Saturday, December 28, 2013

Does mental illness exist?

I can't help noting an article published by The Guardian and linked at unknowncountry.com questioning, in general, whether "mental illness" is a valid clinical diagnosis. The gist of the unknowncountry commentary is that, no, there isn't really such a thing. People aren't mentally ill; they're just creatively different.

As I've opined extensively in the past, this is the 800-pound gorilla in the paranormal room: people who fit the clinical diagnosis of mental illness tend to appear on sites and talk radio shows devoted to the paranormal (and the right-wing).

My personal experience is that there IS such a thing as the classic diagnosis of mental illness, and that those who are mentally ill truly are unable to function in our consensus reality. At all. They can't communicate; they can't work; they can't perform even the most elemental tasks of self-sufficiency.

If anything, the United States lives in profound denial of the problem of mental illness. And we see the consequences daily: in our leagues of homeless, in our mass homicides, in our exploding prison population.

On a less consequential level, mental illness-denial contaminates any discussion of metaphysical topics and prevents any serious, rational investigation into what (I believe) to be valid, extraordinary experiences.  Scientists won't touch it, and I don't blame them.

The mentally ill are people who truly warrant our help, support, and treatment. Not, necessarily, our belief.


Monday, December 2, 2013

Re-re-reading for the umpteenth time..

Robert Monroe's "Far Journeys" (which I consider to be his best book).  I'm convinced: there's a there there. One thing of note, in the thirty or so years when I first read it: His description of a parallel astral area next to, and slightly out of synch with, the physical, populated with those who don't know that they're dead. This realm is vividly described in many NDE accounts... In fact, it's largely an NDE touchstone. Other authorities--notably Michael Newton, who looks at the process from the other end (regression hypnosis)--downplay the idea. I lean toward the Monroe hypothesis, largely because it makes more sense, and it explains a plethora of "paranormal" phenomena. Otherwise, his descriptions dovetail with other researchers, particularly in the various staging areas associated with death and rebirth.  I would actually like to do a textual comparison on the two accounts. I think it could be veridical (particularly since I doubt that the esteemed Dr. Newton has subjected himself to the Hemi-Sync process).

Friday, November 15, 2013

Life Before Life: A nugget from Volume 3 of Seth's "Early Sessions"

It is easy to become blasé about some of the early Seth material because much of it has been mainstreamed in New Age and metaphysical circles.  However, I stumbled upon the following, which I immediately recognized as significant, due to one important fact:

Now, since we are thinking in terms of archeological layers, we would continue to express ourselves along those lines. So. Directly beneath personal subconscious you will find upon examination either through hypnosis or applied association, a layer dealing with the period before this life, and after the life before this one.

Since this period was to some degree at least free of camouflage, from it communication can be received dealing with the entity's knowledge of itself, and of uncamouflaged reality. From this undifferentiated gap of experience between camouflage existences, valuable information may be received dealing with the reality which exists behind, and independent of, matter.

From this focus position communication may be set up between personality essences no longer in the physical field, and those still in it, provided that those still in it are able to remove focus from the ego to this particular level. It is from this focus point then that communication between what is termed the living and the dead may take place. The necessary focus point may be achieved through trance, hypnosis or self-hypnosis, or through certain other disciplines.

Basically, Seth is saying that if you hypnotize someone, you can extract information about that person's past lives and "between life" state.  Nowadays, you can't throw a rock in a bookstore without hitting a book explicating "life after life" or "life before life."  However, these concepts were unknown in 1964, when the above was dictated.  As far as I know, the first popular, mainstream book that purported to examine conscious existence "between lives" was Helen Wambach's "Life Before Life" (which I bought in 1981).  The method by which she compiled her data was a sort of group hypnosis.  No one, apparently, had thought to use hypnosis to obtain this data--and publish the results in the mainstream--until then.  Michael Newton, of course, perfected the process and published his classic studies beginning in the 1990s.  The point is, it's extremely unlikely that Jane Roberts could have articulated such a process in 1964.  Not only do I believe that this is a validation of the Seth material, I also think it validates Dr. Newton's work.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Seth's "Early Sessions" volumes 5 and 6 are now out on Kindle

I always download these books when they are first offered. Maybe it's a throwback to my pre-digital fear that somehow they will become sold out. Or maybe I fear that they will vanish. I have seen some Kindle editions offered at Amazon.com, then withdrawn. (Case in point: "The Cygnus Mystery.")

In any case, I continue to highly recommend these books to any Seth fans out there (and there are probably more than a few). Have Seth's ideas succeeded in changing the world yet, as Seth predicted they would?  I'm tempted to argue "no," yet, somehow, through some vector, "his" ideas are becoming widespread--mostly in the "New Age" community, but also in the esoteric realms of "edge" science.  Generally every New Agish sort of book that I've perused makes a nodding reference to "Sethian" ideas, albeit without reference and in a distorted fashion.

And there are some interesting tidbits. Near the end of Book 2, which I am finishing up, Seth compares / contrasts Carl Jung and Sigmund Freud, and counterintuitively gives Freud more credence. He also notes that Jane Roberts is reading "Cayce," stating that "many" of Cayce's observations are "extremely valid."  This could be none other than Edgar Cayce, and to my knowledge, this is the only reference to Cayce in Seth's writings.  Which causes me to wonder: what did Seth think of the whole Cayce channeling phenomenon?  (His opinion of the various contemporary "reincarnations" of Cayce might be easier to predict.  But I'm no prophet--not even a sleeping one.)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Kindle Matchbook is live!

I was able to pick up the digital version of one of the best metaphysical books that I've ever read:  "Secret Vaults of Time: Psychic Archaeology and the Quest for Man's Beginnings" by Stephan Schwartz. It was pleasant surprise... For weeks, I've been browsing the crappy picking in this subject and wanting to stumble upon something truly good. But "Secret Vaults Of Time" is great, and I didn't even know that it had been e-booked. So, if you happen upon this blog and are even remotely interested in the subject, check out Dr. Schwartz's groundbreaking study.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Will anyone stop the suicide bombers of the American Republic?

I have been around the 'net, looking for some tea leaves to read.  I dropped by my old haunt, "Coast To Coast AM," to see if Evelyn Paglini has done a recent show.  Except for an Art Bell broadcast from 2001, I saw nothing.  Then I dropped by Unknown Country.  There was an interesting article there: John Hogue says that the next 18 months will be "among history's MOST IMPORTANT" (as if this has never been the case).  It's a special subscriber interview; I could download it and hear what he says.  (Perhaps I will, should the government default.)  But no one seems to be concerned about the looming default that's staring us in the face, as I type.

