Let Us Begin
This is my first offering to The Otherside Press, and it seems like a good idea to begin with an explanation of why I am here. Speaking with Jock Brocas, the founder of this publication, it is clear that The Otherside Press is all about promoting a high standard of mediumship and cultivating spirituality. While mediumship and spirituality are focuses, I believe they will be addressed from the perspective of the need to promote a more cohesive community. It is the idea of community which I would like to speak of here.
Think of a community as a collection of people who share interest in one or more ideas. If you have more than a passing interest in the idea of the paranormal, then you are automatically a member of what I will call for now, the Paranormalist Community.
The unifying idea for the Paranormalist Community is that mind is separate from brain. A second unifying idea is that there is a subtle field that permeates reality. Parapsychologists refer to this field as the psi field. That means our unifying idea is that mind is of this psi field, it influences the field, it causes more or less permanent changes in it and our thoughts and memories are expressions of it.
A member of the mainstream society is not part of this community unless this idea is accepted as being at least possibly true. The skeptical community thinks a lot about this idea but does not accept it, and is therefore, not part of the Paranormalist Community.
A Divided Community
While everyone in this community are paranormalists, they do not all agree about how to explain paranormal phenomena, and so, there are divisions in our community. The most obvious division boils down to whether or not mind is a product of brain or if it is independent of brain.
From the paranormalist perspective, mind being independent would seem to require that mind survives death of the brain as a still-living personality. Information thought to be coming from discarnate loved ones via mediumship and ITC would be coming from them as they now exist in a different environment. This idea is generally modeled as the Survival Hypothesis.
If mind is a product of brain, then there is no survival. The information thought to be coming from discarnate loved ones would necessarily be coming from memories of them held by still living people or from the loved one’s residual memory remaining in the psi field. This idea is generally modeled as the Super-psi Hypothesis.
A community Divided Cannot Stand
Roy Stemman wrote an excellent essay about how Spiritualism is contracting while the skeptical community is becoming better and better organized. In “Skepticism: The New Religion,” (paranormalreview.com, Oct 3, 2010) he noted that organizations such as the James Randi Foundation have developed a unified message and are producing abundant literature aimed at casting all thing paranormal as being pseudoscience, and therefore, a danger to society.
The skeptical message is having the desired effect because some governments, including the US federal government, has adopted that point of view, even to the extent of quoting skeptical literature to support policies concerning funds allocation for research grants.
The skeptical community maintains lists of “experts” in the skeptical point of view who are available for interviews while the Paranormalist Community has no such focus. Most of us shudder to think what supposed experts in our field might say, not because they are wrong, but because there are no talking points that we all agree on. Also, because of the super-psi verses survival divide, there are too few widely respected people in our community to legitimately represent our views.
From the mainstream perspective, there is little distinction between ghost hunting by a club and entanglement research by a doctorate in electronic engineering. Without a well-considered public face, the Paranormalist Community will always look like ghost hunting television programs and meaningless noise passed off as Electronic Voice Phenomena. People remember the most outlandish and the silliest.
Skepticism is Relative
Each of us is potentially a skeptic. As a general rule, the least deviation from mainstream thought is skeptical of the greater deviation, so that a psychologist studying remote viewing will tend to be skeptical of anything to do with survival. In the same way, a person who accepts the evidence of mental mediumship may be skeptical of the evidence for physical mediumship.
Of course, there is such a thing as “healthy skepticism,” but the term ”skeptic” has been taken over by the zealous, faith-based skeptics who practice a form of scientism more than anything resembling critical thinking. While we seldom actually refer to our fellow paranormalists as skeptics, the fact remains that some rather well studied phenomena have been denounced without examination by people who should know better. Behind the facade of academic authority too often lurks scientism, even in our community.
A better term for critical thinking is discernment which promotes suspended judgment until more is known. This change of perspective from skepticism, even veiled skepticism, to the suspended judgment of discernment is perhaps one our first lessons in community building. The Otherside Press has the potential to show people what that looks like.
Cultivating a Common Culture
The possibility that we survive beyond this lifetime offers profound implications for how we might live our time here to the fullest. The most immediate implication, and a constant message from the other side, is that we are our own judge during our transition out of this lifetime. Dying probably does not end our education, only changes the venue for learning, so the consequences of our actions here—not the individual acts but the impressions, feelings and understanding resulting from our acts—follow us into our transition. Personal responsibility means learning to live as a good citizen of the greater reality, but more important, it means learning to make our continued existence as meaningful as possible.
