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Thread: Ghosthunter - William James

  1. #1
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    Jan 2015

    Ghosthunter - William James

    If I told you how much all science is indebted to this one pragmatist who dared to challenge science in his day (His thought still stands foursquare against paradigm empiricism which denies soul.) you would say I am a fool. Yes, a fool, I am. The fool knowing he is a fool is better than a wise man who thinks he is wise. A 'twist' on a saying which is my epithet - I hope.

    Groping for Phantasms

    August 9, 2006

    "To no one type of mind is it given to discern the totality of truth. Something escapes the best of us — not accidentally, but systematically, and because we have a twist." This trenchant comment, masterfully sculpted by that final perfect "twist," was penned by the philosopher and psychologist William James. It comes from an article he defiantly published in the journal Science — defiantly, because James used the piece to argue against what he saw as the pigheaded prejudices of the typical scientific mind, unwilling to cope with, and so given to deny, what James dubbed "wild facts." "If there is anything which human history demonstrates, it is the extreme slowness with which the ordinary academic and critical mind acknowledges facts to exist which present themselves as ‘wild facts,' with no stall or pigeonhole, or as facts which threaten to break up the accepted system," he wrote.

    The subtle and sober insights into the history, philosophy, and psychology of science packed into James's article are all the more remarkable given the title of the composition, "What Psychical Research Has Accomplished." Yes, "psychical," as in communications with the dead. These are the sort of "wild facts" James was pushing on his pigheadedly scientific readers.

    William James, whose novelist brother Henry James had an affinity for the gracefully ambiguous ghost story, was actively involved in the investigation of, yes, ghosts. James wasn't the only serious mind of his day given to such pursuits. He was a founding member of the American branch of the (extant) Society for Psychical Research, which had been initiated in Britain by a handful of scholars — philosophers, scientists, and a couple of classicists. The members of this elite group form the subject of Deborah Blum's engaging "Ghost Hunters: William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death" (Penguin Press, 370 pages, $25.95).

    This is rich material, set against the background of the Victorian past, a foreign land that seems creakily remote, even if some of the very same issues that beset it — most notably the uneasy relation between science and religion — live on in our day. Ms. Blum begins her book by placing the Victorian fascination with spiritualism in the context of the 19th century's struggles to reconcile the spirits of religion and science, an instability between competing values that, she writes, induced "moral uncertainty." This is all interesting, though Ms. Blum doesn't want to claim it is too interesting. She doesn't mean to suggest that her analysis explains how minds of a Jamesian caliber could be deluded into believing in the supernatural, because she is not prepared to say they were deluded.

    Otherworldly contact was such a vogue in James's day that the fashionable hostess often provided a séance as a postprandial entertainment.

    Though most scientists took a dim view of these spiritualist shenanigans, believing them to be the sort of vestigial superstition that science, especially newly fortified by Darwinism, would eventually stamp out, James believed otherwise. Science, he argued, is a methodology rather than a set of ontological conclusions. For that reason science ought to be rigorously noncommittal, probing and palpating all experience to see what it will yield.The spirit of science must be open to evidence for spirits.

    And open to spirits James and his fellow researchers were, assiduously attending séances, conscientiously attempting to separate out the obviously disingenuous from the not so obviously disingenuous and from the possibly even genuine. It was remarkably dull work. "Few species of literature are more truly dull than reports of phantasms," James complained in "What Psychical Research Has Accomplished." "Taken simply by themselves, as separate facts to stare at, they appear so devoid of meaning and sweep, that even were they certainly true, one would be tempted to leave them out of one's universe for being so idiotic."

    Not only dull, but decidedly tawdry. Most professional mediums were shady performance artists, resorting to such helpful aids to "materializations" as trap doors, wired shoes, and muslin dipped in glow-in-the-dark phosphorus. The psychical researchers had the unpleasant task of probing and palpating not just experience, but the body of the medium, of keeping a firm grip on hands and legs to keep them from levitating tables and messing with the curtains.

    And then there was the content of the messages from the dead, which often proved dispiritingly nonexalted. While one might have hoped for insights into the great metaphysical dilemmas that wrack the brains of philosophers, the departed delivered messages that often trailed off into the most inconsequential sort of twaddle.But then sometimes — and this sometimes is what kept the ghost hunters hunting — the mediums were privy to knowledge, no matter how mundane, that they couldn't possibly have attained through natural means. Was it chicanery, mind reading, or genuine dispatches from the discarnate? This little band of stalwart thinkers waded through the flimflam and the twaddle, trying to get their hands round the slippery answer, which always eluded them, though each did come to believe that there was something or other inexplicable lurking beyond grasp.

    James himself was a thinker who thought with such category-smashing, system-eluding exuberance, that category-smashing and system-eluding became part of the very essence of his thought.

    There is no complete generalization, no total point of view, no all-pervasive unity, but everywhere some residual resistance to verbalization, formulation, discursification, some genius of reality that escapes from the pressure of the logical finger, that says ‘hands off,' and claims its privacy, and means to be left to its own life.

