Thomas Lynn Bradford (1873-1921) Explorer of Consciousness

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Thomas Lynn Bradford was just 48 years old when he took his own life. At a time following the mass murder that was WWI, Europeans had lost their belief in a god, and instead had turned toward a number of other philosophies, theologies and theosophy to explain existence and non-existence. As a consequence, Bradford’s death was well documented in the US newspapers of the time, as was the alleged subsequent happenings. Many people in the Western world were interested in spiritualism and the notion of a disembodied after-life, as was Thomas Bradford himself. However, what was different with Bradford was how he was willing to give his life in an empirical experiment to see whether he could communicate from the ‘other side’, with a living collaborator. If he had been proven successful, the world of material science would have been turned upside down, but there are many who think that he was successful, and did communicate if not exactly an after-life, certainly the continuation of conscious awareness.

After placing an advertisement in a local Detroit newspaper, a woman by the name of Ruth Doran came forward and volunteered to be the potential recipient of any post-death message conveyed by Bradford. On the night of the February 5th (around 9pm), 1921, Thomas Bradford returned to his boarding house and is said to have ‘sealed’ the place prior to blowing-out the pilot light on the gas supply. This successfully led to the physical death of Thomas Lynn Bradford. For a time, Bradford became very famous for both the manner and purpose of his self-imposed demise. Many self-proclaimed psychics and mediums dubiously claimed to have communicated with Bradford, with each presenting a narrative that supported their own particular religious or philosophical view of the world. In other words, such individuals were putting words into Bradford’s deceased mouth in the hope of reinforcing this or that view for popularity reasons.

Ruth Doran took a different position, Although she had only recently met Bradford, she often described herself as his ‘friend’. As Bradford was married, there is no indication that he and Doran were romantically involved, but this might not have been completely out of the question. On February 12th, Ruth Doran claimed to have heard Thomas Bradford’s voice which stated:

‘“I am the professor who speaks to you from the Beyond. I have broken through the veil. The help of the living has greatly assisted me.   I simply went to sleep. I woke up and at first did not realize that I had passed on. I find no great change apparent. I expected things to be much different. They are not. Human forms are retained in outline but not in the physical. I have not traveled far. I am still much in the darkness. I see many people. They appear natural.  There is a lightness of responsibility here unlike in life. One feels full of rapture and happiness. Persons of like natures associate. I am associated with other investigators. I do not repent my act.  My present plane is but the first series. I am still investigating the future planes regarding which we in this plane are as ignorant as are earthly beings of the life just beyond human life.’

What I find interesting is that if Thomas Lynn Bradford was of sound mind when he decided to extinguish his own life, and there is no evidence to suggest he wasn’t, then what a brave person he was! This is a man with no wealth who wasn’t very well-known prior to his death, who attempted what might be described as an ’empirical’ experiment into the after-life. It is further interesting to note that his message did not confirm the Judeo-Christian religious view of the after-life, but does seems to be one very similar to numerous spiritualist movements or that view of existence as described by the theosophy movement. Assuming that Bradford’s brain was nolonger functioning, and that his body was in a state of decay, the best that could be said for his life processes was that they were in a ‘dormant’ state. This is an important observation from the position of Cryogenics, where it is possible to ‘freeze the body and brain upon death, and prevent any further tissue damage that would occur as the body structure breaks down through natural decomposition. The next stage in this theoretical process is the defrosting of the corpse and the re-animation of the bodily functions. Again, there is no reason in theory why an intact body cannot be re-activated and brought back to life. Science can deep freeze a recently deceased body (or body parts), and science can defrost the body (or body parts), but as of yet the final stage of restoring life cannot be achieved. My point is this, if one day ‘life’ can be fully restored within a previously dead body, and if the personality of the individual automatically re-emerges and communicates clearly, then it is obvious that there is no after-life, and that all notions of such a journey are the figments of the imagination. At physical death, the life processes become dormant and non-functional – they do not travel as a disembodied entity to some other plane simply because these life process are the product of biological function and not spiritual transmigration. As and when Cryogenics solves the riddle of existence, the theistic religious view will be finally proven wrong. A person cannot simultaneously be in a heavenly and realm and STILL in their bodies. If the body of Thomas Lynn Bradford had been frozen and kept on ice for decades, perhaps if he was defrosted and brought back to life he would say that ‘nothing’ happened when he died, and that he had no awareness or ability to send any message whilst in the dormant state.

