Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Emphasizing Empiricism in Analysis of Phenomena

[This is a reply to a comment made to the previous journal entry entitled "Why natural is not necessarily good". It is suggested that if the contents of this message are not understandable, please go back and read the previous article, its comments and then come back and read this response.]

Rowan,

I'll give you two answers to your comment. I believe that there are a myriad amount of "spiritual" experiences one can have, and that sometimes it is a bad idea to link it to a fad with a name on it. Astral travel, remote viewing, ESP, telepathy, hypnosis, etc. are all topics which I am cautious around because they have gotten intertwined and tainted by hokey new-age false enlightenment undertones with preachers and weird people talking about and boasting experiences they probably did not have. However, with your experience of not being able to breath and feeling that you went to far out, I do believe that you experienced what you describe, and my opinion upfront is that instead of stopping, your fearful experience could have been an obstacle in the path of your growth, and you should work through it and break past it instead of stopping and talking about a mystical experience you once had. If what you say is true and you were able to get that far, then stopping there was a waste of the experience and you have a duty to see how far you can grow and to see how far you can push the limits of your experience.

As for the fear of going too far, you seldom hear of people dying because they had a good meditative experience. Plus, injecting a bit of chassidus (Jewish mysticism) into our conversation, your animal soul is too attached to life and the physical world to let you go too far out and if you achieved that kind of level where you did not stop where you should, your animal soul would quickly pull you back to reality because it desires and is attached to the pleasures of the physical world as if it were addicted to cocaine.

Regarding the cloud busting, the telepathy attempts from past journal entries, and the other things that I explore despite the fear of sounding like a flake, as religious and as in touch with spirituality as I am, I believe that there are myriad amounts of experiences that one can have, and when playing with these forces [if I were to play with these forces], I would try to keep spirituality and non-empirical explanations out of the picture while trying to understand what is the real, physical mechanism underlying the experience.

I don't like the fact that I am able to do what I have done with clouds, or the fact that the girl with whom I went on a shidduch date was able to repeat back to me my thoughts during that first time I tried to make mental contact. These things make me uncomfortable because I do not understand them and I do not necessarily believe in them. Further, I do not believe that it is useful to play around with these experiences unless one can check or measure his or her results against some tangible result. This is why I videotaped the cloud experience on the five separate occasions and it is why I demonstrated in confidentiality the cloud-busting act in front of various people at different times and under varying circumstances to make sure they were all seeing the same thing that I was. That way, I would not fool myself into imagining that I have special powers that I really do not have.

In the previous post, the analysis of the morality of busting a cloud (if it is indeed real because after all the recordings, I remain skeptical until I can find an answer and I am not convinced that this is a spiritual feat of holiness because of my impure state) and the potential religious ramifications of controlling angelic forces and entities were simply discussed for the sake of expounding the concept that just because something is natural does not make it free game to use and abuse, even if it is for moral purposes. I analyzed this from three levels -- the practical, the moral, and the religious. To allay your concern that I would go into a snowball effect analysis, in playing with this sort of thing, I would first learn what I am doing and I would find a real explanation that could be tested and repeated by someone else to validate that it is actually real, then I would wonder about the moral ramifications, and then I would finish the mental checklist to see if there might be religious ramifications for those acts, such as those comprising the discussion about killing angels and messing with their instructions. However, this talk of angels and kabbalah is a far cry from Jewish law, and would ordinarily not even enter my thoughts because I am not at the level where I can understand those kinds of teachings and thus I would rely on the halachas (Jewish laws) that have been handed down to us from generation to generation from the time where the Torah was given at Mount Sinai until today. These laws have not changed, and the commandments today are exactly the same as they were back then.

A slight note of caution; Rowan, I wouldn't want you to try it and fail, and then to come up with the conclusion that you don't have "the power", because the point that I have been stressing all along is that I believe that this is NOT a power one has, but rather, it is a relationship between you and the reality that is already here -- a muscle that is developed, if you will -- that can be scientifically analyzed and figured out using laws of nature that may or may not yet be discovered. Under this same logic, I cower at the thought that I am somehow special or gifted with some spiritual talent that other people do not have because that would imply that I had a responsibility and a duty to use or to abstain from using that talent until the fated time approached. I don't like the idea of this kind of responsibility and I wouldn't want it.

In your discussion about G-d, the sanctuary, and the ant farm, the facts you described do lend themselves to the thought that it is not always the nature of the object that is important, but rather how one uses the object (the action coupled with the intention of the actor) that elevates it to holiness or that dumps it into the depths of impurity. You are discussing what is commonly referred to as klipahs nogah (literally, neutral impurity) which is a concept in Chassidus.