    This he wrote in "A Pluralistic Mystic,"one of the last articles of his life, from which Ms. Blum does not quote.This is part of the problem: She quotes too sparingly from James, and when she does quote him, she often just misses his intended meaning. His ironic subtlety sometimes eludes her. For example, Ms. Blum writes: "James admired the efficiency of the ‘scientific' approach. ‘It is far better tactics, if you wish to get rid of mystery, to brand the narratives themselves as unworthy of trust,' James wrote."However, James didn't write those words admiringly but rather reproachfully. From his perspective, the urge to rid one's view of mystery results in a lie about reality.The distinctive twist of the man she misses.

    Ms. Blum is a Pulitzer Prize-winning science journalist, so her choice of subject matter here is itself notable. James and his coterie believed themselves to be engaged in science in empirically investigating claims of the occult, and Ms. Blum gives no indication he views them otherwise. But this doesn't mean that she is in agreement, either.The book is scrupulous in avoiding a point of view on the subject, and this the reader rather misses. After all, this isn't just any old science reporting. She reports with such objectivity that one wonders what she herself believes the nature of her story to be. Is this a tale of a handful of eccentrics, of folly among the highminded? Or is it, more widely, a picture of an age that was so entangled in the conflict between religion and science that it was susceptible to a metaphysics equally offensive to both sides?

    My best guess is that Ms. Blum is telling her story simply as a science journalist, reporting on the empirical results of this particular band of researchers. But given the nature of this story, the usual standards for scientific reporting don't seem quite right. If Ms. Blum is considering the work of these scholars in the light of evidence for the afterlife, then doesn't it behoove her to ask, at the very least, why James's age saw so much more supernatural activity than ours does? Where have all the phantoms gone? Are they still jabbering away, only we are too distracted to give them our ear? Or have they, deciding that we the living are just as idiotic as James had pronounced them, gone off to find better ways of spending their eternity? Despite the rich material that Ms. Blum has gathered, the whole never quite takes shape, something like those intriguing phantoms that sent James and his friends hunting.

    Ms. Goldstein is a philosopher and novelist. Her latest book, "Betraying Spinoza: The Renegade Jew Who Gave Us Modernity," is available from Schocken/Nextbook.
    Last edited by R_Baird; 11-22-2015 at 10:36 AM.

  2. #2
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    Jan 2015
    You may have heard about the media coverage of the Wright Brother's flight and how it took three years before Scientific American stopped trying to debunk it. You may already know about the early 20th Century Patent Office Official who declared 'everything that could be discovered was discovered'. You may even know about the Paris Academy of Sciences official who throttled the presenter of the phonograph claiming he was a ventriloquist. These things are funny in a way, but they are not unusual. Unfortunately you are going to have to think if you read this book. You will have to ask yourself how stupid we have been to allow a lot of lies to pass for truth.

    Sir William Crookes - Generalist Deemed Weird:

    "The Chemist Sir William Crookes Proved Survival With Repeatable Experiments Under Laboratory Conditions - by Michael Roll

    Adrian Berry, the science correspondent of The Daily Telegraph, says that few subjects more infuriate scientists than claims of paranormal phenomena, because if confirmed, "the whole fabric of science would be threatened."

    This statement is not correct because nothing can threaten science - the Latin name for seeking after knowledge. The only thing that is threatened by uncomfortable discoveries in physics are pseudo-scientists. Their reputations will be destroyed immediately ordinary people find out that Sir William Crookes proved that we all survive the death of our physical bodies with repeatable experiments under laboratory conditions.

    Following this revolutionary discovery in 1874 this outstanding British scientist was knighted, made President of the Royal Society, and King Edward VII gave him the highest decoration in the land - The Order of Merit.

    Sir William Crookes was able to wipe the floor with contemporary professional wreckers who dared to attack him. The following is how he dealt with Professor W.B. Carpenter, a biologist from London University, who made a very unfair and anonymous attack upon him in the 'Quarterly Review'. Carpenter had been unfortunate enough to describe Crookes as "a specialist of specialists".

    'My greatest crime (he wrote in his reply to Carpenter's diatribe in the 'Quarterly Journal of Science') seems to be that I am a 'specialist of specialists'. It is indeed news to me that I have confined my attention only to one special subject. Will my reviewer kindly say what that subject is? Is it General Chemistry, whose chronicler I have been since the commencement of the Chemical News in 1859? Is it Thallium, about which the public have probably heard as much as they care for? Is it Chemical Analysis, in which my recently published Select Methods are the result of twelve years work?

    Is it disinfection and the 'Prevention and Cure of Cattle Plague', my published report on which may be said to have popularized Carbolic Acid?

    Is it Photography, on the theory and practice of which my papers have been very numerous? Is it Metallurgy of Gold and Silver, in which my discovery of the value of Sodium in the amalgamation process in now largely used in Australia, California and South America?

    Is it Physical Optics, in which department I have space only to refer to papers of some Phenomena of Polarized Light, published before I was twenty one; to my detailed description of the Spectroscope and labours with this instrument, when it was almost unknown in England; to my papers on the Solar and Terrestrial Spectra; to my examination of the Optical Phenomena of Opals, and construction of the Spectrum Microscope; to my papers on the Luminous Intensity of Light; and my description of my Polarization Photometer?

