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    Thread: consorting with demons

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      consorting with demons

      One of the things I've been trying to understand for years, which I've posted about many times before, is the extent to with messing around with supernatural stuff is 'healthy'. On the one hand, we all have a part of ourselves that's connected to such things, and it seems unnatural and deforming to just shut it down. On the other hand, there seems to be a lot of anecdotal evidence that our fears aren't unfounded, that this sort of thing really is dangerous.

      Beowulf is an archetypical story for the kind of thing I'm talking about. I've never read a book version, but years ago I saw the movie in which Angelina Jolie was the demon. For me, the most memorable part of that was the first bastard demon child, with its tormented rages. Seems familiar somehow. What is the nature of the deal the king made with the demon? I think the story is compelling because its at least partially true, but in real life the devil doesn't show up and offer you a contract. It seems to me that a kind of contract is made when a person's thinking and action puts themselves into relation with something, and I don't think that at its core this involves conjuring something through ceremonial magic or that sort of thing, which I think is at most symbolic. In the Beowulf story, the king gains supernatural power, and a paranormal curse or affliction that comes with it. Is that fundamentally different from the use of any psychic power? Is the exercise of all psychic power a sort of trojan horse for evil?

      One of the reasons I care about this, is because several of my early precognitive dreams involved lethal accidents, and they contained symbolism that implied that I was partially responsible. If I was a causal agent, I think I was a minor one, and these things mostly would have happened anyway. But it would be arrogant and kind of stupid to just blow off the possibility completely. And I've continued to have these kinds of experiences, even though almost all of my dreams of this type stopped a few years ago. Of course, everyone dies eventually, for a complexity of reasons, and it would definitely be unhealthy to make too much of that. Everyone is a cause of death in the world, in one way or another, whether they are aware of it or not. And I think that obsessing about negative premonitions or prophecies is most definitely unhealthy. But real people I know have been killed or seriously injured in accidents foreshadowed by some of these dreams, so it unavoidably freaks me out a bit also. Is this another reason for our collective 'dry spell', and why hardly anyone posts here any more? Paranormal dreamers are self-destructing, and the smart ones have learned to leave it alone? Everyone assumes its wrong for me to 'blame myself' for any of this. But I think that's mostly assumption on their part, even though I guess they're probably mostly right. And I see a lot of other people who hold themselves blameless who are not blameless, and I don't want to be one of those people.

      As another Beowulf-like example from popular culture, Black Sabbath has a song called Too Late, that's about someone who conjures up a demon he can no longer pretend to control. (That song is with Dio from about 1995, there's an earlier song called Too Late with Ozzy singing that's about something else.) I like that song enough that its almost an obsession. The Sabbath/Dio song 'Falling off the Edge of the World' is similar. There's a song on the second Iron Maiden record along the same lines, maybe called Prodigal Son, about someone who has dabbled too long in ceremonial magic. Some religious people are afraid of oracles, like the Tarot for instance. I've always assumed they're just ignorant, but I'm wondering if there's something to that. Anecdotally, a high percentage of the people I know who have played with such things have mental health problems. Correlation is not necessarily causation of course, but its hard to separate the two, especially since these spirits seem to exist partially outside of time somehow, with causes and effects not always following in chronological order.

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      I would be careful. It is one thing to embrace the side of you that you do not like, it is another to consort with demons. Demons by their very nature have no intrinsic good in them. One thing about power is not that it corrupts, but that it exposes who you truly are. What we dream about, especially lucidly shows what kind of person we are. My experience with lucid dreaming is that it started off very fun - I was even able to have a few precognitive dreams. But, after awhile it was no longer fun. I tried to use lucid dreaming for my own gain and that's the first encounter I had with shadow figures.

      Nothing good can come from consorting with demons. If you want to find the truth, discover the part of yourself that you don't like to admit exists and seek after God. I learned the hard way that trying to find answers any other way is futile.

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      I don't think its quite right to think of demons as evil. Cats are evil, almost a perfect embodiment of casual cruelty, from the standpoint of any animal significantly smaller than a cat. But cats are also a part of an ecosystem. Demons exist in a kind of ecosystem also, even though we're largely ignorant of what it is.

      Of course, evil or not, cats are still dangerous.

      One difference with demons, is that everyone is subject to desire and some kind of workings of fate, whether they're aware of it or not. Temporarily split off a bit of that supernatural life, and see it speak or act independently, and I call it a demon. But you are still partially in that realm whether you think about it that way or not. I could call it an angel instead of a demon, but the word angel implies perfect benevolence to most people, and I don't think that's right either.

      I agree with you about the value of not hiding from parts of oneself, and seeking God or something like that.

