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Sunday, April 12, 2015

Doctor Who and the Approaching Skingularity

William Henry believes that we are facing a time of decision. Will we choose to remain fully organic beings or will we merge so completely with artificial technologies that they become part of our very skin? Henry has released an eBook, free to whomever asks for it. I recently received my copy and have only just started reading it and poring over the spectacular images. More information on The Skingularity is Near and how to receive your copy can be found here.

In March, Henry appeared on Coast to Coast AM to discuss our future, what is increasingly possible and what is our true potential. Whether or not you agree with Henry that humans are inherently and organically capable of transforming into light beings, the vision of tech companies to transfigure us through technology should reasonably terrify you. They're wearing us down, though, by promising ease, interconnectedness, and even virtual immortality.

Many of the technologies under development mimic the language, the imagery, and even the properties of cross-cultural resurrection and ascension mythologies. The possibilities entice not only because the promises are fantastical but because they resonate with core archetypes. Henry points out that it may well be a devil's bargain. We may be handing over our fundamental liberty to a convergence of state and corporate power. What looks like an enhancement of human power could really be very cleverly packaged tyranny.

We humans have an instinctual fear of merging with inorganic machines that has long played out in our modern mythologies. The Borg of Star Trek: Next Generation portray our primal terror of losing our humanity and independence to co-optation by intelligent machines. The Matrix trilogy depicts a world lost to our development of artificial intelligence, as self-aware machines reduce humanity to batteries and trap our consciousness in a VR simulacram. But the most direct parallel to Henry's "skingularity" and it's conflict with natural human evolution plays out in Doctor Who.

I have been a fan of the show since its reboot in 2005, but I really didn't grasp the deeper layers of meaning until Steven Moffat took the helm in 2010. It was only then that I realized that the show – in its various iterations – has enjoyed decades of success because it speaks to core archetypes, sacred geometries, and global myths, depicting our mystical human potential.

In listening to the interview (posted above), some of the other longstanding themes of the show began to crystallize in my thinking. It occurs to me that one of the central conflicts of the show is between our unfettered organic potential and that of inorganic technologies which enhance certain capabilities but rob humanoids of their core humanity. Two of the Doctor's nemeses, long-time enemies of Time Lords and of life throughout universe, are the Daleks and the Cybermen. Those constructs go back to the original run of the show and their distinctly B movie appearance has changed little.

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In the context of the show, Doctor Who is an alien who travels through time and space in a very unusual ship. And aren't spaceships "shiny toys for infant civilizations?" Aren't they machines? Here's where it gets interesting. The TARDIS is not what we would normally think of as a machine. It's organic, not an artificial technology. A TARDIS isn't made, but grown. It's actually a type of coral.

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The TARDIS has a soul. We get to know that soul more directly in "The Doctor's Wife," when it's transferred into the body of a human woman. Like most ships, the TARDIS is often described and addressed as she. But one of the most obvious indications that the TARDIS is a living being is that it thinks for itself and is more intuitive, more dialed in to the great Over-Soul, than its pilot. The Doctor is frequently mystified by where and when the TARDIS has landed, but it's always exactly where he needs to be to solve some urgent problem.

The TARDIS continues to grow and reinvent itself as it goes along. It has an Architectural Reconfiguration System which can create anything, or so we learn in "Journey to the Centre of the TARDIS." This machine that makes machines is also organic. It's made from "living metal." And it's obviously an allusion to the world tree.

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In stark contrast to the organic, evolving "machines" of Doctor Who are these cyborg species, the Daleks and the Cybermen.

Daleks wear a "skin" of Dalekanium and polycarbide. Inside that metal "shell" is what remains of their organic form, mutated, shriveled, and incapable of operating independent of their metal cases.

The Dalek casing also functioned as a fully-sealed environment suit, allowing travel through the vacuum of space or underwater without the need for additional life-support equipment.

. . .

If the interior of the Dalek sustained damage, floating eyeball-like Dalek antibodies would explore the damaged area and eliminate the threat by reducing it to a fine powder. The antibodies would then harvest the ashen remains of the threat, and send them into a feeding tube for the creature to feed off their protein.

It's hard to miss the parallel to something like transhumanist Ray Kurzweil's vision of the "nano nutrient garment" that has Henry deeply concerned. More information can be found here on Kurzweil's grand vision.

In the coming decades, a radical upgrading of our body’s physical and mental systems, already underway, will use nanobots to augment and ultimately replace our organs. We already know how to prevent most degenerative disease through nutrition and supplementation; this will be a bridge to the emerging biotechnology revolution, which in turn will be a bridge to the nanotechnology revolution. By 2030, reverse-engineering of the human brain will have been completed and nonbiological intelligence will merge with our biological brains.

Sure. What could go wrong?

The Twelfth Doctor once said that a Dalek was "not a machine", but "a perfect analogue of a living being".

The Daleks were an attempt at genetically and technologically advancing a humanoid race, the Kaleds of the planet Skaro, so that they could win a protracted war against the Thal.

More secret, was the project led by Davros; to create an artificial and evolutionary next step for the Kaled race. Initially, it was a goal of all of the top Kaled Scientists, until Davros took over the project and changed its aims, for evil purposes, the other scientists weren’t as keen – so Davros murdered them.

Davros himself had as much reason to want to be victorious in the civil war. A Thal shell had exploded near to him and had almost killed him. He was left horribly scarred and blind, only seeing by means of an electronic third eye.

