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Dr. James Martin Peebles – A hundred years of theory meeting practice?

English: Louis XVI of France

Louis XVI of France; Peebles believed one of Louis’ sisters was one his many spiritual guides – Photo: Wikipedia

Dr. James Martin Peebles (1822-1922) was an American medical doctor, spiritualist, author and Universalist minister who later became a Theosophist.

He believed he received inspiration and guidance from a “band of angels,” as he put it.

Some of these alleged spiritual guides were famous characters, such as Mozart, Louis XVI of France‘s sister, and Chief Powhatan, who was the father of Pocahontas.

Other guides were less famous, like John W. Leonard, a deceased Scottish clergyman.

Peebles traveled to India several times with Col. Henry Steel Olcott, the co-founder of Theosophy.

Today, Linda Pendleton and others claim to channel messages from Dr. Peebles.

Chief Powhatan

Chief Powhatan by Terren via Flickr – Another guide whom Peebles believed helped him

His purported message to humanity is consistent with much New Age channeling—that is, universal love, cooperation, and the need to overcome the illusion of separation among individuals and nations.

Dr. Peebles, himself, lived three days short of 100 years and penned a book caled How to Live a Century and Grow Old Gracefully.²

So I guess we could say that, for him, theory really did meet practice!

It will be interesting to see if the same thing happens with more recent “live-long and beautiful” figures like Deepak Chopra.³

Related » Channeling

¹ Linda Pendleton’s web site has more about Dr. Peebles: todancewithangels.com

² https://archive.org/details/howtolivecentury00peeb 

³ For me, Chopra raises a red flag whenever I see him, despite his media popularity. The Amazon blurb for one of his books says it all: “Ageless Body, Timeless Mind goes beyond current anti-aging research and ancient mind/body wisdom to dramatically demonstrate that we do not have to grow old!” Sounds pretty hokey to me. But I guess we’ll see…

 Bastille Day: Everything you need to know about the French holiday (telegraph.co.uk)

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Jane Roberts and Seth – A look into the future?

Image via YouTube

Image via YouTube

Jane Roberts (1929 – 1984) was a trance channeler who wrote the Seth Books well before the idea of channelling became commonplace in New Age circles. Roberts also wrote several works of fantasy and science fiction.

Roberts allegedly went into a trance and channeled a spirit entity called Seth while her husband Robert Butts transcribed the sessions. Unlike some channelers, Roberts sometimes wondered if she was simply letting her unconscious express itself. But she usually writes as if Seth were a real being.

Whatever the case may be, the Seth character advances an interesting world view. Seth’s cosmology (map of all that is) includes parallel universes connecting backwards and forwards through time.

According to Roberts/Seth, the past and future of all parallel universes – to include parallel selves – interact with the present, perceived as now.

Not unlike other mystical traditions, Roberts/Seth says part of the self is flesh-bound while other aspects exist beyond the physical.

Image via YouTube

Jane Roberts – The Interview – Image via YouTube

The Roberts/Seth view differs from the belief in reincarnation in that:

  • Reincarnation highlights the effects of past on present lives, overlooking a possible retro-influence of future lives
  • Roberts/Seth advances the idea of many selves, existing in parallel universes, subtly interacting among themselves
  • Like Shakti Gawain and others, Roberts/Seth underscores the importance of life here and now, while reincarnation tends to focus on liberation from Samsara (the wheel of rebirth)

Science fiction TV shows Sliders, Charlie Jade and Supergirl dramatize some of Roberts/Seth’s ideas about parallel universes, and many Star Trek episodes speak to a possible temporal continuum. Recent productions like Quantum Leap, 12 Monkeys and Travelers also focus on past/present/future interactions and multiple timelines. And then, of course, we have the British classic, Dr. Who.

Depth psychologists like C. G. Jung view time, if not parallel universes, within a holistic framework. And the idea of parallel universes has gained wider recognition through figures like Stephen Hawking and Michio Kaku.

The belief in an interactive past, present and future is not necessarily identical to the theological idea that God knows the past, present and future. Some theologians are uncomfortable with the idea, for instance, that the future could enter into or inform the present. They prefer to believe that the future just doesn’t exist and only God knows how it will unfold.

Image via Wikimedia

Image via Wikimedia

This traditional view has been challenged by the quantum world view of space-time as relative, multiple and interactive. Perhaps some are comforted by adhering to cherished religious and philosophical ideas. But clinging to the past rarely paves the way for future development.

