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The Greenman, The Empress, Little John and Indy Jones: Untying a Celtic Knotwork

Originally posted on Shamagaia:

celtic-animal-ornament

illum_recently I experienced some very vivid psychic impressions during a lucid dreaming experience. One in particular had me receiving images of the Celtic symbolSerpiente_alquimica of the Greenman, and leading a Druidic prayer ritual in a stunning forest grove. I suspect that it might have been a peek through the eyes of ancestral memory, or perhaps a hint of things to come. Cyclically speaking, it might even be one and the same event: a past and future imposed upon one another, linked acausally by reoccurring astrological conditions of the sort expressed Alchemically by the Ouroboros snake eating it’s own tail. One things for sure, I will be doing a lot more research into Celtic lore!
The timing of this experience was telling. It was the night before my dear, departed Grandad’s RWS_Tarot_03_Empressbirthday and the week previously, I had recieved a very clear psychic image of a Tarot card with a…

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Transcendent warfare: Human consciousness the key?

Water War by Mark Rain via Flickr

By Steve Hammons (originally posted at Joint Recon Study Group 9/11/2008)

The term “transcendent warfare” was used by a U.S. Navy SEAL officer several years ago to describe the use of leading-edge knowledge and methods that could be helpful in achieving many important objectives.

The SEAL officer, L.R. Bremseth, indicated in a graduate-level research paper for the Marine Corps War College that transcendent warfare includes not only the deployment of certain methods, but also the understanding of underlying concepts.

He noted a significant range of opportunities for the utilization of leading-edge transcendent activities in U.S. national defense efforts.

People sometimes ask, “Is transcendent warfare a way to conduct war more successfully, or is it a way to transcend actual warfare and accomplish objectives in other ways?”

Transcendent warfare may be both … and more.

Transcendent concepts may help average people around the world understand ways to improve their lives and develop constructive solutions to the challenges they may face. In other words, transcendent understanding may enhance human development and change human consciousness.

NATIONAL SECURITY ACTIVITIES

In his paper, Bremseth summarized activities related to facilitating robust psychological and perceptual functioning of U.S. military and intelligence personnel.

He noted that research into human behavior and thinking processes is ever-expanding and that these developments can provide very useful insight and significant assets.

One aspect of transcendent warfare is establishing a perspective from which transcendent concepts can be understood. This is the formation of a certain perspective, viewpoint and understanding.

Another element is translating this understanding into activities can be deployed to accomplish worthwhile missions and tasks.

These may include “hard power” methods as well as “soft power” efforts. They may be applied to special operations missions and humanitarian activities. They may assist “public diplomacy” and constructive psychological operations. They may involve open source intelligence (OSINT) platforms and educational/sociological outreach.

Transcendent concepts and activities can provide additional resources and tools for many kinds of situations … situations that are of importance to us now.

HUMAN DEVELOPMENT

When we hear a term like transcendent warfare, the ideas of improving the state of the human race and solving the myriad of problems facing humanity might not immediately come to mind.

However, a study of the theories and activities on which the idea of transcendent warfare is based clearly indicates a potential for far-reaching positive changes for the human race and our planet.

Why? At the heart of transcendent concepts is human psychology and human consciousness. Most problems facing the human race are based on these fundamental elements. Many solutions lie in those same basic platforms too.

Enhancing human perception and understanding are keys to the transcendent perspective. Some of the research and activities conducted regarding discoveries in the area of human consciousness clearly indicate great potential for short-term and long-term human development.

How will these discoveries in consciousness and transcendent perspectives help us? It may not be completely clear. Important progress has already been made in integrating some of these leading-edge discoveries into the mass media and our everyday lives.

Social, educational, cultural, spiritual, medical, public safety, governmental, defense and other components of human societies can make greater use of transcendent viewpoints.

As they do, we may see a new paradigm, tipping point or breakthrough in the ways the human race solves problems and makes progress.

About the Author

Steve Hammons is the author of two novels about a U.S. Government and military joint-service research team investigating unusual phenomena. MISSION INTO LIGHT and the sequel LIGHT’S HAND introduce readers to the ten women and men of the “Joint Reconnaissance Study Group” and their exciting adventures exploring the unknown.

 


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Afterlife with Archie: Issue #4 (Oedipal Archie)

Originally posted on Stuff Jeff Reads:

AfterlifeArchie_04

This comic is graphic, scary, and now I can add intellectually engaging. I have nothing but praise for this.

