Sunday, December 30, 2012

Praṇā

I had an unusual dream this morning with a clearly enunciated Sanskrit word.  Since linguistics is a hobby of sorts, this is not unusual, but I thought it was interesting.  It involved a sort of vehicle made of clay; it was the size of a small automobile.  Inside was another clay vessel shaped like a clay flower pot.  I knew that I could get inside this vehicle and cause it to levitate and travel by use of "praṇā."  When I looked this word up later, I saw that it can be roughly translated as "life force."  I think that the contemporary understanding of "praṇā" may itself be a corruption of some more ancient meaning, but the Judeo-Christian equivalent may be the "breath" that God breathed into Adam to bring him to life. The ancient Egyptian equivalent of this is ka. Probably the reason that I'm even dreaming of this is because of my Seth readings... Seth is very emphatic that we are alive, and continue to live, due to a "force" that originates from outside our framework (dimension), where are "entity" resides... we continue to exist, moment-to-moment, by virtue of this force (which I don't think he names).  Since this singular concept is easily recognized in at least three ancient sources, it apparently originates from an even more ancient source.

I have a hunch that the most ancient religions (specifically, Hinduism and Taoism) are a good source of "alternative" scientific knowledge because they are, in fact, based on a science from a civilization that predates our recorded history.  I personally have been very fascinated with ancient Hindu writings because they are strangely contemporary in a way that's hard to articulate.  Perhaps I will dream of some more Sanskrit words, maybe even a sentence or two.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Currently reading "Never Letting Go" by Mark Anthony

I grabbed the Kindle version of this book on sale recently.  When the book came out, Mr. Anthony gave the obligatory interviews on the paranormal circuit, most notably on "Coast," where he was first booked by George Noory, who thought he was the actor.

Now, officially, I'm skeptical of all public mediums. I think that there should be a steep threshold of proof for any person claiming to speak to one's dead relatives. After all, we expect this of living communications, don't we? I also think that we are in an age analogous to the turn of the last century, when Spiritualism was rife with fraud, and serious researchers had to dig through a lot of chaff to find a few grains of wheat.

Still, with all this, I think that Mr. Anthony's book is worth the read. I can't vouch for his accuracy as a medium, but he's a good writer, and he demonstrates a keen empathy for the people who he "reads." I also have no doubt that he is a good lawyer, someone who I would want on my side. He is a good listener with insight into the pitfalls of physical life. Would a successful lawyer give up a promising practice just to sell a few books and endure George Noory's bad lawyer jokes? A question worth pondering.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Joe McMoneagle

I usually don't look at this blog's stats, but today I glanced at them and noticed that most readers were going to only two posts: one that I wrote a while back on the so-called "Psychic Twins," and another one on Joe McMoneagle.

While McMoneagle's book "The Ultimate Time Machine" is distinguished from other prediction books not necessarily by being mostly correct, but by being mostly not wrong, McMoneagle did make some uncannily accurate near-term predictions. However, I have stumbled upon an interesting piece of McMoneagle stuff on scribd.com: "Looking Into Higher Dimensions." In this study, McMoneagle remote-views several targets, including a couple of sub-atomic particles. Researcher Ronald Bryan (admittedly biased in favor of McMoneagle) is a physicist who thinks that McMoneagle's viewings were accurate.

What I thought was interesting was that this session (and indeed all remote viewing sessions) is an illustration in what Seth called the use of the "inner senses." According to Seth, our physical senses are camouflage instruments that can observe only camouflage data. In other words, they can't perceive the "true nature" of any event or object. All of our scientific instruments are likewise composed of camouflage matter and cannot measure anything that is not part of the camouflage reality. According to Seth, this will, over time, cause our measurements to become less coherent, as the instruments become more sophisticated. (This might explain the trouble that physicists are having in explaining the phenomenon of "dark matter.")

So what should we do? Use our "inner senses." How? Seth never really explains how. But I think remote viewing may be one way to do this. A number of remote viewers have made some surprisingly accurate observations, but no one has bothered to raise the fundamental question of how it is possible to "observe" *anything* without using our physical senses. If, in fact, we can perceive reality (both material and non-material) with something other than our physical senses, what is the sense that is doing the perceiving?

Coming to a town near you-- the apocalypse

I found this article discussing the current television fad of apocalyptic-themed shows, and I thought that I would mention it. I don't watch TV, so I'm not familiar with any of the shows. The article examines the so-called end-of-the-world "preppers."

Since apocalyptic ideation is such a fixture of the paranormal set, I think that it's interesting that these ideas are moving toward the mainstream, and I wonder what it means. All mainstream beliefs start out on the edge; some radical beliefs disappear, while others are incorporated in the mainstream and become the new normal. Such is happening to the apocalypse. While I don't really "know" what all this means, I have a few ideas.

Almost all apocalyptic scenarios can be traced back to fundamentalist religious beliefs.  While science and humanism have produced a few end-of-the-world doosies, virtually all apocalyptic predictions have their origin in contemporary readings of ancient religious texts. These texts are questionable in origin, questionably translated, and woefully misunderstood by those most likely to promote them--those lacking education and a solid foundation in ancient languages. Anyone who heard George Noory's recent "Coast" interview with Dr. Ken Hanson saw this in action. The first hour of the interview was squandered by Noory's meandering questions about the "mess" in the Middle East. Noory kept pressing Hanson to agree that there was no hope for a peaceful solution and tried to pin him down on the when and how Israel and Iran would go to war. He then changed tack in the second hour by trying to steer Hanson into a contemporary interpretation of the prophesies in "Revelation" while Hanson--and most scholars--believe that the text is not a prediction of the end of the world, but a prediction of the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70--which is quite remarkable in itself.

Apocalyptic fears may be part of a "design" to influence human behavior by "someone" or some thing--with a goal, perhaps, of averting real future disasters. Those who have predicted "the end" over the past century have been all wrong. But I still think that it's interesting that new predictions are continually being made, despite the failure rate. A materialist might see this as a preemptive evolutionary response to emerging conditions. A mystic (which is how I would describe myself) would see this as evidence of a grand design in human affairs.

If the world does end soon, I probably won't be here to see it. Nor, likely, will many of my readers. Climate change, which I believe to be a "real" potential disaster, should start affecting the planet in significant ways by the year 2030. I *might* still be here then, but I might not. Fortunately, a new generation will be in charge then: one that is very tech-savvy, one not stupid enough to be brainwashed by the petroleum industry, and one that doesn't watch television.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Interesting article concerning poor students and college

I stumbled upon an unusually insightful piece of journalism in the New York Times today that's remarkable on two levels: it offers a sympathetic and non-mocking assessment of the experiences of students who don't happen to be children of CEOs and executives, and it explores the widening economic divide between rich and poor that both Republicans and Democrats have promised, over multiple elections, to address. And it mirrors my personal experience many years ago as a child of a working class parent from a rural community who ventured into the hostile territory of post-secondary education--with two critical differences. When I went, almost forty years ago, college was more affordable... And the income divide between rich and poor was not as extreme.

The first college where I landed was Middle Tennessee State University.  I've written about this experience before; no need to rehash it, except to mention that my experience mirrored that of the students profiled in the Times article: a complete lack of preparation for confronting the bureaucratic incompetence of a large, state-run institution: important letters not sent; erroneous and conflicting directives from various functionaries and staffers; abysmal communication (or rather, perfect miscommunication) of essential information; and a blanket indifference by key school staffers to the needs of students. I attended MTSU twice: first, for my freshman year, and later, as a graduate student. My experience was the same, both times, then. Not sure how the school is now. From what I hear, the mantel of incompetence is now carried by a Nashville-based state university that I won't name, since I've never attended it.

Children of middle and upper class parents are prepared. The parents know the ropes and can guide their children and challenge the bureaucracy on their behalf. Children without this guidance are left to confront the beast alone.  Many drop out and abandon college, as I almost did.

I pressed on, however, for a couple of reasons. As a teen in a rural community in a Southern state, there were few viable economic alternatives. There was simply nowhere else to go. But the main reason I continued was because I could. Back then, you could pay for college with money earned from part time jobs, which is what I did. You can't do that now.

The problems that discussed in the Times article, like many real-world economic and sociological problems that bedevil us today, have been allowed to fester, unnoticed, under the oversight of many Republican and Democratic politicians. Many enlightened observers have decided that our present political parties are incapable of addressing the essential problems of our society. Some vent their frustration of this by joining fringe political groups. The mainstream institutions have responded to this alienation by marketing candidates, like Barack Obama or [fill in the blank Tea Partier], as "alternatives" to the failures of the past. I predict that any real solution will have to emerge not only outside from the mainstream, but also from outside any of our current institutions.  If, in fact, our society is approaching systemic failure, it is unlikely that any cure can come from anything within it.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Seth-- the ultimate postmodern?

While perusing the Wikipedia article on postmodernism, it struck me--postmodernism encapsulates the essential tenets of Sethian philosophy. I recommend any Seth fan read the entry. "Reality is not mirrored in human understanding of it, but is rather constructed as the mind tries to understand its own personal reality"? Check. "Postmodernism is therefore skeptical of explanations that claim to be valid for all groups, cultures, traditions, or races, and instead focuses on the relative truths of each person"? Check. "Postmodernism postulates that many, if not all, apparent realities are only social constructs and are therefore subject to change"? Check that, too. Which raises some questions.  Did the mainstreaming of postmodernism in the 1960s influence Jane Roberts' philosophy and thereby serve as an unconscious source for the Seth material? Was Seth, timeless being that he was, in fact an adherent of the intellectual fad of the late 20th Century? Will future generations, with presumably even more modern paradigms, look down on the Seth writings and mutter, "How quaint?" Somehow, I think that Seth would be amused at my speculations and would not hesitate to set me straight. However, we cannot escape the inescapable: even beings no longer focused in physical reality must communicate in a way that is immediately understood by the contemporary culture. And ideally, they should, like Seth, be on the cutting edge if they have any ambition of obtaining street cred.

