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Scientific proof for fairies

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Scientific proof for fairies sawfoot _ 10/27/13 6:58 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Tom Tom 10/27/13 6:53 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Adam . . 10/28/13 12:43 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Daniel M. Ingram 10/28/13 6:21 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Daniel M. Ingram 10/29/13 9:31 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies sawfoot _ 10/29/13 11:52 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Bruno Loff 10/30/13 6:02 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Shel S 10/30/13 9:43 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies . Jake . 10/30/13 12:09 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies sawfoot _ 10/30/13 4:40 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies . Jake . 10/31/13 8:14 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies sawfoot _ 10/31/13 2:20 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Brian Eleven 10/31/13 2:24 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Bryn Shyndor 10/31/13 7:53 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies sawfoot _ 11/1/13 4:54 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Bruno Loff 11/1/13 3:02 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies sawfoot _ 11/1/13 5:43 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Daniel M. Ingram 11/1/13 6:11 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Tom Tom 11/1/13 7:44 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies J C 11/1/13 11:26 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Daniel M. Ingram 11/2/13 9:48 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Tom Tom 11/2/13 1:28 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Daniel M. Ingram 11/2/13 1:26 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Tom Tom 11/11/13 12:59 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Tom Tom 11/11/13 12:59 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Daniel M. Ingram 11/2/13 1:48 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Tom Tom 11/2/13 1:52 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Daniel M. Ingram 11/2/13 2:01 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Daniel M. Ingram 11/2/13 1:29 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies J C 11/2/13 1:26 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Daniel M. Ingram 11/1/13 11:42 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Tom Tom 11/2/13 1:25 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Daniel M. Ingram 11/2/13 1:14 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Tom Tom 11/2/13 3:01 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Daniel M. Ingram 11/2/13 8:00 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Daniel M. Ingram 11/2/13 10:36 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Erasmas II 11/2/13 12:32 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Daniel M. Ingram 11/2/13 2:42 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Erasmas II 11/2/13 3:37 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies J C 11/2/13 12:50 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies sawfoot _ 11/2/13 2:08 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies sawfoot _ 11/2/13 1:58 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Banned For waht? 11/2/13 2:54 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Daniel M. Ingram 11/2/13 3:08 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies J C 11/2/13 4:11 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies sawfoot _ 12/22/13 2:45 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies J C 11/2/13 4:27 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Daniel M. Ingram 11/2/13 9:32 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies J C 11/2/13 11:35 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Daniel M. Ingram 11/3/13 12:17 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies sawfoot _ 11/4/13 11:30 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Daniel M. Ingram 11/2/13 9:01 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Shamadhi Sam 1/20/16 5:25 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Daniel M. Ingram 1/20/16 9:05 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Shamadhi Sam 1/20/16 10:26 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Daniel M. Ingram 1/24/16 4:59 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Tom Tom 11/2/13 5:38 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Tom Tom 11/8/13 6:25 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Jenny 8/26/14 1:31 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Eric M W 9/1/14 10:00 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Eric M W 9/1/14 8:15 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies sawfoot _ 9/2/14 3:45 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Eric M W 9/2/14 2:01 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Daniel M. Ingram 9/3/14 3:45 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Jeff Grove 9/5/14 7:33 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Tom Tom 9/6/14 2:11 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Jenny 9/6/14 9:47 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Jeff Grove 9/7/14 4:01 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Tom Tom 9/7/14 4:50 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Tom Tom 9/7/14 5:08 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Jenny 9/8/14 3:05 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies . Jake . 9/8/14 10:39 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies sawfoot _ 9/8/14 1:01 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies . Jake . 9/8/14 2:10 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies . Jake . 9/8/14 2:17 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies sawfoot _ 9/8/14 2:47 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies . Jake . 9/8/14 3:33 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Eric M W 9/7/14 7:12 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies John Wilde 9/7/14 8:09 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Teague 9/7/14 10:14 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Tom Tom 9/8/14 3:21 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Jenny 9/8/14 2:53 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies sawfoot _ 9/8/14 9:37 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Jeff Grove 9/12/14 6:54 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Jeremy May 9/13/14 12:28 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies sawfoot _ 9/13/14 1:54 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Jeff Grove 9/13/14 8:45 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies sawfoot _ 9/15/14 4:51 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Jeremy May 9/15/14 6:06 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Daniel - san 9/15/14 6:29 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies sawfoot _ 9/7/14 3:01 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Jenny 9/6/14 9:56 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Bruno Loff 11/4/13 4:51 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Daniel M. Ingram 11/4/13 5:39 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Bruno Loff 11/4/13 6:36 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Daniel M. Ingram 11/4/13 9:50 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Daniel M. Ingram 11/4/13 9:25 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies J C 11/4/13 10:46 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies sawfoot _ 11/4/13 12:18 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Bruno Loff 11/4/13 11:44 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies sawfoot _ 11/4/13 12:19 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies J C 11/4/13 3:33 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Daniel M. Ingram 11/5/13 8:46 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies J C 11/5/13 5:44 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Daniel M. Ingram 11/5/13 9:57 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Daniel M. Ingram 11/5/13 10:05 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies J C 11/5/13 12:41 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies J C 11/5/13 12:19 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies . Jake . 11/5/13 12:57 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Jenny 9/1/14 3:06 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Paul Bradford 9/1/14 7:29 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Jenny 9/13/14 4:13 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies sawfoot _ 9/15/14 5:14 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Jenny 9/23/14 5:08 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies sawfoot _ 9/17/14 2:28 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Jenny 9/17/14 9:56 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies sawfoot _ 9/19/14 8:16 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Jeremy May 10/8/14 12:27 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies sawfoot _ 11/6/13 5:00 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Bruno Loff 11/6/13 5:34 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Antonius Block 11/6/13 6:42 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies J C 11/6/13 1:25 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies J C 11/6/13 1:28 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Bruno Loff 11/6/13 3:38 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies J C 11/6/13 4:03 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Bruno Loff 11/7/13 12:39 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies J C 11/7/13 3:26 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Bruno Loff 11/7/13 10:32 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies sawfoot _ 11/7/13 1:52 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Daniel M. Ingram 11/8/13 4:47 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies J C 11/8/13 7:08 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies sawfoot _ 11/8/13 8:24 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Daniel M. Ingram 11/8/13 9:28 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies sawfoot _ 11/8/13 11:45 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Daniel M. Ingram 11/8/13 12:30 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Daniel M. Ingram 11/8/13 12:28 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Bruno Loff 11/8/13 1:29 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Bruno Loff 11/9/13 5:10 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Nikolai . 11/9/13 6:07 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Bruno Loff 11/9/13 7:05 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies J C 11/9/13 4:50 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Daniel M. Ingram 11/9/13 7:18 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Daniel M. Ingram 11/11/13 12:12 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Bruno Loff 11/11/13 2:38 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Tom Tom 11/11/13 6:15 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies J C 11/11/13 6:59 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Tom Tom 11/12/13 3:20 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Tom Tom 11/12/13 3:37 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies sawfoot _ 11/8/13 2:23 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Daniel M. Ingram 11/8/13 8:58 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies sawfoot _ 11/9/13 4:51 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Bruno Loff 11/9/13 6:48 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies J C 11/9/13 5:01 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Bruno Loff 11/10/13 1:43 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies sawfoot _ 11/13/13 7:35 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Bruno Loff 11/13/13 12:35 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies sawfoot _ 11/14/13 8:54 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Daniel - san 9/10/14 2:20 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies sawfoot _ 9/10/14 1:56 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Eric M W 9/10/14 3:35 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Daniel - san 9/11/14 8:21 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Daniel M. Ingram 9/11/14 8:38 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Daniel M. Ingram 11/15/13 4:35 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies sawfoot _ 9/2/14 3:35 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Ivo B 11/25/13 2:59 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies sawfoot _ 11/26/13 5:57 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies J C 1/21/14 10:53 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Daniel M. Ingram 11/9/13 8:11 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Daniel M. Ingram 11/9/13 10:35 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies James Yen 11/9/13 1:34 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies J C 11/9/13 5:14 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Daniel M. Ingram 11/9/13 9:59 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Beoman Claudiu Dragon Emu Fire Golem 11/10/13 1:15 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Daniel M. Ingram 11/9/13 10:11 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies J C 11/10/13 3:16 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Banned For waht? 11/10/13 1:20 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Ivo B 11/22/13 8:17 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies sawfoot _ 11/22/13 8:43 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies J C 11/6/13 1:41 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Bruno Loff 11/4/13 3:59 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Brian Eleven 10/31/13 2:22 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies sawfoot _ 10/31/13 3:32 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Brian Eleven 10/31/13 5:34 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Nikolai . 10/31/13 7:03 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Bryn Shyndor 10/31/13 7:48 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies Anne Cripps 11/13/13 2:11 PM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies sawfoot _ 11/14/13 8:33 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies magpie 2/15/19 11:32 AM
RE: Scientific proof for fairies nickol lindsay 2/15/19 11:53 AM
Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
10/27/13 6:58 AM
I don't know if this old news for some people, but below there is a link to to a website which has some scientific proof for fairies (also known as pixies). They even have photos. I find this all very exciting! I know fairies are very much real but it is nice to have this confirmed scientifically.

http://pixiesarereal.weebly.com/scientific-proof.html


RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
10/27/13 6:53 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
10/28/13 12:43 AM as a reply to sawfoot _.
sawfoot _:
I don't know if this old news for some people, but below there is a link to to a website which has some scientific proof for fairies (also known as pixies). They even have photos. I find this all very exciting! I know fairies are very much real but it is nice to have this confirmed scientifically.

http://pixiesarereal.weebly.com/scientific-proof.html


u mad

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
10/28/13 6:21 AM as a reply to Adam . ..
Dats no fairie!

Dats a skeeter!

Come on down 'a Mississippi, we got 'em all over...

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
10/29/13 9:31 AM as a reply to sawfoot _.
There are people who share your point of view, sawfoot, just amped up and twisted a bit:

http://www.care2.com/causes/7-countries-that-still-kill-witches.html

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
10/29/13 11:52 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Funnily enough, on my old conventional wisdom thread I linked to some of this stuff. Here is what I said then directed to you:

"In these cases, those involved are actually following conventional wisdom of their society, and as argued by the person cited the magical beliefs can "work". But would you rather live in the world where we have rational scientific accounts of magic and witchcraft, or one in which in you can decide those certain circumstances where those rational accounts don't apply?"

Having said that, obviously fairies exist (I have actually seen them, despite their really good camouflage) but I don't know about witches. Still, we should keep an open mind!

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
10/30/13 6:02 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
There are people who share your point of view, sawfoot, just amped up and twisted a bit:

http://www.care2.com/causes/7-countries-that-still-kill-witches.html


What a weird comparison...

You seem to be implying that the demand for repeatable, controllable evidence for magick is unreasonable (?) Unreasonable, as in, a milder form of the same unreasonableness that leads people to which hunting...

They are in no way similar.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
10/30/13 9:43 AM as a reply to sawfoot _.
Out of curiousity, and serious question, is there scientific proof of jhanas?

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
10/30/13 12:09 PM as a reply to Shel S.
I think if Sawfoot is going to be consistent with his definition of science as materialist he would have to say no.

There may be scientific evidence of correlations between
a) brain states and
b) verbal reports of subjects
but how could there be materialist evidence of jhannas? It's a category error (if science is the same as materialism... if there is some possibility of a phenomenological component of science, then, that might be another story.)

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
10/30/13 4:40 PM as a reply to Shel S.
Shel S:
Out of curiousity, and serious question, is there scientific proof of jhanas?


Very little really, pretty much the only thing out there (to my knowledge) when I last looked into this:

Hagerty, M. R., Isaacs, J., Brasington, L., Shupe, L., Fetz, E. E., & Cramer, S. C. (2013). Case Study of Ecstatic Meditation: fMRI and EEG Evidence of Self-Stimulating a Reward System. Neural plasticity, 2013.

There is also an earlier poster/shorter paper - you can find them pdf on google scholar. Brasington has some ideas on his website which I think are quite reasonable, and Rick Hanson has some discussion in Buddha's brain.

Though it depends on what you exactly what it is you want to prove/demonstrate evidence for. It seems to be pretty obvious that evolution didn't evolve for us to have 4 material jhanas, 4 immaterial jhanas and 4 pure land jhanas. Funny isn't it they all involve the number 4...
So in that sense they aren't a "natural kind" (if we can ignore questions of what exactly that means) - instead they occur through operating upon existing systems of the brain that have evolved for other purposes. And every teacher seems to have their own definitions, so there seems to be a lot more graduality than is implied in the 4 part system (and the variants of hard and soft). But it is probably is capturing something systematic that we can describe and might be interesting scientifically.

In response to Jake, in my view scientific psychology needs more than just neural correlates and verbal reports (and has operated on that basis for a long time). For example, in the study of epilepsy.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
10/31/13 8:14 AM as a reply to sawfoot _.
Jake:

how could there be materialist evidence of jhannas? It's a category error (if science is the same as materialism... if there is some possibility of a phenomenological component of science, then, that might be another story.)


sawfoot _:

In response to Jake, in my view scientific psychology needs more than just neural correlates and verbal reports (and has operated on that basis for a long time). For example, in the study of epilepsy.


Sidestepping the point I think-- but anyhow, do you have a link for these studies of epilepsy? And do they treat phenomena explicitly as evidence? First person experience as 'evidence'? If so what a cool advancement of science! If not, then what do they have besides materialist evidence (such as brain scans, reports, or other external, third-person evidence?).

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
10/31/13 2:20 PM as a reply to . Jake ..
Sidestepped as it is a non-issue to me.

Two points:

1. Scientists don't sit around thinking "oh no, we can't include subjective experience as evidence because that it would endanger our materialist stance on the universe!". Because scientists aren't philosophers. Scientists/psychologists will make use of whatever evidence is available in order to help them address questions of interest. Multiple kinds of evidence help to converge on an understanding, as any one source of evidence will have limitations and weaknesses. Traditionally, introspection as a source of evidence (in strong sense, i.e. phenomenology) has not been popular, due to well known problems of its reliability, but it doesn't mean we rule it out entirely. Like any source of evidence it has its strengths and weakeness.
2. However, in a more broad sense, introspective reports are fundamental to psychology. You present a colour to a subject. You ask for a response - am I subjectively experiencing blue or green? - press the left or right button accordingly.

Here is a study as an example, which I don't think is interesting or novel due to its use of phenomenology, but because it might give us some insight into what could be going wrong in the brain when people like Daniel have experiences of magical powers:

Phenomenology of hallucinations, illusions, and delusions as part of seizure semiology

In partial epilepsy, a localized hypersynchronous neuronal discharge evolving into a partial seizure affecting a particular cortical region or cerebral subsystem can give rise to subjective symptoms, which are perceived by the affected person only, that is, ictal hallucinations, illusions, or delusions. When forming the beginning of a symptom sequence leading to impairment of conciousness and/or a classic generalized seizure, these phenomena are referred to as an epileptic aura, but they also occur in isolation. They often manifest in the fully awake state, as part of simple partial seizures, but they also can be associated to different degrees of disturbed conciousness. Initial ictal symptoms often are closely related to the physiological functions of the cortical circuit involved and, therefore, can provide localizing information. When brain regions related to sensory integration are involved, the seizure discharge can cause specific kinds of hallucinations, for example, visual, auditory, gustatory, olfactory, and cutaneous sensory sensations. In addition to these elementary sensory perceptions, quite complex hallucinations related to a partial seizure can arise, for example, perception of visual scenes or hearing music. By involving psychic and emotional spheres of human perception, many seizures also give rise to hallucinatory emotional states (e.g., fear or happiness) or even more complex hallucinations (e.g., visuospatial phenomena), illusions (e.g., déjà vu, out-of-body experience), or delusional beliefs (e.g., identity change) that often are not easily recognized as epileptic. Here we suggest a classification into elementary sensory, complex sensory, and complex integratory seizure symptoms. Epileptic hallucinations, illusions, and delusions shine interesting light on the physiology and functional anatomy of brain regions involved and their functions in the human being. This article, in which 10 cases are described, introduces the fascinating phenomenology of subjective seizure symptoms.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1525505010002696

Paper is behind a paywall



EDIT:
Forgot to mention that obviously there is nothing wrong with my brain when I see fairies.

And my girlfriend saw one the other day and manage to bag a selfie:


RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
10/31/13 2:22 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
A boy name B.S. Joseph found a fairy skeleton in his backyard. A picture of this beautiful creature is below. Scientists have been studying this skeleton since 2004 and still have not found out how fairies could communicate, what they ate, or how they flew so easily. Many believe this to be fake, but why would anyone fake this? Look at how amazing! If you look closely, there is still hair left. Also, the wings look like leaves, which is why we can't see them easy. They camouflage.

Fairy Sighted in Photo!!!!

Back in the 1970s, a photo was taken of a girl playing in her garden. Little did she know, a small fairy was fluttering around behind her head. See the photograph below:


Above is all the information provided on the above mentioned website(plus a poorly altered photo and the one above in the OP)

Who in the hell can imagine that this in any way resembles anything remotely approaching something any thinking human could accept as proof of anything.
This is less convincing then an infomercial...
Is it April fools day already??

Brian

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
10/31/13 2:24 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
Which one is your girlfriend?

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
10/31/13 3:32 PM as a reply to Brian Eleven.
Brian Eleven:


Who in the hell can imagine that this in any way resembles anything remotely approaching something any thinking human could accept as proof of anything.
This is less convincing then an infomercial...
Is it April fools day already??



Brian, you may find it comforting to consider it some kind of joke, but have you even seen a fairy?

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
10/31/13 5:34 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
Please answer the question.
How can what is on that website be considered proof of anything? I posted all the scientific proof in my original post.
If you have proof, present it, but that is just pathetic!

Brian

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
10/31/13 7:03 PM as a reply to Brian Eleven.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oavMtUWDBTM

Mr Trollolo.

EDIT: If you look closely, you might see a faery hiding in his front jacket pocket.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
10/31/13 7:48 PM as a reply to Nikolai ..
Wow! Thanks for the link! That was the first video I have seen of someone actually in nibbana,
but don't be fooled by the fairy it folded itself up transdimensionally to look like a common handkerchief....

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
10/31/13 7:53 PM as a reply to Shel S.
There are some real brain scan studies of monks in Gamma Wave brain states that were previously thought to be inaccessible in humans, They were meditating...

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/1/13 4:54 AM as a reply to Bryn Shyndor.
Bryan Eleven:

Please answer the question.
How can what is on that website be considered proof of anything? I posted all the scientific proof in my original post.
If you have proof, present it, but that is just pathetic!


From your response I take it you have never seen a fairy. According to the theosophists, those that are sufficiently enlightened should be able to see fairies and other etheric creatures. So it seems like you still have some work to do.

I wish Hermetically Sealed was still around on these forums. I bet he would back me up on this. In honour of his memory:

"Fairies are not born and do not die as we do, though they have their periods of outer activity and retirement. Allied to the lepidoptera, or butterfly genus, of our familiar acquaintance rather than to the mammalian line, they partake of certain characteristics that are obvious. There is little or no mentality awake--simply a gladsome, irresponsible joyousness of life that is abundantly in evidence in their enchanting abandon. The diminutive human form, so widely assumed, is doubtless due, at least in a great measure, to the powerful influence of human thought, the strongest creative power in our cycle."

"But there is quite another kind of little creature which is very frequently seen playing about with flowers, and this time it is a real nature spirit. There are many varieties of these also. One of the commonest forms is, as I have said, something very much like a humming-bird, and it may often be seen buzzing round the flowers much in the same way as a humming-bird or a bee does. These beautiful little creatures will never become human, because they are not in the same line of evolution as we are. The life which is now animating them has come up through grasses and cereals, such as wheat and oats, when it was in the vegetable kingdom, afterwards through ants and bees when it was in the animal kingdom. Now it has reached the level of these tiny nature spirits, and its next stage will be to ensoul some of the beautiful fairies with etheric bodies who live upon the surface of the earth. Later on they will become salamanders, or fire spirits, and later still they will become sylphs, or air spirits, having only astral bodies instead of etheric. Later still they will pass through the different stages of the great kingdom of the angels."

http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/eng/cof/cof11.htm

Bryn Shyndor:
There are some real brain scan studies of monks in Gamma Wave brain states that were previously thought to be inaccessible in humans, They were meditating...


Actually, those high levels of Gamma are accessible to humans outside of meditation practice, you just have to be psychotic, schizophrenic or epileptic. Funny that.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/1/13 3:02 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
sawfoot_: I am bored by your particular flavor of skeptic's pride. I find your analysis of this theme to be morose, superficial and of little merit.

It's a bit like someone who had never fallen in love just going on and on about the subject, and how irrational it is, and how illusory it is, etc.

After having experimented with magick very briefly, I think that a more interesting and nuanced critique will only be possible if you have experienced the thing itself.

I expect you will find that magick is at least as real as love, and a lot more common. Your idea that people are just having irrelevant hallucinations is simplistic and off target. Besides, some acquaintance with magick offers a surprising, sophisticated, subtle, useful perspective on perception (your own and others').

If you want we can meet by skype or such, and I will describe the two or three episodes when I have purposefully engaged in magick, and summarize the many many more when I realized it was happening under the hood, and that might help you get a better feeling for what I think it is really about.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/1/13 5:43 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Bruno Loff:
sawfoot_: I am bored by your particular flavor of skeptic's pride. I find your analysis of this theme to be morose, superficial and of little merit.

It's a bit like someone who had never fallen in love just going on and on about the subject, and how irrational it is, and how illusory it is, etc.

After having experimented with magick very briefly, I think that a more interesting and nuanced critique will only be possible if you have experienced the thing itself.

I expect you will find that magick is at least as real as love, and a lot more common. Your idea that people are just having irrelevant hallucinations is simplistic and off target. Besides, some acquaintance with magick offers a surprising, sophisticated, subtle, useful perspective on perception (your own and others').

If you want we can meet by skype or such, and I will describe the two or three episodes when I have purposefully engaged in magick, and summarize the many many more when I realized it was happening under the hood, and that might help you get a better feeling for what I think it is really about.


Hi Bruno!

I take it you have never seen a fairy either...

You got me! There is no interesting analysis of a theme, no nuanced critique. But that is not the point of (a clumsy attempt at) satire. And you may or may not understand my point (the main point, ignoring those parts where I got sidetracked).

In regard to one of those sidetracks, I think its fair to say that some experiences for which people attribute paranomal explanations to stem from hallucinations (though I don't know the difference between a relevant and an irrelevant hallucination). This is a simple point and on-target as far as my point goes.

I wasn't aiming directly at Magick, but anyhow, Magick may be very interesting and deep, and I imagine I could find some value in it if I explored it further. But there is that word "just" you use. Just because you have an explanation of a phenomena doesn't necessarily demean it. If it were true that in some of the cases where you had some Magickal explanation of a Magickal experience, which was later superseded by an alternative explanation that partly or even fully invalided the Magickal explanation, would it necessarily invalidate that "surprising, sophisticated, subtle, useful perspective on perception" or your experiences of it?

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
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11/1/13 6:11 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
I agree with the critique that the analysis is superficial and is becoming a bit tiresome.

Part of what is missing is another way of looking at the thing, a meta-way of looking at it, borrowing in some ways from the Chaos Magick paradigm, which is a meta-paradigm in some ways.

Specifically, by viewing magick as "real", it becomes workable and even possible in ways that viewing it as "unreal" or worse, hallucination or psychosis, simply doesn't seem to allow in the same way.

So, the view, being a part of the functional machinery of the thing, modifies the functionality.

I personally view magick as being something integral to my experience and the functioning of my experiential world. It allows all sorts of things to be embraced and played with in creative ways that I think viewing them as some variant of insanity simply wouldn't.

What is interesting is that I get to see genuine, function-reducing mental illness when working in emergency departments, and I can tell you that it looks nothing like what the powers do in the functionally sane. None of the people hearing voices or having hallucinations seem to get anything good out of it or be able to do cool and useful things with them. The entire vibe and effect is different.

Example: I threw my back out swinging a heavy duffle back up into a moving van after spending a few hours moving heavy boxes and packing. I could barely stand up straight, the left side of my back was totally knotted up, and the pain was moderate to bad, depending on what I tried to do. Two days working with it didn't help. I tried yoga, a professional massage, and other basic tricks, still couldn't stand up straight. I had to drive 6 hours home and then drive 3 hours and work a shift the day after that, so something had to happen. Being as I had no other obvious resources to turn to and I wouldn't be able to see my chiropractor for a week due to scheduling problems, I turned to magick.

I spent about 3.5 hours mixing the following things while driving down the interstate, something I don't necessarily recommended:

1) strong resolutions to have my back unlock
2) meticulous careful investigation of the energy channels in my body and any blockages I found in them
3) visualization of the symmetry of my body being restored

Nothing happened for the first about 3 hours, then I started to notice all sorts of stuff, channels, imbalances, yellow energy, black distortions of the energy on the left side, subtle things about space and symmetry, and then after about 30 minutes of that, the entire left side of my body and visual field vanished for about a second, almost like what would happen in a Fruition but only involving half of the experience field, and when it reappeared my back suddenly totally unlocked and was just fine: pain free, totally functional, able to stand up.

I am going to bet that someone with your paradigm couldn't pull that off.

You can call it what you like. I call it effective.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
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11/1/13 7:44 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
What is interesting is that I get to see genuine, function-reducing mental illness when working in emergency departments, and I can tell you that it looks nothing like what the powers do in the functionally sane. None of the people hearing voices or having hallucinations seem to get anything good out of it or be able to do cool and useful things with them. The entire vibe and effect is different.


You get to "see" (as observation) genuine, function-reducing mental illness, but have you experienced it yourself? Would you recommend magickal approaches to helping these people in their situations? Likely, I think not, because I'm willing to bet you and other doctors would think it could result in a detrimental effect on their symptoms.

The two would causally start to bleed and overlap with each other (to the point where it would not be possible to differentiate them, in experience) if such advice were given. Magick does not operate independently of the hallucinations and delusions that people with mental illness experience. This is not to say that I'm arguing that people with schizophrenia are experiencing something "spiritual," but rather that I'm willing to bet if these people started exploring the powers then their experience of the powers (astral travel, other realms, psychic phenomena, etc, etc) would be greatly amplified (for better or worse) beyond the range of what someone who is "functionally sane" would experience. It would be amplified to the degree that the person would likely not be able to "control" the phenomena appropriately and it would further contribute to lower levels of functioning.

The powers are controlled and properly manipulated forms of psychosis that don't get labeled as psychosis since they are being properly manipulated and controlled. Where control and manipulation are absent, there is psychosis (psychosis in the non-mental-illness-specific use of the word) . Where control and manipulation are present, there is magick. In reality, there is no controller etc, etc, but rather I use the word control in the case where the maintenance of bodily health and social function is preserved. Mental illness is when the maintenance of bodily health and social function is not preserved. There is no line between magick and mental illness as a person who decides to play around with the powers and subsequently is unable to contain or control what they are doing may lapse into madness/mental illness (defined where the person can no longer maintain bodily health and/or social obligations and/or appropriate social behavior.

Someone may be staunchly 100% convinced that their experiences are "magickal" and not psychosis or mental illness (meaning they are operating within the paradigm that their experiences are magick and not psychosis). if the person is unable to properly maintain normal social behavior and bodily health, then it is irrelevant what paradigm they may be carrying and their condition is psychosis (and a more severe one because they lack the insight that their symptoms are ones of psychosis).

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
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11/1/13 11:26 PM as a reply to Tom Tom.
Calling it "mental illness" is a bit too far. It's fiction, like a dream, guided imagery meditation, or fantasy. Of course it's not real, but people believe all kinds of crazy things and it doesn't make them mentally ill, just less able to apply reason to their experiences.

It blows my mind that people who are otherwise incredibly intelligent and thoughtful, even arahats, think there's something to this magic stuff. I guess it's a good reminder that we're all flawed and even enlightenment doesn't make you perfect. I'm sure there's some really stupid stuff that I believe... I'm not trying to say that I know everything or that I'm superior to the arahats here. I respect their vast skills and experience and everything that they contribute. But I do know something: magic ain't real.

(It would be *so easy* to prove it if you did have magical powers... I urge you to try, if you really think you do. It would be mindblowing and it would revolutionize our knowledge about the world.)

Anyway, I loved sawfoot's post... thanks for fighting the good fight, and it definitely helps to see that there are many different viewpoints on the question of magic.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
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11/1/13 11:42 PM as a reply to Tom Tom.
You are right in that I wouldn't recommend playing with powers to the actively psychotic, just as I don't recommend that they do a lot of things, such as drive, operate heavy equipment, fly airplanes, practice medicine, purchase firearms, sit in the US congress, and the like, things that the non-psychotic often do just fine.

That they are the same thing is not entirely clear to me. That the experiences have similar qualities in some ways: definitely. That they probably share some similar brain center activation as a working hypothesis: probably. That you can simply lump them into the same thing and have it work out: I actually don't think so. It would be like saying that dreams and the waking world are exactly the same just because they both involve experiences of the sense doors (hearing, seeing, feeling, thinking, etc.): ok, you can make the argument, but it is missing a ton about the differing functionality, as is the case here.

Here's another example:

I have some family members that require pretty large amounts of support, support that can be taxing. I spent a few months very consciously doing explicit magickal work to help bring something good to the situation. I would visualize all aspects of the people, the situation, the history, the resources available, the possible resolutions and outcomes, the likely limitations to the situation, my internal reactions, the energetics of it, the ethics of it, and similar things, feeling out into space for some way to move something or push something or release something that would help. This went on basically every day for some period of times for a few months, and then, one day while doing this, 3 golden pulses of light shot out of my heart center, like wave-fronts out into space, the most immediate effect of which was some very large release of tension and unease around the situation, an effect that has persisted, and it made a real positive functional difference in the whole way I relate to the situation. What other effects it will have it still unknown and can't be fully determined any, given how large the system is and the many factors influencing it, but the effect on this end was huge.

You could call it self-created psychotherapy with hallucinations or whatever, but the effect is the same, and an effect that I will bet that someone who wasn't willing to work in that paradigm would be unlikely to be able to pull off in the same way.

I don't see any of my mental health patients describing anything therapeutic at all about anything they experience in the realm of psychosis, nor do they bring that sort of consciousness and intent to the thing. In fact, I have a running joke with a number of the psychotic patients who we see often about how the voices never say nice things like, "Wow, you are doing great! You are such a good person! Go back to school and finish your degree and remember to brush your teeth!" and the visions are never of nice things like fairies and butterflies, but nearly always of demons, shadows, phantoms, dead people, mobsters out to get them, and the like. None of them would go seeking hallucinations, none of them like the voices, and none of them ever seem to figure out how to get anything good out of them and they can't shut it off when they wish.

It is like comparing a smallpox vaccine to smallpox just because both are live viruses that can leave a scar and induce a fever, yet their effect is really, really different: one rid the world of a disease, and the other was the disease, one is a choice created by brilliant minds to make the world a better place, the other an affliction, one extremely effective and health-promoting, the other killed about 1/3 of the native population of the Americas, so I have heard estimated. So it is with magick and psychosis: you can come up with all sorts of similarities and parallels, but this misses tons of functional differences that aren't that obvious to those who haven't gotten some experience with the good that working on a powers-level can accomplish.

Just because vaccines sometimes cause side effects is not a reason to lump them into the category of diseases that cause those same side effects. Just as the medicines I use in the emergency department can sometimes cause side-effects, I don't classify them as poisons. Imagine if I said to the patient, "Ok, I am going to give you some poison," how they would react: they obviously wouldn't want it! That is what classifying the powers as psychosis is doing: it is really making a huge error in cognition that will make people less likely to think about using them skillfully and healthfully. Just like with medicines: give the right dose to the right patient for the right thing.

For those not properly trained in giving those medications, real trouble could result. You wouldn't want some guy off the street determining what medicine you got and how much in the emergency department. That doesn't mean the medicines are poison. Just as people not trained to drive getting behind the wheel of a car could cause trouble, that doesn't mean that cars are just accident machines. You wouldn't herd cattle into a Google server room. You wouldn't give a loaded firearm to a 2 year-old, or even let them into the bottles under the kitchen sink, bottles you use all the time without problems.

The powers are like all those ordinary things that respond well to training, knowledge, experience and common sense and don't go as well without it. It is true that occasionally something does go wrong, as with basically everything we do, including just getting out of bed in the morning (I can't tell you how dangerous this gets to be as people get older and more frail: they fall and break hips doing this all the time). People slip in the tub all the time, but I don't classify tubs as death traps. Same with the powers: calling them psychosis just because the untrained often don't do that well with them, or relating them to psychosis just because they share some common elements: this is just simple ignorance.

I believe that these things make me mentally and physically better off and have numerous examples to show it. Someone depriving themselves of that just because of some theoretical ontology they can't possibly definitely prove is an example of needless self-deprivation, a waste of available options, a senseless austerity, a self-imposed disempowerment, like a person refusing to open there eyes because someone told them color was an illusion created in the brain with lots of pre-processing in the retina and only a mere false representation of frequencies and quanta of energy that weren't the direct experience of the "real thing". Yet, illusion or otherwise, it is really useful to be able to see. Same with the powers. You could call the act of seeing "biochemistry and neurobiology" or "magick" or "hallucinations" or "sensations" or "extremely helpful": which makes more sense to you?

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/2/13 1:25 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
That they are the same thing is not entirely clear to me. That the experiences have similar qualities in some ways: definitely. That they probably share some similar brain center activation as a working hypothesis: probably. That you can simply lump them into the same thing and have it work out: I actually don't think so.


I didn't say they were exactly the same. I said they are not causally independent (for people who experience both) and they can become indistinguishable.

I don't see any of my mental health patients describing anything therapeutic at all about anything they experience in the realm of psychosis, nor do they bring that sort of consciousness and intent to the thing. In fact, I have a running joke with a number of the psychotic patients who we see often about how the voices never say nice things like, "Wow, you are doing great! You are such a good person! Go back to school and finish your degree and remember to brush your teeth!" and the visions are never of nice things like fairies and butterflies, but nearly always of demons, shadows, phantoms, dead people, mobsters out to get them, and the like. None of them would go seeking hallucinations, none of them like the voices, and none of them ever seem to figure out how to get anything good out of them and they can't shut it off when they wish.


People are much much less likely to go to an emergency room if their hallucinations are being positive. Manic A&P-like psychoses/hallucinations actually do tend to run positive with fairies and butterflies and everything (for first episodes especially). People start thinking they are Jesus himself! Demons/shadows/ are often par for the course in a depressive Dark Night-like psychosis. Also, the positive generally tends to pair with the negative and you state this as a warning in MCTB:

Whether you choose to ignore them, give them lots of attention, mention them to your guests, get down on your knees and begin praying, or run screaming out the door will have different implications for your actual life. These implications should be carefully considered when conducting yourself in the face of such experiences. On a side note, if you have learned to see angels, you will probably run into devils soon enough.


When the powers become so overwhelming in someone's experience that the person spends their weeks creating universes and talking to spirits instead of eating, sleeping or talking to actual people, then how is this different than psychosis? If the powers knock out normal "day-to-day" function then that is psychosis (and this isn't as voluntary a process as you make it sound in MCTB in the quote above) . I'm not suggesting that it is schizophrenia or any specific mental illness, but it is most definitely psychosis regardless of whether or not it re-occurs as part of a pattern that can then be later diagnosed and identified as a mental illness. This is what I mean by saying that they can become indistinguishable for people who are already prone to psychosis.

edit: In addition to this, most psychosis is very difficult to describe. You're likely forgetting the psychotic patients in your emergency room who don't bother to describe their experience or who are keeping their mouth shut because they're off in a hyper-vision quest la-la-land.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
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11/2/13 9:48 AM as a reply to J C.
J C:
Calling it "mental illness" is a bit too far. It's fiction, like a dream, guided imagery meditation, or fantasy. Of course it's not real, but people believe all kinds of crazy things and it doesn't make them mentally ill, just less able to apply reason to their experiences.

It blows my mind that people who are otherwise incredibly intelligent and thoughtful, even arahats, think there's something to this magic stuff. I guess it's a good reminder that we're all flawed and even enlightenment doesn't make you perfect. I'm sure there's some really stupid stuff that I believe... I'm not trying to say that I know everything or that I'm superior to the arahats here. I respect their vast skills and experience and everything that they contribute. But I do know something: magic ain't real.

(It would be *so easy* to prove it if you did have magical powers... I urge you to try, if you really think you do. It would be mindblowing and it would revolutionize our knowledge about the world.)

Anyway, I loved sawfoot's post... thanks for fighting the good fight, and it definitely helps to see that there are many different viewpoints on the question of magic.


Alright, for those who wish for more, here goes:

A Comparison of Three Treatment Modalities for Back Spasm, by Dr Daniel M Ingram, MD MSPH FAAEM FACEP, ABEM Diplomat

Last Spring I sprained my back. The story I tell about fixing my back a few posts ago is just the end of the story. Here is the beginning. I can't remember at this point how it happened, but the effect was that any movement of my back was really painful, I had to roll over and use my arms just to sit up, and standing up straight was totally impossible. I had to sleep curled up in a ball as laying flat on my back was impossible, as was laying on my stomach. It was really hard to sleep and it made my fast paced ED job very difficult. This went on for a week. I kept thinking it would just get better, but it totally didn't. A fellow physician who had had some similar problems saw me all bent over and said, "Hey, you should go see my Chiropractor friend Ben," and he called Ben up, and Ben agreed to see me the next day.

The Chiropractor is the first modality. He was also an acupuncturist, but I will combine that into one modality. He put me on an articulating table, did some adjustments in which I bounced up and down rapidly with pressure on certain points. It really hurt. He put 28 needles into my lumbar spine area and left me there for about 10 minutes. After all of that, I was about 15% better, which meant I was still barely functional. Cost so far: for me, nothing, as I had insurance, other than the time and pain, of course, for the insurance company, not sure, but let's say it was $100. This is just a guess, but I will bet it is not that far off.

