Prayer, the Supernatural, and Enlightenment
Does prayer work? You might be surprised to find an atheist saying: yes, it may. But not because we are speaking to an omnipotent being who gives us our wish like some glorified genie. Prayer is an inner dialogue directly associated with will. We know that thought manipulates matter, if we translate that thought in to action. But can the inner dialogue affect the material world in some way and set up the environment to accommodate us?
It seems like an idea that supports magic or the miraculous, but really it isn’t. Science and religion both have told us that all things are connected on many different levels. You often hear about twins who can feel the pain of their brother or sister, even separated by thousands of miles. We know entanglement, or as Einstein said: “spooky action at a distance” is a scientific fact. So is it possible that we can manipulate the totality outside ourselves just using our minds?
There are probably millions of stories of ESP, sightings of ghosts, and other strange phenomenon we call the paranormal. We don't fully understand the mechanism by which the paranormal works, and many people think it is supernatural. We must remember that nothing is supernatural, only misunderstood, or not understood at all. That does not mean we will never understand, nor that we can't. We simply need more research on the subject. A miracle is only a miracle until it can be explained in logical terms.
All religions believe that the inner dialoge, or prayer, gets some results. But they also warn that god works in mysterious ways so don’t count on getting what you pray for. People in self motivation business call it "Positive thinking" and that may be the best way to describe the phenomenon for now. We all know that if we think positively and stay focused, we are more likely to accomplish our goals. "knock and the door shall be opened."
As I said in other texts I have written, all this has to do with will. Our will is that part of us that when we feel a need, focuses on finding a resolution for it. It is the reflection of our conditioning and genetic predisposition.
I am going to write this essay using my own experiences and what I learned from them, so I have to put them in context. As a child I left the Catholic Church because I couldn't resolve the paradox of a god of love my mother had been teaching me about, and the hellfire and damnation the priests were teaching.
But I was a curious child and wanted to know what was really going on. When my mother informed me at 6 years old that probably no one in the world knew the real answers of life, I was shocked. This lead to a vow I made myself that I would find out, for myself, what the heck was really going on before I died. I spent the next 15 years going from religion to religion and from philosophy to philosophy to find my answers. Since no one else knew it all, I was alone. I would have to create my own philosophy from all that had been said and done before me.
I hit every new religion with zeal, but also with skepticism. I vowed not to fall to any religion, only to learn from them and move on. I studied Mormonism, I studied with the JW, I studied with Pentecostals and Born Agains.
I looked into the United Church and a host of other Christian sects. I also studied Judaism. Usually my study consisted of finding priests willing to give their time for me to ask questions after I had read their philosophies.
I moved from there to Eastern philosophy. Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism, and anything I could get hold of. The Pentecostals even tried to give me an exorcism, but that’s another story.
The eastern philosophies have various types of mental activities associated with them, and I was determined to experience them all. Some of my stories included here come directly or indirectly from those experiences and from my quest to discover the truth of what they meant for myself. The 60s and early 70s were also a time of experimenting with psychotropic drugs for mind expansion rather than recreation as is common now, so that is part of this story too.
In the 1970s we created a ghost.
In the late 1960s I was living in Victoria BC with a good friend. We heard about an experiment done at Berkley some years before in which a group of people got together in a room and decided to see if they could manipulate matter through thought alone. Their intent was to create a being out of "thin air", as it were. I can’t say the rumors were true or false. But in those days that kind of thing was going on everywhere so the experiment itself may have happened.
Reports were that they gave it a personality and a fake history. They spoke with it for days on end as if it existed. Eventually people started to believe it was there, they could feel its presence. They had "faith" that they would be successful. After a time they began asking it to move a table, to lift it in to the air, and sure enough, it did.
This story was of great interest to me. What was happening here? Did they create this entity? Did it actually move the table? Was it more likely that they moved the table themselves with their collective minds? Faith can move mountains, it is said, and apparently it was true. Or was it all nonsense?
