Is that God talking?

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Is that God talking?

Postby Jim Eshelman » Thu May 02, 2013 4:38 am

In today's NY Times, anthropologist Tanya Luhrmann has documented a new that people who practice substantially the methods recommended by Abramelin will obtain results substantially the same as those the same as those predicted by Abramelin.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/02/opini ... inion&_r=0

While many of the results are banal, their character is much the same as one expects from the opening level of HGA phenomena. I'm taken with how the author's language resembles Karl Germer's remark, "Intense practices and invocations make the soul capable to react and understand the language of the HGA better and clearer."
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Re: Is that God talking?

Postby Corvinae » Thu May 02, 2013 4:47 am

Fantastic piece!
I love Tanya, very familiar with her work.
Thank you for sharing, I have to go out for a bit, but I hope this article stimulates discussion. I'll be sure to comment more later.
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Re: Is that God talking?

Postby Jim Eshelman » Thu May 02, 2013 5:55 am

Some of the more interesting parts or the article:

The impression / experience of hearing (what are experienced as) the voice of God communicating in an auditory fashion is routine to the human condition. That is, a couple of studies indicate that about 70% of people experience these. (We can neutrally describe them as "auditory hallucinations" since they don't occur in the "external" physical universe.)

These are distinctive from schizophrenic auditory hallucinations, both in terms of their frequency in the population and the characteristics of the voices. The author continues,

I eventually discovered that these experiences were associated with intense prayer practice. They felt spontaneous, but people who liked to get absorbed in their imaginations were more likely to experience them. Those were the people who were more likely to love to pray, and the “prayer warriors” who prayed for long periods were likely to report even more of them.

The prayer warriors said that as they became immersed in prayer, their senses became more acute. Smells seemed richer, colors more vibrant. Their inner sensory worlds grew more vivid and more detailed, and their thoughts and images sometimes seemed as if they were external to the mind. Later, I was able to demonstrate experimentally that prayer practice did lead to more vivid inner images and more hallucination-like events.

Notice that not simply the communications, but the nature of sensory experience, is altered in ways that are related (by classic description and by experience) to Tifereth. In a nutshell, those who spend more time intentionally enhancing the richness of their inner experience will (not surprisingly) have a more intense and rich inner experience.

Dr. Luhrmann concludes,

The more interesting lesson is what it tells us about the mind and prayer. If hearing a voice is associated with focused attention to the inner senses — hearing with the mind’s ear, seeing with the mind’s eye — it suggests that prayer... is a pretty powerful instrument. We often imagine prayer as a practice that affects the content of what we think about — our moral aspirations, or our contrition. It’s probably more accurate to understand prayer as a skill that changes how we use our minds.
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Re: Is that God talking?

Postby Uni_Verse » Thu May 02, 2013 9:17 am

Have not read the article, thought to say:
Sometimes it is God talking,
Sometimes you just have to grow accustomed to hearing every conversation going on in the building :)
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Re: Is that God talking?

Postby Bereshith » Thu May 02, 2013 9:41 am

Uni_Verse wrote:Have not read the article, thought to say:
Sometimes it is God talking,
Sometimes you just have to grow accustomed to hearing every conversation going on in the building :)


HA..!

Perfect.
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Re: Is that God talking?

Postby gmugmble » Thu May 02, 2013 12:14 pm

Jim Eshelman wrote:We can neutrally describe them as "auditory hallucinations"

I first learned about Luhrmann's work from a mention in Oliver Sachs's newish book Hallucinations. One point Sachs makes is that hallucinations of various sorts are far more common that we would think, but that people are afraid to mention them even to their doctors (perhaps especially to their doctors) for fear of being thought crazy.
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Re: Is that God talking?

Postby Jim Eshelman » Thu May 02, 2013 1:08 pm

gmugmble wrote:
Jim Eshelman wrote:We can neutrally describe them as "auditory hallucinations"

I first learned about Luhrmann's work from a mention in Oliver Sachs's newish book Hallucinations. One point Sachs makes is that hallucinations of various sorts are far more common that we would think, but that people are afraid to mention them even to their doctors (perhaps especially to their doctors) for fear of being thought crazy.

I'm sure that's the case. Also, a very serious question is: Where do you draw the line on what you call a hallucination?

