Jay Kinney (jay) Sun 9 Jan 00 16:38
Well, at least we are proving the observation that all conversations, if extended long enough, eventually get around to Philip K. Dick. John wrote: "There's no doubt that Phil was a genius and a great artist and even a man with real spiritual insight." I agree. And I also agree that it is possible that the 1974 pink beam incident(s) were caused by a stroke (or a drug reaction or some other non-cosmic factor) and also possible that his drug use over the years had affected his mental balance. So, I wouldn't take, say, VALIS's notions at face value. I personally wouldn't build a religion around his "revelations". But I've always thought it fascinating how they kind of paralleled early gnostic themes and that PKD's flashes were so Dickian in style...;-)
Linda Castellani (castle) Sun 9 Jan 00 23:58
Would you say more about how Phil's revelations paralleled early gnostic themes? Also, he was *always* paranoid. Not just sometimes. Once he concocted this fabulously complex scheme around purchasing hamburgers from Carl's and using the bags they came in as decoys to throw the plain clothes cops in the cars parked along our street off the trail.
Richard Smoley (smoley) Mon 10 Jan 00 07:45
Carl, of Carl's Jr. is a supporter of right-wing causes, just to add another twist to the Dickian paranoia. This conversation is extremely interesting; have had a hard time trying to figure out what to stick in, even edgeways. I am obviously a mere infant in understanding the world of PKD compared to you folks. But just from reading Valis, yes, I would say he does seem to have seriously contemplated the idea that he was losing his mind. Gnosticism - at least in the forms that we know it - postulate a complicated and intricate universe in which various "aeons" - rather like gods or archangels - mediate between, and interfere with, our understanding of the divine. The true God is close to inaccessible and unknowable, but is always trying somehow to get through the noise. Like Yahweh in _The Divine Invasion._ There is a perennial question about why Gnosticism never survived as a religion. This is easy to answer if you ever pick up an old Gnostic text, like the _Pistis Sophia_ (meaning "Faith Wisdom"). It is so convoluted as to be incomprehensible, like many of the things in the Gnosis Nut Drawer (which Jay no doubt still has). My own theory, which I haven't seen elsewhere in this form, is that Gnostic teachings in the first century were much simpler and closer to other forms of Christianity: the Apostle Paul was probably the seminal thinker of the Gnostic line. By the second century, minor differences had evolved into major ones, and the petty squabbling that we see hints of in Acts and the Epistles had turned into the denunciations we find in Irenaeus. And later on, of course, persecution. As Gurdjieff so memorably put it, "Sooner or later it all ends in people breaking one another's heads."
Jay Kinney (jay) Mon 10 Jan 00 09:24
Looks like Linda and I were writing our last postings at the same time. Slippage, as they say. And now there's yet more! To go back to your question, Linda: "can you address the part about where spirituality stops and the supernatural begins? I'm afraid that what I'm thinking of may be stepping into the region of the supernatural and out of the spiritual." I personally don't have much use for the term "supernatural," as I consider any phenomena that it usually encompasses to also be within Nature and the natural. Auras aren't supernatural, it is just that most people can't see them and there aren't clear cut scientific instruments that can reliable detect them yet, either. Even things involving other planes of existence (or planes of consciousness) I don't consider to be supernatural. In some of those cases, earth-bound science may never manage to prove or measure them instrumentally, but I don't see them as *violating* the laws of Nature...rather, the laws haven't been widened enough, yet, to encompass those phenomena or locales. So, I would consider your God experiences (whether under the influence of drugs or not) to be "valid" insofar as you felt a mind/body state that had a meaning for you. I don't think it is anyone's business to try and pick that apart or invalidate it. I haven't had ghost experiences but I have friends who are having them at their house right now. I take a more open-minded view of them than, say, Tim Powers seems to in his inkwell.vue topic. He uses them in his fiction but seems to dismiss them otherwise. However, I think it is possible that souls either get lost or stay earthbound temporarily after death OR that there is a decaying shell of personality that can continue on after the soul or spirit goes to higher frequencies. Either way, it can account for ghosts. As for Gnosticism, in addition to Richard's remarks above, you might actually want to check out my chapter on Gnosticism in "Hidden Wisdom" (remember *that*?) which gives a fairly concise summary of it. I could say more here, now, but I have to go take my morning shower and get rolling for the day. Heh...
Lenny Bailes (jroe) Mon 10 Jan 00 18:03
I've gone through a lot of thought on the "God speaking," "Trees talking," "ghosts talking," issue. I also believe that the chemistry of the brain can kick into a hyperkinetic state where we may simply become conscious of the synapses, rhizomes, and whatever sending messages back and forth. When we experience the sensation of a Presence outside of ourselves communicating directly to an inner center, we may simply be experiencing some kind of synaesthesia where the typical electrical signals that get sent to the brain are interpreted in an unusual manner. Then again, there may really be something outside that originates the stimulus, which normally we're too dense to receive. The thing I like in PKD's gnosticism is the idea that God may be evolving along with the human race. If there really was an angry Old Testament type deity that caused the Big Bang, It/He/She may gradually be evolving into something different. Of course, Dick changes his mind about that, a lot. Sometimes he embraces the concept of an evolving sense of Caritas and sometimes he suggests that there was a "good" God in the beginning who lost control of things to a powerful Idiot Deity. (If He could just wake up and reassert Himself, things would be much better....)
