Editorial: Dimensions of Love?
How are we to navigate between the Scylla of unbending religious dogma and the Charybdis of the dogma of Reductionism? Both of these types of dogma wish to shrink our view of reality to the intellectual constructs of these dogmas. Each have their (another classical allusion) Procrustean beds, into which all reality must be forced. What is in common between both kinds of dogma, is the desire to have neat and tidy statements that give us an unerring hold on things.
Could we not acknowledge that dogmas of both kinds are the products of the human mind, the human consciousness? Is it not true that it is the result of human thinking that it can be maintained that our minds are “nothing but” the activity of electrochemical processes in our brains, themselves the product of random evolution? Is it not true that it is the result of human thinking that we have a belief in an infallible Bible or Church? Is it not also true that it is the result of human thinking that we can have open-ended research, free literary and artistic creativity? The human mind has created all of this, and it is the human mind that can seek either to enslave itself, or set itself free..
Martin Buber is all but universally known for the distinction that he made between I-it, and I-You. Much theology speaks the language of I-it, where we regard people as objects of thought and discussion, and nearly all science does this also. The human consciousness can choose to have this relation with reality, and with people in particular. In so doing, there can be the belief that the impersonal has greater reality and validity than the personal, that the I-You, the personal is in some way of less reality less significance, than the result of the abstract thinking of the I-it.
But could not the I-You, the I-Thou, be the primary relationship? Worship is I-You, Love is I-You, and so also our experiences of synchronicity where we appear to have evidence of connection at a deeper (or higher) level, seem like deeply interpersonal, they appear to be the poetry of relationship. Visions and experiences of the departed are plainly person to person, rather than impersonal information sharing. Telepathy and clairvoyance are predominantly interpersonal. And what is music, art and poetry but the conveying of the personal?
Consider these quotations from Walt Whitman (1819-1892):
“I hear and behold God in every object. . . Why should I wish to see God better than this day? I see something of God each hour of the twenty four, and each moment then, In the faces of men and women I see God, and in my own face in the glass. I find letters from God dropped in the street - and every one is signed by God's name, And I leave them where they are, for I know that others will punctually come forever and ever.” (1860)]
“A vast similitude interlocks all, All spheres, grown, ungrown, small, large, suns, moons, planets, comets, asteroids, All distances, however wide, All distances of time - all inanimate forms, All Souls - all living bodies, though they be ever so different, or in different worlds, All gaseous, watery, vegetable, mineral processes - the fishes, the brutes, All men and women - me also, All nations, colors, barbarisms, civilizations, languages, All identities that have existed, or may exist, on this globe or any globe, All lives and deaths - all of past, present and future, This vast similitude spans them, and always has spanned, and shall forever span them, and compactly hold them.” [Leaves of Grass 12]
I would maintain that ultimately that we can experience all the interpersonal phenomena that have been mentioned as an I-You with God, as aspects of the Divine-Human Encounter. I am suggesting that the basic mode of existence lies in this relationship to that All in All that we call God, in this apparent participation in that which is greater than ourselves. We can see all this as dimension of love.
A terrifying thought of what might happen in the not so very distant future? Fit this thought into what has just been said, if you can. How can our minds accommodate such a terrible thought as the possible end to humanity, or at least, the end to our present civilisation. Very much can be written on this from many points of view. You may perceive some sort of response to this thought in the articles in this issue. To begin: If you listen to the radio program mentioned below, you will learn that the now 12-year old girl, Akiane, received what she believed to be instructions from God at the age of four, and that at the age of eight she felt moved to ask her parents to pray for someone to turn up who could serve as a model for a painting of Jesus. They did so, and the next day a tall young carpenter turned up who seemed an ideal model. The resulting picture shown below was completed while she was still eight. An astonishing feat for that age. She painted half the face in deep shadow, to convey the fact that the experience of Christ that we have is partly love and light, and partly suffering and evil, perhaps because she saw Christ as Cosmic. This would seem impossibly abstract for an eight year old. It is however consistent with Victor MacGill's quote from Stephen, “ There never was a time when our Lord Jesus was not the Christ, nor any of the imaged creation of the Father, not the Christ”. “Imaged creation” corresponds to physicist David Bohm's “It will be ultimately misleading and indeed wrong to suppose.. that each human being is an independent actuality who interacts with other human beings and with nature. Rather, all these are projections of a single totality. Let's find some quotes from St Paul: “Whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord (universal Spirit)” Rom 14.8 “for us there is one God, the Father, from which all being comes, towards which we move; and there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came to be, and we through him. But not everybody know this.” I Cor 8.6-7. (“Jesus Christ” for Paul is not the human being who was crucified, but rather the Cosmic Christ, or Spirit.) Once again, Paul is affirming what Bohm was affirming, and what Stephen is recorded and saying.
