inkwell.vue.58 : Jay Kinney and Richard Smoley _Hidden Wisdom_
permalink #76 of 143: John Shirley (johnp-shirley) Mon 3 Jan 00 16:59
    
Carl Jung apparently believed that the more conscious we are in life,
the more we will "be" as individuals after death. We get something of
this from even so apparently doctrinal a theologist as CS Lewis in his
"The Great Divorce". 

Rudy Rucker tells me that Pythagoras believed that there is one
oversoul, that raises sparks or waves of itself into individuals, and
then draws it back and 'plugs in' to another, and so forth, an a sort
of relationship between these lives constitutes some reincarnational
continuity, without their actually being a single soul that is
repeatedly reincarnated. I have rather the impression from Thich Nath
Hanh that this is what the more learned Buddhists believe. The usual
teachings about reincarnation are but "exoteric" teachings; the
esoteric teaching is closer to Pythagoras. GI Gurdjieff of course
taught something like Pythagoras's line on the subject, with the
addition that more permanent "I", with memory etc, is possible for
those who do spiritual work: who suffer consciously, who observe
themselves, and so forth. 
  
inkwell.vue.58 : Jay Kinney and Richard Smoley _Hidden Wisdom_
permalink #77 of 143: Richard Smoley (smoley) Tue 4 Jan 00 08:27
    
On the other hand, how wonderful is it to be an "I," with memory,
etc.? Perhaps "drinking from the river of Lethe" is meant for our
benefit.

I think the  ultimate answer is that there is something that survives
after death. This is something that every human being knows at some
level or another. But all of the answers given by religions and
philosophies are only approximations. This is not necessarily
comforting, but it does seem to be the distillation of traditional
wisdom. All the texts, teachings, and doctrines are attempts to come to
grips with the fact of death, and survival after death, and make it
explicable in terms the earthly mind can understand. But the closest
that they can come to is in the form of myth and allegory.
  
inkwell.vue.58 : Jay Kinney and Richard Smoley _Hidden Wisdom_
permalink #78 of 143: David Gans (tnf) Tue 4 Jan 00 09:48
    
There has to be something that survives after death, yes.  What is the
purpose of stuffing this soul with experiences and wisdom otherwise?
  
inkwell.vue.58 : Jay Kinney and Richard Smoley _Hidden Wisdom_
permalink #79 of 143: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 4 Jan 00 11:14
    
We are just disposable containers.
  
inkwell.vue.58 : Jay Kinney and Richard Smoley _Hidden Wisdom_
permalink #80 of 143: John Shirley (johnp-shirley) Tue 4 Jan 00 12:39
    
Well of course many modern philosophers, David, do not see a need for
a purpose to existence, or a plan. Existence as absurd random
concatenation of cause and effect. And I think that's a defensible
position--though I do not believe it is the case, except in a certain
sense. But it seems likely that our pitiful little
anthropomorphically-center attempts to render overall meaning from the
corpus of the universe will never provide anything but an
ant's-eye-view of a mountain range in an electric storm. 

Disposable containers--I can dig it. Or recycle it.

Richard, anyway, is right that we can't understand life after death
until we're dead. 
  
inkwell.vue.58 : Jay Kinney and Richard Smoley _Hidden Wisdom_
permalink #81 of 143: Jay Kinney (jay) Tue 4 Jan 00 23:12
    
There *is* the Sufi goal of "dying before you die", which amounts to
having a conscious experience of the strata of being which includes the
realms one's consciousness goes to after death. 

Not that I've personally experienced this, mind you, but presuming it
is possible, then we *can* "understand life after death before we're
dead."
  
inkwell.vue.58 : Jay Kinney and Richard Smoley _Hidden Wisdom_
permalink #82 of 143: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 5 Jan 00 04:48
    
Perhaps, but how do you verify that you've truly experienced transcendant
realms, rather than trance variations? It's the same question skeptics ask
of experiences reported by folks who 'died' and were revived: those
memories they have of floating away from their bodies -- are they a taste
of death, or hallucinations produced by a brain deprived of blood flow?
  
inkwell.vue.58 : Jay Kinney and Richard Smoley _Hidden Wisdom_
permalink #83 of 143: Jay Kinney (jay) Wed 5 Jan 00 09:42
    
Jon, you asked:

"Perhaps, but how do you verify that you've truly experienced
transcendant realms, rather than trance variations?"