As for Roberts, some might say that her well-documented difficult childhood and teen years¹ contributed to her creating a kind of escapist fantasy world. But if that argument were universally valid and true, people like Moses (sent down the Nile as a baby) and Jesus Christ (born in a manger to escape the murderous Herod) had nothing of value to say.

= ridiculous

The way I see it, difficult beginnings can compel some to grow into seeing new vistas that otherwise might have been dismissed. Of course, the insane can also emerge from difficult beginnings. But any truth claims should be judged on, to borrow from MLK, the quality of their content, not the ‘color’ of a person’s past.

¹ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Roberts

Related » Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, John Locke, Soul


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Remote Viewing – True, False or Underground?

Vox Efx - Charging My Batteries aka Sun Worship via Flickr

Vox Efx – Charging My Batteries aka Sun Worship via Flickr

The term ‘Remote Viewing’ (RV) was coined by Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff.

RV is the alleged ability to internally perceive objects and events at a distance beyond the range of the normal senses.

Remote Viewers (RVers) usually say they perceive objects and events in the past, present and probable future. But RVers don’t believe they psychologically time travel when seeing the past. Instead, they tend to say that they access a ‘holographic cosmic memory bank’ that records all events that ever took place, somewhat like the Akashic Records of Theosophy and Anthroposophy.

Concerning the future, RVers claim to see possible outcomes but don’t predict the future with any certainty.

Those sympathetic to the idea say that one inherent difficulty with RV is a margin of error that researcher Dale Graff calls “white noise.” RVers say they strive to scientifically verify their distance visions and apparently are developing new methods to increase accuracy.

On this point RVers differ from some psychics who remain convinced that their distance visions are accurate without making any attempt to verify.

Interestingly, RV researcher Russell Targ says his team got better scientific results when they kept the research environment “fun” and relaxed. Targ admits to making money from RVing future probabilities but he says that human greed came to interfere with the success of his experiments.¹

Targ later introduced the term Remote Sensing because, he says, RV may also be accompanied by an inner sense of hearing, smell and touch.

Image via Tumblr

Image via Tumblr

The paranormal writer Rosemary Ellen Guiley says that Remote Sensing is a well-documented phenomenon, both in ancient and contemporary times.

According to Anthony C. LoBaido at WorldNetDaily.com and Steve Hammons, the CIA has used RV for intelligence gathering. LoBaido also claims that the FBI has adopted RV for the same purposes.

The mainstream view, however, is not quite so sympathetic. Wikipedia says:

There is no credible scientific evidence that remote viewing works, and the topic of remote viewing is regarded as pseudoscience

Some, however, maintain that the US RV project did work but has gone underground. If true, most of us have no way of finding out.³

¹ Thinking Allowed with Dr. Jeffrey Mishlove, “ESP, Clairvoyance and Remote Perception with Russell Targ“.

² https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remote_viewing

³ I didn’t read it too carefully, but from a quick scan of the Wikipedia entry, it seems this ambiguous dimension of RV is overlooked.

Related » Akashic Records, Clairvoyance, Doors, ESP, New Age, Psychic Spies, Seer, “The New Age and Remote Viewing,” Third Eye


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Erwin Schrödinger

English: Photograph of physicist Erwin Schrödi...

Erwin Schrödinger early in his professional career. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Erwin Schrödinger (1887-1961) was an Austrian physicist who attempted to overcome the apparent particle- wave duality with his now famous wave equation.

Various interpretations of Schrödinger’s wave equation have arisen. For some, particles are seen as wave packets. Others suggest that the particle is similar to a standing wave—a relatively stable energy formation that doesn’t travel through a medium.

While some like to see science as some kind of solid rock that tells us the “truth,” the ambiguity surrounding the interpretation of Schrödinger’s work tells us just the opposite. Science involves speculation, myth and a lot of limitation and uncertainty.

However, to sum up the latest consensus on what the wave equation means to people today, we could say that the whole idea of “matter” is recognized as a construction of the senses, mind and society. Underneath that social construction of reality,¹ we just have energy, for lack of a better term.

English: Wave particle duality p known

Wave particle duality (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

New Age enthusiasts tend to champion this idea, suggesting the entire universe is merely energy. Meanwhile, some old school theologians still talk about the reality of matter and the (supposed) indisputable authority of Aristotle‘s views on that topic. Some even go as far to say that animals do not enjoy an afterlife because they do not have souls and are made entirely of matter.²

A better approach, however, would consider the replacement of the old idea of “matter” with that of “energy” but also look to spiritual experience as somewhat mysterious yet qualitatively different from energy.³

For his outstanding work in quantum mechanics Schrödinger won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1933, sharing it with Paul Dirac.

