Dr. Rupert Sheldrake Brings Science to Spiritual Practices |376|

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  1. Alex

    Alex New

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    Dr. Rupert Sheldrake Brings Science to Spiritual Practices |376|
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    Dr. Rupert Sheldrake finds scientific support for benefits of spiritual practices.
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    photo by: Skeptiko
    Alex Tsakiris:
    Today I’m so happy to welcome back Dr. Rupert Sheldrake to Skeptiko. Dr. Sheldrake who has, not only appeared on Skeptiko several times over the years, but through his encouragement and guidance was really instrumental in the creation of this show, is truly one of my favorite guests to have on.

    So Rupert, welcome back. So good to talk to you again.

    Dr. Rupert Sheldrake: Glad to be with you again Alex.

    Alex Tsakiris: The reason for this visit today is this new book you’ve written, Science and Spiritual Practices: Transformative Experiences and Their Effects on Our Bodies, Brains and Health. Quite a new book, and I was saying, when we were chatting about it just a minute ago, it is great to see you back out there, just really hitting the trail with this book, doing a lot of appearances. It looks like you’re doing workshops and also lectures. So, how is all of that going for you?

    Dr. Rupert Sheldrake: Well, it’s going very well. So far, this book is only out in Britain, it’s not coming out in the US until Autumn of 2018, but most of this activity is in Britain at the moment, so I don’t have to travel very far, but there’s a huge amount of interest in this and I’m really excited about all of the themes in this book.

    Alex Tsakiris: There is a lot of interest. I started watching your interview with Russell Brand and I thought that was fascinating on a number of levels, how did that go?

    Dr. Rupert Sheldrake: Well, Russell Brand is an extremely intelligent person. Here in Britain he’s very, very well-known as a comedian and as a, sort of, public intellectual. He wouldn’t like to be called that probably, but he’s very curious. He’s on a, kind of, spiritual quest himself after years of drug addiction, heroin addiction and alcohol addiction, sex addiction etc. He did a 12-step program which changed his life. He’s got a new book out himself called, Recovery, which is about recovering from addictions and he’s on a, kind of, spiritual mission at the moment.

    He was curious and interested about this new book of mine and we get on extremely well. We had a really good conversation. He reaches a huge audience.

    Alex Tsakiris: He does reach a huge audience and the other thing that I thought was interesting about the pairing and the conversation, we’ll try and link to it so everyone can see it, because it’s really a great conversation, but I think he’s this transitional, transformational kind of figure, in a lot of ways, in that pairing him with you, he’s calling bullshit on all the old atheistic, materialistic nonsense that you’ve called bullshit on for so long, but he’s doing it in a different way, coming at it from a different angle, and he’s pulling in a lot of different people. So, I think there’s an interesting synergy with that message, even though you’re coming at it from a lot of different ways.

    Dr. Rupert Sheldrake: Yes, I think so. He’s become very disillusioned with the, kind of, consumerist society, and his message about addiction is not, are you an addict or not, but where are you on the addiction spectrum? Is it just compulsive Facebook messaging etc? He sees consumerism, all these as forms of addiction.

    So, I’d mostly been interested in a critique of materialism as a belief system, as a world view, he’s more coming to it from materialism as a life style, a consumerist lifestyle. But, he’s extremely smart and he does get the point about the bigger intellectual picture.

    In fact, one reason that we did this conversation, was that a few months ago he asked if he could come and talk to me, and this was just a private meeting, just the two of us, to discuss the kind of issues I was discussing in my book, Science Set Free, The Science Delusion, because he wanted to get up to speed on some of these issues in science, and he hasn’t got a scientific background. But, I must say, in our private conversation it became very clear to me, what an incredibly quick mind he has and how quickly he assimilates things and is able to summarize them.

    Alex Tsakiris: That’s great, and as you eluded to, what I find is that everyone’s trying to just find a way to get to the other side, because clearly, the side, the science-as-we-know-it, the dopey materialism, has never really worked for people, but they’ve just, kind of, had to carry on because that’s been the thing. I feel like Russell Brand has just jumped over the other side and said, “Oh well, of course, some sort of spiritual deeper awareness of who we are is the only thing that makes sense,” and I think that’s a position that you’ve fought long and hard for and have, kind of, built the case for scientifically.

