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personal experiences

livewithwonderBack when spirit science first started, there was a troll who came on the forums and acted as though he was a member of the Illuminati. After a while of his shenanigans, this troll revealed the truth. He explained that spirit science was too open-minded and that he wanted the members on the forum to have better discernment.

I half agreed with our troll friend. However, the half I do not agree with is a very important distinction to make. You see in my opinion there is no such thing as being too open minded. At first that may seem an extreme position to take on anything . However, if you look up the definition of skeptic in the dictionary, you’ll find that the definition is not too far away from the definition of open minded.

A true skeptic is a person who says “I may be wrong and I may be right,

but I do not know for sure. Let’s examine the facts.”

That is a far cry from your typical definition of a skeptic. If, for example, you read an article at random from the magazine Skeptical Inquirer, what you will find is that the general approach of the writers of that magazine is to say “x is bunk and here’s why”, and then give facts to support their already established doubts. I am not attacking the writers of that magazine, let me clarify that. However, this is what the common definition of skeptic has changed into in our society, one who doubts.

The world needs more true skeptics. The world needs people who say “I don’t know but I’m eager to find out,” with enthusiasm, and I’m not talking solely about the uneducated. Even a doctor with years of experience under his belt shouldn’t stop learning. Remember, only the intelligent say they don’t know.

"It's not what we don't know that will hurt us. It's what we do know that ain't so." ~Will Rogers~

“It’s not what we don’t know that will hurt us. It’s what we do know that ain’t so.” ~Will Rogers~

If everyone had that attitude of ope

n mindedness and skepticism then we would be a very fortunate , creative society, and we would discover truths about life more quickly.

in the same vein that there is false skepticism there is also such thing as a false open-mindedness. If you look closely at false open mindedness, you will find that it shares the same traits as false skepticism. it is false open-mindedness that our troll friend truly attacked.

What is false open mindedness? It is the exact same thing as being gullible. Open mindedness and being gullible are not the same thing. In the former, you are open to the possibility of a given thing being true. in the latter, you accept an idea to be true without discernment. False open-mindedness is when you accept something as the truth and call it open-minded simply because it is a fringe or more “out there” belief.

In the example of our troll friend, the proper response to be truly open-minded would be to say “interesting claim, let’s see what the facts say.” If there are no facts to support the claim, then one doesn’t suddenly take the false skeptic position and say “What a bunch of buck. It is obvious you are lying.” Instead, one merely waits for more information, and eventually, the truth will present itself.

if you wanted to fail at being open-minded the first thing out of your mouth would have implied that you already accepted his claim to be a member of the Illuminati, for at that very point, you would cease to be open-minded as you would have made up your mind about his claim being true and would shut yourself out from other possibilities.

So you see the false skeptic and the false open minded person suffer from the same ailment. Both are in fact, closed-minded, and when you are closed-minded you shut yourself off from other

options, and it is always possible that those other options were just the thing you were looking for. Likewise, the true skeptic and true open-minded person are synonyms. Only through the open-minded path can you expect to find the truth of reality.

An interesting experience

Speaking of open-mindedness, I recently had an interesting experience at my job (yes I’m a slave to the man) and wanted to share it with you.

One topic I have either written about or wanted to was, synchronicity compared to Apophenia. The former is a New Age idea that means meaningful coincidence. The latter is a skeptic idea that means when a person perceives meaning when there is none, or it is merely two unrelated coincidental events.

From a philosophical standpoint, I always saw the idea of apophenia to be nonsensical because who determines

meaning can only come on an individual basis. What holds meaning to me may not hold meaning to you, and vice versa. Therefore, if a schizophrenic man for example, claims to find a meaningful pattern between lottery numbers, business names on his local street, and the current weather, then who am I to contradict him? At the same time, this is a slippery slope and this is exactly where my story is headed.

a customer walked into my place of work, and she was a very strong Christian wanting to convert as many people as she could. She believed a few “out there” ideas to say the least. She believed for example, that God personally spoke to her through the first name her parents had given her. She believed in hell, and while she spoke of many different people in danger of going there, for some reason she singled out drug users specifically.

This lady said that she could prove the biblical God existed. I asked her how. She told me through the meanings of people’s names and street names. She began to find all kinds of names of people that had to do with God. And so she believed God must exist because, if he didn’t people wouldn’t all be named after him right? She then went on to explain that whenever she saw new street names for the houses of places she moved into, those street names would always give her some sort of direction in her life.

What I realized at this point, was that this woman was experiencing synchronicity/apophenia, and in

this instance at least, this synchronicity was aiding her fear caused by her belief that people were going to hell if she didn’t do something to help save them.

