The Big Book of NLP, Expanded: 350+ Techniques, Patterns & Strategies of Neuro Linguistic Programming

51c45%2B%2B9n%2BL The Big Book of NLP, Expanded: 350+ Techniques, Patterns & Strategies of Neuro Linguistic Programming

“A short NLP seminar will cost you at least $4,500. In this book you invest less than $0.25 per NLP technique, that can literally change your life. That’s a bargain!” –Thomas Landmark, Revolucni NLP

828 pages of practical NLP.

At last, a concise encyclopedia of NLP patterns!

The Big Book Of NLP, Expanded, contains more than 350 techniques, patterns & strategies written in an easy, step-by-step format. 
The methods include a full array of the fundamentals that every practitioner needs, such as the Swish pattern and The Phobia Cure, as well as advanced and unique patterns, such as The Nested Loops method and Learning Strategies. Many of these techniques were never published before and cannot be found elsewhere.
Perhaps more important, and unlike most other NLP books and programs, the patterns are written with great care and testing to ensure that they are clear and can be followed immediately.

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4409 — Easter Bunny revisited

New Princeton Study Proves America is NOT a Democracy

america oligarchy1 New Princeton Study Proves America is NOT a Democracy

A recent scientific study undertaken by Martin Gilens & Benjamin I. Page of the prestigious Princeton University has revealed that the U.S. is far from a democracy as most Americans likely believe and is actually closer to a corporate oligarchy.

The Ivy League researchers studied data from roughly 1800 policy initiatives spanning 20 years and compared them with the opinion of the American electorate of the time to find that their preferences appeared to have had a “minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact” upon any public policy.

While these recent ‘revelations’ may be old news to those conscious of how an economic elite deceitfully rule under the false pretense of “democracy”, they may nonetheless help to illustrate to those who still believe they have a say how they are in fact voiceless and ruled by ruthless a cabal of wealthy individuals with vested interests in keeping things the way they are.

63 Documents the Government Doesn’t Want You to Read

51cAI0fRH1L 63 Documents the Government Doesnt Want You to Read

The official spin on numerous government programs is flat-out bullsh*t, according to Jesse Ventura.  In this incredible collection of actual government documents, Jesse Ventura, the ultimate non-partisan truth-seeker, proves it beyond any doubt. He and Dick Russell walk readers through sixty-three of the most incriminating programs to reveal what really happens behind the closed doors. Witness as he breaks open the vault, revealing the truth: 

-The CIA’s top-secret program to control human behavior, 

-Operation Northwoods—the military plan to hijack airplanes and blame it on Cuban terrorists

-Potentially deadly healthcare cover-ups, including a dengue fever outbreak

-What the Department of Defense knows about our food supply—but is keeping mum yy Homeland Security’s “emergency” detention camps

-Fake terrorist attacks planned by the United States

Although these documents are now in the public domain, the powers that be would just as soon they stay under wraps.  Ventura’s research and commentary sheds new light on what they’re not telling you—and why it matters.

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The A-Z of Punishment and Torture

41Wj73L1JiL The A Z of Punishment and Torture

“Splendidly written and illustrated a gruesome but enjoyable journey through the history of pain and punishment. I was hooked from A to Z.”
- Endorsement from James Herbert

Who are the Maccabees? A modern pop combo, or a mother and her seven sons who suffered racking, skinning, burning, amputation and having a tongue pulled out and fried? The A to Z of Punishment and Torture is fascinating social history providing a wealth of weird folklore, such as the power of the hanged man’s hand; astounding tales, like Mary Hamilton, the cross-dressing 14-times bigamist; and more recent outrages, such as the use of squassation at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Man’s inhumanity to man continues, tragically, to know no bounds, yet the survivors’ tales are heroic and legion. And who can resist a smirk at the knowledge that young Tony Blair received six of the best at his posh private school?

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Madame Blavatsky & the Spirit World

olcott blavatsky Madame Blavatsky & the Spirit World

Helena Petrovna Blavatsky & Henry Steel Olcott

By RICHARD SMOLEY

Séances. Mediums. Apparitions. And fraud. These are a few of the things that come to mind when the subject of Spiritualism comes up. Like so many things in the world of the occult, Spiritualism presents a dual face of mystery and deception. The minute one begins to believe, one comes across evidence suggesting that the whole thing may be a hoax. The minute one starts to think it’s a hoax, evidence appears to suggest there might be something to it after all.

So also it must have seemed during Spiritualism’s heyday during the mid-nineteenth century. The craze began in the US, when in March 1848 two sisters, Margaret and Kate Fox, began to experience strange rappings in their house that, they claimed, had been generated by spirits. Soon they were able to work out a kind of Morse code with the raps so they could exchange questions and answers with the visitors from the other world.

Although the sisters’ evidence was eventually called into question – Margaret Fox later admitted the whole thing was a hoax, only to retract her confession afterward – Spiritualism became one of the great fads of the era, to the point where even Abraham Lincoln attended a séance at the White House in April 1863.

