Discussion in 'Extended Consciousness & Spirituality' started by Jim_Smith, Mar 23, 2018.
This thread is for discussion of the internet and spirituality.
The other thread was about spiritual practices. Phenomena that interfere with spirituality are relevant to the topic of the thread (see below). But compulsive use of the internet is something people don't want to acknowledge. It hits too close to home. Skeptiko members may be suffering from it. Skeptiko-forum is complicit in causing it. So we have to have this discussion in a ghetto.
I've learned 100 times more about Spirituality in the last 20 years than I would have if the Internet did not exist.
I'm old enough to remember spending an hour each way riding my bike down to the University library just to read books about Buddhism and martial arts before I was old enough to check them out.
There is a difference between knowledge about spirituality and being spiritual.
When skeptiko first started out I was dismayed that it was all about parapsychology, science, proof, and statistics, and it seemed to be missing the bigger picture of the implications for spirituality.
Skeptiko has become much more spiritual over the years.
Riding your bike for two hours is a better spiritual practice than reading a book on meditation because cycling is closer to meditation than reading.
Even better Jim is doing both!
I simply try to avoid threads drifting on to a different subject - particularly podcast threads.
Why do you think this location is a ghetto?
Anyway, thanks for moving the thread here!
Because people who use the "Click here for forum discussion" link on the podcast page won't see this thread.
What do you mean by a person being “spiritual” Jim?
I'm with Charlie on this one. I want to share a post of mine from an NDE Facebook group which I am part of. I've sort of shared this in different forms on this forum, and I know many here do not agree with the assessment, but below are MY beliefs on the matter as it pertains to what I call "evidence based spirituality" being shared and discussed via internet. (in a nutshell, what I mean below by what I think is the truth of the matter is that we are spiritual beings who are here to increase the quality of our consciousness and share and increase love.) Maybe Im overly optimistic, but I think its possible that it will lead to a spiritual revolution at some point, maybe not 10 years down the road, maybe not 100, but 500 years from now? I think its absolutely plausible. And I DO feel that we have (despite our immense problems) gotten GENERALLY better as a society with regards to compassion for others and co-operation etc. I don't necessarily believe that this is due to the internet of course, but if we get even a little better as a societal whole, that has positive spiritual implication. Here are my thoughts:
"What an incredible opportunity we present day humans have. Never before have we had the ability to share information and learn about others experiences like this. If I had lived 50 years ago, what could I learn about NDEs? Absolutely nothing. Not even a single book. Now we have books, videos, interviews, and the ability to converse with experiencers daily (on pages like this one). The more I learn about the nature of reality and spirituality, the more grateful I am to have the opportunity to do so. 100 percent of the previous population did not have this information available, and therefore lacked opportunity to understand things in the way which we now find ourselves able to do. And this is just the beginning. I don’t know that it will happen this way, but an opportunity in the future to essentially prove the spiritual realm through personal testimony, veridical NDE research, past life memory study, medium research (see Dr Julie Beischel’s double blind testing of mediums), and maybe even quantum physics may very well gradually present itself to us due to our new ability to share and learn. Take advantage of this opportunity, press on and keep learning and keep speaking and sharing the truth. If everybody believed what we know is true, 90 percent of the worlds problems would be gone. We have a long way to go, but the seeds are being planted."
I wrote: "There is a difference between knowledge about spirituality and being spiritual."
It's like music. You can study music theory, but you don't understand it until you hear it.
You can read about parapsychology but you don't understand psi in the same way that you do when you have a precognitive dream or an intuition that turns out to be correct.
You can study comparative religions but you don't understand religion until you pray sincerely.
You can do triple blind experiments to study mediumship but you don't understand the afterlife the same way as when you get a reading from a good medium who connects you with someone you knew who has crossed over.
Some people will study parapsychology and make materialist theories to explain the phenomena. That is not spiritual. Some people may develop beliefs that consciousness is not physical, that personality survives after death, that there is an afterlife, that God exists from studying parapsychology, so I would not say that learning about spirituality is not a spiritual practice. It could be, but it isn't necessarily. If it doesn't make you spiritual, it isn't being done as spiritual practice.
