Mark Booth, Secret History Includes Angels and Demons |396|

#41
Thanks for that video, Vortex!

Rupert Sheldrake is a wonderful thinker and speaker - which I guess is part of the reason why Alex has invited him to speak here so many times!

I have only listened to about half that video so far, but even though RS goes to church, I feel the entity that he worships is so far removed from the Christian God, it would be best not to confuse the two.

At the most abstract level, yes I am sure there is a hierarchy of consciousness (with us somewhere in the middle), and that may reach a single entity at the top - but it could equally end in a number of entities, or maybe consciousnesses are ultimately linked together and collectively become what RS calls God.

Feeling a need to 'know' that consciousness is ultimately organised into a pyramid, feels a bit too ape-like for me!

David
 
#43
You dare question The Mighty Booth! :)

Well, this is a very old concept (magic for selfish ends leading to a bad place), and can also be found in some of the anthropological literature on shamans, so, I wouldn't call it new age. As for the reality of the statement? Well, I suppose there are two options here: 1) It's just a moralising overlay (which is not necessarily a bad thing), and 2) It is a pragmatic truth gained though many generations of observation.

And, yeah, you make a good point regarding what is selfish or not, but, if we manage to be honest with ourselves, I think we can feel the difference in any given situation. Many altruistic actions can have benefits for those performing them,sure, but I think the dividing line is what effect the action has on other people, and what we're willing to do for our own self-aggrandisement.

The healing of a stranger could be a good contender for being a request for spiritual assistance/intervention that isn't self-interested.

Yes, I find Chinese food very satisfying.

I get what you're saying here, but, to be fair, Booth does frame his story as being told from the perspective of the Western Mystery Traditions (which, of course, might not exist without Islamic influence).

Can I ask you a question? Without being an expert, Sufism, Christian Mysticism, Kabbalah, and Greek Neo-Platonism have always struck me as being deeply intertwined views of reality, as branches sprouting from the same root. Would you agree?

As an aside, I very much enjoy the Sufi emphasis on love as an avenue to interaction with the Divine..... and I also listen to Sufi devotional music quite frequently. :)
Dear dpdownsouth, that’s a question many have grappled with. It would seem to be the case that there is a primordial reality that has engaged the energies of ‘enquiring minds’ since forever. How this reality is grasped, or approached, or apprehended has been the issue. Each religion or method has its point of view or point of departure, if I may put it like that. My own master once said to a friend of mine that there is no spirituality as long as ego remains. His method involves a complex uprooting of that ego, which seeks to appropriate all spiritual experience to itself. “The secret target of our egos”, he said to me, “is to declare itself God!” He gave us a mantra in Turkish, that his master had given him. “Sen warsen - ben yokm,” You are - and I am not!” We pray not to be left in the hands of our egos, that veil us from experiencing true higher reality.
 
#44
I believe that the central message of the gospels is true and that it didn't originate with the Romans
It is indisputable that the core message of Jesus is true to a mystery tradition. A.B. Kuhn argues that the resurrection has been inverted from the Egyptian (Osiran) mysteries in that physical life of thought of as 'death' - the underworld - and 'true' life is in the spiritual dimension. This accords neatly with Plato's prisoners in the cave image. But whether this was part of the original Jesus message, rather than the subsequent Pauline embellishments isn't clear. Some say that Paul, who seems to have been Jewish, Greek and Roman, was exposed to the Greek mystery traditions, which would have been based on the Egyptian. Its all very muddled and messy.

It is certainly clear that the Jesus story in the Gospels borrowed from a recurring 'sacrificed god' motif and Egyptian content. That tells us that the framers of the gospels were familiar with a deeper mystery tradition and intended that Christianity continue it. But, post Constantine, the dogma of faith and subsequent theology based on dogma rather than mystery created a tension that has plagued Christianity to this day.

For me the crucifixion represents the suffering of the flesh on the cross of matter (a universal image) - the 'sacrifice of spirit' in material form - and the certainty of release. I said earlier that this is also the image of the shaman hung on a tree - the 'making' of the true shaman/mystic. Suffering causes a separation between flesh and spirit - a dissociation (we understand this in trauma studies). What we have to always remember is that the sensibilities we have now concerning physical suffering are laughable to our ancestors - whose physical experiences were so much more robust. The gap we sense between ourselves and Christ on the cross is far wider than our ancestors would have sensed. The idea that suffering had meaning and was the promise of release would have been a close comfort - as a genuine existential awareness. Now we impose an intellectual filter, and imagine that if we think about the 'idea of suffering' we can approach the actuality. No chance.