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      Quote Originally Posted by shadowofwind View Post
      Temporarily split off a bit of that supernatural life, and see it speak or act independently, and I call it a demon.... I could call it an angel instead of a demon, but the word angel implies perfect benevolence to most people, and I don't think that's right either.
      It sounds like you're describing a Daemon, as they were called in ancient Greece and thereabouts, which were neither evil nor good, but could be either depending on what they were up to. I think it was in the hands of the Medieval writers that they were separated into pure, good Angels and evil Demons (which were just fallen angels). Those Medievals were guilty of a lot of damage to Christianity and religion in general.

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      Quote Originally Posted by Darkmatters View Post
      Daemon





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      I think that would be a Dev-guin or a Pen-vil. I don't see any angel wings or a halo to denote anything aside from Devil nature..

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      I think at one point ozzy had a shit ton of mental health issues (probably fused with drug abuse) there's no shortage of interesting stories. He admitted once he thought he was possessed by the devil and tried to kill wife with a knife (but somehow ended up killing 17 cats).

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      I think 95% of Ozzy's troubles can be explained in terms of a bad childhood and drug abuse.

      He also must be one of the luckiest and shamelessly promoted singers alive, in terms of his career success. Iommi and Butler wrote both the music and lyrics for pretty much all the Black Sabbath songs, Rhodes wrote the core of most of the good Ozzy songs, and Butler was involved with most of the rest.
      PrisonPlanet likes this.

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      DarkMatters,

      I typed this on my phone on the airplane after having skimmed your posts at the gate. I’m replying here since it is a bit off topic in the other threads.

      When I call something supernatural, I mean that it can’t be measured or controlled well enough to be rigorously studied and included in the system of models that scientists use to describe nature. I think that’s approximately the way that most other people use the term also.

      I guess that electromagnetism outside of the visible light spectrum would have seemed supernatural to educated people until less than two hundred years ago. I don’t think it is necessarily inevitable that subjects like telepathy will eventually be mastered in a similar manner though.

      Dark matter helps illustrate the concept. Most scientists don’t think of it as being supernatural, because their models of the natural world say that it exists, and they have a philosophical assumption that there isn’t anything about it that’s meaningful to us that can’t be approached scientifically. They’ll attempt to study it with scientific equipment, or they’ll give up and ignore it, but they won’t for instance pray to it and ask it to reveal more about itself. I don’t think they’re likely to get very far with it, with the interaction with other matter being as limited as it is.

      ‘Astral’ matter, in whatever sense it exists, is like that too. It would not surprise me if we never ‘understand’ it, in other words, it is too elusive to control and model in that kind of way. Maybe the fates and spirits don’t understand themselves in that kind of way either. I’m not saying I believe this to be true though. The scientific understanding that has been gained in the past 400 years or so is really extraordinary compared to what existed for the previous 400,000 years. Either outcome seems plausible to me.

      Do spirits have some kind of physical basis? I think it is clear that they’re at least partially grounded in our physical bodies. Once you accept that some kind of telepathy or action at a distance is possible, then the existence of identities that use human brains but aren’t restricted to a particular human body follows directly from that. Their experience of the world is very different from ours though, and I think it is likely that they also have some basis unlike what we know about in out perceptions of our world.

      Religious teachers tend to hide unseemly facts about the history of their teachings, but to avoid undermining those valued ‘truths’. A problem with this is that you can’t tell what’s true or not if you’re hiding related facts about it, and unwilling to look at it squarely. If the creators of Gospel of Thomas lied about who spoke those things and wrote them down, then to me everything else about it is suspect also. Once that assumption of underlying wisdom is gone, and I look at it more objectively, it does not seem the same any more. There are serious flaws in the ideas themselves, notwithstanding that there are multiple layers of meaning. And those flaws have real world implications, they distort our thoughts and perceptions. It may still be better than nothing, for a time, but it is much less than I would wish for.

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      Quote Originally Posted by shadowofwind View Post
      DarkMatters,

      I typed this on my phone on the airplane after having skimmed your posts at the gate.
      Wow, I appreciate you putting yourself through that particular form of torture!

      Quote Originally Posted by shadowofwind View Post
      When I call something supernatural, I mean that it can’t be measured or controlled well enough to be rigorously studied and included in the system of models that scientists use to describe nature.
      Ok, that's much better than the way I was using the word.

      Quote Originally Posted by shadowofwind View Post
      Do spirits have some kind of physical basis? I think it is clear that they’re at least partially grounded in our physical bodies. Once you accept that some kind of telepathy or action at a distance is possible, then the existence of identities that use human brains but aren’t restricted to a particular human body follows directly from that. Their experience of the world is very different from ours though, and I think it is likely that they also have some basis unlike what we know about in out perceptions of our world.
      I see what you mean - as if they're disembodied or ethereal beings that can sort of temporarily take up lodging in the human mind and use it for their own nefarious purposes (or otherwise). I was thinking a little differently, like they might have bodies somewhere else (other dimension or something?) but project themselves astrally or something.

