Jan 112011
 

Would love to hear your thoughts on the difficulties Elders are having in passing on their traditions, John. Any chance you could use that as your next topic?

Over the years in the course of conversations with people I respect from the Teacher/Author/Elder segment of our community, I have often found the subject of our discussion turning to the shift they are witnessing in the mindset of the general student population. The first time was with my own Teacher some 30+ years ago, the most recent was in a conversation with an old friend just a few months past. These discussions are not of the “students were different back in the good old days” genre, but rather focus on observed changes in the average student’s expectations regarding the learning process.

The Public’s interest has varied greatly over the last few centuries with respect to studying subjects typically labeled as Metaphysical, Arcane, or the Occult (not the Hollywood version).  More recent additions to this area of interest have been labeled as Paganism, Wiccan, Goddess Religion, or New Age. 

Up until the mid-nineteenth century, for an individual to be open at all about having an interest in any of these areas would be hazardous to them socially, and could put them personally at risk with the local authorities and/or religious organizations. Under these circumstances an individual persistent enough to seek out a teacher or an organization where learning was available was a personage who took the entire process seriously, one who was willing to perform whatever level of exertion was required in order to acquire access to these teachings.

In the United States the Spiritualist Movement, which began with the Fox sisters in 1848, launched the general public’s more tolerant acceptance of people’s interests in these subjects.  By the Civil War, just a decade and a half later, Mary Todd Lincoln was hosting séances in the White House. Organizations began to appear that were open to the public, albeit with some membership restrictions, whose purpose was to promote the study and practice of Eastern and Occult Philosophies.  Progenies of two such organizations of the period are still in operation today, The Theosophical Society, which was founded in 1875 in New York City, and The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, which was founded in 1888 in London.

From this point on, and lasting through the first half of the 20th Century, there was a steady growth of organizations throughout the Western World that provided access to learning within a wide range of subjects related to the Mystery Traditions.  The focus of these organizations varied widely, but they all had a common approach to learning, the student was expected to do all the work.  What I mean by that is the Teachers and Elders in the organizations were there to assist the student as much as possible, directing them to the texts they needed to study, helping them to learn exercises that would aid them in their personal development, and teaching them the traditions of their particular belief system, etc., but the student was expected to do the reading of the texts, to learn and to practice the exercises and the traditions, and to process the information personally and internally. Although there were initiations for the student at various levels of attainments that would provide an occasional boost for the novice, all accomplishment came as the result of personal participation and accomplishments. 

The novice started with access to the exoteric form of the tradition, learning what was available to pretty much anyone who was willing to search for books and writings on the subjects.  But in order to gain access to the esoteric portion of the teachings, those held from the general public to prevent their misuse, the student had to show that they had acquired a sufficient level of the basics in knowledge and principles. They also had to demonstrate that they possessed a work ethic that would make it possible for them to stick with a learning process that could at times be daunting.

The section that follows is not meant to be an evaluation of the merits or failings of the changes that will be discussed, nor an endorsement or a criticism of them; rather in order to understand how we got to where we are today, and to speculate upon where we are going in the future, the time period considered will be discussed in terms of “cause and effect”.

With roots that started in the 1950’s, and clearly visible in the 1960’s, we saw a major paradigm shift in the West whose influence was most predominant among the younger members of society.  In every culture you looked at, the existing values of the “Elders” were suddenly being brought into question.  As many of the traditional values were rejected, new ways of viewing the world and interacting with others were sought out.  At the time, these changes were viewed as a positive thing for our community.  Interest in numerous Magickal, Pagan and Wiccan Traditions increased, as well as in the traditions of the East, particularly those originating in India.  The upsurge in attraction for studying these areas saw a measured but consistent rate of growth from the mid-sixties up through the mid-eighties.

Then, in February of 1987, a mini-series appeared on TV based on Shirley MacLaine’s book Out On A Limb and the New Age Movement took off.

Overnight the demand for classes in crystals, healing, meditation, and yoga snowballed.  Additionally, during the decade following there was an upsurge in interest in all things Pagan, Wiccan, Magick and Goddess oriented, followed very quickly by Angels and Fairies.  The demand was so great that it almost immediately exceeded the supply of experienced teachers and Elders. 

Where demand exceeds supply there will always be some who will step forward to fill the gap.  Soon we had new teachers teaching the classes that they had just taken themselves.  The new scholars did not see any problem with this lack of breadth in their teacher’s range of knowledge, because most of them only had an interest in the one subject being covered in the particular class that they were enrolled in.

Some of these new teachers from two plus decades ago went on to expand their breadth of knowledge, found Elders to study under, become successful authors, and are now becoming Elders themselves.  Others went on to become “personalities” and became a Westernized version of the Eastern Guru.

