Yesterday I wasted two hours of my life watching a shitty movie called Sirius on Netflix.
I’m not going to review the movie. The Hollywood Reporter already published the most perfect review possible of the film.
Sirius is a documentary is about a physician named Steven Greer who believes in UFOs and who thinks he may have come across the mummified body of an actual alien. It’s also a hodgepodge of every conspiracy theory know to man thrown into a blender and spat out so fast you can’t possibly follow any of it.
My own position on UFOs is as follows. Given how many stars and planets there are, with new extra-solar planets being discovered almost daily, I think it’s absolutely certain there is life in outer space. Furthermore, based on statistics alone there have to be other so-called “intelligent life-forms.” And, since the universe is so old, the probability is very high that some of these intelligent aliens may be over a million years more advanced scientifically, technologically and socially than we are. Therefore, I think it’s reasonable to speculate that we may be being watched. At the very least, we might provide them insight into what their own civilization was like in the distant past. So I think it’s not impossible that some UFOs may be intelligently guided technological devices from other planets. Maybe…
What interests me about Mr. Greer and a number of other people like him is how they mix meditation into their ideas regarding extraterrestrial intelligence. In the film Greer talks about a grand insight he had at age 17 following a serious accident, which nearly left him dead. He had a moment in which he felt at one with the entire universe. Lots of us who meditate have experienced this sort of thing. I described some of my own such moments in my books, particularly Hardcore Zen and There is No God and He is Always With You.
Greer says that the number of minds in the universe is one. This is, of course, very like some things Buddhist thinkers have been saying for centuries. He speculates that, through meditation, we might be able to open our individual minds up to the Great Mind of the Universe. If we did so, he further speculates, we could contact alien beings who are also tuning in to the Universal Mind. By doing this, he speculates, we might be able to mentally contact advanced alien beings and attract them to our world.
The very first time I ever tried meditating, when I was about 14 years old, I was attempting to contact aliens. I’d read a book called Journeys Out of the Body and I tried to duplicate the author’s supposed technique of lying on his back and directing my mental energies into space. It didn’t work.
In the film Sirius, we see several shots of Mr. Greer leaning back into one of those folding “meditation chairs” that look kind of like those short lawn chairs people use at outdoor plays and stuff. He’s got his hands in a mudra and his eyes rolled back. There are a couple dozen others in a circle of lawn chairs around him all in the same pose. After one of these scenes we are shown a young guy babbling ecstatically about how he encountered an ethereal being during his meditation.
In Zen we call this sort of thing makyo (é”å¢ƒ), which means something like “cave of devils.” Zen meditators avoid any type of so-called paranormal phenomena that occur during meditation. Calling it the “cave of devils” doesn’t imply that it’s all necessarily evil. It just means that such things are regarded as useless distractions.
When you stop giving your undivided attention to the surface noises your brain makes, you start to notice that this thing we call “mind” is far bigger than you ever imagined before. There’s all kinds of crazy stuff going on in there. The brain’s job is to interpret experiences. So if you’re the type who is inclined to believe aliens can contact you via hyperspace-based astral projections, you’re gonna interpret some of this stuff in that way. If you’re the type who believes in demons and spirits, you’ll interpret it that way. If you’re the type who sees things in terms of psychological states, you’ll interpret it that way.
The problem is that your interpretations are liable to spin out of control if you get too obsessed with them. Which is what I see happening in this movie. Greer starts off with a germ of genuine insight and quickly allows his brain to run wild with it until he’s no longer making any sense at all.
But people love this shit. They lap up crazy stories like nobody’s business. So when you start spinning them out and others start praising you and giving you loads of money for doing so, this creates an endless feedback loop. Pretty soon you’ve lost all connection with whatever insight triggered the whole thing and stepped into the realm of madness. But if you’re getting substantial rewards for being crazy, the chances that you’ll ever realize what’s actually going on are almost zero.
And here’s another thing. Let’s say there really are super-advanced aliens out there traveling the Universal Mind Waves or whatever. If they really, truly wanted to get in contact with you, they could do it. No conspiracy by the CIA or the Rothchild Family or the Free Masons or whoever else is going to stand in their way.
