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Is J. Neil Schulman justified (logically) in believing in God?

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http://www.pulpless.com/jneil/libertarianprophet.html

The lack of certain follow-up questions is a little frustrating in Gary YOrk's interview with SF writer and publisher J. Neil Schulman. For example, WHY did God (allegedly) threaten to kill Schulman (and why didn't Schulman call the police to report Him)? WHAT did Schulman learn during the time that he (allegedly) shared God's super-cognitive powers?

But my main question here is whether accepting the existence of God or accepting that he had had a "psychotic break" with reality were really Schulman's only reasonable alternatives when he experienced whatever it was that he experienced. Does a strong feeling that God (whatever his nature is said to be) is communicating with you constitute evidence for a God? Or does it mean only that you are experiencing something that you can't yet explain?

From the interview:

GARY YORK: Neil, you say you met God. What exactly do you mean by that?

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: God didn't call me for an appointment in an office building like in Oh God! or Bruce Almighty. But I've had two distinct waking experiences where I can say with confidence that I encountered God's presence.

The first time I recognize for sure was on April 15, 1988 when God put his hand on my heart and threatened to kill me.

The second encounter was February 18, 1997, when God merged his own consciousness with my own for the better part of a day, and for that short time let me share his own mind and superhuman cognitive powers.

Both were life-changing experiences, and when my abstract skepticism came up against my actual experience, I could either conclude that I was out of my mind or eventually accept the reality of it. After a thorough analysis of my previous life's experiences, and later experiences that lent validation, I concluded that the reality was that what had happened to me were really encounters with God -- therefore proving God's existence to me -- and that sanity would lie not in denying the truth of my experience by dismissing it as a psychotic break but in embracing the reality of it, maintaining my rational faculties, and proceeding accordingly.

[schulman also contends that Randian-style rationalism is consistent with accepting the existence and lawfulness of a supernatural realm. of a supernatural realm. Does Schulman believe that the supernatural realm, evidence of which he allegedly received directly from God, has the power to intermittently repeal the law of identity in the natural realm?]

GARY YORK: You once were a rationalist; you claim that you remain a rationalist. How, as someone who now believes in God, a supernatural entity, can you simultaneously espouse a belief in the supremacy of reason?

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Because I don't believe the supernatural is unreal, therefore reason can eventually discern supernatural operations and supernatural laws.

More of Jneil's god-notions in this exclamation-strewn writeup:

http://www.weeklyuniverse.com/2003/godexists.htm

###

Edited by Starbuckle
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The first time I recognize for sure was on April 15, 1988 when God put his hand on my heart and threatened to kill me.

The second encounter was February 18, 1997, when God merged his own consciousness with my own for the better part of a day, and for that short time let me share his own mind and superhuman cognitive powers.

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From the interview:

...

The second encounter was February 18, 1997, when God merged his own consciousness with my own for the better part of a day, and for that short time let me share his own mind and superhuman cognitive powers.

Does God ever have nightmares? Yes, according to Neil's account, and they last for "the better part of a day." :lol:

Ghs

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God shared so much--but Neil isn't passing it along. It might as well be, "Jesus saves, Jesus saves, Jesus saves his money in the First National Bank!"

--Brant

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One of the best movie lines ever occurs at 2:30 in this clip from "The Ruling Class."

"How do you know you're God?"

"Simple. When I pray to him, I find I'm talking to myself." :lol:

<object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meI6f258RKY?fs=1&hl=en_US&rel=0"></param><param'>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meI6f258RKY?fs=1&hl=en_US&rel=0"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=meI6f258RKY?fs=1&hl=en_US&rel=0" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>

Ghs

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http://www.pulpless.com/jneil/libertarianprophet.html

The lack of certain follow-up questions is a little frustrating in Gary YOrk's interview with SF writer and publisher J. Neil Schulman. For example, WHY did God (allegedly) threaten to kill Schulman (and why didn't Schulman call the police to report Him)? WHAT did Schulman learn during the time that he (allegedly) shared God's super-cognitive powers?