For most of the new members of the community the paradigm shift in the culture alluded to earlier, coupled with the new student’s realization that much of the time they found themselves taking instruction from individuals less knowledgeable about the subject at hand than they were, produced an attitude that experience in a teacher was not to be valued all that much, and Traditions that outlined a specific way of living or of practicing ritual were not all that necessary either. 

The word Eclectic entered the community and became a code for one who preferred to not limit themselves to a single Tradition or belief system.  The Eclectic chose their Gods, Goddesses, meditation practices, rituals and tools from whatever Tradition they came across, making their selections like choosing from a menu in a restaurant.  An Eclectic did not need an Elder, nor saw any need to follow an established Tradition.  Instead, groups of Eclectics that had made similar choices from the menu began to form their own, new, Traditions.  Most of these groups had very short life spans, soon breaking up with the former members gravitating to other new Traditions, until those too dissolved.

In any culture when the need for a position in that culture fades, the position itself also vanishes.  I grew up on the Northern edge of the Missouri Ozarks which had a rich tradition of folk healers and herbalists up through the first half of the twentieth century.  When conventional medical care became more widely available in the rural areas of the state in the 1950’s, the use of the services of the folk healers and herbalists disappeared, as did with time, the folk healers and herbalists themselves.

Our community has become part of the cultural mainstream.  You can now buy your books, tools and jewelry at any large department store.  There is no longer a perceived need for a specialty shop or learning center.  Nor is there a perceived need in the majority of the community for an Elder to pass on a Tradition, and because of that, soon the younger members of the community may not be able to find an Elder to study under, even if they decide they want to.

Interest in the extensive range of topics that fall under the headings of New Age, Paganism and Wicca continues to expand, at least on the surface.  And I think that that is a good thing.  My observation and concern though, is that most of the interest seems to be more social oriented, than spiritual.  I’m certainly not opposed to a teacher doing whatever they can to maximize attendance, teachers have bills to pay just like everyone else, but when I see group rituals being scheduled for the nearest weekend preceding an occasion such as a solstice, rather than for the actual date of the event to maximize attendance, I can’t help but wonder if anyone involved really understands why the ancients performed their rites on specific days?

The “purpose” for the ritual celebration on a specific date originally was so that the ritual would have access to the maximum amount of natural energy possible, which could then be tapped into to facilitate the bringing about of a desired result for the individual and/or the community.  In the case of a Solstice Celebration, the “purpose” of the ritual was to bring about the most favorable conditions possible for the survival of the tribal group for the next six months. 

The “purpose” today for many for the enactment of a ritual celebration is simply a social gathering and becomes an end unto itself.  The timing becomes inconsequential. To choose convenience over substance contributes to the growing superficial approach to these subjects, an approach that also contributes to the perceived lack of need for experienced teachers and Elders. It is not so much a case of the students not trusting in the wisdom of the Elders as much as it is that the average student today does not know what an Elder is, or the function or value of having an Elder within a cultural system. 

The title of this piece is the opening line from the book of Ecclesiastes in the King James Version of the Old Testament, Chapter III: “To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven”.  It may be that the surge in interest in all things mystical by mainstream culture has resulted in the mystical becoming mundane.  The study of the Metaphysical and Occult has been a core element of human growth for as long as there have been humans.  Occult means hidden, and so too was its study up to 150 years ago.  Perhaps the “season” for its in-depth study being readily available to all is coming to a close, and the cycle is returning once more to where the knowledgeable teachers and Elders are not so easily accessible to the general public.  To use terms from the period of the previous cycle, the public will still have open access to the “exoteric”, but only a few will have access to the “esoteric”, the real heart of the teachings.  

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant,
                       and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
                       a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
                                                                               
Ecclesiastes III

Jan 012011
 

For most people the accepted view of reality is that of the physicist’s Conventional Space Time model (CST), where reality is limited to the observable physical world, changing with respect to time. 

Reality in Parapsychical Laboratory Research is unavoidably limited to the physical world of Newtonian Physics (classical mechanics, basically, the field of physics related to all material the size of an atom or larger) and an as yet indeterminate phenomenon, the human mind. 

Most research done in the lab seems to fall under one of two classifications, Mind to Mind communication through means not readily discernable (ESP), or Mind/Matter Interaction, Psychokinesis (PK).  The research is carried out utilizing the accepted standards of mainstream scientific research, and, as far as it goes, provides a valuable body of data with respect to the abilities of the human mind in the area of Extrasensory Perception (ESP).  But what if reality is, not different from Newtonian Physics, but encompasses a far more extensive area than that which we can perceive with our physical senses and present laboratory equipment?