    So, it’s just an interesting way of seeing those two things come together, because I think the Russell Brand’s approach is probably where most people find themselves. I mean, most people aren’t willing to do the work, but it’s nice that when they do say, “Okay, is there anything to really support this new belief I’m growing into?” they can turn to books like yours and say, “Oh wow, there really is a basis for this new understanding I have, or an old understanding I have,” because I think it’s deep within us.

    Dr. Rupert Sheldrake: I think so too, yes.
     


  2. "Andrew Sims, past president of Royal College of Psychiatrists, has said: The advantageous effect of religious belief and spirituality on mental and physical health is one of the best kept secrets in psychiatry and medicine generally. If the findings of the huge volume of research on this topic had gone in the opposite direction and it had been found that religion damages your mental health, it would have been front-page news in every newspaper in the land"



    "Research shows that belief in the paranormal and religion can be conducive to the health and well being of people. These beliefs can help people cope with grief, divorce, job loss, the fear of death, particularly in the terminally ill, and can deter suicide."


    http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2015/03/video-lecture-by-john-lennox-explains.html#lennox_individual

    http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2012/09/skepticism-big-lie-activist-skeptics.html
     
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  3. What spiritual practices are best?

    My opinion:

    Best practice if you want to experience ESP: Most people experience precognitive dreams when they keep a dream log.

    If you want to develop spiritually and increase your psychic "in-tuneness": Meditate.

    Spiritual healing is also easy to learn. But most people have a mistaken understanding of it from fiction and the news media, the link will set you straight and tell you how to do it.

    If you have the opportunity, take classes in mediumship:
    https://sites.google.com/site/chs4o8pt/psi_experience
    More here:
    http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2013/03/spiritual-practices-and-their.html
    Spiritual Practices and their Effectiveness
    "What do they say about the underlying structure of the extended consciousness realms?"

    http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/p/articles-and-links-arranged-by-subject.html#articles_by_subject_like
    What is it like in the afterlife?
    http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2015/03/realizing-ultimate.html
    You might have heard it said that "we are all one". What does that mean? The quotes below explain it. These quotes from: an ancient text, an advanced meditator, a near-death experiencer, a spirit communicating through an evidential mediums, a materialist atheist , Christian scripture, Christian theologians, a Native American medicine man, a Jewish Scholar of the Kabbalah, and a Sufi philosopher, all describe something very similar: ...​
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2018
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  4. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    Alex's questions at the end of the podcast:

    How might science interface with and inform the kinds of questions we would have as spiritual seekers? What spiritual practices are best? For which types of people? Measured under which circumstances? What would that then say about the underlying structure and meaning of extended realms of consciousness?
     
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  5. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    Alex, you invited Rupert onto your show and I think it behoves you to listen to him and pose your questions based on his lead. Instead, in this interview, you seem to have had your own agenda and imho didn't listen and engage. At one point when he was going to talk about the resurrection, for example, you even interrupted and cut him off. I for one wanted to hear what he had to say.

    As a result, I don't think I as a listener felt very satisfied with the interview, and I suspect Rupert could be thinking to himself that it was a waste of his time. I'm little wiser as a result of listening and feel a bit deprived, if you really want to know. Could be that you might as well have asked your final questions without having the interview at all.

    Rupert is no dunce, and if you let him speak, he'll doubtless say what he feels needs to be said in relation to his new book. But I don't believe you did, because (maybe subconsciously -- I'm not suggesting any malice) you wanted to follow your own point of view, and regrettably, I think that could have been at his expense.

    Sorry if that seems harsh, but there you go: it's honestly how I feel.
     
  6. Seth

    Seth Member

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    Just an unrelated comment:

    Am I the only one who thinks Alex's voice is completely different in this interview?
    The intro sounds like his normal voice, but in the interview itself its very different. It's younger and less husky, I don't know.
     
  7. Baccarat

    Baccarat New

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    Can't wait to listen to this one, is it on youtube yet?
     
  8. Baccarat

    Baccarat New

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  9. I think that for many people to stop using the internet would be a great way to start. It would give the biggest result for the least effort.

    I lost power for two days a couple of weeks ago because of a snow storm, so I am speaking from experience.

