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Religion and psi attempt #2

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  • Religion and psi attempt #2

    I attempted to discuss this issue before and it didn't get very far. Maybe the topic wasn't as interesting to others as it is to me, or maybe it was something else. For the record, I'd like to officially request that any would-be respondents assume that psi is real. This is so that the actual subject of the thread may be discussed without distractions for irrelevancies. If you feel otherwise, please keep your opinion to yourself, at least in this thread.

    On to the question:

    It seems to me that Parapsychologists are aware of some overlap between paranormal effects and the types of supernatural events described in various religious texts. This doesn't mean that there is a relationship between religion and the paranormal per se, but it does indicate to me that the reality of psi actually works in favor of religion (or deism) as well.

    What, for instance, is the difference between precognition and prophecy? Prophecy has an element of the divine. Who is to say there is no such thing, when spirits are in regular communication with living beings, and a wide variety of psi effects manifest themselves every day? More importantly, there are certain types of experience that can be validated because there is some physical component to them. What of experiences that have no physical component and cannot be checked that way?

    I have had, as has been mentioned before, a large number of verifiable psi experiences, but have also had a large number of non-verifiable ones. This doesn't mean they are weaker, but that they include no element that can be checked from a waking body perspective, at least not in any way that I know of. These experiences fall into a broad category generally described as "religious experience" and their characteristics are in many ways indistinguishable from the verifiable experiences that have a physical component. They resemble most the kinds of things described by monks and yogis.

    I have often wondered whether there is much on the subject of studying statements by exactly such people, in an attempt to understand how their religious ideas connect to what in the west is called paranormal research. From my own experiences and readings about these other cultures, many of the answers have been given, and credibly so, by these holy men. Their answers to issues of spirituality seem more correct to me than any fancy scientific-sounding explanation I've read elsewhere. This is , again, partly because it matches my own experience, but also because I have run across some very reasonable explanations by some very humble men.

    So, where psi is discussed, it makes sense to me that religion cannot be far behind, whether or not it is acknowledged. This is because they each support each other rather nicely. The trick is sorting out genuine answers from those so steeped in dogma that they cannot be taken seriously. The fact that it is tricky doesn't mean it isn't worth the effort, just that effort is required to understand.

    When I read Christian dogma (for example) I find myself incapable of rejecting the base claims on grounds of impossibility, but do find myself highly suspicious of some items because they appear to be a mechanistic spin on something else, a statement by a prophet, or a paranormal event improperly understood. Ironically, the very things that sound wrong about western "spiritual science" seem related to the over-arching trend in western thought towards mechanistic principles. When I look to the east, I am left with the opposite impression.

    In Paramahansa Yogananda's book "Autobiography of a Yogi" he incidentally explains the reason behind many paranormal events, and does so convincingly.

    Getting back to my question of the day, if psi supports at least some religious ideas, and vice versa, then how much can be inferred by this relationship? This question has practical value to me, because I would like to have a method for validating my more spiritual experiences, just as with physically-oriented psi, comparisons between psi-derived information can be checked against real-world data to arrive at a measure of confidence.

    Has anyone else here ever run into this question, or seen the potential for serious linkages between these subject areas?

    AP

  • #2
    Paquart,

    I'd like to throw some thoughts into this discussion later, but have not got time just now.

    You'll be able to discuss this with Serena Roney-Dougal at the PA conference in July. She has done a lot of research with Tibetan Rinpoches recently, as well as having done a fair bit of ganzfeld work in the past.

    Comment


    • #3
      I don't really understand the question. We have a large pool of ideas, concepts, and experiences. Most of those ideas have been used as the basis of a religion, or at least as a signature of the religion. Granted, some of those religions are fairly obscure (e.g., Koreshan Unity), probably best referred to as cults. A few of the ideas may never have been used in a religion. Crop circles comes to mind, except that the movie Signs had religious overtones.

      It is quite easy to eliminate any given paranormal/religious connection using a "No True Religion" or "No True Psi" maneuver. Nonetheless, I bet we can always find people for whom any given paranormal idea is a religious idea. The claim that a person does this only because he misunderstands the idea seems disingenuous.

