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Conceptions of the Occult


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#1 xlcor

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Posted 29 August 2020 - 12:49 PM

Hello friends!

 

I'm interested in talking about understandings of the occult. How do you understand it? What words do you use to describe it? What fits into the your conception of the occult?

 

I've started reading about alchemy, chaos magic, witchcraft, the kabbalah, hermeticism, tantra, and sufism. I'd consider all of them to be part of the occult, along with certain parts of Christianity.

 

I would consider myself a shaman. I know what shamanism entails to me, but I'm not sure what it is to other people. Same thing with witchery and alchemy, etc. What do these things mean to my fellow topiates?


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#2 makinbones69

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Posted 29 August 2020 - 02:43 PM

Papus' translation of the qabalah helped me sort out alot of what I feel and apply it to my life. So did bhagavad gita that was a helpful view. Macgregor mathers and old texts. I stay away from crowley arrogance and the way he pursues knowledge bothers me it's an immature approach. And almighty nature.
The upanishads were pretty legit as well what I've read of them. And remmi nachman for sure i like him alot.

Edited by makinbones69, 29 August 2020 - 02:46 PM.

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#3 TVCasualty

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Posted 29 August 2020 - 03:14 PM

I would describe the occult as a general term for various collections of non-mainstream superstitions/transcendental beliefs that are often suppressed and forced into hiding by the followers of mainstream superstitions/transcendental beliefs. Or philosophical perspectives framed as spiritual realities (often secret ones).

 

If a given lineage of transcendental beliefs attains sufficient political power it becomes "mainstream," aka a religion. And whatever superstitious or transcendental Belief System it replaces is tacitly relegated back to 'cult' or 'occult' status.

 

So to me the term is relative, and the concept is ultimately specious and superfluous/obsolete (at best). A Belief System is not reality just like the menu is not the meal, and I would argue that the metaphorical 'meal' of life requires no menu.


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#4 Skywatcher

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Posted 29 August 2020 - 04:00 PM

To me "occult" is a generalized catch all word for an extremely wide spread and diverse set of practices, and beliefs.

It carries a certain air of " mystery" in many peoples mind.

 

I personally resist definitions for what I do and believe, much of which finds words somewhat useless..............

In some circles the word occult takes on a negative meaning, usually by people who fear what they do not understand.

I really don't feel it's necessary to fit anyone's definition, as there will be points of agreement and disagreement, and I personally understand each person to be unique.

 

I


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#5 makinbones69

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Posted 29 August 2020 - 04:14 PM

I feel like many ideas dubbed "occult" are more esoteric in nature rather than mainstream ideas. I think that words are used to share ideas and ideas are used to shape our world and therefore can be significant.
I agree that the ideas of any religion mainstream or otherwise are not neccessary for one to find his or her place in the natural world. I find considering the experiences of others from differing cultures, observing the similarities, and applying it to my personal life helpful.

Edited by makinbones69, 29 August 2020 - 04:19 PM.

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#6 xlcor

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Posted 29 August 2020 - 05:02 PM

Papus' translation of the qabalah helped me sort out alot of what I feel and apply it to my life. So did bhagavad gita that was a helpful view. Macgregor mathers and old texts. I stay away from crowley arrogance and the way he pursues knowledge bothers me it's an immature approach. And almighty nature.
The upanishads were pretty legit as well what I've read of them. And remmi nachman for sure i like him alot.

 

Thank you for these references! I'll read into them

 

I would describe the occult as a general term for various collections of non-mainstream superstitions/transcendental beliefs that are often suppressed and forced into hiding by the followers of mainstream superstitions/transcendental beliefs. Or philosophical perspectives framed as spiritual realities (often secret ones).

 

If a given lineage of transcendental beliefs attains sufficient political power it becomes "mainstream," aka a religion. And whatever superstitious or transcendental Belief System it replaces is tacitly relegated back to 'cult' or 'occult' status.

 

So to me the term is relative, and the concept is ultimately specious and superfluous/obsolete (at best). A Belief System is not reality just like the menu is not the meal, and I would argue that the metaphorical 'meal' of life requires no menu.

