Category Archives: Book Review

RATIONAL MYSTICISM by John Horgan

rational-mysticism

This is a book I thought long and hard about highlighting. I expected great things and was overall disappointed. Unfortunately John Horgan is a reductionist materialist and despite the access he had to various spokespeople on mysticism, he remains thoroughly unconvinced. He is a science writer who holds the dogmatic party line through the entirety of the book. That said, I think some valuable perspective can be gleaned from the people Horgan talks to. It’s worth the read to get an overall feel for the modern history of the topic and hear from some of the players.

Horgan begins with a definition of mysticism within the historical context. He interviews Huston Smith who discusses mysticism as a cross-cultural, cross-religious experience. Smith represents the notion of the perennial philosophy. The author’s search next takes him to a two day conference in Chicago where mysticism is treated as a literary phenomenon. These scholars know in great detail the texts left behind by Eckhart, St. Teresa of Avila, Shankara, etc. But sadly, none of them has any personal experience with anything remotely mystical. The journey continues with an interview of Ken Wilber dubbed ‘the weightlifting Bodhisattva’ by Horgan. Wilbur stands behind Smith adhering to the perennial philosophy but also embraces science as a way to explore and define mystical experience.

meditating

Photo: Thanabadhi

Important information is raised in the chapter called Can Neurotheology Save Us?. Horgan visits with Andrew Newberg, the doctor featured back in 2001 in Newsweek’s article, “God and the Brain: How We’re Wired for Spirituality.” Wouldn’t it be nice if brain scans could prove mystical states and help us to understand them? Unfortunately, a review of data collected on all sorts of meditation doesn’t support any nice clean conclusions according to Jensine Andreson, a theology professor at Boston University. And that in turn brings into question all the benefits touted for meditation. A review of the studies looking at meditation and its benefits Andreson believes, are poorly designed and won’t hold up to scrutiny. Of course, as it relates to mystical practice, mystics don’t meditate to lower their blood pressure but I would concede that a whole lot of Americans do increasingly view meditation as a health practice. Should they?

Continuing the scientific pursuit of mystical states, Horgan interviewed Michael Persinger of Laurentian University, Canada. Starting in the 1980s, Persinger began studying the brain’s response to electro-magnetic pulses to certain areas of the brain. 40% of Persinger’s test subjects experience a presence. The Canadian magazine Mclean’s called this device, “the God machine.” Persinger maintains that he has not addressed the God question with his work, rather his interest is in understanding the electrical pattern of the brain that leads to religious belief. But does the machine produce mystical experiences? No. Apparently, no one tested has reported the typical sensations of bliss, unity, or ineffability commonly reported by mystics. Scientific attempts to link temporal lobe excitation or epilepsy to mystical experience do not hold up either.

brain-scan

Horgan next turns to practitioner of Zen and neurologist, James Austin who penned the book, Zen and the Brain. Austin calls his approach perennial psychophysiology. Instead of gaining metaphysical insight, Austin thinks the mystic undergoes deep changes in personality. Someone who has had these experiences becomes more stable, more compassionate, and more selfless. As a specialist in brain disorders, Austin attempts to separate healthy mysticism from other illnesses. His approach relies on the idea that mystical experience releases excitotoxins which cause the loss of neurons. This in turn, allows us to get rid of those things that distort our view of reality. This is as scary as it is fascinating. For me, it makes mystical experience similar to brain damage. Can that really be?

No book on mysticism would be complete without a foray into drug induced mystical experience. Horgan looks at the history of LSD, DMT, and ayahuasca. He visits Stanislov Grof, who is involved in the transpersonal psychology movement. Grof believes that we must move into a new paradigm where mind has primacy over matter (the book was published in 2003, not a unique idea now). There’s an interesting discussion of Rick Strassman’s work as outlined in DMT: The Spirit Molecule. The colorful Terrence McKenna makes an appearance in a later chapter where he advocates the use of psychedelics.

chakra

Photo by: vishwagna.com

The book is a nice romp through lots of questions with little in the way of conclusions. I often had the feeling that the author was totally out of his depth. Why did this topic appeal to him? He remained a science writer who attempted to fill pages. Most of them are interesting. I wonder what the book would have looked like with another author or even what the book would look like if updated.

