Rich Engle

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Posts posted by Rich Engle

  1. I agree with the "narrow" part, Roger. But I'm a musician to the bone, and in that kind of instance, what with your background, achievements and all, the question that comes to my mind is why he wouldn't be the least bit curious. I guess it's the eclectic in me, I would've been thinking "Well, he clearly isn't sporting a mohawk, and I don't think his aesthetic would be anywhere near Nine Inch Nails, or Korn, or even Megadeath...let's give it a turn, what the Hell<tm>."

    But that's me. Send me the fucker, I'll listen to it, and you'll be down twelve bucks. Or, you can wait until later this year, when the new On The Air CD gets done and we'll indulge in trader mentality... :-({|=

    Oh well, you can't be having an at-gunpoint audience (I've tried that, and they always seem to have more guns than we do, especially in the west side bars).

    I'll betcha Nathaniel will listen to mine if I send him one...

    nyah-nyah, nyah nyah-nyah :D/

  2. Welcome and greetings, John!

    Yes, the doing thing. Regardless of how we look at Being, as Joseph Campbell once said: "The action is down here." Being a Unitarian Universalist, I am more concerned with useful purposes in life than anything else...

    To reply to your observation about partial evidence:

    This is clearly true in some cases. In some of them, there is pathology involved. One reason I wrote this article is because, in Objectivism, at least, the term "mysticism" is a blanket one, and in my view it serves little purpose outside of the O'ist community, where it functions just fine, given the structure of the philosophy. My goal was to focus specifically on the experiencial level, rather than mysticism just being anything that is not "it-science," something that cannot be apprehended on the empirical level, the monological level. So, I found it useful to narrow my focus by not talking about things like superstition, for instance, when I talked about mysticism.

    If you are interested in some of what is behind where I am coming from, it is good to know that my conception of reality differs (but includes much of) that of Objectivism, so that when you say "evidence," for me it is something different than only empirical evidence (the "it" view), and includes the interior dimensions (the "I" and "we" views) along with it. I have adopted and am in total agreement with the work of Ken Wilber on this, which can best be quickly represented in his AQAL model, shown here:

    http://www.formlessmountain.com/KW-WTC/foo...notes/aqal.html

    It is almost impossible to avoid mission creep here, but I will try. In solid debate terms, one place where dialogue with Objectivists shows limitation for me is that, in addition to (in my view) an overly-wide application of the word "mysticism," they also do something similar when proclaiming something to be "irrational," or non-evidence-based. That is because I believe that the process of evolution (any kind of evolution) is one of inclusion, not dissociation. Ideally, it transcends, but includes all the essential elements of that from which it came. Rationality evolved out of the pre-rational state (sensation, imagery, intense feelings), but if it does not embrace or include them, the result is dissociation, a.k.a. pathology. If you look at biology and apply the same example, you will see where this is coming from.

    There is no sign that evolution stops, and this is so when we look at the evolution from pre-rational to rational. What comes next would be the "transrational" state, which transcends, but includes rationality.

    And here is where I think we get to it- Objectivism, so far as I can tell, does not distinguish between the pre- and trans- rational states. As a matter of fact, it does not recognize the transrational state as existing at all. Rationality is where the line of evolution seems to end with Objectivism.

    The transrational state (which could be reasonably and understandably thought of by some as a kind of "mystical" state) is not developed through monological knowing, as useful as that type of thinking is. It is developed mainly through disciplined practices such as meditation (contemplative knowing), at least if one wants something that can be repeatable and experiencally transferrable. But again, even something that is experiencially transferrable does not qualify as "evidence" in Objectivism, because it comes out of the interior dimensions.