 

Totally agree about the menu and meal distinction. I've noticed a trend among 'occultists,' where they legitimize their beliefs by invoking notions of quantum physics. Why do you think this is? To me it's like trying to eat the menu along with the meal.

 

To me "occult" is a generalized catch all word for an extremely wide spread and diverse set of practices, and beliefs.

It carries a certain air of " mystery" in many peoples mind.

 

I personally resist definitions for what I do and believe, much of which finds words somewhat useless..............

In some circles the word occult takes on a negative meaning, usually by people who fear what they do not understand.

I really don't feel it's necessary to fit anyone's definition, as there will be points of agreement and disagreement, and I personally understand each person to be unique.

 

I

 

Same! I don't care for definitions so much as I care to see what words people use for their beliefs. I know how I feel about shamanism, but I can't quite articulate it. I wonder if that's a common problem and I'd also like to see how people solve the problem.

 

I feel like many ideas dubbed "occult" are more esoteric in nature rather than mainstream ideas. I think that words are used to share ideas and ideas are used to shape our world and therefore can be significant.
I agree that the ideas of any religion mainstream or otherwise are not neccessary for one to find his or her place in the natural world. I find considering the experiences of others from differing cultures, observing the similarities, and applying it to my personal life helpful.

 

It's interesting that you make a distinction between 'occult' and 'esoteric.' I also find it helpful to consider the experiences of others.



#7 makinbones69

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Posted 29 August 2020 - 05:09 PM

I do poorly trying to share ideas like this on forums and find myself posting to explain myself. I apologize for that.
I dont really make a distinction between them I think most occult type philosophy that I see is esoteric.
I really believe now more as I've gotten older and more into focusing on understanding myself more than a religious preference that like TV and Sky are saying i can see that and agree there also. I believe hidden knowledge can be found in understand nature and sciences more now. That's what I'm saying sorry it takes me 5 tries to feel like I've explained myself.

Edited by makinbones69, 29 August 2020 - 05:10 PM.


#8 TVCasualty

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Posted 30 August 2020 - 01:24 PM

Totally agree about the menu and meal distinction. I've noticed a trend among 'occultists,' where they legitimize their beliefs by invoking notions of quantum physics. Why do you think this is? To me it's like trying to eat the menu along with the meal.

 

It's probably because Quantum Mechanics is not really comprehensible at an intuitive level, so it works like a Rorschach Physics Blot where its inherent ambiguity allows us to project our own meanings an interpretations on whatever tiny pieces of it they think they DO understand.

 

In that respect QM is like an ambiguously-shaped cloud in the sky where people look at it and see things they recognize. Which are actually just projections on their part, of course.

 

That said, I find it really interesting to see how similar the conclusions or implications of QM are to Hinduism. If there's any extant transcendental Belief System (or just BS for short) legitimized by QM, it would be Hinduism. I exclude any johnny-come-lately or fly-by-night "New Age" BS that was crafted after QM went mainstream since that's just plagiarism. Or after a bunch of misconceptions about it went mainstream, rather.


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#9 xlcor

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Posted 30 August 2020 - 03:20 PM

 

Totally agree about the menu and meal distinction. I've noticed a trend among 'occultists,' where they legitimize their beliefs by invoking notions of quantum physics. Why do you think this is? To me it's like trying to eat the menu along with the meal.

 

It's probably because Quantum Mechanics is not really comprehensible at an intuitive level, so it works like a Rorschach Physics Blot where its inherent ambiguity allows us to project our own meanings an interpretations on whatever tiny pieces of it they think they DO understand.

 

In that respect QM is like an ambiguously-shaped cloud in the sky where people look at it and see things they recognize. Which are actually just projections on their part, of course.

 

That said, I find it really interesting to see how similar the conclusions or implications of QM are to Hinduism. If there's any extant transcendental Belief System (or just BS for short) legitimized by QM, it would be Hinduism. I exclude any johnny-come-lately or fly-by-night "New Age" BS that was crafted after QM went mainstream since that's just plagiarism. Or after a bunch of misconceptions about it went mainstream, rather.

