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Medium 9780253205667

Thirteen: Life Everlasting

Felicitas D. Goodman Indiana University Press ePub

In the first of the postures treated in Chapter 12, there was a clear indication that life’s story did not end after the vestments of the body were surrendered at the entrance to the Realm of the Dead in the lower world. After arriving there, Bernie received a new form, that of the bear, full of power and joy. This metamorphosis is rather restricted, however. There is another posture, which allows this theme to be played out much more fully. For reasons to be explained further on, we have come to call it the Feathered Serpent posture. It is one of the few postures the origin of which can actually be traced back reliably to our ancient hunter roots.

Plate 58

According to traditions still encountered among hunter-gatherers and some horticulturalists to this day, it was the task of shamans to descend into a cave, the womb of the earth. There they created likenesses of the animals surrounding them, and by no means only of those that provided food. They then lifted the soul essences from the drawings and took them up into the world of the sun, thereby helping the Earth Mother in the task of increase, of propagation.

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Medium 9781608680474

Part 8: Mixed and Modern Forms

Patricia Monaghan New World Library ePub

So far in this book, we have explored meditation traditions based in various world religions. But meditation does not have to be a religious, or even spiritual, endeavor. Some people seek to learn meditation in order to become more emotionally resilient, to combat chronic pain or sleeplessness, or to enhance their creative lives. Although spiritual paths can be rewarding, some potential meditators are secular or atheistic, so religiously based meditations hold no attraction for them. Other individuals may be comfortably situated in a religious tradition but want to explore outside it. People of any religion or none can use the techniques in this section. Some derive from more than one ancient spiritual tradition, so they are labeled as mixed; others are modern forms with no specific religious history.

Meditation does not have to be based in religion, but even the practices without a specific spiritual history have a connection to some philosophical stance. In the modern world, that philosophy might be science, with its emphasis on empirical data and provable outcomes. In recent years, scientists have begun to study the health effects of meditation, including its impact on mental health. Among the benefits they have found are lowered blood pressure, an easing of chronic pain, the relief of insomnia, and a general sense of well-being. At least some of these benefits will accrue to those who practice calming techniques, even without a spiritual intent. In addition to this section, parts 9 and 10 also explore nonreligious forms of meditation.

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Medium 9780971435223

The Whole Truth

Jed McKenna Wisefool Press PDF

...through poetry and philosophy and religion, till we come to a hard bottom and rocks in place, which we can call reality, and say, This is, and no mistake; and then begin….

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Medium 9780253204677

Chapter 1: Possession’s Many Faces

Felicitas D. Goodman Indiana University Press ePub

In order to understand possession, we need first of all to come to terms with the concept of the soul. The behavioral sciences, such as psychology or anthropology, consider human beings to be biopsychological systems. According to this view, all experience results from the interaction of the various parts within this integrated unit. Obviously, there is no room for the soul in a theory of this sort. As Virchow, a famous German surgeon of the nineteenth century, used to say, “I never found a soul with my scalpel.” We may ask, of course, whether the scalpel is the most useful tool for finding the soul. Ancient sages as well as religious specialists active in societies today the world over, including our own, certainly never used it for that purpose. They simply took the existence of the soul for granted, building their entire belief system on the conviction that indeed humans do have at least one or possibly even several souls.

The two opinions are clearly at loggerheads with each other, and although as Westerners, we are inclined to opt against the soul theory, we should at least be fair and ask the following question: If you disagree with the idea that humans are integrated systems, a heap of cells having unimaginably complex interconnections as well as psychological dimensions, but nothing else, then what are you going to propose as a countertheory? The answer we will get from those cleaving to the “soul hypothesis” is that in their view, humans consist of a shell, something like a box, namely, the body, and an ephemeral substance or essence residing within, usually termed the soul. All the various religious faiths and systems we are going to become acquainted with in these pages take the soul theory for granted, as a given, as their unshakable foundation.

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Medium 9780980184822

The Uncherished Sword

Jed McKenna Wisefool Press PDF
Medium 9780980184839

Curtis on the Rocks

Jed McKenna Wisefool Press PDF
One who has seen his true nature no longer regards life as being full of menace and misery as most people do. His previously mistaken sense of personal volition and responsibility has disappeared in such freedom and joy that life is now just an amusing spectacle like a game or a dream, in which he has no real part.

Ramesh Balsekar.................... See All Chapters
Medium 9780971435223

This Sentence is False

Jed McKenna Wisefool Press PDF

It’s mid-afternoon. We’re on the pooldeck at my work table. Maya is napping belly-up in one of the poolside loungers. Maggie spends afternoons with friends at the public pool or in other activities. I’ve already had a heck of a day and was just getting settled back into my comfort zone when Lisa sauntered along and seated herself with such a strained casualness that the effort of not wincing makes me wince. I read the same sentence five times before realizing there’s no point. I maintain my working demeanor for a few more minutes while I enjoy her discomfort. She holds it in for a minute longer than I would have guessed she could........

