Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Loading up my iPod

I had a dream a while back that I should get a subscription to unknowncountry.com. I thought it was a strange dream. I was once a subscriber, one of the first, back in ‘03, but I let my subscription lapse after a few months.

In the the intervening years, I have gone from being a believer in the paranormal to what can best be described as a general skeptic--skeptical in the sense that I no longer accept these accounts at face value, unless there is some independent confirmation of the experience, or if the experiencer or the reporter has been previously vetted, or is a credentialed academic in a field associated with the paranormal. There simply is too much out there masquerading as paranormal knowledge that is either fraudulent, or, while being a valid paranormal experience, is a "cover" experience--not what it purports or is perceived to be. There does seem to be something about the paranormal in general that attracts fraud, disinformation, and deception, and while this aspect itself might be a clue to the experience's essential nature, it is simply too bothersome to waste time to comprehend.

I am still drawn to the subject, however, mostly from a need to validate and explain my own experiences, and, possibly, to gain some insight into the nature of a reality where these experiences seem to originate.

So, with the return of autumn walking weather, I’ve sprung for a year’s subscription to unknowncountry.com and am loading up my iPod with programs that might, possibly, provide that missing link in my efforts to synthesize these disparate experiences into a cogent whole.

With my newly-minted mantel of skepticism, I confess to cherry-picking the shows. Over the years, I have become disenchanted with most of Unknowncountry's guest hosts (and guests), and I'm no longer really interested in many of the phenomena discussed. But there is simply so much material available on the subscriber site, and some of it is quite intriguing. My particular interest is in experiences involving contact and interaction with non-physical consciousness, and in this arena, Whitley Strieber is the master. I'm also intrigued with Strieber's high-strangeness experiences with what Starfire Tor calls "time slips"--as well as his past-life hypnotic regression, which I located. So I am looking forward to seeing what I can see.

I also think that I might have an experience or two worth submitting to Project Core.  At first, I thought, "Nahh."  My experiences, at their strangest, have generally been lame.  I have no conscious knowledge of seeing a Grey or of being abducted.  I've seen UFOs, but they never landed.  I've seen a few ghosts, but nothing spectacular.  Still, as the premise behind the project percolated in my brain, and the more I listened to Jeff and Jer talk about it, I realized that I have had a couple of high-strangeness experiences in my past that have been *so* strange that I have not been able to categorize them as anything.  Think about it--if you see a UFO, or a ghost, and are reasonably acquainted with the paranormal, you will automatically categorize the experience; you will say, "Oh, I just saw a UFO," or, "Oh, that's a ghost."  But many of us have had experiences that are so strange as to be essentially impossible to categorize.  Is this what Jeff and Jer are looking for?  They won't divulge.  But I have had at least one such experience, and I plan to submit this.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Richard Heinberg on "Coast To Coast"

I first became acquainted with the Peak Oil hypothesis in 2003. Although I had become immune to doom and gloom forecasts by that time (the future that I had been taught to fear seemed bucolic in comparison to that awful year), the Peak Oil "conspiracy" terrified me in a way that earlier, vague predictions of axis shifts and alien invasions had ceased to: by virtue of its elegant simplicity and irrefutable logic.  I immediately paid off my mortgage and began planning my backyard garden. For once, I actually believed that the end was near.

Since that year, the more alarmist predictions of the Peakers have not come to pass; our civilization has not collapsed into another dark ages, and worldwide conflict has not (yet) broken out over a struggle to gain control over increasingly scarce resources.

Nonetheless, the economic model articulated by another Peaker, Matthew Simmons, has, arguably, transpired. Simmons predicted that the problem of Peak Oil would largely be ignored by the mainstream, but its effects would unfold cumulatively through our financial system; as the cost (price) of oil rose due to a gradual increase in scarcity, disruptions and breakdowns would occur in the worldwide financial systems. While these breakdowns would be the consequence of increasing oil scarcity, pundits and "analysts" would blame them on unrelated factors--either out of ignorance, or a refusal to face an awful truth.