First, let us set a working definition for reality as being simply “that which is”.   For something to be part of reality it must just exist, no matter in what form or whether or not we are aware of its existence.  It is not required that we can sense it in any way for it to exist.  Before the invention of Radio Telescopes the stars and other objects in space were generating signals that were undetected by conventional optical telescopes.  Up until the last century their signals weren’t even suspected by science.  Now we know that these radio transmissions have existed all along and despite our being unable to detect them, were always a part of reality.

Let us further stipulate that there is only one common reality, that there is not a Spiritual World, and a Material World, both real but to some extent incompatible with the other.  That there is only one common reality, even if the means we use to work with specific individual areas of reality appear to be in conflict with each other.  The first time I ran into this situation was in my studies of the physics of light.  I found that I was required to sometimes treat light as a waveform, and at other times I must treat it as a photon, a particle possessing mass, and all the other properties that one would expect of a solid.  The two sets of mathematical equations could never be mixed when working out a problem because they were incompatible, but light obeyed the rules set down in each of the two systems, as long as only one of the systems were used at a time.  It is not light that existed in two different realities, but our perception of the nature of light that seemed to show that there were two incompatible realities for light.

In discussions of the nature of reality the concept of reality as illusion frequently appears.  Proponents of reality as illusion are to be found in the fields of science, spirituality/philosophy, and quantum mechanics.  By this view reality becomes not, “that which is” but becomes “only that which is perceived”.  A recurrent source referenced in these discussions is the body of data generated by the “Double Slit Experiments” a field of study which has recently been embraced on the Science Channels on TV, and featured in the movie “What the Bleep do we know?”

The double slit experiments, the first of which were carried out by the English Physicist and Physician Thomas Young around 1801 to 1805, were done using light and focused on the interference patterns that result from two seemingly independent beams passing through parallel slits.  The result of his experiments shifted scientific thought on light for a while from Newton’s idea that light was made up of particles (photons), to the opinion that light was actually a waveform (energy oscillating from a max to a min, just like waves in a tank of water).

The initial experiments were all done with beams of light, but starting in 1961 double slit experiments began to be conducted using electrons, and later with other types of particle beams.  The results of the electron double slit experiments produced wave interference patterns exactly the same as the light based experiments.  All types of beams exhibit characteristics that would be expected of beams made up of waveform energy, regardless of whether the beams are visible light or “solid” particles such as electrons.  The conclusion has been therefore that electrons and other particles are not solids, but are waveforms, just like light. 

For the purposes of this article I won’t go into any details on how the double slit experiments are done, or how they have posed as many questions for physicists as answers.  To do so would produce an article by itself that would be even longer that this one already is.  There is considerable amount of material available on The Double Slit Experiment and the process itself is not as relevant to our discussion as much as the resulting conclusions that were based on the experiments, that is, that sub-atomic particles act like waveforms when passing through the double slits, therefore sub-atomic particles are considered to be, at least part of the time, waveform energies.

As an undergraduate (some 40+ years ago), when I was introduced to sub-atomic physics (quantum mechanics) I found that I was working with dual models of the material world.  One model was where everything in reality existed as either a solid, gas, liquid or energy plasma, that the basic building block of the Universe was the atom.  The other was a model of reality where everything sub-atomic consisted of particles constructed of basic building blocks called quarks.  Quarks have been found to be photon-like packets of energy.  Therefore, in this model, all solid, liquid or gaseous matter is not solid, liquid or gaseous in the generally accepted sense, but all are in reality simply different configurations or compilations of quarks (packets of waveform energy).

The solid material world, the chair you are sitting on, the body you inhabit, the entire world around you is real in every sense of the word, but the realness is derived not from a physical form, but from our perceptions of the ability of the composite energy fields of each of the atoms (which remember, are in turn constructed of packets of waveform energy, quarks) to resist the intrusion into their physical space of each of the other atom’s force fields.  It is the resulting composite force fields that we perceive as solids. 

To restate the previous, since the material world is made up of atoms, and the atoms are in turn made up of these sub-atomic particles, and since these sub-atomic particles are in reality not like little marbles, but are packets of waveform energy, it can only be concluded that physicality is based on the effects of force fields, and that it is our interactions with these force fields that result in what we understand as interacting with solids. 

To illustrate what is meant by the term “force field” or more properly, the field of force that surrounds each atom, you can do a simple experiment using two bar magnets.  Place the bar magnets in a line with the north pole of each magnet facing each other.  Then try to move the two ends together.  You will find that as the ends get closer together it takes greater and greater force on your part to make them touch.  In fact, if the magnets are strong enough, you may find that you lack the strength to force them to physically touch.  The resistance encountered is the result of the magnets “magnetic field” an invisible force that surrounds each of the magnets, the same as the composite field of force that is inherent in that which we call atoms. 

