18. Solid enough to walk on
Session 1 -- Overview
Spiritual Web Chat
Sat 22 May 1999

Ben< ALL: This is the first session of a new seminar. After four sessions exploring "Maya: the swamp" in the last seminar, I felt it was time for a change of scenery. I'll post the subject of this seminar later, because I hope you may recognize this terrain before I name it. Ready? Here we go ...

Ben< QUESTION 1: Suppose you are planning to visit Madrid, Spain, and have not been there before. What types of information would you gather, and where would you obtain it? YOUR TURN

order< I'd send my husband for the information; he always knows just where to get it. *S*

windchild< Travel agency. Where to stay, what to see.

RainWoman< Maybe books from the library ... go exploring that way first.

dCrone< How do I figure the exchange rate? What time of year is it and what are the general weather conditions? How much Spanish (or Portuguese or What?) do I need to learn?

Kemokae< I would go to many different sources ... one for the usual tourist stuff and other places to know about its history and little known places of interest.

FRAML< Ben: Maps, currency exchange rate, a good old Michelin Green book, an English-Spanish phrase book. Although I only did the currency exchange rate when I went there the first time myself, I learned a couple of things.

Doucia< Where to stay and interesting places to visit. I would find the information on the Internet ... and travel agencies.

Moonsister< I'd go to the Library and take out every book I needed.

Ben< Airline schedules, from several airlines.

dancer< Travel agency ... others who had been there if possible..

Trudy< I would ask around, find people who've been there, and talk with them.

dCrone< What is important in Spain for me to see and experience? Do I plan to stay in hotels or hostels? How will I get from one place to another? The hills, I think, are calling ... do I really need to experience the cities?

Ben< How about the Internet? Search the web?

Walt< Get on the I-Net and talk to a Spaniard (probably female).

dCrone< Then I would go to the bookstore for a Fordor's.

Kemokae< Spain has a type of tapestry that is made nowhere else in the world, you know.

dCrone< I wouldn't feel comfortable talking in depth with someone until I at least had a map of the region.

Walt< Call their Chamber of Commerce and get the lit. Read it and stay home.

order< I saw a brochure once for Ypsilanti, Michigan ... after that I would never trust travel or Internet advertisements. *G* Probably best to get first hand info from others who have been there already.

Walt< Why would anyone want to leave Michigan? Hahahahaha

order< Walt: My sentiments exactly. *Grin*

Walt< If you wish to meet Spanish men and women, the USA is full of them. Same-same for any other race.

order< Actually, I don't think I am wanting to go to Spain, or overseas, but I am playing along. *S*

Kemokae< Most definitely search the Web. Spain also has a spiritual connection ... with the Holy Grail.

windchild< Astral project there and save the air fare.

Ben< I'd have to check my passport. It's been awhile since I traveled overseas.

dCrone< Oh, yes ... the passport. And do I need shots! And find out if anyone else wants to go, too. *S*

bluestar< I'd probably search the net/web first, then check out videos in the library, look at maps, find out where all the museums are ... then start looking at guidebooks, etc.

Kemokae< I took two solid years of World geography in High School is why I am mentioning all this other stuff.

greyman< Itinerary or travel plan, talk to others who visited the region, inquire as to resources necessary for the trip.

Ben< ALL: Okay. Good suggestions. Anyone have something to add that we've missed?

FRAML< Travel restrictions based upon my security clearances. Whoops, I don't do that stuff any more. *G*

bluestar< Let friends know you're coming?

Ben< bluestar: Yes, that would help if we knew someone in Madrid.

Kemokae< It's probably easiest to do the documentation work through a travel agency, after you decide what it is that you want to see while there.

Moonsister< I've had my shots, got a British passport, need no visa, got a 10% international travel concession. I would then find some lovely companions with like thoughts and interests to travel with.

Ben< COMMENT: There is a great deal of information available today, and there are many sources of information. By searching with a hypothetical purpose in mind, such as a visit to Madrid, one can select information relevant to that purpose.

order< Ahhhh ... I see where this is going now. *VBS*

Ben< QUESTION 2: Now that you've gathered all this relevant information about a visit to Madrid, do you believe it? If so, why? If not, why not? YOUR TURN

windchild< I believe it with reservations. Things are always built up better than they really are.

Trudy< I certainly look through all of it with a critical eye. That which I can verify through several sources I will probably believe. With some of it, I will tend to have a "wait and see" attitude.

Moonsister< I would definitely check the source of my information before I proceeded much further. Check and double-check. Then I would still play it by ear.

dCrone< To judge, I must know something about the speaker ... his or her point of view, likes, dislikes. Do I trust the information? Even if I like the person and agree with her or him, I am a grain-of-salt person myself. What I seek does not always align.

bluestar< If the information is current (check the dates) and the people giving it to you have a vested interest in its being correct (like the airlines companies), I would probably trust the factual information ... maps, airlines schedules, fees.

order< We MUST believe some of it, or we would not be going. We would cancel the trip altogether. So, I would say more believing than disbelieving... ??

dancer< I think it all would have to be taken with a grain of salt, keeping in mind individual preference, tastes, desires. It all comes funneled through another's perspective. What are they trying to sell you? What are they trying to share? How does their perspective and goals differ from yours regarding the trip? So many variables.

Kemokae< Ben: Now there's where you go to a language class or something the country is known for and find someone from the area. Not all pictures are as glamorous as is shown, but most information will usually cover the basics satisfactorily, to my thinking. I like to keep an open mind. It helps me in "exploring" an area ... as I question things and learn.

Ben< ALL: Excellent comments. Thanks. More?

Kemokae< I usually trust others until they prove to me its better not to do so.

Walt< Trust your instink.

dCrone< Walt: I think I really want to go to France. *S*

Walt< dCrone: They speak bad English in France. I don't want to go to Spain, because I don't speak Spanish, and I insist that they teach English to all Spaniards. Hahahahaaa..

Kemokae< Walt: Where were you in grade school when it was compulsory to learn Spanish? HA!

Walt< Kemokae: By-passed grade school for the school of hard knocks. Actually, Spanish was not taught in our Redneck school here in Wonderful Michigan. Spanish, No ... English, Si.

FRAML< I'd have to evaluate each of the items. Currency exchange fluctuates daily so I'd have to allow for change there. Maps of city should be fairly reliable, especially for tourist sites, hotel information. I'd trust Michelin over the tourist board. (They have a track record that I've experienced.) Phrase books are pretty generic.

Kemokae< FRAML: Just take your computer with you, no problem! It has all the information already on it every day, and up to date at that! S*

donoma< I need to evaluate the motivation of each information source. What are they trying to sell? What am I being sold? And then act accordingly.

dCrone< In addition to someone wanting to sell his/her idea, you've always got folks who just want to talk and hold court and have not a real notion of the topic. Maybe I should look for a guided tour with folks of like mind.

Ben< How about your friend in Madrid? Would you believe him or her? If so, on what subjects? And on what subjects would you be less likely to believe him or her?

dCrone< If I knew someone familiar with the territory, I would first have to determine whether or not I honored his/her opinion and perspective.

windchild< I would believe my friend in Madrid more than a travel agency; after all, they live there and can give a first hand account.

FRAML< Yes, I'd believe my friend because I've selected him/her as a friend based upon learning that they could be trusted and were worthy of trust. They would be a source who I know would be interested in helping me rather than taking advantage of me. That is a quality I include in the meaning of friendship.

Kemokae< Depends on how well I know this person and if they have a reputation for serving their interests first. As I said, I think most people are basically honest.

Trudy< It would be best to get input from several people, not just my friend in Madrid, so that I would have more than one perspective.

dCrone< In general, the mundane notations I would listen to and consider. When it came to what was important to experience, however, I would have to turn inward and see what occurred. I really don't have an affinity for cities. I would want to touch the land, the stones, the trees ... smell the countryside.

bluestar< Friends can probably give good info on safe neighborhoods, local transit options, accessibility, restaurants, good shows in town. :-) Good places to rent cars, bicycles, whatever, to view and experience the countryside. Train schedules, hospices (?)

donoma< Like all friends, you love them, and you evaluate what they say. I might be indeed more inclined to trust a friend, but perhaps, knowing that friend, more inclined to NOT trust him. All relative ...

FRAML< Actually, I had to put my trust in unknown folks giving me good information about where I was going to be moving many times in my military career. One had to trust their sponsor from a new unit. Also, from the point of being a sponsor, I felt I was responsible for giving the most accurate information possible to the incoming officers or NCOs I was sponsoring.

Ben< ALL: You guys are doing a good job with this. Obviously, you're not allergic to thinking. *grin*

dCrone< Allergy pills!!! Of course!!! Don't leave home without them!!

Ben< ALL: What about the airline schedules? The airlines are trying to sell you something, but how much does that fact reduce your confidence in them as a source of that particular information?

windchild< I don't see any way around the airlines. Either you pay the asking price or fly solo.

Kemokae< No problem ... my credit card has "flyer miles" on it ... so the choice is rather limited for me! That is, unless it's one of those airlines where they taxi you to the end of the runway and hand you a kite. HA!

dCrone< I am not sure I would fly. I might cruise. Price, of course, would be a factor. So would the threat of terrorist attack in an airport ... fewer at sea, though that's not unheard of. How much the fact they are selling would affect my desire to go ~ depends. Actually, price would not especially affect my desire. It might, however, affect my where-with-all!

Kemokae< My experience in traveling anywhere is to always have "options" so if something goes astray, it doesn't affect the over-all plans made ... then you're never unhappy or disappointed.

Trudy< Concerning the reliability of airlines: they will inflate the positive and avoid mentioning the negative aspects of travel to and sojourning in Madrid. I'll take what they say with a grain of salt.

greyman< I have no great love of the airline industry.

donoma< Airlines are not a source of information for anything but flight-related particulars, such as departure and arrival times, and even those need to be checked and checked often.

Indigo< Ben: What does "Solid enough to walk on" mean?

[Ben< Indigo: See my next comment.]

Ben< COMMENT: Some information is reliable enough to use as a basis for plans and decisions and actions. And sometimes information is reliable even though the source of the information is trying to sell you something.

Ben< Stand by for a curve-ball ...

Ben< QUESTION 3: Marilyn Manson was quoted in a newspaper as saying, "I try to show people that everything is a lie -- pick the lie you like best, and I hope mine is the best." Please analyze this quote and tell us what you think of it. YOUR TURN

dCrone< "everything is a lie" -- I don't agree. "pick the lie you like best" -- I suppose I do. "hope mine is the best" -- scary. There is an underlying current of 'will to power' in that.

Trudy< I look closely at all absolute statements, because they are almost always lies. "Everything is a lie" is just as much a lie as "Everything is true."

[Ben< Trudy: Good point, well said.]

windchild< I can relate to that quote. Many times I have felt all was a lie, too. Then I found the only truth was to go deep within and find the answers that were real to me. Marilyn Manson is trying to sell something, too ... his music ... and he does it well by pissing off the establishment.

donoma< Yep, our world, perception, relationships, are all series of compromises that create webs that, woven together, constitute wholes inside our beings. We accept the wholes because, well, what else?

FRAML< He is demonstrating nihilism, denying the truth of anything. He is also practicing the part of propaganda where if one creates a lie and tells it often enough, it will be accepted as the truth.

bluestar< Sounds like Marilyn Manson is stuck in the negative swing of the "Pollyanna Syndrome."

Kemokae< Technically, everything is a "lie" until it meets a person's criteria of Truth to them ... and sometimes as we have more knowledge about something we change our perspective of both in regard to a particular subject.

greyman< "Truth does not exist"? There is something false about that statement!

pigboy< Bands like Marilyn Manson rely on publicity to sell records. Seemingly clever quotes like this help them, I think. (I take it you were talking of the rock group here) As for the quote itself ... weeeelllll ... I'll leave that for others to decide as I would find it hard to put any thoughts into a vanity cycle which these groups thrive on.

bluestar< Love is not a lie.

Kemokae< Sounds to me like Manson is taking the opposite way of looking at things to get an opposite answer.

Beatrice< The more you know the more you realize you need to learn.

LadyV< Entertainers sell illusion. Manson apparently assumes it's all illusion, and you can pick the illusion that turns you on ... his.

Soultraveler< Hmm ... and I thought Howard Stern was weird. *G* Sounds to me like a rocker version of a New Age principle, "All Is Illusion". But that's no excuse to be socially or personally irresponsible and encourage others to do likewise.

Ben< ALL: Okay. Good, thoughtful responses. Anyone else?

abgm< They are saying that whatever you choose, they hope that theirs is the best choice.

donoma< *S* "Look at me, I'm so deep! Buy my record!"

Kemokae< There are many parents that pull this off. They perhaps scold a child to tears and then say "You cry and I am gonna spank you ... now get busy" or some such. I heard a comedian do a show on this aspect one time. What did we do? Laugh!

Walt< Question 3 is one that is always put forth by Psychology ... to confound the difference between good and evil. This thinking is pushed by educators and counselors upon students. It teaches them to throw out the morals given by parents and church. It really screws up our kids. To stop lies and the largest drug pushers in our nation and stop kids from killing other kids, shoot a psychologist, psychiatrist or counselor. Hahahahaha.

Yopo< Perhaps everything in Marilyn's current world IS a lie. I can see how that might happen to a person. But it is the "pick the lie you like best" part that bothers me. Just because he hasn't found a truth yet is no reason for him to conclude there's none to BE found.

FRAML< Walt & Yopo: Yes, the bottom line in both scenarios is to "trust no one, especially those in authority who are traditionally figures of trust."

Kemokae< Walt: Re: Your statement about the schools: when we did not pass the budgets at their whim, they instilled into many of the kids that the parents don't care about them ... not the real issue at hand of how something was going to be paid for ... and it has left many of the kids uncertain as to what is true and what is not. Do they care?

Ben< My analysis is: The nihilist doctrine "Everything is a lie" is a lie -- as you can prove for yourself by gathering reliable information for a visit to Madrid. The two substantive parts of Marilyn Manson's statement translate to "Believe whatever you want to believe" and "I'm a liar."

bluestar< Maybe in a convoluted way, Manson is admitting to his fans that his whole image is a lie, an illusion.

windchild< Of course Manson is an illusion, much as Alice Cooper was in my time. It's all a show. Controversy sells. Just like mass media.

dCrone< Since (yes, I live under a rock) I don't know Marilyn Manson from a door knob, I would not be too inclined to listen without additional provocation.

Beatrice< Was it Socrates who looked for an honest man?

LadyV< Beatrice: I think it was the little guy with the lantern, and be darned if I can spell his name (laughing) starts with a D ... I think ... not sure.

Beatrice< Thanks, LadyV. Do you think he found one before he took the hemlock? Everyone is a searcher.

FRAML< Beatrice: Diogenes.

Beatrice< Thank you, FRAML. I knew it was one of the Greeks. LOL // LadyV: I doubt it! Doubt, IMO, is healthier and more alive than a solid, narrow, hard-headed belief. Deliver me ...

LadyV< Beatrice: I think before Socrates took the hemlock he had figured out that death held the key to truth, as he probably did not find it in his earthly life. That is my personal opinion. I do not know the answer a scholar would give.

Beatrice< LadyV: I am not sure, but I believe they made him drink it. One good thinker is better than a committee any day. IMO.

LadyV< Beatrice: You are probably right; it's been awhile since I studied the classics. I know when I come in here I will find people that do read and in depth ... to my great joy. Wonder what would have happened if he had refused ... but then I suppose he would have disgraced the lot in those days ... who knows? I have to think about that one.

Ben< COMMENT: Some information and sources of information are not reliable, but you can believe them if you want to, just as you can believe Marilyn Manson even though he's a self-proclaimed liar and you can prove he's a liar.

Ben< COMMENT: Some information and sources of information are reliable, but you can believe they are lies if you want to. For example, you can believe that a street map of Madrid is a lie, but that belief won't help you find your way around Madrid either before or after you arrive.

Ben< QUESTION 4: The other night in SWC I saw this posted: "I would like to believe something. This total uncertainty sucks. But what can I believe?" How would you reply to this person? YOUR TURN

Walt< Learn about the Sacred Gnosis Waters.

bluestar< Believe in yourself.

Indigo< I would tell this person to be wary of anyone who would provide them with specific belief and say "this is the way".

donoma< You could tell them to believe in maps of Madrid -- unless, of course, those maps are used by NATO. *S*

windchild< Go within and believe in yourself. I think it was Emerson that said man is stuck in the beliefs of his fathers and grandfathers. Find out for yourself and stop relying on some other thing to show you the way, because then you follow their path and not your own.

Mixie< I would reply to that person: "You believe in total uncertainty."

donoma< Mixie: Yes. *S*S*

Mixie< donoma: Thanks! Actually, I think it might provoke them to reply, "That's not true!" and then identify something they believe in. *S*

bluestar< Start with yourself. Listen to yourself. List what you know to be true. Work outward.

dCrone< I cannot force belief. What is it that you honor? What is it that provokes emotion? What provokes thinking? What provokes change/movement in your life? That you ask the question is significant. Have you felt loss of belief? Are you afraid of something? Are you experiencing pain/difficulty?

Walt< Tell them that my body is a temple, and to come over for midnight mass.

Kemokae< Walt: You make me laugh! ... uno, dos, tres. :)

FRAML< I'd ask the person: Have you ever believed in anything? Why did you loose your ability to believe it? Was there a problem between what you were told to believe and what you saw practiced by those who were teaching you?

Kemokae< Time and patience shows all truth, if the truth is what seems to you to be truth according to the data known. As my parents once said "Go buy something and if it's not worth tomorrow what you paid for it today, then think again if it's what you REALLY want, for something of value never changes much." This was of course in material possessions, but it could cover other areas of life also.

LadyV< I would suggest that each of us is in the same boat in this regard at some time or the other in our lives, and I would suggest that we could find a possible answer by first trusting ourselves and our inner knowing ... then go from there. That's a tough one, because the person writing it seems to be asking to find a step in the right direction. I am not sure that I would know for another the right step ... I could answer for myself.

donoma< Perhaps I would tell this person to believe in life, and life only, and children, and what we will do to continue life and make it better for our children. Stop searching for something to believe in. Stop trying to solve the mystery. Start setting small goals and accomplishing them. Accomplishments weigh infinitely heavier in the universe than belief.

Beatrice< He who expecteth little, shall not be disappointed!!

windchild< He who expects much will be greatly rewarded.

Soultraveler< Question #4 implies a seeking of security through eliminating uncertainty by belief in something/someone/GOD/foundation, etc., as an absolute. When you step out of the herd, whether in mass media indoctrination or in main-line religions and all their rigidity, the inevitable result is: You are now calling the shots. YOU are responsible! ... can't blame the rabbi, priest, etc., now.

dCrone< I think the best approach is to get the person to open and speak for himself or herself. Preaching would close doors to me if I were the one who asked. Better, I think, to encourage the journey. It is very sad for some of us to experience the state of absence of belief.

donoma< Couldn't the absence of belief be a blessed state of freedom from preconception?

dCrone< I found the absence to be quite solitary and meaningless, but I was unable to adopt, a priori, that which was abundant and acceptable to others. In that I come from a line of folk who had their own answers. It took an act of will on my part to decide to follow my own course.

Ben< ALL: Think back to what you said about believing the information we gathered about a trip to Madrid. Could you offer the same sort of criteria to this person?

windchild< I don't think so, Ben. It's a totally different situation. You can't plan that kind of journey.

Trudy< And why not, windchild? Ask the person to name the people he or she knows who are reliable and what makes them that way. Get him to think about what makes for a solid foundation, a solid footing. There be truth.

Ben< windchild: There is a lot of relevant information available about life as a journey. But the next question is, how much of it is reliable?

windchild< None of it is reliable to me, Ben. If you plan that kind of journey (spiritually speaking) then you may find you have taken the wrong flight.

Beatrice< Most of the thrill of living is the actual journey, not the destination. And to help others...

[Ben< Yes, one can take a flight (or a path) that doesn't go where he or she wants to go -- but those who have no destination in mind are likely to wander around in the Maya Swamp without going anywhere.]

bluestar< re: criteria ... I think so, except that spiritual and philosophical issues are harder to work with objectively. They rarely contain facts one can prove or disprove ... but one should certainly keep in mind that many philosophies, spiritual dogmas, and their proselytizers have an agenda in mind and the hearer certainly must beware.

Mixie< Yes, Ben, I might zero in on specifics with the person, getting them to identify what they believe or doubt or disbelieve.

FRAML< Ben: Yes. I'd tell him the tools that he could use to search and study for himself. To examine his own current position, where/who he used to be, and how he got to his new point in life. Also would add that he would need to lay aside any preconceptions/stereotypes that he is working from based upon what he has heard but not necessarily experienced or tested himself.

Kemokae< Ben: Yes, what remains "fixed" is generally to be counted upon whatever method one goes in life. Underground will always be pretty much the same as above ground. It's up to you to decide if this is what you want to accept. There are no absolutes in "details" as they can change, but not so in the spiritual or ethics; for that to change, a person goes beyond their conceived learning of it ... if that makes sense. I think Jesus was correct ... sometimes it's easier to tell in a parable.

donoma< One can use concrete criteria for what I guess was this person's lamenting a lack of spiritual specifics. There are studies about spiritual development and specific neuropathways. If one is going to use the specific to measure the etheric, might as go all the way to science, which is as specific as it gets.

Ben< COMMENT: Relative uncertainty is the normal human condition because none of us knows everything, but total uncertainty isn't necessary because individually and collectively (and collectively over time), humans do know many things rather well. We can study what humans know, and how well they know what they think they know, just as if we were visitors here from another world.

Ben< SUMMARY: Vast quantities of information are available, more than at any other time in history. It isn't all lies, but some of it is. There are some relatively reliable sources of information, but some sources of information aren't reliable. There are trustworthy people and spirits, but some people and spirits aren't trustworthy. Thus, deciding what and whom to believe can be described as decision-making under uncertainty, but not total uncertainty. This is the spiritual atmosphere in which we find ourselves at the close of the twentieth century.

bluestar< Ben: I agree, which is why I think searching inward for answers is better than looking to find them in a book or from others (no matter how wonderful or wise a teacher they may seem to be). Books and teachers are like maps ... just like a museum you've never been to ... you never know quite what you will experience until you get there. And does one really want to go to someone else's place of enlightenment? At some point or another one has to make one's own path ... and if confusion is overwhelming, then it sounds like a good time to tone down the white noise.

windchild< I agree, bluestar. My path is the best path, but only for me.

Beatrice< Well, someone who has learned to think for themself can be dangerous. Then perhaps next thing would be questioning the authority.

windchild< Beatrice: I think someone that doesn't learn to think for themself is dangerous, and sometimes it's very good to question authority.

Ben< ALL: The subject of this seminar is "Bases for belief". I plan to explore four bases for belief: experience, evidence, testimony, and authority. Tonight was an introductory overview.

Ben< /topic Discussion: What can I believe? And why?

Kemokae< OK ... a daisy is a daisy whether they made it blue from dye in the water or green or pink ... it's still a daisy!!!

Walt< Believe in the Sacred Gnosis Waters.

Beatrice< The greatest lesson is learning how to love.

LadyV< Beatrice: What an interesting statement. I agree with you. If you don't get that part right, you have nothing in the end of it all. Good point!

Soultraveler< Beatrice: I don't think we learn how to 'love' but in how to 'live'. *S*

dCrone< Personally speaking, I rely on what I think of as 'deep memories'. When I come to a place where I must decide or reject, I turn to myself: What do I feel/think? The reactions are usually visceral, and from them I can determine if I should pursue the issue/question further from the point of view presented. Also, I do pay attention to opportunities/road blocks when I am in such a position.

Soultraveler< Beliefs are abstracts to me. They vary from one group/race/species to another. Animals don't have a belief system. My cat doesn't question whether it conflicts with her belief system whether to catch a bird or not. Guilt is the inevitable result of a conflict within our 'belief system' when we are torn between choices. imo

Beatrice< Soultraveler: I had a teacher once who told me we were put here to serve others. I asked what the others were put here for? LOL

Walt< I'm really easy to get along with once you people learn to worship me. See how easy it is to generate a new belief?

dCrone< Yes, Walt, if only they could see how right I am! *VBS*

Beatrice< Walt: Everybody loves you.

Walt< You all sound reasonable. Must be time to up my medication.

LadyV< Walt: That's funny! We are so reasonable. Well, OK, most times (laughing)

Mixie< Ben: You got my attention!

Ben< Mixie: I'm glad I got your attention. As you see, I'm trying to stimulate thinking, and indicate some ways of thinking, without trying to tell anyone what to think.

Mixie< Ben: Yes -- no small task. You "believe" in taking on big challenges! *G*

dCrone< Ben: That is good. It is improper to tell others how to think. For myself, I don't mind being lead as long as I acknowledge that I am following ... to lead otherwise is unacceptable.