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Medium 9780980184822

The Willing Suspension of Disbelief

Jed McKenna Wisefool Press PDF

SPIRITUAL ENLIGHTENMENT: THE DAMNEDEST THINGbath accessed from my bedroom. At first she included me in the planning but she quickly became exasperated with my meddling desire for simple functionality. She already had control of the household accounts so she just excluded me from the process and did what she wanted.So what I ended up with was one of those bathrooms like you see in design magazines. She did it in an elegant cherry wood and black granite style that doesn’t excessively violate the overall feel of the house. The design is very Japanese in its simplicity and I certainly couldn’t have wished for anything better. I whined about the cost of it at one point and Sonaya just looked at me like I was soft in the head.She knows that money is just something that flows; that it comes and it goes and that if you don’t disrupt the flow there’s always plenty. It’s me who sometimes forgets.While showering, my mind revisits the afternoon on the grass with Jolene. I had used a variation on Plato’s cave analogy to illuminate the differences between enlightenment and mysticism and she seemed to get it pretty well. If you haven’t noticed, I’m big on analogies. In fact, here’s an analogy about why I like analogies: If you’re trying to explain fire to someone who’s never seen it or felt it, then you’re pretty much stuck with comparing it to things they’re already familiar with. Of course, it’s no substitute for the direct experience of fire; it’s just the best you can do under the circumstances. It serves the additional purpose that when they come across real fire, they’ll know what they’re looking at.

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Medium 9780253000958

A Road into Chaos and Old Night

Scott Russell Sanders Indiana University Press ePub

When I first read a handful of his essays in college, I didn’t much care for Ralph Waldo Emerson. He seemed too high-flown, too cocksure, too earnest. I couldn’t imagine he had ever sweated or doubted. His sentences rang with a magisterial certainty that I could never muster. In the library, his portrait gazed from the wall with a superior air; his name was carved in stone alongside the names of other literary immortals. More like an angel than a man, he seemed to float above the messy Earth where I labored in confusion. He rarely told stories, rarely framed arguments, rarely focused on any creature or place, but instead he piled one oracular statement atop another like a heap of jewels, each one hard and polished and cold.

While resisting Emerson, I fell under the spell of another citizen of Concord, Henry David Thoreau, who was agreeably cranky and earthy. Here was a man who rode rivers, climbed mountains, ambled through forests, and told of his journeys in wide-awake narratives, as I aspired to do. He built a cabin with his own hands, hoed beans, baked bread, and chopped wood. Thoreau kept his feet on the ground, his eyes and ears alert to the homely world—ants fighting on a stump, mud thawing on a railroad bank, men building a bridge, skunk cabbage perfuming a swamp. He led an outdoor life, keeping his distance from the gossipy town. He stood up against slavery, protested the Mexican war, went to jail for refusing to pay the poll tax, and wrote prose that seemed to me as wild as the loons he chased across Walden Pond.

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Medium 9781771870801

THE SNAKE-GRASS HILLS

Forrie, Allan Thistledown Press ePub
“The Snake-Grass Hills” by Patrick Lane begins with a stolen rifle in the hands of a nature-loving boy who hopes to spot a rattlesnake while exploring in the foothills. Instead he encounters death on a larger scale when he comes across a rotting, maggot-infested steer carcass.
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Medium 9780253204677

Chapter 2: Spiritualism

Felicitas D. Goodman Indiana University Press ePub

To many people, the idea of possession by an alien entity is a frightening one, because the word conjures up stories of malevolent, demonic intrusion. Actually, though, the experience does not always involve evil spirits. Quite often, instead, the beings in question are kindly, helpful, or, at most, dangerous. As to the reasons why there should be such a variety of traditions about this experience, we have to turn briefly to the history of human cultural evolution.1

The whole complex of possession and the rituals concerning it must be quite old, judging from the fact that the tradition is so widely distributed. It is known, for example, to horticulturalists, as we saw with the Ynomamö (see chap. 1), where the medicine men invited the spirits into their chests. The horticulture of the Ynomamö Indians is a very ancient form of cultivation, arising directly from the original style of subsistence of all humankind, that of hunting and gathering. It survives to this day as a sophisticated adaptation to tropical rain forests, for instance in South America. Its name derives from the Latin word hortus, “garden,” because instead of open fields these societies work small, gardenlike plots. The area for the gardens is burned over and yields a harvest only for about three years. That forces horticulturalist societies to be on the move all the time, and their villages are not permanent. Such mobility necessitates a constant close interaction with their surroundings, their natural habitat, which demands flexibility and adaptiveness. Quite logically, their ethical system is also based on appropriateness, for they cannot afford the rigidity of a world view that is based on the cleavage between good and evil. It follows that their spirits are adaptable, too; they are neither good nor evil, they are simply powerful. In Japan, the only large modern state with strong ties to horticulturalist tradition, spirits of this nature tend to predominate in possession, as we shall see in chapter 5.