 

 

I actually don't know much about Hinduism. If you could refer me to any readings or lectures, I'd appreciate it. Your take on QM being a Blot makes sense. I thought about that, but wouldn't the Blot resolve itself upon even the most rudimentary investigation? I might be wrong, especially considering the fact that I myself have really only done the most rudimentary investigation. There are some entire books on the occult which hinge on a confusion of measurements with reality. I'm glad to see I'm not the only one to exclude "New Age" woo. I've always felt conflicted about that exclusion. On the one hand, it seems like very obvious bullshit; on the other, by what right do I consider the merits of Buddhism, shamanism, animism, etc. and also discard out-of-hand the woo?



#10 clumsy

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Posted 30 August 2020 - 06:48 PM

Applicable: https://theconversat...c-powers-102088

 

https://www.discover...-does-not-exist

 

https://www.psycholo...tural-shouldn-t



#11 xlcor

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Posted 30 August 2020 - 07:28 PM

 

These articles rest on very superficial analyses. The last one is literally just a list of biases. It's useful, yes, but it's not a coherent criticism to occultism as a corpus. The second article is correct in stating that science is a method of investigation, but the article then also makes the misstep of conflating the method of investigation with the body results of specific investigations. None of these articles present an idea of what exactly it is they're criticizing, aside from sloppy thinking. While sloppy thinking and the occult absolutely have a lot of overlap, the occult does not have a monopoly on sloppy thinking; it runs rampant in all levels of scientific endeavor. Sloppy thinking is the ever-lurking evil which plagues all human effort.

 

If you could explain how these articles are relevant, I'd appreciate it. So far, nobody has mentioned extra-sensory phenomenon. Nobody has mentioned ghosts. Nobody has put forth normative or causative theories. I applaud the spirit of skepticism, but sloppy skepticism is just as bad as sloppy anything.


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#12 TVCasualty

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Posted 30 August 2020 - 09:07 PM

Regarding QM and Hinduism, here's a few relevant quotes from Graham Hancock who detailed the relationship:

 

There are amazing similarities between implications of theories of modern physics and ancient Hindu philosophy as expressed in Vedas and Upanishads. The basis of Hindu philosophy is the mystical idea of Brahman. The Brahman is usually described by the words “Neti, Neti “meaning, not this, not this! When I went into study of physics, I realized that, as far as knowledge of ultimate reality is concerned, physicists are in exactly same situation as the ancient Rishis. Both cannot describe it in everyday language.


Also, it is well known that Hindu scriptures came up with the correct order of magnitude of the age of universe of several billion years, when other religious systems insisted on the age to be a few thousand years. [not necessarily QM-related but pretty fascinating nonetheless]


Now, a standard explanation for the seemingly bizarre behavior of particles in modern physics, which most physics professors tell their students, is that we are looking at the systems which are tens of billions times smaller than our everyday world. Thus we should not be surprised that these do not correspond to our everyday life models and our everyday language may very well fail to describe these. One may argue that large objects like us consist of trillions and trillions of atoms. They have to approach classical limit. There is some truth in that. Crawling babies find out pretty soon that they cannot go through the walls like electrons. One caution against these arguments is that physicists have been finding quantum effects in larger and larger systems (such as lasers, superconductivity, superfluidity, Bose-Einstein condensation etc) and entanglements have been found at distances of several miles. Thus it is not clear that quantum mechanics is not applicable to large systems. Also, what about consciousness and thought processes? Is there something quantum mechanical about them? As a matter of fact many scientists such as Penrose, Hameroff and Stapp have suggested that consciousness in our brain may arise from atomic size domains and hence consciousness may be quantum mechanical in nature. Admittedly, these are preliminary models and currently there is no real understanding of consciousness.

https://grahamhancock.com/vasavadak2/


In 1929 Heisenberg spent some time in India (…) He began to see that the recognition of relativity,  interconnectedness, and impermanence as fundamental aspects of physical reality, which had been so difficult for himself and his fellow physicists, was the very basis of the Indian spiritual traditions.

