Sunday, February 9, 2014

Young Children Remember Life Before Conception

New research indicates some children recall their lives before they were born and, even more strangely, even before they were conceived.

The concept of life preceding physical fertilization is common for people who believe in reincarnation. But is such an idea learned? Or is it based on an innate feeling about our own immortality?

New research analyzes answers given by two groups of children—one urban, one rural—suggests the children revealed glimpses into their own immortality. It seems children intuitively believe that their own existence, at least in the form of feelings and wants, pre-dated their conception.
“Even kids who had biological knowledge about reproduction still seemed to think that they had existed in some sort of eternal form,” says lead author Natalie Emmons, a postdoctoral fellow in psychology at Boston University. “And that form really seemed to be about emotions and desires.”  
Emmons and co-author Deborah Kelemen interviewed two sets of children in Ecuador—one in an urban area outside the capital of Quito, where the population is overwhelmingly Catholic, and another in an indigenous Shuar village in the Amazon basin. They were curious to discover whether the Shuar children, who grow up in a natural environment and learn early on about the cycle of life and death, would have different assumptions than kids raised in an urban setting.  
While looking at the image of their pre-pregnancy mother, the kids were asked specific questions about their “pre-life capacities.” After answering such questions as “Could you be hungry?” and “Could you feel sad?” they were asked to explain the reasoning behind their answers.
Researchers found the urban and rural children gave pretty much the same answers. But by ages seven and eight, they rejected the notion that they had “bodily capacities” such as sight or hearing before conception.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Background 2: Dowsing?

[I'm excerpting posts from a four-year-old blog that I never promoted called "A Dowser's Diary: An Experiment in Intuition." I'm going to erase the blog but figured I'd share some of it here.]

In late April [this would be of 2009], right about the time I cracked my skull, I ordered Dowsing: A Journey Beyond Our Five Senses by Hamish Miller, from I must have seen or heard or read something about dowsing, but for the life of me I cannot recall what it was that prompted me to place the order. Why dowsing? Why that book?

The little book arrived several days later while I was recuperating from my fall and then – along with a hundred pieces of paper and stacks of historical research books – sat neglected for weeks on my desk as I wrestled with a mind blurred by pain, snake venom and sulfa pills.

A New View

When in June my mind began to clear after taking myself off of the blood-pressure pills, I picked up Hamish Miller’s book and read: “So dowsing has undergone a paradigmatic shift from the useful but relatively mundane science of finding water sources, lumps of metal, and old drains to that of a spiritual search into the mysteries of human consciousness and its relationship with the earth. There is a practical, exciting journey waiting for everyone interested in the skill. It can lead by progressive expansion of thought to perceptions far beyond the normal restrictions of our five senses.”

This was great stuff. This was what my mind thirsted for, another tool to continue my search, my “re-enchantment.”

True to my usual form, I spent the next couple of nights researching on the Web and scanning the related books on I was at a book store in Portland and bought The Divining Hearth: Dowsing and Spiritual Unfoldment by Patricia and Richard Wright and immediately ordered a couple more books from Amazon: The Diviner’s Handbook: A Guide to the Timeless Art of Dowsing by Tom Graves, and The Divining Mind: A Guide to Dowsing and Self-Awareness by T. Edward (Terry) Ross and Richard Wright.

Avoiding the Mistake

I now had enough books to last me for a summer’s worth of research. And then, one day last week, I reached for one of them and – in a moment of luck or guidance – happened to select Tom Graves’ Diviner’s Handbook and turned to Page 16, where I read:

“The great mistake people will make when studying dowsing – or any practical subject for that matter – is to learn about it instead of learning it. I made that mistake myself. I spent years reading about the theory of dowsing and getting confused by the various writers’ conflicting and self-contradictory statements, before it dawned on my that the way to learn it was to go out and do it.”

He was absolutely right. He had just saved me countless hours reading about dowsing and delaying for weeks actually trying it.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

A Spiritual "Must"

Here the renown religious historian Karen Armstrong speaks about the viability ~ actually, the necessity ~ of practicing the golden rule. If we as individuals and we as nations don't practice it more frequently and deeply, our futures are uncertain, she says. And I believe her. In my own little existence, I've found the golden rule to be the greatest religious/spiritual tenet of all because it simply makes sense. This video is about 9 minutes and really worth your time!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Background 1: Re-enchantment

[I'm excerpting posts from a four-year-old blog that I never promoted called "A Dowser's Diary: An Experiment in Intuition." I'm going to erase the blog but figured I'd share some of it here.]

