New: We have set up a forum for readers to share their thoughts and ideas. This is only a trial at the moment, but will become a permanent feature if it proves successful.
In general: This journal is affirming and supporting the life and work of the Christian churches, with their varying theologies, and it aims to do so by giving examples of how science, mysticism, and human spiritual experience also affirm the core of Christianity.
About this issue, “Images of God”: Truth to tell, if we have an image of God, it is not God that we image. We can encounter the Divine, we can sense the numinous, experience guidance in Spirit, we can perceive the loving and creative activity of the Divine, we experience Christ, and so on. It may well be, that regardless of our varying theologies and ideas, that there is much in common in the ways each of us experience and relate to God.
Being human however, we are unable to abstain from having images and conceptions of God. The Scriptures are filled with a multitude of such images, theologies add to them, and they can mislead. New Zealander Bill Wallace, a Methodist clergyman, has achieved reknown in several countries, for his hymns helping us re-examine the images associated with the Divine.
We cannot but be impressed with the biographic details of Kathleen Duffy SSJ. She writes concerning Teilhard de Chardin, “he had to distill the truly significant features from both a belief system that had lost its vitality and its ability to inspire”. [She is presently President of the Board of Directors of the METANEXUS Institute for Religion and Science.]
In a book review we note that Sjoerd Bonting protests against "a gruesome image of a God who is so hopelessly imprisoned in God's own perfect justice that the only possiblity to save humankind is by sacrificing God's own Son." Just a sentence from a book filled with much else, but it illustrates how theologians wrestle with these misleading images. Stephen remarks how language and images separate us from each other in our relationship to God.
The remaining contributors deal with other topics of interest:
Mike Tymn is editor of Searchlight the quarterly bulletin published by the Academy of Spirituality and Paranormal Studies. [The Academy of Spirituality and Paranormal Studies is the academic wing of the Spiritual Frontiers Fellowship.]
Arthur I. Miller: Harmony of the Universe – Einstein and Mozart: This article is quoted from the New York Times because its theme is topical, the 250th Anniversary of the birth of Mozart. The previous three articles have been reproduced from Metanexus, and The Journal of Spirituality and Paranormal Studies, with permission gratefully received. The article by Bill Wallace was specially written for this journal.
Under the heading, Experience, we have material relating to Rhea White. We read her words, “I founded the Parapsychology Source of Information Center and began to publish an abstracting and indexing service, Parapsychology Abstracts International. I also became editor of one of the major parapsychology journals, the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, a position I still hold.” In these, and many other ways, Rhea White has been very important in the history of parapsychology. Her account of what made her devote her life to what she calls, “Exceptional Human Experiences” will be of great interest.
The Website, Inner Explorations, deserves prolonged study. It provides an entrée into a huge number of websites to do with spirituality, and should be a “Favorite” in the browser.
William Livingstone Wallace (Bill) is a retired Methodist Minister from Aotearoa/New Zealand who has spent all his working life in parish ministry. However, he has always sought to reach beyond the boundaries of the parish and of his own denomination into ecumenical and latterly inter-faith activities. He has been described as a prophet and a mystic and despite Bill's reluctance to accept such designations there are undoubtedly prophetic and mystical elements in many of his hymns. In recent years one of Bill's main concerns has been to attempt to bridge the gap between the thought world of traditional Christianity and the thought world of the new scientific view of human beings and the universe.
Bill has five published books of his own hymns. In addition his hymns have been included in twenty hymn collections published in Australia, New Zealand, North American, England, Scotland, Germany, Latin America and Asia. Other worship material has appeared in fifteen different publications. He has also written Sacred Energy/Mass of the Universe a Mass, Eucharist, Communion Service written from an ecocentric rather than an anthropocentric perspective.
About Bill Wallace
Read his article, [ Christian worship in a world of dying and emerging images of God ]
Kathleen Duffy, SSJ received her PhD in Physics from Drexel University. Currently, she is Professor of Physics at Chestnut Hill College. Formerly, she taught physics at Drexel University, Bryn Mawr College, Ateneo de Manila University and University of the Philippines. She has published research in atomic and molecular physics and in chaos theory in journals such as Physics Review Letters, Journal of Chemical Physics and Chemical Physics Letters, as well as Philippine journals and bulletins. She is presently President of the Board of Directors of the METANEXUS Institute for Religion and Science and serves on the Boards of the American Teilhard Association and Cosmos and Creation. Kathleen’s current research interest concerns the religious essays of Jesuit paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and the relationship of his synthesis to modern developments in science. She has published several book chapters and articles on these topics.
