Supernormal: Science, Yoga, and the Evidence for Extraordinary Psychic Abilities (2013)
Dean Radin, PhD
In his recent book, Dr. Radin explores a fascinating question; what would we learn about the validity - or lack of same - of psychic phenomenon if we analyzed the anecdotal information we've recorded over the years with scientific rigor?
"Gaining a deeper understanding of consciousness will play an increasingly important role in twenty-first -century science. If the evolution of knowledge in this century exceeds that of the last, which seems likely, then we can look forward to a future that's likely to redefine our concepts of reality far beyond any of the strangest concepts we've encountered so far." --Dean Radin, 'Supernormal'After a nice walk-through of yoga's origins and its shorter history in the U.S., Radin focuses on the 'supernormal' abilities linked to the yogic siddhis (powers achieved by advanced meditatives) during his detailed analysis, using data from controlled experiments in peer-reviewed scientific journals. (I definitely picked up some tidbits about my newly reinvigorated yoga practice!) Radin also takes a quick look at some of the other methods people use to alter consciousness: extreme sports, psychedelics and shamanism, for example. And because there are so many methods, many people end up encountering the 'supernormal' at least once in their lives. It is for this reason, Radin argues, that a belief in spirit beyond form has persistently arisen in all human cultures. After further discussing the way in which beliefs color our perceptions, Dr. Radin dives into a thorough examination of the experimental data surrounding each of the siddhis; it gets pretty deep into math and statistical explanations but if you're up for it, the book makes an interesting case about the nature of 'supernormal' phenomenon.
The Psychedelic Experience (1964)
Timothy Leary, Ralph Metzner, Richard Alpert
Since my awakening came by way of psychedelic mushrooms, reading up on the topic has become my new favorite past-time. It used to be gaming ... I miss gaming.
"You must be ready to accept the possibility that there is a limitless range of awareness for which we now have no words; that awareness can expand beyond range of your ego, your self, your familiar identity, beyond everything you have learned, beyond your notions of space and time, beyond the differences which usually separate people from each other and from the world around them. You must remember … millions have made this voyage." --The Psychedelic ExperienceBy now I've listened to at least a few dozen people recount their psilocybin experiences; the descriptions that have so far resonated with me most are found on the pages of this book. No surprise, perhaps, considering the group of experienced psychonauts who are the authors. They've combined their experiences to both describe the psychedelic experience and help prepare those getting ready for their own explorations. The book is only about 100 pages, which was fortunate as I was immediately hooked by the clear, practical and yet compassionate writing and couldn't stop until the end. As I read, I could feel the echoes of my own journey burbling up in the background; I'd say these three nailed something essential about the psychedelic encounter. And the way the authors set their descriptions against backdrop of the Tibetan Book of the Dead provides a nice peek into a details of that tradition. (I'm sure I encountered the essence of the Tibetan's Bodhisattva Chenrazee during my first frantic journey back to Source.) I highly recommend this book for anyone wanting to prepare for their own spirit quest with a few possible spoilers on board. I will definitely be reading this book again. Free pdf version
A Physicist, A Buddhist And A Mathematician Walk Onto A Stage …
After experiencing a profound shift in awareness that is an awakening, I was eager for any and all information that could help me get a grip on what had happened. I have to say, I wasn’t expecting to find much content on ‘awakening’ or ‘source’, mostly because I’d never heard much about such things and I considered myself fairly well informed. So fully expecting to have to wander into the darker realms of the web and into the land of flashing-pink-click!-here!-blinking-blue websites, I started searching the net for information about ‘consciousness’.
Turns out, there’s a whole other world out there. One of scientists and spiritual teachers of all kinds coming together around an effort to bring forward a shared understanding of consciousness and reality. Fortunately for me, SAND.com (Science and Nonduality) was the first such group I came across. Suddenly, I was awash in as much information as I could absorb about concepts like ‘non-dual’ (everything arises from a single consciousness) and ‘non-path pathway’ (accessing truths from all wisdom traditions). Suddenly, I found many people who could describe, in detail, the type of experience I had just encountered. An awakening, especially for those like myself who learn to swim by diving into the deep end, can feel a bit disorienting; finding groups! of people who were all talking about an experience I now shared was oh-so-soothing to the psyche.