    A few comments on general perception of things mystical. When talking about mysticism, first pictures people often have involve things they have noticed in the world, the symbology, the art, the writing, and so on. This is the sphere of art, and in human history there has been a lot of it. For the most part, it is pretty exotic stuff- take mandalas, for instance. This is the stuff of the "we" section the interior dimension- what Wilber calls the "Left Hand of the Kosmos." This includes all kinds of "magical" looking stuff, and of course Objectivists, scientific materialists, hardcore moderns in general despise all this and think it is pretty much irrational crap. There is an understanding that can be applied to this kind of art; it is that things such as these are often, very often, designed as tools of contemplation- their purpose is to act as aids toward moving into the contemplative state of knowing.

    There are many varieties of mystical experience, but two things they all seem to have in common, as James pointed out, is that they are of limited duration, and something of the experience permanently remains afterward. It might be possible to account for the brief duration by assuming that many, probably most, of the people that had the experiences were not in possession of a tool, a yoga, for achieving the sustained and repeatable transrational state I mentioned above.

    Best Regards,

    rde

  3. You know, that just says if effing all, Roger. About the only person on the planet that really has a reason to be that shitty in that situation is a record company guy. I know because I used to do that for an indie. There's a point where you can't stand the sight of a new CD.

    Outside of that, though, what's to lose? How hard would it have been to say "Thanks for the kind words, and if you wish, do send me a CD."

    I really need to watch my thoughts. I was thinking of the right term for him in that situation, it involved an early form of feminine hygiene product that dispensed liquid.

  4. I come from hillbillies, so this probably hits me harder than most.

    Well now, Michael, that explains some of why I like you so much...

    Both sides of the family, all the way back- Ozarks. Mountain View, to be precise, which is hillwhack ground-zero, being that that is where the Ozark folk center was built. :) I wonder if we are related- do you ever feel the need to chase your housepets or siblings around when you are feeling randy? Thank Gawd<tm> they got out of there before they had me, or I fear my life would involve either being bent over logs, or banjo playing rather than guitar.

    Reading, yes... Ken Wilber's The Marriage of Sense and Spirit, right now. In between I continue my quest to finish the collected works of William James.

    Vivian has a copy of Christiane Northrup's Mother Daughter Wisdom that she is devouring.

    Joseph Campbell's Myths to Live By

    Picking through sections of Bertrand Russell's A History of Western Philosophy only because I used to have it and I found a pristine hardback for 5 bucks.

    The Gnostic Scriptures, the first two days involving learning how to read translator markings

    Weird Ohio, which is a very fun book I got for Xmas (they have one for every state, and let me tell you, this is big fun when you don't want to get all heavied up.

    I think that's about it...

    rde

    effed up the bold face, but too lazy to change it right now.

  5. This ought to be good for a few turns around the dance floor:

    http://tinyurl.com/3lkbf

    'God gene' discovered by scientist Dr Dean Hamer

    By Elizabeth Day

    (Filed: 14/11/2004)

    Religious belief is determined by a person's genetic make-up according

    to a study by a leading scientist.

    After comparing more than 2,000 DNA samples, an American molecular

    geneticist has concluded that a person's capacity to believe in God is

    linked to brain chemicals.

    His findings were criticised last night by leading clerics, who

    challenge the existence of a "god gene" and say that the research

    undermines a fundamental tenet of faith - that spiritual enlightenment

    is achieved through divine transformation rather than the brain's

    electrical impulses.

    Dr Dean Hamer, the director of the Gene Structure and Regulation Unit

    at the National Cancer Institute in America, asked volunteers 226

    questions in order to determine how spiritually connected they felt to

    the universe. The higher their score, the greater a person's ability to

    believe in a greater spiritual force and, Dr Hamer found, the more

    likely they were to share the gene, VMAT2.

    Studies on twins showed that those with this gene, a vesicular

    monoamine transporter that regulates the flow of mood-altering

    chemicals in the brain, were more likely to develop a spiritual belief.

    Growing up in a religious environment was said to have little effect on

    belief. Dr Hamer, who in 1993 claimed to have identified a DNA sequence

    linked to male homosexuality, said the existence of the "god gene"

    explained why some people had more aptitude for spirituality than

    others.

