Mindfulness

Please see this post and others at the new location: ( http://ethericstudies.org/essays/ )

Purpose
Mindfulness-Hermit
The phenomena of transcommunication appear to have a purpose beyond the reassurance it offers to loved ones. After examining mediumistic messages from the other side and “revelations” brought by past teachers, it is easy to imagine that our etheric communicators are trying to teach us about the reality of our immortality by showing us they exist. This article is written as an exploration of the idea that the EVP messages in our recorders, or the paranormal images we find in our photographs, are a new way of telling us that we are part of a larger community. Perhaps it is up to us to understand what that means.

Mindfulness
The terms “mindfulness” and “mindful living” have become catchphrases for right living, but not in a pretentious way or in an attempt to tell you what to do. People speak of mindfulness, almost in a reverent tone, as if the concept relates more to God than to daily living. Always, it is used to offer guidance in how to improve your life; how to be all that you can be.

Discussions about the phenomena of transcommunication are usually about technique and quality of examples. Who is talking may be discussed, especially if the information seems to come from a loved one, but the question of continuous life seldom comes up. But in fact, considered from the perspective of your immortality, transcommunication may actually be all about you and your immortality. If this is true, then learning to live mindfully may be the most important ability you can learn.

Teachers
Mindfulness is based on the idea that what we do now matters here and hereafter–both to us and to others with whom we share reality. Information about this has come to us by way of Instrumental TransCommunication (ITC), meditation and mediumship.

With proper controls, ITC can be a rich source of information about the other side. For instance, we have seen that we should expect a life review during our transition. We know they can see us, and we know our communicators sometimes “get together” with friends on the other side. We also know that there are changes in their ability or need to communicate, so that some do not “report in” for years and some seem to “move on” after a while.

Channeled material must be considered with reservation because we know cultural influences can color messages. Even so, consistency amongst communicators seems to add credibility to some messages.(Ref: 1)

Perhaps some of the most important teachers have been the fabled Hermes Trismegistus and the biblical Jesus. The only document credited to Hermes that seems reliable is The Emerald Tablet.(Ref: 2) In it, he speaks of “The One Thing,” which is the same as “The Great Work” of hermetic tradition.(Ref: 3) The Great Work is all about the path followed by seekers to gain understanding. The lessons involved in this are virtually the same as brought by other teachers. The message is that a person benefits by learning to live in accordance with the true nature of reality.

A review of teachings attributed to Jesus, as found in Aramaic-to-English translations, shows that he taught that our I Am presence exists in the greater reality and that our transition out of this lifetime is toward our I Am presence: “Where that I Am really is, there you already are, and you can be, consciously.” (From Luke 24:38-49) He also taught the unity of humankind; that one person’s actions reflects on all people.(Ref: 4)

We included a transcript of Hans Bender’s words as conveyed by Kai Mügge in the Fall, 2013 ATransC NewsJournal. To paraphrase, Bender explained that we are not alone and that how we view the other side has a lot to do with how we experienced it during our transition. He said that what we are doing here affects the other side and that we can project negativity into the greater reality which can cause problems for others.

Jane Roberts’ Seth material appears to be a reliable source of information about the other side.1 Three important “instructions” from Seth are: People create their own reality; people exist in more than one aspect of reality at once; and, the only wrong act is to violate another person.

The common message from all of these sources is that who we really are, our I am presence always exists in the greater reality, that we are able to connect with our etheric aspect through “right thinking,” that how we think now affects us and others now and beyond this lifetime and that it is for us to learn to live in accordance with the true nature of reality. This understanding is not one person or one organization teaching religious doctrine. Think of it as the handbook for “right living” given to us by our friends on the other side; this is mindful living.

What we do now matters
If you look behind the curtain of ITC messages, so to speak, a pattern begins to emerge that tells us much about the person. While the messages appear to be paranormal, it has been noted by many researchers that different practitioners are apt to record rather different kinds of messages from the same situation.

To illustrate, Lisa and another person went into a dark room of a reportedly haunted building and recorded for EVP. Lisa is a pragmatic, levelheaded witness and recorded EVP containing useful information. The other person delighted in being scared and expected scary EVP, and in fact, she recorded scary EVP. In both cases, the messages were clearly paranormal, but their character tended to agree with the practitioner’s worldview.

