For the first time in history, all of humanity is interconnected. Imagine the impact of that.
This is a podcast for social geeks in the prime of life who watch the news with a gnawing feeling of emptiness. It is one mind’s attempt to find answers to the most ridiculously big questions: Who are we? Where do we come from? Where are we going?
Pretentious? You bet.
88. Forging the soul in darkness – Joanna LaPrade
In modern society, we learn to live in the day world and to shun the underworld. To get out of pain as fast as possible. But the pain we avoid will inevitably come back to haunt us, in some form.
”The dark places in life are not enjoyable. The goal is not to spend our life in those places. But we are too quick to pull the ripcord”, says Jungian and archetypal psychologist Joanna LaPrade, author of a new book entitled Forged in Darkness. The Many Paths of Personal Transformation
She promotes self-awareness as opposed to the ”mechanical” modern self-help model.
”An approach to self-awareness is so much richer: what is unique to you, how can you manage it? Thus you can pull on your resources, your nature, what inspires and strengthens you.”
Carl Jung advanced the concept of psychological archetypes. He found them in ancient traditions and in Greek and other mythologies. The striking commonality between archetypes in different traditions all over the world laid the ground for Jung’s concept of the collective unconscious.
In her book, Joanna LaPrade explores different ways of journeying into the underworld to manage inner pain. She does it through the heroes and gods in Greek mythology who make precisely that journey (not all of them do).
Heroism does not only come in the form of strength and willpower (Hercules), as we usually see it in the West. A hero’s journey can also be about listening and showing weakness (Aeneas), or using feelings, learning from mistakes and letting go (Orpheus) or to be clever and eloquent and ask questions (Odysseus). Investigating one’s depths can also entail ecstasy, release and to embrace nature and body (Dionysus).
LaPrade discovered Jung in her early twenties in a very ”Jungian” manner via synchronistic events and a numinous dream that pointed out to her that her path was to help people cross thresholds in life.
She is also deeply influenced by the Jungian writer and mythology professor Joseph Campbell, whose notable book The Hero with a Thousand Faces is a distilling of hero mythology.
”The hero is that part of us that is able to recognize when old life is worn out and needs tending. It is the courage and the bravery that it takes to leave the comfort of the old in us and set out on some kind of journey in ourselves and in our world, where we cross a threshold and become more than we used to be”, says Joanna.
She points out that in her work as a therapist, she has yet to meet anyone who talks about having become more than they thought they were without first having visited places of suffering.
Inner pain and suffering can express itself in the body in the form of illness or injury. The Western world is influenced by the cartesian idea of a separation between mind and matter.
”But we make a really big mistake when we separate soma and psyche”, Joanna says.
And we also make a mistake not to realize that those ailments may want to tell us something.
”Working with cancer patients, I would say most of them have said ’cancer was the greatest teacher of my life’.”
Toward the end of our conversation, we engage in an interesting and deep exchange about the possibility of living in the present moment and whether or not one can actually free oneself from suffering, as many spiritual teachers say. Jung versus Buddha, in a way.
Do we reach any conclusions? Listen and find out.
Find Joanna’s website here.
Find Joanna’s book here.
87. You’re not crazy, sometimes reality shifts – Cynthia Sue Larson
Have you noticed that things mysteriously disappear and reappear? That broken items inexplicably get repaired? Perhaps even that deceased people or pets suddenly reappear as very much alive?
Don’t think you are losing your mind or suddenly suffer from amnesia. You are most likely experiencing what Cynthia Sue Larson calls reality shifts.
This is a phenomenon closely related to synchronicities as well as what is often referred to as the Mandela effect, a kind of timeline jumps, where some people’s memories of universal events or things deviate from what seems to be the consensus memory.
Cynthia first began to observe weird reality shifts in the 90s. Having a science degree, she began connecting the dots employing quantum physics, but she combined science with the spiritual insights that she also acquired during the same period.
”Consciousness interacts with quantum reality. Somehow we are entangled through space and time”, she says.
Time is a weird thing. It can slow down or speed up. We all experience it differently in different situations and contexts.
”Sometimes it is as if a change has happened in the past and a different decision was made. We can start learning from experiences that we haven't even had yet.”
