Authority is useful until you grow up and BELIEVE in yourself!!!!

Saturday, April 16th, 2016

I don’t know why AUTHORITY is so compelling.  Why do we have such little faith in our own judgment? If you’re not submitting to AUTHORITY, you’re a skeptic who’s rebelling against it. I’m thinking its human nature — but we must find the middle ground. Neuroscientist, Andrew Newberg, MD (how’s that for creds?) tells us that people tend to believe authority figures with impressive credentials (46). We’re still giving a lot of credit to 17th and 18th Century philosophers! It’s dangerous to follow authority especially as information can easily be used to further a personal agenda. As Godel proved, nothing can be proved without a doubt, right? We trust statistics, right? and yet a clever manipulation of perfectly valid statistics can “prove” just about anything.

In 1961 Stanley Milgram, a now famous social psychologist out of Yale University, affected by his parents’ deaths in a Nazi concentration camp, set up  the Milgram Experiment in the basement of Yale’s Linsly-Chittenden Hall.

Newberg then asks us how we can know if anyone is telling you the truth about anything? Brain in vat is a metaphor used by cognitive theorists in discussing the nature of human consciousness, and a useful description of what political or religious fanatics may attempt to do. “Think of a “brain in a vat” scenario in which a false sense of reality is fed into the minds of the unsuspecting” (46) through using strong symbols and images — like mostly uneducated Hindus in India swept up into a political whirlwind by using a religious icon in the early 1990s.

Unfortunately, institutions where only a few at the top control populations become standard models in many societies, such power has lethal ramifications for obedient millions dependent on religious systems. As I wrote in my final paper in my class on Eastern Indian culture, I said:

Symbols have consistently proven useful by both secular and religious institutions as powerful triggers that harness community purpose and obedience.   In 1993, Sheldon Pollock, a former Professor of Sanskrit and Indic Studies at the University of Chicago, explored a tragic example of this in his essay, The Ramayana and Political Imagination in India.  Apparently, the Ramayana was used to inspire events that resulted in the deaths of 3,000 Indians through “communal” rioting across India at the end of 1990-91.  The riots which began in October of 1990, were apparently ignited when BJP’s president, L.K. Advanti, rode a Toyota truck that he had turned into Rama’s Epic Chariot, from Somnath in Gujarat to Adhoya in Northern India.  To support Mr. Advanti, the Vihva Hindu Parishad (VHP) stated in court documents that “Rama is an immemorial object of worship basic to Hinduism and this worship was being impeded by the presence of a mosque built on the site of his birthplace.” (261)

 

It would seem a paradox then that even though the VHP stated their reasons for this violence were religious, many of the military trained youth that manually demolished a mosque on 12/6/1992 claimed themselves to be atheist.  Even so, instead of shocking India, these events gave the BJP enough notoriety to become the ruling party in India from 1998 to 2004.  In response, Pollock asks what the symbol of Rama’s Epic Chariot represented so that someone could change an apparent heroic tale of love, loss and recovery from the classic past to so greatly empower a vision for violent modern political tactics. (262)  In his research of the symbolic power embedded in the Ramayana, Pollock found a key around 1200 A.D. when a king suddenly became Rama setting precedence for these popular religious tales to be used for secular political purposes.

In fact Newberg feels the brain in a vat has scientific validity because we are all biologically confined to the limitations of our physical senses when we try to assess reality. As of yet, science has not come to a consensus as to what reality really is, but there is some view that your reality is what you perceive it to be. We know how important perception is because placebos work in many cases.

In the 1970s, cognitive psychologists and neurologists became interested in optical illusions because these phenomena provided in sight into the mechanisms of perception that shape our views of reality. They discovered that the brain often creates images that do not exist in the world.
3d box

 

you know this one…”When you look at the cube you notice the orientation of the cube reverses, making the surface both appearing as the front and back faces. (51)

 

 

 

profile or goblet

 

This one’s also famous. “The brain turns ambiguous shapes into recognizable form. It also shows how perceptual reversals and biases occur. This illusion has helped neuroscientists to identify other reality-construction mechanisms of the brain, including pattern, object, and facial-recognition circuits.” (52)

 

 

girl or crone

 

Can you see both the beauty and the Crone? “Most people can find one image but not the other, even after they’ve been told to look for a young woman and an old hag. In this illusion, the significant ambiguity is the ear-eye; for once the brain decides what it sees, it precludes the other choice.”

 

 

 

love escher

 

My treat…Who doesn’t like Escher?

 

 

 

 

 

The point Newberg is trying to make is that NOBODY sees reality. EVERYTHING we see is actually an illusion, “in the sense that our eyes, memories, and  consciousness envision only a symbolic representation of the world. The illusions I have discussed in this chapter exemplify how our brain converts reality into lines and shapes, with depth and color, constructing something that differs from actual appearances in the external world. Light may exit, but light is nothing more than a range of electromagnetic frequencies that stimulate neural mechanisms in our eyes. The color we see is a label–call it blue, green, or fuchsia — an arbitrary symbol used to describe a particular experience. Some animals may find it useful for survival.”

Did you know we don’t even need our eyes to see. With a little technological help, we can use the tongue instead as Dr. Paul Bach-y-Rita has done with people who are blind. With the aid of a camera and a device that translates incoming light into tactile impulses that can be felt inside the mouth, a person’s brain can translate the stimuli into images that are similar to what you and I can perceive. When Marie-Laurie Martin, who had been blind for thirty-nine years, used the device to view a candle flame, she was surprised at how small it was, and how it flickered. Previously, she had imagined that it was a big ball of fire that didn’t shimmer or move.” (56)

There’s a neurological condition known as synethesia even allows some individuals to see music, hear shapes, or taste the flavor of a name. … Just as music is a neural interpretation of sound, color is a neural interpretation of light. The eye and visual system in the brain help differentiate various light frequencies. We see not the frequency but the color . We use language to communicate about color as a concept. If someone didn’t teach us that frequency has a name, we might not consciously look at it as a particular color. In fact, some cultures divide and label the color spectrum in different ways, and the members of those communities cannot recognize certain colors taht people in other communities identify Members of the Berinmo tribe of Papua New Guinea make no distinction between blue and green, but they can be taught to distinguish these colors. This supports the theory that color categorization is language-bound, higher-order process in the human brain.

There is no neural receptor that distinguishes gradation of gray. No one knows for sure where the experience of gray occurs, but one theory suggests that it is a concept fabricated in another part of the brain when both the blackness and the whiteness receptors are turned off. Gray, like many other colors we can imagine is a belief construction within the brain–a form of understanding, a thought.

If you use a dimmer light to control a light while a buzz saw is heard in the background, the sound of the saw will seem to rise and fall as you turn the brightness of the light up and down. If you stare at a light while a faint tone is played and then turn off the light and sound, when you turn the light back on without the music, you will hear a tone that isn’t there.

It’s within our human nature to follow authority. Our mind is malleable– teachable, but we have to be careful not to be manipulated. You know your journey better than anybody else, but if there’s any warning I can give you – just be aware when society imposes a strange subtle control over our lives to keep us in line. We’re expected to work unbelievable hours for someone else’s career. Working for large law firms is much like a weird pyramid scheme. Or think about retail chain stores…they are the worst. The job market exacts heartless demands on what you sacrifice to keep your family safe and stable. We have very few options when we’re not interested in competing with the “MAN.”;)

The techno-military industrial complex is a very real concrete thing – that has created an enormous network that could crush anyone on their radar…

Eisenhower’s farewell address – warning us as Americans about the military industrial complex. This was when Presidents were patriots – no matter what party they came from.