But my main question here is whether accepting the existence of God or accepting that he had had a "psychotic break" with reality were really Schulman's only reasonable alternatives when he experienced whatever it was that he experienced. Does a strong feeling that God (whatever his nature is said to be) is communicating with you constitute evidence for a God? Or does it mean only that you are experiencing something that you can't yet explain?

From the interview:

GARY YORK: Neil, you say you met God. What exactly do you mean by that?

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: God didn't call me for an appointment in an office building like in Oh God! or Bruce Almighty. But I've had two distinct waking experiences where I can say with confidence that I encountered God's presence.

The first time I recognize for sure was on April 15, 1988 when God put his hand on my heart and threatened to kill me.

The second encounter was February 18, 1997, when God merged his own consciousness with my own for the better part of a day, and for that short time let me share his own mind and superhuman cognitive powers.

Both were life-changing experiences, and when my abstract skepticism came up against my actual experience, I could either conclude that I was out of my mind or eventually accept the reality of it. After a thorough analysis of my previous life's experiences, and later experiences that lent validation, I concluded that the reality was that what had happened to me were really encounters with God -- therefore proving God's existence to me -- and that sanity would lie not in denying the truth of my experience by dismissing it as a psychotic break but in embracing the reality of it, maintaining my rational faculties, and proceeding accordingly.

[schulman also contends that Randian-style rationalism is consistent with accepting the existence and lawfulness of a supernatural realm. of a supernatural realm. Does Schulman believe that the supernatural realm, evidence of which he allegedly received directly from God, has the power to intermittently repeal the law of identity in the natural realm?]

GARY YORK: You once were a rationalist; you claim that you remain a rationalist. How, as someone who now believes in God, a supernatural entity, can you simultaneously espouse a belief in the supremacy of reason?

J. NEIL SCHULMAN: Because I don't believe the supernatural is unreal, therefore reason can eventually discern supernatural operations and supernatural laws.

More of Jneil's god-notions in this exclamation-strewn writeup:

http://www.weeklyuniverse.com/2003/godexists.htm

###

Since Gary York's interview with me, the full text of my book I Met God -- God Without Religion, Scripture, or Faith -- has been posted beginning at http://jneilschulman.rationalreview.com/2009/12/i-met-god-god-without-religion-scripture-or-faith/.

That might act as an adequate "follow-up question."

But if you have any, I'm here.

To start off with the questions already posed:

"For example, WHY did God (allegedly) threaten to kill Schulman?"

The threat was withdrawn when I agreed to stop setting terms to God for my continued living.

"(and why didn't Schulman call the police to report Him)?"

I called paramedics. And if I had called the police to report that God was threatening me, I risked being committed for psychiatric observation. Given that likely outcome, making the call would have been crazy. :-)

"WHAT did Schulman learn during the time that he (allegedly) shared God's super-cognitive powers?"

Some of that is answered in the Gary York interview; much more in the book. You have the links; there's no point my clogging this forum with reprints.

"But my main question here is whether accepting the existence of God or accepting that he had had a "psychotic break" with reality were really Schulman's only reasonable alternatives when he experienced whatever it was that he experienced. Does a strong feeling that God (whatever his nature is said to be) is communicating with you constitute evidence for a God? Or does it mean only that you are experiencing something that you can't yet explain?"

It wasn't a feeling, any more than having a conversation is "feeling." It was a full cognitive experience in which tons of perceptual and conceptual information was passed.

And I've spent over 13 years now examining the experience -- as well as both earlier and later ones -- testing it against the rest of my life experiences, and entering into discussions with others who want to challenge it. That appears to me a rational way of dealing with an extraordinary experience and set of perceptions.

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God shared so much--but Neil isn't passing it along. It might as well be, "Jesus saves, Jesus saves, Jesus saves his money in the First National Bank!"

--Brant

http://jneilschulman.rationalreview.com/2009/12/i-met-god-god-without-religion-scripture-or-faith/

Enough sharing for you?

