inkwell.vue.58 : Jay Kinney and Richard Smoley _Hidden Wisdom_
permalink #126 of 143: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Mon 17 Jan 00 08:36
    
I knew *somebody* was gonna grab that one...
  
inkwell.vue.58 : Jay Kinney and Richard Smoley _Hidden Wisdom_
permalink #127 of 143: John Shirley (johnp-shirley) Mon 17 Jan 00 12:27
    
Well of course I have to put in my two cents re channelers. I see no
reason why we should take any of them seriously, it's *too easy* to
fake, any mildly imaginative, slightly mimetic, reasonably verbal
person can manage it. If there's material like the Course in Miracles
that is, I guess, profound, it's probably because deep down we always
know more than we think we do; we tap into those Jungian wellsprings
sometimes. I think the burden of proof is on channelers and they can
prove nothing at all. No channeler that I'm aware of has ever offered
any objectively verifiable proof that they're channeling something
outside themselves. Most of them are silly, ludicrous, laughable--even
many of the successful ones. They make people involved in esoteric
spiritual studies look like fools by association. Those who claim to be
channeling living extra-terrestrial sources could offer some kind of
verifiable proof but never do. What they offer instead is ambiguous,
murky hogwash that any bright thirteen year old with a mischievious
sense of humor could match. 

I admire Jay and Richard tremendously. I look up to them. But here's
where I diverge from the brilliant and highly recommended authors of
Hidden Wisdom (like they're really worried about it!): I think too much
openmindedness is a big mistake. I think it's like being an
archaeologist, say, who sifts through a half ton of old dirt and comes
u with a rusty bottlecap and says, "Look, the ancients drank Coca
Cola!" Now you can openmindedly make an argument that a modern
bottlecap "couldn't" have been mixed in with that old dirt -- we msut
remain openminded to that possibility! I think somewhere in Hidden
Wisdom Richard suggests that the psychic surgeons of the Philipines may
not be entirely fraudulent or may have value. What about their 'value'
to people who went to them instead of to doctors for chemo, who didn't
get treated because they were told they were cured, and who died? What
about the thousands of poor people who cannot afford the exploitation?
No, these guys are crooks, plain and simple, and we facilitate their
crookedness if we don't separate them from real psychic phenomena,
separate the  bottlecaps from the real archaeological finds; if we give
them any credibilty at all. There are thousands of tons of dirt to
sift through--life is short. Let us not waste time on claptrap. Like
channelers. 
  
inkwell.vue.58 : Jay Kinney and Richard Smoley _Hidden Wisdom_
permalink #128 of 143: Richard Smoley (smoley) Mon 17 Jan 00 13:12
    
Give 'em hell, John. I mean "us"...

I have to say the ultimate criterion for _anything,_ channelers or
otherwise, is whether it makes sense to you. What does it really matter
if a piece of information comes from a channeled entity or someone's
imagination, if it's valuable and helpful? Personally I've always found
_A Course in Miracles_ helpful, whether it was dictated by Jesus
Christ or typed out by a bunch of chimps in an MIT lab.

As for the psychic healing business, you might want to check out the
cover story in a recent _New York Times_ magazine. It said, "Placebos
work. So why shouldn't we use them?" This was the cover blurb, more or
less literally.

The fact is, much of medicine is hocus-pocus. Have you ever read a
medical report on some new drug? The effective ones work in 90% of the
cases; the placebos work in "only" 50 or 60%. If this is true across
the board, one could be forgiven for believing that half of the value
in _any_ medicine is the suggestive effect it has.

And a lot of the faith healers of the Philippines are resorted to, not
by people who went there instead of getting chemo (itself a form of
torture, as I understand it) but only went after chemo and various
other treatments had failed. That passage John is referring to in the
book actually cites a first-person account of this kind of experience
that was published in _The Sun._
  
inkwell.vue.58 : Jay Kinney and Richard Smoley _Hidden Wisdom_
permalink #129 of 143: Jay Kinney (jay) Mon 17 Jan 00 17:11
    
Ah, the John Shirley channelers rant. Well done, John! I don't agree,
but at least you restrained yourself from the usual accompanying
sentiments: all religions are hustles, all spiritual teachers are
charlatans, it's all dreadful irrationalism, if God is real why doesn't
he come down this moment and prove it, and so on and so forth.

So....channeling. Hmm. Like crystals, it's become such a cliche that
it is hard not to be jaundiced about it. But, let's take a look at what
the term might encompass. People passing along words, visions,
revelations that seem to arise in their consciousness as if from a
separate source. 