      ~~ Paul

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by paqart View Post
        It seems to me that Parapsychologists are aware of some overlap between paranormal effects and the types of supernatural events described in various religious texts. This doesn't mean that there is a relationship between religion and the paranormal per se, but it does indicate to me that the reality of psi actually works in favor of religion (or deism) as well.
        I think the place to start is with comparative mythology. Specifically, the work of Joseph Campbell and Carl Jung.

        I think that comparative mythology, comparative religion, comparative mysticism, and parapsychology can smoothly combine to give a pretty good basis for understanding any and all religions, imo. So when it comes to manifestations of psi, what we are really talking about is an archetype that is universal - it's the archetype of mana.

        "...the mana-personality is a dominant of the collective unconscious, the well-known archetype of the mighty man in the form of hero, chief, magician, medicine-man, saint, the ruler of men and spirits, the friend of God. So whatever else the magician archetype might be, it is clear that it is one instance of a mana-personality. As I mentioned above, the magician is a person to whom extraordinary power is attributed by others (and, perhaps, given the ever present danger of psychic inflation, by himself)." -Carl Jung

        THE ARCHETYPE OF THE MAGICIAN
        Last edited by Limbo; June 17th, 2010, 10:35 AM.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Paul C. Anagnostopoulos View Post
          I don't really understand the question. We have a large pool of ideas, concepts, and experiences. Most of those ideas have been used as the basis of a religion, or at least as a signature of the religion. Granted, some of those religions are fairly obscure (e.g., Koreshan Unity), probably best referred to as cults. A few of the ideas may never have been used in a religion. Crop circles comes to mind, except that the movie Signs had religious overtones.

          It is quite easy to eliminate any given paranormal/religious connection using a "No True Religion" or "No True Psi" maneuver. Nonetheless, I bet we can always find people for whom any given paranormal idea is a religious idea. The claim that a person does this only because he misunderstands the idea seems disingenuous.

          ~~ Paul
          This isn't what I'm getting at, but you aren't the only person who is seeing it this way. I'll try to clarify:

          I am suggesting that there is a real non-physical universe populated by intelligent spirit beings of one description or another, and that they are able to interact with us on a spiritual (or telepathic, if you prefer) level. These interactions result in prophecies or NDE's, poltergeist effects and other things like that, but most importantly they also are the basis for many religious-themed experiences as well. I do not mean anything connected to dogma. When I say "religious", I only mean that there are elements involved that can fairly be likened to guardian spirits, angels, and God.

          Since so many religions get their own prophets words wrong, there is no point in discussing the icing they have buried their cake with. I am only interested in the underlying source data. So one prophetic dream I've had that really bothers me is what I call a half-and-half dream. In it, an angel tells me that a great calamity will occur as a sign that another event, a religiously/spiritually significant one, will happen also. The calamity it showed me did happen within the month. To me, that increases the credibility of the other half of the information provided in the dream. If I accept it all, then I am forced to accept that at least some aspects of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are correct. In fact, for reasons related to this, not because of my upbringing which had no religious influences at all, I have already come to this point of view.

          To me, it is important to acknowledge that there is an intelligent motivating force behind everything and that it's interests are often not aligned with our conscious wishes. This is why psi seems so uncontrollable, because it is heavily affected by external influences that are difficult to detect physically (or impossible). Getting beyond this, there are specific consistent messages that appear in this context regardless of religious training, knowledge, or background. Every time I write that, I get posts from people saying that of course in my case my background had to influence these dreams, but I assure you, they did not. I had no knowledge of religious things until I after I had recorded several years worth of items that were quite relevant to spiritual teachings and I started checking them out. To my surprise, they matched despite having no prior knowledge of the themes from the religions involved.

          To me, this makes me think that the religious messages they contain are worth paying attention to, just as yogis, monks, and lamas have been paying attention to these kinds of communications for millennia.

          AP

          Comment


          • #6
            I think Paquart has an advantage here, and this is something which, until his book is published, is going to be difficult/impossible to discuss on a level playing field.

            It's an area where I find myself floundering around, as I think it's very easy to take a wrong direction.