The idea of personal responsibility is important to the entire Paranormalist Community, because even if you your view is that only memory survives, the unifying idea that we are all connected via the psi field means that your actions affects the larger community on both sides of the veil.
From my experience, the path toward personal responsibility is mindful living. That point of view translates into being a good citizen of the community. From that perspective, it can be said that the three pillars of the Paranormalist Community and mindful living are spirituality, discernment and cooperation.
An excellent definition of spirituality is offered by Deepak Chopra in his Huffington Post blog: 1 “Spirituality is the experience of that domain of awareness where we experience our universality. This domain of awareness is a core consciousness that is beyond our mind, intellect and ego. In religious traditions this core consciousness is referred to as the soul which is part of a collective soul or collective consciousness, which in turn is part of a more universal domain of consciousness referred to in religions as God.”
Spirituality is about being aware that you are an important part of a universal community, what you do matters here and hereafter and that your every action affects the rest of reality. Yes, most of us are accustomed to thinking of the kind of spirituality traditional religions seek to evoke, but I think the kind of spirituality Jock is thinking about is the kind that, when personally realized, leads to greater understanding and the desire to be a good citizen of the collective (the community on both sides of the veil).
If you are familiar with the idea of mindful living, then you will understand that mindfulness is a roadmap to better living, and mindful citizens of the paranormal community make excellent spokespeople. (You might like to read the essay on mindfulness listed at ethericstudies.org/concepts.htm.)
A favorite saying of mine is that you should “Believe what you wish but know what you believe.” I will talk another time about how perception is governed by belief, but here I will say that being mindful of what is in your worldview determines the world you live in. See James Carpenter’s First Sight Theory2 and 3
After fourteen years helping to lead an international ITC organization, personally experiencing many forms of paranormal phenomena and learning to produce some forms myself, I am confident in saying that perception is the dominant factor in how people experience phenomena. Discernment is the key to seeing phenomena as it really is and that is a skill you can learned. I think this publication will help.
Cooperation is a little more of an abstract concept. Read Deepak Chopra’s definition of spirituality again, especially noticing the way he uses the term, collective. “Universality,” “collective soul,” “collective consciousness” and “universal domain” are all terms that describe interconnectedness amongst people.
A common factor in transcommunication is the implication and sometimes outright admission that the communicator is a group consciousness which presents a representative personality to facilitate our body-centric comprehension. Much of what is brought to us via deep trance channel, even our dreams, is the hint that we are part of a collective of personalities. While we experience a lifetime with a body-centric focus, our etheric personality, which is the intelligent core of who we are, is cooperating with fellow personalities to assure our continued education.
This idea of being an etheric personality temporarily entangled with our avatar body to gain understanding is admittedly more hypothesis than objectively known, but the one persistent message in this concept that you will likely recognize is that we are ultimately a collective under one source. The way that manifests in practical terms can be seen in how people mature, first as students and then as teachers. Many of us have the compulsion to share lessons learned. For instance, the reason for this publication is specifically to promote cooperation in the community; those who have come before you pausing to help you achieve even greater understanding.
The idea of a collective of like-minded people cooperating to promote further understanding involves the idea of rapport which is the link of attention/intention that develops between two people as they share ideas.4 A community is formed by a sense of rapport which integrates many people and only marginally related ideas into a community of common interest. In such a community, educational resources, standards and a common voice to speak to mainstream society can evolve.
But only if we cooperate.
- Chopra, Deepak, “Only Spirituality Can Solve The Problems Of The World,” Huffpost Healthy Living, 04/26/2010 (Updated: 11/17/2011), huffingtonpost.com/deepak-chopra/only-spirituality-can-sol_b_474221.html
- Joshi, Sheila, “James Carpenter’s First Sight model and neurological damage-induced psi openings,” Blog: Neuroscience and Psi, August 11, 2012, neuroscienceandpsi.blogspot.com/2012/08/james-carpenters-first-sight-model-and.html
- Butler, Tom, “The Perceptual Loop,” Etheric Studies, 2014, ethericstudies.org/concepts/perception.htm
- Society for Research in Rapport and Telekinesis (SORRAT), Felix Experimental Group, felixcircle.blogspot.com/2008/09/sorrat.html