      Quote Originally Posted by shadowofwind View Post
      If the creators of Gospel of Thomas lied about who spoke those things and wrote them down, then to me everything else about it is suspect also.
      That's a critique of the entire Bible then, as well as everything else from that long ago.

      Quote Originally Posted by shadowofwind View Post
      Once that assumption of underlying wisdom is gone, and I look at it more objectively, it does not seem the same any more. There are serious flaws in the ideas themselves, notwithstanding that there are multiple layers of meaning. And those flaws have real world implications, they distort our thoughts and perceptions. It may still be better than nothing, for a time, but it is much less than I would wish for.
      I'm not sure it's the wisdom that's gone, just the historical or factual accuracy. Of course we don't know if it contains genuine ancient wisdom, but it does seem very similar to a lot of other esoteric texts proposing the same kind of wisdom, and Jesus was supposed to be familiar with that ancient wisdom and to teach it through his sermons. The esoteric wisdom itself is much older - from at least early Egypt if not farther back than that like Mesopotamia. At least that's what I keep hearing - who knows? But if it really is a burst of the Ancient Wisdom, does it matter if it's direct from the mouth of a particular Rabbi at a particular time? I think the whole Bible is like that - it's mostly esoteric wisdom buried beneath a simpler layer of story that would appeal to the general public and so last through the ages. It's doubtful we have 'accurate' representations of any of the Biblical figures, but they served as good hooks to hang that wisdom on.

      What we do know for sure about the Gnostics is they wrote a LOT of gospels and Biblical scripture. As if every one of them cranked out massive amounts of it constantly. Much of it is very different in character than anything that made it into the Bible, such as the idea of the Demiurge. But it occurs to me that the story of the Demiurge is really the same thing as the New Testament - they're both critiques of the God of the Old Testament as being too cruel, jealous, murderous and despotic. They just approached it in different ways. Jesus never explains why the God he talks about is so different from the one presented in the Old Testament, he just is. In the story of the Demiurge they gave an explanation (that it wasn't the real Creator God, but a lower and lesser one who thought he was the real deal).

      Biblical stories weren't written to be accurate in the same way a newspaper report is, or a forensic description from a crime scene. They present Truth in a symbolic way. In fact this is the whole point of the video I just posted: Symbolic vs. Literal Interpretation of the Bible (just in case you're able to watch it and care to).
      Last edited by Darkmatters; 02-18-2019 at 11:22 PM.

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      Darkmatters,

      When I say "once the assumption of wisdom is gone", I don't mean that I'm assuming the wisdom is not there, I mean that I'm no longer assuming one way or the other. Previously, my ability to see objectively was warped by my faith. Once the spell has been broken, I start to see problems in the teaching itself that can't be explained very well by my limited ability to interpret it. It seems to me that when a prophet or teacher is OK with fabricating the back-story in order to communicate their message more effectively, they're OK with fabricating aspects of the message also. Gospel of Thomas is a bit difficult as an example in this regard, because its fairly cryptic, so I'll start with a few other examples.

      In jnana yoga, its taken as an axiom that the identification of self with the body is mistaken, and that conscious bliss is the true self. (I'm abusing terminology a bit here, but these kinds of ideas can't be perfectly captured by words anyway, so I appeal to any critical yogis reading this to try to read my mind a little and understand the essence of what I'm saying rather than fixating on what seems to be wrong with my thought based on my use of words. It isn't possible to communicate on this subject without an element of mind reading anyway.) It seems undeniably true to be that the ability to identify with different things is a capability of the conscious self, but it also seems to me that its a useful and necessary ability, and the projection of identification isn't necessarily false. I think that it is possible to partially become the things we identify with, and that this is in the essence of empathy, for example. I think that to a limited extent we actually become the people we empathize with, and being the other person a little bit is what makes the 'telepathy' possible. Likewise, identification with my body is inter-related with the control I have over it, even though I can change the way I think about that identification so that I seem to be identified with it less. If body identification is a delusion, why does the self fall into this delusion to start with, what is the purpose? A yogi would say that in order to ask this question, I am already thinking falsely, and that the question is a distraction. But I think they're not qualified to evaluate the question because they haven't asked it sincerely and persistently, since their doctrine dismisses it. If they were to ask it, rather than ruling against it a priori, I think they'd get a different answer. Its true that asking such questions does interfere with the experience of oneself as conscious bliss, and that's the reason the doctrine dismisses it, because that experience or knowledge of self is their goal. (At this point some might correct me and say its not knowledge and not an experience, but I don't have the right word for it, and also I think it does have more in common with other thoughts and experiences than they say it does.) My view is that there is a real and essential relationship between self and nature, and that their teaching doesn't actually lead to an end of rebirth. I think what they're doing is a lot like trying to stay stoned all the time, even though they're doing it by manipulating their sense of identity.