As it turns out, it appears the person’s expectations are projected onto experiences. This has been noted in what has become known as the sheep-goat effect. In that, people who are more psi sensitive (psychic) tend to have more paranormal experiences. In his book, First Sight,(Ref: 5) Dr. James Carpenter developed a hypothesis for the evidence currently being presented in parapsychology which holds that people are always informed about the world via their natural psychic sensing. Further, he argues that people are constantly psychokinetically influencing their world.

What all of this means is that we also see with our inner senses (first sight) and always have some influence on our world with our intention, which is based on what we think is true.

Worldview
Mindfulness - Functional areas of mental activity
Engineers design models for systems they are trying to understand. One way to develop a model is to figuratively put the subject in a “black box” with the known input and output clearly defined. The trick is then to think of what would have to happen inside of the box in response to the input to produce the output. Not knowing for sure what is inside the box, engineers usually solve the problem by theorizing a model with functional areas inside the box.

The functional areas for a person’s mental activity might be modeled as an input from the world as sensed by the person (bright blue arrow at the top in figure above), an output as the person decides whether or not to act via speech or deed (bright blue arrow at right), an area where memory is stored (worldview), and the processes of visualization, perception and expression.

Researchers have found that people imagine what they are experiencing, and the information for that imagining comes from the worldview database. If the incoming information agrees with the database, then it will actually be experienced by the person. If it does not match the database, then it will either be changed to agree with the database and experienced in that changed form or rejected outright. (See the “Basic Functional Areas for Perception” diagram below.)

The way we express ourselves involves the same processes. Something causes us to react, and however that initial stimulus is translated by worldview, an imagined reaction is developed. At that point it is just a fantasy, but if we intend to act, then, what is visualized is expressed in some way. The rest of the story is that, with that intention to act, we begin to psychokinetically influence the world.

Using this model, it becomes evident that worldview plays an important part in our lives. By all indications, we are born with a more-or-less empty worldview database. It appears reasonable to argue that we do begin with a degree of understanding, so that one might say that a child is “an old soul” if born with more than average understanding about the world. It seems reasonable to say that the average person’s worldview is full of what has been taught by teachers, parents, clergy and the media. Much of that is simply local custom or popular wisdom.

Personal reality, local reality and the greater reality
Of course, there is only one reality, but there are differences in the way people experience that one reality. This is all about the individual person, so it is important to understand that each of us has a local reality which is that part of the greater reality which we are aware of, and more importantly, which we pay attention to. Your home town is part of your local reality, but there are likely parts of it you are actively aware of and other parts that only provide background for the sense of “town.” Your neighbor will have a slightly different local reality and someone living in another country will hardly be aware of most of what you think of as real.

Mindfulness-Functional_areas_of_perceptionThe greater reality just is. It does not have the capacity to be positive or negative. The same can be said of local reality: it just is. How you perceive your local reality is rather different. For instance, where you live just is, but it has characteristics such as good, bad, warm or uninviting, depending on how you think of it. Your personal reality is how you perceive your local reality; what you think of it. Right or wrong, as far as you are concerned, your personal reality is the real reality and that is determined by your worldview–what you have been taught, but biased by whatever understanding you have achieved.

In mindful living, we are taught to examine our worldview to see if what we believe is true makes sense. The idea is to align personal reality with local reality; the true nature of reality and not what we have been taught to think is true.

Suspended judgment
Rethinking what you believe to be true may seem paradoxical. If you believe something to be true, how can you tell if you should change your mind or even examine the belief? In practical application, mindful living is a life-long process; a path to be followed one-step at a time, so how does one begin in the middle of life?

An effective way to begin mindful living is to make a conscious decision to have an open mind. Take conscious control of the process your mind uses to consider new information. The “Basic Functional Areas for Perception” diagram represents a model for how a person experiences information from the environment.

We visualize what we are experiencing in a very fast, mostly subconscious reaction to information from our environment. This visualization is based on what we have been taught, which is in our worldview. If the incoming information agrees with what we expect, say a friend on the phone or the door opening when we turn the handle, then it will be experienced. If it does not agree with what we visualize, it may not be noticed, as if we are blind to it.

An important characteristic of this comparison between what we expect and what we encounter is that a close agreement will likely result in perception of the information as well as feedback that can modify worldview with an ambiguous “maybe.” In other words, we learn. As what we learn begins to consistently agree with reality, it becomes understanding. While we are told that worldview shapes our first after-death experiences, it appears that it is this understanding that persists beyond this lifetime.

The idea then, is to learn to monitor the decision that comes out of that comparison. The idea of suspended judgment is that we seek to just experience and not decide if we accept it or not. People have a tendency to automatically reject things they do not understand. With suspended judgment, the decision to accept or reject is not made without allowing time to consider the experience in the context of more information.