Will anyone stop the suicide bombers of the American Republic?  Do not the Koch Brothers, who financed the tea party movement from whole cloth, not understand that a federal default will impact their bottom line?  Is there no buyer's remorse?  We've always been told that "money" controls the American government.  Where are the money men, then?  Why aren't they pulling their strings?  Financiers, high rollers, leveraged buyers, and your ilk:  Listen up.  You get one chance at this.  Call in your suicide bombers, or there will be no party left to party.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

"Chicago: Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch"

I am departing somewhat (and semi-regularly) from the predominant theme of this blog to indulge in another interest of mine, namingly, popular music of the various genres, from all eras. Little-known fact: I almost became music major, but I lacked a critical ingredient: talent.

Question to the universe: does the above-titled show exist as an official medium (DVD)?  I've seen the bootleg copies online, but I doubt that they are any better than the YouTube excerpts that I've already downloaded.

I watched it on my black-and-white television in 1974 and got reacquainted with it again just this year, when I found it on YouTube... Although, truthfully, I've been searching so long for it--almost forty years.  At the time, a newspaper preview indicated that Chicago (the band) did not like doing television presentations because of the resultant poor audio quality--but they relented for this show. And they were proven right... The audio of this broadcast is pristine. It was quite the revelation for my budding audiophile ears at the time, and I was a mega-fan of the group (though this breakthrough might be lost on the digital generation).

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Currently reading "The Growth of Truth: A True Story of the Heaven and Hell of a Psychic Medium," by Debbie Raymond-Pinet

I've oft written that I'm a disbeliever in almost all "famous" mediums (you know who they are), and I put no credence in most mediumistic accounts. I've read quite a few of them, and they are all universally boring, rote, and trite. Ms. Raymond-Pinet's book is different. Not only is it an engrossing read, but there is a certain authenticity about her story. The Kindle version is currently only $3.03--in itself an anomaly, since the more famous accounts are priced quite a bit more--and I invite anyone stumbling upon this entry to check it out.  I found myself liking the author quite a bit, and the story of her lifelong experience of seeing "dead people" is both fascinating and spooky.  I plan to write a fuller review of it later, but in the mean time, I wanted to examine one of the many themes that Ms. Raymond-Pinet presents in her peculiarly nuanced way.

Of all of the concepts that Seth expects his readers to accept, the hardest is that "there is no such thing as evil."  I'm oversimplifying--true Seth students recognize that Seth is arguing that "good" and "evil" are essentially dualities that have meaning only on the physical plane. In the grander scheme of "reality," the division that causes us to perceive certain experiences as "good" or "evil" disappears. It's an important distinction, one that I've spent the bulk of my adult life sorting out. How can Seth say that there's no evil, when I've personally been on the receiving end of quite a bit of it?

It is here--the examination of good and evil--that "The Growth Of Truth" excels where other mediumistic accounts fall flat. Ms. Raymond-Pinet's account can be read as a twenty-first century morality tale whereby a gifted but flawed individual wrestles with the burden of her unwanted insight into the non-physical realm, and all the responsibility that comes with it, while attempting to live a life that vacillates between sensual indulgence and spiritual altruism. Throughout, she confronts a number of archetypes that remind me of shamanic initiation rites, as well as the peculiar coupling of a young, benign spirit friend named "Bobby," and the Gentleman--a "man in black" who surfaces regularly to torture the youthful Debbie and, years later, her children. I see a direct analog with the UFO "abduction" experiences of the last century, and I wonder: are these part and parcel of the same thing?  And if so, what is going on?  If these experiences are "real"--and I have no reason to disbelieve them--what are they trying to teach us?

I think that it's important that we find out.  Ms. Raymond-Pinet does not say, but we are tempted to think, that her horrible encounters with true evil are punishment for her various youthful indiscretions. (It's certainly what I often think about myself.)  But "The Growth Of Truth" suggests that reality is more complex than that. The ominous man-in-black is, according to the author, simply doing his job. He is evil, to be sure, and while the angels that surround the author clip his wings on occasion, they never destroy him. He is allowed to do his "job." Intriguing stuff, and worth the effort to understand.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Freeze or burn: the ultimate first listen: Mike Doughty's "Circles Super Bon Bon Sleepless..."

Sleepless
As good as the original Soul Coughing version, as dark as, but quite different. Does he approach the menace of the original?  No, not quite.

How Many Cans?
The drum machine becomes obtrusive; I'm very much a fan of natural rhythm (being a jazz aficionado) and have always disdained the synthetic '80s sound where metronomic rhythm was born. However, Doughty's version is, again, as good as the Soul Couging version, but in quite a different way that I can't really quantify.

True Dreams Of Wichita
I find this an improvement on the Soul Coughing version, which I always thought was draggy. Again, the synthetic rhythm is obtrusive, but the sampling is more in synch with the mood (better than Mark's).

Super Bon Bon
A bit more contemporary updating of the faux hip-hop vibe of the original. The original has an unbeatable bass line courtesy of Sebastian Steinberg who, IMHO, is among the best. I like Ms. Popper and all, but her understated playing simply draws attention to the brilliance of the original.

Mr. Bitterness
Never cared for the Soul Coughing version of this. Doughty's is better.

The Idiot Kings
A popish updating of the original, and if I'm not mistaken, in a major key, whereas the original was minor. I never really dug the original, so Doughty's updating can't help but revive it and highlights the subtlety of the lyrics (which was overwhelmed in the original).

Monster Man
The Soul Coughing original is buried in a wall of electronica but Doughty transforms into something resembling contemporary. (Disclaimer: I stopped listening to contemporary radio in 2000, after Soul Coughing was dissolved.)

Maybe I'll Come Down
Doughty's updating is clearly superior; like "True Dreams," the Soul Coughing version is heavier than the lyrics require, and Doughty's acoustic-inflected rendering (power-popish) rules. Probably the standout song of the album and, maybe, one of Doughty's best ever.

Unmarked Helicopters
Can anything beat the Soul Coughing original of this? No.

So Far I Have Not Found The Science
The Soul Coughing version of this was killer, sublimely and clumsily obtuse, yet ominous. Doughty's version rightly highlights the brilliance of the lyrics, but the tune doesn't quite hold up under the synthetic rhythm.

I Miss The Girl
Everything from "El Oso" is tattooed on my consciousness as a touchstone of all-that-was of 1998. So I will give a nod to the original, while conceding that Doughty's updating is quite good.

Circles
I miss Mark's keyboards and effects on this version. Doughty's version is quite good but I doubt that it will succeed in causing me to dislike the original.

St. Louise Is Listening
I regard the Soul Coughing version of this to be a dark but definitive rendering--simply one of the great songs of the 1990s. Doughty does the lyrics due justice, but in this case, justice does not prevail.

