Inkwell: Authors and Artists
Kevin Wheeler (krome) Fri 21 Jun 13 18:37
My last post was written from my phone with auto-correct from hell.
Holle (dodge1234) Fri 21 Jun 13 19:10
<scribbled by dodge1234>
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sat 22 Jun 13 05:52
Another question related to the Course in Miracles: how does its content align with the teachings of Gurdjieff, and the teachings of the Buddha? Another way to ask: to what extent do these teachings align with each other?
Julie Rehmeyer (jrehmeyer) Sat 22 Jun 13 08:24
I haven't had a chance to read your book, Richard, and given that I'm getting married in less than a week, I won't have a chance during this discussion. So this is a highly uninformed question, but I'm intrigued by your book and work. I'd be very interested to hear you pick out one or a few things that you've found especially profound in this area.
Richard Smoley (richardsmoley) Sat 22 Jun 13 08:51
Wow. That is certainly a spate of questions. Castaneda: if he was intent, as he said, on erasing personal history, that would include his history as an anthropologist. His first book was published as a (more or less) straight anthropological work with UC Press, but the others took on a more popular turn. He wanted to be an enigma, and he got his wish. A Course in Miracles and Gurdjieff and Buddhism: you could do a compare and contrast with them, but I don't know how illuminating that would be. They all stand on their own and have their own goals. Gurdjieff's teaching was about waking from the sleep of everyday life so that it would be possible to reconnect with a higher energy. Buddhism teaches the escape from suffering through the healing of anger, greed, and obliviousness. For the Course, forgiveness is central. This is, it says, emphatically not the world that God made. This is a world that the ego made in which to hide from God. Since God did not create it, it is not real and has no consequence. It can be escaped simply by relinquishing "attack thoughts" and forgiving. Easily said, but not always so easy to do. Theosophy: as a matter of complete disclosure, I am on the payroll of the Theosophical Society (I edit the magazine and serve as editor of their imprint, Quest Books). Just so you know. Its essential teaching is that everything, from the tiniest subatomic particle to the vastest galaxy, is endowed with a spark of consciousness. This consciousness has the task of growing and evolving through many different life forms and incarnations, of which the human is only one and not by any means the highest. Thus it teaches evolution of a vastly more comprehensive kind than the Darwinian version. H.P. Blavatsky (1831-91) was its guiding genius and theoretician, and many consider her work The Secret Doctrine to be an extremely important esoteric document. (I personally have never gotten a lot out of it.) Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925) was an Austrian philosopher who was initially aligned with the Theosophical Society but broke with it in 1912 and founded his own Anthroposophical Society. The teachings are broadly similar, although there are also quite a few differences. And yes, the Theosophists have gone through their share of schisms, which were really more about personalities than about doctrines. The Theosophical Society based in Adyar, India (I work for the American branch), is the original one and still the largest. Its largest branch is actually the Indian section. It's the case that Theosophy saw its heyday from, say, 1880 to 1930. Its leaders (including, but not limited to, Blavatsky) were then charismatic and powerful. Annie Besant, who head the TS from 1907 to 1933, was among other things an outspoken voice for Indian independence for Britain, and the Theosophical Society always had connections (though not official ones) with Indian independence movements. Gandhi knew and respected Besant, although she sometimes regarded his tactics as too confrontational. Congratulations on your wedding, Julie! I don't have anything that pops out to suggest, but maybe you'll find a strand or two in all of the foregoing that you may find of interest.
Linda Castellani (castle) Sat 22 Jun 13 16:32
<scribbled by castle Sat 22 Jun 13 18:19>
Linda Castellani (castle) Sun 23 Jun 13 15:48
If the heyday of Theosophy ended in 1930, what about it keeps it relevant and thriving today? You describe its basic teaching as: "...everything, from the tiniest subatomic particle to the vastest galaxy, is endowed with a spark of consciousness. This consciousness has the task of growing and evolving through many different life forms and incarnations, of which the human is only one and not by any means the highest. Thus it teaches evolution of a vastly more comprehensive kind than the Darwinian version." That *sort of* aligns with the concept of "As above, so below," which I've run across in more than one philosophy, and the part about growing and evolving through lifeforms and incarnations, sounds like what Michael Newton writes about when describing what he calls Life Between Lives. Are you familiar with his work?