Self-determination
We have to decide … everything. If not what we experience, then we must at least decide how to react. Self-determination also means that we create our world. Again, not necessarily the brick and mortar places and things we live in, but for sure how we react to these things. Two people might have essentially the same experience, but each will remember it in a different way. A person who is in the habit of thinking things always go wrong will likely remember it as a bad experience; however, a person who is generally optimistic about life is likely to have remembered it as a good experience or at least as a learning experience. It is all about attitude and that is a learned thing.

Here too, suspended judgment can help. Whatever you think the world is like, learn to consciously intercept that “Oh, it’s awful” response with either a “wait and see” or a “it has a good side” response. You may be thinking that this is idealistic but it works. Once it becomes a habit to intercept those internal decisions, there is more room for alternative explanations for what you experience. An “awful” reaction tends to stop further consideration of alternative explanations.

You are always psychically interacting with your environment. How you think of incoming information also has a lot to do with how that information continues to develop. It is likely that a positive or at least neutral response will encourage a more beneficial effect in your environment.

Mindful living
This is an abbreviated discussion about mindful living. The main message is that what you do now will follow you for the rest of your existence–here and hereafter. The more your personal reality agrees with the actual nature of reality, the more progress you will make in your evolution toward a spiritually mature personality; understanding begets understanding.

The key is to stop and think before you react. This also applies to things you do. To paraphrase Jane Roberts’ Seth, perhaps the only sin is to impose your will on others. Stop and think about how your actions affect others. You are a citizen of your community, the world … and the greater reality. You psychically interact with it so that your feelings about another person in some way affect that person.

The only right you have is to decide what you think of your world and how you will react to what you decide. You are the only judge as to how well you are doing and that is not based on what you have been taught but on the understanding you have gathered during your existence.

In an ideal world, people would just naturally be mindful of how they are doing as citizens. Laws to enforce behavior considered common decency today would be unnecessary because people would be mindful of how their actions might affect others. Of course, we do not live in an ideal world, but that is the point. We are also a society of people whose personal reality is very different than the actual nature of reality. The ideal of mindful living is to evolve a society of people who understand they are part of a community.

Comments
As always, I am interested in your views on this subject.

References

  1. Cunningham, Paul F. , “The Content-Source Problem in Modern Mediumship Research,” River University, 2012, rivier.edu/faculty/pcunningham/Publications/CunninghamJP_Fall-2012-Vol-76-(2)-295-319.pdf.
  2. Butler, Tom, “The Emerald Tablet,” ethericstudies.org/ writing/emerals_tablet.htm.
  3. Waite, Arthur Edward, The Pictorial Key to the Tarot, 1911, sacred-texts.com/tarot/pkt/index.htm.
  4. Grimes, Roberta A., “How Gospel Analysis Can Be Combined with Afterlife Evidence and Traditional Science to Help Us Better Understand Consciousness,” The Academy for Spiritual And Consciousness Studies, Inc. 2013 Proceedings
  5. Carpenter, James C., First Sight: ESP and Parapsychology in Everyday Life, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, ISBN-13: 978-1442213906, 2012
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Classifying Phenomena

Please see this post and others at the new location: ( http://ethericstudies.org/essays/ )

A common dilemma in the study of some forms of transcommunication is how to consider examples of phenomena that are perhaps not as paranormal as others. For instance, video-loop Instrumental TransCommunication (ITC) sometimes produces convincing likenesses of human faces for which there is no known physical explanation.

Visual ITC: possibly a child

Visual ITC: possibly a child

At the same time, a face seen in calcium buildup on a subway wall may be paranormal, but it is tempting to ignore it as happenstance because the pattern could occur without intelligent intervention. However, ignoring a face-like pattern may be a mistake because the bounds of the etheric communicator’s capabilities are not known. Our reaction might be different if we knew that a person looking a lot like the calcium pattern had been killed on that very spot.

Six Association TransCommunication (ATransC) members responded to an email that went out asking for input in the Idea Exchange. GP noted that “We are not necessarily bound to follow the rigid, objective procedures of the natural and physical sciences … we make an assessment.”

PH reminded us of the dangers of finding patterns where there are none; a human condition known as “paradolia.” As always to be depended on for help, MD, described how she sometimes deals with degrees of paranormality. JK agreed that some phenomena are more difficult to attribute paranormality. CS explained that, if he can still see the image after looking away, then he thinks it is not paranormal. SS made a number of interesting points, but importantly, agreed that we were being too restrictive in how we graded phenomena.