Image via Wikipedia

¹ I’m alluding to the sociological classic, The Social Construction of Reality by Berger and Luckmann.

² Others say that animals do have souls, but still do not enjoy an afterlife. See these links.

³ What do I mean by this? Well, I recall conversing with someone who liked to work out. He enjoyed his endorphin rushes after vigorous exercise. I used to be a long distance runner, so knew what he was talking about. Since my running days, however, I have experienced what C. G. Jung and others call the numinous. And what Catholics (and other Christians) call the indwelling of The Holy Spirit. In those essentially spiritual experiences I have noticed a range of difference. And all of the spiritual experiences were qualitatively different from an endorphin rush (which we can assume more closely correlates to chemical changes than, say, sitting in a church).

Related » George Berkeley, Philipp Lenard, Particle, Wave, Thomas Young 


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The idea of the Self

Sophie – Who Am I?

The human self, being the basis of personal identity, has been variously understood.

Some theorists say the self is the agency that says “I.” According to this view, the self is the conceptual, reflective part of ourselves that apparently remains unchanged from the first instance when, to as long as a person can think about, the idea of “I.”

In most developmental psychological systems, this is the ego, not to be confused with egotism or egoism. Theorists subscribing to this view may or may also believe in a transcendental, unchanging core to selfhood.

Alternately, some suggest that individuals possess multiple selves. Here the self is viewed as “the personality or organization of traits.”¹ In the wider arena of psychological and New Age theory, the idea of multiple selves may or may not involve the belief in an eternal, unchanging aspect (or aspects) of the self.

The Scottish psychiatrist R. D. Laing spoke of a true and false self in his book The Divided Self. As reported by some of his so-called “schizoid” patients, the true self is “deeper” than the false self.²

Jasinthan Yoganathan Who am I ? “One of the best questions i have asked myself!”

From the standpoint of Western Philosophy, the question of self belongs to ontology (the study of being) and phenomenology (the study of experience). However, ontology and phenomenology are arguably influenced by cosmology (theories about the character of the universe) and ethics (questions about right and wrong). Sadly, some thinkers fail to integrate these different branches, offering at best partial theories about the self (which in the wrong hands can probably do more harm than good).

Sigmund Freud‘s theory about the self is limited to two main factors—nature (instinctual drives of sex, aggression, love and death) and society (parents, significant others and social institutions). Freud viewed God and notions of an afterlife as illusions created to satisfy unconscious psychological desires and wishes. And this limiting worldview had a significant impact on his outlook.

Freud’s brightest student, Carl Jung, advanced psychoanalytic theory by suggesting the possibility of archetypal aspects of the self. Archetypes in Jungian theory are often misunderstood. While they do have a transcendental component, according to Jung they are also grounded in the body. So archetypes represent aspects of the self believed to exist beyond and yet inherent to the body. Through their representation in activities like dreaming, art and architecture, they manifest in the mundane world as archetypal images.³ For Jung, even the self is an archetype—an archetype of wholeness.

Víctor Nuño Indifference or hope | Indiferencia o esperanza “Is it so easy to distinguish one from the other? Where’s the limit between them?”

In many interpretations of Biblical Christianity the true, essential self is not of this world but created to enjoy an otherworldly, everlasting heaven:

If any one would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake will save it (Matthew 16:24-25).

For Hindus, those in agreement with the philosopher/sage Sankara tend understand the true self (atman) as identical with an invisible, underlying aspect of creation (brahman). Once liberated, the self loses all sense of individuality.

But Hinduism isn’t quite that simple. Ramanuja‘s school of Visistadvaita presents another Hindu perspective where the true self is said to ultimately retain some sense of individuality, even as it finally comes to rest for all eternity in the godhead.

Most schools of Buddhism claim that there is no self. For Buddhists, the whole concept of individuality is just an illusion that we apparently must overcome en route to enlightenment. This includes the notion of the conceptual “I” and, perhaps, more radically, the idea of an eternal or everlasting self. For Buddhists, both are illusory.

A branch of New Age believers say we have numerous slightly different selves coexisting in parallel or multiple universes, all unified by an “oversoul” existing above, beyond and yet within those multiple realities. A good example of this point of view can be found in the Seth Books by Jane Roberts.