Walt< dCrone: It's a thankless job, but we've got a lot of Karma to burn off.

dCrone< See, the thing is, SOMETHING IS. Perhaps I perceive a portion, perhaps not ... doesn't keep it from BEING, however.

Kemokae< One time my dad was here. He is a very direct person, and I was trying to decide something. I said "Maybe I will use this material and maybe not." I was uncertain. He walked up to me, said "Here!" and handed me a piece of material. I looked at it and put it aside. He took another piece and said "Here!" I was still uncertain. He took all of them away. I had none left. He said "See? Now you don't have to decide, do you?" I said "What's that solve?" He said "The same thing you solved. "

Soultraveler< Most of us would say that telling lies is bad or wrong. But omission of truth is also bad. The conflict and compromise arise from doing both. For instance, if your mother asks you "Does this dress make me look heavy?" you could tell her the truth: "No mom, it's your wide butt that makes you look heavy." To which she would be hurt. Or you could lie to her and tell her she's beautiful and so on. Lies to protect. Lies to hurt. Choices.

dCrone< Euphemisms are to keep you from telling lies. *S*

Beatrice< Yes, barefaced lying is hurtful. But telling the truth is appropriate and kind.

Soultraveler< Beatrice: You can't tell lies ALL the time; neither can you tell the truth ALL the time! Think about it. Try it tomorrow and see how far you get with truth. *S*

Beatrice< Soultraveler: It would cramp my style. LOL

Soultraveler< Beatrice: You would have to bite that lip, probably explode! *G*

Beatrice< Soultraveler: I am going to remember that.

Kemokae< Sometimes we don't know what to believe, and we go nowhere unless we take the "risk" of the path in going somewhere. So mistakes are made ... you find things false ... that's part of the learning process. It's not where you have been but where you are going ... learning ... sharing.

LadyV< I did not get the first part of the subject in here, but I figured out some of it. So I guess, for me, "Buyer Beware" would be the best policy ... for me, that is.

Ben< LadyV: Yes, 'caveat emptor' ... originally, it wasn't a cynical statement, but rather some wise advice pertaining to the Persian rug market in the city of Rome.

LadyV< Ben: You have such a storehouse of trivial information ... it's fun to listen to you. Wonder if the dye ran on the Persian Rugs?

Ben< LadyV: The problem was, people kept buying the lowest-priced rugs without inspecting them for quality or workmanship. Pretty soon the shoddy merchants prospered and the honest merchants went out of business, until there wasn't a decent Persian rug to be found. Pliney the Elder said, "The citizens of Rome have created a thieves' market. The only way to correct it is: Let the buyer be wary!"

Soultraveler< Ben: An interesting thought crossed my mind several times, but I never mentioned it. Here goes ... "What DO you want to believe?"

Walt< Men are from earth. Women are from earth. All beliefs (true or false) are from earth. Deal with it.

Soultraveler< You would have to do some soul-searching, but what is it in you that keeps egging you on to believe in something or some teacher, etc.? Remember Jonathan Livingston Seagull and all that he went through?

dCrone< Soul-searching ... ah, that can be a long day's journey into night ... or a long night's journey into day.

Ben< dCrone: I like the way you phrased those two journeys. One from day into night, and another from night into day.

Soultraveler< dCrone: True. My kitty is lying here asleep on the couch, and I've never been aware of any soul-searching with her. Seems to be content as a cat.

windchild< Soultraveler: Maybe we should take a clue from your cat and be content as to where we are at this point in our journey.

Soultraveler< windchild: True, a cat can be a marvelous teacher sometimes. She is named Lonore after a character in Poe's works, but she doesn't know that. I admire her guilt-less love of living!

windchild< Soultraveler: We should all have a guiltless love of living.

Walt< The best vitamin for making friends is: B-1

Yopo< I tend to distrust the beliefs I badly want to believe, thinking perhaps my wanting so badly might make me prone to self-delusion. There's a long journey into night for you.

Ben< Yopo: Good point. Believing only what we want to believe is a slippery slope into the Maya Swamp, especially deception and delusion.

LadyV< Yopo: I think that is what the little guy with the lantern was thinking. (smiling) That's a wise statement you have just written. You will not be deceived if you first examine your own motives for anything you do.

dCrone< Yopo: I can relate well ... and constantly figuring out if you are deceiving yourself is tiresome.

Walt< dCrone: Hahahaha. If all the world is a stage, where is the audience sitting? If you're born again, do you have two bellybuttons? If you try to fail, and succeed, which have you done? Hahahaha. Poof-a-roo.

Yopo< dCrone: *S* Yep. Tiresome. But I have yet to discover an acceptable alternative.

dCrone< I have always been uncomfortable with the notion that people create deity because they are unable to accept 'reality' but, in the same breath, I must admit that I have thought it to be true ... so I had to look at what I considered 'real'.

Ben< Soultraveler: Yes, "What DO you want to believe?" is the question, isn't it? And each of us answers it personally, either consciously or subconsciously. Yet there are patterns and clusters in what people want to believe. That's part of what I hope to look at in this seminar.

Soultraveler< Ben: Yes, I agree. Oftentimes there is the NEED to believe, and we go from one thing to another trying to satiate that inner hunger. Becoming disillusioned with first one guru, then another. Following first one religion, then leave it; take up with another cult and follow it sincerely, then leave it. Soon we are the spiritual equivalent of "A Man Without A Country".

Thur< Soultraveler: Perhaps there is THAT within you that knows IT is real, and you don't know how or where to find IT.

Soultraveler< Thur: Yes! But WHO is doing the searching? Human frailty? Ego? Soul? Mind? Ego has its own needs as does SOUL.

Thur< Soultraveler: Obviously, the mind has to do the searching, taking into account the nature of the ego and the unconscious.

dCrone< Ben: Do you think those patterns and clusters [of wanting to believe] are time-sensitive? Do they occur in groups at particularly stimulated times, or do they occur individually at random times ... or both?

Ben< dCrone: Patterns of wanting to believe tend to persist like standing waves in a field of human desires. For example, in each generation there seem to be many who *want* to believe the hedonist motto: "Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die."

Soultraveler< I mean, isn't that what LIFE is all about? Fulfilling desires both base and rarefied? Self-less and selfish?

windchild< I think life was meant to be fully enjoyed; if not, what then? It becomes nothing but a survival game.

dCrone< I don't know if life can be always enjoyed. I would substitute experienced because I don't always enjoy.

windchild< I didn't say "can" be enjoyed; I said "meant to be" enjoyed -- not to say that it can't be enjoyed. Depends on how you look at it.

dCrone< windchild: I see what you mean. Maybe I should slow down on the reading before I post. *S*

dCrone< Ben: I think that [hedonist] motto is especially true of generations that experience threat of destruction. The cold war had that effect on me in my youth.

Ben< dCrone: I was a navigator in Strategic Air Command during the cold war. My outfit lost 1/3 of our aircrews in crashes, in six years. Some of the men tended to the hedonist motto. Many more lived other philosophies.

dCrone< For some reason, Ben, I find comfort in knowing that other paths were taken. I was not in a 'driving' position and felt as though I had no control over my destiny. I felt only that I had to experience life as fully as possible as quickly as possible.

Ben< dCrone: I think that most of the men in SAC who lived philosophies other than hedonism felt that the hedonists weren't living life fully. I know I did.

Soultraveler< Hedonism is gratifying for immediate consumption, but it lacks depth and direction, like a relationship based on sex and dancing, etc., alone. Too shallow, and would soon get boring. I like to read stories that have conflict and depth, sacrifice and losing of one's self in the cause, etc. Just indulging whims and desires makes for a dull movie or book.

dCrone< Ben: Living fully and living desperately, indeed, are not one and the same. I have been to your site and it occurs to me that you were doing your own type of searching and grounding! *S*

Ben< dCrone: Yes. I and others were living a life that we considered much wider and better than hedonism. Many were searching for spiritual truth. One man wrote the music for popular songs and sold it to publishing companies. Many took correspondence courses toward advanced degrees. In addition to what you see on my site, I wrote and published a book of poetry. We all felt this was living more fully than hedonists do.

Soultraveler< Ben: I think you were right in choosing to insist on deep things in life rather than the shallow, obvious indulgences. It had HOPE, where hedonism did not. To me, hedonism implies "Here today, gone tomorrow".

dCrone< Ben: Question: in general, can you say there was a difference in mental discipline between the factions? Just curious.

Ben< dCrone: On the ground, yes, there was a distinct difference between those factions. It tended to carry over into flight to a lesser degree, because we all had to practice self-discipline in flight -- or else we were likely to suddenly change jobs and start pushing up daisies. The ones who had the most trouble in flight were those who spent all their time in the alert barracks either watching TV or playing cards. Both of those activities noticeably dull the mind.

dCrone< I think I will also consider the dulling effects of other activities. I will look for correlations ... this is of interest to me.

Soultraveler< Almost a self-fulfilling prophecy there. I would choose to be with the 'living' crew rather than the 'indulging' one. Your chances are much better.

Ben< Soultraveler: Yes. Self-discipline enhances survival. It is the opposite of self-indulgence. Self-discipline is difficult; self-indulgence is easy -- but the easy way usually runs down hill.

Soultraveler< Ben: During the Black Plague in England one could hear a variety of things while walking down the street as death claimed many. In one house, wild revelry! In the next, praying and beseeching, and in the next, cursing and blaspheming a callous God in a far-away Heaven! And in another one, stillness and quiet. Yet ALL suffered the same fate.

Ben< Soultraveler: Your comment about the Black Plague is an excellent illustration. Thank you.

Soultraveler< Ben: You're welcome. *S*

windchild< Soultraveler: Yes, all met the same fate, but in what frame of mind did they meet it? ... now, there is the difference.

Soultraveler< I was listening to a 'motivation station' the other day in the car. Just happened to flip it on, and it caught my attention. They were talking about this Jewish man in a Nazi concentration camp who chose to discipline his thoughts and attitudes rather than succumb to the environment around him, negative as it was. He had been cursing the Nazis, cursing the situation, railing against an unfair universe that let this go on, when one old man he was walking beside looked up and said "LOOK! That's the most beautiful sunset I've ever seen at this camp." That broke the old attitude, and he began to live in the small moments rather than exist in a living hell.

windchild< Wow! Soultraveler, that is a wonderful story and exactly what I am trying to get at. The moment is what is important. How you react in this moment determines your next moment.

dCrone< Interesting, Soultraveler ... living in the small moments was a matter of stepping out into the eternal. I will think about this during the weeks to come.

Soultraveler< dCrone: Living in the small moments can lead to living in THE MOMENT ... Here and Now. After all, isn't eternity a succession of NOW's?

Ben< Soultraveler: Have you read "Logotherapy" -- the approach to positive psychotherapy created by Viktor Frankl? He learned it the hard way, in a Nazi concentration camp.

Soultraveler< Ben: I think that's him!

LadyV< Ben: I enjoyed Viktor Frankl. I was thinking that also, as Soultraveler spoke. The part in the book where he sees his wife mentally was beautiful.

Soultraveler< LadyV: In the camp, the ones who chose to would create this wonderful little meal out of paper pieces, set the table, have fine wine and eat. Soon, the memories of those fine times came to them. They escaped for a while.

LadyV< Soultraveler: Yes, I have given that little book away in some of the oddest places; the last was to an X-ray tech who was telling me the story of his life. It tells of the power in the human spirit and the belief in thought ... and changing thought into reality. It helps in the hard times for many people to do this.

Soultraveler< LadyV and Ben: Thanks for mentioning the book. I will look it up.

dCrone< Aqua: What do you think about belief(s)?

Aqua< dCrone: Belief does not suddenly pop up into me. Beliefs have gone through my reception tools (5 normal senses) and other senses we have, then gone through our brain management systems (memory, past experience, education, planning, etc) before it is understood, then comprehended, etc ... so there is a long process to go before arriving at belief. *S*

dCrone< Aqua: I understand that digestive process! *S* I, too, am not especially swift and I do not handle convoluted ideas easily.

Aqua< How can someone be unhappy about anything? I can't understand! Life is so short. *S* When our mind is hankering for the future, continuously planning for the future (questioning what shall be next ) all the time, then it is not joyful.

windchild< Yopo: You are very quiet tonight.

Yopo< windchild: Yes. Appreciate that you noticed. Better some nights that I just listen.

windchild< ((((((YOPO))))))

Ben< Yopo: I often just listen in the SWC chatrooms. I learn more that way. *S*

dCrone< Thur: We have not heard your ideas, either.

Thur< dCrone: I always wish I were able to state my belief rather than "ideas". I see the "answer" to beliefs is learning to be a Mystic.

dCrone< Oh, Thur, I often state my notions, ramblings and musings. Please feel free to offer your impressions, perceptions and ideas. *S*

LadyV< Thur: I had not thought one learned to be a mystic ... that is new to me. I thought you were not aware you were a mystic until someone told you. How interesting that is to me.

Soultraveler< Ben: I want to thank you for a MOST INTERESTING session tonight. Anything that clarifies thinking and perception is great. Thank ALL of you for a marvelous evening of enlightening exchange. Getting late, and a busy day awaits. I have learned much tonight.

windchild< Thank you, Soultraveler. Have learned much from you. Peace and love go with you.

Soultraveler< We CAN CHOOSE our attitudes. We don't react to anything until we program ourselves to do so. We are programmed to stop at red lights, but sometimes we choose not to and take a chance. Good programming can lead to a fulfilling life. Thanks for pointing out WE HAVE THE POWER TO CHOOSE!

Ben< ALL: I was very pleased with the contributions everyone made to this session. I never know how it's going to go, but there were a lot of excellent inputs tonight. That's why I prefer a seminar to just giving a lecture.

windchild< I enjoy them very much, Ben, and I always come away learning something. Thank you so much for giving these seminars.

dCrone< Well, the air conditioner just died ... gotta go climb into the attic and look for solenoids or something. Ben, before I go, I want to thank you for providing this venue. It is of great assistance to me (in great part because it does have structure!) I have many questions building ~ I look forward to seeing you here again.

LadyV< Ben: When we can exchange ideas it helps. Some of these people are good thinkers. I learn so much in these Sat. night sessions. I hope you can continue to have them.

Yopo< Ben: Thanks much for the session this evening. A good night to you!

Ben< ALL: Thank you. Good night. Peace and blessings to each of you. *poof*

18. Solid enough to walk on
Session 2 -- Experience
Sat 29 May 1999

Ben< ALL: In this seminar we are exploring bases for belief. The title "solid enough to walk on" refers to the working analogy of the last seminar, in which we explored the Maya Swamp (confusion, illusion, deception, and delusion). Thus, a basis for belief is a relatively solid spot or a series of stepping-stones solid enough to walk on.

Ben< Believing is like walking: it is a verb, something you do. Doubting is also a verb. Thus, "I believe it" and "I doubt it" are both statements of something you are doing. "Why do you believe it?" and "Why do you doubt it?" are logical questions concerning your basis for belief or doubt. "Why do I believe it?" and "Why do I doubt it?" are potentially fruitful avenues for introspection.

Ben< Tonight we will look at experience as a basis for belief. I hope the discussion will illustrate some of its strengths and weaknesses. Ready? Here we go.

Ben< QUESTION 1: Today, there are many reports of Out-of-Body Experience (OBE) and Near-Death Experience (NDE). Do you believe them? If so, is your belief based on personal experience? YOUR TURN

windchild< I believe them because I've done it several times. I was able to verify the information on several occasions.

Thur< I'll believe them if someone else gets the same data as windchild got.

dCrone< In the days before she died, my mother reported having an out-of-body experience in which she witnessed the doctors and nurses trying to revive her. My husband, following brain surgery, reported having contact with divine entities. He also said that he went to Jurassic park and the durn women clawed his head open.

weta< I believe them, as to me it's a form of astral traveling. There are many different types of OBE, etc., etc.

Ben< My belief in OBE is based on experience. I have done that. In some cases, it was independently confirmed by someone who saw me out of my body. My belief in NDE is based on the testimony of many people, some of whom I know personally.

dCrone< What do I think of the reports given to me? Well, they did not happen to me. I can say, however, that in both instances, something occurred.

999< I neither believe nor disbelieve them and both believe and disbelieve them.

greyman< I remember flying around OBE as a child. Difficult to do now. Afraid of not coming back, so I am grounded.

windchild< My first one was by accident, and the rest were self-suggestion upon falling asleep and during meditation.

bluestar< I've had a "thru the tunnel" and into a place of oneness experience. I think many of them are telling the truth; however, there may also be those trying to capitalize on the theme.

Thur< Ben: What part of spirituality does OBE substantiate?

Ben< Thur: That isn't the subject for tonight, but it could be a follow-on subject.

dCrone< Do I think these people were in altered states? Yes. Do I believe them? Yes.

windchild< I haven't had a NDE but I believe it is certainly possible.

Noop_Gnat< Yes, I believe in them, and did so before actually experiencing them. Now I know and my belief is even stronger. Yet I can't prove them valid to another except through facts, observations reported, etc., while OBE.

999< Is the mind capable of producing these experiences? Yes.

PrairWarur< 999: You are correct; the mind can and does produce this same phenomena. However, we are triune beings ... the spirit, soul, and psyche are all connected.

999< PrairWarur: Your statement is as provable as "I can read who you were in a previous incarnation" -- maybe it's true, but it could also be false.

dCrone< I do not know how you are defining OBE ... however, I journey, leaving the reality of my body to go elsewhere.

Ben< COMMENT: Personal experience is a pretty solid basis for belief. It produces a high degree of confidence, and confidence increases with repeated experience. However, belief also depends on interpretation of experience, and sometimes one may need some help with that.

dCrone< Absolutely, Ben! Absolutely. I know I do!

weta< Once I tried looking back at my body -- actually it was many times, but I couldn't see myself. When I looked back I kept going back to my body. So I thought and got that it's what you perceive things to be, so not everyone is the same. But I saw someone coming out of their shoulders.

Ben< ALL: Thoughtful responses. Thank you. Any more on this one before I post the next question?

dCrone< The two instances I mentioned about my husband ... one was a physical response and the other was not.

Gingeral< It seems to me that almost any experience can be seen as good or bad depending on how you look at it. How do you know which is right?

Ben< Gingeral: Good and bad are value-judgments, and labels. Another large subject area.

Thur< Ben: OK, then the question comes up, how do we validate between pro or con experiences?

weta< You just know ... gut feeling!

999< I've had gut feelings that were completely erroneous.

Gingeral< weta: My husband and I can have the same experience and I will see it as good and he as bad. Is each experience our own? or is one of us right for both of us?

999< weta: I have an open mind. I remain skeptical, however, of any dogma.

Ben< QUESTION 2: If you have had experience with discarnate beings (spirits), have you been careful who you told about it? Have you told anyone who didn't believe you? If so, what did you say in response? YOUR TURN

PrairWarur< Yes and yes.

dCrone< Yes, Ben, I have had experiences with discarnate beings. And, yes, I am cautious about telling.

greyman< Ben: Yes, and I was very careful of whom I told.

Gingeral< I have had some experiences. My husband never believes me. I just tell him it is as real for me as him standing there, and that he doesn't have to believe as long as he doesn't put me down for believing; and yes, I am careful who I tell.

999< My greatest skeptic is myself. What others think is irrelevant. Belief can both illuminate and blind.

Noop_Gnat< Yes, on several occasions. Once met this soul who was going to incarnate in the family. Told me who the mother was, and even she didn't know she was pregnant at the time! I told the grandmother and an aunt, surprised everyone but me. Got the funniest looks. But 2 weeks later, Debbie got morning sickness and took the test! (Debbie was my cousin.)

Gingeral< Noop_Gnat: What did the family say when she really had the baby?

Noop_Gnat< Gingeral: Family just couldn't grasp how I knew Debbie was pregnant when she didn't even know. But when I looked at the baby I recognized the same 'soul' I had talked to 9 months earlier! It had chosen this particular family for whatever personal reasons. Never told me the details.

PrairWarur< Experience will illuminate.

Consierge< People come to see me before they leave the earth. The last time I made a point of telling my sister that someone had been in the kitchen the night before. A couple of days later, we found out my brother had died that night. I have a sister who thinks psychic stuff is nutso. That's her right. It hasn't happened to her, so it's outside her realm of reality. It would be unreasonable to expect her to believe this stuff happens if she has never experienced it.

PrairWarur< Consierge: What you described was not psychic in nature, but spiritual.

windchild< I've only felt presences of discarnate beings. I've never told anyone about them. However, I think some of it could have been an over-active imagination. Once, I heard a voice, loud and clear, call my name and no one was there. When I told someone about it, they looked at me as if I were crazy. I didn't care. I know I heard it.

dCrone< Have I told anyone who did not believe me? Not that I know. I am not especially inclined to place myself in the position of having to defend the visions and their effects ... more likely only to reveal in safe company.

Ben< I kept quiet about my communication with spirits for almost 30 years. Then, when I told some people, more than a few of them said "I don't believe it. I think you're just deceiving yourself." My usual response is: (shrug) "Suit yourself. I know what I experienced."

PrairWarur< I tell only those who the Lord leads me to, and when it will serve as a witness to His divine power.

Noop_Gnat< I generally tell it to those who are affected by it. In this case, family members. The looks of 'You're talking that old psychic stuff again' came first. Then questions of details. Seems that fascination won out.

Gingeral< Noop_Gnat: That is a step in the right direction. *S*

PrairWarur< Twenty years ago I did not believe it either -- rather, I didn't want to believe it. I told a friend who was about to introduce me to spiritual warfare, that I just was not ready. Little did I know ... God had another plan. :o)

999< I have had too many spiritual experiences to begin counting. I won't tell employers -- not because I care what they think, but because I need a job. Such experiences still are not PROVEN just because I experienced them ... neither are they DISPROVEN.

Thur< 999: I hear exactly what you're saying.

999< Most don't believe I saw a UFO, but that doesn't upset me. I expect it.

PrairWarur< The proof is in the pudding. :o)

windchild< Ben: Can this happen in dreams?

Gingeral< windchild: Yes, it can happen in a dream.

Ben< windchild: Yes, communication with spirits can happen in dreams. More often, perhaps, in the half-state between waking and sleeping.

LEGS< Ben: Does receiving messages in automatic writing that you truly believe are from a deceased loved one constitute contact with a discarnate ?

Ben< LEGS: Yes, automatic writing is one form of communication with spirits.

PrairWarur< What constitutes "discarnate beings?"

Ben< PrairWarur: Discarnate beings are living entities, though not living in a physical body. Angels, ghosts, and demons are examples of discarnate beings.

PrairWarur< Thank you, Ben.

5foot2< Yes, I have experienced it, and hesitated in telling others ... but it seems to boil down to a discussion in a previous class. Those that know me well may place greater weight on my experiences, but nothing (almost nothing) seems to replace first-hand experience.

dCrone< Mine seem to occur when (1) there is need, and (2) when I am in a conscious state, and occasionally (3) in dreams.

Ben< COMMENT: Experience is personal. No one can experience anything for you, and you cannot experience anything for anyone else. You may tell other people about your experience, but the experience itself isn't transferable. They can believe you or not as they please. If they won't take your word for it, their own experience may convince them, or they may rationalize their experience to retain their disbelief.

weta< I agree, Ben.

PrairWarur< Question: what about one who has been given the gift of intercessor? Can't they experience another's personal event also?

999< Just because I experience something doesn't make it real or truth. Nor is it necessarily fake or deception. It's simply not possible to know anything with absolute certainty (even whether what I just said is certain).

PrairWarur< What does it make it then, 999?

999< PrairWarur: Why is it necessary to attach a definite label at all?

weta< Yes, 999, labels are all that they are.

dCrone< The question of whether or not an event is a psychological construct may be a matter of levels ... there may be realities that span the gaps.

Noop_Gnat< These 'OBE' experiences are similar to mathematics. No one can experience working out math problems for you. You can learn the rules and axioms, and through effort and study do it for yourself. Same for OBEs, imo.

Ben< QUESTION 3: It can be a very interesting exercise to sit down and list the things you believe you can do (and cannot do). For now, I'll ask a couple of very simple questions: Do you believe you can dive into a swimming pool and swim to the other side? Is your belief based on personal experience? YOUR TURN

PrairWarur< Yes, and yes again.

Consierge< No. I'm a sinker. lol. Personal experience.

Noop_Gnat< Yes and No ... depending on how big the pool is.

Gingeral< Maybe, it depends on many variables.

greyman< Depends on how long the pool is. *G*.

Ben< greyman: Perhaps I should have specified the size of the pool. Then again, maybe not. *smile* [And perhaps I should have said there is water in the pool.]

dCrone< Unless something dire happens or this old body gives out mid-pool, of course I can swim across to the other side ... like the little engine that could, I guess, though I haven't done it in a while. *S*

LEGS< Yes, I dive and swim very well, underwater as well as on the surface. I believe and know I can because of personal experience.

windchild< I don't think I've ever been able to swim the length of the swimming pool, based on personal experience.

dCrone< windchild: The length of the pool? egad! That is another matter ... does floating count???

windchild< Floating counts if you believe you can.