The centre of gravity for Paul, is Spirit, and although our bodies perish, we as projections of Spirit, remain. That may sound cold and improbable comfort to us, as our physical world crumbles, and despair, warfare, and death supervene. But that is the faith that Paul and Stephen present.
How does one relate to God? How does on relate to other people and to nature? The great Jewish philosopher, Martin Buber, sought to answer these questions in his famous essay I and Thou. Buber, in this seminal work, provides a framework centered on the concepts of relation and the personhood of God. Through authentic relationships with our fellow men and women, we come to know the eternal Thou -- God. What Buber means by this will be brought out in what follows. Read this short article:
Human fascination with the topic of extraterrestrial life is demonstrated by the great popularity of science fiction stories about extraterrestrial beings in books, movies, and television programs like Star Trek, and by the thousands of claims of sighting UFO's (unidentified flying objects) and the tenacious belief of so many people in UFO's against all rational explanations.2 With a mixture of curiosity and fear people wonder: Are we alone in this vast universe or not? In this chapter I shall address the question: If advanced beings elsewhere in the universe do exist, what does this mean for Christian theology? Read the rest of the article.
A valuable discussion for those wishing to evaluate the weight that should be laid on reports of personal experience. Read the article
Click www.radiooutthere.com , then archive, then Program 98. Week commencing October 25, to listen to an half hour interview by Barry Eaton of
• An internationally recognized 11-year-old prodigy, considered the only known child binary genius, in both realist painting and poetry.
• Selected as 1 of 20 most accomplished visual artists in the world by Tribute Entertainment (London) and ABI (United States).
• Kids Hall of Fame inductee.
• An author of two books "Akiane: Her Life, Her Art, Her Poetry" and "My Dream is Bigger than I - Memories of Tomorrow"
She painted “The Prince of Peace” seen to the right, when she was eight years old. Hear her speak of her visions of God when she was only four, which were immediate precursors of the development of her gifts: and think more about Love and the Holy Spirit. See other of her wonderful paintings on her website: www.artakiane.com
370 pages, $25.95
My first awareness of this fascinating book was an email from a friend who knew of my interest in the paranormal, especially spirit communication. I replied that I had not heard of the book and was not particularly interested in “ghost hunting.” By the title of the book and without knowing the subtitle, I had assumed that this book was about modern parapsychologists visiting haunted houses with gadgets designed to detect “ghostly” cold spots and energy fields. I assumed wrong.
When, a few weeks later, I saw the subtitle – “William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death” – I immediately knew the book was about the pioneering psychical research of yesteryear. It is a subject very dear to me. In fact, I have written often on the subject and had recently completed my own book, “The Articulate Dead: Bringing the Spirit World Alive” (due for release by Galde Press later this year or early next year).
Noting that Blum is a Pulitzer Prizewinning science writer and journalism professor, I had more or less anticipated a contemptuous treatment of the subject matter. Since journalists generally tend to ape mainstream scientists in superciliously smirking, snickering, sneering, and scoffing at the paranormal, I assumed Blum would find much caustic humor in the pursuits of educated and reputable men (and one woman) who dared stray outside the bounds of scientific fundamentalism. I assumed wrong again.