(My father, by the way, was a stubborn modernist who often railed against the relativism of the young'ins. The so-called generation gap of the '60s was actually a clash between two philosophical world views.")

I've stumbled upon a number of writings channeled at the turn of the last century-- all now in public domain and now largely forgotten-- that provide semi- interesting reading. The problem that I find with them is that while they may have been cutting edge in their day, they sound old- fashioned now. I have a hard time suspending my disbelief in them. Why would any elevated being bother to communicate such uninteresting ideas? Among the dozens that I have collected, however, I have found one set of writings that strike me as original and-- Sethian.

The writings are known as, simply, "Claude's Book" and "Claude's Second Book." They purport to be the channeled writings of an airman who was killed in World War One. There's almost no information about them in any source that I've checked, but I think they may be, in fact, what they claim to be. For any interested, I'll be glad to post them. I'd be interested in any feedback or additional information about the material.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Robert Monroe recordings

Anyone who has studied the nature of consciousness has probably crossed paths with the writings of Robert Monroe. I read his seminal work, Adventures Out Of The Body, in 1976, and it had a profound impact on me. It was the first-- and probably only-- work that I've read that treats the out-of-body experience in a completely secular, non-dogmatic way.

He went on to found the Monroe Institute. I wrote the institute in the mid-80s, curious about their programs, but never got a response. In any case, I doubt that I could have afforded their programs back then. Audio recordings replicating the Hemi-Sync process are now obtainable, but they are also pricey.  But whereas I lacked the money in the '80s to join the program, I now lack the time.

The Monroe Institute has posted some recordings of actual Hemi-Sync sessions. I've just listened to "Explorer Series #4 Multidimensional Aspects of the Self," which is a recording of a Monroe Institute student as she is guided through various astral levels. Soon into the recording, a being takes control of the student's vocal cords, and the student begins to channel various messages.

I noticed a number of peculiarities about this apparent channeling. First, this being seems to have some initial difficulty operating the voice mechanism of the student, but quickly masters the process and in a matter of minutes begins to speak with a slight Queen's English accent--a phenomenon that I seem to remember exhibited by Spiritualist trance mediums. Second, the being espouses a New Age philosophy that, while probably correct, is not exactly revelatory: that we are more than our time-space focused ego, that we are instead "limitless" and powerful entities, and if we only realized our power, we could achieve much. But then comes the warning: earth changes, specifically, an "axis shift," are just around the corner. The speaker in the control room (Monroe?) asks the being when this is to occur, and the response is, "Very, very, very soon." This "shift" is vaguely described, but it is strongly hinted that this will require the transition of living humans to the astral level; i.e., a massive die- off of some sort.

Monroe himself introduces the recording. Since Monroe died in 1995, and the pole shift is described as "already happening" at the time of the recording, my guess is that 1) the recording was made in the early '90s, and 2) this pole shift is overdue.

I see this recording as an artifact of the predominant New Age weltanschauung of the late '80s.  My hunch is that the student was not channeling an elevated being, but instead, some fragment of her own personality, one that had been indoctrinated in contemporary New Age-think. In fact, I suspect that most channeled material is from the same source. Winnowing out the "real" elevated beings from the spurious ones takes some effort and is likely not to have a useful payoff.

The fact that much of recent channeled material contains almost the same warning makes me wonder what mechanism might be involved here. Is there some core truth at the heart of these warnings? Just because a lot of people predicted an earth catastrophe in the '80s--a catastrophe that seemingly did not occur then--are we safe in ignoring similar warnings by contemporary messengers? Whitley Strieber's "Master Of The Key" warns that the Northern hemisphere will be destroyed in one season due to ongoing climate change--a thesis which everyone (except Tea Partiers and Rick Perry) can easily test by looking out any given window. To what extent are such apocalyptic notions informed by misreadings of second-century topical Christian writings of unknown authority (i.e., the book of "Revelation")? And is it even possible to approach this subject as a devote secularist and Humanist, without ultimately being seduced by the dark theological undercurrent that ultimately seizes the unwary?


Sunday, December 9, 2012

The brain as a reducer

A common argument in metaphysical circles is that the human brain is not so much an observer of physical reality, as it is a screener; our brain filters out the bulk of reality--including "paranormal" events--so that consciousness is left with a tidy set of data, neatly packaged, to be accepted as "reality."  Turns out, there is mainstream scientific evidence of this process, in another mainstream publication.  Or, as Time cites Aldous Huxley:

In order to keep us focused on survival, Huxley claimed, the brain must act as a “reducing valve” on the flood of potentially overwhelming sights, sounds and sensations. What remains, Huxley wrote, is a “measly trickle of the kind of consciousness” necessary to “help us to stay alive.”
I have always believed that this process "explains" the paranormal more than any of the esoteric theories of some of the New Agers.  It's all a matter of perspective.  We don' t really expand our perception during those rare mystical experiences so much as severely restrict it 99 percent of the rest of the time.  And psychoactive chemicals do not cause us to hallucinate, but rather briefly take our blinders off to see what else is out there.

Seth argues that the human ego became highly specialized in recent centuries as an experiment; the focus became a highly restricted, narrow set of data, which we regard as Reality.  This focus, however, has caused the human "ego" to become isolated from the "greater reality" that is its source.  The greater human personality is the co- creator of this reality, but we have forgotten this.  And we further restrict our perception of reality to only those data sets that conform to our expectations, instead of co-creating this reality in cooperation with the consciousnesses of nature (hence, the meaning behind the much- mocked "you create your own reality").

The reducing and filtering feature of the brain may also explain why many people become "psychic," or display mediumistic or clairvoyant talent, following severe physical trauma or a near- death experience; or, as Joe McMoneagle has noticed, many "psychics" suffered abuse or neglect as children .  Something in the trauma causes the brain to "forget" its current role as reality- filterer, and perceptions of a larger reality are allowed to filter in . Should such a trauma be inflicted on the population on a global scale, the human race may be given a blessing in disguise, and a foot bridge to its next stage of evolution.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Vision Of Tundale

I confess to being unable to finish "Vision." While the core of the experience seems to have been an accurate account of a genuine NDE, the bulk of the story seems highly embellished with superstition and religious dogma. Maybe I should skip the depiction of Hell and see what else is there.

It did remind me of a book that I'm currently reading: "The Astral City," by Chico Xavier. Despite the book's acclaim, I'm not sure that I accept it as a valid channeled document. Still, the existence of a hellish astral level, a nether world, is universally documented in NDE accounts and Spiritualistic works, including a fair number of OOBE accounts (such as Robert Monroe's). It's very possible that memories of this realm persist in the human consciousness, and exposure to it may well explain the phenomena of negative or "distressing" NDEs.

So while I am a skeptic, I am not a critic. I have no doubt--from vivid personal experience as well as extensive reading--that the realms that Dr. Alexander and others describe, actually exist. Unfortunately, we have no vocabulary to frame the description of such realms except in archaic and distorted religious imagery. I also believe that there is some sort of "universal law" that operates in what Seth calls our camouflage reality. But again, we lack the symbolic vocabulary to describe it. What we label as "good" and "evil" seems instead to be oversimplifications of an infinitely complex series of non-physical connections that form the perceptions of our experiences. Who the First Cause is of such a system--and who continues to drive it--is both invisible and beyond our capacity to understand. Perhaps this is Dr. Alexander's ultimate scientific heresy. Science insists that we measure and explain the objective world as it is, without reference to a "higher" source. Science has only recently begrudgingly admitted that the world that we perceive may well be camouflage, created continuously through the act of individual perception. Dr. Alexander asks the simple question, "Who, or what, creates the perceiver?"

And the Hits Just Keep on Coming

I stumbled upon another skeptical take on Dr. Eben Alexander's book on "heaven," and I wondered, yet again, what the deal is about this book.  Heaven knows (no pun) that there are plenty of bogus life-after-death accounts to pick on... plenty of hucksters, more than a handful of New Agers cruising the Ramtha circuit.  Why pick on this book?  The response from critics (I won't call them skeptics) strikes me as irrationally vitriolic.  Dr. Alexander's book has apparently triggered something, and I'm trying to figure out what it is.

Type in "life after death" at Amazon.com or any other book etailer, and you'll come up with hundreds of texts, most of them saying essentially the same thing.  Some of the books are credible and well-researched, while many of them are awful.  You will either believe them, or you won't.  Generally, the majority of the reviews are 4 and 5-star ratings from the true believers, but even the skeptics have solid, well-reasoned objections to the accounts.  I tend to listen to the skeptics, because, when all is said and done, I tend to be a skeptic myself.

