Sunday, November 23, 2008

4th Dimension and Ghost Adventures

Just a quick note -- I was watching Ghost Adventures Friday night and Zak and his guys were interviewing a witness to an entity that interacted with him. He said the entity moved a long distance in a matter of a second and that it "reached inside" of his body, squeezed his lungs till the air was emptied out of them, and then told him to "Get out of here." How does that relate to the 4th Dimension? Looking again at the post on hyperdimension, it illustrates that leaving the 3-dimensional plane of physical existence may allow us to be in a 4th dimension in which we can see inside of the people we see in the 3rd dimensional world. I thought it was interesting that this witness said the entity reached inside his body and affected his ability to breathe. Even if we can observe the 3rd dimension from the 4th, I wonder how it might be possible to interact with it from that point, especially when people who have near death experiences say that they tried speaking with people around them and were not heard or noticed.

The GA guys also went to an abandoned insane asylum to investigate. Again, I find it questionable that they leave investigators alone with a camera -- on this episode they locked one of the investigators into a body compartment in the former morgue, with a camera on the inside and a camera on a tripod on the outside pointed at the doors. Then the other two investigators proceeded to explore other parts of the asylum and "get lost" as they put it. When Nick, the investigator locked in the morgue compartment, began to get claustrophobic, or uncomfortable, in that space, he could not get out, and the others could not hear him kicking at the door and yelling to let him out. Fortunately, they did have a radio to talk to him with, but at one point, it appeared the radio did not work. They also were off in some other part of the building and were not sure how to get back to him. If something were really to go wrong, that would be an irresponsible practice. Especially the fact that he had no way of getting out of the morgue compartment except for someone to unlock it from the outside.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Another show like Ghost Hunters

I happened to catch another show that attempts to do what Ghost Hunters does. It is on the Travel Channel and it is called Ghost Adventures. Three guys with digital video cameras get locked into a haunted area and provoke spirits that reportedly haunt the places and people in that location. Zak Bagans (like Bilbo?) is the leader of the pack. He says in the intro that he saw an entity and decided to catch it on film, and now they investigate other reportedly haunted places to get evidence on film.

Unlike Ghost Hunters, they do not have a camera crew with them -- it is filmed totally by the three investigators. Also unlike Ghost Hunters, they do not appear to have a rule that they never send anyone into an area alone.

What I noticed immediately in watching this show is that Zak yells and screams and insults whatever entity it is he is trying to contact (no respect!) in order to provoke it. I found the yelling to be annoying to ME as a viewer and imagine if I were a ghost I would probably throw something at him, too, as he is trying to make happen in some of the episodes. The other difference I saw between GA and GH is that these guys seem genuinely scared of what is happening to them, while Jason and Grant on GH almost never exhibit fear, but excitement or curiosity at what they see, hear or experience. (Jason and Grant also show the supposed entities a bit more respect, though they occasionally try to provoke with lightly condescending comments). On more than one episode of GA, the investigator actually lets out a yell and runs away (which I know I would do, too), but it makes me wonder why they do this at all if they are so afraid of it all.

Their web site has a number of video clips from the show. One thing I liked that they have done is to have an expert analyze the video clips to authenticate what is shown on the video as not having been tampered with and not having been staged. Here is a clip of one video analysis from the show.

I do predict this show will be successful, though, because they do exhibit genuine fear and shocked reactions to the experiences they are having.

string theory and NDEs

Well, I think I have it right -- that string theory is related to multiple dimensions. I read an interesting article about how hyperdimensions may explain experiences of people who claim to have near-death experiences or out-of-body experiences.

Dr. Robert Brumblay wrote in the Journal of Near Death Studies a simplified explanation of how to understand the effect of hyperdimensions.

My understanding of what he wrote is that if we were living in a one-dimensional universe, it would be as if we were living along a line (which is where the term "string" comes from in string theory, from what I understand). We could see only what was in front of us or behind us along the line. We would not be able to imagine anything other than a one-dimensional existence. If there were a dot on the line, it would be as a wall is and block any view of any other individual on the line next to us. We would not be able to see anyone other than the one-dimensional beings to either side of us. If we somehow were lifted away from the line into the 2nd dimension, moving past the dot would not be impossible, and seeing both other one-dimensional beings at once would be possible as well as seeing others along the line that would not have been visible while on the line in the one dimensional world. I could also see the entire being as it appears along the line. If it is darker vs. lighter in different places, which is something I could not see from my perspective on the line.