. . .

Davros also removed from his mutations; all emotion – except hatred. With all moral reasoning gone, the Dalek’s could concentrate fully on destroying their Thal enemies.

Much as Henry points out regarding the transhumanist movement, the Daleks present with the symbolism of ascension. Davros has a single eye. It just happens to be electronic. The Dalek mutants that live inside this casing are also single-eyed. They also have a small blue pearl-like light in their plunger-like appendage/oculus.

This suggests the horrible possibility that they are, on some level, attempting a spiritual transfiguration, but are trapped in a prison of artificial technology. 

Much of their mythic history is revealed in "Daleks in Manhattan" and "Evolution of the Daleks." Daleks take over the construction of the Empire State Building in 1930. Their goal in accelerating the building schedule of the then tallest building in the world is to absorb the gamma burst of a solar flare to complete, you guessed it, an evolution of what's left of the Dalek race. So a tower (spine) is being raised rapidly to merge with the energy of the sun.

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The visual symbolism is pointed. The first attempted hybrid of human and Dalek has a single eye in a triangle. The markings on this Dalek device look distinctly like the rays of light emanating from the risen Christ in Byzantine frescoes and icons of the transfiguration.

 The elevator door is decorated with a beautiful, golden, art deco circumpunct.

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The elevator opens onto a perfectly framed Dalek oculus appendage thing.

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The Daleks are all but extinct and their only real hope is to reinvigorate what's left of their genetic material with an infusion of human DNA.

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This creates tremendous conflict between the Daleks themselves and within the attempted hybrids. In a fairly obvious symbolic play, a showgirl performs a number called My Angel Put the Devil in Me in which she plays an angel among devils.

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The opening lyrics suggest the engineered psychopathy of the Daleks. 

You lured me in with your cold grey eyes
Your simple smile, your bewitching lies
One and one and one is three
My bad, bad Angel, the Devil in me!

It would be easy to conclude that this is a simple, good vs. evil morality play, with the Daleks as the obvious black to our white. I think there's a deeper point here. The Daleks are attracted to humans because they see so much Dalek in them.

After absorbing the ambitious businessman Diagoras, Dalek Sec, the first ever human Dalek, marvels at what he feels of human nature, it's aggression, it's hatred, it's "genius for war."

"No. That's not what humanity means," argues the doctor.

"I think it does. At heart this species is so very Dalek," replies the newly bipedal Dalek Sec.

Where the Doctor always sees and hopes for the better angels of our nature, Dalek Sec sees that there is a very dark side to humanity, one that could as easily destroy itself as the Daleks and their organic forebears did.

Indeed, this storyline underscores one of the darker chapters of our history. It's thirteen years after WWI – the "war to end all wars" that most certainly did not. It's one year after the stock market crash and suddenly destitute Americans live in Hoovervilles, human fodder for a handful of dangerous, insecure jobs like building the Empire State Building.

In Central Park's Hooverville, a war veteran named Solomon solves a conflict over a loaf of bread by reminding them that in the worst of times, they cannot lose their humanity. The wise Solomon tears the loaf in half and splits it between the two men.

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As anyone with a passing knowledge of the Bible knows, King Solomon solved a conflict between two women claiming parentage of a child by threatening to cut the child in half, and handing the living child off to the woman who was first to relinquish her claim so that the child might live. The allusion is not what you would call subtle. What is a bit more deft here, I think, is that it is another example of sun symbolism and of the central sun as an awakener of our Sophia wisdom. Sol is Latin for sun.

Ultimately, the Daleks are too trapped in their cold, emotionless, metallic identity to accept anything that the sun in any form might awaken. Their hybrids are too human, too Time Lord, too independent for the rigidly hierarchical, authoritarian, mechanoid monsters to accept.

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A more explicit take on the threat of transhumanism can be seen in the reintroduction of the Cybermen in the new Doctor Who.

There have been several iterations of the Cybermen throughout the show's history. Made almost entirely of metal, they run on human brains but have artificial nerve tissue, a "heart of steel," and an emotion inhibitor. They make up mindless, automaton armies bent on conquest and absorbing more humans into their numbers, much like the Borg.

The Cyberman were reintroduced in the second season of the new Doctor Who in "Rise of the Cybermen." On a parallel earth, the doctor's companion Rose Tyler learns that her father is still alive in that world and is a captain of industry, having turned his idea for a health drink into a successful business. Vitex is also owned by a huge, multinational technology and information company called Cybus Industries.

There is much about this parallel earth and its technologies that feels a bit too close to home. In many ways it looks identical, right down to the blue tooth headsets that everyone seems to have. That is until it becomes apparent that the population is being fairly well controlled by them.

These EarPods are not only an obvious allusion to iPods, Apple introduced it's own version of the EarPod in 2012. Life imitates art. Theirs' don't appear to hijack people's brains... yet.

There is actually so little difference between Doctor Who's scenario and the current developments in the world of tech, it's downright chilling. 

Much like Kurzweil and the tech giants currently investing in transhuman technologies, Cybus Industries president John Lumic is obsessed with life extension. He calls the conversion to Cyberman an "upgrade."

Not only are Cybermen extremely hard to kill, this theme of immortality comes up again and again in the Cyberman episodes. In "Army of Ghosts," they begin to bleed into our world from the parallel world of Cybus Industries and are mistaken for the spirits of dead relatives. In "Dark Water," they become the receptacles for the spirits of the dead and a potential zombie-like army.

