Tuesday, August 31, 2021

 


At Fatima


The people heard a thunderclap out of a blue sky.

I say "the people" and not "the faithful."  The faithful were there in abundance, of course, especially as the crowds grew larger with each monthly apparition.  The three children were simple shepherds with no formal education at all, but medical doctors and indeed doctors of philosophy were drawn to the phenomenon after word of it spread.  (Portugal then was absorbed not only in World War I but also in a local power struggle between religious and secular political forces.)

Some even among the secular witnesses saw the "pretty lady in white;" some saw just a moving, oval light (characterized by others as the "vessel" that transported the Virgin to the spot above an oak tree from where she conversed with little Lucia); others saw nothing at all but were shaken nevertheless by the profound effect that the apparitions had on the kneeling throngs.



Monday, August 30, 2021

 


Crackpot or Visionary?


Sometimes, no doubt, they are one and the same.

The errors in judgment of Charles Lindbergh are well known, and they are to be taken into account in evaluating every position he may have endorsed.  But likewise his ability to see beyond what others could see in his time.  He suggested, in an introduction to the autobiography of astronaut Michael Collins, that mankind's next leap forward in exploration of the cosmos might entail freeing ourselves from the bonds of the body entirely, and graduating into pure consciousness.  This is what he said:

Is it remotely possible that we are approaching a stage in evolution when we can discover how to abandon our physical frameworks in order to extend both inwardly and outwardly through limitless dimensions of awareness?  In future universal explorations, may we have no need for vehicles or matter?  Is this the adventure opening to man beyond travel through solar-system space?




Sunday, August 29, 2021



 Stuck


In the wee hours my wife often talks in her sleep.   She is incomprehensible, but in tone, she sounds like a samurai who wants to cut my head off.

In the absence of human embraces -- male or female -- at this late stage, it's natural to seek comfort in the prospect of God's Embrace.  But now, after the disclosure, I see myself as having to run a fearsome gauntlet of the demi-gods in order to get there, and I see that some of the demi-gods, even though they are far more advanced than we in many respects (and therefore hold power over us), are malign in the extreme in their intentions.

I am stuck.   I can't go back to a pre-disclosure conception of our path toward God.  And I can't go forward to that "feeling of complete safety" that Wittgenstein identified with religious conviction, because the demi-gods stand in the way.



Sunday, August 15, 2021

 


When You Feel Like a Whittled Stick


... Stripped of all protective cover,

Reduced to a shiny white core,

Soon to be discarded by your creator,

His interest having been in the stripping, not the stripped.



Saturday, August 14, 2021

 


For Purposes of Illustration Only


Now, after the Nimitz encounter in particular, it is beyond reasonable dispute that Unidentified Flying Objects, as objects, are real.  To appreciate the ubiquity of their presence through time, one need only watch James Fox's The Phenomenon and read Jacques Vallee's "Passage to Magonia" or Richard Dolan's "UFOs and the National Security State."   Their forms, their manifestations, evidence both great variety in the details and pronounced patterns of consistency, across cultures and countries.  They may be classic discs or balls, or triangles or "tic tacs."  They may be silent or they may emit a humming noise.  They are often accompanied by bright and multi-colored lights.  They can hover, move slowly, and move faster than any craft that could carry a human pilot, because the pilot would be torn apart by G forces.  Most interesting is the variety they exhibit in size.  Some are only two or three feet in diameter, but reports exist to the effect that they can be a mile wide, or "as big as ten aircraft carriers."  The Phoenix Lights triangular craft was reported by hundreds of people to be of such a scale, and flying very low so that estimation of its size was not difficult.

Jacques Vallee, after a lifetime of research into the phenomenon, posits that these are not extraterrestrial at all, but rather visitors from another dimension that can overlap physically with Earth, or visitors spilling over from some form of Jungian "mind-at-large."  He believes that, in effect, "the Other" that they manifest can take virtually any form it wants, and tailors its appearance to cultural conditions that prevail in time.  In 1897 in the US, it was lighter than air craft, which were in their infancy then; in 1917 it was "the miracle at Fatima."