(This both pleasant and deep conversation made me realize I really must learn more about basic quantum physics. I have a feeling those references won’t go away any time soon on this podcast…)
Cynthia likes to see life as a waking dream. It is real on a superficial level, but the baseline reality lies beneath the physical reality. She thinks we ought to live as if we are in a lucid dream, where we know we are dreaming but can change how it plays out.
”This is a participatory universe, as the physicist John Archibald Wheeler said. If we ask the universe a question, we get an answer.”
Cynthia Sue Larson makes several references to quantum physicists and other scientists, like Carlo Rovelli and what he has said about zero entropy, which may be a scientific way of describing God. From that place all can be seen. In our busy lives, characterized by entropy, it is very hard to see the whole picture.
”We draw the energy required for these shifts from zero entropy”, Cynthia says, ”that non-linear experience, being in that lucid dream where we have access to everything, where we feel connected with everyone.”
According to tests, some people are more prone than others to experience reality shifts, namely those who score high on intuition, empathy and emotions.
Cynthia Sue Larson has written several books about these fascinating phenomena, she runs a website where people can share their experiences of shifts and jumps in space and time, and she is the first president of the International Mandela Effect Conference.
International Mandela Effect Conference
86. The nocturnal portal to ourselves – Theresa Cheung
We all dream. Even the most hard-nosed materialist does. When a dream is powerful and seems to carry meaning it shakes you, whether you are spiritually oriented or not.
– Dreams for me are the portal, the opening to the part of you that is invisible, unseen, unconscious, expansive and infinite, knows past, present and future and sees beyond the material, says Theresa Cheung, a returning podcast guest (our previous conversation is in episode #55) .
Cheung is a successful and prolific writer of all things spiritual. She loves to write and speak about these things for people who are skeptical, and she always employs the power of doubt. Her latest book, How to Catch a Dream, is about lucid dreaming.
– It is an entry point for an understanding of ourselves as spiritual beings having a human experience rather than human beings having a spiritual inside.
The interest in the significance of dreams and dream interpretation is booming. Only twenty years ago, taking dreams seriously would have been considered woo woo in most camps. Theresa Cheung credits the younger generation for the change.
If people looked inside for self-knowing, there would be less strife and violence in the world, Theresa thinks. Rulers who feel tortured inside inflict their pain onto the world outside them.
– Your dreaming mind and your waking mind are one, they are interconnected. People separate waking and sleeping, like you're a different person when you dream, but you’re not, it's all your consciousness. But in dreams you interact on a symbolic level.
In ancient times, people were better at thinking symbolically. We have sadly turned that ability off. But reading poetry, watching films or even playing computer games we can ignite that dreaming language.
Your mind doesn't know the difference between sleeping and waking, so if you learn something in a dream, you can do it also in your waking life.
The ultimate high in the dream state is lucid dreaming, when you ”wake up” in a dream and realize you are dreaming.
– Then you can role play, you can be, do, experience anything. There are no limits. Think about that! The only limits are logic and reason, says Theresa.
– I believe that what you meet in a lucid dream is the part of you that survives bodily death.
Theresa Cheung says she finds the most clarity in the Jungian approach to dream interpretation.
The characters we meet in a dream can be delightful or scary, but they are all aspects of ourselves. Most of the time they want our attention. They want to tell us something
– There is night and day within all of us. Sometimes the monsters that we meet just want a hug. They want the dream God that created them, which is you, to love them, for all their sins.
She strongly recommends journaling your dreams. Doing that will enhance the possibility that you will experience a lucid dream.
According to Theresa Cheung, dream decoding may in fact be as useful a tool when we are awake as when we are asleep.
– Increasingly, I am advising people to interpret their waking life as if it was a dream. What’s the hidden meaning behind this situation? What does this person trigger in me?
– Life gets so interesting and fascinating. You become like a dream decoding detective.
85. The placebo effect strikes back – Jesper Madsen
What is complementary and alternative medicine and treatments (CAM)? The definitions vary in different parts of the world.
”But at least here in Denmark, the definition is not based on evidence, on whether it works or not, but on the formal status of what is being done”, says Jesper Odde Madsen, who is a guest on the podcast for the second time.
Jesper is a Danish science journalist and communication consultant with a focus on complementary and alternative medicine. He has an affiliation with the Galileo Commission, whose aim it is to expand science and free it from its underlying materialist assumptions.