LEGS< dCrone: Several laps, if you really want to know. *G* I love swimming. *blush* of course, not all laps being underwater. *s*

999< Even if I have or haven't swum before, any of a number of new variables could change the outcome this time. Also, human memory is notoriously unreliable as numerous studies have shown. The power of suggestion has more impact on memory and experience than most realize.

5foot2< Yes, provided there is water. *s* I guess it would first have been my parents belief, encouraging me "You can do it" -- they seemed pretty confident ... eventually I was, too.

Noop_Gnat< Well, if it's a standard pool, then, yes. I've done it before. I knew I would learn to swim even before I got in the pool as a child. Learning the technique was only a minor step. In my mind I already did it.

dCrone< When I was young and terrified, I could not swim the distance from the diving board to the ladder ... just stayed in one place, splashing and thrashing.

Gingeral< It also matters why you are swimming. What will happen if you do or do not do it.

Ben< ALL: Notice the parallels between your basis for believing that you can swim and your basis for believing in any other skill or ability you may or may not have.

PrairWarur< "wade in the water ... wade in the water ... "

weta< You won't know until you've tried it.

999< Can you walk on water?

5foot2< 999: Only in winter ...

LEGS< (((5foot2)))) *lol*

weta< 999: Physically, I can't.

999< weta: Maybe your belief prevents it.

weta< Come on, 999, walk on water ... maybe in it ... spiritually, yes.

999< weta: So you don't believe Jesus did, or Peter.

weta< Well, the bible says so, but I'm not into the bible ... but that's another story. Spiritually, yes, you can walk on water; there's no limits.

Ben< COMMENT: Honest self-confidence is based on experience: "I've been there, done that, know how to do it." Over-confidence is a belief in oneself that isn't based on experience. Skills usually improve with practice, and practice is experience.

weta< That's right, practice makes perfect.

windchild< That's true, Ben. My daughter thought she was so good at the monkey bars that she could do it with her eyes closed. She missed and kissed the ground. Not enough practice.

Consierge< Ben: So are you saying we should practice near death experiences? ;)

Ben< Consierge: Well, that seems to me like doing things the hard way. *grin*

Consierge< Ben ;)

LEGS< Consierge: The prana breathers believe each breath is a conscious choice to not "go" right now.

999< Legs: So much for the autonomic nervous system.

LEGS< (((((999)))) *s*

dCrone< So if I have an experience that I have not had before, what is my basis for determining its reality?

Ben< dCrone: A new experience is likely to be a surprise. I consider my own surprise to be a symptom of learning.

dCrone< A great surprise, Ben ... and the main thing that has led me here.

Ben< QUESTION 4: Suppose you read an article that says a person can become addicted by one session of smoking crack cocaine. Do you believe it? If so, is your belief based on personal experience? YOUR TURN

NeFeR< I would agree with that, Ben. We have to try before we by ... e!

Noop_Gnat< No on both counts. Some can and some can't.

windchild< Never smoked crack, so couldn't say if I believe it. If someone told me it happened to them, I would not disbelieve it.

Gingeral< I believe it or not based on the evidence they present to back their claim.

LEGS< I would be skeptical that one experience would constitute true addiction for everyone who did it, because of educational drug studies. Personally, I have never smoked at all, cigarettes or anything.

dCrone< I don't believe or disbelieve. Since I have no experience with crack, and no one has ever told me about it, I have no basis. I don't think it is a good thing, and I have the fear that I would be one of those instantly-dead I've heard about.

999< I became addicted to marijuana in one puff, whereas I tried crack many times and hated it. It took me a few months to get hooked on cigarettes.

windchild< 999: I find it hard to believe that you became addicted to marijuana, but if you say so.

999< windchild: Yeah, that's what I thought before it happened. Then I spent 10 years as a pot smoker, got evicted, lost many jobs, and finally got into Narcotics Anonymous.

NeFeR< 999: You must have wanted/needed to get addicted ... could be grasping on to life.

999< NeFeR: Or maybe I'm just a drug addict, and it only took one to set off my disease.

Thur< 999: I thought pot was not addictive?

d-bar< With an addictive person, it is possible, but as we can see from the responses, it is not necessary.

NeFeR< I would question the addiction. And if addiction gives us pleasure, then we will pursue it. And who's to say that it is no good for us? These days the focus is on good health ... how can pleasure be bad for our health?

999< NeFeR: I was a miserable, lonely, frustrated, suicidal wreck, and I still continued to smoke pot. If that isn't addiction, then we have a semantic problem.

Ben< NeFeR: Pleasure is only loosely related to health. I hope to look at pleasure and pain as bases for belief in the next session.

d-bar< NeFeR: I know that pleasure can be no good for me when the pursuit of it stops me from accomplishing those thing in life that need to get done, so I guess it just depends what I take pleasure from.

Gingeral< Pleasure is fine. Personally I look at the risk involved in the pleasure, and then choose if it is worth it or not. That works best for me.

Ben< I believe that crack cocaine is dangerous, on the basis of testimony and observation, but not personal experience. I don't want to take that kind of risk, so I take other people's word for it, and I've read what happens in the lives of those who do smoke crack. I don't have to experience everything myself in order to believe it.

wakingdream< Ben: I have chosen my beliefs in spite of my experiences.

dCrone< I have to consider wakingdream's comment to see if that applies to me. Perhaps my experiences are pointing me toward belief. I must think ...

5foot2< I tend towards belief. I CHOOSE not to experience it first hand, and I have no second-person knowledge. I have however heard numerous negatives on crack and addictions in general.

Noop_Gnat< If you gave crack cocaine in a blind test to various people, including elderly and those not wanting to get addicted or high, then the results would be interesting.

999< I've seen cocaine addiction in others ... very devastating.

greyman< With no physical evidence, the statement may not be completely substantiated; however, drug addiction is not a desirable condition. After giving up cigarettes, I do not want to go through withdrawal again, not even for the spirit of the Scientific Method.

Noop_Gnat< Why do you think remote native people get hooked on sugar and sweets when they've never had them before? Anyone tasting sugar for the first time likes it, regardless of culture. imo

Gingeral< Every person is effected differently by what they take.

Noop_Gnat< Look at something as innocent as massage. Most everyone loves it physically. And yet it is psychologically addictive as well. Very few don't enjoy it.

windchild< I think pot is mainly psychological, making the addiction even harder to kick.

999< Marijuana is now recognized as an addictive drug by the medical and psychological communities, even though statistically it is behind nicotine, methamphetamine, crack, alcohol, etc., on the list of most addictive substances.

LEGS< Having a son who is addicted makes me hope and pray that other people's children as well as they themselves will avoid like the plague any possibility of drug addiction. It is hell on earth, not only for the addict but for the loved ones as well.

Ben< COMMENT: Experience can be accidental or intentional. It is usually accidental in the sense that it isn't something you intentionally initiated, so you don't have much choice except whether and what you will learn from it. On the other hand, experience can be something you intentionally initiate, and in those cases you can choose whether to go there or not.

dCrone< Unexpected is not the same as accidental ... more wheels turning now.

Ben< SUMMARY: As a basis for belief, experience is usually "solid enough to walk on" because it provides a high degree of confidence. That is why experience is said to be the best teacher. However, experience is a very small basis for belief. If you only believe what you have experienced, you cut yourself off from the rest of the human race, past and present. You can't learn or test all you need to know by experience, because a lifetime isn't long enough. Also, if you rely exclusively on your own experience, you are likely to learn everything the hard way. Some of the lessons are lethal and some are traps that it is very difficult to escape from. So it is wise to choose which beliefs you will test in your own experience and which beliefs you will accept or reject on the basis of observation or someone else's testimony.

windchild< That summary makes a lot of sense, Ben. I know some of my experiences and beliefs have been a direct result of someone telling me of their experience and myself wanting to know for myself if what they told me was true.

Ben< /topic Discussion of experience as a basis for belief

Gingeral< Do we not take our experience and then put it with other experiences we have had so that we can have a more clear picture?

dCrone< The power of experience in my instance has been great, and I find it really hard to believe that the events were of a type unknown. I do think that others have had similar experiences, and one of the needs I have is to hear about them from others. Am I afraid of my own conclusions? Maybe. Am I looking for understanding? Yes. I also know that since I have begun to accept it that these experiences are real and integrate them into my belief system, the flow of events has begun to change.

wakingdream< Ben: Is there another question?

Ben< wakingdream: That's all the prepared questions I have for tonight. I limit myself to four questions, even though some of the subjects for these seminars could include a vast number of questions.

999< I believe God is in control ultimately. If not, oh well, it provides comfort. If so, who better to live for than the Creator?

NeFeR< 999: I smoke pot because spiritually it makes me feel alive in a dead and dying world. Why should I deny myself?

999< NeFeR: I never mentioned your pot consumption, only my own. Although maybe the gloom you feel is colored by long-term chemical changes. I am now a happy camper most of the time.

LightGrrl< NeFeR: Understood. I have difficulty reaching the same state without it, but I have done so. I also hear that one can far transcend a simple pot buzz by meditating instead, but I haven't felt it yet.

wakingdream< LightGrrl: Try it. You may be surprised. :-)

Djinni< Marijuana is not addictive. Do your research before you start giving information that is false. The medical society has come out and publicly announced it is NOT addictive. Give me a break ... geez!

999< Djinni: I used to spout the same dogma when I smoked pot, but if you ACTUALLY want the truth, look at any modern DSM manual of addictive drugs.

Noop_Gnat< But telling others your negative experience -- say, putting your hand on a stove -- could cause a child or someone who has not experienced heat or fire to put their hand on the stove just for the experience. Same with drugs.

wakingdream< Silence is golden.

Thur< NeFeR: How do you define feeling "spiritual" from the use of pot? The only thing it ever did for me was put a tightening band around my head.

NeFeR< Thur: It sends out radiant light ... spiraling from my back ... doesn't affect my head at all ... and the spirits said I should take it. I am on a spiritual journey, and my "addiction" shall cease at the end of my journey. I was 37 when I took it up. I had tried it a few times previously, and didn't need it until my husband died ... but I control it ... "IT" doesn't control me!

LEGS< NeFeR: If you choose to smoke it you should be aware that it, like alcohol, is a 'gateway' drug.

Djinni< LEGS: It is NOT a gateway drug. You've been brainwashed by the rest of them too if you believe that.

LEGS< Djinni: Have I got an article for you dear girl ... it is addictive.

Djinni< LEGS: You have an article for me, and I can give you an article saying the opposite, so who is right? I've smoked pot on and off for 20 years, and have never known it to be a gateway for other harsher drugs ... never, never. I've tried other drugs, but that's as far as I've gone. I am not addicted to any of them. I can stop smoking it as easily as anything else I choose to stop.

NeFeR< LEGS: I hope it does open a door, for I am ready to enter, but I'm not ready to exit this one just yet. My work here is not yet done.

LightGrrl< I think "addiction" is used loosely here. One may not form a chemical dependency or resort to criminal behavior in order to obtain pot, but I think for some folks, it's as necessary as coffee.

Djinni< LightGrrl: EXACTLY! My feelings to a tee!

LightGrrl< Djinni: My pleasure. *g*

LEGS< Djinni: I love you, sweet one, but will see that you get the true story.

999< I've done more research than you, Djinni, I guarantee it. I used to convert the unconvertible to the wonders of pot.

Djinni< 999: I convert nobody to the wonders of pot, nor do I try and entice others to try it. If I choose to smoke it, it's my choice alone. And I still disagree. It doesn't matter how many articles you show me. For me personally, I've seen it has not been addictive for me, and many people I know. And the governments supports its uses for medicine.

LEGS< Djinni: I have spent the last few years studying for a degree with these very same subjects. Please be open minded, not cajoled into complacency by those who would have everyone be users. Plus, anyone planning to have children should be mortally afraid of the use of marijuana.

5foot2< I believe the relaxed state that pot creates can be quite addicting in this chaotic world. The calming influence seems to slow the world experience down ... encouraging a more internal experience ... first hand.

wakingdream< No disrespect meant, Ben, but methinks you are stirring the pot to watch it boil. It is simmering.

Ben< wakingdream: Nope, I didn't stir the pot. Someone else did that. All I did was use the possibility of crack cocaine addiction as an illustration of a basis for belief -- and the fact we can choose some of our experiences.

wakingdream< You choose 4 questions. But, what answers do you give, Ben?

windchild< wakingdream: You need to find your own answers.

wakingdream< I have, windchild. Thanks. *S*

wakingdream< Ben: What did your seminar teach them tonight? So you set the stage, and sat back. Are you pleased with the showing?

Ben< wakingdream: I provide my own answer to each question, along with the others here, but I don't insist on a "school solution" for these questions.

wakingdream< Ben: Love and light to you. Tis all I can say.

Ben< wakingdream: Thank you. Peace and blessings to you.

Noop_Gnat< Some people have 'addictive natures' by being wired that way. We're ALL addicted to something. How many of you eat just for nutrition only? Mostly for taste isn't it? No one needs coffee or colas or tea, yet we consume large amounts of them for the pleasant feeling we get. Pleasures in all forms, including comfortable furniture and so on, are all addictive in a way.

5foot2< alcohol and pot ... there's a time and a place, and of course, exercise moderation.

windchild< I did a lot of different types of drugs when I was much younger. I was never addicted to any of it. I think it depends on the person.

999< "I've smoked pot on and off for 20 years" is a revealing statement! Why would one inhale superheated smoke for over 20 years on purpose? Why is it your choice?

Djinni< 999: I'm sorry, I don't get what you're saying about my statement of having smoked pot off and on over 20 years. I chose to smoke it because I liked the feeling it gave me. It's relaxing and it does not inhibit my creativity. What is wrong with that? It has not harmed me in any way.

NeFeR< Djinni: That's a good question! Is it supposed to happen automatically?

LEGS< I know this, Djinni: I care about you, and this has caused me to break out in chill bumps. I fear for you and others who blind themselves to the reality of social drug use. *tears*

999< How many children said they hoped to be pot smokers when they grew up?

NeFeR< 999: So now it is a career choice ... fair dinkum!

999< NeFeR: I didn't catch that one.

Thur< NeFeR: Which "spirits" told you to take it? And how do you determine for sure your "spiritual journey" is not a garden path?

NeFeR< Thur: Because they have left me a magnetic field.

Thur< NeFeR: OK, I don't understand your reply, but no matter. Perhaps another time.

Ben< NeFeR: There are a lot of spirits who tell people to take drugs because the spirits are connected to the person and want that experience. Bars are full of the ghosts of alcoholics wanting to possess a physical body for another drink.

dCrone< My experiences with discarnates have been related to healing and guidance. I would like to know more about this type of event.

Ben< dCrone: Spirit Releasement Therapy deals with attached spirits who want to continue their physical addictions by taking over someone else's body. You might find Dr. Bill Baldwin's book on that subject interesting. Also, I can confirm it from 10 years of experience in spirit releasement and soul rescue work.

dCrone< Ben: I spoke a bit with FRAML about this recently, and I did 'scan' or view the offending entity. It stood tall behind the woman and flashed resentment. I expressed my desire to open a dialogue. Within several days, without my intervention, it was gone. The type of spiritual event I need to know more about is the type that prods toward something else, not negative. I do not think the visions I have had are of my own making, and I must place them in a larger context.

Thur< dCrone: Did you encounter this entity in a dream or a vision?

dCrone< Thur: The spirit that had attached I viewed under normal conditions; i.e., I was awake, focused and conscious of what was afoot. Altered depends upon how you define it, I suppose. *S* The visions I mentioned also occurred under similar conditions, but they were of a different order.

Thur< dCrone: Very interesting. Seems it's one of those things we have to learn about. The trouble is that imagination too often gets in the way. Did this spirit have legs? or did you see it from the waist up?

dCrone< You are right about imagination, Thur, and that is one reason I must work on the matter. Truth be told, I have considered them imaginary but I don't know if my creative powers are that far-ranging. As to legs: the entities that danced the dance of life and created the healing energies for him did indeed have legs. Those who assisted me during a medical procedure I only saw from the waist up. I don't see what I expect ... and it is curious.

Thur< dCrone: The legs or lack of them is what puzzles me. Perhaps it depends on the "entity's" choice. Mine was from the waist up. Was not in an altered state; happened in the light of day. Seems to me we are more receptive to that type of thing in those odd moments when our conscious mind is passive.

dCrone< Thur: The only thread I have for these events was need and request for assistance. As for journeys, that is a different matter. I think of that state as more what is referred to as shamanic ... but not out of consciousness: rather, deeper into it ... does this make a bit of sense? *S*

Thur< dCrone: Yes and no. The problem seems to be in defining shamanic experience. Some Indian shamans used the mushroom and received various experiences, I think, dependent on what was within themselves. Seems to me validation would require replication from numerous shamans. We have had those replications in other societies. I'm still looking to find one in a native American society.

dCrone< Thur: I agree that replication is in order, and that cross-cultural replication would be pretty near validation. However, I would have to ask, in that event, if there are similarities of psyche that could produce such parallels. My personal bent is to journey sans stimulants of any type. If I drink, I sleep. If I smoke, I am agitated. I've got this hang-up that says I must be of clear mind ... actually, that is: clear mind, suspended.

Noop_Gnat< People get addicted to religion, psychic fairs, yard sales, gurus, and on and on the list goes. I saw on TV a while back about 'The Brethren' who canvass colleges and universities looking for religious converts and they wind up living out of dumpsters and abandoning all contact with society and their families and friends.

d-bar< Isn't it true that the experience comes from you, not the outside stimuli; i.e., pot ,coke, comfortable couches, etc.?

Noop_Gnat< d-bar: Being addicted to pleasure is the reason you sit on a comfortable, soft couch instead of a hard bench, given the choice. Yes, it is within. The NEED for comfort. But pleasure need can be twisted into pain. Look at the US Marines who go through all this torture, training, etc, and LOVE IT!

LEGS< I've seen how futile it is to try to convince someone of the dangers of Marijuana and other drugs. I've a son whose use has wrecked his life, and now his son is following in his footsteps. Yes, it scares the daylights out of me.

Djinni< LEGS: Do you drink coffee? Do you have a social drink? Do you eat things with fat or sugar in it that's not good for you? All of these are drugs, and all of these are harmful to you. Do you not breathe polluted air from industries that have made you believe we need this? Do you not buy fresh fruits and vegetables that have been lined with poisonous chemicals? All these things we ingest and still pretend like everything's wonderful and the country is doing only good for us. What good is this? Where is this all taking us? You have the right to eat and breathe and ingest all this stuff and yet have tears for me because I choose marijuana?

windchild< You are right, Djinni, I have to have my coffee.

999< Djinni: My point is that to inhale superheated smoke is damaging to your body, so you ARE damaging yourself. Also, escaping robs you of your power to change the world, and pot damages your aura.

Djinni< 999: Read my post to LEGS, as you are damaging your body. And no, my aura isn't damaged because I've smoked pot. Gimme a break! You speak like a born-again Christian who is caught up in their own limitations and want everyone else to be too.

999< Djinni: Attacking me doesn't change the truth. Yes, you can continue in denial. I lived it for years.

NeFeR< 999: Pot sends your aura green, I'm told. To bathe the aura in green light is transformation ... not a bad thing spiritually.

999< Actually, I got that from a Sufi master about the aura.

999< Other detriments of marijuana: lethargy, anti-social behavior, isolation, depression, manic-depressive mood swings, anxiety, paranoia, illegality, contact with other criminal activities (indirect and direct).

LightGrrl< ... late nite visits to convenience stores.

LEGS< The medical evidence of what overindulgence in eating and alcohol use does, as well as the imbibing of the treatment chemicals you mention for food conservation, is frightening, but none are as horrifying as what marijuana or cocaine or heroin and the psychedelic acids can do to your body.

Djinni< LEGS: Putting heroin in the same category as marijuana is like putting a can of soda pop in the same category as Vodka.

999< Oh yes, and as demonstrated: irritability.

Djinni< 999: I did not come in here to change your point of view. You have yours from your own personal experience and I have mine. It's because we are both different and used the marijuana for different purposes that created the different tales we tell. You obviously used it as a crutch and became to depend on it, or thought you did. I don't use it as a crutch.

999< Djinni: Then why even use it at all? You said you use it to relax and to be creative. That sounds like a crutch to me.

windchild< Why doesn't our society have this same passion about alcohol? I have seen first hand how it destroyed my grandmother, but I've never seen anyone so destroyed by pot. Is it because alcohol is socially acceptable and pot is not?

999< Alcohol is even more damaging, but that doesn't negate the long term negative effects of pot use.

Noop_Gnat< 999: I know this Chiropractor who smokes pot and has since I knew him as a student in college back in the early 70's. Still smoking it, and can't understand why he has no customers in a busy part of town. His competitor just out the road a few miles is covered up in business. He can't make the connection. This guy is as spiritually minded as any here. College educated as well. He was so paranoid that he thought the law was after him, and guys were lurking about just waiting to jerk him out of his car and beat him up. He took karate lessons and carries a gun (legally) with him at all times!

LEGS< One of my clients came to my office Thursday. This woman was a beautiful blonde a year ago; now, I hardly recognized her. She is terribly thin, her nose and lip and the interval between them are scalded with cold sore type blisters which she has 'doctored' with a salve so they don't drive her crazy as they split and bleed when she tries to talk if she doesn't keep them lubricated. Her eyes are bloodshot, her hair stringy, her clothes spotted and shabby. She 'snorts' coke. And barely a year ago, she laughed at me for saying that marijuana is a gateway drug. She told me not to worry because she and her husband 'relaxed' with it.

LEGS< She came into the office to get copies of her will, leaving her children to her mother's care, so that her father, from whom she is estranged, won't try to take them on her death. She has deteriorated her body to the point that she is not able to absorb the nutrients of any food she tries to eat. The doctors have advised her that her life is limited. After she paid for the copies of the will, she stood up, tottered out the door without the copies, which she had laid down by her purse on the floor. After she left, as I started to the copier, I noticed the copies and placed them back on the desk. A half hour later she returned for them without comment.

windchild< I'm still wondering why society is not this passionate about alcohol.

999< windchild: The lobbies are too strong. Besides, prohibition doesn't work. Keeping drugs illegal isn't the solution. Education and treatment are.

windchild< 999: How do you feel about industrial hemp?

999< windchild: It's long overdue.

Ben< windchild: At one time, this country was passionate against alcohol. Especially the women whose families were destroyed by their alcoholic husbands. The result was Prohibition. It failed because so many people want to experience what alcohol does to them.

999< Illegality wasn't much of a deterrent for me. Those that want a drug will find it, unless you live in Malaysia where they kill drug dealers.

[Ben< 999: For sure, drug pushers don't have their client's best interests at heart.]

wakingdream< Ben: One question for you. Honest. What do you do for a living in the real world? Writing a book?

Ben< wakingdream: I've written a lot of things. Decided to publish my spiritual experiences on the Web instead of on paper. That works very well and is a lot less hassle.

LEGS< wakingdream: Both Ben and his mother have written books. Though she is gone now, her words continue to inspire many.

Ben< wakingdream: I served 30 years in the Air Force. Now I do some consulting, but mostly, I'm retired.

wakingdream< Sorry. Skeptic. Air Force Brat. *Poof*

999< Ben: Thanks for the intriguing questions.

Ben< 999: You're welcome. *smile*

LEGS< What is the discussion next week, Ben?

Ben< LEGS: Next week will be the same subject -- with a twist, as usual.

LEGS< Thanx, Ben. I was waiting for the answer.

dCrone< Once again, thank you, Ben. I have been to the site you mentioned and will explore the information further.

Ben< ALL: Good night and good morning. Peace and blessings to each of you.

18. Solid enough to walk on
Session 3 -- Evidence
Sat 5 June 1999

Ben< ALL: In this seminar we are exploring bases for belief. The title "solid enough to walk on" refers to the working analogy of the last seminar, in which we explored the Maya Swamp (confusion, illusion, deception, and delusion). Thus, a basis for belief is a relatively solid spot or a series of stepping-stones solid enough to walk on.

Ben< Tonight the subject is evidence as a basis for belief. I hope the questions will bring out some differences between evidence and other bases for belief. Ready? Let's go.

Ben< QUESTION 1: Suppose you see a man touch the exhaust pipe of his motorcycle and suddenly jerk his hand away. Do you believe the exhaust pipe is hot? If so, is your belief based on evidence? YOUR TURN

Slider< Could be past experience of one doing the same thing at some time in their life -- or it may be there was a spider on it and the exhaust pipe was cold?

5foot2< It would be my first assumption ... although personally, a spider would cause a similar reaction, Slider. *smile*

LadyV< 5foot2: I agree with you. Something would be wrong, to have the physical reaction common to alarm.