 

 

you can’t prove nothin’ so don’t ask me to

Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

baruch-spinozaAccording to Newberg, “As we go through life, we have to account for beliefs that appear bizarre or “abnormal.” Different researchers analyze these oddities in various ways. Learning theorists focus on the roles of language and memory in the establishment of childhood beliefs psychopharmacologists study how certain attitudes are affected by various drugs; and neurologists examine how brain lesions and strokes affect a person’s assessment of the world. For example, a disorder known as Capgras syndrome can leave some victims convinced that the person standing in front of them is impersonating their doctor, child, or spouse; a patient may even believe that his own image in a mirror belongs to someone else. Patients with Cotard’s syndrome actually believe that they are dead. A stroke victim may sometimes think that an arm or leg is missing when it is not. Such lesions and neurological disorders distort the perceptual processes of the brain, and this distortion forces the cognitive processes to come to bizarre conclusions about the reality of a situation. Consciously, such patients have little choice other than to accept the new reality they perceive because they have to believe in what they feel and see. To try to do otherwise could make them feel crazy. [Return to this later at a later date.]

Actually, we all experience similar perceptual problems when we dream, but fortunately the brain paralyzes our body during dreaming so that we cannot physically respond. … Dreams seem unreal only when we awake and a different system of belief–and reality–takes over. But psychotic individuals will have more difficulty distinguishing between fantasies and facts, in part because the dreaming mechanism of their brains is unable to shut down during the waking cycle of day.

The study of dreams, dementia, and psychoses can help us understand how strange beliefs are formed, but as I and many of my colleagues in psychiatry have often reflected, some of the visions reported to us by schizophrenic patients seem to have a certain degree of value and truth. Since my research suggests that the brain may be neurologically biased toward perceiving or generating spiritual imagery, the visions themselves should not be considered evidence of psychosis; rather, it is the behavior of the patient that needs to be evaluated. I know of several cases in which the religious imagery generated in a psychotic state inspired the patients to recover. [Return to this later at a later date.]

How do we decide if such visions are merely hallucinatory or if they might possibly represent some form of spiritual or metaphoric truth? We can’t, because a false belief is determined by many converging factors, and in a clinical setting one of those factors involves the belief system of the person who is treating the patient. Thus, what is normal and what is abnormal are also beliefs that are consensually agreed on among members of a cultural or professional group.

In western psychology, there is little consensus supporting a belief in divine intervention but other groups and cultures believe differently. That is why historically, in various parts of Asia and the Middle East people we might consider psychotic would instead be thought of as “touched by the hand of God,” and as simply unable to integrate divine power into their everyday lives. Instead of being ostracized as so often happens in America, these mentally ill individuals have been treated with compassion. [You gotta ask if “terrorism” is the product of all this “compassion”?
and – this is where I talk at a later time about Foucault]

Newberg finds the need to validate our ideology unproductive. I’m thinking here about Bill Maher’s using his interview with Dr. Newberg to debunk “spirituality” in the film, Religulous (ridiculous – get it?) Clearly he didn’t read any of Newberg’s books. (I have to wonder why Dr. Newberg even agreed to do the film…)  Whether or not its useful, Maher still attempts to debunk spirituality using logic (and may I add lots of money).

Newberg continues, “We search for consistency and coherence, and if the numbers don’t add up, we go back to the lab and try again.” No matter what we say about morals, evolution or the reality of God – we all agree 1 + 1 = 2. Mathematics uses symbolic logic to establish truth. That was until Godel, who published the the incompleteness formula in 1931 proving that “no matter how much evidence you collect, your knowledge will always be incomplete.” Oh that sly devil… and I’ll bet he’s the reason nobody in academics or science ever makes a definitive statement. The language is always couched in ambivalence because in 1931 Kurt Godel ironically proved the imperfection of definitive statement. I get why skepticism is healthy,  but, not when there’s no weight in back of it.

Even Douglas Hofstadter (author of The Golden Braid) asks if its actually conceivable to expect that we cannot mirror our complete mental structures in the symbols which carry them out. “All the limitative theorems of mathematics and the theory of computation suggest that once the ability to represent our own structure has reached a certain critical point, that is the kiss of death: it guarantees that you can never represent yourself totally.”

If what Newberg says is true, then there’s no reason for ANYBODY to preumptorily dismiss my experiences as absurd and not worth any level of consideration.

It seems to me, Newberg is trying to give the world a reasonable ideology that doesn’t conflict with science. He feels comfortable with Spinoza and I would probably agree. Spinoza believed that God was the conglomerate of all things imaginable. Before I heard of Spinoza, I came to the same conclusion after taking microbiology in college in my 20s. I got poor grades in science, but my teachers were impressed with what I did with the information. I couldn’t remember labels, but I walked away from this class knowing that when you swabbed your cheek and put cells (?) into a beaker, if those cells grew at the bottom of the fluid they were anaerobic and not healthy, and the cells that floated on the top were healthy. There was a girl in my class whose cheek swab grew at the bottom of her beaker and the teacher made her go to the doctor. I also learned about the biology of a cell and its mitochondria which for all intents and purposes could mean that cell is a life form all its own. Apparently most scientists agree it isn’t its own life form because it depends on the body for sustenance to survive. But don’t we depend on our planet and its resources for our life I asked and maybe, just maybe its all part of a greater being? I don’t remember her name, but I remember her smile, but she said to me, “You’re not the first person to think that.” — Spinoza I say.

Spinoza split truth into 3 kinds of knowledge:

  1. opinion: a basic form of belief based on a combination of sensory experience, imagination and a partial assemblage of ideas. Newberg says this form of knowledge “anticipated our current understanding of the perceptual and cognitive processes of the brain.”
  2.  reason: a more comprehensive form of belief than opinion since it also applies rules of logic. Newberg says this also anticipated our neurological model of conscious beliefs.
  3. intuition: Spinoza felt this was the highest form of knowledge since it went beyond personal beliefs and brought us closest to reality and truth.

“Spinoza believed that the evolution of one’s thinking from opinion to reason to intuition brought with it a deep sense of peace and happiness, and freedom from anxiety, fear, and despair. In this state, one begins to experience the essence of an infinite, indivisible “substance” a term that Spinoza used to simultaneously embrace God, nature and the sum total of reality itself.”

Spinoza explained: By God, I mean a being absolutely infinite–that is, a substance consisting in infinite–that is a substance consisting in infinite attributes, of which each expresses eternal and infinite essentiality.”

Newberg believes that while Spinoza was able to abolish the duality between mind and nature, he also removed the separateness of God that could intervene in human matters.  And this is where I separate Energy Beings from a God. Though if you include some sort of awareness of dimensions or some means to understand where these beings exist, I’d say he had as fair an assessment of my conception of God as I’ve ever heard. If the being is intervening, that is not God. It is something else.

Newberg says, “Spinoza’s notion of intuition captures my interest because it correlates with the way our brains create a holistic image of the world by putting all the pieces together to create something greater than the parts. Intuition allows us to comprehend what the senses cannot perceive; and as far as my research into the neural mechanisms of spirituality suggests, we can enter into intuitive states through the act of meditation and prayer. These processes can enhance our lives by allowing us to circumvent the conceptual errors embedded to logic reason, or personal opinion. Intuition, creativity and spiritual practice may all provide better means for apprehending reality and truth more accurately. ”

Newberg recognizes the brain as being adept at imagining potential realities. “our beliefs, therefore, are an assemblge of perceptual experiences, emotional evaluations nd cognitive abstractions that are blended with fantasy, imagination and intuitive speculation. In spite of our lapses of memory, our inconsistencies of logic, and the inherent shortcomings of consciousness, humans have done a pretty good job at surviving [so far]. For better or worse, we reinvent the world every day, searching for the ultimate reality we call truth, enlightenment, or God.