Dr. Alexander's critics, on the other hand, seem to be arguing from a knee-jerk emotional part of their frontal cortex.  Argument One: "Dr. Alexander is trying to make a lot of money by duping the gullible with fantastical stories that he hallucinated."  Assuming for a moment that this characterization is correct (not sure if the critics have checked lately, but there's not a lot of money to be made nowadays in book publishing), I doubt that he is making any more than he did as a brain surgeon. Critics, are you nuts?  Do you have any idea how much money a good brain surgeon can make?  In any case, if some guy writes a book and makes money, is he necessarily evil?  Argument Two: " The 'editors at Simon & Schuster' think that Dr. Alexander, with his 'fancy degrees, his bow tie and the numerals after his name' is inherently more credible than 'those Bible Belt Christians who’ve told this story before.'"  Short rebuttal: Um, yes. I'm with Simon & Schuster on this. Dr. Alexander, with his fancy degrees, is more credible than the Bible Belters who say the same thing.  I live on the buckle of the Bible Belt--so I know. Bible Belters have zero credibility in my worldview. Presently, the yahoos around me are trying to secede from the Union, legislate creationism, ban birth control, and carry guns into restaurants--all because Jesus told them to.  Smart call, Mr. Simon & Schuster.  Argument Three: "Alexander's story is no different from historical accounts of near-death experiences; so, they're all either wrong, or are lying, or just copying each other."  If this is true, then essentially our entire body of Western historical literature is also "wrong," because historians engage in the same practice.

Again, I argue that Dr. Alexander is being attacked because he is a privileged member of the mainstream who chose to step outside the mainstream and promote an alternative viewpoint.  Were someone like Whitley Strieber to write such a book, I doubt that it would even be noticed--much less attacked on the storied pages of the "Washington Post."

I did find something interesting in the above-cited critique; the author made reference to something called “The Vision of Tundale," which she describes as a medieval account by a "man who claimed to have had a stroke and then, unconscious, to have been taken on a tour of heaven and hell."  It didn't take long for me to locate this account here, and it looks interesting.  I didn't know this account existed.  I plan to read it and hope to gain some insight into the near-death experience from it--assuming, of course, that Tundale wasn't lying and just hoping to make a quick buck off of those gullible medieval Catholics.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Finished 'Proof Of Heaven'

I think that the NDE aspect of Dr. Alexander's book is secondary... What his book really does is offer evidence that consciousness can thrive outside the physical body. This is both more important than--and not as easy as--concocting an elaborate narrative of "heaven," because it flies in the face of mainstream scientific thought of the past century or so.

That's probably why there has been such a visceral reaction to the book among the mainstream. The mainstream will allow the kooks in the paranormal gallery to channel various non-physical entities that say this, but it's quite another thing for an established scientist to promote it. It's a very subversive concept that, if carried to its logical extreme, undermines much of our current power structure.

I hope that Eben Alexander continues to expound on the information that he received during his seven days out of body. In the meantime, I plan to read the book carefully several more times. I think that his book can serve as a touchstone of sorts to what I am leaning toward... a physics of non-physical state.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wow

So I was one of maybe a million people who downloaded what one skeptic called the "imaginatively titled" 'Proof Of Heaven' by Dr. Eben Alexander, and as I'm reading it, I'm also perusing the critical reaction to it online--and finding it mostly hostile. Just a sampling... "Heaven Does Exist & Dr. Eben Alexander Has The PROOF! (DETAILS)" in something called "globalgrind.com"... "Heaven Help Us: Another 'Harvard brain scientist' finds faith and tells the world" in Slate... I think that the negative response is due to two factors. Predominantly, the NDE genre is followed by a relatively small core of seekers. While cabootles of books are published on the subject, they rarely make it into the mainstream. Dr. Alexander's book did, however, and this is probably most critics' exposure to the subject. Those who read NDE accounts will, like me, find it a fairly run-of-the mill account of an NDE; we aren't surprised with the descriptive hyperbole of fantastic realms, and we aren't bothered when the narrator defaults to using religious imagery. We've heard it all before. Our culture lacks the vocabulary to translate what is, essentially, an untranslatable experience, in any other way except through the rough approximation of religious symbolism. For the normally skeptical critic who reads such an account for the first time, however, the the mishmash of archaic religious imagery grafted onto what reads as a first-experiencer's bad-DMT narrative, will likely generate bemusement.

Second, I believe that there is a blanket skepticism of paranormal accounts by some digerati who conflate genuine accounts of contemporary "edge" experiences with the all-too-common charlatanism that drives much of the paranormal "field." In other words... If most of it is a fraud, then all of it is. Others assume the mantle of "paranormal skeptic" because they see it (not unreasonably) as a badge of intellectual superiority--without bothering to inform themselves not only with what science actually has to say about the subject, but also what the paranormal experiencer has actually said.

Personally, I'm a paranormal skeptic also-with the distinction of having studied the subject extensively enough to know that the phenomenon is both real and objective. But I tread carefully... A lot of paranormal proponents *are* frauds (or, at best, suffering from a delusional psychosis). Still, I'm able to find enough white crows in my search to keep me searching. And at this stage of my search, I have decided that NDE accounts offer the best hope of giving us a glimpse of reality outside the matrix.

So what's Dr. Alexander's account like? Well, I'm a quarter through the book and I am finding it quite run-of-the mill. Normal, actually, well within the norms of such an experience. Which is why I am surprised at the opprobrium heaped on the good doctor. You'd think that he was channelling Ramtha or something. There seems to be some daemon built into our matrix that forcefully slaps down "important" people--pillars of the establishment--when they question the consensus reality. You may be able to go so far as to say that one way of identifying valid paranormal accounts is by taking note of the skeptics--if they are attacking an experiencer a bit too forcefully and irrationally, the experiencer is probably onto something.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Victor Stenger's post in today's HuffPo

It did not take long for a skeptical critique of Dr. Eben Alexander's "Newsweek" article promoting "Proof Of Heaven" to manifest... Victor Stenger lays out the classical scientific / materialistic rebuttal in today's "Weird News" section of Huffington Post.

What Stenger takes issue with--and he's probably right--is Dr. Alexander's characterization of his NDE as being proof of "Heaven," and particularly, of "God." Any Christian fundamentalist will tell you that there's no room for God in science--not because science doesn't believe in God, but because the existence (or non-existence) of God will never be proven by the current scientific method.

I noticed Dr. Alexander's rush to explain his NDE in religious terms, knowing that critics would attack his religious interpretation, rather than the experience itself, although I don't think that it should skew his narrative, and it personally did not bother me. (For an example of a book along this theme that *did* bother me, take a glance at Dr. John Lerma's "Into the Light: Real Life Stories About Angelic Visits, Visions of the Afterlife, and Other Pre-Death Experiences." This book is so demagogically Christian as to be offensive, to the point that I doubted whether any of it was true.)

Stenger's critique is important, however, because it shows how difficult it will be for science to examine NDEs. In Stenger's weltanschauung, reality is defined as what our physical senses, and what our physical instruments, can perceive. We absolutely cannot measure what we cannot perceive. We can infer the existence of an "afterlife" by collecting accounts of individual experiencers, and we may be able to mathematically theorize it, but that's all we can do--at this stage, anyway.

Dr. Alexander's account, however, is not really about validating his NDE to the scientific community; it's about describing a remarkable experience involving an expansion of consciousness, where nonphysical realms *were* perceived. And I think that this is where science will eventually go. At some point, a light will go off over a scientist's head, and he will realize that the goal of science should not necessarily be to study what we already can see--but to see where we currently can't.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Some back-of-a-napkin speculations about the non-physical

While listening to some interviews with Natalie Sudman (whose "Application of Impossible Things - My Near Death Experience in Iraq" I have not yet read) recently, I decided to compile a restaurant-napkin list of some general observations of common themes linking NDEs, OOBEs, as well as some "channeled" accounts. Basically, I'm groping toward some ideas of the physics of the non-physical state. Since I'm not a physicist, I doubt that I will come up with much, but I still enjoy the mental exercise of trying.

The Seth books have been helpful here... Some of his more esoteric ruminations (especially "his" descriptions of the "inner senses") seem relevant. According to Seth, our physical world is "camouflage," which we experience with physical senses specially adapted to perceiving within the narrow physical range. These physical senses (in a greatly diminished way) mirror our "inner senses." Thus, when we are not focussed in the physical form, we can "see" and "hear" just as we can when physically focussed... But the "inner senses" are arguably more powerful than our physical ones.

Seth argues that any attempt to understand the "greater" reality by observing it physically will result in "distortion"; we use "camouflage" instruments to measure our camouflage environment, which we process through a brain that is also "camouflage." And while these measurements *usually* result in very consistent picture of reality, it really isn't reflective of the "true" reality. To observe and measure this, we must use our "inner senses."

Is this practical or even provable? As my camouflage brain scribbles this onto a camouflage computer, the camouflage part of me says "no." Yet, even the most materially-focussed part of me wonders, "Can the concept of 'inner senses' elucidate NDE accounts?"

After all, these accounts, while appearing to violate physical laws, are remarkably consistent, internally. This consistency suggests that they are "real," on some level. Can we gain some insight into the "greater" reality by observing the consistencies? It's worth a try.

So here is my back-of-a-napkin list of commonalities that I've noticed, which run through the majority of accounts:

*Synesthesia, with accelerated sensory perception and hyper-reality ("realer than real"). Music is felt; thoughts are seen; colors are understood.

*Lack of sense of separation between self and the perceived external environment; or, a sense of meaningful "connection" between the self and the external environment, or with beings that are perceived.

*Malleability and flexibility of time perception; instead of consciousness being confined to a fixed and linear procession of time, it can rapidly and easily be focussed in multiple directions--events can be accelerated, reversed, or examined in granular detail.

*"Cause-and-effect" is perceived as being only one slice of an event; effects can reach "back" in time and create a cause, and probable timelines resulting from choices not materialized can be followed.

*A sort of "thought transference" can occur that results in complex symbolic gestalts being instantly and non verbally "received," and intuitively understood, without needing to be "thought about."

*Experiencers are conscious of having a body that seems to be physical, but they are often unable to describe the nature of it.