"Teilhard’s synthesis required a major shift in his understanding of both science and religion as they were understood in the early twentieth century. To accomplish it, he had to distill the truly significant features from both a belief system that had lost its vitality and its ability to inspire and from a science that had lost its ability to see beneath the surface of the phenomena. He had to break through to the core of both his faith and his science to bestow on them a new vitality."
About this article: At a
commemorative symposium in Philadelphia on the occasion of the
anniversary of the death of the French Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin a lecture "Teilhard and the Texture of the Evolutionary Cosmos" was given by Dr. Kathleen Duffy, SSJ, professor of physics Chestnut Hill College, Philadelphia. It was published in Metanexus online journal of science and religion. With the permission of the editor we republish this lecture for its excellent and well-balanced exposition of the ideas of Teilhard. Dr Duffy says about Teilhard: “he had to distill the truly significant features from both a belief system that had lost its vitality and its ability to inspire”.
Read the Article: [ Teilhard and the Texture of the Evolutionary Cosmos ]
About Mike Tymn: He is a freelance writer living in Depoe Bay, Oregon. He is editor of Searchlight the quarterly bulletin published by the Academy of Spirituality and Paranormal Studies as well as a Trustee of that organization and its book review editor. He can be contacted at <METGAT@aol.com> or at (541)765-3421
From The Journal of Spirituality and Paranormal Studies
Abstract: The serious student of psychical research is certain to encounter friends, relatives, associates and acquaintances who are puzzled by his interest, especially his interest in death and, concomitantly, the survival of consciousness. Some will scoff, some will snicker, some will smirk, some will simply smile and sympathetically shake their heads. The author often finds himself musing over such reactions, reciprocally puzzled by the obstinacy of some and the credulity of others, all the while subjecting his own views to a critical examination. This article represents such random musing.
The only really blind are those who will not see the truth
- those who shut their eyes to spiritual vision
-Helen Keller (Keller 1994, 154)
Read the Article, [ Dying, Death & After Death: Random Musing Concerning the Spiritually Challenged ]
As I approached my 65th birthday and retirement from the work force last year, I was often asked by business associates and friends what I plan to do with all my free time. I’d tell them I intend to “practice death.”
I knew my response would draw puzzled expressions and raised eyebrows, but I would throw it out anyway in the hope that the person would ask for clarification. I enjoy talking about death almost as much as I do reading and writing about it.
Before you decide I need psychiatric help, let me call on several esteemed people to support my position.
The eminent Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung said that it is psychologically beneficial to have death as a goal toward which to strive. Mozart called death the key to unlocking the door to true happiness. Shakespeare wrote that when we are prepared for death, life is sweeter. The French philosopher Michel de Montaigne said that “to practice death is to practice freedom.”
Strange ideas to most, but these great men drank deep from the fountain of wisdom and understood life’s greatest paradox—that in embracing death we can live a fuller, more enjoyable, more meaningful life.
“Death is indeed a fearful piece of brutality,” Jung offered. “There is no sense in pretending otherwise. It is brutal, not only as a physical event but far more so psychically. However, from another point of view, death appears a joyful event. In the light of eternity, it is a wedding, a mysterium conjunctionis. The soul attains, as it were, its missing half. It achieves wholeness.”
It’s difficult for most Western materialists, whether they subscribe to a religion or not, to comprehend such sage reasoning. “The idea of death, the fear of it, haunts the human mind like nothing else,” wrote anthropologist Ernest Becker in his 1974 Pulitzer prize-winning book, The Denial of Death. Becker explained that to free oneself of death anxiety, nearly everyone chooses the path of repression. We bury the idea of death deep in the subconscious and then busy ourselves with our jobs, partake of pleasures, strut in our new clothes, show off our polished cars, hit little white balls into round holes, escape into fictitious stories in books, at the movies, and on television, experience vicarious thrills at sporting events, pursue material wealth, and seek a mundane security that we expect to continue indefinitely—all the while oblivious to the fact that in the great scheme of things such activities are exceedingly short-term and for the most part meaningless. Becker refers to this “secure” person as the “automatic cultural man.” He is “man confined by culture, a slave to it, who imagines that he has an identity if he pays his insurance premiums, that he has control of his life if he guns his sports car or works his electric toothbrush.”
Becker’s automatic cultural man is a modern description of Kierkegaard’s “Philistine.” For Kierkegaard, Philistinism was man fully concerned with the trivial. Of course, if we are not completely selfish, we also involve ourselves in loving, caring for, and serving others. Those acts seem to at least partially give meaning to our lives and validate our existence, until we ask: If our loved are simply marching toward nothingness with us, what’s the point of it all?
