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An excellent review, Michael.

However, I would add that all the cases mentioned are very well-known in Spiritualist literature.

Nevertheless, it is very handy to have them all gathered together in one volume and Michael Tymn is to congratulated for that.

I also do not agree "that many of these stories have been inadequately treated in the literature of psychical research" as I have original material from which MT drew much of the material for his book.

As an aside, why are there "rushed production schedules" as this information has been around for a long time?

There was surely no hurry to have it published.

Good review Michael

This book is definitely up their with the other great books on this subject. A lot of these cases I have heard before. Especially the cases in chapter 4.

"The fact that many of these stories have been inadequately treated in the literature of psychical research makes the book that much more important."

Whether these have or haven't been treated adequately in the literature of psychical research, I think most will agree that they have not been treated adequately in the literature of parapsychology. Organizing this material and presenting to modern students and researchers can't hurt.

As always, great review, Michael. I hope to purchase a copy of that book soon.

I agree that a compilataion of the best cases of mediumship should be put into a single book (I'm refering to the best ones, the most inmune to sound criticism, the less controversial and more convincing cases)

Zerdini, what do you know about mediums Gordon Smith and Stewart Lawson? Are they real mediums?



"Zerdini, what do you know about mediums Gordon Smith and Stewart Lawson? Are they real mediums?


I have had sittings with both of these mediums.

Stewrat Lawson emigrated to South Africa and is now on the Other Side

Gordon Smiith is probably an above average medium and is heavily promoted by Hay House Publishing.


Many thanks for the nice review. I would like to address Zerdini's comment that the cases have been treated adequately by psychical researchers. That might be so for psychical researchers and people familiar with mediumship, but I know many people unfamiliar with mediumship who really struggle with understanding the old reports and accounts. In fact, I was one of them. It took me a couple of years before I began to understand what they were talking about. I was often confused as to who was saying what and how they were saying it. The role of the "spirit control" confused things, especially with Feda and Mrs. Leonard. At times, it would come through in the first person, as if directly from the spirit communicator, at other times Feda would say, "Yamond says....." It further became confusing as to whether things were coming through in the direct voice or in the trance voice. For Leonara Piper, it was often unclear as to whether the communication was coming through her voice, the communicator's voice, or her hand.

My objective was to take the academic reports of the researchers and turn them into journalistic reports so that people not familiar with mediumship could understand. I hope I succeeded to some extent, but my wife is now reading the book and says she has to read some things twice to understand exactly what is going on, so I apparently didn't completely succeed.

And, I don't think all of the cases are well known. Very few people are familiar with the Frank Stockton and Charles Mundell cases.

Hi Michael Tymn

I suppose it does depend on how long one has been investigating the subject.

They are all familiar to me after fifty years of personal research of the subject.

In addition my own personal experiences have confirmed much of what has been experienced by other researchers.

However, I commend you in putting all the material you gathered into one book for the benefit of those new to the subject.

Reading about those histories and those comments is very interesting. Those histories are old and widely known, for the most part. About researchers of the 19th century, have you ever heard about Leon Denizard's (a.k.a. Allan Kardek) studies and books published in the 19th century in France? If not, I would recommend taking a look at them.

One other thing: although in America (US) there may be a shortage of mediums of any kind (trance or not), here in Brazil there are hundreds of mediums spread throughout the country. That's not unusual to find this type of abilities around here. I think there is a vast material to be researched (in a more rigorous way) regarding after life here in this country.

Thanks for your information, Zerdini. I'll try to learn more about them, in particular about Gordon Smith. I've heard many good things about his mediumship's skills.


Maybe some of the readers of this blog want to hear this excellent talk by Rupert Shaldrake on professional skeptics and how they have misrepresented his research:

Some of the skeptics featured there are Michael Shermer, Peter Atkins, Lewis Wolpert and The Amazing (yes, Randi...)

Hi Zc

Your reference to Lewis Wolpert reminded me of his most memorable aphorism:

"Open minds are empty minds"

His debate with Sheldrake was commented on by 'Nature' here:

“However, I commend you in putting all the material you gathered into one book for the benefit of those new to the subject.”

Not sure such a book is just for those new to the subject. I have been doing research into the paranormal for 17 years and spiritualism for 8 years and I ordered a copy.

I have found that reading books on the same subject by different authors can give a person new insights.
Some books I read many times and each time I find something that I did not notice before in the book.

I am now rereading ena twigg medium book and finding it very enjoyable to read. It will be interesting to see if ena twigg makes it into tymm’s book.

Ordered Tymm’s book last night as soon as I saw in here.

Hi again Zc

Your reference to Stewart Lawson reminded me of the following:

Many years ago I invited Stewart Lawson to give a demonstration of his mediumship to a packed audience.

One of the features of his mediumship was that while relaying a spirit message to someone he would suddenly break off and point to another member of the audience and say something like “I have your brother/sister/wife/husband etc here and will be with you shortly”.

In this way he managed to keep the attention of the audience whilst delivering a message elsewhere.

One message I particularly remember was when he came to a lady in the front row saying that her young son was present and that at 5.55pm, that evening, she had looked at his picture and said that if it was possible she hoped to hear from him.

Stewart added that she had the photograph with her and that it was in her handbag. “Take it out and show it to me” he said.

She did and confirmed that the time was exactly right as she had taken particular note of the time as she did not want to be late for the meeting.

Hi Zerdini,

Lawson's specific details in the reading you mention is amazing. This kind of mediums are the most suitable to scientific testing, due to their high level of precision.

Zerdini, do you have books published on afterlife? If not, you'd consider to write your first-hand experiences and conclusions about it. It would be a valuable source of information for people interested in this topic, and an important contribution to current literature on afterlife.

