Tag Archives: mysticism

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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And the winners are:

August 11, 2PM: I’ve drawn 4 winners for the print copies of Into the Land of Snows. Thanks to everyone who entered. The winners are: Sue S., Finally Florida, Alessandro, and Paronson. Congratulations!! I hope you’ll like the book. I will be contacting all of you to get your shipping addresses. If you see this, you can shoot me an email at: himalayaspencerellis@yahoo.com.

https://www.amazon.com/Into-Land-Snows-Ellis-Nelson/dp/1534879765

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National Book Lovers Day

Open new doorways and celebrate by reading!!! And don’t forget to enter my book contest by commenting on the post below.

doorway

Photo by Bjoertvedt

http://www.ibtimes.com/national-book-lovers-day-2016-quotes-21-sayings-about-reading-bibliophiles-2398724

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WIN A SIGNED BOOK!

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.

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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

 

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SNEAK PEEK

intothelandofsnowsmall

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!!

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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.

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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.

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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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The Interview

cat&books

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.

https://lightinthedarkparanormal.wordpress.com/2016/05/01/interview-paul-hill-author-ellis-nelson/

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THE ANESTHESIA GAME

by Rea Nolan Martin

The Blurb:

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.

anesthesia

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!

http://goo.gl/Qn1Tjo

 

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CLIMBING HIGHER: CONTEST TIME!

 

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.

Spiritual Book for Young Adults

The blurb:

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.

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