Tag Archives: supernatural

Hot-Road Water Ghosts

Dark_FigureSometimes, for fun, I share some of my ghost experiences with people.

Here are some I have shared on this blog:

After I share these stories, people will often incredulously ask me, “How can you have these experiences and not believe in ghosts?”

To which I sometimes reply:
Water_Mirage

During summers, I have driven down long, hot roads and have occasionally seen large puddles of water span the road ahead of me. But when I get to the puddle, they mysteriously disappear. Have you ever had an eerie, supernatural experience like this?

You see, I don’t believe these common hallucinations are actually supernatural at all, but I won’t deny that I have indeed had these unusual experiences.

Mind you, if someone could prove to me that I have really seen ghosts, I’d be fascinated and change my opinion. But the reason I don’t believe in the ghosts I have experienced, is because of my intense distrust of my (and your) human brain. 🙂

Question to readers: Have you had any weird experiences you don’t believe in?

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“Death Rock”

Cliffs on the southern coast of Java, Indonesia

Years ago I dragged two reluctant friends with me to a lonely, isolated village on the southern coast of Java because I had heard that Muslim mystics practiced in cliff-caves there and I wanted to see what that was about.  On arrival to the village, a local woman cautioned us to not swim in the ocean because the sea goddess was recently angry which she could tell by watching the waves and observing the type of sea life thrown up on the beach.  Later that night we had a ghost experience (see here).  So our visit  started out very interesting.

The next morning after the ghost sighting my friend Rick and I decided to climb the nearby cliffs to see what we could find.  We set off on what we thought would not be a difficult climb but the rocks on the cliff face were very sharp and were cutting our shoes. Also, the cliff face was less stable than I imagined it would be.  While scaling the face of one wall, a rock pulled out in my hand and I almost tumbled down the cliff on the sharp rocks.  But, taking greater care, I decided to keep going.  About ten minutes later I was facing a rather large boulder and trying to figure out a way around it.  Suddenly, out of nowhere, I heard a deep voice say, “Death Rock”.  I paused.  I felt fear in my chest.  No one was near me — I did not know where the voice came from even though I could have sworn it came from the boulder in front of me. My friend was off at a distance struggling with his climb.  I called to him, “Rick, I think we should give this up.”  He agreed and we climbed sideways a while until we found a safe way down.  I told him my auditory hallucination before we descended and he chuckled a little but after the incident with the ghost the night prior, his snicker wasn’t too condemning.

An hour later we arrived back at the beach from where we began our climb.  Our other friend was waiting there for us and had a small crowd waiting with her.  She ran up to us with a tearful face and gave us both a hug saying, “My God, I was so worried.  A half an hour ago they pulled the a body off cliffs of a climber that fell.  I thought it might have been one of you guys.”

Questions for Readers:

  • Are any of you like me in that though you don’t believe in spirits, spooks, gods, demons or disembodied Bodhisattvas … nonetheless you have had weird things happen to you that certainly seem supernatural but you can’t even speculation on how to satisfactorily explain them?
  • What do you think causes some people to have experiences like mine while other people never have this sort of experience?  Is it due to a person’s inborn temperament, their poor thinking or pathology or perhaps because there really is a spirit realm?

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Transcendence in Mystical Atheists

How can atheists have “transcendent experiences”?  What would that mean?
Tom Rees at Epiphenom just posted on a recent experiment locating the parts of the brain responsible for transcendence.  The definition Tom gives for “transcendence” was:

the belief [sensation] that you are connected in ineffable ways to the world around you, that you are not limited by your body but can go beyond it in mysterious ways.”

You will notice that I just corrected his definition.  That correction is not just nitpicking, but critical to understanding atheists with transcendent experiences.  Key to that understanding is that many “beliefs” are created after a “sensation” and that for any given sensation, any number of beliefs can be attached.