This issue begins with a flashback to when Archie is young and his parents took him to adopt a puppy. Archie’s mom, Mary, is struck with sadness as she remembers having a dog as a child, and when the dog died, having to face the realization that death is an inevitable part of life, something her own young son must one day learn.

Mary: …I’m just remembering the dog I had, when I was a girl. Spotty. How overjoyed I was when I got him, and how utterly devastated I was when… when…

Fred: Spotty was a good dog.

Mary: He was, and it was the most awful feeling, Fred, and I can’t bear the thought of Archie going through it.

Fred: Yes, but that’s years from now, Mary. And sad…

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Mysticism and Sainthood – Part 1 – One or Many?

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By Michael Clark

The word “mysticism” speaks to a variety of phenomena reported within most world religions.

In his 1963 classic, Mysticism in World Religion, Rev. Sidney Spencer looks at the idea of “interior perception” as one aspect of mysticism. Spencer says that virtually all mystics claim to be in contact with a transcendent realm “which typically assumes the form of knowledge, often described in terms of vision, and of union.”¹

Spencer also believes that mysticism is essential to not only religion but to humanity’s future. But Spencer warns against generalizing the claims of mystics without sufficient facts. To do so, he says, could be misleading.

The religion scholar Ninian Smart talks about religious experience within a global-historical context and, in a similar vein as Spencer, highlights their differences through the analogy of sports: To say that all sports are essentially the same is ridiculous. And Smart believes it is equally wrong to say that all religions are essentially the same religion or, for that matter, that all different types of mysticism can be reduced to a single mysticism.

It is, I think, useful to distinguish between religion and religions, or to put it another way between religion and a religion. This is similar to the distinction between sport and sports. A religion is a given tradition of a religious kind, and so religious experience is often picked out by considering crucial experiences in the lives of those who belong to such traditions.²

Critics of Smart say his analogy is unjustified because mysticism deals with God, and there is only one God. And some New Age and politically correct thinkers denounce anyone trying to analytically assess and soberly compare different religious truth claims, insinuating that to do so is religious fascism, bigotry or hate.

It’s almost as if it has become a great sin to simply think about religious differences instead of mindlessly accepting the idea that all religious experiences are exactly the same.

Contrary to this prevalent bias, Geoffrey Parrinder argues

The important distinctions in mysticism are not so much between the layman and the expert as between the assumptions and the objects of the mystical quest. It is popularly said that all religions are the same though their differences should be evident to unprejudiced eyes and part of their fascination is their diversity.³

Parrinder highlights Martin Buber’s distinction between mystics who say they

  • are God (I-It)
  • relate to God (I-Thou).

To say there is no difference, Parrinder says, “is like telling a lover that his experience of embracing his beloved is the same as embracing the hedge at the bottom of the garden.”4

Indeed, it is entirely reasonable to question whether one person’s experience (and interpretation of) their alleged encounter with God differs from another person’s. And to say otherwise is just silly.

To draw another analogy, imagine an ancient or medieval astronomer who sees the Andromeda galaxy as we see it today. He or she doesn’t see Andromeda as a magical being or as mysterious cloud. Instead, he or she views Andromeda as a distant group of stars. If this challenges the local dignitaries’ beliefs, the astronomer might be punished, perhaps even killed.

A similar situation arose with Galileo, whose heliocentric theory hit a brick wall with Catholic power brokers who insisted on a Biblical geocentric model of the solar system. These apparently loving and religiously inspired clergy put Galileo under house arrest for the rest of his days, a scene which wasn’t easy for Galileo to deal with.

But I digress. The point I’m trying to make is that authoritarian stupidity is alive and well today. Like many short-sighted folk of former times, some people today see themselves as open minded but instantly shut down or react if their pet paradigm is challenged.

Perhaps these narrow-minded individuals find it too scary to envision a broader canvas. Well that’s fine. But problems arise when they hold positions of social power and use their power to trivialize, exploit or oppress those who simply wish to rationally investigate the intriguing idea of mysticism and its sometime companion, sainthood.


1 Sidney Spencer, Mysticism in World Religion (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1963: 9). A footnote to my article Krishna, Buddha and Christ mentions the idea of interior perception as described by Catholic saints.