We decided to try the experiment for ourselves. We sat in a room and began to invasion another person there, we named it and gave it a history and personality. After several days of this, coupled with starvation, we began to feel a presence. It was as if the room became heavy. We both went in to a state of depression. The depression, we decided, was due to the lack of money we had to buy food, and the lack of job opportunities in the area we were living in. We were promised a job if we moved out there but it never materialized.
We both decided to end the experiment until our state of mind and our financial situation cleared itself up. We still felt a presence in the room when we walked in to it, but we put it down to our state of mind, and eventually we didn't feel it anymore.
It was shortly after that our neighbors from downstairs came up to visit. They had just moved in a few days before. All went well until we brought them in to living room where we had been conducting our experiment a week or so earlier. We had not told them about it, of course. It was not the kind of thing we wanted to be noted for in the neighborhood, and we were in the process of forgetting about it anyway.
A few moments after they sat down, the woman began to fidget and then burst in to tears for no apparent reason. She said she felt as if there was a weight on her. We both looked at each other and brought them back in to the kitchen where we had been before.
A few moments later she was fine and apologized for her outburst. Her husband stated that he too had felt a pressure as if the air in the room was thick. We feigned ignorance and left it at that. But we didn't bring them back in to the living room that night, and all went pleasantly from there on.
Well, we were ecstatic, though worried. We had wanted to create something, but not this. Over the next few days we invited other people over and ushered them in to the living room to see their reaction. Invariably, they all showed signs of agitation or depression after only a few moments in the room and then promptly reversed their mood once they had been brought out. We never told anyone what was going on. Some expressed their discomfort to us directly. Each time it was described as an agitation and like a weight was on them. We made nothing of it.
A few months later we moved out of that house. We never spoke to the so called entity again and really didn't experience it anymore ourselves, so we all but forgot about it. I came back to Ontario and my friend stayed on in Victoria. My depression had grown so great that I had to leave the province all together, and I needed to find work.
All went well for almost a year. I got a job as soon as I arrived and I moved in with other friends in a commune. I built a room for myself in the basement because of the lack of private space elsewhere in the house, and lived quite happily. But the life of a teenager isn’t always a happy one, and things had taken a turn for the worse for me so I wasn’t at all happy with my life and wanted change. I just didn’t know how I was going to go about getting it.
Almost a year later I was confronted by a person who had gone to the basement to do his laundry. He told me that as he walked down the steps he began to feel a weight pressing down on him, and by the time he got to the bottom he was nearly in tears and couldn't explain why? He ran upstairs and asked another person to go down stairs with him. That person reported the same feelings of overwhelming depression as they went down.
I knew right away what it was and I locked myself in for the next couple of days and performed an “exorcism” on the room. I told the entity that I had created it and that I was going to destroy it. After two days of talking to it, I no longer felt it and neither did anyone else. It has never returned.
What had happened was obvious to me in the end. My depression had been the cause of all this. My opinion was that somehow I had actually transferred my depression in to the room. The entity was due to that depressed state, and I had actually exorcised myself, so to speak. We had set in to motion a chain of cause and effect that had changed the molecules in the room. I had pushed my depression out of my conscious self, and recorded perhaps in the very atoms of my surroundings. I had not created an entity at all, It was me all along, unconsciously manipulating the matter around me.
I knew it was me, and I had to resolve the problem within myself. When I did, the problem was gone. I did not call upon a god, nor anything else, to aid me. That would not have helped in any case, and probably would have hindered my personal progress.
I am therefore of the guarded opinion that internal dialogue can indeed transform energy and matter to a certain extent. At least to the point of recording information into a surrounding area. It is no miracle, only cause and effect of a sort we have not fully dissected or understood yet. Is it so odd that emotions should be recorded in atomic structure? We record movies on video tape which is a strip of plastic, coated with metal particles. We put images on that film with magnetic impulses which create patterns on the film. Why would it be so hard to believe thought could do the same thing in a room?
The video player we use to play the movies picks up those impulses and transforms them in to pictures and sound. Could it be that if a human mind transforms atomic structure in a room by way of their emotions, another human mind could play them back by way of theirs? As it happens, many years later I read about the theory that ghosts who occupy castles could be the result of high emotions being recorded into the very stone walls of the castle.