As the subtitle suggests, Harvard professor William James, remembered more for his contributions to psychology and philosophy than psychical research, was one of the early leaders in scientific research aimed ultimately at determining whether consciousness survives bodily death. The research was prompted by advances in science – advances that seemed to relegate religious dogma and doctrine to mere superstition. “Could any God – Christian or otherwise – survive in an age where religion feared science and science denied faith?” Blum expresses the sentiments of Frederic W. H. Myers, another pioneering researcher. “It was into that divide that Myers saw psychical research bravely marching. The goal was to bridge research and religion, to show that they were not incompatible, that one could even explain the other.”
Myers appears to have been motivated, Blum observes, by a feeling that science was reducing the universe to a large machine and people to small ones. Other scholars and scientists were similarly motivated. “He was an educated man; he understood and even appreciated the arguments for a purely mechanical universe,” Blum describes Edmund Gurney, one of Myers’ research associates. “Life lived as a cog in a cold, godless, indifferent machine, however, had come to seem to him unbearable.”
The research was primarily with mediums. “Mediums were peculiar creatures; there was no denying it about even the best of them,” Blum explains. “How could they not be? They spent hours of their time surrounded by people desperate to talk with the dead. They fell into trances reputedly inhabited by ghosts. They agreed to be hogtied by investigating scientists. Skeptics mocked them; journalists parodied them; former friends feared them. One had to wonder why anyone would choose to become a medium.”
The most credible and intriguing of all mediums was Leonora Piper, a Boston housewife, who was discovered by James and studied for some 18 years by Richard Hodgson, an Australian who was recruited to head up the American Society for Psychical Research. Hodgson had a reputation as a debunker of fraudulent “mediums,” but became convinced that Mrs. Piper was the real thing, what James called the “white crow,” the one that proved all crows weren’t black.
The researchers were often frustrated by charlatans as well as by their arrogant scientific colleagues who assumed the subject was too absurd for educated men. One such haughty professor was James Cattell of Columbia University. He sneered at his fellow professor, James H. Hyslop, when Hyslop became interested in psychical research, and when Hyslop published articles that strongly supported nonmechanistic theories, Cattell tried to have him fired. In his defense, Hyslop, noting scientific efforts to find a species of useless fish to support Darwin’s theory, asked “why it is so noble and respectable to find whence man came, and so suspicious and dishonorable to ask and ascertain whither he goes?”
Other researchers, including Alfred Russel Wallace, cooriginator with Charles Darwin of the natural selection theory of evolution, William Crookes, a brilliant chemist and physicist whose invention led to the Xray, Oliver Lodge, a pioneer in electricity and radio, and William Barrett, a Dublin physicist knighted for his scientific work, came under attack by their peers when they dared report on evidence that did not fit into the post-Darwin scientific paradigm. “Humbug is humbug, even though it bear the scientific name,” James lashed out as the cynics, “and the total expression of human experience, as I view it objectively, invincibly urges me beyond the narrow ‘scientific’ bounds.”
While some of the researchers, including Wallace, Crookes, Barrett, Lodge, Hodgson, and Hyslop were able to satisfy themselves that a spirit world exists, and, concomitantly, that consciousness does survive bodily death, James was more guarded and would remain warily perched on the “fence” separating believers from nonbelievers, seeing that position as the only way to reconcile the differences between science and religion. Moreover, James recognized the difference between the subjectivity of proof and the objectivity of evidence. “The concrete evidence for most of the ‘psychic’ phenomena under discussion is good enough to hang a man 20 times over,” James once admonished the scientific fundamentalists.
The closing chapters of the book deal with the famous crosscorrespondences – messages coming through different mediums in different parts of the world, which in themselves meant nothing but when collected by the researchers formed coherent messages. The best of these messages were said to have come from Frederic Myers after his death in 1901. Hodgson also began offering convincing messages through Mrs. Piper after his death in 1905.
In the end, it is a matter of what James called the “will to believe” versus the “will to disbelieve.”