Being spiritual involves experiencing the effects of a spiritual practice. Sheldrake includes these practices in his book:
Connecting with nature
Relating to plants
Singing and chanting
Pilgrimage and holy places
They involve using the intuitive/empathic mind not the analytical/logical mind. Spiritual practices change the way you think because the logical/analytical mind and the empathic/intuitive mind cannot operate at the same time. Sheldrake is looking for commonality with materialists so his definition of spiritual is somewhat looser than mine. I would say being spiritual means engaging in a practice that helps you connect with the reality of the non-physical realm. This has to come from the empathic/intuitive mind. A spiritual practice could be prayer, meditation, reading inspirational books, getting a reading from a medium, or learning to communicate with spirits. It could be developing your psychic abilities because esp cannot be produced by the brain.
When you develop the empathic mind, you change your relationship to the universe and other people and living organisms. You feel a connection to others, to all things, and this diminishes the ego. When you are not feeling selfish you can love more freely and forgive more freely and you are more tolerant.
If studying parapsychology doesn't have this effect on a person then it is not being done as a spiritual practice and studying it is not being spiritual. I am not saying that is bad. It is good to study parapsychology with the analytical mind. But people should understand that there is another aspect to the subject that you need to use your empathic/intuitive mind to understand.
Spiritual understanding is not about things that are true or false. Spiritual "truths" are not logical propositions. They are feelings. Love is not true or false it is a feeling. Oneness is not true or false.
Evidence based spirituality has been around for a long time. The Society for Psychical Research was founded in 1882. The religion of Spiritualism where evidential mediumship was developed predates the SPR, it was founded in 1848.
I don't know if there is ever going to be a spiritual revolution. You have to understand things from the spirit side. The spirit realms are already heavenly. The physical world was created so we could have a different kind of experience. If we had a spiritual revolution would it ruin all the hard work and billions of years of patient effort that was required to get us to this point where we have this amazing school where we can learn so much that cannot be learned in the spirit realms? I don't know the answer. I'm not saying I doubt it, I'm saying I don't know one way or the other.
I agree the internet is an awesome resource for learning. But I don't think learning alone is going to cause a spiritual revolution. A spiritual revolution will involve people becoming more balanced between their analytical mind and their empathic/intuitive mind. You can't get that from a web site. You have to meditate, pray, sing hymns, paint flowers, write poetry, etc.
There have been many books and magazines available on spiritual subjects before the internet made them so easily available but what was and still is lacking is the will among people to go beyond learning and begin practicing.
When enough people do that, it will cause a spiritual revolution.
But I don't see it happening. What I see is the opposite. I see kids on the reddit meditation forum complaining they can't meditate for more than a few miniutes. I think it's because their smartphones have destroyed their attention span.
On the other hand Rupert Sheldrake says atheists are getting spiritual so maybe it is happening.
But in the meantime, the internet is not just spreading false information faster than true information and making us compulsive, depressed and suicidal. It is being used by shadowy forces to control public opinion for political purposes.
The problem with Facebook is not *just* the loss of your privacy and the fact that it can be used as a totalitarian panopticon. The more worrying issue, in my opinion, is its use of digital information consumption as a psychological control vector.
If Facebook gets to decide, over the span of many years, which news you will see (real or fake), whose political status updates you’ll see, and who will see yours, then Facebook is in effect in control of your political beliefs and your worldview
In short, Facebook can simultaneously measure everything about us, and control the information we consume. When you have access to both perception and action, you’re looking at an AI problem. You can start establishing an optimization loop for human behavior.
You may not be using facebook, but millions of people are.
The New Military-Industrial Complex of Big Data Psy-Ops
Apparently, the age of the old-fashioned spook is in decline. What is emerging instead is an obscure world of mysterious boutique companies specializing in data analysis and online influence that contract with government agencies.
I’m listening to the Rupert Sheldrake episode now. I think he’s on the same page as me. There are now atheist church’s and people are beginning to see the actual scientific value of spirituality practices. We have forums like this full of bright people discussing these topics, 30 years ago, I would’ve been on my own. We had scientists during the golden age of physics finally begin to understand the connection of consciousness in the physical world. (Since then they’ve actually lost progress, but I think they’ll return.) I think spiritualism is true, so I believe it’s discovery and admission is inevitable. I think that we are compounding and sharing knowledge in a much bigger way than during the 1800s which you are referencing.
With regards to special learning and evolution involving more empathy etc, I think that is actually happening, despite our immeasurable problems. I think the world society is in a better place than it was 500 years ago, and 500 years ago was better than 3,000 years ago. Decent values and expected treatment of others has increased. Their are lots of peaks and valleys and decreases, but overall, it’s better.