- Fritjof Capra,  Uncommon Wisdom


The plurality that we perceive is only an appearance; it is not real. Vedantic philosophy has sought to clarify it by a number of analogies, one of the most attractive being the many-faceted crystal which, while showing hundreds of little pictures of what is in reality a single existent object, does not really multiply that object... The multiplicity is only apparent. This is the doctrine of the Upanishads. And not of the Upanishads only (…)

-Erwin Schrödinger

   

I go into the Upanishads to ask questions.

-Niels Bohr

 

[Direct Link]



[Direct Link]



That said, the catch-all term “New Age” also covers some very interesting and important stuff that’s not at all woo or bullshit or whatever, so it tends to be a baby vs. bathwater kind of deal. Ayahuasca retreats would be in the category of “New Age (for Westerners) that’s not bullshit.” And so on.

So in one sense “New Age” is the spiritual stuff that actually works. When it’s not a bunch of self-serving for-profit bullshit, of course.

Frankly, it’s getting hard to tell the difference between some of the findings and conclusions of the cutting edge of physics and the craziest most out-there woo stuff around. Like unicorns vs. giraffes, the unicorn is total woo but not really very weird while the giraffe is real but very freakin' weird.

 

 

tumblr_pusdslAEhO1xoyw8po1_500.jpg


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#13 makinbones69

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Posted 30 August 2020 - 09:12 PM

You see TV this is why I love you man . Nice.
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#14 TVCasualty

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Posted 30 August 2020 - 09:15 PM

 

 

There’s no such thing as the supernatural because all of reality is "natural."


I’ve experienced all sorts of strange phenomena that science would dismiss as impossible and characterize as “supernatural,” and while I can’t explain why they happened or know how to replicate them at will they happened nonetheless (at least as far as I’m concerned, and I don’t normally hallucinate even WITH psychedelics).

 

Quoting the Discover Magazine article linked above:

 


This is 100% wrong. Any claim, any explanation of an event, definitely falls within the scope of science. That’s because science is a method of investigation.

 


I’d say that it’s only 95.8% wrong. There are a great many events that are in fact beyond the scope of science to address as far as science stands right now. That is not to say that they will forever be beyond the scope of science to address, though some likely will.

 

What qualifies as “super” natural changes as our technology improves, specifically in the areas of remote sensing technology, particle accelerators, applied and macro-scale manifestations of quantum physics, and …I guess those are all I can think of right now but there are probably others.

I'd say we’re doing pretty well when it comes to understanding the Universe and reality we exist within considering that we're a species of mostly-hairless, semi-domesticated primates that only just stood up and stumbled bewildered out of the savanna the day before yesterday, relatively speaking.  Heck, many of us still fling turds at each other while others have convinced themselves that they’re capable of figuring out how the whole freakin’ Universe works, so if nothing else at least it’s still entertaining.

Contemplating (much less comprehending) this kind of stuff stuff is clearly not what Evolution sculpted our brains to do. Or …is it?



 


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#15 clumsy

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Posted 30 August 2020 - 10:24 PM

 Nobody has mentioned ghosts. 

 

 

Here you go: https://www.livescie...hosts-real.html



#16 xlcor

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Posted 31 August 2020 - 06:48 AM

 

 Nobody has mentioned ghosts. 

 

 

Here you go: https://www.livescie...hosts-real.html

 

 

okay dude. Thank you for your helpful and constructive thoughts. It truly is amazing to see such a masterful wordsmith at work.

 

Great quotes, Teev, I appreciate the references. I'll dig around deeper and see what I can find. If anyone has references for herbalism or shamanism, I'd be much obliged.



#17 TVCasualty

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Posted 31 August 2020 - 10:59 AM

So it looks like today's focus for over-thinking the hell out of stuff that's probably not really doing me any good to think about is ghosts. I've yet to meet a topic or problem I can't overthink, except maybe all the stuff I should probably be dealing with right now instead, lol...

 

 

 

 Nobody has mentioned ghosts. 

 

 

Here you go: https://www.livescie...hosts-real.html

 

 

Quoting the article:
 

 

Other researchers claim that the reason ghosts haven't been proven to exist is that we simply don't have the right technology to find or detect the spirit world. But this, too, can't be correct: Either ghosts exist and appear in our ordinary physical world (and can therefore be detected and recorded in photographs, film, video and audio recordings), or they don’t.