The answer to that, as I understand it, is that the experience is
confirmed by others who have also previously experienced it, within the
Sufi tradition. And that there are certain hallmarks of it.

This, of course, doesn't rule out shared delusion, but the problem
with the skeptics' objections is that they can't be answered in any
fashion that will satisfy the skeptics. It is something like asking a
believer to "prove" the existence of God. Can't be done. But the fact
that it can't be, doesn't disprove God's existence either.
  
inkwell.vue.58 : Jay Kinney and Richard Smoley _Hidden Wisdom_
permalink #84 of 143: Richard Smoley (smoley) Wed 5 Jan 00 10:21
    
It all comes down to the same solipsistic question, doesn't it? How
can you verify that all your supposedly external experiences -
including scientific data on hallucinations, blood flow, etc. - are not
just the products of your own mind?

This is not meant to be a glib or sophomoric response. In fact I would
suggest that there is not a radical difference between supposedly
"outer" and supposedly "inner" experiences. They are ultimately the
same. Your hallucination, whatever that is, is an experience not unlike
your experience of, say, the real coffee mug in front of you.

Herein lies insanity, one might reply. And so it does, if left here.
Of course there is a need to be very clear about what is an event that
others can see and experience and an event that others can't. Generally
people are classified as insane if they can't make this distinction.

But what is one to say in the end? You may find yourself confronted
with an experience that isn't validated by science, the Sufi tradition,
or whatever. And yet you feel it happened. It's a razor's edge,
really, being faithful to what one actually experiences.

But much of what we're saying here is really not about our own
experiences. It's about hearsay. And there's nothing wrong with this.
But it is second-hand, and until we experience it for ourselves, it
will always have a somewhat facititious quality about it.
  
inkwell.vue.58 : Jay Kinney and Richard Smoley _Hidden Wisdom_
permalink #85 of 143: Linda Castellani (castle) Wed 5 Jan 00 13:16
    

After I experience it, I plan to come back here and figure out a way to
post about it!

I am quite intrigued by this Sufi thought of dying before you are dead (as
I am with many things Sufi) and I want to know when do you start?  Minutes
before?  Seconds before?  Can I start now?
  
inkwell.vue.58 : Jay Kinney and Richard Smoley _Hidden Wisdom_
permalink #86 of 143: Jay Kinney (jay) Wed 5 Jan 00 22:09
    
Linda wrote:

"I am quite intrigued by this Sufi thought of dying before you are
dead (as I am with many things Sufi) and I want to know when do you
start?  Minutes before?  Seconds before?  Can I start now?"

Hey, you can start at any time. Start, that is, to work with your
consciousness in a contemplative mode which, in due course, might
hopefully lead you to the experience. 

The biggest challenge that I've run into in it, is what is sometimes
referred to as "purification." This isn't meant in a moral sense,
necessarily, but rather it refers to weaning your subconscious mind
away from favorite addictions which it reverts to every time one tries
to empty the mind for meditation/contemplation. One can easily spend
years (decades!) in this stage. 

The goal, as I understand it, is to so empty the mind of fixations and
repressions that one can begin to distinguish things that then arise
as being genuinely from other planes rather than just from one's own
imagination. Yet, of course, one is employing the imagination to clothe
these experiences in comprehensible "clothes", so to speak. So there
is much subtle discrimination and discernment that has to go on. 

Please report back with any results in 2020, please! ;-)
  
inkwell.vue.58 : Jay Kinney and Richard Smoley _Hidden Wisdom_
permalink #87 of 143: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 6 Jan 00 05:09
    
A whole lot like Buddhist practice!
  
inkwell.vue.58 : Jay Kinney and Richard Smoley _Hidden Wisdom_
permalink #88 of 143: Linda Castellani (castle) Thu 6 Jan 00 14:56
    

What if I'm not dead in 2020 yet?