Also, to prevent you from diminishing your own religious quality of life and your connection with your Creator, be careful about what you attribute to "He" (being G-d), versus what you attribute to the "they" (being organized society, its institutions, and dogma). [If you are an athiest, then feel free to supplement "G-d" for "nature" or "science" although a thoughtful person usually does not hold this kind of belief; even the nobel prized physicist who founded the Big Bang Theory mentioned in his studies that as some point before the bang, someone had to turn on the lights and flip the switch.] It is sometimes too easy to throw the good away with the bad because one misinterprets a commandment by G-d as being a constraint instituted by the "they" in power, rather than by "He". What "He" decrees is sacred and must be followed at all costs, even if one's life depended on it. The trick in life, especially with organized religions branching off from each other and forming their own man-made, priest-enforced belief systems, is for each person involved in the mud of varying beliefs to sift through the dogma and the controls to reveal the G-dliness within the seas of misinformation and controls that are preached to the masses.

I hope that I have not stepped on you in any way by expressing my understanding of these events, and I want to posit my suspicion that these things are not magical, but rather, they are undiscovered physical phenomena. We are blessed with a world that acts upon laws of nature and rules. Every morning when I wake up, I thank G-d for returning my soul to my body, and I say a blessing thanking G-d for spreading the land above the waters so that I have a floor under my feet, among other things.

We as human beings have been placed in the lowest, most physical of all the spiritual words in existence. In our world, even spiritual concepts such as chesed (love) and gevurah (strength) [or expansion and constriction] find their way into the sweet taste of a grain of sugar or a spicy and sharp taste of a hot pepper. This is the greatest benefit to us living in this lowest world, namely that things manifest themselves as physical entities, processes and mechanisms. For this reason, when I see a cloud disappear because I will it, I smile because deep inside I understand that there must be a tangible reason and a process for it. This is both the blessing and the curse of science –- it detracts from the spiritual by explaining the physical manifestations of the spiritual. Unfortunately, if one only looks at the physical, he misses the bigger picture and places himself within a box ruled by morality, ethics, and "do onto others" theories. This would indeed be a lonely, meaningless existence.

9 comments:

Zoe Strickman said...

Has anyone noticed that the tone of this conversation has gotten hot and heavy? I think we all need to lighten up. :) Life shouldn't be so serious.

Rob said...

You should lighten up on the hallucinogenics. Just kidding, sort of. I attempted to read your blog while very tired ang hungry, so my skepticism was at its peak. I'll come back when I am my usual open minded self.

I must say, though, your posts are quite thought provoking, even as I only skim through them.

Rowan said...

Yeah, I see how you can say it's gotten "heavy". I get the impression you take yourself very seriously? No harm. I do myself as well.

You asked about references I made to G-d. I do not exactly consider myself an atheist. I believe that we were created, I believe in a creator. I don't know if I believe that the creator is necessarily all-knowing because from a scientific point of view, isn't it possible then that our creator had a creator? I don't know, but I think it's important as humans to have free will, and the ability to think and decide that we can pick and choose what we believe. On that note, I also believe in a certain amount of fate. So I suppose I am contradicting myself here. I think that we have a predestined birth, and then we end at a predestined death, but the choices in the middle affect how my next life will be. Whether that be reincarnation or another plane of existence. I have always though felt that I have lived before. I have gotten that impression from the time I can remember being a small girl in a crib. That this "repeat" life was a chance to undo past wrongs and to get to a new area of consciousness. Whether being a better person, or (for lack of a better term) an enlightened angel. But, I am positive you won't want to argue with me how your beliefs are right and mine are wrong. That will get us no where. As I mentioned before, I was raised as a Salvationist, whereby we're put on this Earth to spread the word of God and to help mankind, especially those who have fallen from grace. I still believe that. However, I am openminded. I love the fact that you chose your religion. That is so wonderful. I sometimes think I am closer to buddhist than Salvationist, but wouldn't I look strange attempting to follow? Of course, a good believer I suppose wouldn't worry about such petty things. Is it true that you are born a Jew and cannot Become one fully? My father used to say that my husband's family used to call me a (oh, what's the word for it and forgive me if I spell it wrong which I most certainly will) scheicksta? Is that the correct term? I have a very European married family. They were from Poland originally but came here during world war II. They changed their names, blah blah you know the song I'm sure, I have a feeling, they changed their religion too, but not the exclusivity of it. Of the final solution, I get the feeling they would rather not think of such things. They would RATHER
"forget". But, I am never fully accepted, they treat me differently. On my husband's father's side. They openly admit that they were Jewish women that married non-practiciing men. So, is it a bad thing that I am not really anything?

I am sure that there is more meant for me in your post, but at the moment, I cannot think of it. I will re-read and post more when I have time?

Rowan said...