    "Buddha, Mohammed and Jesus all shared a series of mystical experiences

    or alterations in consciousness and thus probably carried the gene," he

    said. "This means that the tendency to be spiritual is part of genetic

    make-up. This is not a thing that is strictly handed down from parents

    to children. It could skip a generation - it's like intelligence."

    His findings, published in a book, The God Gene: How Faith Is

    Hard-Wired Into Our Genes, were greeted sceptically by many in the

    religious establishment.

    The Rev Dr John Polkinghorne, a fellow of the Royal Society and a Canon

    Theologian at Liverpool Cathedral, said: "The idea of a god gene goes

    against all my personal theological convictions. You can't cut faith

    down to the lowest common denominator of genetic survival. It shows the

    poverty of reductionist thinking."

    The Rev Dr Walter Houston, the chaplain of Mansfield College, Oxford,

    and a fellow in theology, said: "Religious belief is not just related

    to a person's constitution; it's related to society, tradition,

    character - everything's involved. Having a gene that could do all that

    seems pretty unlikely to me."

    Dr Hamer insisted, however, that his research was not antithetical to a

    belief in God. He pointed out: "Religious believers can point to the

    existence of god genes as one more sign of the creator's ingenuity - a

    clever way to help humans acknowledge and embrace a divine presence."

  6. I read TF immediately after AS. I adored the Roark character.

    I'm kind of happy I read those two books out of sequence like that. TF was perfect in length and overall tightness after reading AS.

    I mean, I started reading it about 3 days after I finished AS, which was done as a marathon- any free moment available, in ten days. I was happy-tired at the end of it.

    I enjoyed the isolated, pure-purpose feel of his character. Everything he did was tight and focused. A lot of my resonance came from where I was at that time- I was writing and playing in a progressive/avante garde group, we were writing very complicated instrumental compositions, yet we were being booked with everything but that kind of thing. It was like Mahavishnu Orchestra opening up for The Sex Pistols- sometimes we took a lot of flak.

    So, the whole idea of sticking to your artistic principles really worked for me.

    I saw the movie for the first time not long after I read the book, and I was a little let down, but I still enjoyed the Roark character- that seemed to play through what I thought was a rather stilted movie. I wish someone would remake that film. It would probably be a heck of a lot easier to take on than Atlas Shrugged, which I fear will not ever get done until long after I go to dust.

  7. Ah, I have another moment, a little more anyhow.

    There are many, many descriptions of the religious state. Here is one I like (happens to be creationist, from Starbuck's manuscript collection):

    "I remember the night, and almost the very spot on the hilltop, where my soul opened out, as it were, into the Infinite, and there was a rushing together of the two worlds, the inner and the outer. It was deep calling unto deep,--the deep that my own struggle had opened up within being answered by the unfathomable deep without, reaching beyond the stars. I stood alone withHim who had made me, and all the beauty of the world, and love, and sorrow, and even temptation. I did not seek Him, but felt the perfect union of my spirit with His. The ordinary sense of things around me faded. For the moment nothing but an ineffable joy and exaltation remained. It is impossible fully to describe the experience. It was like the effect of some great orchestra when all the separate notes have melted into one swelling harmony that leaves the listner conscious of nothing save that his soul is being wafted upwards, and almost bursting with its own emotion. The perfect stillness of the night was thrilled by a more solemn silence. The darkness held a presence that was all the more felt because it was not seen. I could not any more have doubted the He was there than that I was. Indeed, I felt myself to be, if possible, the less real of the two."

    There are thousands of accounts like this, I just picked that one because it has the authentic ring of the experience to it. I do not mean to make any proof, that cannot be done. All else I can say to it, Kat, is that it changed my composure for the better, I am much more peaceful now. And, more importantly, it changed my actions. It is very clear that my actions are more moral, and more of them. It is the same in how I treat others now, which is very different than before.