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The Science of Reincarnation

 

Physics of the Soul: The Quantum Book of Living, Dying, Reincarnation, and Immortality by Amit Goswami, PhD

physics

 

So judging from the title you know this is going to be a tough book. Intriguing- yes, but not a walk in the park. Amit Goswami is a theoretical quantum physicist and in the book he attempts to reconcile the science and metaphysics of reincarnation and immortality. Essentially he outlines a science for reincarnation and some kinds of paranormal phenomena. The structure of the book follows the ponderings of a scientist as he develops his theory. Although this is personal, I often lost track of the details as he set forth on one track only to reverse himself later. As a reader (without a PhD in physics), I’d rather have the bare bones of the theory without the intricacies of why he went one direction or another. No one should attempt this book as a first foray into the quantum world, but for those with familiarity with nonlocality and the double slit experiment, go for it. This adventure will include proving that The Tibetan Book of the Dead is correct. There is no way I can cover the entire book, but I’m going to outline some of our quantum scientist’s ideas.

wheel

Photo:Philipp Roeli

The underlying paradigm shift that is required for us to understand this new science of reincarnation involves dropping the notion that matter creates consciousness. That is an outdated, old Newtonian idea. Consciousness is the basis of everything. It is consciousness that creates matter. The brain does not make us conscious. The brain is a receiver for consciousness. For most of you reading this blog, you long ago accepted that idea (so what else is new, you’re asking. Well, keep reading).

 

Goswami borrows from Indian medicine the idea that we have five bodies of consciousness. The first one (and the only one for materialists) is the physical body. Then comes the vital body made of vital energy followed by the mental body. The fourth body is the supramental intellect and the fifth is unlimited bliss (Brahma). Eastern traditions rely on the idea of chi or prana. Goswami thinks that acupuncture and chakra work, similarly and yet using different energy points or centers can both be effective because they are quantum in nature. They exist in possibility until the quantum wave collapses. (A fascinating idea that will drive a materialist scientist mad trying to figure out which modality is correct.) It is in the interaction of these subtle bodies outlined above which allows for the soul to survive and reincarnate.

subtle-bodies

At death, the physical body dies along with classical memory. However, quantum memory (acquired through repetition and stored in the vital and mental bodies) and the subtle bodies continue to exist. According to Goswami, souls cannot grow spiritually once they shed the physical body because they lack subject/object awareness. Although this may upset some notions of heaven, it does give weight to the idea that a physical body has a purpose and that purpose is spiritual growth.

In this theory, people who have had near-death-experiences or out-of-body experiences have shifted their center of identity to the vital/mental bodies which could be a Samadhi experience (without ego) but haven’t actually died.

Drawing on The Tibetan Book of the Dead, after physical death we have opportunities to transcend (and return to the Quantum Monad), but most of us will miss those chances and return. In the in-between states, we have the ability to correlate and communicate with the child you will be. In Goswami’s theory, karma is not reward or punishment but rather contexts or themes we develop in one life which continue. Failure to learn the theme results in more opportunities in later lives to obtain that knowledge. Learning creatively with closure “burns” karma. Other people (quantum monads) can become entangled with us as either supporters or enemies to help us learn our themes. At the end of each life, we have the opportunity to transcend again.

chakras

Art: by Kwakin1

There is a whole section devoted to ways to live spiritually. Goswami believes that our inner and outer expressions of creativity are key to developing a unique spiritual path. The book culminates with further musings on the evolution of the supermind, UFOs, and alien intelligences. Overall, this is a fascinating book! Find someone to talk to as you’re reading it. It provides great opportunity for discussion.