There is a perfectly sound reason why, if such aliens exist and if they know about us, they would keep their existence secret. What would happen if cretins like us got a hold of their advanced technology? It would not be pretty. Nor am I convinced that every hypothetical advanced civilization in outer space would have our best interests at heart. We might look as insignificant to them as roaches do to us. I’m not all that excited about letting everyone out there know where to find us. Not that I think Greer and his friends are doing any more than playing around in their own imaginations.
Sirius is a seriously warped movie. It is, however, a good example of how a little bit of genuine insight can be corrupted into craziness.
August 14-16, 2015 Munich, Germany 3 DAY ZEN RETREAT
August 19, 2015 Munich, Germany LECTURE
August 24-29, 2015 Felsentor, Switzerland 5-DAY RETREAT AT STIFTUNG FELSENTOR
August 30-September 4, 2015 Holzkirchen, Germany 5-DAY RETREAT AT BENEDIKTUSHOF MONASTERY
September 4, 2015 Hamburg, Germany LECTURE
September 6, 2015 Hamburg, Germany ZEN DAY
September 10-13, 2015 Finland 4-DAY RETREAT
September 16-19, 20015 Hebden Bridge, England 4-DAY RETREAT
September 20, 2015 London, England THE ART OF SITTING DOWN & SHUTTING UP
September 21-25, 2015 Belfast, Northern Ireland SPECIFIC DATES TO BE DETERMINED
September 26-27, 2015 Glastonbury, England 2-DAY RETREAT
October 26-27 Cincinnati, Ohio Concert:Nova
November 6-8, 2015 Mt. Baldy, CA 3-DAY RETREAT
April 23, 2016 Long Island, New York Molloy College “Spring Awakening 2016”
Every Monday at 8pm there’s zazen at Silverlake Yoga Studio 2 located at 2810 Glendale Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90039. All are welcome!
Every Saturday at 9:30 there’s zazen at the Veteran’s Memorial Complex located at 4117 Overland Blvd., Culver City, CA 90230. All are welcome!
Plenty more info is available on the Dogen Sangha Los Angeles website, dsla.info
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The donations I receive from this blog are what I live on and what keeps me from having to claim I’ve been contacted by aliens. Please keep donating if you don’t want me to have to go all Steven Greer on y’all!
Zen meditators avoid any type of so-called paranormal phenomena that occur during mediation,
It’s amazing to me how many people (not just Brad) mis-spell “meditation” as “mediation”. Although, upon reflection I would have to say, that meditation is a kind of mediation, a mediation of reality as it were.
I never have experienced paranormal phenomena during meditation. And I definitely have never have experienced paranormal phenomena during mediation either!
We might look as insignificant to them as roaches do to us.
I saw this guy on top of my toothbrush holder the other night. He definitely did not look insignificant to me.
Thanks for pointing that out. Spell-check programs miss that sort of thing and it’s hard to see sometimes.
I took my Comparative Civilizations class to a zen openhouse our zen centre offers the public. Then I had them write about their experiences. Almost all of them wrote about mediation.
Would they write about “meditation” if you instead took them to an arbitration session?
It’s pretty fascinating the range of experiences the human mind is capable of. It’s wise advice to avoid the cave of devils, but hell its also fun to let the mind run wild and see what comes up, the tricky thing is when you start attaching ontological signifcance to your experiences. Nevertheless anomalous encounters of various kinds are just a fact of human history, whether they have anything to do with ET’s or not. I suppose the official word is that we still might be the only planet with life in the observable universe, its entertaining to speculate on what form of observation or evidence will confirm we are not alone, if in fact we do discover alien life out there… Or in here?!
Stay grounded I always say…
“You Can’t Be Sirius!”
Oh yes, I can! (As long as I use at least sixty characters, minimum)
“He’s got his hands in a mudra and his eyes rolled back. There are a couple dozen others in a circle of lawn chairs around him all in the same pose. After one of these scenes we are shown a young guy babbling ecstatically about how he encountered an ethereal being during his meditation.”
If altered states are makyo, why are some people buggering around with ayahuasca as part of their spiritual journey
Maybe cycling through a couple of altered states is a normal part of being human.