Blum examines the work of the psychical researchers with respect, objectivity, and understanding. She apparently spent three years researching the subject. I thought I knew the subject pretty well from over 10 years of study, but I learned a lot from this book. As I consumed the book over mochas at Starbucks, I delighted in my initial false assumptions and continually marveled at the accuracy and detail of the stories as well as at Blum’s prolific writing. In my humble opinion, she should get a second Pulitzer Prize for this work, but, unfortunately, there are probably a few judges who are of the same warped mindset as James Cattell and would not deem the book worthy of being read. The loss is theirs.
Michael E. Tymn
Editor, “The Searchlight”
O-Books, www.o-books.net ISBN 1-905047-67-8 UK: 9 pounds 99; US $19.95 paperback 153 pp.
This book is consistent with what is being maintained in this issue's editorial. To quote from the back-cover, “We can start to find meaning in our lives when we see all the varied things that happen to us, including illness and bereavement, as part of the process of letting go lesser levels of identity. We can then find our true Being that is ever present and is beyond change and suffering. We learn to trust the process of our life's unfolding, as we are led on a journey to discover a great treasure that we all possess, yet are unaware of. In doing this we also prepare ourselves for that ultimate moment of letting go, the death of the physical body.”
“The more people that buy this book the better the world will be.” Martin Redfern, senior producer BBC
The book is written in an easy to read personal style, and will be found very helpful to a person who feels able to pereive reality from a spiritual point of view. Here is one sample of his writing that may be representative of his thought, and of his style:
“I remember the night before my mother's funeral, we had asked if her coffin could be left in the church over night so that my brother and sister and I could meditate for half an hour by it the night before. It had been an unexpected death, and my grief was at its height, full and all consuming. At first it was very difficult to become quiet, but then towards the end of the half-hour I became full of strange inner happiness. I could feel it welling up from within. It felt like a communication with my Self, which at the same time was my mother's Self and was beyond death and beyond all harm. I left the church feeling so happy and knowing that everything was all right. In the ground of our being it really is all right and we really are all one. Later that evening a friend rang to see how I was feeling and I think she was rather puzzled that I felt so happy under the circumstances. That feeling carried me through the funeral and beyond.”
M D S Cocks.
With CD containing F W H Myers's hard to find classic 2-volume Human Personality (1903)
by Edward F Kelly, Emily W Kelly, Adam Crabtree, Alan Gauld, Michael Grosso and Bruce Greyson
ISBN 0-7425-4792-2 Cloth, 800 pages, to be published mid-December 2006. To order, call toll-free 1-800-462-6420 or write to Rowman and Littlefield, 15200 NBN Way, PO Box 191, Blue Ridge Summit, PA 17214-0191 $US 79-95 Pre- and post- publication discounts may be available.
“This is an extraordinary book. In the area of the neuroscience of the mind, it is the most exciting reading to have crossed my path in years” -David Presti, Professor of Neurobiology, University of California-Berkeley.
“Brilliant, heroic and astonishing... A scientifically rigorous and philosophically informed critique of various contemporary orthodoxies in mainstream psychology. IRREDUCIBLE MIND has a bottom-line: either our current understanding of the material world is woefully incomplete because we still don't know how to explain mental powers in purely physical, or else there is far more to reality than just the material world” Richard A. Shweder.. Professor Dept of Human Development University of Chicago.
Current mainstream scientific opinion holds that all aspects of human mind and consciousness are generated by physical processes occurring in brains. The present volume demonstrates – empirically – that this reductive material is not only incomplete but false. Topics addressed include phenomena of extreme psychophysical influence, memory, psychological automatisms and secondary personality, near-death experiences and allied phenomena, genius-level creativity and 'mystical' states of consciousness both spontaneous and drug induced. The authors show that these 'rogue' phenomena are more readily accommodated by an alternative 'transmission' or 'filter' theory of mind/brain relations – a theory that ratifies the commonsense conception of human beings as causally effective conscious agents, and si also fully compatible with leading-edge physics and neuroscience. The book should command the attention of all open-minded persons concerned with the still-unsolved mysteries of the mind.