Another figure associated with Spiritualism had a rather ambiguous connection with the movement. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, a Russian noblewoman turned spiritual adventurer, initially associated herself with Spiritualism, only to decry it later.

Blavatsky’s own story is surrounded by its own amount of shadows and haze. By her own account, in 1849, at the age of eighteen, she left her elderly husband (to whom she had been married for a mere three weeks) and began a worldwide search for spiritual truth that took her as far afield as England, Italy, Egypt, India, and possibly Tibet. Around 1851, she claimed, she met a master from India who agreed to give her training in occultism if she would take part in a larger mission to disseminate the teachings of universal brotherhood throughout the world.

Much of the next twenty years of Blavatsky’s life is hard to document. Both in her own account and in those of her followers, fact and legend are inextricably mixed. But one of the earliest places for which there is proof of her appearance is Cairo in 1871, where she found herself stranded after a shipwreck. Here she started a “Société Spirite [“Spiritualist Society”] “for the investigation of mediums and phenomena.” The ill-fated organisation foundered within two weeks, as the mediums drank and cheated; once a madman broke in to interrupt the proceedings. While there is evidence that the society did regroup and continue at least into the following year, Blavatsky was not part of it: she had gone further afield, first to Odessa in her native Russia, then to Paris, finally sailing to New York, where she arrived in July 1873 and where she made her first impact on a spiritually hungry public.

Indeed one of the most significant encounters of Blavatsky’s life took place through Spiritualism. In the improbable setting of a remote farmhouse in Vermont, a spirit medium named William Eddy allegedly materialised a range of ghostly beings, who appeared in period costume. Eddy would sit in a narrow closet in his farmhouse, and a blanket would be hung across the doorway. Shortly after Eddy entered the closet, the blanket would be pulled aside, and the ephemeral image of a dead person would appear, only to disappear soon afterward, sometimes in the full gaze of the spectators.

At Eddy’s farmhouse in the autumn of 1874, the visiting Blavatsky met Henry Steel Olcott, a correspondent from a New York newspaper who had come to report on the phenomenon. Olcott later recounted that on the night of Blavatsky’s arrival, the Eddys’ closet produced the shades of “a Georgian servant boy from the Caucasus; a Mussulman merchant from Tiflis; a Russian peasant girl; and others… The advent of such figures in the séance room of those poor, almost illiterate Vermont farmers, who had neither the money to buy theatrical properties, the experience to employ such if they had had them, nor the room where they could have availed of them, was to every eye-witness a convincing proof that the apparitions were genuine.”

What did Blavatsky believe about these phenomena? Her equivocal attitude toward Spiritualism is best illustrated by a clipping in her scrapbook. It is a copy of an article she wrote in 1875 entitled “The Science of Magic.” In the printed version of the article she states, “I am a Spiritualist,” but on the clipping she corrects the statement to “I am not a Spiritualist.”

These contradictions are not necessarily the result of either schizophrenia or dishonesty. Blavatsky believed that the Eddy apparitions were real occult phenomena – but they were not the spirits of the dead. According to Olcott, she told him that if the Eddy phenomena were genuine, “they must be the [etheric] double of the medium escaping from his body and clothing itself with other appearances.”

In an 1872 letter, Blavatsky explains her views: “[The Spiritualists’] spirits are no spirits but spooks – rags, the cast off second skins of their personalities that the dead shed in the astral light as serpents shed theirs on earth, leaving no connection between the reptile and his previous garment.” In the case of William Eddy, these astral shells would presumably have been using Eddy’s etheric body as a kind of subtle matter in order to manifest. In the Theosophical view, the astral body is discarded at a certain point after death. Usually it simply disintegrates as the physical body does, but under certain conditions, it can be inhabited by vortices of subtle energy that can make it appear to physical sight in the guise of the deceased.

A similar, but not identical, phenomenon was displayed by Blavatsky herself. In November 1874 Olcott visited her in New York, “where,” he reported, “she gave me some séances of table-tipping and rapping, spelling out messages of sorts, principally from an intelligence called ‘John King’.” Supposedly the shade of the celebrated buccaneer Henry Morgan, “it had a quaint handwriting, and used queer old English expressions.”

But Olcott eventually became convinced that “John King” was not the ghost of the long-dead Morgan. He later wrote, “After seeing what H.P.B. could do in the way of producing mayavic (i.e., hypnotic) illusions and in the control of elementals, I am persuaded that ‘John King’ was a humbugging elemental, worked by her like a marionette and used as a help toward my education. Understand me, the phenomena were real, but they were done by no disincarnate human spirit” (emphasis in the original).

Elementals are, in the Theosophical view, nature spirits who live on the astral and mental planes. These entities are centres of force; they do not have any form in their own right. Hence they can be shaped and controlled by human thought, responding to the preconceptions of the perceivers, individual or collective. The so-called spirit of “John King” would have been an elemental that Blavatsky shaped with the force of her own will and concentration – as perhaps she had done in the Eddy farmhouse.