Seeing Things When Unconscious

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Does the mind exist? The ‘Eliminativists’ suggest that the various modes or theories of psychology are nothing more than modern myths, which are in essence secular versions of theistic religion. The myth follows the schematic that a) the mind exists, b) the mind can be observed, categorised, controlled and manipulated and c) the mind creates or generates the material world. These assumptions mirror the theology of the Judeo-Christian tradition, within which it is a priori accepted that ‘spirit’ creates or generates the ‘material’ world. In the modern sense, the agency of ‘mind’ takes the place of ‘spirit’ or ‘god’, but the inverted interpretation of reality is retained – i.e. mind creates or generates the material world. Psychology is generally opposed by Psychiatry which interprets conscious existence as a combination of chemical reactions in the material (biological) structures that comprise the human brain (although to be far, ‘consciousness’ as a distinct or separate entity cannot be discerned as existing simply by examining the physical structures of the brain). Consciousness is assumed to exist because its presence appears to function through physical behaviour and interaction with the environment. This is why consciousness appears to be the product of human interaction with a material environment. Theistic religion assumes that a ‘spirit’ pre-exists an individual human existence, and that it is ‘imported’ into a being at conception. Upon the physical death of that being, this ‘spirit’ leaves the individual and transitions to other realms of existence. Although it is true that not all forms of psychology accept the pre- and post-existence of consciousness, it is also true that many people easily combine modern notions of ‘mind’ with old notions of ‘spirit’. When the individual mind is equated with spirit, then it is just a matter of simple theological association to generate ideas of ‘out of the body experiences’, and ‘travelling to other realms’ during times of severe physical injury or duress. Although within popular literature it is assumed that people having these experiences are ‘dead’, this is generally medically untrue. People maybe gravely ill or suffering from terrible trauma and injury, but nevertheless they are still alive. This means their ‘living’ brain is continuing to function in less than conducive circumstances, and may well be trying to inwardly compensate for the outer devastation being experienced. Of course, these experiences are random and happen to people with no particular training or ability to discern history, religion or psychology. Many use these experiences as a means to return to religious thinking (i.e. ‘mind generates matter’) within a modern world, and even attempt to co-opt modern science into justifying this inverted viewpoint. It is interesting to note that the people who have these experiences are not even ‘conscious’ in the conventional sense, (that is they are not ‘awake’ and ‘interacting’ with the physical environment). This being the case, why are such experiences assumed to be the product of an independent ‘consciousness’? Why not associate such experiences with the mind’s agency of ‘imagination’? Imagination is limitless and has the ability to generate any number of comforting scenarios in difficult situations. This is particularly true when a person is ‘unconscious’ (i.e. ‘lacking conscious awareness’), when the agency of imagination is momentarily ‘detached’ from external reality (and the limitations) of material existence (and manifesting as ‘dreaming’). What is dreamt in such circumstances might well appear 100% ‘real’ to the experiencer, but this experience does not necessarily suggest that what is apparently seen and heard is real in any objective sense. Believing something is ‘real’ does not equate with that something being ‘real’ within scientific scrutiny, but within theistic religion, having ‘faith’ in something is viewed as making that something ‘real’ – this attitude and approach to interpreting reality is not science and should not be mistaken as such. In the following documentary, whilst everyone involved embraces the religious mind-set, no one questions the socio-economic system within wich they live. The answer to external inequality is to inwardly ‘accept’ this injustice and blame each other individual for not doing this. This selfish (and bourgeois) attitude allows the political and commercial injustices to continue in the face of a compliant population that collaborate with tyranny whilst mistaking this collaboration on the physical plane, for being a manifestation of ‘inner’ freedom on the spiritual plane. This self-imposed ‘stupor’ is nothing less than the abjuration of all social responsibility practised by an economic and religious elite. Finally, many people who advocate these types of theories invariably state that happiness does not come from owning a house, having a family, possessing a job or receiving a good income, and yet it is exactly these attributes that all these people possess. As they are economically secure, and are free of the worries and uncertainties that define most people’s lives, they are ‘free’ to indulge their imaginations to otherwise extraordinary degrees, and make illogical or inconsistent conclusions as a consequence.

Soviet Union and ‘Yuletide’

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The Soviet Union was a Secular State guided by a scientific ethos that endeavoured to benefitted the entirety of humanity (and not just the Rothschilds and other similar corrupt elements). This meant that although the Soviet State was officially ‘Atheist’ (as is the Government of the USA), each individual Soviet citizen possessed the legal right to practice ‘any’ or ‘no’ religion as a private matter. Schools taught science and not religion. To study religion, individuals had to make arrangements with religious educational bodies (usually through a church, mosque, synagogue or temple, etc). However, no politically motivated religious movements were permitted, because religious theology (or emancipatory philosophy) when used to control the minds and bodies of the entirety of society, is oppressive, repressive and generally opposed to scientific exploration and development (as logic and reason exposes the illogicality that theism is premised upon). What is interesting is how financial power-houses in the West, use the established church (also a financial power-house) to ‘convert’ individuals into a theological state of mind, as a means to stop the spread of Scientific Socialism, and the establishment of material science.

The US colonies of Taiwan and South Korea, since their respective annexation by America, have received intense Christian missionary activity intended to convert these distinct Asian populations away from their naturally Socialist religions of Confucianism, Buddhism and Daoism, and toward the ‘greed-friendly’ theology of Catholicism and Protestantism. This racially premised policy is viewed by the US as removing those Asian cultural traits that ‘risk’ a natural slide into Socialism, and away from US imperialist influence. This is also seen with the US and its attempted infiltration of the Communist Chinese Mainland through the CIA-fabricated ‘Pro-Tibetan Movement’, and the ‘Falun Gong Cult’. The point of this activity is to either establish or retain an ‘inverted’ mind-set that is incapable of non-inverted scientific thought, and therefore unable to understand or confront the exploitative capitalist system, or logically formulate ways of predicting or countering US imperialist propaganda. As the rhetoric of theistic religions is one of ‘personal freedom’ or ’emancipation’, why would a religious body express ambitions for political power? Obviously, there are no legitimate reasons for this.

