Note From 2011: we start from the vocabulary and narratives we have at the time of "events" and later, as we (I speak for me) think back and try to determine mechanisms, we change those vocabularies and understandings, but the events themselves have not changed for me all these years. Years before my vocabulary for such events had words like "soul" and "visitation." As I looked at that and other experiences over the years it was clear to me that my existing vocabulary really was not adequate to understand what I had experienced.
For example, the experience of a visit from my dying grandmother at the moment of her death has not changed in my memory. It remains fresh from that night in August 1977. However, I now think of this as a communication which was the genesis for a sensual experience generated by the brain, and only maybe as an actual visit, but certainly as an awareness I could not have had normally. Why it occured I have no way of knowing and I very strongly reject those who believe that is is a mark of some special spiritual guidance or as control which is external to our universe, as in supernatural. I think we have too little idea of nature anyway, to declare anything as super nature.
How these events worked I know now has to do with the brain and its way of selecting from incoming sensual data, thereby choosing what I will be aware of, then creating a display of that selection, that constructed awareness, which is what I experience as my reality. This same mechanism works whether awake or asleep and can show me actual objects as well as imagined objects. The same display mechanism at work when asleep and dreaming is used when awake and clearly not dreaming. And it is all working in real time.
I debated on completely re-doing the section below to reflect my current way of understanding these and other events but decided just to make the note above and to retain the original below so that you could see it as I thought of it in 1997.
Below: © 1997 Mike StrongThis set of documents Spiritual Origins is in the initial stages of preparation. Not all topics will have links yet. Eventually all topics will link to a paper expanding that topic.
This is a set of documents relating my personal experiences. This is really not about religions, except for my observations regarding a search for a religion which would explain and be consistent with my experiences. After a lot of searchingI found myself unsatisfied with religions and with clerics.
The experiences do leave me with a constant sense that what I am actively aware of is far less than what I am a part of. I am also aware that when I leave this life I will take back with me the person I have become. That understanding alone forms the basis for a moral sense not unsimilar to the best of what I think religions attempt to enforce. I suspect that religions fail for me because they are external and intellectualized compared to actual spiritual experience. Spiritual experiences do not seem to be related to personal merit. They do not appear to mark you as a select person versus a non-select person. And I have no method for repeating or creating such an experience either for me or for anyone else.
I am reluctant to use the word god because you will not understand me. I know that I almost certainly have a different sense of what god is than anyone else. I spent years looking. For me the very idea of a definition for god is amiss. From my perspective the standard administrator and provider concept for a god or gods is little different than worshipping a golden calf.
Throw away everything believed and preached by all the religions in the world through all time. They are all declarative. Instead look to the descriptive studies of science. If you really want to be awed by creation learn all you can about something simple such as a blade of grass, an ant colony or a fungi. If you want to understand the real creative and universal intelligence look at how what looks like and administrative intelligence is really an emergence from the unplanned and local relationships which bubble up through the ferment of time.
Having said that I am relating some incidents in my life which science does not explain and religions only claim to understand. They are non-repeatable and were not sought. I have no method to give either myself or anyone else to produce again any of these experiences so they are not scientific and you cannot (should not) believe them as you would believe an experiment you can repeat. Several of them have confirmation methods for me. Those are central to my core beliefs. I can only tell you about them and try to describe my perceptions and situations at the time.
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This was my first spiritual experience. It defined the difference for me between convincing myself of an educated belief (i.e. memorizing descriptions usually regurgitated by "book learned" types) and actually knowing a thing because of direct contact. My grandmother appeared to me when she died. It was late in the evening (about 15 to one). She died in a town some 300 miles away from where I was living. Although she had been hospitalized for some months I had no particular reason to expect her death that day. Not until after 7 a.m. later that morning was I informed of her death in the normal way, by telephone. The experience itself lasted perhaps less than five minutes. The sense of it remains.
Link to IANDS (International Association for Near Death Studies)
Precognition is one of those terms I find inaccurate in the very structure of the word. I would remove the "pre" from the word in order to understand it better and yet it does reflect the time-based sequential manner in which we experience our world. I have some speculations about the nature of time and events but I try to keep them separate from the account of these experiences.