William III painted in the 1690s by Godfried Schalcken via Wikipedia

In a witty and regal vein, King William III (William of Orange) was among those who have pondered the nature of the self.

As I walk’d by my self
And talk’d to my self,
My self said unto me,
Look to thy self,
Take care of thy self,
For nobody cares for Thee.
I answered my self,
And said to my self,
In the self-same Repartee,
Look to thy self
Or not look to thy self,
The self-same thing will be.

¹ J. P. Chaplin, Dictionary of Psychology, Bantam 1985, p. 414.

² See R. D. Laing, The Divided Self.

³ Some may not see dreams as part of the mundane world. But when we remember them, they become part of our daytime reality.

Related » Alchemy, Anatman, Atman, William Blake, Collective Unconscious, Conscience, Defense Mechanism, Karma Transfer, Maya, Numinous, Persona, Pollution, Postmodernism, Third Eye


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Theosophy

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Theosophy [Greek: theos = god + sophia = wisdom] is a non-denominational spiritualist movement founded in 1875 at New York City by the Russian born mystic Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Colonel Henry Steel Olcott, William Q. Judge, among other prominent social figures.

Drawing on the doctrine of reincarnation, theosophy repackages the ancient Gnostic-influenced belief that absolute knowledge is gained through direct, purifying mystical experience.

God, according to the Theosophists, emanates an immortal essence to all mankind. By understanding the hidden wisdom contained in myth and symbol, we may share in the immortality of the divine. This sacred task is called the “theurgy.”

Blavatsky’s most popular work is Isis Unveiled, where she reveals remarkable scholarship. But somewhat like C. G. Jung, Joseph Campbell and others, Blavatsky arguably oversimplifies similarities among different religious, mystical and mythological traditions at the expense of overlooking their real and important differences.

Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (stehend mitte), Hen...

Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (stehend mitte), Henry Steel Olcott (sitzend mitte) und Damodar Mavalankar (sitzend, 3. von links) auf einem Kongreß der Theosophischen Gesellschaft in Bombay (Mumbai) 1881 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The term theosophy, itself, stems back to the 3rd century, where it was used synonymously with theosophy. During the renaissance it also took on the meaning of gnosis, or the alleged private knowledge of esoteric and paranormal realities. In the 16th century theosophy meant several things, including something similar to its current, widespread usage.¹

Mme. Blavatsky and Henry Steel Olcott, a lawye...

Mme. Blavatsky and Henry Steel Olcott, a lawyer, agricultural expert, and journalist who covered the Spiritualist phenomena. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I think it’s interesting how spiritual ideas evolve. Some overzealous New Age enthusiasts latch on to the latest meaning of Theosophy and assume they’ve hit on some kind of unique, absolute truth. Either that or they’re just pretending because they want to sell books and gain publicity. I believe it’s far more fruitful (and responsible) to look at these beliefs and how they’ve evolved within an historical and political context.

Sincere spiritual exploration and opportunistic money-making rarely go well together.

¹ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theosophy

Related Posts » Akashic Records, Anthroposophy, Besant (Annie), Buddhism, Hinduism, Peebles (Dr. James Martin)

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Lewis Thomas

Image via Wikipedia

Lewis Thomas (1913-93) was an American biologist, physician and author of several books.

In The Lives of a Cell (1974) Thomas says that the Earth behaves like a huge single-celled organism.

Often misquoted by New Age enthusiasts, Thomas makes it clear that he doesn’t say the Earth is a living cell. He simply says that, when viewed from space, the Earth seems to behave like one.

I have been trying to think of the earth as a kind of organism, but it is no go. I cannot think of it this way. It is too big, too complex, with too many working parts lacking visible connections. The other night, driving through a hilly, wooded part of southern New England, I wondered about this. If not like an organism, what is it like, what is it most like? Then, satisfactorily for that moment, it came to me: it is most like a single cell.¹

Earth, courtesy Apollo 17

Earth Taken 7 December, 1972 Apollo 17 mission Courtesy: NASA

Despite his using the word “like” instead of “is,” Thomas’ idea has been misappropriated by some trying to support New Age pantheistic beliefs and various end-time prophecies. Many of these end-time prophecies focused on the Mayan Calendar and the year 2012.

Needless to say, these prophecies were false. At least, they were in this universe…

¹ Cited at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Lives_of_a_Cell

Related Posts » Gaia Hypothesis, James Lovelock

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