Archive for the 'Spirituality' Category

May 06 2013

Gems from Hidden Wisdom

Hidden Wisdom

Hidden Wisdom by Jay Smoley & Richard Kinney

Some notes from Hidden Wisdom: A Guide to the Western Inner Traditions by Richard Smoley and Jay Kinney:

“Though it is all too rarely spoken of in esoteric literature or at New Age workshops, the specter of madness haunts the spiritual search. To point this out should not be dismissed as mere pessimism or negativity.

“A recurring motif of the esoteric traditions is the realm of the unseen – other dimensions, invisible entities, inner planes, etheric bodies, energy centers, planetary forces, hidden masters, the list goes on and on. While it may prove necessary to grant a provisional reality to such claims in the course of inner exploration, there lies a real danger in swallowing them wholesale and proceeding blithely onward. It is all too easy to project one’s wishes or fears onto the twilight zone of the invisible, reading deep portents into chance occurrences and seeing connections where none actually exist.

“Some people with a tendency toward paranoia are strongly attracted to the esoteric precisely because it mirrors their secret fears: Unseen forces affect our lives, consensus reality is a sham, the universe is somehow converging on our personal slice of life. The spiritual landscape is littered with erstwhile magicians and addled mystics who jumped into esoteric belief systems that were more than their sanity could bear and – most significantly – more than their closely watched personal experience had borne out.

“Which leads us to [a] skill that it would be wise to cultivate: the ability to maintain a simultaneous belief and disbelief in all matters esoteric until you have undeniably experienced them for yourself. Let us call this ‘faithful skepticism.’

“Exoteric religions encourage unquestioning belief in their tenets based on the authority of scripture or institutional leadership. For many of us, this is inadequate and unpersuasive. But by the same token, blind faith in esoteric traditions or the fascinating revelations of mystics and clairvoyants is no more advisable.

“The kind of ‘knowing’ that one finds in gnosis is personally verified. It isn’t based on the hearsay of another’s experience or revelation any more than it is based on theological dogma or belief. Even when you have experienced something that seems real, it is well to compare notes with an experienced teacher and keep room in your worldview for the possibility that it is all in your imagination.

“…No matter how shattering the truths revealed, how overwhelming the feelings unleashed, or how fascinating the manner in which ‘it all fits together,’ the fate of the universe does not hinge on convincing others of your truth. In fact, should you feel compelled to broadcast your revelations to the masses, it is a sure sign that the ego has seized hold of an insight and inflated it into a life raft.

“The paradox of gnosis is the realization that we are each simultaneously a speck of dust and Absolute Being. Esoteric work may lead us to this realization, but it remains for us to keep both sides of the equation in balance.” (pp. 311-313)

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May 06 2013

Some Notes from Grossinger

Waiting for the Martian Express

Waiting for the Martian Express

Reading through Richard Grossinger’s book Waiting for the Martian Express: Cosmic Visitiors, Earth Warriors, Luminous Dreams, and struck by a number of things.

Quotes below:

“The marketed New Age is at best a series of well-meaning simplifications and at worst a hustle and a fraud made possible by those simplifications.” (p. 12)

“Harmonic convergences are counterproductive to the degree that they distract people from the real issues. They are like Fourth of July celebrations and rock concerts – on the calendar mainly to promote ideology and commerce.”  (p. 13).

“In our imaginary (cumulative) New Age holy book, life (and the universe) are a Gothic tale with plots and subplots (including angels, extraterrestrials, Atlanteans, intelligent sea mammals, Yetis, Indian guides, spirits taking turns taking over bodies and speaking oracularly, magical temples, messages left in pyramids, multidimensional travel, past-life evolution, the Second Coming, and the like). The New Age is not yet a commitment to the unknown nature of reality, or our own novel experience; it is a screenplay for events that have supposedly been programmed and foreshadowed, narrated to us by those who have already lived. This kind of on-high prophecy seems pretentious and elitist in the face of our actual condition.” (pp. 12-13).

“The motivation behind New Age millennialism is supsiciously self-serving. Even if some of the apocalyptic scenarios intend to accelerate our evolution and rescue the whole planet, others have the same mean-spirited impetus as right-wing religious propaganda and chain letters: the faithful can barely wait for catastrophe because they expect to be its beneficiaries.” (p. 15)

“In addition, the various rescues by aliens, earthquakes, and economic collapses that have partial New Age allegiance (depending upon one’s affiliations) are denials of the complexity and commitment of life. It is not that they couldn’t happen; it is that they are not real. The biological process that underlies this world is profound and serious and represents a covenant with the divine force; it cannot be abrogated from other dimensions. If there is a macrocosm and a microcosm, these are not separated by great walls  or even master geometries; they are joined a billion times more intimately than the minute branching and impregnation of nerves and flesh.” (p. 15).