Therefore, Scientific Socialism facilitates the legitimate study of a religious or emancipatory philosophical path solely as a ‘private matter’, and enables secular scholars to objectively study theology and religious philosophy at the university level (in 1928, Joseph Stalin authorised the founding of the Soviet Institute for the Study of Buddhist Culture). The Soviet education system taught its children that the celebration of ‘Yuletide’ was far-older than that of the Christian fabrication of ‘Christ-Mass’, and that for the first 300 years of the existence of the Jewish sect of Christianity, no such celebration existed (it came into being under the Roman Emperor Constantine who ordered the Christian Pope of the time, to ‘create’ a Christian celebration on the 25th of December – the birthday of the Roman child-god Mithras – as this would make Christianity more acceptable to Roman pagans). As a consequence of this ‘enlightened’ approach, people in the Soviet Union, guided as they were by the light of Socialism, would routinely celebrate ‘the Scandinavian ‘Yuletide’ (which marks the passing of the Winter Solstice and the coming of better weather and more light), by decorating trees and hanging wreaths and other baubles from walls and ceilings, etc. Ethnic Russians, of course, are descended from Vikings.

How the Buddha Repositioned Awareness

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Buddhism was not designed to be a theistic religion, but rather an alternative to the belief that gods and goddesses existed ‘unseen’ in the material universe. The Buddha did not critique ‘monotheism’, simply because such a notion did not exist in the India of his day. However, this does not mean that the Buddha would have allowed monotheism whilst rejecting polytheism. The Buddha rejected any and all notions of theism, and every possible interpretation of theism. A logical question to this assertion is that if this is true, then why does the Buddhist system of philosophy maintain a bewildering array of divine-beings, living within multi-dimensional realms? This is a valid question which requires an in-depth knowledge of Buddhist teaching to answer correctly. The Buddha lived at a time in Indian history where it was common-place for ordinary and high status people to accept a religious mythology as an explanation of reality. The material world was ignored, and an imagined interpretation of reality superimposed upon it. When an entire culture behaves in this manner, an imagined reality is thought to exist through consensus. In other words, if enough people believe a myth is true, then the material world will be interpreted to justify this belief. Things are assumed to exist that do not, and things that are known to exist will be ignored. This is the mind-set the Buddha inherited from his family and community, and the mind-set he abandoned during his meditative journey. However, even though the Buddha abandoned mythology in his own mind, it was an obvious reality that the majority of those who came to him for instruction still existed in a mythological interpretation of reality. As a consequence, the Buddha carefully used the myths of theism, karma and rebirth to teach his disciples, and in so doing subtly ‘changed’ how these concepts should be understood. He did this as a transitory stage toward the final abandonment of these mythological ideas.

The Buddha states that if a disciple ‘believes’ in mythology, then mythology will appear ‘real’ and ‘self-evident’ in the mind of that disciple. For the Buddha, this blinkered view of reality constitutes what he termed the state of ‘delusion’. One of the bases of delusion is the holding of ‘false views’, which includes a belief in an eternal soul (atma), and any theistic system premised upon this construct. The Buddha demolishes belief in theistic religion by deconstructing its central premise of an ‘eternal soul’ (atma), which is believed to link each human to an imaginary god-construct, and to justify any and all theologically based political, social, cultural and economic systems (in the Buddha’s day, this viewpoint constituted a comprehensive rejection of Brahmanism and its racially derived caste system). What the Buddha did was radical and revolutionary – but to the modern mind it seems like common-sense. The Buddha changed the emphasis of the human mind from a focus upon imagination, to a logical and rational assessment of the material world, and humanity’s perception of it. Indeed, the Buddha even ascribes various function of the mind to be included in the material world and avoided the mind-body, or body-spirit dichotomy prevalent within Brahmanism (and any theistic system). With the rise of modern science in the West, the Buddha’s premise of directing the mind to correctly assess the perception of the inner (material) world that is the mind and body, and the outer (material) world that is the external, evolutionary environment, has mainstreamed for society and today just seems ‘normal’. Of course, the Buddha pushed things further by claiming that all human suffering could be reduced and then eradicated by using the mind in this way. His method was to focus his attention upon the functioning of the mind processes, so that he could become ‘aware’ of how the mind worked. Although subjective from a modern viewpoint, the Buddha was of the opinion that the external world, and its subjective reflection in the mind, were in reality two-sides of the same reality that transcended the subject-object dichotomy.

The Buddha used the method of clearly reflecting the viewpoints and opinions of others as they came into his presence. Although often presented as a ‘mystical’ power by others (but never by the Buddha), this was nothing of the kind. In the modern world, this is nothing but basic communication skills found in various ‘listening’ disciplines. A person within a particular culture will generally ‘present’ a basic blueprint of that cultural conditioning when expressing their view of the world. All that is required is the working-out of the unique experiences of an individual that ‘contextualize’ the general cultural conditioning. This can be seen within modern therapies, including psychology and psychiatry. By appearing to ‘relate’ to his disciples (although not necessarily ‘agreeing’), the Buddha was able to ‘lead’ their perception out of its cultural conditioning and into a new view of the world. It is within this ‘leading’ process that the idea of gods and goddesses appear and are considered (before being finally ‘rejected’ as unreal). The point is that the Buddha refused to reject things ‘point blank’, or in a one-sided or brutal manner, instead he used logical argument and persuasion. He would use a precise logic to explain the existing viewpoint, and then accurately deconstruct it, showing clearly where it was wrong, and how the disciple should or could change their thinking processes. Despite this patient approach, when confronted with a particularly billigerent enquirer, the Buddha could be ‘cutting’ in his criticism. The Buddha deployed a system which he thought was perfect for the time within which he lived.