      So where do I get the confidence to have such opinions when I am not an accomplished yogi? Partially its because if I dig around enough in relation to any such teaching, there's always a mess of sexual scandal and other lunacy that the guru's handlers try to keep hidden so that it doesn't undermine the reputation of the ashram. Partially its because I eventually read or hear statements by the guru that lead me to believe that he or she understands less in important regards than I do, even while they hold themselves as being far beyond me. If they had the knowledge they claim, they would be able to answer my questions and criticisms, even when my questions are based on misconceptions and my criticisms are wrong. But when rather than pointing out my errors they always come back with some bullshit dodge, I conclude that the king has no clothes, so to speak. Of course I've been able to interrogate only a small percentage of would-be wise men, but I see the same symptoms more generally, so I extrapolate my conclusions accordingly. And my criticism of the path is based on my own experience of identity, rather than on my perception of the messenger.

      My criticisms of raja yoga are similar. If true knowledge of a subject is possible by contemplating it, as they claim, then accomplished raja yogis wouldn't be wrong about so many objectively verifiable things. At the very least, they're deeply confused about distinctions they claim not to be confused about, or they wouldn't be able to make those kinds of mistakes. Also, the use of will in raja yoga is futile in my opinion, its like trying to swim up a waterfall when you're the waterfall, and the harder you swim the harder it falls. If they were to find answers to some of these other questions that they disdain, then they might see why this is. I think its a dead-end also.

      I'm criticizing mental yoga as a way of gearing up for criticizing Gospel of Thomas, which I think suffers from an analogous problem. Picking a statement somewhat at random: "When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female, when you make eyes in place of an eye, a hand in place of a hand, a foot in place of a foot, an image in place of an image, then you will enter [the kingdom]." It seems reasonable to me that if you do all of that, you will enter the Kingdom. But do these changes reverse root causes of our seeming fall from heaven, or do they describe the correction of symptoms, while other unknown causes remain? I'm not confident in my criticism here, but it seems to me like the message is an over-reach. Its compelling because it hints at deep truths, and I think those are actual deep truths. But that doesn't mean they had any kind of workable recipe for doing something with it. I also think that lack of a complete and workable theory is part of the reason for all the mystery-mongering and allusion to hidden teachings. The missing parts aren't hidden from us because we're not yet worthy, they're hidden because they don't have them either, and they're hand waving. This is a fairly vague and weak as a criticism, but that's the best I can do when they won't put the message all out in the open either.

      I interpret A Course in Miracles, which is a mash of radical Christianity and Jungian psychology, in about the same way I interpret Gospel of Thomas. (The published ACIM was ostensibly 'channeled' from Jesus, then heavily reworked by someone else, and I think the editing demolished a lot of the original meaning which did not fit the editor's interpretation. After an ugly power struggle someone posted the original on-line though, and the similarities are clearer there.) The central thesis of ACIM is that guilt is delusional, and that this false consciousness is what drives our sinful behavior. (They don't call it false consciousness, but I think that label is appropriate.) I think there must be an important element of truth to the ideas in ACIM. However, since ACIM teaches that the perception of evil is caused by our own wrong thinking, the fact that we continue to experience evil implies that we're at fault, which unavoidably produces guilt, the opposite of the aim of the teaching. Does following the teaching lead to the transcendence of that paradox? It doesn't appear to have worked very well for those who brought us the message, or for anyone I've encountered who has seriously tried it. I suspect the doctrine does not capture the whole picture. The dismissive intolerance that ACIM and its adherents exhibit for other ideas or understanding not included in ACIM strengthens my suspicion.

      I realize I haven't said anything about what Gospel of Thomas means to me, but that's a big can of worms that I haven't felt like opening. It remains one of my favorite writings. I'm still entirely not sure what to think about ACIM either. I've read the entire thing through carefully twice.

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      Thank you, I appreciate your explanations, but we seem to be talking past each other. I think I need to stop derailing threads and probably stop posting in Beyond Dreaming - I have a bad track record for that.

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      Sorry. I think its fair to say that most of the 'talking past' was on my end, I was posting from my phone while walking from the airport, and was not careful to respond to everything you said.

      I don't think you have to worry about derailing threads though. Its not as if there are any earnest on-topic conversations going on here that you might interfere with.

      I guess part of the main thrust of what I was saying is I think for the most part there wasn't any 'Wisdom of the Ancients'. Their theology was as limited as their science - it was fabrications for the abuse of power from the beginning, Egypt in particular. In another thousand years people might look back to Scientology as ancient wisdom, but it will be the same as the other cults.
      Last edited by shadowofwind; 02-19-2019 at 05:17 PM. Reason: Replace ‘bad’ with ‘limited’

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      Well, I also have a habit of coming in to Beyond Dreaming and trying to convince people that the supernatural etc is really symbolic or psychological. I don't check to see what forum threads are in, I should know better.

