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Panpsychism – The Future Calls?

Does your toaster get tired of making toast for you every morning? Well, that might not quite be how it goes. But some believe that all things possess consciousness. What matters, they say, is how and how much a thing organizes energy.


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Do you hear voices? Why spirituality and transpersonal psychology are so often overlooked

In my youth it was a juvenile joke to ask in a mock psychiatric tone, “DO YOU HEAR VOICES?”

Mature people realize there’s nothing funny about psychological suffering. But I think the joke was directed at the medical establishment’s understanding of mental discomfort instead of at the afflicted. At least, that’s how I saw it.

We shouldn’t laugh at people who suffer in mind and soul. By the same token, there’s nothing funny about how unusual psychological phenomena tend to be regarded by the medical establishment.

The tweeted article (above) seems to be headed in the right direction. But it overlooks two important factors that could play a role in hearing voices—spirituality and transpersonal psychology.

Michele Lamberti COMUNIONE DEI SANTI – SAINTS COMMUNION via Flickr

Spirituality and transpersonal psychology are usually linked. But they are not necessarily identical.

A Catholic churchgoer, for instance, may understand spirituality but knows little about transpersonal dynamics. And adherents of transpersonal psychology may have little appreciation for the Catholic belief in the Communion of Saints and the related idea of intercession.

There are many different stripes and colors among the spiritually sensitive.

So what is transpersonal psychology?

My understanding is that tangible connections among persons at a distance can be perceived by those sensitive enough to perceive them.

This can involve sensing others’ thoughts, feelings, their scent, what they see, hear, smell or physically feel. It can also involve a kind of subtle body awareness – to include sensuality and sexuality – because subtle bodies are said to interpenetrate.¹

For many people this is just New Age or Far-Eastern fantasy. And for most psychiatrists, it is simply “magical thinking.” However, for a certain percentage of the population, it is not fantasy nor delusion. For some, transpersonal psychology is quite real and far more complex and nuanced than a silly, reductive phrase like “magical thinking.”

The Wicked Witch of the West melts, from the William Wallace Denslow illustration in the first edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900) via Wikipedia

This leads to another factor often overlooked or ridiculed by the medical establishment: The possibility of demonic deception. Quite possibly some voices could be caused by a demon messing with a person’s head.

That is a very uncool idea these days. Not in vogue. Great stuff for movies. But definitely not real. Debate over… shut the door. People who believe in demonic influence must be mentally ill.

That is, the medical trumps the spiritual paradigm.

Why does the medical establishment mostly turn a blind eye to spirituality and transpersonal psychology? Presumably this is because the majority of its practitioners are too worldly and conceptually biased to appreciate the subtler, finer aspects of life.

Some doctors might go to church, temple or mosque. But it is doubtful that they sense higher (and lower) mystical states to any great or advanced degree.² If they did, they would probably be monks, sisters or hermits instead of medical professionals.

Hence the mainstream dismissal of important spiritual possibilities.

Funnily enough, when I first became interested in Catholicism a priest pointed to his heart and confided in me by saying, “I hear a voice, right here.” He may have been speaking figuratively, but from our conversation he seemed to be saying that this voice tells him what is from God and what is not from God, and also serves to guide him.

Being a smart guy, this priest keeps his ‘voice’ under wraps. If that kind of terminology got out, his enemies might brand him a so-called schizophrenic, which could hinder his ability to help others.

Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves ~ Matthew 10:16

For the most part, psychiatric theories have a pretty firm grip on the public imagination. Many folks parrot the latest trends and politically influenced classifications as if they were the Gospel Truth.

The medieval Church once controlled others through fear and persecution. Today, science exerts its own kind of ideological influence. But the control is so pervasive and complete that most are hardly aware of it. They conform. They believe what the doctor tells them.

You don’t think so?

Take a look at sites like Quora.com and read how some individuals completely accept medical explanations (and labels) given for their psychological suffering. Some almost seem to enjoy playing the role of “good patient.” They praise their doctors for illuminating the “truth” about their illness. And they seem oblivious to alternative explanations.

Sadly, when alternative explanations are ignored, healthier remedies could also be ignored.

So instead of experimenting with, say, the Catholic Eucharist as well as attitudinal and behavioral changes for the better, sufferers take the latest medications on the market.

God only knows how those medications (arguably a euphemism for drugs) may affect the rest of their body. Long term side-effects (arguably a euphemism for harmful effects) are often downplayed but a quick reading of scientific journals reveals that known harmful effects can be debilitating, even lethal.

Let me be clear: I am not anti-meds. If drugs help a person to cope or if they protect innocents from potentially violent individuals, they probably should be administered. But I believe drugs should always be taken with a view toward finding a better solution.

We must consider alternatives and critically assess the medical and religious ideologies of our time. An integrative approach that includes medical science and spiritual teachings would probably be optimal.

Image via Flickr

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind ~ Albert Einstein

¹ In Eastern philosophy, this involves the doctrines of adhyasa (superimposition) and karma transfer. This kind of interior perception could also include sensing the spiritual environment and influences associated with another person. In contemporary parlance, good or bad vibes.

² The academic study of religion terms this the numinous, after Rudolf Otto‘s and later, Carl Jung‘s adaptation of the Latin numen. Some say that numen is based on the Greek nooúmenon. The English term first appears in 1647.


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A Pagan Place?

The perception of Paganism has changed over the years. Pagans remain a religious minority in most places, and we find different opinions about Paganism as a spiritual path. In advanced countries it is rare and probably illegal to publicly disrespect or, especially, harass someone because they are Pagans or NeoPagans. » Read More

 General Preparations (witchesofthecraft.com)


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Two types of paranormal fraud?