Materialism – A Brief Introduction

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Materialism is a set of related theories which hold that entitles and processes are composed of – or are reducible to – matter, material forms or physical processes. All events and facts are explainable, actually or in principle, in terms of body, material objects or dynamic material changes or movements. In general, the metaphysical theory of materialism entails the denial of the reality of spiritual beings, consciousness and mental or psychic states or processes, as ontologically distinct form, or independent of material changes or processes. Since it denies the existence of spiritual beings or forces, materialism typically is allied with atheism and agnosticism.’

The English word ‘matter’ has its origins in the Latin words ‘mater’ (i.e. ‘mother’), and ‘materia’ (i.e. ‘all physical things’). As existence is composed of matter, matter is viewed as the foundation of all things. Generally speaking, all matter is said to possess both volume and mass. Within the Chinese language, the concept of ‘matter’ can be expressed using the ideograms ‘物质’ (wu4zhi2). ‘物’ (wu4) is written using the left-hand particle ‘牛’ (nui2) – meaning ‘cow’, ‘bull’, or ‘ox’, and the right-hand particle ‘勿’ (wu4) – originally meaning ‘flag’. When combined together, the ideogram ‘物’ (wu4) literally means ‘matter’, ‘things’, and ‘objects’. ‘质’ (zhi2) is written using the ideogram ‘贝’ (bei4) – meaning a hard sea shell, and the right-hand particle ‘斦’ (yin2) – originally written as ‘two axes’, but also used to refer to a measure of weight equalling around one kilogram (i.e. ‘two catty’). Within Chinese thought, when taken together, the concept of ‘物质’ (wu4zhi2) represents the entirety of existence, or by implication, that physical substance which possesses  (measurable) mass and volume. Ancient India, despite its association with spirituality within popular culture, developed a school of materialist thinking named ‘Lokayata’ (लोकायत) in Sanskrit, which suggests a system of developed thought grounded in the observation (or perception) of the physical world (which is directly accessible to the senses). This school rejected all religious thought that advocated karma and karmic retribution, a belief in ‘invisible’ theistic constructs, and any notion of ‘rebirth’ or ‘reincarnation’. Therefore, the validity of inference and the authority of scripture are firmly rejected. For the Lokayata followers, only that information directly perceived through the senses is real. The Lokayata developed a theory of physical existence that involved four basic elements which combine to generate all of material reality. As a consequence of this thinking, Lokayata is associated with ‘atheism’. The origin of this school is problematic (due to the loss of primary texts), but evidence suggests a date anywhere between 600 – 300 BCE – with the possibility that the ideas associated with this school could be far older.

Whatever the case, the Buddhist Pali suttas mention the Lokayata, which is associated within the tradition of Buddhist commentary, as representing a ‘hard materialism’ (not favoured by the Buddha). However, detailed with the ‘five aggregates’ teaching of the Buddha, it is clear that his system of mind-matter integration is a form of ‘soft materialism’, which recognises a plurality, (but not a duality). This is because the Buddha’s system is premised upon ‘rupa’ (रूप) – or ‘physical matter’, which he defines as particles (paramanu) that flash in and out of existence (similar to the observed behaviour of sub-atomic particles within quantum physics). The Buddha sees the physical world as ‘existing’, but being non-substantial and changeable in nature. This ‘Buddhist’ definition of matter is different to that of the ‘Ucchedavada’ (ဥေစၧဒ) – which the Buddha criticised for assuming a permanent and unchanging physical world – despite the fact that the Buddha agreed with the Ucchedavda that there is no ‘atma’, or permanent soul. The Buddha’s soft materialism deviates away from the hard materialism of the Ucchedavada (which maybe directly linked to the Lokayata), by stressing that karma does function (in a limited, non-theistic sense), and that moral behaviour is required to escape worldly suffering.

Western scholars tend to date the Buddha as living either 563-480 BCE, or 483-400 BCE, whilst within traditional Chinese Buddhism, his date is given as 1028/29-948/49. Obviously, the Buddha’s existence, if dated accurately, would determine the antiquity of the Indian schools of materialism. In ancient Greece, however, the materialist origins of philosophy are said to have developed through the thinking of Democritus (460-370 BCE), who conceived of the universe as being composed of tiny, irreducible atoms unobservable to the naked eye. These atoms operate in a deterministic fashion, and combine to form the various forms associated with physical existence. Epicurus (341-270 BCE) – the student of Democritus, developed this thinking by asserting that every so often atoms ‘swerved’, as a means to explain unusual behaviour or happenings in the physical world. Ancient India developed a theory of materialism, whilst Buddhism developed a theory of the atom, but the (modern) Western world follows the ancient atomic models as devised within the Greek philosophical tradition. Whatever the origin, the doctrine of materialism stands in philosophical opposition to that of ‘idealism’. Idealism is usually understood as advocating that ‘mind’ is primary, and that the physical world exists only as an expression or appearance of that mind. This suggests that the physical world is not truly ‘material’, but rather ‘psychological’, or ‘mental’ in origination and nature. Within the Western philosophical tradition, theistic idealism is associated with Berkley, transcendental idealism of Kant, and the absolute idealism of Hegel. Idealism is often interpreted as being a secular version of theology, and directly related to ‘creationism’, whereby the physical world is viewed as being created by an unseen theistic entity (theology), or ‘projected’ into existence by the agency of mind (idealism), as if by an act of will and/or perception.

