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Books Explore Intuition and Spirituality

Three Essays by Henry Reed


The Parapsychological God

The Edgar Cayce material indicates that God created souls for the purpose of companionship. When someone asked Cayce what was the greatest psychic realization, he answered that it was to know that God still talks directly to people. Perhaps the key to companionship with God is through psychic perception! It would be the ultimate spiritual intuition.

The greatest commandments are to love God and to love one's neighbor as oneself. We can follow these laws out of a sense of duty to moral obligation. We can also follow them as a natural expression of a direct perception of our oneness with creation. Yet since oneness is not evident to the physical senses, such love is dependent upon psychic perception.

Our sixth sense may indeed provide the experiential foundation for spirituality, a spirituality based upon a transformed experience of the world rather than founded upon a set of inherited laws. That psychic ability might be the basis of a new approach to spirituality is the essential idea in a thought provoking new book, Frontiers of the Soul: Exploring Psychic Evolution. (Quest Books). The author, Michael Grosso, is a philosopher at Jersey City State College. Professor Grosso has researched and written extensively on the connection between spirituality and parapsychology. As an example of the type of novel integration he pursues between these domains, his book The Final Choice explored the connection between UFO sightings and sightings of the Holy Mother. There he hypothesized that both were symptoms of a planetary near death experience, a transpersonal call for change in our worldview. His current book extends his thinking to explore the role of the psychic imagination in evolving the soul and cosmos into unknown frontiers.

He begins with an historical account of how the gods, or God, raged war against the stability of our religious conceptions by infiltrating our imagination with new images and impulses. Throughout this history, psychic ability has been a major protagonist in the evolution of religious thought. The spiritual imagination is energized by psychic sensibility, a sensibility that is often persecuted by those who would maintain the status quo.

The original spiritual experience of the shaman becomes codified by the priests who seek to shape the minds of the followers rather than help them have similar experiences. The mystic doesn't seek followers but companions. Jesus and Edgar Cayce indicated that we could so the same as they. Priests nevertheless create rulebooks for how to be like the mystic, photographing for analysis a momentary shadow of the saint while the saint's spirit ventures onward. Followers quote scripture rather than living the love the scripture describes, they refer to Jungian principles rather than meditate upon their dreams, or revere the Edgar Cayce readings as their highest source of guidance rather than their own higher selves. God challenges the status quo through the psychic imagination.

Edgar Cayce's psychic perspective on the relationship between God and humans is that our destiny is to become co-creators and companions with God. Carl Jung's vision of our destiny, based upon his clinical and scholarly research, is that the purpose of human consciousness is to transform God. Both these visions of our spiritual destiny place God and humanity into a relationship.

Grosso explores this relationship by examining people whose exploration of its outer limits point toward the frontier of the soul's evolution.

Jesus, for example, was a master psychic, with a life and ministry abundant in miracles, or paranormal events. Grosso uses these facts to explain the rapid spread of Christianity in spite of Jewish opposition and Roman ridicule. He analyses Jesus's suggestions to his disciples in terms of their psi-conducive quality and presents evidence that Jesus was training people in developing psychic abilities. Although he is aware that many Christians will find the cozy connection with the psychic uncomfortable, Christianity is the most irrational religions of all, asking us to suspend disbelief in many of our assumptions about the world. Viewing these facts from a psychic point of view, however, makes them seem quite self-evident.

He analyses the lives of two more recent holy men, Padre Pio, an Italian monk (1887-1968) and Sai Baba (1926--) a Hindu guru in India. Both evidenced miraculous, stunning psychic abilities. Their feats have created as much consternation as awe. They arouse debate as well as love. Their lives stretch our imagination.

The path of this evolution is paved with the imagination. Grosso explores the idea that one purpose of psychic ability is to enable us to "inhabit the imaginal," thus allowing us to find as real that plane of existence.

One application of his thinking on the imagination is that of guardian angels. The doctrine of angels speaks of a divine connection, an inner inlet to the highest, and it would seem to acknowledge a psychic function, listening to the still small voice. Grosso proposes that we imaginally co-create the angels--something "in here" unites with something "out there" to create a union that has paranormal implications in our lives. He suggests that "angels are true to the extent that we make them true." When we give such beings a psychic life we make a link to our higher, psychic selves, and the angel image makes it easier to surrender to that higher power.

He applies the reality of the psychic imagination to the survival of death. In the Cayce readings, for example, we learn that we get a taste of the afterlife in our dreams because the subconscious mind becomes the conscious mind after death. Grosso suggests that the Eleusian mysteries of the ancient Greeks were transformative rituals lifting the veil on the role of the imagination in transcending death. He analyses the bodily transformations that Padre Pio experienced in terms of our evolving into a spiritual body of light, expressing the creator's imaginal power in its purest human form. Transcending death, if you can imagine that, is on the horizon of our evolution.