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POWER & THE FEMALE BODY

A Woman’s Space: The Power of the Female Body by Kimberly Harding, PhD

 female body

I had the pleasure of interviewing Kimberly Harding, PhD, a while ago. Then she joined us to talk about her art and poetry. Now she’s back to discuss a new project. Kim has used her talents to explore the power of the female body in her new book. In a beautifully illustrated, gentle book, Kim guides the reader on a journey of discovery examining our perceptions and beliefs about our bodies.

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I know as a teacher of anatomy at the college level, you have pointed out that language used to describe the female body often involves a sense of lack. Can you give us some examples? Was this realization the starting point of your thinking about creating this book for women?

 You are correct.  I think one of the reasons I wrote the book is that I am so disturbed by the mixed messages women receive in regards to their body.  As I write in the book, we want the miracle of childbirth, but not the “messy” uterine lining each month that makes this possible.  Or, we do not mind seeing breasts displayed in advertisements, but some are bothered by breast feeding in public areas.  What do all of these messages mean for a woman and her sense of self and her sense of power in the world?  For in my mind, a woman’s body is a source of innate power and if she is disconnected from her body, she is disconnected from her power in life.

My thoughts on this are definitely tied to my career as an anatomy and physiology college professor.  A book by Emily Martin showed me that even textbooks are not immune to the mixed messages given about women’s bodies.  Martin did a study comparing the terminology used in the standard reproduction chapter common to most college anatomy and physiology texts.  Terms used in the section on  male reproduction included “sheer magnitude, amazing, abundant” (as I have said elsewhere, you almost want to build a monument to it ), while terminology associated with female reproduction included “degeneration, lack, leaking, deteriorate”.

Students see the textbook as the “gold standard” of information, so the use of this terminology is particularly disturbing.

growth

Growth

 

Why is a women’s body seen as threatening or untrustworthy? Is this a cultural perception we can change and if so, how?

I think it is the power contained within a woman that causes some to perceive women as threatening.  I realize women, normally, have a smaller physical stature, but this does not in any way detract from the innate power in women to create, produce, destroy, manifest, and maintain the world.  Women not only manifest the world, but we sustain it as well.

As for being “untrustworthy”, I feel for centuries, women and their bodies have been viewed with a sense of distrust. Often, this likely resulted from women’s projected place in society and culture as the “Other”- something foreign and unknowable.  For ages, women were not even included in clinical medical trials as their menstrual cycle apparently made them “too confusing” to serve as subjects.

I think the change of this perception does not happen on the cultural level first, but rather within each and every woman.  Within our power, we, as women, have the ability to heal ourselves.  When we heal ourselves, we have the ability to heal the world.

In my mind, I believe if you heal a woman, you heal the world. When a woman heals herself, she heals the generations to come.

pregnantpauses

Pregnant Pauses

 

In this age of information, do women have adequate knowledge of their physical bodies? 

 I think this depends on the woman. Those of us who are blessed enough to have access to items such as books, the internet, and supportive medical care, likely have adequate knowledge of our physical bodies.  Many women in the world do not have these resources.

I will also say, though, and this is the point of my book, knowledge of the physical body is not enough.  We must learn about and embrace the power contained within the body’s tissues.  It is one thing to speak to a young woman about the mechanics of her menstrual cycle.  How much more powerful does it become, though, when we speak about what the menstrual lining represents- “the potential of the world”?  What would it do for a young woman to understand she literally forms the potential of the world within her being every month?

That is the type of message I feel is lacking.

emergence

Emergence

 

How does a modern woman reclaim her body and her power?

 It is the work of each woman to do so.  Women can not kid themselves about this important work.  There is no other way for a woman to come in to her true power except through understanding the power of her own Being.  Certainly, we can assist one another on this journey and we should do so, individually and collectively.