Disclaimer:  I'm a Mike Doughty fan who also happens, not coincidentally, to be a Soul Coughing fan. I'm aware of animus. I just dig the music.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A mathematical (and Sethian) explanation for war

All Seth readers know that Seth, generally speaking, is "against" war... it would be uncouth to be otherwise.  Nonetheless, in Seth's universe, there are very few blacks-and-whites; Seth has no absolute philosophy in our terms, but rather layers of reasoning that inform and tussle with other layers.  Fundamentally,  Seth argues that all experiences are chosen by the greater personality--even war.  Societies choose war, and the inhabitants of a given country unconsciously know if war is imminent.  My precognitive dreams of impending wars--not only those that occurred, but also those that didn't--demonstrate this.  There are few surprises, except those that we choose.  So I was surprised to find this very intriguing observation in the middle of volume one of The Early Sessions:

"War does not exist on other planes. It exists on your plane as a byproduct of certain challenges which the creator-entities wished to solve through materialization."

If I understand this correctly, war was selected as an experience on our plane for a specific and important reason.  Seth does not divulge the reason.  (Later, in Seth Speaks, he predicts that wars would vanish as a human experience near the end of this century.)  However, today I stumbled upon something interesting:  "Intense warfare is the evolutionary driver of large complex societies," argues Psys.org.  You can read the whole article and the referenced research, but in a nutshell:

The study focuses on the interaction of ecology and geography as well as the spread of military innovations and predicts that selection for ultra-social institutions that allow for cooperation in huge groups of genetically unrelated individuals and large-scale complex states, is greater where warfare is more intense.

Perhaps the challenge was a method for causing a genetically diverse human populations to cooperate sufficiently to form "complex" states.  This result could have been achieved by other means, but the "creator-entities"--knowing that life and death are, fundamentally, illusions--chose war as the most expedient path.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

A spooky story involving time shifts and synchronicity


Tonight at the lodge, two members related a recent experience that sounded quite strange as they told it... Only to become more strange as I pondered the impossibility of it. It involved an answering machine recording of lengthy phone conversation between two people--a conversation that occurred two years earlier.  It is a true "Twilight Zone" experience that is reminiscent of many of the stories in early "Fate" magazine.

One late night, Jack noticed his old skool answering machine click on as an incoming call arrived. It activated several times until it finally began recording a message. The "message" turned out to be a two-way call between fellow lodge brother Ned and an acquaintance as they made elaborate plans for a dinner for an upcoming event. The answering machine recorded a lengthy discussion between the two--who would cook what, who would bring what--even though neither individual had "called" Jack's machine or otherwise recorded the call, a call which had in fact occurred two years earlier.

Ned well recalled the conversation as well as the event, but he could not explain how the call mysteriously appeared on Jack's answering machine many months after the fact.

One of the listeners was a lodge brother who was once employed by AT&T as a network installer, and he had no explanation for the event; and neither did I--though I quickly considered, then discarded, the possibilities... "Maybe the call had been recorded somewhere by something and then..." No.  "Maybe there's a ghost in the NSA machine, and a recording made somewhere was inadvertently forwarded..." Nah. Then Ned held up his new Droid and showed us how Jack was listed as frequent call-ee, even though he had never called Jack on this phone. "Possibly," I thought, "Ned's new cell had imported earlier call data from an account or a cloud service..."  Possible, but not likely, and it still didn't explain the ghost answering machine recording.

The recording is by no means supernatural--it does not defy currently known scientific laws. In fact, the skeptic would argue that the event has a simple explanation:  Someone obviously recorded Ned's call, and then later forwarded the call to Jack's answering machine. While this is of course possible--and, depending on your perspective, probable--I don't buy it. There is simply no reason why anyone would go through the trouble of recording Ned's call, and then, two years later, forwarding this call to a bemused Jack. Both lodge brothers are in their eighties and well past the age of any such intrigue.

What this does remind me of is the oft-reported phenomenon of "phone calls from the dead," where deceased individuals somehow manage to call the living on telephones as well as leave messages on their answering machines. It is a quintessentially late twentieth-century phenomenon, as the "dead" seem to be able to traverse various analog networks (not to mention, voice carriers) and leave audible artifacts on legacy hardware.

Occam's razor suggests, to me, that there is strong synchronicity involved, and that "time" is, as Seth suggests, simultaneous, and not sequential. Events are ordered by the strength of association, and not by cause-and-effect. An event happens to Ned and Jack, lodge brothers. Had the experience happened to two people unknown to each other, it would have been either ignored or not actualized. Instead, it was noticed, and discussed, and now--recorded and published. Meaning and purpose?  Unknown, at least, for now.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

It's never easy

Finally, my thoughts have materialized into reality and I have a very minor cold (about the strongest illness that I can manifest).  Someone I know is back in the hospital--not due to psychosis this time--but a significant depressive episode that  gradually built up after the death of a family friend. I, being the non-religious mystic, regard death as, the Masonic ritual informs me, a kind messenger sent from our supreme Grand Master. She is devoutly Christian, but fears death. To me, this is significant.

Always before she heads for her breakdown, before she loses contact with reality, she passes on a story about one of her friends' after-death communications "because you're interested in that."  It's one of the markers that tells me that she's on her way down.  The latest story involved a dream by a man of his deceased father. The father conveyed the usual reassurances but also mention something very significant. He said that it had been very difficult to arrange the dream meeting. He had to overcome a lot of hurdles to establish contact. It wasn't easy, and it took time and effort. Which makes sense. If it was *easy*, contact with the deceased would be common. It's not. This is why I am very skeptical of the Sylvia Browns and the James Van Praaghs.

Monday, August 12, 2013

NDEs explained! And a side note

Imagine my relief today when I opened up BBC News in my RSS reader and discovered that near-death experiences are now explained!  Should I demand all my money back that I've spent on countless NDE books?  "Not so fast," says the faux angel on my shoulder.  Scientists have merely observed a spike in gamma brain waves at the moment of cardiac arrest in lab rats.  This could mean a number of things.  One Seth quote that has lingered with me is, to paraphrase, "The reason that we consider physical death to be a terminal event is that we are unable to observe the transformation of energy."  A massive transformation of "energy" occurs at the moment of physical death, a fact that has been anecdotally documented by contemporary near-death researchers... they are generally labeled "shared NDEs."  Perhaps what scientists are witnessing is such an event.  So, perhaps scientists need to do more research (and journalists more proofreading) before announcing that NDEs are "explained."