There are many other stories about people who transfer their emotions in to a space and cause things to happen without their knowledge. There are documented cases of objects moving by themselves, books falling off shelves etc. Most of the time people think of these events as poltergeists or possession, but they usually involve a child or teenager who is struggling with some form of depression, and when that depression is resolved, the ghost or demon is gone too.
There is nothing "supernatural" about this. Nothing mystical or magical. It is simply a natural phenomenon which is poorly understood. To what extent or what other ways can this kind of internal dialogue affect matter directly? To say I know with any certainty would be a lie. But it is likely fairly limited. One is tempted to think it might be that we just have to develop it in ourselves. However, I don’t think it works that way for various reasons.
The US, Britain, China and Russia researched ESP for its usefulness in intelligence gathering. They developed ways to target a building and send their psychic in to look around. Not physically, but mentally. At the end of their experiments, some say they had created a method by which almost anyone can unleash some of this psychic ability. They freely admit to it all, and it is well documented. It is called remote viewing.
While there is a lot of controversy around it all, most agree that some results were positive up to 15 percent above random chance. Not very impressive, but in science it is evidence something is going on. However, Professor Richard Wiseman, a member of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry at Hertfordshire U had this to say: "I agree that by the standards of any other area of science that remote viewing is proven, but begs the question: do we need higher standards of evidence when we study the paranormal? I think we do.” Daily Mail, January 28, 2008, pp 28–29.
I somewhat agree. James Randi, on the other hand, says his foundation has tested dozens of people who have claimed to be able to do remote viewing, but no one has even past the preliminary tests. And yet there were remote viewers who won high awards from the US government for apparently viewing a new kind of Soviet sub, as well as other things during the cold war.
Today there are places on the net you can go to find out how to do it yourself. One web site that does not ask for money to get an idea of how it is done is: http://www.irva.org/remote-viewing/howto.html But a quick search will bring up dozens of hits of both businesses that claim to be able teach anyone how to do it, offer to do it for you if you are looking for something, or are studying it without government funding. How many are cranks is anyone’s guess. Perhaps all of them.
Is there something to ESP? One third of the police departments in the major cities of the US have used psychics with very mixed results. Can information be gathered from distant places just by the mind?
I am not a psychic. But in my many experiments with the mind I did have one amazing experience. I have to tell you that it was while I was in a state of half wake and half sleep. I had been up for almost three days straight studying through the nights and going to school again and working though the days; and I was dead tired. I was lying down in my room when the phone rang. I heard it being answered. Without the person who answered saying the name of the caller I knew who it was. I seemed to hear them talking though I was a good distance away, and couldn’t have heard the voice from the phone. I simply thought instructions to the person who had answered the phone. To my amazement they seemed to respond by telling the individual on the other end where and when I would meet them the next day, and then ended the conversation. The person who answered the phone was high on magic mushrooms.
The strange thing was that they said exactly what I was thinking, with a space of one to several seconds between the time I thought it and they said it. It was as if I was guiding them myself. What the heck happened? I did not talk to the person who answered the phone the next day, but kept the appointment. The other person did show up as planned and I confirmed that they had been talking to someone at my house the night before. They were surprised that I would leave someone instructions as to where and when to meet, since we had made no previous plans to meet at all, and they had called on a whim. Of course I hadn’t, and he had no reason to make an appointment like that on my behalf. I thought it, and he said it.
If there is nothing to ESP at all, if we cannot manipulate others with mind alone in some way, what happened?
I can’t pretend to know. All I know is that both myself and the person who answered the phone were in altered states of mind at the time it happened. He having taken magic mushrooms and me being in that strange place between sleep and awake.
While psychic ability has nothing to do with transforming mater and energy, it has everything to do with the connectedness of totality. If we were not connected at all, this kind of thing would be impossible. I’m not saying I did manipulate this person from a distance, I’m just saying I experienced it that way. Was it all just coincidence?
