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Wed, 29 Nov 2023
The World for People who Think

Science of the Spirit


Zooming our way into oblivion

laptop computer on desk
Look at all of the wonders that technology has brought us! I am certainly not going to start listing them here; it would take volumes to come up with even a partial list. We can bask in the marvels that technology has made for us in our modern world.

What would we do without this special form of human know-how?

That being said, there is a shadow to everything, and people are just as familiar with this darker side of technology as they are with the brighter side.

Needless to say, we have been inundated with the disasters of our insatiable desire to create conglomerations of various individual components that when properly animated with some sort of power source "do" something that we find useful, exciting, and entertaining — or deadly.

Most of this inundation comes from fanciful science fiction stories about killer robots and strange mechanical implants or, the most horrific addition to this plethora of "bots gone bad" — nanotechnology — tiny cell-sized, or even smaller, mechanical creatures that can penetrate the inner sanctums of our body and wreak a special sort of bedlam.

Comment: One might say it is the result of a left brain dominant world.

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MindMatters: The Big Questions, Consciousness, and Gurdjieff - A Talk with Alan Francis

alan francis
What is the purpose of esotericism? How might we view humanity's trajectory in light of the many seemingly negative developments we see on a more or less daily basis? What are the personal challenges in raising consciousness and awareness in oneself - and how may those be seen against the backdrop of a world gone backwards? And what does it even mean to be living in these times in the larger and even cosmic sense?

This week as we are once again joined by Gurdjiffian student and teacher Alan Francis (International School of the Fourth Way) who discusses these themes in both broad and personal terms, bringing his astute observations to the fore to answer the questions many of us have right now about where we may be, collectively and individually.

Running Time: 01:10:54

Download: MP3 — 97.4 MB


David Ray Griffin (1939-2022). The Man and His Work: A Synopsis

David Ray Griffin (1939-2022)
How big can a mind be?

If we're lucky, we have threescore and ten years — in a very big wide world, full of history — to experience as much as we can take in.

Threescore-ten is not nearly enough, but some extraordinary people manage to encompass and give order to a lot of it.

And some even more extraordinary people manage to rise above their own lives to interpret creation and the fabric of the universe as having consistent meaning across cultures and throughout the ages.

David Ray Griffin was Professor of Philosophy of Religion and Theology, at the Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Graduate University, from 1973-2004. With his senior, Dr. John Cobb Jr., he co-founded the Center for Process Studies in 1973.

Griffin has stated that "the task of a theologian is to look at the world from what we would imagine the divine perspective, one that would care about the good of the whole and would love all the parts."

Not only was David an outstanding theologian and one of the two best-known living scholars of Alfred North Whitehead's process theology (the other being John Cobb): His books also spanned the related fields of postmodernism, theodicy (defence of God against evil), primordial truth, panentheism, scientific naturalism, parapsychology, Buddhist thought, and the mind-body interaction.

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MindMatters: Gurdjieff, Death, and Help for the Dead with Joseph Azize

According to the vast "afterlife" literature, those who have passed on sometimes send signs, or even communicate through dreams or visions. But what if the support that many living claim to experience from their loved ones isn't unidirectional? Can one, in fact, help those who have passed to come to greater peace and understanding at their soul's new station in 'life'? For those of us familiar with the ideas, exercises and philosophy of G.I. Gurdjieff, it may come as some surprise, and perhaps delight, to learn that Gurdjieff sought to address such a question - how to give "help for the deceased" - particularly for those who were once close to us.

This week on MindMatters we are once again joined by inimitable Gurdjieffian scholar and Maronite Priest Joseph Azize whose paper "Gurdjieff's Help for the Deceased" delves into this subject. Join us as Joseph shares his research, insights and personal experience with some very little known exercises of Gurdjieff's - and explains not only the means from which one could honor and assist our loved ones (should they require it), 'essence to essence' as it were - but also to help grow and develop one's own self and Being.

Running Time: 01:42:02

Download: MP3 — 140 MB


Entire gender industry based on failed study that disproved scientist's theory: Psychiatrist

Miriam Grossman
© Blake Wu/The Epoch Times
Miriam Grossman, a child and adolescent psychiatrist, in New York on Sep. 23, 2022.
With schools teaching sex and gender ideology beginning in kindergarten, the Biden administration encouraging early medical treatments for gender dysphoria, and social media influencers discussing the topic, a record number of adolescent girls believe they are transgender and are transitioning to live as males.

Concerned adults are sounding the alarm on the lack of scientific studies to support transgender medical treatments that permanently alter a young person's physiology and leave their mental health issues unresolved.

Child and adolescent psychiatrist Miriam Grossman, who has been a mental health professional for 40 years, said the gender industry is built on the lies of one troubled psychologist.

"The person who came up with the theory was Dr. John Money, and he came up with this idea that a person's biology — their body, their chromosomes — is completely separate from their feeling of whether they are male or female," Grossman said during a Sept. 23 interview for EpochTV's "American Thought Leaders" program.

Grossman said the industry surrounding gender ideology — from gender clinics and hospitals to transgender pride flags and the emergence of a transgender civil rights movement — is based on a concept that was never proven to be true.