I can induce the eyeballs in the back of the head ecstasy without drugs. But I don’t. It’s just fucking around.
Living in suchness, means accepting everything as it is.
Altered states? Huh. I guess a charismatic crazy guy and the power of suggestion work as well as drugs in the conjuring and pursuit of makyo.
I don’t know. I haven’t watched the thing and don’t plan to, but the description of this guy’s meditation group reminds me of that Heaven’s Gate bunch from the late nineties that followed their leader right over the cliff.
Perhaps the faerie folk prefer that humans believe in extraterrestrial visitors. It could be a classic example of misdirection as a form of self protection. “Look to the skies,” they say, “but don’t look down at the ground while walking in the garden or the forest.”
Misdirection would certainly be like the faeries heehee, thanks for sharing this, I hadn’t realized Cape Breton might be swarming with little people! It reminded me of a vivid dream I had in Newfoundland this winter that seemed faerie themed. I was in a kind of tense action adventure movie sequence where I was persuing someone, I forget why exactly but when I had almost caught up they opened up a fold, a portal in a solid rocky outcropping and I jumped in quick on their tail. This is where things quickly got strange. I suddenly found myself entombed in what I can best describe as a transmogrifying sarcophagus, my awareness was flowing through its narrow maze of spaces while it was constantly changing and morphing in multi-dimentional layers and tiles sliding out of place to reveal fantasic new patterns. At the same time a kind of disembodied sentient tinkling music of unearthly beauty was opening up from the distance. At this point there was a kind of raw terror that stared rising in me, I was worried that I might be trapped here in this strange claustrophobic machine with this strange unknown intelligence for who knows, a billion years perhaps… I bolted awake, the whole sequence from entering the portal only took about 10-15 seconds but it was awhile before I managed to get back to sleep. Over active imagination.
When I was about 14, my older sister gave me the Robert Monroe book Journeys Out of the Body Brad mentioned after I told her about the weird things I’d been experiencing during the transit between wakefulness and sleep.
Almost every night, still in a state of wakefulness in which I was vividly aware, some aspect of consciousness (I am at a loss here to describe it any other way -this is as close as I can get) seemed to float looking down at the body lying in bed from a perspective on or near the ceiling -hypnogogic imagery was not yet appearing, it was prior to that state. I had no idea what was happening, with no context for it, I was really frightened by the whole thing, so it was a godsend that she had read the book and could get it to me right when I needed it.
Monroe was an insurance salesman who had similar spontaneous out of body experiences. He tried to make some kind of rational sense out of it, and spent the rest of his life investigating the phenomena.
I became quite adept at directing the “floating” consciousness wherever I wanted to go, and experimented by going to different people’s houses, sometimes many miles away, observing them doing various things, then coming back and writing detailed descriptions which I would verify -to their amazement- with them later.
I could care less whether or not anyone “believes” this, I know it happened, that’s all that matters. I went on to explore and discover many other interesting things about myself, -what some would dismiss as mere siddhis- that I was rather impressed with at various times. Now? Been there, done that. It’s all entertainment, nothing more.
OK, apparently Bob Monroe was a radio guy, not an insurance guy. Probably getting him mixed up with Wallace Stevens, who I first read about the same time:
Disillusionment of Ten O’Clock
The houses are haunted
By white night-gowns.
None are green,
Or purple with green rings,
Or green with yellow rings,
Or yellow with blue rings.
None of them are strange,
With socks of lace
And beaded ceintures.
People are not going
To dream of baboons and periwinkles.
Only, here and there, an old sailor,
Drunk and asleep in his boots,
In red weather.
This article is ten years old, but revealed something unknown to me, that OBE’s may be related to NDE’s.
By the time I began to experience OBE’s I had gone through two NDE’s, and I would go through two more soon after.
Devoured your comments, Mumbles.
Might have been me you got the “insurance salesman” bit from- I think I wrote that in these comments before, apparently mistakenly. Coulda sworn that’s what it said in “Far Journeys”, the book I read.
If my memory is not playing tricks on me, in that book Monroe cites a history of experimenting with self-hypnosis prior to his out-of-body experience. For anybody who ends up OBE and wants back in, my recollection is that Monroe discovered he could reliably get back in by focusing on his breath.