The following collection of videos will give you some idea of what I’m on about. These discussions and lectures introduce a number topics familiar to the non-dual student: The Good Friday Experiment; an explanation of the symbiotic relationship that created human cells; quantum entanglement; a demonstration of how consciousness creates reality in real-time; data suggesting the subconscious uses information from both the past and future to make decisions.
This stuff is so cool.
Films Revealing The Nature Of Systems Built By Us Complicated Humans
It all started with The Big Short, a fast-paced, well-acted dramatization of the 2008 mortgage crises and financial collapse. I watched the movie for the talented cast but ended up gaining a number of insights about U.S. financial systems – and then was outraged all over again. Afterwards, I found myself suddenly eager to find more documentaries about the other big events that have unfolded during my lifetime: the Civil Rights Movement, Vietnam War, the psychedelic counter-culture – all of it. This interest in documentaries was a new twist for me, by the way, as I prefer films of the entirely fictional, highly entertaining type. But the passage of time and technological advances are allowing us to retell these big stories from our collective past again, this time with far more truth and balance than anything most of us encountered in the classroom or in the media.
I was surprised to learn how many entertaining and informative films about US politics and finance I could readily find on the large streaming services (Netflix, Amazon, Hulu). And don’t get me started about the yawning abyss that is YouTube. Films about The Federal Reserve led to films about US history and then to films on human history. After a few weeks of this, the post-Trump election ideas I’d had of joining the political or financial or environmental battles seemed …. not wasteful, exactly; there must be a force stemming the tide to help minimize the suffering that will otherwise run unchecked in areas where profits are to be made. But all these films, especially when taken in quick succession, made it abundantly clear that there’s an underlying aspect to our nature that, as things stand today, would make efforts at political or environmental change short-lived at best. The understanding felt deflating but clarifying.
Of course, now I see these stories of massive wars, environmental stress and human suffering quite differently. It is no longer about who is winning or losing, who victim, who perpetrator. Instead these stories now seem like waves of intention moving through the collective human presence in patterns of upheaval and shift; it’s fascinating to contemplate. And it certainly feels like these massive social waves are coming more quickly now, with surges of invention / discovery / reaching switching back and forth more rapidly with surges of contraction / anger / fear. If a person’s suffering can bring about their individual awakening, then is collective suffering on the scale we now exercise it bringing about a quickened collective awakening? We do seem very intent on bringing about such suffering, us humans. On the other hand, in the US today we enjoy legalized marijuana and gay marriage, two individual freedoms that just twenty years ago would have seemed way out of reach. And now regulated psilocybin use on the ballot in California? Clinical trials using psychedelics to treat addiction? Such an interesting time!
So here’s the first round of what I think of as my ‘human nature refresher course’. I continue to enjoy a good historical documentary (making up time for using history classes to decorate my pee chee) and will share them as I find them.
Introducing The Vocabulary Of Awakening
The language of the non-dual, non-path pathway had me reaching for the dictionary a number of times; let me save you some clicking. A few of these terms were just new to me; some seem to be taking on new meanings with new people – awakening, for example – leaving plenty of room for crossed wires and confusion. Hopefully I can help clarify things by providing my (working) definitions of some of the more esoteric terms used on this blog.
- Esoteric – … just kidding.
- Awakened -one who has experienced Source consciousness (God, Allah, One Mind…) and the true nature of ‘self’ by achieving a state of consciousness in which thinking ceases and consciousness and physical form separate. The awakened state can be achieved gradually or suddenly. I was awakened but do not yet live ‘awake’ but ‘aware’ and am now in the process of awakening – understanding how to live as Source consciousness.
- Awakening – the process by which the awakened person cultivates an understanding of the awakened state and begins integrating the new understanding into their life. I think of myself as awakened and awakening but not enlightened.
- Enlightened – one who lives in a state of grace, a state of ‘awake’, ‘present’, or ‘in the now’; the Dalai Lama.
- Gnosis – from the Greek noesis; refers to inner wisdom, direct knowing, subjective understanding. Example: I experienced the gnosis… …then came the gnosis… I would also call it ‘a remembering’; so far, perceiving a ‘truth’ when in an altered or meditative state feels like recovering a memory (an amazing feeling!).
- Hallucinogenic – causing hallucinations, an experience involving the perception of something that is not present – a mirage, chimera, fantasy.