*Experiencers or communicants usually cannot explain "where" they are, suggesting that "physical" concepts of space and location do not apply to the non-physical environment.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The metaphysical equivalent of Nixon going to China

In today's online grazing I stumbled upon an account of a classic near-death experience that hit all of the salient points: a patient is suddenly stricken by a potentially fatal bout of meningitis; he is quickly rushed to the ER but rapidly loses consciousness. Within hours, his frontal cortex shuts down and he is placed on a ventilator. After several days, with no hope of recovery in sight, the physicians prepare to remove the patient from life support when he makes a miraculous recovery. Over the subsequent weeks of rehabilitation he assembles the narrative of his experience while comatose... writes a book about it and publishes it on Amazon.com.

So what's so unusual about it all (as if we could be blasé to NDEs in the first place)? The account was written by a neurosurgeon, Dr. Eben Alexander, and the account was published in "Newsweek" under the very NDEish title "Heaven Is Real: A Doctor’s Experience With the Afterlife."

What makes Dr. Alexander's account significant is that, if true, his NDE memories were generated during a period when there is clear medical documentation of zero brain activity lasting several days. One of the main critical arguments against the late Pam Reynolds' NDE (experienced when the blood was drained from her body and she was placed in an artificial coma to repair an aneurysm) was that it didn't really occur when he had flatlined, but moments before; and that she confabulated the bulk of her account. It will be more difficult to make this charge in Dr. Alexander's case. And the doctrinaire materialists will have to argue with a credentialed neuroscientist who, presumably, knows what he's talking about when he says that he had "no brain activity."

But what interests me most about Dr. Alexander's account is that it will likely be a critical scientific observation of the out-of-body state. Dr. Alexander was a committed materialist prior to his NDE. So what he has to say about the near-death realm--and what he thinks it means--could be significant. If consciousness can function outside the body, it has to function "somewhere." This "somewhere," I believe, a "real" place, with its own physical laws. Who better to describe this realm than someone immersed in classical materialist beliefs and trained in the scientific method? Much like Nixon going to China, Dr. Alexander went to "heaven," and I predict that what he brings back will more than a few ping-pong players.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A classic "abduction" account from the '80s

In the late '80s, I kept a paranormal journal, where I jotted down all my strange and paranormal experiences.  Initially, it began as a diary of my OOBEs, which I was having on a fairly regular basis, but it soon devolved into an examination of classic abduction accounts that were entering the UFOlogical mainstream.  I quickly became a "believer" in abductions and bought every book I could find on the subject, comparing the accounts to my experiences.  I now think that many of my observations were naive and I see most of my entries from that phase as ill-informed and credulous.  One entry stood out, however:

(June 8, 1988.  Wednesday)  I neglected to mention the real news that I learned yesterday....  It concerns an abduction that I knew about at the time but have forgotten about since then.  In the fall of 1976, about two weeks before my mother's sighting (according to her), [a close relative] was driving up the steep hill that leads into town one night when she saw a large object hover over her car.  The object was glowing red and green.  Her car stopped and she passed out.  When she came to, she noticed that she had been out for thirty minutes.  Her car still would not start.  Somehow she made her way to the sheriff's office and reported the UFO.  She was returned to her car, which then started.  This is scary, of course, due to its proximity to both my mother's sighting and to my UFO abduction nightmares.

I've mentioned this account earlier, but I am surprised at the detail in my account from the time, and how it mirrors the classic "alien" abduction scenario of the 1980s, with a nod to the stalling-automobile phenomenon from the previous decades.

Accounts like this were legion in the '80s, and UFO researchers concluded that whatever intelligence was behind these experiences was plucking unsuspecting humans from their vehicles for the purpose of doing whatever to them.  Corollary conspiracy theories were developed that implicated American military involvement in these operations, along with the tacit consent of the "government."

When I read this account now, however, I wonder, "Why would aliens go through the trouble of stopping a moving vehicle on a major road, simply to abduct a relative for a few minutes, when they could have simply waited for her to get home?  Seems like a lot of unnecessary trouble to me."

Researchers at the time explained this illogic by arguing that the aliens were on a tight and busy timetable that required them to abduct their victims wherever they might be, regardless of context.  Budd Hopkins in particular argued that the aliens' calendar was so stacked that they dispensed with all niceties and plucked their victims out of Manhattan sky-rises, family picnics, and even in the middle of conversations, artfully covering their tracks by erasing memories and bending time.  The impetus was a deadline, some major event in our near future that explained both the urgency and the behavior.... with the implication that the event involved something unpleasant.

This scenario, however, has not materialized.  There has been no "end game"--no mass population die-offs (of homo sapiens, at any rate), no evidence of widespread hybridization, no "disclosure" of a covert alien agenda.

Bottom line: I think it's stupid to apply contemporary human logic to a phenomenon as slippery as the "human abduction phenomenon."  While it's important to compile these accounts and to speculate, it just might be that not only do we not know, we  are not able to know.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Parapsychology and psychology; madness and the paranormal

Listening to Loyd Auerbach on a recent podcast somewhere, I marveled at how such a rational, objective researcher could be involved with the paranormal... until realizing that while he is a parapsychologist, he is not, necessarily, a paranormalist. Still, he observed that parapsychology is essentially a social science... i.e., not a physical science. As such, it examines human perception and behavior. And I can understand why mainstream psychology does not become involved with the para end of things. Psychology fought like the dickens for years to be considered a "real" science, and with the burning at the stake of rationalists by belief zealots within historical memory, science strives to maintain a safe distance from irrational believers.

Still, I think that there's a bridge somewhere here, but I haven't yet figured out what it means. It's one that is almost never noticed by paranormalists, except in a dismissive way. Otherwise, the connection is discretely ignored: the overlap between several common psychiatric disorders, and the accounts of some of the more fringe paranormalists.

Does this mean that people who, for example, detail intricate and terrifying encounters with "aliens" (uncorroborated by others) mentally ill? Not necessarily. What about those who adamantly claim to channel Archangel Gabriel? What about the conspiracists who frequent "Coast" with warnings about "government" spooks that harass experiencers with mind control devices? Should we accept their testimony at face value, or rather, at least make reference to mainstream scientific descriptions of psychopathology?

I'm not arguing that "real" supernatural or paranormal encounters are evidence of mental illness--but some of them might be. I'm not even arguing that mental illness is at the root of paranormal experiences, even though that's possible, too. But I do think that total immersion into the anti-structural world of the paranormal might result in some psychological damage.

In other news: About a third of the way through "Flipside: A Tourist's Guide on How to Navigate the Afterlife," someone (either the author or an interviewee) recounts a past lifetime memory of his death in the gas chambers at Bergen-Belsen during World War Two. Problem is, there were no gas chambers at Bergen-Belsen, an easily checkable historical fact. So, what was the accountant "remembering"?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I actually hope that the global warming skeptics are right, but I'm afraid they're not.

I recently caught the "Coast" interview with Dr. Roy Spencer, who I guess would describe himself as a global warming skeptic. I was impressed with his argument which, on the surface, is reasonable: that we can't demonstrate a strong causal link between the rise of atmospheric CO2, and the apparent rise in relative temperatures in the Northern hemisphere. I personally "believe" in science and I am willing to be persuaded by a well-reasoned scientific argument... And as Dr. Spencer made his case, I found myself rooting for him. But I was ultimately unpersuaded, for a couple of simple but profound reasons.

First, I think that the "global warming" debate is mis-framed. The issue is not that the "rise in CO2 levels is causing the weather to get hotter." To me, the issue is that "the increase in atmospheric CO2 levels is resulting in unforeseeable but damaging changes to the ecosphere." Example: a measurable increase in oceanic acidity, due to the declining inability of the oceans to absorb increasing amounts of atmospheric CO2. This increase in acidity has been linked to coral reef die-offs and other imbalances in the ocean. The most apparent explanation for this phenomenon is the increase in atmospheric CO2, which, presumably, did not rise all by itself.

Second, the sea level is also rising, noticeably, and this is already causing problems along the American east coast, as salt water is encroaching onto the mainland and killing off coastal grasslands. The simplest (as in Occam's razor) explanation for this sea level rise is offered by the global warming "proponents."

Fundamentally, the increase in relative temperatures predicted by the global warming models is the least of our concerns. Even the debatable increase in "weird weather" is not especially problematic (although this is predicted by the same models). But if the oceans die, then so do we. And if the sea levels rise precipitously, civilization will be affected.

Ultra-hot summers and squirrelly weather events tend to alarm global warming believers, because they intuitively recognize them as harbingers of events more ominous. The skeptics would do an invaluable service to the world by furnishing irrefutable evidence to the contrary.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A miscellanea of things

I debated all day about whether to comment on the arrest of Dr. Melvin Morse for the alleged abuse of his 11-year-old daughter.  Dr. Morse is well-known in metaphysical circles, appearing regularly on "Coast." I've listened to his interviews... I have a book or two of his. A pediatrician, his specialty has been the study of he near-death experiences of children.  He's done good work.  If in fact he is proven guilty of child abuse, does this invalidate his research in NDEs?  Not really, I don't think, but I have to wonder how it is possible that he same man who wrote:

I began my career in Critical Care Medicine. I cared for hundreds of critically ill children, while working for Air Lift Northwest. Most of these children died. My goal is nothing less than to change our current culture so when parents have visions or intuitions about their child who has died, they trust and believe their own spiritual experiences.

...could have "grabbed his 11-year-old daughter by the ankle, dragged her across their gravel driveway, brought her inside his home and began spanking her.... [The daughter] told police her father held her face under a running faucet, causing water to go up her nose and all over her face."