We can have virtual immortality, so long as we're willing – or can be coerced – to turn our bodies and our souls over to the machine.

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The Doctor has been warning us since the 1960s about the potential for transhumanist technologies. The show presents us with a choice. Do we seek to understand our true human potential or attempt to enhance it by artificial means and wind up soulless mechanoids incapable of moving to the next level of natural evolution?

Comments on this entry are closed, on this blog. If you wish to comment, please find this and all newer blog entries crossposted on Celestial Reflections.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Rapid Pole Shift in Our Lifetime?

As I mentioned here, pole shift appears to be underway. It also appears to be happening far more rapidly than has long been predicted by the establishment. In this episode of Dreamland, Linda Moulten Howe interviews UC Berkeley's Dr. Paul Renne about geological data that dramatically accelerates the predicted timeline. Renne worked with an international team of geologists to analyze volcanic ash sediments in a lake bed in Italy. They were able to track the shifting patterns that preceded the last pole shift, the Brunhes-Mutuyama event, and have determined it was quite rapid, probably under a hundred years.

The authors, including Berkeley graduate student Courtney Sprain and her supervisor Professor Paul Renne, are not the first to suggest the last flip was unusually fast, but Sprain says the evidence they have found in the Suilmona Basin, east of Rome, is very clear. “The paleomagnetic data are very well done. This is one of the best records we have so far of what happens during a reversal and how quickly these reversals can happen,” says Sprain.

Volcanoes upwind of the basin, including Sabatini and Vesuvius, erupted frequently during the reversal, and the changing magnetic field can be seen in the sediments laid down. Argon-argon isotopic dating allowed Sprain and Renne to date the ash layers far more precisely than has been done before.

“What’s incredible is that you go from reverse polarity to a field that is normal with essentially nothing in between, which means it had to have happened very quickly, probably in less than 100 years,” said Renne. “We don’t know whether the next reversal will occur as suddenly as this one did, but we also don’t know that it won’t.

We are left with a lot of unknowns. Geophysicists still don't understand why this happens, how frequently it happens, or how varied the effects are. What is clearer is that past events have caused enough thinning of the earth's magnetosphere to allow serious damage from solar and cosmic radiation. This may, in fact, have caused the extinction of the Neanderthals.

A complete write-up of this interview can be found here on Howe's website.

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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Medical Cannabis DeleTED

Here's another TED Talk you're never going to see because they're scared. The official reason: "Boca Raton is not ready for a talk on Cannabis." But we all know the real reason. TEDx Boca Raton is afraid of having their charter pulled by TED and being left in the lurch like TEDx West Hollywood. They've been reined in by the parent organization.

You'd have to be living under a rock not to know that new discoveries are being made about the healing properties of cannabis. And what is most troubling here is that this talk wasn't even about the kinds of medical marijuana that make people high. It's about non-psychoactive compounds that are currently being developed into effective medical therapies. Graham Hancock has posted the text of Michael Zapolin's proposed talk, so you can at least read it. Here's just a smidgen.

Cannabis Sativa comes in two varieties, one is the traditional marijuana plant that is smoked, vaporized, and eaten for its psychoactive effect. The other is called industrial hemp, which is used worldwide as a food ingredient and to make products like rope and clothing.

What is virtually unknown is that there are over 70 different elements in the plant including a group referred to as Cannabinoids. What makes this really interesting is that each one of us has an endocannabanoid system in our bodies that allows us to interact with these different elements. The question is … why would we have this system inside our bodies unless we were supposed to be interacting with this plant?

. . .

What wasn’t realized until recently is that the Industrial Hemp variety that is non-psychoactive, has naturally high levels of CBD, higher than are found in the typical marijuana plant. Industrial hemp characteristically has less than 1% THC and high levels of CBD. The evidence is showing that these Cannabinoids are not specifically a cure for epilepsy, colitis, diabetes, or cancer, but what they’re doing is helping boost your own immune system so you can naturally fight off whatever it is that’s ailing you.

. . .

So how can something this amazing not be available? As usual, with any conspiracy, it’s important to follow the money. At one time in United States history, hemp was the number one crop because it is so incredibly strong and cheap to grow. Some of the many uses of hemp were rope, clothing, building materials, sails in ships, and as a bio-fuel. Not to mention the Constitution of the United States is written on hemp paper. There were also some very powerful industries and individuals that played a huge role in the prohibition surrounding hemp. The Dupont family controlled the cotton industry, which saw hemp as an obvious threat. William Randolf Hearst’s newspapers were printed on paper and he owned significant timber reserves. These powerful families wrote the very legislation that outlawed hemp and funded the propaganda campaign known as “Reefer Madness” where they predicted that marijuana would make people go insane and destabilize society. Many industries since then have also been threatened by cannabis and have fought hard to keep it illegal. The pharmaceutical industry fears it because they can’t patent and own it, and the alcohol industry sees it as a natural enemy. Our own government, it is said, has kept it illegal for the reason that they don’t need everyone walking around freethinking, asking questions like “Why am I paying taxes? Why are we in so many wars?”

And as usual, with any topic that is too hot for TED, you simply follow the money. Chris Anderson has turned "ideas" into a cash cow for himself, with donations and outrageous ticket prices, while giving a lot of unpaid speakers their fifteen minutes of fame... and a healthy dose of cultish indoctrination.