    I do not believe that medical materialism can fully address all varieties of mystical experience. And, in any event, sometimes if, say, you're running a fever, it might be a moment where that fever is more condusive for bringing truths out than the normal body temperature... :)

    r

  8. Hi, Kat!

    Nice present you got your boy, here. Isn't he doing a great job with it?

    Answers... I will be short right now because I'm a bit hacked from another, er, engagement elsewhere... 8)

    My particular "package" is very different. It is the antithesis of other packages. If you were visiting us for some reason, you would be very comfortable, and meet some people that you'd enjoy and value. It is a community that I wouldn't trade for the world. The UU world is for sure the "uncommon denomination".

    Could my experience/conversion be explained away? Yes. Will that change me back? No. I am a reasonable, sane man. I know logic as well as the next O'ist. How odd that no amount of chopping logic will ever be able to persuade me. Isn't that something? I can't even do it to myself!

    It is too deep, it is permanent, and it is head-to-toe. It is a change in being, consciousness. It's always been frustrating to me when I heard people say things like this. I guess it takes one to know one. Fortunately, in the case of my "conversion," I have enough background that it didn't turn me into an asshole.

    best to ya!

    r

  9. Ah, MSK, we resonate greatly...

    I've been using that brainwave tool forever, I even bought the licensed version from him a long time ago. I always forget how to spell his name, isn't it (too lazy to go check) like Mikko Norroma, or something?

    It is a great tool. At one point I real-time recorded the various presets to a mini-cd format so I could put them by my bedside. It is a great toolbox to have if you have those, and Nathaniels hypnosis stuff, particularly the ones I remastered and offered on CD for sometime.

    I have been posting on ROR, regarding what I now call "the problem".

    If you are looking at things like bwgen, that means you are aware of the various states of brainwave activity.

    Personally, I used to lean pretty heavily on the "sleep replacement" program, which got me few a few rough patches when I came home late from gigs and had to regroup before work. That was worth the price of admission.

    You know, Michael, you are getting dangerously close to the gallows when you talk about contemplative states. What I found even more interesting was the reply you wrote to Linz on his new site regarding The Pope<tm>. That had heart.

    Back to the tool, well, I kind of pulled back from going into it more because I couldn't rationalize buying the A/V gear, plus, I started thinking I look dopey enough in the first place without being hooked up to goggles and headphones on a regular basis... :)

    I think that these kinds of things are healthy and good. But they won't lead you straight to the mystical experience (purported, sorry). They will condition you to being open to it, maybe. It's definitely Big Fun, and to be had for free...

    rde

  10. Yup, that would be gnosis... :)

    Well, you were asking me to boil down mysticism, Michael. 8)

    Maybe gnosis is not the best choice then, because it points to a particular historical origin. So, on reboil: Direct experience of (The Divine, Spirit...).

    Still, the main stick point is and will probably always remain whether or not one believes in what is purported to be experienced.

    I do not believe it is possible to prove the mystical experience to someone who has not experienced it, because it is, well, experiencial. It would not matter if I were to go on about how it changed me from head to toe, etc. No argument can be made for it.

    Mysticism is a state.

  11. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.

    I interpret that the same way as the mustard seed parable. Where the fundies miss things is that when "the kingdom of heaven" is referred to, there's a lot of us who believe it means the here and now. Instead of looking for a palacial afterlife, or giant honking miracles, we can see the miraculous nature of life in the smallest things. The mustard seed parable is very koan-like, it is a great contemplative tool.

    "Judging quotes"....this is my favorite one:

    "Your measure will be made by the measure by which you measure, and more shall be added to you."

    Personally, I find some of the best stuff in the censored porno Bible stuff, namely the Gnostic texts. You can get all of those online, btw. It's a little clunky learning the translator marks, but it's worth it. If you're like me, it's a very attractive proposition to look at the stuff that they didn't want in the Bible.

  12. Dang, I could've sworn I replied to this yesterday. I think I missed a button... I shall tray again here, I didn't like what I wrote anyway because I was rushing.