            If the question is simply put, it's something along the lines of "Does apparently intelligent 'guiding' message content originate in an external, non-physical, discarnate intelligence or intelligences, or would it be better to assume that in accessing this sort of information as psi, either in dreams, or as waking precognitive/telepathic type experience which turns out to be veridical, are we in fact accessing some sort of timeless area of mind to which our individual consciousness is connected, but normally doesn't have conscious access?"

            In my very limited experience of Spiritualism, it's easy to assume the medium is actually using 'telepathy' rather than getting information from discarnate spirits.

            In cases like Sandy B's, if this were seriously proposed as the explanation, it would involve a lot more than simple telepathy though, as she would have to be simultaneously conjuring up images which appear lifelike and she experiences as 'ghosts'.

            Which isn't to say that the individual mind isn't capable of this, it could well be.

            Hypnotists have noticed in regression work, the mind's ability to develop an amazingly accurate, 'false personality', which appears to be spontaneous creativity on the part of the hypnotised person, on a level far beyond their conscious ability.

            For this reason I always feel a bit unsure. In Sandy's case though, where 'ghosts' have had their IDs verified, any creation on her part would have to involve 'super psi' working on multiple levels to create the impression of visits by discarnate beings. Parsimony would indicate that the latter explanation is more unlikely, which leaves us with discarnate entities.

            I've also been troubled by the apparent conflict between this idea of post-death personality survival as a disembodied focus of consciousness, able to interact with a limited number of people, like Sandy, as visible 'ghosts', and the other post death scenario which Ian Stevenson's work showed so clearly, the evidence for reincarnation derived from the testimony of young children who have just learned to talk, and who have full information on the recently finished life of another person, someone unknown to them or their family.

            This, rather than any of the hypnotic regression evidence, is, for me, very compelling, but I did wonder how there could be two apparently very different post death possibilities.

            Sandy had this explained to her, and as far as I can make out, these are possibly best seen as different stages of a post death state.
            Last edited by Ian Holfield; June 17th, 2010, 12:10 PM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by OC68
              I'm interested in what you're getting at but I would like some clarity. What exactly are these "specific consistent messages" you are referring to.

              Even people brought up in irreligious households have knowledge of religious things. Please provide specific examples of these "items". You've had dreams that "matched" what exactly. Religious visions? Please provide examples. I'm not wanting to insult or frustrate you, I'm interested in what you're writing about, but can you succinctly and clearly say what you are getting at and provide specific examples.
              You are correct here. The reason I have not provided specifics yet is that I do not like to publish information that I haven't yet decided is worth sharing. That is the reason I am asking about this, because I am trying to make sense of a series of dreams that by any measure I normally use, are of much higher quality than even the best most detailed veridical dream. Despite this, because they are not of physical things, they cannot be checked in a physical way as the others can. It is one thing to dream of a future event in your life, to write it down, and then to see it play out some time later. To have an angel come in a dream and give a prophecy is very different.

              Another reason I am hesitant to share details is that this particular set of dreams is probably more controversial than any other. While I am willing to speak my mind, I do not like to do so if I am unsure, particularly if the thing in question is likely to be extremely controversial. In those situations, I much prefer to do some research first, even a lot of it, before venturing forth.

              My first attempt was to ask on the forum how many people had ever dreamed of God. I suspected the numbers would be somewhere between very low to zero. This is because I have never heard of anyone (that is, personally known to me) who has had one. This is despite the fact that I started going to church frequently in about 2005-2006 (since stopped) and made a point of asking people there. There were no takers. When I read about such dreams online, just about all of them (quite possibly all of them) are not literally dreams of God, but dreams of a powerful voice, or a kind old woman with the spirit of God, or many permutations of these projections. I want to know because I have had a little over a dozen of these (a tiny number compared to the size of my journal collection) and several are extremely significant if taken at face value.

              I tried again more recently in a conversation by phone with Dr. Bob van de Castle, a former president of the PA and a long-time researcher of paranormal dreaming. Because of the quality of the line, I didn't catch his entire answer, but the gist of it was that in his detailed records, he and others have found that many dream subjects that are assumed to be common are in fact quite rare and almost never happen. I think he was referring to my question when he said this, but I can't be sure. I'll follow up later.