If I were a two-dimensional being I could see the back of the two-dimensional being in front of me and the front of the being behind me. It would be front, back, up and down only. If I rotated around those beings I could see the other side of them or see the being next to them. But if I were to flip out away from the two-dimensional plane and face it from a three-dimensional point of view, I could see not only both sides of the being next to me, I could see their entire being -- including what is inside the lines on the plane. Something I could not do in the two-dimensional existence. In writing this, I came across a description of a story called Flatland that apparently makes understanding dimensions easier, and it deals with a two-dimensional world and a one-dimensional world (Lineland).

As three-dimensional beings in a three-dimensional world, we know we can move front, back, up, down and side-to-side. Walls prevent us from moving forward, unless we go around them. Walls prevent us from seeing other people. But if we were to go outside the three-dimensional world into a fourth dimension walls would not be barriers any longer, we could see people in more than one place at the same time, and we could see those people in a way that is beyond the three-dimensions -- we could see inside of them, the same way the two-dimensional person in a third-dimension could see within the lines of the two-dimensional being they are looking at. There is a computerized demonstration game available on the web that is supposed to make this understandable. I could not download it to my computer, but it might be of interest.

So Brumblay writes that if someone were to leave the three-dimensional world through a near-death experience and enter a fourth dimension, these are the kinds of things that might be possible to them. In fact people who say they died on the operating table and floated up out of their body often claim to be able to see not only inside the operating room but also outside in the waiting room where their loved ones are sitting as well as being able to see inside the building, outside the building from the top of the building to the bottom, all at the same time. They also have claimed to see things like the fact that someone is pregnant and they are carrying a boy -- so they can see within a person. They can see different views of things at once -- the top of a table and the underside of the table at the same time.

I just thought it was interesting that a theory of physics that can be demonstrated mathematically can also potentially explain non-physical experiences of people who claim to have left their body temporarily.

There are a few blogs that talk about string theory and other dimensions. Here are a few:

Study Group of Physics UI

and a list of others from Wordpress.

I am reading a rough draft of a professor friend's book that touches on a number of issues relating to death. I am not able to write about what he is writing because his book is not published yet, but through his writing I am learning about theories that exist (like Terror Management Theory) regarding fear of death and denial of death that seem to fit what I want to focus on regarding people looking to media to provide answers to the question of life after death that science and religion are not able to. I will look up those theories and see what I can find that could be informative to my study.

I would like to see the film Flight From Death: The Quest for Immortality that looks at fear of death and the works of Ernest Becker, on which Terror Management Theory is apparently based.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Believing vs Drawing Conclusions

Some of my posts have been titled "What I Believe" but that makes it sound as if I am drawing things out of thin air or doing "one potato, two potato" and seeing which idea wins. Or which sounds more interesting to me.

I don't come to my beliefs lightly and I don't ever like to jump on a bandwagon. Yet some people have said to me, "Diane you are so smart, how can you believe that?" as if I say I believe in Santa Claus and the tooth fairy.

In 2000 I took a class on contemplative practices and did a paper on the concept of chi. Part of that paper talked about Qi Gong and Tai Chi, and part of it talked about Feng Shui. My professor was hesitant to accept my writing about Feng Shui because he thought it was a trendy concept that had no basis in this sort of understanding. Yet before writing about it I asked a Chinese student whether her culture saw Feng Shui in the same light as Qi Gong and meridians in accupuncture. She said yes, that feng shui was taken seriously in China. I did write about it in my paper, and how the flow of energy can be enhanced by placement of water, color, and other elements. In the reading I've done, energy and electricity and magnetic force are key factors in a lot of unexplained phenomena that includes apparitions, paranormal activity, and health. In the same vein, that energy and magnetic force (and gravity) affects the planets and their relationship to each other, and their alignment (the way our living environment can be affected by energy flow and magnetic/electric energy around us). When I talk about the planets being aligned well for some purpose or not being aligned well, people are surprised at my comments. I do think, just as the moon affects the tides and people's behavior and as electro-magnetic fields can affect one's health , that the planetary positions can affect energy flow and magnetic pull.