      The ancients had no science - it was a pre-scientific time. Their theology was mythology - which is not the same as just made up stories, at least the good stuff. It needs to come from deep in the psyche, though often bad 'theology' made it into printed form or whatever, got preserved and mixed in with the good. And of course, people who don't understand how to read it - to translate it into the proper psychological/metaphorical terms, see only the surface and think it refers to physical or somehow 'real' things. So actually the majority of religious people are just as dogmatic and near-sighted as the hardline atheists, believing in dogma with no understanding of the real meaning underneath it.

      The psychological/metaphorical meaning essentially is 'raise yourself to your highest level through meditation and proper ethical behavior (Godliness) and avoid the temptations of the material world and the ego (Satan). Love one another in your heart, not just on Sundays and Holidays and not just on the surface level. You must kill your ego in order for your higher inner Self to be raised up (the meaning of the crucifixion story of course - Jesus' human part (ego) had to die in suffering for his spiritual side to ascend.') Of course that's just an oversimplified generalization, there's a lot more to it than that, but I think it's fair to say that's the essential core of the teachings, as I understand it right now. This is what the last few pages of the Jung thread have been about.

      But maybe you understand that and have figured out that even the underlying meanings aren't really true? That meditation and ethical behavior and love of God (symbol of perfect moral/ethical level) and of your neighbor doesn't actually dissolve the ego and make you happier/raise you to a new level of consciousness (Christ consciousness)

      It's interesting you mentioned Egypt. (Ok, I'm just using that to transition into something I want to say, but it does realte to the overall points we're discussing ) In the Bible Egypt represents the Ego, and the slavery of the Jews there is their bondage to the Ego, keeping them trapped at the lowest level (Earth level). Their escape and wandering in the desert for 40 years is their escape from Ego. The number 40 in Gematria means trials, testing, with the idea of a trial by fire forging you into a new better person. If you think about each Bible story featuring the number 40 this applies (rain in Noahs Ark, Jesus fasted in the desert for 40 days before being tempted by Satan etc). Desert and flood represent chaos, against which meditation serves as a protection (the Ark).

      There are many gurus and teachers who don't get this or who just ignore it - don't mistake bad (all too human) teachers for the teaching itself. Abusive people have always been drawn to positions where they can lord it over others, especially damaged or vulnerable others, like children or seekers of a better life (who often are damaged people seeking healing). This is why so many of them end up in teaching/school administration and the Church, cults, psychology/therapy in positions of leadership. It's also why crooked authoritarians often become cops or politicians, so they can abuse the law rather than uphold it, and why arsonists or people who tend in that direction become firefighters (many fires are started by firefighters - something I first learned form the show Rescue Me, with Dennis Leary as a firefighter).

      This video does a much better job of saying what I'm trying to say I think:


      Wow! In fact, I was just looking for a video explaining the message behind one of the Bible stories, but he also talks about what he calls 'riding the messenger rather than the message' (going off his analogy that "Jesus left us an instruction manual about how to ride a bike, but instead of going out and getting a bike and learning how to ride it, to do what Jesus himself did by way of demonstration for us, they build a huge religion around the man himself and hang on his every word". Weird synchronicity there (I hadn't seen the video before).
      Last edited by Darkmatters; 02-19-2019 at 06:24 PM.

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      DarkMatters,

      I think I understand you better now. I think I see Jonah the same way that you do, the story is essentially true but not literally true. I don't see the Gospels that way though, the underlying meanings I'm interested in are more radical than that. I agree that the physical resurrection of the body of Jesus is a metaphor for a spiritual resurrection. However, I think that in the same sense that everything physical is a metaphor or reflection of something spiritual. And I think that if the physical resurrection did not occur, that would imply that the spiritual resurrection was not completed either. St. Paul was quite clear that he saw it that way, and I think he was right on that point. So yes, what I'm saying is that if you do your best to raise yourself to the highest level through meditation and righteous behavior, not only will you not transform your physical body and ascend to heaven like Enoch, your character won't become free of corruption either.

      A person might argue, OK, your character may not become radically transformed, but it will at least improve. I'll grant that trying to do the right thing is generally a lot better than not trying. But it seems that taking that too seriously can also be counterproductive and self-destructive. Ecclesiastes warns "Be not righteous over much; neither make thyself over wise: why shouldest thou destroy thyself?" I used to think that this statement was a sell-out, but now I'm less sure. The problem for me though with aspirational moderation is I'm not satisfied with the result, it doesn't go far enough.

