The Real Alternative

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Excellent video about Neurotheology

I’ve panned Dr. Andrew Newberg in the past for making seemingly simplistic claims. But it’s very possible I was wrong to do so. Either that, or his thinking and scientific humility has developed dramatically. This video reveals an Andrew Newberg that I really didn’t know existed. As Yoda might have said, “Pleasantly surprised, I was…”

But seriously. This video is a must for anyone interested in the interface of spirituality, religious practices, and the brain. Follow the link in the above tweet and scroll down the page to watch.

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Chinese researchers conclude yoga benefits diabetes patients

Special to

Researchers at China’s Binzhou Medical University, Xuzhou Central Hospital and Donghua University have concluded that yoga benefits adult patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (T2DM), said to be one of most frequently encountered metabolic syndromes worldwide.

An abstract of the article “Effects of Yoga in Adult Patients with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus: A Meta-Analysis” published online at Journal of Diabetes Investigation stated: “A meta-analysis was performed to evaluate the efficacy of yoga in adult patients with T2DM”.

Researchers (Jie Cui, Jun-Hong Yan, Li-Ming Yan, Lei Pan, Jia-Jin Le, Yong-Zhong Guo) summed up in this article accepted on June 29: Based on the evidence, yoga significantly reduces fasting blood glucose (FBG) levels and alters other significant clinical outcomes in patients with T2DM. These results support the idea that yoga-based training is a possible alternative exercise for T2DM management.

In this study, researchers performed a meta-analysis of 12 randomized controlled trials involving 864 patients in United Kingdom, India, Cuba and Iran to determine the effectiveness of yoga in patients with T2DM. The available evidence suggested that yoga can significantly decrease patient FBG, postprandial blood glucose, hemoglobin A1c, total cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels and increase their high-density lipoprotein cholesterol.

Meanwhile, Hindu advocate Rajan Zed called the Chinese institutions looking into the efficacy of multi-faceted yoga among diabetic patients “a step in the positive direction”. Zed urged all major world universities to explore various benefits yoga offered.

Yoga, referred as “a living fossil”, was a mental and physical discipline, for everybody to share and benefit from, whose traces went back to around 2,000 BCE to Indus Valley civilization, Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, noted.

Mr. Zed further said that yoga, although introduced and nourished by Hinduism, was a world heritage and liberation powerhouse to be utilized by all. According to Patanjali who codified it in Yoga Sutra, yoga was a methodical effort to attain perfection, through the control of the different elements of human nature, physical and psychical.

According to US National Institutes of Health, yoga may help one to feel more relaxed, be more flexible, improve posture, breathe deeply, and get rid of stress. According to a recently released “2016 Yoga in America Study”, about 37 million Americans (which included many celebrities) now practice yoga; and yoga is strongly correlated with having a positive self image.  Yoga was the repository of something basic in the human soul and psyche, Zed added.

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Time for “religion” and “spirituality” to bury the hatchet

When it comes to a God, religion speaks of a higher being that is distant from humanity, one that lives in what may be another world, such as heaven. Spirituality stresses that God is within all of us, and there is no separation between humanity and this greater being. (Source: Article in above tweet)

Every time I see this distinction I get the impression that the person making it doesn’t really know what they’re talking about.

For instance, during Catholic Mass it might seem that some people woodenly go through the motions. To an observer they might appear to mumble words and sit or stand from sheer force of habit.  But a mere observer has no idea what’s going on inside their souls.

Speaking for Catholics, some of my acquaintances tell me about their ongoing personal experiences with God, graces, and the spiritual intercession of saints. God is very close for these Catholic churchgoers. Also, the belief about the Eucharist, which many Catholics receive daily, is that the heavenly Christ appears in the flesh, right here on Earth. And for many, that is not just the belief but also the inner experience.

Sometimes when I’m going to Mass and see some unhappy looking passersby near the Church, I’m tempted to say, “Hey Jesus Christ is arriving here in about 10 minutes! Interested?” But I don’t, of course, because I have a pretty good idea what the answer would be.

I bet if a full person, replete with head, arms and legs were to appear out of nothing and broadcast his showtime later that day, the venue would be packed with crowds overflowing out on to the street.  But because the Eucharist is a miraculous and subtle transformation/presence of inner substance but not of gross outward form, only some appreciate it, for whatever reasons. And I get the impression that most non-Catholics, especially non-Christians, just think the whole idea is silly.