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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Oprah Interviews FLDS Turncoat

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Possibly of interest, Willie Jessop, former Warren Jeffs bodyguard, current apostate, was interviewed by Oprah in a show to air tonight.

Winfrey catches up with Jessop in an episode of "Where Are They Now," to air Sunday on the OWN network

Jessop parted with Jeffs just before Jeffs' trial in 2011. He since has started cooperating with federal and Utah authorities, so much so that the United Effort Plan, the polygamous trust operated by the state of Utah, agreed to sell him land at a reduced price.

He also took possession of Jeffs' compound in Hildale and turned it into a bed and breakfast.

Jessop remains a controversial character, with many continuing to doubt his motives. But he did give us a lovely tour of Warren Jeffs's former compound before turning it into a bed and breakfast. Maybe tonight he'll explain how one repurposes a rape room and makes such a place a charming place to stay on vacation.

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Friday, March 20, 2015

Triple Whammy

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Today is the Vernal Equinox. It is also a supermoon. And a total solar eclipse. It's a triple whammy of celestial events, capping off a week of turbulent space weather and challenging transits. If you're feeling overwhelmed and enervated you're not alone. I'm hearing widespread reports of disrupted sleep cycles, intense dream activity, and erratic energy levels. I am not exempt from any of the above.

According to some skywatchers, this eclipse signals the apocalypse.

The connection between Friday’s eclipse and the end of the world comes partly from the “Blood Moon Prophecy”. That refers to the theory that a tetrad — four consecutive lunar eclipses, with six full moons between them — is a sign that the world is coming to an end.

Those that believe in the prophecy see it partly borne out by the Book of Joel, which says that “the sun will turn into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes”. That has been connected to the phenomenon of the blood moon — the phenomenon where the moon turns copper red as it passes under the Earth’s shadow.

March’s solar eclipse have been connected by some to the series of lunar ones that are seen as harbingers of the end times. This solar eclipse sits in the middle of the tetrad, and is seen as another signal that signs are appearing in the sky.

That may be overstating it, but it sure does feel dramatic. This week also saw an astrological transit that signals tension and upheaval.

Uranus square Pluto is the most significant and most challenging planetary influence in a generation. These planets came together in the mid-sixties and will oppose each other from 2045. There are seven exact Uranus Pluto squares between June 2012 and 2015. So, we are living through a major generational upheaval. The focus is on evolutionary change.

Uranus represents change, invention, revolution, and higher awareness. It’s effect is shocking, unpredictable, and erratic. Pluto represents globalization, destruction, transformation, and renewal. It’s effect is grinding, ruthless, and extreme. Both of these planets are distinctly non-personal and emotionless, yet their effect is dramatic and deeply felt. The square is the most challenging of the planetary aspects, representing tests and challenges. It’s effect is stressful and frustrating.

And, for good measure, we've also been treated to massive solar flare activity, which has disrupted radio signals and created widespread and beautiful auroras. It may also be taking a toll on our bodies and psyches.

Last week on Wednesday, March 11, 2015 the Sun blasted us with a direct hit from a powerful solar flare that wiped out a huge amount of radio communication, according to NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center. Mike Wall of Space.com writes: “The Wednesday flare registered as an X2.2 sun storm on the scale used to measure solar tempests. Scientists classify strong solar flares into three categories: C, M and X, with C being the weakest, M being mid-level and X the strongest. X flares are 10 times more powerful than M flares. X2 and X3 flares are twice and three times as potent, respectively, as X1 flares.”

And just a few hours ago NOAA reported that Earth is currently being slammed by the grandaddy of all solar storms — a monster X4-class storm — the biggest of all. “An X4 (Severe) geomagnetic storm was observed today at 9:58 am EDT. This is the response to a pair of CMEs observed leaving the Sun [two days prior] on 15 March.”

Today’s monster geomagnetic storm, and the explosion of solar flares and coronal mass ejections over the past week, have been wreaking havoc on people’s moods, sleeping patterns, and a host of other human health effects. Many people are experiencing disturbances with their circadian rhythms, waking up around 2am and having trouble getting back to sleep. “Solar storms desynchronize our circadian rhythm (biological clock). The pineal gland in our brain is affected by the electromagnetic activity, and [solar storms cause] the gland to produce excess melatonin, the brain’s built in ‘downer’ that helps us sleep. ‘The circadian regulatory system depends on repeated environmental cues to [synchronize] internal clocks,’ says psychiatrist Kelly Posner, Columbia University. ‘Magnetic fields may be one of these environmental cues.’ ”

So, to recap, the forecast is turbulent and sleep deprived with a chance of apocalypse. Recommending high levels of self-care and nurturing with a focus on hydration.

That's as much as I have to say on the matter. I'm wiped.

Comments on this entry are closed, on this blog. If you wish to comment, please find this and all newer blog entries crossposted on Celestial Reflections.

Saturday, March 07, 2015

James Ray Under the Radar

Since leaving his prison cell, James Arthur Ray has quite predictably been working on a comeback. My biggest concern about a post-incarceration Ray has never been that he would once again ascend to the dizzying heights he attained as part of The Secret. It's that he would consolidate a small, devoted following, without ever becoming big enough to invite much media scrutiny. If I had to guess, I'd say that this is precisely his strategy.

Ray is not courting media as he once did. He's avoiding all but the most sycophantic and controllable outlets. If they won't lob him softballs like the thoroughly compromised media whore Piers Morgan, he's not interested. So, when Bloomberg reporter Matt Stroud came calling, Ray declined to be interviewed on the record. 