2 Ninian Smart, “Understanding Religious Experience” in Steven Katz, ed., Mysticism and Philosophical Analysis (New York: Oxford University Press, 1978: 11). On the same page Smart adds that many religious experiences happen “out of the blue” to people of no particular tradition. He also says that conversion experiences often occur “at the frontier between non-belonging and belonging to a given tradition.” Thus “we should start with traditions in pinning down religious experience [but] we should not confine religious experience to this area.” Interestingly, the Catholic understanding of conversion is that a Christian exists in “seed form” before becoming fully aware of this ontological fact.

³ Geoffrey Parrinder, Mysticism in the World’s Religions (Oxford: One World, 1995: 192). Parrinder also critiques R. C. Zaehner’s sometimes unreasonable statements about mysticism as found in Mysticism: Sacred and Profane (Oxford, 1957).

4 Ibid.

Part 2 – Mysticism, Science and Politics

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Perfectionism and Spiritual Addiction

Originally posted on Shamagaia:

file000868040064Image source: morgueFile.com


There are any number of well-worn epithets to comfort us when we blow-off that fad diet, when we screw up at work, or hurt our loved ones; yet for some reason, many of us often get right back on that treadmill and keep on keeping on, with the illusion that if we can just achieve that perfect state of something or other, then all will be milk and honey.

Striving for perfection in life, whilst admirable from a certain perspective, can be deeply problematic. It’s often accompanied by a persistent sense that you are never good enough, or that you are only as successful as your last fleeting triumph. Having to constantly defend a sense of perfected completeness is an exercise in ego-manipulation which demands that your successful achievements, whether they be physical, intellectual, creative or spiritual, be considered inviolable.

The problem with such an idea is…

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Perspectives on The Bhagavad Gita

As it Is by Jeremy

As it Is by Jeremy via Flickr

By Michael Clark

To kill or not to kill

Many say The Bhagavad Gita is the Hindu Bible. Among diverse Hindu scriptures, the Gita stands out as a unique gem, synthesizing several core aspects of Hinduism. At least, this is how enthusiasts talk about the Gita. Critics tend to see it as a misguided justification for violence.

The Gita belongs within the Mahabharata, an epic about two warring families. Because of its literary and philosophical sophistication, most scholars believe the Gita was added to the already existing Mahabharata around 450 BCE, approximately 500 years after the original epic was written (circa 1000 BCE).

When it comes to ancient texts, insertions like this are not unusual. Almost all contemporary biblical scholars say that diverse oral traditions and authors run though many Old Testament books formerly believed to be written by just one person.

The story of the Gita is pretty straighforward. The hero, Arjuna, of the virtuous Pandava family, is cheated out of his palace by the wicked Karauva family. As a result, the deity Krishna, seated at the back of Arjuna’s chariot, urges him to fight in a massive battle against the evil Karauvas. Because the Pandavas and Karauvas are kith and kin, the noble Arjuna hesitates when Krishna exhorts him to kill members of the Karauva side of the family.

In response to Arjuna’s hesitation, Krishna launches forth on a metaphysical discourse about sacred duty (dharma) and the immortality of the soul (atman). Krishna says Arjuna is justified in killing because it’s his sacred obligation as a member of the warrior caste (Kshatriya). As a Kshatriya he’s duty-bound to restore a moral balance perilously skewed by the Karauva’s evil ways.

On a metaphysical level, Krishna says that Arjuna would not really be killing because, at the deepest level, the soul is immortal. Arjuna’s spiritual ignorance makes him believe he’d be doing wrong by slaying the Karauvas. In fact, Krishna says physicality is an illusion spun by the web of maya (deception arising from ignorance). Krishna adds that Arjuna’s ignorance must be dispelled before he can attain the clear vision required to do the right thing–that is, to kill the Karauvas.

A psychological interpretation

Lord Krishna Speaks to Arjuna by His Holiness Bhaktiratna Sadhu Swami Gaurangapada

Lord Krishna Speaks to Arjuna by His Holiness Bhaktiratna Sadhu Swami Gaurangapada via Flickr

Don’t let this brief summary fool you. The Gita is not a mere outburst nor artistic representation of anger. Krishna forwards a detailed philosophical and religious argument advocating the physical killing of human beings. Taken literally, the Gita says killing human beings who disrupt the moral order is not just okay, it’s holy.

Some may agree with this stance, citing rough parallels like the Jewish Holy War, the Christian Just War and the Muslim jihad. Others find it deplorable.