I've had some interesting experiences, and I feel pretty sure that I know
which are me and which are originating outside of me, but later, in the
retelling, it gets hard to convince people about it.
  
inkwell.vue.58 : Jay Kinney and Richard Smoley _Hidden Wisdom_
permalink #89 of 143: Linda Castellani (castle) Thu 6 Jan 00 15:01
    

Also, having had these experiences, and not having gone through the
official purification process might make my experiences suspect to those
who believe you cannot have these experiences until you've gone through
the process.

But my personal preference is to cut to the chase.  When I had the
experiences, I didn't know I wasn't qualified.

In fact, this strikes me as being similar to what bugs me about most
organized religions:  the need to go through an intermediary, to perform a
lot of rituals in order to arrive at a state of grace.

Me - I want to talk to God, I talk to God.  Don't need no rituals to be in
the right state beforehand, don't need no intermediaries to intercede on
my behalf.
  
inkwell.vue.58 : Jay Kinney and Richard Smoley _Hidden Wisdom_
permalink #90 of 143: Jay Kinney (jay) Thu 6 Jan 00 21:36
    
Ah, I didn't mean to imply that one necessarily had to be purified
before such experiences could occur. They can potentially occur at any
time - and not even necessarily while in meditation. It's more that the
classical order of training posits doing things in a certain order,
usually to avoid confusion or because that order seems to have worked
best for most people. 

Linda, you wanna talk to God? You go, girl!

Jon, yes, there end up being all sorts of parallels between various
mystical traditions. There are subtle centers in the body in Sufi
tradition that a similar to the chakras in yogic tradition, and so on.
  
inkwell.vue.58 : Jay Kinney and Richard Smoley _Hidden Wisdom_
permalink #91 of 143: Linda Castellani (castle) Fri 7 Jan 00 13:48
    

So, Jay, is there a school of thought that once one has done the right
things in a particular order that one is more likely to have those
experiences?
  
inkwell.vue.58 : Jay Kinney and Richard Smoley _Hidden Wisdom_
permalink #92 of 143: Jay Kinney (jay) Fri 7 Jan 00 22:04
    
Linda, first off, there's no guarantee that doing certain practices in
a specific order will *guarantee* having experiences of the type we
are talking about. There are too many variables operating in the
personality and circumstances of each individual to allow for there to
be guarantees. Besides, one can't force God (or the Universe) to act
certain ways on one's behalf, despite all the New Age talk of creating
your own reality. 

But, as I understand it, most traditions - especially living ones that
have a passed along inheritance of experience in these matters - *do*
tend to encourage a certain order of things when one is pursuing the
widening of consciousness. 

And it stands to reason why. When one begins to engage with trying to
open up the individual consciousness to the infinite and unbounded, one
is, in effect, destabilizing the personality and threatening the ego.
This can lead to the strong possibility of mental illness or collapse
if the ego is unexpectedly overwhelmed or dissolved. 

As far as I can tell, part of Phil Dick's dilemma when he had the
"pink beam" experience and the following persona overlap, etc., was
that he was having to sort through whether he was going mad or having a
fantastic insight into deeper reality. His exegesis writings chew away
on this question endlessly. 

If there is a tested order of opening that, more often than not, seems
to help people along the path with fewer breakdowns, that is a
preferable path to take. At least *to me*.

This, of course, is a rather conservative approach in comparision to,
say, psychedelic adventurers who love to blast themselves into new
realities and planes (or new illusions) and then find their way back
out. I've been there and done that and it *can* give some good results.
But I don't think of it as a path for the long run... 
  
inkwell.vue.58 : Jay Kinney and Richard Smoley _Hidden Wisdom_
permalink #93 of 143: Gail Williams (gail) Sat 8 Jan 00 12:20
    
Jay, I agree with you.  And I have another way of looking at it, as well, of
course, since I seem to be evolving even more firmly into the On The Other 
Hand Kid as I travel my own travels.  

Another reason for people to create roadmaps and rituals is, as you said 
so clearly, as one moves to

 "open up the individual consciousness to the infinite and unbounded, one
 is, in effect, destabilizing the personality and threatening the ego."
 
Besides the "strong possibility of mental illness or collapse if the ego 
is unexpectedly overwhelmed or dissolved," a need to protect the
individual from internal forces, there is a community or cultural need 
for context when one's family member or neighbor loses their
hat, in my favorite gentle folk nomenclature.  That external group need 
also has the potential of making danger for the one who is undergoing 
change. 