No other organism seems to demonstrate this passion for truth. Perhaps this is due to the nature of consciousness itself, which allows us to reflect on the beliefs we construct about the world.”

Interesting he is assigning our consciousness as being responsible for the need and desire to search for God.

He says, “we can appreciate the mysteries of the universe and the mysteries of the brain; and we can learn to trust our intuition, to have faith in our biological and even our spiritual drives.” He says we sleep better when its all in sync. I don’t know. Spinoza was Jewish, but they threw him out of the temple for his beliefs since a non-intervening God meant he was an atheist.

Page 35-45 of Born to Believe Chapter 2

EMOTIONS MAKE THOUGHTS AND PERCEPTIONS REAL

Monday, April 11th, 2016

I deeply want to get on to other exciting topics right now — being my first love – magick, energy beings contribution to it and that the concept and art died in the 1500s after the influence of the Medici court…But first we have to show that  BELIEF is a strong physical component of reality and BELIEF is how as an individual I connect with the world – especially to magick. I don’t know if its human nature or Western European or distinctly American, but there is a tendency to create cubbyhole our experiences. Perhaps we feel we’re biting off too much of life and reality while attempting to build a career and a lifetime bonding love is overwhelming. But, these binaries create threatening social isolations that academics call “Othering.” Millions of people are doing it so this Othering becomes reality which becomes a social phenomena. And this is where the Anishinaabe teachings I received in Thunderbay, Canada were invaluable. It’s all ONE

It begins with us and our powerful minds and perceptions. This is a physical experience. When we are affecting others, this is also a physical experience as is that social interaction that has its affect on the whole world. It’s just too much to take in at once…but it really does start right here, in our own brains – and those thought processes are a physical reality. That’s how magick WORKS. its a physical manifestation. And I’m proving it. LOOK! Here it is! The Limbic System (most primitive part) of your BRAIN! 😉 So, it works like this:

LIMBIC SYSTEM

“Another element essentIial to beliefs is the meaning–or value–bestowed on the individual belief. ‘Value’ refers to the importance or worth assigned to a particular perception or idea, and the activity of assignment can be traced to the emotional circuits of the brain in the limbic system. In general, as neural stimulation increases in these areas–which include the amygdala, thalamus, and the hippocampus–perceived value increases. Without this activity, emotional memories–including experiences such as anger, sadness, happiness, disgust, and surprise–could not be formed, and life would have little meaning.

Epileptics who have had their amygdala removed to reduce unbearable seizures may have substantial impairment of their ability to respond with negative emotions. They will not be able to assign value to various events, especially events that typically evoke fear. By contrast, a person with an overactive amygdala will often live in a constant state of fear or anxiety. Such individuals tend to believe that everything is a potential threat, although if they train themselves–through meditation or psychotherapy–to focus consciously on the belief that everything is safe, the activity in the amygdala can be inhibited, thus extinguishing, at least temporarily, the feelings of anxiety and fear…

The hippocampus, another part of the limbic system, plays a major role in regulating our emotions by helping to balanace the fear or anxiety response in the amygdala. The hippocampus also utilizes emotions to help establish long-term memory. Thus very emotional events tend to be written into memory more strongly than non-emotional events. …it is also relatively easy to implant false memories, especially in children  [indoctrinations?] Furthermore, there is mounting evidence that the brain maintains false memories for extended periods of time. All this suggests that we should be very cautious about assuming the truthfulness of our beliefs, especially those that we embraced when we were young.

Emotions also bind our perceptions to our conscious beliefs, making whatever we are thinking about seem more real at the time. In fact, strong emotions–particularly anger, fear, and passion–can radically change our perceptions of reality. But if a thought or perception does not stimulate an emotional response, it may not even reach consciousness. By looking at belief in terms of value rather than truth, a scientist can formulate and test hypotheses to demonstrate which beliefs hold emotional value for different groups of people.  …it is our neural complexity that allows for our wide diversity of emotions; and I also believe that this huge array of emotions in turn contributes to many of the unique qualities we attribute to human nature.” (Newberg, 31 – 33)

Just broke here to remind you we’re talking about how consciousness utilizes our brain. Let’s remember then, that consciousness still baffles science as they attempt to demythologize it which I agree they should do. I will discuss later how we sadly misuse myth. It animates the body one minute – and then at some point when the body is no longer functioning – it is gone. One of science’s greatest mysteries.

Going back to Newberg, he shows us how Society shapes our beliefs:

“Emotions not only help us to maintain our beliefs but also defend us against other beliefs that threaten our worldview. … the neural circuits have been set (neurons that fire together wire together, or so we currently believe). Besides, we’re more likely to trust our own instincts over anyone else’s … Perhaps it all comes down to conditioning, for, as I mentioned earlier, newborns have little choice but to accept basic beliefs given to them about the world. The recent discovery of mirror neurons also helps to explain why our brains are prone to absorb the behaviors and beliefs of others. … When we see someone performing an action, whether peeling a banana or yawning, certain parts of our brain respond as if we were doing the action ourselves. (in the case of yawning, it’s hard not to mirror the behavior as well. In fact, it’s hard not to react with a yawn even when you simply read the word.) Although we are not aware of it, we are constantly monitoring and mirroring the behavior of our friends, the language of our parents, and the beliefs of the communities in which we live. [Newberg argues] that much of human communication is primarily concerned with getting other people to think, believe, and behave as we do and vice versa. Our adoption of the beliefs of those newarest us helps us survive, primarily because it provides group cohesion. Without social consensus, we’d have anarchy and chaos, a perfect environment into which a dictator can step and impose his own rules.

Group consensus, then, becomes an essential part of the belief-making process that integrates perceptual experiences, emotional values and cognitive abstractions into a socially acceptable whole. …based on what we now know about the biology of belief, is that it takes a lot of hard work to build tolerance, acceptance, and appreciation … It requires a conscious constant attempt to apply the spiritual and humanistic ideas on which society is based.

an application of Hume if ever I saw one.

 

 

 

CONTEXT AND MISCONCEPTIONS

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

hume-bustI love the cognitive sciences. I love academics. I love exploring my culture and discovering how it was built brick by brick. But, I believe in Energy Beings — because I personally have seen and interacted with these out of body consciousnesses throughout my life. Today, I got caught in the article article written in Journal of the History of Ideas, Vol. 13, No. 4 (Oct., 1952), pp. 514-527, David Hume and William James, A Comparison. J.P. Shouse is probably unknown, but his essay brought me to terms with David Hume which I’d always thought of as a skeptic and inspiration for Logical Positivists. I have a notion that science hasn’t yet worked out the details about energy beings because of an uninformed prejudice which automatically sequesters such topics into “nonsense” since WWI. It would seem if my visions had been scientific, I’d in fact be an Empiricist. This to me is hypocritical. I want my Society to give me a perspective that makes sense and “rules for discernment” that work for everybody – Don’t tell me my senses are lying to me simply because it doesn’t fit your paradigm. Even for the generally curious the topic of energy beings is deeply mired in dogma and religious trappings, and most of us,whether or not we see the same thing are fed up with right winged dogma or fantasies that don’t lead to rational places.

AND I do not believe I am alone for there have always been those with “metaphysical” experiences and always will. There’s a very good chance its a natural ability some of us have – like the right twitch in a muscle that enables some to compete in sports. The problem may be solved by a bridging language as I’m asking to re-categorize me outside a religious context as long as it could be a cognitive experience? MUST I only exist in Metaphysics?