Now, it is possible that there's much more to this story than is sketched out in the mainstream press. Still, I can't conceive of any circumstance that would push a father to punish a child in this manner, except maybe one: alcohol.  My suspicion is reinforced by the behavior of the mother, Pauline, who witnessed the acts of abuse but stood back and did nothing--stereotypical enabling behavior.

This story--if factually reported--is not quite like that the priest caught abusing choirboys, or the televangelist consorting with floozies. There is nothing about the current "consciousness movement" that requires a person to behave in any particular way, except to follow one's highest ideal.  So I really don't think this invalidates Dr. Morse's research (although it does much to discredit it).

In my life, I've known such a man as Dr. Morse. He was highly intelligent, gifted, and spiritually sophisticated.  His children regarded him with a mixture of awe and terror. After he died, he appeared to me (and many others) in dreams, dropping bits of wisdom about the after-death state. He was a good man when sober, but he was an alcoholic, and when drunk, he viciously beat his daughters while their mother pretended not to see.  He was my grandfather.  I never worshipped him like my cousins did. Instead, as a teen, I was disgusted by him, and continued to condemn him until my own life experiences knocked some sense into me.

I now believe that my contempt of him then was a greater sin than his alcoholism.  I view him now with understanding and compassion.  He could not help his addiction, but I have since learned that we become what we detest in others. So I am mixed about the story of Dr. Morse.  I am reluctant to cast any stones, yet.  I will wait until the invariable "confession" of "troubles" and "personal failings" required by our culture, along with the requisite stint in rehab, with maybe a weekend of picking up of trash along the Interstate.  We'll roll our eyes, and Dr. Morse will move on.  His children, however, may not.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Probably legit

I've stumbled upon what I consider to be a "real" medium who does not do cold readings: she's on he Global Radio Alliance as "Spirit Talk Live With Teresa." Her readings are what I consider to be representatives of legitimate spirit contact: She asks no leading questions, does not fish for information, and her information is detailed, accurate, quick, and spontaneous. I don't know much about her, except that I doubt that she's appeared on network television, and can't see that she's selling books on Amazon.com (not that there's anything wrong with that). I can't see that she's appeared on "Coast." She does give readings, but she's about half the price of Hans Christian King, who I consider to be fraudulent.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Phil Imbrogno

I was very surprised by an Amazon.com email today informing me of "Philip J. Imbrogno's new book: Haunted Files from the Edge: A Paranormal Investigator's Explorations into Infamous Legends & Extraordinary Manifestations." Already it's garnered a negative review on Amazon.com, even though it hasn't been published--warning potential buyers that Imbrogno has "embelleshed his credentials." Notably, it is being published by Llewellen, who indicates that Imbrogno "is a recognized authority in the field of UFO research.... He is a retired educator who spent thirty years teaching science."

It will be interesting to see if it sells. But mostly I'm surprised at Llewellen for publishing it, even though the editors are quite aware of Imbogno's "embellishment." Why are they publishing it? Fabricating your educational credential will (or should) disqualify you from publishing in any of the established arts and sciences fields. But not in the paranormal field--because there are no qualifications for being a paranormalist.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Skeptical

It's becoming increasingly difficult to suspend my disbelief as I read "Dawn Of A New Age." Phil Corso tends toward excessive self-aggrandizement, even more so than in "The Day After Roswell." But, to me, the greatest argument against the notion that Roswell crash debris seeded American technology is that Corso's Roswell saucer seemed composed of late-twentieth-century technology: fiber optics, integrated circuits, night-vision glass... all remarkable technologies, but not magical. (Unless, of course, the vehicle was from a "breakaway civilization" on Earth.)

On a side note, former C.I.A. operative Chase Brandon stated on the July 12th "Coast" that in his early days with the agency, he was poking around some filing cabinets when he stumbled upon a box labeled "Roswell." What did he find in it? Shiri Appleby pics? He wouldn't divulge, but what he saw convinced him beyond a doubt that a non-terrestrial vehicle crashed there. The only problem with Brandon's testimony (aside from its inadvertent corroboration of Corso) is that it was being given by a former C.I.A. covert operative trained in deception. We can't accept it at face value. Remarkable about that particular show was that no listener calls were taken (a plus, actually). I engaged in a remote viewing experiment by attempting to mentally beam a thought to stand-in host John Wells: "Ask Brandon about all those crashed drug-running planes traced to the C.I.A.!" but we apparently weren't on the same wavelength. Just as well. Brandon would've blamed Bill Clinton.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Dawn Of A New Age?

On of the neat things about Richard Dolan's podcast is that I learn about interesting sources of information that I otherwise would not have privy to--since I don't follow UFOlogy and, really, don't want to. But a caller at the end of one of Dolan's shows mentioned that Philip Corso's "memoirs" have been posted online for anyone to read: "Dawn Of A New Age."

I neither believe nor disbelieve Corso--I just think he's interesting. To me, he falls into the same "gray box" that, say, Bob Lazar falls in--probably not credible, but still interesting, for complex reasons. (White-and-black UFOlogists like Stanton Friedman discredit both Lazar and Corso, but Friedman also embraces the most-probably bogus MJ-12 documents.) I prefer to see UFOlogy as an arena where truth, even relative truth, will never be obtained... But some actors in the UFO drama just strike me as interesting, and Corso is one of them.

Now, is it likely, or even probable, that Corso kept alien artifacts in a file drawer and farmed them out to private industry for development? Possible, but not probable, and the best argument against this was given by Jacques Vallée, who said that if "alien" artifact were indeed recovered at Roswell, they would have been sequestered in the most secure environment, and the nation's top scientists would have been brought in to examine them. And some sources have basically argued that Corso is nothing more than a con man who had more than a few legal difficulties. Probably true. Still, I have to wonder what would motivate a moderately high Army officer, one who has no apparent psychopathology, to begin babbling about crashed saucers and alien agendas at the end of his life. And since "Dawn Of A New Age" is free to download, it's worth a perusal.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Chuck Bergman on Coast

I'm always in the market for a "real" medium... As I've written many times, I think mediumship is a valid process, but I'm very skeptical of public, televised mediums. Chuck Bergman came across as being sincere and honest. He bills himself as the "psychic cop." Now... I'm assuming that this is actually what he was. Robert--is this true? There's a photograph on the cover of his latest book that *seems* to depict someone looking remarkably like a youthful Bergman riding a police motorcycle... but as we know, amazing things can be done with photoshop nowadays.

Okay.... for the sake of argument, let's assume that Bergman was really a cop--a good one--and that he's really a psychic. The psychic experiences that he describes ring true. I've had them--often--and I wouldn't be here to blog this if I hadn't. "Something" has jumped into my time stream on at least one occasion, like with Bergman, to save my life.

Bergman did make one telling observation regarding a public "television" medium whose credibility I question: James Van Praagh. He mentioned it in passing, but I think it's significant. He describes being on stage with Van Praagh, who was doing his usual shtick--talking to dead people, for the benefit of his usual audience. But Bergman could not "see" any of the entities that Van Praagh "saw." As Van Praagh is walking up and down the stage, communicating with Aunt Whatsherface and Sally So-And-So, Bergman wonders, "Why can't I see any of the spirits that he's seeing?"

What does this tell you?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Mind-gaming "Disclosure"

A mind game: Let's assume that there is an intelligence associated with this planet--either from it, or outside of it--that is sufficiently technologically advanced as to be omnipresent, omniscient, and invisible; that this intelligence can enforce certain boundaries, physically and intellectually, so that those who step outside those boundaries--or even attempt to--are either threatened or discredited. In effect, such an intelligence could create a "prison planet," yet the imprisonment would be so artfully constructed that any attempt to see "outside" the enclosure would causes the experiencer to hallucinate easily-discredited phantoms, or to go mad. In this scenario, "disclosure" of such a presence would be impossible. However, there would, theoretically, come a time when the subject society would grow both spiritually and technologically to a point where confinement is neither possible nor necessary.

My experiences have taught me that our perceived reality, as objective as it seems, is actually constructed. While I, like almost everyone else, accept my experiences as "real," I also believe that there is an intelligence that participates in the construction of this reality, and our experiences have both meaning and a "higher" symbolism. So while we can scientifically explain much of our measurable reality, there will always be an element of our experience that cannot be physically resolved. It is this element that drives the species in its quest for meaning. In my worldview, everything that intrudes into this reality that resists an easy, physical explanation, automatically becomes questionable, and causes me to seek explanations "outside the box."  I think that the UFO phenomenon is such an intrusion.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Test post from the iCab mobile browser

While reading an article lauding Google's Chrome browser for iOS (a browser I've never liked), a number of commenters said, "Forget Chrome--iCab Mobile is the best browser for iOS." So I've downloaded it and am giving it my personal acid3 test: Will it post to Blogger via Blogger's clunky interface? Because every other mobile browser locks up at some point during the posting process. My first impressions are favorable. Firefox synch? No one else offers that--not even Firefox, which doesn't even have an iOS browser. (Yeah, they have something called "Firefox Home," which is not worth mentioning.) All my bookmarks are on Firefox Synch. My preferred browser is Firefox. Dropbox linking? Essential. This is a well-thought-out browser... Probably the best-kept secret in iOS. Now, let's see if it will publish...

Monday, June 18, 2012

Update on my strange OOBE

About a week ago, my wife experienced a night terror episode during which she woke herself up, screaming that she was dying. Today, she told me what caused it: she had distinctly felt a hand grabbing her leg, felt the vibratory beginnings of an OOBE, and, interpreting the experience as a visit from the "angel of death," woke herself up.

I had never told her about my almost-identical experience... I didn't think it was all that significant, and I knew that, as a devout evangelical Christian, she would interpret it according to her belief system--which teaches a strict dichotomy of good and evil.