And Jesus saves at the Banco Espírito Santo in Portugal. They gave him a toaster when he opened his account. You know, for his loaves. :-)

Edited by J. Neil Schulman
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Neil,

I check your website now and then, and your career appears to be running on all cylinders. My congratulations.

During my early years as a Christian (up to age 13 or so), I had numerous "religious experiences," including some that were extremely vivid and included far more than a feeling. Many atheists I know, including a former Baptist minister of nearly 20 years, have reported similar experiences to me.

I therefore don't doubt the subjective reality of such experiences in many cases, and I understand why they seem so compelling to those who have them, but their evidential value for the existence of God is zilch.

As for your premonition about your grandfather's death, you would be hard-pressed to find someone who has not had a similar experience. One problem here is that we tend to forget the premonitions that don't pan out.

I'm confused about something. As I recall, you and I had some arguments about the existence God not long after we first met in 1975. Yet, having looked through your book, I Met God, I got the impression that your "conversion" to theism occurred years later. Since I only skimmed some parts of your book, I could have gotten the wrong impression, but I distinctly recall your pressing me to read C.S. Lewis not long after we met.

Btw, do you keep in touch with Vic Koman? I sometimes wonder what he has been up to these days. It's not every day that I become the basis for a fictional character (the Atheist of Van Ness) in a novel. :rolleyes:

Ghs

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Neil,

I check your website now and then, and your career appears to be running on all cylinders. My congratulations.

Thanks!

"During my early years as a Christian (up to age 13 or so), I had numerous 'religious experiences,' including some that were extremely vivid and included far more than a feeling. Many atheists I know, including a former Baptist minister of nearly 20 years, have reported similar experiences to me.

"I therefore don't doubt the subjective reality of such experiences in many cases, and I understand why they seem so compelling to those who have them, but their evidential value for the existence of God is zilch."

George, I haven't had anything I'd classify as a "religious" experience. But I've had numerous experiences which I'd classify as extraordinary. Some of these experiences, such as out-of-body travels, have allowed me to see things I was able to verify by checking our things that I've never seen or known of by conventional means, and finding out they they were real. On another occasion what I'd classify as a supernatural auditory experience was heard not only by me but by my mother.

What makes my "God" experiences useful is that they conveyed information to me, some of which I haven't been able to verify, but some of which I have. The nature of the experiences themselves have also conveyed a lot of information.

Now, science is based primarily on taking in and evaluating perceptions. There are rules of thumb, but if you run into data that diminishes a paradigm, you don't say, "I don't like the data because of my paradigm." You become more skeptical of the paradigm. I'm not the only person who has ever claimed extraordinary experiences or we wouldn't even have common descriptive language for them. So if I regard data I've accumulated from sources that others don't even consider data, I consider that I'm not the one being irrational about it.

I was an atheist from age 5 (when I first thought about it) through age 30. Then I started having higher intensity episodes of an ongoing series of extraordinary experiences. I hung on to my atheist worldview until experience forced me out of it.

Are my experiences convincing evidence to anyone but me? No. But the paradigms I've come up with do tend to refute some of the more common arguments against the possible existence of God and -- most interestingly, to me -- answer a bunch of questions that no religious scripture or tradition has ever been able to tackle. I'm sure you've read the Bible pretty much cover to cover. Find me where scripture tells us why God decided to create anything or anyone else in the first place. It's not there. But if I can present what Korzybski asked for -- an extensional definition of the word "God" -- and this definition tends to match up with some of the traditional usages of the word "God" -- isn't that useful?

"As for your premonition about your grandfather's death, you would be hard-pressed to find someone who has not had a similar experience. One problem here is that we tend to forget the premonitions that don't pan out."

I have a very good memory, George. It wasn't one premonition. It was a series of them which validated on the same day I had them. And not on other days. But this is hardly the only psychic or precognitive experience I've had. If I have any failing of memory, it's that they're so common for me that I can't even remember them all. But I agree: most people have premonitions one time or another. It's just that they learn to dismiss them.