I think there are 3 enduring appeals of Christianity that have a deep intuitive appeal to us: (1) the mystical philosophy that embraces love and wisdom, (2) the idea that idea that we are 'sons of God' - spirits in flesh, and (3) that life in the physical world is suffering (in the Buddhist sense too), but by aiming true (not sinning) release into the spiritual realm is available to us. That's not bad from a person who professes not to be 'Christian'. But in fact, if the Jesus story has merit, we are all "Christian" in deed, if not in word.

The notion that a valid spiritual path is reserved for only a certain class on persons is a risible delusion. In the 'Western' tradition none of the variants of the Abrahamic tradition can be other than closely related and close kin. But here's the critical point - the Mystery/Wisdom tradition is universal and penetrates the Abrahamic tradition in many ways to create hybrids of historic and mythic interpretations that fuse cultural and mystical imperatives. The enduring 'truth' of Christianity is Mystery/Wisdom component (and this is true of Islam and Judaism as well) - but its embodiment is on a spectrum from the cultural to the magical (for the want of a better term). So much depends on whether one is nourished by milk or meat. Unfortunately many milk suckers are induced to the conceit that they are chewing on meat. But imagination does not make reality.
 
#45
believe that the central message of the gospels is true and that it didn't originate with the Romans. They wouldn't have empathised with the Golden Rule in any circumstance that involved non-Romans.
This is the part of Atwills thesis which I struggle with as well. The morality of the New Testament is strikingly incredible. It’s occurred to me that one couldn’t write it without believing it. And if one believed it, it’s hard to imagine them using it against people.

UNLESS, they convinced themselves of these truths, believed them, AND believed (also) that the Jews should behave. And of course this would influence their thinking either consciously or sub-consciously. But then how does the truth or non-truth of the historical crucifiction play into this. That was either flat out made up or it happened.
 
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#46
I think there are 3 enduring appeals of Christianity that have a deep intuitive appeal to us: (1) the mystical philosophy that embraces love and wisdom, (2) the idea that idea that we are 'sons of God' - spirits in flesh, and (3) that life in the physical world is suffering (in the Buddhist sense too), but by aiming true (not sinning) release into the spiritual realm is available to us. That's not bad from a person who professes not to be 'Christian'. But in fact, if the Jesus story has merit, we are all "Christian" in deed, if not in word.
Yes to (1) and (2). Not so sure about (3). Maybe I'd put it that life inevitably involves suffering, but that living it with faith in transcendence, and avoiding harming oneself or others (not sinning) offers the best chance for that transcendence (redemption in Christian terms). But motivation is important; it's more than avoiding sin through fear of hell or hope for heaven. That's not entirely bad for society as a whole, but lacks the integrity for individual redemption, where the idea is that one shouldn't do good and avoid evil simply through fear or hope, but because one sincerely believes it's the right thing to do. And in that, even some atheists are every bit as "Christian" as some who would consciously call themselves such.

Modern day materialists are struggling with explaining morality. However, it's incredibly difficult to do that in materialistic terms; people like Sam Harris nonetheless try:


But where does Sam Harris' set of values come from? Why is he appalled by some things and not others? Why is he even trying to explain morality in materialistic terms? One could be cynical and say that it's because, subconsciously, he doesn't want to admit that he's been brought up with Christian values, and it's those rather than any objectively true innate "facts" that have helped generate his morality.

The irony is, the esoteric view is that it is a fact that there is a universal objective truth in the value of morality. If he thought about it, he might realise he's a perennialist without acknowledging it. He even practises meditation in the Buddhist style (without accepting the underlying Buddhist philosophy) as does Susan Blackmore (who blames everything on memes). They're having their cake and eating it -- being gurus without a God or higher power.

Harris thinks mysticism is rational (this is an interesting take from someone one might think would be on his side) and that's how he attempts to eliminate the woo. But if it is rational, whence comes rationality? Is he just transferring the source of morality from something he's unwilling to countenance to something he is, and to express that (probably subconsciously) in terms that are more acceptable to him, and -- he hopes -- to fellow materialists? Like a contortionist, is he bending over backwards to try to avoid a conclusion that morality arises out of an inbuilt universal propensity to evolve, to grow and develop?

I believe that morality allows MAL through its alters (or put another way, Brahman through Atman, Father through Son) to come to know itself most efficiently and effectively. I'd say that immorality makes it harder or practically impossible to overcome the inertia it creates in the system.