As I said before, I think a book explaining only the best cases (the best and more solid evidence, like Findlay's research with John Sloan) of mediumnship is needed.

Controversial cases (like Crookes's research with Florence Cook) should be left out (not because they're false, but because they offer room for some skepticism or founded criticism), or addressed in other book on critical analysis of mediumship controversies.

The literature on this field is vast, and this is why a summary, systematization and objetive evaluation of the weight of the best evidence in each case is required.

Hi Zc

I edited a paranormal magazine for ten years dealing mainly with physical mediumship and it is my hope to publish some of the best mediumship from that in the near future.

Thankh you for your kind remarks.

“However, I commend you in putting all the material you gathered into one book for the benefit of those new to the subject.”

Not sure such a book is just for those new to the subject. I have been doing research into the paranormal for 17 years and spiritualism for 8 years and I ordered a copy. I have found that reading books on the same subject by different authors can give a person new insights.

Some books I read many times and each time I find something that I did not notice before in the book. I am now rereading ena twigg medium book and finding it very enjoyable to read. It will be interesting to see if ena twigg makes it into tymm’s book.

Ordered Tymm’s book last night as soon as I saw in here.

sorry for the double post.

checked to see if I had posted it yesterday and did not see my name then posted it. then saw my name was not being listed. senior moment thing.

I think a book explaining only the best cases (the best and more solid evidence, like Findlay's research with John Sloan) of mediumship is needed.

Michael Schmicker wrote a book called Best Evidence that summarizes what he considers the best cases suggestive of different kinds of psi (not just mediumship).

There's also a book called The Survival Files, by Miles Edward Allen, creator of this Web site. Both the book and the Web site focus on the strongest case of afterlife evidence.

Thanks for the excellent references, Michael.

I'll order those books.

In special, Miles Edward Allen's book looks very good.

First off, kudos to Michael Tymn for his labor of love. I know I disagree with Michael on some of his views (i.e materialization mediumship), but he did modern enthusiasts of mediumship a favor by revisiting some of the old cases.

Secondly, could someone please comment why there seems to be no psi researcher of note working today who endorses materialization mediumship.

Also, as someone who has witnessed over a 150 trance lectures from the other side, all I have to say is some things just fall out of fashion, and sometimes for good reason. Much of what comes out of trance mediumship is generic advice from the other side, which may be practical and sound, but not very scientific or personally relevant.

Also, just as the English vernacular evolves, so does the voice of mediumship. We shouldn't always lament the loss of former trends, as we also shouldn't just ignore them either.

In my humble opinion, until science unlocks the door to consciousness, all these "great" anecdotes of parapsychology will remain locked in the cocoon of history's many mysteries.

"Secondly, could someone please comment why there seems to be no psi researcher of note working today who endorses materialization mediumship."

Probably because none of them have ever experienced materialisation mediumship or understand what is meant by full form materialistion mediumship.

Materialisations have to be SEEN (whether in red, blue or green light) to have any validity.

I don't think another book summarising important evidence does any harm. I am reading David Fontana's "Is there an Afterlife" and I would be surprised if there was much out there to eclipse it as a summary.

I should say re-reading as it is well-thumbed now.

After reading "Is There an Afterlife?" a reviewer wrote:

Excellent book, the author Professor David Fontana, a former President of the Society for Psychical Research, has carefully reviewed cases highly suggestive of survival beyond physical death.

David Fontana is one of the few researchers around today truly qualified to write this book reviewing the evidence for an afterlife as he has also directly witnessed and investigated under controlled conditions some of the best cases of more recent times

Many other books apparently discussing the evidence for an afterlife are not presented in a fair, balanced manner with either an uncritical author selecting just the seeming wonders or the hardened sceptic author selecting cases of fraud or self-deception as somehow representative of all cases ... often only the preferred half of the story is being told.

Fontana presents the cases past and more recent in a balanced and fair manner, giving both the intriguing evidence that remains hard to explain away, nor avoiding the suspicions, problems or claims of fraud/self deception often made by sceptics, non present commentators or revisionists.

The information is discussed in such a manner that the reader is left to make up his or her own mind, however this is not to suggest Fontana's opinion is neutral, nor should it be, after 30 years of psychical research and personal observation, his experience indicates that the best explanation is that some paranormal phenomena is real

Throughout the book Fontana convincingly casts doubt that 'Super-ESP' is a valid alternate explanation of such afterlife phenomena. Super-ESP is a popular theory amongst some parapsychologists that all psychic phenomena suggestive of survival is really just a human interpretation of unconscious ESP (extra sensory perception), a mind to mind transfer of information involving only earthly minds in our world.

Yet Fontana shows that Super-ESP theory seldom fits the actual reports in psychical research that well, pointing out that parapsychology (looking for human ESP ability) has rarely if ever found evidence of strong enough ESP or PK (psychokinesis) under human conscious or unconscious control to satisfactorily explain much stronger if rarer psychic phenomena reported in this book and witnessed by Fontana and other psychical researchers under controlled conditions.

Nor can these be easily dismissed as trickery, as often in past magicians were present who found none and other critics or magicians have often declined to try and replicate the claimed phenomena under the exactly the same conditions as serious researchers.

This is surely one of the best books written on afterlife paranormal phenomena and very much needed as today opinions have often been slanted by cynical sceptics or the overly keen believers in almost any claim being made.