I made careful note of this prediction, hoping that the Peakers would be wrong. But eight years down the road, I'm ready to concede that the Peak Oil model is the most likely cause for our present economic disruption.  Our present Great Recession is a direct result of the spike in oil prices that occurred in 2008.  Still, I hope that the worst predictions of the Peakers will not transpire... and here's why I hope.

First, and foremost, the "future" is not necessarily a logical consequence of current trends. While there *are* trends, movements, and probabilities based on current projections, most significant historic events have been disruptive.  Pivotal historic transitions are often caused by disruptive discoveries, inventions, and ideas largely unforeseeable at the moment. Any model of the future that fails to account for the possibility of a new disruptive paradigm (technology) will ultimately fall short of the mark.

Second, it's my personal belief that challenges and limitations are introduced into certain historical periods for specific purposes. I prefer to find meaning in historical events. (I was likely influenced by my early reading of Victor Frankl.) Instead of seeing Peak Oil as a death sentence on our industrial culture, I see it as a challenge, which our culture can choose to meet and overcome, or not. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Epiphany while reading "The Key"

I believe that when the history of our decade is written (assuming that there's anyone left to write it), October, 2011 will be cited as a watershed, for reasons that are slowly becoming apparent in the tech world.  Although the iPhone 4S's Siri interface was initially derided as another "voice command" program, it is proving to be quite something else: it is a form of artificial intelligence which is capturing the public imagination in much the same way as the Furby did, a decade ago.  Although Siri isn't true AI, it mimics it, and websites are beginning to pop up with transcripts of clever interactions with the machine.

What I predict will happen is that as Siri continues to engage the popular imagination, there will be popular demand for true artificial intelligence.  Siri might well prove to be the most significant thing that Steve Jobs ever introduced.

In one of those serendipitous coincidences, I'm re-reading "The Key," and I am struck with how the "Master's" oblique and enigmatic tautology is reminiscent of Siri's smart-alecky banter.  The "Master" never directly answers a question, but instead keeps his questioner off-balance by offering a seemingly intelligent reposte from left field.  The "Master's" explanations appear profound, insightful, and intelligent, mostly by being unexpected and clever.  This may well be how machine intelligence manifests, and we can see the seeds of this in Siri.

But although I'm seeing new things in "The Key" in my re-reading, my basic opinion of the "Master's" pontifications hasn't changed.  I think that the "Master" offers a very dark portrait of our near future, disguised as a warning.  Much of what "he" says seems grounded in fact and is very intriguing, but taken collectively, it fails to illuminate.  For example, the "Master" goes to some length to explain how some of us are "radiant beings" and some are not; presumably, those of us who are "radiant" make our own Light and can ascend to become co-creators with the Great Creator.  Those who aren't "radiant" are SOL and risk being re-absorbed into "God."  This is the sort of dark philosophy that I find in channeled material (and in some religions), and I personally chose not to believe in it.  It reminds me of how the channel in "Hungry Ghosts" classes the human soul population into two great divisions: "souls" and "entities."  Does this have some basis in fact?  Probably.  Our world is a world of dualities, contrasts, and, occasionally, unities, so it would make sense to assume that there would be some mechanism for divying up souls.  But I don't think that we can know, or pretend to know, what that process is, mostly because we are immersed in the physical world and must filter all our understanding through human consciousness.  Any transcendent insight that we might be fortunate to grasp will be distorted by our physical consciousness and will result in confusion rather than illumination.

That having been said, I think that the "Master's" revelations are ultimately valuable, because they seem to come from a place outside of our physical world.  I think that they are genuine snapshots from the greater non-physical world.  For example, the "Master" seems to imply that we are pulled to our current physical bodies and life circumstances by a sort of spiritual magnetism.  The bulk of souls that are incarnated spend the majority of their conscious existence being involuntarily pulled from one physical incarnation to another, with only brief periods in a sort of Bardo that co-exists with our physical world.  I think that this information is probably "true"... many mystics and seers have presented roughly the same picture of the afterlife.  But again, I am not sure that we can understand or absolutely know if this is ideed the case, and if true, what it "means."