I don't want to over-criticise Harris: I suspect he's only a smidgen away from true perennialism, only failing in the way he's casting his ideas so as to avoid the woo he finds so problematic. He may get there in the end, who knows.
 
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#47
I thought I'd bang up some more Booth content:


And this is Graham Hancock speaking to Mark's angel friend, Lorna Byrne:


I've read couple of her books, and while they're not particularly my cup of tea, they have had a very positive effect on a number of people I know. Personal preferences aside, I must say, for an ill-educated Irish woman with learning disabilities, her info on angels (gleaned through encounters) synchronises remarkably with esoteric Christian doctrines.

@Michael Patterson Interestingly, although many of Byrne's descriptions of guardian angels are definitely on the twee side, she also states that some of her encounters with God and high level angels are incredibly intense and somewhat terrifying experiences (I thought this chimed with the benign encounters you mentioned earlier in the thread).

I have only listened to about half that video so far, but even though RS goes to church, I feel the entity that he worships is so far removed from the Christian God, it would be best not to confuse the two.
But there are schools of Christian theology that see God as the ultimate organising and attractive principle of the universe. Look at Pierre Teilhard de Chardin as just one example.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin ... was a French idealist philosopher and Jesuit priest who trained as a paleontologist and geologist and took part in the discovery of Peking Man. He conceived the vitalist idea of the Omega Point (a maximum level of complexity and consciousness towards which he believed the universe was evolving) and developed Vladimir Vernadsky's concept of noosphere.
His posthumously published book, The Phenomenon of Man, set forth a sweeping account of the unfolding of the cosmos and the evolution of matter to humanity, to ultimately a reunion with Christ. In the book, Teilhard abandoned literal interpretations of creation in the Book of Genesis in favor of allegorical and theological interpretations. The unfolding of the material cosmos is described from primordial particles to the development of life, human beings and the noosphere, and finally to his vision of the Omega Point in the future, which is "pulling" all creation towards it. He was a leading proponent of orthogenesis, the idea that evolution occurs in a directional, goal-driven way.
Teilhard made sense of the universe by assuming it had a vitalist evolutionary process.[15][16] He interprets complexity as the axis of evolution of matter into a geosphere, a biosphere, into consciousness (in man), and then to supreme consciousness (the Omega Point).
Teilhard's life work was predicated on his conviction that human spiritual development is moved by the same universal laws as material development. He wrote, "...everything is the sum of the past" and "...nothing is comprehensible except through its history. 'Nature' is the equivalent of 'becoming', self-creation: this is the view to which experience irresistibly leads us. ... There is nothing, not even the human soul, the highest spiritual manifestation we know of, that does not come within this universal law.
Teilhard also used his perceived correlation between spiritual and material to describe Christ, arguing that Christ not only has a mystical dimension but also takes on a physical dimension as he becomes the organizing principle of the universe—that is, the one who "holds together" the universe ...
Feeling a need to 'know' that consciousness is ultimately organised into a pyramid, feels a bit too ape-like for me!
Probably true, but it makes a kind of intuitive sense to me and does seem to be backed up by a systems view of physical processes. Perhaps we could see it as a possible step toward the truth.

@Everyone

I think people here pointing out potential historical inadequacies in Mark Booth's work are kinda missing the point. He does not claim to be outlining a materialist account of history. Instead, he seems to be engaged in a process of mythogenesis in which esoteric doctrines are being drawn upon to form an understanding of existence that transcends dry empiricism.
 
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#48
I know exactly what you mean!
David,

I too, think that Alex is loosing the focus of his interviews. He makes assumptions as to the listeners level of understanding of the material and takes it from there I was interested in hearing this man and the interview as an insiders paradise but for me a nothing burger. Alex, your guests are great but please delve further into the fundamental issues rather than sidebars.



I think Alex has studied all this far more deeply than most of us, and perhaps he slips into the assumption that we all start from the same point.


These podcasts (not just the latest one) seem to have become analogous to eating a Chinese meal - you think you are listening to something interesting, but afterwards you don't feel intellectually nourished!

Take for example, the suggestion that Christ came as a sort of half way event in the history of humanity, with every BC event being mirrored by an AD event. Alex asked Mark if he believed this, and he said he did, but what the hell is it supposed to mean, and how would it relate to Mark's assertion that other religions have played a part in the development of humanity - is humanity's timeline also reflected through the birth of Mohamed, and all the other major prophets? I suppose any point in history can be postulated as a point of symmetry if you don't specify exactly how you compare later events with earlier ones!