On the final pages the book closes with David Fontana's opinion based on many years of research... .... 'Psychic abilities are a matter of fact, not of belief. What they are and what they mean for our view of reality is another matter, but one cannot dismiss them as fiction and yet retain credibility as an unbiased observer'

I read Fontana's excellent book. In fact, this is the standard book I'd recommend to any scientist interested in afterlife studies. And I've recommended it to some professional scientists I know (psychologists, biologists, etc.)

I agree this is the one of the best summaries available of the evidence for afterlife.

Actually, in my previous comments, I meant to summaries only for mediunship research, not for other types of evidence suggesting afterlife (e.g NDEs, EVP, reincarnation, etc.) or psi (you can accept psi as a fact, but be skeptical of afterlife. I guess some parapsychologists fall in that category).

My point is that some cases of mediumship offers the best (not the only) evidence for afterlife I've seen, and a selection and detailed explanation/examination of the best cases would be a good idea, because it has the potential to convince open mind skeptics and reasonable scientists, and motivate them to further research.

It would be a standard reference on mediumship too.

For example, the research with Joan Sloan offers convincing evidence for survival. No alternative explanation (super-psi, fraud, cold reading, trickery, or a combination of them) seems plausible to account for Sloan's séances. In my opinion, it is not reasonable to remain skeptical regarding it after studying it in detail.

If you selection (let's to say, the 10 best cases of mediumship), and critically examine them (weighting the evidence, considering alternative explanations, the best criticism if they exist, etc.) and document them in detail, it probably would convince most open mind skeptics and scientists.

Hi ZC - what kind of feedback did you get from your friends after the read Fontana?

Hi Paul,

Of the group I've recommended the book, I've received feedback only from a minority (I think the others haven't ordered the book):

A psychologist once told me "Fontana's book is well researched and argued; I didn't see any substantial flaw with his research and it seems something may actually survive after all"

A physicist (during his doctoral thesis) commented to me: "I don't see contradiction between physical laws as currently understood and the possibility of survival as researched by Fontana."

I asked him if he considered that survival of consciousness violated the law of conservation of energy and he replied: "only if you assume 1)That known physical world is a closed system; and 2)That consciousness is a type of physical energy. Neither of these conditions are known to be true"

He also was familiar with one of the Dean Radin's books.

I've seen more dogmatism with philosophers or students of philosophy. Many of them reject the information out of hand, and I doubt they have read the book. I don't recommend this kind of books to them anymore.

I have a friend that studies philosophy, and she sympathizes with dualism. But even she tend to be close minded about afterlife. I didn't recommend her Fontana's book, but philosopher David Ray Griffin's book "Parapsychlogy, Philosophy and Spirituality". I don't know if she has read it yet.

I think one should recommend books according to the background of the receiver. Fontana's book will be useful and interesting for psychologists and natural scientists; with philosophers, probably not.

That's I've seen.

“In my humble opinion, until science unlocks the door to consciousness”

The door has been unlocked but figuring out what is in the room is still a great mystery. I suspect it will be a very long time before humans figure out what is this greatest of all mysteries.

Maybe the only mystery beyond consciousness is awareness. Most would predict that without consciousness there is no awareness but I suspect that without awareness there is no consciousness.

If we remove all unawareness from consciousness what do we have left? But then without some degree of unawareness there is no us.


Thanks for the prompt reply. Very interesting comments from your friends.

With regard to your observations about recommending appropriate books to different people I definitely agree. However I do wonder how anyone can reasonably dismiss a proposition without some kind of analysis of the evidence used to support it, although I accept that this happens all the time in practice eg Sheldrake-v-Wiseman/Randi etc (much to my astonishment when I read about it - perhaps I am naiive).

William: approximately 155,000 humans each day figure it out by direct experience. :)

I do wonder how anyone can reasonably dismiss a proposition without some kind of analysis of the evidence used to support it, although I accept that this happens all the time in practice

It's an interesting phenomenon, isn't it? I think the answer to this is that people in general like to cling to certainty. (Not always right, but never in doubt). This as an issue in all sorts of fields, not just 'woo-woo' topics.

I think it was Emerson who said something to the effect that men have some hope to uncover the truth only the degree that they're willing to be uncertain.

To that end, congratulations to Michael Tymn for contributing to the uncertainty!

Have you read the new Winston Wu's article debunking New Agers?:

Michael: "In many ways mediumship of that time was more robust than mediumship today. One reason is that trance mediumship was more common back then. Today's mediums seem reluctant to go into trance, perhaps because they don't want to surrender control to that extent, or perhaps because they simply lack the patience to develop the necessary skill."

Dear Michael:

There's another factor here that's a bit mysterious. It's as though truly deep trances are no longer necessary -- this has little or nothing to do with a lack of patience or a reduction in robustness.

It's as though the overall mental or psychical environment has changed, not a far fetched idea considering all of the external differences between now -- with its instantaneous communications, world girdling electrical grid, generally accelerated lifestyles, and so on -- and then.

Even so, some amateur voice channellers today do enter deep trances. No one has any idea how many engage in such activities -- amateurs don't seek the limelight -- but certainly a great many more experiment with light trances.

One need not emulate Edgar Cayce.

On a personal note, I was not considered a good hypnotic subject in 1979, when I hired a hypnotist -- I had great difficulty even entering a mild trance. (This proved next to impossible; we did find a work-around, however.)

Despite this, I found myself emerging from a somewhat deep trance state after focusing intently on writing a short piece in 1999 or so, very surprised to realize how much time had passed. (Hours seemed like mere minutes.)

Ever since then, I've found it increasingly easy to slide into a light trance (I don't consider myself a medium, although I occasionally pick up snippets and believe it's not at all difficult to access another version of self, a slightly different situation.)