Richard Smoley (richardsmoley) Sun 23 Jun 13 16:47
I think the THeosophical Society as an organization does provide a place where people of various different beliefs can gather and explore what interests them. Since it's not a religious organization per se, it doesn't require any specific beliefs to join--only a general sympathy with its "Three Objects": To form a nucleus of the universal brotherhood of humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or color. To encourage the comparative study of religion, philosophy and science. To investigate unexplained laws of nature and the powers latent in humanity. I'm not familiar with Michael Newton or his work. Could you tell me a little more about it?
Linda Castellani (castle) Mon 24 Jun 13 12:42
I'm definitely interested in unexplained laws of nature...if someone wanted to know more, is there a link for them to click? I'd be happy to tell you about Michael Newton, but I want to comment on the fact that when I talk about it, or anything related to my interests in the paranormal or supernatural, I always feel the need for a disclaimer because topics like that are so often dismissed or received with hostility. If you go to <paranormal.ind>, you'll find that there isn't a lot there, in spite of my hopes for conversations in which people talk about their paranormal experiences. The reason is that one reader seemed solely interested in refuting so much of what was posted that it was impossible to have a conversation without devolving into defending the experience instead of exploring it. Do you find a similar reluctance or hostile reception?
Linda Castellani (castle) Mon 24 Jun 13 13:40
And speaking of feeling defensive and heading off the hostile reception, I discovered Michael Newton here on the WeLL, when someone posted "I bought Journey of Souls today, because I am interested in things like that." "Things like that" was almost code for "what people don't want to talk about," so I had to investigate. I bought his first book, Journey of Souls, and was totally captivated after an initial hesitation. Michael Newton is a psychologist, still alive, in his 80's, retired after 30 plus years in practice. Hypnosis was one of the tools he used. He would use that tool with some patients to do past life regressions PLRs), with the idea that the key to problems his clients were having now might be resolved by exploring experiences from past lives. Now, I had some reservations about PLRs because I first became interested in metaphysics at a time when there were metaphysical centers all over the place, all of which seemed to offer PLRs. So I never put much stock in them. This was my initial hesitation: "Oh, no! Not past life regressions!" What made Newton's work different was that, doing a PLR with a patient, the patient didn't regress from their currently life into their past lives, the patient went instead to a life between lives, between incarnations, similar to the Buddhist and Tibetan concept of the bardo. And this is where my interest was truly piqued. Journey of Souls is based on 30 case histories of these journeys. What was fascinating to Newton (and to me), was how similar the stories of what happened when they died were. The book is organized based on these similarities. The first few describe the immediate experience, whose details were pretty consistent from patient-to-patient, so subsequent descriptions eliminated those and started with what came next, and so one throughout all of the cases. Later, he published another set of cases under the title Destiny of Souls, that go into increasingly more detailed descriptions of what happens, where they are, and what they are doing. Ostensibly what *everyone* is doing. Why did this speak to me and cause me to accept the information? What people were saying about how they prepare for incarnations (here or on many, many other planets and places throughout the "universe," which doesn't describe the magnitude of the "place")matched my pre-birth experiences, which I thought were mine alone, never having spoken to anyone else who had similar experiences. Michael Newton went on to create the Michael Newton Institute, where he trained scores of other psychologists in his methods, and the book, Memories of the Afterlife, are case studies taken from the work of the new generation of MNI-trained physchologists. Filmmaker Rich Martini fell into this also, and started doing research for the purpose of making a movie. He wrote a book called Flipside: A Tourist's Guide on How to Navigate the Afterlife which was published this past May, and he's made a movie called Flipside: A Journey Into the Afterlife, in which he has captured actual sessions, in case you or any of our readers might like to explore these concepts in a very accessible manner.