 

 

 

Cool, so show me a picture, or really any direct evidence of the existence of dark matter, which should be easy since it's what composes the vast majority of mass in our Universe, supposedly. DM is pretty important for holding our current cosmological theories together, but we only know of it by inference. Heck, we've even got pictures of black holes now!

 

And the limits of scale are also eternally inscrutable at both ends of reality; we'll never see or directly measure "strings" assuming String Theory (now known as "M-theory") is on the right track (or whatever the hell is going on "down there" at the Planck length* scale), nor will we ever find out if the Universe has a limit or recurves back on itself thanks to the Cosmological horizon, beyond which we can't (and never will be able to) detect or observe anything.

 

Then there's the existence of the Universe itself to cite as puzzling evidence that's beyond the scope of science to address; at the moment our best explanation for everything is that it sprang from nothing, which frankly makes ghosts seem relatively plausible since ghosts at least come from something, even if it's just our minds. And I'm really looking forward to seeing the data that supports a robust Theory of abiogenesis, assuming we'll ever get enough hard data to successfully replicate the emergence of life from its basic chemistry.

 

 

It could also be that ghosts are entirely internal phenomena, and may just be echoes of our own self-awareness or memories projected onto the model of the world we create in our mind and label the “real” world.

Since the “real” world is an abstract construct we create from sensory input and memory, it’s not much of a stretch to suggest that other aspects of our consciousness could sometimes bleed into or cause interference with that construct. If that’s the case then it seems plausible that such interference would be consciously perceived as being part of the external environment (like seeing your own “ghostly” reflection in a window you’re staring out of), and the vividness of the apparition would then be a function of the strength of the interference. When the lights are off in our house we only see what's outside our windows, but the more lights we turn on inside, the more of what's inside appears reflected back to us by the window, superimposed on what we're seeing outside.

That is, ghosts are real just like how hallucinating is a real phenomenon even though what’s being hallucinated isn’t, and the only places ghosts actually “haunt” are our brains.

Or perhaps human consciousness is an evolutionary deus ex machina (a concept arguably equivalent to a “ghost”), which might seem implausible until we compare the evolution of the human brain into its present form with every other example of evolution yet known.

 

Our brains evolved SO fast (in the context of evolution) that this fact in itself is arguably a mystery whose significance is second only to abiogenesis. The speed of the evolution of the human brain is such an extreme and baffling outlier among all known life forms that the hypothesis that our development was accelerated by some kind of external (and intentional) factor is actually plausible. But that doesn’t necessarily mean a supernatural entity (so I guess it could be an alienus ex machina that helped us along, if not a god or spiritual phenomenon).



* I really got a kick out of this quote from the Planck length wikipedia page: The size of the Planck length can be visualized as follows: if a particle or dot about 0.1mm in size (which is at or near the smallest the unaided human eye can see) were magnified in size to be as large as the observable universe, then inside that universe-sized "dot", the Planck length would be roughly the size of an actual 0.1mm dot.

 

Yeah, good luck "visualizing" THAT. :rolleyes:


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#18 elfstone

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Posted 15 September 2020 - 05:36 PM

The word "occult" means hidden.  So to study the occult is to study the hidden dimensions of human experience, the "soul dimension."  After 46 years of experience working with the mushroom, I feel confident that I am in a position to speak more clearly on the subject of "what is the soul."  We could trace the etymology of the English word soul from the Old English word sawel, taken from the Wikipedia entry:

 
"The Modern English word "soul", derived from Old English sáwol, sáwel, was first attested in the 8th century poem Beowulf and in the Vespasian Psalter. It is cognate with other German and Baltic terms for the same idea, including Gothic saiwala, Old High German sêula, sêla, Old Saxon sêola, Old Low Franconian sêla, sîla, Old Norse sála and Lithuanian siela. Deeper etymology of the Germanic word is unclear.
 
The original concept behind the Germanic root is thought to mean “coming from or belonging to the sea (or lake)”, because of the Germanic and pre-Celtic belief in souls emerging from and returning to sacred lakes, Old Saxon sêola (soul) compared to Old Saxon sêo (sea)."
 