I have at least one friend who practiced staying awake while falling asleep, or at least attempting to be conscious in the state in-between; what’s that called, “lucid dreaming”? Yup: http://best-lucid-dreaming-techniques.com/wild-wake-initiated-lucid-dreams.html
Anyway, my friend reported that she could float around out of body and see things, like Monroe and Mumbles.
I’m amazed that the BBC article made no mention of Olaf Blanke. Anyone who’s interested can find his research paper on my site, zenmudra dot com, down at the bottom of the opening page. Olaf was able to induce out of body experiences in patients awaiting surgery for epilepsy, with electrodes he was using to explore the relevant areas in the temporal region (near the ears) prior to surgery. He and Christine Mohr made a study of all the recorded medical cases of OBE. The hypothesis he and Mohr put forward in their research paper is that the sense of self is largely based on a coordination between the vestibular and proprioceptive senses, and that out-of-body experiences are triggered by a physical challenge of some kind to that coordination.
Ok, so I realize we are talking here about OBE’s apparently not triggered by a physical challenge, and about a pyschic component to the experience that allows people to travel distances and see events in another location without moving.
I’ve not experienced anything out-of-body yet. Another friend of mine reported floating on the ceiling and watching his brother come in the room as a puff of smoke, but he was on belladonna at the time (from the cigarettes for asthmatics).
article about the cigarettes for asthmatics:
Holy shoot, down in this article I find:
“A long time passed before British physician and asthmatic James Anderson visited India and enjoyed the mild breathing relief he obtained after smoking a cigarette containing datura strammonium. The year was 1802.”
I’ve had a couple of friends report real, honest-to-goodness hallucinations on datura, seeing people that weren’t there (they left by walking through a wall) and completely hallucinating their reality (waking up entangled in a barbwire fence). Loco weed.
Lol, as though Buddhism or Zen wan’t a good enough example.
“The hypothesis he and Mohr put forward in their research paper is that the sense of self is largely based on a coordination between the vestibular and proprioceptive senses, and that out-of-body experiences are triggered by a physical challenge of some kind to that coordination.”
What are the neural networks connecting these two senses, Mark?
Datura is an anti-cholinergic drug, blocking parasympathetic innervation.
Gudo said the parasympathetic and sympathetic need to be in balance.
“When you relax, your parasympathetic nervous system engages to counter the effects of your sympathetic nervous system. Your sympathetic nervous system, which responds to your direction, is like the gas pedal, while your parasympathetic nervous system, which controls involuntary and unconscious processes, is your idle mode. Take your foot off the pedal, and cortisol levels drop, your heart rate slows, blood vessels dilate, breathing slows and deepens, and blood pressure falls back to normal. In most people, unfortunately this automatic return to balance has been compromised by stress and other kinds of subtle imbalance. Meditation effectively restores you to a deeper standing rest rate. Once you’re balanced, your immune system is strengthened, and in terms of the heart, your resistance to stress increases.”
Fred, you would know better if there’s anything in the Blanke/Mohr paper that addresses neural networks, but reading quickly I found this:
“Neuroimaging studies support the role of the TPJ in vestibular processing, multisensory integration as well as the perception of human bodies or body parts . The core region of the human vestibular cortex [16,39,65] is situated at the TPJ including the posterior insula. Brain damage in this area has been associated with graviceptive vestibular sensations and dysfunctions [15,95]. Several neuropsychological and neuroimaging studies suggest the implication of the TPJ and cortical areas along the intraparietal sulcus in combining tactile, proprioceptive, and visual information in a coordinated reference frame [17,24].
…It is important to acknowledge that many other cortical areas such as prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate, postcentral gyrus, precuneus, occipito-temporal junction, insula, and superior parietal lobule [2,30,46,59,84,100] have been shown to play an important role in self processing (as would have been expected for such a complex phenomenon). Yet, the confrontation of the present clinical data on AP (and thus disorders of corporeal awareness and self consciousness) with the reviewed neuroimaging data on body and self processing highlights the role of the TPJ and corroborates previous evidence that the TPJ is a key neural locus for self processing.”