One dictionary definition of hallucination is "a sensory experience of something that does not exist outside the mind." Here's the problem I have with that: 100% of perception occurs inside the mind ONLY. The object may exist (so to speak) objectively, outside of oneself, but the experience itself is 100% within the mind,

Or, step one level away from that: There is (close to 100% of the time) some sort of contribution or filtering or emotional contextualizing or mental framing etc. that occurs when interpreting a sensory experience. Where do we draw the line between hallucination and "tending to have a certain reaction to a thing"?

It seems to me that we're closer to the truth if we say that close to 100% of all "sensory experiences" are hallucinations. :roll: :bat: :icraze:
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Re: Is that God talking?

Postby Los » Thu May 02, 2013 6:55 pm

Jim Eshelman wrote:One dictionary definition of hallucination is "a sensory experience of something that does not exist outside the mind." Here's the problem I have with that: 100% of perception occurs inside the mind ONLY. The object may exist (so to speak) objectively, outside of oneself, but the experience itself is 100% within the mind


This is ridiculously disingenuous.

Obviously, all experience is "subjective," but every person is perfectly capable of using that subjective experience to distinguish between those things that are only observable within (what we call) an individual's mind and those things that are observable outside of a single individual's mind.

In other words, "inside the mind" can mean two very different things, and you're conflating the two.

There's an old saying that I think is appropriate for this thread: you can talk to God all you like, but if he starts talking back, you ought to see a doctor.
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Re: Is that God talking?

Postby Takamba » Thu May 02, 2013 7:04 pm

Yep, 19th century Osirian Rauch based materialism. You called it well, Jim.
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Re: Is that God talking?

Postby Avshalom Binyamin » Thu May 02, 2013 7:06 pm

I'd like to believe in this objective, extra-mental reality you believe in, Los, but all the evidence I've been able to observe came to me through my mind.

If 70% of the population experiences something, by definition it can't be abnormal.
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Re: Is that God talking?

Postby Takamba » Thu May 02, 2013 7:21 pm

Devil's advocate:

Hypothesis: Los cannot agree with these premises because he can achieve alternate explanations and definitions for what others (70 percent says Avshalom Binyamin) accept.

Therory: Los will discredit everything said above.

Expectation: "70 percent of the population is delusional."
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Re: Is that God talking?

Postby Avshalom Binyamin » Thu May 02, 2013 7:25 pm

Well, if Los hasn't experienced this first-hand himself, then his opinion is only academic.
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Re: Is that God talking?

Postby Takamba » Thu May 02, 2013 7:29 pm

Avshalom Binyamin wrote:Well, if Los hasn't experienced this first-hand himself, then his opinion is only academic.


I do believe (I may be mistaken) he believes he has experienced stuff of this order (or what he believes is stuff of this order) first hand. Elsewhere (I believe) he has claimed he has done "things" that should generate these "experiences" (the Abramelin ritual being the op, it is likely this is one thing he "believes" he has encountered), so to argue that he has not "experienced" these things seems rather moot. Also, to argue that these experiences in and of themselves are valuable ("real" or not) seems also moot when dealing with him. He's lost in a materialistic "rauch" styled loop.
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Re: Is that God talking?

Postby Avshalom Binyamin » Thu May 02, 2013 7:49 pm

If that's the case, then suggesting that the experience should prompt a visit to the doctor is... disingenuous...
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Re: Is that God talking?

Postby Takamba » Thu May 02, 2013 7:50 pm

Avshalom Binyamin wrote:If that's the case, then suggesting that the experience should prompt a visit to the doctor is... disingenuous...


:mrgreen:
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Re: Is that God talking?

Postby Takamba » Thu May 02, 2013 7:53 pm

Avshalom Binyamin wrote:If that's the case, then suggesting that the experience should prompt a visit to the doctor is... disingenuous...


My previous post (the :mrgreen: ) was disingenuous. It is not having the experiences that Los discredits (as I stated, I believe he believes he too can "induce" them), it's, as he has stated, the "interpretation" of these experiences he discredits. This is why I am saying that allowing any conversation with him is a moot thing.
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Re: Is that God talking?

Postby Los » Thu May 02, 2013 8:34 pm

Avshalom Binyamin wrote:I'd like to believe in this objective, extra-mental reality you believe in, Los, but all the evidence I've been able to observe came to me through my mind.


I see I'm going to have to explain this again.

All experiences are "inside the mind" in the sense that an individual perceives with the mind. That's one meaning of "inside the mind."

But a healthy individual is very capable of distinguishing -- within those experiences perceived by the mind -- between things. Two primary categories -- again, within the world perceived through subjective experience -- we call "things in the mind" (such as thoughts or emotions or hallucinations) and "things not in the mind" (such as the couch in front of me).