The result is a fairly even-handed article about Ray's appearances in small rooms anywhere he can scrape together an audience. Unlike Morgan, Stroud also interviewed Ginny Brown, who lost her daughter Kirby to Ray's sweat lodge inferno. The writing is dispassionate. The facts are damning.

Ray no longer commands huge auditoriums at thousands of dollars a head. Stroud caught up with him at the Tatum Ranch Community Center teaching "around 30 name-tagged men and women who last week shelled out $495 for his daylong presentation." The event is ironically titled "Resources for Epic Living."

According to Stroud, Ray spent half the event talking about personal responsibility.

“I. Am. Responsible,” Ray begins to his captive Phoenix audience, pausing between each word for effect. “You’ve got to think to yourself, ‘What would happen if I took complete and total responsibility?’”

What indeed?!

It's kind of a neat trick, a little verbal sleight of hand, talking endlessly about taking responsibility, while avoiding taking any real responsibility for his own actions and inactions.

Ray says he initially blamed everyone but himself after his arrest. He felt betrayed—as though he were an unfair target for something he couldn’t have prevented. It was the first case in U.S. history in which “adults participated willingly in an event and then the organizer of the event was brought up on charges,” he says. He vividly describes his time in prison, which he says was the “worst time in my life," and he always returns to his idea of responsibility.

“This is the dark side of pursuing your power and your passion. Sometimes life out-and-out freaking sucks. But if you never had a bad day, what would a good day be? ... The fact is, it happened. I messed up. I missed some things."

But he's still blaming everyone but himself and painting himself as a hapless victim of circumstance, pimping himself out to any outlet willing to carry his water with self-pitying copy like this?

In 2009, after rising to the top of his industry, James was involved in a terrible accident that claimed the lives of three people he cared about deeply. The anguish of that event would have been enough… but it didn’t end there.

James subsequently lost his business that took 20 years to build, his entire life savings, his home, his reputation and many so-called friends and colleagues deserted him. Simultaneously, his Mother was diagnosed with cancer, his Father with dementia… James eventually lost his freedom.

Ray did not simply miss a few things. He ignored repeated pleas, year after year, to stop risking the health, safety, and lives, of his followers, with outrageously hot sweat lodges. He even ignored the concerns of a medical doctor who attended Spiritual Warrior in 2008 and who probably prevented deaths that year. He obstructed attempts to get timely medical care when people like Daniel Pfankuch were injured by the excessive temperatures. He didn't just "miss" obvious signs of heat related illness. He willfully denied them.

As Ginny Brown told Stroud, "The question I would ask him is, if he’s responsible, why hasn’t he paid restitution?”

Ray has not only failed to compensate the families in any way, or even return the funds the dead and injured paid for this horrible event, he has never even reached out to them. When asked, he apparently lied to Stroud, claiming that Ginny Brown has a restraining order against him. She says no.

None of this sounds like a man taking personal responsibility. If anything, he's just finding new ways to exploit the people he killed. He's repeatedly used their deaths to garner pity. He's convinced his fans and followers that he's been made stronger and wiser, for having survived a tragedy that took three lives – all without ever mentioning their names. They're just three nameless sacrifices to Ray's grand vision.

The numbers are small, but he has devotees. Their excuses for Ray's history range from the oblivious to the odious.

“I don’t think it was fair ... what he went through,” adds Kevin Steele a marketer who also attended the Phoenix presentation. “It was just an accident. People were adults, were in adult situations, having given adult consent and signed agreements. Did anyone set out to murder three people that day? Absolutely not. So it’s water under the bridge today.”

You really have to wonder about someone who considers the deaths of three people in the prime of their lives, the grieving of their families, the children left fatherless, as "water under the bridge."

So what is Ray offering these folks?

According to his own Twitter posts, he spouts meaningless platitudes about meaningfulness to small groups of bored people.

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He also does online seminars, works with private clients, and offers lots of products and fire imagery, because he's tactful.

Every so often I take stroll down his Facebook page. Most recently, I was curious to see if he'd mentioned this Bloomberg News article. He hadn't. But, aside from the near media blackout, he's the same old James.

He's still trying to make the universe his bitch.

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He still has little use for friends as anything other than a means to an end.

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He's still thinks of love as a thing to be leveraged.

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He's still a bully. The schoolroom chalkboard is a nice touch. You'd think at some point these people would tire of being insulted and condescended to by a press-dodging ex-con.

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So what does it take?

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He still sounds an awful lot like the man who intimidated exhausted, depleted followers out of leaving an "hellacious hot" sweat lodge because greatness requires sacrifice and it's all "mind over matter."

So, you're just gonna have to get in that space where hey, you know, it's just like holdin' the books or doin' anything else, I'm gonna have to transcend my physical body. And you can do this. You can do this. Regardless of whether you think you can or can't, you can. I know you can... It's just a matter of whether or not you will. And there's gonna come a time when you're gonna wanna run; you're gonna wanna bolt. I know 'cause I feel that way, too. And it's in those moments where you get to say, hey, this is my chance to live integrity. This is my chance to live honorably. And to live my values above and beyond my moods because mood says get the hell outa here.

This is why relative obscurity is Ray's friend. He can keep right on saying incendiary things, pushing past people's boundaries and the bounds of good taste, insulting the people who pay to keep him afloat, and dangling the prospect of some elusive "mastery" that has completely evaded his own grasp.