The subtleties of these ideas are considerable, and it would be hard to disentangle them all in an article of this length. But the theory seems to go something like this: sometimes, as in Eddy’s case, a wandering astral shell can temporarily inhabit the etheric body of a medium and so make its presence known to the physical senses. In other instances, such as with Blavatsky’s phenomena, the will of an occultist can mould the subtle matter of the “astral light” into the shape desired.

To dismiss these ideas out of hand would, in my view, be foolish. On the other hand, to verify them would require an intense training in esoteric practices that is difficult to come by. For our purposes, though, the essential point is clear. There is a middle ground between the allegations of the skeptics – that all spiritualistic phenomena are simply fraudulent – and the beliefs of the credulous, who take everything at face value. While there have been fraudulent mediums, it would be overhasty to dismiss every spiritualistic experience as a fraud. At least some of the phenomena associated with Spiritualism seem to be the play of forces in the astral realm, that domain of thoughts and images that is as plastic as the figments of our imaginations – and indeed contains them.

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SOURCES

H.P. Blavatsky, Collected Writings, vol. 1: 1874-78, Edited by Boris de Zirkoff, Adyar, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1966.

H.P. Blavatsky, The Letters of H.P. Blavatsky, vol. 1: 1861–79, John Algeo, ed, Wheaton, Ill.: Quest, 2003.

Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., Theosophical Encyclopedia, Manila: Theosophical Publishing House, 2006.

Joscelyn Godwin, The Theosophical Enlightenment, Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1994.

Mitch Horowitz, Occult America: The Secret History of How Mysticism Shaped Our Nation, New York: Bantam, 2009.

Henry Steel Olcott, Old Diary Leaves, vol. 1, Adyar, India: Theosophical Publishing House, 1974.

RICHARD SMOLEY has over thirty years of experience of studying and practicing esoteric spirituality. His latest book is The Dice Game of Shiva: How Consciousness Creates the Universe. He is also the author of Inner Christianity: A Guide to the Esoteric Tradition; Conscious Love: Insights from Mystical Christianity; The Essential Nostradamus; and Forbidden Faith: The Secret History of Gnosticism. Smoley is the former editor of Gnosis: A Journal of the Western Inner Traditions. Currently he is editor of Quest: Journal of the Theosophical Society in America and of Quest Books.

The above article appeared in New Dawn Special Issue Vol 6 No 2.

Read this article and much more on this subject by downloading
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 Madame Blavatsky & the Spirit World

Reincarnation: The Eastern View

Wheel of Life Reincarnation: The Eastern View

By RICHARD SMOLEY

Reincarnation has become an increasingly popular doctrine in the West. For example, polls taken in the US over the past couple of decades have shown that between 20 and 28 percent of the population believe in it. The figures for western Europe are similar.

What explains the appeal of an idea that until recently was the province of a few occultists and eccentrics? Some of it can be explained by the appeal of Asian religions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism, to which reincarnation has always been integral. But this does not explain much: you could turn the argument around and say that Hinduism and Buddhism are so appealing because they teach reincarnation.

The allure of the doctrine is easy to see, particularly when it is weighed against the conventional Christian view of heaven and hell. The latter is hard to defend in the light of any real sense of cosmic justice. It holds that the deeds of an individual’s life on earth will bring upon him either eternal reward or eternal damnation. And this is hard to swallow. Even the greatest monsters of history, no matter how many evil acts they committed, committed only a finite number of acts. How can even these extreme cases merit an infinite series of punishments?

By contrast, the doctrine of reincarnation, along with the closely associated doctrine of karma, holds that evil acts do entail retribution – but only in proportion to the act. The punishment suits the crime. Nor do good deeds done in a single life win the individual an infinite life of bliss, merely a limited number of auspicious future lives.

The idea of reincarnation has also spread because of the specific form in which it has been disseminated. Many of the ideas about reincarnation in New Age and other sectors of alternative spirituality can be traced back to the influence of Theosophy. During the 136 years of its history, the Theosophical Society, always a tiny organisation (worldwide membership in 2008 was under 21,000), has been influential out of all proportion to its numbers.

The Theosophical view of reincarnation is fundamentally an optimistic one. There is a purpose to these nearly endless cycles of birth and death. It is the education of consciousness. The Self descends into the darkness of materiality through a process known as involution. Then it begins to reascend, through a process known as evolution. This is not the evolution of the Darwinists, which is essentially a blind and meaningless process. Rather it is a carefully structured series of lessons in identifying with, and then detaching oneself, from the material world. Each separate incarnation is a tiny phase of this process.

Thus the trajectory of the journey of each human soul is an upward one. An evil or misspent life is only a delay or setback in a process that is ultimately going in a positive direction in any event.