I’m not really much into the whole UFO thing, but I have some friends who are, and I’ve read a little bit about it. The most interesting aspect of it to me is that at this point most people into it have concluded that it’s a spiritual phenomena of some kind. That whether it’s real or not in the objective sense, these Alien civilizations are not just advanced technologically, but they are advanced spiritually, and that their contacts with human beings follow spiritual rather than technological avenues. Which is one of the reasons all the reports are strangely subjective and not necessarily making sense in some collective, objective sense. Now, it may not be spiritual in the Zen sense of things, because it’s not about staring at walls, but it’s definitely spiritual in the consciousness sense of things. The fact that it drives people a little nuts when they try to psychically tune into them or communicate is perhaps just a sign that its spiritual characteristics are definitely a bit out of tune with our own, and it may not be a healthy thing to try to connect with. Not for now, at least.
This is pretty close to my own views on UFO’s. Before I was introduced to Buddhism, way back in my mid to late teens most of the books I read were either by astronomers/cosmologists or theoretical physisists, and I was a pretty hardcore reductionist for awhile. I still feel a bit incredulous when UFO types get talking about the fuzzy physics of alternate propulsion systems that never seem to make any sense or god knows what else. I’ve been with friends that have seen UFOs but I always seem to be looking the wrong way or dropping inside to the fridge to grab a beer. Still I’m sympathetic to people who have had experiences of psychic contact with discarnate beings, I never would have become a Buddhist if it wasn’t for visionary encounters with Buddhas and Bodhisattva’s and other enlightened manifestations of my own nature. I know very little about Zen but I am attracted to the simplicity of staring at a wall, its important to have a grounded meditation practice before starting to open oneself to a larger psychic world, lots of Buddhists these days would deny that such areas even exist, which is fine but I still find amusing.
I’ve got a new/old review up here: http://hermetic.com/eberly/leaving-the-atocha-station.html
Maybe sometime I should write a review of one of your books, Brad, does your publisher send out advance review copies?
So many lovely looking and lovely sounding restored vintage parlor guitars here:
The luthier played guitar in Tina Turner’s band from 1980 to 2000 and now he restores and sells guitars on ebay.
The Grand Canyon, thanks for these. They look like fun! You recently bought a parlor guitar, I’m assuming that you did a bit of research, what would you suggest, based on price, etc.? Thanks.
I bought an Ibanez PN1 because I love the tone of it, I like the unusual body shape (narrower in the hips than most guitars, very narrow in the shoulders, reminds me of a calabash gourd), the strings have a very nice, low action, and it was only $139. I have also owned an Ibanez AEB10 acoustic/electric bass since 2009 which I am still very happy with, so I trust Ibanez’s quality. The Ibanez AVN3 is a more expensive version of the PN1 and includes higher quality components such as a bone nut and saddle instead of plastic, and wooden mosaic purfling and rosette instead of decals, but costs about $399.
My second choice would have been an Ibanez PN15 (about $149 to $169) which has a larger, more conventional looking body than the PN1 (still much smaller than a dreadnaught) and has that sweet, balanced parlor guitar tone and dynamics (much better than a dreadnaught). And if you like the PN15, you should probably try the PN12E which is an acoustic/electric and sells for about $199. The more expensive version of the PN15 is the AVN1 (about $349) and has a bone nut and saddle, abalone inlay rosette, etc.
You can compare all of Ibanez’s parlor guitars here.
But I think the most important thing in choosing a parlor guitar is going to a brick-and-mortar music store instead of ordering online. Sit in one spot, play a dreadnaught first, and then play every parlor guitar in stock. When you find your guitar, you will recognize it immediately.
Those were beautiful, ‘Canyon; being a Fahey fan, I picked on the Tacoma, what a sound!
ok, not a Tacoma, but-
“Dongshan continued to experience doubt. Later as he crossed a stream he saw his reflection in the water and was awakened.”