At the end of the day, though, it comes down to each woman confronting what she has been told about her self and what she believes in her self.  When one woman raises her self up, she sets the path for all others.

Is there a need for rituals or rites of passage to help women claim their power? I’m wondering about the roles of maiden, mother, crone (borrowing from pagan tradition).

Oh certainly!  Rituals and rites of passage can provide a physicality to the internal psychical changes a woman undergoes.  These can serve as a source of grounding and a reference point that enable a woman, alone, or within the collective to mark her awakening.

 

angelsun

Angel/Sun

 

How do the images and text of your book work together to help women explore and reclaim their bodies?  

For me, and this is difficult to say from an unbiased perspective as the artist, the images complete the text.  I find myself, when I read the book, that the words are engaging, but then I will look at the image and the message is understood on a completely different level.

I purposely put images and text on each page, as for myself, the image, more so than the words, is the trigger to return to the idea.  I see the image and immediately associate it with the concept.

I really hope others resonate in a similar manner.

Thank you so much for this opportunity.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and work concerning this important topic! For more about Kim’s work, please visit her website and check out her books on Amazon.

http://soulhealingart.com

Amazon link: https://goo.gl/TVmsaI

Watch Kim’s fascinating lecture on Female Embodiment- A Woman’s Place (22 min)     https://goo.gl/nPLMC2

 

 

 

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Did she live before?

The Search for Omm Sety by Jonathan Cott

 Omm Sety

“After all, it is no more surprising to be born twice than it is to be born once.” Voltaire

 I’m not sure how I found this book. It was mentioned in some reading I was doing and luckily although it was first published in 1987, I was able to get a copy. This is a reincarnation story with a big twist. The New York Times once referred to Omm Sety as “one of the Western World’s most intriguing and convincing modern case histories of reincarnation.” And it is.

Dorothy Louise Eady (1904-1981) at age three fell down a flight of stairs at home and was pronounced dead by a doctor. The doctor left to make arrangements for the body and upon returning had quite a shock finding Dorothy sitting up, awake in bed. Over the next few years, the child started talking about wanting to go home. She was kicked out of Sunday school for comparing Christianity to an ancient religion and fared no better in regular school. Eventually, a priest visited and told her parents to keep her away from Catholic services. It was on a trip to the British Museum’s Egyptian rooms that things fell into place for Dorothy. There she saw a photograph and exclaimed, “There is my home!” She seemed to recognize the temple of Seti I. After that, she made frequent trips to visit the Egyptian collection eventually meeting E.A. Wallis. He taught her to read hieroglyphs.

Seti I

Seti I

 

From an early age Dorothy Eady was consumed by the desire to learn all things Egyptian. At 15, she described a nighttime visit by Seti I (in mummy form). She had vivid dreams of ancient Egypt and saw herself as a young girl. Troubled by her behavior and sleep disturbances, her parents placed her in sanatoriums but no real answers were forthcoming. As a teen, Dorothy began collecting Egyptian antiquities and, while performing with a theatre group, she played Isis in a production of the story of Isis and Osiris. In her twenties she went to work for a magazine that advanced Egyptian public relations and support for an independent Egypt.

In 1933, Dorothy married an Egyptian teacher and moved to Cairo. She reported that she felt that she was finally at home. It was here that she began to entertain the presence known as King Sety I. He came as a physical being that Dorothy could touch. Her mother who visited at one point also saw the form of the king, but mistook him initially for Dorothy’s husband. After the birth of her son, Sety, Dorothy’s behavior grew more concerning. She would get out of bed in a semi-trance state and sit at a desk and write fragmentary hieroglyphic messages.

temple

Seti I Temple, Abydos

 

Over the year that followed, Dorothy transcribed the story of her previous life in Egypt. The being who related the story was known as “Hor-Ra”. The work ran about seventy pages written in hieroglyphics. In the Egyptian lifetime, Dorothy was known as Bentreshyt. She came from humble beginnings and was placed in the care of the temple at Kom el-Sultan. As a teenager, she took the vows to become a temple virgin. Eventually, she met Sety I and they began an affair. Bentreshyt was pregnant by the time the temple authorities became aware of the situation. In order to save Sety I from the shame of the affair, Bentreshyt committed suicide. Upon learning her fate, Sety I was inconsolable.