    Stay away from the internet, TV, radio, and newspapers for two days. Try it this weekend. See what happens.
     
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  10. Jeroen

    Jeroen Member

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    Let me chime in here. I concur with you, regain your time from all of the above is a great way to become less stressed, more productive and essentially you got time to fool around with unknown things like meditation, ESP, prayer and who knows what. I am not looking for a badge of honour or achievements but the last time I bought or read a newspaper was 20 years ago, TV I watch when visiting my family abroad (which I rarely do) and radio... what was that again? Have this made me a better person? Nope, but it has allowed me to explore and experiment with "weird" stuff :)
     
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  11. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    The only problem with that, is that the internet has given us so much as well. I am not on FB or anything remotely similar, but honestly, I would have failed to develop any distance from naive materialism without the internet.

    David
     
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  12.  
  13. Part of the problem is that internet apps are designed to make you use them compulsively. It's not just that they use up all your time. They destroy your attention span. There are kids on the reddit meditation forum who say they can't meditate for more than a few minutes. And reading news and debating in forums etc causes many people a lot of stress. It is hard to get in tune with the spiritual "vibe" when you are stressed.

    See quotes below: Facebook insiders admit they are destroying society and they knew what they were doing.

    (And anything with likes and visual or audio notifications, is part of the problem. That includes skeptiko, e-mail, and pretty much every discussion or comment forum. But it also involves auto-play video's, daily streaks to keep you coming back every day, hiding the clock so you don't know how long you've been using the app, and games that use repetitive music to put you in a trance like state.)

    Sean Parker (Founding president of Facebook): Facebook Exploits Human Vulnerability (We Are Dopamine Addicts)
    https://www.axios.com/sean-parker-unloads-on-facebook-2508036343.html

    When Facebook was getting going, I had these people who would come up to me and they would say, 'I'm not on social media.' And I would say, 'OK. You know, you will be.' And then they would say, 'No, no, no. I value my real-life interactions. I value the moment. I value presence. I value intimacy.' And I would say, well you're a conscientious objector that's okay you don't have to participate, but you know we'll get you eventually.'

    And like, I don't know if I really understood the consequences of what I was saying, because the unintended consequences of a network when it grows to a billion or 2 billion people and it begins, it literally changes your relationship with society, with each other. It probably interferes with productivity in weird ways. God only knows what it's doing to our children's brains.

    If the thought process that went into building these applications, Facebook being the first of them to really understand it, that thought process was all about: 'How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?' And that means that we need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever. And that's going to get you to contribute more content, and that's going to get you more likes and comments.

    It's a social-validation feedback loop it's like exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you're exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology." The inventors, creators — it's me, it's Mark [Zuckerberg], it's Kevin Systrom on Instagram, it's all of these people — understood this consciously. And we did it anyway.



    Former Facebook exec says social media is ripping apart society
    https://www.theverge.com/2017/12/11/16761016/former-facebook-exec-ripping-apart-society

    Chamath Palihapitiya, who joined Facebook in 2007 and became its vice president for user growth, said he feels “tremendous guilt” about the company he helped make. “I think we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works,” he told an audience at Stanford Graduate School of Business, before recommending people take a “hard break” from social media.
    ...

    Palihapitiya’s criticisms were aimed not only at Facebook, but the wider online ecosystem. “The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops we’ve created are destroying how society works,” he said, referring to online interactions driven by “hearts, likes, thumbs-up.” “No civil discourse, no cooperation; misinformation, mistruth. And it’s not an American problem — this is not about Russians ads. This is a global problem.”




    Nir Eyal is showing software designers how to hook users in four easy steps. Welcome to the new era of habit-forming technology.by Ted Greenwald in technologyreview.com
    https://www.technologyreview.com/s/535906/compulsive-behavior-sells/
    Forging new habits has become an obsession among technology companies. In an age when commercial competition is only a click away, the new mandate is to make products and services that generate compulsive behavior: in essence, to get users hooked on a squirt of dopamine to the brain’s reward center to ensure that they’ll come back.​


    Is the Internet destroying your attention span? We asked an expert. By Simon Hill, digitaltrends.com
    https://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/internet-age-attention-spans-experts-weigh-in/
    “Think about the way digital information is conveyed, as short bits of information,” said Dr. Greenfield. “The idea of working on something in-depth over a long period of time is falling out of favor, because people are Googling, reading the first sentence of whatever comes up and then they’re done. People are using the Internet this way because most of the time they find what they want. When you find what you want you get a slight hit in your pleasure neurotransmitter because you’re getting satisfied, and as long as you get that hit you’re going to be more likely to keep doing it. We’re reinforced by that positive experience.”