Part of the establishment of paths and traditions is so that others in the
life of the changer will say "oh, some kinda religious foolishness" if 
they don't empathize or comprehend, rather than "uh-oh, madness, let's
intervene!"  If the religious tradition is accepted in the culture at
large and not seen as an extreme cult, it can provide an important
protective cultural buffer.   

Living a a secular society means the institutions of exception are less
firmly defined.  On the one hand, this means more paths to choose from. On
the other hand, it undercuts that function of a broadly santioned way to 
open up to all those destabilizing forces.  
  
inkwell.vue.58 : Jay Kinney and Richard Smoley _Hidden Wisdom_
permalink #94 of 143: John Shirley (johnp-shirley) Sat 8 Jan 00 16:52
    
Jay as you know I don't think Dick's exegesis really chewed over the
question of whether he had a mental breakdown or a spiritual insight;
to me it looked like he'd made up his mind that it was transcendant and
was just trying to justify it to himself. It's possible that breaking
down the mind's usual structures -- even with a stroke, which is
probably what he was having -- opens up one to a  flash of real gnosis
at times. Nothing then to get in its way. And what after all is more of
a breaking down of the usual structures than death which famously
prefigures insight into the cosmic.
  
inkwell.vue.58 : Jay Kinney and Richard Smoley _Hidden Wisdom_
permalink #95 of 143: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sat 8 Jan 00 17:21
    
I think that Linda has some insight into Dick's experiences...?
  
inkwell.vue.58 : Jay Kinney and Richard Smoley _Hidden Wisdom_
permalink #96 of 143: Jay Kinney (jay) Sat 8 Jan 00 17:33
    
Gail, very good points that I hadn't exactly thought of before, at
least not in precisely that way. 

John, are we talking from the same data here? Only a fraction of PKD's
Exegesis has actually made it into print (largely in In Pursuit of
Valis). But based on VALIS itself, which certainly entertains the
notion that Horselover Fat (PKD stand-in) may have gone mad, I think
one could say that Dick considered that possibility. 

Further, having been the repository for an archival copy of the whole
handwritten Exegesis for a period, I had a chance to plow through a
goodly portion of it and my memory is that entertained all sorts of
possible interpretations of what was going on, including chemical,
neurological, transcendental, you name it. Little of that saw its way
into print, because much of it was repetitive (possibility A, A1, A2,
A3, etc., each with slight variations) and not terribly fascinating
reading. 

Finally, FWIW, it is the contention of a teacher of mine that full
gnosis or enlightenment (or whatever you want to call it) is marked by
concrete biological (somatic) changes. But it isn't clear which comes
first, the change in consciousness or the change in body...
  
inkwell.vue.58 : Jay Kinney and Richard Smoley _Hidden Wisdom_
permalink #97 of 143: Linda Castellani (castle) Sun 9 Jan 00 00:37
    
I don't have as much insight into Phil's state of mind during that time.
He was isolated from me; I learned during Tim's interview that he was
isolated from him and most others (except Tess) as well.  I'm interested
in John's comment that it may have been stroke-related since that's what
ultimately killed him - I haven't heard that before.

What was fascinating to me about Valis was that it was the first time I
ever heard Phil tell the truth about himself.  His behavior was so odd,
contradictory, extreme, often frightening - he never let on that he was
aware of it - but Valis showed he was clearly aware.  He behaved like Phil
Dick, but he acted as though he was behaving like Horselover Fat.  Serious
consequences would often occur as a result of this misaligned mask.

But, to get back to my last question, or more accurately, Jay's response
to it - no, that wasn't where I was going with that.  Let me try and
state it more plainly:  

I think we need to define what we each mean by spiritual - I think
it can mean both an inner awareness and ability to find answers and peace
within one's self, *and* things that occur outside of one's self that hint
at or prove what is beyond one's normal perception.  This last bit gets a
bit fuzzy because it merges at some point into the supernatural.

So, first, where does spirituality stop and the supernatural begin?

Second, I think we are both saying that the ability to do the first part
of what I see as spirituality - inner work - enables the ability to do the
second part - take a step beyond into other realms.