I recently offered a tool call “Atheists, declare thyself” where atheists or agnostics could describe aspects of their beliefs, experiences and expressions of atheism.  My hope is that the tool offers a method to enhance both dialogue and self-exploration.  This post is an attempt to further these dialogues by exploring the “Mystical Perceptions” category on the table.   The mystical category may seem odd to many atheists.  But I, for one, have had many “mystical perceptions” over the years and yet consider myself an atheist.  Yet as most of the Atheists that have filled out this table to date, I see that most describe themselves as “non-Mystical”.  Are non-mystical atheists the common variety. Perhaps those with mystical perceptions seldom become outright atheists.

I personally feel that most theists don’t have mystical experiences in general either.  Indeed, mystical experiences feed our normal sense of religion.  But a theist and an atheist will walk away from such experiences with different explanations.

Mystics are traditionally despised, excommunicated or at best sequestered by most orthodox monotheisms.  I sense a trace of the same tendency in the atheist ‘community’.   Mysticism is threatening because it reeks of individual interpretation, direct experiences and easily escapes the standardization demanded by orthodoxy.  I feel  A-mystical A-theists are too quick to judge the many altered states of awareness that they themselves may never have experienced — they label those who experience them variously as insane, confused, pathological, crazy, illogical and/or irrational.   These judgmental atheists, limited by their experiences, make false judgments of the world, others and the nature of meaning.   While it is fair game to criticize the beliefs about a perception, to go further and view the experience itself as pathological is, I feel, a mistake.  And indeed, in Rees’ article, there seems a hint of the judgement that mystical perceptions are pathological and yet Tom acknowledges that many Buddhist practitioners have intentionally trained to have such perceptions.   Such a judgment, in my eyes, is similar to a person who has never had good beer, good sex or heard good sitar,  cynically debating anyone who valued beer, sex or Indian Classical music.  Is such cynicism justified?

So, how many atheists have mystical inclinations?  Well, Christopher Hitchens has been the talk of town since he was interviewed with a Unitarian Universalist minister by Vanity Fair.  Eric Reitan, a liberal Christian, does a good piece on it in Religion Dispatches called, “Christopher Hitchens, Religious in Spite of Himself?”  Reitan puts forward this question because Hitchens uses Rudolf Otto‘s term numinous to describe “a feeling of awe or wonder” and states that “everybody has had the experience at some point when they feel that there’s more to life than just matter.”  Has Hitchens had mystical experiences?  Should something as simple as “awe” or “wonder” be considered “mystical”.  I will talk about these in another post.  But for now, this points at the complexity of talking about such subjective experiences.  But here is my point:  You can’t easily dismiss the experiences of others just because you have not had them.  The operative word here is “easily” and also note that I am not saying you can’t debate their interpretations of these experiences.

Let’s look at another New Age Atheist — Richard Dawkins.  Could someone help me find a YouTube post I saw months ago where someone claimed to have developed a magnetic induction device to trigger altered mental states?  Dawkins apparently tried the device and felt nothing while other of his atheist colleagues tried and did have altered states.  Was this pure placebo effect for those that felt something or are some of us built (or trained) to perceive such states more easily than others?   It does not really matter.  Perhaps Dawkins really is less inclined toward mystical experiences.   Or, are these New Atheists so bent on characterizing all religions as fundamentalist that they are a bit short sighted of others who share many of their perceptions?

Luke, at Common Sense Atheism, describes an enthusiastic attitude toward a naturalistic view of the universe which he calls Enchanted Atheism.  This optimist enchantment points to yet another set of emotions, which I feel are different than the mystical sensations explored by the article mentioned at the beginning of this post and thus, in my table, I listed mysticism and enchantment in different categories.

In conclusion, it is important to understand that we should not allow our limited range of experiences and emotions to narrow our ability to understand others — atheists or theists.

Questions for readers:

  • If you are a Atheist/agnostic, how do you feel about this issue?
  • If you are a Theist, how do you incorporate these science findings into your world?

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Related Triangulation Posts:

  • My Worldview: the first two lists are of my mystical and supernatural experiences (not beliefs).
  • Beliefs, what are they?:  my attempt to understand the nature of beliefs

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A Child’s Toilet Epiphany

My first memorable “mystical experience” was on the toilet. I was very young and it was an ordinary day.  I don’t remember being in anything but a normal mood.  I was in the bathroom, sitting on the toilet doing the normal bathroom thing.  The door to the bathroom was just a little ajar to the hallway.  Occasionally someone in my family walked by the door and I thought to myself ,

“Gee, I didn’t close the door — this is a little embarrassing.  But wait, no one seems to know I am in here.  That is good.”