    ...

    “A concern that we have,” said Dr. Greenfield, “is that if you’re not using some of these deeper capacities for thinking, because you’re using a digital device as a section of your brain, then those skill-sets will atrophy.”
    More:

     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2018
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  14. And the news media is another conspiracy to make profits by making you compulsive (crazy):

    5 Ways To Stay Sane In An Era Of Non-Stop Outrage By David Wong David Wong, March 01, 2017

    http://www.cracked.com/blog/5-ways-to-stay-sane-in-era-non-stop-outrage

    Hey, you know what happens when you read something really enraging on the internet? You get a hit of dopamine. And even though it's a "bad" feeling, you immediately want to feel it again, because anything is better than being bored. Well, people who know how to manipulate this mechanism rule the world. Here's what you need to know now:
    ...
    Ignore Headlines Telling You To Feel An Emotion
    ...
    Remember That People Literally Get Paid To Upset You
    ...
    Know That If You Can Be Trolled, You Can Be Controlled
    ....

     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2018
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  15. Charlie Primero

    Charlie Primero Member

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    Alex sounded tired, like he was a bit run-down from fighting off a cold.
     
  16. Charlie Primero

    Charlie Primero Member

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    Alex did not seem overly combative or discourteous in this interview. He did his usual thing of asking difficult questions, which we like.

    One weird thing I've noticed is that Alex is really irritated by the concept of Bible Inerrancy.

    I was a F.U. Hard-Kore Atheist for many decades because I was raised in the Southern U.S. around snake-handling, tounges-speaking Pentacostal fundie nutjobs.

    I learned my way past that to become somewhat of an esoteric Christian. I suspect my parents being Agnostics who never attended church actually made that easier for me than it will be for Alex who was forced to attend a church when young.
     
  17. We have a mental health epidemic that no one is willing to acknowledge and it is caused by the internet and the news media.
     
  18. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    I'd like to try to keep this thread roughly about the podcast, so it would be good if the discussion about the internet could be continued in another thread, please.

    David
     
  19. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    No - I disagree with this - Rupert was given a long period where he described his early life.I think it was reasonable for Alex to discuss the relationship between Christianity and spirituality. I was interested to learn that part of Rupert's decision to return to Christianity was the fact that some holy men he encountered had no interest in the welfare of mankind.

    I liked this interview, and it looks as if his new book covers new territory.

    I wonder if Susan Blackmore will be changed because she has/will be her going to Brazil to take Ayahuasca!

    David
     
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  20. hypermagda

    hypermagda Member

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    Alex, I very much appreciated your point about Jesus having truly existed or not etc being important in itself - the "shut up and calculate" approach to "ultimate Truth" that seems to be advocated (among others) by Rupert Sheldrake is certainly interesting and worth analysing but, ultimately, it is unsatisfactory to me as it is to you.
    So thank you so much for asking that important question. I was however not surprised by the answer (or rather, the way he avoided answering....). I have an extremely high opinion of Dr Sheldrake but I think that, like many other people, he has chosen the soft option of just saying "if Christianity and its rituals work (make me feel good), it's good enough, I don't need to know if any of it is based on something real". In other words, Christianity may "work" like a placebo may work, but as long as it works it needn't contain an "active ingredient" (= actually be the one and only revelation of the Ultimate Truth or even be based on historical facts). Anything goes, really, as long as it works (ie, any religion or belief in something 'spiritual'). I suppose even belief in the Tooth Fairy or Unicorns or Father Christmas would be perfectly OK if it worked, based on this approach - why not? So, I don't mean to be dismissive of what Dr Sheldrake said (or even of people who believe in Unicorns or in the Tooth Fairy) but, like Alex, I don't find this approach intellectually satisfactory.
     
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