In Parapsychical Research in Psychokinesis (PK) there are two components involved.  A material object, which is perceived as a solid, but as we just covered, is solid only in the sense that we perceive the interaction of force fields as solid.  The other component in PK experiments is a Human Mind, generally considered in the lab as a byproduct of the living human organism. 

Mainstream science has literally scores of definitions for what constitutes mind, breaking the mind down into numerous categories, assigning classifications for various functions of the mind and associating those functions with different parts of the organic human brain.  None of which, as far as I can tell, actually provide a prototype for understanding the energy configuration of the mind. 

Instrumentation can certainly indicate if there is brain activity or not, anyone who has watched a medical drama on TV is familiar with the machine readout that shows sine waves and  blips scrolling across the screen, and then showing no waveforms and no blips when the brain and other parts of the body are supposed to have ceased to function in the story.  But the wave patterns are not the mind itself, only a sensing of energy activity associated with a functioning mind.  We can apply electrical stimulation to the memory areas of the brain to generate a specific memory in that persons mind.  Every time the same cells are stimulated, the same memory is recalled.  But recording the brain activity generated by the stimulated memory cannot in turn be used to convey the memory itself in any way.  Nor, as far as I can tell, can there be shown any physical change in the memory cell of a brain between before and after the storage of a memory on the cell.  Where is the program for the consciousness of the brain recorded?  If it is a field of energy generated by the brain, where is this field stored?  Taking a look at nature, how does the single cell amoeba, which as its name indicates is composed of but a single cell, know what nutrients to ingest and which ones to reject?  And where is the programming stored that tells it when and how to divide into two, single cell organisms? 

The programming, consciousness, in both cases exists not as a component of the material cells, but as a complementary energy field, an energy field associated with, but not generated by, the organic material.  Consciousness is conjoined with the brain, but is not a component of the brain.  It is an independent coherent energy pattern, a composite energy waveform with a detectable, measureable associated energy field, in conventional religious terms, the soul. The key thing to understand here is that it is an independent composite energy waveform with a detectable, measureable associated energy field.  The force field of the consciousness, the mind, is not generated by the organic tissue of the brain, and is unlike the type of field that is generated by iron in the magnets in the earlier example.

In the iron magnet, each of the atoms in the iron has its own force field and each of these fields have a north and south pole.  In un-magnetized iron the orientation of the individual atom’s north/south poles are random, each atom’s north/south pole axis pointing in a different direction.  If a coil of wire is wrapped around the iron bar and a continuous single direction of current flow (DC current) is ran through the wire of the coil, an electrical field is generated that forces each of the north/south axis’s of the atoms to line up in the direction of the field generated.  Take the coil off the bar, and the atom’s axis’s remain lined up.  The force field of each individual atom adds to the overall field creating a force field that extends beyond the boundaries of the iron bar, the magnetic field.  Take away the iron in the iron bar and the field ceases to exist.  Much of Paranormal field research revolves around the apparent ability of the human field of consciousness to remain after the removal of the organism that it was a part of.

It is my belief that if Parapsychical Research in all of these areas could be conducted using not the conventional view, where reality consists solely of the material world, as the point of reference for all observations, but instead, used a point of reference in which all of reality is composed of varying forms of waveform energy, then the nature of reality will be found to be quite a bit different then it is now perceived to be.  As Einstein’s Theory of Relativity demonstrates, the point from which you view reality changes the view significantly. 

So what is the nature of reality?  Is reality then a solid material world with some as yet undiscovered accompanying energy fields hanging around, or is reality something significantly different?  Is the material world real, but only in the sense that we perceive it to be material in order to simplify our ability to interact with it? 

Lab experiments in Psychokinesis test whether or not the human mind is capable of somehow remotely causing movement of a solid object.  If the experiments were approached from the standpoint that reality is energy, that the human mind is a composite energy form that is not limited to existing as a result of, or limited to the physical dimensions of, the organic brain.  If the experiments were approached from the standpoint that all of reality is composed of energy fields, some making up the atoms of the “physical” world, some energy fields making up the numerous forms of consciousness, then the experiment would be one involving not two independent models, one involving the physical world and one involving the non-physical world, but becomes an experiment using one model based on differing forms of similar waveform energy.

Psychokinesis could then be tested as being actually a matter of wave theory.  The movement of the material object becomes a result similar in many ways to the interference patterns that are generated between two waveforms, just as in the Double Slit Experiments, the driving waveform energy field of the human consciousness acting upon the waveforms of the energy fields of the sub-atomic particles of the elements making up the material object.  The results of this and other similar experiments could go a long way towards demonstrating that the nature of reality can be defined simply as “energy”. 

Then we can begin the discussion on what is the source of this energy?