Like any text, literary or not, the Gita must be interpreted. So forgetting the bellicose readings of the Gita, it seems more constructive to interpret the Gita on a psycho-spiritual level. This isn’t a novel approach. Several Indian thinkers have written about the psychological aspects of the Gita. In fact, the great champion of non-violence, Mohandas Gandhi, said the Gita was his favorite book, one that could untie any spiritual knot.

Gandhi’s notion of spiritual knots reminds us that the psyche can be complicated. Some psychologists say that the complexities of the psyche are genetically determined. Behaviorists, on the other hand, say the mind is conditioned by the environment. Most, however, take the middle way by highlighting nature and nurture.

But the analysis shouldn’t stop there. Many theologians from different religions believe that spiritual powers act on our personalities, a perspective often ignored within psychology.

Sri Ramakrishna and C. G. Jung

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa - Sri Ramakrishna Ashrama, Mysore by Chetan Hegde M

Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa – Sri Ramakrishna Ashrama, Mysore by Chetan Hegde M via Flickr

The Indian holy man Sri Ramakrishna says that spiritual enlightenment entails a process of purification. This process is not always easy to endure. For Ramakrishna, the inferior aspects of the personality are purged through the mechanism of suffering.

Ramakrishna gives an analogy of rotten tomatoes. Old tomatoes rot faster, he says, when bashed up and thrown out the window. This might sound enigmatic but Ramakrishna’s analogy might be better understood if we compare it to Carl Jung’s work on psychological suffering within the context of alchemy.

Jung studied ancient and medieval alchemical practices and came to see alchemy as a process of inner transformation. He believed the alchemist’s desire to transform base metals into gold mirrored their psychological transformation. As metals are heated and transformed, the alchemist evolves psychologically.

Some alchemists, no doubt, were hucksters trying to scam zealous aristocrats searching for gold, but others were sincere. The true alchemist sought to create a mystical tonic to cure illness and ensure immortality. But this elixir came through prolonged boilings, just as psycho-spiritual purification entails suffering.

Jung’s view of alchemy parallels Ramakrishna’s take on the Gita because both point to a stormy and painful stage of personal growth.

As we journey through life, people and events tempt or irritate us. During moments of temptation or agitation our lesser qualities can arise. Some accept these personality aspects, leaving them unchanged. For these people it’s not degrading to express their animal – or perhaps evil – nature. It’s just natural, healthy and whole. By way of contrast, potential saints are consumed with the idea of eradicating lower personality traits. Some may even self-flagellate in an attempt to conquer sinful tendencies.

Most of us fall somewhere between those two extremes. Confronted with bad habits or irritating people, we can view that as an opportunity for reflection, knowledge and self-control.

Apostle Paul. Byzantine mosaic at the...

Apostle Paul. Byzantine mosaic at the cathedral of Monreale. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A psychological interpretation of the Gita views much of life as a battlefield. We are often confronted with antagonistic influences, personalities and opinions. But life isn’t quite that simple. And a psychological interpretation of the Gita, while superior to a literal one, dwells on the abrasive side of human relationships.

However, disharmony is only half the story. Perhaps not even half. Conflicts will always arise. But other people can give us a lift and not just bring us down. And instead of hitting back when people hurt us, shouldn’t we try to overcome our pain and anger through understanding and compassion?

As Saint Paul says:

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

1 Corinthians 13:1-2


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The Dislike of Catholicism: Understanding the Holy in the Catholic Tradition – 5 – Psychological reasons

Big Bad Wolf

Big Bad Wolf (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Projection onto the Big Bad Wolf

Now we turn to those who dislike Catholicism mostly because of their baggage—that is, their unresolved psychological issues.

Some Christians routinely advocate angry, hateful behavior. And if they see any vice among individual Catholics they arguably project their own anger – and other shortcomings – onto Catholicism as a whole. This type of Christian is self-perceived as genuine and true while Catholics are deemed invalid.

The self-righteous Christian may try to engage others in heated messaging wars over specific points of doctrine. With these individuals, the ideal of loving within the mystical body of Christ gets twisted into something more like negative attention seeking, stemming from an unresolved personal issue.

Non-Catholic Christians certainly are not the only folks who project their personal issues onto Big Religion. All sorts of people are prone to projection. Projection is a convenient way to ignore the inside by blaming something outside.¹

For instance, individuals and groups from non-US countries often single out the US as the Big Bad Wolf, as if other nations aren’t acting in their own self interest and, perhaps, less humanely than the US.