(from “Zen and the White Whale”, by Daniel Herman, pg 48)
Lucky he didn’t see himself across the room and feel like he was in two places at once, the OBE known as “heautoscopy”. Or maybe he did, for just a second…
Dongshan never had a pipe full of this stuff, or maybe he did…
Unlike Conrad, I have only one friend who is ‘into the whole UFO thing’. Pretty much everyone else I know thinks I’m pulling their leg when I tell them I trust the accounts of witnesses like the generals, pilots, and government officials in Leslie Kean’s book ( http://www.amazon.com/UFOs-Generals-Pilots-Government-Officials/dp/0307717089 ); when I tell them that to dismiss the testimony of all these, and many other, witnesses as misidentifications or hallucinations seems to me – on balance – less rational than to accept that there are solid objects flying about, doing things that solid objects shouldn’t oughta be doing.
But, like Brad, I do dismiss Steven Greer and others like him who purport to know who/what is responsible for these things, what their motives are and what form of telepathic interface they prefer. I think Steven Greer and his ilk are simple-minded nut jobs – or manipulative charlatans – who give serious-minded UFOers like me and my friend a bad name.
That’s interesting. Apparently, I’m a hard-headed sceptic paranormalist!
What we believe doesn’t tell us much about anything apart from the nature of believing and our need to be doing it. That’s what I think.
So, Steven Greer, making (presumably) the big bucks from whatever he is doing is kind of like the Genpo of the UFO crowd?
Jung on UFO’s:
I’m convinced that they are a real phenomena, based on a close encounter of a very personal kind.
When I wrote “What we believe doesn’t tell us much about anything apart from the nature of believing and our need to be doing it” I should have distinguished the beliefs of Mumbles and others who insist they’ve had “close encounters of a very personal kind.”
I’m confident that whatever beliefs Mumbles may have about the nature of the phenomenon he has encountered (more than once, I gather), they are of a different order to my beliefs. My beliefs concern a phenomenon I’ve only read about. My beliefs are purely speculative. Mumbles’s beliefs – it may not be going too far to suppose – might be closer to what’s called ‘knowledge’.
Here’s the late John E. Mack, erstwhile Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, discussing aspects of belief and experience attached to the UFO phenomenon in its ‘alien visitation’ form:
There seems to be a large contingent of true believers out there who are mostly involved with fleshing out or subscribing to a belief system wherein aliens (always of superior wisdom, not to mention technology) are secretly observing or working to implement large-scale cultural shifts and actively working behind the scenes to help humanity evolve from its current low level. And for most of these people, it almost always doesn’t even involve having seen UFOs or having experienced an actual alien encounter. Sometimes there is an overlap with the more out-there political conspiracy-type community, definitely with the channeling community who claim to be conduits of alien wisdom (and who publish books about that, establishing themselves as de facto authority figures on such matters).
I really don’t know what to make of most of that – to me it’s a religion for people who have rejected conventional religion but still need something to believe in. And I have seen a UFO once, in 1978. I can’t explain what I saw, I know I wasn’t hallucinating, and I’ve never seen one since. And yet I’ve never been moved to attach meaning or undue significance to what I saw but can’t explain.
Unlike thousands of folks out there who are true believers in aliens and UFOs and can talk volumes about their significance and espouse predictions about how the evolutionary path of humanity (due to ongoing but always secret alien interventions) will unfold, but who have nonetheless never seen a UFO or had an alien encounter to personally report. I know a couple of people who fit this description, who are what I would otherwise call sane and intelligent people (i.e. they are not overtly kooks or nuts). At the same time, I find their utter conviction about all this kind of stuff (and their concurrent lack of actual personal experiences) to be a maddening display of blind faith at best, and most likely a comforting and/or fascinating delusion that holds their preferred world-view together.
The first question from that video: “What is the nature, what is behind, what is the root of individual and cultural resistance to accepting… the alien abduction phenomenon… and the reality of UFOs themselves…”
Answer: Lack of credible evidence.
I still contend that the UFO phenomenon is just the faerie folk messing with people’s perceptions. I have no credible evidence of that, but that puts me on equal footing with the UFOlogists. Of course, people’s perceptions, memories, and other neurological activities can be very misleading even without the interference of the faeries.
Here be the faerie folk playing the faeried folk music…
I was lucky to see the man on the Reality Tour.
Perhaps the Breakthrough Listen project announced by Hawking and Milner will turn up some little people signals after all hehe….
Some Contact info for children…
The truth is out there 😉
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