“It is unclear whether the sources of ‘spirit’ messages are truly external and if external whether they are located on this planet, but additionally there is the problem of their content which is either overly pat and cliched or utterly obscure – leading one to question why any evolved being would go through the trouble to initiate such communications. Given the obvious difference between any embodied and disembodied worlds, real transmissions from spirits and the dead should be succinct and pithy. Yet you can find material identical to most of this channeling of multithousand-year-old beings in any second-rate metaphysics or theosophy book from the last five hundred years.” (pp. 15-16)

“If someone is dead, is he or she necessarily wiser?…The implication that the glimpse beyond death is so enlightening it lone transcends any earthly enlightenment tends to trivialize both this life and the fact of dying…” (p. 16).

“There is nothing malign or even unenlightened about these communications; they are in fact good gospel, but at the same time static, impersonal, and sanctimonious. They don’t grapple. They suggest that the path has been provided…If the cosmos is presented as a finished thesis in a mediumistic context, then authority takes precedent over experience. And there is no place to go with such law, no way to generate new form and experience. Only when there is a feeling of unfathomable mystery and a sense of wonder do we change and affect the world.” (pp. 16-17)

Grossinger, Richard. (1989) Waiting for the Martian Express: Cosmic Visitiors, Earth Warriors, Luminous Dreams. Berkeley: North Atlantic Books.

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Oct 23 2012

Blessed to Death

I went last night, as I have so many other nights, to one of these wondrous New Age gatherings. And I don’t think I can take it any more. I get sick. I must escape the torture of being blessed to death during evenings such as this…[U]nderlying all of this beauty lurks a darkness, only thinly veiled by beatific platitudes of sweetness. I call this beast New Age Fundamentalism, a belief that I am right and everyone else is wrong, stupid, or evil; a belief that I represent the forces of light and goodness, while everyone else is duped by the forces of evil…What is so maddening about New Age Fundamentalists is that their judgments and moralizing are hidden behind facades of New Age doctrine, behind smoke screens of “we love everyone” and “we are one” – John Babbs (1991).

I sympathize.

The other day, unbidden on my Facebook feed, an image presented itself to me. A friend of mine had posted a photo of a Buddhist monk meditating by the water, with the a quote from “The Arcturians”.

It was actually something that I agree with.  At least, the first part.

Your work is not to drag the world kicking and screaming into a new awareness. Your job is to simply do your work…Sacredly, Secretly, and Silently… and those with ‘eyes to see and ears to hear’ will respond.

According to this site, the Arcturians are “the most advanced 5th Dimensional beings in this galaxy,” and “they operate under [the] 5th density mostly.” Apparently, they are spying on us.

What bothers me, I suppose, are several things.

“Why’s it gotta be The Arcturians?”  Really, the quote is a good one, and reminiscent in many respects of Matthew 6:1-8 and 16-18. Even the bit about “with eyes to see and ears to hear” is pretty much echoed by Jesus in the New Testament. Is there any reason that this quote HAD to come from some alleged Intergalactic Council of Space Voyeurs?

How many ‘Arcturians’ are there? Do they all speak at once? Like a chorus? Do they take turns? Do they have names?

What does a meditating Buddhist monk have to do with this? I have no idea.

These questions, I think, are not unreasonable.  From experience, however, I know that these questions make people uncomfortable.  It rattles their belief systems too easily. And, I have to ask, if their faith is rattled so easily, is the “new paradigm” so many of them profess to believe in, one worth pursuing, if its followers cannot answer simple questions? My questions aren’t meant to be antagonistic. But too often, they are perceived as such. I actually want to go along for the ride. If you’ve told me something interesting, I want to know more.  I expect and hope that you can tell me more.

Unfortunately, however, that’s usually not the case.





  • Babbs, J. (1991). New Age Fundamentalism. In Zweig, C. and Abrams, J. (Eds.). Meeting the Shadow: The Hidden Power of the Dark Side of Human Nature (pp. 160-161). New York: Jeremy Tarcher



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