When it’s stated this way, one immediately sees why this idea is so appealing. Far more than the conventional Christian view – or the secular materialist view, which holds that death is final and nothing survives the body’s demise – the evolutionary picture of reincarnation speaks to the current age, with its deeply rooted belief in progress.

This view of reincarnation, pioneered by the Theosophists, differs in some major ways from the pictures given by Hinduism and Buddhism. These portray the soul’s progress not as an ascent upward, where success is ultimately guaranteed no matter how many setbacks take place along the way, but as a merciless whirligig from which the only recourse is to escape. Indeed, they teach that we have lived through this cycle a virtually endless number of times already. In the Hindu Katha Upanishad, Death says:

The passing-on [i.e., death] is not clear to him who is childish,

Heedless, deluded with the delusion of wealth,

Thinking “This is the world! There is no other!” –

Again and again he comes under my control.

And in one of the Buddha’s discourses we read, “What, monks, do you think is more: the water in the Four Great Oceans or the tears, which you have shed when roving, wandering, lamenting and weeping while on this long way, because you received what you hated and did not receive what you loved?”

The fundamental cause of this cycle of rebirths, in both Hinduism and Buddhism, is ignorance or heedlessness. The remedy is enlightenment, which (in Hindu terms) leads to moksha or release, or (in Buddhist terms) to nirvana, or cessation. For the rest of this article, let us focus specifically on Buddhism.

One of the most elaborate pictures of the cycle of births and deaths can be found in the Tibetan Buddhist Wheel of Birth and Death. While the symbolism of this wheel is too intricate to describe in full here, one thing it depicts is the six realms of existence, three of which are bad, three of which are comparatively good. The three good realms are those of the gods, the asuras or demigods, and humans. The three bad realms are hell, the realm of the pretas or hungry ghosts, and the realm of animals.

Beings are drawn to the hell realms through acts of violence and cruelty. As in Christian teaching, these are places of unimaginable suffering. The thirteenth-century Tibetan sage Longchenpa writes:

All the tears you have shed would be more (than the water) in the four oceans,

And the amount of molten metal, foul blood, and excrements

You have consumed when your mind had become a denizen of hell or a spirit [i.e., a preta]

Would not be matched by the rivers flowing to the end of the world.

Longchenpa again emphasises the circularity of this process: his description of hell is not a warning of future punishment, but a reminder to the aspirant of what he has already undergone during many lifetimes in the immeasurable past. Buddhist teaching differs from that of Christianity by saying that since karma is finite, the suffering of hell beings and pretas, though enormous, is finite as well.

The animal realm is less painful than the worlds of the hell beings and hungry ghosts but scarcely more desirable. Humans are drawn there by bestial behaviour – by obsession with food or sex, the cravings that we share with the animals. While animals do not suffer continually, they too are beset with pain and grief. Moreover, they do not have the mental capacity to achieve liberation, “not realising the natural misery of their state,” as Longchenpa puts it.

The human realm, although it too is characterised by suffering, is the most auspicious. Buddhist texts emphasise the rarity and preciousness of a human birth. The sage Nagarjuna writes:

More difficult is it to rise
from birth as animal to man,

Than for the turtle blind to see
the yoke upon the ocean drift;

Therefore, do you being a man
practice Dhamma [the Buddhist teaching] and gain its fruits.

Here lies the advantage of being born into the human realm. Individuals here are not so deeply immersed in suffering as they are in the realms of hell beings and hungry ghosts. Nor are they in such favourable circumstances as the gods, who enjoy so much pleasure and delight that they have no interest in liberation, or even the demigods, who have relatively enjoyable circumstances but are tormented by the jealousy of the gods, with whom they wage continual warfare. The human existence is an intermediate one, where beings are endowed with enough intelligence to follow the path to liberation but not so intoxicated with pleasure that they have no interest in it.

Note that the gods and demigods, though their lives are pleasant compared to ours, are not immortal. Eventually their good karma is exhausted and they fall down into less favourable realms. This goes on endlessly. In one traditional text, a sage who is asked about the power and strength of Indra, king of the gods, points to a line of ants marching on the ground and says, “Each of those ants has been an Indra.”

It would be mistaken, however, to conclude from all this that Buddhism is at its core a pessimistic, world-denying doctrine, as many have done. The German scholar of Buddhism Hans Wolfgang Schumann observes, “To assume that in their present life more than a few advanced seekers are able to conquer craving and ignorance would be to overrate man. Most men will need a long time, a whole series of rebirths in which by good deeds they gradually work themselves upward to better forms of existence. Finally, however, everyone will obtain an embodiment of such great ethical possibilities that he can destroy craving and ignorance in himself and escape the compulsion for further rebirth. It is regarded as certain that all who strive for emancipation will gain it sometime or other.”