So, in questioning it, let's not stop at the channelers of the last 30
years. Let's question the Spiritualist movement of the 19th century;
let's question everyone who had a vision of the sacred heart of Jesus
or the Blessed Virgin; let's question most sacred scriptures of the
world religions; let's question the Oracles of Delphi, et al; let's
question Shamanism. 

Fine. I don't mind looking at all of these things with a big question
mark poised over them. But I do disagree about fencing off "channeling"
from "real psychic phenomena" (now there's a can of worms!) and
assuming that all channelers are crooks. Many may be self-deluding or
inflated but then that's precisely the question that confronts each of
us when we engage in something as "simple" as prayer. 

(I prayed for help and something I could interpret as help occurred.
Was that due to the efficacy of prayer or mere coincidence or just my
self-serving interpretation of things? Or, say, I remarked earlier
about seeing the auras of junkies at 50 yards. Is that a "real" psychic
phenomenon or just a romantic labeling for subconscious recognition of
certain physical characteristics shared by users of narcotics or sheer
delusion on my part or what?) 

Who knows? Can anyone prove any of it? No, not any better than the
channelers can prove that they are really in touch with Arcturians. I
don't approve of people flocking to channelers and buying everything
they channel uncritically. But I've also experienced phenomena
personally (within my own consciousness) that is close enough to what
goes on in channeling that I'm aware of the ambiguity of it all. My
main complaint with many channelers is that they take what they undergo
at face value and have ceased to recognize the ambiguity.

 
  
inkwell.vue.58 : Jay Kinney and Richard Smoley _Hidden Wisdom_
permalink #130 of 143: Linda Castellani (castle) Mon 17 Jan 00 18:30
    

It seems like there was a wave of channelers right around the time that I
read Shirley MacLaine's book _Out on a Limb_.  Maybe it was just my
perception because her book first introduced me to the concept and then I
looked up and started seeing flyers for channeling events and receiving
invitations to go to them.  Mid-80's, I'd say.

I'm curious about how many of them are still around?  How many still have
followings like they did back then?  And whatever happened to Kevin
Ryerson?  Or that woman who channeled "Rama."?
  
inkwell.vue.58 : Jay Kinney and Richard Smoley _Hidden Wisdom_
permalink #131 of 143: John Shirley (johnp-shirley) Tue 18 Jan 00 12:35
    
Of course Jay I don't believe that all religions are hustles --though
as I get older I'm more and more suspicious of big organized
religion--and I certainly don't believe spirituality is bunk. I pray
and meditate every day. I think people on a spiritual path need
discrimination, they need a filter, so they don't get lost. that's all.
And I don't think God has to come down and prove anything. 

Speaking of organized religion, Jay--I'm addressing this to you
because you know lots of Muslim folk-- why do we hear so much from
violence-advocating Muslims and so little from the many Muslims out
there who must interpret the Quran more peacefully? 

Finally in re our earlier discussion of PKD, this excerpt (also posted
in a PKD topic): 

 Blade Runner Author Suspected  Syphilis Plot --  Told FBI He Was
Being Used by 'Secret Health Organization' 
              By Janon Fisher --  NEW YORK (APBnews.com)<

 -- Science fiction writer Philip K. Dick, whose grim visions of the
future inspired movies like Blade    Runner and Total Recall, believed
he was being drafted by a "secret world health  organization" to spread
its message, according to letters contained in his FBI file. The
letters show that in 1972 Dick wrote to the   bureau for help with what
he believed was a plot to use his writing to relay messages on  
"paresis, an alleged new strain of syphilis    sweeping the United
States, which caused quick death." 
    The episode was triggered by a break-in to the author's apartment
in 1971. Dick wrote to the FBI that "at least one entire room of stuff
is      missing," listing a .22-caliber pistol and some of his canceled
checks among the  items at large.   Although it is not clear from
Dick's letters how he thought the burglary and the alleged syphilis
plot were related, it appears that the writer took it seriously enough
to flee for his life. <p>  "Sergeant Keaton also advised me informally 
that I 'ought to get out of Marin County
[Calif.] for good, or I'd very likely get a bullet
in my back some night. Or worse,'" Dick wrote to the bureau. "I took
his advice and left for Canada, as I say in the enclosed letter." 
     It appears that Dick thought the burglar might be a man named
Harold Kinchen who, the author writes, knew how to bypass his security
system and had been under investigation by the Air Force in relation to
an "attempt on the arsenal of the Air Force Intelligence people." Dick
said he had been asked by Air Force officials to testify. Dick also
believed that Kinchen was "an ardent Nazi trained in such skills as
weapons-use, explosives, wire-tapping, chemistry, psychology, toxins
and  poisons, electronics, auto repair, sabotage, the manufacture of
narcotics." 
 'He was a little paranoid,"  Anne Dick, one of the author's five ex
wives, dismissed the conspiracy and questioned the reality of any
break-in. "At that period he was taking enormous amounts of
methamphetamines," she said.
  