And a side note... I've been getting lots of hits lately on a post that I wrote several years ago about Jonas Elrod.  Some are following links suggesting that Elrod is a "fake"... others follow links that suggest that he's truthful.  I am embarrassed to confess that I no longer remember who Jonas Elrod is.  And I'm too embarrassed to re-read my article to refresh my memory.  As I've mentioned a number of times, I no longer follow the paranormal.  I don't think I've missed a thing.  I now describe myself as a meta-physicist (or meta-physician); I'm interested in the study of consciousness and in the way consciousness interacts with what we call "reality."  While I find lots to suggest that the materialistic viewpoint is valid--it's hard to argue with measurable reality and validated facts--I also find lots of niggling flaws and contradictions that also suggest that the reality that we consider valid is, in fact, manufactured, created.  Reality is simply more complex than we currently are consciously able to observe.  Paranormal researchers study the "mistakes" in the matrix and attempt to map an alternative reality.  However, if consciousness "forms" reality, then is it not also "forming" paranormal reality?  In other words... a study of paranormal phenomena will be skewed by the paranormal beliefs of the observer and may be no more "true" than observations of the conventional materialist.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Is it possible to hallucinate an NDE?

Has the NDE narrative become so culturally endemic that the expected phenomena--the tunnel, the bright light, the warning to "turn back; it's not your time"--can be hallucinated?

I ask, because I've just been the recipient of such a narrative, and I'm not sure that I believe it.

This is apart from the patently fabricated accounts; since I've become a paranormal über-skeptic, I now disbelieve much of what I read on the subject.  But I'm wondering if some reported NDEs are hallucinated.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Quantum Entanglement: What Would Seth Say?

Halfway through composing this entry, by an amazing synchronicity I glanced at the cover of this week's New Scientist magazine and noticed the feature article:

New Scientist

Part of me is surprised that science hasn't figured this out yet. Could it be that this is the reason we don't yet have flying cars and Spacely's Sprockets?

Probably. Despite years of wrangling over the conundrum of quantum entanglement, or "spooky action at a distance," science cannot make the big leap to a complete embrace of quantum theory because quantum entanglement violates causality.  Classic science still rules.

Yet, it was the easily observable fact that strict causality not only can be violated, but often is, that launched my interest into metaphysics. I was quite a serious science student in my youth, so when I began keeping a dream journal and documenting clear examples of precognition, I knew immediately that science was "wrong." And still is: "Specifically, precognition would violate the principle that an effect cannot occur before its cause." (Hyman, Ray: "Evaluating Parapsychological Claims" as cited in Wikipedia).

In other words, precognition breaks strict causality. And strict causality cannot be broken, because it not only informs our entire understanding of the universe, but also violates a significant part of our religious and social canon. How can you be punished for your sins when there is no cause-and-effect?

Yet, on a weekly basis in my mid-teens, I documented personal examples of precognition that defied causality. The reality of my experience contradicted the dogma of official science.  And still does, in fact... My precognitive hunches are reliable and consistent enough to function as a sixth sense. I personally could not function--would not want to function--in the material world without them.

Fortunately, Seth stepped into the breach fifty or so years ago (in our terms), halfway through "The Early Sessions" (Volume Two):

If cause and effect were an absolute law, then continuity would also have to be an absolute law, and all or any evidences of clairvoyance, or viewing the future, would be absolutely impossible, even in your universe, and this simply is not so. It is only because there is basically no cause and effect, but merely apparent cause and effect, and no past, present and future, that clairvoyance is possible in your universe.

And while awareness of clairvoyance is fairly rare, it does exist; and though watered down in most instances, is a natural method of warning individuals of happenings with which their own outer senses would not be familiar. It is a natural method of protecting the individual by giving him an inner knowledge of events. Without constant clairvoyance on the part of every man and woman, existence on your plane would involve such inner, psychological insecurity that it would be completely unbearable.

I've devoted quite a bit of camouflage time pondering the conundrum of causality versus free will because I think that unraveling this mystery will open up access to other dimensions of experience. The answer is there, somewhere--and I hope to find it. After all, science hasn't, yet, though it appears to be headed in the right direction (although my hunches tell me that a New Scientist writer would not want to be cited in a metaphysical blog of this nature):

We live in space-time, and experience causal order within it, yet causal order is not apparently fundamental to quantum theory. If we accept quantum theory as the most fundamental description of reality that we have, it means that space-time itself is not fundamental, but emerges from a deeper, currently inscrutable quantum reality. (Michael Brooks, New Scientist, August 3, 2013)

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A noteworthy ADC


I regularly browse Dr. Jeff Long's ADC website because I firmly believe that the truest accounts of contact with the non-physical are in humble, personal experiences, not in the overwrought books of psychic celebrities. So I thought that this personal account by Nicola was a compelling read, and if I can drive traffic to it, I will. There, you will read the fascinating story of that old cliché--the carnival fortune-teller--who is in fact a "real" clairvoyant, and who makes a bold prediction--which comes true; a homeless man who delivers confirmation of Nicola's father's presence by singing her father's favorite song (one of my faves, too); a communicated message from the father of a "surprise" for the daughter--and it is a surprise so remarkable that I regard it as supernatural. All of these synchronicities are woven so carefully into the fabric of Nicola's daily life that, to outsiders, they are unremarkable. But to the individual who is in the habit of looking for them, synchronicities such as these are clear evidence of a "greater" reality that underlies and envelops our physical existence.

I think that this is the reason that I'm skeptical of many (if not most) published and/or famous paranormal accounts. Most are too over-the-top; too "amazing"; too unbelievable; too contrived. Genuine experiences tend to be subtle and largely invisible except to those who are meant to experience them. And the proofs are also unimpressive to the outside observer--but carry profound symbolic meaning to the experiencer.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

A recent experience

I'm at the stage of life where I attend funerals rather than weddings. So last week was devoted to the memorial of someone I've known for many years. Prior to the passing, I was awakened at about four a.m. by the very real sensation of someone rubbing my right hand. The sensation was enough to pull me from a very deep sleep and scare me. I later learned the decedent's daughter had an almost identical experience at exactly the same time: she was awakened by the sensation of a hand rubbing her shoulder. We don't really know who had visited us, but I suspect it was the decedent, who was pass away later that evening.

My reason for suspecting the decedent is simple: it was a physical sensation. Encounters with individuals who have passed on (and graduated beyond the near-physical plane) are almost always non-tactile.

A simple, unremarkable experience... Millions have had the same experience. Still, how is it possible to "feel" something that's not physically there?  A simple question, not often asked, but it has profound implications. What, indeed, is doing

Friday, June 7, 2013

"Eyes Of An Angel" by Paul Elder


I'm almost finished with this book and maybe will have more to say on it later... And while I had a lot to say about it when I began it, I have less to say now; the reason being, it tends to agree with much of what I've read on the afterlife elsewhere. This has been noticed by other critics. There is almost a cookie-cutter aspect to the information.  Read any contemporary NDE or OOBE book (or even a well-channeled New Age tome), and you will find nothing to disagree with what Mr. Elder has described.  He even replicates Seth's analogue of God, "All That Is."