    Or is it my speciality Astronomy and Meteorology, in as much as I was for twelve months at the Radcliffe Observatory, Oxford, where, in addition to my principal employment of arranging the meteorological department, I divided my leisure between Homer and Mathematics at Magdelen Hall, Planet-hunting and transit tracking with Mr. Pogson, now Principal of the Madras Observatory, and celestial photography with the magnificent heliometer attached to the Observatory? My photographs of the Moon, taken in 1855, at Mr. Hartnup's Observatory, Liverpool, were for years the best extant, and I was honoured by a money grant from the Royal Society to carry out further work in connection with them. These facts, together with my trip to Oran last year, as one of the Government Eclipse Expedition, and the invitation recently received to visit Ceylon for the same purpose, would almost seem to show that Astronomy was my speciality. In truth, few scientific people are less open to the charge of being a 'specialist of specialists'.'

    There is a vast conspiracy to make sure exciting scientific discoveries never come to the attention of the general public. Genuine scientists are banned from supporting the work of Sir William Crookes in the press and on every radio and television programme that is made on the so-called paranormal. People are only allowed access to the views of "experts" who can be relied upon to play the Establishment game - suppress anything that could embarrass the orthodox scientists who hold the reins of power.

    Nobody is allowed to balance the opinions and conclusions of these self-styled experts on the "paranormal". These professional wreckers have unrestricted access to all media outlets, while my colleagues and I have been refused permission to write and broadcast by almost every editor and producer that we have approached. The British people are not allowed to hear the secular scientific case for survival after death in this "free" country of ours!

    Recent discoveries in subatomic physics confirm that Sir William Crookes was correct in his conclusions, and that he was not a liar, cheat, crank, a fraud or a sex maniac as we have been criminally led to believe. His only "crime" was to tell the truth." (1)
    "Scientists have studied the evolution, the mechanisms and the function of the brain, but have difficulty teasing apart the complex processes that give rise to human consciousness in part because of the difficulty in measuring individual subjective experience.

    Nobel-award winning researcher Dr. Francis Crick, who devoted the last 15 years of his life to the study of consciousness, wrote the following in his foreword to Christof Koch's The Quest for Consciousness: A Neurobiological Approach:

    "Solving the problem of consciousness will need the labors of many scientists, of many kinds, though it is always possible that there will be a few crucial insights and observations. ... A few years ago one could not use the word 'consciousness' in a paper, for, say, Nature or Science, nor in a grant application. But thankfully, times are changing, and the subject is now ripe for intensive exploration."

    In fact, technological advances in brain imaging have given scientists a new range of tools to more accurately observe and measure the apparent causes and manifestations of consciousness. fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) produces vivid images of the areas of the brain that respond to a variety of stimuli. Instead of trying to measure a purely subjective response, such as "that made me feel good," scientists can also see what part of the subject's brain is responding, for how long, and to what degree.

    Many scientists believe that we are beginning to learn how a subjective, personal experience can be observed objectively. For the scientist, this makes all the difference between valid research and speculation.

    In addition to major scientific publications, such as Science and Nature, the scientific journal Consciousness and Cognition reports scientific research relative to the study of consciousness and cognitive processes. Trends in Cognitive Sciences also often features research bearing on the question of consciousness. And the Journal of Consciousness Studies contains a wide variety of reflections by academic scholars and researchers in anatomy, computation, physiology, psychology, artificial intelligence, religion, philosophy and more."

    What happens when psychic surgeons and faith healers like the minister who healed Evander Holyfield who had been barred from boxing? Energy is at work - but how? Is there consciousness in every atomic constituent or only in the god particle or quark, maybe it isn't consciousness in atomic components that healers attune with and it is just their mind. But how do average people heal themselves and their loved ones so often?

    "In an interview in 1989 at the Nils Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, where Bohm presented his views, Bohm spoke on his theory of wholeness and the implicate order. The conversation centered around a new worldview that is developing in part of the Western world, one that places more focus on wholeness and process than analysis of separate parts. Bohm explained the basics of the theory of relativity and its more revolutionary offspring, quantum theory. Either theory, if carried out to its extreme, violates every concept on which we base our understanding of reality. Both challenge our notions of our world and ourselves.

    He cited evidence from both theories that support a new paradigm of a more interrelated, fluid, and less absolute basis of existence, one in which mind is an active participant. 'Information contributes fundamentally to the qualities of substance.' He discussed forms, fields, superconductivity, wave function and electron behavior. 'Wave function, which operates through form, is closer to life and mind...The electron has a mindlike quality.'" (3)
    Last edited by R_Baird; 11-22-2015 at 10:41 AM.

  3. #3
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    Jan 2015
    Walt Whitman may be the most cosmically conscious of all American authors according to his friend R. M. Bucke who worked with Whitman in getting a psychiatric hospital working to help people. Rather than throwing victims in cages on top of each other and other torture, they tried to actually help people. I love watching the movie Beautiful Dreamers which covers part of their relationship and efforts. Bucke did many other things of a scientific nature including working with a person who de-materialized in front of skeptics many times.

    William James is in the same class as they are but there are many shamans and Mediwiwin who surpass them all. Still it is totally OK to laud each and every one of them and James wrote better than most to be sure. I consider him to be the mentor or compatriot of Emerson and Alfred North Whitehead.