1) I think empathy is increasing (that may be hard to believe given the horrible world, but all I’m saying is that it’s clearly gotten better. Only roughly 80 years ago did bloody wars of aggressive expansion just begin to be considered “wrong.” Ie-WW2, before that was the standard norm. (As one example). But there are a lot of ideas such as personal rights, racism etc. 300 years ago the idea of equality was silly to most.
2) I think science is discovering the benefits of spiritualism, and quantum physics is telling us that materialism is essentially false while showing that consciousness is essentially magical. I think in 500 years, this will be firmly established
3)NDE science is just beginning, and I think he verified component will become an established truth. And other spiritual practices will become validated as well.
4) People will compound all this knowledge and understanding by speaking with each other, not by listening to the news.
I don’t think in 500 years people will be able to deny this stuff seriously. You might think the same should be true now, and it should. But we are beginning.
Science has Materialist scientists have set us back 1000's of years with regard to spirituality. You don't need truth to be spiritual. All you need is love.
Before skeptiko, before the internet, before podcasts with forums, we had radio broadcasts with telephone call in. I learned chakra meditation listening to Long John Nebel's late night broadcast on the radio.
Prior to the development of the internet people with similar interests had a variety of ways of connecting for example, clubs and specialty book stores that would have authors lecturing etc.
I don't mean to argue that there is no spiritual revolution in our future. As I said above I don't know. But I think you don't understand how people obtained information before the internet so you dismiss it when in fact there was a huge amount of spiritual information available to a huge number of people. The internet reaches more people which is good, but each person can only absorb information at a certain rate. The speed of the internet doesn't help you abosorb information faster. Most of what I know I learned from books and doing spiritual practices. I just don't see the internet as a significant change that is going to effect a revolution. And I see aspects of the internet as a deterrent to a spiritual revolution too.
Don't you mean, that you need the truth about spirituality?
I think it is very helpful to study the evidence for psi and the afterlife. But sometimes in a mathematical or logical proof you study an extreme case in order to make a point. That is what I was doing. when I wrote:
"Science has set us back 1000's of years with regard to spirituality. You don't need truth to be spiritual. All you need is love."
(Actually I should have said "materialist scientists" not science.)
The statement has a lot of assumptions and implications behind it...
I am not saying I recommend ignorance. I am just pointing out that accurate knowledge of the afterlife etc is not strictly required for someone to have a spiritual mindset. For example, certain types of meditation will produce feelings of connectedness and loving kindness. And in many religions you can find people who are very spiritual: humble, kind, want to help others, etc even though the many religions are not compatible. Logically most religions must be wrong if they contradict each other, but you still find followers in them who are truly spiritual. Some people are naturally empathic. Some practices produce a spiritual mindset.
Rupert Sheldrake touched on this subject in the recent podcast and I agree with him. He says he and others don't go to church because they analyzed the dogma and concluded it was true. They go to have a spiritual experience. He says atheists are engaging in spiritual practices too even though they don't believe in the afterlife.
I am trying to show that studying parapsychology and other forms of evidence scientifically is only one type of experience. There are more experiences to be had in learning about spirituality that come from the empathic/intutive mind. Each type of thinking has a role in its proper place and both should be cultivated.
Previous to the existence of the internet, and now with the internet, there is a greater need than information, that need is the will of people to engage in practices that will give them the other half of the equation, the spiritual experiences you can't have just through knowledge.
I got on this subject because I was posting about how the internet creates obstacles to being spiritual (causing mental illness, spreading false information faster than true information, see my previous posts). People replied that the internet is hugely helpful in making knowledge available. I want to balance that claim by pointing out that there were many sources of information before the internet and strictly speaking spirituality does not require knowledge at all. I point that out that extreme case because of the implication that you don't need huge amounts of information that the internet provides. I don't recommend ignorance but you don't need a fire hose of information either to be spiritual.
Spiritual truths are not fully understood through reason. Love is not true or false. You have to feel it to understand it. Oneness is like that.
I understand the things that you say people do to help become more spiritual but I’m not clear on exactly what you mean by spirituality or are you saying the definition is the practices?
It's a feeling.
I used to work in a State-run institution which housed mentally retarded people. They lacked the cognitive ability to understand minuscule doctrinal issues, but still enjoyed a satisfying relationship with the Great Spirit.
I was an Atheist then, but never endeavored to convince them how stupid and invalid that feeling was. It didn't seem "right" to do so.
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