Within the subject of ‘philosophy of mind’, the theory of materialism has three distinct definitions, the first two of which represent ‘hard’ materialism, and the third ‘soft’ materialism:

  1. Eliminativism. This theory seeks to ‘eliminate’ entirely any notion of ‘mind’, and all theories of ‘psychology’ from modern science, on the grounds that such notions are the product of misunderstanding, and akin to ‘fairy tales’ that are the product of the residue of religious thinking. How human beings perceive their own minds is viewed as erroneous and the consequence of historical and cultural conditioning. As a consequence, as there is ‘no mind’ in reality, there can be no true experience of ‘raw feelings’ (qualia), or the exercise of intentionality. Theories of psychology are viewed as expressions of out-dated science which need to be abandoned as a necessary means to progress scientific understanding.
  2. Reductionism. In its simplest form, ‘reductionism’ reduces all psychological states to that of easily observable and measurable behaviour (i.e. ‘behavourism’). This reduces mind states to a mode of expression acceptable to modern science. Mind processes might exist as a function of the physical brain, but are viewed as knowable only through the measuring of behaviour. Other than as a producer of behaviour, the mind cannot be directly understood (because although it might generate qualia and intentionality, it does not ‘independently’ exist), and is of no further interest to reductionist.
  3. Irreducibility of mind. Although it might be accepted that ‘mind’ could exist as an apparent independent entity, nevertheless, its existence is so inherently related to matter, that this apparent ‘independence’ is not an issue. The mind is related to matter in a matter far more profound than mere causal independence. This means that the irreducibility of the mind is not a threat to the primacy of the materialist theory. Mind is a product of matter, even if the exact process of the emergence of consciousness from matter is as yet not fully understood.

Karl Marx studied Hegel’s absolute idealism, and understood it (through the work of Feuerbach) to be ‘inverted’ in nature. When turned the right way around, Marx developed the theory of ‘historical materialism’ (which replaced Hegel’s theory of ‘historical idealism’). The theory of historical materialism is ‘scientific’ in nature, and states that it is the economic reality of a society that determines the physical reality of that society. This is an ongoing historical process that does not allow for any ‘divine intervention’ in the affairs of humanity. It is through this materialist theory that Marx explains the historical reasons why it is that the impoverished working class (i.e. proletariat) exists in a subordinated and exploited manner, whilst being dominated by affluent middle class (i.e. bourgeisie), and how it is that this situation contains within itself, the seeds of its own inevitable transformation (through the agency of ‘revolution’). On this point, Marx states ‘In the social production of their life, men enter into definite relations that are indispensable and independent of their will, relations of production which correspond to a definite stage of development of their material productive forces. The sum total of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society, the real foundation, on which rises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness. The mode of production of material life conditions the social, political and intellectual life process in general. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness.’ (Preface: A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy). Marx goes on to say that at some point in time, the material productive forces if become so strong that they out-grow the current organisation of society, and come into direct conflict with the existing (bourgeois) relations of society. As the workers become aware of their own material and productive powers, they mass organise and initiate an era of social revolution, eventually seizing the means of production, and radically transforming society through the agency of a socialist revolution. This is the playing-out of class antagonisms, and explains why Russian Marxist Georgi Plekhanov further developed this idea (in 1891), by referring to this process as ‘dialectical materialism’. This was developed from the work of Friedrich Engels (found in his book entitled ‘Dialectics of Nature’) whereby Engels uses the term ‘materialist dialectics’ as a means to combat and neutralise ‘idealistic dialectics’. The theory of scientific socialism as developed by Marx and Engels adopts a materialist outlook to explain human society and the human condition, but Marx and Engels rejected two forms of materialism prevalent in the 19th century, namely those of the ‘mechanistic’ and the ‘metaphysical’ variety. Marx rejected the mechanistic view because it suggested nothing could be changed, and he rejected metaphysical view because he recognised the existence and purpose of a human consciousness – even if it is generated from the brain and conditioned by outer circumstances and events. Marx views the immense productive forces of labour as the driving force behind the unfolding of history. The unfolding of the historical process is not a passive or indifferent passing of events, but is a dynamic, directing and transformative force within human affairs. Metaphysical materialism, strictly speaking denies the existence of this dialectical and historical materialism that Marx clearly sees as operating throughout human history, where it has reached a particular intensity after the Industrial Revolution. The concept of ‘dialectics’ within Marxism can also be applied to personal education, and the development of a proletariat mind that is freed of the oppression and limitations of the past, and which is collective in outlook, and thoroughly progressive and scientific in nature. This maybe taken as the use of Hegel’s dialectic of thesis, antitheses and synthesis – reworked to interpret the changes of the material world (through the negation of the negation) rather than the changes of the ‘idealistic’ (or ‘religious’) world.