That's the other (very different) meaning of "inside the mind."

Just because the word "mind" can be used to describe both (1) the vehicle of perception itself and (2) a category of things within perception doesn't mean that the two are identical: they're not. They're totally different things, and mixing them up merely because they can share the same label is precisely confusing the map for the territory.

Here's an example to illustrate what I mean: it's true that every single experience I have is one that I have to perceive with my mind, and it can therefore be said to be "inside the mind." But within that experience my mind perceives, I'm more than capable of distinguishing between a couch and my thoughts about the couch. I know that the couch can be perceived by any impartial observer; my thoughts about the couch can only be perceived by me. Within this world that I perceive, I can easily label the former "something outside my mind" (meaning something that any impartial observer can perceive) and the latter "something inside my mind" (meaning something that only I can perceive).

The mere fact that we can use a single label to describe one of the categories and the vehicle of perception itself in no way means that the distinction between the categories isn't valid.

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Re: Is that God talking?

Postby Jason R » Thu May 02, 2013 9:28 pm

Here's an example to illustrate what I mean: it's true that every single experience I have is one that I have to perceive with my mind, and it can therefore be said to be "inside the mind." But within that experience my mind perceives, I'm more than capable of distinguishing between a couch and my thoughts about the couch. I know that the couch can be perceived by any impartial observer; my thoughts about the couch can only be perceived by me. Within this world that I perceive, I can easily label the former "something outside my mind" (meaning something that any impartial observer can perceive) and the latter "something inside my mind" (meaning something that only I can perceive).

This is a point I been trying and trying to make, and you STILL refuse to understand it! Your claim that this separation of what is perceived and what is "out there" is STILL within the mind, and subject TO the mind itself. What we experience as something is FILTERED and tainted by the mind. Just a real science based example, take color. We may see a "green" couch, yet in "reality" it is EVERY color BUT green! As "green" in light is reflected from the object (the couch) and into the eye where we perceive it as colored green. This is a crude example of how things are tainted and created within the mind. Experience is filled with such illusions. Another example, is simple the simple illusion itself, and how we can see something completely wrong. The mind may be ABLE to perceive aspects of this "outer" or objective thing/world that your mind ALLOWS in some cases. Others, who are not capable, or willing, etc., may NOT be able to perceive these things.

You can NEVER know what is "out there", and perhaps hidden from view. You are locked within your perception and mental belief structures. Take for example people blind from birth, who gain sight; they have to LEARN how to see depth and understand what they see. To say somehow automatically that "thoughts" inside your mind, and the perceived phenomena within the mind, are somehow mutually exclusive, and one cannot effect the other is silly. Once INSIDE the mind, they BOTH are basically "ideas" or mind stuff.
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Re: Is that God talking?

Postby McMiller » Fri May 03, 2013 12:12 pm

Avshalom Binyamin wrote:If 70% of the population experiences something, by definition it can't be abnormal.

At one point in time nearly 100% of europe believed that the earth was flat, and that man is cursed with original sin. Similarly, peoples in even more remote times have believed all manner of ridiculous things. The pervasiveness of these ideas in any given culture is no credit to their merit. Sure, possessing the idea may be "normal", if by normal you mean "most people" would agree at that particular momentt. By your standard it was "normal" just 60 years ago to be racist and sexist. Just 10 years ago it was normal to be homophobic and against marriage equality. Just look how many people deny biology, physics, and world history ,just because it doesn't agree with them.

So you see it really doesn't matter how many people believe in ridiculous crap at any given time. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that so many people today buy any of it because we inherited the ideas from our ancestors (who believed in all sorts of crazy things from Jesus to original sin. Including everything in-between from spirits, to demons, to the daily death and rebirth of the sun.)
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Re: Is that God talking?

Postby Jim Eshelman » Fri May 03, 2013 12:31 pm

McMiller wrote:At one point in time nearly 100% of europe believed that the earth was flat, and that man is cursed with original sin.

The difference in this case is that the article under discussion is about how people experience the event, and the circumstances under which they have such experiences. According to a couple of published studies, about 70% of people say that they have the type of experience described. There isn't any claim that it is or isn't this thing or that - just that they report that they have the type of experience described.

Sure, possessing the idea may be "normal", if by normal you mean "most people" would agree at that particular momentt.

Yes, that IS what normal means - that it applies to the norm, the actual general level or typical. Normal isn't necessarily optimal (nor its opposite), not necessarily natural - but it's the norm.