To what extent different kinds of CAM are accepted, or tolerated, also varies widely. Yoga and massage are popular. Homeopathy is a no-go zone in most of the West, whereas it is considered more or less normal in India.
Conducting research on CAM is an uphill battle. Jesper Madsen talks of four main obstacles.
”There is no money in it. You can't get a patent by treating people with reflexology or acupuncture. You won’t make a career of studying these methods. There are no international organizations to back this up. And communication between the stakeholders is random or at least limited.”
There is also a methodological dilemma when it comes to conducting CAM studies: The holy grail of western medical research is to employ RCT, randomized control trials, to show whether a treatment works or not.
”But here is a secret: When you want to study something, you should choose the trial method that's suitable for the thing you want to investigate. This truth has been kept away.”
”All governments listen to mainstream doctors. And mainstream doctors say: we must have RCT. Amen.”
Alternative practitioners have a holistic approach. Before they apply their treatment, they learn things about every individual patient. And afterwards they talk to the patient and give advice.
”The point is that most alternative treatments consist of several parts, and only one of them is the technical fix, like needles in your arm”, says Jesper.
”There is nothing wrong with RCT but you have to start with the research question and analyze the issue before you make the choice of which investigation design to use.”
If you make the method in itself a criterion of quality, then it is a question of belief, according to Jesper Madsen.
”And that is exactly what I have heard medical doctors say about alternative treatments: that they are beliefs, almost religious.”
Is the placebo effect in essence an alternative treatment that the mainstream is using without knowing it?
”Yes. I am happy about the growing interest in studying the placebo. Even many doctors say today that this is more than just noise. There is a link between the psyche and the physical body. It would be great if we could take this seriously. But it will be difficult to make money on it.”
Why are journalists reluctant to cover CAM in a neutral way? Are they also afraid of being ridiculed?
”I have been asking myself this question for years. Journalists tend to go to the usual mainstream sources. They tend to have a belief in authorities. I think this has been shown during the pandemic.”
How to break the materialist paradigm, take down the ”wall”?
”It is not a question of evidence. We have the evidence. It is a question of reaching a critical mass of people and events. Maybe even that some researchers die and the younger ones think differently.”
Personal website (English)
Non-profit website & newsletter about CAM
The Galileo Commission
Presentation & speech, World Health Congress, Prague, 2021
84. The horizons will remain – Jonna Bornemark
Philosophy is life. It is always present in life. In a way, every human being is a philosopher. But we also have collective thinking and collective experiences, and that's what a professional philosopher deals with.
Philosophy professor Jonna Bornemark works at the Center for Studies in Practical Knowledge at Södertörn university in Stockholm. Many Swedes have come to appreciate her everyday approach to philosophy. She often appears in the media.
A couple of years ago she released a book about judgment that was much discussed, and her latest book, about pregnancy, was on the shelves a few days before this conversation.
Jonna Bornemark argues that the room for judgment has shrunk in modern professional life. And the room for action.
”To follow a manual is not to act”, she says.
In every profession there is a space for collective judgment. Professional knowledge can be developed within this space, according to Bornemark.
We sometimes talk about judgment as a personal characteristic.
”I think that is unfortunate. Instead, it is a kind of knowledge. We can be differently skilled at it.”
Jonna Bornemark hesitates to liken judgment with intuition. And she does not like the concept of ’following one’s gut feeling’.
”To follow only one source of knowledge, your feeling, is not judgment. We should follow as many sources of knowledge as possible.”
Often we have to act fast, and sometimes we just have a sense that we must act in a certain way.
”That may seem like acting on gut feeling, but when you look at it closer, it is much more.”
”To have judgment is to be intimately in touch with the newness of every situation. To be able to always act without knowing everything.”
Not-knowingness fills Jonna Bornemark with a euphoric feeling.
”It means we can always explore more. To some it may trigger anxiety because you are not in control. To me it is mainly positive.”
The constantly moving horizons of uncertainty and of not knowing are the lifeblood of science, but the scientific and educational systems are bad at acknowledging this, Bornemark thinks.
Sometimes we need to use our judgment to deal with conflicting forces. Jonna Bornemark has coined the term ”pactivity” for situations where we are passive and active at the same time. She first felt the need for such a concept when she tried to understand the experience of giving birth.