Eventually, one day, perhaps when it becomes apparent that our days are numbered, those repressed anxieties relating to death begin welling up into the consciousness. We proceed to live our final years under a dark and increasingly foreboding shadow. For the most part, the muddled information provided by orthodox religion offers little relief, little comfort.
Becker called repression of death the enemy of mankind. Conversely, the unrepressed life can bring into birth a new way of being. Robert Jay Lifton, a distinguished professor of psychiatry and psychology, makes the same point, stating that we must “know death” in order to live with free imagination.
As I understand it, knowing death is what Montaigne called practising death, a term which seems to have originated with Socrates. As he put it, according to Plato, practicing death is merely pursuing philosophy “in the right way” and learning how “to face death easily.” It can also be referred to as embracing death.
The Larger Life
As I see it, the key to living the unrepressed life is having a sense of immortality, a firm belief that our earthly life is part of a much larger and eternal life. Lifton points out that there are some who can derive satisfaction out of a biological sense of immortality, that there will be a “living on” through one’s progeny. There is also the creative mode, whereby one “lives on” through his or her works of art, literature, or science. However, when we begin to ask ourselves to which generation full fruition, to what end the legacy, such views seem pretty foolish and myopic.
I think the bottom line is that we must accept the survival of consciousness at death in order to free ourselves from the fetters that bind us to our culture’s negative view of death. Unfortunately, orthodox religion, especially the Judeo-Christian form, has done little to help us understand the survival of consciousness. It tells us that faith alone is all that is necessary. Yet, all the practicing Jews and Christians that I know—and I know quite a few—seem to fit into Becker’s “automatic cultural man” mold, escaping from death anxiety through the use of repression. Most of them strive to be one with their toys, rather than ONE with the Creator. Death is a monster to be feared.
To me, practicing death means moving from either skepticism or blind faith to conviction by continually searching for higher truths, cultivating an awareness of the larger life, and then being able to visualize other realms of existence. This is done through constant metaphysical study, through testing, analyzing, and discerning both ancient and modern revelation, through meditating, praying, and pondering, through seeking, serving, striving, struggling, surrendering, sacrificing, and, finally, solving and soaring.
In practicing death, one does not live in the past or the future, not even in the present. One lives in eternity, which is the only true way to live in the present as well as to live in the past, present, and future at the same time.
Practicing death does not mean locking oneself up and hiding from the rest of the world while pursuing enlightenment. It simply means putting priority on searching for Truth so that we can better love and serve our fellow humans in what time we have left. That search might not take any more than an hour a day, the time many of us spend on physical exercise to assure a particular quality of life. However, that hour a day should gradually allow us to better understand life, to savor it, to harmonize with it, to find inner peace, tranquility, and repose, to move closer to being one with the Creator, and to make a graceful transition to the world of higher vibration when the time is right.
The alternative to practicing death, as I see it, is living out one’s final years by doing not much more than growing gray, griping, groaning, groping, growling, grabbing, and grieving—the path followed by Becker’s automatic cultural man.
“Let us have nothing more in mind than death,” said Montaigne. “At every instant, let us evoke it in our imagination under all aspects. Let us wait for it everywhere.”
From the New York Times.
[professor of the history and philosophy of science at University College London, wrote "Empire of the Stars."]
Last year, the 100th anniversary of E=mc2 inspired an outburst of symposiums, concerts, essays and merchandise featuring Albert Einstein. This year, the same treatment is being given to another genius, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, born on Jan. 27, 250 years ago.
Einstein and Mozart
Einstein, who learned to play the violin as a child and often turned to music in difficult times, was especially fond of the sonatas by Mozart.
There is more to the dovetailing of these anniversaries than one might think.
Einstein once said that while Beethoven created his music, Mozart's "was so pure that it seemed to have been ever-present in the universe, waiting to be discovered by the master." Einstein believed much the same of physics, that beyond observations and theory lay the music of the spheres — which, he wrote, revealed a "pre-established harmony" exhibiting stunning symmetries. The laws of nature, such as those of relativity theory, were waiting to be plucked out of the cosmos by someone with a sympathetic ear.
Thus it was less laborious calculation, but "pure thought" to which Einstein attributed his theories.
Einstein was fascinated by Mozart and sensed an affinity between their creative processes, as well as their histories.
As a boy Einstein did poorly in school. Music was an outlet for his emotions. At 5, he began violin lessons but soon found the drills so trying that he threw a chair at his teacher, who ran out of the house in tears. At 13, he discovered Mozart's sonatas.