The book is exceptionally well-written (better than anything I could have done); a well-paced narrative with nary a misplaced comma or misspelling.  It flows, engages the reader, and is never boring.

If Mr. Elder's information agrees with much of what I have already decided to be "true," does that make his book also "true"?  Not really, but not that it matters. His two near-death experiences and his colorful adventures at the Monroe Institute are somewhat understated, but very significant, if true.  If it is indeed possible to have directed OOBEs via Monroe's patented Hemi-Synch method to Level 27 and beyond, to planes of existence beyond the near-astral level, to a Hall Of Records that sounds very much like the Hall Of Records in other writings, this is a major friggin' deal, indeed.

The dissonance that some readers get is that something of this weightiness demands a bit more than an artful recounting. This is more on the level of, "Holy shit!"  You certainly get this with Dr. Alexander's much-maligned and unfortunately titled "Proof Of Heaven."  Possibly, this aspect of Elder's story was excised by over-zealous editors and proofreaders. I would certainly like to know. Paul Elder is someone who I'd like to sit down with over a beer and ask, "Okay, cut the New Age crap; tell me the real scoop."  It is why I find the writings of Ingo Swann and John Keel endlessly fascinating.  They hint of a greater reality that is in many respects more fascinating and complex than our observed reality.  I would be disappointed with anything less.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Do we create our reality?


Recently someone lobbed the following at me: "I know that Seth says, 'You create your own reality,' BUT..." My response: "What Seth actually means is that we create the physical reality that we perceive, which is proven in quantum physics." And then I thought more on this, as I always do... And I realized that this particular Sethism, which has been used to characterize (and discredit) all of New Age philosophy, actually does, at times, seem to mean what it seems to mean: That we, from whole cloth, ex nihilo, create our world, and we are responsible for (or to blame for) all that results.

The careful philosopher will immediately recognize that if, indeed, the reality that we perceive is what we have in fact "created," we have no mechanism for proving otherwise. It is a completely self-contained and self-referential logical conundrum that has tripped many a wannabe guru and resulted in the wastage of much valuable camouflage time. So why did Seth keep saying it?

It's possible that "he" wanted the readers of the Seth material to begin to look beyond our narrow definition of "self" enough to wonder, "If I'm not consciously aware of creating my reality, is there a part of 'me' that I'm not consciously aware of that IS doing the creating?  Who or what is this other part of me, and how can become acquainted with it?" Perhaps this question mirrors what may have been the primordial First Question that reportedly birthed reality when All-That-Is asked, "Who am I, and who am I not?"

Monday, April 15, 2013

Books Three and Four of the Seth "Early Sessions" are out on the Kindle


It looks like they will all be published, which is quite remarkable... could it be that Seth is catching on?  I'm not sure that Seth in general resonated with the '70s and '80s.  I know that when I first picked up a Seth book--probably the late '70s--I immediately put it down.  I disagreed with the concept of "simultaneous lifetimes."  I could not wrap my mind around it; still can't, really, but at least I can entertain the notion better now.

But there is much good information in the "Early Sessions," and (unlike the bulk of psycho-babble that's out now) it corresponds to what is now evident in two paranormal fields that I personally consider valid: near-death experiences, and remote viewing. And published research into these two areas was nonexistent in the 1960s.  In other words, Jane Roberts could not have fabricated such detailed information.  There is something there, and we can still learn from it.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Obama's brain-mapping initiative


What with war threatening to erupt in Korea and unemployment rising, many were probably left scratching their heads Tuesday at President Obama's brain-mapping initiative:

President Obama unveiled a decades-long project Tuesday designed to map the inner workings of the brain, seeking answers to such challenges as epilepsy, autism and Alzheimer's disease. "There's this enormous mystery, awaiting to be unlocked," Obama said during remarks at the White House. (USA Today)

It seemed to play to the stereotype of Democrats as being both frivolous and irrelevant.  Such a strange initiative. But I was reminded of something else. In "Seth Speaks," Seth predicts that during what is generally referred to as the "awakening of consciousness" in this century, "new areas will be activated in the brain to physically take care of them [expansions of consciousness]. Physically then, brain mappings will be possible in which past-life memories are evoked." The term "brain mapping" is both highly specific and evocative, and as far as I know, there has been no organized initiative to "map" the brain (beyond various neurological studies to identify specific parts of the brain and what physical effects are associated with them). Certainly this was not common scientific currency in the 1960s, when "Seth Speaks" was published.

So, what on the surface might appear to be another frivolous waste of government money, might actually have portent. Science is doing something now that, on an organized level, has never been attempted on a large scale: mapping the brain. A small blip on the media screen today, but twenty or thirty years hence, what will be the result?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Working toward a validation of Seth's "inner senses"

I've read most of the Seth books multiple times over many years, and I always have the disconcerting experience of reading each book again as if I've read it for the first time... The books hold a different focus, depending on the stage of life that I happen to be at.

Now is no different.  What stands out for me now in my re-current reading of "The Early Sessions" (and the "official" corresponding book, "Seth Speaks") is the persistent emphasis on the "inner senses." It seems to be the core theme of both books, and Seth repeatedly drives home the importance of using our "inner senses."  Previously, I've glossed over these discussions... I considered them too esoteric, too remote from any practical experience, but I now believe that Seth's descriptions can finally be validated, fifty years after their first transcription, by contemporary NDE accounts.


A full discussion of what Seth means by the "inner senses" is well beyond the scope of this blog... but to summarize what I think Seth means, "inner senses" are those perceptive mechanisms that are associated with our whole self--both the part that is physically incarnated (the subconscious), as well as those aspects of our greater self that reside outside our physical system.  Our physical senses mimic to some extent the functions of the inner senses, but they are narrowly focussed on observing (or, more correctly, building a representation of) the physical world.  (A good summary of Seth's treatment of the inner senses can be found here.)

My primary interest in the subject is in validation--is there any evidence in existing reports, outside of the Seth books, that documents the use of these senses?

I think that there is, at least concerning the "first" inner sense, referred to as "inner vibrational touch" (which is a woefully inadequate description of the actual experience). Those who have had vivid OOBEs likely are quite familiar with this sense; Seth describes it as such:

I will go into it more deeply but you may call it the first inner sense.  It involves immediate perception of a direct nature, whose intensity varies according to what is being sensed. It involves instant cognition through what I can only describe as inner vibrational touch. This is, if you will excuse the pun, touchy, since I want to avoid any implication here of sloppy sentimental emotionalism; and the word vibrational is not the best. This sense would permit our man to feel the basic sensations felt by the tree, so that instead of looking at the tree his consciousness would expand to contain the experience of what it is like to be a tree. According to his proficiency, in a like manner he would feel the experience of being the intervening grass and so forth.  He would in no way lose consciousness of who he was, and he would perceive these experiences, again, somewhat in the same manner that you perceive heat and cold. In your camouflage pattern you must adapt yourself to the effects of heat and cold, but our man in the inner world would not be under any such obligation. I am speaking now only of our first inner sense.


