studies as a "pseudoscience," his books have wide appeal to the paranormal audience. He's never said anything that I have found not credible. And he backs his statements up with direct experience as a physician.

I think that the only people who would be in a position to refute his observations would be other physicians. About the clearest refutation of the near-death experience phenomenon (that I've found) has been the critical analysis to Pam Reynolds' experience, which can be found in the "Critical Analysis" section of Wikipedia's entry on "Pam Reynolds (Singer)." (Yeah, I know, but it's the best I can do on short notice.) The detail that went into compiling this rebuttal of Ms. Reynolds' experience suggests, to me, that opponents of NDE phenomenon found her case to be particularly strong--and it is indeed cited by proponents of the phenomenon as the most convincing NDE case. However, when you drill down a little deeper in the criticism cited by Wikipedia, you find that only one has clear medical credentials (Gerald Woerlee, an anesthesiologist who, according to his website, has a strong belief in atheism). The other, who is cited most extensively, Keith Augustine, has an MA degree in Philosophy (so I think Dr. Moody out-ranks him); and the other links to a forum hosted by the Amazing Randi. Weigh this against the tonnage of evidence provided by Dr. Moody, and it's not hard to be convinced that he's right.

Add this to the fact that, until just very recently, Dr. Moody has asserted that he has not personally convinced of "life after death," whereas most of his detractors would say that they are convinced of just the opposite. He has let the evidence persuade him, as it should. And his most persuasive evidence, I'm sure, has been his most personal--because we live in a scientific world, where science has become the predominant belief system, and we won't be really sure of anything until science says it's so.

Fortunately, Dr. Moody and other important thinkers believe that this may be around the corner. In another recent interview (can't remember which, but I could find it), Dr. Moody speculated that we might have the basis for scientific proof of the afterlife within five to ten years due to changes in "logic." And I hope that he's right. If we were to scientifically establish that consciousness can exist independent of the body, our society would be revolutionized. Religions (including the belief in atheism) would be upended; after all, if you knew that you survived physical death, you'd be less inclined to follow religious or theocratic figures who insist that you can't get to that other world unless you follow their rules. If you knew that beyond the perceived physical world was a reality that is both tangible and structured, you might begin to wonder, "What's there? And how can I explore it?" And the current authorities might be afraid of what you would discover.

It's easy to downplay, but, really, the most credible analysts (and critics) of the paranormal are scientists who are willing to look at the subject. For now, we have mostly a compilation of anecdotal personal data that's very convincing on a personal level, but which has not resulted in a broad consensus outside of the confines of the paranormal field. People like me are drawn to the paranormal because we've had direct personal experience with the phenomena and are convinced that something is there; but until these personal experiences are validated on a broader level, they will remain just that--personal beliefs that will not convince the skeptics. So I think that Paratopia is going in the best direction--by persuading credentialed scientists to ponder the evidence--to advance the search.