The frontier of the soul, then, is literally our imagination. Its infinite reach, according to Cayce, has no peer save one--our companionable Creator.



Jesus and UFOs:
Riders of the New Wave of Imagination

They can appear to us coming out of the sky, at the foot of the bed, or even inside our heads. They may seem subjective as a dream yet leave a physical trace of their visit. They may feel real to the touch yet abruptly dissolve through a wall. However they appear our lives are never the same. As momentous the encounter may be we hesitate to mention it to anyone less our credibility be questioned.

Jesus and UFOs have a lot in common. Their appearances in people's lives actually share similar traits with apparitions of Mary, and angels as well as demons. All such visions are occurring more frequently than before. There is a foreboding feeling that in this "age between gods," there is a hole in the ozone layer of the psyche leaving us vulnerable to alien thoughts and images which, like awesome asteroids from the far flung corners of mindspace, threaten to collide with our worldview.

There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come. What if the idea is something that spells the end of the world as we've known it and the end of the future as we've imagined it? One definition of the millenium may be that it is the time in the crack between the worlds when all that is imaginable becomes real and all that was real becomes imaginary. Maybe "New Age" means the world is undergoing a visionary siege accompanying a near-death experience.

It is perhaps no coincidence then that it is Raymond Moody, author Life after Life, who writes the introduction to the new book by Gregory Scott Sparrow, Witness to his return: Personal encounters with Christ (A.R.E. press). Sparrow, who's previous work, Lucid Dreaming: Dawning of the Clear Light, is generally regarded as a contemporary classic, now brings us accounts of people who have had personal experiences of Jesus, face to face meetings with the Messiah returned. These stories of encounters with special beings of light who inspire awe, who perform physical healings, and who transform lives carries the same sort of potential impact as Dr. Moody's groundbreaking book about near-death experiences.

Sparrow's book should stimulate excitement and debate on many fronts. Think of Sophy Burham's surprising bestseller, A Book of Angels (Ballantine). It spawned an immediate sequel, Angel Letters, because there were so many more people who had had these encounters than the author had originally realized. Sparrow's book is so convincing that a sequel feels inevitable.

Was the encounter real or was the person just imagining it? This question may be the hallmark of the mentality of the rational age. By giving the first name, "Just" to imagination, the rational mind clearly puts the experience in its place, a spot inferior to "reality."

One of the paradoxes of these apparitions, however, is that they are challenging our views about the imagination and blurring the distinction between subjecive and objective, inner and outer. The rational age seems threatened with extinction. Nowhere is this threat more clear than in UFO sightings and abductions.

A new book, Angels and Aliens: UFOs and the Mythic Imagination is probably the most profound book on the UFO controversy yet to appear. That a respected academic press such as Addison Wesley published the book makes you take notice. The author, Keith Thompson, an independent scholar who, by first interviewing Robert Bly in New Age Journal, is credited with unleashing the Men's movement. Here Thompson chronicles the unfolding of the UFO story from flying saucer sightings in 1947 to the millenial mythologizing they've stimulated today. Rather than deciding whether UFOs are nuts-and-bolts flying machines or subjective, symbolic experiences, he allows that they are both and then some. Denizens of the mythic imagination, they are messengers from a deeper reality, he theorizes, who have come to help us let go of our old world and prepare for the new. Like Sparrow who writes that we tend to "create our identity by excluding aspects of ourselves rather than by embracing our wholeness," Thompson suggests that UFOs force us to grant reality status to the imagination, thus admiting into our world regions we've long excluded.

That it is the imagination indeed that is both the source and the target of what we call the "New Age," or millenium, is a subject treated with even broader historical perspective in another recent book, Reimagination of the World: A critique of the New Age, Science and Popular culture (Bear and Company). A record of a public dialogue between two great metaphysical philosophers, David Spangler & William Irwin Thompson, it is an intellectual feast that provides a good context for digesting Sparrow's and Thompson's reports. The authors are both mystics who have "retired" from the "New Age." Spangler, once of Findhorn, and Irwin Thompson, once of Lindesfarne, identify the imagination as the creative spiritual force moving us into a completely new future. They condemn the "New Age," however, as vulgarized by the media serving our desire to "perpetuate the familiar in the guise of the new." Specific images of the New Age must die, THEY ARGUE, for the New Age to live. Worship no graven image. It's too easy to get stuck on a particular "image" of the future, they contend, rather than the force of imagination itself.

The new wave of the imagination sweeps upon our shores many travelers. What type of passport will help us discern the dark invaders from the bright avatars? The encounters Sparrow describes all have constructive side-effects--lives are changed for the better. There is no such consistent positive impact in the encounters Keith Thompson surveys, even when he places them in the politically correct context of shamanic initiations. This distinction readily suggests the ideal of "fruits of the spirit." God is love, Jesus is comforter. Yet if we assume we can always recognize the fruits, how do we know we might not exclude a new form of fruit never before encountered? Prepare to imagine the unimaginable.