But I now ask myself: What did we experience?

First off, it's my opinion that this was no angel of death. In all of my readings about NDEs, OOBEs, and death-bed visions, I don't remember a single reference to an angel of death. Without going into a lot of boring detail, the notion of an "angel of death" violates a number of principles that govern the nonphysical world as I understand it.

I suspect that what we experienced was a localized, nonphysical being of some sort that is / was heavily rooted in physical symbolism--what earlier cultures called an "earthbound spirit."

I have had one or two experiences with "higher" nonphysical presences, and they never resort to physicality. They would never do anything as overtly physical as grab me by my leg. What I felt was distinctly physical, strangely so--particularly since it definitely felt like a physical grab, even though I saw nothing.

Beyond that, it is impossible to know who or what this particular goblin might have been. And I think that this is where "belief creates reality" is operative. I saw the experience as a peculiar, interesting, but not particularly edifying encounter with a clumsy spirit; someone else saw it as an angel of death.

On a side note, the last Richard Dolan show that I listened to briefly discussed the persistent rumor that there are ET bases on the "dark side" of the moon. This is one nuts-and-bolts UFO notion that I think has merit--because I've seen it referenced in a wide range of literature, not just in UFOlogy. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the chances are greater than 50/50 that such outposts exist. Such an outpost, assuming that it exists, would be a physical artifact from a physical ET presence, and it's possible that world governments suspect this. Hence, the rapid buildup by the Chinese in space technology--part of a plan to visit the moon within a decade. I don't normally buy into the conspiracies of the disclosure crowd, but this one may be worth a second glance.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Not to belabor the point, but.

First, I want to thank Kandinsky for the link to the "True" magazine issue. I do believe that it is the issue that I remember. (The iPhone Blogger app freezes when I try to post comments, which I tried to do.) I think that there might have been a later issue also examining the UFO enigma. When I get time, I want to read it in detail. My initial impression, just glancing over the material, is that UFOlogy hasn't really evolved much from the 1960s. In fact, I think that it has regressed a bit. Those "True" articles were scary stuff, particularly to a nine-year-old, and the topic was mainstream then. UFOlogy today is highly marginal and mostly boring. Richard Dolan dances around this core problem here and there... he furnishes some compelling research and fascinating stories... and I think that his contribution to the subject has been substantial. But UFOlogy today is, on the whole, boring. (But that's just my opinion.)

Ironically, the disclosure folks--who are generally regarded as the crazies by serious UFOlogists--have one argument that I think is worth thinking about: *If* there is a coverup, by some arm of the American security apparatus, of a substantial amount of UFO data of compelling importance, the United States has ceased to be a democracy, or even a republic. I'm on the fence on this subject.. There is anecdotal evidence that there has been a coverup, but, so far, the "proof" of such has been seriously flawed.

It's intellectually lazy to ascribe anything that we can't parse or analyze to a cabal of conspiracists bent on deceiving us, but this does not necessarily mean that there isn't such a cabal bent on deceiving us.

But, not to belabor the point, during Dolan's last show (or, the one I just got through hearing), a caller asked him what he thought of the "Men In Black" phenomenon. The MIB phenom is pretty much a litmus test of basic UFO belief: Those who emphasize the MIB feature tend to believe that UFOs are not nuts-and-bolts... Instead, they represent something else entirely, perhaps something completely different from what they appear to be. Dolan punted on his answer, saying, I think, that MIB were "strange" before moving on to the next topic.

To me, the MIB subject is actually more fascinating than the UFO that precedes it, and it may offer a window into an essential nature of the phenomenon. There are analogs to other paranormal phenomena--visions of "Jesus," or other angelic-type visitations, are often followed by "dark" entities that try to persuade the witness that the whole sighting was a hallucination. (My recent post of an NDE account describes such an appearance.) My suspicion is that the appearance of dark, menacing, or otherwise non-human entities might represent a core archetype of our reality. Perhaps such displays are triggered by certain behaviors or beliefs and are designed as an automatic enforcement mechanism meant to keep the human animal in his corral. Perhaps they are our consciousness's breakdown of a greater gestalt into a "good versus evil" narrative. While it's quite useful (and generally prudent) to view everything that we see and experience as "real," it's also possible that our experiences are, instead, symbolic--and that the reality that they symbolize is "somewhere else." The UFO is notable, then, not so much for what it appears to be--an extraterrestrial machine--but for an unknown reality that waits to be discovered behind its appearance.

Monday, June 11, 2012

True magazine

I am still enjoying Richard Dolan's podcast... agreeing with some of what he says, strongly disagreeing with others. I think that my disagreement with him is not one of fact but of ideology. Dolan is a very concrete thinker; very nuts-and-bolts, black-and-white: A contemporary Stanton Friedman. There really is nothing wrong with that, except that many students of UFOlogy believe that the field is more complex, nuanced, and muddier that what initially appears.

A prime example: the phenomenon of human abduction. It's my gut hunch that "abductions" really have nothing to do with the metallic craft that whizz and whisk above us. There is nothing about the appearance of a Grey at the foot of your bed at 3 a.m., and the orange orbs that show up over nuclear installations. No connection between "missing time," along with the telepathic receipt of cryptic information, and possible alien bases on the dark side of the moon. Yet, UFOlogists conflate the two distinct phenomena, based on a few accounts that associate the "Greys" with aerial craft. Is this distinction important? I think so, if you want to study the phenomena with a semi-scientific approach. UFOlogists pool together piles of anomalous phenomena, which may or may not have any causal association, and declare that it's all part of some amorphous alien unknown.

To me, the gross errors of logic and methodology of someone like Dr. David Jacobs is the consequence of this mindset. UFOs = aliens. UFOs = abductions. Hence, UFOs = hybridization of the human and "alien" race.

I actually believe that some UFOs might be "alien" craft. But I am increasingly believing that "abductions" are something else, a true unknown (we at least sort of know what UFOs "are"), and we can't rule out a sort of mass hysteria or psychopathology that, while quite real, is not really alien.

Where I find Dolan important is that he can ( I think) be a reliable reporter of fact. When he says such-and-such general saw this-or-that, I believe that he is correct.

The problem with UFO phenomenon is that it is heavily shrouded in a powerful "anti-structural" cover that tends to disintegrate any logical attempt to discern its origin and meaning. An alarming number of researchers have gone insane, committed suicide, or have destroyed their lives and careers after doggedly trying to expose the "truth" about UFOs. Little wonder, then, that some commentators deem UFOs "demonic" while others (such as Whitley Strieber) assume that they represent a form of logic both higher, and antithetical, to human logic. We don't know. It may be possible that we can't know.

One reason that I think that Strieber may be on to something is that, if intelligent life has evolved elsewhere, it might be not only physically different but human life, but it may assemble reality in a completely different manner than humans do. "Reality" is, largely, a product of our physical brains. But again... Do Strieber's experiences have anything to do with UFOs? Or with aliens, for that matter? There is no firm, causal link between conventional accounts of UFOs, and the high-strangeness phenomena that many UFOlogists associate with UFOs.

But that wasn't what I really wanted to write about. Dolan mentioned something that's been forgotten by modern UFOlogy: the importance of "True" magazine to mainstreaming of the UFO mystery. "True" was a magazine that was published between 1937 and 1974. I read the magazine avidly in the '60s, as a pre-teen. "True" printed a number of articles by Donald Keyhoe, which had a major impact on me. In fact, I think that "True" devoted an entire issue to the subject in 1969, an issue that I read over and over with growing fascination and terror. For years, I've doggedly tried to find a copy of that issue, without success. Even today, it's hard to dig up any information on "True" or that particular issue, even the publication date, but I can personally attest to the impact that it had on me and probably thousands of others. So if any stumblers-upon this blog have any information on that particular issue of "True," I would be grateful.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Forged

For a change of pace, I'm listening to the audiobook of Bart Ehrman's "Forged." My youth followed a trajectory similar to Ehrman's--as a teen, I was a devoted fundamentalist Christian, but when I read a textual analysis of the Bible, I could no longer deny that the Bible was the work of man, rather than the inspired (and inerrant) word of God. Like Ehrman, I became an agnostic.

Erhman's scholarship and logic are above reproach. Unarguably, the bulk of the books of the New Testament are, indeed, forgeries--written by later Christian scholars, not by the the apostles represented. Still, I find them interesting, because they present us with a snapshot of Christian theology as it is beginning to grow from localized sects into a world religion.

It's been thirty years since I studied the New Testament, so Ehrman's conclusions don't particularly disturb me, yet I am hesitant to recommend this book to a mainstream Christian. I don't think it's good karma to destroy the beliefs of good people, if the beliefs do them good. The Christian Bible provides a flawed, but useful, template of behavior and belief that, overall, tends to be positive even though, on the whole, it is not what it purports to be.

After all, what do we *really* know about the events in Palestine of the first century CE? Very little. I have a hunch that discoveries may be made this century that may have profound implications for Christianity and other world religions, but for now, I am content to continue my unorthodox research and not worry about the details.