We know there is a lot of auto suggestion happening as well as mass hypnosis and cues when it come to the paranormal. A Voodoo master has to let his victim know they are cursed, or the curse doesn't work. A believer is always more susceptible to these things than a skeptic. As a skeptic I have yelled out to the sky and said: If there is a god strike me dead on the spot. I’ve cursed at it and belittled it. No response. I’ve been cursed by a voodoo practitioner and laughed at them. Nothing happened. I can’t vouch for their ability, however. The first time one does this kind of thing you are scared. But the more times you do it, the more you see nothing is going to happen. It’s all mind. A matter of will.
In the religious world there is a common tradition of groups of people praying for the health of an individual. Sometimes the individual lives or gets well, and sometimes they do not. It is hard to say which prayer rings worked and which didn't. How much is coincidence and how much is real? If there are cases that are real, how does it actually work? We don’t know, because we can’t test it. That’s what is so difficult about these things. You can experience something, but there is usually no way to reproduce it or prove that what you experienced actually happened the way you think it did, or for the reasons you think it did.
It is certainly not true that all prayers are answered, as is promises by some theologies. How many people have prayed for world peace? Have we ever enjoyed it in all the history of the world? It seems that the really big things are much harder to affect than the smaller problems of mankind. That makes me think that prayer or internal dialogue is limited in its scope, at best, if effective at all.
However, positive thinking can do wonders for the individual. It gives courage and determination to go on, sometimes against all odds. But again, this is not limited to the religious. People who were told they would likely never walk again, have done so by sheer force of will. Did the doctors who told them they would never walk again make a mistake in every case? Of course they did. But the determination to walk again helped the person beat the odds. Of course there are limits to what positive thinking can do.
We also know that there are some situations where no amount of prayer will help. A blind man might be able to see again whether we pray for him or not. But a man with no eyes cannot see unless someone discovers a way to make new eyes for him. So even positive thinking has limits.
We know for fact that if you know with all that you are that you will accomplish your goal then you are far more likely to succeed than if you think you can't, simply because you will try. But there are no guarantees. Positive thinking or "feeling" can help accomplish goals and give feelings of balance or harmony, but they can’t do it all for you. You still need to reach out and do something about it.
A visit by three entities.
I had another experience with spirits. I was again in bed between being asleep and awake. These events usually happened to me in those states. I suddenly noticed three shadows above my head. They were oval and pulsating. They reminded me of black lace. One wanted to kill me on the spot. The other wasn’t decided and the third wanted me spared. They were talking about my behavior and how I needed to change. They were not talking to me. In the end they allowed me to live, of course, but I was worried for a while. As it happened I had been feeling bad about myself, so the visit was easy to interpret. I had created them myself, in my mind, from my own feelings of guilt because I hadn’t been doing what I thought I should have been doing. Others may have interpreted it as an outside force giving me guidance, but it was obvious to me it was a way for my mind to push me to do what I knew I must.
I separate this experience from dreams I have had because I was still awake. But the reason for a prophetic dream and a vision that happens in that state between sleep and full consciousness is the same. You know something is wrong and the dream or vision is your own mind reflecting that fact. No supernatural there. No real mystery.
There is a difference in the way miracles are accomplished in different religions. In the Judaic-Christian faiths, miracles have always been done in the realm of the supernatural. In those religions, miracles create "something from nothing." Never ending fish and loaves of bread, for instance.
In the Hindu traditions, miracles are simply a speeding up of nature. Krishna's followers ask for mangos in a place where none exist, but Krishna does not produce mangos from nothing, or dozens from one, he plants a mango seed and a tree begins to grow before their eyes. Soon it produces mangoes for all. There is no separation between god and nature.
I'm not saying that I believe such miracles occurred, I'm simply showing the difference in mind set. Nature has always played an important role in the Eastern faiths, whereas in the western faiths it is considered a hindrance. The only Christian legends of a man who was in perfect tune with nature are of Francis of Assisi. He was said to speak with the animals and it is said that they would gather and listen attentively to his sermons. He was also the man who vowed poverty when the church was corrupt with wealth and opulence while the faithful starved.
