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I apologize if this question was asked already. I've seen a question on why someone is a believer and another one on what made you become a skeptic. Well I wanted to ask this: What made you become a believer/researcher of psi? Was it personal experiences? Was it one major experience or a combination of events? Was it through researching the issue itself and other peoples stories that convinced you or at least opened your mind to the possibilty that psi could be a real phenomena? Both personal experience and research on the topic maybe?
Truth is stranger than fiction.
I've told this story many times and it's quite simple. . .
When you are young (3, 4 and 5 years of age) and just start "seeing" and "experiencing" the world things happen that naturally lead you to ask questions. As it was for me, things were happening that lead my parents to not just ask questions, but fear the answers.
I come from a very long line of religiously active people, including ministers, healers, seers, mediums, snake charmers, dowsers and so on. In this mix there are those that shun the other because they are more "esoteric" in what they do and how they see the world (essentially, they are seen as inherently evil -- the devil's spawn, etc). The problem is though, these "traits" tend to show up in the children every now and again; sometimes several children within the family and sometimes none at all. In my case I was born to a mother that had strong intuitive (empathic) and clairvoyant ability -- she was the classical Red Headed, Green Eyed "WITCH" when you get right down to it BUT, she didn't hold to the old ways. . .let me clarify. . .
Her father did healings, read the cards and practiced Voodoo. He had a short-term correspondence with the legendary Alester Crowley (there are 6 total letters that are known of and reason to believe that more existed at one point in time). Needless to say, he had a bit of experience when it came to Ritual Magick and as was recently discovered via my father's genealogical research, he was probably raised around it given his own father's ties to the same and then some.
When it came to my mother, he was quite insistent when it came to one part of her name -- Astarte (which I'm certain most of you can figure out where that comes from) -- a name that she would, late in life, take legal action to have removed from her legal name. . . HINT: this is how paranoid she and my father were when it comes to the boogieman stuff. It's important that you understand their phobia and consider how said fear (ignorance) would lead to what most would refer to as "abuse" in today's culture, of a child that expressed said abilities. . . which I and later, my brother both do.
Even with all the praying to drive my demonic possession away I was asking questions as to "why?" someone would be born with such propensities and secondly, "why was I cursed to be 'different'?" (in more ways than one). But this simple question is where the other side of "who" I am came into being; I started looking for answers and that lead to my first stop -- Learning Magic Tricks (and my poor mother still grieves over that, too).
Studying and working in professional magic allowed me to discover many things when it comes to the whole Psychic & Magick issue but there were other catalysts involved, including my passion when it came to "religion" or, to be more concise "spirituality" (there's a huge difference between the two). Thus, by my mid and late teens I was studying world religions and philosophy alongside the more literal history of Christianity -- historical facts vs. the fiction people are told to buy into. Like most who discover that their family faith is composed of roughly 95% pure Bull Shit with only about 2% being anything close to "truth & wisdom" (the balance being carnality, greed, lust for power, conquest, etc.) well, I was seriously soured and had a good deal of contempt for anything "Christian". This same frustration lead to a growing drug & booze issue that thankfully, got halted by the time I was 22, my initial recovery period giving me the "position" to learn more from either side of the proverbial fence; I was very vested in my religious area of study but likewise involved with the southern California Pagan and New Age communities; everything from Egyptian & Celtic influences to Hopi shamanism, Science of Mind and A Course in Miracles. From 1983 to present these are the things that have formed much of how I look at life INCLUDING the more critical scenarios -- my "battle" as it is sometimes called.
You see, I know far too much about the art & science of deception (illusion) to blindly look at all of the mystical rhetoric as being "real"... that is "real" in the way we see Hollywood's various depictions and the various modes of Urban Legend -- folklore. Fortunately most of my formal teaching in the Mystical side of things were crusty old timers that loved to laugh at the gullible fools who "don't get it" (their words, but a perception I understood by degree).
These old timers are the one's that pointed out to me much of the simplified (down to earth) truths when it came to magick & mysticism, even ghosts, haunting, spirit communication, etc. How most of it was pure Placebo and the "wisdom" factor centered on their knowing who needs the placebo and who is naturally enlightened enough to claim their own power and move forward -- Self-Creation -- an ideology that is very close to what Skeptics and Atheists promote (as do the Buddhist, btw.)