The result was an almost mystical connection, said Hans Byland, a friend of Einstein's from high school. "When his violin began to sing," Mr. Byland told the biographer Carl Seelig, "the walls of the room seemed to recede — for the first time, Mozart in all his purity appeared before me, bathed in Hellenic beauty with its pure lines, roguishly playful, mightily sublime."
From 1902 to 1909, Einstein was working six days a week at a Swiss patent office and doing physics research — his "mischief" — in his spare time. But he was also nourished by music, particularly Mozart. It was at the core of his creative life.
And just as Mozart's antics shocked his contemporaries, Einstein pursued a notably Bohemian life in his youth. His studied indifference to dress and mane of dark hair, along with his love of music and philosophy, made him seem more poet than scientist.
He played the violin with passion and often performed at musical evenings. He enchanted audiences, particularly women, one of whom gushed that "he had the kind of male beauty that could cause havoc."
He also empathized with Mozart's ability to continue to compose magnificent music even in very difficult and impoverished conditions. In 1905, the year he discovered relativity, Einstein was living in a cramped apartment and dealing with a difficult marriage and money troubles.
That spring he wrote four papers that were destined to change the course of science and nations. His ideas on space and time grew in part from aesthetic discontent. It seemed to him that asymmetries in physics concealed essential beauties of nature; existing theories lacked the "architecture" and "inner unity" he found in the music of Bach and Mozart.
In his struggles with extremely complicated mathematics that led to the general theory of relativity of 1915, Einstein often turned for inspiration to the simple beauty of Mozart's music.
"Whenever he felt that he had come to the end of the road or into a difficult situation in his work, he would take refuge in music," recalled his older son, Hans Albert. "That would usually resolve all his difficulties."
In the end, Einstein felt that in his own field he had, like Mozart, succeeded in unraveling the complexity of the universe.
Scientists often describe general relativity as the most beautiful theory ever formulated. Einstein himself always emphasized the theory's beauty. "Hardly anyone who has truly understood it will be able to escape the charm of this theory," he once said.
The theory is essentially one man's view of how the universe ought to be. And amazingly, the universe turned out to be pretty much as Einstein imagined. Its daunting mathematics revealed spectacular and unexpected phenomena like black holes.
Though a Classical giant, Mozart helped lay groundwork for the Romantic with its less precise structures. Similarly, Einstein's theories of relativity completed the era of classical physics and paved the way for atomic physics and its ambiguities. Like Mozart's music, Einstein's work is a turning point.
At a 1979 concert for the centenary of Einstein's birth, the Juilliard Quartet recalled having played for Einstein at his home in Princeton, N.J. They had taken quartets by Beethoven and Bartok and two Mozart quintets, said the first violinist, Robert Mann, whose remarks were recorded by the scholar Harry Woolf.
After playing the Bartok, Mann turned to Einstein. "It would give us great joy," he said, "to make music with you." Einstein in 1952 no longer had a violin, but the musicians had taken an extra. Einstein chose Mozart's brooding Quintet in G minor.
"Dr. Einstein hardly referred to the notes on the musical score," Mr. Mann recalled, adding, "while his out-of-practice hands were fragile, his coordination, sense of pitch, and concentration were awesome."
He seemed to pluck Mozart's melodies out of the air.
“Can there be a universal theology which might embrace Buddhism, Hinduism, and Christianity, Islam and whatever else one might introduce into our thinking? You have almost done this, I think, but would you like to speak about it?
There is the thought and the learning and the teaching that each of these that you have mentioned should understand what has been said. Again we tend to separate, and this time [we do this] not even by physical bodies, but by words alone. [It is they that] make us separate. If it were not for the sadness, I believe that we could spoof with this.
Would you please repeat that?
Joke maybe, with this. Again, whilst our minds separate by words, or feel that we are separate because of the words, how difficult for us to feel as one, when we can be separated by a body also. We must try to study more the word of the Lord to see what the Lord Jesus said many times on the same dilemmas. That some were separated for they ate one meat that the other one could not eat. That they were separated through the lack of an operation on parts of their body. Even now we are separated through an accidental pigment in each other’s skins. The Lord never separated, he joined together. And he said the words “Become as me, become as a child, be born again,” for a child when it has quickened in the womb of its mother does not understand separateness. It has no words. It would not know which was mother and which was child. And throughout the separateness, such as Christian and Buddhist, would be ridiculous for the child. Therefore in our thoughts we must be born again, put our minds back in the womb of that which is the Whole and then we know that we are part of the Whole. I am sorry, I preach.