Richard Smoley (smoley) Tue 11 Jan 00 07:20
Lenny, if you are interested in the notion of an evolving deity, you might want to check out Jung's _Answer to Job,_ which is saying something like that. There is apparently a similar notion in Alfred North Whitehead, though I've never read his works. As for the notion of God speaking, etc., perhaps this could all be turned around slightly. You could view God not as that which is speaking, but as that in you which is listening. That which is conscious and aware. This is, I believe, what esoteric traditions as diverse as Advaita Vedanta, Dzogchen, and esoteric Christianity are trying to say.
Lenny Bailes (jroe) Tue 11 Jan 00 11:53
I'm thinking that it might be easy to pick up on prime cellular directives and experience them as the Voice of God.
Linda Castellani (castle) Tue 11 Jan 00 13:39
Another thing that Phil talked about was the Matreiya. Am I spelling that correctly? I still don't know what, or who, that is.
Jay Kinney (jay) Tue 11 Jan 00 23:47
As far as I can tell, (and this is a shallow gloss), the Maitreya is a reincarnation of Buddha. Benjamin Creme - a latter-day disciple of Alice Bailey - has been claiming that Maitreya has returned and is living in London is the body of an East Indian. I think PKD picked up on Creme's PR way back when (he's been at it for 20 or more years)... BTW, speaking of PKD...check out http://www.apbnews.com/media/gfiles/pdick/index.html?s=emil for a peculiar "breaking news" item about the break-in at PKD's place in Marin, nearly 30 years ago. Strange.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 12 Jan 00 05:29
"I would not consider him paranoid at all." Sounds like Elaine Sauter should speak with Linda...
Richard Smoley (smoley) Wed 12 Jan 00 08:31
The original Maitreya is supposed to be the Buddha-to-come. That is, there are supposed to be an endless chain of Buddhas who are due to come and bring the Dharma to us. Siddhartha Gautama, the historical Buddha, is the latest, according to Buddhist teaching; Maitreya is the next one due. Interestingly, Maitreya is apparently due to be born in the West, and accordingly Buddhist iconography portrays him as sitting in a chair. Quite a relief for those of us who could never stand sitting cross-legged...
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 12 Jan 00 08:45
Sort of like a Buddhist second coming, which doesn't really align as well with my own soto/suzuki-influenced perception of Buddhism. Maybe Stephen Hawking is Maitreya?
Linda Castellani (castle) Wed 12 Jan 00 13:31
"Due to be born in the West" sounds like he ain't here yet, with or without his chair. Thanks for these insights into the Matreiya. Very interesting. Perhaps my next tangent. As for the article about Phil, I've certainly heard a lot about that break-in - anybody who spent any time at all with Phil has heard about it - but the first time I've heard about the syphilis connection. It sounds like Elaine Sauter has only heard about him second-hand and never actually tried to have a conversation with him. Or, if she did, she never had a second conversation with him. Sometimes he could hold it together pretty well for a while. Also, he never moved to Canada. He did go there - that's where he was when I wrote that silly, ill-fated letter - but he did not move there. His stuff was still in Marin County. And, he was at a drug treatment facility, called X-Kalay, but he never copped - to me at least - to being there for drug treatment. He had some other reason I can't think of at the moment. The man has been dead for nearly 20 years and he's still making news! Speaking of Phil, I also ran across a web site that allegedly shows photos of all the houses he lived in in the Bay Area. The guy who wrote the web site said that some of what he put on the site was factual, the photos for instance, and some of it was made up. Probably the part where Phil was a big Raiders fan and Al Davis would come and pick him up and take him to games. I do want to know more about the Matreiya, though.
Jay Kinney (jay) Wed 12 Jan 00 22:02
Linda, More info than you probably want on Maitreya, et al, at: http://www.shareintl.org/ Regarding PKD and paranoia: Since one of things I always appreciated about his novels was that they artistically captured the "feel" of paranoia, it is hardly surprising that he was at that borderland himself. Of course, what exactly *is* paranoia? Psychiatric explanations aside, it has seemed to me that, in a sense, most religion is a form of "positive" paranoia. "There's an unseen order to things which is ultimately benign." Just the flip side of the paranoid "there's an unseen order to things which is out to get me."
Linda Castellani (castle) Thu 13 Jan 00 13:05
Thanks for the link, Jay! > Of course, what exactly *is* paranoia? Psychiatric explanations aside, > it has seemed to me that, in a sense, most religion is a form of > "positive" paranoia. "There's an unseen order to things which is > ultimately benign." Just the flip side of the paranoid "there's an > unseen order to things which is out to get me." That's a provocative thought. It could answer a lot of questions. In Phil's case, though, it was combined with some sort of psychological damage, or perhaps a chemical imbalance. The results were certainly interesting, but best seen from a safe distance once removed - like reading about it.