[The above notes are provided by the publisher, not by a reviewer for this journal]
Section on St Stephen
If you are, this is most understandable, and of course you always have the option of skipping this section. But the “Stephen” material may be studied in its own right, and may help us in our thinking and feeling about the nature of things.
The claim is being made that Stephen the martyr is truly communicating, and is teaching about Christ and the central theme of His preaching, namely the Kingdom of Heaven. The following link allows you, if you wish, to read how Stephen speaks about himself, his childhood, and his ministry, and how scholarly detective work with some Greek that he spoke, together with many other clues, with historical research, and study of confirming evidence from the Qumran documents, makes a case for Stephen's authenticity which would stand up in a Court of Law, even if we may not feel that the case is scientifically proven.
Pointing to the authenticity of St Stephen <Parts2&6.pdf>
has this to say about the Stephen book and its authenticity
[co-editor of this journal: Read about him and his work in Victor MacGill <http://vmacgill.net>
No 128 July 8, 1976, The Christ p.84
“There never was a time when our Lord Jesus was not the Christ, nor any of the imaged creation of the Father, not the Christ”
[Ed. “It will be ultimately misleading and indeed wrong to suppose.. that each human being is an independent actuality who interacts with other human beings and with nature. Rather, all these are projections of a single totality”- attributed to physicist David Bohm. See the summary of Bohm's Gnosis at the end of Victor MacGill's article, which now follows: ]
In the same way that Stephen states he uses the name of Stephen as a convenience to make himself more familiar and easily understood to those on the earth plane, I believe there are terms used in this quote that are used for our convenience.
Stephen has explained that he is part of a group of soul for whom he is the mouthpiece. Stephen uses further simplifications in order to become more easily understood. The danger of this approach is that people may become to attached too the simplified version and miss the real complexity and the real nature being expressed.
The quote talks of a father and son. Immediately we tend to make assumptions about the relationship of the Christ to God that can lead to us making God, and the Christ smaller than they really are. We will immediately have a picture of the father as older, wiser and preceding the younger less experienced son. This is the reason why we find it difficult to grasp how a father and son can arise contemporaneously.
Also by using the father image, it is easy for us to misconstrue our relationship to God and to the Christ. The Bible narrative of our creation is necessarily written as a story starting at the beginning and proceeding step by step towards a conclusion. This story reveals certain depths of understanding, whilst at the same time concealing other depths. A literal reading shows us to be separate beings created at the end of a sequence of events in an image predetermined by God.
Chaos Theory provides another way of understanding the same story that reveals some of the concealed understandings. It does not tell “the truth”, it is just another story that can open a different perspective on the one same God. . Chaos Theory talks about mutual codependent arising. We usually think of our world as having and inside (that’s is us) and an outside (the world beyond us) and the two are quite separate. When we think of a tree, we think of it as a distinct object with roots, a trunk, branches and leaves - but where are the boundaries of a living tree? A living tree has no meaning without its environment; without water, sunlight, soil and nourishment and the environment needs the tree to keep the cycle of replenishing the oxygen in the air by transforming carbon dioxide, moving water through the environment or providing shelter and food for other living creatures. We can only understand what a tree is by looking at the whole system. The tree and the environment need to continuously arise together to continue the cycle of life. Having said this, we are still able to understand what we man by “a tree” and can conceive of it as separate in our minds.
If we can see “God”, “the Christ” and “you and I” as labels given for convenience sake, we open ourselves to a wider, more embracing concept of God and the universe in which we live. We can instead see God, the Christ and us as different aspects of a mutually co-dependent system, where each only has meaning and existence in relation to the others, but nevertheless is made of three aspects individually distinguishable in some form, all interacting together. We now have an alternative map of how we come to have the emergence of a cohesive universe in which to live.
It is because we have arisen from mutual codependence from a single source, that we are separate, but all made of the same “stuff”. The edges between us and God or the Christ are not clear, they are fuzzy. The Christ is one with the Father and the Father is one with the Christ. We are one with God and the Christ, and they with us. And we do all this while retaining our individuality.