 

 

Philosophy: Three Theistic Terms

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Technically, the three following terms more correctly fall into the category of the ‘Philosophy of Religion’. Obviously, whether or not an individual ‘believes’ or ‘disbelieves’ in religion is irrelevant to the philosophical exercise of striving to understand the theoretical basis and practice of religions that evolve around a central theistic core element or elements. This is important because theistic religion has served as a primary source for human knowledge and purpose of action for thousands of years, and still continues to exercise that influence over a great many people in the world today. Even if some people describe themselves as ‘atheistic’ (i.e, ‘not’ accepting or believing in a divine concept, or any teachings emanating from such a theistic entity), secular society tends to exhibit religious trends of thought (as morals, ethics and attitudes), although devoid of any obvious or direct religious content or control. In the West, this has been the Judeo-Christian tradition, whilst in modern China, it has been Confucianism, Buddhism and Daoism that have set the moral and cultural (national) character. In modem India it has been Brahmanism, whilst in the Middle East it has been Islam, etc. This secular development tends to manifest as a parallel stream of psychological and physical influence alongside the practice of more traditional modes of religion, albeit to varying degrees of intensity, or definitional sociological frameworks. The three Greek terms under discussion in this short essay are:

  1. Theogony
  2. Theurgy
  3. Theology

Theogony literally translates as the ‘origin of the gods’, or more specifically the ‘birth and genealogy of the gods’. It stems from the original Greek word ‘theogonia’ – with ‘theo’ meaning ‘god’, and ‘gonia’ meaning ‘birth’, and by implication, ‘growth’ and ‘development’. ‘Theogony’ is a poem written by the ancient Greek poet Hesiod (8th-7th Centuries BCE), which describes the origins of the ancient Greek gods.This body of knowledge may be considered augmented by the myths and legends as recorded by Homer.

Theurgy literally translates as ‘divine work’, and stems from the original Greek word ‘theourgia’. This term is found in the thinking of ancient and classical Greece, and later in the works of Plotinus. It originally referred to rituals that created the conditions on earth for a ‘divine intervention’ in human affairs. Sometimes referred to as ‘magic’, the practice of ‘theurgy’ is used by Plotinus to refer to the act of ‘contemplation’ or ‘meditation’ designed to ‘unite’ the individual with the ‘divine essence’. In this sense, ‘theurgy’ refers to a set of (disciplined) purification practises, performed with the body and mind, which generate a ‘frequency’ of being here and now, which through its rarefied structure, facilitates the manifestation of a divine presence in the affairs of humanity.

Theology literally translates as the ‘study of god’, or the ‘science of god’, and is a Judeo-Christian term referring specifically to the study of the theory, faith and practice of the monotheistic, Christian tradition in all its various branches, sects, schools and lineages, etc. Theology stems from the original Greek word ‘theologia’, and was used by the early Christian thinkers after Christ, as a means to develop a distinctly ‘Greek’ interpretation of teachings originally delivered in Syriac-Aramaic (the probable language of Jesus Christ), which expressed religious terms as preserved in Hebrew – the language of the ancient Jewish religion. This transition became vital for the early Christians – after that sect of radical Judaism – was ‘expelled’ from the Jewish religion and had to develop an entirely ‘new’ way for interpreting its guiding strictures. The early Christian were Jews who routinely used Hebrew to communicate their non-conformist ideas, and the use of Greek philosophical terms was considered a viable alternative. In this transition, of course, the Greek philosophical terms were ‘changed’ in meaning to suit the strictures of early Christian thought, and to ‘distance’ the emerging Christian Church from the pantheistic and atheistic tendencies found within Greek thought proper. This explains why later Christian leaders ‘banned’ all original Greek thought. As a consequence, and unless otherwise stated, Christian theology ‘rejects’ the notions of ‘theogony’ and ‘theurgy’ as examples of pre-Christian pagan practises and modes of thought.

The Material Basis of Quantum Mechanics

Quantum theory is an extrapolation of quantum mechanics. Quantum mechanics is the study of the construction and functionality of low level physical matter. It is not a theology, a metaphysics or a spirituality. Without quantum mechanics – that is the mathematical analysis of low level physical matter – there can be no quantum theory. Quantum theory in its strict scientific manifestation, has been taken by idealists and adapted and adopted to serve all kinds of disembodied thinking – effectively the process of distorting hard material science to justify theological thinking – or the exact opposite of what scientific thinking is supposed to be. The reason this happens is because the implications of quantum mechanics (essentially the paradoxical idea that light energy can behave as either a ‘wave’ and a ‘particle’ – but never at the sametime), suggests that low level reality is different from that of macro reality as described by classical physics. As classical physics serves most human needs within macro reality (i.e. the everyday world), the low level world of quantum mechanics gives the impression to the ordinary mind that there are two radically different realities functioning simultaneously. This suggests ‘nothing is certain’, and this idea has been incorrectly used to allow for theology to be used as a consequence of this paradox – but this is illogical. Theology is not a product of science and remains ‘unscientific’ from beginning to end – and this remains the case regardless of the extent of the development of scientific understanding. The way the human mind is used to develop science, is very different from the manner in which the mind has been used in the past to develop theology (with its accompanying mythology that its theistic content was somehow developed ‘outside’ the mind that conceived it). The reality is that the micro (low level) world of quanta (or small pockets of energy), and the macro world of everyday life do reconcile – albeit in a manner that is not yet fully understandable to the rational mind. This is an ongoing process of scientific development and discovery. Even if it is allowed that human perception somehow ‘adds’ to the phenomenon being observed – there is no evidence that this process exists outside the world of physical matter. This would suggest that ‘consciousness’ (used as a back-door into science by religionists), is not an entity ‘separate’ from matter (like a theological ‘spirit’ or a ‘soul’), but is rather part and parcel of an integral aspect of material existence. Whatever consciousness is – it does not lie ‘outside’ of the realm of material existence. This is because it is incorrect to associate ‘consciousness’ with a theological concept of ‘soul’. Why this happens is curious, because even within theological teaching, it is clear that a ‘soul’ is very different from humanity’s ‘ordinary’ conscious awareness. Modern science does not speculate beyond the logical analysis of physical existence – whereas the entire premise of theology is that it speculates about what might lie beyond the boundaries of material existence. Both systems of thought are completely different and cannot be reconciled without one over-coming and subsuming the other. The theories that underpin quantum mechanics are scientific and not theological. Conscious awareness – regardless of its origin, nature and functionality – is not a ‘spirit’ that stands in opposition to physical existence. Therefore, it logically follows that quantum mechanics – regardless of its paradoxes and implications – cannot be used as a substitute for theology. Once the material basis of human consciousness is fully understood and appreciated, an in-depth study and analysis of its implication and functionality can be ‘scientifically’ pursued outside of the limitations that theological understanding suggest and impose. Without firmly separating the study of evolutionary consciousness from theology – the true extent of the power of the human mind will not be fully understood.

Four Theories of Mind Rooted in Material Science

An excellent video covering 1) Singularity Theory, 2) Simulation Theory, 3) Multi verse Theory, and 4) Retro-Active Pre-Cognition. Many other scientific theories are included in these ideas, with a number of variations of interpretation. For those who are attracted to telepathy and telekinesis, etc, Retro-Active Pre-Cognition will be of particular interest. However, for material science to progress, theistic theology (and its assumptions) must be placed to one-side. This is because theistic theology presumes itself to be a ‘complete’ and ‘perfect’ theory that is beyond improvement and not subject to criticism. Retro-Active Pre-Cognition does not have a ‘religious’ component, but suggests that the human brain-mind nexus possesses an ability to ‘predict’ the content of a future memory test (in the present time) – BEFORE such content is presented for consideration. This suggests that those being tested appeared to fore-tell the content of a FUTURE test within the present moment (whilst participating in a test with different content). This is interesting, but I do not think it is ‘mystical’. I suspect that the human mind may well possess an innate ability to ‘see’ a possible future premised upon the psychological and physiological circumstances of the present. As these biological processes are not static, but continue to exist and function over-time (barring physical death), it may have been important from an evolutionary perspective, for human-beings to develop a very subtle ability to read eventual outcomes premised upon current conditions, and the likelihood of certain scenarios playing-out in the physical world. One speculation is that this ability may have been far more obvious and prominent at an earlier stage in human evolutionary development. This ability could well be ‘intuitive’ in nature, and could have been dislodged by an intellectual development that gave a definite advantage for human survival in a possibly hostile environment. The Buddha, of course, within his method of perceptual science, stated (within the Four Noble Truths teaching) that the human mind capacity to ‘think’, possesses the ability to directly sense the presence, re-call the past, and speculate about the future. Essentially recalling the past and speculating about the future requires the imaginative reconstruction of events that may or may not have happened in the past, and the construction of events which ‘might’ occur in the future – the scientific question about the latter, is the extent of the connection between ‘imagining’ the future and that ‘imagined’ future actually coming to pass. By accurately analysing patterns of material change in the environment, the ‘imagination’ might well be able to give an educated guess to how matters will eventually transpire. Of course, an extra element of intrigue is added if it can be scientifically proven that the human mind can predict the future whilst possessing no relevant data that could lead to any known outcome.

Mind Beyond Matter (PSI)?

The following documentary posits that consciousness exists outside the brain, and that conscious minds can communicate with one another irrespective of physical interaction. In other words, individual minds – through an act of will – can communicate with one another (over distance) without recourse to the use of physical actions, language or any-other form of mechanical communication. Evidence for this assumption stems from very small examples of statistical data that measure a little over the 50% expected from pure chance. Furthermore, outside of parapsychological (psi) experimentation, this statistical data (or its apparent implications), does not appear.

What is being suggested by these experimenters? 1) minds can communicate with one another – either singularly or in groups (over distance) – without the need for physical proximity or physical interaction. 2) Despite these experimenters attempting to remain within the discipline of materially based science, there is an implication that ‘consciousness’ pre-exists the brain that produces (or ‘experiences’) it. This position would logically suggest that consciousness is an independent continuum that exists outside the brain (but ‘somewhere’ within time and space), with each human brain ‘connecting’ with this ‘stream’ of consciousness either in the womb or shortly after birth. A further extrapolation would suggest that at physical death – the individual brain ‘disconnects’ from this continuum but leaves an imprint of the individual’s life experiences as part of the ‘collective’ nature of this model.

