True open-minded skepticism is our greatest ally in trying to better understand the mind-brain connection as it is revealed through the extraordinary lens of near-death experiences (NDEs).
In her introduction, Lisa Miller remarks that the handbook is at the cutting edge of an expanded psychology that directly addresses the broadened set of ontological assumptions and a view that spirituality is fundamental to the human constitution.
However, he reminds readers that we cannot in fact escape metaphysics. As far back as 1973, Henryk was writing that ‘technology is a historical phenomenon born of a certain idea of nature, of a certain idea of progress…. and also related to specific social ideals and specific ends of human life. By these facts alone, it is laden with elements of traditional metaphysics.’
This book takes the story to the next phase, incorporating as it does a great many profound letters that he has received from readers. These all point to a larger and deeper reality within which we are embedded, and of which the physical world is an aspect rather than the whole. The book is structured around seven gifts derived from his experience: knowledge, meaning, vision, strength, belonging, joy and hope.
This is the subject of Michael Grosso’s searching, beautifully written and challenging book. The repeated miracle in question is a seventeenth century Franciscan priest’s ability to levitate, not once or twice, but repeatedly over years, observed by hundreds of people, many of whom originally were sceptical.
The book is based on three fundamental questions: Where are we? Who are we? Where are we going? The Renaissance view incorporated the idea of an Anima Mundi and indigenous cultures assume an animistic universe, but since the 17th century the West has been dominated by the mechanistic metaphor implying a deanimated Nature and a fundamentally non-living and purposeless universe.
Mike makes a strong case that parapsychology and transpersonal psychology could form the basis of a new fact-based mythology of transcendence and a transition into a larger frame of reference that would harness neglected human potentials. There is no doubt that things have accelerated and that we are nearer a crisis or turning point than when the book was first published.
This volume originates in a conference organised by the Science and Religion Forum in 2012, bringing both scientific and religious perspectives. The general trajectory of thinking is indicated in my title for this review, although I could have added from soul to mind to self and then even to a denial of the reality of the self, as in Susan Blackmore.
In this well argued book, lawyer Philip Comella issues a fundamental challenge to this dominant worldview by asserting that the assumption of a mind independent world is flawed...
In this brilliant and searching study, Harald Walach argues that the Enlightenment is as yet incomplete, having thrown out the baby of spirituality along with the bathwater of dogmatic Christianity (‘science freed itself and the intellectual minds not from spirituality and its essence, but the doctrinal building’).
However, Rupert immediately experienced tension between the mechanistic objectivity of the scientific approach and his own feelings for animals and plants - they were killed in order to be studied, and everything was broken down into reductionist components.
Subtitled ‘beyond literal belief’, this searching study steers a middle course between the Scylla of uneducated belief or religious literalism and the Charybdis of educated disbelief or fundamentalist atheism. As a sympathetic scholar of Jung, David parts company with Freud and Dawkins by maintaining that religion is in fact metaphorical rather than illusory or delusory.
In his Introduction Williams outlines the scope of his inquiry, discusses the pioneering survey achievements of the early years of the Society for Psychical Research, presents some interesting anecdotal cases, looks at the work of J.B. Rhine and surveys the range of modern neurological research into psi phenomena.
This provides an excellent theoretical framework as well as three practical tests that can be applied to any spiritual tradition: the egocentrism test relating to the overcoming of self-centredness in practitioners, the dissociation test addressing the extent of fully embodied integration, and the eco--socio-political test ‘assessing the extent to which spiritual systems.
This comprehensive volume updates the original Handbook that was published back in 1977 - so nearly 40 years ago. During that time, more research has taken place, but we have also seen the rise of organised scepticism with continuing vigorous attempts to debunk the whole field, part of which is manifest in the control by guerrilla sceptics of the Wikipedia parapsychology pages, including the Society for Psychical Research, where readers will find that about one third of the entry is devoted to fraud.
Over the last 40 years, near-death experiences have become familiar to the general public and are now taken seriously within science and medicine – 65 NDE research studies have been published involving over 3,500 near-death experiencers. The debate about the interpretation continues to evolve, and these books are very differently angled in that respect.
Given this passion of mine, I was excited to read Guy Glaxton’s book Intelligence in the Flesh, which synthesises his ideas on how intelligence is a function of the whole body. Claxton relays how society has become more sedentary over time, and its pastimes ever more disembodied. Even things that used to involve complex bodily action, such as cooking, for many now simply involve ripping off a lid and putting a tray in a microwave.
The book mixes narrative text with answers to questions, and articulates essential spiritual themes with remarkable clarity and lucidity. An important item of background information is the calibration scale based on muscle testing developed by Hawkins, which effectively positions people, ideas and emotions on a scale of 1 to 1,000, although there are aspects of reality well beyond that.
This extraordinary story joins the likes of Proof of Heaven by Dr Eben Alexander and Dying to be Me by Anita Moorjani as a classic of recent NDE literature and with the same essential message of healing, love and wisdom. It is as if the spiritual world is trying to wake us up to the wider and deeper context of life, as the title of this book suggests.
10 years in the making, this tour de force is a critical examination of scientific theories and evidence - systematic observation or experiment - about the origin and evolution of matter, life, consciousness and humankind. As such, it could scarcely be more ambitious, but the result is a triumph of detailed conceptual analysis covering the fields of fundamental cosmology, physics, biology and the evolution of philosophical and religious ideas.
Here is Roger Trigg at his most incisive and succinct as he returns to his examination of where the limits of the modern scientific enterprise might legitimately lie. He makes a clear and persuasive case for the validity of explanations in metaphysics, ethics, and theology, against both the reductive stance we have inherited (through various permutations) from positivism and the abnegation of universal truth claims of post-modernism.
The book is grounded in inter-spirituality and endorsed by Ravi Ravindra with its deeper exploration of the spiritual transformative journey, which is the primary purpose of religion – hence the term interspiritual rather than interreligious dialogue.
The author is surely correct in describing the collaboration between Krishnamurti (1895-1986) and David Bohm (1917-1992) as uncommon, since, as he points out, most collaborations take place within the same discipline. There is no doubt that they were both men of genius, deeply concerned with the human situation, its limitations and prospects.
There is no doubt in my mind that the book is a seminal one for philosophy of science and should be much more widely known in the field. It consists of five parts, namely metaphysics beginning with Aristotle, anti-metaphysics, the existence of God, the metaphysics of Kant, and causation.
John Casey gives a magisterial overview of the Western eschatological tradition – death, judgement, heaven and hell – providing sympathetic and lucid summaries of a vast range of different and at times conflicting sources that is a real pleasure to read.