    " As a professor of psychology and of philosophy at Harvard University, he became the most famous living American psychologist and later the most famous living American philosopher of his time. Avoiding the logically tight systems typical of European rationalists, such as the German idealists, he cobbled together a psychology rich in philosophical implications and a philosophy enriched by his psychological expertise. More specifically, his theory of the self and his view of human belief as oriented towards conscious action raised issues that required him to turn to philosophy. There he developed his pragmatic epistemology, which considers the meaning of ideas and the truth of beliefs not abstractly, but in terms of the practical difference they can make in people’s lives. He explored the implications of this theory in areas of religious belief, metaphysics, human freedom and moral values, and social philosophy. His contributions in these areas included critiques of long-standing philosophical positions on such issues as freedom vs. determinism, correspondence vs. coherence, and dualism vs. materialism, as well as a thorough analysis of a phenomenological understanding of the self and consciousness, a “forward-looking” conception of truth (based on validation and revisable experience), a thorough-going metaphysical pluralism, and a commitment to a full view of agency in connection with communal and social concerns. Thus he created one of the last great philosophical systems in Western thought, even if he did not live quite long enough to complete every aspect of it. The combination of his provocative ideas and his engaging writing style has contributed to the enduring impact of his work."

    I include a review of Bucke's great book which could have been written by myself a few years before this person wrote it.

    "Dr. Bucke's Magnum Opus
    By A Customer on July 27 1997
    Format: Paperback
    I have been, from about the age of ten, a voracious reader of man's highest aspirations for self-development. Considered precocious by teachers and peers alike, I was always searching for Truth outside the standard doctrines of religious and philosophical orthodoxy: if for no other reason that it appeared to me intuitive that the real answers to life's ultimate and most pressing questions could only be known by direct experience and not through external data...

    Dr. Bucke's magnum opus, COSMIC CONSCIOUSNESS, first came to my attention when I was 17 (1973). Immediately, I became aware that this was no ordinary work. First published in 1901, the beginning of the current century, it still stands today as one of the monumental achievements in the history of written thought. Not only were Bucke's theories original, the most poignant being that there is a scientific basis for an advanced state of consciousness in man -- a state wherein the new cosmically consciousness individual is as far above the average self-conscious homo sapien (you and I) as we are above lower animal life, but he magically tied together over two thousand years of religious, philosophical, and psychological thought in a massive intellectual suture of such compelling force that to this day there is no equal.

    Even the great psychologist, Williams James, was so impressed by Cosmic Consciousness, that he devoted an entire chapter in his own great work, THE VARIETIES OF RELIGIOUS EXPERIENCE, written some four years later, to examining Bucke's incredible findings."

    On a lighter note, if you watch the movie Notting Hill with Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts you will see her character working on a movie bringing Henry James to the silver screen as Hugh Grant's character had once highly praised him to her. It is a moment which makes my heart jump each time I watch the movie.
    Last edited by R_Baird; 11-22-2015 at 10:43 AM.

  4. #4
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    Jan 2015
    As you read about great adepts who de-materialize or ascend are you learning about ghosts or a way energy acts through the influence of soul and mind? I think so - but it takes a long time to discuss these things with those who debunk ghosts (which I have done satisfactorily).

    Vedanta's God is within all or as Jung said about William James's "nichts als" - 'nothing but' - the universal mind and union, James impressed Carl Jung. That is a loose interpretation that takes us to Yoga and an ecumenical society Vivekananda, Krishnamurti, Joseph Campbell, Mircae Eliade and Carl Jung had in their extended family. James is the father of the Pragmatic philosophical school of thought which seeks for what works rather than trying to prove things through direct inference and forcing ideas upon events which get in the way of real observation.

    I see the influence of the likes of Yogananda, William James and other members of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, which is connected to the Illuminati of Goethe to Carlyle and Emerson. Clearly Alfred North Whitehead and Bertrand Russell were charmed by the thought of James who preceded them at Harvard. Some people see it as a close relationship with God, I see it as a close relationship with 'all that is' within the universe. That includes every individual who is part of a design that harmonizes and creates. They crossed paths with Chardin, and the Charmed Circle of Gertrude Stein, which brought intellectual emancipation and insight galore to Paris where art and ideas ran amuk existentially and beyond. When Gertrude first met Whitehead a bell rang in her head telling her he was a genius, the only other time this happened was when she met Picasso. Maybe it is only how they influenced me but let me put some articles and links here which include many other luminaries.

    Annie Besant, a British Theosophist and a conference delegate, described Vivekananda's impact, writing that he was "a striking figure, clad in yellow and orange, shining like the sun of India in the midst of the heavy atmosphere of Chicago…a lion head, piercing eyes, mobile lips, movements swift and abrupt." The Parliament, she said, was "enraptured; the huge multitude hung upon his words." When he was done, the convocation rose again and cheered him even more thunderously. Another delegate described "scores of women walking over the benches to get near to him," prompting one wag to crack wise that if the 30-year-old Vivekananda "can resist that onslaught, [he is] indeed a god."

    "No doubt the vast majority of those present hardly knew why they had been so powerfully moved," Christopher Isherwood wrote a half century later, surmising that a "strange kind of subconscious telepathy" had infected the hall, beginning with Vivekananda's first words, which have resonated, for some, long after. Asked about the origins of "My Sweet Lord," George Harrison replied that "the song really came from Swami Vivekananda, who said, 'If there is a God, we must see him. And if there is a soul, we must perceive it.' "

    The teachings of Vedanta are rooted in the Vedas, ancient scriptures going back several thousand years that also inform Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism. The Vedic texts of the Upanishads enshrine a core belief that God is within and without—that the divine is everywhere. The Bhagavad Gita (Song of God) is another sacred text or gospel, whereas Hinduism is actually a coinage popularized by Vivekananda to describe a faith of diverse and myriad beliefs."