My period of re-enchantment began one year ago with a phone call from a woman in Missouri asking my wife if someone close to us had just died. Our young daughter-in-law had unexpectedly crossed over less than two hours earlier. That phone call launched my exploration of aspects of the other side, which continues to this day.

My re-enchantment deepened on January 1(Note: this would be 2009) of this year when a renowned astrologer in Michigan gave me a reading – over the phone, the two of us never having met – that stunned me in its accuracy and insight, both about me and about the members of my family.

The Crises Begin

Within a month I was nearly laid flat with a progression of unusual health conditions that persist to this day. My lifelong propensity toward hypersensitivity flared up while I struggled against crippling fatigue. My hearing became more acute, food flavors more vibrant, the daylight sharper even in Oregon’s heavily overcast spring. My dreams grew intricate, vivid and memorable.

On April 19th I fainted for no apparent reason and struck my head against a sink and bathtub as I fell to the floor. I was admitted to the hospital for the first time in my life for two days. I am still trying to sort out the effects of the fall – a solid whack on the head, cracked cheek bone, facial nerve damage – from what happened next.

As part of a medical follow-up related to the hospitalization, my physician said my blood pressure was high and wanted me on blood-pressure medicine. I resisted – figuring the elevated reading was due to white-coat syndrome – but then relented. I was prescribed Lisinopril, derived from the venom of the Jaracaca, a Brazilian pit viper. Perhaps worse, the diuretic component of the medicine contained a sulfa derivative. I've been allergic to sulfa medications since I was an infant, suffering extreme visual and mental disorientation.

I lost the month of May due to snake poison and sulfa. It was difficult to keep track of days. My dreams turned chaotic and ugly. My creativity withered and I could not write. I work as a writer, from my home. If I were more conventionally employed, I’m sure I would have lost my job. My body can no longer tolerate a number of foods and my senses of taste and smell are damaged. I took my blood pressure at the end of May and found it dangerously high, as was my heart beat. I stopped the medicine right then and there and waited for my heart to slow down.

Enchantment and Emergence

My life during these past six months has been held together by the love of my wife, my daughter and son, their children and spouses. They are wonderful people, each and every one. I have a good acupuncturist and a gifted cranial/sacral therapist who are helping me. The Missouri psychic who was helping to guide me has gone her separate way but left me with some valuable tools.

Earlier I used the term “re-enchantment,” borrowing it from Morris Berman’s 1981 book, The Re-enchantment of the World, tracing the cultural and scientific shifts from Cartesian and Newtonian science into the far more magical world of quantum mechanics, holism, systems thinking and other contemporary influences.

My personal world is being re-enchanted by all that’s happened in one year. And continues to happen.

That's where dowsing enters the picture.

Image is the 1888 "Flammarion Woodcut" from a volume by French astronomer Camille Flammarion.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Death and Total Love

If you've ever wondered about ~ or feared ~ death, I recommend spending about four minutes listening to Father Bede Griffiths and his conclusions after having a stroke and decided to yield to death. It was then that he learned about surrender and unconditional love. Recognized as one of the great religious prophets of the 20th century, Bede Griffiths (1906-1993) was a Benedictine monk who spend several years in India, melding Christianity with aspects of Hinduism.

Shining a Light on Honesty

New research shows that bright lights make people more honest, altruistic, ethical, and less selfish. People in a brightly lit room donated more than twice as much as those in a dim room, and were more likely to offer to help others.
“We provide the first experimental evidence showing that brightness appears to heighten the salience of morality to the individual, thereby leading people to perform ethical deeds,” say the researchers from National Sun Yat-sen University, Taiwan, who report their findings in the Journal of Environmental Psychology.

“We suggest that brightness may enhance the self-importance of morality and thereby increase ethical behavior.” The researchers carried out a series of experiments with three levels of brightness under 12, eight, and four fluorescent lights.
In one experiment, men and women were told they were playing a game which involved sharing money between themselves and a stranger said to be in another room. Those in the brightest room offered around 15 per cent more of the cash than those in the moderately lit room, and around 30 per cent more than the people in the dimmest room.