Correction to my previous comment:
My father used to say that my husband's family used to call me a (oh, what's the word for it.....

This should read:
My father used to say that my husband's family treated me and thought of me as a .........

Rowan said...

You suggested that what I experienced was a form of meditation. If that is so, and you say it's safe, when is it finished? I should go on with the constrictive feelings associated with it? Are there instructions for such a practice?

Please don't worry about me. I'm fine. If I'm ignorant, I hope God forgives me. Like I said, I do believe in Him. All I was trying to convey was that I believe there are people of this Earth who decide to break all the rules of decency and right and wrong; there will always be those like that I suppose. I try not to associate with them (as it is instructed in my religion) but, I have the belief that God intended good, and hopes that we will indulge in that. Some of us, sadly, will not.

Zoe Strickman said...

Who Created the Creator?: You seem to be referring to the "infinite regress" argument which in philosophical systems are rejected because in the end there must be a first cause or a first creator.

What about Free Choice? If G-d is all knowing then I have no free choice because he already knows what choice I will have chosen: Two rebuttals here: 1) Perhaps he also knows the choices you would not have chosen and thus by being all-knowing, he knows all the infinite possible paths and decisions you could make at any one point -- multiply that by every human, every animal, every object, and you've got a pretty all-knowing creator. Alternate argument, 2) if you are at a movie theater on line, and unbenownst to you, a man has a gun and tells you he will shoot you in the head if you get off the line, yet not aware of your predicament you choose to stay on line. Did you really have a choice? If not, did you exercise your free choice? Interesting thought. Alternate example, 2a) you alone witness a shooting in the street and the victim has a high chance of survival if you run into your apartment and call an ambulance. You run into your apartment and then decide, "nah, someone else will call"; nobody does and the victim dies. Are you morally responsible for not calling? What if unbenownst to you, your phone line was dead and you couldn't have called even if you wanted to? Are you still morally responsible?

Reincarnation: What is so bad about that thought? I believe in that just as much as you.

Who is a Jew: A Jew follows the genetic line of the mother. Even Hitler knew this when he killed countless people who "converted" to other religions generations back. If somewhere up the mother's line a person can find a Jewish woman, then that person is 100% a Jew regardless of what religion they were born into, and regardless of what faith they practice.

Becoming a Jew: This is difficult because it requires a conversion which is a comprehensive process. There is a hilarious blog of a woman who is in the process of conversion to Judaism, if I understood the blog properly. Her site is http://soon2bmalka.blogspot.com.

PS - I think the word you were referring to is "shicksa", which just means a non-jewish woman without any connotation.

Zoe Strickman said...

You're a good person. I'd get annoyed if I felt your questions were insincere, but I do sense a sincerety in your words so I am honored to help you clarify some of your questions and form answers. I asked those same questions as you not too many years ago before I became religious. Just keep in mind that this is my understanding, not absolute truth. I have been wrong before.

Zoe Strickman said...

Sorry, I didn't answer your question about how to meditate. I don't know the answer. Aryeh Kaplan was my starting point to understand meditation. As you know, my journey brought me to Ayurveda, then to Huna, then to Judaism. I was born a Jew, but nevertheless I found an understandable system of the universe that worked with how I understood it to be. My most recent explorations in meditation have taken me into the depths of brain entrainment through Hemisync and Holosync technologies. I don't know where this will lead me. But either way, it will take many years before I have mastered enough to move on, and it will take lifetimes to master Judaism. Again, these are only my opinions, and I am only describing to you where my path has taken me. Each person has their own journey to take, if they have the courage to step into the unknown, outside their comfort zone to find truth. Truth by any name is still truth.

Rowan said...

Thanks for answering my questions! I didn't want to seem nosy, but I think it helps me to understand things when I know as much as I can (I'm a knowledge chaser).

Sorry for spelling that wrong (shicksa) - I know my father meant to let me believe that this is a derrogatory word for an "outsider" like me. Meaning, I'd never be fully accepted as I am.

I enjoy blogging with you too and I also feel you are a sincere and good-hearted person whose just trying to muddle things through like the rest of us. I'll stop being so apologetic soon, OK? Sorry, there I go again!

Pretty much? Your entire first paragraph are arguments I make myself often. See? Sometimes thinkers have a hard time accepting whats there. We just need to think it through more. In the end, I just try to live life morally and just and go by the rules I've learned. However, I am open to whatever the truth (if it ever presents itself to me) actually is, I will not deny it even if it goes against any teachings I've learned. I'm referring especially to your comments on fate and freedom of choice. I think the first point you made on that is the one that I think of most often. I guess that's why its faith, one never really knows what "fate" has in store for us....perhaps the two working together bring us reality.

ok I'll be quiet now. *laughs*