Richard Smoley (richardsmoley) Mon 24 Jun 13 15:36
That's fascinating, Linda. I've certainly known people who have done past-life regressions--probably the late Roger Woolger is the best-known of them--but I hadn't heard about any work in regression to the bardos. I suppose the best approach to this is phenomenological. Whether the results really do correspond to actual interlife (or past-life) states--which would be very difficult to determine--they say an enormous amount about the individual going through the experience. What does it say about me that I am seeing my life in this particular way from this particular angle? If I believe (or experience) that my previous incarnation was XYZ, why is this particular information coming up?
Linda Castellani (castle) Mon 24 Jun 13 16:27
Those are exactly the questions. They are guided while undergoing hypnosis to return to the life with experience pertinent to the life they are leading now. I find it useful in everyday life to pay attention to what comes up for me because it's always pertinent. There is a MNI group on Facebook that I belong to, so, if you decide to pursue an interview, I can recommend some practitioners, and possibly some people who have had PLRs and LBLs. Did you want to comment on what I said about having to be circumspect when talking about the types of things you include in your book? I think all the subjects are interesting and I could listen and read forever, but if I'm not careful about my audience, people will look at me askance and remember an urgent appointment across town. I think it's a mistake to require scientific evidence and reproducible results. Spiritual experiences don't generally happen on demand. Although, I think Dr. Newton's work has come the closest to being reproducible.
descend into a fractal hell of meta-truthiness (jmcarlin) Mon 24 Jun 13 19:58
About reincarnation, I found the studies by Dr. Ian Stevenson to be most intriguing because of the methodology he used. Specifically, when a child remembers a past life strongly enough for someone to verify dates and places and has a birthmark which corresponds to an injury suffered by the person in a prior life, the research becomes interesting. Of course it's controversial, but he seems to me to have been a cautious and careful investigator.
Richard Smoley (richardsmoley) Tue 25 Jun 13 07:15
In light of all this, it was amusing to read in The Economist this week the delicate dance over the Dalai Lama's status and whether he will choose to be reincarnated in China or elsewhere. Of course the Chinese will have no trouble finding a suitable candidate whom they can mold to their wishes. Except this doesn't always work--look at the Krishnamurti case. I know he has said that he has thought about not reincarnating anymore. In terms of past-life regressions, there are the phenomena and what you make of the phenomena. I did a past-life journey with some people in a spiritual group I was leading several years ago. One woman had a vision that her mother was a black widow spider. This alarmed her deeply, and she never returned to the group. I did not say much about it at the time. In the back of my head I supposed that it was some kind of Freudian issue--obvious enough. But later it occurred to me to ask what would have happened if this had been in a Native American group. The leader might have said, "You had a vision of Grandmother Spider! Very auspicious!" The outcome might have been quite different. As I say, this only occurred to me later. I certainly agree that these matters aren't for everyone. But it's really not so different from other areas in life. For example, I am utterly and completely indifferent to spectator sports of any kind. Occasionally people will try to make conversation with me about the subject, but it's like talking to the dog. People who know me better--say, my in-laws--know enough to talk about something else. I think spiritual matters are the same way, although of course there is more emotional charge attached to them, and reactions are stronger. People tend to find these experiences powerful and meaningful, and it's painful to have them dismissed or derided, as they often are. So discretion becomes the better part of valor...
Paulina Borsook (loris) Tue 25 Jun 13 10:39
yeah, one learns early on: generally dont mention the tonedeaf/colorblind indifference to sports and dont share (except with very trusted intimates) about the spirit life.