It’s true:

The Gnostics sold us on asceticism at the beginning of the Common Era;
500 years of a Religious Inquisition terrorized Western Europe beginning of the 12th Century;
Descartes promoted a skeptical mind/body binary in the mid – 1600s; followed by David Hume almost 100 years later.

and David Hume, a brilliant 18th Century Scottish philosopher who said, “All the objects of human reason or enquiry may naturally be divided into two kinds, to wit, Relations of Ideas, and Matters of Fact.” (Hume, An Enquiry of Concerning Human Understanding) – one of the inspirations for the Positivists…and the Vienna Circle. It was Hume who said “Whenever presented with any putative item of knowledge we can ask ourselves two questions, ‘Is it derived from relations of ideas?’ and ‘Is it a matter of empirical fact?”

The “Humes Fork”: “If we take in our hand any volume; any divinity school metaphysics, for instance, let us ask: Does it contain abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No Commit it then to the flames for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.”

But, then in very beginning of Section 7 Book I of 3 Volumesof Treatise of Human Nature, concerning knowledge, he writes,

[1] But what have I here said, that reflections very refined and metaphysical have little or no influence upon us? This opinion I can scarce forbear retracting, and condemning from my present feeling and experience. The intense view of these manifold contradictions and imperfections in human reason has so wrought upon me, and heated my brain, that I am ready to reject all belief and reasoning, and can look upon no opinion even as more probable or likely than another. Where am I, or what? From what causes do I derive my existence, and to what condition shall I return? Whose favour shall I court, and whose anger must I dread? What beings surround me? and on whom have, I any influence, or who have any influence on me? I am confounded with all these questions, and begin to fancy myself in the most deplorable condition imaginable, invironed with the deepest darkness, and utterly deprived of the use of every member and faculty.

[2] Most fortunately it happens, that since reason is incapable of dispelling these clouds, nature herself suffices to that purpose, and cures me of this philosophical melancholy and delirium, either by relaxing this bent of mind, or by some avocation, and lively impression of my senses, which obliterate all these chimeras. I dine, I play a game of backgammon, I converse, and am merry with my friends; and when after three or four hours’ amusement, I would return to these speculations, they appear so cold, and strained, and ridiculous, that I cannot find in my heart to enter into them any farther.

Apparently Hume was not a one note pony for he also believed in belief: “He defended the skeptical position that human reason is inherently contradictory, and it is only through naturally-instilled beliefs that we can navigate our way through common life.” (See http://www.iep.utm.edu/hume/)

As Hume supported believing in what you experience personally, J. P. Shouse argued that if Hume had been born 100 years later and gotten the benefit of our 20th Century cognitive studies, he’d have better identified with the Pragmatists. I was particularly interested in the following excerpt:

“The negative side of Hume is his agnosticism [I question why this is a negative side?]; the positive side is his treatment of belief. Bertrand Russell says that for Hume there is no such thing as rational belief. That is not a surprising statement. For Hume to tolerate non-rational belief is the logical next step after rejecting the possibility of knowing through reason, and therefore of knowing where empirical evidence is not obtainable. Hume was explicit in this matter, the matter of belief as non-rational. We find him saying in the Treatise:

My intention . . . is only to make the reader sensible of the truth of my hypothesis that all our reasonings concerning causes and effects are derived from nothing but custom; and that belief is more properly an act of the sensitive, than of the cogitative part of our nature. (183)

From the Enquiry,

This belief is the necessary result of placing the mind in such circumstances. It is an operation of the soul, when we are so situated, as unavoidable as to feel the passion of love when we receive benefits, or hatred when we meet with injuries. All these operations are a species of natural instincts which no reasoning processes of the thought and understanding is able either to produce or prevent. . . . We can in our conception join the head of a man to the body of a horse, but it is not in our power to believe such an animal ever existed. It follows, therefore, that the difference between fiction and belief lies in some sentiment or feeling which is annexed to the latter, not to the former. . . . Belief is the true and proper name of this feeling, and no one is ever at a loss to know the meaning of that term, because every man is every moment conscious of the sentiment represented by it. (46-49)

It was Hume that said there is no occasion for despair in the face of inability to know. Belief is a strong refuge when logic and positive knowledge break down. Thus, long before James, Hume stated the right to believe without ” scientific justification.”

The current cultural atmosphere doesn’t support Energy Beings as consciousness outside a human being and so is particularly hard to unpack the notion that the only place to discuss such things only within religious contexts. I maintain these being may interact with people who are religious because of a specific relationship they have with the perso, not because they person is religious. That is my experience. That is my belief.

In his book Born to Believe, Andrew Newberg talks about the conundrums of human consciousness. As Hume says, values and ethics are clearly beliefs, but asks if a religious belief stimulates different parts of the brain from a political or romantic belief. Newberg’s found different beliefs can share similar neural circuits. Both Tibetan and Christian Monks trigger the same neurological pathways while focusing on their sacred objects. In fact, he’s found that contemplative and transcendent states are in some ways to our pleasurable experiences in music, sex or good food (p. 27) which is why I believe language is so important. For a long time I’ve seen monasticism as a fetish, but then I believe in sacred sexuality and see no issue here. We are wired to feel pleasure in different ways. This is true even if there are neural differences between different experiences, traditions and/or practices.

This – is – where – we – begin – to – see – how – little – we – understand – why – we – think – what – we – think. We might go to church or join a monastery because we feel we’re developing a spiritual part of our being…and that’s true. But the truth could very well be that monastery practices can bring pleasure to some people. It might be that our labels and attitudes around pleasure actually began with the Gnostic who broke from the ancients that felt pleasure was also sacred and a pathway to the divine. There is a great diversity in how we think because we are made differently.

There is evidence in cognitive research that “our perceptions of reality are completely transformed into abstract packets of information that are as far removed from the perceptual, behavior and orientation processes of the brain as the brain is from the world. This is the reality that we become aware of and use to interact with the world around us…As the brain builds its conscious map of reality, a wide range of emotional responses will be assigned to everything we observe and think about. Most of the brain’s activity involves our perceptions of the world and the internal state of our body, and these processes are primarily unconscious. Any conscious awareness of the maps we are making occurs sometime after the event takes place–between one-tenth and on-half a second later, to be exact. That’s a long time to wait for the brain to tell you what’s going on,” [particularly at the time of crisis.].This lag time is additionl evidence that consciousness is many steps removed from the brain’s perception of reality. Fortunately, the brain is designed to react to danger before conscious control kicks in.”

To be more accurate, Newberg asks us to picture a circle about 1.5 centimeters in diameter in the middle of a 3-dimensional container about the size of the Earth and there is a dot in the middle of the circle. The circle is your brain – the dot your consciousness – the awareness of what’s happening in your world. “The brain can capture only a minuscule amount of the universe; and your consciousness can glimpse–and hold for about thirty seconds–only a very small fraction of what the brain perceives. … All beliefs–perceptual, cognitive, and conscious–depend on various systems of logic, and if the pieces don’t fit together well, a neurological disoonance is created taht sends an alarm to other processes in the brain. Such dissonance can give rise to a variety of disbeliefs. With so many gaps between reality adn perception, between perception and cognition, and between conscious and unconscious thoughts, it is amazing that we believe anything at all. And yet even with these limitations, the brain does provide us with a clear, coherent sense of reality.