That evening I had to work a shift again, and my colleagues all took pity on me and were quite sure something must be horribly wrong. At the end of my shift I signed in as a patient. This is the second modality. It involved an IV, labs, a urinalysis and an MRI of my Lumbar spine. It took a few hours. The IV really hurt, much worse than the acupuncture needles did. The result: nothing, except now I have a permanent rider on one of my disability policies against covering me from disability due to my back, as it all went on my medical record. The doctor, a good friend, gave me the hard sell to take opiate pain medications until it went away. I declined his offer of addictive, constipating, side-effect producing medications and went home 4 hours later than I would have otherwise after a 10-hour, totally painful shift. Total cost to me: 4 hours, one IV of pain, 4 hours lost sleep, $200 copay. Total cost to insurance company: I am guessing a few thousand dollars. Total result: no better at all, time and money wasted.

I went back to the chiropractor the next day, and he put 5 needles deep into the tendons of my groin. They actually didn't hurt much, though it was an extremely creepy thing to have done, but the sensations they produces were remarkable: strange electrical sensations, odd movements in other limbs, and my back began to straighten out. When they pulled out the needles I was 90% better, and within about 30 minutes it was all gone. Total cost to me: nothing but time and the creepy feeling of the needles, cost to insurance company, I am guessing another $100 or so. Total result: cured.

So far, the chiropractor who used acupuncture is in the lead by a long shot in terms of pain, cost, and effectiveness.

Let's consider modality #3, mentioned above, that I applied the next time my back went out, in which I simply turned my mind to the problem with a magickal paradigm and methods, had a bunch of interesting visual and energetic experiences that you would term either non-existent or pathological or psychotic or all of those, and 3.5 hours later, at no cost and with no pain, and without even interruption of my travel plans, I was cured, and it was totally fascinating to boot and fun.

If you were a health-care administrator, which would you want to see happening? Clearly, magick wins on all fronts, with chiropractor/acupuncture second and standard medicine a dead last.

If you were a patient, which would you prefer? I am guessing the third one unless you are basically a masochist or really crazy.

Why would you deprive people of those sorts of methods and effects at that price-point and with that side-effect profile? Why would you prefer the "scientific" approach that modern medicine represents? It is not that there aren't lots of good things we can do in medicine, as I do them every day that I work, but it has serious limitations, and to break down those limitations and access the full healing powers that we have available to us, it is going to take some serious paradigm revision, all of which you seem determined to stand in the way of for no obviously good reason at all, a phenomena reminiscent of our recent government shutdown which was determined to make sure that some people didn't get health care: totally wasteful, totally crazy, totally ignorant.

I suspect someone is going to come up with some argument about mechanisms and all of that, but my question is: could you access the mechanisms that I accessed if you believed it was all psychosis or impossible? I am guessing not. Thus, belief is part of the mechanism, I will claim, so, those of you with broken mechanisms, it is not surprising you get no results and have the view you do, which just reinforces the effect, and you are caught in a dysfunctional, disempowered loop of delusion.

You are not fighting the good fight: you are depriving people of useful and powerful things if they are foolish enough to buy into your paradigm. You are causing damage and you don't even realize it. It is like people who don't like the maps of the progress of insight as they never had any insights, and so never really try insight practice in sufficient doses and with sufficiently good technique as they don't even believe in the intended results. Mushroom-factor all over again.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
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11/2/13 1:14 AM as a reply to Tom Tom.
Dear Tom Tom,

As I said, they are not for the mentally unstable, and things can go wrong, as with many things, and psychosis can also arise in totally ordinary people doing nothing resembling magickal practices, and, in fact, this is the vast majority.

Again, as I said, far better to have some training and conceptual frameworks around when getting into those, as with basically anything else.

For instance, many here have taken drugs, drugs that caused them to be altered. Most took them with a large amount of knowledge of their effects, their doses, the expected side effects, the duration of those effects, the risks, the benefits, and the appropriate setting and company to be in when they took them, as well as some things about how to manage what might happen.

The problem with the powers is that many don't go into them with this sort of background, so, oddly enough, the drug-users are generally vastly better prepared for the experiences that may result, as they are coming up in a culture where drugs are very common, where their parents very well may have done drugs, where drugs are in the media all the time (however oddly represented at points) and their peers will have some working knowledge of them. This is the closest parallel that I can come up with, though it is a flawed one, and I suspect that someone is going to jump all over this and take it the wrong way. There are all sorts of legal issues, quality control issues, addiction issues, moral issues, and other dangerous health issues and the like around this analogy that I hope people will not dwell on, as I am extremely aware of them, but the basics of the analogy still hold.

Same thing with strong concentration effects, with visions, with energetic things: most people are not coming up around people with strong magickal abilities, weren't raised by parents who had good magickal training, didn't come up in a peer group where discussions about magickal effects were common, didn't have a good theoretical background for going into them, didn't see anything like the real stuff represented in any movie or book that they read. It is a problem, to be sure.

Still, done well with good support and good frameworks and perspectives (meaning much better ones than "all powers are psychosis" or "none of this is real"), the problems that the uninformed can run into are much less likely, and the risks get much, much lower and the benefits much, much higher. I give those warnings because some people playing with the powers are like people given a random bag of drugs: god knows what might happen if they just start taking them and have no idea about dosing or their effects. It would be like putting a 5-year-old (or even plenty of adults) behind the wheel of a car: totally bad idea, and yet we don't demonize cars, just have a healthy respect for their uses and dangers and who should be operating them and how they should be trained and what rules of the road they should follow. See? Why is this so hard?

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
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11/2/13 1:28 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
could you access the mechanisms that I accessed if you believed it was all psychosis


This is a very negative take on the word "psychosis" that assumes all psychosis is totally delusional and unhelpful. The definition I am using (in my two posts above) is simply any (mental) state that renders someone nonfunctional for any period of time (in social and/or bodily function terms). This definition says nothing of any beneficial or detrimental value (or both) it may bring. Your experience with your back does not fit the bill since you were able to attend to all your normal obligations and had no period of nonfunctionality. On the other hand, if suddenly the process required you to lay in bed without moving for several days while you urinated and defecated yourself (to fix your back) then that would be a form of psychosis regardless of whether the back was fixed or not.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
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11/2/13 1:26 AM as a reply to Tom Tom.
Alright: Michelle Bachman and Ted Cruz: psychotic? Can't perform their jobs. Can't seem to sort out reality from fiction. Doing large amounts of damage and little good, and it results from what is going on in their minds.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
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11/2/13 1:29 AM as a reply to Tom Tom.
Is depression psychosis? It often renders people unable to function normally.

You are using a definition that is really different from the standard one, BTW, just so we get how we are each using our terms.

The standard manuals of psychiatry make a exception to the standard definition of psychosis for things in a spiritual setting that don't impair function, for those who don't have formal training in this stuff and may not know that, and there is a reason that they do, and it is based on the same logic I am using here. So interesting that the scientific and mainstream medical world knows this and the crowd here, who seems to think it is relatively expert on the subject of what science and mainstream views are, doesn't.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
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11/11/13 12:59 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Alright: Michelle Bachman and Ted Cruz: psychotic? Can't perform their jobs. Can't seem to sort out reality from fiction. Doing large amounts of damage and little good, and it results from what is going on in their minds.


There are three words used to describe "altered" experience: psychedelic, psychotomimetic (or "psychotic') and delirium. There are subtle differences between these three and often they can overlap and become indistinguishable. Similarly one could lump "powers" into these and there would be places they would overlap or become indistinguishable. "Psychosis" is appropriate when any of these renders someone nonfunctional in more "basic activities" like urinating, defecating, or normal social graces such as not pooping publicly in the subway because a (easily entertained) spirit told you this particular activity would help you with your back problem (regardless of whether it helps it or not).

Michelle Bachman and Ted Cruz do not fit any of these as the process of their "basic activities" are sound and intact.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
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11/11/13 12:59 AM as a reply to Tom Tom.
Is depression psychosis? It often renders people unable to function normally.


Depression can often involve psychosis and this is often called "depression with psychotic features." Lack of functionality is a necessary but not sufficient condition to call something psychosis. Generally, there has to be some form of unusual sensation that could be pulled from "psychedelic," "powers," "psychotic," or "delirium" (generically called "hallucinations and delusions").

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
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11/2/13 1:48 AM as a reply to Tom Tom.
Ok, take a Christian Mystical friend I have. During her conversion experience, she experienced herself, Jesus Christ and a palm tree as all being one and the same thing. She considers it the most profound and important experience she has ever had. I am guessing that during the moment it was going on she would have been basically incapable of normal function in the standard sense, though now she functions extremely well and at a vastly higher level than most. Was that psychosis in your personal definition?

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
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11/2/13 1:52 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Ok, take a Christian Mystical friend I have. During her conversion experience, she experienced herself, Jesus Christ and a palm tree as all being one and the same thing. She considers it the most profound and important experience she has ever had. I am guessing that during the moment it was going on she would have been basically incapable of normal function in the standard sense, though now she functions extremely well and at a vastly higher level than most. Was that psychosis in your personal definition?


No, this is not psychosis. This fits the category "psychedelic" and "powers." She may have been impaired, but she was not impaired for very long or in any significant manner. She was only impaired for a normal period that a psychedelic drug might impair someone. It wore off quickly in the same manner a drug would wear off.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
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11/2/13 2:01 AM as a reply to Tom Tom.
Alright, that is getting better.

As to manic episodes: actually people come in all the time with manic episodes, but usually someone else brought them in, such as a family member or the police, as they generally don't get that far before they get into trouble. I have some bipolar friends: essentially their mania to jail/ED/inpatient psych ratio is 1:1.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
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11/2/13 3:01 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Still, done well with good support and good frameworks and perspectives (meaning much better ones than "all powers are psychosis" or "none of this is real"), the problems that the uninformed can run into are much less likely, and the risks get much, much lower and the benefits much, much higher. I give those warnings because some people playing with the powers are like people given a random bag of drugs: god knows what might happen if they just start taking them and have no idea about dosing or their effects. It would be like putting a 5-year-old (or even plenty of adults) behind the wheel of a car: totally bad idea, and yet we don't demonize cars, just have a healthy respect for their uses and dangers and who should be operating them and how they should be trained and what rules of the road they should follow. See? Why is this so hard?


I didn't not see this particular post earlier and this is my response to it.

I think it is important, though difficult, to know the subtle differences and overlaps between "powers/siddhis," "psychedelic," "psychotomimetic/psychosis" and "delerium." For some people these are not causally independent and it is possible to experience more than one of these or all of these (even simultaneously) as a result of engaging in any particular one (though here I'm pointing out that engaging in "powers/siddhis" has the possibility to causally engage the other three categories. In experience, it can become impossible to distinguish between these while these symptoms are occurring.

The ideal and safest situation would be to make all "powers" fall into the "psychedelic" category (at the "worst") only. Insights happen, scary or bizarre hallucinations may occur, but it will wear off quickly without any significant social or occupational impairment similar to a psychedelic drug as your example with the Christian mystic.

However, this is not always possible and some people may experience more than these two categories (even simultaneously) when trying to engage with the powers or even just insight meditation. There are huge overlaps and someone could be having a "powers/siddhis" experience while also experiencing "psychosis" from the exact same set of symptoms/sensations. As I have stated, if the experience becomes "psychotic," then this does not necessarily invalidate the insights that would occur from the state. Rather, at this point, a person's social/occupational/bodily health becomes at risk.

This is particularly true for people who have previously experienced some form of psychosis from mental illness, though the powers->psychosis link could also occur in other vulnerable populations or simply from someone who becomes too obsessed with the "powers" to the exclusion of other life activities.

Using these categories as a framework and understanding their overlaps, limitations, and interconnected nature should serve much better than the below paradigms:

"all powers are psychosis" or "none of this is real"

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/2/13 8:00 AM as a reply to Tom Tom.
Tom Tom:
The ideal and safest situation would be to make all "powers" fall into the "psychedelic" category (at the "worst") only. Insights happen, scary or bizarre hallucinations may occur, but it will wear off quickly without any significant social or occupational impairment similar to a psychedelic drug as your example with the Christian mystic.


I am not sure that is true about the utility of everything powers-related falling into the psychedelic category either. I think that some aspects of them can resemble the effect of psychedelic drugs in some ways, true. That said, here is why I think the difference is really important.

When was the last time you heard one of your entheogen-doing friends say something like: after taking the psychedelic drug, I could see energy channels and manipulate them and it caused my back spasm to go away, and say this while experiencing no other side effects or distortions of perception of significance and be in a state of mind you would consider normal otherwise?

It is a crude lumping of something that can be much more skillful, much more sensible, much more controlled, much more reasonable and functional than the vast majority of what happens during hallucinogen-induced episodes. Just saying that they are all "psychedelic" "at worst... only" is still needless derogatory, missing much about how these things can happen, and their uses and side-effect profiles.

My example of the three golden waves that pulsed out of my heart-area and left me much more emotionally clear and clean about the situation: that shouldn't fall into the realm of the psychedelic just because it involved the visuals. It is really mixing up two things that both just happened to involve visuals.

Area all dreams "psychedelic"?

Are all your thoughts "psychedelic", as nearly every one of them involves some subtle visual aspect, even if you don't notice that?

When you imagine something, is that "psychedelic"?

When you intend to move your arm and your brain maps out a visual path of how the arm is going to go, is that "psychedelic"? It seems to be using a word that has heavy and somewhat negative 60's-70's overtones and lumping lots of things into it, in the same way that was going on a few posts ago with "psychosis". I think you are just asking for cognitive trouble and inconsistency thinking of these things in this way.

I agree with one basic point: that the notion of functionality needs to be kept in the criteria for whether or not things are going well and perhaps could be a part of how to classify these things, but it needs some additional terms and clarifiers that help put the necessary nuances on the thing, and I don't think that 'psychedelic" is a reasonable candidate.

Just as cars driven poorly, in bad conditions and/or when not maintained properly can cause people to wreck, and yet I don't classify all car driving as "wrecking" the car, just so calling all powers "psychosis" or "psychedelic" is missing something about how they can be used functionally.

Just because people may sometimes see things in the "ordinary world" that leave them temporarily or permanently emotionally scarred and traumatized, such as happens in war, for instance, or feel physical sensations that may leave them emotionally impaired, such as rape or severe pain, I don't classify all "seeing" and "feeling" itself as something bad or use some basically pejorative and culturally-loaded words to describe them just because somewhere in the far range of things related to them bad things can happen.

Bad things can happen in any realm of human endeavor and related to anything that we do or experience. I don't classify experience itself using broadly pejorative language just because of that. It is the "all life is suffering" mentality that the Buddha gets bashed for, when clearly he meant nothing like that at all, though he clearly did acknowledge the potential for great suffering, but he still used the tools he had available to make life better, and he used the powers all the time in that regard (albeit with appropriate warnings, as with anything powerful), if they texts are any indication.

Why that persistent linguistic habit? What is underlying that? If there is discomfort with this stuff, address that aspect of what is going in yourself, rather than attempting to project it out onto the world with broad classification schemes filled with negatively-loaded terms.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/2/13 10:36 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Ah, the mechanism question.

I totally disagree that this is a "normal" mechanism. Imagine if I told basically any of my emergency department patients to use this mechanism or method, realizing that back pain is one of the very most common complaints we see in an emergency department. I am guessing that the best reaction I could hope for would be blank stares of incomprehension, and at worst might lose my job. So, this is not "normal" in any way that makes sense today.

That these things are accessible and doable by those with training and skill and determination and the paradigm that you might be able to do those things, ok, but what percentage if the population is that, do you think? 0.00001% maybe at best? Is that "normal"? You have a very odd definition of the word then, I think.

What percentage of the population can see and manipulate energy channels? Perhaps it is vastly more than I would suspect. What data do you have on this that I am missing? What circles do you run in that this is "normal"? A good idea, yes. A lot of fun, yes. Doable, yes. "Normal", no.

Ah, the other person question. Why do you draw the line there? Wouldn't you agree that the most interesting person's health and well-being to influence is your own, and ethically by far the cleanest and most straightforward? Do you realize that it is extremely common magickal advice to learn to do these things first on yourself before you attempt anything on other people? For instance, were you following standard Visuddhimagga training to see the colors that represent other peoples' states of mind, you begin with yourself first, associating certain colors with certain mind states, and eventually you begin to learn to do this with other people, sort of the Buddhist equivalent of seeing auras.

As to influencing other people, ok, here goes the stuff that causes so much trouble. Let's keep this mature, please, as if you really want to have these conversations, that will need to be the rule, this spoken both as a poster who wants to be able to discuss phenomena and their implications in a high-level forum at its best and also as Moderator and Overlord of the DhO. I am going to try to keep this anonymous as possible, and so, if you know enough about my life to identify the person in the first story, definitely don't.

I was engaged in a standard pleasurable act with another person, a person I had engaged in that same act with many times before. I also just happened to be in the height of the A&P. They didn't know this at the time, but I did. They were a deep scientific materialist rationalist raised by scientific materialist rationalists and pursuing hard-science training. Energetic stuff was extremely obvious at the time to me, as obvious as my skin. During the proceedings, which had followed a standard, well-established pattern of interaction, it occurred to me, "Ah, what if..." and so I let the energy perception expand into that person, and began to move the energy in very specific ways, being able to both see and feel it, as well as somehow know what to do with it. The positive effect was immediate and profound, both in obvious response, and finally resulting in the question, asked in a tone of frank, joyous, wide-eyed amazement, never before asked or ever asked later on, "Wow! How are you doing that?!" However, so far as I could tell, the basic external physical mechanics had been totally stock and standard for us, so I don't think that was it, and I hadn't said anything at all, so scripting would come into it. It is worth adding that later on when I attempted to explain what I had done, the person didn't believe me, but had to admit that the effect was remarkable. I never did it again, and the effect never occurred again, and don't ask why.

Another example that you can find on a Buddhist Geeks interview from a few years back: Basically, I was in medical school, and there was a lecture in a small classroom with the windows closed and there was a guy using a dry-erase marker to write down all the points he was making, except that he kept using it almost as a pointer, waving it around with the cap off as part of his hand gestures, and after a while of this, the whole room filled with the solvent and chemical reek of that marker, and I got really tired of it, so, after checking the ethics of the situation, I decided that it was ok, so, I did the standard quick thing, rising from 1-8 lightly and as fast as possible and came out and let the intention fly to stop this. Stop it did, right then. He put the cap on the marker and didn't take it off for the rest of the lecture. Nothing else changed about his presentation except that now he suddenly wasn't writing any of it down. Pure coincidence? External manipulation of the behavior of another person? Prognostication masquerading as manipulation? I personally don't care, as it worked, and that is what I care about: effects, being a pragmatist as I am. No interesting visuals with that one, just immediate change.

Again, as most of the things people really care about are their own internal experience, I say start with that and gradually expand out if you really want to, realizing that things get a lot more complicated when you do that, just as with anything that involves multiple people, though there are obviously real potential benefits as well.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/2/13 12:32 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Been following this thread. I didn't feel comfortable butting in while it was still a lot of abstract fist-shaking, but now that Daniel has grounded the conversation, here goes.

Daniel M. Ingram:

Ah, the other person question. Why do you draw the line there? Wouldn't you agree that the most interesting person's health and well-being to influence is your own, and ethically by far the cleanest and most straightforward? Do you realize that it is extremely common magickal advice to learn to do these things first on yourself before you attempt anything on other people?

First, minor note: our ability to influence our own behavior is intuitive, almost axiomatic. However, most of us don't believe we can manipulate/directly perceive the internal states of others. So this is a bit of a moot point.

Daniel M. Ingram:

For instance, were you following standard Visuddhimagga training to see the colors that represent other peoples' states of mind, you begin with yourself first, associating certain colors with certain mind states, and eventually you begin to learn to do this with other people, sort of the Buddhist equivalent of seeing auras.

We are continually synthesizing large amounts of data (often inaccessible to direct awareness for practical reasons) into information-dense intuitive understandings. Is it possible this color/mind-state association is just a sort of trained synesthesia which makes apparent an otherwise ignored or untrained capacity? There are known mechanisms in the brain for recognizing the mental states of others. The fact that the arbitrary model you use to understand your own mind states appears analogously when viewing others means there's no "inherent" color to them, unless the model isn't arbitrary? I.e., if you trained to recognize mental states using, say, specific auditory or spatial sensations, would you perceive others' mind states in terms of those stimuli?

Daniel M. Ingram:

I was engaged in a standard pleasurable act with another person, a person I had engaged in that same act with many times before. I also just happened to be in the height of the A&P. They didn't know this at the time, but I did. They were a deep scientific materialist rationalist raised by scientific materialist rationalists and pursuing hard-science training. Energetic stuff was extremely obvious at the time to me, as obvious as my skin. During the proceedings, which had followed a standard, well-established pattern of interaction, it occurred to me, "Ah, what if..." and so I let the energy perception expand into that person, and began to move the energy in very specific ways, being able to both see and feel it, as well as somehow know what to do with it. The positive effect was immediate and profound, both in obvious response, and finally resulting in the question, asked in a tone of frank, joyous, wide-eyed amazement, never before asked or ever asked later on, "Wow! How are you doing that?!" However, so far as I could tell, the basic external physical mechanics had been totally stock and standard for us, so I don't think that was it, and I hadn't said anything at all, so scripting would come into it. It is worth adding that later on when I attempted to explain what I had done, the person didn't believe me, but had to admit that the effect was remarkable. I never did it again, and the effect never occurred again, and don't ask why.

Are you absolutely certain that there was no behind-the-scenes interpretation of your intentions by other/lower/deeper/etc parts of your mind/brain/nervous system? A lot of our cognitive efficiency involves synthesizing large amounts of input data into forms that fit our spatial/physical cognitive model, and leaving the details to tailored/optimized parts of the mind/brain/nervous system (an obvious example is the act of balancing). Could the perception of energy be a high-level interpretation of very subtle physical phenomena, and the manipulation be the dispatching of high-level commands to the nervous system? Is there necessarily "something else" going on? To be clear, "reducing" the phenomenon to a "materialist" explanation in no way reduces the value or wonder in it, as the fundamentals of the experience haven't changed!

This may come across as a materialist cross examination, but it would be interesting to know that there is some phenomenon which demands a spiritual/other plane to be explained. If such a thing does provide new and novel understanding of the universe, then a good starting point to understanding and explaining it would be to distinguish it from "mundane" physical phenomena. I'm certainly not under the illusion that our culturally conditioned awareness captures the complete spectrum of human experience and capacity. Far from it, actually.

That said, it may just be semantically and functionally useful to distinguish physical and spiritual/energetic experiences, without making any claims to discerning deeper physical realities, whatever that may mean. Now, the question of whether high-order patterns that we notice and talk about in the universe are "real" is a semantic and philosophical monolith that puts me right out of my depth pretty quickly, and way out of the scope of this thread. (If someone wants to start another thread, I'd gladly jump in.)

Daniel M. Ingram:

Another example that you can find on a Buddhist Geeks interview from a few years back: Basically, I was in medical school, and there was a lecture in a small classroom with the windows closed and there was a guy using a dry-erase marker to write down all the points he was making, except that he kept using it almost as a pointer, waving it around with the cap off as part of his hand gestures, and after a while of this, the whole room filled with the solvent and chemical reek of that marker, and I got really tired of it, so, after checking the ethics of the situation, I decided that it was ok, so, I did the standard quick thing, rising from 1-8 lightly and as fast as possible and came out and let the intention fly to stop this. Stop it did, right then. He put the cap on the marker and didn't take it off for the rest of the lecture. Nothing else changed about his presentation except that now he suddenly wasn't writing any of it down. Pure coincidence? External manipulation of the behavior of another person? Prognostication masquerading as manipulation? I personally don't care, as it worked, and that is what I care about: effects, being a pragmatist as I am. No interesting visuals with that one, just immediate change.

Again at risk of sounding derisive, is it possible that he noticed you staring intently at the marker and realized what was happening? Would the alternative of pointing out what he was doing be ethically unsound compared to magickal manipulation?

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/2/13 12:50 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
The key point for me is that some of these examples are possible, and some of them aren't.

Your description of healing your back pain is completely fascinating, and thanks so much for posting it. I'm incredibly intrigued and interested in the power of the mind to heal pain and correct things: there's so much we don't know about what the mind can do. But we know that the mind is connected to the rest of the body through a whole bunch of systems, so it's not impossible that the mind can do all sorts of things.

Same thing with the sexual example. There are many times when I've been with a partner and had the thought "Hey, I bet she'd really like this." Based on my intuition and past experiences, I can guess, or realize, or put together the pieces, and touch or stimulate her in ways that I haven't before, but that feel really good. On psychedelics, I've seen this as colors and shapes and things. Again, totally possible and reasonable. Nothing that violates the laws of physics.

Similarly with your description of visualizing a deep sense of peace about your family situation. It's your mind doing these amazing things.

The thing I think is so important to emphasize here is that powers can do all sorts of amazing things, but they all work through the mind, and they are all subject to the mind's limitations.

There's a big difference between examples like those, and mind-reading or telekinesis or other things that aren't physically possible. In one case, the mind is influencing the body through physiological means, even if we don't know what those means are exactly. In the other case, things are happening that just can't happen, like setting objects on fire with your mind, and the best explanation is that it's a waking dream.

With the marker example, it's much more likely that you communicated to the guy with your facial expression or body language, or that someone else did, or that he realized on his own that the marker was smelly.

The difference here is not that things get more complicated, or that there are more ethical concerns... it's that one of these categories of magical effects can happen due to the power of the mind, and is totally real and worth exploring and investigating, and the other has much simpler explanations that don't contradict our understanding of the universe.

With the marker example, you say that all you care about are effects... but don't you care about reliably producing these effects? I'd think that asking someone, holding your nose, making a face, and so forth are all much more reliable ways of getting someone to cap a marker than doing magical visualizations.

If I'm wrong, this should be easy to test out: get a totally willing person and try to get them to, say, write randomly selected words on a white board with a marker, using only your mind. No ethical concerns there, and no possibility of coincidence.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/2/13 1:26 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:

Why would you deprive people of those sorts of methods and effects at that price-point and with that side-effect profile? Why would you prefer the "scientific" approach that modern medicine represents? It is not that there aren't lots of good things we can do in medicine, as I do them every day that I work, but it has serious limitations, and to break down those limitations and access the full healing powers that we have available to us, it is going to take some serious paradigm revision, all of which you seem determined to stand in the way of for no obviously good reason at all, a phenomena reminiscent of our recent government shutdown which was determined to make sure that some people didn't get health care: totally wasteful, totally crazy, totally ignorant.

I suspect someone is going to come up with some argument about mechanisms and all of that, but my question is: could you access the mechanisms that I accessed if you believed it was all psychosis or impossible? I am guessing not. Thus, belief is part of the mechanism, I will claim, so, those of you with broken mechanisms, it is not surprising you get no results and have the view you do, which just reinforces the effect, and you are caught in a dysfunctional, disempowered loop of delusion.

You are not fighting the good fight: you are depriving people of useful and powerful things if they are foolish enough to buy into your paradigm. You are causing damage and you don't even realize it. It is like people who don't like the maps of the progress of insight as they never had any insights, and so never really try insight practice in sufficient doses and with sufficiently good technique as they don't even believe in the intended results. Mushroom-factor all over again.


I don't want to stand in the way of legitimate healing techniques or deprive people of things that could help them. Ultimately, what matters is what works and what doesn't, and to know that, we have to know the truth. We have to know what the mind can do and what it can't. The mind can do all sorts of things, and I think it's worth exploring that and pushing those limitations.

I'm open to the idea that the mind can do pretty much anything in its control of the body... that doesn't go against our understanding of the universe. That's a far cry from telekinesis or telepathy, examples which would go against our understanding of the mind and the universe, and thus would require a lot more evidence.

When I say fighting the good fight, I'm referring to understanding the principles of skepticism here. I want people to be open to the mind having all sorts of powers, within what's actually possible. I also want to make sure people don't confuse powerful intense experiences with reality. I smoked DMT one time and thought I was in the presence of god... that doesn't mean god exists, but it does mean that the mind has the capacity to make you think so.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/2/13 2:08 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
JC:


It blows my mind that people who are otherwise incredibly intelligent and thoughtful, even arahats, think there's something to this magic stuff. I guess it's a good reminder that we're all flawed and even enlightenment doesn't make you perfect. I'm sure there's some really stupid stuff that I believe... I'm not trying to say that I know everything or that I'm superior to the arahats here. I respect their vast skills and experience and everything that they contribute. But I do know something: magic ain't real.


This is ultimately where I am going with this, so I am glad that at least someone appreciates it. See also this thread, which prompted the fairies.

http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/4805320

People will always make up their own mind, and I am not going to change the mind of someone like Daniel. But I think it is worthwhile to highlight what kind of thinking can lead people can seek paranormal explanations for experiences, such as misattribution of causality, fantastical thinking, and over interpretation of coincidences.

I thank Daniel for a post for making my point far better than I can:

Daniel M. Ingram:


Nothing else changed about his presentation except that now he suddenly wasn't writing any of it down. Pure coincidence? External manipulation of the behavior of another person? Prognostication masquerading as manipulation? I personally don't care, as it worked, and that is what I care about: effects, being a pragmatist as I am. No interesting visuals with that one, just immediate change.



Either you think it is ridiculous or you like to keep an open mind, because, who knows, we haven't solved the hard problem of consciousness and our measurement of the momentum of a particle reduces the accuracy of the measurement of another property, so anything is possible, even fairies...

The next step to consider is this: if someone like Daniel can get led so astray about the paranormal, then what does this mean for his account of the progress of insight. Is he a reliable narrator? If an invididual can get it wrong, what about groups of individuals?

I don't want to appear overly negative here, as it is a serious question, and I think well worth exploring. How deeply can we fool ourselves?

Daniel M. Ingram:

"one day while doing this, 3 golden pulses of light shot out of my heart center, like wave-fronts out into space, the most immediate effect of which was some very large release of tension and unease around the situation…You could call it self-created psychotherapy with hallucinations or whatever, but the effect is the same, and an effect that I will bet that someone who wasn't willing to work in that paradigm would be unlikely to be able to pull off in the same way."


Reading between the lines of your posts here I appear to getting somewhere in pushing you to provide a coherent defence of your views on the paranormal.

I am assuming you remain agnostic or will dodge the issues of whether your experiences are real, leaving open question marks - real in the sense of your mind having impact on the physical world outside your brain.

So ultimately you leave a single main point, which you make repeatedly. Magical practices are useful based on my experience, and we are better off having them. This is a separate issue to where we started from, but I can understand why you would want to reframe the debate around that.

Daniel M. Ingram:

I believe that these things make me mentally and physically better off and have numerous examples to show it. Someone depriving themselves of that just because of some theoretical ontology they can't possibly definitely prove is an example of needless self-deprivation, a waste of available options, a senseless austerity, a self-imposed disempowerment, like a person refusing to open there eyes because someone told them color was an illusion created in the brain with lots of pre-processing in the retina and only a mere false representation of frequencies and quanta of energy that weren't the direct experience of the "real thing". Yet, illusion or otherwise, it is really useful to be able to see. Same with the powers. You could call the act of seeing "biochemistry and neurobiology" or "magick" or "hallucinations" or "sensations" or "extremely helpful": which makes more sense to you?


Daniel M. Ingram:

Why would you deprive people of those sorts of methods and effects at that price-point and with that side-effect profile? Why would you prefer the "scientific" approach that modern medicine represents? It is not that there aren't lots of good things we can do in medicine, as I do them every day that I work, but it has seriously limitations, and to break down those limitations and access the full healing powers that we have available to us, it is going to take some serious paradigm revision, all of which you seem determined to stand in the way of for no obviously good reason at all, a phenomena reminiscent of our recent government shutdown which was determined to make sure that some people didn't get health care: totally wasteful, totally crazy, totally ignorant.

I suspect someone is going to come up with some argument about mechanisms and all of that, but my question is: could you access the mechanisms that I accessed if you believed it was all psychosis or impossible? I am guessing not. Thus, belief is part of the mechanism, I will claim, so, those of you with broken mechanisms, it is not surprising you get no results and have the view you do, which just reinforces the effect, and you are caught in a dysfunctional, disempowered loop of delusion.

You are not fighting the good fight: you are depriving people of useful and powerful things if they are foolish enough to buy into your paradigm. You are causing damage and you don't even realize it. It is like people who don't like the maps of the progress of insight as they never had any insights, and so never really try insight practice in sufficient doses and with sufficiently good technique as they don't even believe in the intended results. Mushroom-factor all over again.


At several points in accounting your personal experiences, I was left wondering - are you not at all interested in trying to explain or understand how these things can happen? Yes, I want to know about mechanism. Then it starts to make sense: magic shows aren't as fun if you know the magic is performed. And if you know the pill is a placebo, it doesn't work half as well.

Some children grow up believing that tooth fairies come and collect their teeth. At some point they stop believing that. It seems that in doing so they are succumbing to a senseless austerity.

There has been a debate recently in England about homeopathy and the NHS. Now, the vast majority of doctors believe homeopathy is about as real as fairies, but there is some limited evidence that as a placebo, it does some good. And since water is pretty cheap, it is pretty cost effective. And if it works, what is the harm in that? There are some interesting debates surrounding this. If you as a doctor, know it is just a placebo, but it only works if the person believes in whatever nonsensical explanation homoeopathists come up with, is it ethical to prescribe it?

Going back to the point I made above in response to JC, in regard to the stages of insight, could you access the mechanisms necessary to move through them (and become enlightened etc)… if you believed it was all psychosis or impossible?

Probably not.

And feeling like a broken record, this always seems to me lead me back to my conventional wisdom thread (no wonder Bruno is bored..). Would I rather take the red pill or the blue pill? Would I rather believe in magic and fix my sore back, or have a sore back that I couldn't fix? Would I rather have some pain relief for my back from the chiropracticy/accupuncture/homeopathy/crystal headling and have some deluded belief on how it works, or I would rather feel wise and superior but still have that sore back? Would I prefer to believe in God so I could turn to him in times of need, or feel alone in a meaningless universe? Not care why things work, or care why things work? Believe I have special magic pen future seeing mind control lid replacing powers, or have to live in a world in which I have to sit in a room with a smelly pen?

Choose carefully, as our great overlord and protector has warned us, as you could so easily wind up in a damaging dysfunctional, disempowered loop of delusion…

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/2/13 1:58 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/2/13 2:54 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
It is possible to see:

There is your mind(inner) and other minds(outer).
When you are slowed down yourself enough then you can see the outer world sense/idea and your own idea starts approach to the outer and when it merges with the outer a new world/idea is made. Same way dreams are formed etc.

The point also is that it makes it clear that everything is automatic, seems like mind lives its own life and we have no control over mind that means no free will. But its not, we have control.
-when you enter nonclinging state/nondual/emptiness/fruition then that merge collison of ideas does not happen.

this leads me to magnetism and magnetism is light. Fruition is some kind of neutralizer or whatever it is what causes standstill to my mind/idea.

Now when you nuke(idea bomb) other person then when its intense(with enough willpower?) then his mind will automatically merge with the nuke and new idea arises and person will cling to it and act on it etc. When that person happens to be having frution then he might notice the "alien" thought..

I don't also see problem of sending healing to a hurting place. Thoughts are light. Body is made of light...

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/2/13 2:42 PM as a reply to Erasmas II.
Erasmas II:

We are continually synthesizing large amounts of data (often inaccessible to direct awareness for practical reasons) into information-dense intuitive understandings. Is it possible this color/mind-state association is just a sort of trained synesthesia which makes apparent an otherwise ignored or untrained capacity? There are known mechanisms in the brain for recognizing the mental states of others. The fact that the arbitrary model you use to understand your own mind states appears analogously when viewing others means there's no "inherent" color to them, unless the model isn't arbitrary? I.e., if you trained to recognize mental states using, say, specific auditory or spatial sensations, would you perceive others' mind states in terms of those stimuli?

I am guessing that you very well are right about being able to apply any type of synesthesia you wished for that, but I haven't tried it. Care to do the experiment and see?

Erasmas II:

Are you absolutely certain that there was no behind-the-scenes interpretation of your intentions by other/lower/deeper/etc parts of your mind/brain/nervous system?

No, definitely not sure about that. The question is a pragmatic one: could I access whatever I was doing without the experience of the energy channels and all of that? If not, then that would imply, as I assert, that the mechanisms are tied to the internal experience in some way, and that something of that internal experience, working on that level, the level of energy and powers from an internal, paradigmatic point-of-view, makes those things possible in a way that not working on that level doesn't.

Erasmas II:
A lot of our cognitive efficiency involves synthesizing large amounts of input data into forms that fit our spatial/physical cognitive model, and leaving the details to tailored/optimized parts of the mind/brain/nervous system (an obvious example is the act of balancing). Could the perception of energy be a high-level interpretation of very subtle physical phenomena, and the manipulation be the dispatching of high-level commands to the nervous system? Is there necessarily "something else" going on? To be clear, "reducing" the phenomenon to a "materialist" explanation in no way reduces the value or wonder in it, as the fundamentals of the experience haven't changed!


Again, pragmatic question: regardless of whether or not "something else" is going on, could you do the same thing with some other paradigm?

Erasmas II:
This may come across as a materialist cross examination, but it would be interesting to know that there is some phenomenon which demands a spiritual/other plane to be explained. If such a thing does provide new and novel understanding of the universe, then a good starting point to understanding and explaining it would be to distinguish it from "mundane" physical phenomena. I'm certainly not under the illusion that our culturally conditioned awareness captures the complete spectrum of human experience and capacity. Far from it, actually.

That said, it may just be semantically and functionally useful to distinguish physical and spiritual/energetic experiences, without making any claims to discerning deeper physical realities, whatever that may mean. Now, the question of whether high-order patterns that we notice and talk about in the universe are "real" is a semantic and philosophical monolith that puts me right out of my depth pretty quickly, and way out of the scope of this thread. (If someone wants to start another thread, I'd gladly jump in.)

I totally agree that "real" is not as helpful as what is possible and how to do it and what cognitive frameworks are most effective for accessing those effects, regardless of what you think the ultimate mechanism is.