By this first inner sense, the comatose patient undergoing a near-death experience is able to "see" the operating room theater, the instruments that the physicians are using, perceive the thoughts of the nurses, sense the fear of relatives gathered outside, and look beyond walls and doors of the room and see not only the physical environment in intricate detail, but also the underlying "astral" environment (lights, music, vivid landscapes) that coexists with the physical.

Such is, in fact, what Anita Moorjani describes in "Dying To Be Me":

In this near-death state, I was more acutely aware of all that was going on around me than I’ve ever been in a normal physical state. I wasn’t using my “five biological senses," yet I was keenly taking everything in, much more so than if I’d been using my physical organs. It was as though another, completely different type of perception kicked in, and more than just perceive, I seemed to also encompass everything that was happening, as though I was slowly merging with it all. * ** As my emotions were being drawn away from my surroundings, I started to notice how I was continuing to expand to fill every space, until there was no separation between me and everything else. I encompassed—no, became—everything and everyone.


I would like to explore further this first "inner sense" but for now, I am willing to go out on a limb and argue the following:  If Ms. Moorjani's account is correct (and I can't find any reason to assume that it isn't), she describes the operation of the first "inner sense," fifty years after it was first explained by Jane Roberts--before NDEs were part of the cultural landscape. While it's not impossible that Jane Roberts "free-associated" her way through a detailed description of an esoteric experience that would not be explicable until years later, I'd rather think that she didn't.  Seth's description of a sense that he clumsily calls "inner vibrational touch" is simply too strange, too obscure to have any contemporary meaning then; but it does now, to students of NDE accounts.  

Sunday, March 24, 2013

"Seth cultists"


I've finally found the source for Tom Dark's quotation of Seth referring to New Agers as "imbecilic personalities" and their gatherings as "psychic sideshows."  (Arguably, I would have found it sooner had I looked for it sooner.)  The content was included in an unpublished Seth session that the "Reality Change" publication refused to print. (I remember being somehow associated with "Reality Change" in the '90s, and I received some unpublished sessions along with a certificate signed by Robert Butts, for joining the organization.) This session may already be published now in the multi-volume sessions and notes.  This earthiness is not uncharacteristic of Seth's unedited talks that are revealed in these non-published sessions; still, I hope it's published eventually, because I can't agree with it more.

The major "paranormal" shows tend to shun Seth scholarship for some reason. I remember only one "Coast" show devoted to Seth.  This is probably because Seth scholarship has nothing in common with the New Age or the paranormal, and paranormal investigators somehow intuit this.

I stumbled upon this while trying to find information on Sue Watkins' "25th Anniversary Edition" of "Conversations With Seth."  I have the paperback; I'd like the Kindle version. But for some reason, it's been split into two parts.  Has material been added to this "deluxe edition" sufficient to warrant the extra cost?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Still enjoying my self-imposed exile from paranormal radio

and missing it none. I think that I listened more or less out of habit. It's amazing how improved my outlook on life has changed... akin to the subtle improvement that I noticed when I stopped watching television a decade or so ago.

But I have a significant quote from the first book of Seth's "The Early Sessions": "I have spoken of your plane rather than of your planet because earth is one of the planets that contain[s] many planes."

This is why I continue to be fascinated with the Seth material when everyone else abandons it in exasperation--one of those blink-and-you'll-miss-it money quotes that packs volumes into a single sentence.

What Seth is suggesting is that there are different types of planets in our immediate vicinity.  Some contain only "one plane," whereas others are multi-dimensional.

Earth is one of those physical planets that just so happen to have the more complex gestalt of "many planes."

What are the single-plane planets? Mars? What are the *other* multi-dimensional planets (since Earth is only "one of" them)? What does it mean to live on a planet of "many planes"? Do those inhabitants experience bleed-throughs from the other planes? 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Of interest to "Sethians"...

The first two volumes of The Early Sessions have just come out in Kindle format.  I bought the paperback versions a while back (paying a pretty penny for them, since they were obtainable only from the publisher). Why are they notable? They flesh out and extend many of the dialogs that ultimately went into the early Seth books, and putting these early sessions in full context makes them a bit more comprehensible and easier to digest.  I am hoping that ultimately all of the Seth material is ebooked, for an important reason--I can finally find what I'm looking for, and not rely on the memory of what I might have read twenty or so years ago. And more often than not, any memory of what I read long ago is quite different from what I discover to actually be there.  Very strange, and very puzzling--there's never any sense of déjà vu with the Seth stuff; I'm always reading it like it's the first time I've seen it.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Great. I'm #1 on Google for something I don't even think about now

The Psychic Twins. What can I say? I haven't been by their site since their failed Presidential prediction of '08, but people are still apparently interested in them, based on the Google stats for this blog. I just hope that they haven't put a hex on me... I have enough karma to pay off, thank you very much.

As I've indicated, I've stopped listening to alternative or "paranormal" shows for a few basic reasons... Primarily, it is due to the mindset, or "baggage," that's associated with paranormal topics. You cannot follow the paranormal without being constantly assaulted with certain core beliefs: that the individual is powerless relative to various amorphous malicious groups (the "government," abdicating aliens, end-of-the-world scenarios, the Illuminati, the United Nations, Al Qaida); the truth can be had, but only by subscribing to the paranormal mindset; the future is grim; mysterious beings or entities are liable to intervene in you life, in ways not to your benefit; etc.

It became too much of a struggle to wade through this mess to pick out the one or two pieces of information that I already knew. Plus, I learned what other paranormal hobbyists already know: what you focus on, you will get. There is a corrosive effect to these beliefs that will deconstruct your life, if you let it.

At a certain level, the ideas are interesting; the baggage, not so.

So what began as an inquiry into the paranormal might well become a journey away from it. Can an alternative view of reality be constructed that bypasses the paranormal?

I think so. What I've carried away from my several years of "Coast To Coast" and similar forums are a couple areas of inquiry that I think have merit... areas that explore the nature of consciousness and how consciousness interfaces with the material world: NDEs, OOBEs, and time anomalies. In my opinion, we can't fully understand material reality unless we step outside it.

My attack of the Psychic Twins stems from my interest in time anomalies. The future is knowable. I've had premonitions that have come true; so have others. However, this fact--that I and others have "seen" future events--not only violates current scientific consensus, but also has profound implications about the nature of reality. Ditto NDEs and OOBEs. Science refuses to acknowledge these experiences, for a good reason: they violate the materialist structure that grounds classic science.