Of many amateurs I've had the pleasure to interact with, only a small percentage enter truly deep trances but some who prefer light trances can access and convey material of similar or greater quality.

As usual, I strongly suggest that anyone who is truly interested in this topic might learn to enter trance themselves instead of merely reading about doing so. There's nothing like firsthand experience.

Bill I.

Great link, ZC.

As someone who has occasionally been interpreted as supporting the "thoughts create reality" tenet, it may surprise some to know that I agree with most of Wu's points. I find Dyer to be especially annoying, mostly because I sense that he has a strong intellectual understanding of mystical insights, but little experiential understanding of the same. I find Chopra different, in that I sense that he does genuinely know of what he speaks. Another way to say that is that Chopra resonates with me, while Dyer does not.

I also wholeheartedly agree that the idea that people create their own misfortune is highly pernicious. More people need to challenge that.

In a nutshell, what Wu is rightly criticizing is the idea that reality is created by thought on the level of the ego. What I would say is that what we call objective reality actually is thought. We're not the one's creating it though. We're just existing inside of it, and maybe most difficult to grasp, are ourselves a thought. So we end up with a thought (our egos), observing more thought (objective reality).

The self-realized, genuine mystic (we really should call them realists) is simply someone who has seen beyond all thought. Is it any wonder that no one understands them? I'm convinced that the only way to truly understand them is to experience their perspective for ourselves.

Wu's best comment in the piece might be the second paragraph, when he writes, "As a freethinker and truth seeker, I believe that I am free to analyze and question the tenets of my own spiritual belief systems and the teachings of its teachers and gurus as well. After all, no one is infallible. And I've never been one to adhere to blind unquestioning allegiance, not even to those I admire or endorse. Instead, I believe in being honest and calling things as I see them."

That's worth emulating. Anyone who claims that they have the answers probably doesn't. On the other hand, if someone suggests that we already have the answers, but are yet to realize it, it's probably worth listening to them.

So, do our thoughts create our reality? I'd say no. But I'd go on to say that reality is thought, and that our experience of reality mirrors the thoughts our consciousness accepts as absolute at any given moment. I'd further say that if anyone chooses to believe that, then they haven't understood a bit of it.

To try to tie this in with the topic with MT's book, I think that the process I'm attempting to describe continues indefinitely. In other words, the communicators from other levels are still operating in a reality that's ultimately thought, and medium communications involve some sort of mixing-up or transference between levels of reality, although each reality relies on a foundation of thought. I've also little doubt that it's not much easier to see through it in subsequent levels than it is here. It may even be harder. The Tibetan Book of the Dead can be interpreted to support the latter premise. That's why I think it might be helpful to try while we're still here.

“William: approximately 155,000 humans each day figure it out by direct experience. :)”

Figure out what and where did the 155,000 number come from? Does figure out mean knowledge of or realization.

On page 207 of Ena Twigg’s book medium she states that a Mrs. Bolton a congresswoman from Ohio was the deciding vote for the land lease act of 1941 that helped Britian with war supplies. Well my research indicates the vote was not that close and there was no deciding vote. Also Ena claims a spirit helped Mrs Bolton make that deciding vote.

My skeptical mind wonders was this just one mistake or can Ena be trusted in her remarks about her abilities, as she is the author of the book. Or did I just make a mistake in my research. When I read this statement about a year ago a red flag came up but I did not take the time to validate it.

Ena makes the same mistake as most authors and expects change in our beliefs to come about much faster than they actually have. We humans tend to hang on to our beliefs in spite of the evidence for a variety of reasons with mental comfort being one of them.

Michael H.: "In a nutshell, what Wu is rightly criticizing is the idea that reality is created by thought on the level of the ego."

What does "thought on the level of the ego" mean, exactly? Further, the word "reality" must be carefully defined.

I'm familiar with the idea that much of personal reality creation is as natural as breathing.

This is as though each physical personality creates their own "reality field" or unique physical continuum, but very few do so consciously, while everyone does this all of the time unconsciously (but not continuously -- there are very short gaps or pulses).

The reality field is contiguous with the range of the outer senses.

Collective or mass reality creation, per these ideas, is achieved by unconscious telepathic processes, a kind of coordination, within a framework of "root assumptions" including time, space, and gravity.

Conscious intention can greatly influence or direct this creation but it is also subject to personal beliefs. We may hold beliefs that oppose that which we intend, while we are very frequently quite oblivious to a great many of our beliefs.

"Magic" becomes an application of these ideas.

The famous "hard problem" of philosophy applies to testing or proving these particular ideas -- I'm not sure there's any way to do that at present, in a scientific sense. Also, most practitioners don't engage in precisely repeatable experiments, making it very tough to prove much of anything. If you manage to create some desired event or, say, finding a particular object using such methods, who is to say that you wouldn't have done so without them?

This doesn't stop anyone from experimenting, however.

Since so many have been engaged in such personal experimentation for so long, in modern times augmenting this with Internet interaction, a general body of experience has built up in various places, each of a particular flavor.

Tapping into this, one frequently comes across the idea that the "magical approach" requires a "hold and let go" pattern -- the mental focus or conscious intent is held for just so long (the amount of time varies from one source to another, ranging from 55 seconds to 5 minutes).

I've experimented with such techniques for years, having become quite skilled at consistently finding items I wish to purchase at yard sales, in dumpsters, and in junk stores and even used CD/DVD stores.

(In a typical situation I might find, say, a single cable splitter in a basket of junk in a junk store, after a few moments of intense focus before entering the store. After finding it and asking its price, the owner said something like: "How did that get there? I didn't know I had it.")

Again, there's no way to prove whether I created the particular object/event or not, no way to go back and replay without focusing my intent.