Once having embarked on this train, it must be said, it is difficult to know where to get off when credulity is strained -- face-to-face encounters with other life forms, abductions, crash and creature retrievals, medical, including in-breeding, experiments, implantations of devices and, to my mind among the most ubiquitous and disturbing, so-called cattle mutilations that leave animals cored out at the anus, genitalia and eyes, and yet leave no signs of blood whatsoever, nor any signs that the animal has been approached on the ground.  These are disturbing in large part because they suggest that our little friend ET, after phoning home, became bloodthirsty in a most non-metaphorical sense.  Could we be next?

And why are they hiding "in plain sight," as Ross Coulthart would have it?

If their goal is not to rescue us from ourselves, nor to stop us in our nuclear tracks for the sake of other species including their own, nor to cultivate us as we cultivate farm animals, but rather just to leave us gobsmacked and terrified for reasons that are beyond our ken, why not take a different form altogether?

For purposes of illustration only, that might be a Canada goose, with a wingspan of five Boeing 747s, honking its way over downtown Indianapolis on a clear September evening for long enough for the good and sober citizenry to pull out their devices and photograph/film it.  Immense not human-scaled so as to be impossible, but a goose not an eagle or a vulture or a dove, over Indianapolis and not Washington, D.C., just to eliminate all interpretation, all symbolizing, to the extent possible, because symbols lend meaning to a phenomenon, and the true object may be to convince us that in fact there is no meaning within our frame of reference.  Within their frame of reference, the meaning is inscrutable to us.  That is part of what is meant when we characterize something or someone as "alien."



Saturday, August 7, 2021

 


What Is in Store for Us


"Physical death," says Bernardo Kastrup, is but a "de-clenching of consciousness."

This harkens back to the powerful, central image used by the counterculture guru from Long Island known as "Da Free John" (among myriad other names) in the 1970s.  He said that our posture towards the world, before enlightenment, is like that of an anemone that has sensed danger and pulled in all of its tentacles, rolled into a protective ball.

Da Free John was later accused, reliably, of false imprisonment and sexual slavery.  His close disciples included a Playboy bunny whom he enticed away from her boyfriend.  He claimed that worship of his divinity was the sole path to spiritual perfection.  He was, in other words, the Way, the Truth and the Light.  He died in 2008 and his followers now are said to number about 1000.



Friday, August 6, 2021

 


The New Monism, Cont'd


Is the mind-at-large "real and benevolent?"

As to whether it's real, the arguments proffered by Bernardo K focus largely on the supposed circularity of the arguments in favor of materialism and on an "Occam's Razor" argument in favor of his monism -- if we accept that everything is part of a transcendent and transpersonal consciousness, there is no need to posit a whole second, material world.  "Parsimony" therefore argues in favor.

My own view, having scrubbed Bernardo's passionately-stated case, is that he may be right, but his own arguments for monism are as circular as the arguments for materialism!  They assume the result and then defend monism on the grounds that it explains everything.

As to whether it is benevolent, yes it is benevolent in the same way that the Near Death Experience is benevolent.  But the "happy ending" entails a dissolution into the Godhead, so everything that makes you "you" goes poof when you die.  Beats the alternatives I guess.



Tuesday, August 3, 2021

 


"Saved," in the Holy Roller Sense, By the New Metaphysical Monism?


In olden days, people found meaning and solace in religion.   In the West, it was, in the main, Judeo-Christian.  But that particular myth was always a difficult one to swallow.  Kierkegaard and Dostoevsky tried to make the case that it is precisely its implausibility that gives rise to faith; if it were plausible then people could embrace it without any real spiritual investment.

And then came the Enlightenment and "scientism."  Dostoevsky could see that they put man at war with himself.  The war between scientism and faith was the war between the values of Western Europe and the values of Mother Russia.