I also wonder what it means to say that history has been shaped by secret forces. As Professor Peter Woit said about String Theory, "It is not even wrong!" - i.e. the proposition is sufficiently vague, that it can't even be proved or disproved! (I think the quote was originally applied to something else in physics - he did not invent it).

David
 
#49
Creativemind,

Your post (above) is confused - you seem to have quoted me, but your own text is merged into it. Perhaps it would be best to create your post again. As you form a reply it should have the following structure:

some text
[qqqqq]
some quoted text
[/qqqq]
some more of your text etc.

In the above, you need to replace qqqq withe the word quote.

Alex, your guests are great but please delve further into the fundamental issues rather than sidebars.
Yes, I broadly agree.

David
 
#50
I must say, for an ill-educated Irish woman with learning disabilities, her info on angels (gleaned through encounters) synchronises remarkably with esoteric Christian doctrines.
It is interesting that there are repeated reports that the 'ill-educated' and the 'simple' are used as channels precisely because the conceits of their education do not impede their capacity to be open to inspiration.

Those on 'the other side' are often amused by the assumption that if that they did was real then they would communicate with the most intelligent. Those who consider themselves 'most intelligent' tend to mentally inflexible and unimaginative - and are so up themselves they are of no interest.

In quite simple terms, without wanting to convey offence, those whose minds are relatively empty create fewer impediments to the conveyance of an untainted communication than those whose minds are full of important content that has nothing to do with the intended message.

We can be 'educated' to level where we think we control over our thoughts, and we know stuff. Between that idiotic middle are the fringes of foolishness - the simple and ignorant, and the humble and wise. The fringe dwellers catch the slippery fish of mystery because they are relaxed, and do not care.

A classic problem in conveying 'communicated teaching' is the filter of knowledge and belief. A.E. White writes about 'intelligent cooperation' as the necessary approach that, at best, may lead to 'inspired' writing. That is, among the noise of ego, some worthy ideas may be conveyed.

We are not rewarded for what we acquire as rational knowledge, but what we assimilate into wisdom. So an unlettered woman with a learning disability can develop wisdom a lettered and able person cannot. It is life experience and response to it, not the possession of a high priced degree, that matters. Think Bell Curve with wisdom at the extremes and stupid in the middle - a Belle Curve, not a Bell End Curve.

I have downloaded 3 videos of Loran Byrne. On a surface assessment she is consistent with the rule. She has the feel of the real thing. I spent some time deeply engaged in looking at what was real or not in this kind of area. I don't get the familiar gut alarm bells. I will come back after watching the videos.
 
#51
Alex's question at the end of the podcast:

Does Mark Booth get the big picture right (good vs evil, angels vs demons)? What's the counter argument? Who would you like to see come on the show to put that argument?
Hi, yes, I think we share the same worldview in that regard. I believe there is a dark side too. Though I also think it’s dangerous too dwell on it too much, because there’s a danger, as in the movie title, that you let them in.
 
#52
Oh, and by the way, I was a little puzzled that Booth spoke approvingly of Pete Townshend and his spirituality, when the latter was placed on the British sex offenders register for five years for downloading child pornography, claiming he did it "to prove that British banks were complicit in channelling the profits from pedophile rings".

I'm glad to hear that Booth disapproves of child abuse, but what's with the Pete Townshend thing? Who knows, maybe he believes Townshend, but it does kind of make me a little circumspect.
Pete has been completely exornated. He is one of the good guys.
 
#53
Look forward to listening to the show.

In the mean time.....



Well, philosophically Mr. Booth has stated he's an idealist. As for the rest, I think he feels history has been shaped by non-physical forces engaged in something of a power struggle and that this struggle is broadly a part of the unfolding of existence. It strikes me as somewhat biblical in a way.

The Secret History is history (going back to creation) as seen through the views of various esoteric schools of thought (freemasonry, rosicrucianism, etc.).

His follow-up book, The Sacred History, is an examination of non-physical beings' interventions in history, starting with myth and moving on to Plato's daemon, messages from angels, and other historically significant contacts with the non-physical (in situations ranging from war to science).

Personally, I preferred the Sacred History, and it's the book I suggest people read.

Perhaps we could summarise his view thus: The non-physical (as in beings) has had a huge effect on the course of human history.

But I haven't read either book for a while..... so, I hope I'm not drastically misrepresenting things.