Based on this input, I am proposing a more robust classification system for phenomena.

Tradition
The community of people who study ITC has historically used a three-tier system for classifying EVP. The system has been very useful; however, the increasing popularity of live-voice forms of audio forms of ITC, also known as Electronic Voice Phenomena or EVP, requires a more robust system. While a similar problem has been encountered with visual forms of ITC, there has been no classification system for that form of the phenomena. The three-class system for rating EVP is:

Class A: Can be heard and understood over a speaker by most people
Class B: Can be heard over a speaker, but not everyone will agree as to what is said
Class C: Can only be heard with headphones and is difficult to understand
[Note that Class B or C voices may have one or two clearly understood words. Loud does not equal Class A.]

Type 1 and Type 2 Phenomena

Two-type classification

Two-type classification

The proposed system is based on two types (Type 1 and Type 2) (See Figure 1), each with three-subclasses. In the old system, the majority of examples (specifically EVP) are rated as Class C while a small percentage of examples are rated Class B and even fewer are rated Class A.

Expected distribution of of class

Expected distribution of of class

Figure 2 illustrates the approximate distribution of Class A, B and C examples.
As a general rule, Class C examples are very common, but are also much less evidential in that they are not easily shared (objectivity), and therefore, it is much more difficult to argue that they are paranormal. Thus it is shown in Figure 1 that, as the objectivity of examples increase, they are perceived as being more paranormal.

In the proposed system, a distinction is made between features which are always present (Type 2) and transient features (Type 1). A face seen in the decomposition pattern of a leaf is more or less always there (Type 2), as opposed to a face found in light reflected from moving water (Type 1). As a general rule, “always there” phenomena appears to be formed by opportunistically adapting naturally occurring processes to express the message (assuming one is intended). If perceived as phenomena, “always there” features would be considered Type 2.

Features found in ever-changing noise are thought to be formed by transforming that noise into the voice or face. While the resulting features are fleeting unless caught in media (photographic or audio recording), they tend to be better formed and more easily identified as anomalous. So for both audible and visible phenomena:

Type 1: Transformed physical media; not always present
Type 2: Always present; often as a persistent artifact

The Classes are as before, but described in more generic terms:

Class A: Evident without explanation
Class B: May require directions
Class C: May be vaguely experienced; mostly obscured by noise

Types Are Based on Technique

Audio ITC: The input sound used in EVP helps determine the type. There will be exceptions, but as a general rule:

Type 1 Audible: Input is noise, either ambient room noise or supplied, perhaps with a fan or a noise generator. The formation of voice is thought to be via transformation as the communicator imposes intended order on the otherwise chaotic noise.
Type 2 Audible: Input sound is live voice. This included someone talking on the radio, in the room or pre-recorded, perhaps in a foreign language. The easily heard voice is supplied, but formation of the message is seen as opportunistic selection of parts of the existing voice.

It is important to note that a Type 1 EVP can be formed in any sound, including noise or voice. As such, foreign-language voice can be transformed into new words. With that said, the practitioner can be expected to provide both input and output files for comparison. Since it is known that EVP occur in one process, two recorders recording the same input should not produce the same EVP.

Visual ITC: Features found in photographs and video frames of medium-density optical noise are considered transform features. They are transient, in that an observer does not see them at the time of recording, only upon review of the media.

By comparison, a pattern on a piece of toast that resembles a face is long lasting and visible without the need to examine a photograph. With these considerations in mind:
Type 1 Visual: input is noise, usually medium density which is not very light or very dark. Textured surfaces facilitate image formation, as do image compression techniques. Often, visibility of the resulting paranormal feature is limited by the resolution of the media.
Type 2 Visual: Naturally occurring surface characteristics which are more or less static can sometimes be arranged to form faces. Whether or not they are intentionally formed is not clear, but the availability of alternative explanations causes these features to be perceived as less paranormal.

Visual ITC Classification: scale of paranormality

Visual ITC Classification: scale of paranormality

What is Next?
A Best Practice has been drafted at atransc.org/bp/Classification, which will be evolved as the classification system is refined. Your input is both needed and wanted. Please let us know your thoughts. ATransC members are always invited to edit the Collective.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Comments On “Harnessing The ‘Paranormal Community’”

Please see this post and others at the new location: ( http://ethericstudies.org/essays/ )

Letter to the EdgeScience Editor,

A publication of the Society for Scientific Exploration[A note: I read Auerbach’s essay with great interest. It is a good one, but I felt it ignored the relationship between serious investigators and hobbyists.
There was no acknowledgement for the letter, and of course, it was not published. I do not expect everything I send in to be published, but past experience with the SSE has exposed a bias against ITC.]