      Besides not being satisfied with the underlying truths that remain if the concrete miraculous claims are merely metaphorical, there's another reason I don't see the claims to be metaphorical: I've experienced numerous objectively real miraculous events in my own life, such things really are possible. Many or even most of the miracles in the Bible may not have happened, people do make that kind of thing up, but some of it seems plausible to me. The Hebrew god speaking from a burning bush seems plausible to me. Turning water into wine seems plausible to me. In that regard you're never going to convince people like me or Sivason that some aspects of the paranormal side of things aren't literally real, because some of it is reinforced so strongly by our own experience.

    16. #16
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      Wow - awesome!! I was beginning to despair of reaching any level of understanding with you.

      Of course, the claims are that if you do reach the highest level then on death you'll ascend to an afterlife/stop reincarnating (depending on which faith you follow), and also that many kinds of supernatural things can occur. It's mostly a matter of getting there first though.

      Well, I feel like I can rest easy now and stop pestering you so much.

      I've thoroughly enjoyed this conversation, even though I came very close to giving up at one point.

    17. #17
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      Sorry to interrupt you guys' conversation with - well, a return to the original topic of the thread. I don't think I've ever done *that* before. But here goes.

      There’s so much to respond to here that I’m not sure where to start. Maybe I’ll just get this out of the way first because it’s going to be bothering me the whole time if I don’t.

      Quote Originally Posted by shadowofwind View Post

      Beowulf is an archetypical story for the kind of thing I'm talking about....
      None of that is in the original book! There are monsters in Beowulf, but absolutely no contracts with them. Why does this matter? Well, I guess because it tells us that the contract story speaks more to our current time than it did to the Anglo-Saxons. (And, if anyone is curious, I like J.R.R. Tolkien’s translation best, but Seamus Heaney’s also has its strong points, and I think it’s probably the best one in verse.)

      The thing that I notice, in thinking about a story like the one you describe, is that you could think of it as, say, a metaphor for the power of advanced technology, and it still works. It’s almost irrelevant what kind of power it is because the ways people use and abuse power don’t change all that much.

      Now, looking at supernatural power—but actually, I have to stop right there because, the way I see it, that way of framing it is already a problem. There are dimensions to our experience that are not explicable within the current understanding of science. I think it’s safe to take this as a given for this thread. Some of these individual experiences are of influencing people and/or the world, or gaining knowledge about them that can then be acted on. That's clear enough. Now, it seems like the way most people think about it—the people who have such experiences, anyway— is that these are abilities than can be trained in the same way that you might practice the piano or work out. I see them more as side-effects of attaining a high enough degree of mental clarity to stop blocking out something that's already happening naturally below the threshold of consciousness, and so trying intentionally for such experiences, particularly with selfish motivations, is likely to be self-defeating.

      Within this framework, then, trying to attain supernatural power looks a lot like the typical deal-with-the-devil story. Maybe you get some successes in the short term, but at the expense of something much more valuable. But I will say that this isn’t an area where I have much first-hand experience.

      I think another part of the problem is the irony that, although these experiences demonstrate that we are interconnected in deeper ways than society at large recognizes, they can also be very isolating when we live in a society that refuses to recognize them. It puts you directly in your culture’s shadow—not to use the term in a precise or clinical way, but just in its colloquial use. People are in a position where they might be tempted to think that acting in sketchy ways might be justified—especially if they think they can prove themselves right in the process. Especially if they think of themselves as possessing some kind of power that others don't. Or else they might be tempted to just block out their unusual experiences altogether and not have to face the painful contradiction. Or any number of less-than-constructive solutions. It's just a nasty position to be in, and if many of people with these experiences have mental health problems, I think that alone would be enough to account for it.

      Also, if there are demons out there, I’m convinced they wouldn’t be buying people’s souls anymore. They’d just take out shares.

    18. #18
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      Quote Originally Posted by LeaningKarst View Post
      Sorry to interrupt you guys' conversation with - well, a return to the original topic of the thread.


      Wat wat WAAAAT??!!

      Speaking of Beowulf, one of my absolute favorite books is John Gardner's Grendel, written from the monster's viewpoint (and looong before Wicked!) Link to Amazon where you can read the preview - must experience!

      Another very similar one in some ways, written from the viewpoint of an absolute primitive and taking the reader way down into that mentality, is Weight: The Myth of Atlas and Heracles by Jeanette Winterson

      Crap - I'm doing it again...
      Last edited by Darkmatters; 02-19-2019 at 09:02 PM.

    19. #19
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      LeaningKarst: There's no contract in the movie version of Beowulf I was referring to either, I meant that as sort of an analogy. I recognized that was confusing when I wrote it, but I didn't see an easy way to clarify.