Stephen goes on to talk about Salvation. When seen from this perspective, we can ask, as Stephen does, from what must we be saved? We are already a part of the mutually co-dependence arising with God and the Christ. The only salvation is in avoiding being trapped in perceiving the individual aspect of our being within the full being of the Godhead as our whole being. We are “saved” when we come to a realisation of who we are, which is what we have always been, within the full being of the Godhead.
Quotations from a summary of Bohm’s Gnosis, by Beatrix Morrell:
1. Any individual element [of totality] could reveal “detailed information about every other element in the universe”
2. “The unbroken wholeness of the totality of existence as an undivided flowing movement without borders”
3. Two subatomic particles that have once interacted can instantaneously “respond to each other’s motions thousands of years later when they are light years apart.” (Stephen: “The furthest sun is closer to you than your tongue.”§46.)
4. Space and time might actually be derived from an even deeper level of objective reality. This reality he calls the Implicate Order.
5. Within the Implicate Order everything is connected, and, in theory, any individual element could reveal information about every other element in the universe.
6. The Hologram is Bohm’s favourite metaphor for conveying the structure of the Implicate Order. “Everything is enfolded into everything”. The totality of the movement of enfoldment and unfoldment may go immensely beyond what has revealed itself to our observations. We call this totality by the name “holomovement”. This is the “fundamental ground of all matter” The holomovement is ground for both life and matter. [Stephen said, two years before Bohm´s work was published, “True life is all movement. The whole of life must be the whole of movement” (§158)]
7. “What is is always a totality of ensembles, all present together, in an orderly series of stages of enfoldment and unfoldment, which intermingle and interpenetrate each other in principle throughout the whole of space.”
9. It is this collective consciousness of humanity that is truly significant for Bohm. It is this collective consciousness that is truly one and indivisible, and it is the responsibility of each human person to contribute towards this consciousness of humanity, this noosphere.
10. Bohm also believes that the individual will eventually be fulfilled upon the completion of cosmic noogenesis.
11. intelligence has always been at the very core of the Implicate Order.
(cont. of 10) 12. It will be ultimately misleading and indeed wrong to suppose.. that each human being is an independent actuality who interacts with other human beings and with nature. Rather, all these are projections of a single totality.
Here we look at Love from a Hindu standpoint. The similarities between the pictures of Paul, Stephen, physicist David Bohm and the Hindu are striking.
This article can be read in the e-journal METANEXUS. The link is provided below:
By Augustine Pamplany
Fr. Augustine Pamplany CST is presently the dean of Philosophy at Little Flower Seminary, Institute of Philosophy and Religion, Aluva, India. He did his postgraduate studies in philosophy of science at Jnana-Deepa Vidyapeeth of Pune. The philosophy of quantum mechanics was his area of specialization for his Masters in Philosophy. He is a regular visiting staff of Jnana-Deepa Vidyapeeth of Pune and St. Joseph's Pontifical Seminary, Aluva, India. He has occupied himself with an Eastern Religious appropriation of the developments in modern science. He is also the founder-director of the Institute of Science and Religion based at Little Flower Seminary, Aluva. His publications include books on science and religion in English and Malayalam, his mother tongue, and several articles to various national and International Journals of India. He won the Templeton Foundation's Students' Essay Competition Award (II prize) in 1998. He has also won the Young Literarists' Award of the Literary Association of Kottayam in Kerala for his writings in Malayalam
The rich Eastern allusions to love and altruism draw substantively complementary theoretical tools from the metaphysical and theological underpinnings of the emerging scientific worldview. The "cosmotheandric" vision of reality which is the core of the Hindu mystical perspectives binding the perennial problematic trio of philosophy and theology, viz., God, world and the human, in an intuitive matrix of communion and interrelatedness serves as the solid metaphysical and conceptual foundation for an ontology of love and as the universal axiomatic norm for an altruistic praxis.