Comments on this entry are closed, on this blog. If you wish to comment, please find this and all newer blog entries crossposted on Celestial Reflections.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Tesseract: A Journey Through Art and Time

A Wrinkle in Time was considered essential reading in my home. My mother simply loved this book and, once she'd persuaded me to read it, so did I. It has all the elements: a strong female character that any adolescent girl could admire, a fantastical storyline, and travel to other planets. I've always loved stories about interstellar travel. The book revolves around something called the tesseract which allows the central characters to move through space at light-speed by folding, or wrinkling, time. I'd always assumed "tesseract" was one of those funny, made-up words. Obviously, I was incorrect and I only learned this years later when I began to work with sacred geometry and learned about the hypercube, aka, the tesseract.

A tesseract is a geometrical representation of fourth dimensional space. Aside from L'Engle's Wrinkle, it has figured into a number of science fiction and fantasy storylines. One of the more explicit examples is the short story "–And He Built a Crooked House–" by Robert Heinlein. It's a quick, entertaining read about an architect who designs a house based on an unfolded tesseract, which is to say this:

A minor earthquake causes the finished house to collapse into a singular cube form, which turns out to be an actual, working tesseract. In short, it is a very strange house, a kind of maze that the architect and buyers have a hard time escaping. Inside the cubical structure, all the rooms and floors seem to be in place but they loop back on themselves in bizarre and unpredictable ways. Some windows open out onto various geographical locations from their native California to New York.

Like Doctor Who's TARDIS, Heinlein's tesseract house is bigger on the inside than the outside. In its collapsed, re-enfolded form it makes me think of nothing so much as the TARDIS in "siege mode."As I wrote here, I've long thought the TARDIS was a tesseract. In "Flatline," the TARDIS is drained of energy by two dimensional beings. It shrinks.

And it shrinks.

And it defends itself against the impact of an oncoming train by entering siege mode -- a cube only a few inches across -- both trapping and protecting the Doctor inside.

It bears a striking resemblance to the Pandorica, the inescapable prison meant to contain the Doctor.

Needless to say, I no longer have any question that the TARDIS is a tesseract. The most explicit reference to Gallifreyan use of tesseract based technology is their hypercube messaging system. In "The Doctor's Wife," the Doctor is lured into a trap by a distress call from legendary Time Lord the Corsair.

Sadly, he learns that it is a kind of Time Lord and TARDIS graveyard, where he meets the strangely familiar Idris. She tells him, "The little boxes will make you angry."

One of the more notable features of the various tesseract, hypercube forms depicted in the Doctor Who series is that they suggest wormhole opening capability. The hypercube messages travel through time and space like the TARDIS. The Corsair's is marked with his signature symbol, the Ouroboros. The Pandorica has circumpunct imagery on all sides and the siege cube is covered with circumpunct-like markings of Gallifreyan symbols.

That Doctor Who travels through wormholes has always been fairly obvious and got only more explicit over time. What is less obvious is exactly how, but tesseract-based technology is implied.

As the original book cover demonstrates (see above), A Wrinkle in Time is also about wormhole travel enabled by the tesseract. A TV movie based on the book also makes some elements of the book clearer and more explicit. For one thing, the book explains tesseract travel as fifth dimensional, which is not my understanding. Wikipedia gives a breakdown of the three polytopes that work in five dimensions, one of which involves multiple tesseracts.

In the movie, the tesseract is depicted explicitly as a fourth dimensional construct, underscored with wormhole imagery. In one scene, Dr. Dana Murry, can be seen trying to access information on a password protected website to explain her astrophysicist husband's mysterious disappearance. A wormhole is depicted at the bottom of the screen.

The hourglass, Mt. Meru shape keeps spinning in and out of form, depicted as figure 1.

Cut to strange child prodigy Charles Wallace playing Boggle, as the camera closes in on the hourglass timer.

The movie, like the book, depicts the tesseract as a mysterious concept, barely understood by the few humans who know about it. The geometrical form is never shown, but it is implied, as in an early scene in which Mrs. Whatsit gestures toward the door and tells Dr. Murry that "there is such a thing in the real world as a tesseract and it works."

The door's window is made up of multiple square and rectangular panes of different sizes suggesting the idea of the tesseract. A door is a portal.

Not long after, Mrs. Whatsit opens a portal through space and time, pulling the children in her wake. To do this she transfigures herself into a shimmering light body, glowing like alchemical gold, iridescent like the mythical rainbow body. (See here and here.)

Young Calvin is mystified as to how they have arrived on a distant planet in another galaxy. Where was the spaceship? Mrs. Whatsit explains, "Spaceships are shiny toys for infant civilizations. The ultimate starship is here."

To the uninitiated it might seem as though she's pointing at her head to indicate the mind. But, Mrs. Whatsit is very carefully and deliberately pointing to her third eye.

So, the tesseract represents a kind of transcendence, an alchemy. Salvador Dali described his painting Crucifixion (Corpus Hypercubus) as a work of "metaphysical, transcendent cubism."

"The cross is formed by an octahedral hypercube. The number nine is identifiable and becomes especially consubstantial with the body of Christ." ~ Salvador Dali

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Monday, February 16, 2015

James Ray: Man on Fire – UPDATED

The winner of the tin ear award has to go to Dr. Sharron Stroud who writes:

James Arthur Ray will be speaking for Innerfaith Spiritual Center Worldwide February 22nd. He has lifted himself Phoenix-Like from the Ashes of his former experience and is making a difference with what he has learned. Our Way of Life teaches the Power of Forgiveness and the Evolution of the Soul. The Path of each Being is filled with Spiritual Contracts and Karmic Experiences, the point being, what will we do with them?