      I've never pursued supernatural experiences, at least not overtly. As an example, when I dreamed of the Hudson river water landing (US Airways flight 1549) a couple of hours before it happened, the image was metaphorically a response to a philosophical question I had that day about aggression and courage. This dream is also an example of why I worry about such things - in the dream I intentionally caused the accident. I don't think I actually personally caused it, but its still a bit disturbing to experience it that way, especially in other cases that involve fatalities. Incidentally, I saw a post on another site by another person who said they dreamed of that same event, so that one wasn't just me, apparently.

      I agree that power is power, whether a person experiences it in a supernatural way or not. Most demon possession stories work as well as metaphors for drug addiction, for example, and I don't see an essential difference.

      DarkMatters: My view is that if we don't enter heaven while alive, we won't enter it after we're dead either. The concept of an afterlife isn't even Biblical, there are only one or two places where heaven is even alluded to, and its in a vague way. Paul's teaching involved a physical resurrection. I don't think that's real in the way he imagines it, but I think he's right that the idea that our physical problems get fixed after death is a cop-out, and a dismissal of the fact that our spiritual problems aren't yet resolved either.

      Likewise for reincarnation: I think that if your body dies you haven't transcended your human condition, and you'll be born into another one, or at least a new person will inherit karma from you even if "you" don't live again. I think the best that can be hoped for, in whatever sense reincarnation is real, is to reincarnate into a better world than this one. In other words, if redemption is possible, you have a body afterwards. It may be very different than this body, but its a physical body. My understanding of the Gnostic teaching is like this, and I think the alternative interpretation is a fudge. This fits with why I don't think astral projection is of much use, I think that as a practice it amounts to an unhealthy dissociation. I also think that what you believe about this doesn't determine the reality of it, beliefs are less important than some religious people suppose in that regard.

    20. #20
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      Quote Originally Posted by shadowofwind View Post
      DarkMatters: My view is that if we don't enter heaven while alive, we won't enter it after we're dead either.
      What does it mean to enter heaven while alive? I think you can guess my view - as Jesus repeatedly said "the Kingdom of Heaven is Within you", meaning it's not a place or an afterlife but a state of consciousness, the highest one possible, available only to masters through meditation and righteous living.

      On reincarnation, 9 years ago I created a thread about my own newly-formed ideas (I think I had just learned about meditation at the time): Ok, trying this again -- refining my theory on NON-SPIRITUAL, NON-RELIGIOUS reINCARNATION

      If you just read my 1st post it pretty well gets it across, though as the thread went on I developed it better and especially was able to explain it better. Well, not a lot better, it's incredibly hard stuff to put into words. But after several attempts to explain it, I think I was able to get it across somewhat better. Probably not in any one post but in an aggregate of them. And thanks to a lot of help from others.

      I should say here - what I kept trying so hard to explain - and kept calling "You" or "Awareness" or "Consciousness" is what's called "the observer" in meditation. That might help cut through a lot of clutter.
      Last edited by Darkmatters; 02-20-2019 at 12:15 AM.

    21. #21
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      I think that pretty much all thoughtful people agree that 'the kingdom of heaven is within you', with varying emphases on the importance of having a heart filled with love vs having a mind free of attachments. And of course the scriptures pretty much all agree about that also.

      My point was that whatever a person's definition of redemption, it happens during life. If a person were to describe an 'after death' purgatory in which redemption was possible, I think once all the logical requirements and details were sketched out, what they'd have is a world which is in many regards like this one, and going there would amount to a kind of re-birth and re-existence.

      My personal interest is not with the Kingdom of Heaven as a mental or spiritual state though. That state at least potentially exists whether its eclipsed by other experiences or not, so I'm not concerned about it. I care more about the fundamental condition of the physical world, and what can be done about that. For example, I bury food scraps in the yard, and worms eat them. Since worms lay a gazillion eggs, the worm feasting always exists in a larger context of worm starvation. Most people don't care about worms, but the same principle applies to higher animals. And analogous dynamics apply to people, most of whom don't have the luxury of becoming 'masters'.

      It is commonly assumed among meditators that people who lack a high degree of spiritual attainment choose not to pursue it, or they're not ready to pursue it but will be in a later life. I don't accept either explanation, I think that people are all mostly doing the best they can, and we can't truly separate ourselves from our physical conditions.

      I see signs however that the way the physical world works isn't the only way it can work, that there may be other worlds that are quite a bit different than ours. If nature can only work on principles of random chance and natural selection, then the world will always be filled with evils, irrespective of what all the meditators are doing and how good they feel. But luck isn't entirely random. And if you find a fish in the desert, you might reasonably infer that there's more water somewhere. I think that the existence of some evil is unavoidable, but its not uniform in all time and places. So I want to better understand what is possible, or at least what efforts if any would move our world very slightly in a better direction.