FRAML< My own reaction of quickly pulling my hand away when I touch a hot object. If I had seen that the motorcycle had just been parked from being driven, I'd know that the exhaust would still be hot. And knowing that bare skin sticks to freezing cold objects.

windchild< Yes, it's hot.

greyman< A hummin' hog is hot!

dCrone< Yes, I would think he had burned his hand. There was a time, when my children were young and I was house hunting, that my muffler and/or tailpipe fell off of the car. I stopped in the middle of the intersection to retrieve it. A man working in a service station nearly killed himself stopping me. Yelling and waving his arms, he rushed into traffic and pulled my hands back. If not for him, I would have made a painful error.

Cassandra< I would probably THINK that the exhaust was hot due to having experienced burn on a hot exhaust pipe myself.

Ben< ALL: Okay, several possible interpretations. What is the actual evidence?

dCrone< Usually, a sudden jerk signifies a sharp physical or emotional reaction to some stimulus.

windchild< Experience.

LEGS< Having peeled the hide off my leg on an exhaust pipe once, I had personal evidence that they CAN be hot. Seeing this man jerk his hand away would make me remember that and believe that it was hot ... though he could be faking it and just meaning to fool someone that it was hot. Unless I saw burns on his hand, or at least redness, I guess without touching it myself, I would doubt how hot it was.

dCrone< Oh, I see I am reading between the lines. Did I see him or someone else riding the motorcycle?

FRAML< His reaction, and perhaps we can see smoke/heat waves coming from the pipe.

5foot2< Evidence = a motorcycle tail pipe and a physical response.

greyman< Visual image of hand jerking away. Could be for another reason, other than heat (maybe electrostatic discharge or a runaway magneto). *G*

Ben< ALL: Thoughtful responses. Thank you.

Cassandra< Unless we knew more about it, we couldn't have solid evidence.

Slider< One would have to know if the bike was just parked, then presume it was hot, or maybe it wasn't his bike and the owner yelled get your hand off my bike. You would almost have to know the exact circumstance leading up to the action in order to call the shot with reasonable accuracy.

windchild< We make assumptions on visual stimulation.

LadyV< windchild: Good point. That we do, and most body-language is universal ... except in a few instances.

dCrone< I make assumptions. It is easy when I am not involved directly. *S*

Ben< ALL: The observation was that he touched the pipe and suddenly jerked his hand away from it. What this observation may indicate (be evidence of) is where interpretation and memory come in.

Joyboy< Ben: One could equate that the exhaust was hot by discernment of a past experience. As far as there being evidence that it is, I would say NO.

FRAML< Ben & Joyboy: But if he kept his hand on the exhaust pipe, would that be evidence that it was cold, or that the man had a desire to deliberately experience pain?

Joyboy< FRAML: That would only mean that the man had kept hold of the pipe, nothing more.

Ben< COMMENT: Evidence is impersonal; that is, it can be experienced by more than one person. Observable evidence can be seen by any normally sighted person. In this case, the observable evidence is the fact the man jerk his hand away from the exhaust pipe. "That pipe is hot!" is your interpretation of the evidence.

Ben< QUESTION 2: Suppose you suspect the man who jerked his hand away from the exhaust pipe was faking, just to mess with your mind. To test that hypothesis, you touch the exhaust pipe yourself and burn your hand. Now do you believe the exhaust pipe is hot? If so, is your belief based on evidence? YOUR TURN

Joyboy< Yes, based on Experience, that is REAL.

Yopo< I'd perform my mother's hot iron experiment: moisten the finger, and touch the exhaust lightly. *S*

dCrone< If I suspected fakery, I would use Yopo's testing method. My belief in hotness, when my finger experienced heat, would be based on direct experience.

windchild< If I burned my hand, I would have to say it is hot and the belief would be based on obvious evidence.

Cassandra< You couldn't be sure he was doing it to mess with your mind. That would be your assumption. But if the exhaust pipe was hot, and you really were crazy enough to lay your hand on it instead of moistening it and barely touching it, then you would have solid evidence by your burn.

Slider< That would be based on personal evidence of a burn or blister, or nothing from a cold pipe. It would be your own experience based on your own senses.

greyman< Ben: Sometimes the scientific method can be a painful experience.

LadyV< I would not touch the exhaust myself. If it's hot, one could smell it well enough.

dCrone< Of course, I have thin skin, so if the guy had thick skin, he could still be faking. I would look for other clues, as well.

5foot2< Yes, I believe the exhaust pipe to be hot -- I have a burn as evidence. I also believe myself to be foolish, and I have a burn as evidence. *grin*

Koklee< Yes, the pipe's hot, based on evidence.

Ben< ALL: People are more likely to test the sign "Wet paint" than the example I used, but the principle I'm pointing toward is the same.

Slider< Ben: We are a curious lot!

FRAML< Slider: So was Lot's wife, and she became the salt of the earth. *G*

Slider< FRAML: Was it salt or vapor? Some are still arguing about the translation.

windchild< Would you be burned if you really didn't believe it was hot?

Ben< windchild: That's a good question. If a hypnotized subject received the suggestion that the pipe was cool, he or she would not feel the pain -- until he or she came out of hypnosis.

Slider< Ben: This could bring up the story of the boy that cried wolf?

windchild< People walk across hot coals and don't receive burns.

dCrone< Aren't coal walkers in a particular frame of mind ?

5foot2< dCrone: I believe it is actually the coals that they walk on ... something to do with heat distribution.

windchild< Aren't we all in a particular frame of mind?

dCrone< windchild: You are right. *S*

Cassandra< windchild: My mind knows no frame. It is free as a breeze.

windchild< Cassandra: You are indeed in a particular frame of mind. *S*

Cassandra< windchild: I assure you I am not. And at my age I would know if I was.

FRAML< windchild: I saw a demonstration of that being done in Hawaii. There the "coals" are actually a porous rock which does not retain the heat and thus are not actually hot to the touch. About others, I have no similar information.

windchild< I have heard of people that received blisters from the coals, and others that were not harmed at all. Core beliefs, maybe?

Yopo< windchild: I've heard of such things, too. But it is also true that a child who knows nothing of hot irons will be burned if he or she touches one. And there is the pain of that first bee sting. Expectation doesn't seem to have much to do with the results in those cases.

windchild< Yopo: I think we pick up on the fears and beliefs of our parents and environments when we are babies.

Ben< windchild: Some fire-walkers get blisters and some don't, according to their degree of psychosomatic response. But tissue damage is a fact if the fire is hot enough, regardless of what the person is thinking. This is also true of hypnotized subjects.

Ben< COMMENT: In this test, your personal experience (pain) disproved one possible interpretation (the man was faking) and proved another (the pipe is hot). "The pipe is hot" is called an objective fact because this same test could have been done with the same result by anyone with normal ability to detect heat and cold. Objective facts are the basis for belief on which science is built.

windchild< Understand, Ben. I personally would not be comfortable with testing the fact of heat.

Willapa< Ben says "Objective facts are the basis for belief on which science is built." I can't agree with this statement. It is, perhaps, an over-simplification of what science is and what science does.

[Ben< Willapa: I'm not addressing what science is or does, only pointing out that science depends on objective evidence (observational or experimental) in the sense that it must be replicable and not merely an individual's personal experience.]

FRAML< Willapa: It provides a starting point for the journey.

Willapa< FRAML: Science is not a journey. It is a method, a process.

greyman< Willapa: It is the journey. A journey of discovery!

Willapa< greyman: Yes, I see what you mean. In that case science is no different than opening my eyes in the morning. *S*

greyman< Willapa: Amen.

Willapa< I marvel at the level of epistemological thought in here.

LEGS< Yes, Willapa, the cognitive apparatus of each of us seems to be in good to fair working order. *s*

Ben< Willapa: Yes, I also appreciate the level of epistemological thought in here. And, of course, epistemology is the core discipline of all branches of philosophy including metaphysics.

LadyV< I had to look up the word epistemological ... new one on me.

Ben< QUESTION 3: Suppose you are introduced to a guru who claims to be a mind-reader. Many people say it is true. Some present you with written affidavits to that effect. The guru stares at you and tells you what you are thinking, but it isn't really what you are thinking. Do you believe the guru is a mind-reader? Is your belief based on evidence? YOUR TURN

mamajo< I have a hard time with believing without direct experience. Therefore, if the guru was incorrect, I would doubt the validity of his claims.

windchild< I would think he was a fake and full of himself.

dCrone< To begin, I am suspect of (1) gurus (2) mind reading (3) people who stare at me ... and sometimes (4) what I am thinking at any given moment.

Koklee< I would believe the guru is not reading my mind, but that may or may not have been true for others.

Slider< If you are of weak mind and let the guru put thoughts into your mind, you might believe him. If not, he will have to prove himself.

Cassandra< Evidently he is not a reader of my mind, but he might be a mind reader of someone else's mind. We sometimes don't receive impressions from someone who knows how to keep thoughts hidden.

windchild< Thoughts are faster than light speed; he would have a hard time keeping up with me.

LadyV< Who reads minds? Body language, maybe ... and that is an assumption, but reading minds does not compute.

Ben< LadyV: I've tested a couple of mind-readers. I'll describe the tests and the results in the second hour.

FRAML< Based upon his not knowing what I was thinking, and if I had not shielded myself: No. On the basis of others' testimony: If I knew the people to be truthful, I would grant that it is possible for him to "read or guess" some minds, but it would not be my experiential proof. Similar to my accepting the possibly of reincarnation but not personally believing in it because of no personal experience.

greyman< If the guru is the same one who instructed the Beatles, I think I would be VERY leery.

LadyV< greyman: I have to ask, Why? Are you talking about Beatles as in music group? Are is there another Beatles?

greyman< LadyV: Yes, they were taken in by a shyster guru.

Yopo< I would probably disbelieve the guru's claims. My lack of belief probably would be founded both in inherent skepticism I meet such claims with, and upon the direct evidence the guru seems to have handed me. (My inherent skepticism, BTW, is what makes me take truly convincing evidence much more seriously. )

LEGS< I do believe thoughts can be broadcast and thus received, and if you thought you were hiding something from yourself, you might want a mind-reader to 'check it out' or help you cleanse areas of your retention portion of subconscious memory ... but to not say what you were thinking sorta would put me off.

Ben< Again, good thoughtful responses. Obviously, you're not allergic to thinking.

Ben< COMMENT: Evidence is a stronger (more reliable) basis for belief than testimony, whether testimony is oral or written. The colloquial saying "Actions speak louder than words" is correct. In this test, the evidence is against the claim, and provides a basis for doubting the claim, even though it is not absolute disproof of the claim.

acorn< I had a one-time experience as I walked into a room full of people: I heard them thinking immediately preceded by vocalization. It wasn't a mind-read; it was something uncontrolled. It lasted about an half an hour. Very strange. Do you believe me ?

windchild< Maybe it was a time warp.

Yopo< acorn: I believe in the possibility. *S*

Ben< acorn: I think you mean you heard their thoughts, immediately followed by their vocalizations. In which case, I believe you because I've had that experience, too.

acorn< Ben: Thanks.

LadyV< Ben: Remind me to go to confession before we meet. (laughing)

Ben< QUESTION 4: Suppose you are on jury duty and assigned a traffic accident case. You look at all the evidence and listen to all the testimony. It all adds up in your mind to a clear verdict: the truck-driver is guilty as charged; he was talking on his cell-phone and ran into the woman's car. BUT, one member of the jury refuses to agree. He says "I just have a feeling in my heart that boy is innocent." What does this scenario indicate about evidence as a basis for belief? YOUR TURN

dCrone< My first thought would be that the man has a soft spot for the 'boy' and perhaps sees himself in him.

mamajo< I use a sure-fire system to check both evidence and belief out for myself. All evidence must pass a 3 pronged test. My heart, head and gut all have to agree, or there is no belief. So, if the one person's heart doesn't agree with his/her head and gut, it is a no-go. *S*

windchild< Just because it adds up in my mind doesn't make it add up for everyone.

Ben< windchild: I implied and should have stated that it added up for everyone except this one member of the jury.

FRAML< That is a case of the person taking an internal desire that the driver didn't mean to harm the woman, and that it was "just an accident." Thus, he is not wanting to hold the driver responsible for the consequences of his action -- in this case his inattentiveness to driving safely.

dCrone< Because the single juror held out, however, I would review my position to be certain I was not harboring some similar notion.

Koklee< Ben: It seems that there is always (often?) more information that, once discovered, can completely alter one's perspective.

5foot2< Evidence too can be subjective, and at times our "inner faith" can outweigh evidence.

LadyV< That would tell me the man picked up on something I did not hear, and I would question him as to why, and keep questioning until I found out why, since that would cause me to doubt my own hearing in the case. I would want to be sure.

Slider< It makes a tough situation for all concerned. If the truck driver was guilty and did not plead the fact, he has an unknown friend on the jury. If he wasn't guilty, then he's put into a category of people that talk on the cell phone while driving are always guilty, and he has eleven non-friendlies on the jury. Only in 'fessing up do the guilty come clean to everyone.

greyman< Ben: Sounds like a hung jury.

LEGS< Regardless of guilt or innocence, the verdict is going to stand based upon the charge to the jury. sometimes it is worded so that even when you know the defendant is guilty you can't return such a verdict.

dCrone< That is true, LEGS. *S*

Yopo< Hmm ... Disagreements about the interpretation of evidence and what it adds up to can be worked out by discussion and analysis. But how do other jury members evaluate this one person's "feeling in the heart?" I suppose the weight it is given might depend upon the character and insightfulness of that one person?

dCrone< I would like to know how old the driver was ... was he a boy or a man?

LEGS< In this case, I would work in the jury room to determine what his basis for his 'feeling' was, because it could have been a reminiscent guilt of doing the same thing that didn't result in an accident, and so he was siding with the boy ... or it could be that he just was using other illogical determinations, and when he had to explain and talk them through, he would discover it for himself and come around to a more discerning decision than a feeling one.

LadyV< LEGS: Good show! I like your reasoning!

Ben< ALL: After many hours of discussion, the entire jury agrees the truck driver is guilty, BUT the same man still won't agree even though he has no idea why he has this inner feeling that the driver is innocent.

dCrone< The charge should be re-read. I've had it done when I was in a similar situation, and LEGS is right ... the verdict must conform.

Slider< Ben: Justice does not always mean that justice was served.

windchild< He will never be able to sway the other jury members if he doesn't even know his inner feelings.

Ben< COMMENT: Emotions are personal experience but not evidence. Inner feelings are indicators of subconscious beliefs. Because they depend on beliefs, and change when beliefs change, feelings are not a substitute for evidence. Feelings are a very promising avenue for introspection to see what one actually believes at the subconscious level. Once surfaced, those beliefs may be examined and perhaps tested. Many types of psycho-spiritual therapy [including regression therapy] use a person's emotions as indicators and pathways for introspection.

windchild< Ben: Wouldn't your core beliefs affect your emotions? Sorry, I guess you already said that.

Yopo< But then I find myself wondering if the heart is a channel ONLY for emotion? May feelings not have more than emotional content? (Maybe I'm having a problem with semantics here. )

[Ben< Yopo: Yes, there is a lot of stuff in anyone's subconscious mind, and it is often difficult to tell just where it is coming from. For example, the hold-out juror might be channeling the feelings of the truck driver's overly-indulgent mother.]

Ben< SUMMARY: Evidence is impersonal in the sense that it can be experienced by any normal person. Objective facts are based on and tested by evidence. But evidence must be interpreted in order to be understood, and interpretation is a thought process. This is why the same evidence may be interpreted in more than one way, leading to different hypotheses. Continued testing by evidence leads to an evolutionary elimination of weak hypotheses and survival of the fittest theories. This is the basis for belief and the stepping-stones that underlie genuine science. Evidence is far stronger than testimony and more broadly-based than individual experience. However, evidence does not substitute for experience in paranormal phenomena, because evidence is limited to the normal (common) human abilities.

Ben< /topic Discussion of evidence as a basis for belief

windchild< Survival of the fittest theories? That's interesting.

dCrone< Thank you for expanding the true science issue. I was having a problem with it. I've got to get a dictionary out tonight ... theory vs hypothesis ...

Yopo< What I'm trying to get at with the previous comment is perhaps a personal observation. My own "higher order" of connection ... connection through other than the 5 senses ... is still an unfamiliar and largely unknown area to me. But that connection doesn't seem to be by way of the rational mind. It seems instead to be by way of the heart. Sometimes my rational mind even seems to block this channel. Ben, I follow and agree with your SUMMARY. But am a bit confused.

Ben< Yopo: As I was careful to point out, evidence isn't the only basis for belief or the only relatively reliable basis, either. But it is the basis on which science is built, and it has proved to have a powerful integrating effect because it does not depend on any one person.

Yopo< Ben: Yes. Understood. It is the methodology of choice in creating an accurate model of the physical universe, and the most powerful predictive tool when examining stuff we don't already know about.

Slider< Ben: The mind is such an unknown as pertaining to thought and thought process, belief has to be what one feels comfortable with. And who can disprove one's own convictions? Physical evidence is something we cannot produce from one's thinking unless it's followed by actions, and even then it may be thought after the fact.

Ben< Slider: People have learned more about the ways the mind operates in the last few years, largely through learning what pattern-recognizing computers do, and how they work. I think this is an exciting area of research.

Slider< Ben: That's exactly what I was pertaining to. This society puts everything into patterns. The mind is individual and does follow patterns, and when it doesn't, we have a paradox -- what went wrong? Why did he or she do that? What ever possessed them to do that? Where was their mind? -- etc. Do you follow my pattern of thinking here?

dCrone< I also have an unresolved nagging problem with patterns ... easy to step out of society's pattern of expectation, but that is not the issues I see. I have a notion that proper pattern of mind and heart resonate. Personally, I see issues via pattern -- and I experience emotion in a geometrical sense.

Ben< Slider: Yes, this country has been an experiment in the tolerance of diversity. Sometimes more successfully, sometimes less. And then come the old questions of how much diversity, and what kinds of diversity, any society can tolerate without disintegrating and ceasing to exist.

LadyV< If I were a diplomat, I would make it my business to learn the belief system of the people in a country, or rather, a base belief system. A wise lawyer would be sure to put in the jury similar belief systems as his client to win his case. That's the reason for all those little interviews I think.

dCrone< Scientists of like mind tend to stick together, and together they can build a consensus. What if the basic rule/evidence is flawed and no one notices? What if the basis for a thing is not flawed, but changes, and no one notices?

5foot2< dCrone: What if some notice ... but no one listens?

dCrone< 5foot2: Yes, that is possible, too ... no one listening. *S*

Ben< dCrone, 5foot2: Good question about things changing and no one noticing or listening. That is why research (re + search) isn't ever finished, and should not be considered finished.

dCrone< The court case is a 'static' instance ... science 'morphs'.

FRAML< dCrone: That is one of the reasons behind having "peer review" and recreating the experiments by other scientists. Of course, that is often ignored if politicians prefer what the first group is saying because it supports their political agenda.

dCrone< FRAML: Yes, it is one of the reasons, but it is so very hard to think out of a powerful consensus. I work with research scientists, and there are great and subtle powers afoot in many experiments. It is difficult. "Who's funding this study?" is my first question! *S*

Ben< dCrone: Hah! Yes. When I was reviewing other folk's research projects, my first question was "Who's funding it?" and my first request was "Let me see the team leader's (or lab chief's) PhD dissertation."

dCrone< Yes, Ben! Exactly!

Ben< COMMENT: A jury system becomes preferential to some and prejudicial to others, rather than fair or just, if jurors base verdicts on their own feelings instead of the facts of the case. It's happening now.

FRAML< Ben: Isn't "feelings" the main thing one has heard about for the last 20 years. "How do you feel about this?" rather than "What do you think?"

[Ben< FRAML: Yes, and it is causing a sea-change in this country, a continuing shift in the percentage of people who rely on their feelings and disregard facts.]

Slider< Ben: If ever there was a precursor for socialism, I believe it's our justice system. They will hang you for killing a deer, but if you commit mass murder, the blame is shifted to someone or something that caused you to commit such an act.

windchild< I don't really see how any juror can keep their own personal feeling out of a case. Even if they try to just look at the facts, their verdicts will be clouded by their emotions.

LadyV< windchild: That is called mercy, I think, but as LEGS has said: How the jury is charged is how it has to be done according to our laws.

Yopo< Maybe in the courtroom, the rational mind should be given primacy in coming to a verdict. Perhaps then the heart should be listened to when recommending just punishment ...

LadyV< Yopo: That is my opinion also ... and then the heart can determine what is just. That is why people of all ages and walks of life should be in a jury ... so that in the end mercy is done.

[Ben< LadyV: Mercy withholds or reduces the penalty that justice requires. Thus, mercy isn't the end or objective of justice. And mercy is risky decision because it only works to the benefit of others if the guilty do not repeat what they did.]

windchild< Yopo: What if the majority had hearts of stone and only a few of compassion?

Yopo< windchild: I was just thinking and wondering about that myself.

FRAML< windchild: It is hard to keep ones "feelings" out, but as a juror, one swears or affirms to make the decision upon the facts of the case and the law.

windchild< They may swear to it, FRAML, but eventually emotion takes over, in my humble opinion.

FRAML< windchild: Yes, I agree it is whether or not one lets reason or emotion rule their decision. To me, in a court of law, it is reason that must prevail, otherwise the verdicts may as well be done by a telephone polling process.

windchild< Good point, FRAML, but how does one override emotion? There is not a button you can push. This one for reason, This one for emotion.

FRAML< windchild: You just asked the $64,000 question! For me it is the self-control that I learned growing up, in college, and then especially in the Army. Admitting to myself that "for all things there is a season" whether I like it or not.

windchild< I would like to learn that, FRAML, but my emotions always get the best of me. Maybe it's my reasoning. *S*

LadyV< windchild: I can understand that.

FRAML< windchild: I'm reminded of the Mendenz brothers who murdered their parents, and one of their lawyers pleaded for mercy and compassion because they were now orphans. An extreme case, I know, but the extent to which compassion can be taken over reason. And then, when the law is totally overcome by "compassion" the next level is anarchy/mob-rule.

Yopo< FRAML: Yes. And of course there's the OJ trial. Two trials, two differing verdicts. Sorta brought the problems with our legal system into sharp focus.

windchild< In the case of the Mendenz brothers, all of my reason would have gone out the window, and the emotion would not have been compassionate.

LadyV< I would like to comment, windchild: Ask yourself if you were in the shoes of the Mother of a child charged, for instance ... how long would you hold out with compassion as a juror?

windchild< LadyV: I don't think I should ever be a juror.

LadyV< In justice there is two sides always ... else what is justice?

5foot2< LadyV: I see three: yours, mine, and somewhere between us, the truth.

LadyV< 5foot2: Agree.

Yopo< Inconsistencies between the head and the heart seem to be in some way basic, fundamental to my view of reality. Not sure if it is because I am an imperfect lens, or if it is because there ARE fundamental inconsistencies. In the past, I made the assumption that logic exposed the imperfections of the heart's way of seeing. Now I am not so sure.

FRAML< Yopo & windchild: I spent many years controlling my emotions to the point that I had none. Something about Stoic philosophy "rang" with me and I adopted it with a vengeance. Perhaps it was how I dealt with my father's stroke and death while I was in college, and knowing that "I had to be strong for my mother." If so, I carried that with me for 25 years. It has only been in the last 6 years that I realized "emotions" can be good for one, but like all things, must be controlled but not over-controlled or un-controlled. Thus I believe I've become more emotionally balanced in the last few years -- but again, the time for emotion or reason is based upon discernment of the situation.

Yopo< (((FRAML))) I know how that is. For a time, I had closed my heart, trying to avoid pain. But finally realized that I couldn't avoid pain that way without also diminishing my capacity to love.

windchild< I went through something like that, FRAML, but I think I was using it as self-defense. If I didn't feel, I couldn't be hurt. Someone asked me how I felt, and I suddenly realized I felt nothing at all. I might as well have been dead, and in a sense I guess I was. I'm looking for a happy balance now.

dCrone< windchild: As hermit of many years, I understand.

LadyV< windchild: How wise you are to know that non-feeling is so dangerous to your good health, and balance in all things is needed.

windchild< Thank you, LadyV. Balancing is difficult for me, as I seem to be swayed one way or the other.

LadyV< FRAML: You are a trained military man ... you know the cost of error in discernment of the situation.

FRAML< LadyV: Yes, but there were times when I needed to understand "emotion" to help out, and I didn't. I saw it as a "weakness."

LadyV< FRAML: I was puzzling over the terms "emotion" and "feeling". To me, feeling is inside you; the emotion is how you act on it. I can feel deeply but would hold my inappropriate behavior: for instance, I would not scream in Church during a funeral ... or so far I haven't (one does not say Never). You have a good tender heart. I doubt you did much wrong to any living thing. I really doubt that. (smiling)

FRAML< LadyV: I think I use the two interchangeably. I define "feelings" as non-rational/emotion based thoughts. Often they are an immediate reaction/need "just to do something" rather than to examine the situation and find out what needs to be done. An example is in the latest push for "more gun control laws" while ignoring that the current ones aren't being enforced. It makes us "feel good" to pass more laws; however it may do more good to just enforce the laws already enacted. Passing laws is easy, enforcing them is difficult, is the balance or discernment I see behind that.