inkwell.vue.58 : Jay Kinney and Richard Smoley _Hidden Wisdom_
permalink #132 of 143: Linda Castellani (castle) Tue 18 Jan 00 13:01
    

Speaking of the break-in, I ran across my copy of Rolling Stone dated
November 6, 1975, featuring a story about Phil by Paul Williams.  The
front page screams, "The Most Brilliant Sci-Fi Mind on Any Planet:  
Philip K. Dick.  In the story Williams says,

"The break-in at Philip K. Dick's former home in San Rafael, California,
fascinates him to this day.  He has a number of theories about what
actually happened; during the three days I spent at his house we discussed
at least eight different scenarios, explanations for the break-in,
consistent with the known details.  Each time Phil presented a new theory
he did so with the passion of complete conviction - this was it, now he
*finally* had figured it out.  The discussions we had were exciting,
invigorating; I was in awe of his ability to sift and resift the details
of an event and constantly come up with new ideas of what really happened,
new and different and always strangely convincing gestalt perceptions of
the same reality, the same event.  I began to realize that it was up to me
to determine what was really real."
  
inkwell.vue.58 : Jay Kinney and Richard Smoley _Hidden Wisdom_
permalink #133 of 143: Jay Kinney (jay) Tue 18 Jan 00 15:36
    
John wrote:

"Speaking of organized religion, Jay--I'm addressing this to you
because you know lots of Muslim folk-- why do we hear so much from
violence-advocating Muslims and so little from the many Muslims out
there who must interpret the Quran more peacefully?"

There could be many answers to this (ala the PKD San Rafael break-in
mentioned above)...for instance:

1) What we hear and what the media choose to focus on are determined
by a complex set of cultural filters. Violence and threats sell, in the
same way that, conversely, a newspaper full of "good news" is
perceived as boring. That could be one factor.

2) The Islamic militants perhaps have less to do with religion than
they do with politics. Islam may be used by them as a justification for
the deeper issues: the felt need to lash out against the eclipse of
their countries and cultures by onrushing Western culture and
corporations. 

3) Violence tends to trump non-violence in that it rouses fear on the
part of those who hold a different opinion. If you've got a madman with
a machine-gun in the room, you tend to duck for cover rather than
stand up and disagree with him. 

4) The stronger role accorded "clerics" in Shi'a Islam tends to hand a
bullhorn to certain politicized leaders who, in turn, drown out the
unheard sentiments of the far greater number of Sunni muslims.

And so on and so forth. These are all hypotheses. I do think that the
U.S. Government has tended to play up the "Islamic terrorist threat,"
but there are some genuine terrorists who have been all too happy to
play along. 
  
inkwell.vue.58 : Jay Kinney and Richard Smoley _Hidden Wisdom_
permalink #134 of 143: John Shirley (johnp-shirley) Tue 18 Jan 00 17:52
    
It's not just a case of terrorism--there are some really hostile
Islamic fundamentalists, and they're hostile on every possible front.
But I think the reasons you gave are probably right. Still, I wish I
had the ear of some of the Muslims who're for peace and tolerance, I
know they're probably the majority of Muslims.  I wish the UN or
someone would get them to speak out more, to take the risk; I wish the
media would turn to them, give them a voice.  We have these narrow
minded boobs here in the USA, you see, called Christian
fundamentalists, as well as hate-mongering militia types, who'll use
militant Muslim fundamentalism as an excuse for their own imbecilic
little holy wars, some day. Especially as Muslims become more populous
in our own country -- and that's ongoing. btw I have no doubt that
Mohammed was inspired by God
  
inkwell.vue.58 : Jay Kinney and Richard Smoley _Hidden Wisdom_
permalink #135 of 143: Linda Castellani (castle) Tue 18 Jan 00 21:28
    

But channelers can't be?  Inspired by God, that is.
  
inkwell.vue.58 : Jay Kinney and Richard Smoley _Hidden Wisdom_
permalink #136 of 143: Jay Kinney (jay) Wed 19 Jan 00 11:32
    
Touche.   Heh.