On the Townsend issue: I know Mr. Booth has edited a number of celebrity autobiographies, so, maybe he met Townsend in a professional capacity, got to know him, and takes his story, for whatever reason, at face value. Of course, I have no idea, obviously.
Thanks! That’s a good summary and thanks too for the mention of The Sacred History.
 
#54
I want Mark Booth back, because he scarcely said a damned thing. Alex, this chat drove me nuts. I have had enough exposure to know that he has a decent enough POV. I am not sure there is a counter argument that is worth bothering with - for the very simple reason that either you know about this stuff or you don't.

You can quibble about terminology - what is 'good' and what is 'evil' (that's a discussion worth having). You can demand to know what an angel is and what demon is. But the ecology of the divine really isn't subject to any serious debate among those who 'know'. Ergo, for me, a 'counter argument' is a waste of time. Yes, I get the idea that we should be open to other POVs. But here? No.

I thought Mark made a telling point about 'magicians' engaged in practice for self-interest. I have just finished reading The Coddling of the American Mind in which Solzhenitsyn was quoted, saying (word to the effect) that the line between good and evil runs through the centre of the human heart. On what side of the line are we on? How do we know when we cross it? Answers to those questions are not as self-evident as we like to think (the world would be a very different place if they were). Dom we need a counter argument here? I don't think so.

Are there angels and demons? How the hell can you have an opinion on that question? Either you know they are, or you have no opinion worth listening to. You can't know they are not. The only options are (1) They are or (2) I don't know.

Here's my reasoning for this. For the most part we are not aware of angles or demons, and good thing too. Most humans will never encounter them. Of the few that do, even fewer will say they have. Of course there are those who haven't but believe they have (and that's because they have a system of belief that says all X are angels and all Y are demons) - and you have no use for those POVs, if you are smart.

I have encountered agents whose natures have been inimical and benign, and I have no desire to engage with either again. Even the benign can be terrible and dangerous. There agents are nothing like the Hollywood fantasies. They are not human, and never have been human. Mark mentioned a friend who is contact with angels. Maybe so, but my frank preference is to say they are agents who are thought to be angels. But, I suppose, we haven't decided on what we mean by angels, so who knows.

Mark said stuff I thought was very interesting, and I wished he had gone deeper. I am not being critical of Alex here. This kind of material was my bread and butter for about 20 years. I was intrigued that Mark had written a book that maybe pulled together some useful and new insights. I was keen to buy. But - can buy a hardcopy, which I don't want (I have a disability which now makes reading paper books very difficult). The kindle version is "unavailable" for sale in Australia. Why? The Audible version is available free if I sign up for a new membership, but impossible to buy otherwise. WTF?

Evidently some invisible power is intent on frustrating me. But angel or demon? No idea.

I think the good/evil and angel/demon model is useful, as a background structure (you don't want to get too serious), but what matters more than some potentially misleading and confusing counter proposition is how to make such ideas work. How do we profit from them?
Yes, sorry we didn’t go deeper. That was my fault, not Alex’s. I was exhausted after a 12 hour shift at the day job and asked to keep it to an hour. I think we all encounter unembodied beings all the time, but for must of us only occasionally with complete consciousness. God knows why you can’t buy the Kindle in Oz. That’s crazy. If you tell me you still can’t, I’ll contact them.
 
#55
I don't see a problem with this. Mark observed that the Christian story repeats other mythic stories about sacrificed heroes. So focusing on one is not an issue, so long as it is taken as a focal point rather than the problematic Christian doctrine of Jesus being uniquely the Son of God born into history. There is value to having a personal 'one way' - it gives structure and order and allows for a discipline. It like saying there's only one way to the top of the mountain - up. But that 'up' is infinitely varied. Pick you variety and stick to it.

The trouble is we do not know whether there was an historic guy at the centre of the Jesus story based on available evidence. It is pretty clear that there gospels are fictions -stories that may contain enduring spiritual wisdom as well as a lot of propaganda and BS. But the mythic Jesus emerges in history, and it may be valid to speak of a 'spirit' who expresses in a historic context via a mythos. So there is actually no reason why a 'historic' Jesus has to be a physical person. There is magical process of creating a thought form that can then be 'inhabited' by a spirit. For example the 'Christ' may be best manifested or expressed via a mythic character, which may be 'enacted' by a human - who expresses the 'sacrifice' of spirit on the 'cross' of the material world. There are ancient images of the 'shaman' being hung on a tree - an image full of deep symbolism.