Schumann is referring to the attitude of the Theravada (“way of the elders”), one of the two primary divisions of Buddhism. The other sector, known as the Mahayana (or “great vehicle”), which includes such lines as Tibetan Buddhism and Zen, moves still further in a universalistic direction. It encourages its adherents to strive, not for nirvana per se, but for the condition of the bodhisattva – one who renounces or rather postpones enlightenment to work on behalf of the illumination of all sentient beings. In short, both sectors of the Buddhist tradition are ultimately positive in nature. If they do not teach evolution as such, they nevertheless hold that the gates of mercy are infinite and will eventually accommodate all beings, no matter how far they may seem from their goal.

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SOURCES

Robert Ernest Hume, ed. and trans., The Thirteen Principal Upanishads, 2d ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1931.

Klaus K. Klostermaier, A Survey of Hinduism, 3d ed., Albany, New York: State University of New York Press, 2007.

Longchenpa, Kindly Bent to Ease Us, Part One: Mind, Translated by Herbert V. Guenther, Berkeley, California: Dharma Publishing, 1975.

Hans Wolfgang Schumann, Buddhism: An Outline of Its Teaching and Schools, Translated by Georg Feuerstein, Wheaton, Illinois: Quest, 1974.

RICHARD SMOLEY has over thirty years of experience of studying and practicing esoteric spirituality. His latest book is The Dice Game of Shiva: How Consciousness Creates the Universe. He is also the author of Inner Christianity: A Guide to the Esoteric Tradition; Conscious Love: Insights from Mystical Christianity; The Essential Nostradamus; and Forbidden Faith: The Secret History of Gnosticism. Smoley is the former editor of Gnosis: A Journal of the Western Inner Traditions. Currently he is editor of Quest: Journal of the Theosophical Society in America and of Quest Books.

The above article appeared in New Dawn Special Issue Vol 6 No 2.

Read this article and much more on this subject by downloading
your copy of New Dawn Special Issue Vol 6 No 2 (PDF version) for US$2.95
paypal buynow Reincarnation: The Eastern View

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 Reincarnation: The Eastern View

Consciousness: The Beginning & the End

Fotolia 13383384 XL1 Consciousness: The Beginning & the End

By MICHAEL GROSSO

Nothing is more certain than the fact that we are conscious. And yet there is something very puzzling, even uncanny, about being conscious; and the learned talk of the mystery of consciousness. The mystery centres around the origin of consciousness; the prevailing scientific view is that consciousness is a property that emerges from complex brains. The problem is that we haven’t the foggiest idea of how the stuff of our minds could conceivably come forth from anything physical. Bits of electrified meat don’t easily translate into episodes of consciousness – we have it, we know it, in some sense we are it – but what it is and where it came from escapes us.

There is also a mystery about the future of consciousness – I mean for each one of us there is the mystery of what comes after death. There’s no easy answer to the ‘after’ question, but I will offer my opinion, based on my own experience and research. We might begin by saying that the imagination of the human race is clearly in the affirmative about the ongoing journey after death. The mythic consensus is that consciousness continues after death, and does so in many forms and styles; accounts are recorded in the history of religion and poetry and more recently in the annals of psychical research. No doubt individuals have always had their private views and hunches on the great mystery. But a crucial turn of events took place in the seventeenth century; the scientific revolution began to overthrow the entire mythical worldview of humanity with its instinctive sense of gods and souls and spirits. The sky was disrobed of its divinity and turned into meaningless emptiness; according to Leopardi’s Story of the Human Race, all the illusions of the imagination were exposed and a great void of meaning settled down triumphantly in their place. Our consciousness, the new prophets of reductive materialism declared, will vanish with the brain’s entropic rot.

Are we really forced into this worm’s-eye view of reality? People generally go along with the stories, rites, and customs for dealing with death that they inherit. But some break free and think for themselves. Some are exposed to modern scientific ideas (possessed by the conceits of reductive materialism) and the idea of another world starts to seem unreal. And yet, our views (apart from fashion) continually change in the face of new and unexpected experiences. So how we view death and the fate of our consciousness is sometimes based on the kinds and intensities of experience we have. For example, I am at least open to the idea of something going on after death because of some odd experiences I’ve had. (For an account of some of these, see my Soulmaking [1997] Hampton Roads: Charlottesville, VA.) A person who has had an unusual experience is likely to be more receptive to the idea of postmortem survival. Of course, one might have such a vivid encounter, and still in the end dismiss it as some seductive delusion. Others, on the other hand, may embrace great cosmic schemes on the basis of trivial coincidences.

I have come to form my own view based on my experiences and my own thinking. My attitude toward this question of life after death is slightly odd. Three times I had encounters that were clear evidence for something smacking of survival, (including on one occasion being attacked and physically paralysed by a ghost), and yet I have doubts; I lack robust confidence that I will survive. Nevertheless, I would insist there are good reasons not to be cowed into premature disbelief.