    Thanks on a number of counts, MSK, you know how deeply grateful I am for the help, and the opportunity you have been so gracious with extending.

    Gnosis. Yes, that definitely gets people urpy. But, you know, it's a simple word, it just means direct knowledge of the divine. Gnostics got in real trouble (even more trouble) when Constantine did his corporate mainstreaming job on Christianity.

    The argument, for the modern, is that gnosis cannot exist because the divine does not exist. You cannot have direct knowledge/experience of what isn't. I'm pretty much convinced that that argument is not fixable. My interest is in finding a solution for coexistence that both sides find acceptable.

    Going back to the debate on gnosis, or the mystical state in general, as I show in my article, we are dealing with ultra-murky waters. The interesting thing is that, while there are many types of plausible non-mystical explanations for the various states (epileptic activity, for instance), in the end there is no way of finding out if the mystic state is triggered by "God," or not. There is an excellent summary on this at

    http://skepdic.com/altstates.html

    Without going into a lot of detail and citation, there are some researchers who describe brain function and design related to this area as almost as if humans were born with an antenna that is pointed to the cosmos.

    It is also fair to say that it is likely that many people have experienced what they have described as a "mystical" state/experience when what it really was was more along the line of a consciousness-raising, a paradigm shift. There might be less argument to be had when talking about the idea that there are different tiers of consciousness in people.

  13. Many states never used any of the billions in tobacco co. payout money at all. Others used them not for anti-smoking ads, etc., but to help balance their budgets, pay bills, etc. State governments are now in the unenviable position of needing more people to smoke in order to keep their revenue stream. Go figure.

  14. The Challenge of Understanding Mysticism

    by Richard D. Engle

    If the mystical truth that comes to a man proves to be a force that he can live by, what mandate have we of the majority to order him to live in another way? - William James

    One sometimes hears comments about mysticism that suggest a lack of understanding. There is rarely any meanness in these remarks, but I believe the subject to be more complex than some believe, and wish to consider some generally unexamined possibilities.

    What is mysticism?

    Mysticism is widely misunderstood. This is due in no small part to the accounts of the mystics themselves. Some mystics—George Fox, founder of the Quakers, comes to mind—were intense and perhaps off-putting to average people.(a)

    Recently my Unitarian Universalist minister Reverend Nicole Kirk presented an overview of mysticism from the Unitarian Universalist perspective. She contrasted those "heavy hitters" who often scared people out of the pews, with the likes of Rufus Jones, an author and a Quaker mystic who brought "mysticism to the masses" in the United States between the world wars. Prior to that, mysticism was something of a pastime of the wealthy, and its practitioners were seen as "spiritual athletes." Jones, if you will, democratized mysticism. (b)

    Let's examine the American Heritage Dictionary definition of mysticism:

    1. a. immediate consciousness of the transcendent or ultimate reality or God b. The experience of such communion as described by mystics 2. A belief in the existence of realities beyond perceptual or intellectual apprehension that are central to being and directly accessible by subjective experience 3. Vague, groundless speculation.

    Objectivism and mysticism

    In Objectivism, mysticism generally refers to beliefs that are accepted as valid even though they are not supported by factual evidence. This includes beliefs arrived at through mistaken thinking, tradition, and upbringing. Objectivism says, in effect: Rather than considering the American Heritage definitions 1 and 2, simply refer to number 3. This efficiency of definition often carries more than a hint of reproach.

    By extension, the word is broadly applied to all things considered to spring from it: rituals and practices, symbols, the whole of religion, UFOs, reincarnation, prophets, shamanism, superstition, among others. Many Objectivists consider these forgivable, so long as the beliefs themselves are abandoned and replaced with those that are directly tied to reality.

    Is there justification for Objectivism's handling of things in such a sweeping manner? How can Objectivism dismiss something as entirely groundless if it is an internal, private process?