Researchers determined an 85.2 per cent honesty rate for people in the well-lit room, 70.4 per cent for the those in the moderately lit room, and 51.9 per for those under dim lighting.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Vision-Inducing Delphi Fumes Probed

Part of the mystique surrounding the Oracle of Delphi concerns the possibility that the oracle herself ~ usually referred to as the Pythia ~ inhaled fumes as she described her visions. Recent research shows that the fumes may have existed, and that they likely contained ethylene, creating an effect similar to the experience sought by modern-day “huffers.”
Archeological Odyssey recently published a detailed account of the research, reprinted in Bible History Daily. Here’s an excerpt:
The ancient sources describe two distinct types of prophetic trance experienced by the Pythia. First, and more normally, she would lapse into benign semi-consciousness, during which she remained seated on the tripod, responding to questions—though in a strangely altered voice. According to Plutarch, once the Pythia recovered from this trance, she was in a composed and relaxed state, like a runner after a race. A second kind of trance involved a frenzied delirium characterized by wild movements of the limbs, harsh groaning and inarticulate cries. When the Pythia experienced this delirium, Plutarch reports, she died after only a few days—and a new Pythia took her place. 
According to toxicologist Henry Spiller, both of these symptoms are associated with the inhalation of hydrocarbon gases. Spiller studies the effects of such inhalants on young people, known as “huffers,” who breathe in fumes from gas, glue, paint thinner and other substances because of their intoxicating properties. Perhaps the Pythia too was high on one of these hydrocarbon gases. 
It may even be possible to identify the kind of gas. Plutarch—who, we recall, was a priest of Apollo at the Delphic sanctuary—noted that the intoxicating pneuma had a sweet smell, like expensive perfume. Of the hydrocarbon gases, only ethylene has a sweet smell—so ethylene was probably a component in the gaseous emission inhaled by the Pythia.
Most researchers agree that the Pythia was chosen for her clairvoyant abilities as a trance medium, and that the fumes likely played an auxiliary role in her pronouncements.
Painting of the oracle is by the Hon. John Collier, from 1891.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Your View of Time Creates Your World

This 10-minute video can teach you more about why younger people's mind-set is so different than older people's than any other instructional presentation I've ever seen. Period.

The whole Past/Present/Future schematic explains much more than I'd ever imagined ~ affecting geographical locations, generational age, and educational potential. The discussion about video games and their impact on educational systems is just one astounding example.

This is one video I'll watch over and over to make sure I understand its finer points, which are very powerful and meaningful. My sincere thanks to psychologist Philip Zimbardo for sharing his thoughts and findings!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

'The Way of St. James' Attraction Grows

Scene along The Way.

 A 1,200-year old European pilgrimage ~ amounting to 750 miles from Paris across France to the Spanish coastal city of Santiago de Compostela ~ is experiencing a revival. In 1982 there were 120 pilgrims who trekked the Way of St. James, last year 200,000, mostly from Europe.

What was once a strictly religious affair has become a cultural and social phenomenon that attracts the nonreligious as well. The journey was captured in The Way, a 2010 film made by Martin Sheen and son Emilio Estevez.

According to NPR:
American writer David Downie began his recent pilgrimage as many did in medieval times, at the Tour St. Jacques in downtown Paris.  
"This was where thousands and thousands of pilgrims would meet and start off to walk all the way down to Spain to Santiago de Compostela," Downie says. "This was like 'Pilgrimage Central' in Paris." 
The pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela started in the 9th century when the martyred St. James' bones are said to have arrived in a boat to the rocky Galician coast.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Our Brain and Its Forgotten Gift

I encourage you to spend 12 minutes viewing this little video by psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist as he discusses the bicameral brain. He presents a good update on the roles and effects of the brain's two hemispheres, clarifying some misconceptions left over from the 1960s.

He ends the video with one of my favorite Einstein quotes: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant but has forgotten the gift."

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Sun's Three Years in Three Minutes

In this unusual video, NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory captures an image of the sun every 12 seconds in 10 different wavelengths, two images per day, for the past three years.

According to NASA:
"There are several noteworthy events that appear briefly in this video. They include the two partial eclipses of the sun by the moon, two roll maneuvers [by the observatory, as it changes position], the largest flare of this solar cycle, comet Lovejoy, and the transit of Venus. The specific time for each event is listed below, but a sharp-eyed observer may see some while the video is playing.” 
They appear at:

00:30:24 Partial eclipse by the moon
00:31:16 Roll maneuver
01:11:02 August 9, 2011 X6.9 Flare, the largest of this solar cycle
01:28:07 Comet Lovejoy, December 15, 2011
01:42:29 Roll Maneuver
01:51:07 Transit of Venus, June 5, 2012
02:28:13 Partial eclipse by the moon"

The music is violinist Martin Lass playing “Our Lady’s Errand of Love.”