    Annie Besant; is one of a very few women who was a Mason, brought Krishnamurti to this same height of reverence. The Masonic Society of Chicago soon after this event which brought Vivekananda to the apex of religious thought; if you think of religion as spiritual and more than mere dogma; published a set of small books by Yogi Ramacharaka. One of those books is The Upanishads in his interpretation. I learned much more reading these excellent little books or pamphlets than I did reading the Hindu, Buddhist and Lamaistic texts even when they were faithfully translated. I continue to quote this one article by the Wall Street Journal, so you will see Bucke's great friend Walt Whitman was indeed what Bucke said he was in his book Cosmic Consciousness which we have already addressed made a huge impact on me. For many decades people called me The Cosmic Kid until I was no longer a kid.

    "Vivekananda's genius was to simplify Vedantic thought to a few accessible teachings that Westerners found irresistible. God was not the capricious tyrant in the heavens avowed by Bible-thumpers, but rather a power that resided in the human heart. "Each soul is potentially divine," he promised. "The goal is to manifest that divinity within by controlling nature, external and internal." And to close the deal for the fence-sitters, he punched up Vedanta's embrace of other faiths and their prophets. Christ and Buddha were incarnations of the divine, he said, no less than Krishna and his own teacher, Ramakrishna.

    ‘'He is the most brilliant wise man,' Leo Tolstoy waxed. 'It is doubtful another man has ever risen above this selfless, spiritual meditation.'’

    Although Vivekananda was a Western-educated intellectual of encyclopedic erudition, "the descendant of 50 generations of lawyers," [COLOR="#800080"]as he would say, Ramakrishna was for all intents and purposes illiterate. Born Gadadhar Chattopadhyay, Ramakrishna had not an iota of interest in schooling beyond the study of scripture and prayer. Fortunately, that amply met the job requirements of his post as a priest at the Dakshineswar Kali Temple. According to numerous firsthand, contemporaneous accounts, Ramakrishna—who is revered as a saint in much of India and as an avatar by many—spent a good deal of his short life in samadhi, or an ecstatic state. On a daily basis, sitting or standing, he was often observed slipping into a transported state that he described as "God consciousness," existing with neither food nor sleep. He died in 1886 at age 50.

    Though Ramakrishna spoke in a village idiom, invoking homespun local parables, word about the "Bengali saint" spread through the chattering classes of India in the 1870s like a monsoon. Many who flocked to him—and declared him a divine incarnation—were educated as lawyers, doctors and engineers and were often the graduates of British-run Christian schools. His closest and most influential disciple, however, was Vivekananda (born Narendranath Datta in 1863 to an affluent family), whom he charged with carrying the message of Vedanta to the world.

    Certainly, a smattering of Eastern thought had already traveled to the West before Vivekananda's arrival in the U.S. In the 1820s, Ralph Waldo Emerson had snared a copy of the Bhagavad Gita and found himself enchanted. "I owed a magnificent day to the Bhagavad Gita," Emerson wrote in his journal in 1831. The Gita would inform his Transcendentalist essays, in which he wrote of the "Over-Soul," that part of the individual that is one with the universe—invoking the Vedantic precepts of the Atman and Brahman. (In a tidy historical twist, one of Emerson's relatives, Ellen Waldo, became a devotee of Vivekananda, and faithfully transcribed the dictated text of his first book, "Raja Yoga," in 1895.)

    Emerson's student and fellow Transcendentalist, Henry David Thoreau, would study Indian thought even more avidly and crafted his own practice—living as a secular monk, as it were, by Walden Pond. In 1875, Walt Whitman was given a copy of the Gita as a Christmas gift, and it is heard unmistakably in "Leaves of Grass" in lines such as "I pass death with the dying and birth with the new-wash'd babe, and am not contained between my hat and my boots." Though the two never met, Vivekananda hailed Whitman as "the Sannyasin of America.""
    Last edited by R_Baird; 04-09-2016 at 07:03 PM. Reason: add color

  5. #5
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    Jan 2015
    There are many research projects at Harvard over the past three decades which I have used to support my writings and thoughts regarding psychic phenomena. Testing family members separated at birth was almost as good as the Minnesota Twins study. A community of old people immersed in the music and culture they were brought up in went back in time - physically. Their health then returned to normal as they were no longer immersed. The advent of brain scanning has taken it a long ways further.

    "In your book you write about the psychologist William James and his comparison of the brain to a prism. How does this relate to psychic phenomena?

    He believed consciousness is not just what's happening to the neurons in the brain. The brain is our instrument in focusing and organizing our consciousness. Just like a prism will take a white light with all these different frequencies and separate it so you can see the different colors of the spectrum. Rather than us experiencing everything that's happening all at once, our brain focuses us on the here and the now. It uses our sensory organs as guides as to what we should be focusing on. Experiments have shown that most psychic experiences occur when are sensory organs are muted, like when we're dreaming or having a near-death experience.

    In your book you mention Abraham Lincoln as one of the more famous examples of precognitive dreaming.