What "hellacious hot" furnace did the old bird rise from, you ask? Why the one that consumed the lives of Kirby Brown, Liz Neuman, and James Shore, of course.

Stroud has stiff competition from Ray himself, though. Of all his new products, which does he choose to feature in the copy for this event? An ebook called Answers to Life's 11 Most Burning Questions. Natch! Reserve your ticket today, and you too can receive a free memento of the burning ring of fire that was that deadly sweat lodge.

I really have to wonder about the psychology of a person who would market himself with such fiery images, when he has so recently "arisen" from a prison term for cooking three people to death.

Stroud can be contacted through the center's address here:

InnerFaith Spiritual Center Worldwide
P. O. Box 2102 Palm Springs, CA 92263
Phone: 760-318-3196
Fax: 760-318-3196

Or on her Facebook page, where she explains her reasoning, thusly:

We teach the Power of Forgiveness and opening the space for Spiritual Realization. As Spiritual Beings we are not here to judge each other but to Heal each other.

While I can admire the lofty goal of compassion and forgiveness, even for a convicted killer like Ray, the level of obtuseness that went into the planning and marketing of this event defies reason and decency. If Ray had ever shown real self-awareness and genuine remorse for his crimes, it would be one thing. Instead, he remains awash in self-pity and unleashes one tone-deaf emanation of vapid cruelty after another.

Ray has also been sharing his pearls of inspirational wisdom as part of the Create Your Self Global Summit. Well, he certainly has created a lot of selves.

It also looks like he has created a marketing campaign for himself as the victim of this horrible tragedy – one he created himself by ignoring one warning after another over several years about making his sweat lodges too bloody hot. I don't know who wrote this copy, Ray or Henare and Kate O'Brien, but it's ghastly.

In 2009, after rising to the top of his industry, James was involved in a terrible accident that claimed the lives of three people he cared about deeply. The anguish of that event would have been enough… but it didn’t end there.

James subsequently lost his business that took 20 years to build, his entire life savings, his home, his reputation and many so-called friends and colleagues deserted him. Simultaneously, his Mother was diagnosed with cancer, his Father with dementia… James eventually lost his freedom.

Lost his freedom... yes it was a horrible injustice that he was convicted by a jury of his peers and went to prison for taking three lives.

There are some good people in this line-up, to be sure, but it's a gallery with a fair share of rogues. I can't help noticing that Teal Bosworth Scott Swan has also put in an appearance. It's no wonder they're giving it away at bargain basement prices.

But if this little Freudian slip is any indication, they might have some awareness of just what they're putting out there.

Yeah, it is kind of funny how much his name sounds like Martin Luther King's assassin.

Hen and Kate can apparently only be contacted through this form on their website. Whether or not they can be reached is an open question.

UPDATE: I was doing a little more googling and I stumbled on the the Facebook page for Ray's upcoming appearance for the Innerfaith Spiritual Center, the one they're calling "Forgiving and Awakening with James Arthur Ray." I couldn't help noticing that they have also posted that awful copy I noted above. This answers the question about the origin of the text. It obviously comes from Ray, so that's pretty horrifying.

Let's be clear. Ray didn't lose three friends in a "terrible accident." He killed three friends through his own criminal negligence, for which he was convicted and went to jail, thus temporarily losing his freedom.

Honestly, he really is like the kid who kills his parents and then wants everyone's pity because he's an orphan.

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Monday, February 02, 2015

Graham Hancock on Ancient Magicians

The sequel to one of my favorite books of all time Fingerprints of the Gods appears to be on track for its publication later this year. As Hancock explains, this lecture is already a little out of date because his research is moving at a pace. It is, however, extremely compelling. The correlations between the ancient catastrophe myths and the archaeological evidence really coming into focus. I highly recommend laying aside some time to hear about these Magicians of the Gods.

Hancock also mentions a very strange Ayahuasca experience. I mentioned this in an earlier post but I hadn't realized that he'd collected all those Facebook posts and placed them here on his site.

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Monday, January 05, 2015

Blaming Religion

Buy at Art.com

I noticed a link on my Facebook feed this morning to a Salon article on the "6 reasons religion may do more harm than good." The first reason listed: religion promotes tribalism.

Religion divides insiders from outsiders. Rather than assuming good intentions, adherents often are taught to treat outsiders with suspicion. “Be ye not unequally yoked with unbelievers,” says the Christian Bible. “They wish that you disbelieve as they disbelieve, and then you would be equal; therefore take not to yourselves friends of them,” says the Koran (Sura 4:91).

At best, teachings like these discourage or even forbid the kinds of friendship and intermarriage that help clans and tribes become part of a larger whole. At worst, outsiders are seen as enemies of God and goodness, potential agents of Satan, lacking in morality and not to be trusted. Believers might huddle together, anticipating martyrdom. When simmering tensions erupt, societies fracture along sectarian fault lines.

No fan of tribalism, me, but religion is hardly unique in this tendency.

Case in point: In a link right under the one for that article, I noticed another Salon article, really a book excerpt, on "toxic atheism." In it, atheist Chris Stedman describes the same kind of tribal exclusivity, judgment, and othering among his compatriots.