"I'm confused about something. As I recall, you and I had some arguments about 'the existence God not long after we first met in 1975. Yet, having looked through your book, I Met God, I got the impression that your "conversion" to theism occurred years later. Since I only skimmed some parts of your book, I could have gotten the wrong impression, but I distinctly recall your pressing me to read C.S. Lewis not long after we met."

In 1975 when we first met I was a firm atheist and would say I was until late 1983, when I'd say I became an agnostic about four years. I wouldn't say I was a theist until 1988. To tell you the truth, I think the best description of me is that I'm an atheist still -- except that I've met God and regard the experience as real. But I am no less skeptical about human-invented religions, and their scriptures, than I ever was.

I recommended C.S. Lewis to you because his book Miracles raised epistemological points that I thought spoke to your own writings.

"Btw, do you keep in touch with Vic Koman? I sometimes wonder what he has been up to these days. It's not every day that I become the basis for a fictional character (the Atheist of Van Ness) in a novel. :rolleyes:"

Ghs

I'm now living in Nevada and Vic is still in Orange County, CA, so I rarely see him anymore. As well, Vic began to feel that his immersion in libertarian ideas diminished his life, and he's become more-or-less of a mainstream Republican, maybe even tending towards being a Neocon. But Vic has always been pretty cagey (I think he got this from his readings of Crowley) so he's still publishing and selling books by Sam Konkin and "Vote for Nobody" buttons. But I don't think he believes in much of it anymore, which is one reason I don't think we've had a new novel from him.

Neil

Edited by J. Neil Schulman
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God shared so much--but Neil isn't passing it along. It might as well be, "Jesus saves, Jesus saves, Jesus saves his money in the First National Bank!"

--Brant

http://jneilschulman...pture-or-faith/

Enough sharing for you?

And Jesus saves at the Banco Espírito Santo in Portugal. They gave him a toaster when he opened his account. You know, for his loaves. :-)

I loved The Rainbow Cadenza and Alongside Night. I'm going to read them again soon and I urge everyone to read them, especially the latter. I don't read much fiction and it's been years since I've read any at all, but I'll be re-reading these.

--Brant

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Jneil, thanks for joining this discussion. I haven't read your longer exposition yet but will try to do so soon.

God could not answer my question about why the consciousness of the universe as a whole, if it could be said to be conscious, would be so hard to perceive that it would require a special experience to do so. As individuals we have no direct awareness of any awareness but our own, but we have no trouble inferring consciousness in other human beings and animals. If the consciousness permeating the universe as a whole is so very different from our own awareness (weaker than it? more furtive than it?) that it cannot be detected except under very special circumstances, can it really be said to be consciousness? Why would its manifestations not be readily observable by those who lack the same extraordinary experiences that you and others have reported?

Do you know/have any opinion about James's book on religious experiences? Here's a passage that I happened upon more or less at random but which seems relevant in which James compares conversion to psychological maturation. Is anything detailed below have parallels in your own experience? (I added a couple paragraph breaks that are not in the text.)

"Formed associations of ideas and habits are usually factors of retardation in such changes of equilibrium. New information, however acquired, plays an accelerating part in the changes; and the slow mutation of our instincts and propensities, under the 'unimaginable touch of time' has an enormous influence. Moreover, all these influences may work subconsciously or half unconsciously. And when you get a Subject in whom the subconscious life -- of which I must speak more fully soon -- is largely developed, and in whom motives habitually ripen in silence, you get a case of which you can never give a full account, and in which, both to the Subject and the onlookers, there may appear an element of marvel. Emotional occasions, especially violent ones, are extremely potent in precipitating mental rearrangements. The sudden and explosive ways in which love, jealousy, guilt, fear, remorse, or anger can seize upon one are known to everybody. Hope, happiness, security, resolve, emotions characteristic of conversion, can be equally explosive. And emotions that come in this explosive way seldom leave things as they found them.

