Download from Amazon: https://goo.gl/O6Bvxq
Download from Amazon: https://goo.gl/O6Bvxq
This is the only time I will be doing this promotion. Get your FREE Kindle copy from Amazon (now through Dec. 10th). Snuggle up by the fire and join Blake as he treks in the Himalayas. Happy holidays to everyone! (We have a house in Brussels and we’re moving in Jan. I’ll join you from Belgium in the new year.)
GRAB YOUR FREE COPY HERE: https://goo.gl/O6Bvxq
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.
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.
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.
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.
After Jupiter Gardens Press went belly up, I struggled with whether or not to do the self-publishing thing. Turns out, it was easier than I expected. I am excited to announce the launch of my first self-published book! I worked with the fabulous Anna Spies at EerilyFair to create a cover I truly love. Thanks, Anna! Now it’s time to share the love. I will be giving away 4 signed paperback copies of Into the Land of Snows using a random drawing (US residents only, since I have to mail them). The contest will run from today until noon Aug. 11 (next Thursday). Enter by leaving me a comment about something fun you did this summer.
About the book: Visionary Fiction
Sixteen year old Blake travels to Base Camp on Mt. Everest to spend time with his physician father. When a deadly avalanche occurs, Dad is forced to rethink things and sends Blake away. Now accompanied by a Sherpa guide, and in possession of a mysterious camera, Blake undertakes a journey that will challenge everything he believes. In the magical Himalayas, he will be forever changed by what he experiences.
Available on Amazon: https://goo.gl/6HUnDX
ebook ($4.99): https://goo.gl/mbHZsr
WHAT READERS ARE SAYING:
“Well-written with engaging and believable characters, this story has it all: adventure, mystery, magic, and wisdom.” Naomi C. Rose
“Into the Land of Snows is a eminently readable YA novel that moves quickly and adeptly through many mystical twists and turns. A very fast and enjoyable read! I recommend it highly to YA audiences, but to adults as well.” Rea Nolan
“Into the Land of Snows takes the reader into a world so different, so beautifully challenging in its vision of life that the reader is drawn-in completely. So strong is the vision presented in this book it may even change the being within you.” Karin DeMer
With Jupiter Gardens closing its doors, I’ve decided to re-release INTO THE LAND OF SNOWS. I’ve had an amazing time working with Anna Spies of EerilyFair (https://www.facebook.com/eerilyfairdesign/). She is a talented and imaginative cover designer and here’s a peek at the new cover design. Freakin’ awesome job!
As part of the process, I got to view photos of teenage male models and choose one for Blake. Somehow I accidentally sent some of those images to my son via Facebook. That provoked a few awkward questions!!
Author Paul Hill kindly hosted me on his blog. Follow the link. I spill the beans on my military background, why I write for kids, and share some curious personal paranormal happenings. Comments welcomed! I’m always here (or there) to chat.
by Rea Nolan Martin
She’s only fifteen. She shouldn’t have to play anesthesia games at all, never mind this often, but whatever. She tries not to waste time feeling sorry for herself. She already knows life isn’t fair. Get over it. If you’re going to survive, you have to turn it into a game you have a chance of winning, a game that makes up for lost time. A game that teaches you how to be awake even when you’re not.
This book has already garnered many positive reviews on Amazon which highlight the author’s skill with characterization, pacing, and the way tense moments are flavored with gentle humor. And I totally agree. Rea Nolan Martin has successfully woven a story around four women facing crisis. We are drawn in and caught up in their lives. Most of us will have faced some part of this story either in our own lives or in the lives of a loved one.
What I want to highlight is that this is a masterful work in the emerging genre of visionary fiction. And here the author shows her talent best. She asks us to dig deep and think about healing. How much do we rely on medical professionals? How much power do we have over our own healing? On the healing of others? The writing here is so compelling that I know Rea Nolan Martin has experienced these questions and wrestled with them in her own life. She is drawing from what she “knows”. Anyone who reads about where science is leading us will also feel a resonance to the ideas of the zero point field. Others will gravitate to the language of interconnectedness. Either way, we have to reexamine our place on earth and in the cosmos.
Few authors can take on these themes and make them accessible. This author can. Grab this one!
March 17th, 2016
THE WINNERS ARE: Congratulations Dawnrigger and Linda Martin! I will be contacting you both to get your email details. Thanks to everyone who participated.
It’s almost spring and international teams will soon meet to begin the 2016 climbing season at Everest. Most of us will never be challenged by a mountain, but we can live vicariously safe at home, book in hand. For all you armchair adventurers, it’s contest time. Two free e-books of INTO THE LAND OF SNOWS will be awarded on Thursday, March 17th. Leave a comment about mountains below to enter. Contest closes 12:00 PM (MTN) on March 17th.
A troubled, sixteen year old Blake travels to Base Camp on Mt. Everest to spend time with his physician father. When a deadly avalanche occurs, Dad is forced to rethink things and sends Blake off the mountain. Now accompanied by a Sherpa guide, and in possession of a mysterious camera, Blake undertakes a journey which will challenge everything he believes. In the magical Himalayas, he will be forever changed by what he experiences.
The Biology of Consciousness- Case Studies in Kundalini- JJ Semple
This book has been on my reading list for a while. Although I’ve read books in the Eastern tradition on energy and Kundalini, I’ve never picked up a practical guide, so to speak. My background on the subject frames the rise of Kundalini energy in esoteric or spiritual terms. JJ Semple wants to get away from the notion of the spiritual and talk in terms of biology and evolution.
For him, a Kundalini awakening is essentially a biological process where consciousness expresses as an evolutionary force whose purpose is to refine and upgrade itself in a single lifetime. But it’s more than that because Semple believes the raising of consciousness can cause significant evolutionary leaps that can be passed on to subsequent generations.
Some esoteric traditions teach there is only one way to raise the serpent coiled at the base of the spine. Others outline a favored approach. This is where Semple’s book can be helpful. He outlines some of the many ways Kundalini can be triggered either intentionally or accidentally (that’s right- you can be minding your own business one minute and then yikes – what the ??). In fact, many people have had just that experience! They didn’t go looking for it, they don’t have an interest in anything spiritual, and yet it happens. Remember, Semple’s theory doesn’t require spirituality. He is talking about fundamental biology. If you are human, the life force waits ready for its opportunity.
Some of the case studies presented involve the raising of Kundalini as a result of meditation, Shaktipat (where energy is transferred from one individual to another), emotional crisis, sexual encounter, or eye gazing. Semple himself has experienced his own biological awakening and has chosen cases illustrating some of the differences and some of the similarities of what people go through. There are no advanced spiritual masters here; these are everyday people going through a life changing process. The book is immediately easy to relate to. Along the way, the reader gets a sense of how the rise of the Kundalini can be lived with and accommodated.
The book spends some time on the God versus no God arguments within society. Although Semple is an atheist, he thinks the argument gets us nowhere. He would like us to view Kundalini in terms of an energy continuum. Religion gets in the way of having this biological process seriously studied by scientists. Real work needs to be done. Real people are awakening all the time and there is a need to be able to guide them through the process.
Semple’s book is an easy read even if you know nothing about Kundalini. I hope it begins to open a dialogue among a wider audience. Highly recommended!
A cautionary note: Many spiritual traditions regard the raising of Kundalini as a dangerous endeavor. It is not viewed as being for everyone. Many have levels of initiation and recognize master teachers.
For those experiencing Kundalini rise: www.spiritualcrisisnetwork.org.uk
JJ Semple’s site: http://www.goldenflowermeditation.com/discovering_gfm.html
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?
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).
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.
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.
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.