Anyhow, I digress. The point is, it does no good to make a black and white distinction between religion and spirituality. Not only is it theologically misinformed but from my experience and from talking with other believers, it is misinformed on an experiential level.

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Another view of reincarnation

The story this tweet points to may seem convincing that the belief in reincarnation is real or at, least, something worthy of serious study. I agree that it’s an idea worth looking at. But I question how people interpret stories like these.

Reincarnation Parade in Hannover 19 August 200...

Reincarnation Parade in Hannover 19 August 2006. Infront of Hannover RatHaus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Human beings are interpreting animals. Something comes to us, either from inside or outside, and our minds interpret what it means. I stress the word interpret because it seems many lay and scientific people, alike, tend to overlook this obvious point.

Okay, so we interpret reality. Fine. But how might that apply to the belief in reincarnation?

I’ve written about this over the years at and in several places. So I’ll try to boil it down here.

Basically, we have no idea if the alleged memories, even if factually correct, are coming from a child’s past life. There are other possible explanations. Here are some, off the top of my head:

  • a dark or evil spirit who never was human knows about this data and implants it in a child’s head
  • a departed spirit our soul who actually lived a human life implants the data in the child’s head – but that spirit our soul differs from the child’s spirit or soul

These other explanations might sound far-fetched to some. But isn’t the idea of reincarnation just as far out?

I think so. — MC

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Psychics – fact or fraud?

I consider myself intuitive so cannot rule out the possibility that some people could call up a strong intuitive ability on demand. However, anything I may intuit is always passive. That is, I don’t ask for it. And I don’t stare up between my eyebrows and foam at the mouth. I wouldn’t want to. If anything comes, it just comes automatically any time throughout the day.

There’s lot of room for error in this area. That’s why I believe we should be “scientific” about intuition (or more actively psychic abilities) as much as possible.

How can we be scientific?

Well, it’s not too complicated. Just see if what you intuited or “picked up” is actually true. And if it’s about the future, whether or not it comes true. Also, intuitives should openly admit mistakes, just as any good scientist would.

Okay, maybe it’s not quite that simple. The universe is a complicated place and there could be all sorts of soft, indirect or symbolic intuitions. If you don’t get what I’m talking about, not to worry. It likely means you’re more of a “practical” person and don’t have to concern yourself with the finer points of intuition.

I wouldn’t want a medical doctor, for instance, saying “hold on… I just have to meditate for half an hour to get how to treat you.” No. An MD needs to know all the current data about medical science. And that’s what she or he should be doing. Not to say that some degree of intuition isn’t involved in a good diagnoses. It probably is. In most instance it’s usually best to combine the intellect and the gut.

I have no idea if the alleged psychic in this tweet is for real or not. But I thought this would be a good place to add my two bits on the topic.–MC

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Very credible account of paranormal activity

Mike is a health care worker, computer guy and artist who, as far as I can see, specializes in exceptionally good fractal art. Over the past few months I’ve interacted with him a bit through the internet. He seems grounded, mature and entirely credible. So reading his paranormal accounts pretty well rules out, in my view, the possibility of some fiction writer trying to make it as a fake paranormal writer.

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Lady Gaga’s 20 Minutes with Dalai Lama brings media storm in China

Earthpages is “the real alternative,” so don’t expect me to gush out the usual politically correct stuff about the DL. Personally, I think he’s a bit of a poser. First, I think that the notion of reincarnation is too simple—a manmade theory trying to make sense of a mysterious universe. So basically, we have this kid who bought into the idea that he was the reincarnation of someone important. If you don’t understand what I’m saying here, look up how the DL is selected. Very shaky, if you ask me.

Second, I have exceptionally good reasons to believe in God, and Buddhists say that God is just a human idea. So on those two counts, I distrust the DL. Also, I wonder where the funding comes from in Buddhism. Is it magically free of corruption? I doubt it.

Let’s get real. Organized religions and much of society usually have a dark underbelly. At least the Catholic Church is addressing that issue rather than sweeping it under the rug. And I would imagine that the DL and his group are still in the “cover it up at all costs” phase. I have no proof of this. But just a hunch.

The other reason I would never follow the DL is because I saw him when he came to Toronto, quite some time ago. Yes, there was a perceptible buzz in the room. But it was not the kind of holy feeling that I feel through Christ. It was a different experience. And, for me, inferior.

So as I say, don’t expect political correctness from me. Especially when it comes to, imo, religious posers.—MC


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