For me the crucifixion image taps a deep human intuition about initiatory sacrifice. It isn't rational. In fact it defeats rationalism. Here, in fact, taking a rational and historic POV is really driving the materialistic agenda. It is absurd to interrogate the Christ mystery from a rational perspective. But it equally absurd to assert exclusive literalism of historic presence as an actual flesh and blood human who is literally the one and only 'Son of God'. But that idiotic assertion offends against the mythic more than against the rational. Its really none of the rational's business. A child has no business being involved in the sex life of its parents. And although Mark sees rationalism as a new form of consciousness, it is an infant compared to the mystical and mythic.

If I may continue this allusion further, the 'error' of the rational is the denial of its parents. As we grow up we must deny the authority of parents over us - but not their validity, or their existence - which is what materialism does. For me, most materialists are shitty angst ridden teenagers riddled with that arrogant immodesty of their age, innocence and ignorance. Marks' observation that materialism is a kind of evolutionary step in human consciousness, moving beyond the 'dreamy' mentality of the 'pagan' world has a lot of merit, and it would be a good theme to pursue. I think post materialist thought returns to the 'spirit' of its ancestors, but shaped by the novel insights into material existence afforded by the age of technology that started with the lens. The previous relationship with physical reality was profoundly effective, but fuelled by a different mentality.

For me there is nothing much about Christianity for which I have much affection, save acts of compassion expressed in various forms. In Christianity we do see the train wreck of traditional and emerging mentalities clashing. In its worst aspect the brutality of the new savaged the ancient. Theology and brutal propaganda ravaged the ancient, and were in turn ravaged by a younger mentality that had eschewed the sacred utterly, because it mistook the carnage wrought upon the ancient, and the triumph of theology, for a representation of the sacred. And that was nothing that reason could embrace.

There is on doubt at all that Christianity is fundamental to the West's evolution. Read Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism by Larry Siedentop. So I do not mind that Mark has not been able to fully deprogram himself from his cultural conditioning concerning the primacy of Christianity. I don't think any of us have - if we are born into that tradition. The challenge for me is not to 'deprogram' by turning away, but to turn into, and go deeper than the facile cant of the shallow public faith. The 'mystery tradition' that flows beneath the pavement of our culture includes an 'esoteric' version of Christianity. When I first encountered it I did not find it persuasive at all. It seemed like a cop out. Even now some of it seems like a try hard effort to preserve something that should be allowed to quietly curl up and die. I do not think the language helps. Reference to Christianity attracts baggage that is terribly spoiled. But the essential truths are trans traditional.

These truths are emerging through the sciences - human and physical. Mark touched on this point briefly. The way of thinking we like to exemplify as 'scientific' engages with reality in unique ways. We have very different conscious ways of knowing. In the materialistic phase of thought they excluded mythos. Now we are including it via a form of disciplined practical inquiry we call 'science'. But the likes of Dawkins and kin also remind us that any way of knowing can be debased and corrupted into dogma and propaganda. That happens when ego matters more than truth.
I think we’re on the same page here. The esoteric view is that when the cosmos gives rise to a series of events, it doesn’t just mean them literally, it ALSO means them symbolically. Exoteric critics assume it’s either/or.
 
#56
I don't see a problem with this. Mark observed that the Christian story repeats other mythic stories about sacrificed heroes. So focusing on one is not an issue, so long as it is taken as a focal point rather than the problematic Christian doctrine of Jesus being uniquely the Son of God born into history. There is value to having a personal 'one way' - it gives structure and order and allows for a discipline. It like saying there's only one way to the top of the mountain - up. But that 'up' is infinitely varied. Pick you variety and stick to it.

The trouble is we do not know whether there was an historic guy at the centre of the Jesus story based on available evidence. It is pretty clear that there gospels are fictions -stories that may contain enduring spiritual wisdom as well as a lot of propaganda and BS. But the mythic Jesus emerges in history, and it may be valid to speak of a 'spirit' who expresses in a historic context via a mythos. So there is actually no reason why a 'historic' Jesus has to be a physical person. There is magical process of creating a thought form that can then be 'inhabited' by a spirit. For example the 'Christ' may be best manifested or expressed via a mythic character, which may be 'enacted' by a human - who expresses the 'sacrifice' of spirit on the 'cross' of the material world. There are ancient images of the 'shaman' being hung on a tree - an image full of deep symbolism.