Our realities are different. Our life experiences are different. We’re one of 7 blind people experiencing an elephant. I prefer thinking that we have pieces of the same puzzle to share. To begin, this isn’t a competition. I don’t even think its that much of a paradox if we’re both right examining different aspects of the same thing. When Hume proposed Hume’s fork – what was he reacting to? Would he REALLY respond to my personal experiences by demanding so much rigor from me to prove my truth? Is this really how you approach a human being? Isn’t this more about exercising judgment when reading anything… whether from sacred texts, bottle of potions or recipe for tuna fish casserole. Misconceptions can be unhealthy…

BELIEVING THE REMARKABLE

Monday, April 4th, 2016

For me, Schrodinger’s Cat isn’t a paradox — but consciousness transitioning from one state of being to another, but maybe a scientist does not (cannot yet) accept consciousness outside a physical body. But, the fact that I have seen and interacted with Transcendents/Daemon has set me far apart from a mainstream that is accepting that maybe it IS impossible to be physical one minute, and not the next. But what is more compelling is how this connection with Daemon colors situations that happen day to day. Judgment and how our decision impacts our world is a matter of perspective and this perspective completely changes one’s approach to life.

Just one example: I was able to get a job for a time that paid relatively well considering I didn’t have a college degree until after I was 55. The large law firms were looking for people whose career was to be completely devoted to their attorney’s careers — I needed to type fast and have enough English to question my boss’ writing. I was his second tier with his clients. As legal secretaries we understood our role in the firms, for most of us had very intimate, though not sexual relationships with these professionals were extremely focused on filling every minute with billable hours. My last boss was in the process of retiring. at the international corporate firm for which he was managing partner as it was going down like the Titanic after 80 years. It was very sad, but through the ashes of his life we became best friends. Part of that friendship meant giving this 70 year old man a blow job one afternoon at a nearby Holiday Inn because he was terrified he was impotent. I ended up hooking him up with one of my young friends who became his mistress which is another story. Key point here is context. The language and perspective which dominates our present social worldview has nothing to do with what our reality is at all. The problem being each post will bring more questions than answers because there are levels of understanding, especially as it comes out from a completely different worldview after a lifetime of a different “indoctrination.” Posts can be geared to answering questions if you ask.

There are just a couple of things to mention here. First, my decision to accommodate this man and not report him to HR was because I have always had a powerfully intimate relationship with Ayelward, my Transcended guide and guru whose ideology included compassionate sex as well as a ritualized Hieros Gamos. In his book, Memories, Dreams and Reflections, he gives a lot of credit for his work to his Guide and Guru, Philemon. Do they force you to do something against your will? Well, occasionally when absolutely necessary, but mostly its more like advice frequently given. When I was hitchhiking up and down the coast of California, I’d often hear in my head to not take a ride, or take that one. An opportunity would present itself. Jung would call these frequent occurrences synchronicities. After years of these experiences I got indoctrinated into a way of being. In this situation with my boss, after the Holiday Inn, I protected my boss for a few years, even as we went to other large law firms, until I got fired because he was foolish and left evidence that his wife found. His family are all lawyers, my reputation in that community turned to muck and so it goes.

What is interesting though is the feeling of safety even in the midst of what would seem socially dangerous. Newberg defines belief as “any perception, cognition, or emotion that the brain assumes, consciously or unconsciously to be true.”Over time, this “belief” becomes more a matter of fact. If by a matter of course, we accept that life is consciousness outside of a temporary physical body (a fact) doesn’t mean we’ll think sexuality is an acceptable part of a given event. In our society what I did with my boss was taboo. That’s because the Gnostics were highly influential at one time in our cultural construction and they believed the physical state was created by Lucifer against God’s will – thus Christian asceticism. This was an indoctrination. My life was indoctrinated.

I wish there could have been a middle ground. There is a time and place for everything. Mortality is a time to be physical — nature is okay — and there is a time to not be physical anymore. How easy is that?

But if that hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have gone back to college and got my degree at DePaul in Religious Studies. I picked Religous Studies to try and figure out how to separate my extraordinary mystical experiences from the religious settings where they simply didn’t fit. Besides, whether or not my visions and relationship with Ayelward is real or delusional is (again) a topic for belief. What would happen if I could prove without a doubt that I simply have some sort of brain dysfunction and am seeing and hearing things that really aren’t there? Well, that’d not be anyone else’s problem but my own. But what would it mean if Ayelward is real? Nobody can prove it either way for now. If the existence of Ayelward were true, then so what if I was fired? People get fired for all kinds of reasons.
One can only judge whether or not Ayelward’s influences are positive. As it turned out, through a number of synchronicities, I landed on my feet, got a great degree and am now living well by anybody’s standards. That’s why it’s called a Guided journey. Belief is probably a more relevant term as the energy we exchange with these beings is substantial enough to define reality and engage my left brained husband who for over decade thought it was all nonsense and that the wife fell in love with lived in some la la land. It is an interesting aside that Jung called sexuality “psychic energy” because it is. It is the driving force for many daemon driven situations and why compassionate sex would seem reasonable; the forces preventing compassionate sex to happen, a tyranny; and that a spirituality can be driven by the Hieros Gamos.

Which brings me to my final point: The Neuroscientist, Andrew Newberg’s perspective compared with Jewish Mysticism:

As Andrew Newberg sees it:

Perception = the information we receive about ourselves and the world through our senses.

Cognition = the abstract conceptual processes that our brain uses to organize and make sense of our perceptions as well as memories and consciousness.

Emotional Value = help to establish the intensity and value of every perceptual and cognitive experience we have.
Social Consensus = input that influences what we receive from other members of a community, for if we do not experience adequate social consensus, many of our most cherished beliefs would never emerge into consciousness.
Together, these four interacting spheres of influence – perceptions, cognition, emotion, and social consensus, allow us to identify, explore, evaluate, and compare a wide variety of beliefs, from our most mundane evaluations of the word to the most extraordinary visions that illuminate our purpose in life. These influences affect the strength, power, and relative truth of a specific belief. Each circle of influence has a “volume control,” and the greater the overall volume, the more real and truthful that belief becomes.

This model suggests that a person who has not had a strong religious or spiritual experience might have trouble believing in God.

If in childhood and adulthood you were surrounded by people who held deep religious beliefs, then the sphere of social influence could compensate for your own lack of perceptual experience.

If you then immersed yourself in spiritual literature, the strength of your cognitive beliefs would grow and this growth would emotionally affect your brain.

Still, you’d have to find personal value in such thoughts before a sense of spiritual reality took hold. If you felt no such value, you would be far less likely to believe.

The Kabbalists have their own formula for belief called PaRDeS. Kabbalah is about invoking Deity (Transcendents), but this can be dangerous as they illustrate in a Myth about 4 rabbi’s that entered into the Garden of Paradise. To avoid the dangers while delving into the mysterious, a person should practice 4 ways of interpreting Torah – the means to understand God:

pardes

 

 

P’shat = reading scripture literally

Remez = Parables and stories

D’Rash = Gamatria – each Hebrew letter has a numeric meaning.

Sod = Kabbalistic interpretations

 

 

I have been lucky enough to develop friendships with 3 particle’s physicists. One, a true explorer of life’s mysteries; one who’d love to believe if his life wasn’t so terribly tragic; the third a true no-ghosts-in-these-shells, but earning a good living on the ever nebulous nutrino. I feel the four of us were like the 4 rabbi’s, but then, we all believe deeply in something – it’s part of our human nature. In the end I think about my indian adviser who said it wasn’t his job to teach our culture Spirit. I don’t blame him…we’re pretty complicated. But for me? Well, I do believe in nutrinos – I do I do I do believe in nutrinos 😉

 

THE METHOD OF DOUBT – excerpt from “this book does not exist”

Saturday, April 2nd, 2016

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See http://www.iflscience.com/physics/entangled-portrait-schr%C3%B6dinger%E2%80%99s-cat

Will we ever release the tired discrepancy between science and spirituality?  Reality is so big, there’s room for everybody to have a piece of it. Discussing reality is much like one of the blind people attempting to describe their perspective after touching one part of an elephant to other blind people touching different parts of the same elephant — which is why grasping the bigger picture is elusive. There’s been so much ripping European traditions apart since the Fall of Rome – it would seem that ideologically, we are truly in the middle of an identity crisis and finding where to start sifting all the information is — daunting.