By 1935, Dorothy’s marriage had crumbled and she relocated to a town near the Giza pyramids taking a job as a secretary and draughtswoman for an archeologist. She also dedicated herself to writing articles and books about Egypt. Her work here made her a valuable asset and she later moved on to work with Ahmed Fakhry at Dashur. While there, she was known to make offerings to the gods of ancient Egypt and spend nights in the Great pyramid. Dorothy’s work there ended  in 1956 when Fakhry’s project ended. She was offered a well- paid job in the Cairo Records Office or a low paying position in Abydos. After consulting Sety I, she moved to the small town of Arabet Abydos and lived amongst the Egyptian people at a subsistence level. Dorothy now became known as “Omm Sety” (mother of Sety)  as was the custom of villagers to refer to women by the name of their oldest child.

Abydos

Abydos site. Photo: Merlin-UK

Omm Sety’s current incarnation was now living where Bentreshyt had lived during the Sety I reign. Her visitations with the king continued here and much more is disclosed. Two tests of Omm Sety’s  reincarnation story happened here. In the first, she was asked to locate a particular wall painting at the Temple of Sety in the dark. She accomplished this during a time period when no publication had yet to divulge where the particular painting was in the complex. The other test concerned the location of a garden at the temple. Omm Sety had insisted from childhood that there was a garden at the temple and it was while she was living in Abydos that a garden matching her description was excavated. Omm Sety lived out the rest of her life pursuing her Egyptological studies, integrating into the local community, and practicing her ancient religion. She garnered the respect of the Egyptologists she worked with for her knowledge and integrity.

The Search for Omm Sety is a fascinating read about a woman who lived her life passionately believing she had once lived as an Egyptian priestess. There is much more to the intimate story of her and Sety’s relationship in this life for those wishing to pursue it. It’s a curious tale more powerful than many fictional stories about reincarnation.

 

 

 

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HAVE WE LIVED BEFORE?

Reincarnation: Past Lives & the Akashic Record by Lois J. Wetzel

 Reincarnation

I downloaded this book recently following a lead from Dana Taylor (www.supernalliving.com). It is the second book by Lois J. Wetzel concerning case studies of past life readings she’s done. This book clarifies some of the issues raised in the first book and goes on to share healing aspects that clients have experienced as a result of the readings. Wetzel also says that she has had readers report being healed just by reading the book.

Wetzel begins the book with the belief that we are immortal, spiritual beings reincarnating to learn lessons for the soul’s evolution. Eventually we become Master Souls and move on to other levels of development in the spirit world.

fuschia

In order to help clients deal with issues or problems, she describes a process where she reads an individual’s Akashic records. This is a different process than doing a past life regression. Using a photograph of the client, Wetzel connects to the person and, while in trance, views past lives. The client does not have to be present or be hypnotized.

The book does not attempt to prove reincarnation (from a Buddhist perspective, the more correct term is rebirth. Only advanced masters reincarnate. The rest of us stumble back and take rebirth.). However, there is mention of some of the scientific work investigating reincarnation including that of Ian Stevenson, Jim Tucker, and Brian Weiss.

Readers will probably be as surprised as Wetzel was that she has seen past lives as dolphins and faeries.  She also talks about overlapping and parallel lives which may be difficult for some. In addition, she’s viewed lifetimes prior to recorded history and glimpsed civilizations we apparently have no record of.

fuschia2

The case study section of the book provides a transcript of a reading followed by comments from the client. There’s no doubt that the readings often resonate with the client and many things are confirmed. The power of the work lies in its ability to provide healing and consolation for the individuals seeking it.