By your standard it was "normal" just 60 years ago to be racist and sexist.

Exactly. (At least, in this country and within certain majority ethnic groups.)

So you see it really doesn't matter how many people believe in ridiculous crap at any given time.

That depends on the question. I think you're arguing over whether a particular interpretation is right or wrong, whether a particular suspected causation is true or false. That's not what the article was about... except for the conclusion at the en,d that prayer [and implicitly, I think, prayer-similar practices] is a powerful instrument, and that [i]prayer as a skill[/quote] changes how we use our minds. It says more about us than about any target of those prayers.
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Re: Is that God talking?

Postby Bereshith » Fri May 03, 2013 12:46 pm

One potato, two potato, three potato, four...

Psychological normality is statistically derived, "fo' shore."
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Re: Is that God talking?

Postby McMiller » Fri May 03, 2013 12:51 pm

Even the author of the article says they would not personally attribute the experience to god or anything spiritual.

It has been well known for many thousands of years that various practices can induce these experiences. Everything from yoga, to music, to drugs, to sex, to ritual. In the absence of modern science our ancestors made up all sorts of silly explanations for why things happen.

You don't have to be completely crazy to have had some sort of experience with what the article is talking about. Even without prayer or intense meditation some people have overly active imaginations. In the end it all comes down to what a person believes about what they are experiencing.

Churches and forums like this one can act as a support group for people to reinforce and share each others delusions. Maybe some level of indulgence in this is healthy for some people, and can keep people from going "over the edge". Sadly however I still feel the potential for harm is greater than good.

Just look at all the cases of people who hear god's voice tell them to kill abortion doctors, or drown their infant child. Look at all the crazy occultists who have delusions of being the "chosen one" and all that. People who take their conspiracy delusions to the level of paranoid schizophrenia. Our society is riddled with this stuff.

Not to mention all the wars and fighting for supremacy of ideology.

There are many different levels of crazy and sane. Everyone knows what a crazy crackhead bum looks like. And yet plenty of people who consider themselves perfectly sane will buy into homeopathic or magical cures that are totally bunk. I think that's crazy.
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Re: Is that God talking?

Postby Jim Eshelman » Fri May 03, 2013 1:12 pm

McMiller wrote:Even the author of the article says they would not personally attribute the experience to god or anything spiritual.

It seems to me that you're trying to create an argument where nobody is arguing.

As the OP, I'm certainly not saying that the contents of the article speak one way or the other to a cause or explanation, only to description of the phenomena (which is my greater area of interest anyway). The only position reflected in the original post is my conclusion that "people who practice substantially the methods recommended by Abramelin will obtain results substantially the same as those predicted by Abramelin."

Sadly however I still feel the potential for harm is greater than good.

Understood, with appreciation for your concern.

Just look at all the cases of people who hear god's voice tell them to kill abortion doctors, or drown their infant child.

Those are schizophrenics. The article clearly distinguishes between characteristics of the "hearing the voice of God" by the 1% of the populace that is schizophrenic, from "hearing the voice of God" by the 70% of non-schiz people. The experiences are dramatically different. (Well, I have to admit that some of the latter might well think God wants them to torch a clinic. But, hey, if they're the kind of person who would do that, then they could just as easily do that because their neighbor told them to.)

Not to mention all the wars and fighting for supremacy of ideology.

Of course, if religion weren't the excuse, there would still be wars and fighting for the supremacy of ideology. It just wouldn't be religious ideology. (The same nonrational centers of the brain are hyperactive during political argument as during religious argument; or, for that matter, arguments over commercial product superiority.)
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Re: Is that God talking?

Postby Bereshith » Fri May 03, 2013 1:53 pm

From the highly suggestible to the psychologically unsound,
If ever I have bound thee, be by these words unbound.

Just in a rhyming mood, I guess. Ignore it if you wish.
I've all the moods, and flare, and the opinions of a fish.

Is poesizing crazy? It's abnormal; that's fo shore.
But every one in twelve's abnormal to eleven more.

Functional's the crazy question, and functioning, I am,
And being right's the right of all who on opinion stand.

By gum! You're right!
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Re: Is that God talking?

Postby landis » Sat May 04, 2013 11:23 pm

Los wrote:
Avshalom Binyamin wrote:I'd like to believe in this objective, extra-mental reality you believe in, Los, but all the evidence I've been able to observe came to me through my mind.


I see I'm going to have to explain this again....

Why didn't you just say, "I'm a metaphysical realist"? Those five words would've said the same thing and taken up a lot less space.
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