- Mystic – “a person who seeks, by contemplation and self-surrender, to obtain unity with or absorption into the Deity or the absolute, or who believes in the spiritual apprehension of truths that are beyond the intellect” is the Oxford definition and something along these lines would certainly have come to my mind in the past. Then I heard mention of another definition – I believe from Dr. Mossbridge – that I found intriguing; from Gaia:
- You value experiences above all else – Mystics tend to steer clear of strict doctrines and principles. Because of their innate intuition, they have a high level of trust in their own morality and inner self. While they are driven to connect with the ultimate reality, they feel it must be on a deeply personal basis that can only achieved through their own experiences. Mystics still turn to others for perspective and opinions, however, these will not be their main and only source of truth.
- You question existence – Why am I here? Why are we all here? These are common questions that haunt a Mystic’s mind. While Mystics have the ability to see the connected strings behind every action, it does not mean that they are able to fully comprehend how the universe works and why. Because of their heightened senses, Mystics have a natural curiosity about the physical and spiritual world.
- You are comfortable with uncertainty – Mystics understand that there is a plan behind Every Action In The Universe, and therefore trust that every action has purpose, even if they don’t know what the next moment will bring. Mystics also trust in themselves and their connection to the universe that they will be able to interpret any signs and act accordingly. While they are still naturally curious, Mystics have no driving desire to force their future.
- You value intuition – Mystics rely on knowledge, language and physical senses the same as others do. However, their intuitive perceptions offer a deeper form of insight. Mystics trust in their own intuition and value similar intuitive traits in others.
- You are uncomfortable with spiritual hierarchies – Tenuous rituals or traditions have no place in the world of spirituality for Mystics. They do not believe that there is only one path or correct way to experience divinity. While not everyone can experience the ultimate reality, Mystics understand that every person has a unique and impenetrable perception of life, and therefore the ability to experience a unique divinity to some extent.
- You have your own set of rules – Mystics feel a connection to every living thing and therefore are able to look beyond what may be socially accepted. Mystics have an innate trust in their own morality and intuition and are guided by their experience, rather than leaders or society. This can often make them spiritual or even political rebels.
- You value internal growth – To Mystics, rituals and traditions are meant to trigger internal insight and transformation, not to appease a higher power. This is another reason why Mystics often feel uncomfortable with structured religions. Mystics feel that personal growth toward the universe’s ultimate plan must come from within. It cannot be dictated or ordered. Mystics feel a responsibility to help others to find their way, however, they cannot tell them what is right and wrong.
- You believe you are a conduit for power, not the source – Mystics possess an understanding that every living thing must come and go, and that in the grand scheme, they are simply one wave in an ocean. Because of their connection with everyone and everything, Mystics are often humble and more concerned with understanding and emotion than with power. They see their insights into the universe as a borrowed gift – bestowed upon them by something greater, but ultimately temporary.
- You believe love is the source of life – Similar to No. 8, Mystics believe that love powers everything. The people and experiences that we love in our own lives are merely a small reflection of a larger, all-encompassing love. Love is not something that originates in you, rather it is something that flows through you and every other being.
- You don’t know everything – And you don’t think you know everything. Mystics acknowledge that the universe is infinite and mysterious and is far too complex for the human mind to fully comprehend. They don’t know everything and they know they don’t know everything. Mystics enjoy reaching out, learning new things and hearing new perspectives. They trust in the universe’s plan and see their journey as one of understanding, not preaching.
- Noetic Sciences – a term from the field of consciousness studies; ION’s definition:
~ noetic: From the Greek noēsis / noētikos, meaning inner wisdom, direct knowing, or subjective understanding.
~ science: Systems of acquiring knowledge that use observation, experimentation, and replication to describe and explain natural phenomena.
~ noetic sciences: A multidisciplinary field that brings objective scientific tools and techniques together with subjective inner knowing to study the full range of human experiences.
- Non-path pathway – Peter Russell posted this on ‘the path of no-path‘ (SAND). He describes the practice of doing nothing, of following no practice, stopping everything and just being. This is a definition of the moment in which one steps off every path into just a state of pure awareness.The other definition describes the practices by which a person learns to achieve a state of pure awareness through using wisdoms from any tradition(s) as a consequence of understanding a single consciousness is generating all spiritual paths and so all paths will lead to the same center.
- Psychedelic – from Greek words meaning ‘mind revealing’, refers to internal perceptions induced by altered states of consciousness. Psychedelic hallucinations are those experienced within the mind only, often brought on by ingesting a psychotropic substance.
- Psychonaut – “from Greek terms ‘psyche’ (soul/spirit/mind) and ‘nautes’ (sailor/navigator); refers both to a methodology for describing and explaining the subjectively experienced effects of “altered” or non-ordinary states of consciousness as well as to a research paradigm in which the user voluntarily immerses themselves into an altered state, generally considered to be inaccessible via everyday means. This is typically done in order to explore the boundaries and depths of human conscious experience (including the subconscious)”, per this definition is from the excellent resource, PsychonautWiki.org
- Psychotropic – affecting mental activity, behavior or perception.
- Shaman – “a practice that involves a practitioner reaching altered states of consciousness in order to perceive and interact with a spirit world and channel these transcendental energies into this world” per Wikipedia. And here’s what a shaman has to say: “shamanism is the art and science of engaging with the forces of Nature, in its physical and non-physical forms, beyond the limits of linear time and space in order to affect the desired changes in the life experience of the beings who are asking for this service.”
- Spiritual Duality – a belief that God and that which God creates are distinct, separate but connected through spiritual bonds.
- Spiritual Nonduality – a single consciousness (Brahman, Source, One Mind, God…) is the source of all; all form, energy, thought, perception – all comes from and goes back to a Source consciousness. Wikipedia provides a number of illustrations.
- Teacher – one who enables the student to discover their own true nature.
A “Thank You” For Everyone Helping Me Construct This Blog
If you had told me a year ago that I would need to learn all about blogging software, I probably would have emitted a series of whimpers while slowly collapsing into a pool of melancholy. (Like my cat does when I tell him I will NOT be filling up the food bowl for the third time today … lots of drama.) After years of intermittently working with homegrown intranets, designed-by-committee webpages and complex commercial products, website work had become a task I completed but did not usually enjoy.
So when, during the summer of 2017, I somehow decided that a blog would be my next adventure, I was both looking forward to the creating but dreaded the thought of tackling yet another learning curve for the new software. Turns out, all my worries were for naught; a user referral prompted me to select WordPress as my platform and the rest has been pretty smooth sailing. The WordPress application isn’t perfect but it is rich in features and largely intuitive in design (such things exist!!?). Perhaps even more importantly, the user community is large and generous. If there’s any functionality I can’t figure out, a quick search reveals a dozen solid sources of information, many with video instruction. If there’s functionality I want but don’t have, another search usually reveals one or more free plug-ins that do exactly what I’m after. (Free software! From just some people!) And best yet, it all pretty much does what it says on the box.
I loaded WordPress on August 3, 2017 and had the complete shell you see here constructed in a month – and I enjoyed every minute, I truly did. And because the software was easy, I was able to turn more quickly to the task of writing and damn good thing too since by the time I’d finished creating the site, it was about eight times larger than I had originally planned … (sigh) … Life …
And then there are the pictures! Thousands of big, beautiful, high-resolution images of things amazing, funny, thought-provoking, mesmerizing – all given away by the artists for the price of a ‘thanks!’ or a small donation. What a delight it’s been to lose a few hours just clicking and looking. Pictures can communicate much and now I have a large ‘vocabulary’ at hand. Wonderful.
So – my heartfelt “Thank you” to all the humans involved with delivering these blogging products and support. I have decided you are all wonderful human beings. (updated 2/21/2018)
The Intent Of This BlogIn late 2016, after experiencing a profound shift of consciousness via the use of psilocybin mushrooms, I immediately decided to re-purpose my planned 3-month sabbatical; no long virtual reality gaming sessions, no afternoons stretched out with one of a dozen sci-fi books from my reading backlog. In fact, I didn’t even do much in the way of celebrating the 2016 holiday season, preferring to focus on the task of finding and absorbing as much information about ‘consciousness’ and ‘source’ as possible so as to make some sense out of what had just taken place in my mind.
An awakening (that last word should be in enormous, screaming, 3-D letters that reach out and grab you by the face! – it’s that big of a deal}, I was relieved to find out, is a well-known spiritual phenomenon which, according to many teachers, is occurring at an accelerating rate around the world. I experienced it as a remembering of who I am (not Laura), what I am (consciousness), where I come from (Source), where I return to and where I have always ‘been’ (Source and Source again). I didn’t learn it, I remembered it; a gnosis. And since then, more memories. And the promise of many more, should I want to continue exploring.