"Jouffroy is an example: 'Down this slope it was that my intelligence had glided, and little by little it had got far from its first faith. But this melancholy revolution had not taken place in the broad daylight of my consciousness; too many scruples, too many guides and sacred affections had made it dreadful to me, so that I was far from avowing to myself the progress it had made. It had gone on in silence, by an involuntary elaboration of which I was not the accomplice; and although I had in reality long ceased to be a Christian, yet, in the innocence of my intention, I should have shuddered to suspect it, and thought it calumny had I been accused of such a falling away.' Then follows Jouffroy's account of his counter-conversion, quoted above on p. 173. One hardly needs examples; but for love, see p. 176, note, for fear, p. 161; for remorse, see Othello after the murder; for anger see Lear after Cordelia's first speech to him; for resolve, see p. 175 (J. Foster case).

"Here is a pathological case in which guilt was the feeling that suddenly exploded: 'One night I was seized on entering bed with a rigor, such as Swedenborg describes as coming over him with a sense of holiness, but over me with a sense of guilt. During that whole night I lay under the influnce of the rigor, and from its inception I felt that I was under the curse of God. I have never done one act of duty in my life -- sins against God and man beginning as far as my memory goes back -- a wildcat in human shape.'

"In his recent work on the Psychology of Religion, Professor Starbuck of California has shown by a statistical inquiry how closely parallel in its manifestations the ordinary 'conversion' which occurs in young people brought up in evangelical circles is to that growth into a larger spiritual life which is a normal phase of adolescence in every class of human beings. The age is the same, falling usually between fourteen and seventeen. The symptoms are the same, -- sense of incompleteness and imperfection; brooding, depression, morbid introspection, and sense of sin; anxiety about the hereafter; distress over doubts, and the like. And the result is the same -- a happy relief and objectivity, as the confidence in self gets greater through the adjustment of the faculties to the wider outlook. In spontaneous religious awakening, apart from revivalistic examples, and in the ordinary storm and stress and moulting-time of adolescence, we also may meet with mystical experiences, astonishing the subjects by their suddenness, just as in revivalistic conversion. The analogy, in fact, is complete; and Starbuck's conclusion as to these ordinary youthful conversions would seem to be the only sound one: Conversion is in its essence a normal adolescent phenomenon, incidental to the passage from the child's small universe to the wider intellectual and spiritual life of maturity.

" 'Theology,' says Dr. Starbuck, 'takes the adolescent tendencies and builds upon them; it sees that the essential thing in adolescent growth is bringing the person out of childhood into the new life of maturity and personal insight. It accordingly brings those means to bear which will intensify the normal tendencies. It shortens up the period of duration of storm and stress.' The conversion phenomena of 'conviction of sin' last, by this investigator's statistics, about one fifth as long as the periods of adolescent storm and stress phenomena of which he also got statistics, but they are very much more intense. Bodily accompaniments, loss of sleep and appetite, for example, are much more frequent in them. 'The essential distinction appears to be that conversion intensifies but shortens the period by bringing the person to a definite crisis.' "

http://bit.ly/gQ4vh5 [a Virginia.edu etext site]

###

Edited by Starbuckle
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Wow, that is a very charming and funny movie clip. Peter O'Toole as God? And much later he played the Pope in "The Tudors." An entirely different character....

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I was an atheist from age 5 (when I first thought about it) through age 30. Then I started having higher intensity episodes of an ongoing series of extraordinary experiences. I hung on to my atheist worldview until experience forced me out of it.

Are my experiences convincing evidence to anyone but me? No. But the paradigms I've come up with do tend to refute some of the more common arguments against the possible existence of God and -- most interestingly, to me -- answer a bunch of questions that no religious scripture or tradition has ever been able to tackle. I'm sure you've read the Bible pretty much cover to cover. Find me where scripture tells us why God decided to create anything or anyone else in the first place. It's not there. But if I can present what Korzybski asked for -- an extensional definition of the word "God" -- and this definition tends to match up with some of the traditional usages of the word "God" -- isn't that useful?