"In fact, the opposite was proven," she said. "This whole concept of having an identity as male or female being completely separate from your biology has actually been proven incorrect by John Money's experiment."

Comment: Here's a talk given by Dr. Grossman earlier this year at the Miami National Conservatism Conference:

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MindMatters: Esoteric Christianity: A Glimpse into Theosophia

One of western Christianity's best-kept secrets is its esoteric, mystical tradition. Starting with Jacob Boehme in the early 1600s, the theosophic branch is one of the most fascinating yet least well-known among the world's mystical traditions. Today on MindMatters we take inspiration from Arthur Versluis's two books, Theosophia and Wisdom's Children to make a first foray into the rich language and practice of the Christian theosophers.

Running Time: 01:01:47

Download: MP3 — 84.9 MB


The corruption of the tobacco spirit

soldier smoking
When it comes to how you are being poisoned in the name of health, one of my favourite topics is tobacco.

This will be a long one. Going from the increasing poisoning of tobacco-products by governments and big-tobacco, to the spiritual significance of the plant, some of its healing properties, and the subversion of its spirit.

You probably know that the regular cigarette or tobacco sold in stores has loads of added additives, and the smoking of these products is in no way the same as smoking tobacco by itself. Around 600 different types of additives are identified.

From what I've read, most tobacco products of your well-known brands like Marlboro, Pall Mall, Lucky Strike, Winston, etc., contain between 10 and 50 different additives.

Comment: While some of the more 'metaphysical' speculations above may seem a bit subjective, and difficult to quantify - there is much to suggest that, indeed, the smoking of pure tobacco does have benefits that fall largely outside the awareness of most people by design. Even among most smokers themselves. And if the 'spiritual' is, in some ways, a reflection of the physical and biological - perhaps there is some truth to the ideas the author puts forth in the article.

See also:


AWARE II Near Death study presentation at AHA 2022

Aware II Studies
© Neurologica Blog
Someone very kindly provided me with a copy of the slides from Sunday's presentation. They sent them to me because I have a Ph.D. and I work in research therefore I will respect the sender's request that they only be presented in an academic context and I will not post any of the actual slides on here, or supply copies. That being said much of the key bits of data can be found in the abstract that Z posted the following link to:

Link to AHA 2022 AWARE II abstract

Now to the presentation.

The background looks at the physiological factors around death and resuscitation, and has a slide on the pig study. It then looks at the different types of experience that are recalled, and also the psychological impact of these experiences. The historically low percentage of visual recollections is highlighted and he uses AWARE I as a source of evidence for this. He then moves on to the study itself.

Firstly he states 3 specific hypotheses related to Near Death Experiences:
  • Consciousness and awareness - with explicit and implicit learning - and cognitive experiences occur during cardiac arrest
  • Cognitive experiences may be related to the quality of brain resuscitation.
  • Experiences during states of unconsciousness may impact longer term psychological outcomes in survivors
It is important to note that while the first hypothesis refers to consciousness during CA, none of these hypotheses explicitly relate to dualism or refer to the possibility of the consciousness surviving death, which is after all what we initially believed the AWARE studies were about, and what in fact Parnia himself has stated repeatedly in public outside of the context of a clinical scientific audience - an important point. The second and third hypotheses relate more to his medical discipline as an ER doctor.

In subsequent slides he details the design of the study, and there is a new twist to this. Due to the lack of survivors from CA, a sad but inevitable problem that has plagued all his studies, he has decided to include retrospective data from reports of consciousness during CA that did not occur within the prospective AWARE II study. This was to provide qualitative information on experiences. As a researcher myself, I find the inclusion of retrospective data in a prospective study a little troublesome. I get why he might do this, but it makes the research potentially messy. However, thankfully that does not happen when it comes to the presentation of the prospective results.

After this the other techniques are discussed - brain oxymetry, EEG, headphones and a tablet generating audio and visual "clues".

During the study memories that were reported were measured against a 32 point NDE scale, and any visual or auditory reports were collected and cross referenced with computer files listing the clues that were generated at the various timepoints.


Religion without Belief: Is it possible?

Faith and Belief

The crucial difference between believing propositions and having faith
Can you be religious without believing? A Christian without affirming the central dogmas?

It is a timely question, especially since there seem to be many people who, faced with a world gone bonkers, are reconsidering their ideas about faith, spiritual questions, and metaphysical stances. And it is a question that has been recently discussed in a very insightful conversation between Rupert Sheldrake, Philip Goff, and Paul Kingsnorth, which I recommend.

It seems to me we desperately need to make a distinction here: between propositional belief and faith in the unseen world.

2 + 2 = 4

Another study finds social scientists are no better at forecasting than laymen

Whether we should defer to 'experts' was a major theme of the pandemic.

Back in July, I wrote about a study that looked at 'expert' predictions and found them wanting. The authors asked both social scientists and laymen to predict the size and direction of social change in the U.S. over a 6-month period. Overall, the former group did no better than the latter - they were slightly more accurate in some domains, and slightly less accurate in others.

A new study (which hasn't yet been peer-reviewed) carried out a similar exercise, and reached roughly the same conclusion.