Reincarnation: Past Lives & the Akashic Record is an engaging read and will leave readers wondering about their own lives and the ones they’ve lived previously. What is a hold-over from the past? What kind of healing can be had here and now? All good questions.

Amazon link: http://goo.gl/Sc806k

Author Website: http://hotpinklotus.com

Dana Taylor’s website: http://supernalliving.com

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Mystical Life

Nicholas & Helena Roerich

The Spiritual Journey of Two Great Artists & Peacemakers by Ruth A. Drayer

 Roerich

This was an enjoyable read that followed the lives of Nicholas and Helena Roerich as they fled the Russian revolution traveling the world looking to bring a measure of spirituality and art into everyday life. Although not a name recognized today, Roerich was very well known from the 20s until his death in 1947. He was primarily an artist who left a vast legacy of paintings (most of which remain in Russia). But he was also a bit of a Renaissance man dabbling in archeology, spirituality, travel, and efforts at conservation and world unity. Equally interesting was his wife, Helena, who was a psychic and healer who had contact with some of the Masters known to the Theosophists. She wrote and developed the foundational works of the Agni Yoga practice. Together, they functioned as a spiritually-driven couple who established a school of the arts in New York City in the 1920s.

Rerikh_NK

Their pursuit of all things spiritual eventually took them into India, China, Mongolia, Tibet, and Siberia. The treks happen at a dangerous time when few Westerners have traveled these regions. They often find themselves in situations they are ill prepared for. As a travelogue, it’s a fascinating journey, but not one many of us would choose. We learn that the Roerichs are in search of signs of the coming of Maitreya (a future Buddha) and interested in establishing a New Country (Shambhala) that has been prophesized. All through the journey, they hear tales about Christ (Issa) having spent time in the East. Although Nicholas’ art is energized by the trek, they don’t seem to find what the Masters are leading them towards. They settle down in northern India.

Nicholas’ next chance for adventure north comes in 1934 when he is asked by the US government to lead an expedition into these regions to find seeds for drought resistant grasses to help recover lands being swallowed by the dust bowl. He agrees, but things don’t go to plan due to political instabilities in the region. Around the same time, Helena maintains a correspondence with FDR.

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Roerich’s lasting legacy is his art and the signing of the Roerich Pact in 1935 by twenty-one nations including the US. The document was signed at the White House to protect artistic and cultural property, especially in times of conflict. Roerich was trained as an artist in Russia but also incorporates his sense of spirit with influences coming from peasant culture, Buddhism, and Theosophy. His work is overwhelmingly mystical.

The Roerich Museum (NYC):   http://www.roerich.org/

Link to Drayer’s book: http://goo.gl/IrxpnP

 

Roerich-google

 

 

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THE POWER OF PREMONITIONS by Larry Dossey, MD

 index

 

Larry Dossey has written a fascinating book about premonitions, those events that forewarn of a possible future. Dossey blurs the line a bit by including intuition as well. Many people have these experiences and most of us are uncertain as to what to do about them. The book is full of examples including those of SIDS parents who often know something is not right, the high vacancy rates on the doomed planes of 9/11, and the use of psychics to predict the stock market (yes, it can be done- to a point). Arguments are presented that these abilities are natural and part of evolutionary survival. Some may be more prone to them and some may handle them better than others. So who is more likely to glimpse a possible future? Can premonitions be cultivated?

Artwork by Genia1016

Artwork by Genia1016

 

Dossey outlines some factors that may give some an edge to receiving premonitions or intuitions. Although more research is needed to establish the relevance of each of these, it is easy to see why they correlate. Here is the list, although other things could be added (for example- does the culture of the individual support premonitions, psi).