But back to the fundamentalists. I see in the morning paper that
roving mobs of muslims on some Indonesian island (sorry, I don't have
the paper in front of me, as I write) were breaking into and looting
the homes of Christians. The article quotes one teenager as yelling
"God is Great!" Well, God may indeed be great, but I doubt that He (or
She or It) needs or wants revved-up teenagers out there yelling that
while they are looting. Of course as the Balkans demonstrate so
splendidly, every ethnic and religious group is capable of hitting on
their rivals if they get a chance. So, I generally wouldn't ascribe any
of this to some characteristic of Islam, per se. Nor of Christianity
or Hinduism or whatever. 

Seems like cosmic hormones sweep through the populace in different
places at different times and stir up trouble, irregardless of the
rationales offered.  
  
inkwell.vue.58 : Jay Kinney and Richard Smoley _Hidden Wisdom_
permalink #137 of 143: John Shirley (johnp-shirley) Wed 19 Jan 00 13:45
    
I think there's far more evidence that certain great teachers, like
Mohammed, Gautama, Jesus of Nazareth, are inspired -- based on what
they say -- than that channelers are inspired...based on what they say.
  
inkwell.vue.58 : Jay Kinney and Richard Smoley _Hidden Wisdom_
permalink #138 of 143: Linda Castellani (castle) Wed 19 Jan 00 18:35
    

Could Mohammed, Gautama, Jesus of Nazareth, etc have been channeling God
and the others are all wannabes?
  
inkwell.vue.58 : Jay Kinney and Richard Smoley _Hidden Wisdom_
permalink #139 of 143: Richard Smoley (smoley) Thu 20 Jan 00 08:05
    
We are all Christians, whether we like to admit it or not...

Snide as this may sound, it _is_ pointing to the fact that the
preoccupation with sorting out "true" and "false" spirits is a
particuar obsession in the Christian tradition. I don't know exactly
why this should be. It would seem that the idea that God is purely and
only good has created a strong polarity between good and evil that
continues to obsess the Christian mind. In other religions it is not so
highly pronounced; cf.  Isaiah: "I form the light and create darkness;
I make peace and create evil; I the LORD do all these things."

I've been thinking about this because I have been editing a biography
of Swedenborg (on which I am regrettably far behind; don't tell the
Swedenborg Foundation) and Swedenborg was as obsessed with these
matters (at least at a particular point in his development) as anyone
else in the Christian tradition.

And now for a completely different take on all these things, here's
_The Tibetan Book of the Dead._

"O nobly-born, know these things to be thine own thought-forms..." 
  
inkwell.vue.58 : Jay Kinney and Richard Smoley _Hidden Wisdom_
permalink #140 of 143: Jay Kinney (jay) Thu 20 Jan 00 09:10
    
Just a reminder that this discussion is readable by anyone on the web
(including search engines' indexing bots). So, theoretically, one might
do a search at AltaVista or Google for "biography of Swedenborg" and
have a link pop up for your previous posting, Richard.  Heh.  

Luckily, I don't think that's terribly likely...
  
inkwell.vue.58 : Jay Kinney and Richard Smoley _Hidden Wisdom_
permalink #141 of 143: John Shirley (johnp-shirley) Thu 20 Jan 00 11:30
    
Well I won't get into why I think channelers should be
eliminated--just because every one I've ever read or heard, except
Course in Miracles, sounds like a chattering imbecile or a bullshit
artist. I mean, if it walks like a duck...but never mind. 

I just want to say, my last remark here, honest, that I think Hidden
Wisdom is the best book of its kind -- the best general survey of a
variety of hermetic or esoteric ideas -- I've ever seen, and I've seen
a lot of them. It not only surveys, it brings insight pithily rendered,
easily understood, as much as one can understand without undertaking
the actual practice, and this was an invaluable service. So I'd like to
commend the book to anyone who hasn't read it and thank the authors
for being here and for the book--and for their patience with me! 
  
inkwell.vue.58 : Jay Kinney and Richard Smoley _Hidden Wisdom_
permalink #142 of 143: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Thu 20 Jan 00 12:11
    
Nice testimonial, John. Jay and Richard will be coming to you for the 
book-jacket blurb of their next project, no doubt.  ;-)
  
inkwell.vue.58 : Jay Kinney and Richard Smoley _Hidden Wisdom_
permalink #143 of 143: Richard Smoley (smoley) Fri 21 Jan 00 07:26
    
Thanks, John. But there's no reason for you to sign off, as far as I'm
concerned. 

And I'll take your wise advice, Jay, and refrain from further
indiscretions...
  



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