My main precognitive events were paired and concern a job I began in mid 1983 (forget for a while about deja vu). Neither event prepared me ahead of time to look for and change or use events that were about to occur. Both made an enormous impact on me in regarding all life's events as being orchestrated from a spiritual source. Or, we may sing in the choir but someone or something else is directing. Maybe it is our soul, a higher self, angels or something along that line (middle management?), gods, God or Henny Youngman (small joke there).
I don't get into theologies or constructions of heirarchies. I really don't believe in theologies as anything more than a culture's way of attempting to provide a nomenclature. Nomenclatures (the naming of things) are about giving us a sense of control even though naming neither really confers control nor knowledge. Having command over names just makes us sound smart.
The Precognitive Dream
One dream, in 1983, was singular for me. Nothing like it prior and nothing like it after (writing in 1997). For some time prior to this dream I had written down dreams and examined them to find "marching orders" from God. I never found any such thing. I do not recommend trying to live according to dream messages. I think dreams are highly inaccurate for anything other than implying a current mental state or physical state and then only sometimes. Yet this dream was different both in the way I recognized it and in the manner in which I handled it (the sheet of paper on which I had typed it) physically. As I noted, it was singular for me. All the other dreams are worthless to me in and of themselves but they do form a baseline against which I can compare that 1983 pre-cognitive dream.
The Precursive Event
In the same vein as "marching orders" from God I at various times had tried the "close your eyes, stick a finger in a book, open your eyes and read the passage" method. It didn't work very well. In 1983 I did this in a very different and totally intuitive manner. I didn't get marching orders as such. It turned out to be a reassurance message. In attempting to be significant I misinterpreted it and tried to create events in order to follow what I wanted to see as "marching orders." When I finally found out what it meant the significance to me was a sledge hammer hit (of light if you will). That happened when the event completed itself a couple of months later in a different and totally unexpected circumstance.
This was my second major spiritual experience. You will not read that I sensed that I was some particular individual in another time. Perhaps. Perhaps not. What you will read about is a set of particular circumstances which came together at one specific time in my life (over a couple of days in January 1980) in a context (or setting if you will) of past lives with a focus for me around one particular and relatively minor historical individual, a leader of an unsuccessful slave uprising two centuries ago in Haiti.
What is most important is the effect on this life. Those events marked a huge and permanent change in my internal attitudes. This was about as close to a magic-wand experience as I've ever received. Prior to these events recalling memories was an exercise in reviving fear, expressed as bitterness and hurt. Afterward memories were simply accounts of what had occured. Also important is that as large as the attitude change was it didn't remove my need to fulfill life's curriculum.
Black Box : Engineers use the term "black box" to describe a device of some sort (mechanical, electronic, software program, etc.) which produces a particular result when fed certain input. How the black box produces the result is unknown. There are usually many possible ways to produce the result but you cannnot see the workings. As a result this frees you to use your imagination to invent your own result-producing mechanism.
I use this "black box" concept along with my personal experience of some events for my own speculation on time, dream imagery and the identity of God. (Note: At the moment I don't have this finished so the sections below do not have links to pages which expand the topic.)
Devices and Doodads
This is a small accounting of my time with a pendulum. Like tarot cards, bones, runes, or a dowser's stick a pendulum is a device for extracting data from the universe. For me, it doesn't work, at least it doesn't work independently of myself and that gives it a weak spot in my regard. Nonetheless, there was a particular exception in my experience. Early on, when I first got a pendulum and was pretty much un-selfconcious I had an interesting experience leading to a few conclusions for myself.
Speculations on Time
What is the nature of any event now that I know that we can at times see "beyond" the normal scope of our time-sequenced perspective. Indeed why are we restricted within time as we think of it? What are these precognitive events and why should they ever occur?
Speculations on Dream Imagery
Viewed in "black box" talk, that is looking at the functional aspects of dream image formation as if the image formation were a procedure within a computer program, how would I set up a program which would function much like a dream? Or a little more generically how would I "black box" a procedure which would produce images for me, both in daily waking life and in sleep as well as any state in between, given certain data as input?