That being said, there is a full moon coming up on November 13 and there will be a golden triangle in the sky with Jupiter, Saturn and something else, Neptune? Golden triangles in the sky mean a positive alignment in a geometrically balanced formation, and that is thought to be a helpful aspect. I've read books that talk about golden triangles being in the sky when certain businesses started or when a person is born (so it appears in their astrological chart), and it bodes well for them. People like Bill Gates and Michael Jordan have these sorts of geometrically balanced formations in their birth charts that indicate possible superstardom in particular areas of their lives. A friend of mine said he didn't believe in astrology because it was not in the Bible. But it was in the Bible. The Magi were astrologers who came to see Jesus because of what they saw in the stars. Prophets in the Bible, like Isaiah, described Jesus' coming and his life in ways that are not unlike psychics today.

But I digress. When we are born and the universe is aligned in a particular way in relation to where we are on the planet, it seems to me that it sets the stage for the direction we will take in life the same way the current of water sets the stage for where a twig or leaf floating in the water will end up and when.

I read a really interesting journal article from the Journal of Near-Death Studies today that gave a great explanation for physical theory on hyperdimensions and how that fits in with the experiences described by those who have near-death or out-of-body experiences. I will try to write more about that this week.

(note: will add links and photos to this later when I have time).

Saturday, November 1, 2008

All Saints Day

a>Here's something that I think about sometimes -- religious people -- particularly Catholics-- do not give credence to paranormal experiences: ghosts, communication with the dead, healing (a la Edgar Cayce), and spiritual guidance. Though the teachings of Christianity indicate prophets getting messages from God and angels (they were the psychics of their day) and those prophets like Isaiah, John the Baptist, and others are revered by the church. The Bible is rife with stories about angelic messengers coming to people like Abraham, Moses, Job, Noah, Joseph and the Virgin Mary, for example, and telling them what God wanted them to do. Christians believe that this actually happened, or they believe the idea of these people back in the day whose stories make up the Bible as having received some sort of spiritual guidance. I mean, a donkey spoke to Balaam.

Then the Catholic church canonizes humans who devoted their lives to spiritual quests and whose faith allowed them to inspire others or to affect events. Those people are canonized partly on the basis of miracles (unexplained happenings -- not unlike paranormal or supernatural things), happening when people pray to those humans after death. The miracles could have happened when they were alive, as well. Bernadette, who saw the Virgin Mary, and dug for water in a certain spot that is believed to heal people, and the kids in Fatima, Portugal, who brought messages to the Pope from Mary. These are all stories that are believed by Catholics around the world. So supernatural things based on spiritual beliefs are part of the Catholic faith.

To extend that to say that those people became more highly evolved based on their understanding of spiritual or non-physical "laws" --- and I mean laws in the same way as the law of gravity or the laws of physics--means that there is reason to believe that other people not revered as saints also have come to understand those laws and use them to effect change and healings (shamans, buddhist monks, yogis, etc.).

Many psychics speak of spiritual guides -- and often among those is a Native American spiritual guide as well as others who have lived. Columbia educated psychiatrist Brian Weiss, in his book Many Lives, Many Masters, the information he received from patients under hypnosis who talk about not only past lives, but life between lives, in which they work with spirit guides to plan their next life -- almost like an educational program--that will be done with the help of these spiritual partners. Raymond Moody in his books about people who have experienced near death experiences notes the repeated reference to spiritual beings who meet the person and who the NDErs feel a close connection with.

So all that being said, I personally have come to believe that I am part of a group project, so to speak, with me being one who has taken on the physical body and interacts with others in the project who are in a physical body, and having other partners who are not in a physical body in order to meet some sort of spiritual goals for growth. We help each other move forward through the experiences and choices I have in this life and the interactions I have with others in the physical world. I consider the Saints (as designated by the Catholic Church) to be part of the spiritual realm that I can access. While I'm not sure how it all really works -- of course, who am I to say I know something like that--I have come to believe from my own reading and discussions with others and my own experiences that developing relationships with those in spirit is kind of like networking and calling on our own personal friends and contacts in the physical world.

Saints in the Catholic Church are often given areas of expertise--and are called the patron saint of some specific thing based on that saints earthly life and miracles attributed to that saint. My favorite Saint buddy over the years has been St. Anthony, who finds lost things. He rarely, if ever, lets me down. Sometimes, I will just say, "Anthony, where are my keys?" as my hand reaches into a pocket and there they are. Or "Anthony, I can't find my black pants," and my hand reaches to the back of the drawer and pulls them out. For particularly important things that I've misplaced, when I've exhausted all my options -- all the time calling on Anthony -- I sometimes get the sense that I should just stop what I'm doing and calm my mind and listen. When I've done that, a picture or thought will come to my mind about where to look and I will find what it is I am looking for. So here's to Anthony! Happy Saints Day.