The resurrection of Jesus is considered a miracle, but in the eastern traditions, reincarnation is considered the natural order of things. There are many different variations on that belief. Some believe that we are reincarnated in to animals and trees. They see nature as variant levels of enlightenment. The more knowledge you acquire and the more enlightened you become, the better your life will be in future incarnations. They go through stages of being, and those that fail in a higher incarnation by being mean spirited or greedy, or cruel, will become the object of their cruelty in the next life and learn what it feels like to be mistreated. Eventually, a person can attain a level where reincarnation is no longer necessary.
Some beliefs say that a human being is made up of bubbles of different personalities. When we die, those bubbles disperse. The more of those personalities we can merge in life, the more bubbles we can hold together upon death, and the more we can stay together as one individual. This explains why most do not remember past incarnations, while others do, and the enlightened remember them all. In this belief, however, we see that the enlightened individual may be a product of many bubbles from different sources merging together to form a new enlightened being. In this case, each bubble can be compared to an individual soul, so that the enlightened person may possess many souls in their being, all united as one.
But enlightenment doesn't stop there. As with early Christian belief in seven stages of heaven, these beliefs see plains of existence where even the enlightened have to begin anew at the bottom of the next ladder, so to speak, and work their way up to new levels, eventually merging with god or a cosmic consciousness.
I remember the event of my birth. I cannot say whether it was an actual memory or a dream I had as a very small child. I suspect it was just a dream. But what strikes me odd even now, is the fact that the memory consists of darkness and one feeling. I can only translate the feeling in to these words: "No!. Not this again!" My mother tells me that at age three, I used to say to her that she was the best mother I ever had, and that my previous mother had fed me bugs and spiders. I have no memory of that event now, except that the idea evokes a picture in my mind of a completely wooden kitchen. Wood walls and floors, with a wooden table and chairs.
One of my daughters used to tell stories about her other father who broke all her toys. She also used to talk to people that weren’t there. My granddaughter does the same sort of thing now. I have come to think that it has to do with the natural development of the mind of a child, not recollections of previous lives.
But if one thinks about it, could it be that the energy that we are does have snippets of information about our experiences, and when we die and that energy is released, and merges with other systems, it can be recalled? If someone else ingests that bit of information through the intake of food, could their minds then perhaps read that bit of information and mix it up with their own life experience? Could that be an explanation for the feeling of having been somewhere before or having experienced an event before? Or perhaps even for past life experiences?
I don’t know. I’m just making a suggestion. It would certainly fit the idea of a holographic universe, as described by some interpretations of physics. But I’ve never much liked that interpretation.
To me, of course, we are constantly reincarnated all the time, bit by bit. The cells we had as a child have all been replaced on a seven year cycle. The only exceptions are some types of brain cell. The only thing that gives us coherence is memory. I’ve done other essays on this so I won’t go into detail here.
Out of body experience
While studying Hinduism and trying to attain enlightenment, I found myself again in that same half sleep half awake state. I left my body and hovered over myself. The shock of seeing myself, and the clarity of the dream, woke me up instantly in a cold sweet. It felt like I had been slammed back into my body.
I had another experience of leaving my body. It was induced by a psychotropic drug called Mescaline. The Native Indians of the Americas ingest the peyote cactus as part of a religious ritual in which a group of people all share the same visions. In the early nineteen seventies a friend and I ingested a large amount of this cactus and took a walk at the break of dawn. As we felt the drug begin to take effect we came to a park and wordlessly sat down on a bench. There was a highway just in my line of sight. Cars and trucks were passing by on their morning business of getting to work and bringing goods in to the city.
I noticed that my eyes could only follow them with a jerking motion as my line of sight was blocked by houses along the road. I was interested to see if I could force my eyes to follow the traffic's path smoothly, and soon the buildings seemed to become secondary and transparent. My eyes began to follow the flow of traffic smoothly through the houses.