If someone hasn't done the inner work, can they even have a spiritual
external experience since they don't have a way to explain it?  I'd think
they'd just miss it.  

I know I did.  I missed years and years of interesting things.  Or maybe I
didn't. Maybe I - we - accumulate the spiritual stuff until we are capable
of understanding it.  I know that was true of the sex jokes.
  
inkwell.vue.58 : Jay Kinney and Richard Smoley _Hidden Wisdom_
permalink #98 of 143: Jay Kinney (jay) Sun 9 Jan 00 08:15
    
Linda,

Sorry for my obtuseness, but I'm not quite getting what you mean by
"things that occur outside of one's self that hint at or prove what is
beyond one's normal perception." Can you give an example?

Perhaps the trouble I'm having is that I have a hard time
differentiating between external occurrences and one's subjective
perception of those external occurrences. For instance, there's the
question of "auras." According to various esoteric teachings, people
have auras. And they have them independent of whether others see them
or not. But it may take a certain amount of inner work to be able to
see them. (Though some people seem to be born with the ability.) Is
that an example of what you are referring to?

Speaking of auras, the only ones I seem to be able to see are junkie's
auras, which are more the *absence* of an aura. ;-)  I live and work
near 16th and Mission in S.F. - a big hard drug area - and can usually
spot junkies at 50 yards by their "greyness'...

But perhaps that is just a self-conceit of mine...

-Jay
  
inkwell.vue.58 : Jay Kinney and Richard Smoley _Hidden Wisdom_
permalink #99 of 143: John Shirley (johnp-shirley) Sun 9 Jan 00 12:58
    
SOmeone wrote an article -- I think it was a long time ago, in Science
Fiction Eye? -- suggesting that Phil's experience was caused by a
stroke because everything he described is classic to certain kinds of
strokes. The visual effects are particular to that sort of stroke.
Unfortunately I don't remember much more than that. There's no doubt
that Phil was a genius and a great artist and even a man with real
spiritual insight. But one should remember too that he had periods of
real paranoia (letters to the FBI about the KGB stalking him,
etc...many of his letters show it clearly) and that he was taking
prescription amphetamines some of the time. Some doctor apparently gave
him the impression that his liver was neutralizing the speed somehow,
as I recall, and he claimed he'd taken it for years without it really
affecting him but this was either misinformation from a quack or (more
likely) his misinterpretation of the facts. Speed affects the mind--and
will make strokes more likely.
  
inkwell.vue.58 : Jay Kinney and Richard Smoley _Hidden Wisdom_
permalink #100 of 143: Linda Castellani (castle) Sun 9 Jan 00 16:27
    

Jay - can you address the part about where spirituality stops and the
supernatural begins?  I'm afraid that what I'm thinking of may be stepping
into the region of the supernatural and out of the spiritual.

Where would auras fit, for example?

At the risk if sounding like a complete wacko, I have had experiences of
both "ghosts" and of God, both of which are things that "occur outside of
one's self that hint at or prove what is beyond one's normal perception." 

The "ghost" experiences felt differently than the God experiences.  With
the God experiences I felt lifted up somehow, comforted, above the pain I
had sought to ease, and at peace.  Also a feeling somewhat akin to feeling
extremely sexually aroused, but at such a higher vibration that, by
comparison, sexual arousal feels coarse and base.  

With the "ghost" experiences I always think, "What the fuck was that?"
Did that really happen?  Did I misinterpret something?  Am I being set
up? How come nobody else around seems to think this is odd?"

And then there was an experience that seemed to straddle the two.  I
experienced it twice.  The first time I only know it was the most
unexpectedly blissful sensation I had ever encountered (and in an unlikely
place - the Disneyland Hotel), and the second time I knew exactly what it
was and so was able to identify the first sensation.  The man who lived
downstairs from me died after a long bout with cancer.  Unaware of that at
the time, I was crossing my bedroom when I suddenly experienced that
blissful sensation the second time.  I believe that, as his spirit left
his body, it passed through me.  What a rush.  I don't know who died at
the Disneyland Hotel, though, and I was outside, so it doesn't seem like
the spirit was moving upwards that time, more like forward.

So this experience straddles the line for me - blissful like the God
experiences, but contact with someone departed like the ghost experiences.
  

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