I sat down on the couch, carefully balancing a mint julep in one hand and a plate of hors d’oeuvres I couldn’t name in the other, intensely aware of how out of place I must have seemed. Next to me on the couch were a woman in her mid-40s with a shimmering peacock brooch and a man in his late 30s wearing a denim shirt and a tan corduroy vest. I introduced myself and asked what they’d thought of the panel. They raved: “Wasn’t it wonderful how intelligent the panelists were and how wickedly they’d exposed the frauds of religion? Weren’t they right that we must all focus our energy on bringing about the demise of religious myths?”

I paused, debating whether I should say anything. My “Minnesota Nice” inclination warned me to let it be, but I had to say something. So I started small, asking them to consider that diversity of thought and background fosters an environment where discourse thrives, where ideas are exchanged, and where we learn from one another.

I was stonewalled: “We have the superior perspective; everyone else is lost,” said the woman with a flick of her hand that suggested she was swatting at an invisible mosquito.

As a former Evangelical Christian, these words were hauntingly familiar, and they represented a kind of sure-handed certainty and dismissal — a kind of fundamentalist thinking, really — that I’d hoped to leave behind with my “born again” beliefs.

Our conversation continued, and I offered up petitions that the positive contributions of religious people be considered with equal weight alongside the negative.

“I understand what you’re saying,” I said, trying to weigh my words carefully, “but how can we discount the role religious beliefs played in motivating the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. or Mahatma Gandhi?”

“Oh, I get it,” the man jumped in with a sneer. “You’re one of those atheists.”

I wasn’t sure what he meant, but it didn’t sound like a good thing. I shifted my weight from one side to another — another nervous habit — and picked at an hors d’oeuvre that I thought might be some kind of cheese.

“What do you mean, ‘one of those atheists?’”

“You’re not a real atheist. We’ve got a name for people like you. You’re a ‘faitheist.’”

Not a real atheist. I’d heard words like that before — in my youth, when I was told I couldn’t be a real Christian because I was gay. Once again I didn’t fit the prescribed model, and I was not-so-gently shown the door.

This tribal, group-think behavior can be seen in all walks of life, religious and secular. It can even be observed in web communities made up of people who've never met face to face -- people who have bonded over interests as divisive as politics and as uncontroversial as needlepoint. People form cliques and in-groups. It's what we do. The reason may be as simple and obvious as evolutionary biology -- follow a strong leader, stay with the group, and survive.

Both of the above articles describe extremist ideology and it's painfully obvious that religion has no lock on such extremity. As Stedman points out, the New Atheist movement is not so much atheist as it antitheist. Religious scholar Reza Aslan explains how the political reforms of the Enlightenment, which sought to separate the state from organized religion, were contorted into movements at least as oppressive and bloody as the worst theocratic excesses.

Yet in the century that followed the Enlightenment, a stridently militant form of atheism arose that merged the Enlightenment’s criticism of institutional religion with the strict empiricism of the scientific revolution to not only reject belief in God, but to actively oppose it. By the middle of the 19th century, this movement was given its own name – anti-theism – specifically to differentiate it from atheism.

It was around this time that anti-theism reached its peak in the writings of the German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Marx famously viewed religion as the “opium of the people” and sought to eradicate it from society. “The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is the demand for their real happiness,” Marx wrote in his celebrated critique of Hegel.

In truth, Marx’s views on religion and atheism were far more complex than these much-abused sound bites project. Nevertheless, Marx’s vision of a religion-less society was spectacularly realized with the establishment of the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China – two nations that actively promoted “state atheism” by violently suppressing religious expression and persecuting faith communities.

Atheists often respond that atheism should not be held responsible for the actions of these authoritarian regimes, and they are absolutely right. It wasn’t atheism that motivated Stalin and Mao to demolish or expropriate houses of worship, to slaughter tens of thousands of priests, nuns and monks, and to prohibit the publication and dissemination of religious material. It was anti-theism that motivated them to do so. After all, if you truly believe that religion is “one of the world’s great evils” – as bad as smallpox and worse than rape; if you believe religion is a form of child abuse; that it is “violent, irrational, intolerant, allied to racism and tribalism and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry, contemptuous of women and coercive toward children” – if you honestly believed this about religion, then what lengths would you not go through to rid society of it?

The relentless obsession of New Atheists with Islam as what Sam Harris calls "the motherlode of bad ideas," fills Karen Armstrong with very justifiable fear.

It fills me with despair, because this is the sort of talk that led to the concentration camps in Europe. This is the kind of thing people were saying about Jews in the 1930s and ’40s in Europe.

This is how I got into this, not because I’m dying to apologize, as you say, for religion, or because I’m filled with love and sympathy and kindness for all beings including Muslims — no. I’m filled with a sense of dread. We pride ourselves so much on our fairness and our toleration, and yet we’ve been guilty of great wrongs. Germany was one of the most cultivated countries in Europe; it was one of the leading players in the Enlightenment, and yet we discovered that a concentration camp can exist within the same vicinity as a university.

The secular state is historically new, but as previously discussed, that brief history is replete with bloody wars and grotesque atrocities that would make a Medieval Inquisitor blush.

"Religions seek power," writes Valerie Tarico, rounding out her list of 6 criticisms of religion. "Think corporate personhood. Religions are man-made institutions, just like for-profit corporations are."

Yes! Precisely! Religions are like a lot of other organizations. And we need to stop blaming institutions for the human nature that created them.

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