    Lincoln had a very vivid dream of walking around the White House and hearing all these people mourning and asking, "What's going on?" and then having someone tell him, "The president's dead." Then he saw his own corpse. He had this dream literally ten days before he was assassinated. He didn't tell anybody about it at first, but a few days before [his assassination], he told his wife and some friends. Of course, that's not true of all dreams. Some dreams actually are tapping into some other time and place, and there's real information in them. Others are just imagination. I think that's one of the reasons why psychics don't have 100% accuracy, sometimes it's just their imagination. What I'm interesting in is trying to discern what it is that makes those experiences so different. {Rasputin was even more impressive, Lincoln was a Merovingian.}

    Tell me about the stigma associated with scientists who study psychic phenomena.

    There are theories about how the brain works, and what people do is design experiments to generate data that fits with that theory. If they run into data that doesn't fit into their theory, they just ignore it. But a true scientist will throw out the existing theory if they have a lot of data that cannot be explained. Theories are man-made, and therefore fallible. Data is what's most important. That's why we have penicillin. The scientist who grew this bacteria didn't just throw it out. He looked at it and asked, why aren't bacteria growing in this plate, and he noticed there was mold in it. If he had thrown out that plate, we wouldn't have penicillin. {Archaeology recently proved anti-septics and anti-biotics long before recent so-called discoveries existed in Druidic times.}

    You write that it's likely everybody possesses psychic abilities, but some people are simply more successful at it? Why is that?

    Genetics are likely behind it. One of the things we know is that it runs in families. If you talk to psychics, they'll tell you there's a family history of it. Though we haven't found it, there's likely a gene for it. There are also cases where people haven't had any psychic abilities until they've suffered head traumas. What's common is that these people who've had this head trauma, the structure and function of their brain has been changed. They're often not able to function very well in the real world because they don't know how to use the analytical side of their brain. Similarly, people with synesthesia [a condition in which the senses are connected, i.e. the sound of an orchestra will cause flashes of color or the taste of chicken] have less activity in their cortex. People with autism also have a higher probability of psychic abilities.

    How do quantum physics and Albert Einstein's theories relate to precognition?

    If you stop thinking of time the way those in the Newtonian age thought of time as an arrow, and you start thinking of time as the way that Einstein thought of it as a space-time continuum, the future already exists. Just like the entire globe of the earth is all there even though I'm not currently seeing it all here in Southern Oregon. Our brain only allows us to experience time as a series of recurrent moments. What Einstein's saying is that when we're talking about time we're really talking about a psychological construct. Time is like any other dimension in that it isn't limited. Like space, we have up and down, east and west, they go bidirectionally. Why would time be something different than that? If we didn't have the constraints of our brain and our psychology that limit our experiences, we would be able to see that.",00.html
    Last edited by R_Baird; 01-25-2016 at 10:38 PM. Reason: add color

  6. #6
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    Jan 2015
    From a friend.

    "I find this confusing, probably because the people that write this stuff write it for scholars rather than laymen such as myself. Then when I got to the part that said, "anatta is a rare teaching of Buddha, less interpreted by him and a difficult issue for even the Buddhist scholars."... I didn't feel so bad for finding it difficult.

    I am quite content in my own personal understanding that (self) is transitory and only exists as a construct of my consciousness and manifest only as a result of the compilation of my experiences which of course begin in the womb literally at the point of conception.

    The higher (Self)... that some cultures and religions and what not refer to as God... is literally what I AM. And if there is one thing I do know, it's that I AM THAT, I AM.

    Of course the problem is getting around the (mind) which is not entirely consciousness but rather a side effect of (self)... which I am not.

    When my body dies, my (self) will no longer exist, although it may leave a lingering trail or imprint of (emotion) that is not spiritual at all (IMHO) but simply an impression left by intensity (experience) while I was here (experiencing) this hundred DREAM or ILLUSION we call LIFE. {In conversation this friend and I agree energy left behind and seen by others becomes what we call a ghost.}

    (Self) on the other hand, my (Self), which is the one and only SELF that I AM, of course does not die, for it was never born of this time and space, which again is nothing but a mental construct, the result of... rupa, vedana, samjna, samskara,vijnana; form, sensation, perception, habit, consciousness... while here existing as a separate and individual expression of the infinite.

    That which is real, is neither born, nor does it die. That which is real does not change and is eternal.

    Or, something like that... :P

    Prahlad Jani, an Indian Yogi, was 83 yrs old and lived in a temple. His devotees claim that he has not eaten in over 70 yrs. Such things are only possible because what we think is real is not real at all, but an illusion.

    When asked “What is real?” an ancient spiritual avatar responded without hesitation, “That is real which never changes.” And since your body is in a continuous state of change, it is not real.

    It is but an Illusion, as is everything else we think of as real. But of course understanding that doesn't mow the lawn, cook dinner or pay the bills while here (living) the Great Illusion. But then I suppose if one fully understands and has integrated that understanding into their existence here on the physical plane they no longer need to have lawns to mow, or dinners to eat.