I wish to emphasize some of the points Loyd Auerbach made in “Harnessing the ‘Paranormal Community’” (Edgescience #14). Auerbach is eminently qualified to discuss the amateur paranormal community and his perspective is one from which observers can benefit. I wish to reinforce his points from the perspective of Instrumental TransCommunication (ITC), especially Electronic Voice Phenomena or EVP.

EVP is an often-reported phenomenon which has been studied for over fifty years. Amongst the phenomena ostensibly considered to be trans-etheric influences, the objectivity of EVP is arguably the best understood. Examples are able to be produced on demand by confident practitioners and the results can be measured in terms of physical waveforms, allophone distribution and message content with a typical 20-to-25% agreement for what is heard amongst listeners for Class A examples. These characteristics have made the use of an audio recorder to possibly record the voice of the “local ghost” an important technique in hauntings investigation.

Whether or not EVP are evidence of survived personality or just caused by the thoughts of the practitioner need not be addressed for the anomalous voices to be useful for research. The paranormality of EVP is well established, and as such, study of EVP necessarily includes study of psi and human potential. Conversely, the study of EVP should provide an alternative way to study psi, making it something of a “lab rat” for paranormal research.

If ghost hunter groups are thought of as clubs enjoying the search for ghosts as an excuse for getting together on an outing, then hauntings investigation groups might be thought of as groups that enjoy the club-like camaraderie, but which are intent on serious study of haunting events which lead to well-documented reports and potential assistance for distressed home owners. So, as a general statement, ghost hunter activities and related television programs are for entertainment only and should not be considered a source of useful information for research. In this regard, a ridiculous rendition of an investigation portrayed on television should not result in the blanket condemnation of the larger community any more than should a silly sci-fi program produce blanket condemnation of the mainstream scientific community. Presumably viewers are smarter than that.

Even though there are substantial differences between recreational ghost hunting and serious investigation of supposedly haunted places, both groups are generally discounted by the more academically trained paranormal community. This has produced something of a vacuum of leadership which has forced the less well trained paranormalists to their own devices. The result is less than academic-quality research and reporting, and the isolation of a very valuable research capability from researchers who are trained, but lack access to the necessary practitioners. As I read Auerbach’s essay, his core argument is that more can be done to rectify this.

In a few rare instances, parapsychologists have embedded themselves with hauntings investigation groups to produce important research. However, in other cases, parapsychologists have used erroneous assumptions and paid students as practitioners, resulting in poorly designed protocols with even less credible results. While anyone might experience phenomena, not everyone is able to induce phenomena on demand. Many ghost hunting groups, and certainly hauntings investigation groups have people who are knowledgeable about the phenomena and highly qualified practitioners.

From my experience, neither the amateur paranormalists or the academically trained parapsychologists have the wherewithal to study these phenomena without the help of the other. In a perfect community, parapsychologists would seek to work with the groups who are at the forefront of this study to provide guidance, best practices, advice and assistance in publishing results for the “citizen scientist.”

As an effort to develop a coherent point of view for this community, the Association TransCommunication is establishing a Collective, which is a wiki intended to help people collaborate in the development of best practices. One such practice concerns a methodology by which an individual can become “self-certified” as a practitioner for EVP. If encouraged to become thus qualified to reliably collect EVP, it would be possible to establish a list of research practitioners for study of any of the phenomena related to transcommunication and psi functioning. For instance, if a researcher wished to develop a methodology to shield from psi, a practitioner, who on average expects to record at least a Class A or B example fifty percent of the time should not be able to record any EVP in a psi-shielded chamber. While statistical analysis is generally inappropriate for transcommunication research, there is much to be said about the benefits of having an expectation of induced phenomena.

Amateur paranormalists are, as a group, intelligent and dedicated to objective understanding of these phenomena; however, they lack the training one expects of a proper scientist and have virtually no supporting infrastructure of research libraries and peer-reviewed journals enjoyed by the academic community. Both groups are important resources in our efforts to understand the greater reality yet both are currently wasted from the perspective of survival research. It would be good if Loyd Auerbach’s essay can begin a discussion about how parapsychologists might cooperate with citizen scientists.

Tom Butler
Director, Association TransCommunication
ATransC.org

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment