Saturday, September 18, 2010

Channeling & reincarnation

Coming out of a blanketing Catholic upbringing and intellectual life, I habitually try to reconcile new information about spiritual reality with my Catholic background. It’s what I do now, but I haven’t always been so open.
Catholicism harbors biases against channeling and against reincarnation, although neither conflicts with Christian doctrine and reincarnation was accepted by the early Church. I still quake a little at openly admitting them into my belief system. But the common sense in what I’m reading now! The psychological insights! They speak to my soul.

Many, many years ago I read about Edgar Cayce and, while having no reason to doubt the message, I set it aside because it was too different from my cultural surroundings—secular writings, church language, and so on.
Now I’m reading Many Mansions: The Edgar Cayce Story on Reincarnation. Christians think of channeling as flaky, bogus, even dangerous to faith. It belongs to the world of the occult, which smells bad to people. I admit I had the same feelings, but a friend of mine gave me the book, evidently thinking I was ready to open up, and she was right.

For years, Cayce induced in himself a “sleep” state during which he gave medical advice to hundreds of persons. What he said in that state shocked himself and the medical community, but it all proved right, that is, the details that could be verified. The voice of this uneducated man correctly analyzed all manner of physical ailments and prescribed sophisticated treatments including supplements, drugs, surgery, various kinds of therapy, and auto suggestion. Records of the “readings” (taken in shorthand), letters, affidavits from physicians, and so on are kept on file.
When the readings also began to mention past lives, no one resisted more vigorously than Cayce himself. An uneducated American Christian in the first part of the twentieth century, he had never asked philosophical questions or speculated about religions foreign to his own. Was his clairvoyance a work of the devil? Wasn’t it sacrilegious or superstitious?
His own voice explained that reincarnation does not mean coming back as an animal or any of the other distasteful ideas associated with the term. Reincarnation means evolution. It means that our spiritual selves evolve or expand in consciousness through successive lifetimes.

It’s significant that the Cayce and Seth books (scroll down to previous posts) came to me almost simultaneously—a bit of synchronicity I take as approval by Spirit. In both books a channeled voice delivers the information. Channeling is a kind of revelation. I now consider the various revelatory voices in the Bible—attributed to God or an angel—as kinds of channeling.

Reincarnation assumes that we continue learning how to live well after death, because it’s not over when we pass out of this life—spiritual growth continues. I no longer doubt that we live successive lives. For me, reincarnation accords with science and answers Christianity's unsolvable questions. The Christian heaven, hell, and purgatory try to provide a framework for moral justice but they’re interpreted literally and thus vulnerable to ridicule in the light of modern science.

Years ago, when I was telling my priest brother about the possibility of reincarnation, he brought up the Christian doctrine of the resurrection, assuming that reincarnation and resurrection are mutually exclusive ideas. One part of the conversation went like this. I said,
Reincarnation could be the resurrection.
What did you say?
Maybe reincarnation is the resurrection.
What?
Reincarnation IS the resurrection.
We were quiet after I said it the third time. He’d understood my words the first two times and had thought he couldn’t have. I assumed now he was considering how that could be. Of course, aware that all doctrinal language is symbolic, I meant that we could all rise again to another life—not in heaven, hell, or purgatory—but to another life here.

Who among us does not need to expand in wisdom, knowledge and compassion? Edgar Cayce’s voice responding to specific requests for counsel—and the files reveal their circumstances—has a powerful effect; it motivates me on my personal journey. Samples:
The entity has the inclination to become, when aggravated, rather severe in its criticisms of others. This should be tempered; for what one says of another will usually become one’s own state also, in one form or another.
The better application of spiritual ideals in relationship to others will bring a great difference in the life experience of this entity.

We find that the body will be materially improved as adjustments are made in the inner self.
Each soul who sees the present hardships of this entity should realize that indeed each soul meets itself.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Consciousness in animals

(August 21)
Zack tells a story that grabbed me:
Hello Jeanette,
Highland cattle evolved naturally in the rugged highlands of Scotland, with minimal interference from humans affecting the breed. I grew up with Holstein and Hereford cattle and think the Highland cattle are more intelligent and more intuitive. They seem to sense things.