I first read the Bible cover to cover while I was a sophomore in high school. It had a lot to do with starting me down the path to atheism. It was with good reason that for centuries the Catholic Church only permitted clerics to read the Bible, except with special permission.

I'm afraid I don't know what you mean by "an extensional definition" of "God."

As for your remarks about premonitions, out of body experiences, etc., I remain a resolute skeptic about such matters. This skepticism goes back well before my O'ist days to when I took up magic and studied it for nearly seven years. You will not find a more skeptical bunch than magicians, e.g., Houdini and, more recently, Randi. This skepticism comes from having witnessed, time and again, how easily people can be misled, whether by others or by themselves, and reach erroneous conclusions about events that seem patently obvious. Many attempts have been made to test paranormal claims under controlled conditions, but none that I know of has ever succeeded.

The workings of the subconscious, especially in highly intelligent and complex people, can bring about extraordinary experiences, including some valid insights. I have always been very interested in mystics -- not in the Randian sense, of course, but in the more accurate sense of people who believe they have directly experienced "God" or some transcendent reality. I find such people interesting because they tend to be very introspective, not because I agree with their conclusions. Of course, the classic work in this field is The Varieties of Religious Experience, by William James. It is a fascinating read.

Ghs

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Wow, that is a very charming and funny movie clip. Peter O'Toole as God? And much later he played the Pope in "The Tudors." An entirely different character....

Dick Cavett once told a story about his friendship with Groucho Marx. When Groucho wrote letters to Cavett, he frequently added hilarious P.S.'s that had nothing to do with the content of the letter. One of these read:

P.S. Have you ever noticed that Peter O'Toole has a double-phallic name?

Ghs

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Well, Neil, after clicking on your link and seeing your photo, I'd like to buy you a drink--lots of drinks.

I've had a couple of extraordinary experiences. They had no explanation except "coincidence." But I experienced them atomistically--that is, I couldn't and didn't try for an explanation. I just accepted them as such. They happened. But I could relate to them only one-step into a wider context. Now, if I would only have the next Power Ball lottery numbers! You see, all this stuff we are talking about is already tied into us personally, Tell me about something that breaks personal context with something factual.

--Brant

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The workings of the subconscious, especially in highly intelligent and complex people, can bring about extraordinary experiences, including some valid insights. I have always been very interested in mystics -- not in the Randian sense, of course, but in the more accurate sense of people who believe they have directly experienced "God" or some transcendent reality. I find such people interesting because they tend to be very introspective, not because I agree with their conclusions. Of course, the classic work in this field is The Variety of Religious Experience, by William James. It is a fascinating read.

Wow, that only took like ten years.

OK, I'm here. Questions?

Do you want me to do tricks?http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zskO9O3hF78

Once you have had it happen to you, everything changes. I could say that about the experience. I can also say that I documented my experience, prior, that is, on the freakin' O-boards. My attitude, my approach was noted. I guess that was just short of "empirical," and that kind of thing went on and on, and I found folly with it; it only contributed to my humor. I will say that it made me have to be careful about being mean.

In that kind of thinking, there is (and I have said it over and over and James said it better, way better) "once born," and "twice born." And then there is not born, I s'pose.

I was never regretful about the change that occurred to me, and I never will be, because it made me a better person. People noticed this.

I am not sure how much proof is necessary. Perhaps that is the nature of their own problem. Certainly, I do not feel superior to that way of thinking.

I just feel Blessed. And as far as use of that term, say, go on about it as much as you wish. This kind of state, or, maybe you might want to call it a state that one thinks is possible--it is acquirable.

The more I write on this the less I feel effective, because others have written better (James): read that, others. I am a good writer, but this is not what I do--I tend to work on comedy.

rde

Edited by Rich Engle
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Well, Neil, after clicking on your link and seeing your photo, I'd like to buy you a drink--lots of drinks.

I've had a couple of extraordinary experiences. They had no explanation except "coincidence." But I experienced them atomistically--that is, I couldn't and didn't try for an explanation. I just accepted them as such. They happened. But I could relate to them only one-step into a wider context. Now, if I would only have the next Power Ball lottery numbers! You see, all this stuff we are talking about is already tied into us personally, Tell me about something that breaks personal context with something factual.