    Objectivism's view of the mind

    I believe this use of 'mysticism' to be too broad. Mysticism, as I am about to delineate it, is the driver of individual religious consciousness, but it is not religion itself. Nor does it necessarily entail every phenomenon lumped with it.

    Objectivism seems to rely solely upon its epistemology, as it has few strategic alliances within the field of psychology. Could it be that Objectivist epistemology assumes a fixed model of the mind's capabilities?

    I do not believe that Objectivism has produced any of its own great psychological thinkers, outside of Nathaniel Branden. As Branden puts it, the mind is our most powerful tool for survival on earth. It displays stunning vastness, versatility, and raw power. Could it be that while recognizing this, we have relegated the study of its untapped or undefined powers to the back burner? Is the maximum awareness reached after optimizing it via epistemology or ordinary psychology? If we have a well developed state of normal awareness, does that mean this is the only type of awareness?

    The tendency of Objectivists to see mysticism this way may owe in no small part to the predisposition of the founder of Objectivism, Ayn Rand. Of her Nathaniel Branden writes:

    Like many other people, she was enormously opposed to any consideration of the possible validity of telepathy, ESP, or other psi phenomenon. The evidence that was accumulating to suggest that there was something here at least worthy of serious scientific study did not interest her; she did not feel any obligation to look into the subject; she was convinced it was all a fraud. It did not fit her model of reality. When an astronaut attempted during a flight to the moon to conduct a telepathic experiment, she commented on the effort with scorn—even the attempt to explore the subject was contemptible in her opinion. Now I have no wish to argue, in this context, for or against the reality of nonordinary forms of awareness or any other related phenomenon. That is not my point. My point is the extent to which she had a closed mind on the subject, with no interest in discovering for herself why so many distinguished scientists had become convinced that such matters are eminently worthy of study. (c )

    An expanded awareness

    Mysticism, as I'm using it, refers to a state of being greatly different from our normal state of awareness. William James' lecture on mysticism may provide some guideposts:

    1. Ineffability. The handiest of the marks by which I classify a state of mind as mystical is negative. The subject of it immediately says that it defies _expression, that no adequate report of its contents can be given in words. It follows from this that its quality must be directly experienced; it cannot be imparted or transferred to others. In this peculiarity mystical states are more like states of feeling than like states of intellect. No one can make clear to another who has never had a certain feeling, in what the quality or worth of it consists. ... The mystic finds that most of us accord to his experiences an equally incompetent treatment.

    At this point, nearly every mainstream Objectivist I have ever known is having a visceral (and not altogether positive, to indulge in understatement) reaction to this line of thinking.

    2. Noetic quality. Although so similar to states of feeling, mystical states seem to those who experience them to be also states of knowledge. They are states of insight into depths of truth unplumbed by the discursive intellect. They are illuminations, revelations, full of significance and importance, all inarticulate though they remain; and as a rule they carry with them a curious sense of authority for after-time.

    If you haven't experienced a mystical state, or maybe did once but couldn't quantify it, you have to simply go with this from the perspective that his observation is drawn from many and varied accounts. These two characters will entitle any state to be called mystical, in the sense in which I use the word. Two other qualities are less sharply marked, but are usually found. These are:

    3. Transiency. Mystical states cannot be sustained for long. Except in rare instances, half an hour, or at most an hour or two, seems to be the limit beyond which they fade into the light of common day. Often, when faded, their quality can but imperfectly be reproduced in memory; but when they recur it is recognized; and from one recurrence to another it is susceptible of continuous development in what is felt as inner richness and importance.

    How long it lasts and what remains shouldn't be much cause for alarm.

    4. Passivity. Although the oncoming of mystical states may be facilitated by preliminary voluntary operations, as by fixing the attention, or going through certain bodily performances, or in other ways which manuals of mysticism prescribe; yet when the characteristic sort of consciousness once has set in, the mystic feels as if his own will were in abeyance, and indeed sometimes as if he were grasped and held by a superior power. ... They modify the inner life of the subject between the times of their recurrence. Sharp divisions in this region are, however, difficult to make, and we find all sorts of gradations and mixtures.