For me the crucifixion image taps a deep human intuition about initiatory sacrifice. It isn't rational. In fact it defeats rationalism. Here, in fact, taking a rational and historic POV is really driving the materialistic agenda. It is absurd to interrogate the Christ mystery from a rational perspective. But it equally absurd to assert exclusive literalism of historic presence as an actual flesh and blood human who is literally the one and only 'Son of God'. But that idiotic assertion offends against the mythic more than against the rational. Its really none of the rational's business. A child has no business being involved in the sex life of its parents. And although Mark sees rationalism as a new form of consciousness, it is an infant compared to the mystical and mythic.

If I may continue this allusion further, the 'error' of the rational is the denial of its parents. As we grow up we must deny the authority of parents over us - but not their validity, or their existence - which is what materialism does. For me, most materialists are shitty angst ridden teenagers riddled with that arrogant immodesty of their age, innocence and ignorance. Marks' observation that materialism is a kind of evolutionary step in human consciousness, moving beyond the 'dreamy' mentality of the 'pagan' world has a lot of merit, and it would be a good theme to pursue. I think post materialist thought returns to the 'spirit' of its ancestors, but shaped by the novel insights into material existence afforded by the age of technology that started with the lens. The previous relationship with physical reality was profoundly effective, but fuelled by a different mentality.

For me there is nothing much about Christianity for which I have much affection, save acts of compassion expressed in various forms. In Christianity we do see the train wreck of traditional and emerging mentalities clashing. In its worst aspect the brutality of the new savaged the ancient. Theology and brutal propaganda ravaged the ancient, and were in turn ravaged by a younger mentality that had eschewed the sacred utterly, because it mistook the carnage wrought upon the ancient, and the triumph of theology, for a representation of the sacred. And that was nothing that reason could embrace.

There is on doubt at all that Christianity is fundamental to the West's evolution. Read Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism by Larry Siedentop. So I do not mind that Mark has not been able to fully deprogram himself from his cultural conditioning concerning the primacy of Christianity. I don't think any of us have - if we are born into that tradition. The challenge for me is not to 'deprogram' by turning away, but to turn into, and go deeper than the facile cant of the shallow public faith. The 'mystery tradition' that flows beneath the pavement of our culture includes an 'esoteric' version of Christianity. When I first encountered it I did not find it persuasive at all. It seemed like a cop out. Even now some of it seems like a try hard effort to preserve something that should be allowed to quietly curl up and die. I do not think the language helps. Reference to Christianity attracts baggage that is terribly spoiled. But the essential truths are trans traditional.

These truths are emerging through the sciences - human and physical. Mark touched on this point briefly. The way of thinking we like to exemplify as 'scientific' engages with reality in unique ways. We have very different conscious ways of knowing. In the materialistic phase of thought they excluded mythos. Now we are including it via a form of disciplined practical inquiry we call 'science'. But the likes of Dawkins and kin also remind us that any way of knowing can be debased and corrupted into dogma and propaganda. That happens when ego matters more than truth.
Answering Alex’s point and returning to a debate in the discussion, I do maintain that Jesus brought new impulses to the evolution of humanity. For instance, for all the wonderful, new impulses the Buddha brought, he taught that we should try to escape the material world. On the other hand Jesus taught that we should engage with the material world and ultimately transfigure it.
I haven’t read material that argues that prophecies made by Jesus in the Gospels were plagiarised from Josephus. But to prove plagiarism you have to show chunks of wordage stolen. My guess is that these guys can’t show this, or they’d be shouting about it. In the absence of that, the simplest, most cogent and elegant explanation seems to me to be that these were true prophecies! Alex is very sympathetic to accounts of supernatural phenomena in shamanism, encounters with owls - I’m agog with fascination about this - aliens and in many other areas but draws the line when it comes to Jesus. My guess that would be because of all the bad things that have been done in his name - but that’s not right or fair in my view.
 
#57
I know exactly what you mean!

I think Alex has studied all this far more deeply than most of us, and perhaps he slips into the assumption that we all start from the same point.

These podcasts (not just the latest one) seem to have become analogous to eating a Chinese meal - you think you are listening to something interesting, but afterwards you don't feel intellectually nourished!

Take for example, the suggestion that Christ came as a sort of half way event in the history of humanity, with every BC event being mirrored by an AD event. Alex asked Mark if he believed this, and he said he did, but what the hell is it supposed to mean, and how would it relate to Mark's assertion that other religions have played a part in the development of humanity - is humanity's timeline also reflected through the birth of Mohamed, and all the other major prophets? I suppose any point in history can be postulated as a point of symmetry if you don't specify exactly how you compare later events with earlier ones!