LadyV< FRAML: I see your point. Well, if the Congress doesn't have something to get us riled up about, they don't earn their salary, now do they? I am already listening to who does what ... now ... before the next election. I am one little vote, but it counts somewhere.

dCrone< Another thing to look up tonight: emotion vs sentiment ... it just occurs to me I mistake one for the other sometimes.

LadyV< How many of you have had the opportunity in your personal life to experience a moment of mercy ... a child that was not sent to the Police ... rather taken home ... as an instance? If I may ask.

Slider< LadyV: I can share in your compassion with those that were given another chance. When I was younger I was a hellion, and when my turn came to judge I have used compassion many times. Thanks for bringing up the subject.

LadyV< Slider: (smiling) and how many are blessed with another chance by your knowing that.

Slider< Lady-V: (smiling back)

FRAML< LadyV: I've have seen that in the Army a number of times. Where a soldier could have been charged with something, but he was given a "good a** chewing" and told to learn from his mistake. More learned than didn't. And then there was that small percentage who had a "victim" mindset and nothing seemed to work except discharge "for the good of the Army" or worse.

dCrone< The capacity to learn from error can be over and/or under estimated. What I might do in the name of mercy might only prolong the agony of a situation. This is ground, sometimes, of quicksand.

LadyV< dCrone: Good point. But then, God would determine that. If you get in the way of the destiny of another, the Almighty will let you know soon enough ... or I have found this so. I guess one does the best they can, in the end of it all.

dCrone< LadyV: Yes, just doing the best with what I had/have ... terribly difficult not to abort the activities of others when you can see so plainly the results upcoming. I personally do not believe in imposing my notions upon others; I think it not ethical. And, truth also be known, I really do not want the responsibilities that would come with that type of behavior -- cannot comprehend the need for that much control. *S*

LadyV< dCrone: You are wise. That is the way many psychologists feel, or so they say to me. Control has consequences, that is true. Actually, in the end we all reap what we sow anyway. It's a matter of living long enough to see justice, and most do.

dCrone< LadyV: I want you to know I appreciated your compliment ... though I think it is you who have the vision of wisdom.

LadyV< dCrone: Thank you. I am learning also.

FRAML< LadyV: Ben told me that one of the requirements of being an elder is "caring about others" and I've learned how to do that. Not only learning it as a cold lesson, but I have been able to open myself up to actually caring about folks. For so long, although I didn't strive to hurt folks, I never allowed myself to open up and care about them, or be willing to accept the fact that others cared for me merely out of their kindness and were not "trying to get something" from me.

Gingeral< It would seem that receiving would be the first lesson we learn as babies.

dCrone< Oh (((FRAML))), it is receiving that is so difficult. I can give until the cows come home, but wary of receiving am I.

[Ben< dCrone: The Greek word translated "grace" (*charis*) is one of the great words in any language. It would be better understood today if it were translated "graciousness" because it means giving with kindness, good-will, generosity, with no strings attached -- and it also means receiving with gratitude, thankfulness.]

Thur< Ben: What "evidence" do you see as a basis for a belief in a "god"?

Ben< Thur: What evidence is there as a basis for belief in God (or gods)? Good question! Too big for tonight, though it is a tasty topic. First approximation answer: it would have to depend on how one defines the three-letter-word "god" (From "Design of Experiments" page 1). *smile*

LadyV< Ben: If you take on that question, it will take years to resolve it! (laughing)

Thur< Ben: Our topic is a discussion of evidence as a basis of belief: do you hope to apply that in a later session?

Ben< Thur: I hope to compare and contrast these four bases for belief (experience, evidence, testimony, authority) so as to indicate some of their relative strengths and weaknesses and areas of applicability.

Thur< Ben: Thanks.

Koklee< Ben: My dictionary defines testimony as a part of evidence. Do you see it differently? (I'm not the greatest at definitions).

FRAML< Koklee: I think that "testimony" is next week's topic.

Aqua< Care for another opinion? We have other non-matter senses (intangible) such as Instinct, Hunch, Intuition, besides feeling ... they all converge at our Conscience tool in the chest area. *S*.

windchild< Good point, Aqua.

Aqua< Thanks, Windchild, I am glad you like it. When we do more "ALMS", the built-up energy at that center is stronger, thus it acts as 'bridge' to communicate with our Soul and Spirit. When this Conscience sediment is thicker, the radiation outward is usually nicknamed as Charisma.

windchild< Aqua: I try to take heed of my intuition. I try to follow my intuition because I know from experience that it is always right. The times when I ignored it I paid the price.

Gingeral< Question: Is it intuition, or is it the way we receive messages from our guides?

windchild< I think intuition is the channel in which we receive messages and guidance from our higher self, guides, angels, god, whatever you want to call it.

Gingeral< windchild: I agree with you. Seems that when I decided I shouldn't follow it, I wish I had.

Aqua< windchild: If I may comment ... Intuition never gives 'wrong' messages; it is our conscience tool somehow covered by emotions or our thoughts give opinion. Try to put five fingers as squeeze as one and place at your heart/chest center. If the answer is from the conscience tool, you should sense tingling at your fingers' tips. *S* Charity works definitely improve the 'receiver'.

windchild< Aqua: Should I just lightly place fingers at heart center or press somewhat?

Aqua< windchild: Just placed with all five fingers tips pointing/touch to the chest. Intuition related to future; hunch related to current moment affairs, while instinct related to our survival needs. That's how they are differ from each other. Feeling is closer to sensation/emotional/physical aspect. *S*

windchild< Thanks, Aqua.

Aqua< windchild: You most welcome.

Ben< LadyV: I said earlier that I was going to describe my little tests of two mind-readers. In one case, I stopped thinking (I've learned how to do that for a little while). She made up a bunch of stuff -- like I was thinking about my job and my family -- so I knew she was faking. In the other case, I locked in a thought: "I'm worried about my cousin Henry." The mind-reader said, "You're worried about your cousin. His name begins with an H ... Harold? Henry!" It would have been a direct hit, except that I don't have a cousin named Henry.

LadyV< Ben: That's interesting. Non-thinking takes practice ... but it's restful.

dCrone< So, Ben, in the second example, what is your opinion of what transpired?

[Ben< dCrone: The second mind-reader read my mind accurately. I believe he did it by his own telepathic receptivity, in which my thought popped into his mind.]

Ben< ALL: My apologies for not speaking to each of you, as I would like to. I type too slowly to keep up with a group. Nevertheless, I try to read everything you post (and I have plenty of time to do that when I review the transcript)

Ben< Yopo: In my terminology, head = mind, heart = feelings. And more important than either of them, soul is the source of free will, including initiative and choice. As a soul, I can choose to go with my head or with my heart.

Yopo< Regarding head = mind, heart = feelings: Yes, my definitions are sorta like that too. But for me, I am also considering the possibility that feelings are a sort of "carrier wave" that may convey something more than emotional content. The heart may be my best receiver/transmitter.

LEGS< How wise and kind that sounds, Yopo. I like the ring of sincerity there too.

Yopo< LEGS: The ring of sincerity probably has a note of humility underneath. I'm afraid I caused others a lot of pain in the course of learning that personal lesson. And it probably isn't completely learned yet.

Koklee< Yopo: I think perhaps the place where we bridge the inconsistencies between the head and the heart is where our greatest lessons in life are learned.

LadyV< Koklee: Well said.

Yopo< Koklee: "The place where we bridge inconsistencies" ... Wish I could zero in on that better. *S*

Ben< Koklee: Good point about bridging the inconsistencies of head and heart. And I find some in me that I choose not to bridge. For example, years ago one of my sons was going down a path that I knew is a dead end. Shall I change what I believe about that path because my son is on it? Shall I retain my belief about the path and stop caring what happens to my son? My decision was: "Neither. I will retain my belief without rationalizing AND I will continue to care about my son -- and therefore suffer the consequent inner stress knowing I have chosen to do so."

windchild< That hits home, Ben. I have those feelings about my daughter. I'll tell her what I think but give her the room to grow and make her own decisions. Experience is the best teacher.

Koklee< Yopo, Ben: I believe the place where the two meet is like the corpus callosum in the brain: creates fluidity of thought between the two sides, removes the stresses that can be experienced when information is not being transmitted properly.

Ben< Koklee: Yes, there are bio-physical linkages and balances in the brain. But the mental, emotional, and spiritual dynamics I was talking about don't require a physical brain. Discarnate beings think, feel, and decide.

Koklee< Ben: I was just looking for an analogy in the physical to describe a linkage I perceive in the other. Do discarnates, then, exist much like us humans? If yes, then what is the purpose of the body?

Ben< Koklee: The physical body is an earth-suit. It is a wonderful vehicle, tool, toy, and opportunity for experiences. However, it is temporary.

Yopo< Ben: Do you think the feelings of discarnate beings are similar to those of incarnate beings? So much of our emotional responses seem to be based in the body.

Ben< Yopo: Taking human ghosts as a type of discarnate beings: their feelings may be the same as, or the direct opposite, of the feelings they had when they were incarnate. This depends on the desires they took with them when they died, and whether those desires can be fulfilled without a physical body. For example, those who live for physical sensations enjoy their pleasures here, but suffer for the lack of the same pleasures hereafter.

Yopo< Ben: Do you see discarnate former humans as having a sort of counterpart body where they are? I have read widely differing accounts, which I suppose may not actually be contradictory.

Ben< Yopo: Sure, human ghosts have a spiritual body. It doesn't have to be a counterpart to the one they left when they died, because it can be shaped by thought. Many human ghosts seem to prefer a spiritual body that is younger-appearing than they one they left when they died. I can understand that!

Yopo< Ben: A while back, I ran across a book by Anthony Borgia titled "Life in the World Unseen". May have even mentioned it here before. Sort of an exposition of the afterlife. Interesting, though. Borgia (who is channeling the voice of a discarnate former Church of England minister) describes several spiritual levels. The one in which he finds himself would seem to be Earth-like in many respects.

Gingeral< Ben: I think many of them choose a body that is the age they would be most remembered. As my grandfather would come to me as an older man but to my grandmother as a young man.

Ben< Gingeral: Yes. Human ghosts, especially the good ones, pick and project a self-image that will be recognized by the person they are visiting. Self-image is also the way they thought-form their spiritual body.

LadyV< Thought-form spiritual body ... interesting! Please, an example.

[Ben< LadyV: The best example I know is the ghosts of some old people who hang around the nursing homes in which they died. Their spiritual bodies are old and crippled because they retain their last self-image. In response to the instruction "Remember yourself young and strong" many of them recall an earlier self-image and thus transform their spiritual body -- and go dancing away rejoicing.]

Thur< Ben: How often have you seen a human ghost?

Ben< Thur: Not quite every day ... maybe three or four times a week ... and during detachment and soul-rescue operations.

Thur< Ben: Do you consider your "seeing them" as evidence?

Ben< Thur: No, psychic seeing isn't evidence, unless more than one person sees the same things. (A few times, I have been in a group where that happened.) Psychic seeing is usually personal experience.

Koklee< Ben: Do discarnates have similar opportunity for experiences?

Ben< Koklee: Similar opportunities, but not the same. The big attraction here is physical sensations, and they aren't available to discarnates. Hence there are a lot of unhappy earth-bound ghosts. Some of them try to take over someone else's body, and a lot of them reincarnate, in order to get the physical sensations they want more than anything else.

windchild< Ben: How do ghosts become earth-bound? Don't want to make that mistake in the future. *S*

Koklee< Ben: If, for example, a human is not big on physical sensations, then what could be the purpose of the incarnation?

Ben< windchild, Koklee: Ghosts are souls. They seek what they desire, so they go to the objects of their desire or wherever they think they will find what they want. If their strongest desires are for anything on earth, they are bound to earth by those desires.

windchild< Ben: How to they become un-earth-bound? (Is that a word?)

Ben< windchild: "Released" and "rescued" are two words that can mean "helped to become un-earthbound." Some souls set themselves free, but many don't know they can release their own earth-binding desires.

Gingeral< windchild: I had an experience with a ghost once that was searching for his wife and kids. I think most often they have something they feel they must do here.

windchild< Gingeral: Does this usually happen when someone dies suddenly?

Gingeral< windchild: That I cannot tell you. I don't know enough about the subject, just my experiences. One man died and stayed in the house until his wife died, even though she was in a nursing home all that time.

Aqua< Gingeral: Their time is slower by 5 to 7 times. Their year is approximately 5-7 years Earthly calculation. As they are of etheric (lighter molecules structures) so they travel fast, thus time is slower. Einstein formula is applicable there, too.

Gingeral< Aqua: That sounds very reasonable. I had the feeling that this man's family had already died, too.

LadyV< I agree that the energy level is higher as Aqua has said. I always felt that Peale had the right idea: death is like the paddles on a fan ... you don't see the paddles move but they are there when you turn the fan on. It's a matter of energy and molecules.

Gingeral< LadyV: I did not see the ghost that was looking for his wife, but just got a picture of him and could have described him perfectly at the time.

windchild< Gingeral: Sometimes it seems to me, in the situation you described, the ghost doesn't always realize that they have "passed on." At least not at first.

Gingeral< windchild: I don't know for sure. I do think this ghost knew he was dead, but needed to know that his wife and kids were OK. That was important to him, above all else. I told him to ask God where to find them.

Ben< Gingeral: The ghosts you are describing are just the type that soul-rescue operations search for: those who love their family members (who are other souls) more than any earthly things. For one example, see "Yes, we also do houses" under SAMPLER on my site.

Gingeral< Ben: I agree these ghosts could have used help. My encounters with them were before I found these rooms and knew more how to help them. Mostly I was frightened by it. I like to think that he did go to God for help with his family. He never came back to that house.

Ben< Gingeral: He may only have needed the reminder you gave him. Namaste!

Gingeral< Ben: What really got me at the time is that he hugged me before he left. That is a very strange feeling, for sure.

Ben< Gingeral: Ah! His hug before he left sounds to me like he was thanking you -- for reminding him. Super!

Gingeral< Ben: Thank you for those words. I do like to think that I helped him.

Ben< Gingeral: Soul-rescue work is often just as simple as that. And those are the fun cases. Other cases are more difficult. Many cannot be rescued without the help of angels. (I love this work!)

Gingeral< Ben: I can understand why you would enjoy that kind of work.

Koklee< Ben: Can loving your family members keep one earthbound?

Ben< Koklee: Yes, ghosts who are too strongly attached to family or friends on earth may be earthbound by their caring-connections. It was a revelation to me when I learned that caring-connections can stretch, so a loving soul can go to the Light without severing those connections. Then they send help to their loved ones, and go help their loved ones make the transition as they die. That's how our love for each other is supposed to work.

LadyV< Gingeral: I am yet working on guides. I was saying to Pev last night about how to find a way for them and me to know when we were together. I thought of using a clock, for instance, as a code. It baffles me. I know something is there ... the animals see them. I don't yet. I say to myself maybe I am blocking something. It gets frustrating as I know I OBE in my sleep and that documented but be darned if I can see them with my natural eye. Probably scare me ... maybe that is why I am kept from seeing.

Gingeral< LadyV: You might try closing your eyes and see if you see anything. It may only be lines at first, but watch and see if it doesn't take shape. Other than this way, I do not see things, either. I feel them but don't see them. That is why it amazed me so that I had such a clear picture of the ghost.

LadyV< Gingeral: Could try that. I have had moments when I am just waking, and have had a couple of instances of seeing, but as real as it was to me (and it was real), I yet am baffled by it. I will continue to work on it. Had someone in here tell me last week about the broken necklace, and told me what the necklace was, like it had been observed when it broke by a person that had passed on. That was eerie ... no one knew about that but me ... so I had to think about that one.

Gingeral< LadyV: That is interesting about the necklace. I'm sure I too would have given that some thought.

LadyV< Sometimes, though, the energy is negative ... and I pick up on that well enough. I don't like certain places, especially where violent death has occurred.

Gingeral< LadyV: Yes, you have to protect yourself from the negative energy.

windchild< LadyV: I know what you mean about picking up on the negative energies. We were going to rent a house once, but as I walked through it (and it was a nice looking house), I felt tense and very sad and couldn't wait to get out of there. And when I went into a storage shed outside, I was actually afraid. Didn't rent the house.

LadyV< windchild: I understand that. I sometimes have the physical sensations of the actual death. I have had that proven also by actual record. Sometimes I run literally out of the place. You are very sensitive, windchild, lots of feelings you are picking up on ... I think.

Gingeral< LadyV: Once, on vacation, we got to sending the kids in to check the room, as they would not stay in some places without being afraid.

Aqua< Gingeral: We have about 35 species of 'ghostly' looking beings living together amongst us on and in this planet Earth. *S*

Gingeral< Aqua: I would not be surprised at that.

windchild< Ben: Have you ever read the Oversoul 7 novels by Jane Roberts?

Ben< windchild: I read Jane Roberts channeling Seth, early on, and then quit with the thought, "Why should I believe either of these folks?"

LadyV< I read Seth and it was put-down. I don't know if it's for real or not, but it seemed negative to me ... couldn't quite put my finger on it.

Ben< LadyV: Seth's doctrines are subtle. I choose not to go where Seth leads.

LadyV< Ben: Thank you. I knew there was a reason.

Ben< ALL: Good night. Peace and blessings to thee and thine. *poof*

18. Solid enough to walk on
Session 4 -- Testimony
Sat 12 June 1999

Ben< ALL: In this seminar we are exploring bases for belief. The title "solid enough to walk on" refers to the working analogy of the last seminar, in which we explored the Maya Swamp (confusion, illusion, deception, and delusion). Thus, a basis for belief is a relatively solid spot or a series of stepping-stones solid enough to walk on.

Ben< ALL: Tonight the subject is testimony as a basis for belief. The broadest meaning of the word "testimony" is "any oral or written statement that purports to be true." Thus: (1) works of fiction are not testimony even though they may contain much that is true, and (2) the vast majority of information available to us is testimony in one form or another.

Ben< ALL: Let's look at some methods or rules that people have used in trying to sort out testimony that is relatively dependable.

Ben< QUESTION 1: Suppose you are at a party. Three men you don't know very well speak to you (not at the same time). Man One says, "A UFO landed just north of town last night." Man Two says, "A woman in my office says she saw a UFO land just north of town last night." Man Three says, "I saw a UFO land just north of town last night." Which of these men are you more likely to believe? And why? What sort of rule are you applying? YOUR TURN

Elveta< More likely to believe the man who saw it. However, it's still just hearsay without my seeing it.

Ben< Elveta: If you saw it, that is personal experience. All three of these men are examples of testimony.

Elveta< Man One did not state the source of his information: not enough facts. Man Two was repeating what someone else experienced: not credible enough. Man Three at least "thought" he saw it himself. I wouldn't bet my life on any of them. *S*

[Ben< Elveta: Yes. Nice reasoning.]

dCrone< Would I believe any of them singularly? My immediate notion is that I would think: three people have just told me similar stories ... there is a common thread, so something may be afoot. I will have to find out additional info.

Ben< dCrone: Yep. Multiple testimony is stronger than solo testimony. That's why courts call more than one witness if they possibly can.

Yopo< Man Two. What he says is most probably true, as the claim he makes is less extraordinary. The others' statements already contain conclusions about what it was that was witnessed.

Ben< Yopo: Okay, you believe the woman in his office told the man what he said she told him. Fair enough. But how about the UFO?

Yopo< *S* Sorry. Was missing the point. Since I don't know any of the men well, I guess it would be an eye-witness vs second-hand account. Eye witness (first hand) account is inherently more credible ... Man Three.

windchild< I would most likely believe the third man that said he saw it.

greyman< Man One simply makes an unsupported statement. Man Two is repeating another's observation. Ahh, but Man Three says he saw it. I would have to go with Man Three with an increasing probability of truth.

Ben< greyman: Yep. Unsupported statements abound. They are, at best, hearsay. Eyewitnesses are more credible than either of the other two examples. But why?

dCrone< The less filtered the information, the purer it is likely to be.

Elveta< The reason eyewitness testimony is more credible is because it has only passed through one filter, one person's perception.

FRAML< Man Three is an eyewitness. I would ask him questions about what he saw. The other two are passing on second-hand statements. I might ask them questions, and then compare the information I gathered to determine facts or points in common. If I personally knew the eyewitness, that would influence my decision. If he were an Air Force Captain in, say, New Hampshire, I would give him more credibility.

dCrone< How the tale was told would affect my feelings, I think. I would also have to make some sort of judgment about the people telling the stories. And I would have to consider the setting of the telling: a party.

FRAML< Also, does the lady know Man Three? It could be his wife that works with Man Two.

LadyV< If one did not believe in UFO's to start with, as a belief system regardless the information, it would not matter.

Ben< ALL: Okay! You are looking around, at the credibility of the speakers, at the setting, etc. Searching for other relevant information in addition to this testimony.

windchild< Eyewitnesses are more credible because, when people pass on information, the story has a tendency to change from person to person. I remember doing an experiment in school in which one person whispered a brief story to another person, and it was passed on to about ten different people. The tenth person had a totally different story.

5foot2< Eyewitnesses are more credible because they accept responsibility for their claim.

greyman< Quite simply, if the third man experienced the event, then his observations are more relevant. Even though the third man's perspective may be limited in the exact articulation of the event.

Elveta< One still has to consider the perception of the eyewitness.

dCrone< Elveta: I think you are right ~ perception varies.

LadyV< I agree with Elveta. He would have to convince me he saw the UFO. His word would not be enough. His perception and my perception might be different.

Ben< COMMENT: First-person testimony is a statement of personal experience: "I was there. I saw it. This is what happened." In a court of law, first-person testimony given by a witness under oath is admissible as evidence. The written form of this sort of testimony is an affidavit or deposition.

Ben< COMMENT: Second-person testimony is a statement of someone else's personal experience, as told directly to the person testifying: "He told me he was there. He said he saw it. This is what he said happened." Whether oral or written, and even though it is given under oath, second-person testimony is usually not admissible as evidence in a court of law.

Ben< ALL: The rules we are exploring come from Jurisprudence, which is the study (or "science") of Law. In the next question we will look at another aspect of those procedures.

Ben< QUESTION 2: Witnesses in a court of law are required to swear or affirm that they will tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Why do you suppose court systems in most countries require this oath or one very much like it? What do you think is the theory behind this procedure? YOUR TURN

dCrone< The underlying notion is that truth is and will be honored.

windchild< Because people think they will "go to hell" if they lie.

Ben< windchild: Yep. The original theory of oaths was that God would punish those who lied under oath. Of course, many liars didn't believe that, so ...

Elveta< Oh, gee, are we into a punishing GOD here?

Ben< Elveta: Yes, the "divine" theory of oaths was based on belief in a god or gods who reward and punish.

1love< Ben: Wow! Justice according to the Old Testament view that God is a punishing God -- this is interesting.

Frozen_Moon< 1love: In what way does this fascinate you?

Ben< 1love: Not only the Old Testament. Other gods were also credited with enforcing the rules (as well as their own whims).

1love< Ben: When is the New Testament going to come into the courtroom -- or has it?

LadyV< Well, if the witness is to be believed, he had best be as truthful as he can be ... yet even with this, any number of things could be not correct. He may need glasses, for instance.

Yopo< Hmm ... Taking an oath before testimony is a sort of ritual, intended to elevate that part of a trial to a higher level. It reminds all, the teller and those who hear, of the special importance of truth on such occasions.

5foot2< Just the facts and only the facts, maybe a reminder as to the details ... not "fill in the blanks". Last weeks class: a man recoiled after touching a motorcycle exhaust ... technically not the truth -- the conclusion was he was burnt, but it was a conclusion of the facts.

1love< To filter out half-truths, white lies, only part of the story which will act in their behalf. Also, in telling the whole truth when recorded, the record can be compared with others' statements to see what is consistent.

Elveta< I think it is meant to cause fear with the witness. If one does not tell the truth, one can be prosecuted for perjury.

Ben< Elveta: Yes, the probability of being jailed for perjury was a more pragmatic incentive against lying under oath than the older idea of "divine retribution".

greyman< I used to think that if you lied under oath, that was perjury, and was punishable by a prison sentence. After slick Willie and O. J. Simpson, I am lacking any theory in this jurisprudence.

windchild< greyman: Depends on what your definition of "oath" is. *S*

Yopo< greyman: Perhaps no legal repercussions, but those known to lie under oath will never be held in the same high esteem. All statements after that will be forever suspect.

windchild< Some people are so good a telling a lie, they don't even know they are liars.

Yopo< windchild: *S* True.