    Gradations and mixtures. This speaks to the complexity involved when examining accounts.

    These four characteristics are sufficient to mark out a group of states of consciousness peculiar enough to deserve a special name and to call for careful study. Let it then be called the mystical group.

    It bears mention that religious mysticism lays within these parameters as a subset—meaning, the mystical state is not necessarily a religious one. Think about that: mysticism is not reliant upon religion.

    What we are talking about, at the core, are various levels of altered, frequently elevated states of consciousness, which may be induced by any number of means, including mental practices, and ingestion of substances like alcohol, psychotropics, and medical anesthetics (hopefully not all at once).

    These states, however, can arise in the absence of any of those. There are endless subsets of the mystical experience that can be studied (technically, as many as there are people experiencing them), but it is not necessary for the purposes of this article.

    James summarizes his lecture with three conclusions:

    • Mystical states carry authority for him who has them;
    • Such states carry authority for no one else;
    • Nevertheless, they break down the exclusive authority of rationalistic states—they strengthen monistic and optimistic hypotheses. (d)

    After studying this and many other aspects of the topic, I kept circling back to two very pregnant questions: How did this all come to be? And, if alternate states of consciousness exist, why are they not readily and uniformly available to everyone? The answer, it seems to me, lies in the survival-critical process of upbringing, socializing, and civilizing that all people experience.

    When we are born, we are born pure of mind, the way nature intended the mind to be at onset. Very quickly, though, many people stand in line to write on our clean sheet of paper. They write not only things that are directly pertinent to their present society, but many of the things that have been carried over from those who lived before them.

    So, this also speaks to Jung's concept of the collective unconscious. During that process, a person is brought to a day-to-day consciousness that is compatible with whatever society they are living in. This involves a good deal of normalization, modification, and rerouting. Our perceptual processes are normalized into practical, common sense ones. Allesandro Pluchnio speaks of these general conditions in his article Monsieur Gurdjieff and the Neurosciences:

    We can imagine that at birth our mind is like a vast plain, without valleys or hills, where the flow of perceptions begins to run freely ... [like] thousands of rivers starting to cut deep channels in that plain, transforming it slowly and inexorably into a completely different landscape ... [where] new flows of perception can no longer run freely, but have to follow the channels already cut, contributing in turn to deepen them ... . (e)

    Given that normalization, it is not surprising that altered states of consciousness would be seen as dubious to those not sharing this experience. But their significance should not be dismissed out of hand.

    October, 2005

    (a) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Fox

    (B) http://www.crosscurrents.org/Hedstrom0204.htm

    © The Benefits and Hazards of the Philosophy of Ayn Rand- A Personal Statement

    (d) Monistic in terms of wholeness, the universe as one and the same primal "stuff," optimistic as in the transcendentalist writers such as Emerson and Thoreau.

    (e) http://www.quartavia.org/inglese/neuroscenze1.htm

  15. Whew.

    To tell you the truth, I feel bad for him, Roger. I have seen this kind of thing many times before. It is a sadness. I am not a Christian, but I can tell when someone is missing some key points and spending too much time wallowing around in rapture. Loving Jesus doesn't give you carte blanche to rationalize everything, turn into a very odd sort of determinst, and generally be an ass-pain because you aren't taking care of business.

    The truth is probably there is some real religious sentiment underneath there, but the thing is, you have to walk the talk.

    I have a way of translating that kind of Christian speak and it is a fine line between good, earnest ol' time religion and just blathering. This is blathering. I don't know what church he goes to, but I can make a pretty good guess what KIND of church it is. There are a lot of them that really play on disadvantage and thin places in life. And then, if something good happens to come out of it, of course it's God's Will<tm> Yay, proof positive!