Nietzsche and Sartre put a cherry on top, telling us that God was dead, but that that was OK because His absence, and the absence in particular of His rules, gave us the freedom to Be, authentically.  This never worked for me.  It may have worked for Nietzsche because he was gradually losing his mind as this philosophy took hold of him.  Personally I doubt that it worked personally for Sartre either; it just allowed him to further preen and to take center stage in European intellectual circles, like Michel Foucault did thereafter.

So we were left with nothing but the Abyss, but at least we had the satisfaction of sophistication.  We were grown up enough to accept what science was telling us, that we were way less than specks of sand on the beach.

What major religion comes closest to this world-view?  Probably Buddhism, I would say.  It admits that our circumstances cause us endless earthly suffering; suffering is, in fact, what defines our circumstances.  There is one escape route, however -- the renunciation of desire.  If we truly renounce it, we can reach a state of some sort of fundamental bliss that corresponds with being taken up into the embrace of ...  Nothing.  Nothing is our God.  (Is our God nothing?)

This also does not work for me.  Lipstick on the pig of personal annihilation.

There are cracks now appearing in this entire fa├žade, but they are cracks that scare me as much as the Abyss itself.  First among them is the UFO/UAP phenomenon, which now cannot be denied by reasonable people looking at all of the available evidence with openness and candor.  It most decidedly does not prove the existence of extraterrestrial life forms, but rather of some Intelligence outside our own that is impinging on us for some reason.  Is it, asks the AI scientist and philosopher Jacques Vallee, the same Intelligence as that which caused the sun to spin before 70,000 people at Fatima in 1917, or the virgin to appear in a ball of light before even larger crowds, of Coptic Christians, Muslims and Jews, in 1968 in Cairo?  Do drugs like ayahuasca and LSD open the "doors of perception" of that Intelligence?

People who claim to have come face to face with that Intelligence, including veterans of Peruvian ayahuasca initiations and claimed alien abductees, report a whole spectrum of attitudes expressed towards us by the Other, from benevolence to indifference to reptilian and insectoid hostility.  A Buddhist would call all of these mere illusion -- projections of our subjective consciousness.  The Tibetan Book of the Dead counsels the dying one to simply ignore them, to not engage with them with either positive or negative emotion, because they are mere distractions on the path to Enlightenment.  The terror that arises for me in contemplating the Other Intelligence is that its malevolent manifestations are, presumably, as real as the Tic Tacs that we now know have the capacity to disappear into the sea at 500 knots.  Are we just guinea pigs in some sort of cosmic free-for-all?  And Who, if anyone, is in charge?

Now comes the "new monism."  Monism simply means that the mind-body duality of Descartes is resolved, not as science would have it, by reducing everything to mindless matter, by rejecting soul and spirit, indeed by rejecting consciousness itself except as a programming language, older than COBOL, used by our "computers made of meat."  Rather, it is resolved by giving primacy to the mind, by largely reducing the material to a manifestation of the "mind-at-large."  We, and other animate creatures, it is said, are like whirlpools in the mind-at-large; inanimate objects, on the other hand, are like ripples on the surface of the mind-at-large.  (This metaphor, in candor, confuses me more than it enlightens me.)

The mind-at-large is real and it is benevolent.  One can think of it as what awaits at the end of that Near-Death Experience tunnel.

The view seems very close to the teachings of Jung; the mind-at-large looks a lot like his "collective unconscious."  But Jung himself seemed reluctant to articulate anything about his own relationship with the Creator, the Supreme Being, no doubt because he began his career in the time of Freud, when psychology was sold as hard science.  Jung's spiritual beliefs, whatever they were, could not be reduced rigorously to science.

A leading proponent of the new monism is a Brazilian philosopher/scientist by the name of Bernardo Kastrup.  His "Brief Peeks Beyond," for example, offer brief peeks, in the form of essays, that lay it all out.

The new monism offers, or has the potential to offer, an optimistic account of things, a "happy ending."  That most assuredly is not a reason to believe in it!  But if there are other compelling reasons to embrace it, I will gladly take the happy ending.

Sunday, August 1, 2021

 


The Beauty of English


That one can have a breakdown over a break-up; that one can feel thoroughly beaten up and thoroughly beaten down, at the same time and for the same reason.