We can be silent about the dreaded subject or we can discuss and confront it. Moreover, it seems natural enough to yearn for more life, for infinite life, and there is no reason to suppress, condemn, or feel embarrassed about these yearnings. Let me explain one reason I resist the idea of survival. If indeed consciousness is an emergent property of the brain, it’s hard to suppose it could go on when the brain dies. In spite of being acquainted with ghosts and telepathy and precognition, the initial dependence on and emergence from the brain weighs against the idea of survival. But there is a way to move ahead on this. It is to drop the assumption that consciousness must be a product of the brain. Consciousness, after all, is utterly different in kind from anything physical we are acquainted with (barring certain abstract resemblances to quantum states). If one thinks carefully about it, the idea that consciousness grows out of our brains is more a verbal construct than an intelligible idea.

Does the Brain DETECT OR Transmit Consciousness?

Some scientists and philosophers have indeed argued that consciousness is not produced by the brain; rather, they hold that the brain is more like an organ that detects or transmits consciousness than produces it. According to this view, consciousness pre-exists and transcends body and brain, although it interacts with them. The important move is this: if we deny that consciousness is born from the brain, there is no reason to believe it must disappear with the death of the brain. (This is similar to an argument used by Plato in the dialogue Phaedo.) Now this shift toward the idea that we possess or are constituted by an irreducible mental factor has certain advantages. One of them William James noticed in his Ingersoll Lecture on Immortality of 1898: we are no longer obliged to try to figure out how the brain could create consciousness. If it’s so hard trying to explain consciousness as an emergent property of brains, it may be because it does not emerge from brains in the first place. Henri Bergson makes a similar point by suggesting that the mind by its nature continually overflows the boundaries of brain and body.

This hypothesis of the irreducible nature of mind is consistent with the idea of postmortem survival. As pointed out, if the beginning of consciousness is not essentially tied to the brain, then death of the brain needn’t imply death of consciousness. This way of looking at consciousness as something basic in nature has other advantages. It is in tune with the great spiritual traditions that posit the primacy of some kind of greater mind. It also helps explain unusual mental functions like extrasensory perception. Consider something like telepathy, direct mind-to-mind contact. According to the view we have touched on, we are already mentally connected, it’s just that our minds generally cluttered with sensations and all kinds of distracting thoughts screen us (some would say protect us) from the mental life of others; if through some accident or discipline we could remove the clutter we would “see” things otherwise occluded.

But there is something else. Our revision provides a basis for a type of experimentation that promises to induce experiences, impressions, and insights into the mystery of life after death. For this very personal question of life after death, there are things we can do; alter our life style, revise attitudes and values, and adopt specific practices. Reading about case histories and weighing all the arguments and interpretations are necessary and admirable. We need to supplement this indirect method by practice. And we need to experiment with the most fascinating subject we can readily find – ourselves.

Break on Through to the Other Side

Throughout history people have engaged in practices designed to help them “break on through to the other side” (The Doors). Certain kinds of people are more suited for this kind of venture: edgy, neurotic, strong-willed. These are the people who practice divination and shamanism; inspired poets, dancers and musicians; prophets and mystics; or ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary, dangerous, life-threatening situations. By accident or by deliberate practice, human beings have and continue to have encounters with the transcendent. In terms of our practical hypothesis, they are either forced by circumstance or choose by discipline to remove the clutter of their ordinary mental life, so as to increase the likelihood of being struck by some form of transcendent lightning.

There is nothing terribly strange about calling for this kind of self-experimentation. Traditions of the world are full of such practices. The native peoples of the Americas have always cherished their vision quest in highly individual ways. In the ancient world there were all sorts of mystery religions, which were group inductions into what Aristotle called pathe, experiences, not episteme, rational cognition. Like the native Americans, techniques of fasting, dance, chant, manipulation of symbols, etc., were used to induce contact with spirits, gods, and goddesses. Most famous were the Eleusinian Mysteries that lasted two thousand years in ancient Greece, an annual rite whose most notable effect was to create confidence in the soul’s immortality; after a nine day fast, the ingestion of a kykeon or “brew” of beer and psychoactive ergot, the rite culminated in the telesterion: the Goddess Persephone appeared in a blaze of glory. The experience was transformative as we know from testimonials of various notables, including Cicero and Sophocles and (indirectly) Plato. Different mystery rites used different gods to induce their encounter with the powers suggestive of immortality.

With the rise of Christianity, a new mystery was invented called the Mass. As Carl Jung has explained, the Mass is a classic mystery rite in which the divine and immortal powers temporarily become present on the altar and the human becomes one with the God. And in the ancient world, even philosophy, especially as practiced by Platonists and neo-Platonists, was a kind of mystery rite designed to induce direct awareness of other worlds and higher dimensions of reality. Modern analytic philosophy would be at the antipodes of ancient philosophy, which was always about radical liberty and self-transformation. So, for Plato, philosophy was defined as the “practice of death” – in short, detachment of the psyche from the soma. To “practice death” is to quiet the distracted brain and open oneself to the greater consciousness.