    Hmmm, I read that although our friend Jani did not eat or drink, he still cleaned himself, sun bathed and gargled. Where such actions out of necessity and needed as a matter of hygiene? Afterall, if he no longer needed to eat or drink, then why would he not be able to repel build up upon, and within, the body that would necessitate cleansing? {Getting sustenance from the ether and sun. Some Yogis gain weight while eating nothing for five days but just having people around observing them.}

    You know, like the pilot you mentioned that was able to fly his plane eternally clean and bug free. A discipline I myself will work on while riding. Not just to keep bugs and road grime away, but to part the traffic in front of me as well.

    Whether, when done here, dead and gone, on the other side of what we call reality, I retain any recollection, piece or fragment of identification with my current (self)?

    I doubt it very much...

    As my (Self) is not simply one with SELF, or what some call God, but is in fact the 'one and only' SELF.

    Now, until someone can prove me wrong... which is impossible to do as one would only know for certain after they have died and left the physical plane as we know it... such a BELIEF Works For Me, and not against me as do most other beliefs and doctrines.

    I've never been much a fan of reading books written by shrinks and philosophers like William James, although I did read James Allen, As a Man Thinketh, soon after reading Seth's Nature of Reality. Both landed me light years ahead of most of my friends in terms of my understanding of things, albeit alienating me somewhat from them.

    Another book I read as a young man Three Magic Words by US Anderson, whom surely you know.

    As for the, "Do not put your self in front of your Self", if you had written it instead of just saying it I would have understood what you meant. Sometimes just speaking things loses the context of an idea or thought, when writing will easily capture it.

    Mind you, that depends if it is written in a way that can be understood, but I'm not going down that rabbit hole. It's why folks enjoy reading my writing. I write in a way that is generally easy to understand, therefore enjoyable to read.

    Anyway, of course you don't want to put your self in front of your Self. But remember, it isn't YOUR (Self) to put yourself in front of... it is the one and the only Self.

    As I cup my hand, dip it into Ocean and hold Ocean in my hand.... I Am God.

    Separate for a moment in eternity, all the while Connected for Ever and a Day!

    That is the way I understand it. Now, if everyone learned to understand it that way, whether it be true or not... the World would be a much nicer place to live."

    My reply.

    I think you are right as far as self can BE. But BEing requires making the environment or reality. Bucky said we can 'creatively realize' or manifest what is. And that includes the 'all is within' we hear about from Buddhism which gets completed with 'the universe'. Sometimes the collective energy of people leads us to have CONstructs which are very negative but appear quite real. Thus in combination with all the other constructs and construction or making we end up in a very confused environment.

    James is more of what we discuss than a philosopher, he was a ghost hunter and researcher but still a Pragmatist.
    Last edited by R_Baird; 12-22-2015 at 05:01 AM.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Yes, journaling is good, and doing things without worry is better. I find the emotional ups and downs will always pass so I observe the observer as Bucky said.

    There are other levels of the saying 'Don't put yourself in FRONT of your Self.' Just as the Observer in a plane flying over the dirigible with the TV camera looking down on the people high up in the stands looking at ants or humans on the sidelines, who are watching their plays play out by other people who wonder if the play is the RIGHT play to begin with as they consider audibles.

    If as Sartre says "Love is absent space." What will the wisdom seeker experience in Love versus someone only seeking for what others agree with?

    The following book is an academic masterpiece integrating archaeosymbolism, the collective unconscious, archetypes and consciousness studies, which start with paintings in caves but as we know the painting art is about 500,000 years older than we once thought - not so long ago.

    "My third epiphany was in 1998 at a performance of Martin McDonagh’s play, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, when I heard the protagonist, Pato Dooley, wistfully declare:

    When it’s there I am, it’s here I wish I was, of course. Who
    wouldn’t? But when it’s here I am … it isn’t there I want to be, of
    course not. But I know it isn’t here I want to be either.

    In these words I heard Pato Dooley enunciate the universal dilemma of human kind; how to resolve the unattainable quite impractical desire to dwell in that imaginal place from which we have somehow been exiled, where we feel we are home and where we belong and where we know that the essence and reality of our soul will find its safe harbour. This dilemma, this longing is reflected in our religious beliefs and dogmas, in historical narratives, in the art and literature of all cultures and also significantly informs and structures much of our physical and psychological survival since it is most readily and commonly perceived in our storytelling."
    Last edited by R_Baird; 12-22-2015 at 05:04 AM.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    As far as I am concerned Jane Roberts did a masterful job of telling some little known history taken from books like Morning of the Magicians and Blavatsky to make a very compelling book said to have been channelled. You can see me do something similar under the thread Emerson to James and Whitehead. She also channeled James as we see here.

    "The present popularity of channeling stems mainly from the activities of Jane Roberts (1929-1984), the channel for the entity "Seth" beginning in 1963. Roberts's first books, The Seth Material (1970) and Seth Speaks (1972), became best sellers, led to some 20 additional volumes, and gave channeling a popularity it had never previously experienced.

    The Seth books expounded a coherent philosophy dealing comprehensively with alterations of consciousness, grades of reality, reincarnation, psychology, and a spiritual universe. Roberts also channeled communications claimed to be from psychologist William James and psychotherapist Carl G. Jung. Her first communications were by Ouija board, many were transcribed by her husband as she spoke them in trance, while others were recorded by automatic writing.

    After the death of Jane Roberts in 1984, her husband Robert Butts edited new Seth manuscripts, which were published by Tam Mossman in his journal Metapsychology; The Journal of Discarnate Intelligence. Mossman himself also channels an entity named "James."