The problem with this model is that it is a modern replication of the medieval theology of the Judeo-Christian tradition, with ‘spirit’ and ‘god’ simply replaced with ‘mind’ and ‘consciousness’. Of course, people such as Rupert Sheldrake (who has admitted to me that he is using the strictures of modern science to ‘prove’ Judeo-Christian theology to be ‘literally’ correct). pursue parapsychological research as a means to re-assert a peculiarly ‘theistic’ view of existence. This is not science, but an application of theology using certain (and therefore ‘skewed’) scientific methods designed to prove ‘material’ science wrong. In reality, the danger of this disembodied consciousness model is that it lets the Christian Church back into mainstream thinking (by the usurpation of science), and the re-assertion of a theology that in over a thousand years of dominating Western thought, never produced any technical or scientific advancement (not even an egg timer), that could have made life easier for ordinary people. The brain-mind nexus does not require theistic religion as a means to explain its evolutionary existence, or its functionality within human society or the world. After-all, even the Buddha – in his earliest teachings – specified the ‘material’ basis of the mind, and stated that the mind (and ‘consciousness’) cease to exist at the point of physical death (when the inherent link between brain-mind, consciousness, sense organ and sense object is permanently ‘broken’ for the individual concerned). There are other ways of viewing existence that does not require ‘falling back’ into Judeo-Christian theology.

To be clear, I am not making a value judgement about Judeo-Christian theology, but I am stating that such a theistic-based methodology is not a material science. However, the ideas contained within this theology still permeate Western existence, even influencing the minds of those who might otherwise state that they are ‘secular’ in their approach to psi research. Of course, modern, Western secularism grew-out of the Christian theological tradition, and so a long-lasting and ongoing affect is to be expected. This might explain experimenter bias, for example, where the outer garb of the ‘scientific method’ is used to express a deep-rooted theological influence – i.e. the ‘idealism’ that spirit creates matter. This idealism strives to replace the premise of material science – i.e. that a special arrangement of physical matter generates consciousness. Spirit does not create matter – matter generates spirit (or ‘consciousness’). This being the observable case, I would say that psi should proceed from a strictly material scientific basis, with no psi a priori assumptions sullying the reading (or generating) of results. This means that I do not ‘reject’ in principle the notion of psi, but that I do insist upon a material basis for its study. Judeo-Christian theology, regardless of its nobility and short-comings, should be completely eradicated from the scientific method, simply because both methods are unique to their own particular fields of expertise. Science will not prove the existence of god – and theology will not disprove the efficacy of material science. If minds communicate with one another (over distance), it is important to work-out the material basis through which this is happening. Such a discovery would be a monumental advance in human understanding, and have all kinds of profound influences on medicine, education and space travel, for instance. Such an understanding could be used to inoculate humanity against its destructive habits of ‘warfare’ and oppressive modes of social, cultural and political existence.

The Scola Experiments – a Peculiarly ‘British’ Deception

The compromising of scientific objectivity is not only the basis of conventional Judeo-Christian theology, but also of its modern equivalent – ‘spiritual medium-ship’. Many people (but not all) who describe themselves as ‘scientists’, but who join paranormal societies and develop supernatural theories and experimental methods – obviously possess a mind-set that deep-down still believes in a theistic religion (to the exclusion of all other means of interpreting reality). These types of people do not believe in science – they believe in religion – but they use a basic scientific method in passing, as an expedient means to re-establish the supremacy of Judeo-Christian theology over that of the logical thinking of the objective scientific method. Of course if you were to ask these individuals if this is what they are doing, they would usually deny it – stating that they possess a genuine scientific interest in the paranormal. If this were true, then such individuals would not be peddling fantasy as fact. Furthermore, such a lax attitude ignores the historical interaction between theology and objective science, and the fact that from a strict scientific perspective – the paranormal as a distinct phenomena – has never been proven to ‘exist’. On a practical front, the research methodology applied to this investigation by the (British) Society for Psychical Research (SPR) is appalling and at times bordering on the pretentious! Witnessing middle class buffoons laughing together, and playing along with an obvious hoax is as disturbing as the nature of the hoax itself! If a ‘disembodied’ hand touches you on the shoulder – why not grab the arm that is undoubtedly operating that hand under the cover of darkness? Instead of agreeing to be ‘touched’ from behind – why not insist on being touched from the front – where there is a better chance to ‘see’ the fakery? In his book the Dialectics of Nature, Friedrich Engels describes in detail a number of so-called ‘Psychic’ acts in Victorian London – all of which without exception – proved to be ‘fake’ upon deeper investigation. The very idea that the SPR could render a judgement that there was no proof of fakery in this case is not only bizarre, but borders on the criminal. I am reminded of the excellent work of James Randi – a Conjurer by trade – who has dedicated his later life to debunking many high profile fraudulent claims of supernatural ability – even in people who had previously been declared genuine after scientific investigation. The point is that the scientific method must not be allowed to be compromised simply by the stupidity and charisma of certain individuals who are invariably motivated by profit. The following documentary is embarrassing for British academia, although it is interesting to note that its format is followed today by virtually all paranormal, supernatural or ghost orientated drama series that now inundate the airwaves.  This ‘Scola Experiment’ is a terrible example of the use of the ‘inverted’ mind-set designed to usurp objective science which is still being taken seriously today.  On a personal note, I am neither opposed to the paranormal, or to religion for that matter, and think both are interesting human constructs within their own particular historical and cultural contexts. However, I am a staunch supporter of objective science as a means for discovering and developing genuine knowledge. It is objective science that must prove the paranormal to be real – not idealism or personal opinion.

 

 

 

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