It is certainly an ironical fact that in this age of science and technology that seems to sponsor materialism, medical science is responsible for thousands of paradigm-challenging near-death experiences. NDEs and the Eleusinian rites have this in common: they produce feelings of confidence about the reality of another world. The near-death experience has become the equivalent of an ancient Greek mystery rite.

In 2001, the Dutch cardiologist Pim van Lommel published a paper in the Lancet that described about a hundred and fifty cases of cardiac arrest in which individuals reported NDEs. This publication made headlines around the world. What is interesting is that these people had any experiences at all. The mainline view of neuroscience is that to have any conscious experience, certain specific parts of the brain (stem, frontal cortex, etc.) must be functionally interacting. But the moment the heart stops, blood stops flowing to those brain parts, so they can’t function. Nevertheless, in these cases, not only are there conscious experiences but experiences of an exalted character; brain quits working but consciousness doesn’t; on the contrary, it expands and intensifies in cognitive scope and richness of meaning. The NDE, instead of reflecting materialist views of mind, reflects the traditional view of mind as an independent reality – to be released not annihilated at death. In a near-death incident, the ‘filter’ on the full flood of consciousness is ripped away; the famous luminous bliss-drenched experience results. According to near-death research, deprived of a functioning brain, you may still have profound, conscious experience. This is an extraordinary scientific discovery.

It would be a mistake to focus on one strand of evidence, however striking. What the diligent seeker of the mysteries must do is gain a sense of a whole family of pressure points on the belly of reductive materialism. We began by pointing to the sheer fact of consciousness, which is the basis of everything, and about which we know practically nothing. But there are specific features of consciousness that are suggestive for our purposes. Physicist Steven Weinberg, who thinks physics is inching toward a theory of everything, admits he would love to unpack the riddle of memory. Nobody even knows for sure if memory is even “stored” in the brain no less how.

Memory Puzzles

There are oddities of memory that compound the mystery of consciousness. A phenomenon only recently being studied is called ‘terminal lucidity’. These are cases widely reported of persons suffering from Alzheimer’s or other forms of brain disease unable to recognise even members of their own kin; then, at a time very near death these persons suddenly regain their memories, as if their conscious minds were starting to disengage from their brains in preparation for departure. Other puzzles about memory involve the stupendous mnemonic feats of some people afflicted-blessed with so-called ‘savant-syndrome’. And let me say that we fail to appreciate the astonishing creative power of the most common dream, in which an individual fashions for himself out of nothing a full-spectrum sensory world that one becomes completely immersed in – surely a phenomenon to give the earnest neuro-fundamentalist a headache. All these intellectually squishy spots we are palpating have something in common: the phenomena – dreams, terminal lucidity, and the enlarged mental faculties associated with arrested development – all these seem to be related to consciousness being forced back into itself. We attain to the omnipotence of dream, when (like the mystic) we cast aside reason and sense in sleep. The omnipotence of memory, whether with savant or near-death experiencer, seems to result from being robbed of the capacity to negotiate the external world. Again, the ‘filter’ is debilitated or entirely cast off.

What I’m trying to say is this: Anyone who craves a more inwardly felt conviction not only concerning their survival but the qualitative value of that survival, should head for the green fields of personal experimentation. It would, however, help to know that behind us stands a mass of human experience that seems to say, “Yes, we found something – come on! Do not fear!” It would be useful to bear in mind the lush variety of tales, stories, and authenticated reports contending or implying that real people survive bodily death.

It seems important there are many forms of experience that seem to reveal different people survived death. The manifold of breakthroughs seems to fit with the theory that has guided these reflections. The notion is that we – our individual mind-bodies – are immersed (so to speak) in a sea of consciousness. The pressure is constant on us, so to speak, and the slightest crack or fissure in our cognitive apparatus will cause a cascade into our consciousness.

There is a well-known case of a man from North Carolina being visited by his father’s angry apparition during a series of dreams. The father proved himself by instructing his son as to the whereabouts of his hidden but final will and testament. He had hid it in an old Bible, and then died. The will was found and probated in court; it led to a more fair distribution of the father’s estate. Mr. Chaffin was dead for four years; no one knew the whereabouts of the will he had hidden in the old Bible until an apparition of the dead man revealed it to his living son. Actually, there is a parallel story about the last missing Cantos of Dante’s Divine Comedy. They were said to be missing until Dante’s son received intelligence from a dream of his illustrious father. Hidden in a secret compartment sequestered in a wall, the manuscript was found. In general, there are patterns of phenomena that are like words in a language that seems to want to speak to us. Such patterns cluster around the event of death. An interesting example would be the psychokinetic events often reported to occur at the moment of somebody’s death. Ernesto Bozzano collected cases of clocks stopping at the moment of death, paintings falling off walls, glassware shattering, pianos playing themselves, and in fact a huge variety of actual occasions. What appears to be happening is that a psychic factor at the moment of death is released and expresses itself in some meaning-bearing part of the environment. Again, the idea of death as a transition to enhanced power is indicated.