To me, the biggest stumbling block that organized religion throws before us is the denial of individual and personal, mystical, and intuitive experience that can directly inform us of the nature of the "greater" non-physical reality. We don't need to study an ancient text of questionable authorship to discover this greater reality. We can experience it ourselves, daily. This message is very clear in the teachings of Jesus--those that have survived intact. I really doubt that Jesus wanted to create a religion. I suspect that his original intent was to create a path, a "way" to enlightenment, for those to follow as they wished.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Continuation of my thoughts on " Messages: Signs, Visits, and Premonitions from Loved Ones Lost on 9/11"

(Continued)

A significant, but unspoken, subtext of the book is that there was meaning behind the 9/11 attacks; that it was not a senseless tragedy, but part of a grand plan, greater, even, than the attackers who, depending on which conspiracy theory you embrace, were Saudi, Pakistani, Iraqi, CIA, Zionists, or Republicans. The meaning behind the tragedy is indecipherable.  It is for this reason that I tend to reject conspiracy theories. From a supra-physical level, the villains of this tragedy were convenient actors in the drama. This does not negate their evil, but it does suggest that there was a "higher" (I don't care for that term but can't think of an equivalent) force involved that, for reasons unknown, allowed the event to transpire.  The victims understood on an unconscious level what was about to happen; their premonitions suggest that they knew both the awfulness and importance of their participation.  Their premonitions were of such specificity that one can't help but think that they were being given a choice. They could have opted out of the tragedy.  Most did not.

This may be a difficult concept for many to swallow, but I have personally experienced it in miniature in my own life... A lifetime of hunches followed--and ignored--and numerous precognitive dreams that sought to warn me of impending tragedy. In one instance, it probably saved my life. Not too many years ago (around about the time of the 9/11 attacks), I was going through some extreme job stress brought on by a manager who I can only describe as evil... not only in what he was, but what he did. He literally drained the life from me, bit-by-bit, day-by-day. One night, I had an vivid and specific dream that warned me that I was about to be attacked , robbed, and killed by two men on the street. The dream was unusual in that it was quite specific: not only did I experience the attack, but the dream "narrator" specifically told me what was happening. I walk several miles a day, and back then, I was working in a bad area of town, with a couple of drug hangouts nearby. It was a credible possibility. I was concerned but not really alarmed.  But what happened the next day stunned me. An elderly friend who considers herself "psychic" called with a warning: she had received a vivid impression of me being rushed by two men on the street, robbed, and killed. She was made to understand that in my daily, rambling walks, I was being watched and targeted. A dream is one thing; a warning by a self-described psychic is another; but the warning, following a dream and duplicating it, is quite another. The specific, credible nature of the warnings, from two sources (I had told no one about my dream) was enough to scare me into never walking those streets again.  The sceptic might say, "The woman was simply picking up on your fear. Or maybe it was a coincidence." However, I choose to believe otherwise. In the depressing circumstances that I was in, I was unconsciously setting myself up for attack. And "someone," "somewhere" thought that I needed to be warned in a dramatic way.  I was given a choice, and I chose.

As Seth argues extensively, we choose our experiences (or we allow others to choose them for us), and there is meaning and purpose behind all experiences, good and tragic. It took me most of my adult life to accept this. We instinctively want to believe that experiences are thrust upon us, that we are victims of events, that we are good people who do not deserve the the bad treatment that evil people inflict on us. While this belief might grant us many hours of moral superiority as we acquire stars in our heavenly crowns, the alternative argued by Seth--that our lives are woven from threads of cooperative and collaborative experiences of incalculable complexity--actually goes further to "explain" many of the strange, synchronistic and seemingly "supernatural" events that are sprinkled through our lives.

Postscript: One of the striking elements of "Messages" is the widespread appearance of butterflies in the individual stories. Their appearance is interpreted by mourners as "signs" from the deceased or as "spirits." There is even a mention of the sighting of thousands of butterflies over Ground Zero shortly after the towers fell. I remember hearing this briefly mentioned at the time on "Coast To Coast"--and I doubted then that it was true--so I was impressed that McEneaney included this account in her book, from a source likely more credible than a "Coast" guest.  Personally, I don't think a whole lot about butterflies. They've never manifested to me in any supernatural way.  But while driving home today, I caught the tail end of "Talk Of The Nation" on "Rebuilding Joplin, One Year After Tornadoes," where I heard this account:

"And I just - when I went back in September and was able to connect with a few people and heard some more stories. And I guess, one of the ones that I would really like to share is a lady had covered her children with a mattress and her body and when the tornado passed, that they all survived. Thank God. They had described seeing little white butterflies all around them. And there was more than one family member, or excuse me, more than one family that would - that talked about these white butterflies. And to this day, I don't think anybody can prove or unprove(ph) what they saw or what it was that they saw, but I don't know. My opinion, I think it was just little guardian angels watching over them."

 To find this account in a mainstream news report is significant, I think.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Messages: Signs, Visits, and Premonitions from Loved Ones Lost on 9/11, by Bonnie McEneaney

At this point in my life, I'm ready to move on to reading "normal" material, beyond the metaphysical, but interesting books, like the above, manage to reel me in. The 9/11 attacks were traumatic on both a personal and national level, and though they have begun (fortunately) to recede somewhat in the collective memory, we daily live with the effects of that singular event. The obtrusive security state, the delusions of the alternative paranormal field, the endless wars, and the dysfunction of the American political process, arguably, began here. This book is an effort to find meaning in that trauma from a spiritual perspective.

In my opinion, McEneaney's book is a landmark work in the emerging "New Thought" belief system, which I see as supplanting conventional religions in our century. It is impeccably researched, sensitively written, and utterly sincere, and any open-minded reader will have to acknowledge that it presents a compelling case that a greater "unknown" reality guides the observed physical one.

The book is a collection of premonitions, synchronistic events, and actual post-death materializations of victims of the 9/11 tragedy. I can't even begin to summarize all that's presented, but these are the things that I noticed as significant:

The 9/11 victims that are examined all had premonitions, of varying degrees, of their impending death. The premonitions almost always began in the summer of 2001, and peaked in the weekend before the attack.

The victims seemed to be of an unusually high moral character, admired by co-workers, loved by family, happy, devoted, and characterized by a high degree of selflessness, going above and beyond to help those less fortunate.

Universally, the victims managed to convey to their surviving friends and family that while they subconsciously foresaw the event, and could have avoided it, they chose not to.

[To be continued]

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Richard Dolan's new podcast

I was casting around for something new to listen to when I discovered that Richard Dolan--the guest of many paranormal shows--has launched his own podcast.  Since it is called "Truth Out," I expected a sort of ramble-rousing political screed, but I was pleasantly surprised that his first three-hour solo podcast kept my attention without difficulty, even though I'm only peripherally interested in UFOs nowadays. Plus, he has cooler bumper music than Coast. So I'm downloading more.

Among the stuff he covered....  He addressed, tangentially, Alex Jones, who I've always thought was unbalanced.  He brought up some valid points reiterating the view of many in the paranormal counterculture, that the American republic is turning into an Orwellian police state. He related an encounter with Glenn Beck that made Beck sound mainstream.  He told some fascinating UFO stories.  Richard Dolan is sure to add some intellectual heft to the paranormal counterculture, which is in dire need of it.  I'm able to listen to him without my usual filters and BS detectors, knowing that he has thought about what he says before saying it.

There is only one observation that I would like to make, and that's on the issue of government secrecy.  I think that most of us who were persuaded to vote for Barack Obama in 2008 have been very disappointed with his administration's tendency to expand the police state apparatus that his predecessor developed.  However, if you take a long, careful look at history, you can discover that with every extremist tendency or movement, there has always been a balancing counter-movement. I believe that the Internet was developed, and has exploded as it has, in direct response to the increasing authoritarianism of our age.  True, if you watch CNN or the other mainstream news outlets (which I don't), you are essentially getting establishment propaganda, and if that's all we had, we'd be lost.  But that's not all we have.  We have a choice.  And I predict that in twenty or so years, any regime that aligns itself with reactionary authoritarianism will fall.  This is why I believe that China, for all its prosperity, cannot continue along its current path as an authoritarian state.  And neither can the United States.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Found a curious ebook on amazon.com...

It is called "The Lives Of Jesus" by Eldon Peat. I can't find much out about the author, and there are no reviews of the book--but it's free, and it's a top-seller in the New Age / Reincarnation category at Amazon.com.

Purportedly, it was channeled from the "Akashic records," a claim that automatically invites skepticism, but it doesn't read like any channeled work I've read. Quite the contrary, it is both scholarly and contemporary. A human being seems to have written it.

The book's claim is one that I happen to agree with: That Jesus was, contrary to myth, an ordinary man, born in a normal way, who lived a normal life, but who had extraordinary charisma and a powerful message. The true history of the life of Jesus has been distorted, twisted, and mythologized, but something happened in the first century C.E. involving this person that, within a couple of centuries, propelled a local Jewish sect to world domination and contributed to the downfall of one of the most odious and brutal empires ever to inhabit the planet.

This singular feat cannot be easily explained away as the act of a simple carpenter's son, which leaves those of us who reject many of the core tenets of established Christianity searching for clues of what, instead, it was.

Part of me wants to dismiss the book as a fabrication, yet I can't disagree with its principle arguments, and the historical data seems to check out.

As an example, the author makes a couple of obscure observations about the Essenes that ring true. I have never embraced the mainstream scholarly argument that the Essenes lived an ascetic life, and the invisible author of this book says that they most assuredly didn't. The book also argues that many of the Essene texts that were extant were forgeries--something that "Seth" goes to great length discussing in "Seth Speaks"-- and that these forgeries inadvertently formed the basis of a significant portion of Christian mythology.

For the moment, this book is falling into my self-defined category of "too internally and externally consistent to be true"--on my assumption that "truth" is both messy and ambiguous--but I welcome any input from any stumblers-upon this entry who might wish to instruct me otherwise.

