The ground of faith
 Science and Mysticism together
spinning globe

Friends of the Scientific and Medical Network

 A Record of the Seminar on ‘The Stephen Experience’ with Michael Cocks

 An Enquiry into the Nature of Mind and Being

Saturday, 15 May 2004, 9.30 am to 4.30 pm, Trinity at Waiake, 864 Beach Rd, Waiake, Torbay

Instead of our normal FSMN meeting in May we held a seminar with Rev Michael Cocks
 on The Stephen Experience. Michael, a retired Anglican priest, was one of a small
Christchurch group who, between 1973 and 1980, were in communication with an
entity supposedly identified as St Stephen, the first Christian martyr. Much of what
 passed between ‘Stephen’ and the group, and an account of Michael’s research
on the subject, is recorded in his book, ‘The Stephen Experience’.
(See also

The Stephen Experience consisted largely of conversations with Stephen over a 7
 year period characterized by metaphysical teachings and the setting of numerous
puzzles. There were also many sychronicities for Michael both preceding and during
 the events. A sense of the numinous was ever present.

The events of the Stephen Experience must be quite a rare instance where trance
communicators establish with a reasonable likelihood that they are who they claim
 to be; or that at the very least the life record (memory?) of the supposed
communicator is being accessed in some way. The central evidence is some
 Greek supposedly spoken by St Stephen through the lips of a then agnostic
 Jewish channel in a dialect of which none of the Christchurch group had
any knowledge. This example of a northern dialect of Koiné Greek has been
 passed as genuine by two Greek scholars.

The Greek words “spoken” by the channel, Thomas Ashman, are an example
 of Xenoglossy, that is, speaking or writing in a language never learned or heard.
 It is one of the most amazing psychic phenomena, which sceptics continually
and deliberately seem to ignore. But there are thousands of cases reported,
 many hundreds of which have been documented and rigorously investigated.

The aim of our seminar was to conduct a participatory enquiry into the nature
of mind and being, using the Stephen material provided by Michael and drawing
 also on other insights relevant to our study. Those of us interested in studying
such accounts often feel frustration at our inability to question the people involved.
 But through Michael’s presence we had the great privilege of being able to
dialogue directly with one of the main players involved at the time. As well as
having a deep personal interest in the significance of those events, Michael,
who is a member of the UK Scientific and Medical Network, also brings a
scholarly rigour to his examination of them.

Participants (19 plus Michael Cocks) first had the opportunity to talk with
Michael about the whole experience. After some initial responses to the
 material provided a general discussion followed. Following lunch we
continued the dialogue in small groups before a concluding session together.

Some of the points made by seminar participants were:

#Cherished beliefs are challenged;
#Childlike we find ourselves asking many questions;
# Many experiences can’t be explained by science—they lie in a different domain;
#There is a strengthened sense that we are one;
# Some answers are best found through experience rather than analysis;
# There may be a movement in human minds, an extension of tendrils as it were,
 towards establishing a better understanding of reality. There are dogmas to be
 rid on both sides of the science/religion divide. The incoming tide erases the
patterns in the sand;
# We must beware in our responses to avoid purveying ‘snake oil’.
#We must test our ideas;
# During our own creating, the director in us can inhibit creativity.
We must seek not to interfere;
# Like children we need time to absorb new experience.
The mind has to let go before it can respond;
# There is a sense in which Stephen lies both in and beyond an imaginal
world between the conscious and the unconscious;
# Do young people and adolescents move into such a place?
# The apparent intervention of Jesus during conversations with Stephen,
for example concerning incorrect doctrine, was awe-inspiring for Michael;
# The Stephen experience was valid for that group. Others must make
their own journey;
# The Stephen phenomenon seems to be distinct from many of the psychophysical
constructions which have been reported;
# One commentator has summarized the common theological ground suggested
 by channelling as: human beings are inherently divine; we are responsible for
creating our own reality; our behaviour is strongly influenced by incidents in
previous lifetimes, the universe is a single inter-connected holistic field……;
 sacred places draw in spiritual energies from other parts of the universe;
# Participation in the seminar gave some a sense of personal affirmation,
a warm confirmation of  other life experiences;
# There is a sense in which we are all now part of the Stephen experience
 and should allow that to travel with us.

Michael has presented the events of The Stephen Experience without the
wish to demonstrate any particular philosophy, theology, or scientific point
of view. He believes that theology should be based on actual spiritual experience
 and on science, rather than on doctrines, creeds, and Biblical or church
inerrancies.  He himself finds the most self consistent understanding in terms
 of contact in real time with the spirit of Stephen who was part of The One
(the Source, Cosmic Consciousness) in which there is no separation.
Following David Bohm’s gnosis the synchronicities can be seen as arising
 as a kind of projection from an underlying connectedness (Bohm’s Implicate Order)
 onto the physical sensory world.

These ideas and other implications for our understanding of mind and being
were not explored in any depth by the seminar. While this was in some
degree disappointing it was perhaps too much to expect us to go far along
 this route in the time available, given the uniqueness of our personal
starting positions. We have however added to the awareness we need
to continue our enquiries at future meetings and individually.
            ‘There are more things in heaven and earth---------‘

This month's issue journal producers Subscription
Copyright © The Ground of Faith 2003 (note any individual authors retain their own copyright)