Erasmas II:
Again at risk of sounding derisive, is it possible that he noticed you staring intently at the marker and realized what was happening? Would the alternative of pointing out what he was doing be ethically unsound compared to magickal manipulation?

It is certainly possible, except that when I did those things I actually had my eyes closed, though I was staring intently at it earlier, so perhaps the effect was delayed. Ethically asking him to cap it vs the other method is more of a political one in this case: this was not a guy that was in any mood to be interrupted and hadn't created that sort of atmosphere in which that sort of request would likely have gone well, which raises its own ethical questions that are complex, but no more complex than plenty of ordinary human interaction, as nothing much was risked or lost or violated, in that case. I agree it could be a slippery slope, but then so much of what we do through "normal" means is anyway. The timing, however, was striking.

I remember a friend who got way, way more into the powersy stuff than I ever have, real hardcore magickal training in a deep, formal sense, and he was telling a story about an event when he was in a mall food court which was really loud and he was annoyed by that and trying to have a conversation with a friend, and how he decided to try to quiet the thing down a bit, and he did whatever he did (the details of the working totally escape me, but I remember it was stealthy), and went back to his conversation and the friend was suddenly totally creeped out, as the entire place went totally silent all at once: no conversation beyond theirs, nothing. This guy is a kind, highly-functional IT/financial professional, a soft-spoken gentleman, who works for a major auditing corporation. It is just one case report, and I wasn't there, but there are lots of those sorts of things if you hang out in this world and with friends who are into this stuff. Is it all just coincidence and bullshit? A lot of these people are really high-functioning, really smart, really not obviously crazy, really not the sorts of people who you would think would lie about things that they cared so much about.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/2/13 3:08 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
sawfoot _:
Would I rather take the red pill or the blue pill? Would I rather believe in magic and fix my sore back, or have a sore back that I couldn't fix? Would I rather have some pain relief for my back from the chiropracticy/accupuncture/homeopathy/crystal headling and have some deluded belief on how it works, or I would rather feel wise and superior but still have that sore back? Would I prefer to believe in God so I could turn to him in times of need, or feel alone in a meaningless universe? Not care why things work, or care why things work? Believe I have special magic pen future seeing mind control lid replacing powers, or have to live in a world in which I have to sit in a room with a smelly pen?

Choose carefully, as our great overlord and protector has warned us, as you could so easily wind up in a damaging dysfunctional, disempowered loop of delusion…


Which do you choose and why?

I am totally happy with my choice. Why are you unhappy with my choice? How can you demonstrate that your choice leads to increased functionality that mine doesn't, or increased well-being, or increased enjoyment? Prove it! I have good examples of benefit. I ask you to show both benefit from your point of view that couldn't be garnered by other methods and also practical examples of the harm of mine, realizing that mine is probably a bit more nuanced than "fairies did it", which is funny, but that is a separate issue.

What harm does my perspective do you? What harm is it doing me? Name something obvious about impaired function.

I currently work at the far top end of one of the most cognitively demanding jobs there is. I am in a stable marriage. I support my family very well. I contribute to my community. I live my life well and enjoy it. I take no medications, exercise regularly, am in good health, have time for creative pursuits, offer free help to others, enjoy the company of friends, etc.

What harm and danger do you see here? You seem to imply that all sorts of bad things are going to happen or are happening, but I don't see that at all. What paper-tigers have you created that you are waving about with red warning flags blazing?

I do care how to make things work far more than why. The why is important, but it is not necessary for lots of it. I have enough basic theories about the "why" that predict things well enough to be a pretty good working model most of the time, which is about as good as anything I have in the world of clinical medicine. We don't fully know how lots of things in clinical medicine work, but they work just the same. Plenty of medicines don't have their mechanisms totally elucidated: I use them anyway. More about the "why" will come, perhaps, in time, or perhaps not. The how is more important in the short-term.

I am more on the practitioner end of the world of the powers than the theoretical-research end, to use a scientific analogy. Perhaps you have a secret need to work on the theory-mechanism end. I would consider pursuing that, as you seem totally fascinated by it. It might be way more interesting and fun than you thought it would. I would consider a Pa Auk retreat: get your concentration strong, then try to answer some of the question that you are interested in and see what you come up with.

I remember an ex-family member who used to totally bash Christianity all the time for years on end even without provocation. One day, in a totally surprising move, she joined a local church and instantly became a member of the choir and a very dedicated church-member and was much happier and easier to be around. It is like closet homosexuals who can be really neurotic until they come out of the closet, and even can be some of the most openly homophobic of people until they accept themselves.

When you watch Harry Potter, or read about Narnia, or think about fairies, is there some secret part of yourself that really wishes it were true that you feel you have to erect this massive front of attack and denial and rationalization around? Something else is going on here, and I want to know what it is. Even if I never get an answer, you should take a look at yourself and see why all the drama around this and why you are caught up in the fervent evangelism of the scientism perspective as if some great and important thing hung in the balance. What is that great and important thing, specifically? What drives all of this, anyway?

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/2/13 3:37 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
I am guessing that you very well are right about being able to apply any type of synesthesia you wished for that, but I haven't tried it. Care to do the experiment and see?

I'd love to, but my concentration is about as strong as my pinky toe. So don't hold your breath for the results.

Daniel M. Ingram:
The question is a pragmatic one: could I access whatever I was doing without the experience of the energy channels and all of that? If not, then that would imply, as I assert, that the mechanisms are tied to the internal experience in some way, and that something of that internal experience, working on that level, the level of energy and powers from an internal, paradigmatic point-of-view, makes those things possible in a way that not working on that level doesn't.

Daniel M. Ingram:

Again, pragmatic question: regardless of whether or not "something else" is going on, could you do the same thing with some other paradigm?

So you don't assert that anything occurred which would disagree with established models of physics, etc.? I think this would make a lot of the good people of this thread uneasy, and for good reason: human perception is incredibly unreliable, and it's easy to convince ourselves of things that don't hold true under scrutiny. I think every single person on the DhO understands this. However, I think it's hard to deny that there are unexplored avenues of human consciousness.

Daniel M. Ingram:

I remember a friend who got way, way more into the powersy stuff than I ever have, real hardcore magickal training in a deep, formal sense, and he was telling a story about an event when he was in a mall food court which was really loud and he was annoyed by that and trying to have a conversation with a friend, and how he decided to try to quiet the thing down a bit, and he did whatever he did (the details of the working totally escape me, but I remember it was stealthy), and went back to his conversation and the friend was suddenly totally creeped out, as the entire place went totally silent all at once: no conversation beyond theirs, nothing. This guy is a kind, highly-functional IT/financial professional, a soft-spoken gentleman, who works for a major auditing corporation. It is just one case report, and I wasn't there, but there are lots of those sorts of things if you hang out in this world and with friends who are into this stuff. Is it all just coincidence and bullshit? A lot of these people are really high-functioning, really smart, really not obviously crazy, really not the sorts of people who you would think would lie about things that they cared so much about.

I don't doubt his intentions, nor even that this exact thing happened. Confirmation bias is an incredibly strong force in human beliefs, though, so caution is warranted. That said, categorical denial of a very possible phenomenon is also uncalled for.

The question is: how can we say anything reliable and falsifiable about magick or powers? "Try it yourself" is, in fact, not enough to convince a lot of people that would rather not dabble needlessly in psychosis. Experiencing a lot of weird, unexplainable phenomena isn't even enough. Does the assumption that the universe is orderly, that inductive reasoning works, extend to powers? If not, as a lot of people secretly or publicy believe, then there's a conflict of basic paradigms here.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/2/13 4:11 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:


Which do you choose and why?

I am totally happy with my choice. Why are you unhappy with my choice? How can you demonstrate that your choice leads to increased functionality that mine doesn't, or increased well-being, or increased enjoyment? Prove it! I have good examples of benefit. I ask you to show both benefit from your point of view that couldn't be garnered by other methods and also practical examples of the harm of mine, realizing that mine is probably a bit more nuanced than "fairies did it", which is funny, but that is a separate issue.

What harm does my perspective do you? What harm is it doing me? Name something obvious about impaired function.

I currently work at the far top end of one of the most cognitively demanding jobs there is. I am in a stable marriage. I support my family very well. I contribute to my community. I live my life well and enjoy it. I take no medications, exercise regularly, am in good health, have time for creative pursuits, offer free help to others, enjoy the company of friends, etc.

What harm and danger do you see here? You seem to imply that all sorts of bad things are going to happen or are happening, but I don't see that at all. What paper-tigers have you created that you are waving about with red warning flags blazing?


I don't think anyone is saying your function is impaired. From my perspective, it's more that strange things are going on and we don't know why or how. I'd like to know. And I'd like to know in a way that doesn't dodge hard questions like "how does this fit in with our materialist understanding of the world? how can we demonstrate whatever's going on here in reproducible ways? what does this tell us about the brain and body? how can we answer the demands of skeptics who want evidence?"

I care about truth and having a coherent view of the world. If there is a way to create these really interesting effects reproducibly, I want to see it.

The "harm" is that it's very easy for us to be fooled by our own minds, which can lead to an incomplete or incorrect understanding of the world. I don't think any actual catastrophe will occur from you not accepting a materialist explanation of these things. It's just that we could know more, understand more, by actually looking at what's going on here (for instance, doing experiments like the one I suggested, trying to send words telepathically to a friend).


I do care how to make things work far more than why. The why is important, but it is not necessary for lots of it. I have enough basic theories about the "why" that predict things well enough to be a pretty good working model most of the time, which is about as good as anything I have in the world of clinical medicine. We don't fully know how lots of things in clinical medicine work, but they work just the same. Plenty of medicines don't have their mechanisms totally elucidated: I use them anyway. More about the "why" will come, perhaps, in time, or perhaps not. The how is more important in the short-term.


Yes, but we need to get the "how" correct. There's this contradiction here: all evidence supports a materialist perspective on the world, but your described methods and effects aren't compatible with that, which suggests to me that the "how" isn't quite right.


I am more on the practitioner end of the world of the powers than the theoretical-research end, to use a scientific analogy. Perhaps you have a secret need to work on the theory-mechanism end. I would consider pursuing that, as you seem totally fascinated by it. It might be way more interesting and fun than you thought it would. I would consider a Pa Auk retreat: get your concentration strong, then try to answer some of the question that you are interested in and see what you come up with.


I can't speak for sawfoot, but I'd love to work on the mechanism end and I plan on pursuing it once I hit arahat. I'm going to test out these powers for myself because I want to know their limits.


When you watch Harry Potter, or read about Narnia, or think about fairies, is there some secret part of yourself that really wishes it were true that you feel you have to erect this massive front of attack and denial and rationalization around? Something else is going on here, and I want to know what it is. Even if I never get an answer, you should take a look at yourself and see why all the drama around this and why you are caught up in the fervent evangelism of the scientism perspective as if some great and important thing hung in the balance. What is that great and important thing, specifically? What drives all of this, anyway?


The honest search for truth, with the knowledge that all evidence points to a materialistic universe, and an understanding that it's very easy for humans to be deceived by magical thinking, logical fallacies, the limitations of the mind, human error, and so on.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/2/13 4:27 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
sawfoot _:


People will always make up their own mind, and I am not going to change the mind of someone like Daniel. But I think it is worthwhile to highlight what kind of thinking can lead people can seek paranormal explanations for experiences, such as misattribution of causality, fantastical thinking, and over interpretation of coincidences.


Exactly, and the potential harm here is that these types of thinking can limit our ability to understand how the world really works, which in turn means we're limited in figuring out what works and what doesn't.


The next step to consider is this: if someone like Daniel can get led so astray about the paranormal, then what does this mean for his account of the progress of insight. Is he a reliable narrator? If an invididual can get it wrong, what about groups of individuals?

I don't want to appear overly negative here, as it is a serious question, and I think well worth exploring. How deeply can we fool ourselves?


The whole "magic powers might be real" aspect of this site turned me off at first, and it's good to know that there are other meditators who don't accept that.

I don't know that Daniel making common mistakes like misattributing causality and confirmation bias makes MCTB unreliable. I don't think that's fair... even if his interpretations are incorrect, that doesn't effect the specifics of his account and what he perceived.



So ultimately you leave a single main point, which you make repeatedly. Magical practices are useful based on my experience, and we are better off having them. This is a separate issue to where we started from, but I can understand why you would want to reframe the debate around that.

At several points in accounting your personal experiences, I was left wondering - are you not at all interested in trying to explain or understand how these things can happen? Yes, I want to know about mechanism. Then it starts to make sense: magic shows aren't as fun if you know the magic is performed. And if you know the pill is a placebo, it doesn't work half as well.


As I understand it, the placebo effect is just as effective even if you know it's a placebo.

And you can take the opposite approach: someone who knows how the magic is performed can appreciate the magic show as a work of art and a great technical accomplishment. The knowledge that magic tricks are performed with great dexterity, acting, misdirection, and so forth can add to your appreciation as you notice and appreciate the little details that make it work.


Going back to the point I made above in response to JC, in regard to the stages of insight, could you access the mechanisms necessary to move through them (and become enlightened etc)… if you believed it was all psychosis or impossible?


Ok, I'm a little confused here. To move through the stages of insight doesn't require accepting a nonmaterialist perspective on the world. It's just meditation, just watching the things the mind does, just noticing the process through which the self is created.

The ideal here is to have it both ways. Accept that thinking of things in terms of energy might be able to help your mind heal your body in some unknown way, while still knowing that the body doesn't actually have energetic pathways. It's a metaphor, a tool, that can be used without taking it too literally.


Would I rather take the red pill or the blue pill? Would I rather believe in magic and fix my sore back, or have a sore back that I couldn't fix? Would I rather have some pain relief for my back from the chiropracticy/accupuncture/homeopathy/crystal headling and have some deluded belief on how it works, or I would rather feel wise and superior but still have that sore back? Would I prefer to believe in God so I could turn to him in times of need, or feel alone in a meaningless universe? Not care why things work, or care why things work? Believe I have special magic pen future seeing mind control lid replacing powers, or have to live in a world in which I have to sit in a room with a smelly pen?


You don't have to choose between the two. You can have the best of both. Fix your back due to techniques rooted in "magic" but understand that it's all psychology. Appreciate the magic show while knowing it's a great technical accomplishment. Have the ability to know the limits of your mind... it can affect your body, but to stop the smelly pen guy, you have to communicate with him in some way.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/2/13 5:38 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I am not sure that is true about the utility of everything powers-related falling into the psychedelic category either. I think that some aspects of them can resemble the effect of psychedelic drugs in some ways, true. That said, here is why I think the difference is really important.]


Unfortunately, I've been misinterpreted again and must not have communicated what I was trying to say properly.

"Powers/Siddhis" is its own discrete category.

Sometimes engaging with the "powers/siddhis" can cause bleed-through into the other categories.

Sometimes a "powers-trip" can turn into and resemble a psychedelic drug trip. When I said "at the worst" I meant that the best scenario would be if a "powers-trip" turned into and resembled a psychedelic trip only (if it turns into or resembles anything other than the "powers" alone at all). This is not to say that all "powers/siddhi" activities are psychedelic, but that they could turn psychedelic in certain circumstances.

In addition to this, sometimes a "powers-trip" can turn into and resemble a "psychotic break." This is not an ideal circumstance.

"Psychosis" can also occur from people who ingest "psychedelic drugs." Thus "psychedelic" causally activates "psychosis."

"Psychedelic" drugs can also activate "powers/siddhis" and this is the case with many people who experience "powers" phenomena or pass the A&P from doing LSD.

I never intended to say that they were the same, but that rather it is possible for the categories to be causally linked and that they are not always experienced independently.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/8/13 6:25 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
It is a crude lumping of something that can be much more skillful, much more sensible, much more controlled, much more reasonable and functional than the vast majority of what happens during hallucinogen-induced episodes. Just saying that they are all "psychedelic" "at worst... only" is still needless derogatory, missing much about how these things can happen, and their uses and side-effect profiles.

My example of the three golden waves that pulsed out of my heart-area and left me much more emotionally clear and clean about the situation: that shouldn't fall into the realm of the psychedelic just because it involved the visuals. It is really mixing up two things that both just happened to involve visuals.

Area all dreams "psychedelic"?

Are all your thoughts "psychedelic", as nearly every one of them involves some subtle visual aspect, even if you don't notice that?

When you imagine something, is that "psychedelic"?



I clarified in the previous post that I wasn't intending to say "all powers are psychedelic" but rather the psychedelic can be a causal response.

When you intend to move your arm and your brain maps out a visual path of how the arm is going to go, is that "psychedelic"? It seems to be using a word that has heavy and somewhat negative 60's-70's overtones and lumping lots of things into it, in the same way that was going on a few posts ago with "psychosis". I think you are just asking for cognitive trouble and inconsistency thinking of these things in this way.




When I used the word psychedelic I am referring to any sensations that occur from engaging with the powers that would overlap with the similar symptoms of ingesting drugs in the psychedelic category in the picture above. Hallucinogen would be a more comprehensive word since it encompasses dissociatives and deliriants. As you stated above, when done with good guidance and principles then the powers can occur without any large alteration in perception and within an otherwise normal state of mind.

Just as cars driven poorly, in bad conditions and/or when not maintained properly can cause people to wreck, and yet I don't classify all car driving as "wrecking" the car, just so calling all powers "psychosis" or "psychedelic" is missing something about how they can be used functionally.


This is assuming that large alterations in perception that would fall into the range of psychedelic/hallucinogenic would be considered "wrecking" the car. Using your Christian mystic example it is apparent that insight and meaning was gleaned from the psychedelic experience.

Just because people may sometimes see things in the "ordinary world" that leave them temporarily or permanently emotionally scarred and traumatized, such as happens in war, for instance, or feel physical sensations that may leave them emotionally impaired, such as rape or severe pain, I don't classify all "seeing" and "feeling" itself as something bad or use some basically pejorative and culturally-loaded words to describe them just because somewhere in the far range of things related to them bad things can happen.


The terms I was using are neutral of whether the experience is "good" or "bad." It is unfortunate that the words may ring pejorative in certain people's ears. Certain situations where loss of function may be appropriate is if someone is caring for and feeding the person who is currently being incapacitated by their "vision quest." This is similar to the Tibetans who would meditate for months/years in tiny huts where they could not stand up or in completely pitch-dark black rooms. They were engaging in these types of highly altered states of perception because they perceived value in them. The exact debilitated situation would be seen as "good" because someone was bringing them regular food, water and emotional support. There is a talk by Reggie Ray on the dharmaocean website where he talks about his experience of being in a darkness retreat and he describes psychedelic and psychosis-like symptoms.

Why that persistent linguistic habit? What is underlying that? If there is discomfort with this stuff, address that aspect of what is going in yourself, rather than attempting to project it out onto the world with broad classification schemes filled with negatively-loaded terms


I think it is important to understand the wide range to which these experiences can extend. This is why retreat centers ask questions about the range of one's experiences before entering into a retreat. Unfortunately, retreat centers and dharma teachers do a very poor job of explaining why they are asking these questions and that is where I am filling in the gaps. This is similar to MCTB talking about how meditation/insight practice is not necessarily all friends, flowers and cupcakes.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/2/13 9:01 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Paweł K:
Hogwarts as sad it may sounds...


That truly is sad.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/2/13 9:32 PM as a reply to J C.
J C:
You don't have to choose between the two. You can have the best of both. Fix your back due to techniques rooted in "magic" but understand that it's all psychology. Appreciate the magic show while knowing it's a great technical accomplishment. Have the ability to know the limits of your mind... it can affect your body, but to stop the smelly pen guy, you have to communicate with him in some way.


Fair point, but you also don't have to not choose between the two, and there are multiple ways to have the best of both.

Consider the Discordian and Chaoticist points of view, the first being that disruption of stuck paradigms can be fun, educational and liberating, and the second that one can gain a lot by totally buying a worldview as is appropriate to a situation, only to discard it without a second thought for another situation.

Consider the following: You are on a first date with someone really attractive. The night warm, the breeze gentle, the moon shining brightly, the setting perfect. You say to them, "You know, this date is all just mindless and impersonal biochemical reactions following standard physical laws, nothing but the lawful collison of molecules and receptors, of psi squared probability fields resolving to definite positions with somewhat indeterminate momenta, all of which are quantized according to standard equations, and, taken in aggregate, give the impression of psychological processes..."

I think that is going to go over big.

The problem, of course, is that the paradigm chosen was perhaps not the most effective or appropriate one to work within given the likely desired outcome. Even if you didn't say it, if you were thinking it, they might be able to pick up on that vibe, as has been mentioned above. It is missing some of the magic, as it were.

That said, if you were doing research on the kinetics of hormone-receptor binding under various temperatures and pH's, or the electrical potentials of moonlight on photoreceptors and their relationship to oxytocin release, you would be in the right ballpark. Same situation, totally different frameworks.

If one adopted the strict scientific materialist framework you all so passionately advocate for in all circumstances, you would likely do well on a comedy show such as Big Bang Theory, but in most other situations you would apper to be something like the Asgergers end of ultra-geek, and not in a good way.

Thus consider the alternative to a one-size-fits-all materialist paradigm, that being a fluid series of skillfully chosen paradigms designed to enhance and make more workable each situation.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/2/13 11:35 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:


The problem, of course, is that the paradigm chosen was perhaps not the most effective or appropriate one to work within given the likely desired outcome. Even if you didn't say it, if you were thinking it, they might be able to pick up on that vibe, as has been mentioned above. It is missing some of the magic, as it were.

If one adopted the strict scientific materialist framework you all so passionately advocate for in all circumstances, you would likely do well on a comedy show such as Big Bang Theory, but in most other situations you would apper to be something like the Asgergers end of ultra-geek, and not in a good way.

Thus consider the alternative to a one-size-fits-all materialist paradigm, that being a fluid series of skillfully chosen paradigms designed to enhance and make more workable each situation.


Ok, I think you're talking about different kinds of paradigms than I am. Within a materialist worldview, one can think of things or talk to people on many different levels. If we're discussing human interactions, it makes sense to talk about things at the level of emotions and thoughts and desires, not atoms and molecules or cells and hormones. As you say, it doesn't make sense to think at the levels of atoms or cells in most normal situations. But even so, people are still built out of cells, and cells are still built out of atoms.

Adopting a materialist paradigm means that we're aware that everything is ultimately built out of particles, but it also means knowing and being amazed by all the things that those particles can do. They make up human beings, with all our thoughts and feelings, our hopes and dreams.

I'm not arguing that we always need to break everything into molecular interactions. Clearly that would be absurd. But in theory, we could. And if a situation occurs that seems to step outside that worldview, an event that requires some sort of magic or psychic powers to explain, then there's probably another explanation. One that fits better with the evidence.

Going back to magic, for many purposes (like healing your back) it can be useful to think at the level of energetic pathways. All I'm saying is that, from what we know about the world, it's much more likely that the smelly-marker event or the sudden-silence event have other explanations than magical. If someone claims that they can influence other people's thoughts or astrally project or whatever, it's more likely that it's all in their head than that everything we know is wrong.

I'm open to being convinced but I would need a lot more evidence. Once I get to the level required, I'll test it out for myself... but if I find out that some kind of psychic phenomena is real, I'll win Randi's million and probably also a Nobel Prize. I'd love that. I think it's very unlikely though.

I think there's room for amazing psychological breakthroughs just studying the way the mind can generate the illusion of all these experiences and simulate psychedelic drugs just from meditation. I don't understand how the jhanas aren't in psychology textbooks, for instance: they're clearly part of the basic structure of the brain.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/3/13 12:17 PM as a reply to J C.
J C:
I think there's room for amazing psychological breakthroughs just studying the way the mind can generate the illusion of all these experiences and simulate psychedelic drugs just from meditation. I don't understand how the jhanas aren't in psychology textbooks, for instance: they're clearly part of the basic structure of the brain.


The jhanas might be classified has having "Easter-egg functionality", meaning that if you didn't know how to get into them, you might never experience them, and if you didn't have language for them, then you might ignore them, and if you hadn't been trained to attain them or recognize them or classify them, then doing the sort of research on them that might get them into the textbooks is not likely to happen, and even if you did to the research, the fight against the Subjective part of science is fierce, and the tools for doing the research are really, really primitive, and the number of people who you can do research on is really, really small, and the wars over the terminology to describe and classify these things even between very closely-related traditions tend to be juvenile, passionate and long-lived, so the battle is clearly a hard one to win.

See B Allan Wallace's Hidden Dimensions, the Unification of Physics and Consciousness, for a hilarious and scholarly rant about the fight against the Subjective perspective in science.

Even today, the studies being done even at the best institutions on these things are really, really primitive and a long way from really elucidating mechanisms, and probably a really long way from basic questions about why there is experience and what makes it happen.

Even the ñanas, which happen to countless people all the time, are totally not found anywhere in the mainstream scientific literature before the last decade or two, and then only on the far fringe, and yet have been part of human experience for at least 2500 years. No doctor or psychologist or psychiatrist I am likely to run into in my job is likely to have ever heard of them, and yet they will have treated countless patients who had them happen to them: torticollis, depression, manic-episodes, relationship dysfunction, etc: all often caused by the stages of insight, happening right under their noses, and not a friggin' clue about it. The eye can't see what the brain doesn't know.

Also, given that the questions related to particles and why they do what they do have not all been answered, as there is still the "God does not play dice" problem of quantum phenomena and apparent probability fields resolving one way or the other and the questions about why being totally unknown, that there is still room for a lot of play in the thing, as has been commented on many books on the subject. We have absolutely no idea why the photon goes right or left, for example, in the classic double-slit experiment. Thus, all this talk of knowing all the laws of how things go is simply not true. This problem is an old one. Consider the book called The Dancing Wu Li Masters, by Gary Zukav. It goes into great detail about the problem of quantum phenomena and why we have no clue why they do what they do and how this may relate to consciousness.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/4/13 4:51 AM as a reply to sawfoot _.
sawfoot _:
Bruno Loff:
sawfoot_: I am bored by your particular flavor of skeptic's pride. I find your analysis of this theme to be morose, superficial and of little merit.

It's a bit like someone who had never fallen in love just going on and on about the subject, and how irrational it is, and how illusory it is, etc.

After having experimented with magick very briefly, I think that a more interesting and nuanced critique will only be possible if you have experienced the thing itself.

I expect you will find that magick is at least as real as love, and a lot more common. Your idea that people are just having irrelevant hallucinations is simplistic and off target. Besides, some acquaintance with magick offers a surprising, sophisticated, subtle, useful perspective on perception (your own and others').

If you want we can meet by skype or such, and I will describe the two or three episodes when I have purposefully engaged in magick, and summarize the many many more when I realized it was happening under the hood, and that might help you get a better feeling for what I think it is really about.


Hi Bruno!

I take it you have never seen a fairy either...

You got me! There is no interesting analysis of a theme, no nuanced critique. But that is not the point of (a clumsy attempt at) satire. And you may or may not understand my point (the main point, ignoring those parts where I got sidetracked).


That is fair, but it seemed like you were using satire as a way of provoking without having to respond for it. In my family they do it all the time, "I was just kidding" often stands for "I was actually pointing out this thing I dislike, in a way that enables plausible deniability, hence preventing the open, two-way discussion I wish to avoid".

sawfoot_:
In regard to one of those sidetracks, I think its fair to say that some experiences for which people attribute paranomal explanations to stem from hallucinations (though I don't know the difference between a relevant and an irrelevant hallucination). This is a simple point and on-target as far as my point goes.


I have never experienced this myself, but I know of at least one case when that seemed to be happening, in all likelihood.

sawfoot_:
I wasn't aiming directly at Magick, but anyhow, Magick may be very interesting and deep, and I imagine I could find some value in it if I explored it further.


Hmm, OK, that sentence came off as surprising. If you are open to that possibility (as well as the possibility that it is all bullshit, that should be kept open also), then I must have not understood your position in the first place.

sawfoot_:
But there is that word "just" you use. Just because you have an explanation of a phenomena doesn't necessarily demean it. If it were true that in some of the cases where you had some Magickal explanation of a Magickal experience, which was later superseded by an alternative explanation that partly or even fully invalided the Magickal explanation, would it necessarily invalidate that "surprising, sophisticated, subtle, useful perspective on perception" or your experiences of it?


Not at all, I totally agree. I am a strong positivist: I believe that the extent to which magick is possible --- or not --- can, at least in principle, be learned through scientific methods. (In principle, meaning, there have to be enough people actually applying a scientific method to this range of experiences)

As a retort, I would answer: Just because you don't have a scientific explanation or confirmation of a phenomena, that doesn't necessarily mean you should dismiss it (say, as hallucination). Even though currently we only seem to have magickal frameworks to explain magickal experience, which lack many of the nice features of scientific explanations, it might nonetheless be useful to spend some time understanding what this kind of knowledge is about.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/4/13 5:39 AM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
There is a good example from the world of insight practice that might apply here.

You see, viewing things one way, a wrong way, one can often come up with all sorts of explanations for things that are consistent enough except when pushed to their limits.

Duality is an example of this. Science tells that duality must be an illusion, given the standard laws of physics and biochemistry. It is absurd that we are continuous, that we are separate, and yet we persistently perceive it otherwise, and most people function pretty well totally misperceiving reality through this odd logic, and coming up with cognitive strategies to deal with the inconsistencies and gloss over them, which, when one starts to do really careful investigation of experience, are revealed to be so ridiculous and patently absurd that it is amazing that we were able to craft such an elaborate worldview of stability and continuity based on something that is so totally causal, transient, and integrated.

Most scientists themselves will never ever come to that point of insight, an insight that some young children on an insight retreat can have with great clarity.

Thus, this is a fundamental example of how we can construct a model of the world that seems relatively internally consistent and yet is totally delusional.

I have this intuition that something like this is going to happen in the world of modern physics, and I am not alone in this.

Current models of the basic structure of reality lead to absurd paradoxes and often contradict one another. Infinities abound in equations that they make no sense in. Models that try do resolve them do preposterous things, or seemingly preposterous things, like going to 10+ dimensions, folded dimensions, and even weirder systems of alternative logic and mathematics that would make your head spin and seem totally at odds with anything that could possibly make sense.

It is all pointing to some deep, fundamental misunderstanding, something being woefully incomplete at the heart of it all.

I think that current physics is going to be like the illusion of duality, and we are awaiting that cognitive breakthrough, that paradigmatic shift, that will make sense of something that, at the moment and past a certain point, is deeply non-sensical.

I have followed the attempts for physicists to resolve these issues for about 30 years or so, since I was first introduced to them in 8th grade. I have taken courses in Advanced Modern Physics and regularly pour through the latest and greatest attempts to make sense of it all that appear in journals such as Scientific American, which is about the level that I can grasp these days, and the overall conclusion is that they don't know how it all works, don't know why the paradoxes are there, and totally fail to explain many aspects of what we see happening at a mechanistic level, though their theories do a remarkable job of predicting all sorts of very amazing things under extremely controlled and hyper-exotic conditions, such as in particle accelerators and near-zero degree Bose-Einstein condensates and the like.

Thus, those waving around the scientific worldview as if it is air-tight and logical and straightforward and lacking in wiggle room are totally missing the condition of the state of the art.

We have no idea how quantum effects resolve to the things they become. The power of quantum effects to influence the macroscopic continues to amaze us, with more examples coming all the time, and coming at the level where they could influence cellular machinery, which is the level that you need to have they influence experience and the function of organisms, and the connections between things that the world of quantum probability and entangling hints at is staggering in its implications, and we still have no idea how that all plays out at the macro scale, but we suspect it is vastly more than we currently think it is.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/4/13 6:36 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I agree that science is ignorant of many things, and even that currently there is ample wiggle room to fit in what I understand magick to be (even at its boldest claims), but when I referred to the "nice properties" that science has, I didn't mean that it could currently satisfactorily explain, say, most of the universe.

Apparently the incompleteness of science is something most scientists are well-aware. I read a text recently, by an exasperated cosmologist, noting that as far as we believe, 95% of the entire mass/energy in the universe is so-called dark mass / dark energy (just repeating words here), and because this kind of thing apparently doesn't interact very much with normal matter, scientists have no idea what it actually behaves like. In essence, he claimed, we know very very little about at least 95% of the universe.

No, the "nice properties" I am referring to are things like reliability, reproducibility, applicability, rigor, peer-review, etc. Meaning, those things that science does understand, and does predict, it tends to do so very well. Things like Newtonian dynamics, some aspects of general relativity, a fairly-large subset of chemistry, micro-scale (as opposed to nano-scale) electricity, some aspects of atomic physics, etc.

As far as I have seen, there is nothing remotely as sure, safe and sound as this in the realm of contemplative practices. Nonetheless, not having an understanding about some class of phenomena reaching that level is not really a valid reason not to engage in said phenomena... or, as some skeptics are prone, to mock or feel smug about those who do.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/4/13 9:50 AM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
The argument about reproducibility is an interesting one.

Consider the problem with this relate do the number of factors you have to consistently control to do the sort of reproducible science you seem to be asking for related to this.

Consider the system: the brain, the body, the external world, our internal mental states, our psychological states, our relationship to external objects and ourselves. Moment to moment very large aspects of all of those change radically. The system is extremely complex and unstable.

Consider one of the foundations of modern physics, the Schrödinger Equation. It would seem straightforward enough, and given really simple systems and really simple boundary conditions, you can solve it. Want to predict the shape of the orbit of an electron probability cloud around a hydrogen atom in a vacuum and without external electromagnetic influence? Easy. One proton, one electron, clearly defined forces, all just a walk in the park. Try do to that for, say, sodium. Not that big an atom, really, not that many particles, and straightforward forces, so you would think it would be easy. Not! Nearly impossible. The largest computers struggle against the task. Schrodinger Equation for larger atoms

Ok, consider a much larger system: the brain, a trillion neurons, connections beyond number, varying neurotransmitter levels, varying glucose and blood pressure levels, varying configurations even minutes apart, as the plastic structure of the brain constantly remodels itself, and then add in psychology, whatever that is, and the "external" world in all its staggering complexity.

Those who demand the level of reproducibility of, say, simple Newtonian physics, whatever that is, for a system with that degree of complexity: it is hard to even begin to come up with polite enough terms to address that level of naiveté.

Even Newtonian physics works only under really simple conditions, and then things begin to break down. Consider a simple case: take a weight, put it on a flat surface, and gently increase the angle of the surface until the weight begins to move, and record the rate at which the weight moves and accelerates until it reaches the end of the surface. Straightforward, right? Except that, if you do this again and again and measure carefully, you won't always get the same angle at which the downward forces overcome the static friction and the thing begins to move, and you won't always get uniform acceleration between experiments or even during the same experiment, as kinetic friction is an average, and moment to moment will vary depending on small variations in the surface. To try to get really good reproducibility you would have to really craft the weight and the surface with extreme precision and control all sorts of other conditions (temperature, air movement, etc.) to get really consistent results.

Did any of these people who talk about science take physics? Did any of them try this sort of thing in the lab? It is really surprising how variable a really seemingly simple system can be. I suspect they have never really done any science.

Take something pretty simple: a 4-cylinder, 4 stroke engine. The computer power required to model that even remotely well under various conditions is simply staggering, and even then, only real-world testing will really tell you how that system with all of its fluid mechanics and varying friction and turbulence and the like change as the temperature and metal properties and air density and volatility of the fuel and the like change under varying conditions and with time. That is not a zillionth the complexity of how the brain interacts with the body and the world, with zillionth obviously being a really scientific word.

Try predicting the orbits of the planets around the sun and their positions in, say, 10 years, taking into account all their gravitational pulls on each other as well as the force of the solar wind and the like: staggeringly complex, even if you have all the basic physics down. That is a really, really simple system in comparison to the mind, and simple by orders of magnitude that are best describe with large exponents that themselves have large exponents. Anyone looked at chaos theory? It is, well, chaotic.

Consider studies in medicine, which is now getting to the level of system complexity that we are having to deal with. I have all the coursework in study design that a PhD epidemiologist would take, so this is something I know something about.

We would sit there in class and tear down study after study, ripping apart the methods and conclusions, pointing out the huge flaws in top-funded studies that appeared in the very best journals there are, JAMA, Lancet, NEJM, ripping them to pieces, and doing so easily. The number of naive assumptions made about how statistics would work in those settings was staggering, the number of confounding variables huge, the ability to really control key variables really weak most of the time, and the numbers to try to get meaningful effects of a scale that very few researchers will ever be able to afford to do. Those are peer-reviewed studies, peer reviewed by some of the best researchers out there, and most of them have real problems with them. The best cardiac drugs, like Lipitor and the like, show effects so small that it takes thousands of patients to try to show they do something and years of carefully collected, albeit often really flawed, data.

Where is the perfect science these people postulate? It is a fiction, a fantasy, a pie in the sky, particularly about a system the likes of which we are talking about. I am not saying we shouldn't try, as plenty of good comes out of science that is not that great, as well as lots of problems, like Vioxx.

Look up the outrageously expensive debacles around Natrecor and Xigris. They will blow your mind. All the rage when I was in residency, extremely expensive, based on basically junk science, and now you really never see them used at all.

Try to do something on that level we are talking about consistently, such as consistently induce the exact same feeling and thoughts in a person two days in a row at the same time for a few seconds. Nearly impossible. Try to do it yourself! Good luck. Why do you expect this for the powers when you can't even do it for ordinary thoughts and emotions even for one person two times in a row? Have the people critiquing this stuff really thought about what they are asking and if they would ask it of other similar questions and systems?

Look up the science of what we should be eating! There are hints, fads, trends that reverse all the time, and tons of studies that get thrown out a few years later based on other studies that will get thrown out a few years later. You would think that, given how important the question is, we would have really good science on this. It is all simple biochemistry, right? Not!

Vitamin D: in, out, in, out, maybe in again?
Fish Oil: maybe, maybe not! Does it cause prostate cancer? Does it help inflammatory conditions or heart disease? Let me know when you find out.
Carbs: in, out, in, out, etc.
Tell me definitely if gluten is bad for you. Best of luck!
Are saturated fats bad for you? Look up the science on butter. In, out, in, out, maybe in again
Look up the science on cholesterol: we lowered it as much as possible, now we think that excessively lowering it is a bad idea, and that will probably change soon enough

There has been a ton more research on diet and its effects on health with zillions of more dollars and scientists working on this than the powers, and the definitive conclusions you can draw are so flighty and wishy washy as to make may throw up their hands entirely.