Elveta< windchild: That is so true.

FRAML< Ben: You stated my response. Also, it is from a time when men and women's words were their 'bond'. From a time when there were few written contracts and a person saying that they would do something was considered final.

LadyV< I feel that the person's perception would not be considered lying if his body language stated otherwise. Those that have "stone faces" and silent bodies do not give hints of lying. Then again, if the story is not consistent, then the truth will come out ... if it is allowed to come out.

dCrone< But people who found countries and say things like 'truth, honesty, etc.' ~ don't they march to an honorable beat? Do they think first about instilling fear?

Elveta< Ben: Well, if one does not believe in a GOD of reward and punishment, and one is not afraid of being prosecuted for perjury, the only reason left to tell the truth under oath is one of personal integrity.

Ben< Elveta: Well put. People of integrity don't need to swear any oaths of truthfulness. That is why Jesus told his students not to swear by the name of God, or the Temple, or anything else. He said to them: Let your answer be Yes or No.

Frozen_Moon< Ben: That's a great insight! :-) Wow! ... never thought of that.

Ben< ALL: Suppose you doubt Man Three and tell him so, whereupon he says: "I swear on my mother's grave, I saw it!" Does that increase his credibility? YOUR TURN

LadyV< No.

windchild< I've never understood what it meant, to swear on someone's grave.

1love< Man Three's mother may not be there. ;)

5foot2< His credibility remains the same ... yet it does increase my belief in his own convictions.

Yopo< It would increase my belief that HE believes what he is saying. I would probably listen more carefully to all he says, maybe ask questions. But then I'd either reach my own conclusion, or file under "uncertain".

dCrone< I personally do not care for the 'swear on the grave' phrase or others like it. However, if the man was adamant and not overtly peculiar, I would delve for more information.

[Ben< I would be less likely to believe him if he "swore on his mother's grave" than I would if he simply said "That's what I saw. You can believe me or not."

1love< Ben: Getting the connection between the three men's insight of seeing a UFO and swearing to God in the little green space-suits.

Yopo< *LOL*

Elveta< I would believe that he believed he had seen it. But perceptions can be deceiving. Maybe that person has poor vision, or maybe that person is not psychologically well balanced. (Excuse my skepticism, but I've spent some time in Stonehenge tonight. *S*)

Frozen_Moon< Elveta: Being in Stonehenge explains your skepticism very well! {-)

windchild< Perceptions can be deceiving? To whom?

Yopo< windchild: To the man who thinks he really saw the pink elephant, and the gullible drinking buddy who believes him. *S*

windchild< YOPO: *LOL*

Elveta< windchild: Perceptions are just perceptions; they are not reality. Perceptions are opinions.

windchild< Elveta: Then I guess that makes them valid for the perceiver.

Yopo< Yet all we know of reality is composed of perceptions, or what we have deduced from them.

Ben< COMMENT: The theory behind swearing oaths of truthfulness is that one who does so is less likely to lie. In practice, liars are (statistically) less likely to lie if there are strict punishments for perjury.

dCrone< Strict is the key word, Ben. Kato walked a fine line in my eyes. (Actually, that is incorrect; I don't think he walked the line well at all.) Okay ... I see: swearing does encompass fear.

Ben< ALL: Since the three men actually gain no credibility by swearing their testimony is true, and we haven't the means or desire to punish them for perjury, the whole business of oaths of truthfulness is a wash-out in every-day practice.

Elveta< Ben: That is absolutely true.

Ben< QUESTION 3: Hearsay is anything one has heard or read but does not know to be true: rumor, gossip. Hearsay isn't admissible as evidence in a court of law. And yet, most of the information available to us is within the definition of hearsay. What do you do with hearsay and other unsupported statements? YOUR TURN

FRAML< 1) I don't repeat it to others. 2) attempt to track down the origin of it. 3) determine if it is true or false. I spent too much time fighting rumors in the Army to treat them lightly. Sometimes they can be true. But I have discovered that the majority were either totally false or false in the 'bottom line' or had just enough truth to make them seem 'totally true.'

greyman< I carry it as unsupported data with a low probability of truth.

Elveta< Most of what we "know" about spirituality is hearsay. I rely on the voice within me that says, yea or nay. I realize that voice may be influenced by my perceptions and beliefs, but it's the best I can do.

Frozen_Moon< Elveta: Do you think that little voice inside of you could sometimes perhaps be your subconscious?

windchild< What rings true to my ears; that's what I go by.

dCrone< Depends upon the pool of information and whether or not it is important to me. If it is not important, I ignore it for the most part, maybe filing pieces under miscellaneous but interesting headings. If it is important, I try to whittle away from as many angles as possible to get to the core/truth of the assertion.

Yopo< Hearsay is a good pond to go looking in for actual fish. Often there are many things there that interest me, so I take a closer look. Some turn out to be a complete waste of time, but sometimes I haul out some actual evidence and facts.

dCrone< Yopo: I agree, a bunch of seemingly silly things can lead to something ... gotta keep open. *S*

Elveta< I went to a website tonight which someone had recommended. It was about the Ashtar Command. I read most of it and thought it was ludicrous. That was my perception, based upon my beliefs. Someone else could read it and think it was very valid. I think it depends upon whether you are seeking to be responsible for your life or not. I don't know. It is very confusing. *S*

Frozen_Moon< Elveta: And it depends on your amount of exposure, perhaps. ;-)

Yopo< Elveta: As a connoisseur of kookiness, I at least find some entertainment value in the false fish.

FRAML< Elveta: I have similar view of Ashtar Command. *S*

Frozen_Moon< FRAML & Elveta: Ditto here. LOL

LadyV< Well, if the hearsay or gossip was untrue or malicious, I would take them to court, which is what many famous people are doing and winning. Guess one has to do the best you can and make value judgments based on your own comprehension. If it's rotten, it smells bad anyway, so it can be ignored. If it's to lead, that can be reasoned out. If it is a "possible" then enough material is written daily about most any given subject that one can form an opinion by reading newspapers and good books ... hopefully, that is.

5foot2< Store it in the back of my mind, until it is referenced again. When more information is provided, I form an opinion, but that hearsay is part of the opinion.

windchild< So many different perceptions, so many different paths.

Frozen_Moon< windchild: Indeed.

Elveta< If we all create our own realities, and I believe that we do, then it is all truth or it is all illusion.

windchild< I think we've all only scratched the surface of "truth."

5foot2< windchild: All the same destination.

FRAML< Elveta: I think that when we box up our land, we are crating our own realty. *S*

Frozen_Moon< Has anyone in here read "The People of the Lie?" I would like to read that sometime. Any recommendations?

[Ben< Frozen_Moon: Yes, I have read it, and I recommend it.]

Ben< ALL: The Scottish courts have three possible verdicts: guilty, not guilty, and not proved. Our courts do somewhat the same by throwing out a case for lack of evidence.

Ben< QUESTION 4: Now suppose you know the three men who spoke to you about the UFO sighting. You have known them for years. Man One has never lied to you. Man Two is basically truthful but apt to exaggerate. Man Three is a known liar. This would no doubt change your degree of belief and choice of whom to believe. What is the principle here? YOUR TURN?

windchild< "By their fruits, you shall know them."

Elveta< It gets back to the same thing. If I knew Man One as being truthful, I would believe that he believed. But believing what I do about perceptions, I wouldn't take it to the bank! *S*

FRAML< I go back to my earlier statement of knowing about the people making the statements. If Man Three is a liar, I would doubt his veracity; even though he may be proven to have told the truth. Man One is passing on what he heard (from the police, perhaps), but if Man Three was the police source, then Man One is relating a lie, though he is truthfully stating what the police said.

Yopo< Consider the source?

Ben< Yopo: Yes, that is the principle, precisely stated. Consider the source. One of my vernacular questions to myself is, "Would I buy a used car from this person (or this spirit guide)?"

LadyV< I still would not believe any of them.

Frozen_Moon< LadyV: LOL {-)

LadyV< Frozen_Moon: It's a value judgment Ben is talking about, I think ... but in reality I do believe in UFOs. I thought I would add that. (smiling)

Frozen_Moon< LadyV: Same here. ;-)

Elveta< I think the whole big lesson here is that you don't really know something until you have made it part of your own experience.

Yopo< Elveta: Only problem with that is, it is impossible for me to experience EVERYTHING first hand.

FRAML< Elveta: There are some people whom I trust when they give testimony about their experiences, even though I may not have or may never have that same experience.

Elveta< Basically, I really know nothing first hand. All that I believe is based on what "feels" right, what resonates with me. Well, that is not entirely true. There are certain things in my life which keep repeating themselves over and over again. For instance, my belief in my good health, that I will always land on my feet, and that I will always be Okay. Those things have proved to be true for so many years, about 30, that I would be a fool not to trust them.

dCrone< If I compare: I appreciate Man One for not lying. I take Man Two with a grain of salt. I do not respect Man Three. Man One is appreciated and Man Three is not respected because I do not like to be lied to. Man Two, I can rationalize has need to exaggerate.

[Ben< dCrone: Well said.]

Zeelam< Everything in the Universe happened/existed for at least a reason, so if I happened to be there amongst these 3, I would keep myself open until further evidence, either from them or it might be one day unveiled to me through others.

FRAML< Zeelam: In the original setup for tonight's discussion, three men gave different types of statements about a UFO. We've been exploring how to determine whether or not personal testimony can be believed, and what is the difference between eyewitness testimony and hearsay.

Zeelam< FRAML: Thanks for the info. What is UFO anyway?

FRAML< Zeelam: UFOs (Unidentified Flying Objects) are also called "Flying Saucers". If you go to review tomorrow morning you can pull up all of tonight's seminar, or Ben will have it posted on his website under "seminars" in 3-4 days. This is his 18th one.

Ben< SUMMARY: First-person testimony is stronger (more dependable, more reliable) than second-person testimony because it only goes through one person's perception filters, and because one may be able to ask a first-person witness additional questions. The whole matter of swearing oaths of truthfulness is useless in everyday living, and swearing such oaths may be an indication of intent to deceive. Most of the information we deal with is actually hearsay. If we can consider the source, that may help. In many cases, all we can do is hold such statements in abeyance until we can cross-check them against credible testimony, or evidence, or experience. We can learn vast amounts by accepting other peoples' testimony -- that is how we learn most of what we learn -- but we are not sure that it is true unless we test at least some of it against evidence or experience.

Ben< /topic Discussion of testimony as a basis for belief

NeFeR< Ben: I agree with what you're saying and that is exactly what I am doing ... putting my beliefs to the test. When one forges out alone, they leave the rest behind. Why should they even have an opinion on something that I personally have experienced? It be my truth; their doubt only casts negativity into a purely positive circumstance. Interested in an opinion now.

windchild< NeFeR: You are so right.

Frozen_Moon< NeFeR: I strongly agree with you on this. :-) I'm proud in myself because I do often challenge my own beliefs and perceptions.

dCrone< I can listen to the same news story on three different stations and have three versions of an event. All I can say, if asked about the incident, is that something happened that may have involved XX on thus-n-such a date perhaps in this-or-that location.

windchild< I think it's kind of hard to believe something just on someone's testimony. Experience is the best teacher, I think.

Frozen_Moon< windchild: If only the parents of growing teenagers would understand the full truth of this. *sigh*

FRAML< Ben: Getting back to USAF Captains on duty during long, lonely nights in New Hampshire ... *S*

[Ben< FRAML: You must be thinking of my friend Captain Bebees. He pooh-pooed all the reports of UFOs around Pease AFB, NH, until he was "UFO Duty Officer" one night. He received about two dozen phone calls with similar testimony, many from people whose integrity he found difficult to doubt -- the crew of a Coast Guard Station, two State Police officers, two B-47 aircraft commanders, Security Police guarding aircraft on the ramp at Pease, etc. Taken together, the impact of all this first-person testimony knocked a large hole in his preconceived disbelief.]

Yopo< Just sitting here thinking that what I think I know of the world depends upon the "testimony of my senses". In a way, even THAT testimony is second-hand.

dCrone< Yopo: *S*

FRAML< Yopo: We depend upon our senses, and I think of them as primary sources, such as in trying to figure out if the meat in the fridge has spoiled or not by its smell. Of course, during pollen season, even limburger cheese doesn't penetrate my nostrils. *G*

Yopo< FRAML: I'm inclined to believe what I see, too, most of the time. But also know my senses have sometimes been fooled, or my interpretation of their input has been faulty. (How would your sense of smell tell you if the limburger is spoiled in the first place? *S*)

FRAML< Yopo: There we enter into discernment as to whether or not we are being deceived. (Oh, yuck ... that is back into the swamp.)

5foot2< FRAML; Pull out those hip waders. *grin*

Ben< ALL: A small story. Thirty-two years ago I was assigned to a basic research laboratory at Alamogordo, NM. One day, one of the German scientists, Bruno Manz, stuck his head in my office and said, "Ve haf a report of a UFO landing in Tularosa. Several of us are going to see it. Do you vant to come with us?" (It was about 15 miles) I thought about it and said, "No, I've got a lot of work to do this afternoon." So they went. After awhile they came back and said it was a false alarm. Bruno asked me, "How did you know?" I said, "I didn't. But I figured, if it was real, you would tell me all about it. If not, I'd save some time." He grinned and said, "Ach! Yah! That's you! Alvays thinking!" and left the room. Principle: there are things for which I am willing to take certain people's word (testimony).

Yopo< Ben: The durn UFO guys probably did a mind-wipe on 'em. *LOL*

windchild< Ben: Perhaps your intuition told you it was a false alarm.

Ben< windchild: My intuition didn't say anything about it, one way or the other.

windchild< Did you see any men in black running around?

[Ben< windchild: I didn't see any. I first heard about them only a few years ago.]

dCrone< Ben: Those from whom you accept testimony have proven themselves to be truthful and you honor their perception. It was not fear that made you say 'No'.

Ben< dCrone: Good point. I said "No" in that case because I trusted those men to tell me the truth, whatever it was.

dCrone< In accepting testimony, I think it is important for both parties to be playing by the same rules.

FRAML< dCrone: Similarly, I accept the possibility that reincarnation may be true due to the testimony of several people whom I trust, although I don't believe I've ever reincarnated.

dCrone< FRAML: Your earlier point about not repeating statements that are not verified is a good one. I must admit, though, that I will toss odd or senseless information back out to see what others have to say about it ~ perhaps a failing on my part. I will think about this.

FRAML< dCrone: I probably do that, too, but I don't intentionally spread rumors or gossip. It is a very delicate matter in tracking down the source or veracity of a rumor. And I consider that different from what you are referring to.

dCrone< Yes, FRAML: The two do differ ... but it does give me pause: I would do well to remember what I say can have effects that I do not intend. *S*

Ben< dCrone: When I consider how much of what I believe is based on testimony (oral or written), I realize how indebted I am to thousands, perhaps millions, of people I have not met and will not meet in this life. I am grateful to those who have walked this earth before me and tried to sort little golden grains of truth out of the Maya Swamp. By accepting testimony, I have received as a gift what others have purchased with lifetimes.

dCrone< Yes, Ben, I agree. *S* I also think that volume/quantity of 'idea' means something. It may not mean what it purports to mean, directly, but it points to something. Getting to the truth in such instances is not always easy, maybe even impossible.

Yopo< dCrone: Hmm ... Got to be careful there, I think. There was a time when everyone knew the earth was flat, disease was spread by noxious "humors", man would never fly, etc. A popular delusion is no less a delusion.

dCrone< Yopo: Oh, I agree, but I do think that real stuff can pop up. Maybe my perception blocked my ability to see that the world is round, and only after being bombarded with the thought repeatedly did I begin to consider it possible. *S*

NeFeR< We can't jump into one another's skin to live the experience, so one has to be seeking truth to begin to understand. The spirit can jump into another, however, but only for healing purposes and light-work. I have put a proposition to the spirit world, inasmuch as, if they can't help the soul develop, then they have little purpose in the overall scheme of things. And my word in spirit is everything, or so it seems. They have left me with a magnetic field from the conversation. It lasted about 6 months.

FRAML< NeFeR: Sometimes in "forging out ahead" I've discovered that I'm going the same route that has been covered before -- unfortunately, I usually realize this later and after a bad experience or two. Thus, I have found it wise to remain open to comments of others who may, unknown to me, have already gone down the same path.

dCrone< Path! Path! I need to sleeve my machete and quit hacking my way through the underbrush?

Ben< dCrone: There are some paths through the Maya Swamp, and some stepping-stones. We do need to be cautious about whose path we follow, but I think we don't have to whack through all the brush by ourselves all the time.

NeFeR< FRAML: You know in your heart where someone belongs or not. I have found that my purpose has been to bring the lost records of Atlantis to mankind. I don't know myself what is contained in these records, but I know the information will help me. As far as I know it is about the dimensions ... domains of the spirit world.

windchild< FRAML: I thrive on the experience, good or bad; it helps me to grow and learn faster.

FRAML< windchild: There are experiences I'm quite glad to know about through testimony and not personally.

windchild< FRAML: I'm speaking purely on a spiritual level. There are many things on other levels I care not to know of. *S*

FRAML< windchild: Ah, point noted and agreed. On a spiritual level, there are some experiences that I have this strong sense of needing to trust that I am being heard, and that it is dangerous for me to get personal feedback. I know I don't believe in reincarnation or karma, but it is sort of like some describe a "karmic" feeling. And I have received feedback days or weeks after I've prayed for someone, saying that there was a change. It is the immediate feedback that I "know" is dangerous for me to get.

dCrone< That is interesting, FRAML. It is like you have a gatekeeper.

Yopo< FRAML: How do you mean that immediate or personal feedback might be dangerous?

FRAML< Yopo: It is a feeling of caution, that I would get a sense of "my power" and thus become hungry for more, as opposed to knowing that I'm merely a conduit, sort of a "forward observer" as I was in the Army, seeing a person in need of help and reporting the need and then pointing the way for the messengers to find the person via caring connection.

Yopo< FRAML: Ah ... Understood. And again, understood. *S*

dCrone< I see, FRAML ... You are your own gatekeeper! *VBS*

FRAML< dCrone: I know I've had one sentinel with me for many years (see my Shawnee Warrior story). And I'm sure my Master has someone in an overwatch position as I do His work.

Ben< ALL: I guess one reason why I enjoy the volume and variety of testimony available now is because I don't feel that I have to know many things "for sure" or "absolutely." I am comfortable with a fair degree of uncertainty in most areas of inquiry. On the other hand, there are a few things, like whether the aft main tank in my airplane is full or half full, where I do make absolutely sure of the facts.

FRAML< Ben: And whether or not I've got a full load of ammo on my tank before rolling away from the re-supply truck.

Yopo< Ben: *S* "Aft main tank" may be a good metaphor for some other certainty-uncertainty issues, too. We fly through life hoping our beliefs won't run out or fail us at a critical moment. Personally, I could do with a little more certainty about how full my tank is, and the quality of my fuel. Suppose my whole quest now is for a greater degree of certainty there.

dCrone< So ... fear, as an element in testimony, plays when there are physical effects to be had.

[Ben< dCrone: Perhaps it is fear, but I see it more as caution proportional to risk, whether the risk is physical or spiritual.]

dCrone< Ben: That is interesting to me. I spent many years being peeved because I could not know some things.

Ben< dCrone: I enjoy learning, both personally and as a spectator sport. I used to subscribe to Scientific American, to keep up with several fields of inquiry, but it got too technical for me, so now I subscribe to Discover Magazine. There is lots of interesting stuff being discovered, and ideas being wrestled with.

dCrone< One reason, a good one at that, that I come here, Ben! *S*

SoulTraveler< Ben: What you said about benefiting from the testimony of others gone before you is valid IF their information garnered from the swamp was accurate. Take the LDS Mormons for example. Their favorite hook to use is the "Testimony of 3" and the "Testimony of 8" who swore that they had beheld the plates of Moroni. So, I ask you: Where are those plates today? The Mormons say the plates were taken back by Moroni, etc. So that testimony is shaky at best.

Ben< SoulTraveler: I don't know the 3 or the 8 so all that is hearsay to me.

SoulTraveler< Ben: Basically the Testimony of 3 said that an angel of the Lord brought the plates down and they saw them and witnessed to what Joseph Smith had also seen. Said it was God's doing and not Man's that they were allowed to see the plates and witness to them. Basically a record of Nephi and the Lamanites and their history in the Americas and before, etc. Then later 8 more swore to it. You are asked to pray and meditate upon the veracity of these witnesses, and if you find it to be sound, then you are divinely led to join the Mormon Church.

[Ben< SoulTraveler: Yes. I have studied the Book of Mormon carefully, read the history of the LDS, and prayed about it. I am not divinely led to join the Mormons. Also, I have seen no archeological evidence in support of the testimony in the Book of Mormon that there were horses in the Americas between 600 BC and 421 AD.]

SoulTraveler< The point I am making, in case you wonder, is ... A whole religion affecting many hundreds of thousands if not millions of lives can be built upon a false premise! No matter how things are studied, dissected, analyzed, interpreted, and so on, ALL the conclusions reached will also be FALSE! Such is the case of the Mormon Church, imo. *S*

windchild< Soul Traveler: Yes. What author said they did not wish to be ruled by the dictates of a confused society? Emerson, maybe?

SoulTraveler< Windchild: I can't recall, but I'm sure Emerson would agree with it. Mark Twain would also agree, I'm sure. Well, what I said about the Mormons is just pointing out a fault in their logic upon which the path is based. Many become disillusioned after asking HARD questions, and leave the Church. I read somewhere that many nowadays are 'soft converts' and that has nothing to do with impotence. *LOL*

Thur< SoulTraveler: Do you see other denominations as being or having a better handle on spirituality? I'm not a Mormon, but if you're into Genealogy like I am, I give them much credit, whatever they believe.

SoulTraveler< Thur: *S* Sure, some paths have a better handle on things, a clearer perception, than others. And there is a LOT of good in the Mormon Church, just as there is in any other. I have a hard time dealing with large mass movements, as they tend to be rigid and strict in their perceptions of Spiritual Truth and Spiritual Reality. My OBEs don't line up with traditional religion, and yet I don't have any desire to join an obscure sect, either. The higher up the dimensional planes you travel, the more the population thins out! Less religion and more Spirit, I guess. *S*

windchild< Soul Traveler: What are 'soft converts'? I mean, if they are not impotent. LOL

SoulTraveler< windchild: Well ... 'soft converts' are those that come into a group with interest and dedication and then just gradually fall back and leave the path. Not really 'die-hard' converts.

windchild< Ah! Been there, SoulTraveler.

SoulTraveler< windchild: It happens in the New Age, too. People run to some guru or some new 'channeler' or what have you and join up, really go at it, then burn out like a flash in the pan and leave. Only to go to another one and do it all over again. I've got this friend who's 72 and I call him a Spiritual Slut because he runs from one guru to another, to another, and from one path to another, and has been since the early 60's. He is now following some guru in India on Sahaj Marg, whatever that is. *S*

windchild< Soul Traveler: I know what you mean. I like the term 'Spiritual Slut'. I guess he is still looking for his path. Some people just go with what's popular at the moment. Hope he finds what he is looking for.

SoulTraveler< windchild: I hope he does, too. Since I've known him (in 1973), he's been in Science of Mind, ECKANKAR, The Course, The WORD, Holy Order of MANS, Rosicrucians, and about a half dozen others I can't recall now. *S*

windchild< Wow! Soul Traveler, I don't even know that many paths. I would be totally fed up with all hopes of spirituality by now.

SoulTraveler< windchild: He has a lot of this stuff sent to my house, and then comes out here and picks it up. Actually, I couldn't care less about it. He just becomes disenchanted for whatever reason, grows weary of it, and moves on. Doesn't bear any anger towards them, just disillusionment.

al< Hello, can someone explain what Veda and dharma are?

FRAML< al: Not I. Although I also can't explain Dharma & Greg. *G*

dCrone< But you gotta admit that Dharma is very symmetrical and fluid. *S*

FRAML< dCrone: ????

windchild< FRAML: Dharma & Greg ... sitcom ... married on their first date.

SoulTraveler< I always thought Dharma was doing good deeds for Good Karma sake. You know, doing your good deed for the day. Vedas are the Ancient Indian Scriptures, aren't they?

dCrone< SoulTraveler: That is the basis for Dharma's name in the sitcom, imho.

SoulTraveler< dCrone: I never watched that show. Maybe glimpsed it once while changing channels. I've heard people in Yoga paths talk about doing their dharma, which I took as similar to sevadar.

Ben< SoulTraveler: You are correct about the Vedas and dharma.

wakingdream< Ben: I just came from a conversation with someone claiming all power. In your opinion, where is "home"? Sorry to ask such a tough one. But need to know your opinion. *S*

Ben< wakingdream: I think the colloquial saying is true: "Home is where your heart is." Another saying: "A home is whatever you want to come back to; a cage is whatever you want to escape from; a house can be either a home or a cage." To answer your question directly: my home is the Light.

wakingdream< Ben: Thank you! My home is the Light, too! I needed to hear someone else say that tonight, though, after my exchange. NeFeR can explain. I am exhausted after it! Love and Light to you!