--Brant

My most extraordinary inner experience had nothing to do with God or religion. I have been candid about my drug use before, both on OL and other forums, so there is nothing revelatory about this story, except the details.

It was 1994, and, after using heroin for three years, my life had turned to shit. I had lost nearly everything, and I had been up for over two days doing heroin and coke. Panic and fear about what I would do had pushed me to the brink of a nervous breakdown. My hands were shaking violently, my vision was so blurred I could barely see, and I was experiencing sporadic fits of deep sobbing. Suicide seemed the only way out of this emotional quicksand.

But for some reason I decided to write something down. I had no idea what I would write, but I somehow knew that typing into a computer wouldn't work, so I found some paper. My hands were so weak and shaking so badly that I could barely grasp the pen, so I scribbled as best I could.

Here is what I wrote: "I'm going down, down, down, down, down...," etc. After writing "down" around fifty times, which took less than ten minutes, everything suddenly changed. My vision cleared, my hands stopped shaking, I felt a remarkable peace of mind that I had not felt in years, and I was determined to take some action. Within two days I was on a plane to a rehab clinic in New Mexico, and that was that.

I have a theory about why writing multiple lines of the same word had the effect it did -- viz., that it focused the thinking that had been percolating in my subconscious for a long time -- but this is only a theory. Praying to Jesus, Allah, or the Sun God Ra might have had the same effect.

Ghs

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OK, I'm here. Questions?

Yeah, I have a question. How do you stay so thin?

Ghs

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GHS wrote: "My most extraordinary inner experience had nothing to do with God or religion. I have been candid about my drug use before, both on OL and other forums, so there is nothing revelatory about this story, except the details."

I am very surprised. Do you discuss the reasons for your drug use somewhere in the forums? Can you provide a link?

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I, too, have had an Experience. This is an Experience I had just a few minutes ago, playing the Zone.com checkers game that comes with Windows XP. The Zone.com software anonymously connects you with other players over the Internet.

I always rank myself as an "expert" checkers player, but sometimes Zone.com pits me against much weaker players anyway. (It's okay. Although they are not as challenging, the weaker opponents offer the compensating virtue of being easier to destroy.)

Anyway, in the game that I played just now, I was able very early on to force my opponent to jump me in such a way that I could then triple-jump him and get a king without risk of immediately losing that king. But before my opponent jumped the man I was forcing him to jump (and, therefore, before I could then execute the triple jump I had set up), he sent me a message requesting a draw. I rejected the proposal, since I wanted to experience the sadistic joy of annihilating him, and didn't feel inclined to pretend that I wasn't about to do so. Well, the instant after I rebuffed him, I got another message from the Zone.com software: "Your opponent has left the game."

Now, I don't know if it's ESP or what, but I am certain that my opponent did not at that moment lose his connection to the Internet as a result of the power going out or the like. I am certain that a cat did not jump on his keyboard, causing him to exit the game software prematurely and involuntarily. I am certain that no home invader suddenly shot up his modem. No, the only thing that happened to my poor stunned foe was that he had decided that he wasn't going to display even the minimal sportsmanship required to formally resign, and that, to avoid suffering the triple jump and ensuing methodical decimation, he must exit the game in a huff.

My only clues are the fact that he was about to get slaughtered and the timing of his unceremonious departure. I will never be able to determine to the satisfaction of a court of law whether my conclusion is correct. Yet I know that it is; and the power of a thousand suns could not dissuade me.

Edited by Starbuckle
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GHS wrote: "My most extraordinary inner experience had nothing to do with God or religion. I have been candid about my drug use before, both on OL and other forums, so there is nothing revelatory about this story, except the details."

I am very surprised. Do you discuss the reasons for your drug use somewhere in the forums? Can you provide a link?