Higher Intelligence Personified

 With the tongues of men and angels: A study of channeling. By Arthur Hastings. Published by Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1991. ISBN 0-03-047164-8.

When he proclaimed, "the medium is the message," it's doubtful that Marshall McLuhan had ever heard of channeling. His rule nevertheless applies. When television channels channel channelers channeling, you may have noticed, it's not the channelled communication itself they capitalize. Who can recall a television show highlighting the implications of the channeled message? Instead the focus is on whether it's really a spirit speaking, part of the channeler's subconscious personality, or maybe just a hoax. The medium's still the message.

When Jon Klimo published in 1987 his book, Channeling: Investigations on receiving information from paranormal sources, it too focused not on the message but on the medium. The history, the methods and the theories of channeling were its subject. Channeled material itself was given only a single chapter. When introducing that book, Charles Tart wrote that the question, "Who am I?" is one of the most important we can ask and that some of the most significant answers come from channelled communications. Yet Klimo's book didn't quite reflect that significance.

Edgar Cayce emphasized the comparative study of channeled guidance. Until now, however, there's been no book that satisfies that order. Arthur Hastings's study of channeling, however, is a sumptuous feast. Besides containing the required chapters on the history and parapsychology of channeling, it devotes the majority of its pages examining the contents of significant works of channeled material.

The author is Dean of the Faculty at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Menlo Park, California. His academic background is in communications and he views channeling as a form of communication. He defines it as follows:

"Channeling refers to a process in which a person transmits information or artistic expression that he or she receives mentally or physically and which appears to come from a personality source outside the conscious mind. The message is directed toward an audience and is purposeful."

What is the purpose of channeling? Hastings proposes that civilization has received much of value from channeling. He gives us a guided historical tour of the channeled material that has significantly contributed to the spiritual traditions of the world. Perhaps the earliest source of channeled materials are the Vedas, the oldest scriptures in Hinduism. More recently, Mormonism owes its inception to channeling. Hastings devotes separate chapters to metaphysical systems such as Alice Bailey and Theosophy, Jane Roberts and the Seth material, and Helen Schucman and A Course in Miracles.

Never before had I read accounts of these systems of thought by someone not writing from within that system. Until reading his book I had never encountered any criticisms, for example, of A Course in Miracles. Hastings presents several in an otherwise sympathetic treatment. I found particularly interesting the criticism that the Course seems to ignore the body, that it is strictly a "cognitive" spirituality.

Throughout he also draws some interesting parallels between these systems of thought, world religions and mythologies. He clearly shows that the sources of channeling, as extra-terrestrial as they sometimes claim to be, are quite in keeping with the collective unconscious of humanity.

It is clear that Hastings sought readings from many contemporary channelers in preparing this book. His informal observations give the book a personable grounding. He can be down to earth without being frustratingly earthbound. He can enjoy having his head in the clouds, but can tell the difference between a nitrous oxide stupor and a whiff of heaven. One of the definite values of this book is the author's presence.

What about the presence of spirits? Hastings concurs in the conclusion reached by parapsychologists almost one hundred years ago: channeling is not a good courtroom to decide upon the existence of disembodied spirits. Edgar Cayce indicated, for example, that one can't discriminate between telepathic contact with the continuing effects of a person's existence and the continuing activity of that person's spirit. If not spirits, then who's there? Hastings concludes that the entities who speak are transpersonal factors within the human mind, personifications of higher intelligence.

I found myself dissatisfied. At the outset Hastings restricts his study to channeling where a separate being is active. He specifically excludes exalted states of inspired awareness (what Klimo called "open channeling"). Yet he has but few words on why channeling so often takes the form of messages from a separate being.

In this regard, Edgar Cayce's channeling career presents an interesting enigma: He consistently advised us to turn to the highest within ourselves. He himself turned down the opportunity to channel an outside entity. Yet when describing in a public lecture what happened to him during his psychic trance state, he said he went to a hall of records where an "old man" handed him a book of information for the person requesting the reading. Who was this old man? Cayce's higher self?

I can accept that the higher self is but a personification. But I wonder why even Cayce manifests the personification process. Perhaps the answer relates to why God created souls. In Cayce's myth of creation it was for the purpose of companionship. Perhaps channelers give personified form to their higher intelligence in order to encourage a companionable relationship with our higher intelligence.

Although Hastings attempts no answer to this intriguing puzzle, he ends his book with an important conclusion:

"A consistent theme in the value of these higher qualities: justice, wisdom, righteousness, humility, compassion, service, knowledge, self-respect, understanding and love. People and civilizations are judged by such qualities. Whether the tongues of channeling are from the minds of men and women or from the angels, their messages often remind us of those values. We should take these messages seriously, so that the knowledge that comes to us from channeling, or any source, will be used in wisdom and love for the benefit of people and the world."

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