Perhaps "The Key" is what results when human consciousness encounters an intelligent machine that originates outside of our physical reality; the information imparted is intriguing, occasionally insightful, and largely useful, mostly because is offers a different perspective into universal conditions; but it ultimately fails to edify or illuminate--because our own consciousnesses and souls are a lot smarter in comparison, if only we could realize it.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

"Thou shalt not violate."

I had originally planned to skim through the intro to "The Key," but I think that Whitley's exegesis is not all that bad. He highlights a statement purportedly made by the "Master," that sin is the "denial of the right to thrive." This reminded me of a statement by Seth, that a prime human directive is, "Thou shalt not violate." The principles implied by these statements are more nuanced than the absolutist prohibitions of mainstream belief systems.  But it also suggests that behind the distortions of religious beliefs, there were, at one time, fundament guidelines, clearly defined. Their original meaning, unfortunately, has been lost.

Friday, October 7, 2011

A dream of the world, 200 years from now

October 13, 1994
This morning I dreamed that I was living, or visiting, a time 200 years in the future. The dream seemed to be a long one; I'm not sure when it began or ended. I seemed to be part of a group. We might have had some academic function. It seemed like there was a part of me that was present in the future century and "knew" all about it, while being aware of myself in this "past" century. I was looking at an atlas of the U.S. I don't think the U.S.A. existed as a nation anymore. There were regions, some of which corresponded to the old states, but mostly corresponding to geographical or historical aspects. I saw a little sliver of a state that was Tennessee; it was much smaller than it used to be, but I think it was in the same geographical area. I studied the Southeast below Tennessee for some time, trying to understand the map, and I finally realized that it was covered by a shallow sea. The remainder of the geography of the nation had also changed slightly. I was talking to someone from the past, I think, and I mentioned three dominant religions of the time; I can't remember them but none were religions that currently exist. Christianity had ceased. Toward the end I was reading a text that talked about this future time period. It was saying that there was a lot of work occurring that was aimed at restoring the environment and quality of life. Things had improved so much that those incarnated during this time refer to it as their favorite incarnation. It mentioned that animals were being directly incarnated, which resulted in an unusual spectacle.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Hungry Ghosts

I believe that all profound human fears, phobias, and taboos have a specific genetic or cultural origin. You can be as Freudian as you wanna be, but I believe that humans fear snakes because natural selection dealt with those who didn't. Same goes with flying. I'm terrified of flying, and it's not because I fear a "loss of control." It's because my ancestors who didn't fear it were otherwise prevented from contributing to my gene pool.

But what about fears that have no apparent rational basis?  Most cultures have a profound (but largely unconscious) fear of "ghosts," and most cultures, past and present, have strong taboos against contacting the deceased. Since science largely insists that ghosts don't exist, and that it's impossible to communicate with the spirit world, what is the origin of these aversions?

These are the working hypotheses that I began to tossing around as I have begun reading Joe Fisher's "Hungry Ghosts." In fact, I did not have to finish the first chapter without having a small epiphany: That if you attempt to initiate open-ended communication with the spirit world, with no preconditions or safeguards, you're liable to bring down some serious trouble.

I believe that our ancestors learned directly not to do this. And although these specific unpleasant experiences have disappeared from our collective memory, the terrors spawned by these early spirit explorations persist in most living cultures.

So, societies created specific rituals and safeguards that regulated human-spirit communication. The ancients learned that before one intrudes into the spirit (or near astral) realm, consciousness must be modulated and focussed through prayer, ritual, and meditation; intent should be specific and positive; and there should be an interceder (physical or otherwise) to serve as an added buffer.

Our ancestors understood that in the spirit realm, unconscious terror becomes objectified monsters... Our slightest thoughts are instantly materialized... And most importantly, we will attract only those spirits that are "like us"--morally, ethically, and otherwise.

On a side note, I'm re-reading "The Key." I think that I last read it pre-9/11, or shortly thereafter. I'm one of the few people that ponied up the $20 or whatnot to get the first edition.  I well remember how it unsettled and disturbed me then.