              The point of asking, beyond my own dreams is that I wondered if religious people could be counted on to have them, and non-religious people wouldn't. This does not appear to be true now, but I would like to have a bigger sample before expressing confidence.

              So, here is a short example of the type of dream I am talking about. It is not a big one, or from the group that I am most interested in, but that is because you only want a sample. So here goes:

              God appeared to me. He said he had a gift. To make it, he spoke it into existence by describing it in an artful type of creative poetry, where his few words were the things they described. As he said the name of the gift, I saw it made before my eyes, a bolt of fantastically complex patterned cloth. The patterns in it all had a meaning that I didn't understand, as did the cloth itself. When it was done, which was just shy of immediately, he gave it to me, telling me to wrap it around my head, covering my eyes completely.

              Then he told me that there was a mirror before me and asked me to look into it and see my face. I couldn't see anything because the hard, cool cloth was dense and completely blocked my vision. I said as much, and then was commanded to look at my face in the mirror. This time I could see through the cloth at my reflected face in the mirror. My face was shining with light. Then I woke.

              So I woke from that, figuring odd, but unimportant. But it bugged me. I thought about it at odd moments, wondering what it could possibly mean, if anything. I don't often dream of God, so the rarity factor alone had me wondering if there was anything to it, but there was no way to know.

              About four months later, my family and I were at the church we had just started attending, when one of the kids, a very funny 10 year-old boy, asked me to tell him about one of my dreams. I asked if he wanted a mystery dream, one that I didn't understand. He did, so I told him this one. After I was done, his face lit up and he said "I know what that is! It's something that happened to Moses in either Exodus or Leviticus!" So he ran off to get a Bible, while I sat there wondering what he was talking about, not having ever read the books he mentioned.

              When he got back to his seat, he read out a section describing how Moses had been talking with God. Because of this, his face shone. When he came down from the mountain, the people there were frightened by this effect. As the glow faded, Moses put a veil over his face to hide it.

              It still remains a bit mysterious, but it does have a veil being used to cover a shining face after conversing with God. That, I think, is unusual for someone to be dreaming, when that person has no prior knowledge of that passage. At this point, the question of why becomes more compelling. I do not believe in dream symbolism, at least not in the Jungian sense, but do look at the dream as the communication of a message. Others from the group are completely plain, with no guessing necessary, but this is the kind of thing that I am wondering about.

              If I couldn't verify other dreams, then this one would be much less interesting. Because I can, it becomes more important for me to nail these down.

              The overall picture though, is what I first described. As I see it, there is a vast conscious non-physical universe out there, and we interact with it constantly. It has a great influence over our actions, so to understand it better seems worthwhile to me.

              AP

              Comment


              • #8
                I have not had any first hand psi experiences, and I stopped being a Christian at about age 20.

                It seems to me that what we are really asking, is what is the big picture?

                Religion can't be taken literally, because there are so many alternatives - picking one of them over all the others, seems implausible.

                One thing that strikes me, is our extraordinary love of stories - even stories that we know are made up. For example, some people spend their entire lives studying the made up plays of Shakespeare! Stories seem central to being human.

                Is it conceivable that stories ultimately acquire a force of their own, so that the various religious myths really have some power among believers. I would even speculate that science and technology might be one such myth - extraordinarily powerful while people believe it, and fused with maths, which is presumably timeless.

                David

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by paqart
                  Since so many religions get their own prophets words wrong, there is no point in discussing the icing they have buried their cake with. I am only interested in the underlying source data. So one prophetic dream I've had that really bothers me is what I call a half-and-half dream. In it, an angel tells me that a great calamity will occur as a sign that another event, a religiously/spiritually significant one, will happen also. The calamity it showed me did happen within the month. To me, that increases the credibility of the other half of the information provided in the dream. If I accept it all, then I am forced to accept that at least some aspects of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are correct. In fact, for reasons related to this, not because of my upbringing which had no religious influences at all, I have already come to this point of view.
                  You have got yourself in a bit of a pickle, haven't you?

                  My interpretation would be that the calamity was coincidence or backmasking and the rest of the dream was arbitrary, too. I have no idea how you can sort things out if you take your dreams seriously. I think you just have to reject parts of them arbitrarily in order to keep your philosophy straight.