A few seconds later I began having the same feelings which are invoked when reading Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolken. I loved the feeling because the books always gave me a warmth I have seldom had with any other.
At one point my eyes focused on the top of a large pyramid shaped pine tree. I saw my eyes tracing a line to the top of the tree and I saw another line extending from my friends eyes, though I was not looking at him at the time, I knew instinctively were this new line was coming from. (or so it seemed)
At that moment, we turned to each other and he uttered. "What are you doing to me?" I could not answer and it was clear that I was doing nothing to him. But when we both turned our gaze back to the tree, I no longer saw the "real" world but envisioned two telephone poles standing beside each other. To me it was obvious that they represented the two of us. The poles began to fall together and form a triangle. As soon as they touched, they bust in to flame.
At that moment I felt my head bend backward, my face to the sky. I saw what at first looked like a stained glass dome. But as I was brought toward it I realized it was the lids of my eyes and the stained glass effect was due to veins in my skin.
As I passed through the dome in a rush akin to that of passing out, I had the most incredible realization I had ever had before. I had an overwhelming feeling of being "home again." As if the reality I was leaving behind was not reality at all, but that this was my natural state.
This was the state of "non thought". I followed and traveled on lines of energy. Pale green, white and pink pastels. I traveled among the trees in the park, not thinking a thought, yet seeing all and experiencing all with more clarity than I had ever imagined possible. I saw my body on the park bench and that of my friend, both with our heads tilted back, facing the sky. But I had no fear of anything.
This state of being was more peaceful and wonderful than anything I had ever conceived of and I knew instinctively that this was a prelude to death. At the moment I realized that, I had an overwhelming feeling of things left undone. I call it a state of “non-thought” because as long as I had no conscious thought the state continued. As soon as I began to formulate thoughts in to words in my mind, I was snapped back in to my body. It was cold and stiff. I must admit that I was not pleased to be back. Yet I was at peace as never before.
Wordlessly, both of us rose at the same time and walked home. Neither of us spoke, but for the rest of the day I had a vision of my friend in the back of my mind. I could see him and knew what he was doing even though he was upstairs in another room.
I thought that perhaps I was just imagining it, but when I went to check in on him, he was sitting in exactly the place I knew he would be, doing exactly what I had envisioned. In fact, the vision in the back of my mind and the one I was getting from my eyes were identical. I left the room saying nothing and resumed my tasks.
Later on that day we discussed the fact that we did not feel comfortable with this connection we both apparently felt, and we resolved to try to severe it. By the next day it was gone. But for the next month, there was a glow in the back of my head like a sun. It too faded over time.
I saw and sensed no god throughout all of this, nor was I looking for one. Had I been religious I probably would have attributed it all to a vision given by god, but I knew it was all mind, through the drug I had taken.
I did, however, realize that all is connected in the most intimate ways, just as I had been told I would if I ever experienced out of body. I saw myself, not as a thinking being but as pure energy. Does this feeling continue when the brain is actually dead? Probably not. In near death experience, out of body is probably the last attempt of the brain to hang on to life. Did I actually project myself in to that park, or was it all just the most fantastic illusion produced by a drug induced state?
I had to try doing it without the drugs, and was able to twice, through meditation, before I decided I had experienced it enough. Each time it would only last as long as I didn’t start thinking consciously. But neither of those experiences came close to the first. Since then I have heard of a lot of neurological reasons for out of body experience, and have come to the conclusion that it is all the mind. The brain is an amazing thing that can be manipulated to make us see what we want to see and experience what we want to experience.
I wrote before about Dr Persinger and his EM pen that he can manipulate the brain with to produce the most amazingly clear and vivid religious experiences, as well as a host of other experiences. We know drugs can alter our consciousness. Meditation can alter our consciousness. In fact, even coffee and cigarettes can alter your consciousness. The Natives of America called tobacco a sacred plant exactly because of its ability to alter the mind. A lot of people start smoking due to the high it gives initially. Later that effect goes away, unless a person stops smoking again for a while.