About Stephen <http://homepages.ihug.co.nz/~cocks/>
This article about the Dissolution of all boundaries is interesting. <http://www.island.org/prescience/bound.html>
A most useful website
mysticism, theology and metaphysics meet Eastern religions,
Jungian psychology and a new sense of the earth.
More than 500 web pages, 2,500 pages of text, and 1,000 images
Rhea A. White
Founder/Director, Exceptional Human
Editor, Exceptional Human
Experience; EHE News
I majored in English at Penn State because it was not very difficult. What I wanted was to play championship golf. My junior year in college I had a near-death experience associated with an automobile accident that changed my life. I devoted my life to trying to understand "where" I was when I found myself seemingly above the earth bathed in a sense of unity and singing peace and incredible aliveness, enveloped in felt meaning while my body lay unconscious on the hood of my car. I thought I had died--and it was wonderful. I was "told" that "nothing that ever lived could possibly die." I felt the "everlasting arms" behind me to the ends of the universe. Then I awakened out on the hood of my car, unable to move, and in great pain.
After recovering from 11 fractures, I began to read voraciously in the literature of mysticism, religion, psychology, psychiatry, philosophy, and literary criticism. I wanted to understand what I had experienced in those few moments and where I could have been and who could have "spoken" to me, and why it was so incredibly meaningful. In the course of my reading, I stumbled on Rhine's work at Duke University. Although I had been accepted at two liberal theology seminaries, instead I joined Rhine at Duke because I felt science was the way to find out answers in our day. After four years with Rhine as a research fellow, I went to New York as Research and Editorial Associate at the American Society for Psychical Research under the direction of Gardner Murphy.
After another four years I decided to find an independent means of making my living so I could be as heretical as I dared, so I obtained a Master's in Library Science from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. I began work as a reference librarian at a busy public library on Long Island (where I was to spend 29 years) and began to compile reference works about parapsychology.
I founded the Parapsychology Source of Information Center and began to publish an abstracting and indexing service, Parapsychology Abstracts International. I also became editor of one of the major parapsychology journals, the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, a position I still hold. In 1984 I was elected president of the international society of professional parapsychologists, the Parapsychological Association. In 1965 while in graduate library school I won the Hans Peter Luhn Award, New York Chapter of the American Society for Information Science, for an essay on the information needs of psychology. In 1992 the Parapsychological Association honored me with its Outstanding Lifetime Research Award.
In 1990, after nearly 40 years, I realized I wasn't going to live forever on this earth, and if I wanted to understand my near-death experience (at least now I knew what to call it), science was not going to show me, at least not the behaviorist type of science that was privileged by academic parapsychology. In 1990 I decided to go back and study the basic data of parapsychology--the experiences people report. But I soon realized that they could not be viewed properly without considering them along with all the other sorts of nonordinary and anomalous experiences people have. In a vision I saw the need to study all of them as a single class of experience, which I called "exceptional human experience." I have been pursuing this aim ever since.
Although work activities consume most of my waking hours, I share many spontaneous moments of delight and amusement with my four cats: Scamper, Strider, Grayem, and Dashell. I also enjoy walking by the nearby river; listening to music; reading fantasy, especially Tolkien and McCaffrey; gardening; and weekly get-togethers with my friends. In recent years I have devoted many pleasurable moments relating to specific species of insects and amphibians in addition to a lifelong interest in birds and plants. These include jumping spiders, Daddy Longlegs, tree frogs, and chameleons. I enjoy comedies and am a long-term New York Knicks fan, and along with millions of others, I am an admirer of Michael Jordan and an avid fan of Tiger Woods. (I believe his fascination lies in what someone whose name I cannot recall said about him in the newspaper: "He is making history with every step he takes.")
For further sources of information see Contemporary Authors, Vol. 77-80, 1979; Who's Who of American Women (17th ed., 1990). Also S. Krippner, "Rhea A. White: Parapsychology's Bibliographer" (Journal of Parapsychology, 1992, 56, 258) and M. Ullman's foreword to Exceptional Human Experience: Background Papers. (EHE Network, 1994, pp. i-ii; also published as EHE 11).
Rhea White <http://ehe.org/display/ehe-page.cfm?ID=48>
The Act of Sharing EHEs as a Catalyst <http://ehe.org/display/ehe-page.cfm?ID=31>
The Archives of Scientists' Transcendental Experiences TASTE <http://www.issc-taste.org /main/introduction.shtml>