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Today’s Top Tweet – Navigating states of consciousness (without pandering to the lowest common denominator)

Ralph Metzner has been around a long time. Seeing his name this morning brought back memories of psych 101 classes, and paying big bucks for those ‘captive audience’ university textbooks!

But seriously. Metzner was one of those names that kept cropping up over the years. So you can expect a certain level of quality in his writing… both style and content.

Today’s tweeted article is written by Metzner. It gives a nice short history of some of the important events in the scientific study of consciousness. Probably not too many of us remember when REM or biofeedback first hit the scene. More recently, we have brain imaging. But still, that data is all correlation… not causality. So when people say they feel a certain way, some researchers project their preexisting biases onto the observed data.

Image via Wikipedia

Mozart via Wikipedia

For example, if subjects say they feel a sense of “oneness” that correlates with an empirical observation, some researchers go on to say that “all religions are the same.” What these lab coats overlook is the possibility that the same external observation could correlate with different internal experiences.

Skrillex via Wikipedia

Skrillex via Wikipedia

By way of analogy, a mp3 player runs on 1.5 volts. Regardless of the tune we listen to, a technician will always be able to measure the same 1.5 volts. So Mozart is the same as Skrillex?

The Metzner piece has other limitations and unexplored ideas that I hesitate to write about. I already tried at the doctoral level, a place where you’d think advanced theory would be welcome. But after getting through the admissions door, I soon realized that one has to pander to the lowest common denominator—otherwise you fail.

I was admitted to the doctoral program hoping to make a contribution to interactions of consciousness not explored by most depth psychologists.¹ This would involve ideas like “karma transfer,” “intercession,” “the taking of another’s sin” and, even more esoteric, “subtle body sex” (something like tantra at a distance).

Again, these ideas apparently went way over the heads of most at the U. Any who had an inkling of what I was talking about were either closeted mystics or just plain secretive (possibly because they used their abilities to aid and abet questionable activities).

So I shelved the idea of writing about interactions of consciousness and settled on synchronicity. Even that was cutting edge for a PhD back in 1992-97.

But today I feel it’s time to pick up the torch. In my opinion, our world is not as simple as many psychologists and psychiatrists tend to see it. And this lack of insight among some “professionals” could do real harm to budding mystics mishandled by, for lack of a better term, bungling idiots.

¹ Here’s the Projected Thesis Outline I sent to the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Ottawa in the early 1990s. Soon after admission, the topic was narrowed down to something more “manageable.”

https://mclark.files.wordpress.com/2013/04/phd_jung_stamp.pdf (scroll to second last paragraph: “Moreover, to redefine and broaden our understanding…”).


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Today’s Top Tweet is a no-brainer for me… neurology, psychology, spirituality and society

Today’s Top Tweet leaped off the page because my doctorate is in psychology and religion. I find the interface interesting… especially when we include societal issues in the mix.

Here’s an accessible but not overly simplistic story that makes a great stab at trying to weave together several elements – neurology, psychology, spirituality and society. I highlighted the main points. Follow the links for the full article.


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Today’s Top Tweet – How some believers shut down their minds

I’ve talked about the mystic Swedenborg and how he apparently got it laughably wrong when talking about aliens.

Today’s tweeted article is interesting. It’s written by a Swedenborgian believer who recognizes the critique about aliens but still believes because he has “seen enough” to do so.

His account reminds me of believers in other faith groups. For example, some Catholics sense a joyous, uplifting feeling at the Mass, so assume this means that everything the Catholic Church teaches must be true.

Some Hindus undergo an expansion of consciousness when they perform puja, so assume that everything their branch of Hinduism teaches is true.

Likewise, some Jews may experience a spiritual solidity or centering in temple so assume that everything their form of Judaism teaches is true.

Swedenborg via Wikipedia

Swedish scientist cum mystic Emanuel Swedenborg (1688 – 1772) via Wikipedia

And the list goes on, from sweat lodges to tin foil hats. Some believers feel a buzz (or lack of) so assume their experience “proves” their underlying belief system is entirely true.

To me, this is fundamentalism. Fundamentalism in any form usually leads to division or, on the other hand, political correctness where nobody talks about anything, preferring to gloss over differences and issues where people might get hurt.

Notice my use of the word “some.” It not only avoids problems but is fair. Not every religious person is a fundamentalist. And some people assume that all religious people are fundamentalists, which itself is unfair and misguided.

But to return to our Swedenborgian believer: Looking through the tweeted article we find his response to the critique of Swedenborg and aliens. There he seems to overlook the possibility (again, I’ve touched on this elsewhere) that Swedenborg may have picked up a type of ET (or ETs) that our modern science cannot detect—that is, other lifeforms not based on (what we often assume are) the universal building blocks of life.