    22. #22
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      Was this a typo? "the importance of having a heart filled with love vs having a mind free of attachments." Did you mean and instead of vs? If so then we're in agreement. Love and freedom from attachments would both be parts of righteous living. I think that's what you meant but the wording makes it really hard to tell.

      I think I mostly understand what you mean. I've had somewhat similar thoughts, about people whose lives are completely screwed because of things totally beyond their control, like childhood trauma and especially child abuse in all its forms. It makes me understand to some extent the Biblical lines about paying for the sins of the father even unto the 7th son of the 7th son. 7 is the number of perfection or completion in a spiritual sense. And child abuse is definitely something that runs in families. So generations of people are utterly incapable of getting their lives together for reasons completely outside of their control.

      Strangely enough, John St Julien (the guy in the video I posted earlier on this thread) talked about this recently - I'll see if I can find the video, it was in a certain way very heartening. He created a home for troubled children in Tanzania, and he said so many viewers of his channel are always so concerned, praying and saddened about the children. But he said a strange thing, and I believe it's true. I wish I could remember how he put it, but it was very similar to things I've read in books about trauma and psychology by authors like James Hollis. Something to the effect that there's a built-in trauma system in the psyche that kicks in when there's severe trauma and comforts the person, it awakens the Self archetype which is to be touched by God. It's the exact same thing people are working to achieve through a lifetime of meditation and reaching that higher state of consciousness. I've also seen this in videos about spiritual awakening - I went through a big phase of watching those. People who underwent abuse or trauma beyond a certain level, as screwed up as they might be, reach that higher state of consciousness automatically. They become what's known as Holy Fools, some of them anyway. Maybe mentally messed up or weirdly socially awkward, but they have a deep abiding bliss like most people never experience, even if it's under physical or emotional pain we can hardly imagine bearing.

      This is the video:
      https://youtu.be/w5Ojfu2-At8?t=159

      Well that didn't work, but if you click the link it will start right at the relevant part. Or watch the video below and scroll ahead to 2:39 (It starts right after the intro graphics are done).



      Here are a couple of comments from under the video:

      It's just not okay to justify children dying in pain so humanity can understand beauty and goodness and happiness. Oh my God. Did you just say that... I don't want anything to do with love and beauty if that's the price
      Tough - polarity is reality, love and beauty do not exist without their opposite. This is why John does what he does, he enjoys love and beauty in his life whilst mitigating the pain and suffering of the most vulnerable. This provides him with meaning, purpose and joy. We should all be doing the same because then we can enjoy the love and beauty in our lives without internal conflict and guilt. Plus if we are all children of God (or fragments of the one), God is only subjecting himself to the pain and suffering, there is no other, there is only one.
      What if those children are just souls who said, this time I am gonna play the part of a quadriplegic child and die when I am 12?
      _________________________

      I just listened to the whole thing, and this wasn't the video where he said what I remember. He does talk about it in a roundabout way, but I remember him saying it much more specifically.

      You know, it's possible he didn't even say it (though I was pretty sure he did) - maybe I saw this video and it suddenly made me think about what I had read from Hollis and a few other authors about the automatic trauma system. Because much of what he said did sound very familiar.
      Last edited by Darkmatters; 02-20-2019 at 04:02 AM.

    23. #23
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      Quote Originally Posted by Darkmatters View Post
      Was this a typo? "the importance of having a heart filled with love vs having a mind free of attachments." Did you mean and instead of vs? If so then we're in agreement.
      What I meant is there are varying degrees of emphasis on these two things, analogous to how in different books in the New Testament there are varying degrees of emphasis on faith vs works.

      I think that having a capacity for meditative awareness of the conscious self doesn't correlate very strongly with being willing to treat other people decently. I've also seen that among people who believe they should be loving or unattached, a disconnect tends to develop between how they experience themselves and how they actually behave. They think their obvious anger isn't actually anger, their lust isn't lust, their resentments aren't really resents, etc. Its as if their conscious experience is of a kind of model of themselves, and they're changing the model so that it doesn't match the reality, even while they say they're experiencing their true self, which isn't a thought or a model.

    24. #24
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      Quote Originally Posted by shadowofwind View Post
      LeaningKarst: There's no contract in the movie version of Beowulf I was referring to either, I meant that as sort of an analogy. I recognized that was confusing when I wrote it, but I didn't see an easy way to clarify.
      OK, understood.

      Just to restate, though—I’ve been a lurker internet flaneur for long enough to see that there are plenty of people who have concerns about the more esoteric possibilities of dreaming, and it usually is some personal experience that raises them. I was involved in a situation that raised them myself once—although that one was much more straightforward from an ethical standpoint since I was the only one who suffered any negative consequences. I can deal. End of story. I just fail to see what would make this kind of situation significantly different from the more “mundane” cases, which, as you point out in the opening post, we’re involved in all the time, whether we’re aware of it or not.

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