Postscript: I've decided that "The Lives Of Jesus" is a well-written fictional narrative that reminds me of the alternative history genre. It reads too much like a novel. (The preface hints that Eldon Peat was not the actual author, which, if I am interpreting this correctly, is strange.) And I doubt that it's channeled, for the reasons above.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

First impressions of the Kindle Fire

The Kindle Fire has been the only Android tablet that I've been interested in buying. I picked up a refurb unit for the good price of $139 and have been using it all weekend. Compared to my iPad "3," its like driving a Subaru after riding in a Porshe--reliable, no-frills, and adequate, which is not a bad thing. It all depends on what you want--and expect--a tablet to do.

Basically, the Fire is a gateway drug to Amazon Prime. Included with the purchase of a Fire is "one free month" of Amazon Prime. You can get this free month anyway without a Kindle, but the main attraction of Prime for me--the ability to "borrow" Kindle books for free--is worth the price, and these borrowed Kindle books can apparently be viewed only on the Kindle. They do not show up in my iOS Kindle apps. Assuming I borrow one $8 book a month, the Prime account pays for itself.

The overall user experience of the Fire is fair-to-good. The Android tablet can do a few things that an iOS device can't. I can browse the entire file structure... I can download and save YouTube videos. I can access Flash content, theoretically--I've yet to see any Flash content--and the essential apps seem to be there. There's no DropBox, but a third-party app called "File Expert" can access DropBox folders. There's no Opera, but there's something called "Maxthon" that is actually better than Opera, and I use it whenever I don't want to bother with Silk's irksome dependence on Amazon's cloud server buffering. However, the iPad user experience is so superior to the Droid tablet's that one doesn't miss any extra marginal functionality that the "more open" Droid OS might offer. The Fire is clunkier than the iPad; basic functions like typing, error-correction, system-wide navagation are far less intuitive and elegant than the iPad's. Not to mention--the Fire is only secondarily a Droid tablet. If is primarily a content delivery system that just happens to use a fork of the Android OS.

It is apparent that Amazon is using the Fire to break Apple's monopoly on digital content, which is both laudible and understandable. But in so doing, they are creating yet another walled content garden--albeit one with much more content. As such, the iPad holds the edge. I can import and access digital content from both Google and Amazon on the iPad, whereas there appear to be no Google apps for the Fire. This prevents the Fire from being a full-fledged tablet. It is essentially a platform the delivery of Amazon.com content, with a few common apps thrown in.

I am seeing the Apple - Windows wars of the early '90s being repeated, and I fear that the outcome will be same. Apple introduces a quality device that is both disruptive and transformative, changing the entire user experience, only to have hungrier companies copy the form, hardware, and intellectual property of said device, and produce a cheaper, more basic knockoff. So while the iPad will live on, I am not sure that it will remain the dominant player in the category that it trailblazed. Which, depending on your point of view, can be good or bad.

(Sent from my Kindle Fire)

Friday, May 4, 2012

The template of meaning

I've had an interesting life, philosophically speaking. At a very young age, influenced by the humanism of Gene Roddenberry's "Star Trek," I was an atheist. In my teen years I joined a fundamentalist Christian church while simultaneously dabbling in emerging New Age philosophies. I then became an agnostic, which I remained throughout the '90s. I have sampled many beliefs and religions, discarding much, retaining some core insights.

I now hold, as a core belief, something that most Southern Americans are taught from an early age to believe: that there is meaning and purpose behind human experience, and there is a positive guiding force that moves human events... And that this guiding "force" can be engaged; that we can walk in partnership with it.

Unlike others, however, I arrived at this belief through personal experience, and despite the subtext of catastrophism that informs both the American religious mainstream, and the extremes of New Age and paranormal ideology.

I can't rule out the very real possibility that I believe the way I do, and interpret reality in this way, because it is how I want reality to be; that I'm projecting onto my experiential reality a template of meaning, and cherry-picking the memory of my experiences to conform to this belief.

Furthermore, my readers may strongly disagree with my view of reality. They may insist that events are generated by random occurrences of biological action, or rather psychological gestalts that evolved from primal survival mechanisms, that have no connection to an altruistic "creator," or first cause. We throw the dice, and what we get, we get... And nothing from my experience will convince them otherwise.

Such believers may well be "right." In fact, I'm sure that they are... just as I am "right." Because, in the end, the human mind / brain is a powerful reality-creating tool, powerful enough to mould a reality that faithfully, consistently, and measurably gives us what we believe that it will. To peek behind the curtain, to glimpse the ultimate nature of reality, is the goal of both the materialist particle physicist working on the frontiers of science, and the humble metaphysical blogger working on the fringes.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Unusual NDE

This account of an NDE by a woman who almost died during childbirth was relayed to me third-hand, but I'm personally acquainted with the experiencer, and I consider her account to be true. To my knowledge, she's not a paranormalist. For many years, she belonged to a fundamentalist Christian denomination, and as far as I know, fundamentalism is the main filter through which she views the "supernatural."

Her NDE happened in the 1990s in a hospital, following a very difficult pregnancy. She said that a man appeared beside her bedside and said, simply, "It's your time," and indicated that she should follow him. She was an unwed single mother, and she said, "I can't leave; there's no one to take care of my son." The man the looked up, then back down at the mother, and said, "You're right." The man then left. After he was gone, demonic-appearing forms rose up from the floor and tried to persuade her that what she had just experienced was an illusion.

I regard this as a genuine NDE... Unlike most of the published NDEs, this individual was supposed to die. In most classic NDEs, the experiencers are near death but are told, "It's not your time." I think that this is an important distinction.

Why the consistent references in these accounts to "your time"? This phrase runs throughout NDE accounts, but as far as I know, no researcher has wondered why. To me, it implies that while our lives are governed by free will choices and consequences, karma, life plans followed or not followed, our "time" is less negotiable. It is an absolute, in most cases. (Some NDEers are given a choice whether to "stay" or not, but I suspect these accounts are rare.)

The arrival of demonic-seeming entities at the end of the experience is also a feature that's common to many supra-physical experiences. Be it contemporary men-in-black who lecture experiencers that they did not actually see a UFO, to the various historical devils that have tried to persuade the righteous to abandon monotheism, these dark beings seem to know just when to show up--immediately after the transcendent encounter. Never before, never during--but immediately after. Perhaps they are not so much evil as they are necessary. Perhaps our physical world must have this dichotomy to function in any useful way.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Rick Stack on Coast To Coast, April 5, 2012

What to say? What else, except to say that it's about time that a "Sethie" was invited to the "official" forum of the para-normal--though Jane Roberts herself declined, I think, to appear on the Long John Nebel show, a distant precursor to the above.

Mr. Stack did a maestro job of the impossible--summarizing, in one hundred words or less, the "Sethian" philosophy to a somewhat skeptical George Noory, who was tripped up by Seth's notions of good and evil--as are many others, including myself.... It's just that I've been exposed to them for so long that they no longer shock me.

The good / evil dichotomy is such a fundamental of our reality that I really wonder whether it's useful to tell people that "there's no such thing as evil." Better, as Seth said, to be good, if you believe that there is an evil.

I'm hoping that a few people were intrigued enough by the Coast episode to check out the Seth stuff. It's not for everyone. But it deserves more exposure.

The material has radically transformed me, and can others. Early on, Seth told Jane that they would write many books and "change the world" with them. This world could use a new coat of paint about now.

Monday, April 23, 2012

More thoughts on Dr. Jeffrey Long

I've been surveying reaction to Dr. Long's after-death research, and most of the opposition comes from that portion scientific community offended that Dr. Long is offering *scientific* proof of the afterlife. Had Dr. Long simply said, "I believe in life after death, and here's why"--without invoking the name of science--I doubt whether anyone would have said anything.

From the current scientific perspective, there can never be proof of "life after death," because such is a logical contradiction. As defined by science, death is the cessation of physical life. There can be no continuation of physical life after physical death. So, within these logical boundaries, Dr. Long's critics are correct, and Dr. Long cannot prove his assertions. And it's no surprise that his critics are so offended by Dr. Long's temerity (though I wonder why they are so agitated).

I can see only a few ways to reconcile what many of us know intuitively to be true--that there is conscious survival of physical death--with the likely possibility--in near term, anyway--that there will be no way to "prove" it.

One possibility, as suggested by Dr. Raymond Moody, that there will be a change in logic that redefines the parameters of what constitutes life, and death.

Not terribly long ago, before Darwin, the scientific consensus held that life originated by spontaneous generation--life springs out of inanimate matter. (In Tennessee, which, as usual, is behind the curve, you can still argue this in biology class.) Even after Darwin, folk wisdom still clung to spontaneous generation. As a young boy, I remember my father telling me that I could grow a worm by soaking a horse hair in rain water--as well as my bemusement, when my attempt to scientifically prove this, failed.

Of course, we all know now that life must come from life. Life must evolve. It cannot come from inanimate matter.

Or do we? Science has created synthetic particles that mimic DNA and can not only replicate, but can also "evolve" by changing according to environmental factors. When science creates life by any number of means (including reactivating extinct species by replicating their genome)--perhaps in this century--I predict that the main philosophic question will become, "What, indeed, is life?" At the same time, we may develop methods of measuring the presence of consciousness after "death," and the question will become, "What is death?"

Should such a shift happen, our current notions of "life" and "death" will sound as outlandish as soaking horse hairs in rainwater.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

New Seth-related book...

I stumbled upon "The Road To Elmira" by one of Jane Roberts' former "ESP class" students, Richard Kindall. It's at a non-agency price for the Kindle, so I downloaded it.

To beat again a dead horse, I'm not really impressed with "channeled" material as a whole. I think that the bulk of it is likely generated by some partition of the channeler's greater personality--like the Edgar Cayce book that I recently reviewed. Most of it never rises above the level of mediocre. But I believe that the Seth material is a unique exception. So I am happy to support one of Jane Roberts' former students.