Vitamin E: in, out, in, really out
Vitamin C: Nobel prize! Yeah, and then maybe it doesn't do much, or does it?
Should you cook with olive oil? Coconut oil? Canola oil? Let me know when you are certain.

Science! What an amazing thing! What a total joke! It is both of these and more. Worship it like the definitive guide to how to live, and you will be dancing around like a puppet being played by someone with a seizure disorder.

Should you exercise to lose weight? In, out, in, not sure now. Those who exercise to lose weight might, on average, eat an additional 100 calories per day more than than they burn in exercise! Or, perhaps not! Tell me definitely, clearly and for all time what the answer is! Best of luck with that.

Eggs: eaten daily by hundreds of millions of people, perhaps billions. You would think we would know something about their health effects. They go in and out and in and out. There was just a study that showed that perhaps moderate consumption has no effect on heart disease, whereas for decades they were thought to be killing people due to their high cholesterol content. Some now think they are probably good for you. I am going to eat some shortly...

Is obesity all caused by clever gut bacteria manipulating neurotransmitters, whereas for years we thought these people were just pathological eaters or had some endocrine disorder? We don't know.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/4/13 9:25 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Let's take the most simple cases from the examples I provided above.

Take the back pain one: this is probably the most straightforward. I might be able to reproduce that, but I will have to wait for my back to go out again. Hopefully we will be waiting a while. I can just imagine the scientific paper I would try to create from that and trying to submit that to a journal. It would be an n of 2 (two times on one person, so basically two data points), and the subject would be a highly idiosyncratically trained meditator whose generalizability to any other population would be what?

To reproduce that on a larger scale, who would be your subjects, and how would you control the conditions? Would you have them follow the same training path I did over nearly two decades and then try to throw their backs out and then see if they could straighten them up again? What other variables would you control for? Who would you choose to train for that long? What would be your controlled entrance criteria: Gen X musician geeks from academic backgrounds with what might be a relatively unusual natural talent for technical meditation? Who is going to fund that study? It is all absurd.

Take the family situation example with the three golden pulses yielding a resolution of lots of the tension around that after a few months of totally home-brewed internal magickal work: How do you reproduce it? I can't even imagine how I could internally reproduce it, as that tension has gone, the system has changed, and so how do you go back and do it again? I can't even remember all the things I did internally, all the pathways I explored, and how this would relate to all the other stuff that was going on at the time. Again, absurd.

Imagine if you could try to reproduce that and you got a different result, like an angel whispering that it would all be ok coupled with the image of a flower blooming in the heart, and then some different but still positive shift in the situation. How would you interpret that result? Is that reproducibility? What's your p-value on that? Have you thought all this through?

Does that mean that people can't play with this stuff and these paradigms and perhaps some up with useful effects on their own? Definitely not. I am sure that someone probably will. However, imagine submitting those study projects to some institutional review board or to a peer-reviewed journal: It makes me laugh out-loud just thinking about it.

Any of you submitted papers for publication to peer-reviewed journals? I have a number of times. Anyone been through an Institutional Review Board? I have a number of times. Considering the IRB that would approve that research stretches my imagination into the realm of true comic fantasy.

Ah, those eggs were tasty! And gluten! And cheese! Was it bad for me? Science has no friggin' idea! How do you quantify the health effects of that much enjoyment? They have no friggin' idea. If you can't do that, how are you going to do science on the stuff I am talking about and into? I have no friggin' idea, and neither do they.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
12/22/13 2:45 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
sawfoot _:
Would I rather take the red pill or the blue pill? Would I rather believe in magic and fix my sore back, or have a sore back that I couldn't fix? Would I rather have some pain relief for my back from the chiropracticy/accupuncture/homeopathy/crystal headling and have some deluded belief on how it works, or I would rather feel wise and superior but still have that sore back? Would I prefer to believe in God so I could turn to him in times of need, or feel alone in a meaningless universe? Not care why things work, or care why things work? Believe I have special magic pen future seeing mind control lid replacing powers, or have to live in a world in which I have to sit in a room with a smelly pen?

Choose carefully, as our great overlord and protector has warned us, as you could so easily wind up in a damaging dysfunctional, disempowered loop of delusion…


Which do you choose and why?

I am totally happy with my choice. Why are you unhappy with my choice? How can you demonstrate that your choice leads to increased functionality that mine doesn't, or increased well-being, or increased enjoyment? Prove it! I have good examples of benefit. I ask you to show both benefit from your point of view that couldn't be garnered by other methods and also practical examples of the harm of mine, realizing that mine is probably a bit more nuanced than "fairies did it", which is funny, but that is a separate issue.

What harm does my perspective do you? What harm is it doing me? Name something obvious about impaired function.


This goes back to my point - happiness or delusion. Your assumption is that life should be about happiness and increased functionality. This is a pretty reasonable perspective, but it is a choice and assumption. There are different philosophies of life, of which this is the most common one humans choose. I am working from the assumption that something like getting closer to "truth" or wisdom is another alternative worth exploring. I can't justify this being a better philosophy, in fact there are lots of arguments to say it is worse. So I wouldn't say I am totally happy with my choice. But can I have my cake and eat it too? Or is it just the case that ignorance is bliss?

I suppose I envision the possibility of a middle way, a spiritual materialism, and what that might look like. This might involve giving up some cherished notions, like reincarnation for example, or magic/the paranormal, but much can be kept. So maybe a little less happy, but a bit more wiser. Compromise?

Note: JC makes a similar point.

Just as an aside, in psychology we talk about positive illusions. For example, people tend to think to think they are above average at certain things compared to the rest of the population, which can't be true, as not everyone can be above average. And studies show that it is associated with increased well-being. Is that a bad thing? There are advantages and disadvantages…

Daniel M. Ingram:

I currently work at the far top end of one of the most cognitively demanding jobs there is. I am in a stable marriage. I support my family very well. I contribute to my community. I live my life well and enjoy it. I take no medications, exercise regularly, am in good health, have time for creative pursuits, offer free help to others, enjoy the company of friends, etc.

What harm and danger do you see here? You seem to imply that all sorts of bad things are going to happen or are happening, but I don't see that at all. What paper-tigers have you created that you are waving about with red warning flags blazing?


There is the argument that first we let in homeopathy, next stop witch doctors, next stop burning witches. There is probably some aspect of truth to that though it doesn't have a lot of force here.

There is the point related to Tom Tom was saying, which links to the mushroom factor. You (Dr Ingram) may be an intelligent high functioning adult, but there are issues surrounding responsibility and the encouraging of practices for those less stable, but this is a whole other complicated issue.

The red flag and wording was partly making fun of you getting carried away, but in the end it is fair to say I got carried away myself.

I admit I get upset with what I perceive to be a form of intellectual dishonesty. But it is so important I try to wage war on it? Be a righter of wrongs? Probably not. And I am quite aware of how easily it is end up in the same position of that which I am attacking.


Daniel M. Ingram:

I do care how to make things work far more than why. The why is important, but it is not necessary for lots of it. I have enough basic theories about the "why" that predict things well enough to be a pretty good working model most of the time, which is about as good as anything I have in the world of clinical medicine. We don't fully know how lots of things in clinical medicine work, but they work just the same. Plenty of medicines don't have their mechanisms totally elucidated: I use them anyway. More about the "why" will come, perhaps, in time, or perhaps not. The how is more important in the short-term.


Short term is good. Long term is also good.

My friend is a doctor. She tells me she sees medicine a bit like magic. Half the time she doesn't really know why she is doing it works, it just works. Funnily enough she also tells me that ER doctors are always the craziest people in a hospital - is that true in your experience?!

Daniel M. Ingram:

I am more on the practitioner end of the world of the powers than the theoretical-research end, to use a scientific analogy. Perhaps you have a secret need to work on the theory-mechanism end. I would consider pursuing that, as you seem totally fascinated by it. It might be way more interesting and fun than you thought it would. I would consider a Pa Auk retreat: get your concentration strong, then try to answer some of the question that you are interested in and see what you come up with.


This is no secret need of mine. And yes, I am actively pursuing that along the lines of what you suggest from a 1st person perspective, and this is a major motivation to reach stream entry.

Daniel M. Ingram:

I remember an ex-family member who used to totally bash Christianity all the time for years on end even without provocation. One day, in a totally surprising move, she joined a local church and instantly became a member of the choir and a very dedicated church-member and was much happier and easier to be around. It is like closet homosexuals who can be really neurotic until they come out of the closet, and even can be some of the most openly homophobic of people until they accept themselves.


It is quite possible that this time next year I will have shaven my head, joined a monastery and be calling myself sawfootadanti.

Daniel M. Ingram:

When you watch Harry Potter, or read about Narnia, or think about fairies, is there some secret part of yourself that really wishes it were true that you feel you have to erect this massive front of attack and denial and rationalization around? Something else is going on here, and I want to know what it is. Even if I never get an answer, you should take a look at yourself and see why all the drama around this and why you are caught up in the fervent evangelism of the scientism perspective as if some great and important thing hung in the balance. What is that great and important thing, specifically? What drives all of this, anyway?


A simple answer is being in the dark night, and this is how it plays out for me.

If you want a more complex contenty answer I can send you an email.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/4/13 10:46 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Your comments about reproducibility and the large number of variables make a valid point, and you're correct that the mind is complicated, we don't know much about dark matter, nutrition, etc. (Vitamin E is out again??)

That said, the question here is much simpler, and doesn't require reproducing all these factors exactly. There are two possibilities here:

1. The powers aren't real, that is to say, they can all be explained by psychology, the power of suggestion, the brain's power to heal the body (unknown but totally plausible), coincidence, causation confusion (maybe you saw the candle flame move, visualized it as energy, and afterwards remembered making the choice to move it before), confirmation bias, and so on.

2. The powers are actually real, and intent can effect the real world in ways that don't seem currently plausible.

My point is that there's a ton of evidence for Option 1. Option 2 is just much less likely, and unless we can reproduce "psychic" effects consistently, stating what we want beforehand and comparing to the actual results, it just doesn't seem like there's enough evidence. Everything I've heard can be easily explained by Option 1, so I'm much less inclined to change my beliefs about the world. Now if you tried to telepathically send randomly selected words to someone in the next room and they got many of them right, I'd change my mind (and James Randi would give you a million dollars) but it doesn't seem like the powers work consistently enough for that, which leans me toward Option 1.

I just listened to your Buddhist Geeks podcast about the powers, in which you mentioned that you wouldn't use healing powers at work: you'd use medical techniques that generally reliably worked. To me, this is just another way of saying that the powers aren't real, that is, they don't reliably produce specific changes in the real world outside your body.

That's not to say that they can't be useful for personal or psychological healing. I'm totally accepting of powers like lucid dreaming, private visualizations, and so forth, as they don't contradict anything we know about: we know people can meditate and affect their own brain.

Daniel M. Ingram:


Take the back pain one: this is probably the most straightforward. I might be able to reproduce that, but I will have to wait for my back to go out again. Hopefully we will be waiting a while. I can just imagine the scientific paper I would try to create from that and trying to submit that to a journal. It would be an n of 2 (two times on one person, so basically two data points), and the subject would be a highly idiosyncratically trained meditator whose generalizability to any other population would be what?

To reproduce that on a larger scale, who would be your subjects, and how would you control the conditions?


I'd have you see a large sample of patients reporting back pain, meditate on them, try to manipulate their energetic pathways, and compare pain and healing with a control group. If we saw a significant improvement, that would be pretty solid evidence that you could reproducibly heal back pain in others.

(As I said, I have no problem believing you can heal it in yourself, as that doesn't require "magic.")


Take the family situation example with the three golden pulses yielding a resolution of lots of the tension around that after a few months of totally home-brewed internal magickal work: How do you reproduce it? I can't even imagine how I could internally reproduce it, as that tension has gone, the system has changed, and so how do you go back and do it again? I can't even remember all the things I did internally, all the pathways I explored, and how this would relate to all the other stuff that was going on at the time. Again, absurd.

Imagine if you could try to reproduce that and you got a different result, like an angel whispering that it would all be ok coupled with the image of a flower blooming in the heart, and then some different but still positive shift in the situation. How would you interpret that result? Is that reproducibility? What's your p-value on that? Have you thought all this through?


I'd take a group of people with difficult family or personal situations and have them each write up a short summary. I'd randomly select half of the summaries and give them to you to meditate on. I'd then follow up with the people on how they felt about the situation and what had happened. If the group of people whose situations you meditated on showed significant improvement over the other group, that would be good evidence that the powers worked reproducibly to heal people's difficult situations.

Again, there's no problem with the idea that you can feel better about your own situations by doing internal magic work.

Or, if we're talking external positive outcomes in the real world: take, say, a few dozen problems or situations you're dealing with in your life. Write down beforehand what you would count as a positive shift in the situation. Take half of the situations and do internal magical work on them. Then, after a few months or a year, write down what shifts actually occurred, and have a neutral third party score to see whether the half you worked on improved more than the other half.

My point here is that if magic can't lead to reliable consistent results in the external world, in some measurable way, then it seems like Option 1 is much more likely here. And that's a good thing to know, because it helps us choose tools that work better for a given situation, like you would at work. For internal stuff, the powers can be really helpful; for external stuff, use reliable means of influencing the real world.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/4/13 11:30 AM as a reply to J C.
J C:

Exactly, and the potential harm here is that these types of thinking can limit our ability to understand how the world really works, which in turn means we're limited in figuring out what works and what doesn't.


Exactly exactly. So if you think the powers are real, and enlightenment is real, and you honestly believe that they could be a transformative aspect in the lives of many, then you need to think clearly, if long term you want to make use of these tools.

sawfoot:

The next step to consider is this: if someone like Daniel can get led so astray about the paranormal, then what does this mean for his account of the progress of insight. Is he a reliable narrator? If an invididual can get it wrong, what about groups of individuals?

I don't want to appear overly negative here, as it is a serious question, and I think well worth exploring. How deeply can we fool ourselves?


J C:

The whole "magic powers might be real" aspect of this site turned me off at first, and it's good to know that there are other meditators who don't accept that.

I don't know that Daniel making common mistakes like misattributing causality and confirmation bias makes MCTB unreliable. I don't think that's fair... even if his interpretations are incorrect, that doesn't effect the specifics of his account and what he perceived.


Well, I think it is fair to raise the question. But I disagree that it does effect specifics (though not what was perceived). Let's say you had a really strong belief that your suffering would be released in stream entry, and then it was, and you attributed that to "awakening" or whatever, whereas the causal factor in suffering reduction was primarily the belief.

sawfoot:

So ultimately you leave a single main point, which you make repeatedly. Magical practices are useful based on my experience, and we are better off having them. This is a separate issue to where we started from, but I can understand why you would want to reframe the debate around that.

At several points in accounting your personal experiences, I was left wondering - are you not at all interested in trying to explain or understand how these things can happen? Yes, I want to know about mechanism. Then it starts to make sense: magic shows aren't as fun if you know the magic is performed. And if you know the pill is a placebo, it doesn't work half as well.

J C:

As I understand it, the placebo effect is just as effective even if you know it's a placebo.

And you can take the opposite approach: someone who knows how the magic is performed can appreciate the magic show as a work of art and a great technical accomplishment. The knowledge that magic tricks are performed with great dexterity, acting, misdirection, and so forth can add to your appreciation as you notice and appreciate the little details that make it work.


Not exactly. You can get the placebo effect even if you know it is a placebo, because you know the placebo effect works! But there is a fair bit of evidence if you look into it that belief does alter effectiveness. There are also studies now looking at what is happening in the brain - the power of your brain to influence the physical universe - other states of the brain!

sawfoot:

Going back to the point I made above in response to JC, in regard to the stages of insight, could you access the mechanisms necessary to move through them (and become enlightened etc)… if you believed it was all psychosis or impossible?


J C:

Ok, I'm a little confused here. To move through the stages of insight doesn't require accepting a nonmaterialist perspective on the world. It's just meditation, just watching the things the mind does, just noticing the process through which the self is created.


Well, it is an open question. If you thought it wasn't possible, practically speaking you wouldn't probably expend the effort necessary. Another issue, is that a lot of people (Daniel included) talk about the power of intention. People often really really want it (e.g., something like stream entry). And interestingly many report it only happens when they give up wanting it, which speaks to the argument that it isn't just wish fulfillment.


sawfoot:

Would I rather take the red pill or the blue pill? Would I rather believe in magic and fix my sore back, or have a sore back that I couldn't fix? Would I rather have some pain relief for my back from the chiropracticy/accupuncture/homeopathy/crystal headling and have some deluded belief on how it works, or I would rather feel wise and superior but still have that sore back? Would I prefer to believe in God so I could turn to him in times of need, or feel alone in a meaningless universe? Not care why things work, or care why things work? Believe I have special magic pen future seeing mind control lid replacing powers, or have to live in a world in which I have to sit in a room with a smelly pen?


J C:

You don't have to choose between the two. You can have the best of both. Fix your back due to techniques rooted in "magic" but understand that it's all psychology. Appreciate the magic show while knowing it's a great technical accomplishment. Have the ability to know the limits of your mind... it can affect your body, but to stop the smelly pen guy, you have to communicate with him in some way.


I agree.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/4/13 11:44 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
The fact that simple principles interact in complicated ways to make systems that are next-to-impossible to simulate, still allows for the possibility of figuring out what these principles are.

I agree that all the systems you describe are complex, but the way an understanding of gravity, say, was reached, was by studying toy examples first, and generalizing those observations later. Hence people thought of two-body problems, solved the gravity problem in that context, and then noticed that it seemed to generalize (locally predict with small error) to N-body problems.

So while I agree that the system in question (the body and mind) is uber-complex, that doesn't preclude the possibility of dissecting it into its constituent parts, by a careful divide-and-conquer approach.

So what you'd need would be something like that for magick: simple experiments which can be done, in a setting that is as controlled as possible.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/4/13 12:18 PM as a reply to J C.
J C:
Your comments about reproducibility and the large number of variables make a valid point, and you're correct that the mind is complicated, we don't know much about dark matter, nutrition, etc. (Vitamin E is out again??)



J C, thanks for fighting the "good fight"! I echo your points, but would just add I don't think it was a valid point about reproducibility. We don't progress in science by trying to exactly replicate systems, as Daniel well knows. I actually took Bruno to mean replicability. You do an experiment. You try a similar one again, and hopefully you get similar results. You have a theory, it makes predictions, you test those, try to replicate those, and so on.

And yes, Daniel, we know science isn't perfect.

Daniel M. Ingram:


Imagine if you could try to reproduce that and you got a different result, like an angel whispering that it would all be ok coupled with the image of a flower blooming in the heart, and then some different but still positive shift in the situation. How would you interpret that result? Is that reproducibility? What's your p-value on that? Have you thought all this through?



Parapsychology has been going for well over a hundred years. This has all been thought through, as Daniel isn't the first person to believe he has psychic powers.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parapsychology

(obviously I would like to direct attention to the Criticism_and_controversy section)

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/4/13 12:19 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Bruno Loff:


That is fair, but it seemed like you were using satire as a way of provoking without having to respond for it. In my family they do it all the time, "I was just kidding" often stands for "I was actually pointing out this thing I dislike, in a way that enables plausible deniability, hence preventing the open, two-way discussion I wish to avoid".



Yes, true enough, though I had been trying to have a two-way discussion elsewhere on the forum and felt that wasn't happening, though to be fair, Daniel did offer to talk on skype a while back and I didn't take him up on it.

sawfoot_:
I wasn't aiming directly at Magick, but anyhow, Magick may be very interesting and deep, and I imagine I could find some value in it if I explored it further.


Bruno Loff:

Hmm, OK, that sentence came off as surprising. If you are open to that possibility (as well as the possibility that it is all bullshit, that should be kept open also), then I must have not understood your position in the first placeI



Well, maybe if you found that surprising then maybe I haven't understood Magick in the first place! I did find some of this stuff interesting when I was younger (Crowley etc..), and without knowing enough about it it I can't rule out it has value in insight terms. Perhaps I should look into it further and see what sense I can make of it.

sawfoot_:
But there is that word "just" you use. Just because you have an explanation of a phenomena doesn't necessarily demean it. If it were true that in some of the cases where you had some Magickal explanation of a Magickal experience, which was later superseded by an alternative explanation that partly or even fully invalided the Magickal explanation, would it necessarily invalidate that "surprising, sophisticated, subtle, useful perspective on perception" or your experiences of it?


Bruno Loff:

Not at all, I totally agree. I am a strong positivist: I believe that the extent to which magick is possible --- or not --- can, at least in principle, be learned through scientific methods. (In principle, meaning, there have to be enough people actually applying a scientific method to this range of experiences)


Groovy - I guess I was reacting to those that get all upset when you start to look for scientific explanations, for example, Daniel getting all worked up about psychosis and the powers.

Bruno Loff:


As a retort, I would answer: Just because you don't have a scientific explanation or confirmation of a phenomena, that doesn't necessarily mean you should dismiss it (say, as hallucination). Even though currently we only seem to have magickal frameworks to explain magickal experience, which lack many of the nice features of scientific explanations, it might nonetheless be useful to spend some time understanding what this kind of knowledge is about.


From a scientific perspective, dismissing it is perfectly reasonable and desirable. You want to have two things that work together - a theory and evidence. If you don't have a good theory, and you don't have good evidence, then you get dismissed.

In statistics there is a distinction between type 1 errors, and type 2 errors.
Type 1 errors (false positives) are when you accept something as true when it isn't
Type 2 errors (misses) when you reject something as being true when it is

In science we are generally much more scared about making type 1 errors compared to type 2 errors. In tumor detection, those type 2 errors are much more costly.

What about Magick? It comes down to what is meant by "useful" and what "being true", and what framework we are working in, and as I say above, I can't dispute that it might have value.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/4/13 3:33 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
sawfoot _:

Bruno Loff:


As a retort, I would answer: Just because you don't have a scientific explanation or confirmation of a phenomena, that doesn't necessarily mean you should dismiss it (say, as hallucination). Even though currently we only seem to have magickal frameworks to explain magickal experience, which lack many of the nice features of scientific explanations, it might nonetheless be useful to spend some time understanding what this kind of knowledge is about.


From a scientific perspective, dismissing it is perfectly reasonable and desirable. You want to have two things that work together - a theory and evidence. If you don't have a good theory, and you don't have good evidence, then you get dismissed.

What about Magick? It comes down to what is meant by "useful" and what "being true", and what framework we are working in, and as I say above, I can't dispute that it might have value.


I don't think saying that something is a hallucination is "dismissing it." Some of my most meaningful experiences have been triggered by psychedelics. I accept that they happened and that they were meaningful experiences, but to determine what actually happened, I need to take a broader view, not just look at the experience.

We don't have a full explanation of how the mind can custom-design visuals or hallucinations (a category that would seem to include most of the "magick" experiences), but we do have some knowledge, for instance, it's similar to lucid dreaming in some ways.

The hypothesis that the mind is creating these visuals is at least a sketch of a scientific explanation that can explain a magical experience, and it's the hypothesis best supported by the evidence.

Really, I wish we would start talking about "cool stuff" or "trippy experiences" instead of magic, accept that these are real and meaningful experiences that people have, acknowledge that these powers do allow people to do all sorts of interesting things within their own head, and accept the limits that reality puts on these experiences. That framework would help us explore and understand these experiences better. Rather than dismiss any of these experiences, let's take them of evidence of the power of the mind and of meditation, and explore them within a reality-based framework.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/4/13 3:59 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
sawfoot_, J C, I have no quarrel with what you are saying. As long as you are not closed to the possibility just out of some sort of axiomatic scientism (which would be totally unscientific by the way), the rest are just details.

It seems to me, this is the point when we do the experiment ourselves, and see what comes of it. I personally plan to explore this territory a bit in my upcoming long retreat.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/5/13 8:46 AM as a reply to J C.
The whole question of "reality based framework" does get to the heart of the thing.

Which reality is that? Yours? Mine? They are clearly not the same, nor is anyone else's.

Consensus reality is a convenient fiction.

Scientific models are that: models.

Most apply only to idealized cases, and the rest is extrapolated assuming that in aggregate the effects are the same, when emergent properties surprise us all the time. What level of biology do you have to rise to to adequately predict, say, the Tea Party...

All scientific models are extrapolated from people's experiences. This is the first basis of all science. A perspective that was in theory abandoned, yet it resurfaced as being so integral to modern physics as to be frightening in its implications: somehow observation causes the system to seem to resolve to something definite in a way that we think it just might not if it wasn't observed. That is totally freaky and should provoke deep skepticism of many of our assumptions about this "objective reality" that is so often posited.

It is a model, a story, a way of predicting things that sort of works in some cases, doesn't work at all in others, and for very refined cases is generally pretty good and often really amazing.

When we abandon experience and instead favor models that were based on experience, we have a deep cognitive problem. It is not that much that is useful can't come out of that, but we must remember what we are doing when we do it, and keep our eyes on the prize, however defined. I define mine as happiness. Yours is what again?

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/5/13 5:44 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
The whole question of "reality based framework" does get to the heart of the thing.

Which reality is that? Yours? Mine? They are clearly not the same, nor is anyone else's.

Consensus reality is a convenient fiction.


Imagine a culture where everyone grew up trained to master concentration, and everyone was taught the cultural convention of visualizing glowing lines when people made gestures. Then the glowing lines would be perceived and accepted as real, just the way our brain fills in all sorts of details (for instance, the spaces between spoken words). Maybe there are instruments that can detect the difference, and we can figure out what's real (shows up on the instruments). But maybe people's beliefs are so strong they can't read the meters accurately, or wouldn't think to invent them. In that case, consensus reality would say that the lines are real. And while they'd be real in the sense that they exist as an action out in the world, perceived by the brain, interpreted, and given a name, like everything else in our reality... they're an optical illusion. Filled in by the brain. Not real in the same way that a glowstick's glowing line is, detectable by flies and instruments. And we might never know it.

I'm not interested what consensus reality says (at least in the context of this discussion about psychic powers). I'm talking about what's actually there.

Why is reality what shows up on the instruments? Because we know that the human mind often perceives things inaccurately. Maybe we'll never know what's really out there, maybe we can only get close, maybe we can't even get close or agree on the basics. But that doesn't mean it's not out there. Don't confuse knowledge with reality... just because we can't ever know what the absolute truth is doesn't mean there is no real world.


Scientific models are that: models.
Most apply only to idealized cases, and the rest is extrapolated assuming that, a in aggregate the effects are the same, when emergent properties surprise us all the time.


Yes, and some models might be useful for self-interpretation or writing fiction or trying out philosophical experiments... but in most cases, what we're most concerned with is trying to find what works, which requires some knowledge about what causes have what effects. What kind of problems can we reliably solve with magic, and what can't we solve? The only way to know is to test things out... and since humans make mistakes and see patterns when there are none, pay attention to coincidences, remember the things that stand out the most, and so forth, we need studies and larger scale experiments to know what works, at least outside the head.

Put another way, in a life-or-death situation, you need to know what will save your life, because dead people aren't in any reality.


All scientific models are extrapolate from people's experiences. This is the first basis of all science. A perspective that was in theory abandoned, yet it resurfaced as being so integral to modern physics as to be frightening in its implications: somehow observation causes the system to seem to resolve to something definite in a way that we think it just might not if it wasn't observed. That is totally freaky and should provoke deep skepticism of many of our assumptions about this "objective reality" that is so often posited.


I'm a fan of the many-worlds interpretation, which says that there is an objective reality. It's not that a system resolves into something definite, it's that the universe splits into two, so with Schrodinger's Cat, you have one universe with an observer seeing a dead cat and one with an observer seeing a living one. Totally freaky that the universe is splitting up all the time, and there's astronomical numbers of copies of you doing all sorts of different things... and according to quantum physics, they're all just as real as you are.

But we only live in this universe... we can't get into the others. In this universe, there's an objective reality, and it's important to find out what it is.

Quantum physics is so freaky that people like to make up mystical interpretations, but if you accept that there's an objective reality, then you're left with the many-worlds interpretation, which doesn't give the observer any special powers to do anything and says that consciousness is an effect of brain cells, no need for psychic powers or souls or anything.


When we abandon experience and instead favor models that were based on experience, we have a deep cognitive problem. It is not that much that is useful can't come out of that, but we must remember what we are doing when we do it, and keep our eyes on the prize, however defined. I define mine as happiness. Yours is what again?


Truth.

I know you studied methodology, so you don't need me to tell you that there are a lot of flaws in the way people remember and report their experiences, which is why we set up studies to try to correct these problems. Go in a casino and you'll hear all the slot machines that win jackpots, but you won't notice all the silent ones that didn't win. It's not that we're abandoning experience; we're trying to come closer to the truth by using our models to adjust our understanding of our experience to bring it closer to reality.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/5/13 9:57 AM as a reply to J C.
I just want to get this straight: you are willing to posit a model that would call dreams, for instance, "not real", not "glow-stick real", as you can't measure or predict them by a machine, but believe in a model in which every quantum probability resolution produces all possibilities and results in an entirely new universe, only one of which we can experience?

I want to get this straight:

You posit that, as there are about 10^80 observable particles, and if that is 5% of what there is, so presume about 20x10^80 particles, and each second contains 5.4x10^44 quantum moments (Planck's time, for those not physics geeky), so each second there are about 108x10^124 entire universes created, meaning that since the presumed beginning of the universe about 13-16 billion years ago or so, roughly 4x10^17 seconds, there have been about 416x10^141 universes created, of which we happened to experience just one?

I hardly know what to say, except that you are willing to go to some exceedingly wild extremes, implying that you believe that, if a universe weights about 1.7x10^53kg, or in that general ballpark, (within a factor of 10), that the total amount of matter created since the beginning of this one universe is about 416x10^194kg of matter, roughly.

That's 41600000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000 kg of matter created so far in your mind. That's quite a mind, and quite a "reality".

Now we have risen to the level that even Scientology doesn't get to.

Colors on the backs of my eyelids that I see and play with every day: "not real". Dreams that are experienced by most people every night, not "glow-stick real", which is a pretty funny standard, BTW, but this mind-boggling proliferation of universes is "real"?

Wow, that is some "reality" you dream of and imagine, and you believe that this imagined reality is more real than the sensations of imagination that posit it. Wow. I don't even know how to begin to work with that.

if you are looking for a not quite so totally, well, "crazy" is probably the wrong word, but, let's just say, um, "zany", interpretation of Schrödinger's cat, consider the Bayesians. If you have to have a model like that, theirs makes a lot more sense to me.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/5/13 10:05 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Actually, I just realized I totally blew the math on that. I am off by a factor so large that I really can't even begin to comprehend it.

Let's start again:

10^80 particles, x20 for the 5% problem, each quantum moment of which produces a universe, meaning each 5x10^-44 seconds a whole new universe arises for each choice, and then THOSE universes each now proliferate at the same rate, so each quantum moment the choices are multiplied by 20x10^80 times the number of possible states...

Meaning that the next moment there were something like possible statesx20x10^160 choices, so in one second you have >20x10^80^5x10^44 new universes each weighing...

Wow... Really think about that notion for just a second, and since the beginning you would have... wow. It truly boggles the mind.

You believe that and you think I am, what was the most polite term used...?

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/5/13 12:19 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Quantum physics is crazy, I know. It's also an accepted, repeatedly verified scientific theory. And many-worlds is what you get if you want an objective explanation of what actually exists, without giving consciousness or observers a special status.

Your argument against it is "that's a really big number"?

"Let me get this straight, your theory says that each one of those points of light is a star as big as the Sun? That there are billions of stars in the galaxy? That our galaxy is only one of billions? That means there is an astronomical number of stars in the universe, and we only live on one? The others are too far away for light to get there in millions of years, and you think we're seeing light from millions of years ago, when you can only live through about 100 years?"

Yup. It's insane to think about how many universes there are, and how big each one is. We live in a very strange world.

Unlike Scientology, we can do lab experiments that verify quantum physics. We can even build quantum computers (not very big ones yet) that use the other universes to do computation, then combine all the results, getting answers much faster than we could if these other universes weren't there. It's for real.

We have yet to see any kind of repeatable evidence for magical powers. All I'm saying is consider that the best explanation for "psychic" powers might be a combination of coincidence, favorable interpretation, and internal experience, as opposed to a repeatable verifiable power that can affect the real world measurably without physically interacting with it. We could test this out with experiments easily enough.

Phosphenes, dreams, and so forth are real experiences that people have. As I said, experiences that people have on drugs, while meditating, or whatever are still meaningful experiences. It's just that the things perceived in the mind don't correspond to physical objects outside the mind.

Hope you didn't take anything I said as an insult. Your book is amazing and has really helped me make sense of the world, enlightenment, and meditation. I love your writing and think it's great that you offer it for free and are here on the forums helping people. I don't think you're crazy or stupid, just incorrect about one thing (interpretation of psychic powers). Aren't we all here in search of the truth (that is, the best explanation for the world we can find)?

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/5/13 12:41 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I just want to know what makes you think psychic powers are "real" (that is, have effects outside the mind, not just a dream, visualization, and so on). Sounds like in the Buddhist Geeks interview you agreed that you wouldn't use magic at work to heal someone, you'd use medicine, and that they didn't work reliably and consistently.

Sure, it's possible that there are a million complex emotional factors getting in the way, fields of disbelief, or whatever... but it's also possible that they're real the way a dream or visualization is real, not the way that actually affects the external world directly.

If I need a heavy object lifted, a toilet unclogged, a disease healed, I'm not going to get a psychic, I'll get an expert in the relevant field. Not because I have some prejudice against psychics, but just because they don't tend to get the same kind of reliable results that I'd find pragmatically useful.

So what makes you think the powers are more "real" than a dream or visualization, if they can't consistently and reliably affect the real world? If the inconsistent strange effects from them can be better explained in other ways? I understand that you've seen some unusual events -- and I have too, after meditating or on drug trips -- but what is it that can't be better explained by the power of the mind and coincidence?

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/5/13 12:57 PM as a reply to J C.
J C:


Quantum physics is crazy, I know. It's also an accepted, repeatedly verified scientific theory. And many-worlds is what you get if you want an objective explanation of what actually exists, without giving consciousness or observers a special status.



lol, um, I think that is what Daniel is pointing out...? If you want (but why?) to enforce a metaphysical paradigm that privileges matter over mind, then that is one way to do it. Reminds me of all that business with epicycles to maintain the earth centered cosmology in the face of the heliocentric theory...

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/6/13 5:00 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
To sum up, the whole point of fairies was to point out the problem in a line of argument that Daniel and others (e.g. turns to post modernism) use.

I want to believe in X (reincarnation, siddhis etc…).

When it is pointed that a rational scientific perspective on this would say that this belief is absurd, or as Bryan put it:

"Who in the hell can imagine that this in any way resembles anything remotely approaching something any thinking human could accept as proof of anything"

the retort is this:

"Well, we don't know how to solve the hard problem of consciousness, we don't know exactly what happens when the universe began, we can't reproduce a complicated physical system exactly and predict it exactly, some interpretations of quantum physics are weird, some really weird, "it is turtles all the way down", science isn't perfect, all frameworks are just frameworks and thus equally valid, your interpretation of quantum physics is stupid and consistent with your other stated beliefs, etc etc.. so, you know…

who knows, anything is possible!!! It is wide open!!!"

Even fairies?

Of course, nobody believes in fairies (well, probably you could find some people on this forum that do), for good reasons. And despite claims about not caring about mechanism, and only caring about pragmatics, one acts consistent with some beliefs being more likely than others. Daniel believes so strongly in his beliefs being true and others being false that he writes books about them and teaches them to others.

In response to JC's question, one can construct a whole series of sophisticated and complex rationalisations to explain how to can hold on to beliefs about psychic powers when they are unreliable. "Public Magick" is hard, being emotionally charged is important, and so on. So the mind is able to construct rationalisations to protect a belief system, something the mind is very good at.

Daniel M. Ingram:

"The more we increase our ability to concentrate and to perceive reality clearly, the more we will begin to perceive the extraordinary magickal aspects of reality.

From http://integrateddaniel.info/magick-and-the-brahma-viharas/


Daniel M. Ingram:

"When we abandon experience and instead favor models that were based on experience, we have a deep cognitive problem. It is not that much that is useful can't come out of that, but we must remember what we are doing when we do it, and keep our eyes on the prize, however defined. I define mine as happiness. Yours is what again?"


The scientific perspective is almost always one of realism. The world is real, it exists, it is out there. We can observe it, gain knowledge about it, model it, but (and in most perspectives) we can never truly "know" it, because our knowledge is just a model.

Daniel's (and in most spirituality), the perspective is that through certain practices one can learn to perceive Ultimate Reality. So this is the direct perception of reality. You can see perspective a lot in MCTB. This is a religious or mystical belief.

All the criticisms in a belief in objective reality by science and "reality based frameworks" seem disingenuous when you hold onto a much stronger belief that you experience "Ultimate Reality" directly.

So it comes down to this: some people believe in psychic powers because of common garden variety poor critical thinking and wanting to believe. On top of that, in the case that Daniel articulates, the belief stems from a metaphysical perspective that one is able to experience reality directly - and if you are an Arahat you can experience reality even more directly.

And when conventional reality (models based on experience) and direct experience ("Ultimate Reality") clash, because Daniel believes in a privileged insight into "Ultimate Reality", it licences him to throw conventional wisdom out the door, because he Daniel M. Ingram, Arahat.

And if that makes him happy, then who I am to argue, especially if I am not as happy as him?

Anyway, I should go back to practicing the brahma viharas and stop being mean to Daniel on internet forums.

p.s.
Daniel Ingram:

I just want to get this straight: you are willing to posit a model that would call dreams, for instance, "not real", not "glow-stick real", as you can't measure or predict them by a machine


Actually, we are getting to the point where we can measure dreams (though early days):
http://the-brain-box.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/in-news-decoding-dreams-with-fmri.html

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/6/13 5:34 AM as a reply to sawfoot _.
sawfoot _:
To sum up, the whole point of fairies was to point out the problem in a line of argument that Daniel and others (e.g. turns to post modernism) use.