SoulTraveler< I heard a noise outside the other night and got up to get a better listen. Got dressed and went out only to find a tiny kitten that had been thrown out into the front of my place. It had taken refuge under the lumber pile. I pulled some boards back and picked it up and it hissed and spat at me. But it was faced with a choice of the lesser of two evils. Once it got some milk and food it decided that being under my couch wasn't as bad as that old woodpile in the night. So it seems with us, between 'cage' and 'home'.

Yopo< SoulTraveler: *S*

SoulTraveler< Yopo: *S*

FRAML< SoulTraveler: Good example.

Yopo< Ben: Folks report moving toward the light in near-death experiences. What about those who continue on into it and don't come back to an O.R. or whatever to report. Do you think they actually merge with the Source then, or are they just choosing a direction of future travel?

[Ben< Yopo: During regression therapy, many people recall going to the Light after a previous death, resting, planning, and returning for another incarnation. Despite all the assertions about merging with the Light, those who live there say they do not dissolve or lose their identity; rather, they are more interconnected and cooperate more fully than we do, like individual brain cells in a single brain.]

Yopo< Ben: So far as perception goes -- meaning, judging only by appearances rather than by any communications -- might discarnate entities appear rather like "twilight" forms only because the perception is dim? The visual appearance issue interests me.

[Ben< Yopo: Mid-astral ghosts could be described as "twilight forms".]

Yopo< I was curious, owing to an experience I had a few nights ago. Posted it elsewhere, so I hope no one is annoyed by a cut 'n paste: Last night, around 2 AM, I drifted up out of some strange confusion of swirling dream imagery that quickly slipped away and left me with an indescribable sense of longing. Someone there I'd been talking to, I think, and I hadn't wanted to return. I lay there for a time, looking and listening. The room was very quiet. Windows had been left open and the curtains were stirring slightly in the cool night air, vague movements in the darkness. Had the oddest sense after a moment that the room was suddenly filled with vague movement. Full of phantoms, all around and very close, but somehow just a tiny bit out of reach. Had a momentary impression of many voices, all speaking at once, but just a whisper, like the sound of the sea in a seashell, just beyond my ability to clearly hear. Now and then, a word, a name. My own name whispered once. Very strange. An opening there in the night, that I longed to pass back through. A slight apprehension at the thought, then as quickly a sense of reassurance. Felt sudden tears, but not sadness. Longing. Relief. Then I fell back asleep, and then it was morning.

dCrone< May I ask, Yopo, what you think this was or meant?

Yopo< Thing was, the moving forms seemed shadowy, dark. Not bright or glowing.

dCrone< Could the difference be between 'ghost' and 'light being'?

Yopo< dCrone: I am uncertain. Before I slept, I had been much preoccupied with someone who recently passed over, so my mind was perhaps predisposed to a certain sort of interpretation. I've had similar experiences, at wide intervals. One, I'd seen a swarm of small glowing lights, that scattered like startled birds when I addressed them. (Was rather startled myself. )

dCrone< What you described reminded me of an encounter I had with ancestors during a journey: the 'vagueness' of some of the forms. The beings of light I have seen were different from family. I would like for you to keep me updated on this, how you feel about it and what it means. I am a seeker, trying to understand. *S*

Ben< Yopo: Clarity of clairvoyant perception does make a difference, and spiritual tuning makes a very large difference, in what is perceived. However, a radiant being is brighter, a mid-astral being is basically gray, and a dark one is darker, no matter how clear the receiver may or may not be.

Yopo< Ben: Hmm ... It might have been only a dream intruding into my waking state. But thanks for clarification. I have generally thought of Light and Dark as being more metaphorical (*S* favorite word of the evening), but maybe I should think of them as actual description.

dCrone< My husband had brain surgery a couple of years ago. The ability of conscious and unconscious to be active at the same time was new to me then. It can, indeed, produce interesting situations!

Yopo< dCrone: There is also the old word "shades" used in referring to spirits of the departed. Interesting.

dCrone< Yes, that may shed light on the event (pardon, couldn't help it. *S*). The chatter, all talking at once, reminds me of a family meal or reunion. Obviously, you did not feel threat ~ that is good.

Yopo< dCrone: I'm not sure what such experiences are. "Hypnogogic or hypnopompic" states, as psychologists call them. But those may both be states where we are open to other realities. I guess in my opinion they are actually that, at least some of the time.

dCrone< I was drug, kicking and screaming, Yopo, to that same admission. *S*

Yopo< dCrone: Well, it wouldn't be exactly truthful of me to say I felt no fear or apprehension. Gotta confess, I feel at least a bit of that in conjunction with most such experiences. This time, though, I felt as if my apprehension was met with an external reassurance.

dCrone< Yopo: Did it feel like a single entity offered reassurance, or was it a group or collective offering?

Yopo< dCrone: I cannot say. Just felt reassurance.

dCrone< Ooohhhh ... that is an interesting perspective ~ and now you know they really do talk about you sometimes!

Ben< Yopo: The experience you described sounds to me like you opened your extrasensory perception to the discarnate world right around you on earth. If and when it happens again, try to look upward for the brightest light you can see.

Yopo< Ben: I will try to remember that advice. Not even sure if I've "been someplace" yet, let alone know my way around. But that IS an interesting thought. Maybe I wasn't anywhere other than right where I was already at, but was suddenly having a clearer look at part of it I don't usually see.

dCrone< Speaking of testimony ... one reason I come here is to discover if others have had experiences similar to mine. I cannot believe I am the only one in the whole of existence to have seen healing entities, and even if I am crazy as a loon, I cannot be the only one with this problem. *VBS*

Ben< dCrone: I have seen and worked with healing entities, though I mostly work with soul-rescue teams. Those teams include specialists in healing and cleansing as well as other needed skills and persuasions.

dCrone< Ben: As I come here, I will learn more about this. I have done some soul work and found that it can lapse into the physical plane. What I did not expect to find and, frankly, don't think I had the imagination to create, were the healing entities/energies that assist with physical healing.

Ben< dCrone: Yes. The *presence* of one or more healing entities isn't something one is likely to imagine. That *presence* is the difference between an angel and a mental image or picture of an angel.

windchild< Ben: Does being overwhelmed with joy, to the point of not being able to take any more, mean that I have visited the light or the light has visited me? Had that experience a number of times. It was nice.

Ben< windchild: Yes, indeed, one can feel the joyous *presence* of angels, even if one cannot "see" them. I wait for it, in my work, to be sure I am connected to the Light before I proceed to connect to a lost soul or dark one for rescue.

dCrone< Yopo: Another thing I am finding is that as I open to the healers, other forms present. I haven't much clue about this or these realms.

Yopo< dCrone: You cannot be more clueless than Yopo. *LOL* Nature of the "flora and fauna" is almost a total mystery to me. But I believe I DO at least know a dark one when I meet it.

dCrone< Yopo: Do you feel on the verge of something or more like you are already in it? (Does that even make sense?)

Yopo< dCrone: Your question makes perfect sense to me. I have yet to feel I am already "in it". For long periods, I will feel like I am "on the verge". Then there will be intervening periods when I feel a loss of connection. Just moving out of one of those.

SoulTraveler< Remember, there's also SOUND of GOD as well as the LIGHT! So don't forget to listen as well. Can be heard as thunder, bells, flute, buzzing, ringing, music, etc.

Yopo< SoulTraveler: Funny you should mention sound. Couple of times, drifting off toward sleep, I've been startled wide awake by a sound like a large piece of canvas being suddenly ripped. *LOL*

windchild< Yopo: I used to hear doors slam.

SoulTraveler< Yopo: Those sounds can be a prelude to the 'vibration' which precedes an OBE. Many report various sounds. You can hear it in broad daylight as well. PEACE.

windchild< SoulTraveler: That's what I've been told about the slamming doors.

aille< Mine is a thump. It is very audible and it always jumps me when I hear it, so I am not totally asleep yet.

Yopo< windchild: Occasionally I will hear my name spoken. Sometimes a word or two. Often that startles me just enough to bring me out of whatever that receptive state of mind is.

aille< Oh, Yopo, you hear your name? It's got to be angels.

Yopo< aille: Or maybe the ghost of a departed bill collector. *LOL*

aille< Yopo: LOL I'm beginning to learn all about those. *S*

windchild< Yopo: The funny thing is, when I heard about the slamming doors, it suddenly stopped.

Yopo< windchild: I don't have particular patterns that I've noticed yet, with sounds, voices, etc. Experiences seem to vary quite a lot. The "between waking and sleep" is consistent at night. Daytime experiences are completely unpredictable, and most often involve intense feelings of connection with things in nature. Sometimes odd synchronistic events. I think somehow it all forms a pattern I haven't seen yet.

windchild< That's interesting, Yopo. I think I don't hear the slamming anymore because once I could put a reason behind it, it didn't scare me anymore. I used to hate to go to sleep because of it. My daughter used to hear it during the daytime, like a long series of slams getting closer and louder. I think it's kinda weird that we both had the same noise, only mine was just one loud slam while trying to fall asleep. What do you make of all this?

Yopo< windchild: Hmm. Not sure. Was this always in one location? (one house, apartment, whatever?) For some reason, I was thinking of a sort of haunting phenomenon. I once had (not joking, mind you) -- a prolonged housecat haunting. Part of that was repeating noises at night.

windchild< Mine wasn't, Yopo. I'm not sure about my daughter's. I experienced it on a nightly basis for years, from when I was a child until about 5 years ago.

Merlyn< Excuse my interruption ... are we talking about a spiritual haunting? I have had experiences of the same a number of times.

weta< Spiritual hauntings?

Yopo< windchild: Well, then. I don't know if ghosts are portable. But I wouldn't say they aren't. I know there are supposedly such a thing as "family ghosts" that stay with favored families for generations. But to me that is only a bit of the hearsay we were talking of earlier here. *S*

windchild< I'm not sure what it was, Yopo, but when I read about OBE it said something about being in that twilight state, being slightly out of body and then going back in, and some people had the sensation of hearing a door slam. In my daughter's case, she would suddenly hear it anywhere, home, school. She would hear it coming, like I said, from a distance, like a series of slams getting louder each time. I think she said it only lasted for about a year, and it was always during the day time.

weta< windchild: It sounds like your daughter had been astral traveling. All forms of OBE come into that category.

windchild< weta: Is it possible to astral travel while engaging in normal activities?

weta< Yes, windchild, it is possible -- like, say, you daydream (only way I can explain it) and you see yourself elsewhere.

Yopo< windchild: I didn't know that might relate to OBE. I have been told that the sensation of suddenly dropping slightly as one goes off to sleep is an OBE-related thing. "Twilight state" seems to be a place where all manner of things can happen, though.

weta< OBE is another category when they are all the same ... like how people heal from afar.

windchild< I love that twilight state. I hear voices there, too. But once I'm fully awake, I can remember what was said.

weta< windchild: And you see the colors also!

windchild< No, weta, I don't see the colors. What colors do you mean?

weta< Twilight-State ... past the dream stage into another dimension.

windchild< Can't remember.

Thur< Ben: Can you explain the Light?

Ben< Thur: The Light has been perceived clairvoyantly by some people in all times and places of which we have any record. The Light is inhabited by beings who radiate light. They are much kinder and wiser, more gracious and truthful, than beings who dwell in the twilight or the darkness.

Thur< Ben: I see many references at SWC to "The Light" -- are they referring to the same Light you speak of? Have you experienced the Light?

Ben< Thur: I'm sure that many people in SWC are referring to the same Light -- I'm not sure they all are. Yes, I have experienced the Light. And also visited various astral levels OBE, from just below the Light to just above the Outer Darkness. The mid-astral is various shades of gray twilight. I have described this very briefly under "Astral Levels" in "Glossary" on my site, and drawn a diagram of it as "Paradigm".

Thur< Ben: Thank you for the comment. Just one more question so I understand: Did you perceive the "Light" as Deity?

Ben< Thur: I believe the brightest Source of the Spirit-Light is the Most High God. From what I have discovered and worked out for myself, I believe I recognize the testimony of many who have reported likewise. For example: "This is the message we have heard from him (Jesus) and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him is no darkness at all." (First John 1:5)

Thur< Ben: I share your belief. To be blunt, I have to ask if you have had direct "contact" with the "Light" ?

Ben< Thur: To be equally blunt, yes. *smile* I have visited in the Light, though not all the way to the Source. Most often, I ask the Light to shine upon a soul who needs help.

Thur< Ben: That answers my question. I understand you now. What I was getting at is whether you had been to the Source. You quoted some scripture earlier, perhaps another quote is also relevant: "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God."

Ben< Thur: That beatitude is mistranslated in English and astonishing in Greek. It literally reads: "Blessed are the gullible, for they will relish God!" (The Greek word for "relish" means "enjoy the taste of something" and it can refer to a table condiment like pickle relish, just as "relish" is used in English.)

Thur< Ben: First time I've heard of that one. Which of the two do you think most appropriate? Does the Greek necessarily carry more weight than the English?

Ben< Thur: To me, the Greek text carries all the weight because it was written in Greek and these are the earliest texts we have. The English carries much less weight with me, because the translators so often try to make the authors say what the translators think they should have said.

Thur< Ben: I see. Do you know about when the Greek texts were written?

Ben< Thur: If I remember correctly, the earliest Greek texts we have are from the 300s AD, though there are fragments of some earlier than that. I could look it up.

aille< Ben: How many other translations may be closer to the truth and bear little resemblance to what we are finally given?

Ben< aille: I don't know how well the Greek texts were translated into languages other than English. I do know that Jerome translated from Greek (and Hebrew) into Latin in the late 300s AD and every translation was based on Jerome for over 1000 years.

aille< Ben: But have the church fathers changed the original meanings of the Greek and Hebrew to further their own beliefs? And if so, how do we ever decide what is the truth? I have learned both Greek and Hebrew alphabets, because I wanted to read the original, but I haven't the discipline to actually study on my own. I want to know the truth, the total truth, not what someone has made of it.

Ben< aille: Yes, in most theological Greek-English Lexicons, the meanings of Greek words have been changed to conform to church doctrines. That is why I went looking for a secular Lexicon. If you're interested, I use these three books so much I've about worn them out: Young's Analytical Concordance to the Bible, Nestle-Marshall Interlinear Greek-English New Testament, Liddell and Scott Greek-English Lexicon [abridged edition].

aille< Ben: Thank you. I have copied them down, and will go a-librarying. *S*

Thur< aille: Just caught your post. I doubt we can learn what you want to know from scripture. Some historians claim that reincarnation was a Christian tenet until about 500 AD, and the council of Nicea.

aille< Thur: Yes, I have just heard recently about the Council of Nicea ... gave us more than the Nicene Creed, now didn't they? LOL I hadn't realized that so much of what they did became church law.

Ben< Thur: The pre-existence of souls (which includes the whole concept of reincarnation) was declared anathema by the Second Council of Constantinople in 553 AD at the insistence (command) of the Roman Emperor Justinian. I have a write-up of that maneuver which I should post on my site.

Thur< Ben: That would be an interesting thing to post on your site. I get confused with councils and dates. // aille: Seems it's one big jigsaw puzzle. (:-)

Ben< aille, Thur: I do have a summary chronology of the 300s under "Testimony" on my site. It is called "State Church of the Roman Empire" and includes what happened at the Council of Nicea. You might find it interesting.

Yopo< Ben: Do you have any idea what the motives were there? Purely theological, or consolidation of temporal power, or what?

Ben< Yopo: Theological dogmas served political purposes.

Yopo< Ben: Same as it ever was. *sigh*

Ben< ALL: Tis past my self-appointed bedtime. Peace and blessings to each of you. *poof*

18. Solid enough to walk on
Session 5 -- Authority
Sat 26 June 1999

Ben< In this seminar we are exploring bases for belief. The title "solid enough to walk on" refers to the working analogy of the last seminar, in which we explored the Maya Swamp (confusion, illusion, deception, and delusion). Thus, a basis for belief is a relatively solid spot or series of stepping-stones solid enough to walk on.

Ben< Tonight the subject is authority. It may not be a popular subject. The last 35 years can be characterized as a time of rebellion against all forms of authority. However, there are significant relationships between authority and belief.

Ben< Authority has two basic meanings: (1) the power or right to give commands; and (2) the influence resulting from knowledge, prestige, expertise, etc.

Ben< First, let's look at belief as a basis for authority. Ready? Here we go.

Ben< QUESTION 1: Suppose you are living in the Roman Empire. The emperor has just died. The army proclaims a 14-year-old boy emperor and publicly presents him with the symbols of imperial authority. What does this mean to you? What do you believe? YOUR TURN

dCrone< I don't know if I can answer this question fairly because I am 'historically' limited. Let me ponder a moment ...

FRAML< That the Army has made him emperor, that they will support him and his decisions, until they decide he is not worthy of being followed. His authority comes from his position, and the power of the government and, in this case, the Legions that made him.

Ben< FRAML: Yes, his authority depends on their support and thus their belief in him.

greyman< Little significance unless he is unstable or does not care for his people.

Yopo< In ancient Rome, I suppose that means "toe the line or suffer dire consequence". If you object, you'd better head for the provinces.

5FOOT2< This 14-year-old will be responsible for all -- trade, taxation, security, defense and offense -- basically the quality of life of all his people.

Ben< 5FOOT2: The emperor will, of course, delegate his authority to selected subordinates.

dCrone< What tools do I have to determine whether or not I accept the 14-year-old as a person with authority over me?

Ben< dCrone: Probably the best tool is the simplest: What do you believe will happen if you don't obey the emperor?

FRAML< Off with 'er 'ead.

dCrone< The fear of beheading would keep me quiet.

Ben< I believe I must obey this 14-year-old boy, no matter what he says or does, and I also must obey anyone to whom he delegates his authority, because I believe the army will punish me if I don't.

Yopo< What I would also believe, is that there is likely someone else who will pull the young emperor's strings.

Ben< Yopo: Good point. That may be why the army proclaimed a 14-year-old boy instead of an older man.

dCrone< Yes, Yopo, I agree ... the power behind the power.

Creativlit< I agree with Yopo. Due to the newly seated emperor and his youth and inexperience, it would be a highly volatile time for almost all concerned. Someone would be trying to claim regency or else outright try to depose him.

Ben< COMMENT: Where authority is the power to enforce obedience, it depends on the beliefs of those who are forced to obey, and on the beliefs of those who enforce the commands.

dCrone< The appointment is military in nature ... that also provokes fear.

FRAML< Actually, if I were just a farmer or tradesman, as long as my daily life wasn't interfered with by his proclamations/taxes I'd probably go on as before. Daily work without noticing who is in charge.

Ben< QUESTION 2: Now you are a citizen of the United States of America in the 20th Century. The government commands its citizens to pay certain taxes. But why do people obey? For example, what beliefs motivate you to pay taxes? YOUR TURN

Yopo< Payroll withholding? *LOL*

Ben< Yopo: If you don't see it, you don't miss it? LOL

FRAML< Fear of the Internal Revenue Service sending me to jail. Knowledge that there was a constitutional amendment authorizing it. Having seen those who protested and refused to pay having their possessions confiscated and imprisoned.

Ben< FRAML: Partly fear, but not entirely fear, because that Constitutional amendment makes it legitimate?

FRAML< Ben: Yes, that was the beginning that gives it legitimacy, but back then it was only going to be levied upon "the rich" and not common folk. Thus a losing of it's legitimacy and how it is enforced.

greyman< It has become traditional since 1913. I like what roads taxes pay for.

Creativlit< I believe in paying taxes, not because of enforcement or laws, but because I belong to a larger whole of society and feel that it is my responsibility to assist the elderly and less fortunate, and when my day of age comes that benefit is then granted to me.

Ben< Creativlit: Well said. Thank you.

dCrone< What would have motivated me several years ago and what would motivate me now are different.

Yopo< Belief in punishment if caught not playing by the rules, for some: monetary penalties and jail. For others, belief that we all must pay for what our taxes buy: roads, schools, health care, defense, etc.

dCrone< Thank you, Yopo!!

FRAML< Ben: There is a radio commentator who says that if folks had to write that withholding check themselves each month or quarter and send it to the IRS, there would be a lot more dissatisfaction with the tax rates.

Gingeral< FRAML: There was a thing on TV the other day that said we had to pay once a year until the depression, and folks couldn't make the payment, so they started taking a small amount out of each check to make it easier for the people.

FRAML< Gingeral: Possibly, but I know that it was put into nation-wide implementation during WWII to get the money faster.

Gingeral< FRAML: That could be. The small payments do make it show less what they are doing to us. Then when you add all the state and local taxes, too, it really gets bad.

Ben< I believe it is right for governments to collect taxes. I believe many of our tax laws are relatively fair. And I believe this government has the power to enforce obedience.

Ben< ALL: See the contrast in two kinds of authority, as shown in two systems of government? That is why the first definition of authority says: "the power *or* the right to give commands." Our system is based, at least in theory, on the consent of the governed.

Ben< COMMENT: If people believe it is right for them to obey (a lawful command from a legitimate authority), they usually do so willingly or from a sense of duty, so force isn't needed. If they do not believe this, then obedience may be enforced.

greyman< I think I believe in a Republic. *g*

Ben< ALL: Now let's look at authority as a basis for belief.

Ben< QUESTION 3: Suppose you won $2,000,000 in a lottery. Do you hire a lawyer, a tax accountant, and an investment advisor? If so, why? If not, why not? YOUR TURN

greyman< Ha! after taxes you would be fortunate to have two five's to rub together.

Gingeral< I would first talk to a tax man to see that the government got as small an amount as possible. I would rather give the money to the charities that I think are best, and not the welfare system as my husband worked in it.

dCrone< All of the news reports I have read say that hiring such a team is wise. Without it, they warn, recipients do not receive much of their winnings. Of course, I have no clue. *S* I can't even win with a scratch-off card!

Gingeral< dCrone: LOL

FRAML< I guess all three. Or that guy Rick Edelman who is on the radio about investments first. Need to figure out how to use the law to protect my winnings, and keep as much as possible from the government.

Creativlit< If I won the lottery, I know I would hire an attorney and an accountant. I'm not sure about an investment advisor, though. From what I understand of persons who have won the lottery, it can be very confusing, understanding the tax laws and making sure that the appropriate taxes are paid so that the person does not lose everything from their own lack of knowledge. Unfortunately, persons who win are also suddenly deluged by all sorts of people who claim they want to help them. For the first year or two, I really would recommend that attorney.

Ben< I would hire all three -- but with reservations on the investment advisor, especially. I would also expect to be deluged with a lot of old friends and relatives I never knew I had. *grin*

FRAML< Ben: $100,000 off the top to the little institution at 7804 Allentown Road.

greyman< FRAML: Should that be $200,000.00?

FRAML< greyman: tithy, tithie, tythie

Yopo< Hiring a captain and a boat wouldn't be an option? *S* But yes, lawyers and accountants and such. Finding the fairness in our tax system is not always a job for amateurs.

Gingeral< Whatever I did, I would not let any one person be in charge of all of my money -- to keep them from running off with all of it. ** trusting aren't I? **

Ben< Gingeral: Good point!

Yopo< I recall something Woody Allen said in "A Mid-Summer Night's Sex Comedy" ... "I advise my clients how to invest their money until it's gone. " *S*

Creativlit< I'm not sure I would do a lot of investing. I do know I would set up scholarships for women who are now prevented from going to college due to the new welfare reform bill. I would also set up scholarships for boys who could not afford to, so they could participate in scouting, and would set up a computer lab for low income persons to access computers and the Internet.

FRAML< Creativlit: Remember that you'll only clear about a million after all the taxes.

Creativlit< Yes, I understand it would not be a great amount. but I really don't want a lot to live on. The rest can go to endowment funds and begin yearly fund-raisers.

Gingeral< I would want to invest as much as I could so the interest would be there for me to live on and give away for a long time.

Ben< COMMENT: An authority can be a person who has collected and distilled a lot of experience, evidence, and testimony in a particular field or subject area. If one is willing to believe what an expert may say in his or her area of expertise, much can be learned by consulting this type of authority.

Ben< ALL: Also notice that, because it depends on belief or trust, this kind of authority can be abused even though it isn't enforced.

Gingeral< The key is to talk to many authorities in the field, to know as much as you can and be aware of all the different methods that they have, and then make an informed decision.

FRAML< Ben: Yes, we have to decide who we will believe for advice. I guess that takes us back to research.

Ben< QUESTION 4: Suppose you want to learn something about Buddhism, but have no experience, have seen no evidence, and have heard no first-person testimony on that subject. Where do you go first for information? And why? YOUR TURN

Gingeral< I would go to the library and see what books they have on the subject. Then if I wanted more info, I would look for someone that is associated with the religion.