When you find yourself as I do, straddling a tight-rope from which you find mysticism to your left and pragmatism to your right and you understand the world from either point of view. . . well, it makes you realize that it's ok to not be "normal" and it is likewise ok to see how the two modes of being actually can agree with and support one another so long as BALANCE of one's perspective is maintained. The Virgo in me makes me just stubborn enough and picky enough to make certain that the Libra side walks more to the right than the pit-falls on the left.
Hope I've confused you enough with that. . . But for what it is, it is my life and why I tend to see both sides of most issues and why I can play the Devil's Advocate in most any argument whether the position I take is one that I'm personally vested in or not.
Thanks for your story Craig. As for me it was through personal experiences throughout my entire life relating to ESP, dreams that came true, visitations from deceased loved ones, obes and gulp 'ghosts'. Many skeptics will claim that the paranormal never happens to skeptics but I'm sure many people were formerly skeptical themselves. Dam I even was. Even after multiple events I would still brush them off as 'coincidences'. Now I don't believe in coincidences anymore but I do believe in fate. I'm sure many other psi advocates were formerly skeptical themselves. I never take what I hear of other people as the truth either but when you experience it for yourself (on multiple occasions) then yes it's different.
Why doesn't everyone have these experiences? I do not know. This is the same thing with near death experiences for only 20% of all people 'near death' actually remember anything. Again I can't answer this. I have read many afterlife books and from alot of reading I learnt that many people who 'die' require a period of rest before awaking to their new surroundings. Perhaps good short term memory is another reason. Maybe even a closed mind but many atheists/skeptics have had them (ndes) as well. I can understand why there are skeptical people if you never had an experience, I understand this mindset because I was once there myself (even with experiences).
I was hoping for more responses.
Truth is stranger than fiction.
I don't doubt experiences - I doubt the interpretation of experiences - even my own. NDEs clearly happen, they are well-documented. It is the interpretation of them that is very much in question.
The problem when it comes to "interpretation" is "perspective", not just the level of one's education but your education around the issue on BOTH the views of the faithful as well as those of the rationalist. The problem comes forth when the latter seeks to belittle the testimony of the believer and essentially calling him/her a gullible idiot for believing things in a manner tied to mysticism -- the spiritual/metaphysical.
It is identical to Christians arguing with Muslims when it comes to "scripture" and who has the greater "truth"... all religious arguments are this way, none of them accomplish a damn thing outside of alienating us from our fellows... and yes, rationalism is in its own way, a religious point of view because it too claims to host the fullness and most complete "truth" bar none.
Kind of makes you chuckle when you think about it.
I don't like the belittling either. It is unnecessary and can be cruel. But let's not confuse this issue for one of substance. Whether a rationalist is cruel or not has no bearing on their argument.
Ummm, no. We've been through this before. Logic, reason, the scientific method has been demonstrated to be the most reliable method humans have developed to figure out what is real. But if another method arose that was more reliable, "rationalists" would flock to it.
Reason is a method - not a doctrine or point of view.
But every time I've countered your arguments on this point you abandon the conversation. Perhaps because you regret bringing in such a cheap shot which you know is mere rhetoric and a cheap dig because you don't like skeptics.
Like I said. . . PERSPECTIVE.
What is reason and logic to you don't necessarily apply to others that see their faith and/or spiritual view as being the reasonable and more logical. I don't buy into the Abrahamic rhetoric about a one way ticket to heaven or hell, I support the older (and I'll add, "original" christian teaching) of reincarnation because, to my mind, it's far more logical and just.
As I've told you before, in a world in which the "Scientific Method" is based on which group is paying for the research and their economic & political agenda. . . well, it isn't exactly sane to buy into that rhetoric either. . . not until we start seeing stronger cohesion.
We live in an era in which the majority of the world's greatest minds swear that Climate Change/Global Warming is fact but those that are employed by the corporations and in some cases, the nations benefiting from our current commercial patterns preach to the contrary. Add this with fanatical religious leaders who are now frightening their congregations by saying that the whole global warming thing is part of the anti-christ's plans for a One World Government. . .
Sorry. . . too much B.S. out there for me. I have to go with what I have seen, studied, digested and basically experienced. That will never change. . . but then, the other constant in the Universe is the insistence of the supposedly "critical thinker" trying to prove that their god can beat up everyone else's god. . .
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