Now, it is possible that NDEs, OOBEs, and premonition are themselves illusions; that the brain somehow reassembles its perception of time and reality to create these anomalies. I can't rule it out. But if this is the case, can we ultimately be sure of anything? If the mind (or brain) can alter our perception of reality, does it, ultimately, create it?

I actually don't blame science for not asking these questions; but I do blame the paranormal for not attempting to answer them.

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Children That Time Forgot

The above book by Peter Harrison, which I think that I read long ago, is currently free to "borrow" for Amazon.com Prime members.  I'm on my second reading. If you are remotely open to the idea of reincarnation, I highly recommend it. Harrison documents what might be the strongest evidence for reincarnation: the spontaneous recall of past lifetimes by very young children. There's little documentation; no footnotes or transcripts, so it's not "proof," but I have no reason to doubt the book, and it replicates findings by other researchers.  Per Seth, newborns and young children are "cushioned" by memories of the immediate between-life state as well as past-life memories...  so, if the Seth information is correct--and I have almost always found it to be--we should *expect* young children to have past life recall. The memories disappear once the child enters school.

I've spent a lot of idle thought wondering what past-life memories I had as a young child.  While I have many memories from a very early age, I don't recall anything reincarnational--except a major obsession with the 1920s and '30s when I was a pre-teen.  And it was an obsession.  I was particularly obsessed with the Ford Model T. Today this obsession continues on my Flickr stream. I find it ironic that my obsession with the early Twentieth Century has entered its fifth decade--a span of time sufficient to transport the '30s resident into the disco era.  For me, however, that era remains frozen in time; finished; complete--which is what one might expect of a reincarnational memory.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Sabbatical from the paranormal

I've stopped listening to paranormal radio.  I've wiped my iPods clean, and now I listen to music shows downloaded from dar.fm. (For those curious, I download Bob Parlocha, Jazz On The Side, Rhythm Sweet And Hot, and Bluegrass Breakdown.)  The reason was very simple: what is commonly labeled as "paranormal" is not the paranormal that I grew up reading.  There's something distinctively negative and "off" about it.  I'm not sure why that's so--but today's paranormal is too much Alex Jones and not enough Charles Fort. I'm actually careful about what I put into my ear (and mind), and I've just decided that it's not worth my time.

So what have I salvaged from my eight-year dalliance with the paranormal?  Strip away the frauds, deconstruct the logical fallacies, filter out the obvious perceptive errors, trash the bogus scholarship, and what remains are the fundamental unknowns that have historically engaged the great philosophers: What is the nature of consciousness? To what extent does our consciousness perceive what is "real," and what part is "hallucination" or delusion? Is there a way to reference apparent hallucinations to theoretical "other" realities?  Do we perceive only what we are trained to perceive, and if so, is there another reality behind our perception? Who, indeed, is the percipient? These are the fundamental questions that I instinctive ask when confronting the paranormal, but paranormalists not only do not ask them, they seemingly do not realize that they need to be answered, or at least acknowledged.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Another book I'd like to get when Amazon.com lowers the price

Dr. Jill Bolt Taylor (another neuroscientist who has gained insight into consciousness following a massive brain injury) penned My Stroke Of Insight, which, for the moment, is cheaper on paper than on the Kindle. I would not half mind getting the book when the digital price dips. (I paid full price for Dr. Eben Alexander's book, something I try to avoid.)

For those wondering at this strange conflation of material neuroscience and mysticism in my posts (or even why I write at all), I guess that I can disclose that it's a form of self-therapy after a close family member was diagnosed with a severe mental illness. I am the primary caregiver, so I've had to navigate the American mental health system while providing what care that I can, all the while trying to juggle other responsibilities.

We don't normally think about consciousness. We are simply conscious, and we focus our awareness onto the world "out there." But I've thought a lot about consciousness in recent months as I've studied the myriad and endless ways this consciousness distorts when the brain breaks down. I've had to educate myself; in the U.S., you just can't drop someone off at the hospital and say, "I think that person is mentally ill; treat him." You have to be able to articulate why you think that a given individual is, in fact, ill, and needs treatment, and you have to use the correct combination of phrases, along with a few "magic words" (such as "suicidal") to move the process along. It is the price that we pay for living in a non-totalitarian society.

So what have I learned? Well, for one thing, I've learned that it's common for the mentally ill to blend into society and go untreated for years, or even a lifetime. As long as you can walk, talk, and appear somewhat oriented in time and place, society will not intervene. A person can, in fact, become completely dysfunctional, and the medical establishment still will not intervene to help until someone demands it, and only then after using the correct "magic words" as well as presenting the correct medical insurance cards.

I've learned that when the brain begins to break down, the distorted view of reality that follows is strangely reminiscent of some of the more extreme viewpoints articulated by religious extremists as well as any given guest on Coast To Coast. Many people, for instance, claim to see angels. Is such an experiencer, in fact, seeing a "real" angel? Or is the brain creating the illusion of an angel? Is there an undiagnosed psychosis that causes the person to see an angel? Or is there some breakdown in the language-processing part of the brain that causes a person to say that he's seen an angel when, in fact, he's seen only a bird? Or does brain incapacity cause the experiencer to glimpse realities that are both real and normally unperceived? I'm not pretending to know any of these answers. It's quite possible that all of these scenarios are valid at some level.We know so little about how the mind (or even the brain) interfaces with the material reality that it seems to perceive.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Defense of the Linda Cortile case

Many months after losing interest in the controversy of UFO abductions and the research thereof, I stumbled upon a site by Sean Meers and a self-published defense of the case.  I've started reading the defense.  It seems to be thoroughly documented and very impassioned.  Meers points out several apparent errors by Paratopia in attacking the late Bud Hopkins and seeks to discredit the criticisms of Carol Rainey. Having gained some distance from the whole "abduction" controversy, my opinions have settled down to a few remaining impressions... largely informed by some life experiences.

I think that the fundamental reason that sciences refuses to touch the abduction phenomenon is because the experiences bear more-than-a-casual resemblance to mental illness and other brain anomalies, including the oft-cited "temporal lobe epilepsy." Unfortunately, science cannot publicly say this, for a number of important reasons. A diagnosis of mental illness is not easily nor lightly made, so (in defense of science), the scientist has no choice but to stay as far away from the subject as possible.... which leaves the abduction research mostly to investigators not trained in psychology.

Now, does this mean that abductions are signs of mental illness? No. But look at it from this perspective. If I saw a strange object in the sky and did not know what it was, I'd call it an unidentified flying object, implying, in the popular imagination, that it was an alien craft. However, a trained pilot might come along and say, "Oh, that's not a UFO. I know exactly what that is. It's a C-43-whatever." When we see objects in the sky, we consult with professional aviators to rule out pedestrian explanations (and trust that the pilots aren't covert CIA disinfo agents). Unfortunately, it's quite taboo for an investigator to consult with a psychiatrist when documenting perceptions of events that fall outside the range of normal. The experiencer might be recalling a "real" abduction--or he might be experiencing psychosis. We just don't know.