This becomes a highly intuitive pursuit, then.

I've always wished to move on to more valuable objects, more impressive feats, but here is where I run into my own beliefs, resistant to such possibilities and even finding something "wrong," in an old fashioned moral sense, with the whole idea.

Bill I.

My skeptical mind wonders was this just one mistake or can Ena be trusted in her remarks about her abilities, as she is the author of the book. Or did I just make a mistake in my research.

According to the book Debating Franklin D. Roosevelt's Foreign Policies 1933-1945, by Doenecke and Stoler, which I found on Google Books, your research is correct. The authors report that "after bitter debate" Congress passed the lend-lease act by a vote of 212-194 in the House and 50-37 in the Senate.

Of course it's possible that Twigg's claim refers to some preliminary vote, rather than the final vote. Sometimes these bills go through many stages before they are finally passed.

Bill, if you really believe you can produce objects you want out of thin air, then I encourage you to put all moral questions aside and produce that 20 pound block of solid gold.

I'd even be happy to inspect it for you to confirm its reality. I'll even pay the shipping charges.

What does "thought on the level of the ego" mean, exactly? Further, the word "reality" must be carefully defined.

What I’m attempting to express has to do with a distinction between thought of a personal nature, and universal thought, Bill.

“Thought on the level of the ego”, as I’m intending it here, is thought that is concerned with the personal “I”, and everything that that entails. Universal thought, on the other hand, is what I would describe as the fundamental “stuff” of existence. Our consciousness is continually converting that “stuff” to reality, and as you suggest, the process is as natural as breathing. As far as the term “reality” goes, I think the second MS Word definition is sufficient: All that exists or happens – everything that actually does or could exist or happen in real life.

It seems that where we run into the real problems has to do with a failure in understanding that “everything that does or could exist or happen in real life” can only be directly experienced by any given individual. We’re all experiencing separate realities to one degree or another, although we may reach consensus on certain aspects of reality (the sky is blue, for example). This even happens if two people witness the same event: Imagine two people watching a fiery car crash. One may be morbidly fascinated by the violence and explosion, while the other is horrified by the plight of the occupants and is deeply concerned with their wellbeing.

What inevitably happens though, is that the more profound a given experience, the more difficult it becomes to express it to another. Those who doubt that separate realities exist will often dismiss those who have experienced mystical realities as suffering from a sort of delusion. Yet, if all the founders of the great religions were deluded, why do their teachings still resonate through the ages, and how were they able to attract the initial followers that eventually built what are now Buddhism, Taoism, Judaism, Christianity or Islam?

What the mystics have all recognized (although they may not have necessarily expressed it this way), is that universal thought encompasses the personal “I” - or to put it another way, the personal “I” itself is also constructed from universal thought. The consequence of that realization is the understanding that the genuine “I” has a depth and reality that is far beyond what the personal “I” could ever possibly conceive of.

As far as how all of this pertains to the idea that “thought creates reality”, or the related idea of conscious intention - what I’m suggesting is that the New Age tenet that Wu is debunking is often interpreted, even when not intended as such by the one suggesting the idea, as meaning that the personal “I” is what is creating reality. That is what I mean by “thought on the level of the ego”.

This is not to say that personal thought cannot influence personal reality, or that it may be possible to manifest bars of gold. It may very well be within the realm of possibilities, but it could also be highly dangerous. While I can’t see that there is any harm in discovering a long sought-after cable splitter, I might interpret the feeling of resistance to “other such possibilities and even finding something "wrong," in an old fashioned moral sense, with the whole idea”, as an important intuition. Manly P. Hall suggests much the same in The Secret Teachings of All Ages. In the chapter, >Ceremonial Magic and Sorcery, Hall observes:

The most dangerous form of black magic is the scientific perversion of occult power for the gratification of personal desire. It’s less complex and more universal form is human selfishness, for selfishness is the fundamental cause of all worldly evil. A man will barter his eternal soul for temporal power, and down through the ages a mysterious process has been evolved which actually enables him to make this exchange . . .

Though the demonism of the Middle Ages seems to have disappeared, there is abundant evidence that in many forms of modern thought--especially the so-called "prosperity" psychology, "willpower-building" metaphysics, and systems of "high-pressure" salesmanship-- black magic has merely passed through a metamorphosis, and although its name be changed its nature remains the same.

I want to be as clear as possible that I don’t think that those who are intrigued by the ideas of intention or “creating their own reality” are in any way motivated by evil. Where I see the danger in these ideas is that I see them as designed to reinforce the reality and the strength of the personal “I”, while I think the real objective of existence is to discover the genuine “I”. If there’s anyone reading this that doesn’t consider it to be the ramblings of a deluded mystic, I’d suggest that rather than actively attempting to create their own reality, they instead attempt to passively investigate the genuine nature of the “I”. I’m pretty comfortable in suggesting that those who choose to do so will discover that there’s no end to it.

There are times when I go to a thrift market looking for something unusual that I will not find somewhere else, and I find it. And there are times when I do not find what I'm looking for despite wanting to find it. Now if I was only impressed by my successes and didn't count the number of times I didn't find what I was looking for, I might be tempted to explain my successes by some miraculous form of manifesting the things I wanted. But I cannot say that. I am as aware of my failures as my successes, so my successes, at least, do not seem unusual at all.

Now I do not doubt that it may be possible for objects to appear apparently from nowhere. I do know someone very well who experienced a haunting when she was in her teens which involved an old army uniform button that could not be disposed of until the long dead person it once belonged to was appeased.

But if you can manifest objects you want, why bother going to a store where they are likely to be found, and then claim your discovery is the result of your manifesting what was previously not there?