I've allowed my Highland cattle to live in a herd, not separating the calves from their mothers and allowing the mothers to wean them in their natural cycle. I don't castrate the young males, and I cull the young bulls, selling them as grass-fed beef.

Cattle are a "herd" species. There's an alpha female who watches over the herd.
I've observed interesting behavior, such as a bull licking and grooming his young calves (1 to 4 months); the distress sounds of a calf when it feels threatened and all the cows rush to its rescue; the courtship (an hour or so) between a bull and cow at breeding time; how young calves frolic and play together; how bulls, (when they're not competing for dominance when a cow is in heat) will groom each other; how the animals retain some family ties—offspring of one cow will stay together when eating at a haypile. I mention these things as evidence that these animals bond as a herd.

I have my animals killed on my farm, to avoid the trauma to the animal of having him transported to a slaughter house. My neighbor is a licensed meat processor, and has his meat shop a couple hundred feet from my pasture property line. He can come on my farm, kill the animal and transport it to his shop where he processes it.

The last time this happened, the young bull was shot and immediately bled by having his throat cut. The other cattle ran away. After a skid-loader removed the carcass, the cattle returned to the kill site and formed a circle around the area where his blood soaked the ground. Some had their heads down, some raised their heads. They made noises I had never heard them make before, noises full of sorrow. A friend who was helping me fix fences said it was "freaky.”

I can't help but believe that these animals had bonded with each other and, because of this bond, mourned the death of one of their members.
Who can doubt it? Later he told me another story. He had two dogs who were great buddies together. One died and his living buddy grieved in obvious ways. He wanted to sleep in the house instead of his usual place outside. During the night—every hour—he laid his head on Zack’s bed and mournfully whimpered and whined until Zack woke up and comforted him.

Seeing emotional and, yes, spiritual life in animals expands ME spiritually. I see it as evidence that animals have consciousness much greater than religious teaching accorded them decades ago. We were told that humans (books said “man”) were the only ones who can laugh, play, communicate, and feel. It’s nonsense, of course.

The spiritual master in Seth Speaks tells us that rocks and stones and mountains and earth form an interlocking psychic web of minute consciousnesses that we cannot perceive. Spiritual reality—consciousness—underlies and motivates and impels all reality. It actually creates all reality. The Creator is Consciousness.

Going off on a side-road, the impulse that led people to imagine animals as utterly different and inferior also drives anti-Muslim rhetoric now dominating American media. Deplorably, we try to feel good about ourselves by feeling superior to THE OTHER and we find ways to suspect, fear, and hate others.

September 8.
Yesterday MPR’s Midmorning presented a fascinating study of language and intelligence in bonobos, the apes with societies most like humans, even including political conflicts. Kerri Miller interviewed the author of the novel, The Ape House, along with a primatologist who works with bonobos at Great Ape Trust, an Iowa research center. There scientists are studying how apes acquire and understand language.

The two guests said the ape named Kanzi stands out—“He’s a rock star and he knows it.” He’s the first of his species to acquire language as children do, by being exposed to it. He’s also the first to demonstrate competence in understanding spoken English and in producing novel sentences that go far beyond human prompts for specific answers. Kanzi even seems capable of deception or trickery

I was stirred by the information on Kanzi’s self-awareness. He wants people to recognize his stardom; he swaggers; he has a big ego; and he knows when he’s being filmed or photographed. Working with a photographer for Time magazine, he posed as directed.

Mid-morning, as MPR fans know, invites listeners to ask questions. I asked them to comment on my observation that this enters the field of spirituality if we understand spiritual reality to be consciousness or mind or ideas—thinking. I even suggested we could use the word “soul” for apes, although it would offend some Christian fundamentalists. Both scientist and author agreed with everything I’d said and elaborated on it.