  1. Absorption- the ability to lose oneself in an activity, to be comfortable with imagination & fantasy
  1. Belief in the transcendent- not limited to the here & now
  1. Acknowledgement of intuition- open to the idea of spontaneous, innate knowing
  1. Comfortable with disorder- the ability to go with the flow and let go of control
  1. Seeking meaning- looking for underlying symbols and patterns
  1. Worldview- the world is a benevolent place
  1. Cultivation of a discipline which supports being present- these include meditation, prayer, being in silence, being in nature, etc.

Dossey believes premonitions can be cultivated, but also acknowledges that there are people who probably would not be stable enough to handle them. There’s a brief section and caution given about seeking psychiatric care. For someone who is having issues dealing with these types of experiences, it would probably be better to seek out a Jungian practitioner since their worldview is more open in regards to psi.

 

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Another question running through the book involves when we should pay attention to our dreams and intuitions. The nature of these phenomena is that of being incomplete- often lacking the details of who, what, when, and where. Dreams especially, use a symbolic language that is often difficult to decipher. So what to do? Some common sense guidelines may help here. The experiences to really pay attention to are those that have a noetic quality- a sense of knowing. Without understanding how, you simply know. Anytime a dream is especially vivid or downright extraordinary, take note. Pay attention when the dream or intuition is accompanied by physical symptoms. One story related in the book, concerns an OB/GYN who can feel in his body when a patient is in trouble, and by honoring this, he often is headed to the hospital before he gets the call. Watch for those instances when the experience is intrusive and insistent. Pay attention when death or illness is indicated even when specific details are lacking. Over time, people can develop a sense of what’s important. The Rhine Institute conducted a study of 433 premonition cases where a person attempted to intervene to prevent an incident. Intervention was about twice as successful as not, indicating the future may not be written in stone. Premonitions don’t reveal fate, but rather a possible future.

Artwork by Genia1016

Artwork by Genia1016

 

Here are a few teasers from the book:

The Arlington Institute (TAI) works with precognizant dreamers formerly with government intelligence services to prevent disaster.

The FBI won’t release travel records for plane occupancy on 9/11. Was plane travel down just on the crashed aircraft or across the board?

There is a positive correlation between creativity/artistic ability and psi ability.

High performing CEOs score high on random number generator tests indicating they’re highly intuitive (although they don’t see themselves as such).

In 2007, Harteis & Gruber found intuitive predictions of stock market development were better than rationally justified ones.

In 1982, psychic Beverly Jaegers outperformed 17 of 18 stockbrokers (but not all psychics are that good- don’t ask a psychic for a lottery number, they usually can’t do numbers).

The stock market as a collective, “punished” the company responsible for the Challenger disaster before any investigations were done.

Dean Radin’s presentiment research at IONS showed people react to images before a computer picks them.

Rupert Sheldrake has collected many stories of animals refusing to go with their owners to areas where accidents later occur.

After an accident, Harriet Tubman had dreams and visions. This ability allowed her to guide slaves on the Underground Railroad.

Remote viewers see emotional images more frequently and that may give us a clue as to why premonitions usually indicate nasty events.

For centuries (and even today), fisherman in Iceland use dreams to locate a catch.

Join me next time when I sit down for a conversation with astrologer Mama Maga of Karma2Dharma Astrology.

 

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PROOF OF HEAVEN by Eben Alexander

 Proof of Heaven

I haven’t read a near death book in a while and when Eben Alexander’s book came out in 2012 and he was making the talk show circuit, I decided to give it a pass. Having read and heard many NDEs over the years, I knew all about the white lights, tunnels, and ability to see your body from above. Long ago I gave up the idea that the brain is the chemical factory of our consciousness and adopted the more cutting edge perspective that our bodies act more like a radio receiving signals. But recently, Proof of Heaven was mentioned in something else I was researching and decided to have a peek at why Alexander’s book had become so popular.