I want to believe in X (reincarnation, siddhis etc…).

When it is pointed that a rational scientific perspective on this would say that this belief is absurd, or as Bryan put it:

"Who in the hell can imagine that this in any way resembles anything remotely approaching something any thinking human could accept as proof of anything"


Actually, this is what I meant as having an axiomatic approach to the matter.

Notice that there is nothing hidden behind the curtain: the methods for doing magick are out there in the open for you to learn and see for yourself what kind of things they lead to. You don't need to belong to some secret society, or get some fancy diploma, or give money to anyone, or worship anyone in any way, in order to learn this stuff.

I think that the essence of your criticism seems to boil down to: "There is no reputable scientist who has reliably reproduced this stuff in a laboratory setting, hence it must be false."

But that is the case for > 99.9% of phenomena, so... Also, it is merely a call to authority (scientific authority it might be, it's still just authority), which, when the methods and means to do the actual experiment are at your disposal, isn't a very scientific attitude.

In the end, I think you will find that magick (and fairies and shiddhis) isn't anything resembling what you currently think it is, and you have just been attacking a paper doll of your own creation.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/6/13 6:42 AM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
I hope no-one minds me jumping into this discussion with a few thoughts:

If you want scientific evidence for magick, try all the studies on placebo/nocebo effects. This is where a subject says to themselves, “if I take this sugar pill, I will get better (or worse)” – they take it, and then the desired effect, positive or negative, happens. There is a clear dose/response curve whereby taking two sugar pills is more effective than one, and also the effects still happen even when the subject is aware it is a sham treatment. Ted J. Kaptchuk at Harvard Medical School has good papers on all this, and whilst he doesn’t mention “magick” he does note the importance of ritual (medical setting, Doctor in white lab coat gives the pill/injection, etc.). To me this is clearly repeatable evidence for magick.

Other examples include “worry dolls” used in Guatemala. When my young daughter couldn’t sleep due to being scared of the dark, monsters, witches in the night, I made a doll with her and told her to ask the doll to do all the worrying for her. She did this and placed the doll under her pillow, and low and behold she slept beautifully. Again this is someone using their intention to cause an effect. I later used a different doll to help her stop sucking her thumb.

Personally I’m not sure about things such as telekinesis, telepathy, etc., there are some apparent charlatans around (see Uri Geller), but I have read some interesting accounts and keep an open mind. Perhaps when my concentration is better I’ll attempt some experiments here myself.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/6/13 1:25 PM as a reply to Antonius Block.
Antonius Block:


If you want scientific evidence for magick, try all the studies on placebo/nocebo effects.


Daniel distinguishes two types of magic:


I will define two subsets of magick for the sake of discussion:

1. Ordinary Magick: that which most people wouldn’t call magick, and involves what the ordinary person generally believes to be simple intentions leading to actions, like lifting a spoon or composing a symphony. For the sake of clarity, I will call ordinary magickal effects simply ordinary effects.

2. Extraordinary Magick: includes the levels of causal effects that are beyond what most people consider the ordinary world of cause and effect, i.e. the realm that science, with the occasional exception of particle physics, considers mythical. In short, what most people would call magick, regardless of whether or not they believe in it, would fall into this realm, including magickal effects from “ordinary actions,” that is effects beyond what ordinary people imagine come from what they misperceive to be simple, non-magickal acts, something I term Collateral Magick. For the sake of clarity, I will call extraordinary magickal effects simply magickal effects, realizing that this may cause confusion in those not understanding the full implications of the broad definition of magick.


http://integrateddaniel.info/magick-and-the-brahma-viharas/

Placebo effects involve interesting interactions between the mind and body which we don't fully understand, but they're not beyond the ordinary world of cause and effect. They're Ordinary Magick, as Daniel defines it above, not Extraordinary Magick.

My position is that Extraordinary Magick, when properly understood and analyzed, and when we try to repeat it to leverage it in some pragmatically useful way, reveals itself to be a product of confirmation bias, coincidence, poor methodology, and so forth. This explanation is far more likely than mythical forces and to argue against it requires a lot of evidence: evidence which has been searched for long and hard and has not been found.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/6/13 1:28 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Bruno Loff:


I think that the essence of your criticism seems to boil down to: "There is no reputable scientist who has reliably reproduced this stuff in a laboratory setting, hence it must be false."


The essence of my criticism is "There are much more likely explanations for these occurrences, therefore we should assume that there are no magical powers unless we see sufficient evidence." We can already explain so-called magical occurrences without the need to introduce radical new laws of nature and views of the universe.


In the end, I think you will find that magick (and fairies and shiddhis) isn't anything resembling what you currently think it is, and you have just been attacking a paper doll of your own creation.


Would you elaborate? I'm very interested.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/6/13 1:41 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
sawfoot _:

Daniel's (and in most spirituality), the perspective is that through certain practices one can learn to perceive Ultimate Reality. So this is the direct perception of reality. You can see perspective a lot in MCTB. This is a religious or mystical belief.

All the criticisms in a belief in objective reality by science and "reality based frameworks" seem disingenuous when you hold onto a much stronger belief that you experience "Ultimate Reality" directly.

So it comes down to this: some people believe in psychic powers because of common garden variety poor critical thinking and wanting to believe. On top of that, in the case that Daniel articulates, the belief stems from a metaphysical perspective that one is able to experience reality directly - and if you are an Arahat you can experience reality even more directly.

And when conventional reality (models based on experience) and direct experience ("Ultimate Reality") clash, because Daniel believes in a privileged insight into "Ultimate Reality", it licences him to throw conventional wisdom out the door, because he Daniel M. Ingram, Arahat.


This thread is relevant: it's an optical illusion that even arahats are subject to.

http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/1568532

Interesting that this may be a problem that arahats are especially prone to. In some ways, you'd think it would be the opposite. Arahats have had a lot of practice and experience in seeing through delusion and realizing that the way things first appear isn't actually accurate.

Also, "experiencing reality directly" as Daniel writes about involves seeing the three characteristics in everything, and relates to one's own perception. For the purposes of insight practice, the world is just your sensations. It's odd to me that that would somehow turn into making inaccurate claims about the external world and causality, rather than just one's own perception.

Are you trying to become an arahat? Do you think the Visuddhimagga model, as explained by Masahi and by Daniel, is more or less accurate? Or do you doubt his perception of the stages?

How do you think arahats could avoid this problem?

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/6/13 3:38 PM as a reply to J C.
I could describe my own experiences, when I dabbled into magic.

I once did a ritual with the sole purpose of testing the stuff. I intended "someone will hand me a red paper." The next day there was a red flyer on my desk, something the personnel department had put there regarding sitting posture (if memory serves).

But maybe it was there before and I hadn't consciously noticed?

Another time I did a ritual with the intention "I am a musical genius". Immediately after I played the saxophone. It really felt like a brilliant improv piece.

But the neighbor might disagree...

Eventually I came to realize that when I am reasonably well-concentrated, I seem to be able to influence other people's reaction to what I am saying by expecting them to react in a certain way. So that if I am being critical, for instance, but expect that the person doesn't take it as a personal attack, then the criticism is indeed taken in a much more positive way.

But of course, I could be wrong. Or I could be right, and this happens through some sort of body language or whatever... However, I should say that there is a specific feeling to such an act of "magick", a feeling I recognize from time to time.

For instance, during this really stressful period in my life, when a lot of noise was going through my mind, and I was simply not cutting it for my PhD work. One day I came into my office, and noticed that it was really silent. Accompanied by said feeling, I did a sort of "ritual" whose meaning was a kind of "here I will be at peace." Sure enough, I was able to work for the next couple of months in a state of relative peace; in contrast to the previous several months' time.

Of course, who's to say why that happened?

---

On the subject of feeling like a subject of magic, rather than actor, I also noticed a number of occasions when I inadvertently tended to say something or do something which would strengthen someone's preconceived notion of who I am. What was weird about these occasions is the way they stand out of how I normally act, and the fact that this odd way of acting would not stand out in any particular way to someone who would not have that specific image of me.

Naturally, this could be a bias of post-selection, or even more simply, my own imagination. Or even the fact that I know that these people have said self-image causes me to feel oddly attracted to acting in a way that confirms their views.

In fact, plausible deniability has been a constant throughout my entire experience of the phenomenon. I am almost inclined to think it is a feature. But the aspect of repeated coincidence is quite impressive.

---

I also have one failure to report: I bought a tarot deck, and decided to do a daily reading. This is when I pick a card, read its meaning, and interpret it by making it fit into my own personal narrative; as such it is a truly magickal act. Also there are more sophisticated versions of these when you pick multiple cards. I had one extremely powerful reading, where I could basically fit everything incredibly well with my plan for a future long-term retreat (starting Feb 2014 btw). And following this, I had several interesting one-card readings for a number of days, and it was fun seeing how the reading transformed my own reactions during the day and what I paid attention to and so on. For instance, I once took the queen of pentacles, a card symbolizing nurture and trustworthiness. On that day I had a visit of a friend who has specific personal reasons to need me to be especially trustworthy (something which I already knew).

But then I had a long streak of apparently meaningless cards, some, in fact, completely irreconcilable with the ongoing events. The exercise seemed pointless at that point, and I stopped. (This is the only failure of magick that I had. But, of course, I didn't "intend" to win the lottery or anything nearly as bold; I am pretty sure that wouldn't work)

Oh, by the way, please don't rant about how these cards obviously can't predict the future or something equally simplistic.

It is quite clear to me that reading a card changes the way my mind pays attention for the rest of the day. It notices different things, and acts differently because of it. Because of that, different things happen to me.

---

I am really curious to see what happens with stronger concentration. Actually, my back could really use some magic emoticon

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/6/13 4:03 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Bruno Loff:

Another time I did a ritual with the intention "I am a musical genius". Immediately after I played the saxophone. It really felt like a brilliant improv piece.

Eventually I came to realize that when I am reasonably well-concentrated, I seem to be able to influence other people's reaction to what I am saying by expecting them to react in a certain way. So that if I am being critical, for instance, but expect that the person doesn't take it as a personal attack, then the criticism is indeed taken in a much more positive way.

For instance, during this really stressful period in my life, when a lot of noise was going through my mind, and I was simply not cutting it for my PhD work. One day I came into my office, and noticed that it was really silent. Accompanied by said feeling, I did a sort of "ritual" whose meaning was a kind of "here I will be at peace." Sure enough, I was able to work for the next couple of months in a state of relative peace; in contrast to the previous several months' time.

On the subject of feeling like a subject of magic, rather than actor, I also noticed a number of occasions when I inadvertently tended to say something or do something which would strengthen someone's preconceived notion of who I am. What was weird about these occasions is the way they stand out of how I normally act, and the fact that this odd way of acting would not stand out in any particular way to someone who would not have that specific image of me.

Naturally, this could be a bias of post-selection, or even more simply, my own imagination. Or even the fact that I know that these people have said self-image causes me to feel oddly attracted to acting in a way that confirms their views.

In fact, plausible deniability has been a constant throughout my entire experience of the phenomenon. I am almost inclined to think it is a feature. But the aspect of repeated coincidence is quite impressive.

It is quite clear to me that reading a card changes the way my mind pays attention for the rest of the day. It notices different things, and acts differently because of it. Because of that, different things happen to me.


Yes, these are all interesting psychological phenomena. It's definitely true that the expectations and thoughts you bring to interactions with others can change the way you react or communicate in subtle ways, which are intuitively responded to even if they're not consciously noticed.

All this stuff works. But this is psychology. In Daniel's terminology, it's Ordinary Magick and doesn't require suspending of any normal laws of nature or principles of cause and effect.

The one exception is:


I once did a ritual with the sole purpose of testing the stuff. I intended "someone will hand me a red paper." The next day there was a red flyer on my desk, something the personnel department had put there regarding sitting posture (if memory serves).

But maybe it was there before and I hadn't consciously noticed?


Maybe. Or maybe the personnel department regularly hands out flyers at certain intervals, and you unconsciously noticed it was time for another flyer. Or maybe you overheard someone in a different department talking about getting the red flyer, because personnel distributed the flyers to that department the day before, and the thought stuck in your head, which led you to choose that particular intent.

If you could manifest papers of different colors just by thinking about it, that would be Extraordinary Magic.

Would you be willing to test this out? I'll give you a sequence of colors, and you intend that someone will hand you a flyer in each of the colors on successive days. So if I said "red green blue," you'd try to manifest a red flyer on Day 1, a green one on Day 2, and a blue one on Day 3.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/7/13 12:39 AM as a reply to J C.
J C:
Would you be willing to test this out? I'll give you a sequence of colors, and you intend that someone will hand you a flyer in each of the colors on successive days. So if I said "red green blue," you'd try to manifest a red flyer on Day 1, a green one on Day 2, and a blue one on Day 3.


Hmm, let's discuss this privately.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/7/13 3:26 AM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Ok, message me!

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/7/13 10:32 AM as a reply to J C.
I already did! There were two "J C"'s on the list, hopefully you are one of them.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/7/13 1:52 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
JC,

I would say that if you follow a particular practice then it will likely have consistent effects, as your practice and beliefs will shape your experience, and the maps will have some degree of validity. But psychology and evolution being as it is, we should be wary about taking the 16 stages of insight and 4 path model too seriously. And I don't think advanced practitioners are more or less prone to cognitive and perceptual distortions, or can see "reality" more clearly than anyone else.

Bruno,

Just to say again, I don't deny ritual is useful and powerful, and it would be a shame to throw the baby out with the bathwater. I came across this today, which seemed relevant, so I posted an excerpt below, I don't necessarily endorse it, but it is to point out you that can still embrace a scientific worldview without succumbing to a "senseless austerity".



http://spiritualnaturalistsociety.org/what-is-humanistic-paganism/


We are naturalists. This worldview unites our many varieties, and makes us unique among Pagans. Good technical definitions of naturalism are available here and here, but what most Naturalistic Pagans mean by it can be summed up simply:

- only natural causes affect the universe; if there are supernatural causes, there is no reliable evidence yet to support that idea.

To clarify what counts as “natural”, we look to contemporary science:

- natural causes are best discovered via the current most compelling scientific evidence

In other words, we adopt an appropriate skepticism toward any supposed divine or magical causes outside nature, i.e. super-natural causes, as well as those within nature unsupported by the best evidence.**

While we find little evidence to support most of the metaphysical claims made for deities and magic, we find plenty of evidence for the capacity of Pagan myth, meditation, and ritual to affect psychology. That is why we find Pagan ways powerful. By shaping human minds, they motivate change through human hands.

As a result of our reliance on demonstrable evidence, a few tendencies emerge:

- We tend to view deities as metaphorical, poetic, or psychological in some sense, and not as causal agents external to and independent of the individual. Thunder is external and independent, but the personification of thunder as Zeus, for example, is not.
- We tend to view magic as manipulating the world indirectly through the individual’s own psychology, for example by motivating her or him to action, and not as manipulating “energies” to produce effects with no known physical causal relation to the individual.
- We tend to ground our practices and beliefs in experience, accurate history, and mainstream scientific evidence.
- Our focus on evidence as the primary source of knowledge leads many of us to an awareness of, and gratitude for, the long evolutionary process which has resulted in our existence today.
- Because our worldview doesn’t include afterlives or hidden realms, we tend to be focused on this body, this life, and this earth, cherishing each moment and improving the world for all life on Earth.


RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/8/13 4:47 AM as a reply to sawfoot _.
That paradigm is a perfectly reasonable one and has its own internal consistency and logic. It seems as fine a one as many.

I should add that very early on I got influenced by the writings of Ken Wilber, who, while not anything resembling an ultimate authority or perfect intellect, did make some points that made good sense to me at the time and still do.

This is from his Wilber One phase, his first book, The Spectrum of Consciousness. In it, he made the point that humans have a range of paradigms to draw from and routinely draw from many of them simultaneously, each having some different resonance with some different part of our being, each tapping into some capacity within us, and each seemingly being somewhat or even totally contradictory in some way to the others.

As you read my descriptions, the apparent hierarchy is obvious. The problem is that our brains have structures that resonate with all of those levels to various degrees, and our own personal manifestation of this spectrum will vary depending upon circumstances and conditioning, so if we don't have some basic awareness brought to each level, some comfort navigating in each one, then we will encounter situations in which we have inadequate personal understanding and fluency with the way our own humanity can manifest, leading to increased shadow sides and difficulties.

Paraphrasing and grossly simplifying that somewhat complex work and filtering it through about 25 years of thinking about it, we have the following:

The way we think about reality happens on a spectrum of paradigms and modes of perception, being really almost meta-paradigms, large baskets in which we can consider how we view the world. They vary by the degree of integration or division within them. Each also has its obvious shadow sides and can combine with the others to produce very complex effects.

Basically, at one end of the spectrum, and originating out of early childhood, we have the Magic and Mythic levels, in which the world is split variously into either God and his retinue, meaning angels, perhaps fairies etc., and then in the middle is us, and below us is the Devil and his retinue, meaning devils, demons, trolls, and whatever else, or, the more simplified and somewhat more integrated version, which condenses some of the cast into their essential elements, that being just God, Us and the Devil. Some basic version of this paradigm is very commonly found across cultures and is actually probably the dominant culture right now in the US, if statistics about politics and the like are any indication. It explains a lot of our foreign policy and that of the world. It is the Light fighting the Darkness, or, in the more fractured and complex form, The Powers of Good and the Powers of Evil. As there is a church on about every corner where I live, to not understand this worldview somewhat and how it plays out in peoples' hearts and minds would be to miss much about understanding the human experience.

Rising above that we have the Egoic level, that of the internalized super-parent of the Super-Ego, the Ego, and the primal drives of the Id. It is all very Freudian. The seemingly external factors have integrated somewhat and become semi-internalized but are still seemingly separate entities at some level. It is the world that most people live in most of the time: they have obligations, they have desires, they have rules, the have the desire to break those rules, and they struggle to work all that out. We seem caught in the middle of powerful forces that we must somehow tame and work with. Most of what people who go on retreat are dealing with is this Egoic level, they have the schedule but their back hurts, they know they are supposed to be practicing but they really want to space out. It is where most people struggle most of the hours of the day. The boss wants more work, we want more play, and so it goes.

Above that we have the Existential, in which there is just slightly more integration and along slightly different lines, and which part integrated which way I will leave open to debate, but basically we now have as the primary operating principle or division the Mind and the Body, or the Mind and the entirety of the Physical. This is the level in which the intellect rules supreme. Thought is the ultimate arbiter of reality. Cold, hard logic rules the day. It is the Existential Hot Seat, the black beret in a café with a stiff cup of espresso and a dog-eared copy of Sartre's Being and Nothingness, the Scientist's Lab.

Meaninglessness takes on new meaning, Non-existence attains to new Reality, and the apparent paradoxes of quantum mechanics can become the basis of a whole personal philosophy. It is at once exceedingly powerful, sharp like a pit of razors, able to slice and dice reality across the continuum of the Arbitrary Nature of the Sign, and use that to justify basically any repressed and poorly sublimated shadow urges and reasoning that the lower structures of the Egoic and the Magic and Mythic have subtly bubbled up from the depths, but in new Hyper-rationalized, and oh-so-airtight form. It is the paradigm that allowed the Third Reich to allow the killing of millions of innocent people in the name of Efficiency and Purity, the world-view that produced brilliant scientists that created the Atom Bomb, and, on its own, is capable of frightening and also amazing things.

Beyond that we have that of the Yogi or Centaur, in which the Mind and Body have become integrated and the primary split is between us, the Unified Brain-Body, and the World. This is the level of Vision Logic, of Meta-Logic, of Heart-Mind. It is the level on which much of what we have been discussing here operates. It is at once the level of true placebo-based cures and also the level of the most flighty aspects of the New Age. It can have a certain More-Integrated-Than-Thou narcissism. It also allows for a deeper heart-based reasoning that helps us understand Why perhaps an Atom Bomb is problematic beyond just the level that we don't want one pointed at Us and do want one pointed at Them. It is the level of deeper ethics, secular humanism, and the like.

Beyond that we have the level he called the Sage. Gone is the duality of Heart-Mind and World, and now the paradigm is more integrated. The primary split is between the Ultimate and the Relative. This is the level of Deep Ecology, Gaia-based philosophies, real concern for the problems caused by National Pride and the Tribalism that humans are so prone to at so many levels. It is a level of deep paradigmatic and perceptual integration. It is a level that comes from a deep appreciation of Interdependence, a direct experience of Causality and its ripples through the world. Combined with the Existential, it can come up with things like what Einstein was onto, and I believe his appreciation of it was part of his genius.

Beyond that we have the level he called the Saint. In this one, the split between the Ultimate and the Relative is gone. It is what is hinted at by God in All Things when combined with the paradigm of the Mythic, or Buddha Nature when combined with the same paradigm. It is the true This is It. It is clearly in some ways the most desirable of the paradigms to have perceived and understood well, except that it is so totally generic, so totally found in all of it, so totally the same regardless of what is happening, as it is all Ultimate, that it lacks the basis to form a more coherent philosophy beyond that, and requires the more work-a-day and practical paradigms to help it congeal to a more workable paradigm.

In my own practice, I initially recognized that value of appreciating the whole spectrum, but for me the answer clearly lay at the top, that of the Sage and Saint, and so I put the full power of my Existential force at the time into that quest, the quest to perceptually align my waking, walking-aroud life with what Newtonian Physics and Particle Physics pointed to: that all was truly mechanical, all was truly just causal, truly and totally Empty of any separate entity. After some years of hard work, I succeeded.

That work being done, there is clearly much more to totally figure out, with "totally" obviously being an absurd goal, more of a direction, a vector to extend, or really a set of vectors, and those vectors relate to the other bands of the spectrum, which I consider really important to have a deep, experiential fluency in, to bring the Light of Awareness to.

Along the way, I did notice a lot that might generally fall into the category of the Yogic or Centaur stage, and I think that is where much that was useful really came from. It can be deeply healing to really get that.

Finally, when I felt I had my trip more together, I started back down, down into the basement of the lower structures of myself, and that trip is still ongoing and not easy. In fact, I consider it to have been way easier to have gone up than to go down, and by down I mean into the realms that the Existential totally loathes and dispises, those of the Mythic and Magic, as has been playing out here.

If one is primarily living in the Existential band and giving that a supremacy over the others, then all of this stuff is going to seem totally like the ravings of a madman, a fool, a dupe, an adult child, one living in fantasy-land. I totally understand that paradigm, as I have lived there for most of my life and it is still in some ways my refuge when things get tough. It may be a good refuge for you also, and you perhaps recognize that at some level, and more power to you. It is not perfect, but it is very functional in some ways and a lot of mileage can come out of the Existential as long as you don't look at it too closely, as if you do, it will reveal the problems that cause it to fail, as happened to me when I went plunging into the deep logical insanity that modern physics appears to be viewed from that paradigm, and that lead me out to the other things.

However, I have found that, while for many things the Existential has a lot of value, there are lots of things I have found it doesn't do well and lots of shadow sides that it creates, as somewhere deep down on our being, the heart does respond to the messages, paradigms, and stories of the Mythic and the Magic, as any trip to a play or movie theater, any visit to a church, any fantasy novel, any night on the news will reveal, and the deep and profound popularity of these things shows us that this way of being is powerful, very, very powerful, and shapes much of what the higher structures of the brain do and create, even if those higher structures try to pretend that this is not what is going on, that they have truly escaped from all of that childish nonsense, all of that magickal bullshit, all of those damn fairies.

But they haven't, and I actually believe they can't.

Thus, to step out of the comfort of the hard logic of the Existential is something that I do both very unwillingly, as it does seem totally insane and childish from that point of view, but also with great excitement on the other hand, as that stuff, those levels, really do resonate, really do call, really do make some deep and extremely powerful emotional sense to this human, and to fail to recognize that is to be walking around in total denial, I have found, and to fail to make time to understand what is down there, or out there, if one wants to get more fractured about it, more angels and demons and fairies and ghosts about it, is to be bitten and burned by things that one can try to hyper-rationalize away, but they are still operating regardless.

I prefer to see what they are. I prefer to go there. I prefer to really try to understand those aspects of myself and this very human world we are in, a world where those paradigms run rampant with little wisdom, little light shed on them.

The Existentialists, by totally rejecting those world views, sit in a Mythical Ivory Tower and watch in dismay as those paradigms cause staggering good and also staggering destruction, a world they consider basically insane, not realizing that they have to begin to embrace some of that insanity to even talk with all those crazy people running around and to really understand why they are doing it. Consider the number of very intellectually sharp people whose lack of understanding of their own Id totally derailed their lives. I don't want to be one of those people.

Thus, if you want to really work with something, you have to understand it. I choose to try to understand it, and aspects of it are really fun. Other aspects are clearly dangerously crazy. I put faith in the other bands of the spectrum that I spent so many years developing to help keep those in check and allow that deep exploration of stuff that is really freaky from most points of view, but not from its point of view, and to really understand it, you have to step to some degree into that paradigm and see what happens. From its point of view it has its own logic, its own emotional sense, and its own real power, and I hope that by understanding it that my understanding of myself and my world will be more complete, more universally fluent, more integrated, more workable, less shadow-filled, and more fully awakened.

That paradigm articulated so nicely by the Naturalists in the post above is a very sane, very workable take by the Yogi/Centaur and Existential levels on the Magic and Mythic. It likely will make for a relatively balance, logically much more palatable version of spirituality for many who resonate on those bands and are comfortable there. Does it likely have all the power and deep emotive glory of the straight-up Magic and Mythic? Obviously not. Would rituals performed using that paradigm at once feel much more safe and also feel vastly less deep? I think so.

Can we truly get down into the fantasy-land stuff and really get it if we are only dipping our toe into that water with most of our body clutching desperately to the Existential Guard Rail? I don't think so, but then that is not everyone's goal, and that is just fine, as that goal is not an easy one to pursue, and I don't find it easy most of the time either, and take swims there and then scramble back up on the shore. I have no desire to live there, but I do like the ability to go there when that aspect of things arises and then come back, and it has helped me understand aspect of myself that I don't think I otherwise would have.

This is the Existential, Psychological take on the thing, crafted to make sense on that band, at that level. Were I talking with, say, a Christian Mystic, I would say it totally differently.

Anyway, hopefully this framework will allow some more nuanced discussion of this topic and give you a better sense of how I think about these things, where I am coming from paradigmatically, what my goals are, and why I find this stuff compelling and useful.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/8/13 7:08 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
That was really great and I hope it goes in MCTB2.

Daniel M. Ingram:


As you read my descriptions, the apparent hierarchy is obvious. The problem is that our brains have structures that resonate with all of those levels to various degrees, and our own personal manifestation of this spectrum will vary depending upon circumstances and conditioning, so if we don't have some basic awareness brought to each level, some comfort navigating in each one, then we will encounter situations in which we have inadequate personal understanding and fluency with the way our own humanity can manifest, leading to increased shadow sides and difficulties.



Ok, so help me understand... If all the levels have their purposes, then the Existential level, the level of science, is really good at gathering evidence to determine what's most likely to be true, which is pragmatically useful for decision making, am I right?

So would it be accurate to say that if you actually want some specific effect to occur, you wouldn't use Extraordinary Magic, for which there's no scientific evidence? Those magical levels are useful for emotion and ritual and psychology, but not for real-world problem solving, if I understand correctly.



In my own practice, I initially recognized that value of appreciating the whole spectrum, but for me the answer clearly lay at the top, that of the Sage and Saint, and so I put the full power of my Existential force at the time into that quest, the quest to perceptually align my waking, walking-aroud life with what Newtonian Physics and Particle Physics pointed to: that all was truly mechanical, all was truly just causal, truly and totally Empty of any separate entity. After some years of hard work, I succeeded.


If that's true, aren't the powers just an illusion regardless of what level you think of them on, if you care about their observable effects? If it's all mechanical and there's no separate controlling entity to cast "intent" spells, that tells us that coincidence is the best explanation for the psychic stuff with other people around.


If one is primarily living in the Existential band and giving that a supremacy over the others, then all of this stuff is going to seem totally like the ravings of a madman, a fool, a dupe, an adult child, one living in fantasy-land. I totally understand that paradigm, as I have lived there for most of my life and it is still in some ways my refuge when things get tough. It may be a good refuge for you also, and you perhaps recognize that at some level, and more power to you. It is not perfect, but it is very functional in some ways and a lot of mileage can come out of the Existential as long as you don't look at it too closely, as if you do, it will reveal the problems that cause it to fail, as happened to me when I went plunging into the deep logical insanity that modern physics appears to be viewed from that paradigm, and that lead me out to the other things.


Would you elaborate? I'd like to understand what exactly this paradigm can't handle. What causes it to fail? I get that the Mythic and Magic categories are good for literature, ritual, community, and those sorts of things, but you can enjoy all those things as part of human psychology while still thinking that science is the only process that actually lets us determine what's true. Sure, those other levels can be useful conceptually, but if you want to know which of those new agey cures actually works, don't you need to test it out with many people, taking you back to the Existential level?

What's wrong with hyperrationalizing away angels and demons?



That paradigm articulated so nicely by the Naturalists in the post above is a very sane, very workable take by the Yogi/Centaur and Existential levels on the Magic and Mythic. It likely will make for a relatively balance, logically much more palatable version of spirituality for many who resonate on those bands and are comfortable there. Does it likely have all the power and deep emotive glory of the straight-up Magic and Mythic? Obviously not. Would rituals performed using that paradigm at once feel much more safe and also feel vastly less deep? I think so.

Can we truly get down into the fantasy-land stuff and really get it if we are only dipping our toe into that water with most of our body clutching desperately to the Existential Guard Rail? I don't think so, but then that is not everyone's goal, and that is just fine, as that goal is not an easy one to pursue, and I don't find it easy most of the time either, and take swims there and then scramble back up on the shore. I have no desire to live there, but I do like the ability to go there when that aspect of things arises and then come back, and it has helped me understand aspect of myself that I don't think I otherwise would have.


So is there a tradeoff here? You gain ritual power with the Magic and Mythic, and it gives you insights about yourself, but you lose accurate explanatory power?

How do you get down there? You have to suspend disbelief? I think it sounds amazing and could give all sorts of insights, but when you return, shouldn't you then regain your skepticism? Does full use of the Magic and Mythic require you to give up rational analysis afterwards (rational analysis would give you the Naturalistic explanation)?

It's like you're playing a game where you suspend logic and believe all sorts of interesting things for their effects on you, which I can understand - ritual has power - but what happens when you stop playing the game? Do you go back to the Existential level and recognize it was a game, or do you keep all the levels separate somehow?


How do all these levels fit in with the powers? They exist only on the Mythic level and don't show up on the Existential when we try to test or replicate?

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/8/13 8:24 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
I liked the post, useful and nicely written and MCTB2 worthy, perhaps. Part of the reason for pushing you (Daniel) specifically is that I do have a sense that your beliefs are more complicated and nuanced than they sometimes appear (or at least how I initially interpret them), and it would be easier to dismiss you as a kook but I want to avoid doing that.

We probably can all recognise these levels and the shadow sides. And it must be difficult writing a book like MCTB to appeal to as many of them as possible.

These are different takes on reality. The existential/naturalist takes the position that in choosing how we relate to reality, we use reality as a guide. They/we/I believe that we can use the scientific evidence-based world view to examine whether our beliefs match up to that version of reality, and revise them on that basis, and that we think we have the best method available in order to get closest to what reality is like. This is based on the assumption that reality exists independently of our observation of it (roughly speaking, or at least at more macro levels).

But as discussed earlier on this thread, there is always an implicit assumption that this is the "best" way to live. And with a quest for meaning leads one to the inexorable conclusion that there is no ultimate meaning, that we instead have to create it, and by creating it we are subject to shadow sides and unexamined assumptions. This seems like just another instance of the is–ought problem - how reality "is" doesn't tell us what we "ought" to do.

Daniel M. Ingram:


I put the full power of my Existential force at the time into that quest, the quest to perceptually align my waking, walking-aroud life with what Newtonian Physics and Particle Physics pointed to: that all was truly mechanical, all was truly just causal, truly and totally Empty of any separate entity. After some years of hard work, I succeeded.



So slightly off topic, this seems like spiritual bypassing - reaching the end goal and then from that vantage point going back and exploring the levels on the way, though this is what you seem to advocate in MCTB. And you have to admit, while interesting, this particular goal sounds bizarre, in the sense that why would you want that to be the goal, or want others to pursue that same kind of goal (says me, who is trying to rid myself of the illusion of free will...)

Daniel M. Ingram:


I have found, and to fail to make time to understand what is down there, or out there,



So I think nearly everywhere else in the post it seemed like you were just talking in psychological terms, where here you seem to be hinting at something more, about what is "out there", which JC is picking up on his post. So which is it?

I wonder how much of all this (in how your own shadow side comes out) is linked to your obsession and misunderstanding of quantum physics - by misunderstanding I mean the scientific picture has yet to reach a good understanding or anything like a consensus, hence your understanding is inevitably likely to be a misunderstanding (especially as a non-physicist).

JC:

How do you get down there?


Take some peyote?

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/8/13 9:28 AM as a reply to sawfoot _.
I must say, that was totally hilarious, watching two people who are seemingly so totally in the Existential band try to parse everything through that held-to-be-Supreme Paradigm and try to figure out what I said.

Notice J C taking that it was the place you always must come back to, always must be the final arbiter of everything.

Notice sawfoots question about "which is it?" as if there must be one way that we work all the time, one Supreme Filter, One Paradigm to Rule them All.

I totally don't believe that humans are like that, that this is how we work, that this is how our hearts work, how our body works, how our experience works, how this system works, that the Existential has anything resembling sufficient explanatory power to Rule Them All, that it is sufficiently complete to form the basis of one's ethical life, that it can serve as a guide to total self-knowledge, that it will serve us well through all situations, that it can tell the heart how to be at ease, now to weather the storms that the hard edges of life bring to us, that that paradigm can help us reach others in times of need, that it can resonate to all the depths and heights that are possible, that it can finally heal the world and humanity.

it can do a lot, granted, and we live in an age that has a lot more of that paradigm than most, such that it is hard to see the full power of it to filter reality through, sort of like fish who don't appreciate what water is to the full degree, as they take it for granted.

When I am comforting a family who has lost a loved one in the emergency department, I do not say, "Your tears are illogical, . Those atoms have merely rearranged themselves. Grief serves no logical purpose here. You waste precious moments that should be better used for [helping the DGP, working out vaccines for communicable diseases, solving the problem of feeding humanity, etc]. You are being irrational. Stop it. This is an unacceptable paradigm and undignified."

Why don't I turn to the cold, hard, logic of the Existential and Science in that moment? Hopefully that example made some sense.

There are many other examples from life that I could use for why the Existential paradigm has problems, why dwelling on it to the exclusion of others may create reactions and words and hearts that could perhaps be better.

You wake up in the middle of the night, or at least you think you wake up. Sitting on your bed is a stranger dressed in garments from another time. This freaks you out, and you wave at them and they disappear. You wake up sweating. You could clearly and simply write this off as a dream, nothing more, except you are still sweating, still actually shaking.

You could also ask yourself: what was behind that? Why that dream? If you stay at the level of, "must be some neurotransmitters from the turkey I ate, something about tryptophan," then you might really miss an opportunity to understand something deeper about yourself, to feel something that you might not otherwise have felt. Your body responded. Your deeper psyche called something up. There is something there somehow. What paradigm allows you to best navigate in that territory? Can you really navigate in that territory if you only have One True Filter? I actually don't think so.

Even if you call all of this psychology, have any of you ever done psychotherapy? It hits at levels that are very Mythic, very Magical, and to have a breakthrough, you actually have to go there, and going there requires stepping out of the rational comfort zone in a deep and real way, not a hyper-rationalized, safe way. The deep spasmodic crying that brings the releases where previously held pains and traumas seem to vanish and dissolve comes from embracing those parts of us that are really not rational, that are holding onto things that really are dysfunctional, and those who cling to the Existential aren't very likely to get there on that paradigm.

Same with the magickal. It has power to change things. Going there works at levels that the intellect won't. Observe the insanely complex systems that the Golden Dawn came up with, like they were clinging for dear life to a rational paradigm in the face of attempting to go into a world that intuition, heart, and very odd ways of working that are not very rational do so much more easily. Notice how dry and hard and arrogant those practitioners often become, now harsh, how totally missing something, things that a good intuitive healer would have in spades by comparison, and the comparison of the feeling of those two is part of what I am getting at.

My best massage therapists are extremely intuitive, can feel what they experience as energy, can move it around, and you can feel that even if they don't say it. They can find points and feel into things that are really surprising. None of my doctor colleagues could do anything like that. To say that one is better or worse, one is right or wrong, as the Existential tries so linearly and logically and rationally to do, to compare them, is missing something. This world needs both, and both can learn, hopefully, from the other's perspectives.

Compare the best big-hearted meditation teachers and the feel of going into the room with them, of being in their presence, to the most hyper-rational of the bunch, the cold, dry, analytical, the technique-heavy. Both have their place, both really important, and the question is, which do we resonate with most easily, and which do we resonate with least easily, and can we figure out why and try to expand our comfort zone out a bit to learn from both of those perspectives?

Notice the best of the Tibetans: very comfortable in the world of the hyper-rational. Read some of their best texts: extremely bright people, extremely intellectually sophisticated, but notice how many of those Spectrum lines they resonate on, notice how they can flit seemingly effortlessly from the depths of the Mythic and Magical to the heights of the Saintly, the Non-Dual. Notice how comfortable they are with Tantra, that hits deep, that hits at deep archetypes, deep heart and gut and groin structures, deep energy channels, deep emotional-body stuff, and also can come out and be very rational and functional, at least the best of them can, and the best is what I aim for.

Compare this to the cold, hard, linear, logical of the Burmese, which can be dry as a bone, very sanitized, very technique-heavy at times, though the best teachers often do actually have a big heart-presence that they can let out at times, but still, it lives at two levels mostly, the Existential and the Saintly, which is why it resonated with me early in my practice and I still have a lot of respect for it, obviously.