Their whole captivating conversation is HERE. It provides commentary on and expansion of Zack’s amazing story about his grieving Highland cattle, which also provokes re-examination of our former assumptions. Responding to that post, my writer friend Marilyn emailed:
When my friend went through her divorce, her husband left her unexpectedly one day. My friend was distraught, cried daily, felt alone and incomplete. Her husband took along one of the family dogs. The other dog, the older one, stayed with my friend. Two days after he left, my friend's dog began to have seizures. This continued for about a month.

The vet didn't find anything wrong with the dog but suggested putting her down as she was quite old. Then my friend said that, as she healed, the dog stopped having seizures. The dog, she feels, went through the separation and divorce with her. She, too, missed the husband—and the other dog. They had been companions for five years. The "old" dog lived another 18 months. Animals do have feelings and personalities.
It seems clear the grieving dog was responding to her master's grief as much as missing her companion. This suggests compassion and a high degree of consciousness.

NOTA BENE: I do not say animals HAVE souls, although I have used that phrase in emails. We humans don’t have souls; they’re not separate baggage. Our souls are who we are, our essential identity. All outer reality expresses inner reality. Consciousness, the spiritual reality behind/underneath physical reality, directs everything. Hmm. I myself am still absorbing this.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Mind or matter?

All that is comes from the mind;
it is based on the mind,
it is fashioned by the mind. The Pali Canon c. 500-250 B.C.

Contrary to the Pali Canon, Tule wrote in a comment to Reign of God,
We have no verifiable experience of consciousness apart from that arising from a physical brain.
He and other atheists (some, not all) think that physical stuff—atoms, cells, molecules—create thoughts.
But Sondra Lewis quotes the Pali Canon and writes,
Physical reality is an effect of consciousness, not the cause of consciousness. Consciousness comes first. We sometimes tend to get things upside down, thinking that matter came first and somehow, out of dead, inert matter, consciousness suddenly burst onto the scene.
Here we have the “Mind versus Matter” debate at its most basic level. On a less basic level, the question in this debate only asks whether mind or matter has the bigger impact on events. But the above sides disagree on this basic question: What is the source of everything?

How we answer can make a huge difference in our lives. Check out a past blogpost of mine, Divinity in all, with a message that harmonizes with Sondra and the Canon. Sondra writes:
At its most basic, All-That-Is/ God, is consciousness. Everything that exists, seen and unseen, is an extension of that consciousness. We are not separate from All-That-Is/God. We are an extension of God. We are a part of that Source in the same way that a painting is part of the artist, or a novel is an extension of its author. . . .

We are used to thinking of ourselves in very limited terms, in comparison to who we actually are and what we are capable of. In order to begin to understand the [Seth] material you really have to stretch your concepts of how life and the universe work.
Sondra recommends the book Seth Speaks by Jane Roberts. I’m reading it and highlighting nearly every page. If you’re an atheist who thinks your thoughts are made by physical matter, here is an excerpt to chew on:
The printed line does not contain information. It transmits information. Where is the information that is being transmitted then, if it is not upon the page? . . .
the symbols—the letters—are not the reality.
The reality is spiritual; consciousness lies behind every object; thought is prior to physical reality. And here is the reason, says Seth, that what we believe makes a huge difference in our lives:
When you . . . do not realize that your thoughts and feelings form physical reality, then you feel powerless to change it.
As I indicated a few posts down, I have made huge positive changes in my life by working with the realization that my thoughts produce practical effects. To my emails about all this, Phil Rogosheske responded,
I really enjoy reading this material. I need to ponder this idea that all is consciousness and consciousness is primary. It takes a while to redirect your thinking.
For enlightened Christians who have gone beyond literal belief in doctrine, who regard spiritual advance as the prime purpose of life, and who understand psychology, the Seth material carries us forward. I was prepared for it with the Jungian understandings of ego, conscious, and unconscious. It indirectly affirms religion and goes beyond it to a deeper understanding of spiritual life.