I’m glad I did. Eben Alexander III, MD got sick at home and ended up in the hospital in a coma. From the perspective of a hard- core materialist neurosurgeon, he describes what happened to him when the parts of his brain that would have been required for him to have these experiences was not functioning. The book is written like a thriller cutting back and forth from the medical mystery which had disabled him to the otherworldly journey he undertook. I’d bet he had a great editor too. Honestly, I enjoyed the way this book was written more than what his story adds to the evidence of life after death. Does his book prove life after death? Probably not, but I didn’t need it to.

A reader alerted me to this Esquire article that sheds a different light on the book:

http://www.esquire.com/entertainment/interviews/a23248/the-prophet/

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THINGS THAT GO BUMP IN THE NIGHT

Sir Robert Ottley, Royalist

Sir Robert Ottley, Royalist

 Continuing with JH Brennan’s, Whisperings: The Secret History of the Spirit World, I wanted to mention the research conducted by Dr. A.R. G. Owen a few years after Bacheldor’s work. A Canadian research group led by Owen wondered if they could create a ghost.

Working a lot like fictional writers, the group created “Philip” and gave him a whole history. Philip had been a Cavalier officer during the English Civil War and had resided at Diddington Hall (a real place). The story of his life was a fabrication and went like this. Although Philip was married, he had an affair with a gypsy girl which had enraged his wife. The wife managed to have the girl denounced as a witch and burned. So distraught was Philip that he threw himself off the battlements of the hall committing suicide. Poor Philip!

Diddington Hall. Photo: John Evans

Diddington Hall. Photo: John Evans

The group held séances for a year trying to contact the Cavalier with no luck. I think it’s pretty amazing they’d keep at it that long with no result. One of the group eventually read Bacheldor’s work and wondered if a lighthearted atmosphere might make a difference. Giving it the old college try, they sang and told jokes, and oddly enough, after a few more séances, things started to happen. They heard their first rap and the table slid across the floor. Success at last! Encouraged, someone asked if Philip was doing it and was answered back with a loud rap. Having contacted the entity, the group used the one knock for yes and two for no method, to go on to communicate with Philip. Phillip affirmed the basic facts of his fictional life story and went on to reveal additional details the group had not created. The séances also produced various physical phenomena. The most spectacular was recorded for a television program. A table climbed a set of steps joining the panelists being interviewed.

Battle of Marston Moor, 1644

Battle of Marston Moor, 1644

I’ll leave you to ponder the significance of the Philip research. As a fiction author, I’m already concocting plots about how the other side conspires to have a good laugh at Owen and the other sitters.

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The Age of Atheists by Peter Watson

(How We Have Sought to Live Since the Death of God)

A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2014

atheistsI’ve always regarded the word atheist as a quagmire. What does it mean, really? People mean so many different things in using it. Even after reading Watson’s book, I’m still puzzled. So let’s more away from that term and look at the meat of the book.

Watson traces the history of thought following Friedrich Nietzche’s 1882 pronouncement, “God is dead.” The big questions about the meaning of life and how to live it are quested after by artists, writers, poets, philosophers, and scientists. The 626 page tome follows hundreds of individuals and their pursuit to answer the stickiest of questions in a post-modern world where salvation doesn’t exist.

This is a book for everyone because it is about our collective history. Unless you have a PhD in philosophy, you won’t know all the people Watson brings up in his survey, but names like James Joyce, Sigmund Freud, Albert Einstein and countless others, will ground you in the familiar. Some chapters are absolutely fascinating. Did you know that some people thought poetry would supplant God? Or that many intellectuals looked forward to WWI as a way to purge the modern age? Other chapters are a slog to get through. But persist.

Watson takes us on a journey to understand where we’ve been and perhaps where we’ve going. In the end, we see the search for meaning seems to be universal and that many have answered the call by looking to transcend this life while others (the subject of Watson’s book) look for meaning in this world in diverse and rich ways.

http://www.amazon.com/Age-Atheists-Sought-Since-Death/dp/1476754322/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1440638504&sr=1-4&keywords=peter+watson

 

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