When it comes to the paranormal, it seems there could be two types of frauds.

The first type would have no paranormal gifts to speak of, and conjure up all sorts of hoaxes in search of fame and fortune. The above tweeted story deals with this type.

Another type would possess paranormal gifts but instead of trying to put them to good use and advance scientific knowledge, they’d hide them. Not so much because they were afraid of being misunderstood, but because they would use those gifts to facilitate fraudulent activities.

It might sound like the latest sci-fi movie. But in my opinion, truth really is stranger than fiction.

MC


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EP Today – Does Psychiatry reinforce people playing “good patient”?

Today’s Top Tweet (above) points to an issue that demands mature reflection. Instead of the often extreme views presented at web sites like Mad in America or, at the other end of the spectrum, the baffling ideological hegemony of the APA, there is a third stance positioned somewhere between those polarized perspectives.

With regard to today’s tweet, just because someone has a delusion or perception that a drug effectively blocks, it does not necessarily follow that the thing the person was deluded about or perceiving does not exist.

For example, say a person thinks that terrorists, the CIA or perhaps the mafia are after them. Then a drug calms the person down and, so it turns out, she or he is never murdered as previously feared.

Does it logically follow that terrorists, the CIA or the mafia do not exist? No, it means that these entities do exist but that they were probably not after that person.

Same thing with spiritual entities, good and bad, one could argue.

I applaud this man for writing about his experience but, with all due respect, it seems he is relieved to feel better and playing the role of “good patient”—and I’m sure many in the psychiatric community would approve of that.

Problem is, that kind of thing can lead to and reinforce superficial claims about the nature of reality. And THAT, in my opinion, can hurt people who actually do sense demons, angels and, who knows, maybe ETs.

Life is rarely as simple as either/or. Although some psychiatrists and members of the general public might like us to think so. I think the wisest thing the author of the tweeted story says is, “I don’t know for sure.”

MC

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EP Today – Are we all the same? Should we be?

Today’s Top Tweet gave me pause for reflection. In the past I’ve seen some charismatic Evangelicals as not too different from, say, Superbowl or Wresting fans.

The Indian guru Sri Aurobindo talked about different levels of consciousness. I’ve rejected a lot of what Aurobindo says but I recall that he’d probably see some charismatics as operating on what he called the “vitalistic” plane—that is, vital instead of higher spiritual energy. For Aurobindo, there wasn’t a single spirituality but, instead, several different mind levels.

All very interesting. Sometimes I think a bit like this when comparing different people and different religions (or even differences within one person). To say all religions and spiritual states of mind are the same is, to me, like saying all cities of the world are the same.

Cities may exhibit some common features but obviously they differ in important ways.

Because religion is such a personal, sensitive issue for many, we run the risk in this politically correct world of getting into real trouble if we even dare suggest that religions and spiritual states might differ. And this is oppressive to free thought and, perhaps, to genuine development—in both theory and practice.

To focus a little more precisely on just one religion – Christianity – I think it’s also relevant to suggest that there could be real differences among individuals and their Christian beliefs and practices.

At the same time, we can’t know for certain what another person inwardly experiences. We may think we do. Through subtle transpersonal connections we may get glimmers. But we can’t fully know what it’s like to be them.

Image via Pixabay | Tumblr

Only God can have the final say. Although sometimes, I admit, I have wondered if God really knows what it’s like to NOT be omniscient. This opens the door for all kinds of theological reflection that I don’t have time to explore here.

Another point to consider: How do we define spirituality?

For some, spirituality is an intense nature trip. Others say watching sci-fi or fantasy shows are spiritual activities. Again, only God can say who is “spiritual” and who is not. And even if there are fundamental differences, who’s to say we should all be the same?

If the world were mostly contemplative mystics, I think we’d run into trouble pretty fast. By the same token, if the world were mostly movers and shakers, I think we’d have similar difficulties.

Bottom line?

Respect the mix.

MC

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Rigid, fundamentalist thinking goes in all directions

This is a good article (tweeted) but it overlooks the oft unspoken corollary: Too much faith in a mechanistic psychological worldview might keep some people unhappy. So many of us are impressed by the achievements of science and especially technology. And rightly so. No wonder many believe that feeling good is largely dependent on a healthy brain. Obviously brain functioning plays a huge role in our sense of well being.

But there’s more. A lot more.

Some people might be chronically unhappy because they’re stuck in a mechanistic worldview that ignores the primacy of the spiritual life. It’s almost as if we have everything upside down in the modern world. Spirituality is often seen as the icing on the cake. You can get by without it, but it’s a nice, tasty add-on.

Image via Tumblr

For me, it’s the opposite. Spirituality is top shelf and therefore my master command. Everything else is necessary and enjoyable but secondary.

By way of analogy, a society exists in its own right but needs an executive assembly and usually a national leader. Without a leader, society would become a confused, mass jumble. And so it is with spirituality and all the other aspects of life.

It’s hard for some people to appreciate this view. But I’m glad it’s mine.

The way I see it, fundamentalism is not just about religion. Fundamentalism can go in any direction. Ironically, sometimes we encounter people who are both religious and scientific fundamentalists. Instead of integrating their outlook into a mature, comprehensive whole, they compartmentalize their thinking according to religious teachings and the latest psychology studies to hit the news.

If people want to fashion their lives under the dictates of a high profile religious leader, on the one hand, and someone like John Tesh, on the other hand, that’s fine by me. But it’s certainly not my style! — MC

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