Richard Smoley (smoley) Thu 13 Jan 00 14:23
Except, of course, that the Share International link is about the Ben Creme guy who is supposedly in London and not about the Maitreya of Buddhism (I'm assuming, since I haven't checked out the site). I don't know much about the role of Maitreya in Buddhist thought. My impression is that he is not a heavy area of interest, though occasionally one sees statues, etc., of him (seated in a chair, of course).
Linda Castellani (castle) Thu 13 Jan 00 19:09
Oh? I haven't had a chance to really read the link, just glanced through it. Who is Ben Creme and why is he masquerading as the Matreiya?
Jay Kinney (jay) Thu 13 Jan 00 21:45
Benjamin Creme is a clairvoyant who channeled messages from Maitreya for many years and became a kind of self-appointed spokesman. He has made various predictions about the appearance of the Maitreya and published a photo of someone who he claims is him. It was Creme's Maitreya who Dick was intrigued by. There was a period there in the mid-70s when Dick was fascinated by a number of such pretenders to cosmic significance.
Linda Castellani (castle) Fri 14 Jan 00 12:58
You have no idea how much it saddens me that I can't talk to Phil directly about this stuff any more. I used to talk to him about once a month on average, and after he died I'd find that I had a whole month's worth of stuff stored up and nowhere to put it. I'm not sure when that stopped, but I notice it has. This is not something I would have been interested in when he was still alive. Now that I am, I wish I could get his perspective on things.
Richard Smoley (smoley) Sat 15 Jan 00 09:00
Ben Creme is not himself pretending to be Maitreya. Just channeling him. For me this whole thing very much falls in the area of something that is probably - indeed certainly - not true from a surface point of view. But there may be something of value in it under the surface. It falls into the category of Mme. Blavatsky's Mahatmas and other Hidden Masters. Very much a two-edged sword. These figures are elusive, of course - but then what would you do if you were really a Master? Would you want to be out there with idiots from _Us_ magazine trying to snag an interview, asking about your sexual tastes and what kind of bottled water you like to drink?
Linda Castellani (castle) Sat 15 Jan 00 22:14
What's your take on channelers in general? I have some really mixed feelings about them. I've had several experiences with a number of channelers and only one of them really seemed to be the genuine article. Or, let me phrase that another way, they all seemed to be putting something out there that may or may not have been some other entity, but only one of them was channeling something that seemed worth spending the time to listen to. And one was appallingly evil. In fact, I even took a channeling class, back when metaphysical centers were more abundant than they are today. I'm not at all convinced that this is something you can teach people to do. At least not in a 4 week course.
Jay Kinney (jay) Sun 16 Jan 00 00:01
The central question with channeling is whether the information or perspective "coming through" is from a source external to the channeler or is derived from the channeler's unconscious (or, perhaps, their higher self)... Just because someone might be receiving information from a separate entity doesn't mean that the material received is true or free of mischievous entent. I view a lot of the channeling that has gone on as being comparable to turning on the radio and flipping from station to station. Here's NPR....zzzt....here's Rush Limbaugh....zzzt...here's Pearl Jam....zzzt....here's a Beach Boys oldie... One needs to apply the same common sense and discernment to channeled material that one would to the car radio.
Richard Smoley (smoley) Sun 16 Jan 00 08:31
I agree with Jay about this. There is _some_ channeled material that is of very high quality indeed; I'm thinking particularly of _A Course in Miracles._ Possibly also the Seth material by Jane Roberts, though I haven't read much of it. Then there is the large bulk of printed and published channeled material, which is usually quite interesting and often quite positive, but not exactly mind-blowing. I don't see the question of "coming through" in quite the same way as you do, Jay. It seems to me that the further one goes deeper into one's own mind, the more one is likely to make contact with universal and collective forces. This is what Jung was trying to say, I believe. So the more personal one gets, in a sense, the more impersonal...
Linda Castellani (castle) Sun 16 Jan 00 15:43
I thought Jay's analogy was an apt one - you *might* get a cosmic Rush Limbaugh! And I agree that discernment is important. I was quite fascinated and distressed when I went to my first channeling event in a living room in Corona del Mar, and it was filled with people who seemed to be listening raptly and taking it all in wholesale, while I was as uncomfortable as hell. I was able to confirm that my discomfort was appropriate for me - I found some flyers on a table announcing a joint event between that channeler and someone I knew whose motives were definitely suspect. I was pleased to learn once again that I could trust my inner sense, whatever it is. The other thing that struck was that all the channelers seem to use similar language. They all used a phrase like, "I want to say," or "I want to tell you." I thought that was kinda odd.
you *might* get a cosmic Rush Limbaugh (jberger) Sun 16 Jan 00 19:55
(and a new pseud is born...)
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