I can't recall if I have discussed that aspect or not. In any case, I am pushing a difficult deadline, and now is not a good time for me to be taking an unpleasant stroll down memory lane.

Although drugs contributed greatly to the crisis that set the context for my story, they were not a factor in the experience itself; i.e., it's not as if I did more drugs and felt better as a result. The remarkable physical and psychological changes that swept over me in a matter of seconds were more dramatic than any drug I had ever taken, and I have little doubt that my experience was the same as those Christians who have described the transformative experience of being "saved." Indeed, had I been religiously-minded to begin with, I would probably have attributed the cause of my experience to a supernatural agency.

With one exception that occurred in my early teens, I have never had a cathartic experience -- and this is essentially what we are dealing with here -- that was so intense. Granted, there were some memorable orgasms, and I may even have shouted "Oh, God!" during some of them, but I don't know if they count. :lol:

While a very young and very devout Christian, I would occasionally awake during the middle of the night and see Jesus standing next to my bed. Complete with halo and a white robe, he looked exactly like a standard painting I had seen countless times. I remember wondering when Jesus posed for the portrait and who painted it. :huh:

Ghs

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I, too, have had an Experience. This is an Experience I had just a few minutes ago, playing the Zone.com checkers game that comes with Windows XP. The Zone.com software anonymously connects you with other players over the Internet.

I always rank myself as an "expert" checkers player, but sometimes Zone.com pits me against much weaker players anyway. (It's okay. Although they are not as challenging, the weaker opponents offer the compensating virtue of being easier to destroy.)

Anyway, in the game that I played just now, I was able very early on to force my opponent to jump me in such a way that I could then triple-jump him and get a king without risk of immediately losing that king. But before my opponent jumped the man I was forcing him to jump (and, therefore, before I could then execute the triple jump I had set up), he sent me a message requesting a draw. I rejected the proposal, since I wanted to experience the sadistic joy of annihilating him, and didn't feel inclined to pretend that I wasn't about to do so. Well, the instant after I rebuffed him, I got another message from the Zone.com software: "Your opponent has left the game."

Now, I don't know if it's ESP or what, but I am certain that my opponent did not at that moment lose his connection to the Internet as a result of the power going out or the like. I am certain that a cat did not jump on his keyboard, causing him to exit the game software prematurely and involuntarily. I am certain that no home invader suddenly shot up his modem. No, the only thing that happened to my poor stunned foe was that he had decided that he wasn't going to display even the minimal sportsmanship required to formally resign, and that, to avoid suffering the triple jump and ensuing methodical decimation, he must exit the game in a huff.

My only clues are the fact that he was about to get slaughtered and the timing of his unceremonious departure. I will never be able to determine to the satisfaction of a court of law whether my conclusion is correct. Yet I know that it is; and the power of a thousand suns could not dissuade me.

My initial reaction was to post the single word: Sadist!

After a moment's reflection another word came to mind: Powerluster!

I suppose that everyone has experienced the glow of victory whenever they have sat across from a formidable foe in a chess game and have achieved an impressive checkmate. Simply seeing your favorite team win a game of football or basketball no doubt evokes such a delightful feeling of victory.

On the other hand one can commiserate with your opponent who slinked away rather than endure the final blow of defeat and assure your complete satisfaction.

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GHS wrote: "While a very young and very devout Christian, I would occasionally awake during the middle of the night and see Jesus standing next to my bed. Complete with halo and a white robe, he looked exactly like a standard painting I had seen countless times. I remember wondering when Jesus posed for the portrait and who painted it."

Did these visions at the time contribute to a feeling of absolute conviction that your religious faith was justified, even though in retrospect you can think of other reasons for your experience?

Edited by Starbuckle
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And Jesus saves at the Banco Espírito Santo in Portugal. They gave him a toaster when he opened his account. You know, for his loaves. :-)

The one established 1755, in the wake of bank failures caused by the Lisbon earthquake? It's all for the best in this best of all possible worlds, well, at least it let Candide escape certain death…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1755_Lisbon_earthquake

Oh, and welcome to OL!

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