I am not sure that that paradigm totally prepares one to be a complete, fully flushed-out human being. I am not sure that paradigm necessarily leads to a big heart, a depth of understanding of the full range, and the full range is what I find interesting.

What other options that peyote come to mind? While for some it might seem to take that to short-circuit the hyper-ratinal that clings to the straightforward material/intellectual, there are lots of ways to do there that don't involve that, such as the stuff I am talking about again and again and again, and the stuff that just comes from intending to go there, doing it on your own power, stepping out from intellectual-safety just a bit, and learning to concentrate well and explore on those levels.

As to misunderstanding quantum physics, it was finding ways that took the meta-lessons from the paradoxes of modern physics that actually helped me a lot, not anything about buying each apparent paradox leg and misunderstanding something, just FYI.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/8/13 11:45 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Notice the superiority from the Arahat in noticing JC and I's hilarious behaviour (not that I might not play the same game from time to time, but I am reasonably game to admit it. Can Daniel?). Since Daniel is so open to being open and big-hearted, to being a complete, fully flushed-out human being, and being at the forefront of a revolutionary paradigm shift to heal the world and humanity, then we should listen carefully (note my sarcasm and potential inferiority complex).

Notice avoiding answering the question

Notice someone complaining about the cold small hearted dry arrogant mind of the hyper-rational from the sort of person who writes 6000 word 36 bullet-pointed (not including sub-points) hyper-rational essays on Magick, not forgetting books describing the nature of Ultimate Reality.

This seems to get to the heart of why this topic pushes his buttons - Daniel is probably more hyper-rational than all us. It's often that which we find most annoying with others is what dislike most in ourselves. And hardest to see.

Also, notice Daniel playing the Hitler card/Argumentum ad Nazium/proving Godwins_law (and hence officially losing the argument).

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/8/13 12:30 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
I am aware of Godwin's Law and it came to mind when I wrote that part. And yet, there is the question of whether or not the exception, meaning that the reference can be used in situations where it migt be relevant, applies here. Had I just left it at atom bombs, obviously the argument wouldn't have come up, but if the reference to atom bombs is appropriate, why not Nazis, as it was actually mostly German scientists that came up with the bomb, and they only ended up in the US as a result of the rise of Hitler, and it was a joint convergence of terrible things that created all that, which the Nazis were an integral part of, so it is not so far out as you might think.

Still, the essential point is not without merit.

I claim no forefront of any revolutionary paradigm, and instead reference sources that are stock and standard and predate me by decades to centuries to millenia, being myself a student of these things, an experimenter with those paradigms and techniques, as I clearly stated.

Sorry I missed whatever question you asked.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/8/13 12:28 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
oh, perhaps you meant JC's questions...

how does all this relate to the powers?

i am backtracking, have gone back to more foundational stuff, as those magic and mythic paradigms are important to have a handle on for talking about the wilder stuff and fairies particularly

ever been out in nature for a while, say for a day or a few days, far from civilization, alone with just the earth and the plants and the weather? did you notice as i have that relatively rapidly there is this other element that can come in, this, well, mystical, spiritual, magical element to it all that the mind either begins to construct, if you are a constructionist, or tunes into, if you are an essentialist, but begins to show up regardless?

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/8/13 1:29 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
ever been out in nature for a while, say for a day or a few days, far from civilization, alone with just the earth and the plants and the weather? did you notice as i have that relatively rapidly there is this other element that can come in, this, well, mystical, spiritual, magical element to it all that the mind either begins to construct, if you are a constructionist, or tunes into, if you are an essentialist, but begins to show up regardless?


Yes! Yes! I'm super curious about it. Somehow I thought when reading your previous post that this was what you were talking about! What is it, exactly? Can you learn to work with it safely?

It seems so rich in meaning, but it is quite scary sometimes, as if pregnant with insanity. But the strongest friendships have an element of it, too. Also other powerful bonds, like mother-child and father-child.

Nowhere I've seen it more strongly represented than in Pasolini's movies.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/8/13 2:23 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
I am aware of Godwin's Law and it came to mind when I wrote that part. And yet, there is the question of whether or not the exception, meaning that the reference can be used in situations where it migt be relevant, applies here. Had I just left it at atom bombs, obviously the argument wouldn't have come up, but if the reference to atom bombs is appropriate, why not Nazis, as it was actually mostly German scientists that came up with the bomb, and they only ended up in the US as a result of the rise of Hitler, and it was a joint convergence of terrible things that created all that, which the Nazis were an integral part of, so it is not so far out as you might think.

Still, the essential point is not without merit.



The point is not whether the specific point was valid, but how it was embedded, and the style and approach to engagement, the rhetorical stragies. You don't go out of your way to highlight all the wars and horrors perpetrated by myth and magic, the number of people that die each year from manifestions of ego. You don't mention all the other ridiculous things you could say to the person who has just lost a loved one from all those other frameworks.

Ever seen this? For anyone reading, it is well worth keeping in mind when engaging in these kinds of discussions (or any discourse really) and to see what extent the signs match up.
http://designmatrix.wordpress.com/2010/11/14/ten-signs-of-intellectual-honesty-2/


And if you really believe all this stuff you post, you shouldn't write an udpated MCTB, you should write a new book, with a little less sitting on meditation cushions zapping aliens and a bit more about the rich tapestry of engaging in real life.

But anyway, I digress, I am right, you are wrong, you aren't enlightened, I am not either, all perspectives are equally valid, we are all just doing our best, yada yada yada...

Something I just came across on the internet:


http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/laurie-andersons-farewell-to-lou-reed-a-rolling-stone-exclusive-20131106#ixzz2k45QzMi1
via
http://www.theidproject.org/blog/nancy-thompson/2013/11/08/dharma-connect-lou-reeds-meditative-death

Lou Reed's Meditative Death

Laurie Anderson -- performance artist, meditator, and wife of Lou Reed -- wrote an extraordinarily beautiful description in this week's Rolling Stone of her husband's death. The couple were students of Yonge Mingur Rinpoche and had studied Buddhist teachings on how to prepare for death -- and how to live when one spouse has a terminal illness.

After Reed became sick with liver cancer and then other diseases, Anderson writes, "We tried to understand and apply things our teacher Mingyur Rinpoche said – especially hard ones like, "You need to try to master the ability to feel sad without actually being sad."

As his death approached, he came home from the hospital:

As meditators, we had prepared for this – how to move the energy up from the belly and into the heart and out through the head. I have never seen an expression as full of wonder as Lou's as he died. His hands were doing the water-flowing 21-form of tai chi. His eyes were wide open. I was holding in my arms the person I loved the most in the world, and talking to him as he died. His heart stopped. He wasn't afraid. I had gotten to walk with him to the end of the world. Life – so beautiful, painful and dazzling – does not get better than that. And death? I believe that the purpose of death is the release of love.

At the moment, I have only the greatest happiness and I am so proud of the way he lived and died, of his incredible power and grace.

I'm sure he will come to me in my dreams and will seem to be alive again. And I am suddenly standing here by myself stunned and grateful. How strange, exciting and miraculous that we can change each other so much, love each other so much through our words and music and our real lives.


RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/8/13 8:58 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
As a point of idle curiosity, would you also go by the name of James Yen?

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/9/13 4:51 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
As a point of idle curiosity, would you also go by the name of James Yen?


That is a cheap move Daniel. But if it makes you feel better that this is just trolling and attention seeking and you can disregard it all, all power to you, as you like saying.

Recapping again again (promise for the final time, for those still reading), there is the question “how can an intelligent person believe in fairies”? and the examination of the answer. There are the intellectual tricks that led to the thread in the first place, and there is the examination of the question itself. As mentioned, there is the common garden variety reasons, and there are personal reasons, individual specific. If you examine these closely enough (like anything) they always seem to come down to basic existential (lower case) questions, a fear of death, a need for meaning, connection, love and respect, and associated issues around self-esteem and lack thereof.

If it is difficult to have an honest examination of those issues and motivations, though it seems pretty essential to the goal of high level practice that Daniel cares so much about, and it is even harder to do on a public forum, and to avoid crossing into rudeness and provocation (especially easy when anonymous posters are around). No-one in these kinds of debates (especially when it gets to the Hitler card stage) comes off looking good, though in my defence I am not claiming to be an awakened enlightened being or a teacher of the Core Teachings of the Buddha.

Keep your eye on the prize? If your goal is to just to be happy, then fine, go and be happy, but don’t then go and write books telling us you have the Truth with a capital T. For me, beyond being happy, integral to this kind of practice is honesty. And this is why I think this issue is so important.

Daniel, in what you say, the way you say it, what you respond to and what you ignore, those parts you misunderstand, you reveal yourself, despite yourself. And what you reveal to us paying attention is that an Arahat (whatever that is) is no better than the rest of us shit-eaters, is no more or less wise or compassionate, has no better handle on the truth, and is no more or less prone to the workings of their ego and shadow sides. And I feel that is important to be illustrated when the DhO runs a fine a line into being a cult of personality.

There is no enlightenment. There is just life.

And we are all doing the best we can.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/9/13 5:10 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Personally speaking, I have an interest in this subject. I have seen enough to strongly suspect that some very powerful, useful and relevant learning can come from the line of inquiry surrounding magick, powers, etc. What Daniel has described in this thread falls completely within my own limited observations of what it is and how it works. "Magick", whatever it may be, happens very frequently in the world at large, and is an incredibly powerful factor in the shaping of all human relations. It is the reason, for instance, why Putin is allowed to get away with being photographed in his bare-chested tiger hunts emoticon

To say that it isn't real, from my perspective, implies that you don't know what you are talking about. Like those people who get involved in the discussion not out of curiosity, but more because their self-image is invested in notions of skepticism or scientific truth or atheism (there are so many kinds of dogma...).

What is the ontological status of magick? I don't know. The answer lies somewhere within a wide spectrum, ranging from complete bogus through merely psychological up to fairies are really real. I am happy to treat it as an open question.

But even though I don't have the answer to that question, I would like to be able to have open, frank exchanges on the subject, particularly in a website full of able meditators such as the DhO. Because meditators should eventually be able to ramp up their concentration enough to talk about this subject at a meaningful level.

So it is unfortunate that this is a taboo subject.

And the reason why this is a taboo subject is because anyone who gets involved into this kind of discussion gets labeled a self-delusional coocoo from that moment onward, as this thread amply demonstrates. I have hesitated twice before getting involved in this discussion, because the internet being what it is, I have essentially committed to permanent public record that "I have dabbled in magick", and this could possibly --- if unlikely --- be of consequence, because of said labeling.

In fact, sawfoot_ has remained convinced that the only reason why Daniel gets involved in this kind of stuff is because he is subtly delusional (at best). This belief of his is axiomatic in origin, as he has offered absolutely nothing to back it up, other than the fact that Daniel does get involved into this kind of stuff.

As for the ontological status of magick, sawfoot_ still believes it lies somewhere in self-delusion-land, despite having offered absolutely zero in terms of substance contributing to that argument. More precisely, those of his points in this thread which have substance --- and he has a few, such as the importance of skepticism and intellectual honesty --- are entirely off-topic, and he uses them as if they had any validity or relevance in arguing about the status of magick.

In a way, it is a form of bigotry, as in, being intolerantly devoted to one's own opinions and prejudices. Perhaps well intended, but still unfortunate:

Pawel K:
You should know that many of your readers are atheists and don't want to hear about powers being really real emoticon


The conclusion that you so well express is that we probably shouldn't be discussing this subject at all, lest we be scorned by a legion of atheists who have never given the matter a second thought, and yet have very strong opinions on the subject.

Or maybe that should apply only to Daniel? I venture a guess, that this is much closer to

sawfoot_:
the heart of why this topic pushes [Daniel's] buttons.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/9/13 6:07 AM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
I remember reading this thread by an old time dho poster by the name of triplethink. Interested, i asked him how to go about experiencing something similar. The following was his advice to me. I hope he does not mind me sharing. Perception is a very malleable thing.

Ok, IMHO its good practice to take the time to get clear on your motivations, in this and in any other pursuit. I would suggest going to Accesstoinsight and even better to the complete suttas if possible, and reading up on the subject of the iddhi padda or 'roads to power' directly, in the original sutta context. There are actually some core instructions there in the suttas. The subject is also included under the heading of the 37 wings to awakening and so it gets further treatments in that context. Check Thanissaro's Wings to Awakening, there should be a section in there on this as well.

As I recall, without looking it up, the central aspect of the paths to power practices have to do with opening up perception right at the point of contact. So a very ready example would be to take something like a piece of fruit or a sandwich or something and sit down with it taking very slow and methodical bites, chewing and swallowing very slowly and, as with vipassana noting practice, to note very carefully and deliberately each sensation and the subtle differences in sensation from one moment of sense contact to the next.

The next step in the practice would then be to take each of these moments of sensation and to split the perception into two phases. First of all, note the momentary sensation and classify it as either pleasant, neutral or unpleasant. Secondly invert the perception of the same sensation, so if the moment of sensation is initially perceived as pleasant, then invert the impression, noting how, in some manner, the same sensation may also be perceived as unpleasant. This may take some time to develop a facility for or it may be something you can develop quite quickly, you'll simply have to go at it and see how it goes. It came quite naturally to me and it was something I already did as an extension of basic noting in my own investigations of consciousness and sensation many years before I got into Theravada philosophy, theory and practices.

The final step in the process is combining the two, the perception of the pleasant and the perception of the unpleasant at the same time. It is also good to work with the neutral perceptions as much as possible as it is in the neutral perceptions that there tends to be a lot of failure to attend to what is arising and passing. Consciousness tends to overlook the neutral because it simply doesn't represent anything either desirable or undesirable to the mind or the senses. Often times it is in the neutral perceptions that some of the subtler kinds of perception lie hidden, so this can open up new ranges of perception that were previously below the threshold of attention.

What I would expect you will discover and explore with the use of these techniques is that quite a lot about sense impressions, feeling states, thought objects, consciousness qualities and so on are actually much more fully open to conscious modification than you may have previously thought. It can be rather interesting to be experiencing something that has always presented itself as largely or entirely pleasant as something largely or entirely unpleasant. For instance, I found this particularly interesting with regards to sex. I've been entirely content to be single and alone for the last ten years but back before this when I was in a long term committed relationship for a number of years I would examine all kinds of things about my relationship in these ways. I would spend an evening with my girl consciously attending to the pleasant qualities of our intimate relations and then I would spend an evening consciously attending to the unpleasant qualities of those very same activities. Then I would do the same examining it both ways at the same time, and then also without attention to the neutral sensations and again with attention to the neutral sensations. I would continue to pursue sensitivity to the variations of impressions, the dynamic ranges of pleasant, neutral and unpleasant, and I would also attend to the conscious inversion, negation and neutralization of sense impressions.

Quite a lot of insight into just how suggestible and manipulable the senses are can be developed on this basis. The same kinds of insights can also be derived from similar investigations into the body, feelings, thoughts and consciousness qualities. So, this is a seemingly simple technique but it has the whole range of phenomena internal and external to which the technique can be applied and with many degrees of application.

The more far out applications may seem distant and initially it may be difficult to understand the relationship these kinds of techniques have to such things as walking on water or through walls or to the development of the subtle faculties like awareness of the thoughts of others or the 'divine ear' and the 'divine eye' and so on but it seems quite clear to me now, in what is at this point for me hindsight, that the practice instructions in regards to the iddhis as given in the suttas by the Buddha are in fact the fundamental basis for engaging the actual processes which result in development of these various faculties.

Another technique, one that factors prominently into the development of visionary faculties is meditation on the perception of light. In the suttas one is instructed to attend to the perception of light, day and night, until the perception of light in complete darkness is the same as the perception of light in full daylight. This is also a technique that I have practiced and again I found that it also has resulted in significant expansion of the range of my perceptions. I now find that there is a whole range of light and colors that I can perceive in addition to the natural range and also that there is a range of color and light that I can perceive in complete darkness that other people do not typically perceive.

Another set of practices that I think relates to this is the development of deeper absorption into jhana and also development of greater control over the degree of absorption, length of absorption and the capacity to shift readily in and out from one deep absorption in a given jhana to another given jhana. I find that there is a kind of pendulum effect for me with deep concentration practice. The deeper I develop jhana and the longer I spend in deep absorption the more sensitive I find I am when I exit the jhanas. The deep silence and stillness of the jhana work tends to deepen the silence and stillness underlying my sensory and mental perceptions after the absorption for quite a long time and I am much more sensitive to external phenomena of every sort as the body, senses and mental qualities are much more tranquil, at ease and on that basis more receptive.

As I understand the iddhi practices that are detailed in the suttas, the effect on the mind is to break it out of its natural inclination to habituate to the specific qualities naturally associated with the given inflows of various impressions. By extension one can see how, given enough attention, the breaking down of conventional expectations about the nature of whatever is being perceived opens up the potential for seeing everything otherwise than it typically is seen and therefore also for interacting with it in a variety of new ways as well. While it may be argued, intellectually, that something elemental is inherently either specifically solid or liquid or gaseous or whatever, when the tendency to view the impression of something as specifically one way or the other has been overcome right at the point of contact and those impressions at contact become something open to modification in any number of ways, then one can actually test these things to determine for oneself if something such as walking on water is possible or not. One may find that, in actual fact, it is not the nature of water that prevents walking on it but the impression of water as a liquid and as a liquid which cannot support our weight which prevents walking on it. One may find that the capacity to interact with water in other ways allows for other kinds of interactions. Similarly with the other elements. This may seem very 'welcome to the matrix neo' and kind of hard to accept on the surface of it but if you start with the simple exercises and make the fundamental investigation into how perception forms right at the point of contact, moment to moment, you should in due course arrive at the point where you can see for yourself both how very matrix-like' our perception of reality actually is and how very open to conscious manipulation it actually is.

That ought to be enough to get you started. It seems like there should be some kind of obligatory 'don't give in to the dark side of the messing around with this stuff' statement that I should include with all of this, but really, now that I have let some of the cats out of the bag, I guess I am just going to have to hope for the best. So, take it step by step and try to be careful not to harm yourself or anyone else with this stuff, ok? If you eventually find you are perceiving all kinds of weirdness and capable of all sorts of inexplicable strangeness but you can't turn it off, well, don't say I didn't caution you going into it.


Nick

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/9/13 6:48 AM as a reply to sawfoot _.
sawfoot _:
Daniel M. Ingram:
As a point of idle curiosity, would you also go by the name of James Yen?


That is a cheap move Daniel.


I agree, that was somewhat of an asshole move, and also blatantly not the case. And yet this is highly unfair:

sawfoot_:
Daniel, in what you say, the way you say it, what you respond to and what you ignore, those parts you misunderstand, you reveal yourself, despite yourself. And what you reveal to us paying attention is that an Arahat (whatever that is) is no better than the rest of us shit-eaters, is no more or less wise or compassionate, has no better handle on the truth, and is no more or less prone to the workings of their ego and shadow sides. And I feel that is important to be illustrated when the DhO runs a fine a line into being a cult of personality.


If you ever put this man on a pedestal, it was your own fault. You had proper warning:

Daniel, MCTB:
There is also another more subtle and seductive view, and this is that enlightened being somehow will act in a way that is better or higher, though they won’t define what those actions might be or what actions they might avoid. I consider this view very dangerous. While I wish to promote the shift in perception that I call awakening and other names, I don’t want to make out that somehow this will save anyone from stupid actions or make them somehow always know how to do the right thing or avoid screwing up. Such views are a setup for massive badness and huge shadow sides, as anyone who has spent enough time in a spiritual community knows all too well. As Zen says, “The bigger the front, the bigger the back.”

The list of highly enlightened individuals who have bitten the proverbial dust by putting themselves up on high, screwing up and then being exposed as actually being human is remarkably long, and the list of spiritual aspirants who have failed to draw the proper conclusions about reality from the failures of the enlightened is even longer.


---

So let's talk about intellectual honesty.

sawfoot_:
Recapping again again (promise for the final time, for those still reading), there is the question “how can an intelligent person believe in fairies”? and the examination of the answer. There are the intellectual tricks that led to the thread in the first place, and there is the examination of the question itself. As mentioned, there is the common garden variety reasons, and there are personal reasons, individual specific. If you examine these closely enough (like anything) they always seem to come down to basic existential (lower case) questions, a fear of death, a need for meaning, connection, love and respect, and associated issues around self-esteem and lack thereof.


To me, this argument seems extremely thin, like basically a bunch of generalities mixed with preconceived ideas that maybe sound nice to some people. You basically have already decided that the only reason to believe in this stuff is because of blind (or at least partly self-deluded) faith, and then you "justify" that by making a general all-encompassing statement how "anything" supposedly always comes down to basic existential questions.

Indeed, I actually expected you to cite scientific papers at some point, or something along those lines, and I would have something to say about that, but instead, it seems to me that you have argued throughout this thread simply by backing up your preconceived notions with generalistic thinking, and hoping we would go along for the ride. Hence my accusation that your arguments lack any real substance.

Now, I concede that maybe I just didn't get the cern of your argument, or didn't pay close attention. So could you recap the actual content of the premises that justify your beliefs in this matter? Or, would you be willing to concede that maybe, up to this point, you haven't really supplied us with good reasons, say, not to believe in fairies? I am certainly willing to hear those reasons out, but so far I haven't seen any.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/9/13 7:18 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
The readership question is a very minor one, as the book was clearly not designed to garner large readership, and when it was written, there was no readership to pander to, as it was my first book, and I was essentially unknown, and it was a reaction to desempowering views and a culture that I felt needlessly held itself back to no good purpose, and it also was a representation of a small, obscure subculture that I had been exposed to that, in my limited experiment, performance tested much better, and it was my attempt to share that, and not to make any particular group happy except those who resonated with that same way of working on these things.

If you get deep enough into the Theravada you will run into the powers, or the experiences that get labeled that way, same as you will in many traditions, which is why they talk about them.

You can label and conceptualize them any way you like, but I will assert that exposure to multiple frameworks and options will give people more good options to choose from, rather than the terminologically and conceptually limited view that some theoretical group of athiests might be offended by talking about the pros and cons of the various options and how they performance test in real people.

In short, believe what you wish, and see how that helps or hinders you in your goals for your own practice and life.

Speaking of science... Why most of science may be wrong, article in The Economist

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/9/13 7:05 AM as a reply to Nikolai ..
wow! sounds scary.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/9/13 8:11 AM as a reply to sawfoot _.
sawfoot _:
Keep your eye on the prize? If your goal is to just to be happy, then fine, go and be happy, but don’t then go and write books telling us you have the Truth with a capital T. For me, beyond being happy, integral to this kind of practice is honesty. And this is why I think this issue is so important.


As to "T"ruth, there are points I do think are true, and moreover think can be Useful (with a Capital "U") for some, and these are not particularly special or unique views:

Investigating the Three Characteristics leads to the stages of insight: true.

One can develop strong concentration that leads to experiences that are not ordinary: true.

Certain stages of insight and some of the effects of strong concentration, and even just ordinary life not related to meditation at all, can lead to people having experiences that most are not likely to have optimal conceptual frameworks for handling: true.

What those optimal frameworks are is still quite open to debate, and each of the various meditative traditions varies on this, though most of them have a clear love-hate relationship to what we are talking about here, and that is well-demonistrated here also, as it has been for thousands of years: nothing new in that, and the reasons for that are obvious, but knee-jerk pathologizing of them is not always the best option, in my obviously not that humble opinion, not that pathology isn't also possible in those things, as it clearly is.

The argument that a very specific sub-strain of the rigid scientific materialistic point of view is the ONLY valid point of view that one can reasonably consider for making sense and utilizing the perspectives afforded in those experiences is, in my view, totally not true, as extremely large numbers of very smart, highly-functional people have found. Some will find that particular strain of the scientific materialist paradigm helpful at points, as I have, but at other points may not, as I have. This is actually so commonplace as to hardly be worth mention except in this strange conversation where such basic points keep being looked as wildly divergent from some ABSOLUTE (and I will claim actually mythological) AND TOTALLY ROCK-SOLID SCIENTIFIC ORTHODOXY. It is not that these points of view are ABSOLUTELY TRUE, but that various people will find varying utility in them is clearly demonstrated here.

Associating my points of view that I have articulated above in some knee-jerk way with grandiosity, a cult of personality, insanity, delusion, or a need to pander to readership is not helpful, I feel, as those points of view are hardly unique to me, nor any profound badge of honor, being very old and common ones ones, and ones that, if you go into these traditions, you will find in spades, even on cursory reading or the old texts or even plenty of modern sources, even some by scientists, and particularly if you go to the deep practice monasteries in Burma, Thailand, Nepal, and Malaysia, or plenty of Tibetan meditation centers, where they are all into this stuff, and really get to practice well and talk with people who have practiced well, or try a good deep Christian contemplative monastery, or spend any time in India at a good ashram, or go to the jungle of the Amazon, or...

I continue to promote two books of relevance:

The End of Materialism, by Charles Tart, and Hidden Dimensions, The Unification of Physics and Consciousness, by B Allan Wallace, not that I agree totally with everything in those books, but plenty of good points are made therein.

I hold it true that debating other frameworks and exploring people's experiences with these things and examining what conceptual frameworks they might or might not have found useful is helpful and will provide people a range of options that they can choose from based on their own intelligence, their own wisdom, and their own experiments, and that imposing some rigid taboo around talking about these very interesting and relatively common aspects of human experience in an obscure forum specifically dedicated to high-level meditative practice is, well, vile. That is my view. Is it truly so odd?

As to the James Yen question, it was an honest question, not a tactic, a question that crept into my mind a few posts back but I avoided, and finally I thought it might be worth asking, as I do note some common qualities, however erroneously or freely associatively, and it is a question that didn't get answered.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/9/13 10:35 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Man, I wish Triplethink was still around...

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/9/13 1:34 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
No, that's not me.

Lol.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/9/13 4:50 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Bruno Loff:
Like those people who get involved in the discussion not out of curiosity, but more because their self-image is invested in notions of skepticism or scientific truth or atheism (there are so many kinds of dogma...).

What is the ontological status of magick? I don't know. The answer lies somewhere within a wide spectrum, ranging from complete bogus through merely psychological up to fairies are really real. I am happy to treat it as an open question.

But even though I don't have the answer to that question, I would like to be able to have open, frank exchanges on the subject, particularly in a website full of able meditators such as the DhO. Because meditators should eventually be able to ramp up their concentration enough to talk about this subject at a meaningful level.

So it is unfortunate that this is a taboo subject.

And the reason why this is a taboo subject is because anyone who gets involved into this kind of discussion gets labeled a self-delusional coocoo from that moment onward, as this thread amply demonstrates.



Bruno, I don't want this to be a taboo subject. I think we should have open, frank exchanges on the subject as well.

One of the things that makes it difficult is the idea that atheism or materialism are somehow dogmatic or matters of self-image. For some reason, it's very hard for a lot of people to understand the idea that some questions have been thoroughly answered. I assert this not dogmatically or out of a lack of curiosity, but based on evidence. There is significant amounts of evidence that there are no psychic phenomena, not much evidence that there is, and alternative explanations that seem much more likely. I might be wrong, just as any of us could be wrong about anything.

I have these same kinds of conversations with my girlfriend, who reads tarot cards and believes in astrology and crystal healing. She thinks I'm arrogant and closed-minded because I'm sure I'm right. Is it arrogant and closed minded to think, for instance, that we've pretty conclusively determined that humans cause global warming? Questions about psychic phenomena have similarly been answered and are similarly important for humanity's future.

I don't think anyone is "delusional," and I believe everyone's report of what they've experienced that they perceive as psychic phenomena. I just think that there is a better and more useful explanation.




Or maybe that should apply only to Daniel? I venture a guess, that this is much closer to

sawfoot_:
the heart of why this topic pushes [Daniel's] buttons.


Could you explain this further?

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/9/13 5:01 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Bruno Loff:

If you ever put this man on a pedestal, it was your own fault.


Yeah, I know you were talking to sawfoot, but I am dealing with the same thing myself. Daniel is amazing. I love love love his book. I think he's super brilliant and I want to know all about his enlightenment and his thoughts and experiences. It's tempting to put him on a pedestal. (Look at all the stuff written about Buddha, who probably reached the exact same level as Daniel did, arahat.) But, he's human, and subject to all the same flaws unenlightened human beings are.

So I think it's interesting, and healthy, that we're having open and honest debate and discussion with him, and that I can tell him I think he's wrong while still respecting and looking up to his ability and achievements. That's what the DhO is all about.


To me, this argument seems extremely thin, like basically a bunch of generalities mixed with preconceived ideas that maybe sound nice to some people. You basically have already decided that the only reason to believe in this stuff is because of blind (or at least partly self-deluded) faith, and then you "justify" that by making a general all-encompassing statement how "anything" supposedly always comes down to basic existential questions.

Indeed, I actually expected you to cite scientific papers at some point, or something along those lines, and I would have something to say about that, but instead, it seems to me that you have argued throughout this thread simply by backing up your preconceived notions with generalistic thinking, and hoping we would go along for the ride. Hence my accusation that your arguments lack any real substance.

Now, I concede that maybe I just didn't get the cern of your argument, or didn't pay close attention. So could you recap the actual content of the premises that justify your beliefs in this matter? Or, would you be willing to concede that maybe, up to this point, you haven't really supplied us with good reasons, say, not to believe in fairies? I am certainly willing to hear those reasons out, but so far I haven't seen any.


Not to speak for sawfoot, who I think has made a good case (though I'm part of the choir here), but I'll recap my own thoughts.

* In general, to figure out the way the world is, we want to do experiments and look at what the results tell us.

* Human perception is inaccurate and very prone to misinterpretations and biases.

* These biases lean people in a certain direction, which is to find patterns out of random events.

* In order to compensate for these errors and for misperceptions, to find out what's actually real, we need to repeat the experiences over and over, with many people, in as controlled an experiment as possible.

* This has been done, repeatedly, with the result that we now have a very good understanding of how the world works, and can explain almost everything in terms of physics, biology, psychology, and so forth.

* Repeated experiments have shown no actual evidence of psychic powers.

* Given our understanding of the laws of physics, and the evidence we have, the most likely explanation for psychic powers is they can be explained by psychology (placebo effect, the Pygmalion effect for self-fulfilling prophecy), lucid-dream like visualizations (for things like glowing lights or angels), and confirmation bias (in cases like manifesting a red flyer, capping a marker, and making a room silent, we remember the notable or strange-seeming events more than all the times the magic doesn't work).

* I'm open to the possibility I'm wrong about this, but there's so much evidence *against* psychic powers that we would need very strong evidence *for* them to balance it out.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/9/13 5:14 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:

Certain stages of insight and some of the effects of strong concentration, and even just ordinary life not related to meditation at all, can lead to people having experiences that most are not likely to have optimal conceptual frameworks for handling: true.


Will you please elaborate on this? If someone believes they have magical powers, but further experiments reveal that these possible powers can't be demonstrated consistently in ways that would prove their existence, how is it more optimal to reject experiments and evidence in favor of magical thinking? You've said that it might make ritual less powerful, but to me that means we either need to find ways of making rituals more powerful but still evidence-based, or that we should see magical powers as a temporary "suspension of disbelief" the way we pretend a haunted house or scary movie is real for a particular purpose.


I hold it true that debating other frameworks and exploring people's experiences with these things and examining what conceptual frameworks they might or might not have found useful is helpful and will provide people a range of options that they can choose from based on their own intelligence, their own wisdom, and their own experiments, and that imposing some rigid taboo around talking about these very interesting and relatively common aspects of human experience in an obscure forum specifically dedicated to high-level meditative practice is, well, vile. That is my view. Is it truly so odd?


I don't think there should be a rigid taboo of any kind. I'm just saying that we should be skeptical of claims of Extraordinary Magick without solid evidence, and be open to discussing and interpreting these experiences in other ways as well.

I'm very interested in hearing about people's magical experiences and how they interpret them. Regardless of whether they're "real", they are incredibly interesting, meaningful, and powerful experiences. We can discuss what we think is the most likely interpretation for these experiences and why, and suggest experiments for further research.

There should not be a taboo on magick. There should also not be a taboo on someone being skeptical of supernatural explanations and requesting more data or more experiments.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/9/13 9:59 PM as a reply to J C.
i know it sounds like a bit of a cop out, as the book is a bit long, but would someone else please read The End of Materialism, where Dr Tart lays out the evidence and data for psy phenomena, as he calls them?

the argument that there is no evidence for these things is simply not true

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/9/13 10:11 PM as a reply to J C.
science itself requires suspension of disbelief

you seem to be looking out of your eyes, but science says light is coming in

you might feel someone's eyes looking at the back of your head, but science might tell you you can't possibly feel that

you might feel that you can perceive things, but science says atoms are insentient, as are molecules, as, perhaps are cells, so how can sentience exist?

you might feel that you are sort of the same person today you were 7 years ago in some way, but during that time every single cell that was alive then has turned over basically all of its material, so that none of that "you" of 7 years ago remains

you might feel you are a separate and independent entity: science directly contradicts this, asserting that you are merely biochemical processes

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/10/13 3:16 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
science itself requires suspension of disbelief

you seem to be looking out of your eyes, but science says light is coming in

you might feel someone's eyes looking at the back of your head, but science might tell you you can't possibly feel that

you might feel that you can perceive things, but science says atoms are insentient, as are molecules, as, perhaps are cells, so how can sentience exist?

you might feel that you are sort of the same person today you were 7 years ago in some way, but during that time every single cell that was alive then has turned over basically all of its material, so that none of that "you" of 7 years ago remains

you might feel you are a separate and independent entity: science directly contradicts this, asserting that you are merely biochemical processes


1. What's the problem here? That's how vision works. Your eyes receive a signal triggered by light, and your visual processing system builds an image out of that. If light comes in from some direction, why shouldn't you be looking back out at the light?

2. Let me rephrase: You might think you feel someone's eyes looking at the back of your head, but there isn't always someone looking at you. People are more likely to remember the times that there was, so it seems like you can tell. But when you actually test it out, it turns out that that feeling isn't correlated with someone being there, so while the feeling is a real feeling, it isn't a perception of someone looking at you.

3. Sentience exists at the level of the organism, not the cellular level. Sentience exists because the brain generates thoughts and turns sensory input into perception, which a single cell can't do.

4. You can replace every board of a ship, one at a time, and it's the same ship. Personal identity isn't at the cellular level. You could be uploaded into a computer and it would still seem like you, because it's the same brain pattern.

5. Vipassana can get rid of that illusion, right? emoticon

Anyway, all your points are some form of noticing that perception doesn't accurately reflect the real world. Metal feels colder than wood when they're both actually the same temperature, for instance. I'm not sure what the big deal is with perception not always being accurate. Everyone's had the experience of seeing something that wasn't actually there, so it doesn't require suspension of disbelief to understand that your senses play tricks on you sometimes. Science is capable of figuring out why we see things as we do; the whole point of psychology is to explain how we see the world.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/10/13 1:43 PM as a reply to J C.
J C:

* In general, to figure out the way the world is, we want to do experiments and look at what the results tell us.

* Human perception is inaccurate and very prone to misinterpretations and biases.

* These biases lean people in a certain direction, which is to find patterns out of random events.

* In order to compensate for these errors and for misperceptions, to find out what's actually real, we need to repeat the experiences over and over, with many people, in as controlled an experiment as possible.

* This has been done, repeatedly, with the result that we now have a very good understanding of how the world works, and can explain almost everything in terms of physics, biology, psychology, and so forth.

* Repeated experiments have shown no actual evidence of psychic powers.

* Given our understanding of the laws of physics, and the evidence we have, the most likely explanation for psychic powers is they can be explained by psychology (placebo effect, the Pygmalion effect for self-fulfilling prophecy), lucid-dream like visualizations (for things like glowing lights or angels), and confirmation bias (in cases like manifesting a red flyer, capping a marker, and making a room silent, we remember the notable or strange-seeming events more than all the times the magic doesn't work).

* I'm open to the possibility I'm wrong about this, but there's so much evidence *against* psychic powers that we would need very strong evidence *for* them to balance it out.


Hmm even if magick is purely psychological, a possibility which is quite plausible for me given my own (limited) personal experience, you are still a bit far from the breadth and power of the thing. As for "repeated experiments have shown no actual evidence of psychic powers" that really depends on who did the experiments, and what you choose to count as experiment. On one extreme, you might decide that the only reputable science done on the matter is, by definition, that which found nothing, and then you could conclude that repeated experiments have shown no evidence of powers; on the other extreme, if you decide that serious personal experimentation, of the kind that tripplethink mentions above, counts, then it may to point the other way.

I am well aware that there is a matter of methodology to be considered, and I think that here it gets really tricky really fast. For instance, from a magickal perspective, it would be reasonable to expect that whether you make the results of the experiment public or not, somewhere in the future, could influence the outcome quite drastically; something which is patently absurd from the typical experimental sciences perspective, even when taking into account quantum phenomena.

By the way did you get my message? I sent it using the DhO messaging system (see the "Messages" tab above).

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/10/13 1:15 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
i know it sounds like a bit of a cop out, as the book is a bit long, but would someone else please read The End of Materialism, where Dr Tart lays out the evidence and data for psy phenomena, as he calls them?

the argument that there is no evidence for these things is simply not true


This is a sort of counter-cop out (though also a cop out), and I didn't read the book, but there's a review of that book up on skepdic which concludes:

In the end, Tart's case for the end of materialism is underwhelming. He doesn't even do a good job of presenting a strong case for the existence of any of the "big five" [telepathy, clairvoyance (remote viewing), precognition, psychokinesis, and psychic healing] psi phenomena. This book couldn't help anyone who is conflicted about the spirit world because it is written as if there is no need to prove the existence either of psi or of spirits. It is written for those who already reject materialism, accept the reality of the paranormal, and don't really care one way or the other what science has to say about either.