    Other channelers appeared by the end of the decade, the most prominent through the 1980s being JZ Knight, who channels "Ramtha, " and Jach Pursel, who channels "Lazaris. " Channeling became an integral part of the New Age movement and numerous New Age channels arose. Included in their number are Ken Carey, Virginia Essene, Ruth Montgomery, and Penny Torres. Their number has continued to grow.

    Also at the end of the eighties Janet McClure began to channel both spiritual and extraterrestrial information from her guides. Her Tibetan Foundation trained many others and a trend became established which continues to this day. With her boldness came a divergence from the traditional message of ageless spiritual wisdom. McClure's contactee messages center on our place in the universe, our origin as a planet whose life was seeded by other civilizations and our need to honor the Earth.

    Actress Shirley MacLaine 's several New Age books, especially Out on a Limb (1983), which was televised as a five-hour prime-time ABC mini-series in 1987, and Dancing in the Light (1985), further popularized the concept of spirit guides and underlined her spiritual odyssey and New Age beliefs. She also made special mention of JZ Knight. Knight began to channel "Ramtha" in the late 1980s. She now heads a school for the more serious students of "Ramtha's" gnostic teachings.

    Alan Vaughan, who first became known as a writer on psychic topics, emerged as a channel in 1987. In a useful survey of the phenomenon in New Realities, he disclosed that he had commenced channeling in 1983. He had been teaching at a psychic seminar in Sedona, Arizona, and was asked by a couple if he could tell them something about their past lives. Although at the time he was editing Reincarnation Report, he was somewhat skeptical about past-life readings. He describes the incident:

    "Suddenly a tremendous energy flooded over the top of my head. It was like watching a dream, as the Chinese entity Li Sung began to speak through me. He gave them [the couple] some detailed information about past lives and how they fit into their present life paths. The couple verified many specific details. For me, it was the beginning of an enlargement of consciousness."

    Sixteen years earlier, Vaughan had been told by three British mediums that he would begin "channeling" the Chinese guide one day, but he was skeptical about the prospect of being invaded by some Chinese spirit. After the first channeling of "Li Sung," the Chinese guide continued to manifest and has offered treatment at healing sessions. Vaughan has now channeled "Li Sung" to thousands of people, including radio and television audiences.

    Another well-known channeler is former insurance executive Jach Pursel. One day, while relaxing after a busy executive program, he went into the trance state in which he was first contacted by the entity "Lazaris." With the encouragement of his wife Penny, "Lazaris" began to manifest regularly to friends and small groups and gave both personal advice and philosophical teaching. Eventually Pursel gave up his business career and devoted himself full time to channeling "Lazaris."

    Popular in the nineties are prolific channels named Neale Donald Walsch and Lee Carroll [Kryon] both of whom have a strong web presence. As the century drew to a close many channeled works made prophetic references to earth changes and ascension scenarios.

    It has to be admitted that the names of spirit guides are often unconvincing and seem like parodies. In the heyday of nineteenth-century Spiritualism, Native American guides were more frequent, and even today such claimed personalities still appear to manifest, usually speaking in broken English but unable to communicate in Indian dialects. Other guides have represented themselves as famous characters in history, such as Socrates, Confucius, Abraham Lincoln, Shakespeare, St. John the Baptist, and even Jesus Christ or God. The communications channeled from such exalted guides were not always of the high intellectual or philosophical level that might be expected, and in many cases consisted merely of banal platitudes.

    Many claimed entities of channeling may be regarded as fictional creations. The measure of their importance, at least to those who look to channeled entities as authorities, is whether they give information, insights, or philosophical teachings that are beyond the normal capacity of the channeler. For example, one of the spirit guides of the celebrated medium Eileen J. Garrett (1893-1970) was named "Uvani," a name that does not seem to belong to any known Oriental tradition of nomenclature, but the communications received through "Uvani" were of a highly evidential nature.

    It may well be that in many cases a claimed spirit guide is merely a personification of an individual's unconscious or "higher self." In other cases, communications may emanate from an impersonal source of intelligence that establishes a channel by assuming a conventional personality.

    Throughout history, popular religions have found it difficult to establish contact with a more austere impersonal deity, such as the concept of Brahman, the Infinite, in esoteric Hinduism, and have found it convenient to postulate a host of anthropomorphic gods and goddesses, which become a familiar focus for worshipers in societies based on interpersonal relationships. Religion requires the spiritualization of emotions, and it is difficult to attach emotions of love or veneration to an impersonal absolute. In Christianity, the concepts of God the Father and God the Son have provided a familiar and helpful focus for worshipers, while older religions have favored the concept of a Mother Goddess. Throughout India, millions of worshipers have found the gods and goddesses of their sect or tradition a personification of divinity.

    Parapsychologists have found that the personalities of communicators channeling through mediums may be manufactured consciously, and that such fictional entities can produce paranormal phenomena, as in the famous case of "Philip." Such experiments have validated the concept that spirit guides may often (but not invariably) be an artificial creation of sub-conscious mentation by the psychic or the sitters. Sometimes spirit communications are a strange mixture of genuine and false information, perhaps influenced by the conscious memory of the channeler."
    Last edited by R_Baird; 04-26-2016 at 06:49 PM.

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