So the idea of that in us which returns to the source, the "sea," would be one way to conceptualize it.  Water, of course, is the source of life, from which it comes, is made, and to which if returns.  The air is another kind of "ocean" and the "breath" is the root of the Greek word psyche and the Hebrew and Arabic word, Ruah (breath).  Thus, the spirit, the breath, is the animating principal.  Hence the age-old practice of observing the breath to grow awareness of the soul dimension, the dimension of qualities/values.
 
This area of human experience, like consciousness itself (the "hard problem"), cannot be presented as a null hypothesis subject to the scientific method for verification or rejection.  It is a lived reality, an experience, that opens awareness to the perception of what we call the realm of values.  Like the mystical experience, it is intangible and does not lend itself to quantification but is certainly perceptible to those sensitive to the qualities of Being.  We can recognize those in whom it is a lived reality by their presence.  The mystical experience itself often proves to be profoundly life-altering as it opens awareness to the realm of values.  Just like scientific training, rationally based, peer-reviewed discussion of this realm of human experience can be found in the Greek philosophical literature of Plato, Plotinus, Porphyry, Iamblichus, etc.  It is also present in the language used by J. R. R. Tolkein in his magnum opus, The Lord of the Rings.  I often tell my young clients, that the LOTR is not fiction, it is a careful description of the states of the human soul, including the landscapes the soul inhabits.  Utilizing this approach, we can even state that the lack of belief in the soul dimension is, itself, a state of the human soul (Mordor/Sauron).
 
The mushroom opens awareness to the depths of this dimension and reveals it clearly.  No words are needed, just attentive, open awareness.  In fact, communicting about this at all to others often requires that format of expression we call the "fairy tale," which is an attempt to direct awareness toward perceiving this potential level of Reality which we are all capable of growing into.  
 
I would not deign to waste a listener's time trying to convince them of the Reality of the Soul dimension.  Instead, one must speak directly, from soul to soul, to rouse within another their potential to awaken.  This is essentially what the spirit in the mushroom effects when approached in an open-heared manner, make of it what you will.

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#19 TVCasualty

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Posted 16 September 2020 - 02:34 PM

The hidden aspect of the concept of “the occult” is ambiguous as far as what’s being hidden (or by whom) since there are aspects of reality that are not obvious and so are hidden by virtue of their natural inscrutability, which is in turn a function of the limits of what our senses are capable of.

At the same time, there are religious and spiritual teachings that are assumed by some to accurately reflect aspects of reality and/or the “supernatural” (or “spirit world”) but that are intentionally kept hidden by people with opaque intentions.

So it would help to know which aspect of the concept of “hidden” is relevant to a discussion of the occult; is it composed of what is difficult to perceive or is it composed of what certain individuals intentionally obscure for whatever reason (often self-serving, unfortunately)?

If the occult is the study of the hidden dimensions of human experience then most if not all religions are manifestations of it, but since there is a distinction commonly made between “religion” and “the occult” in “the West,” popular interpretations of the concepts tend to be more political than spiritual. That is, religions are popular and mainstream spiritual approaches to some of the Hard Problems of existence while practices deemed “occult” are commonly perceived as unpopular, fringe spiritual beliefs/approaches about/to same.

Like how “Quantum Mechanics” can function as a Rorschach Physics Blot, “the occult” seems to similarly function as a Rorschach Spirit Blot. So we emerge from such discussions with a better understanding about what or how the participants think rather than a better understanding of physics or spirituality. To advance our awareness and understanding of physics requires math and tangible experiments just like how advancing our awareness and understanding of spirituality requires direct, subjective experience.

In any case it always seems to come back to the same implicit advice for how to proceed, whether we’re talking about physics and high-energy particle colliders or spirituality and psychedelics: Higher doses, more frequently!  


 


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#20 clumsy

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Posted 16 September 2020 - 04:30 PM

I hesitate to rehash old points here, but I wish to point to a previous discussion of consciousness here. Also, I am on James Randi's side on anything paranormal. Of course, one could claim that the discussion at this point is about the occult, which is different (?) from paranormal.






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