    Being of the UU church, there's one thing we are really into- action, and that's here on earth. That includes not being a victim. A good, rational (yeah yeah) deist knows that God doesn't like slackers.

    Sheesh... it's a burden. I could go on and on.

  16. Gary,

    It is a long and odd history when you look at the various O'ist sites. I remember years and years back when I first got on the Internet, I went on to (never mind), all full of excitement about meeting more of "my people". Holy heck, I got my nuts shot off and I'm not even sure what I did! I slinked off. I think I got put on moderation once for something mundane.

    For the longest time, I stayed hunkered down at Nathaniel's site (now on Yahoo, before that it was on his actual site). We used to have pretty good traffic going through there for a Yahoo site, but things just dropped off all of a sudden (I have a theory why, but I'll keep it to myself)There are some great discussions in those archives. Nathaniel is very forthcoming about answering questions, and it seems he really likes it when new people ask him things. The thing about that site was that we would get very, very off the topic of self-esteem. It used to get really out there.

    I'm very excited about this place, because I know who's behind it, and who has already showed up. This is special.

  17. My wife, Becky, and I have just in the past two days been faced with yet another symptom of this problem in a couple of emails from her ex-husband, who continues to evangelize and subtly threaten us with eternal death if we do not become Christians.

    ACK!!!! You poor folks! I'm looking forward to that thread. It's great to see you here, Roger.

    If you need help, let me know. We have a number of young Ohio

    pagans that attend my UU church, I'm sure they would be glad

    to start counter-terror activities. :twisted:

    Or, to mess with them, refer them to www.christianalliance.org

    and ask them if they will sign the petition.

    Cheers,

    rde

    Hit 'em hard.

  18. I have long suspected that species considerations are denied by many of those who adopt Objectivism. Now, after months of posting on SoloHQ, I know it.

    A heartfelt and honest post...

    Species, yes. "Incarnation" - "into the flesh".

    The behaviors you describe have occupied my thoughts for a long time. They first became more in my forefront because I began to realize those behaviors in myself. I could not see them, or, when I did, I called them something else, something more favorable to my ego.

    I will not blame my heavy involvement with Objectivism for those behaviors. But, I will say that Objectivism facilitated them nicely. I still have not decided if that is something innate to Objectivism, if I misnterpreted what I read, or perhaps both. It is evidentially, not speculatively, that I can say that I continue to see those behaviors run through a significant amount of those who are around Objectivism. I believe that this is problematic to being able to spread the virtues of Objectivism. It is, in the end, a psychological issue.

    I can only isolate two areas that I think are reasonable to attribute to the behaviors. The first, and probably the most prevalent, has to do with self-esteem, as defined by Nathaniel Branden. It is deadly clear that the behaviors you speak of are very frequently seen in those who have low self-esteem, whether more in the area of self-worth, efficacy, or both. Personally, I believe that it is more common in those dealing with the self-worth side, who might be reasonably efficacious. But it could come out of any situation of low self-esteem.

    The second area is one that I have not articulated very clearly as of yet. I am convinced that it has to do with how one deals with mortality, and Michael has suggested that I write on that separately, which I will. In Objectivism, what I see sometimes is an attitude that the Objectivism, when reasonably mastered, has now closed all the loose ends, answered all the nagging questions that make us wake up in the middle of the night feeling stark and mortal; it is done with and on to the next thing. I do not believe that is always possible. I do not believe that Objectivism can do that on a standalone basis. Why? More to consider. I only look at lackings. For one, there are difficulties with how interpersonal skills are addressed (or non-addressed). There can be a harsh, judgmental way of going through life as a good Objectivist, although it is not required. It gets done, though. I believe this involves misinterpretation, or too close of a modeling of Ayn Rand the person. It is something in there. Secondly, if Objectivism is to be developed as a way of living (and dying) on earth, it might be that more writing could be done specifically addressing the issues incarnate. Put it this way: in Objectivism, if you're not careful, you will end up alone because you alienate. You will be very alone.

    rde