Most religions have a tradition of drug use among the priests, because they are considered a way to god and prophetic visions. One can assume that early Judaism probably had its prophets who took drugs. One can hardly read Ezekiel and not get the feeling that he was either high or insane when he had some of his visions, and such plants grow and are available all over the world.
I am not in any way advocating recreational drug use, however. They can kill and ruin lives. But I do not regret that they were part of my early life the way I took them, and for the reasons I took them.
The attempt to reach enlightenment
Most people attempt to gain enlightenment for power of some sort. Even just personal power. Yet when you glimpse enlightenment you realize that power has little or nothing to do with it. Enlightenment results in the giving up of the "self", and that is something most minds are unwilling to do, and that is perhaps how it should be. Only with these elements in tact can we function and carry out our lives. But there is such a thing as the slow giving up of, or modification of ego. That may be a wise choice for many of us who wish to achieve a balance within ourselves and maintain it in the face of adversity.
Yet there is such a thing as going too far. In my zeal to gain enlightenment I reached a state U.G Krishnamurti talked about. "If you have the courage to touch life for the first time, you will never know what hit you. Everything man has thought, felt and experienced is gone, and nothing is put in its place."
And nothing is put in its place.... You can lose too much of self and become incapable of functioning properly in society. The Hindu masters talk about a state of nothingness, where you simply exist and know. You have no ego, you just are. The problem is you know nothing more than you did before you entered the state. You just feel as if you understand everything. That might be ok for a Hindu master who doesn’t have to do much. But for most of us it isn’t a life.
I was always happy and at peace. Blissfully so. But when I could no longer string more than a few words together to express myself it suddenly dawned on me I had achieved nothingness, and had to find a way back. It took a couple of years but I made it. We need a certain amount of ego. It comes with the territory.
I achieved everything the Eastern philosophies talked about by age 17, except levitation. Yet I still didn’t have any answers, except that all of it was parlor tricks of the mind. If I had been able to levitate I might have thought otherwise because that would have been a real indication of a suspension of the forces of gravity. On a practical note it would come in handy. But I never came close to being able to do it and have never seen it done successfully, even by people who others said could do it.
Even the Catholic Church has stories of priests who could levitate when in a state of trance. Yet the official view of the Church is that it doesn’t happen and it isn’t something priests should advertise if they do it.
I’m not saying I didn’t learn anything from my experience. On the contrary I learned a lot, and am grateful for it. Zen finally taught me how to reconcile paradox. It was my experience with eastern philosophy and drugs that made me see the interconnection of all things. It gave me the understanding of how to gain personal balance and feel good in my own skin. Something I needed to learn.
But it was science that finally gave me some of the answers I couldn’t have put together otherwise. For me, my moment of enlightenment came when I discovered the laws of thermodynamics and the laws of conservation. I know it is hard for people to understand, but it was my Zen moment of enlightenment. It hit me like a ton of bricks. The behaviour of all things and all relationships are expressed in those laws.
I've had a lot of other experiences I won’t document here. But those were some of the highlights. I did eventually create my own worldview, which due to Paul Harrison is now known as Scientific, Naturalist or Rational Pantheism. I didn’t completely abandon the idea of a god in and of itself, just the idea of a conscious god.
I define god as that which produced all this, which to me is the process of nature itself. Not the idea most people have of a god. I’ve done several hubs on Pantheism as well as giving an ontological argument from the perspective of existence rather than any attributes of a god such as perfection, like Descartes did.
So did I ever find the answers I was looking for? Yes and no. I’m not dead yet. What I think I found after 50 years is a basic framework. It’s a start.
Do I think there is anything to the paranormal after all my experiences? Yes and no. There is so much we do not know and can’t test for yet. But I am sure that there are answers which will reveal that the paranormal is actually natural, not supernatural. Most of it is in the mind, not outside it.
But I do think we will find the mind itself does interact with the outside world, probably on the quantum level. But that’s just an educated guess. I do not think reality is observer driven, and have written a hub about that as well.
But I am a born heretic, even in regard to my own worldview. I can’t help it. I know that no one knows all the answers, and that includes me. But I’m still looking.