One of my sons was a difficult teenager. It came to my attention somehow that St. Augustine was also a difficult teenager and his mother, St. Monica, who was also in a difficult marriage (I could relate), prayed to have her son's heart changed. I often spoke directly to Monica asking her to help me out in knowing what to do about my son's problems (he is now a police officer and very hard working and in a good place). I also spoke to St. Augustine asking him to work in my son's life. St. Augustine wrote about how his relationship with his peers often influenced his choices, and that was a big factor in my own son's life.

When my other son was going into the NYC Fire Department, I wanted to know who to ask to watch over him -- which saint was designated for Firemen. The more well-known saint is St. Florian, who may actually be Hungarian, as I've seen statues of him in Hungary when I go there. But there is also a saint, St. John of God, who is the patron saint of first-responders. In his life he did first aid, he ran into burning buildings to save people, and he started hospitals way backbefore that was something that was done. Places for sick or injured people to recover. But he was someone who rescued people who were in danger.

While looking up those saints for my son, I came across others who I talk to. I was going through a long, drawn-out divorce and was not looking forward to being alone. I often felt lonely and isolated, and found in my research that St. Rita is the patron saint of lonely people. I started talking to her in my meditations and asking her to send me some friends. The effect was so positive that at times I would ask her to turn it off because I needed a break from my social life.

I do a lot of work in public relations and marketing and found that St. Paul (the apostle) is the patron saint of writers and people in the field of public relations. So when I am in need of ideas or struggling with writer's block, I pray (or speak) with St. Paul. (Also St. Bernardine of Siena)

One of the most interesting things I found in my research was when I was looking for a patron saint of people in the wine business. I had decided to start my own wine importing business and was having difficulty with learning the ins and outs of that whole thing. So I Googled Patron Saints and found a site that allowed me to plug in a topic and to find the saint that corresponded to that. St. Amand is the patron saint of people in the wine business. And the interesting thing is that his saint day is on my birthday. So does that mean I was born to go into the wine business? Probably not, but it doesn't hurt to have that double connection going on. I speak to St. Amand when I am facing difficult business decisions, when I feel like giving up (normally when I feel that way and talk to him, I get a call or e-mail the next day that keeps me going forward in the business) or sometimes I just connect with him when I am out selling to store owners, and I say "Amand, help me make a sale." That connection has been helpful to me in many ways --psychologically and serendipitously.

I changed jobs (my official job at a graduate school) and found myself in a sometimes hostile environment which was very stressful to me and very negative. Others in my workplace called it toxic. It was affecting my health and my ability to sleep. Somehow I came upon information about St. Michael, the Archangel, who is supposed to have been charged by God to defeat evil and negativity in the world and allow God (or divinity, or positive energy, whatever you want to call it) to overcome that negativity and bad will. Every day I ask Michael to protect me (I live alone in NYC) and to keep negativity away from me. When I go into meetings at work that I anticipate being stressful, I say the official prayer of St. Michael and add my own requests related to the specific negativity that I experience or anticipate. I find that at times I can almost sense the protection surrounding me -- like a force field--that people don't want to cross. I do that, too, when I invite someone to my home who might create a negative experience (argument, criticism), along with burning sage (to remove negative energy) and sprinkling Kosher salt outside my front door (a ritual that is supposed to cleanse the environment and keep negativity outside the house).

One quick story about burning sage -- one time during my difficult marriage I was burning sage in the house to cleanse the energy. My ex-husband was out while I was doing this, but returned home before I was finished. He did not even step inside the house but saw me burning the sage stick and spreading the smoke around the dining room. He said, "What are you doing?" and I answered, "Smudging the house to clean the negative energy." He would not even come in. He turned around and left to go somewhere else. I thought to myself, "It worked!" (And he was not one to dislike smoke or incense--in fact he burned incense all the time himself, and he smoked cigars). So I don't know what it was that made him turn around and leave without coming in but I attribute that to the characteristics of sage deterring negative energy.

A bientot!