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Medium 9780980184822

Neither Holy nor Wise

Jed McKenna Wisefool Press PDF

I don’t dress like a guru and I don’t talk like one. I don’t carry flowers, perform miracles, smile beatifically, or radiate anything that I’m aware of. I think of myself as a pretty laid-back guy with only the weakest grasp of what it means to be a human among humans. It’s like I can hum a few bars but I have forgotten most of the words. I can’t stand in line at the grocery and carry on a normal conversation if it gets much past the weather. I can’t go to a bar and have a beer and shoot a game of pool because I can’t pretend to share the experiences and interests of the other patrons. In other words, there’s no commonality. Commonality at this level is so basic that it’s probably not possible to imagine what it’s like when it’s not shared. No two humans could have less in common than any human and me. I am a member of no community. Because I live in a different paradigm, I am effectively set apart from humanity...........

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Medium 9781855758414

CHAPTER FIVE: Film, TV, and music

Colum Kenny Karnac Books ePub

Our first inclination may be to regard film and broadcasting and music as entirely noisy media, but beneath their surfaces and surrounding them are silences with which their creators can consciously play.

Film, by necessity, first emerged as a silent medium. The technology did not exist to create a soundtrack to accompany early moving images, and spectacle was more important than plot. A few words could be written on a card and cut into a movie but, more often than not, any narrative depended primarily upon the coherence of sequences of images. Exhibitors enhanced the medium by means of various strategies. Pianists and other musicians were frequently employed by cinema owners to provide a dramatic or romantic aural backdrop for audiences. Sometimes, narrators sat next to the screen and provided commentary or dialogue. However, until the production of “talkies” began to change film forever, directors depended largely on images to speak for themselves. This presented particular challenges for D. W. Griffith and his contemporaries when it came to framing adaptations of plays and literary works in a manner that audiences could follow without hearing words spoken by the actors (Gunning, pp. 92–95).

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Medium 9780980184822

Done

Jed McKenna Wisefool Press PDF
It was winter when he told me. A crisp night but not frigid, fresh snow on the ground. One of those nights that all the stars came out for in a crystalline vision that awed the wind to stillness. A night so clear and silent that it felt staged. A perfect winter evening like we see here maybe once or twice a year. That’s why I was out walking in it. At a crossroads a couple of miles from the house Paul joined me. I was pleased to see him. I’m always pleased to see anyone when they get where I believed Paul was at that point. He joined me silently and we walked on. It was ten minutes before he spoke.

“I’m done.”

I smiled as warmth poured through my heart. Warmed by the memory of the day I came to the same startling and improbable conclusion for myself, and warm for the times I had heard it from others. Warm knowing the journey one takes to arrive at such a place and warm knowing what lies ahead............ See All Chapters
Medium 9780253000958

The Singular First Person

Scott Russell Sanders Indiana University Press ePub

The first soapbox orator I ever saw was haranguing a crowd beside the Greyhound station in Providence, Rhode Island, about the evils of fluoridated water. What the man stood on was actually an up-turned milk crate, all the genuine soapboxes presumably having been snapped up by antique dealers. He wore an orange plaid sport coat and matching bow tie and held aloft a bottle filled with mossy green liquid. I don’t remember the details of his spiel, except his warning that fluoride was an invention of the Communists designed to weaken our bones and thereby make us pushovers for a Red invasion. What amazed me, as a tongue-tied kid of seventeen newly arrived in the city from the boondocks, was not his message but his courage in delivering it to a mob of strangers. I figured it would have been easier for me to jump straight over the Greyhound station than to stand there on that milk crate and utter my thoughts.

To this day, when I read or when I compose one of those curious monologues we call the personal essay, I often think of that soapbox orator. Nobody had asked him for his two cents’ worth, but there he was declaring it with all the eloquence he could muster. The essay, although enacted in private, is no less arrogant a performance. Unlike novelists and playwrights, who lurk behind the scenes while distracting our attention with the puppet show of imaginary characters; unlike scholars and journalists, who quote the opinions of others and shelter behind the hedges of neutrality, the essayist has nowhere to hide. While the poet can lean back on a several-thousand-year-old legacy of ecstatic speech, the essayist inherits a much briefer and skimpier tradition. The poet is allowed to quit after a few lines, but the essayist must hold our attention for pages and pages. It is a brash and foolhardy form, this one-man or one-woman circus, which relies on the tricks of anecdote, conjecture, memory, and wit to enthrall us.

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