Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Mon 17 Jan 00 08:36
I knew *somebody* was gonna grab that one...
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.
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._
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.
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."?
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.
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."
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.
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
Linda Castellani (castle) Tue 18 Jan 00 21:28
But channelers can't be? Inspired by God, that is.
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.
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.
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?
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..."
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...
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!
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. ;-)
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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