If we’re looking at that first step on a long journey, think about Rene Descartes (1596 – 1650) born in the middle of the Inquisition (1198 to late 18th Century). He was extremely frustrated with the enormous amount of misinformation being fed to him by his culture and society. As so much about “belief” depends on trust but he couldn’t trust his own processes anymore, so he scraped clean everything in his mind that he knew — or thought he did which I think was brave. I see a man who deeply trusted his authority figures and found them lacking. I also hear Rudyard Kipling’s challenge to:  watch the things you gave your life to, broken, and stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools. (read the poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling in its entirety – its amazing!)

Hayden and Picard tell us:

Rene Decartes was a first-rate philosopher, mathematician, and scientist and as such became acutely aware of the shortcomings of his early education, which asked him to accept as true much that had subsequently been proven false. He didn’t want to make the same kind of error again, so, he set himself the task of placing the new scientific method on a secure footing. He saw himself as a master builder, tearing down the old, crumbling edifice of knowledge, and rebuilding it anew upon rock solid foundations. To achieve his aim. Descartes used what has become known as the “Method of Doubt,” which involved him systematically rejecting any of his old beliefs that he could find the slightest reason to doubt. This, he hoped, would leave him with indubitable knowledge, which could serve as a bedrock for the new sciences. The Method of Doubt progressed in three states, each more sweeping than the last.

 

Stage 1: Unreliable Senses

“Everything that I accepted as being most true up to now I acquired … through the senses. However, I have occasionally found that they deceive me…”

The senses sometimes deceive us. For example: the moon appears to be bigger when it is closer to the horizon, hot weather can make a dry road look wet, a circular coin looks oval when viewed at certain angles, and so on. Therefore we have to be cautious about accepting the evidence of our senses. Even so, surely some observations are reliable. For example, can you really doubt that are now reading these very words?

Stage 2: Dream Hypothesis

“Very well, but am I not a man who is used to sleeping at night and having all the same experiences while sleeping?”

On second thoughts, perhaps your belief that you are here, reading this book, is mistaken. After all, you could be dreaming. Our dream-experiences often feel perfectly real to us while we are  having them. So how can you be absolutely certain that you’re not asleep right now–dreaming about reading this book? There is no foolproof way of distinguishing between being awake and being asleep. Therefore you can’t be completely sure that your present experiences are veridical.

But, even if you are dreaming, you can be sure that your dreams are based on something. Sure, you may not be holding this book in your hand right now. But surely there must be hands and books. Otherwise how would you dream about them?

Stage 3: The Evil Genius

“Therefore, I will suppose that … some evil mind, who is all powerful adn cunning, has devoted all [his]energies to deceiving me.”

But, then again, perhaps everything is a delusion. Perhaps some demon or “evil genius” is manipulating your mind, causing you to believe all kinds of things that have no base in reality.

Perhaps there are no such things as hands and books–or trees, or sunsets, or colors, or shapes. Perhaps the evil genius has you so bamboozled that even things you feel absolutely certain of, like the fact that one plus one equals two are mere delusions. But, if I allow that possibility, how can I be sure of anything? Surely nothing can withstand such all consuming doubt?

I Think, Therefore …

It is worth emphasizing that Descartes wasn’t seriously suggesting that an evil genius might be deceiving him. He was using hyperbolic doubt as a tool to conduct a thought experiment and see if any knowledge is immune to doubt.  Unbelievably, he found something. The one thing he couldn’t doubt was his own existence, because the very act of thinking, doubting, or even being deceived presupposes it. This simple but beautiful insight prompted Descartes to pen philosophy’s most celebrated catchphrase: I think therefore I am.

Having at last reached a secure foundation, Descartes went on to rebuild the edifice of knowledge. How he achieved this (at least to his own satisfaction) is laid out in his beautifully written Meditations on First Philosophy.

 

Decartes was not the first to question his realities. Zhuang Zhou, was a  Chinese philosopher who lived around the 4th century BC during the Warring States period which lasted approximately 550 years between 770 BCE – 220 BCE. He is credited with writing at least some of the Zhuangzi. which expresses a philosophy of skepticism. He argued that “My life is limited, but knowledge is unlimited, if I pursue unlimited knowledge with my own limited life, the result must be dangerous. If one realizes this but still does so, the result must be even more dangerous!”

He says, “Once upon a time, I, Zhuan Zhou, dreamed I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, in all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of following my fancies as a butterfly, and was unconscious of my individuality as a man. Suddenly I awoke, and there I lay, myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming I am a man.”

Around the same time, Plato credited Socrates in Plato’s dialogue Theaetetus, saying:

You see them, it is not difficult to find matter for dispute, when it is disputed even whether this is real life or a dream. Indeed, we may say that, as our periods of sleeping and waking are of equal length, and as in each period the soul contends that the beliefs of the moment are preeminently true, the result is that for half our lives we assert the reality for the one set of objects and for half that of the other set. And we make our assertions with equal conviction in both cases.”

Hayden and Picard ask us why things have to be real or unreal (more poking at our stupid, idiotic, useless, either/or binaries), bringing up Schrodinger’s Cat. You know the one. Schrodinger imagines a cat placed inside a closed box where a random subatomic occurrence, such as radioactive decay, releases a poisonous gas. According to the “Copenhagen Interpretation” of quantum mechanics, at a tiny scare a particle exists not in one state but in a combination of all possible states–the state only becomes definite when observed. Schrodinger then extrapolates that until the box is opened, the cat is simultaneously dead and alive. This is supposed to illustrate what happens on a quantum level, but cannot so easily be applied to a larger scale.

Attempting to find reality is really hard and many people much smarter than me have tried Olympic mental gymnastics to get as close to it as possible. Newberg tells us that scientists strive to define terms as accurately as possible so that other scientists will understand. There was a time when magick, spirituality and science were all one and the same. Now it seems to be a competition – who has the golden ring now. But I think what Newberg says makes a lot of sense. Language is so important. What words pop up for us and what doesn’t drives much of our radar and decides what it is we’re looking at  or probably more relevant what even WANT to see. But how much of this marks off reality is tricky. My world filled with my experiences, feelings about those experiences, what those experiences mean; why meaningfulness is important enough to take the time to figure out — this gets separated from what I even choose to see and don’t which is very different than every other point of view on this planet.  THIS is much of why language and its definitions become increasingly important and how Schrodinger’s Cat begins to make sense — which is just a little unsettling especially as we make important decisions around our belief systems extending past the “this or that” binary on which our society emphatically lands which is why I brought up Transexuality earlier.

and this is me learning how to fill in those “cognitive leaps” between one state and another which I seem to rely on so emphatically 😀

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 2 BORN TO BELIEVE/Thinking in Paradoxes

Thursday, March 31st, 2016
What is a paradox? From Webster’s Dictionary:
 
1: a tenet contrary to received opinion
 
2a : a statement that is seemingly contradictory or opposed to common sense and yet is perhaps true
b : a self-contradictory statement that at first seems true
c : an argument that apparently derives self-contradictory conclusions by valid deduction from acceptable premises
 
3: one (as a person, situation, or action) having seemingly contradictory qualities or phases
 
I will write a few posts beginning with a challenge around what you know or think you know…
 
“During a lecture, the English philosopher G.E. Moore (1873 – 1958) once remarked on the absurdity of saying something like, “It’s raining outside, but I don’t believe that it is.” When Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951) heard about this he was very much struck by the paradoxical nature of hte statement. In fact, he considered it Moore’s most important philosophical discovery, and labeled it “Moore’s Paradox.”
 