"there is abundant evidence that in many forms of modern thought--especially... systems of "high-pressure" salesmanship-- black magic has merely passed through a metamorphosis, and although its name be changed its nature remains the same."

Capitalism depends quite a bit on high pressure salesmanship. Yet I am told it is a spiritually advanced system.

As someone who has spent twenty-plus years in sales and marketing, I can attest that contemporary salesmanship involves relationship-building and problem-solving. High-pressure techniques still exist in some fields - used cars come to mind - but most salespeople today are trained to solve problems. Don't forget that Hall wrote the above quote in 1928. This is another change that I consider as indicative of a gradual elevation of the overall level of consciousness.

Since you're obviously convinced that capitalism is the scourge of the earth, Pete, why don't you share what you feel the solution is? I've already stated in previous threads that I see the issue as relating to a lack of awareness throughout humanity, and not the system itself.

So again, what do you see as the solution, and how would you choose to implement it?

Since you're obviously convinced that capitalism is the scourge of the earth, Pete, why don't you share what you feel the solution is?

Since you ask, an alternative theory of banking was developed back in the 1920s by Major C H Douglas and his Social Credit movement. It was quite influential in Canada, Australia and New Zealand for a while –see the ideas in Robert Heinlein's SF novels "Beyond This Horizon" and "For Us The Living".

The current system is broken top to bottom. The whole of the finance industry resembles a wild garden that hasn't been looked after for years. Wherever you look, whatever stone you lift up, nasty things come crawling out. And when the USA sneezes, the World catches the Black Death. We are only at the start of the great Global Unravelling. It is said that regulators have scrutinised Madoff over many years, and have failed to detect fraud. How could this happen? Why did the SEC fail to act? Obviously he had a lot of help.

Our entire banking system is a Ponzi scheme of epic proportions. It relies on a continual increase in loans taken out by government, businesses and individuals in order to function. It grows until it can grow no more, then there is a credit crunch.

The suspicion brought on by all these rip-offs and fraudulent financial products called derivatives is that the US has been bust for years. It needed to fund its deficit to maintain its consumer lifestyle and place in the world. And it has often done this by foul means not fair. These ruthless and premeditated attacks on our economies are more devastating and destructive than any fundamentalist terrorist attack - the perpetrators should be dealt with as ruthlessly as terrorists and the same legislation used to remove them from our society

The whole hedge fund industry is performing very badly –in fact it is imploding. At the peak last year the industry had an estimated $2.5 trillion under management. It’s probably about half that now and should bottom out less than $1 trillion. This is what happens when snake oil salesmen are trusted with billions and billions of other peoples’ money.

To give it even a snowball’s chance in hell of working properly, you need not so much regulation (useless) as complete transparency. All (suitably anonymised) details of all transactions must be declared–quarterly at least. In the meantime, if you are invested in fund of funds, then demand proof that the FOF manager does not invest with any manager who fails to use independent service providers. Apply a sticking plaster if you must.

I understand that we have a mess on our hands, Pete, and I fully agree that there is a need for transparency, especially. The Madoff fund was a complete black box, yet his published returns were too good to pass up, for very many, very bright people. Yet, they all wondered how he managed to do it.

Still, if I'm reading you correctly, you are suggesting fundamental changes to the existing system of capitalism, not the eradication thereof. Since you mentioned the Social Credit movement, and I'm unlikely be the only one who's unfamiliar with it, why don't you provide a synopsis: what is the premise, how could it be implemented, and why would it be advantageous?

Why is it these comment threads always turn political? And yet on the increasingly rare occasions when I put up a post dealing with current events, people complain and say, "This isn't a political blog!"

Dmduncan: "Bill, if you really believe you can produce objects you want out of thin air, then I encourage you to put all moral questions aside and produce that 20 pound block of solid gold."

It's not quite as simple as that, dm, as you will note should you bother to carefully reread my comments.

On the other hand, I may find the time (not sure) to post about an experience in which I found $2,000.00 in unmarked bills on a busy street in downtown Boston in the middle of the day. The tale includes an odd but relevant experience on the train entering the city, earlier, as well as how the $2,000.00 didn't become legally mine until one year and a day had passed.

There are different ways to view reality, and these are almost always contradictory.

Personal experimentation simply adds data, while not necessarily affirming that one view is correct, another false. I lean towards certain explanations at some times and other explanations at other times, while I'm usually able to interpret a particular event by multiple explanations.

I seek a suitable overall explanation that incorporates as many opposed and subsidiary explanations as possible but this, so far anyway, is an incomplete task awaiting additional experience, data, and knowledge -- it's always somewhat provisional, in other words; the results aren't all in yet.

I'd also like to respond to Michael H.'s comment regarding self or selves if I have time, but this is always a devilishly intricate topic; I'm rarely satisfied with my attempts to explicate my views on the topic.

Bill I.

Bill, if you can produce gold bars out of thin air, not only would that "add data" to your claims, but it would also "affirm" that your claims are correct.

To say that experimentation "simply adds data, while not necessarily affirming that one view is correct" is to dismiss evidence as insignificant however substantial which, if you did materialize a gold bar, would be substantial enough indeed to affirm, if only to yourself, that your beliefs are true.

Of course, if you don't try, you can't fail, and if you don't fail because you've never tried, you can always believe that you can.

And maybe that's really all that you are after anyway. If so, enjoy.

So long as you do not claim either that you know you can manifest things, or that you do, in fact, manifest them, you will always be safe from criticism, because you will be expressing beliefs not knowledge or facts.

