Introducing a new series of related articles describing some factual events in my life.
A few years ago I began getting tired of coming across otherwise careful and intelligent people within various parts of the public arena who did not seem to have the capacity to use the word supernatural in a sentence unless it was closely accompanied by a modifier such as spooky or superstitious or the ultimate condemnation: non-scientific. Digging into things a bit, it became very evident that the real thing bothering such people was the implicit violation of their adopted religion: materialism. I decided to do something about this (besides author the previous deliberately provocative sentence), which is one of the reasons the present website has come into being.
In other words, in lazy English, natural has become conflated with physical (material). Anything whose description smacks of becoming supernatural must instantly be suspected of being unreal, a non-reality, because all things must be completely explainable strictly in terms of their purely physical nature. If something lacks a physical nature, it is imaginary. And if some phenomenon is encountered, or heard tell of, which seems inexplicable in terms of purely physical qualities and behaviors, then it must be excluded from any serious consideration. Because materialism only allows things to exist which are composed of matter (and it’s more active co-denizen ‘energy’).
I find this line of thinking ridiculous and unfortunate and not without negative social consequence, but can assure you that many hold to it, including many scientists and other sorts of rationalists. In my view, literally no single phenomena exists, in Nature or elsewhere, which we can truthfully describe as being 100% physical or material. This is a more radical stance than what is more commonly seen at the point of controversy on this issue: namely the stance which holds that some phenomena are not fully explicable in terms of matter, the usually cited exceptions being stuff like consciousness or life or morality. Fairly often one of my rhetorical writings will subtly or directly drive home my anti-physicalist viewpoint, an essay or thinkpiece or story. But with this series, I am approaching the topic from a different angle. These are vignettes about actual biographical events in my life, all of which are connected by a common thread: they defy any purely ‘natural’ explanation. If you believe in materialism, they simply cannot have happened.
In fact, they exemplify what I would describe as spiritual experiences; these are some of the most intimate, vivid spiritual experiences in my life. They were not sought after. And although each occurrence was deeply surprising in it’s own way, there was never a point during any of them for which the slightest possibility of doubt about their authenticity entered my mind. My relationship to these experiences were exactly as it would be if I were raking leaves or watching a crow perch in a tree. In all cases the transition between usual everyday experience and these experiences were continuous and seamless. As well as the transition back. In this sense these experiences were completely normal, and natural.
Finally, in no way do I intend the relating of these events to constitute proof or a demonstration that the physicalist worldview is incorrect or that the spiritual pervades the natural. I possessed the awareness that materialism is wrong long before any of these events took place. They do not function within my psyche as validations or verifications, but rather as starting points for further, deeper investigations, something to be returned to with ever greater insight. As I see it, there are only a limited number of reactions a person can take upon reading these. For one, they could believe me, sensing that these accounts ring true. At that point they are free to ponder various explanations and significations. Or a person could simply live with the account, neither believing or disbelieving, allowing whatever inspiration which arises to come. This would be my recommended posture. Or, concluding the accounts are untrue, one must choose between my being deluded about something or deliberately falsifying what I contend is true. The possible roots of the delusion are several: an unstable linkage between my imagination and reason, a lack of careful discernment concerning perceptions, and so on. I’d offer my other writings in general as visible on this and another website as arguments in favor of my judgement in this area.
But I contend them true.
Episode 1 : The Bouquet
— a collaborative gift of alternative remedies leads to an inexplicable physical and psychical result
Episode 2 : A Dream For Who
— a singular dream occurs which can only make sense to or be explained by an acquaintance of the dreamer
Episode 3A : Cold Turkey Zazen
— upon a solo retreat a seeker experiences a vivid consciousness shift into a truer reality after a night of meditation upon John’s Gospel
Episode 3B : Across The Lake
— a clear, unplanned and unexpected out-of-body sojourn in broad daylight, cut short by a speck of fear
Episode 4 : Final Visitation
— an unasked for and palpable meeting with a deceased relative
Episode 5 : Hostile Takeover Bid
— an encounter with an entity desirous of subjugating (possessing) one’s soul
Once I’ve gotten round to publishing all six of these episodes, I will probably conclude the series with a summary essay. I will try to place my experiences within the context of general experience and offer some (partly) speculative thinking about how and why such events happen at the present cultural moment.
— P.S. —
1) These episodes are arranged mostly in chronological order (episode 2 happened a few years after episodes 3A/3B) as how they occurred in my life. The events took place during a twenty year span between the ages of 39 and 59.
2) Feel free to pose any questions or ideas which come to you upon reading any of these accounts. If I consider the question to be respectfully offered, I will think about it and respond.
3) Many people associate the proclivity for supernatural experiences with a liberal amount of recreational drug use, hallucinogens, and so on. And often this association is rightfully posited. I am personally against such things and in fact have experienced a natural antipathy towards them for as long as I can recall, going back into earliest childhood, even though I came of age during the golden renaissance of hallucinogenic agents, the 1960s. The simplest way to say it is that I have no interest in these things. You might think of figures like Terrence McKenna who long advocated for the mind-expanding virtues of certain substances as a useful means of getting more deeply acquainted with spiritual realities. I disagree with this and have always felt that the most trustworthy pathway instead leaves oneself firmly in command with utmost mental and emotional clarity. For the sake of transparency, there have been three instances of using such substances during my life. All of these events occurred more than 40 years ago and all were prompted by friends in various social situations. (I will likely write about one or more of these times at some point.) The first was with mescaline, derived from peyote, the second was with marijuana baked into grilled-cheese sandwiches, and the last was with nutmeg powder made into an undrinkably muddy tea. All of these experimentations of mine produced hallucinations or altered subjective experiences. None of the psychological happenings which accompanied any of these events impressed me as particularly profound or poignant. To put it plainly, they lacked the reality, viscerality, and clarity of the experiences I write about here, which are directly spiritual in nature.
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