At first sight, it’s difficult to see what all the fuss is about. Certainly the statement is absurd. But, then again, many statements are absurd. What’s so special about this one?
 
First, it’s clear that both parts of Moore’s statement can be true simultaneously. It is perfectly possible that,
 
It’s raining outside, and
I don’t believe that it’s raining outside.
I can assert either proposition individually, without absurdity. Not only that, but it’s perfectly acceptable to assert both propositions simultaneously with reference to a third party, “It’s raining outside, but she doesn’t believe that it is.” And I can even consistently make both statements with reference to myself provided I use the past tense: “It was raining outside, but I didn’t believe it was.”
 
The paradox then, is that although the two propositions are not at all opposed to one another, I cannot consistently assert them both. But how can it be contradictory to say something which in itself is not contradictory? Given all that has been said, why can’t I say, “It’s raining outside, but I don’t believe that it is”? Mull this over before reading on…
 
There is a possible resolution: There is no definitive resolution to Moore’s Paradox The most popular approach, which Moore himself took, hinges on the notion that assertion implies belief. In other words, my assertion that it’s raining carries with it the implication that I believe that it’s raining. If so, then the statement, “It’s raining outside, but I don’t believe that it is,” turns out to be contradictory after all. Effectively it says, “I believe that it is raining, but I don’t believe that it is,”
 
As Moore’s Paradox demonstrates, beliefs are tricky things. Further evidence of their weirdness comes from the Placebo Paradox, which was invented by Peter Cave, and goes something like this:
 
A placebo in itself has no pharmaceutical properties: it woks only because I believe it will. So it is not the placebo, but rather my belief in it, that cures me. What happens, then, if I know that I’m taking a placebo? In that case, the placebo will be ineffective. The placebo cures me only because I believe it will but I cannot believe that it will cure me only because I believe it will.
 
There are shades of Moore’s Paradox here.
 
I can believe that a placebo will cure you only because you believe it will. For that matter I can even believe that a placebo did cure me only because I believed it would. However, I cannot believe that a placebo will cure me only because I believe it will.
 
Gary Hayden remarks, “From childhood until my late twenties I attended a church whose members believed that the “prayer of faith” could heal the sick. Sadly we never got to see any healings worth a damn. Many times, this dearth of miracles was blamed on our unbelief. The bible says, “[Jesus] did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.” (Matt: 13:58) So that told us, I guess.
 
We were therefore encouraged to lay aside our unbelief, and most of us tried very hard to do precisely that. But, it was a catch-22 situation. God wouldn’t perform any miracles until we believed; and we couldn’t believe until God performed some miracles. But perhaps I’m being too cynical. Maybe it’s possible to acquire certain beliefs by a mere act of will. The mathematician, scientist and philosopher, Blaise Pascal, certainly thought so. “
 
My favorite Blaise Pascal quote is, “Two things control men’s nature, instinct and experience,” which would most certainly give us a perspective on what Hayden is saying. Miracles are paradoxes to be sure.
 
Then to quote, Jeremy W. Hayward, author and physicist, “To a very large extent men and women are a product of how they define themselves. As a result of a combination of innate ideas and the intimate influences of the culture and environment we grow up in, we come to have beliefs about the nature of being human. Those beliefs penetrate to a very deep level of our psychosomatic systems, our minds and brains, our nervous systems, our endocrine systems, and even our blood and sinews. We act, speak, and think according to these deeply held beliefs and belief systems.
 
With that said, returning to Chap. 2. of Born to Believe. Newberg says, “A belief is like a map, a neural representation of an experience that seems meaningful, real, or true. It begins with the first hints of information coming in through our sense and it culminates in the nebulous territory called consciousness. In the process, billions of synaptic processes transform neural data into categories, concepts, emotions, memories, language, thoughts, and knee-jerk reactions to a broad assortment of stimuli ranging from the innocuous and pleasurable (like blue skies and apple pie) to the noxious and disagreeable (like spiders or politicians). But the map is not the territory. It’s an abstraction, a symbol of something that we assume exists, like a lamppost or a feeling of satisfaction. We may not have any direct evidence or proof of its existence, but we do have this great internal map, nd for the most part, it appears to work quite well.
 
Our brain also makes our internal map seem real. Even schizophrenics believe in the reality of the voices they hear, because the brain has few options but to rely on the maps it makes… the lines, squiggles, and numbers on a map are not the same as the roads we drive to reach the house. They are two-dimensional representations of a three-dimensional world.
 
Instead of paper, the brain uses memory; and instead of ink, the brain turns on circuits. And the three-dimensional world we think we perceive? It’s really our imagination at work, for we never actually “see” the world directly. The brain takes the raw information–consisting of lines, shapes, and contours–that activates cells in our eyes and creates a representation of the room around us with chairs, tables, and doors, so that we can get up at some point and walk out of the room without crashing into anything. The vivid three dimensional world that we are conscious of is created by neurochemical and neuroelectric impulses that take the world “out there” and make a picture inside the human brain.
 
Unfortunately, imagination, memory, and consciousness are not very stable mechanisms. Even the “wiring” of our neural circuits continues to form and change as we acquire new experiences and beliefs. That is why the things we first observe are a bit different each time we call them into consciousness. For example, although we’re not aware of it, we have altered and embellished our childhood memories so many times that some of the events we recall may never have happened at all. And since there is a huge gap between the world out there and our inner worldview, the brain stays busy revising its cognitive maps, selecting some perceptions, ignoring others, and filling in the blanks with conjecture. However, the brain can help us detect perceptual and cognitive discrepancies–for example, we’re very good at detecting lies and deception. Beyond that, the brain tends to trust its intuitions about the world. These intuitions are the neural equivalent of beliefs.”
 
So doubtless any visions I may have had when I was 3 would not be real according to a lifetime of adult experience. Perhaps the image projected to me by some “power that be” would be different if I were older. But I can say whatever REALLY happened when I was 3 left me with a lifelong impression and I have no other recourse but to believe in what my senses give me and when all is said and done that’s really all any of us can do…
 

Part 1 Chap 2 – BORN TO BELIEVE (pp. 16-17)

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

David and I have been watching The Americans for a couple of years. I think what is so interesting about this series is how much we identify with Phillip and Elizabeth’s challenges in raising children. Seriously, what can you say? “Kids, we are aligned with a foreign agency (the Pool of Transcendents) and they put us on a mission (the Hieros Gamos) here on Earth. This Mission means your father must maintain intimate relationships with 2 younger women, (one more as a second partner) in order to bring energy through to fuel this mission and accommodate the spirits who are active in this Process… And we do it because we believe in a bigger picture.”

We had a Catholic neighbor that owned the building next door whose little girl was about the same age as our son, Robert. We were very close until the day I revealed to the mother what we were about and she refused to let her little girl play with Robert anymore. It was very sad. He’s an adult now – and though it was hard then, he’s not scarred or anything. but…um yeah… Would I rather be a Russian Spy… This was always terribly painful on so many levels and yet, I knew it was important and worth it in the long run. For us, “The Americans” is a myth, a relevant story that reveals truth through archetypes and in our case, very, very poignant.