I am interested in beliefs, knowledge, and facts, but I am also very interested in keeping them separated in my own head so that I do not confuse one for the other.

Dear Dm:

If you're still around this weekend I'll attempt to answer.

You taunt by using the word "claim" and I find this annoying and unnecessary.

I attempt to be truthful when I write (when I'm not trying to be humorous) but there are a number of topics which, owing to their nature, are extremely difficult to convey.

These cannot be turned into black and white subjects -- they involve endless shades of gray.

"Magic" is definitely one of them. This is usually a very minor side interest for me although it connects to areas of great interest.

Bill I.

Sorry Bill, but they are claims, and I am not taunting. You are riding the fence alternately stating that you can materialize objects and that you aren't sure you can.

So tell me, do you think that something can be both true and false at the same time in the same way? And if you can, would you produce at least one example to prove your point?

And saying I'm simplifying things between black and white is a red herring. Why don't you try that endless shades of gray philosophy the next time you cook a meal, and add a pound of salt to the meal instead of a sprinkle, then serve it to your guests and see if they agree that the horrible taste is just due to them being too "black and white" and having an insufficient appreciation of the "endless shades of gray" of which your cooking is composed.

And the world isn't all endless shades of gray, there's black and white too, and you only get gray by adding black and white together. You miss an extremely important part of the world when you ignore its blacks and whites. God knows, without all those 1's and 0's your computer screen would not be alive with color and imagery every time you got online. So let's not simplify the complexity of the world by loving only gray.

So, you believe what you do, and I don't have a problem with that. But it is belief. You should be aware of that if you are not already.

dm: "Sorry Bill, but they are claims, and I am not taunting. You are riding the fence alternately stating that you can materialize objects and that you aren't sure you can.

Dear dm:

For whatever reason, the subtleties of what I've been attempting to describe elude you.

I've described certain experiences and noted how they might be interpreted, while also noting that they need not be interpreted in that way.

I hope you're not accusing me of lying or being out of my mind, but your use of "claims" certainly begins to sound that way.

I'll try again, briefly.

There are different ways of understanding the nature of reality, and some of these -- at this moment in time -- are opposed, even if anomalies and poorly understood aspects point to a potential unification.

A basic example is scientific materialism versus what might be termed mentalism (it has many other names and these include quite a few variations, some quite old).

Closely coupled with this is how reality can seem very different depending on the degree to which someone is less or more "ego-bound."

Unless you've personally experienced or experimented with altered states of consciousness -- let's call this "expansive" (less ego-bound) and "narrowed" (more ego-bound) -- you'll have no idea of what I'm attempting to convey.

There are many ways to approach these two related mysteries.

As you would expect from the above, I prefer a "hands-on" approach involving methods and techniques, relying on a form of meditation or mind quieting as a starting point. This is closely connected with trance or dissociation, something I've also been experimenting with for the last nine years or so. Further, although I frequently meditate and experiment with trance by myself, I've also engaged in a variety of experiments with others (from just one other to about a dozen folks at a time), both on-line and live and in-person.

If the idea of direct personal experimentation frightens you, there are endless books to read on these topics, although just reading puts you at a step removed. Still, this is better than nothing, but does nothing to address your own ego-boundedness.

(I am not claiming to walk around in an ego-less state. Maybe some do, but the ego is necessary and natural for physical life. What I have learned how to do is to loosen my ego, temporarily, to varying degrees.)

Colin Wilson, for example, explores such areas in many of his books, but he is just one author of a great many.

I've used the word "magic" in quotes to refer to "conscious reality creation" as someone else brought the term up upthread.

Some deride the latter, associating it with "New Age rubbish." That's their problem, as I see it. (We have a tendency to dismiss or ridicule that which we either don't understand or which conflicts with our beliefs, usually without even investigating whatever this might be. William James and Frederick Myers faced such dismissal and ridicule for their "psychical investigations" in their time. One way people do this is by applying a label they find offensive, lumping all sorts of things into it. One such label today is "New Age.")

Reality Creation is a key topic of Jane Robert's channelled Seth material, consisting of many dictated volumes. (Possibly the best one for this topic is _The Nature of Personal Reality_.)

Although many in the New Age movement state "you create your own reality" such that the phrase became something of a slogan, few give Seth any credit for creating the term, while fewer still offer the detailed explanations behind the term that Seth does, over many of his books.

In some ways, Seth has more in common with ancient thought than anything "New Age" (depending on how you define that), while Jane herself -- a writer living in Elmira, New York -- was associated with the New Age movement after the fact, not so much while she was alive (she died in 1984) and certainly not when she began her Seth odyssey in 1963, as there was no such mass movement at that time.

She'd been searching for a topic to write about and, with her husband Rob's assistance, began to investigate the psychic realm after an unusual OOB experience which also included automatic writing. This led to experiments with a ouija board then, fairly quickly, to entering a trance and channelling Seth, Rob transcribing what Seth called "book dictation."

So "magic" can be seen as "conscious reality creation."

Reality creation itself -- per this concept or perspective -- is a natural process that proceeds spontaneously. Each of us creates everything -- all matter -- that we directly perceive, without even thinking about it, as naturally as breathing. Matter is really a form of thought, then.

_Conscious_ reality creation involves directing or guiding this natural process, by focused thought or intention.

This is an art, not a science, and poorly understood in today's "official" society, even if endless practitioners engaged in it in previous times, each in accordance with their particular tradition and style.

It directly contradicts the scientific materialist view of reality -- for the most part (there is just a bit of overlap at the fringes of science, today) and thus is considered highly suspect by those who are convinced they understand the nature of reality. (In fact, most folks wouldn't even entertain the idea, as it conflicts not just with scientific theory but common sense.)