Excerpts from the review:

Telepathy

Although Tart doesn't provide any new evidence for telepathy, he does review some of his own early work on using immediate feedback to enhance psi ability. He claims he got positive results, but was unable to do the large-scale replication study needed to impress the scientific community because he couldn't get funding. [...] But Tart had his chance at the big bucks when Robert Bigelow, a wealthy Las Vegas businessman, decided to throw a good chunk of his fortune into the parapsychology hat. After retiring from the University of California at Davis psychology department, Tart spent a year developing a curriculum and teaching as the director of Robert Bigelow’s endowed Chair of Consciousness Studies at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. Bigelow gave nearly $4 million to UNLV in 1997 to investigate such subjects as dreams, meditation, hypnosis, out-of-body experiences, telepathy, and the ever-popular subject among college students, drug-induced altered states of consciousness. (In 1971, Tart authored On Being Stoned: A Psychological Study of Marijuana Intoxication.) Bigelow pulled the plug on the program in 2002. No explanation was given, but perhaps the fact that in five years the program had produced nothing of interest—despite being led by Tart, Raymond Moody, and Dean Radin—might have had something to do with it. One wonders why Tart didn't use some of Bigelow's money to do the large-scale study he lamented not being able to do because of lack of funding. Instead, he seems to have used the money to promote what he already believed to be true.

[...] I was hoping, however, that he might provide this skeptic with some new evidence in support of the view that telepathy is real. After all, if evidence for the paranormal is going to bring science and spirit together to end materialism, you'd think he'd put more emphasis on the evidence. No. Tart assumes the evidence is in. He tells us that he has been "personally bored for decades with the controversy" over whether "psi perceptions provide a sound basis for openness to the reality that at least some spiritual aspects really exist." [...]

[...] Telepathy, he says, might be the mechanism involved in prayer and could provide scientific evidence for belief in prayer's efficacy. It should not be surprising that Tart does not examine the scientific studies that have attempted to test the efficacy of prayer. If he did, he might have to consider that these tests indicate telepathy is an illusion. Some readers will find it annoying that Tart repeatedly asserts that the data is primary and theorizing is secondary, while he skips over or ignores the data that is inconvenient to his theories. [...]

clairvoyance (remote viewing)

As with his chapter on telepathy, there is no new evidence for clairvoyance presented here. Much of the chapter is devoted to describing how remote viewing experiments are done and singing the praises of the likes of Hal Puthoff and Russell Targ. He repeats the same stories Radin and others have presented, such as the one about Pat Price and Star Gate and the Pearce-Pratt experiment. [...]

precognition

How about precognition? Does Tart have any new evidence or arguments to present in support either of precognition or of immateriality? If you've been following the story so far, you are able to see what's ahead without resorting to any psychic devices. [...] Tart is willing to look at the data and he is impressed. Unfortunately, it is the same data that Radin's gone over, including a heap of praise for meta-analysis by Honorton and Ferrari, and offers nothing new. Also, despite his dislike of the idea of precognition, he claims that he has proof of it from his own experiments. He did what many other psi researchers have done: he turned a failure to produce psi into a success by moving the goalposts. Instead of evaluating how his subjects (or co-investigators) did in a card-guessing experiment, he evaluated how they did with respect to the card that came after the target card. Magically, he turned psi-missing into psi-hitting. Perversely, Tart turns this trick of changing the goal of an experiment after the data is in from a vice to a virtue. Since he didn't want to believe in precognition, but the data supported it, he was making "the data primary over theory and belief." That sounds much better than "mining the data." [...]

psychokinesis

As with telepathy, clairvoyance (remote viewing), and precognition, Tart has nothing new to add to the evidence for the reality of PK. He brings up the famous case of D. D. Home, which he defends on the curious grounds that men in olden times were no more susceptible to trickery than parapsychologists today. Tart ignores the history of psi research that is replete with examples of eminent men of science being duped by children, magicians, conjurers of all sorts, and even subjects in their psi experiments. Tart is absolutely correct: eminent scientists today are just as susceptible to being deceived and tricked as they were one hundred and fifty years ago! [...]

Tart does provide an innovative example of special pleading in parapsychology by saying that data mining when an experiment indicates no psi effect is actually looking for "some sort of secondary effect," which, he says, "is relatively common in parapsychological studies." This, he says, has led some in the field to think that there's something "inherently perverse" about psi phenomena, that researchers are being "teased" by it. "It's as if psi happens often enough to keep us interested, but not reliably or strongly enough for us to be certain about it or apply it very well." Indeed. [...]

psychic healing

[...] He expresses his admiration for Larry Dossey in this chapter, but the only research he presents in favor of psychic healing was done in 1965 and it involved non-replicated studies on barley seeds and mice. Tart doesn't even mention the healing prayer studies published in the last decade, much less make an effort to evaluate them. He skirts over the whole issue of psychic healing in a little over six pages, as if he were bored with having to present all this wearisome data! [...]

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/10/13 1:20 PM as a reply to J C.
Might want to watch grudge or a ring or any other movie about ghosts and then go walk in graveyard alone and see how much you believe in magick.
There is enough evidence that people know that magick exists but their brain is blocking/denying it. Its easily testable.

By logic when brain get to know things later than things actually happen, then it also is possible that if we could have better brain then we could know things sooner, when even better brain...things are infinite, means no time..so actually science fails.
But we have a stable filter that allows to create illusion of time and science.

We are dead already but do not know it yet, haha.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/11/13 12:12 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
If you pick up my book, you will notice the following:

"Whether or not these are “real” is a question that I am happy to avoid, though these experiences can be so extremely vivid that they can seem more “real” than the “real world.” Much more interesting than the question of what is real is the question of what is causal, i.e. what leads to what. For example, we might decide that our dreams are not “real”, but we must admit that there are real world consequences of having dreams. All this can be a slippery business, and the “psychic powers” generally don’t turn out to be quite what they seem. As one of my friends once said, “Yeah, I can fly, but just not in this realm!” Buyer beware, or proceed with care."

Said another way:

Do people have these experiences? Yes.

Are these experiences causal, meaning: did something cause them and do these experiences lead to other effects? Yes.

Are these experiences extremely compelling sometimes? Yes.

Is there scientific evidence for the measurable effects of the powers? Yes.

Can these experiences be healing? Yes.

Can these experiences be totally awesome and really fascinating? Yes.

Can these experiences cause people to pursue really deep concentration, a sort of carrot approach? Yes.

Can these experiences sometimes cause people to cross into territory that is clearly pathological? Yes.

Does that mean they are "real"? That totally depends on how you define "real", and I will claim that defining "real" is not easy and that you have to be extremely careful with your philosophy and conceptual frameworks when you do that, particularly if you are coming up with a definition of "real" that includes calling plenty of things that occur and have consequences, however interpreted, as "not real".

I don't find the question of real as helpful as the questions of practicality, utility, and exploring what is possible all without screwing up your life. I don't find the rigid scientific materialist frameworks as useful as I find plenty of others for those goals. Do you?

There is the caveat to this that simply labeling them all "hallucinations", as is common, can be paradoxically comforting for some people. I think that is what people are generally trying to get to with terms like "unreal". In that framework, they are merely psychotic.

Why they would find the notion that they are psychotic so comforting is unclear to me, but clearly many people do, given the tenacity to which people cling to that conceptual framework for these things, and, if that helps them somehow, as a pragmatist it does cause internal conflict to criticize them in something they find useful, though I do find myself compelled to try offering alternatives that I think can accomplish the goals that the label "hallucinations" seems to accomplish, (namely comfort and not taking them too seriously) with frameworks that can accomplish similar goals and provide increased workability simultaneously without the nagging downsides of the sense of psychosis, which itself makes certain experiences that could be healing, revealing and workable into experiences that it is going to be harder to get something out of in the same way.

Now, it can clearly be claimed that for those who are really psychotic in the dysfunction, screw-up-your-life, you-really-should-take-your-meds sense, having an option for labeling these experiences as something other than "hallucinations" and "psychosis" can give them an anchor into that destructive territory that they can use to rationalize not getting treatment, and it is a fair point, but there are ways to differentiate these things without pathologizing all of those experiences, some of which can be quite helpful in a way that good old schizophrenia, depression with psychotic features and psychotic mania basically always aren't.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/11/13 2:38 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
though I do find myself compelled to try offering alternatives that I think can accomplish the goals that the label "hallucinations" seems to accomplish, (namely comfort and not taking them too seriously) with frameworks that can accomplish similar goals and provide increased workability simultaneously without the nagging downsides of the sense of psychosis


Actually, this interests me personally. Even my superficial dabbling into this territory, particularly when on LSD, creeps me out. There is, like I mentioned earlier, a feeling of borderline insanity, or insecurity, or volatility.

I concede that it might be merely the anxiety about having such a completely different experience, of loosing points of reference.

In any case, I would like to hear what these alternatives are. How do you get into this territory in a way that is safe and that doesn't screw up your life? (perhaps a new thread?)

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/11/13 6:15 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Now, it can clearly be claimed that for those who are really psychotic in the dysfunction, screw-up-your-life, you-really-should-take-your-meds sense, having an option for labeling these experiences as something other than "hallucinations" and "psychosis" can give them an anchor into that destructive territory that they can use to rationalize not getting treatment, and it is a fair point, but there are ways to differentiate these things without pathologizing all of those experiences, some of which can be quite helpful in a way that good old schizophrenia, depression with psychotic features and psychotic mania basically always aren't.


I actually do have (somewhat mild) schizophrenia (though not of the paranoid variety) and below are some of my experiences engaging in intensive meditation and the powers taken from this post: http://www.dharmaoverground.org/web/guest/discussion/-/message_boards/message/2501797

If you read these accounts it is not entirely clear what is "psychosis" and what is "siddhis/powers." All of these experiences could give great meaning in a "spiritual" sense, though these experiences definitely led to massive disability and all of them to psychiatric hospitalizations of a week or two duration. Can you tell the difference between what is schizophrenia (or possibly manic psychosis) and what is "powers/siddhis" in the below accounts? You state that the experiences of schizophrenia, depression w/ psychosis and psychotic mania are always unhelpful, but this doesn't appear to be the case with the below:

An account of someone with schizophrenia after periods of intensive meditation
The delusory phenomena tend to sneak up on me, and while there is awareness that it needs to be fixed, most attempts to solve the problem are misguided and often leads to further confusion. Someone in this situation needs to go somewhere safe and semi-restrained where they can get basic needs, food, water, toilet. The less you move around, usually the better. The mind will run through all loads of crazy stuff and eventually settles down to the point where it wears off. This is similar to someone having a bad trip from a drug, though more long lasting and out-there.

For example, here are the events in the hours leading up to my hospitalizations (where I needed to be restrained to some extent). This is by no means an exhaustive list of the delusory experiences I have had.

Jan 2010 - I was laying on the coach at a friend's house trying to fall asleep (after running around by myself for a week or more in my delusions) when the grim reaper appeared before me, sitting in a chair with a glowing eye. Yes, I literally saw the grim reaper sitting there with his sycthe and robe and everything (in the dark, but his figure was very very clear). This was after several previous "near-death" experiences where I already thought I had died, but didn't die. He then instructed me to solve this elaborate three-dimensional puzzle.

My body felt like it was completely dead and what little was left was being rotted away by the presence of the reaper. In my delusion i felt like if I didn't solve the puzzle I was left to live in samsara for countless thousands of years before the chance came again. The puzzle consisted of keeping a beam of light between two points until it ran up the top of a pyramid structure where it needed to fit in perfectly. I was exhausted and fallinlg apart, and felt that I couldn't solve it and was giving up, when out of nowhere a loud voice said 'BE STRONG" and my arm grabbed itself (without any sense that "I' was controlling it). After the puzzle thing ended

The grim reaper eventually stood up and made a sound like Mario Brothers (It is a meeee Mario!). He then announced that samsara was a wormhole world where you can choose to go to from the "loving borg people" realm. Beings who become bored with not suffering in the "loving borg people" realm can throw this switch voluntarily and end up in "Alice in Wonderland world." He said our time was up and he was taking down... He stood up and with his scythe he stirred a black hole type structure....

He took us down to the center of the centerless universe and a giant black hole opened up in the floor and I heard countless lives and voices crying out in pain because they didn't want to go back. I attributed all of these to the shining specks of light in the black hole, complaining and whining. Impatiently, I dove straight down through the center. The more I tried to do this the more I felt my body rotting and decaying...The more I went with everyone else circling around the edges the less I felt my body rotting away. I had given up at this point and didn't care about life here and went straight to the bottom as my body rotted into a pile of lifeless gunk.

At this point there was a shift and the voices changed to complete and utter benevolence [attribute this to a shift from dark night to equanimity]. I imagined them to be fairy-like creatures who then told me, "You could have been killed!" I imagined they were fixing up my body and began to feel better. There was a distinct gap between "I" and the "other side" which consisted of scary voices that were no longer as "real." Like in the Wizard of Oz when the Wizard turns out to be making all of the scary stuff with "smoke and mirrors." They told me my body was like a "dummy" and I definitely felt this. They described the world as this Alice and Wonderland like place where everyone can fool around as separate beings and realize its unsatisfactoriness on their way back to the loving borg people realm.

They eventually became these sort of gnome-like behavior where they thought everything before "I" thought it, knew all of its reprecussions before I did, knew all the possible out-comes before I did, and always chose the proper and correct response and course of action to take, regardless of whether "I" thought it was correct or not. This was demonstrated to me visually several times as they built these pyramind like structures to thow out things from direct consciousness that were causing suffering. Temporal causality was demonstrated to be already known, and this was demonstrated as knowing future outcomes in a weird completely indescribable way. A sort of "many-worlds," but more known and understood. I visioned that I had already died many times through this process, but experience continued regardless in another many-world plane. I envisioned my friend coming out and finding me dead on the floor. I could hear his voice and everything, they carried my dead body out and I felt I was dead on the floor.

Suddenly I was required to let go of all body sensations on the way to the "recycler" that would lead to the end of this life. (This isn't the first time this had happened). The body felt it was humpty dumpty laid in pieces all over the floor. A voice at the end instructed me to let go of all of these pieces. After some time struggling with this, eventually what "I" at the time thought my "true welf" was emerged. A sort of "split" personality had developed and I was talking to a "chill" surfer-like version of myself. Or vice-versa. He seemed to know everything I wanted to do before I wanted to do it. Every moment in my life to exquisite detail, everything I had ever said, every tiny little moment remembered. He said, when we're "done" you can revisit all these moments too, if you'd like. But you probably wouldn't want to because you're life hasn't been that great. He said we were going to the land of fun and this "bardo-realm" just "isn't that great."

I tried to go "left" in the mind, he said you can't do that, and we would go "right" instead and it would aid in the process much easier. Eventually he told me to link all humpty-dumpty fragments with "christ" and a visualization of the cross (body is face down on the floor). The heat and pressure were massive, and I imagined that we had been laying there to the end of the earth's time (the earth was heating up and boiling outside, and all life was gone). I had an impulse to get up, but chill tom told me you can't get up, you just can't, can't do that, sorry. I felt if I did, my head would blow off...but it was already felt detached from the body anyways... He said, "never name your kid Christ." We then "christ" mantra'd our way through.

At this point I was required to get up and "share the suffering" some more. They say we "share the suffering" so no one person suffers too much.

I stood up and it was morning and I looked around and my friend came out of his room, and he took me to the hospital. I asked him later, and he said he heard me chanting on the couch and it was obvious I had gone bat-shit insane and he took me to the hospital.

As I laid in the hospital I was immersed in another delusion about how I was "dying" yet again, sticking my tongue out for some machine to end me. I was not sad as this was a "continuation" and just the actions of the mysterious Tao. At this point I was knocked out and I woke up in a bed in the psychatric ward.


In Jan 2011 (in the hours leading up to the hospitalization), I was in the bathroom as a "wizard" type being where I could comprehend causality to a ridiculous degree (telepathy with people not present seeing through space-time). But I was "bringing" awareness "down" to the place, just before thought. I was trying to get rid of the "voices" which sometimes manifest as hearing thoughts in hearing. Eventually a huge pressure developed in the top of my head. The pressure was so great that I swung my head up and down in a wild manner in the bathtub. I was completely naked, as I saw no concern for being such. Keep in mind this felt in a way beyond control and felt natural and causal. Eventually the roommate called paramedics as I refused to answer them as they wondered what I was doing. The paramedics kicked in the door and hauled me out naked. They tried asking me a bunch of questions, but all I did was smile as the pressure was finally gone and I felt great! There was no reason to speak, and I did not speak.

After some time in the hospital, I was released, but degenerated right back into delusion again. I had been laying on my bed for days making my way through the stages of insight (but in such delusion they usually exist in their utmost exterme). Eventually I made my way outside when the voices went away, and walked around the sidewalk happy, but then they voices soon came back and I found myself creating some sort of paradise world for myself in an elaborate thing that connects to some stuff from before, but which is too complicated and confusing and would take too long for me to elaborate. My body was shaking wildly, so I sat down on the ground in the devotional prayer position for something to deliver me from this horrid state. A few moments later I was picked up by some cops who said I smelled of urine. They put me in the back of their cop car and I waited as an ambulance hauled me back to the hospital.

In the latest incidence, I had been interacting with the same being that manifested as the grim reaper. In all of this there is the sense that I'm communicating with myself backward through time, helping myself along. So I was communicating with this entity in the sense that I was helping myself in the past, but there is also the sense that this is unnecessary. I had been degenerating into delusion for several days, even having one moment where I closed my eyes and traveled to a completely different "room." I was wide awake and walking around in this dimly-blue lit wide-open room after being in a small box like room that was my bedroom. There was a female person standing in the room made of blue-colored light whose clothes kept changing over and over. I stood right in front of her, but there was no interaction, as she was translucent like a ghost.

( This isn't the first translucent being I've seen. In the room of my friend a few days before the event with the grim reaper I saw a being made of white light that was very tall that looked like an animal of some sort I'd never seen. I got the sense that it held my journey in its spine or somewhere in its body that ran down to its tail. It was standing there lighting some sort of contraption. )

Somehow I made it back into my normal room, just by closing my eyes and willing it.

Eventually I went to bed. I was asleep in bed, but completely aware of the whole dreaming and sleep process (or so I thought). I was instructed to go outside as the process was complete (I had the delusory idea I was transporting to a certain room I wanted to go back to in the past). For some reason I had no pants (or underwear) on, but didn't care. I walked outside searching for a new "room" in the middle of the night (probably the early am hours). I heard people making comments about me having no pants on, but I didn't care and they didn't bother me. In short order cops came out of nowhere asking me what was going on and shining lights in my face. They restrained me and called an ambulance, and that's how I ended up in the hospital a couple weeks ago.

Once in a situation where restrained with access to all immediate needs (food, water, shelter) the delusions usually go away within a few days to a week or so. The immediate memory impression of them fades, and all suffering that may have been so "horrible" at the time is then in the past and I move on,

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/11/13 6:59 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:
If you pick up my book, you will notice the following:

"Whether or not these are “real” is a question that I am happy to avoid, though these experiences can be so extremely vivid that they can seem more “real” than the “real world.” Much more interesting than the question of what is real is the question of what is causal, i.e. what leads to what. For example, we might decide that our dreams are not “real”, but we must admit that there are real world consequences of having dreams. All this can be a slippery business, and the “psychic powers” generally don’t turn out to be quite what they seem. As one of my friends once said, “Yeah, I can fly, but just not in this realm!” Buyer beware, or proceed with care."


Yes, and then you said "On the other hand, it does seem to be possible through powerful intent, strong concentration ability, appreciation of interdependence and careful experimentation to manipulate what we might call “this world”, as well as those in it, in very unusual and profound ways. Yes, I am referring to such things as telekinesis, mind-control, reading other people’s thoughts, pyromancy, and all of that. The more you get your concentration and insight trips together and the more you look into the magical aspect of things, the more you will learn about what I will call the magical laws of the universe and how to use “your will” to manipulate it."

If it really is possible to manipulate the world in very unusual and profound ways, like TK and mind reading, then YES, the psychic powers are real.

You can't both avoid the question and say that it is possible to manipulate the world through psychic powers.

I agree that people have these experiences, that they are caused by something and lead to other effects, that they are extremely compelling, that they are healing, that they can be totally awesome and really fascinating, that they can cause people to pursue deep concentration, and that they can cause people to cross into pathological territory.

None of that means they're "real." We'd need scientific evidence for the measurable effects of the powers.


Is there scientific evidence for the measurable effects of the powers? Yes.


Here's where I think you're just flat out incorrect. There just isn't any evidence. I'd believe in them if there was. I'll look at "The End of Materialism," though that review seems to suggest that that book doesn't actually offer any evidence.


Does that mean they are "real"? That totally depends on how you define "real", and I will claim that defining "real" is not easy and that you have to be extremely careful with your philosophy and conceptual frameworks when you do that, particularly if you are coming up with a definition of "real" that includes calling plenty of things that occur and have consequences, however interpreted, as "not real".

I don't find the question of real as helpful as the questions of practicality, utility, and exploring what is possible all without screwing up your life. I don't find the rigid scientific materialist frameworks as useful as I find plenty of others for those goals. Do you?


I don't think that the question of reality is a separate question from practicality and utility. When I ask about the question of reality, all I'm asking is what they're actually useful for. As far as I can tell, they're very useful psychologically, but not at all useful for actually making physical changes in the real world directly (like capping markers).


There is the caveat to this that simply labeling them all "hallucinations", as is common, can be paradoxically comforting for some people. I think that is what people are generally trying to get to with terms like "unreal". In that framework, they are merely psychotic.


I'd prefer "dream" or "vision." There's nothing psychotic about them; the point is that they actually don't correspond to the real world.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/12/13 3:20 AM as a reply to J C.
There's nothing psychotic about them


This is clearly not true. Daniel specifically writes in mctb that playing around with the powers can lead to auditory voices which are described as spirits or low-level gods. He points out one case where a friend wasn't going on a retreat he had signed up for because he was being tricked by some voices that were telling him he was doing a great job with his insight practice. The only difference here being that people without mental illness experience this only transiently in addition to no other symptoms such as
"negative" ones (as in catatonia or flat affect) or "mood changes."

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/12/13 3:37 AM as a reply to Tom Tom.
From MCTB:

As one Burmese man once said to a friend of mine, “My brother does concentration practice. You know, sometimes they go a little mad!” He was talking about what can sometimes happen when people get into “psychic powers.” Remember, most of these experiences are sufficient grounds for a diagnosis of mental illness in the conventional medical world, particularly if they begin to interfere with love and work, so seek the guidance of those who simultaneously appear to be quite sane and functional and who also know how to navigate skillfully in this territory. Finding these sorts of people is difficult but well worth the effort.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/13/13 7:35 AM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
I stayed away from this thread for a while as it was obviously winding me up (and where does everyone find the time?!) and I am writing this (long post) now mainly in response to Bruno (but also Daniel). My emotiveness damaged my message and partly as a result he didn’t seem to find value in it, so I am going to try again as he urged.

There is the question of whether believing in the paranormal is useful, which Bruno and Daniel have been making a case for. I think we are all in agreement that there is benefit to be had here (regarding especially Magick). Just yesterday, I did what I think is considered “Magick”, in that I strongly willed myself to get to 1st Jhana, and I immediately did. That was useful.

There is the question of whether believing in the paranormal and certain associated practices may have some dangers, which TomTom is partly addressing. I think this is discussion worth having and exploring.

Then there is the question of whether the powers are “real”. We can try bypassing this question, ignoring it, or going down the avenue of saying what is real, anyway, and in this case, I think there are some interesting spaces to explore. But addressing the common sense question of whether the paranormal is real is not, I have to admit is not personally of great interest to me. In a similar way that I find having debates with Christians about the existence of God isn’t that interesting, though a little different as the existence of God is less amenable to rational or empirical investigation. And no-one is ever going to be convinced or change their mind in a discussion like this, either way.

To be upfront, I am working from the assumption that on the scientific evidence we have currently available a belief in the paranormal (as commonly conceived) is weak enough to be untenable. To be a good and proper rationalist I admit the possibility that this could change in the future, though if this were the chance the supernatural would likely cease being the supernatural and become the natural.

Yes, in response to Daniel’s point, there is scientific evidence for the paranormal. But I would claim there is no strong or even good scientific evidence. As I pointed out earlier, if you look at the history of parapsychology in the last hundred or so years, then the balance of evidence is firmly in the negative. It just hasn’t worked out, but this is not to say that might change in the future. And what seems to me instructive, is that where we do find evidence is that it tells us something about what science is, what pseudoscience is, and where scientific methods can go wrong. For example, see the furore around the Bem psi study.

We can sit and talk about our personal experiences and share anecdotes but this has limited value to me in evaluating the claim of the scientific reality of the paranormal. I can try it out this for myself (as Bruno has been suggesting), and maybe strange things might happen that I find hard to explain, but given my current perspective it seems unlikely that I would much faith in this. So when my experience and the scientific picture are in conflict, I would take it that the scientific picture is correct and I am the one in error. To do otherwise seems to me arrogant, especially when working from the assumption that my relatively rare skills and training in concentration make me specially equipped to engage with the paranormal. Of course, I can say this now but I can’t predict what will happen to me in the future.

However, in response to Bruno’s criticism about my argument and that discussions of intellectual honesty and critical thinking are off topic, I didn’t create a thread called are the “are the powers real?”. I do appreciate some people are interested in this question, and thread will have a life of its own. I think there was such a thread a while back (which asked the question to people like Daniel if the powers are real, why don’t you prove them?). If you really care, then there is a huge volume of literature on this, and I suggest to have a look at both sides of the debate.

For me the psychological question is far more interesting (and on topic!), and how this relates to our spiritual practice. Why do we come to believe some things and not others? We can address this at least partly orthogonally as to questions of what is real, and what is and what is not delusional. Why do I not believe in the paranormal (and take science as my lord and saviour), why does Daniel believe in the paranormal? What seems to me is that by investigating these beliefs we can come to know ourselves and our motivations. Now I should not take it on myself to couch psychoanalyse Daniel, especially when bearing a grudge(s), but as a case study it was striking to my mind at least, how beliefs in such matters seem intrinsic to the workings of the ego. And this is what I find when I look at myself. And then, we can extend the analysis to beyond the paranormal to our ideas about enlightenment. What do we hope to gain? What problems do we need to fix? What is wrong with us that we need to fix them? Addressing these difficult questions seems so important to me, as they can greatly illuminate our and my own capacity for self-deception. In this case, the “anything is possible, even fairies?” point was aimed to be an illustration of our capacity to employ rationalisations to protect a belief system (which may, or may not be “real”). Not everyone wants to focus on psychological questions, so, for example, the experience of our sensate world which finds a focus in MCTB is privileged, but we all have different perspectives on what is important. This comes from a perspective of someone pre-stream entry, so take that as it stands right now, though this is a life-long thread of mine.

It seems like I am being accused of having a rigid scientific perspective which creates a taboo around free, honest, frank and open expression and discussion. I don’t see that happening myself, rather that the discussions we want to have are just different, and I think that stems from us having very different views on what practice and enlightenment is.

In regard to being an arse, I am loathe to say “the dark night made me do” and avoid responsibility, but…seems like classic dark night (specifically now I am realising recently how much of reobservation fits) – being crabby, and in my case, projecting ideals of solutions to problems onto individuals, and taking it out on them as part of the emotional fall out when I come to think those solutions aren’t real. Or as Daniel puts it "It can also make them have strong reactions to their meditation teachers and dharma friends, either being very dissatisfied with them or being very demanding that they somehow save them or more likely both. Until they are willing to work on a more direct, sensate level, there is no limit to the amount of angst and negativity they can project onto their world. I have seen this play out again and again in myself and in the lives of my dharma companions. It can be a very ugly business". Anyhow, sorry Daniel, I disagree with you in many fundamental ways, but do appreciate what we have here and the information you have made open and available, and describe so well. And there seem to be some signs I might be peeking into equanimity , which is why I am trying to be nicer (the meditation made me do it).

And yet (back to the dark night hat), I think we have to give some responsibility to Daniel also. Like it or not, Daniel is put on a pedestal time and time again on these forums. Pointing out how and when this can happen I think is helpful, and should be acknowledged and guarded against. Even a thoughtful person like JC, who in one sentence says that we shouldn’t put him on a pedestal in the very next sentence compares him to having the same realisation as the Buddha. And we can see in this thread alone ways in which Daniel perpetuates that image. For example, effectively saying he had achieved "saint-hood" in Wilber’s model - (and Daniel, I suggest not getting hung up on this one example). And I believe this again is instructive in revealing our capacity for self-deception, and the dangers inherent in that which get magnified surrounding the big “E”. People want to believe in this a lot more than they want to believe in the powers. Here it may be useful to draw out comparisons to the similar draw of “Ultimate Freedom”. I suspect when Daniel sees me using the word “danger”, he will interpret this back to problems with the mushroom culture. I don’t want to stifle discussion. I am here to have this discussion (be it from my current lens). What I have been pointing to is a tendency for just one perspective to be focused on, and for arguments to be presented in a one-sided way, in which the range of options are not fully explored, and their inherent strengths and weaknesses not fully addressed. I am not saying this is always the case, but I do see it happen.

But then, if I listen to Daniel's advice, I might be better off taking a softer route by spending more of this energy being intimate with my sensate reality.

I can’t respond to every point on the thread, but just one about “comforting” – personally I am more interested in explanation than usefulness, so if calling us something psychotic helps us to understand it better at a cost for usefulness, that is a price I (personally) am willing to pay. And eventually, where the interplay between science and meditation will lead to?

Also, I just love it how now when anyone plays the James Yen card (as was done in the T DC “the Done One” thread, where I pointed out T DC obviously wasn’t James Yen!), James pops up his head. It makes me feel warm inside knowing he is watching over us, always. Hi James, dharma-forum-brother!

One more thing: whenever Daniel brings up the Charles Tart book (which I admit I haven’t read), I point to a nice sceptical review, which I can see has been posted above, and it makes some telling points of relevance to this thread about the nature of belief. I did try reading parts of the Alan Wallace book but I had to stop myself as my Kindle was in danger of being smashed to pieces, as when it comes to intellectual dishonesty I find it hard to imagine anyone worse. For an interesting discussion of another of his books, see here:
http://speculativenonbuddhism.com/2011/12/27/feast-interrupted/#more-618

edit: a few edits within hour of posting

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/13/13 12:35 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
This is going to be way off topic, but here goes. I'll get back to the fairies at a later time.

sawfoot _:
I stayed away from this thread for a while as it was obviously winding me up (and where does everyone find the time?!) and I am writing this (long post) now mainly in response to Bruno (but also Daniel). My emotiveness damaged my message and partly as a result he didn’t seem to find value in it, so I am going to try again as he urged.


Sorry if I contributed to your negativity. Dark night sucks, and it can really get wrapped up in online discussions about nothing emoticon

I personally am fond of conversations where people disagree with me. So usually, and particularly so in the written medium, I focus on the points of discord rather than on the stuff we agree with. I don't do it as much in the spoken medium because I do not have the same ability to reflect and review, and people getting annoyed is a much more inhibiting behavior in person than it is through writing. This is probably because someone can simply smash your face in person, but it's harder to do some really irreversible damage through writing.

But sometimes I do force the bar, and might focus on a small detail I dislike, on something with which I mostly agree wholeheartedly (here's an example).

Sometimes people really dislike this discordant/conflictual approach, and they think that because I take this approach, that I'm not willing to be convinced (link). But actually I do it for entirely different reasons. (If anything has stood out in my life over the last couple of years, is that I am willing to admit to being wrong when presented with enough evidence, even when this required me to swallow gallons of pride and has permanently damaged several aspects of my own self image. I actually used to think I was a good person emoticon )

One reason why I like disagreement is because I have always learned more from disagreement than I have from agreement. To put it another way, if I wanted to focus on the perspective we do share, I would say something really white middle-class male intellectual Buddhist, which probably fits more than half of the people who post here... unfortunately I'm not straight emoticon

I really dislike the whole we're all like-minded individuals so let's just agree a lot and congratulate ourselves for what we're doing and pat each other on the back attitude, which I have seen on other online web boards, but which the DhO fortunately lacks. That attitude is horribly dull, as I'm sure you'll agree... emoticon

Joke aside, I think it is much more beneficial to me if we focus on the points where we disagree, if we each try to present our own perspective, while making an honest effort at understanding the other person's perspective.

And that reminds me of an observation of yours with which I disagree (*wink* *wink*). I think our job in an exchange such as this is to present our own perspective, and try to understand the other person's perspective. It is not trying to present a balanced perspective:

sawfoot_:
What I have been pointing to is a tendency for just one perspective to be focused on, and for arguments to be presented in a one-sided way, in which the range of options are not fully explored, and their inherent strengths and weaknesses not fully addressed. I am not saying this is always the case, but I do see it happen.


My disagreement here is not whether there is a tendency for people to expose their views from a one-sided perspective --- indeed there is. My contention is that this is natural, and in fact healthy. I think it isn't possible to do it in a different way and obtain the same rich outcome. In order to really see from someone else's perspective, you need to interact (agree and disagree) with this person at length, it isn't sufficient to try and think in a balanced way.

To put it nicely: I don't presume to be able to do justice to your own views (to put it less nicely: I never presume to know how your particular brand of self-delusion conflicts with my own). So it is much better for me, and much more educational, to just present my own view, without pretending that I could possibly be unbiased, and focusing on the points where we disagree. Then I can hear you talk about your own views on these points, and learn better what goes on inside your mind.

This is much more valuable and much more informative, in my opinion. Of course, it is emotionally more demanding. Because we do share a lot in common, I'm sure, and we could be bonding by saying "war is so cruel and can really devastate children's lives" or whatever. But, instead, here we are ferociously arguing about the finer points of relativism vs realism, all the way up from the philosophical self-consistency of each, all the way down to how that plays out phenomenologically in perception.

To put it memorably: Agreement gives a warm and fuzzy feeling, but only disagreement can lead to finesse.

Another point I wish to make: People whom I don't respect, I will not bother disagreeing with.

I usually have an initial quota of respect for someone I don't know --- called benefit of the doubt. That quota will dictate how much will I bother to disagree with this person. So if I am still disagreeing with you after such a long thread, you should take it as a sign of respect, for indeed that's what it is.

Know that I don't take your time for granted, and that I really appreciate you coming back to continue the exchange. When I reflect on the value of you bothering to do so, I feel happy and even honored (as old-fashioned as that sounds).

This took me about one hour to write (Yes, I'm single! how did you guess? emoticon ). I'll leave the fairies for another day.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/13/13 2:11 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
:-) Hi Sawfoot

You might be interested in this: http://www.snopes.com/photos/supernatural/deadfairy.asp

Hope it's not a big bring-down. Take care (-:

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/14/13 8:33 AM as a reply to Anne Cripps.
Anne Cripps:
:-) Hi Sawfoot

You might be interested in this: http://www.snopes.com/photos/supernatural/deadfairy.asp

Hope it's not a big bring-down. Take care (-:


Oh no! Falsification?

Never fear, I still have the picture of my girlfriend with the fairy (see my avatar). I know that one is real.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/14/13 8:54 AM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
bruno:
This is going to be way off topic, but here goes. I'll get back to the fairies at a later time.


I don't think it is off topic (mostly!)

So we obviously can agree to agree that we like disagreeing, and there is much to be gained from disagreeing. Even if don't change our views or that of others, we can learn something, as obviously we want to gain some value in costly exchanges such as these!

And I agree with everything you say.

bruno:

sawfoot_:

What I have been pointing to is a tendency for just one perspective to be focused on, and for arguments to be presented in a one-sided way, in which the range of options are not fully explored, and their inherent strengths and weaknesses not fully addressed. I am not saying this is always the case, but I do see it happen.


My disagreement here is not whether there is a tendency for people to expose their views from a one-sided perspective --- indeed there is. My contention is that this is natural, and in fact healthy. I think it isn't possible to do it in a different way and obtain the same rich outcome. In order to really see from someone else's perspective, you need to interact (agree and disagree) with this person at length, it isn't sufficient to try and think in a balanced way.

To put it nicely: I don't presume to be able to do justice to your own views (to put it less nicely: I never presume to know how your particular brand of self-delusion conflicts with my own). So it is much better for me, and much more educational, to just present my own view, without pretending that I could possibly be unbiased, and focusing on the points where we disagree. Then I can hear you talk about your own views on these points, and learn better what goes on inside your mind.


But I think you are mainly reacting to something that I didn't express clearly. In hindsight, I think I was just trying to find a polite way of raising again the spectre of intellectual dishonesty.

Of course, we can never be unbiased, and our views will inevitability enviably be one sided, but from the perspective I am coming from that goal is to strive for objectivity. We care about getting closer to truth, to how things are, and we should try to avoid letting our ego get in the way of seeing that. And to do that we have to think critically. We have the ability to engage in rhetorical strategies to push a point or agenda, but we should strive to recognize when we do that ourselves and develop the ability to see it in others, if we care about getting to the bottom of things. And just as we can apply that to our understanding of the world, we can use those same skills for understanding of ourselves. And so this is the agenda I am pushing - the power of a scientific and rational framework to help us on a spiritual path.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/15/13 4:35 PM as a reply to Bruno Loff.
Dear Sawfoot,

Yeah, the Dark Night does suck: no worries.

I was also comforted in some weird way that James Yen showed up.

Bringing this down to Earth: today I got my TB skin test, one of my least favorite parts of my job, though this time I merely cringed and sweated, but thankfully didn't pass out: it has been a few years since I last did that.

I sit in slightly wet pants due to the rain in the waiting area of a Toyota service area waiting for my tires to be rotated, then will buy some groceries and take-out burritos and go home. Will probably play my guitar a bit, maybe watch a Once Upon a Time with my wife, which does have fairies, and go to bed. Tomorrow a week of night shifts begins. The pain in my back that I woke up with this morning for no good reason is finally gone. I will probably be sniffly and tired for the next two days due to the live attenuated FluMist vaccine I just got.

I am thrilled that Manish Yadav cut the price of the DhO upgrade to $1500 from $2000 due to his realizing what the DhO is, and it couldn't have happened at a better time, as I am nearly broke after getting my house ready to sell, and I just got my book money, which will almost cover it.

@TomTom: clearly there can be a lot of overlap in this business, and when insight and less helpful psychological stuff happens simultaneously, sorting out which is which is not easy, and there is simply not enough info on best options: more science might help, ironically. ;) Insight and illness definitely don't temporally exclude each other.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
9/2/14 3:35 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Night shifts, at least on the experience of doctors, suck balls.