English: Photo of graffiti: "MI5 train ps...

Photo of graffiti: “MI5 train psychic mind readers – fact!!” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Religion and Spirituality – mutually exclusive?

Some New Age believers and talk show psychics believe they have paranormal abilities or enhanced knowledge about unusual phenomena like aliens and UFOs.

These folks typically see religion and spirituality as categorically different. Religion is all bad. Spirituality, great. And there’s no overlap for these black and white thinkers.

If the perceptions of alleged psychics critical of Catholicism originate from God, it seems that their impressions, insights and intuitions would be accurate and applied to the common good. But often with alleged psychics we find arrogance, self-absorption, hypocrisy and really moronic science. Little or no attempt is made to verify their claims, even though boldly proclaimed through the media. And the possibility of analytic overlay remains unchecked. Analytic overlay is a concept used by Remote Viewers but it could apply to the general idea of psi.

Remote viewing also involves the awareness that we can incorrectly interpret incoming data. A misperception can occur when our conscious minds get in the way and our imagination or existing mindset fills in the blanks or jumps to a conclusion about a remote viewing impression. Remote viewers call this “analytic overlay” and good remote viewers take steps to minimize it.²

Some psychics seem so entrenched in their paranormal, imaginative, deluded or perhaps pretend world that they show no appreciation for Catholic mysticism. The self-important psychic knows best. And that’s all. Most mature Catholics, however, don’t flaunt or advertise their spiritual gifts for profit or self-aggrandizement. St. Paul says that any such gifts are meaningless without true, unselfish love.

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.  (1 Corinthians 13: 1-4).³

Debate between Catholics and Oriental Christia...

Debate between Catholics and Oriental Christians in the 13th century, Acre 1290. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fallen Away Catholics

Another consideration is the so-called fallen away Catholic who dislikes Catholicism. “Fallen away” is a recent Catholic phrase. It’s the Church’s way of correcting itself over the old phrase, “lapsed Catholic,” which sounds a bit nastier.

Assuming fallen away Catholics did not suffer some kind of abuse in their past experience with the Church, it seems probable that some – certainly not all – began as cradle Catholics who routinely went to church, possibly coerced by their families. From their early conditioning, personality and other factors, these individuals might never have become firmly established in the Holy Spirit. Catholicism just didn’t work for them. And later in life they embrace something else that provides tangible numinous experience and communal support—for example, a non-Catholic religion or cult.

These individuals might remain happy with their newly chosen path for their entire lives. And memories of Catholicism might only serve to conjure up negative feelings of familial coercion, boredom, and so on. No wonder they’d dislike Catholicism as adults. Quite possibly they never felt the Holy within the Church. And if they once did, bad memories and new interests, together, could trump their recollection of positive Catholic spirituality.

The parable in Mark 4: 2-9 of seeds planted on a path, rocks, thorns and good soil seems to apply here:

In his teaching he said, “Listen! A farmer went out to plant his seed. He scattered the seed on the ground. Some fell on a path. Birds came and ate it up. Some seed fell on rocky places, where there wasn’t much soil. The plants came up quickly, because the soil wasn’t deep. When the sun came up, it burned the plants. They dried up because they had no roots. Other seed fell among thorns. The thorns grew up and crowded out the plants. So the plants did not bear grain. Still other seed fell on good soil. It grew up and produced a crop 30, 60, or even 100 times more than the farmer planted.” Then Jesus said, “Those who have ears should listen.”

But let’s not jump to conclusions nor generalize unfairly. No doubt many who leave Catholicism continue to experience God in their lives. And many could be on an extremely healthy path, according to God’s plan. Some Catholics might stop attending Mass simply because it no longer speaks to them. Or maybe it’s something as simple as vocational demands conflicting with a desire to attend. In their heart, mind and soul, however, these individuals still see themselves as true Catholics or, at least, as God-fearing persons.

¹ Projection can be adaptive to a point. But when a person matures, it becomes necessarily to strip as many projections as possible.

² Steve Hammons, ‘Remote Viewing’ has Basis in Science, Military Intelligence.

³ A similar idea crops up in Hinduism, where the holy person follows the dictum of “action without fruit.” This means that worldly reward (preya) is not sought nor expected for one’s good deeds. However, seeking spiritual reward (sreya) is okay in Hinduism. The key is to align the personal will with God’s will.

Copyright © Michael Clark, 2014.

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