Further, although I have witnessed some amazing feats of conscious reality creation (there are some in the so called Pagan community who are quite skilled in these areas, even though they don't seek or desire publicity, for obvious reasons) with others and captured on video, I don't claim to be a master of these techniques myself.

(Note, btw, that if I could will solid gold into existence I wouldn't tell anyone, least of all those reading this comment.)

What I can do and have done, however, is to experiment in small ways, with small things, as an occasional hobby.

As I posted, it's very tough to prove that these techniques work, as you can come up with multiple explanations for any particular and seemingly successful instance. (Someone else might wish to spend the time and resources for laboratory experiments, multiple trials leading to statistical results, and so on, but I have other priorities, am no scientist, and don't wish to be bothered.)

Even so, I would say that focused intent does and has altered my personal reality.

I could post endless stories, mostly of trivial incidents, but this would be a waste of time, but see the story below as an example. Anyone who doesn't believe me is welcome to engage in their own experiments and decide for themselves.

If they aren't willing to do this, I can't value their beliefs on these matters.

What's required is simple -- briefly focused intent. This can be aided by first stopping thoughts and exercising (or developing) the ability to visualize.

So far from claiming to be able to instantly materialize objects out of thing air, what I have described is using focused intent and how it seems to work, but in an ambiguous way.

Let me be more precise. I have never willed a small object into existence, "out of thin air" and, say, in the palm of my hand. Such tricks are best left to the Indian gurus, or famous mythical magicians.

Rather, an object or situation that I desired came into my possession or came into being after I focused my intent on acquiring or creating it. If I was very specific, a very particular object came into my possession or a very particular situation came to pass; if not, something suitable to my lack of specificity was the result.

The most blatant example I can think of took place in the mid 90s. I fell asleep on a train going into Boston. I'd been thinking of money and how broke I was; I wished for some money, as many of us do at such times. Here was the intent, however muddy in this instance. I woke up just before the train pulled into North Station and as I did so I sensed a kind of small darkish circular cloud leaving me. ("How odd," I thought.)

Hours later, I had lunch some blocks from my office. Walking back to my office, I spied what looked like cash some blocks ahead of me, lying in a pile next to the curb. This was on State Street, a busy street. This was in broad daylight, and many were about.

I got closer and closer, finally picking up the cash. As I stood there holding it, in shock, a woman who'd witnessed me pick it up made a big deal about calling the police and reporting it. I had no time to process the situation even as a storekeeper, curious, came out from his shop to see what was happening.

"Call the police!" The woman said; "This man's found money!"

The storekeeper did so. Even though I could have put the money in my pocket and walked away, I played along, going into the store and counting it. I'd found exactly $2,000.00 in unmarked $50 and $20 dollar bills.

The policeman came and took the money, having me sign a form and giving me a copy.

No one claimed the money in the course of a year, so I was able to legally acquire it one year and one day after I found it.

Note that my creation of this event (again, this is a way of viewing reality, and not the only one) included the whole situation; the odd initial experience, finding the money, the woman who witnessed this, the fact that I couldn't keep it at the time, and my final receipt of it.

Now -- you could see this situation in at least two basic ways:

o I created, not the money, but _finding the money_, and not with full conscious intent -- I'd fallen asleep after thinking about money, so in this instance some part of my normally unconscious mind did this. (Per theories of reality creation, each of us creates all of our unique physical continuum all the time, so in that sense I _did_ create the money, but I don't wish to confuse you. As I said, there is some subtlety to these ideas.

o The event was completely coincidental; my finding the money had no connection with my earlier experience on the train.

You can't prove what actually happened, which idea or theory is correct. This is what I meant by "ambiguity" above.

"So tell me, do you think that something can be both true and false at the same time in the same way? And if you can, would you produce at least one example to prove your point?"

Sure. Say you're sitting at a diner, a waitress in front of you, behind the counter.

1. Let's say you're in an expanded condition (see above). In this case, the waitress seems to change a bit for a moment, such that you briefly see her as distinctly Elizabethan, in a dark interior. Her appearance in subtly altered -- her hair is longer and in a different style, she is dressed differently, and so on. You recall how you once encountered her in that era, at an English inn. She was the innkeeper's daughter. You'd stayed at the inn and left some papers behind, papers which might cost you your life if they fell into the wrong hands. Fortunately, she hid them for you. A great warm glow passes over you, as you appreciate the waitress, her greater self or soul, and her earlier edition, the glow extending to her. She smiles, and something connects the two of you, felt strongly in the eyes.

2. In a narrowed, more ego-bound condition, none of this is available or "real;" you're facing an ordinary waitress in 2008, in the U.S.A. The waitress is friendly, but you feel no particular connection or sense of warmth.

What is true in an expanded condition is false in a narrowed condition, and vice versa.

Bill I.

In the essays section of my Web site, there are two essays called "Unusual Occurrences" and "More Unusual Occurrences." These are reports of strange experiences I've had. There are various ways of interpreting these experiences - as synchronicities, as premonitions, as some of kind of PK, or as mere coincidence. (There may be other options I haven't thought of.)

My point is that, contrary to black-and-white thinking, I can't neatly pigeonhole these experiences or explain them or control them. Still, they happened, and they provide (for me) a glimpse of something larger at work in the world.

Not everything can be cut and dried, especially when dealing with (possibly) paranormal phenomena. I find that in this area, four-valued Buddhist logic is sometimes preferable to dichotomistic Aristotelian logic.

Incidentally, the kinds of "unusual occurrences" I write about still continue to happen, though I don't bother writing essays about them anymore.

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