”The labor pain was not mine. It belonged to life itself. I experienced it like some kind of monster going through me. But I had to not object to it, that would have been dangerous. I had to continue its movement in order to give birth. So I wasn't purely active and I wasn't purely passive. I was pactive.”
When does life begin?
”It is a continuum. To draw a line, to give it a timestamp, is just a human desire. The logic of life is the logic of a continuum. That is why we need to look at the question of abortion anew.”
The fetus probably doesn't have the sense of ’I’. Even a newborn displays a sense of oneness. When does the sense of a separate self begin? Is it conditioned? Is it possible to maintain the sense of oneness throughout life? Those are questions we raise during this conversation.
Bornemark doesn’t like the reductionist materialism that is so prevalent in society.
”It is a poor worldview. And not true. But I like matter.”
”One way of responding to reductionist materialism could be to only emphasize the spiritual side, but my response is to work with the concept of matter, to re-understand what matter is: living, self-forming – and also including the spiritual side.”
Jonna’s university profile https://tinyurl.com/ywsh5bne
Jonna’s books https://volante.se/forfattare-och-talare/jonna-bornemark/
83. Why materialism is baloney – Bernardo Kastrup
Bernardo Kastrup began as an accomplished computer engineer and AI developer. Today he is one of the most influential thinkers in the intersection between spirituality and science.
This episode is probably the most philosophically dense and intense so far. Kastrup covers so much ground it is impossible to do it justice in this brief description. Just dive in and listen. And stop once in a while to reflect.
Having said that, here are some highlights:
• On metaphysical idealism, which entails that the world is essentially mental:
”Just like your thoughts are mental, the physical world at large is made of mental processes, which present themselves on a screen of perception.”
”Everything is in consciousness. But that doesn't mean that everything is conscious.”
• On how human-like an intelligent artificial neural network can become:
”We have no reason whatsoever to believe that a silicon computer can ever have a private conscious inner life in the way that you and I have.”
• On the immense problems with materialism:
”You can not pull the qualities out of the quantities. You have to have only one thing. The quantities are descriptions of the qualities, not the generator of the qualities. Mass, spin, charge, momentum, amplitude etc are descriptions of mental processes.”
”Materialists are trying to pull the territory out of the map.”
• The whirlpool metaphor for human life (we are ”whirlpools” in an all-encompassing stream of water):
”We are localized aspects of consciousness within the greater ’mind-at-large’. A whirlpool is undoubtedly a thing of its own, but it is also obvious that it does not consist of anything other than water. This is why I can't read your thoughts and I don't know what's happening on the other side of the world right now despite that everything is in one universal mind.”
• The dashboard metaphor for the world:
”We are like pilots flying only by reading the instruments on the dashboard. And that is sufficient to fly safely. The dashboard is excellent at conveying accurate information about the world. But it isn't the world.”
”The pilot never makes the mistake of thinking that the dashboard is the world. But we make that mistake. We say the physical is the world, not a representation thereof. And that is incredibly naive.”
”So, what is the nature of the thing being measured? I think it's obvious: transpersonal mentation. Mental activity is the only thing we know. Everything else is a theory. An abstraction.”
”The brain doesn't have a standalone existence. It is a representation on the dashboard. Your brain firing up neurons is what your thoughts look like when observed from the outside.”
• On why idealism gives meaning to life by postulating a continuation of consciousness beyond the physical death:
”Nothing is banal, nothing is temporary. Your experiences are not for nothing. They have contributed to the fabric of nature.”
”The intuition that we are rooted in nature is what is reflected in the golden thread that runs through thousands of years of mystical traditions.”
• On evolution:
”The evidence for natural selection is overwhelming. But the question is: is it the only mechanism necessary for evolution? To say that the genetic mutations are random is a statement of faith. The mutations might have a preferential direction. And a recent study shows that that is exactly what happens in nature. Nature is not shooting blindly.”
The Essentia foundation
The swedish smorgasbord of facts and views
Looking to confirm what you already “know”? Maybe this is not your podcast. If you however wish to expand your beliefs and questions, this is the right place to be. Very interesting guests and I also appreciate the professionalism of Anders. Journalism at its best, far from click baits and always choosing the same perspective. The future looks bright!