This problem is compounded by the fact that many paranormalists who report very bizarre experiences also show an obsession with a number of ill-informed conspiracies. Their beliefs are often indistinguishable from the truly delusional. So, science isn't going to go there.

Unfortunately, because science can't (or won't) touch these cases, we cannot know their true nature. We simply don't know what's causing them. And I argue that we, as lay people, should tread lightly on these cases and not rush to argue that they are, in fact, what they appear to be.

(How does this differ from investigations of near-death experiences? Well, NDEs usually happen in a clinical setting and are studied by researchers who specialize in medical science. And more often than not, they can convincingly argue that the NDE was "real" and not the result of known problems of perception.)

I actually bought Bud Hopkins' book on the Cortile incident right after it came out (albeit at discount from a second-hand store). Someone had bought it and quickly resold it for reasons unknown. I was very impressed with the book. Bud Hopkins was a good writer who was able to convey an aura of authority to his material. When I read George Hansen's critique of the case shortly thereafter, I thought, "Hey, wait a minute... this makes a lot of sense, too." Ultimately, I was more convinced by Hansen's critique for an important reason. Hopkins told an extraordinary story that defied logical explanation, and while it was fascinating and well-told, it was unsubstantiated. It was an extraordinary, profoundly strange experience that lacked the necessary hard proof. We were asked to accept the account as-is, based on the testimony of some of the participants. As a result, Hansen was able to cause me to doubt the testimony by highlighting some significant flaws in the narrative. For all I know, the Cortile case might have gone down the way that Hopkins said it did. But after Hansen, I doubted it then, and I still do now.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Predictions for the upcoming century

Since I've ridiculed virtually every prominent, self-styled prophet and seer on the paranormal circuit, I've often thought that it was only fair that I see if I can do any better. I'm not sure that I can, for several reasons. First, I don't believe that future events are laid out on a predetermined grid. And second, I'm not sure that even if some events are predetermined, we are allowed to see them.

Still, I thought I'd give it a try, based on some emerging ideas that I've tried to pay attention to. These are emerging probabilities (especially ones that preoccupy paranormalists) that I see for the next few decades, dosed with a fair amount of objectivity.

Climate change is real, and will have measurable consequences, but we do not yet know the outcome. Change does not always follow a straight line.  I think that we should be alarmed by global warming, but swapping out all our incandescent bulbs for fluorescent ones won't stop it. A decade ago, I was very alarmed over the issue of "peak oil." The data seemed irrefutable. There was only so much oil in the ground, and we had gotten most of it. Numbers don't lie. However, something miraculous happened, almost unnoticed. Improvements in extraction technology (most notably, with "fracking") have increased American productivity to the point that some commentators have predicted that the US will become "energy independent" within a few decades. While this was not unforeseeable, it was unpredicted.

Children being born in the coming decades will be quite unlike their parents, in ways not immediately noticed--particularly in the way that their consciousness interfaces with the material world.  I don't read about the so-called "indigo children" anymore, for good reason. This New Age idea was popular a decade or so ago. However, the predicted result--that in a few years, we would be awash with all these enlightened kids who would usher in a new world--has not materialized. Why? Probably, because the researchers shoe-horned a few isolated instances of gifted children into an emerging, universal trend that conformed to New Age dogma. However, I have noticed one unusual prediction in several "unofficial" sources, and it intrigues me: within this century, the "veil" between the material world, and the larger non-material world, will be dropped a bit, and those being born will be able to recall their pre-birth existence. This will obviously have a significant impact not only on science and philosophy, but also technology. Of course, if many don't "believe" in reincarnation or in a non-material world (a significant percentage) or have a distorted religious view of it (the majority), these children will go unnoticed or misunderstood. This change will be recognized only in retrospect.

Organized religion will become increasingly marginalized and irrelevant, supplanted in the short term by extremist offshoots that will continue to disrupt established institutions.  Since these extremist movements are anarchistic in nature, they are not sustainable in the long term and will remain in the margins. But, if Seth is correct, the "framework" that Christianity has provided the world will be increasingly unable to solve emerging problems. Science has filled the vacuum for the past few centuries and will continue to do so, but I predict that unless "scientific consensus" moves away from a strictly materialistic view of the world, it will also cease to be effective. The larger aspects of human consciousness that science denies will find expression in religious extremism and para-scientific superstition.

Artificial intelligence may be created very soon (perhaps within a decade), and this will have significant disruptive effects on civilization, mostly positive.  The question remains, however, whether this newly created intelligence will "believe" in the existence of a human creator, or will blindly worship humanity as a god.

The current western-based economic model, based on increasing consumption and the accumulation of capital, appears to be breaking down. Peak oil notwithstanding, virtually all of our current economic problems are caused by the simple fact that population growth is increasingly unsustainable. Hence, the current move toward "sustainability" that informs both the left and right political wings... The left thinks that we, as a whole, should accumulate less, whereas the right thinks that we (specifically, the "government") should spend less. Both are caused by the fact that we are hitting a brick wall in terms of growth: we have outgrown this planet, and we are running out of stuff.

Fears of increasing governmental authoritarianism are overblown. Some commentators on the paranormal scene like to obsess on the emerging "fascism" of the American government. Actually, I think the opposite is occurring: we as a population have become lazy and have surrendered too much prerogative to "government," which is showing itself as increasingly incapable of governing. The rise of extremist political groups in all political spectrums have a singular motivation: reclaiming rights and powers that were once "inalienable," and filling the vacuum left by ineffective government.

While we probably won't have a one-world government, globalization will cause increasing homogenization of nation-state governments. The debate during the last century was which would happen first: the Soviet Union becoming democratic, or the American government Communist. It was a silly argument in retrospect, but, arguably, the governments in Washington and Beijing are starting to look a lot alike in this century.

Which leads me to a final prediction: The human population will have to decline, one way or another. The accelerating increase in human population seems to be serving several purposes in this century.... I think that it might serve as a trigger, or a tipping point, that will cause specific changes at specific times: changes in consciousness, or changes in the environment, that would not otherwise normally occur in a stable population. All of the "unofficial" sources that I read indicate that our population growth is by design. However, the downside of this design is that once the changes occur, population will have to sharply decline. Some foresee mass extinctions in this century caused by famine or environmental catastrophe. I think that both of these are quite possible. If we continue on our present course, these will happen. However, I don't think that anyone knows yet *what* the final outcome will be. We are seeing only probabilities, and I think that it's possible that mass awareness of probable disaster scenarios--scenarios that may not actually occur--are part of the "plan" for purposes yet unknown.