Linda Castellani (castle) Tue 25 Jun 13 12:43
Which is a shame, because we have a lot to learn from each other. Another area of interest for me is ghosts or spirit activity. Which, of course, I can never talk about. I have had too many experiences to dismiss the existence of some sort of energy that seems to stick around and not enter the realms of the afterlife that we've been talking about. [Confession: I have well over 100 TiVo Season Passes, many of whose titles include the words "ghost," "haunted," "supernatural," "secrets," "unexplained," "paranormal," and the like. Even so, I am discriminating, and the content of the show has to rise above the tendency to simply accept that every single thing is evidence of the paranormal. I prefer the shows that attempt to find alternate explanations, and only after not finding any do they say that maybe, perhaps, possibly it's evidence of spirit activity. And each show is different in what kind of evidence it accepts. They can't agree on whether or not orbs are paranormal. Some dismiss them outright, others see them as evidence of spirits. I'm currently out to lunch on the subject, having not encountered them.] One thing that bothers me is the number of times an investigator will be scratched or burned by some unseen entity that is ascribed to negative or demonic energy. It bothers me because negative or demonic energy doesn't fit in with my view of the afterlife. So, Richard, what have you learned: Are There Demons Among Us?
Paulina Borsook (loris) Tue 25 Jun 13 14:43
(wrt #41) not sure learning can take place in these realms. as far as i can tell, the interest in sports/athletic competition has existed in most human societies (charioteers, bull jumpers, and further back and in al hemispheres); those of us who dont have the sports receptors are outliers. i feel with sports 'i see that you get something from playing/watching whatever and i intellectually understand the emotions + engagement --- but not for me. i dont like marzipan either so quit telling me how great it is'. as for engagement with the suprarational, i also feel the majority of people do not have the receptors for it so why bother talking with them about that which they arent likely to ever experience? in fact i am far more put off by folks who feel they can through study or a weekend workshop develop these receptors. in my experience people either have them or they dont.
Linda Castellani (castle) Tue 25 Jun 13 14:55
>i feel with sports 'i see that you get something from playing/watching >whatever and i intellectually understand the emotions + engagement --- >but not for me. i dont like marzipan either so quit telling me how great >it is'. I am so with you in regard to sports AND marzipan! >as for engagement with the suprarational, i also feel the majority of >people do not have the receptors for it so why bother talking with >them about that which they arent likely to ever experience? Do you think there are actually receptors, or just an awareness? Or, more likely, lack thereof? Which would imply that awareness could shift...?
descend into a fractal hell of meta-truthiness (jmcarlin) Tue 25 Jun 13 15:48
> It bothers me because negative or demonic > energy doesn't fit in with my view of the afterlife. There are many models of the afterlife with negative realms from the Tibetan Buddhist/Chinese to more modern descriptoins.
Cliff Dweller (robinsline) Tue 25 Jun 13 17:05
I confess to belonging generally in the dismissive, eye-rolling camp when it comes to the supernatural; however, I do accept the idea of so-called extra-sensory perception. I know people who are highly sensitive to others, and some who are completely clueless. I feel that I am fairly perceptive about the emotions of others, and assume there are people far more highly evolved in this ability, as there are people far less so. How does what (used to be called?) ESP fit into this? As I am not a student of this, I don't know how this concept fits into more sophisticated thinking on the subject.
Clare Eder (ceder) Tue 25 Jun 13 20:20
<scribbled by ceder Wed 26 Jun 13 09:21>
Clare Eder (ceder) Tue 25 Jun 13 20:22
<scribbled by ceder Wed 26 Jun 13 09:22>
Stoney Tangawizi (evan) Tue 25 Jun 13 20:29
OK, that's scary.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 26 Jun 13 04:54
(Posts 46-47 hidden; they seem to have been meant for another topic.)
Richard Smoley (richardsmoley) Wed 26 Jun 13 07:32
Well, people who are haunted by evil images and terrors are experiencing something, so I suppose you could say there are demons, if only self-created ones. But that doesn't tell us whether demons exist in some way that is independent of an individual's mind. I personally think that certain strata of the unseen worlds harbor beings that possess their own existence--at least to the extent that we do. Some of these may be positive or friendly; others may be hostile. But I tend to think of it by analogy with the natural world. There are types of animals and plants that are friendly to us; there are others that are hostile and poisonous. Usually if we don't impinge upon their territories, they are neither. Even their appearance is not necessarily a guide; some of the most horrifying things you will ever see are pictures of creatures from extremely deep levels of the sea--who never encounter us and, because of the pressure differences, would explode if they touched us.
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