As I said, the paths to post-mortem consciousness are manifold. One way is via reincarnation, and here I must mention the massive achievement of Ian Stevenson in collecting case histories all over the world. Thousands of carefully assessed cases – to use Stevenson’s word – suggest that memories, likes and dislikes, physical habits and even bodily marks may be identified usually among children no older than eight years old. Stevenson’s work has implications for understanding the depth and complexity of the human personality. These may shape our lives even if for the most part we are consciously out of touch with them. The Buddha once said that a person can see all his or her previous lives at the moment of enlightenment.

Discarnate Intelligence

Mediumship is another way that information about other worlds and discarnate intelligence may be obtained. Mediumship is found in the vicinity of ecstasy and possession. Mediums generally deploy ‘controls’, psychic constructs essential to make contact with the subliminal universe. A striking bit of evidence for life after death came about at the turn of the last century. The medium was the great Leonora Piper, under the careful investigation of the highly critical Richard Hodgson. It happened that Piper obtained a new control, called GP (for George Pelham); in life, he happened to be an acquaintance of Hodgson. The younger man was skeptical about survival, and promised offhandedly that should he die first, he would do his best to prove it to Hodgson. Soon after he fell off a horse in New York and was killed. Soon after that he was claiming to be speaking and writing through the body of Leonora Piper (as her new ‘control’). Hodgson wrote up the ensuing experiments in painstaking critical detail, and published the five hundred pages in the English Proceedings for Psychical Research. During “GP”’s tenure as control of Piper, “he” received one hundred and fifty people, thirty of whom GP in life personally knew. The personality that acted through the medium’s body behaved in a recognisably consistent manner, always in character and knowledgeable of precisely the thirty persons he knew in life, never confusing anyone he knew in life with any of the remaining strangers at the sittings. In short, the persona acting through Piper’s vocal chords and nervous system acted exactly like the real personality of a deceased person – a very difficult case to dismiss.

So there is some robust evidence for life after death – as well as much that is tantalising and dubious. In the meantime, if you are impatient, you can try to launch your consciousness out of this world here and now and not hang on mincing proof, nor care about arguments or degrees of their weightiness. It might for all we know be very easy to gain an insight into the beginning and the end of consciousness. “Imagination is Eternity,” said William Blake who also said that death was just stepping from one room into another. It may not be possible to step all the way in, but you may be able to push open the door for a peek.

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MICHAEL GROSSO studied classics and received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Columbia University. Formerly a philosophy teacher at City University of New York and the City University of New Jersey, he is now affiliated with a research group at the Division of Perceptual Studies of the University of Virginia. Recent books include Experiencing the Next World Now and (co-authored) Irreducible Mind: A Psychology for the 21st Century. Presently at work on a book, Wings of Ecstasy: The Story of Joseph of Copertino, his main interest is in consciousness studies. Grosso is also a painter. He can be contacted via email at Grosso.michael@gmail.com.

The above article appeared in New Dawn Special Issue Vol 6 No 2.

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 Consciousness: The Beginning & the End

Alien Invasion Predictive Programming in British Tetley Tea Commercial

To celebrate 40 years of serving tea to the parched UK public quintessential British brand Tetley has released a new digitally animated T.V commercial which shows the much-loved ‘Tetley Tea Folk’ dabbling in diplomacy amid an alien invasion of London.

Gaffer, Tina & Sydney inadvertently calm the hostile situation between the reptilian looking beings and members of the the U.K government & military by handing them a good old “cuppa” to which they surprisingly seem quite partial.

With over 34 billion cups of tea consumed in the U.K each year though, could the theme of this seemingly fun & lighthearted piece actually be about predictably programming the ‘great’ British public into subconsciously accepting the possibility of impending alien invasion?

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The Freemasons: A History of the World’s Most Powerful Secret Society

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What did Mozart and Bach, Oscar Wilde and Anthony Trollope, George Washington and Frederick the Great, Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt have in common? They were all Freemasons, a subject of endless fascination. To the layman, they are a mysterious brotherhood of profound if uncertain influence, a secret society purported in some popular histories to have its roots in the fabled order of the Knights Templar, or in the mysteries of the Egyptian pyramids. They evoke fears of world domination by a select few who enjoy privileged access to wealth and the levers of power. The secrecy of their rites suggests the taint of sacrilege, and their hidden loyalties are sometimes accused of undermining the workings of justice and the integrity of nations.

Though not a mason himself, Jasper Ridley nonetheless refutes many of the outrageous allegations made against Freemasonry, while at the same time acknowledging the masons’ shortcomings: their clannishness, misogyny, obsession with secrecy, and devotion to arcane ritual. In this much-needed reassessment, he offers a substantial work of history that sifts the truth from the myth as it traces Freemasonry from its origins to the present day.

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