I also wonder what it means to say that history has been shaped by secret forces. As Professor Peter Woit said about String Theory, "It is not even wrong!" - i.e. the proposition is sufficiently vague, that it can't even be proved or disproved! (I think the quote was originally applied to something else in physics - he did not invent it).

David
Sorry, yes it was vague. I do go into all that stuff in the books though. It’s a beautiful pattern involving many great beings, human and otherwise.
 
#58
Greetings to all. As a practicing Sufi Muslim for more than 40 years, I would take exception to the point that Mark Booth made about Jesus being the only figure to open the path of the interior. Islamic mystical literature is a vast ocean virtually unknown in the West, beside a few generally (usually poorly understood) poems of Rumi. I’m closer to Joe Atwill’s understanding of Jesus. My own spiritual master used to say that,”Jesus is/was not an historical character. The only place his position becomes clear is in the Quran!” I believe that Jesus existed, and that people may have a genuine spiritual encounter with that reality, but what was perpetrated in his name by the Romans and others who came after him has only served to obscure the authentic teachings. There is, in fact, a prophetic tradition, attributed to Muhammad, peace be upon him, to the effect that this effacing of the foundational teachings is the fate of EVERY religious nation. And he didn’t exclude his own followers, by the way!
I hope I didn’t say Jesus was the ONLY figure to open the path to the interior. That would be a mistake! I do think he made a unique contribution in that regard. Mohammed made a unique contribution too, with a uniqueness consonant with his very special relationship with Gabriel, Archangel of the Moon. I discuss this in my books.
 
#59
Maybe a medium like John Edward would have a different opinion.

My view is that there isn't an "evil" evolutionary path. "Evil" is ignorance. Beings evolve spiritually by learning from experiencing the consequences of their actions. Good actions have good consequences, bad actions have bad consequences. That's the law of karma. It is a natural law like gravity not a law enforced by judgment. Over time, all beings learn to prefer the good consequences that come from good actions. We learn that it is more pleasant to love than to hate.
I agree that ignorance is a very important aspect of evil, and that in a sense a source of all evils. If we weren’t cut off from direct unimpeded access to great spiritual beings by flesh and bone we’d know for certain what to choose to do and the benefits of so choosing.
 
#60
When I was a Christian I was quite obsessed with demonology for several years. I read a lot of books on the topic and swallowed up as many accounts of encounters as I could. There’s really no doubt that people experience what they call “demons.” If you study “demonology” in the same way you study UFO experiencers (ie-you listen to account after account, I prefer to hear people tell their stories on camera so I can decide if I believe them or not) certain patterns emerge. Patterns which are similar to the NDE data in that cultural background or expectation may play a role in your experience. When you hear enough accounts, it’s clear that negative entities come at people in Western socieities using an “anti-Jesus” angle. Repeating patterns include knockings on the wall which come in 3’s, or scratches on the skin which come in 3 marks. There are others examples, but I’ll stick with this one for my point rather than going into other commonalities. But if you start reading or watching enough accounts, you’ll see what I mean. This hasn’t gone unnoticed by Christian demonologists who surmise that this “comes in threes” is “a direct mockery of the “Holy Trinity.”

If you move to a different culture and study peoples experiences with negative entities, you’ll find this “comes in threes” thing to be totally absent. Is our consciousness shaping these experiences? Or are negative entities masquerading as the dark forces of our cultural beliefs in order to sufficiently terrify us? It’s the same sort of question I have with regards to cultural differences during NDEs.

I’m also convinced that spirit possession is real, and that Christian exorcism works. But here’s the rub, other religious and spiritual ceremonies also work for the same purpose, unsurprisingly. If you want to see what is probably the best attested (with regards to eye-witness testimony) case of demonic infestation and possession on record, i reccomend this case. No less than 10 people were witnesses to these bizarre events, including 3 police officers, a prison guard, a warden, a restaurant owner, and 4 other people who had the gentlemen from prison stay at their house while he was on leave from prison for a funeral. This man was tormented and essentially became possessed. There’s no mistaking the testimony of these people. It happened. They witnessed scratches appearing from nowhere on the victim, saw him levitate, and (most bizarrely) witnessed the man create rain in the house, rain in a restaurant, and rain in the prison. These raindrops went in all directions, including from the ground to the ceiling, and from wall to wall. The video below is a retelling/reincactment with actors, but the witnesses tell their story between the scenes. It’s great.

Very interesting. It’s a mystery- and a very provoking one - that low level and evil spiritual entities seem to find it easier to create supernatural phenomena that higher level, good entities! This is something I’m determined to explore!
 
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