click here to go to my style blog - sometimes people end up here by accident. if so, i hope it's a pleasant detour......steph

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Spiritual Perspective on Paratopian Unhappiness

no reason - i just love this picture of my grandpa

on edit: How mortifiying! i neglected to credit "Brownie" for pointing me to Mr. Ratcliff's blogpost in the first place. Many thanks, Brownie - i would not have known about Mr. Ratcliff's post without you!

I am inspired to write a few thoughts after reading John Ratcliff's recent post regarding the goings-ons at the Paratopia podcast and forum. To begin, i like all the people involved. All of the main characters are very talented, creative, articulate, funny.....and i just tend to like people anyway. Mr. Ratcliff has written a comprehensive and sensible post pointing out some glaring inconsistencies in the recent actions of the two Paratopia hosts, Jeremy Vaeni and Jeff Ritzmann. Mr. Ratcliff reasons from the scientific worldview and perspective. I agree with the great bulk of what he points out, with a quibble here and there. I completed college-level courses in scientific theory, history, and practice at UC Santa Cruz and UC Berkely, so i have some basis by which to judge his arguments in his post.

But i do not spend much time in the scientific paradigm. At the age of 22 i had a near death experience during a medical procedure, and since that time i have had numerous medium to high strange experiences (spontaneous as well as meditation induced). I have also pursued study of the paranormal and esoteric through books and participation in groups, even living in a Tibetan Buddhist Meditation Centre for a year or two. I have some thoughts about the recent hullabaloo from the spiritual/esoteric perspective.

Firstly, the Shroudman's revelation about the nature of the universe is not new. Connecting it to fractals may or may not be a new metaphor for this concept (it's not my place to make the argument), but the idea is not. I was shown a very similar concept of worlds within worlds during my NDE in the mid-1980's.  The tiniest of particles of a cosmos spontaneously forming into cosmoii of their own is how it is described in Dion Fortune's book The Cosmic Doctrine, a work written via inspiration in 1949. (As an aside, neither i nor Ms. Firth have ever claimed that this information pertains to the physical nature of the universe which is amenable to scientific study.)

This is simply one example of the ignorance of the basic reading material available on these topics which runs through the show. I remember listening to the show on the Rendlesham incident, where Mr. Vaeni and Mr. Ritzmann were shocked, shocked, to find evidence that maybe there was a little bit of hoaxing or funny business involved. Jenny Randles, a researcher with journalistic training and credentials who was on the scene within a week (if i recall correctly), has published extensively on this incident. I first heard of Rendlesham in her book UFO Conspiracy, published in 1987. Let's just say i was not surprised to hear of funny business on Paratopia's podcast. A little poking around on Wikipedia, of all places, would have reaped major benefits as a prep for that podcast.

Mr. Ritzmann also often wonders whether other people would see the same things he sees (referring to his numerous high strange incidents). To begin with, other people have been with him during these incidents and purport to have seen what he has, which seems to settle the matter. Additionally, i bring up the work of Paul Devereux and Jenny Randles on earthlights and Mind Monsters, respectively. Ms. Randles has done excellent work finding cases where, for example, three friends are walking in a deserted area at night and suddenly two see a classic Big Hairy Monster and run away screaming. The third friend is left staring perplexedly at a strange, red glowing orb.......Mr. Ritzmann is also interesting that he always claims to be stone cold sober during these strange events, contrary to the huge bulk of percipients who notice mild to drastic changes in consciousness associated with these events (Ms. Randle's Oz Factor).  If he truly is the rare and luckly individual who can keep his head during these events, it makes his continued inability to collect or doggedly pursue any type of physical evidence all the more perplexing.Keeping surveillance cameras running and recording 24/7 is not the complicated, expensive process it was even 10 years ago.

I'll leave that for now, anyone with a library card or internet access can research for themselves (the library card will be more helpful). More disturbing to me, since i do feel that Mr. Vaeni, Mr. Ritzmann, and Mr. Ratcliff are all sincere searchers for the truth about our world, is the rampant violation of the most basic of spiritual principles. This principle is The Golden Rule - in a word, kindness.  This seems obvious enough, though in practice it often is the most difficult principle to live up to. It seems straightforward, 'It's nice to be nice' and so on. But the esoteric truth is that you do more damage to yourself by treating other people harshly than you do to the other person. There is no excuse for yelling at people or putting them down in a public forum where they have no way to respond. It doesn't make it okay because they take a different viewpoint on certain matters in a discussion.

Speaking to the point of people who claim spiritual knowledge, all traditions are explicit. The level of realization is reflected in how that individual treats other people. If they do not consistently put other people's interests before their own over a number of years they are not the teacher for you or anyone else. Many like to bring up the idea of Crazy Wisdom teachers as an excuse or exception - i would only follow one of this method if you truly know that their teaching is worth paying insanity or death as your price.

Additionally, many traditions emphasize that focusing too much on various psychic manifestations is a distraction from the quest for enlightenment. In recent decades, P.M.H. Atwater has done much study of people who experience mystical breakthroughs as part of near death experiences. Interestingly, she finds that it takes decades for an individual to integrate the experience enough to become at all effective at conveying the truths they saw to others, or to help other people with spiritual growth. There are no shortcuts.

Again, this knowledge is quite widespread and easily available. The hard part is putting it into practice in real life. My hope is that my post will provide some reassurance to people who have been caught in the grinder of these events, and that it will provoke some to think for themselves about how we want to go forward as a community trying to grapple with these events and their meaning. No one has all the answers. It is impossible to judge the truthfulness of another's testimony. It is quite likely that bickering, nastiness and infighting provide the energy for our friend Coyote to live and dance another day.....

...whilst we continue in confusion.