Looking for Religion
After spiritual experiences first shook my foundation of beliefs I went looking for a religion. I assumed that these "bubble packages" would have good explanations for my experiences. That, after all, is a common claim of religions. I found a lot of folks who had never "been there" who were very vocal about spiritual events. I found many folks who had spent their lives learning about scriptures and religious history and ethics and specific religion's lists of beliefs. I was looking at book learning versus experience.
Imagine someone with even a smidgen of experience at say karate and with sparring (kumite) in karate. Now imagine this person being told what sparring feels like by someone who had read a great deal about karate but who had never even set foot in a dojo much less ever having practiced any movements or even exercised. At first the talker might seem knowlegable to the karate practitioner. But it wouldn't take long before the talker would start sounding odd to the practitioner. Before long it would click in that this talker was full of it.
That is how I came to see most religious writings. Little was fresh. Most was regurgitated for the umpteenth time. Most documents were highly embellished, embellishing the embellishments again and again. Another word for embellishment is distortion. I stopped listening.
The "G" Concept
I'm always a little uncomfortable using the word God. It seems everyone has their own definition and for some reason they seem to think I am using "God" with their definition. I'm not willing to limit my understanding by attempting to define God. I look an open-ended concept which I sometimes label "God," in my own way. After enough searching for someone else's definition I came to the conclusion that almost all god definitions are poorly defined, terribly limited, and informed by culture and intellect, not experience.
The word itself is problematic and limiting. Try using the word Alah instead of God and see the looks many people will give you. Yet Alah is merely Arabic for The God (al = the and lah = god, for those who still don't know this one). The English spelling of g-o-d (from German Gott) isn't even a very pretty word, especially when compared to a-l-a-h. Yet, from their reactions, enough English-speaking Christians seem to think Alah doesn't mean god, as if the word itself had power.
Burned Brain Cells and Sacred Writings
Sacred writings have a lot of problems mainly from claims of authority because of authorship and from inconsistent logic, translations, bad morals, inconsistent versions and more. Calling the writings "sacred" label means that the standards of authorship, morals and logic which are applied to any other documents are forbidden here. When we forbid criticism of anyone or anything it is because we haven't faith in the strength of what we think we need to protect.
Characteristics of Spiritual Experiences - from my experiences
Unlike events in which emotions are generated to produce value for the event, spiritual events have certain characteristics which mark them. Emotions may also accompany the event but these are a secondary production, a reaction to the event itself.
1) Un-bidden, unexpected, yet no surprise, indeed with instant, clear, full knowledge of what is taking place.
2) Sensory awareness analogous to physical senses but without a sense that physical senses are gathering the data.
3) Often one-of-a-kind coincidences that are specially significant around such an experience.
4) An organizing perspective from outside of time and/or distance limits.
5) Not showable in scientific terms (by evidence remaining or by steps which can allow anyone to repeat it).
Not being able to demonstrate the reality can be troublesome but it seems to be part of the package just as the limits of time and space seem to be part of the normal human conciousness. Not being able to prove this makes it hard for someone who has not experienced it to grasp. The inability to prove the experience also makes it easy for charlatans to take advantage of persons who wish to believe. For anyone who has not had such an event in their lives their is no experiental reference as a benchmark against which to judge other events or other persons. As such there exists a lot of "book-learned" regurgitated material (usually from religious types), a lot of self-deception from wannabes, and a lot of outright fraud from would-be-wannabes-if-they-were-honest as well as just dishonest folks.
If the experience is one of being hyper (as in jumping up and down, doing ecstatic suff, out of breath, you worked hard at being profound, etc.), forget it, you didn't have one.
But if you are someone who has had a spiritual experience, you know. You know in a way that pales in the face of all previous intellectual believing or hyped-emotion events. No matter how hard or how sincerely you may have pursued religious and spiritual knowlege before, the knowlege from those efforts is shallow compared to a single such experience.
That isn't some sort of ego or one-upship. That is simply the difference between any kind of experience versus any kind of imagining what the experience should be like. As with any experience it is ownable only by the experiencer.