Perhaps Swedenborg’s mind translated these realities in terms that he and others in his era could understand. So Swedenborg writes about “wooden buildings” and “tents” on the planet Jupiter.

By way of comparison, the Old Testament has a primitive view of the Earth. It’s way off by modern standards. But that doesn’t mean that everything the Bible teaches is false.

I’m not a Swedenborgian and the spiritual feeling I sense from that belief system is certainly not my cup of tea. But I try to keep an open mind. As the old saying goes, one person’s meat is another’s poison.


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Sh**! I think it’s time for the Guru

Please listen to this. I discovered it in the mid-90s. Guru is in the other world now but his song lives on. More relevant today than ever.


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Today’s Top Tweet – Arrogance of some mystics?

Okay I’ll admit I just looked over this article, giving it a quick scan. But what I seemed to see is a view that I used to hold until, ironically, I got a little closer to God.

The author says that mysticism and holiness are not disconnected. And on that I’d agree. But to say that holiness depends on mysticism, I think, is a mistake.

Image via Wikipedia

Again, I used to think that way. But as I get older it seems that some people just “have it” without being terribly introspective. These people can be quite active and not sitting in a dark room meditating all day.

I think one of the biggest dangers of mysticism is self-aggrandisement. And the second you start thinking you’re better or closer to God than others because you have religious experiences, well, you’ve lost it my friend.

Simple as that.

Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” ~ John 20:29


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Today’s Top Tweet – Can you petition the Lord with prayer?

I was happy to see this (tweeted) web page today. We need more talk about parapsychology. Awareness and intelligent debate about parapsychology and its link to spirituality (and nuttiness) could help those overly invested in the medical perspective on self and others.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not anti-psychiatry. Far from it. Medications can help, short and maybe even long term. But anyone concerned with their overall health would be wise to consider alternatives. Different approaches might enable some to discontinue their meds. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but over the long haul. And that would be a good thing. Not only would their bodies like it. Others on our planet would be happier too (see Drugs in the Water).

Glancing over the articles in today’s tweet, I see a problem that often crops up with parapsychology research: The method does not match the madness, if you’ll pardon my pun.

A Japanese man bowing in prayer at the Kamakur...

A Japanese man bowing in prayer at the Kamakura shrine. from original to remove black space (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Take, for example, intercessory prayer. One article concludes that intercessory prayer has no verifiable effect on health. But this begs at least two questions:

  • What kind of intercessory prayer?
  • What kind of health?

Intercessory prayer takes different forms. One is vocal (or internally vocal) and the other is more contemplative and quiet.

For me, the latter is more effective. I often liken vocal prayer to using a squirt gun to put out a fire, while contemplative prayer is more like rolling out a heavy duty fire hose. Kids play with squirt guns. Adults risk their lives with fire hoses.

Mind you, all prayer is good and we’re all different. At the same time, I think there are differences in power between vocal and contemplative prayer.

But I could be wrong. Only God knows for sure.

The second question – What type of health? – is actually related to the first.

Intercession may not be visible to everyone. But I believe it helps us, psychologically and spiritually. And contrary to what some religious people say (especially those who pass themselves off as saints while behaving more like angry nuts), I believe intercession is a multi-directional interpersonal dynamic. It’s not just one-way.

Intercession may involve degrees of effectiveness but my analogy of squirt guns and fire hoses is only that. An analogy.  Life is far more nuanced than putting out a fire.

And it takes all types to make life complete. 🙂


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Today’s Punchiest Pin – Close to the edge… but not over

Image via Pinterest

Variety is the spice of life. Instead of Today’s Top Tweet we’ll look at Today’s Punchiest Pin.

David Bowie passed just over a year ago. I didn’t mark the day because, well, I busy doing other stuff. But I knew it was either coming up, around, or had just passed by.

This morning I read this excellent (pinned) article and found a surprising fact:

The World of David Bowie

The World of David Bowie (Photo: Wikipedia)

Bowie got really paranoid at one stage of the game.

But he also got out of it.

How many artists, creatives and seekers have gone a little too close to the edge but luckily pulled back just in time? My guess is a few more than most of us are willing to admit.

The funny thing about paranoia, in my opinion, is that it might sometimes be based on a very loose, distorted or misunderstood truth. The drug user or imbalanced person senses something dark and scary in their social and perhaps spiritual environment but egregiously misinterprets what they’re picking up.

When paranoid, a person lacks the usual analytical skills for assessing unpleasant or frightening impressions. Fear feeds on fear, so sometimes things escalate. This can lead to the emergency room or, better, chilling out on a friend’s comfy sofa. Sometimes I think it just depends on whether we have a good support group or not. Other times, we might have a life path and undergo difficult, challenging experiences for some greater, good reason.

Only God knows for sure. But in my view a little insight and care can go a long way in prevention.