So just for the record, and I know Daniel is a physics geek, I just wanted to add something about quantum physics. Now I don't know much about quantum physics, and I realised how little I knew when I said earlier on this thread that nobody understands quantum physics. I happened to be doing a bit of reading recently, and it is shocking to me how much we do know, and that we have a very good idea of what we know and what we don't know. And so it seems looking back at comments by Daniel who brings it up a lot that many things about quantum physics are totally unknown (therefore, fairies), it seems many of those claims now seem just wrong to me. Quantum physics may be massively counter-intuitive, but it doesn't make it weird. There are various versions of quantum physics we hear about, for example, what you read in books like the Dancing Wu Li Masters or by Alan Wallace, about observers collapsing wave functions, and the mysteries of wave-particle duality, but these kinds of books are written by religious/spiritual people, who aren't physicists, and are often about out-dated ideas where the field has moved on. And then we have the accounts of cutting edge physics by actual physicists, and the story is very different. I am going by the version of Sean Carroll mainly, who has an awesome blog and is a great public speaker. And since I am not a physicist, I can't really defend these claims very well. I am just putting them out there.

So for a nice explanation of why (by the laws of physics) we can't have magic (in the sense that Daniel made the man put the cap on), or immortal souls:

http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2011/05/23/physics-and-the-immortality-of-the-soul/

For a talk which includes this argument (as a defence of naturalism) see:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xv0mKsO2goA

Based on his claim that the laws underlying the physics of everyday life are completely understood

Oh, if you wanted to know what all the fuss was about on the discovery of the higgs boson, but were afraid to ask:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gEKSpZPByD0

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/22/13 8:17 AM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel M. Ingram:

I continue to promote two books of relevance:

The End of Materialism, by Charles Tart, and Hidden Dimensions, The Unification of Physics and Consciousness, by B Allan Wallace, not that I agree totally with everything in those books, but plenty of good points are made therein.


9,95$ kindle edition for Charles Tart book where he states he has evidence of paranormal.

Can someone who read the book point me to a couple of evidence before I spend 10$ ?

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/22/13 8:43 AM as a reply to Ivo B.
Ivo B:
Daniel M. Ingram:

I continue to promote two books of relevance:

The End of Materialism, by Charles Tart, and Hidden Dimensions, The Unification of Physics and Consciousness, by B Allan Wallace, not that I agree totally with everything in those books, but plenty of good points are made therein.


9,95$ kindle edition for Charles Tart book where he states he has evidence of paranormal.

Can someone who read the book point me to a couple of evidence before I spend 10$ ?


Did you read through this?

http://www.skepdic.com/refuge/tart.html

Admittedly it is biased, but it does go through a lot of the evidence that Tart cites and has links to further information about these sources of evidence.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/25/13 2:59 AM as a reply to sawfoot _.
sawfoot _:

http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2011/05/23/physics-and-the-immortality-of-the-soul/


Scientism in its purest ... yuck

Explain delayed choice quantum eraser experiment if you can emoticon

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
11/26/13 5:57 AM as a reply to Ivo B.
Ivo B:
sawfoot _:

http://www.preposterousuniverse.com/blog/2011/05/23/physics-and-the-immortality-of-the-soul/


Scientism in its purest ... yuck

Explain delayed choice quantum eraser experiment if you can emoticon


Scientism at its best ...yum!

Hmm, like I said, I am not expert on quantum physics, and the eraser experiment is fiendishly complicated, but as far as I can tell, people get hung up on things like the eraser experiment due to misconceptions, which can even worm their way into physics textbooks and hence its no wonder why people start to get confused.

A Common Fallacy in Quantum Mechanics: Why Delayed Choice Experiments do NOT imply Retrocausality

http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=6&cad=rja&ved=0CFwQFjAF&url=http%3A%2F%2Fjamesowenweatherall.com%2FSCPPRG%2FEllermanDavid2012Man_QuantumEraser2.pdf&ei=8YmUUpP5Cszd7QbIyoG4Dw&usg=AFQjCNF2xnJ9SAe0xMUYZFYCro1YCG0yaw&sig2=RjEx1d2ahA38Gk4lMPJGtA

I also found this which was helpful to explain it going via the double slit and EPR experiments first:

http://motls.blogspot.co.uk/2010/11/delayed-choice-quantum-eraser.html

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
1/21/14 10:53 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
sawfoot _:


And yet (back to the dark night hat), I think we have to give some responsibility to Daniel also. Like it or not, Daniel is put on a pedestal time and time again on these forums. Pointing out how and when this can happen I think is helpful, and should be acknowledged and guarded against. Even a thoughtful person like JC, who in one sentence says that we shouldn’t put him on a pedestal in the very next sentence compares him to having the same realisation as the Buddha. And we can see in this thread alone ways in which Daniel perpetuates that image. For example, effectively saying he had achieved "saint-hood" in Wilber’s model - (and Daniel, I suggest not getting hung up on this one example). And I believe this again is instructive in revealing our capacity for self-deception, and the dangers inherent in that which get magnified surrounding the big “E”. People want to believe in this a lot more than they want to believe in the powers. Here it may be useful to draw out comparisons to the similar draw of “Ultimate Freedom”. I suspect when Daniel sees me using the word “danger”, he will interpret this back to problems with the mushroom culture. I don’t want to stifle discussion. I am here to have this discussion (be it from my current lens). What I have been pointing to is a tendency for just one perspective to be focused on, and for arguments to be presented in a one-sided way, in which the range of options are not fully explored, and their inherent strengths and weaknesses not fully addressed. I am not saying this is always the case, but I do see it happen.



I know this is an old thread, but I'd been wanting to elaborate for a while... when I said Daniel had the same realization as the Buddha, I wasn't trying to put Daniel on a pedestal; I was trying to take the Buddha off of one. I think Daniel is enlightened, just as the Buddha (if he existed) probably was -- but that's not a huge deal. There are a lot of enlightened people here. Some of them can be huge assholes. Many of them are deluded or wrong about a lot of things, such as the existence of psychic powers.

I actually find it helpful that many enlightened people misinterpret their experiences as having psychic powers. It's a good reminder that enlightened people can say and think really dumb things. Also see this thread.

One thing I really appreciate about Daniel is how he actively discourages being put on a pedestal... over and over again, throughout MCTB and on the forums, he makes it clear that he's just a guy who followed well-established paths to reach the goal of being enlightened, and anyone else can too.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
8/26/14 1:31 AM as a reply to Tom Tom.
Oh, goody. I finally found the infamous "fairies" thread!

Tom, Tom, for whatever it is worth, I followed what you were saying. "Psychosis" isn't a measurable state, but a social construct. That is, or should be, understood. So it is really beside the point for anyone to read into the label reactions such as pejoritive, neutral, or whatever value-judgment. The social constructs known as mental illness and codified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, are, moreover, always being revised. Currently, for example, the DSM is revising depression to include what used to be normalized as human "grief." Apparently, grieving for more that 2 weeks is no longer "functional" or "normal." Grief is now a disease, not a normal practice, if it lasts more than 14 days. Pretty arbitrary as far as categorical lines go, if you ask me.

I have a history of agitated depressive episodes--what they used to call nervous breakdowns--and sometimes doctors have thought I was "bordering" on having psychotic features, though that diagnosis never was made "official." In hindsight, I think many of these episodes were dark night cycles, and, interestingly, at least one, back in the 1990s, was preceded by a sudden intense interest in casting spells. I was a skeptical existentialist humanist at the time, so my husband watched this change in me with, um, interest. I started putting salt along all the thresholds to "protect" the household--that kind of thing. I read how to cast spells. I felt like what I was doing was reasonable, explorative, and creative. I felt rational and functional, and I went to work every day. But shortly afterward, I was concerned that the telephone wires downtown seemed omninous, encroaching . . . and severe depression ate me alive. . . . 

I also have a close friend with bipolar 1. He has magical, rapturous highs while delusional and hallucinating, and would argue that those states are way more empowering, at least in terms of unmediated perception and feeling, than his medicated state, which is cognitively blunting, a real drag. Even when he is heavily medicated and functional societally, he says things all the time that denote a kind of magickal perspective. So the "lines" between psychosis and nonpsychosis, functional and nonfuctional, good and bad--all are fluid and inscribed in a specific cultural moment subject, like everything, to change. I believe that I have a high level of suggestibility, because practices such as self-hypnosis, taking medications/drugs, engaging in ritual, and engaging in mediation have very fast and dramatic results for me. I'm always mindful that this "ability" to slip over into alternative paradigms is precisely what makes me vulnerable to mental illness, as well.

Some people have leakier boundaries than others. For them, the line between powers and psychosis is likely to be thin, the causes for each being inseparable. That even practitioners who are highly functional keep these practices hush-hush at work and elsewhere, and are cautious about speaking freely even on this forum, speaks to how closely associated psychosis and magick practice are in the realm of social constructions. So know thyself, know thy vulnerabilites.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
9/1/14 3:06 PM as a reply to J C.
I'm talking about what's actually there.
Why is reality what shows up on the instruments?

Reality, does not "show up on instruments." What does that even mean? So-called facts do not speak for themselves--not ever. Which is to say, there is no such "real" thing as a fact. Human beings design models, design tests, gather data, clean the data, analyze the data, and use language to interpret the data. Human beings came up with the scientific method, which is based on axioms! Beliefs! Science is an act of interpretation. Mathematics is a human creation that is remarkable at predicting sense data, but Daniel is absolutely correct that the vast majority of peer-reviewed journal articles are based on bad math--flawed statistical analysis and flawed reporting. This precisely why so many people have been put on statin drugs for a serum cholestoral level above 200--needlessly, harmfully. 

Quantum physics has made a convincing case that the human observer changes the result. See the double-slit experiment.

Science is a narrow field based on one method. As a closed axiomatically based system, it operates well for talking about certain questions. But "reality"? Are you really prepared to say that anything that the scientific community hasn't reached interpretative consensus on isn't part of "reality"? Everything outside the narrow and continually changing scope of scientific community consensus (ie, peer-reviewed journals) is bunk?

Science is one discipline based on one method, the scientific method. The scientific method is inscribed in a larger circle, known as philosophy, which treats a much broader circle of questions in a rational manner, with any of a number of methods. And philosophy is incribed inside linguistics. Did you know that leaders in the New Physics are studying linguistics and sign systems because of the limits they are up against in relying on the scientic method to describe the universe of phenomena?

Science is a beautiful thing. But the degree to which people in our society tend repress from mind its limitations and axiomatic origins is astonishing and a little, um, psychotic.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
9/1/14 7:29 AM as a reply to Jenny.
Nearly everyone on this forum agrees that humans are capable of controlling their subjective experience to an incredible and perhaps limitless degree. When we discuss magick, we shouldn't argue over this point that we all agree on. So I have no problem believing in the effectiveness of using energy channels to eliminate back pain, or seeing golden light emitted from your body while doing so. All of this is in the realm of subjective experience.

However, I, and some of the other people arguing here, have a big problem with mystical claims about abilities to control others, read the minds of others, etc. That is because these claims are in a different category, outside the realm of subjective experience. I don't understand why it is that so many arhats believe in these sorts of claims, and readily fool themselves into believing in these mystical ideas with such a low level of evidence. Let's take the example with the marker: it seems to me not the slighest bit unlikely that the guy with the marker also noticed the smell, and decided to do something about it shortly after Daniel decided to do something about it. This story doesn't strike me as even slightly unusual. However, I'm sure if people who buy into this magickal paradigm dig, they can come up with more unusual stories. Considering there are more than 10000 days in 30 years, it's not at all unlikely that someone will experience a highly unusual coincidence over such a long period of time. We have science because anecdotal evidence isn't valid, because bizarre coincidences are practically guaranteed to occur over a long span of time, not to mention faulty observations of the observer. This is why we need science to test these sorts of claims. There are some fluke studies that could be used as evidence but the bulk of scientific evidence is against these sorts of powers. I will certainly need more evidence than "this one time someone closed a marker in a smelly room shortly after I willed him too, also people I know who buy into this magical paradigm have similar stories."

I find it strange that so many arhats seem to overestimate the probabilistic value of anecdotal evidence. It's a bit disturbing to me and I hope if I become an arhat I won't have the same problem.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
9/1/14 10:00 AM as a reply to Jenny.
First of all this is a weird fucking thread.

Second of all, anyone here who doubts the existence of "powers" is invited to experiment for themselves. If you can attain hard jhanas, particularly formless realms, you will have absolutely no problems.

You Are Psychic: The Art of Clairvoyant Reading and Healing

The Way of the Shaman

Cave and Cosmos

The End of Materialism: How Evidence of the Paranormal is Bringing Science and Spirit Together

Life After Life

If you should decline this experiment, please keep your views to yourself. There is no sense in muddying up a reasonable discussion regarding this topic if you are too afraid to see for yourself due to your personal psych issues surrounding western materialist bullshit.

One further comment: The theory that consciousness is generated by the brain is debunked by the first nana, Mind and Body. 

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
9/1/14 8:15 PM as a reply to Eric M W.
Jen Pearly:


Hmm, I'm not sure what you mean by this, Eric. I'm not sure that I drew that conclusion from my experiences of Mind & Body. In MCTB2, in the front matter, Daniel talks about meditation as "rewiring" the "brain." I've pointed out there in marginalia that in MCTB1 he later says that we never experience as sense data any "brain." Elsewhere, Daniel has written that "mind" and "consciousness" don't really exist as entities, either: all that exists is "sensations" manifesting "awareness," where "awareness" is also a problematic reification. Trying to use a representational system to parse representational distinctions is dicey at best.

When I attended a Tibetan center, students there were taught about multiple "levels" of consciousness, the most subtle one having really no attributes, being only a kind of energetics that survives biological death, whereas all the other levels die with the physical brain's death. Their explanation was that the brain is a "support" for consciousness, though not the same as that subtle consciousness.

Much is written these days about the hypothesis that what we Westerners call "consciousness" is an epi-phenomenon of a complex brain, an "emergent" meta-behavior, such that the result is greater than the sum of its parts, though still reliant on them as a substratum. 

Right, let me clarify.

The brain obviously plays a huge part in consciousness. Consciousness can be dramatically affected by brain trauma, psychoactive chemicals, medical conditions such as dementia, and so on. This is basically indisputable, and it would seem perfectly reasonable to say that the brain generates consciousness based on these cases as evidence.

But, there is some trouble with this approach. First of all, dreams. Why do we dream? There doesn't seem to be an answer in the scientific community, at least not yet. This is one example of a normal but very altered state of consciousness that doesn't seem to fit into the materialist framework. But it's not a huge problem, it's merely an oddity. 

But there are some more data points that conflict with the materialist viewpoint. Near-death experiences, for example. There are cases when a patient reports floating above the room while being revived, and accurately reporting details such as the words of the medical staff. What do we do with this? Even the DMT-dump hypothesis (debunked in this book, btw) can't explain things like this. Consciousness would have to exist independent of the brain for this to happen, which doesn't fly if we are adopting the materialist viewpoint.

And of course, the powers and the paranormal in general really fly in the face of the materialist view. If one masters concentration practice and hits really hard formless realms, or meditates with certain kasinas or mantras, this stuff is bound to pop up. Seeing visions, communicating with beings, and that sort of thing-- what is going on? Especially in situations where we can travel out of body and see what is going on in a certain location, and finding out later that we were perceiving accurately.

So we're at an impasse. On one hand, the brain is obviously very important in how consciousness manifests and operates. On the other hand, siddhis. What to make of all this?

Here's the theory I learned when I was first getting interested in this sort of thing, and I think I've seen it reiterated in a few other places. The brain and consciousness are like a television and a signal, respectively. The television does not generate the signal, but it interprets and "manifests" it. The signal is still quite independent of the television. If the television is damaged in any way, it does not mean that the signal is altered or destroyed. It simply means that the apparatus is not functioning properly.

As for Daniel talking about rewiring the brain, I can't speak for the man himself, but I think he's more or less using conventional language to communicate with a Western audience. Daniel also talks about powers, for example.

My personal pet theory, be it right or wrong, is that enlightenment is more fundamental than the brain. The brain is impermanent and not a self, part of the conditioned field of sensations that we call "reality." The fundamental shifts in perspective that are called Paths are not conditioned. Now, I'm certain that the brain of an arahat is very different than your average joe. The big question is: do changes in the brain cause enlightenment, or does enlightenment cause changes in the brain? 

As for the first nana, it's another one of my pet theories, but notice: there are physical sensations, there are mental sensations, and there is also the primordial awareness that is watching both occur. Maybe I'm running into some kind of anagami-cage with this interpretation, but it seems that this awareness is separate from mental and physical sensations, and thus separate from the brain,

I hope all that makes sense.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
9/2/14 3:45 AM as a reply to Eric M W.
I just want to say a congratulations to Jen, Mark and Eric for getting through this thread - you all win a free hat. Sorry to say, I have no Arhats left in stock, just Sotāpanamas (though if I find out you have skimmed read posts I reserve the right to withdraw said gift).

Paul:


I find it strange that so many arhats seem to overestimate the probabilistic value of anecdotal evidence. It's a bit disturbing to me and I hope if I become an arhat I won't have the same problem.



I must say I am bit confused - you want to end the endless cycle of rebirths so you can reach ultimate peace by becoming annihilated and reaching nirvana? Really, life can't be that bad, can it!?

Eric M:

If you should decline this experiment, please keep your views to yourself. There is no sense in muddying up a reasonable discussion regarding this topic if you are too afraid to see for yourself due to your personal psych issues surrounding western materialist bullshit.


I can see why you might be grumpy Eric, having to use these inventions of Western materialist bullshit, such as "a computer" and "the internet". Perhaps we could continue this discussion off-forum by communicating with our psychic powers, or perhaps arrange a time to meet in an astral realm?

Jen Pearly:
Eric:
First of all this is a weird fucking thread.

This is a monumentally fantastic fucking thread! In fact, it is my favorite DhO thread of all time (so far)!

Also, I want to go ahead and say here what I have wanted to say for a good while: I appreciate Sawfoot's presence on this forum. And the minute we exclude these other perspectives is the minute discussions here become significantly less helpful to me, my practice, and my ability to think clearly and articulate counterperspectives. And I suggest that I'm not the only one to benefit. For example, his challenges provoke Daniel's most penetrating, inspiring, and subtle writing--this alone is reason to thank Sawfoot for continually challenging what may otherwise become a too settled and comfortable groupthink forum, which would be boring and much less helpful than it is. The Judas kiss makes both the case and conditions for liberation.

Also, Sawfoot is funny as hell. Even when people think he is being nasty, I'm over here laughing my ass off. 



I am not sure where all these people are that think I am being nasty. I admit I often give "Saint" Daniel a hard time, but then it is an utterly centreless, utterly agentless, truly remarkable field of being, which has massively reduced its level of suffering (orders of magnitude less than the past), and so being nasty to "Sage" Daniel is a bit like being nasty to small bookshelf, or a whicker chair.

If you want to see a nasty comment, check out the Sutta Arahat Chuck. Now that man is a serious bad-ass.

Speaking of kisses, and asses, "his challenges provoke Daniel's most penetrating, inspiring, and subtle writing" c'mon Jen, based on your three doors thread, I have tiny little sense you are starting to make some progress....

Jen:

Some people have leakier boundaries than others. For them, the line between powers and psychosis is likely to be thin, the causes for each being inseparable. That even practitioners who are highly functional keep these practices hush-hush at work and elsewhere, and are cautious about speaking freely even on this forum, speaks to how closely associated psychosis and magick practice are in the realm of social constructions. So know thyself, know thy vulnerabilities.

I mainly wanted to say thanks for your contribution above (part excerpted here) - people yourselves and Tom Tom provide an invaluable (and balanced) perspective on the powers, and I felt that we did find a rough consensus in this thread in seeing the powers as a form of "functional psychosis" (though some might be put off by that term or slant). 

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
9/2/14 2:01 PM as a reply to sawfoot _.
I can see why you might be grumpy Eric, having to use these inventions of Western materialist bullshit, such as "a computer" and "the internet". Perhaps we could continue this discussion off-forum by communicating with our psychic powers, or perhaps arrange a time to meet in an astral realm?

The funny thing is I've actually done this before. Unfortunately, the progress of insight has put a stop to such things for me, at least for now.

I don't have a problem with computers or the internet. Science and materialism aren't the same thing, as much as some people want them to be.

Where can I buy the hat in your user icon?

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
9/3/14 3:45 AM as a reply to sawfoot _.
Actually, there is now a chapter in MCTB2 called "Those Damn Fairies" inspired by this thread and the Powers section is significantly expanded in general, mostly because of this thread.

@Paul: not everyone here (or in general) agrees or understands that you can modify your experience in extreme ways and to suit your tastes and paradigms. A few do, and somewhat fewer can and have done it, but most people haven't ever seen that as part of the level of experience that would cause them to agree with you on that. Just so you understand that you are making assumptions about everyone here would agree on.

As to science and the influence of others and the interaction of various people's consciousness in ways that might not fit with a narrow scientific materialist framework, I suggest you read a very nice book that takes this on called The Sense of Being Stared At, by Rupert Sheldrake. Fascinating stuff, very down to earth, very scientific, very clean writing.

Actually, in the spirit of wanting to play more with these things, my next retreat (the first since 2003) will be my birthday present to myself, two weeks, and hopefully will be a small group retreat (if we do it here, I can't reasonably host more than about two other people, if we do it elsewhere then it gets easier but much more expensive, and larger groups make for more risk of unfortunate group dynamics, which an be a serious problem in this sort of work). If all goes well, it will take place next February around my 46th birthday. The theme of the retreat will be Group Powers. I hope to have a few dedicated, talented, mature practitioners who can get down to business and not mess around. The general plan will be to do candle-flame nearly all day long for about 10 days until concentration is extremely strong and then spend about 4 days or so playing with what a small group of people with really strong concentration can do with that in an interactive sense with a reasonable set of scientific methods in place. The real problem will be finding a few people who have the required skill-sets, those being a proven ability to get to the Malleable and Wieldly stage of concentration (where you can modify your reality in extreme ways just by inclining gently in that direction), who have a proven track record of being able to handle the very strange stuff that can happen when you get your concentration that strong and not freak out, who will be willing and able to follow some pretty strict ground-rules of conduct (both internal and external), and who can keep a handle on interpersonal issues and just stick to the task at hand, as well as who have the time and interest. That's unfortunately a pretty high bar. This is not an open invitation, BTW, just putting it out there to see what happens. Given that I have so little time for this sort of thing and that this will be such a rare opportunity for me, I am going to be really picky about who I share this experience with, as the potential for disaster is very real, and if the opportunity were wasted on interpersonal stuff getting out of hand or people not being able to stay on track, that would be a real loss. I have been thinking about asking Leigh Brasington if he would be interested, if that gives you a sense of who I think might fit the bill. That I wrote this in a dense block of text about 8 months after first thinking about it at the end of a very long thread shows you how much I am hesitant to put this out there.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
9/5/14 7:33 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Ive been reluctent to share these videos in the past but am putting a few of them out there. They were taken nearly 10 years ago when I was in China training and searching for answers. Please note that the ones with the cows they did suffer and die from having the life force sucked out of them. I dont want to get into the ethics of it. It ws required as part of the training. I can understand were stories of vampires come from as this was basically what it was. Is it scientific proof, no. I have a background in Physics and Applied Mathematics, as a scientists it did shake my world view.
The training is not very complex but requires dedication, it is for monastics and that is why we dont see much evidence around.

https://jeffstaoistpractice.shutterfly.com/pictures

oh and shapeshifters are real dont know about faeries

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
9/6/14 2:11 AM as a reply to Jeff Grove.
Jeff Grove:
Please note that the ones with the cows they did suffer and die from having the life force sucked out of them. I dont want to get into the ethics of it. 
https://jeffstaoistpractice.shutterfly.com/pictures

oh and shapeshifters are real dont know about faeries
Thanks Jeff.  

I'm not sure why everyone was laughing at whatever was going on with that cow.  It wasn't funny at all.  Also, a lot of magicians pull off stuff like this, but it isn't actually real.  Since these videos are from your personal experience I'm assuming it wasn't some type of illusion or trick and that you were able to do these things yourself.

When you say shapeshifters I'm assuming you're referring to people like "Odo" from Star Trek Deep Space Nine or "Mystique" from X-men?  I can accept the small amount of telekenises and pyromancy in the videos, but shapeshifters!? If that's real...Holy smokes, wow...

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
9/6/14 9:47 PM as a reply to Tom Tom.
I was wondering the same thing as Tom: Why was everyone laughing during all the feats if this was serious "spiritual" training? The atmosphere in each video seemed more like that of a parlor trick party buzz. Odd.

Every week when my husband flips the channel to one of those paranormal shows on A&E channel we hope to no avail for some proof of monsters or goblins this week. Every week we are disappointed that, yet again, not a single undoctored photo or recording emerges, not a single one.

Yesterday one of my local dharma friends told that the Rainbow Body is "real and has been documented." Really? Wouldn't such a thing make it onto the evening news, at the very least? Wouldn't everyone know about it if it had, even one time, been documented--such that I wouldn't have to hear about it at a private lunch with said dharma friend?

Can't we have some bona fide evidence of faeries and shapeshifters, for god's sake--some digital captures, something? A&E awaits rating boosts from Faeries and Shapeshifters: The Season. 

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
9/6/14 9:56 PM as a reply to Daniel M. Ingram.
Daniel,

How about an essay contest for the prize of admission to the Group Powers retreat. emoticon 

Why I Should Be Admitted to the Group Powers Retreat Even Though I'm Such a Hopeless Noob and Sycophant 

By The Sotāpanna Jen Pearly


RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
9/7/14 4:01 AM as a reply to Jenny.
Hi TT

Yes magicians pull stuff like that off but it takes alot to prepare  prior to the trick and this sort of stuff happened daily. I have only put a small proportion of the videos up there or spoken about the experiences. I think the laughter was more like a f@#k me he can do that, you know how people can laugh when they are nervous.I dont think anyone found it funny. As to the shapeshifters I was being a bit mischevous and throwing it out there. My teachers teacher told a story of some master he knew that could change into an animal form. From all that I have seen and experienced I have no reason to think he was lying.

Hi Jen

"Why was everyone laughing during all the feats if this was serious "spiritual" training?"

Who said this was serious spirtual training, or is there really a proper way we should have behaved during training, luckily we weren't made to stand in the corner.

These teachings have been perserved within Martial Arts and are used for healing


"Every week we are disappointed that, yet again, not a single undoctored photo or recording emerges, not a single one."


Here is another one of my teachers teacher. This was shot when filming a BBC Documentery called the Ring of Fire

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sqonp6VYuoE

Here is another teacher I trained under

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m-Ki2-VzUVs

Here is another master I trained with that could demostrate different abilities

http://www.tiandiqigong.com.au/id1.html

His gung fu brother is Robert Peng who can also demonstrate these abilities

Check out Wang Li Ping he is another high level master who can demstrate these abilities http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wang_Liping_%28Taoist%29


Jen two years ago would you have thought it was possible to be enlightened. Meditation has a strange side affect in that you become sensitive to change. You start to perceive things that you didnt notice before. Have you ever had acupuncture. How do you think they come up with the complex energetic mapping of the body, how they discovered all the points and how they worked. It wasnt by making some person a voodoo doll and sticking needles into them using trial and error. If you persist with meditation you will start to feel qi and its movement. The points will start to vibrate. You will start to see qi and the subtle body field. It is shame that this knowledge could be lost, there are only a few people around that pratice acupuncture with qi manipulation it feels like you are plugged into a power socket.


"Yesterday one of my local dharma friends told that the Rainbow Body is "real and has been documented." Really? Wouldn't such a thing make it onto the evening news, at the very least? Wouldn't everyone know about it if it had, even one time, been documented-"


Actually it has been well documented. The funny thing is that this is not unique to Tibetan Buddhism, you will find it in Taoism, western mystism pratcies, india. Probably the most well known case for westerners can be found in the bible. There is a strong tradition of this in Tibet of over 1000 years, what is wrong with the documented evidence that exists there.

Look up  Br. David Steindl-Rast and Rev. Francis V. Tiso they have been recently researching the rainbow body

You have been following a buddhist tradition and so far what you have learnt has become possible. What do you make of the other half of the teachings that cover the powers is it just cultural baggage


Believe nothing do the experiment yourself

appreciated
Jeff

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
9/7/14 4:50 AM as a reply to Jeff Grove.
Perhaps some day we can settle the debate once and for all on whether re-birth is true or not.  After all it was the Buddha's primary reason for doing these practices.  With the advent of actualism the forum started leaning toward re-birth not being true. Notable disbelievers in re-birth being Trent, Tarin and Emu Fire Golem.  Before meditating or learning of Buddhism I did not believe in re-birth, but then came to believe it with practice.  However, when the forum started leaning toward it not being true I began to have less conviction about it.

I consider re-birth a perfectly logical possibility, but I have not been able to determine 100% whether it is true or not.  This is despite many many visions and strange experiences.

Before enlightenment I was afraid of death and wanted re-birth to be true.  Now I find the notion of re-birth a disturbing possibility that I'm hoping isn't actually true. 

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
9/7/14 3:01 PM as a reply to Jeff Grove.
Jeff Grove:
Ive been reluctent to share these videos in the past but am putting a few of them out there. They were taken nearly 10 years ago when I was in China training and searching for answers. Please note that the ones with the cows they did suffer and die from having the life force sucked out of them. I dont want to get into the ethics of it. It ws required as part of the training. I can understand were stories of vampires come from as this was basically what it was. Is it scientific proof, no. I have a background in Physics and Applied Mathematics, as a scientists it did shake my world view.
The training is not very complex but requires dedication, it is for monastics and that is why we dont see much evidence around.

https://jeffstaoistpractice.shutterfly.com/pictures

oh and shapeshifters are real dont know about faeries

I feel like the "voice of reason" might be needed here, by a notable disbeliever in rebirth. 

TomTom"Also, a lot of magicians pull off stuff like this, but it isn't actually real.  Since these videos are from your personal experience I'm assuming it wasn't some type of illusion or trick and that you were able to do these things yourself."
Jen P "Why was everyone laughing during all the feats if this was serious "spiritual" training? The atmosphere in each video seemed more like that of a parlor trick party buzz. Odd."

Just because it from your personal experience is does not mean it isn't a trick or illusion. That is the whole point of a trick - a personal experience that isn't "real", but appears to be.

And yes, it does have the atmosphere of a parlour trick put on to impress people...The people witnessing these tricks appear to be western and asian tourists, and people like yourself - "seekers" who are pretty keen to have their faith in such things confirmed, and you have people in a poor country putting on these shows and training for which such things are a pretty good income stream - paying for interpreters, transport, accommodation, "donations" etc...The lighter trick I expect was "pulled" off with a magician's staple - "invisible" see through nylon thread. The burning hole - not quite sure, perhaps a lazer, or a chemical reaction. I feel sorry for cows though, who I assume had been drugged.

For an insight into the power of these illusions, check out this video by chi master demonstrating by his "powers" with his loyal students
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mdUxPLIJVgI&list=PLDtc_uppNe1puLrZj289siVmojKAy9moC&index=1
and then see what happens when he encounters somebody who isn't quite as believing in his powers
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7jf3Gc2a0_8

Jen, there is a bona-fide photographic evidence for the existence of fairies - see my first post. 
 
Daniel, Rupert Sheldrake is a bit of a interesting character, and evidence for the psychic staring stuff just seems like pseudoscience at work, however nicely he writes his books. 

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
9/7/14 5:08 PM as a reply to Tom Tom.
Another question to consider: If re-birth is not true, why is enlightenment real?  Why do the stages occur as they do?  

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
9/7/14 7:12 PM as a reply to Tom Tom.
Tom Tom,

For rebirth to be true, there must be a "self" to be born again. However, from a high vipassana point of view, there is no self, and never has been. Forgive me if I am incorrect, but if I recall one of your posts, you have attained 4th path, and no-self should theoretically be obvious at all times at the arahat level.

That being said, I have had plenty of what I would consider "past life" experiences, including a very specific military rank and rather unusual name that I was able to track down "in real life." Very interesting, and a little unnerving. There has been no shortage of more vague experiences-- standing in a field of some kind next to a large structure, a woman in Victorian dress. No hard clues to those, but always a feeling of familiarity, like I am recovering a long lost memory.

Interdependence is vast, and in theory, sensations ring on forever. So there is certainly merit to the idea of rebirth even if we set aside the notion of a separate self. It certainly has never stopped Buddhists (and Sikhs, Hindus, certain shamanic cultures, etc...) from believing.

As for AF, it's an axis of development related to emotions. What that has to do with rebirth, I have no idea. I'm not sure how folks make that connection, unless they are parroting Richard's "flesh and blood" rhetoric.

Speaking of AF, I am under the impression that they don't believe in any kind of afterlife at all. If I were a little more cynical, I would say this is wonderful news, because then (DISCLAIMER: DO NOT DO THIS) we could all just kill ourselves and have the Nirvana that those silly Theravadins spend so much hard cushion-time pursuing. If there is no memory after death, it doesn't matter who we hurt by doing this, so we may as well be done with it, right? (DISCLAIMER: REALLY DONT DO THIS)

Obviously the above view is severely flawed, as the powers show.

I used to be in the same boat as you. I once believed that beings reincarnated in various realities as a sort of "school" for spiritual development, with the end goal being some kind of union with the Absolute, or what have you. Now, after hitting the Dark Night a couple of times, rebirth sounds pretty shit. 

It's a complex topic, that's for sure.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
9/7/14 8:09 PM as a reply to Eric M W.
Eric M W:

Speaking of AF, I am under the impression that they don't believe in any kind of afterlife at all. If I were a little more cynical, I would say this is wonderful news, because then (DISCLAIMER: DO NOT DO THIS) we could all just kill ourselves and have the Nirvana that those silly Theravadins spend so much hard cushion-time pursuing. If there is no memory after death, it doesn't matter who we hurt by doing this, so we may as well be done with it, right? (DISCLAIMER: REALLY DONT DO THIS)

Who'd want to?
Why is not existing at all preferable to living just this once?
Why is a permanent not-anything (with no one and nothing there to know it) preferable to a temporary experience of everything?
I'll never understand this.

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
9/8/14 3:21 AM as a reply to Eric M W.
For rebirth to be true, there must be a "self" to be born again.


There most certainly does not need to be a self for re-birth to occur. There is a difference between the Buddhist term "re-birth" and the Hindu notion of "re-incarnation."

In Buddhism re-birth occurs due to the continuity of cause-and-effect process and the false internalized notion of a self/controller (clinging to "self-view"), not from an actual self that is getting reincarnated.  

Anyways, when I was referring to re-birth I wasn't specifically referring to myself.  

Regardless, I am a perpetual "late-into-it" anagami (for a little over 2 years now) and not yet an arahat by Daniel's definition. 

When I proposed the question of "why would enlightenment exist if re-birth is not true?" I mean why would we have a notion of self-clinging to begin with?  Why does the entire process of disenchantment with phenomena and seeing through an independent self/controller/doer exist if there is no process of re-birth? 

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
9/7/14 10:14 PM as a reply to John Wilde.
When I first got into meditation I didn't believe in rebirth and meditated to have a happier life.  I was prepared to live the life I had ahead of me, but I thought that a nice peaceful oblivian awaited me when I died.  But after steeping myself in Buddhist thought for a few years, I began to worry about this rebirth thing, and my peaceful oblivian seemed to be slipping away.  I wouldn't say that I'm a total believer in rebirth now, but I've heard and read enough things that inclines me to believe it, and the thought of living life after life after life sounds terrifying.  Now it's a big motivation for practice.

If you want to read some interesting acounts of children who remember past lives, check out Francis Story "Rebirth as doctrine and experience" and Jim Tucker "Return to life.  Pretty eerie accounts.

As for the mechanics of rebirth: from what I understand, it's not the self per se that is reborn, but our whole mass of consciousness and kamma.  Our consciousness in this body is causally connected from one moment to the next, and when we die our consciousness causally arises in another body or another realm.  

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
9/8/14 2:53 AM as a reply to Jeff Grove.
Hi, Jeff,

I apologize that my comment came off as glib. I was in a weirdly playful mood when I wrote that about the A&E channel. I mean no disrespect, and I appreciate your willingness to share your videos. Yes, I'm currently quite amazed over my first fruition and now my sudden access to the formless realm of Boundless Space. Just this is immediate experience of Magick as far as I'm concerned. So I'm not a skeptic. I'm an open-minded agnostic on the subject of extraordinary phenomena until I have some direct apprehension of the phenomena in question. 

Again, sorry if I came off as insensitive.

Jenny

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
9/8/14 3:05 AM as a reply to Tom Tom.
Tom:
Another question to consider: If re-birth is not true, why is enlightenment real?  Why do the stages occur as they do?  

Yeah. I think about this often too. Something, some kind of super subtle energetics must survive death(s) if what we are doing and experiencing as a result of so doing makes any sense at all. I think Thanissaro Bhikkhu has a free book on this topic, but I've not yet read it. I used to attend a Tibetan center where discussions on rebirth reached quite a profound level.

It seems a bit odd that the Tibetans go looking for and testing what seems like reincarnations rather than the more suble "rebirth."

Jenny

RE: Scientific proof for fairies
Answer
9/8/14 9:37 AM as a reply to Jenny.
Jen Pearly:
Hi, Jeff,

I apologize that my comment came off as glib. I was in a weirdly playful mood when I wrote that about the A&E channel. I mean no disrespect, and I appreciate your willingness to share your videos. Yes, I'm currently quite amazed over my first fruition and now my sudden access to the formless realm of Boundless Space. Just this is immediate experience of Magick as far as I'm concerned. So I'm not a skeptic. I'm an open-minded agnostic on the subject of extraordinary phenomena until I have some direct apprehension of the phenomena in question. 

Again, sorry if I came off as insensitive.

Jenny
I am sorry to say I am going to have to ask for the hats back.

Lesson learned - whenever you want to troll a thread without appearing to, bring up reincarnation and watch the fun commence. C'mon guys, I have another thread for just that. This one is about fairies.

And so Jen, once you have that direct apprehension of extraordinary phenomena, then you know it is real, right? You are an open-minded agnostic, right? Anything is possible, right? I