But let’s get more specific and how is it David and I can even do this – Mission?

Newberg begins Chapter 2 talking about Hogwarts and the similarities between medicine and magick. Then he says, “Like Hogwarts the brain is filled with hallways, labyrinths, and hidden rooms that shift their direction when you least expect them to. The brain is continually rearranging the cognitive information it stores, divining new meanings and beliefs with every experience it perceives.”

I know this is true for my oldest daughter who was completely confused by what was going on in our lives, so her mind made stuff up to make sense of it all. We had a large 4 bedroom apartment on the second floor of two-flat where Temple Terra Incognita functioned that we affectionately called “Elmslie Manor.” The girls moved out before 1999 when we became so active, mostly because of their personality problems with David. Some of the memories they carried with them were not real. One day they both shared their experiences with Robert, their younger brother who is 15 years younger than they were. As they remember it, I was subservient to a very strict husband where they were victims. What was actually happening was that when they had an issue with David, I was attempting to teach them how to solve their own problems and felt home was the safest place to start. All they had to do was arrange time to sit down with him and disagree if they had to. I felt enhanced problem solving skills — they felt I’d abandoned them.

I only understood this recently when Robert shared with me their memory of their teen years and he said he knew exactly what was happening. They were mad at David and I wasn’t getting in the middle preferring for them to solve their issue with their dad. Oh duh… They never did. What happened was they disengaged from David — partly because he was only a stepfather (not their blood) moved in with friends to finish High School. The funny thing about this was both of them left when they were 15: oldest first, her younger sister two years later. To this day they think I don’t stand up to David and they refuse to call him Dad. wow, they couldn’t be more wrong. While growing up Robert went into his room during our Loud and energetic disagreements. No shrinking violet I…But that shows how the brain simply reinvents its realities in order to sense of them.

Now? he told me this last bit about our fights with a huge grin on his face. No mom, he said, I’m not scarred for life, nor do I need a therapist. He laughed at me…but me? I love my children very much and have been working through how much of their lives are their own choices.

Newberg continues, “One of the characters in the Potter books was uncomfortable with divination because it was unpredictable and vague and we neuroscientists can feel the same frustration when examining the process of human perception. You can’t pinpoint a memory or surgically remove a belief–these functions are like ghosts in the machinery of the brain. Different beliefs emerge in different parts of the brain at different times and under different circumstances, and they are also influenced by factors that occur outside the brain. Ideas, thoughts, and feelings are difficult to research because they are end products of complex neural processes that include perception, emotion, memory and behavioral motivation. The moment you begin to define belief, a bunch of other concepts–such as awareness, cognition, and consciousness–crop up that are equally difficult to explain…” some of which I’ll bring up later while discussing synchronicity and Wolfgang Pauli.

 

SCIENCE AND THE SACRED MARRIAGE

Monday, March 28th, 2016

 

I watched Bill Maher’s film “Religulous” when it first came out in theaters. If you look in Wikipedia, the film is called a documentary. I think this is mislabeled. The film was Mr. Maher’s point of view – and is clearly the cynic Dr. Newberg talks about in Chapter 1 of “Born to Believe.” Apparently, if not careful, Mr. Maher is setting himself up for all sorts of dyer consequences (tongue firmly in cheek).

I thought Dr. Newberg was a neurosurgeon since his title includes an “MD” at the end of his name, but, according to this clip, he’s a Neurotheologian – testing the affects spirituality has on the brain. Dr. Newberg is part of a longer chain of me integrating my experiences to my immediate environment; and my Facebook profile and website create as good a place as any to untangle predictable confusion.

I am no prophet, and though I am part of a “Mission” engaging a few people, it has nothing to do with changing the world – at least as far as any of us can change the world. Those who know me have heard my stories over and over again. I have occasionally seen, but actively interacted with Daemon/Transcendents (something my society and culture can’t accept) since I was a little girl. My journey is my own, but I have a burning need to see how much is objectively REAL. Our experiences are products of the brain, how we interpret those experiences is societal. Maher for example would tell us the product from my brain is dysfunctional. These Transcendent beings told me and David they came from Sumer – I have no way to say whether they did or didn’t, but like Carl Jung, I choose to believe what’s said to me by the speaker at face value. Truth is relative as Dr. Newberg says so adroitly. By believing something at face value, even knowing it seems so terribly naive, becomes a specific experience they are attempting to share with me/us. When they first channeled to both me and my husband in 1999, they established the Hierosgammos here in Chicago – a sacred marriage with people out there and Daemon. David and I were monogamous and married for over 20 years at the time. This sexual connection with people outside our marriage with transcendence was very scary both personally as well as for our marriage.

David and I took a couple of years to make this decision, tenuously with a very few at first, and then more openly as pagans, sexual magicians and our temple, Terra Incognita. We were taught that this “magick” we were practicing was about transmogriphication, changing the very nature of our beings.We needed energy to make that change happen, this was actively practiced by the ancients and the Greeks called it the Heirosgammos. I found that a successful ritual engaged polarities not gender and I experienced this as convincingly as if I had done it in a laboratory. I also learned in these years how much the Chicago pagan community disapproved of our practices, and yet we decided to not become covert. This actually became, after all was said and done, about our concerns over developing meaningful trusting relationships with these fascinating beings over a public made up of individual we had no connection with. Besides if we had remained secret, the public imaginations would have been far more interesting than what they really were. I also found out that both Freud and Jung believed human sexuality carried energy – which brought more clarity for me. Besides what was so wrong? We weren’t running blood sacrifices…we were asking people to give their orgasmsnup to “the gods” which many did – willingly. It was all about free will…

Dr. Newberg separates healthy skepticism from cynicism. To just offhandedly say that what I’m seeing and experiencing is not real without exploration would be stupid. The best case scenario is that I might find there’s some malfunction in my brain that made me see something that wasn’t there and collect a healthy amount of pleasure from others. The worst thing might be that it could have all been real and by following my society’s fear and barriers, I’d missed an opportunity of a life time to re-enact an amazing rite from thousands of years ago that brings change to myself, my tribe, and by extension – my world before connecting it all to the very universe in which I live.

and what kind of choice is that?

Consciousness in unexpected places and science (Power of Belief)

Sunday, March 27th, 2016

on p. 13 Dr. Newberg says, “Even the behavior of single-celled creatures can be conditioned and chagned. When an amoeba is gently shocked with an electric probe, for instance, it becomes more hesitant when exploring its surroundings: it no longer assumes that the world ‘out there’ is safe. In a manner of speaking, you might say that the otherwise trusting amoeba becomes a skeptic. If the shocks continued, it would probably turn into a hermit, retreating from its environment until it died. If you think this scenario sounds to improbable, consider the Dictyostelium discoidem, which biologists affectionately call the social amoeba. This little creature exhibits what appear to be moral behaviors, for it engages in cooperative activities that involve both cheating and altruism. If enough evidence is gathered to support the view that cells and genes can independently and cooperatively make decisions that affect their own future survival, then the answer is yes–every living creature has beliefs.

What about a rock? It has no nervous system or cells, but is there even a remote possibility that the smallest subatomic particles of the universe could have some form of self-volition, consciousness, or belief, which would then suggest that the universe itself is a form of life? Most quantum physicists would say no. However, a few respected theoreticians and physicists believe taht it is impossible to separate consciousness from the physical world, and a that a profound interconnectedness exists between all aspects of the organic and inorganic world. For example, the Gaia hypothesis proposes that every aspect of the enviroment on Earth cooperates in a self regulating way to maintain n internal and external balance. There is even a mathematical theory explaining how to species of daisies can regulate the global temperature of the planet.

        
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