Yopo< Books. Try to find out who the respected figures in that field of study are, and read what they have written.

FRAML< An encyclopedia first. Then the library to find any books that were listed as references in the encyclopedia article. I am going on the assumption that the encyclopedia article will be relatively unbiased. (Yes, I own a Britannica.) *G*

Yopo< FRAML: Me, too. The 1970 edition. My knowledge of the world predates 1970. *LOL*

greyman< Check resources on net, then visit a Buddhist temple.

Ben< I wear out dictionaries and encyclopedias. And I have found a lot of things on the Web.

Yopo< Ben: Ah, the web. But one must be a bit web-wary. As any fool with FrontPage can make a website, it becomes sometimes difficult to know the truth of what you find there. Paper books come through a more rigorous filtering process. Just a thought.

dCrone< My method of discovery is fairly stable: First I read. I read everything I can find that offers definition and description of a topic that I want to know about. I follow threads through other topics to see what validation is offered by whom (I always look to see who is behind publications). I look also to other media -- videos, movies, whatever -- and I formulate a notion of the topic. When I can converse within the framework of a common vocabulary, I look to the Internet and other people.

[Ben< dCrone: That is a very clear description of research methodology.]

FRAML< I might find a book of Buddha's collected sayings, and hope that it was a good translation ... that I chose a good translation.

dCrone< FRAML: That translation part is a toughie. I've been working on the Tao for a while. *S*

Creativlit< I would go look for people in the community who participate in that religion.

FRAML< Creativlit: What will you use as a measurement that they are giving you the "true" version of the faith? Sort of like, how does one choose to believe a Roman Catholic vs a Southern Baptist?

Ben< ALL: Are you willing to believe what you find this way?

Gingeral< Most likely I would believe what I found this way, unless there were too many contradictions.

dCrone< Do I believe what I discover? Not necessarily. The final judge is internal. I do rely on gut feelings to an extent. I am also highly self-critical, so deciding can take a while.

FRAML< Being a historian, I will compare the texts I find. I will probably believe those aspects that they have in common about the belief. And then it is the point of making that 'leap of faith'.

dCrone< Yes, FRAML, common ground is a good indicator. I agree.

greyman< Things that cross-check will have a higher reliability as to valuable information.

Yopo< greyman: Some truth in that, certainly. But misinformation sometimes becomes widely dispersed. This can happen even more quickly on the net. Cross-checking ain't what it use to be. *S*

Creativlit< Just because I go looking to learn about something does not necessarily mean that I believe in what I find. Sometimes the search shows why I need to disbelieve in something.

FRAML< Creativlit: Point taken about making it one's own religious belief, but what about the point that the folks who practice it are just giving you their own sect or denomination's view; especially when you have interpretation involved?

Creativlit< FRAML: I don't believe any one person, book, church, religion, or faith can give me the whole Truth. I don't believe any one religion is "true" but all are pieces of the truth, like a great jigsaw puzzle. Well, each religion received a few of the important pieces of the framework, and the people fill in the image, but only the Creator has that one completing piece, and without all of this, the puzzle just can not come together whole.

Gingeral< FRAML: That is why you don't talk to just one group of people.

Creativlit< Right ... you spend time talking to and interacting with many people.

FRAML< Creativlit: Thus, in this example, you would seek out several groups of Buddhists to talk to? To learn about what they believe their religion represents?

Creativlit< Well, FRAML, I suppose that would be a way I would look at it. Understanding is something I would take a great amount of time exploring.

Ben< COMMENT: A type of authority can be produced by collecting, compiling and documenting the distilled experience, evidence and testimony of many people. Reference books in many fields represent this type of authority.

dCrone< As to reading the notions of authorities: I often find that I must translate English into English -- maybe a form of dumbing it down. I make notes in margins and notebooks for this purpose. *S*

[Ben< This is the context in which we find issues concerning the authority of the Bible and other sacred writings (scriptures). The basic issue is: How much of this document is "solid enough to walk on"? All of it? Some of it? None of it? The basic fact is: The authority of the document depends on the belief of those who accept it.]

Ben< SUMMARY: Authority depends on obedience, and obedience depends on beliefs. People may obey because they believe it is right to do so, or because they believe obedience will be enforced. The power to enforce obedience depends on the obedience and thus the beliefs of those who enforce the commands. As a basis for belief, authority is still based on the belief that authorities are knowledgeable and relatively reliable. Authority can be abused because it involves belief or trust. However, authorities are supposed to have collected and distilled and tested a much larger volume of experience, evidence and testimony than any one person is capable of doing alone. The use of authoritative references is the backbone of the transmission of knowledge over time.

Ben< /topic Discussion of authority (pro and con)

FRAML< Thanks, Ben. I understand you are due for a couple of weeks vacation. I hope you enjoy it.

Ben< FRAML: Thanks for your hope. *smile* Yes, I will be away for awhile. Not sure how long. It may be a month before the next seminar. I'll let you know.

Yopo< Ben: Seems tonight you have begun with the least "legitimate" forms that authority takes, and progressed to the higher. The least legitimate seem to be the forms that demand obedience and recognition, while the higher are the most likely to remain open to question. Perhaps we have a sort of litmus test here? Or am I off base?

Ben< Yopo: Good eye, as usual. Yes, I put the four questions in what I consider to be ascending order.

Creativlit< I am afraid we are losing that healthy balance of authority in the USA.

dCrone< I must observe: theory, intent and system are not always in alignment. Authority bestows power and power is abusable. Trust can be difficult, even when the concept is worthy of honor.

Yopo< dCrone: I tend to agree. I am a product of that "last 35 years" Ben spoke of earlier, and have an almost instinctive distrust of all symbols of authority and power. For myself, true respect must be earned.

dCrone< Yopo: I agree with you -- true respect must be earned and maintained.

Creativlit< Me too, Yopo. I have that distrust, and it can be hard to find the balance for myself.

dCrone< And, although it is another matter, authorities on certain matters can be real squirrels in other realms.

Ben< dCrone: That's a good point. Thanks!

Ben< ALL: The range of meanings of "authority" is also indicated by the adjective "authoritative" -- 1. having or showing authority; official. 2. based on competent authority; reliable, because coming from one who is an expert or properly qualified. 3. asserting authority; fond of giving orders, dictatorial.

Yopo< Ben: *LOL* In my own personal dictionary, I would probably have placed #3 in the #1 position, then left the other two as they are. I sorta suspect the personal need to be in charge is the most likely to get a person in an authoritative position. The way I see the world, I suppose.

dCrone< And for the life of me, I cannot imagine the 'personal need' for grand control. Just being a mommie was tough enough. Think what it would be like with a whole country or world to contain? *VBS*

Creativlit< Nope, I wouldn't want the job, either. :o)

Yopo< dCrone: It is a need I cannot comprehend myself. I have always suspected it stems from some inner insecurity. Such personal needs are at the root of much of the world's troubles, I think.

Ben< Yopo, dCrone: In my opinion, one merit of the last 35 years has been rebellion against authoritarianism, which is: "believing in, relating to, or characterized by unquestioning obedience to authority, as that of a dictator, rather than individual freedom of judgment and action." So the problem isn't in the last three questions I posted; it is in the threat or use of force. We need authorities. We don't need authoritarians.

Yopo< Ben: Well said! I will remember those last two sentences.

LadyV< Yopo, I agree with you. I was thinking as I read Ben's words ... that the pendulum is about to swing in the other direction. The last 35 years have had merit, but there are flaws. Sadly, that is how it is. My concern is that authority will be too harsh, after our recent social problems with the schools. I don't like the new extreme measures being taken with kids ... makes me nervous ... too quick.

Yopo< There have been, of course, leaders who have risen to positions of great authority who were driven by a vision of a better world and a need to realize that vision. I would imagine leadership for such must always be a heavy burden. We should be thankful for those who have picked it up. *S*

dCrone< Yes, Yopo. You are wise. I think that a great debt is owed to such individuals. And I sometimes wonder if these people are people of destiny ... Winston Churchill, for example, and the man (whose name I cannot recall) of Schlinder's List fame ... individuals who summoned the courage and had the judgment for their 'times and places' ... duh ...

Yopo< dCrone: *LOL*

Creativlit< and Gandhi ...

dCrone< yes, Creativlit, Gandhi ... and possibly Sadat.

Creativlit< I liked Sadat a lot. You know, King Hussein wasn't all that bad, either.

dCrone< Oh yes, Creativlit, King Hussein (who looked very much like my own father) should be added.

Yopo< dCrone: (*LOL* pertaining to "duh" *S*) Trouble is, we're always looking for "the man on a white horse", and the other sort know that.

dCrone< The point made earlier about how much dis-information abounds is of prime concern. It is very easy for the authoritarian mind, especially when it is also charismatic, to influence the minds of many.

7of9< Just occurred to me that people with vision usually are assassinated, and that is because they put people above idolatry (greed/power control trip, etc).

Ben< 7of9: Yes. People of vision who run counter to those who want blind obedience thus incur their wrath.

7of9< The second coming of Christ is really all that makes any sense. What if the scripture is true, and this is exactly what is already beginning to happen? When it says every eye will see, maybe this is like everyone will wake up and see the truth all at once, without anyone having to tell them.

Ben< 7of9: The second coming of Christ might open a lot of eyes, but I think that many people would close their eyes lest they see Christ as he is and themselves as they are.

Ben< Yopo: Again in my opinion, it seems to me that the main crunch point for this time is the genuine need for a source of *moral* authority that isn't authoritarian.

Yopo< Ben: I agree. I'm doubting it is gonna come out of politics, at least as we know it. And religion is too often authoritarian. Or at least the way it is often packaged, it is perceived as such. It is very perplexing.

LadyV< Religion to me, Yopo, has been a social order in this country in many instances. That is not so much the case now, I think.

Yopo< LadyV: *S* But the family seems like the most natural place for morals to be instilled. Probably the ONLY place. Families get little support in that. Perhaps we should think as a tribe, or something. A tribe of families.

LadyV< I don't know much about it, but "moral" starts with Momma and the one I have still scares me to death. (laughing)

Ben< LadyV: Yes. "Moral starts with Momma" (and needs to expand to Daddy). Reminds me of the old saying, "The hand that rocks the cradle rocks the world."

Kemokae< Gee, when my dad says something, I think everyone listens. Even as old as I am now, we listen! I laugh now, as he only threatened to spank me once, and I was so scared and cried so much that he never did it. Kids aren't like that now. As he has aged, my dad has taught me some lessons about taking care of the elderly: "I will do for myself, and don't make me an invalid before my time!"

Creativlit< Guess I could give my mother credit for teaching me everything a mother shouldn't be. She taught me about that authoritarian out-of-control power, I suppose.

Ben< Creativlit: Your comment about your mother reminds me of another saying: "Nobody is entirely useless; even the worst of us can serve as a bad example."

Creativlit< Ben: There ya go! LOL I don't see my experience with bad parents as something wasted. I learned a lot.

dCrone< Yopo: With peer pressures being so consuming, a tribe, village, clan, community is needed. Can this be practically realized if diversity is honored? How is the balance between diverse members of a society achieved?

Yopo< dCrone: Perhaps if the idea of "tribe" was itself honored? I wonder sometimes if the idea of a homogenous community is really a good idea at all. There should be equal pride in being black, or northern European, or Chinese, or whatever. And equal respect.

dCrone< Yes, equal respect. What I see is, "My culture does this, so it is better than yours that doesn't". This causes me concern; it leads straight way to dislike. I often wonder if we are people without enough personal identity that we must depend upon ethnic/racial characteristics for description of ourselves.

Kemokae< You know I have had several foreign exchange students here. The one from Japan was the most respectful and quiet. He hardly said a word, and I thought maybe it was because his English wasn't very good, so I kind of just let him go about his way. Then one day he said, "Go home to Japan tomorrow" and pointed to an Oriental fan and said, "Yours!" I went over after he left and picked it up ... one big ladybug was painted on it ... one for good luck.

dCrone< Kemokae: I work with many Japanese. They are wonderful people, much funnier than I thought (though I never really thought about their humor until I saw it in action). They are polite, considerate and not much different from nice people I've grown up with. I suppose my conceptions/reservations were born of post-war mentality. And they do give lots of presents!

Kemokae< I laughed at some of the exchange students also. The German boy lived across the street. They told him to make himself at home, so he did. He went to the refrigerator and got himself a beer. He couldn't figure out why everyone was in an uproar over it. I laughed.

LadyV< Yopo: I think the tribe of families was started in the communes (think that is the word) during the 1970's. In a sense that is good because if you hang out daily with all those folks, you don't get by with much. Besides that, you care for one another. I think it's a good idea: when you don't have your own, just extend your heart out. This country needs a front porch. (laughing) In fact, I read somewhere that the new home-sites are adding the front porch and the sense of unity of rural areas of 40-odd years ago.

Ben< LadyV: Caring is the key to community. With genuine caring for each other, everything works; without it, nothing works. Just living together doesn't do it, as centuries of communes have demonstrated.

LadyV< Ben: Good point.

dCrone< Re: "the man on the white horse" syndrome: I once had a friend tell me that most people actually desire to be told what to do. I have thought about that a lot over the years. Today I watched a movie called "Smoke Signals" in which two Native Americans jokingly lamented that they had no Lone Ranger, Superman, or like hero to come to their rescue. (I used to await the arrival of Mighty Mouse.)

Yopo< dCrone: I remember seeing a poster of Adolph Hitler as a knight in gleaming armor on a white horse, carrying a banner with a swastika. He appeared most noble. The image is deep in our psyche. It can be touched, and reason circumvented.

dCrone< Yopo: I try, really try, to understand what in the name of sam hill was afoot that propelled Hitler into such power. He did not look like what he promoted. I have seen the file footage and heard the psychological explanations of the German people, but there is something I am missing, I know. Such fervor, such passion. Well, now that I think of what you are saying, the image, the myth, may have been the carrier ... got to think about this.

Yopo< dCrone: Dark forces were at work. They created a lovely illusion in the minds of desperate people. We are always manipulated by way of our illusions.

Thur< dCrone: Jung had a good explanation of the Hitler phenomena.

LadyV< Thur: Excuse me, but I am interested in Jung's theory. Its been awhile since I studied Jung. Tell us please!

[SWC only saved the first part of this session. I managed to recover most of it from the Netscape cache in my computer, but several paragraphs are missing here.]

LadyV< Thur: Thank you.

Creativlit< When Hitler came in, the people were heavily taxed, the German economy was in shambles due to previous war debts, a war that Germany lost. Collectively the German people were at a moral low. I don't think Hitler dumped all his agenda right up front to begin with. But he came up with a fiery focus and pointed out a scapegoat for the woes of the Germans. I think, with people being that morally low, it was easy to let someone take over and promise to lead them to something better, and in their moral apathy they turned a blind eye to his faults. By the time Hitler was showing his full colors, they were in hook line and sinker.

7of9< People are so hungry for the "vision" we all long for deep down within that a person can image this with great promises and power to get a lot of people at once to hear. It is very persuasive, especially when things are rough and things are in disharmony. You are vulnerable on a societal level as well as on a personal level.

Yopo< Hitler himself had his illusions. I imagine he lived in them. Believed he was the savior of his nation. His preoccupation with the occult. His obsession with the spear of Gaius Cassius. To me, this points to the possibility that he was but an instrument.

Ben< Yopo: Hitler was like every other dictator in this respect: he promptly rewarded those who obeyed him and just as promptly punished those who didn't obey him.

Yopo< Ben: Very true.

Kemokae< Ben: That to me is a system that most supervisor's use in a work situation. My son's private schooling (which is "world-wide") taught just the opposite: that a good job should come from one's own self mastering a "talent" and not the reward. But our public school system is not set up that way. Would you all like your "recognition" certificate now ... just for showing up here? :)

Ben< Kemokae: The difference between supervisors and dictators is in what they reward and punish. A good supervisor rewards superior performance, penalizes poor performance, and punishes lying and cheating and destructive competition. A dictator rewards and punishes on the basis of obedience to whatever he or she says, regardless of performance or other criteria. This was Hitler's downfall.

Kemokae< Jesus was the best leader to me. He knew that to lead, one must "let" the people follow, challenge them, forgive them, love them for no reason at all. His example is the greatest supervisory one I have ever seen. Yes, he got mad also!

dCrone< Do you think that in our present world, with the Internet and television, that Hitler-like deception is possible? When the horrors are shown and discussed, can it still happen? I think it has in Africa, but how much TV coverage was really there? If a country is not economically important to us, does the media bother?

Yopo< dCrone: In my darker moments, I think perhaps the Internet and TV might become a channel for the grandest deception that ever was. Already, I wonder if some parts of the news are deliberately created to mold public opinion.

LadyV< dCrone: I heard on the radio last month just the point you are making. There was a few pages in the magazine Newsweek (I believe I am correct in the name) about Africa.

Creativlit< It did happen again in Kosovo. Honestly, even with the Internet and media, I do think it could happen again, even here. You get enough people who are dissatisfied and disillusioned, and give them a dynamic leader who can give them the illusion of creating something better, and yes it can happen. I see it happen just east of here with the Neo-Nazi compound. They go in and recruit out of the prisons young white guys and street kids. They give them a reason for why they have pain, and then give them a new collective group identity and a mission on how to make change.

Yopo< Creativlit: Very scary. Thinking of our prisons as Nazi factories.

Kemokae< Goes to show you how "authoritative" our society is.

Yopo< I read somewhere that we have the largest per capita prison population of any country in the world.

dCrone< So how do you offset such indoctrination with another point of view? Radio Free Europe (does that still exist?) ... or blasting TV programs into unsuspecting homes ... or dropping leaflets???

Yopo< dCrone: Too late, so long as prisons are nothing but a warehousing system. And now we have corporate prisons-for-profit in some states. So the maladjusted come to be seen by the industry as a resource. We have lobbying groups pushing for mandatory minimums, with an eye to profits. Fine kettle of fish.

Kemokae< Ben: I bet you also didn't know that there are kids out there in huge big fancy homes that never live there but by name only. The life they lead is of a street kid. And then people wonder why these kids, like the two that killed their fellow students, seem to have everything going for them. Naw ... this is but part of a "silent" truth that few talk about but many "see" going on.

LadyV< Kemokae has a good point as well as Creativlit. And before it's done, the school system changes, the law gets into it, the lawyers are into that. As I said earlier, the pendulum is swinging too much to the other extreme ... and the innocent are hurt ... but out of this order will come. History proved that in the Vietnam conflict in our country. Consider it is the young that bring the change.

dCrone< There is much that is different in the world today. I have assumed responsibility for my grandson, and the difference in his point of view vs those of the time my children were home is remarkable. For this endeavor, I need much support and advice!

LadyV< I asked a person well known to me who is in a position of Government and knows much of social change: What is the difference between a child of 16 in the 1990s and the l950s? He said the key words are "instant gratification". We are a world of material gratification. We want it now! We want it because it feels good! I considered the words.

Thur< LadyV: Instant gratification seems to be IT. We have big egos to satisfy.

Ben< Kemokae: The lack of any reason to care for others, to help and not hurt, is the great void in irreligious morality and ethics. This is the void that all the great religions have filled or tried to fill by reference to deity.

Thur< Ben: By their fruits you will know them?

Ben< Thur: Yes, and by our fruits we will be known by those who judge wisely. And by our fruits we can know ourselves if we judge ourselves wisely.

Thur< Ben: Do we need "wisdom" to judge? Would not the facts speak for themselves?

Ben< Thur: Facts may sorta swat a person upside the head, but they don't necessarily speak for themselves. Different individuals may judge the same facts wisely or foolishly, depending on the criteria they use.

Thur< Ben: I don't know about that. I suspect we are born with a criteria of right and wrong.

Yopo< Ah, if only that were so.

Ben< Thur: Some may be born with a sense of right and wrong, but most seem driven by their own desires: "I want what I want when I want it!"

Thur< Ben: Quite so, but are they born with that, or is it a result of our social order?

dCrone< Thur: Sometime soon I want to hear more about the born with vs trained to topic. I used to favor the former, but as I get older, things are less clear! *S*

Ben< Thur: Having seen and been around a fair number of little kids, I think most are born selfish, and that is natural. Families and societies have to try to teach criteria of right and wrong because most don't arrive here mature in that regard.

Thur< dCrone: Should make for an interesting topic. And, Ben, yes, I suppose we are born "selfish" which may be a survival instinct. I was speaking more in the context of killing.

Kemokae< I have had wealthy kids come to my house starving, and I doubt if they told anyone that. If they told an authoritative figure that they were starving, they would not be believed; they would be called liars. Why is it ? Parents working night and day, step-family situations and peer pressure and competition. Yet few have told these kids and made them "feel" that there is a place for each and every one, regardless.

Kemokae< I remember the day I went over with three other kids and we "hugged" a kid who was contemplating suicide because he couldn't take the expectations of a perfect life he was expected to live for family wealth. He was already a behind-the-scenes alcoholic, and if his family knew, they were just to busy to handle it all. He was 15. This same kid with another sang to me on a guitar "She's building a Stairway to Heaven" because I asked them what could I expect out of them for a message. HA!

dCrone< Kemokae: I have a good friend with a child in similar circumstances. The problem as I perceive it is: the mother is prone to be authoritative, and she sees the world from the perspective of her youth. The true reality had to hit hard before she recognized the problem. She always tried, in her way, to be there for her son, but her way was not sufficient for his needs, and she truly did not know.

LadyV< Kemokae: Maybe that's what Yopo meant by "illusions". We receive our illusions via our communication media ... and how that is real life is beyond me.

Yopo< LadyV: There is much in that. We are a consumer society. And we have forgotten there is much other than material goods that is worthy of our attention. We accumulate heaps of flashy junk, and forget that none of it gives life meaning.

LadyV< Subliminal advertising lures us into this in many ways. It gives us a "high" to purchase ... it really does. Discipline and waiting are missing. The "boot camps" that are being used now for kids are merely just that: discipline and earning rewards. It is taught by five years generally, I was told, or it should be. The behavior of the child is formed by three. If time has not been taken to teach this, it becomes very hard for the child later ... and society reaps the results.

dCrone< Heaps of flashy junk plus baskets-full of snappy one-liner put-downs popularized in sitcoms.

Kemokae< dCrone: I thought that about my own son in some ways. Then I had the ski accident on Mt. Hood, and my son was there. I gave him over to his best friend, and asked him to take my son home for me. I told my son that I thought I would be awhile at the hospital. His friend called me later on ... because we had been having some pretty tough times. He said: "I think I have never seen such Love between two people that was unspoken." As my son grows up, now he is beginning to do a lot of understanding ... as am I in ways. It goes to show you how much we are not "accepted" at times, in our own house, for what we are (and do) that is good. Do you think many other parents are like this? Most likely.

dCrone< My first and foremost focus has been on establishing a religious spiritual setting. You have to know the rules before you play the game, so to speak. Which, by the way, is not as simple as it sounds, since my drummer doesn't have a church building. Tricky, it is ...

LadyV< dCrone: I was thinking that world issues are known by the Church Organizations. I did not know how much help was being given to the street children of Peru until I was informed. I did not know how many Bibles go out to China until I was told. I am amazed at the silent efforts. In India, as an example, private funding is being sent and very generously to aid the hungry. I think the Church knows, or however one refers to Church. It is there the news gets out.

Kemokae< Amen for the Churches, because the help I have given has only landed us deeply in debt. And I know when these kids left my house they still needed someone there for them. One person can only make an example ... a group of people can make a change.

LadyV< I was thinking also in regards to authority. One of the requirements of a good leader or authority example is one that understands and teaches boundaries. I think the word is respect of self and the rights and properties of others. These are learned skills.

Kemokae< I think that we need to touch upon more open truth as a "family" now-a-days. There are many who have been saying this, but too few practicing it. It's difficult, as the life styles are so contradictory to families. But we need some real Love ... from the heart.

dCrone< Kemokae: In considering the great bond of love between parent and child, I know that it is salient between my daughter and my grandson. What greater love could a mother have than to place her son in the hands of another for his own good?

Yopo< Well, it grows late for this one. I thank you all for much thought-provoking conversation tonight. And thanks much for providing the place where it happens, Ben! Gonna miss that over the next few weeks. Hope your vacation is a very good one! *S*

LadyV< Someone remove my hide off the "soapbox". (laughing) I am sorry, these issues are important to me.

Ben< LadyV: I also believe these are important issues. Very important. And especially now.

dCrone< (**dCrone makes a note to build soapboxes for everyone during the summer vacation.**)

LadyV< dCrone: (grinning) About the soapbox ... I liked what you said about your daughter and grandson. He comes to you with peace between his two best friends and his two mothers. I consider you wise. It is yours to hold them both in your caring hands. The boy will be fine.

Ben< ALL: I found this to be an excellent discussion tonight. Much appreciated. Peace and blessings to you and yours. Namaste. *poof*

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