                  Every time I write that, I get posts from people saying that of course in my case my background had to influence these dreams, but I assure you, they did not. I had no knowledge of religious things until I after I had recorded several years worth of items that were quite relevant to spiritual teachings and I started checking them out. To my surprise, they matched despite having no prior knowledge of the themes from the religions involved.
                  This is because religious themes are built into our basic instincts. You can make them up and they will match various religions.

                  ~~ Paul

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Religion can't be taken literally, because there are so many alternatives - picking one of them over all the others, seems implausible.

                    One thing that strikes me, is our extraordinary love of stories - even stories that we know are made up. For example, some people spend their entire lives studying the made up plays of Shakespeare! Stories seem central to being human.

                    Is it conceivable that stories ultimately acquire a force of their own, so that the various religious myths really have some power among believers. I would even speculate that science and technology might be one such myth - extraordinarily powerful while people believe it, and fused with maths, which is presumably timeless.
                    David,

                    I could not agree with you more*!

                    Our stories are similar, but I left Judaism at a slightly earlier age than you left Christianity.

                    In any case, nice that we have common ground!


                    *up to the last sentence, but I'll let that go for now!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Paul C. Anagnostopoulos View Post

                      My interpretation would be that the calamity was coincidence or backmasking and the rest of the dream was arbitrary, too. I have no idea how you can sort things out if you take your dreams seriously. I think you just have to reject parts of them arbitrarily in order to keep your philosophy straight.


                      ~~ Paul
                      I don't think you are answering in the spirit of the post. Remember the notice at the beginning that you leave your disbelief of psi at the door?

                      All further "is psi real?" and "psi isn't real" responses will be ignored by me.

                      AP

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by paqart
                        I don't think you are answering in the spirit of the post. Remember the notice at the beginning that you leave your disbelief of psi at the door?

                        All further "is psi real?" and "psi isn't real" responses will be ignored by me.
                        I was simply stating what my interpretation would be in order to give my solution to sorting out what to pay attention to and what to ignore. If you do indeed take your dreams seriously, then I'm not sure how you can sort it out.

                        Apparently your calamity premonitions come true often. What about the religious parts of your dreams? If they don't "come true" very often, perhaps that's how you decide to ignore them.

                        ~~ Paul

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Paul C. Anagnostopoulos View Post
                          I was simply stating what my interpretation would be in order to give my solution to sorting out what to pay attention to and what to ignore. If you do indeed take your dreams seriously, then I'm not sure how you can sort it out.

                          Apparently your calamity premonitions come true often. What about the religious parts of your dreams? If they don't "come true" very often, perhaps that's how you decide to ignore them.

                          ~~ Paul
                          The religious parts of the dreams, where I am shown how spirit binds matter together, or how communications are "packaged" into dreams, specifically to be easy to remember and understand by their recipients simply cannot be checked on this end. They are plausible but not verifiable. Some with a prophetic component can be checked, but that requires patience. A few of the ones with religious components have come out and that is what makes the others more credible as well.

                          AP

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Paqart,

                            Assuming your description of reality is accurate, I have a few questions:

                            1) Why is the communication with spirits so low-fi - I mean why do most of us get no communication at all, and even you find some communications confusing!

                            2) What is the overall aim of the process of experiencing a series of incarnations?

                            3) Why is the spirit world hidden from most people?

                            4) What has made you more receptive?

                            5) What is the purpose of prophecy?

                            Of course, the answers to some of these questions might be "Don't know!"

                            David

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by FastEddieB View Post
                              David,

                              I could not agree with you more*!

                              Our stories are similar, but I left Judaism at a slightly earlier age than you left Christianity.

                              In any case, nice that we have common ground!
                              Yes it is! Perhaps our only difference is that I have puzzled off and on about the nature of consciousness for a very long time. I have ceased to believe it is computation for all the reasons we have discussed before. I tend to think computers have been with us long enough for us to get a fair idea of their full potential. If consciousness isn't computation, then science has one hell of a hole in it. This is why I am willing to speculate wildly as to what might fill that hole!

                              However, since you spend time on this forum, I guess that deep down, even you share some doubts about the orthodox scientific position.

                              David

                              Comment

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