But as I thought about no one knowing I was in the bathroom, I started thinking more generally:

“Wow, this is what it would look like if I weren’t here.  Gee, but what if they don’t know I am in here because I don’t really exist?  What if I never existed?  What would this family be like now if I never existed?  What if all memories of me disappeared?  Who would I be if all these memories were gone, even my own?”

Then, bang!  Suddenly nothing was normal.  I had an abrupt flood of feelings and insights.  I suddenly felt like “I” disappeared and yet it was a rich, peaceful, buzzing feeling — my whole body felt it.  It was a little scary, but still exciting and happy.  And I felt secure in a deep understanding that was settling in.

Then the feeling faded.  That all lasted about 3 minutes and I would never forget it.  In fact, over then next two months, when sitting on the toilet I would try to think the same thoughts and ask the same questions in order to trigger the experience but it would not return.   About a half a year later, in the same setting but without trying, the epiphany came upon me again but with much less intensity.  And after that day, that experience would never return.

The hum of change from this rather simple and naive experience of a young boy has lasted as fuel for his understanding of reality since then.  Have any of you had similar experiences?  Or have you had positive inner experiences that hum for years and inform your life?  What is an atheist suppose to call these?  I could probably explain them neurologically but how do I convey them?  So, can you see why I call myself a “sympathetic Atheist“?

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Telekinesis: My magic power !

Automatic_door

60% of my readers have this power
— take the poll !  —

I am an adult and I still feel magic power in me. I put my hand out and open the automatic doors at grocery stores and hospitals. Sure, most of me knows that the doors are automatic and it is not me opening them. But parts of me still likes to pretend that I open them magically with my force of mind. My hand gestures in front of me to open the door. Sure I tell myself that I put my hand out to trigger the motion sensor but another fun part of myself feels the force open the doors and smiles.

Does anyone else feel part of themselves still do that? Heck I have done that since I was a little kid. Or have the rest of you grown up? Or are the rest of you not as schizophrenic as me?

telekinesisNow here is my point — I think it is natural for children and some of us slow learning adults to perceive things like this, but as an adult, the question is, when do we stop believing it.

I do several party tricks and telekinesis parlor tricks are some of my favorite to dazzle people with. What kills me, is that some people actually believe that I can move paper and break pencils with the energy coming from my hand. But heck, walking through automatic doors, it seems like part of me still believes it too. Heck, maybe that is why I can pull off the trick so well at times.


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Related Posts:
1) My Supernatural Experiences: explains my emphasis on perception vs belief.
2) Many Selves, No-Self : explains my phrases like: “most of me knows”, and “parts of me”, “part of themselves”, “schizophrenic” .

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UFO

ufo2Here is another story of my supernatural or weird experiences (index here).

Late at night, when I was about 7 years old, we were strolling back to our cabins from our barely-glowing camp fire (YMCA or Boy Scouts, I can’t remember) when someone spotted UFOs.  The sky was dark except for stars but as I looked up where others were pointing, I saw three or four small, fast-moving objects darting around the sky and making sudden angular changes in their paths.  The objects would fly away from each other and then fly back into a tight formation.    They were bright white disks with a light blue flame-like glow off-center in the disk.  Maybe 20 of us saw them.  We all talked about them for days.  We then went home and told our parents — but you can imagine how that went off.

ufo1Back then, UFO books were a dime-a-dozen.  And I remember a year after I saw my UFOs, I was reading such a book and stumbling on a page which actually showed a picture of exactly the type of UFO.  The picture was taken by someone who saw the UFO only about 200 miles from my house.  Wow, I had confirmation !

Actually, the image of those UFOs are still as clear and “real” in my head as Santa Clause’s reindeer’s feet and many other amazing things I have seen.  They are actually in my mind even as clearly as the memory of my daughter’s face when she scrapped her knee last week.

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Note: These are internet pictures I found that approximate what I saw.

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