Great job lady, way to miss the point entirely.

Great job lady, way to miss the point entirely.

In other words, what I learned was that synchronicity is not always a positive experience for everyone. More accurately, the experience itself was positive for her, but it also further solidified her fear for the souls of others, which, to me at least, doesn’t feel very positive at all. Likewise, what of the paranoid schizophrenic who experiences synchronicities that further fuel his or her paranoid beliefs?

So the question boils down to: Is there value in experiencing synchronicity when said synchronicity has the potential to lead people into damaging belief systems? The answer that I’ve come to regarding that question is that yes there is value and meaning if you choose there to be so, but we must treat synchronicities like they are little jokes of the universe. We can experience joy and wonder when they happen, and find meeting in that, but they don’t have to be interpreted as signs that we are supposed to believe this or do that. At that point, we are imposing beliefs upon our meaning, instead of meaning upon our beliefs, and that’s not a very skeptical thing to do. 😉

Until next time, question everything and accept nothing as the whole truth.

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livewithwonder

“Totem animal” is one of those spiritual topics that I think some people are quick to dismiss. On the surface, it seems as though the concept is a little out there, at best a flight of fancy, at worst an ego trap.

After all, who wouldn’t like to imagine themselves as having the spirit of an animal? In a weird way, it’s empowering to think about. So are those who claim they’ve found their spirit totem or guide just indulging themselves, or is there something more to this?

I’ll be honest, for the longest time I thought it was the former, because I tend to have a different perspective on spirituality than most. My usual philosophy is “If it helps you grow as a person, it holds spiritual value, and if it helps you grow in power, or creates the illusion of it, then there’s a good chance what you are looking at is rotten apples.” Granted, this doesn’t always hold true, but it makes for a decent makeshift spiritual compass. If someone claims that they can help you speak with the deceased, (at the low, low price of $100 an hour) then it seems best to tread carefully. I had always just filed away the concept of “animal totems” away in the similar area in my mind, but lately I’ve been rethinking it.

The Power of Symbols

flower of life

I hear this one’s pretty well known.

There is no denying the power of symbols. The longer a symbol exists, the more meanings it can take on to different people. There is a reason countries choose national flags, national flowers, and national animals. Likewise, there is a reason corporations spend millions of dollars on their brands and logos. In literature, symbols are excellent devices to tell stories, and they have potential to give characters further depths and personality. Symbols have the power to deeply impact our subconscious quickly and flawlessly. The ability of our minds to associate external symbols with internal suffering is remarkable.

In the more recent Batman films, for example, it is the symbol of Batman that strikes terror into his foes. Batman himself is just a person, but the “idea” of Batman makes him more threatening, larger than life even. The reason Batman’s symbol is so powerful is that it held personal meaning to him first. In fact, Bruce is terrified of bats, and usually when we’re afraid of something, it’s because that thing reminds us of a part of ourselves we don’t want to come to grips with, to accept as part of who we really are. In Bruce’s case, the part of himself he kept hidden away was the scared little boy, alone at the death of his parents. The bats were already scary, but the additional layer of trauma at the death of his family left him impressionable. Bruce associated the bats with everything else he had already gone through. Mastering a symbol like that? How could it not be a powerful weapon?

This of course, is just an example from a fictional movie series. However, this kind of thing happens to us in real life all the time. It’s where fiction writers get their ideas. It’s just that usually, in real life, the revelations are less linear. Where in a video game, for example, a character may go into the fire dungeon and fight the powerful fire monster and come out of it with a new found passion and inner strength (not to mention cool stuff), in real life a person may undergo countless exposures to a subtle stimulus that stretches throughout their life before they “get it” and rediscover that little piece of their soul. I think that may be how it worked for me.

How I Discovered my cutie mark Animal Totem

spaelotis-clandestina-713564For the longest time, I have been absolutely terrified of moths. Since I was a little kid, there was always something about them that unsettled me. I used to come to live with my parents during the summers in between college. At the time, I told them I wanted to be a writer, and that I was going to use the time there when I wasn’t working my part time job to get some writing done. Instead, I procrastinated heavily. As I slowly worked on one mediocre short story, I found myself switching to flash games and movies, literally surfing the net for any kind of video game related distraction I could. Whenever my mom would peek in to say hi, I treated it like a huge invasion of privacy. I would freeze up, minimize the window on my computer (there was absolutely nothing worth hiding on there, but I did anyway) and act like I was guilty of something when I wasn’t.

During this time, I saw a lot of moths. I’m not sure how, but they kept on getting into my room. It was almost as though they were drawn to me, and they always made this disgusting sound when they would hit the light bulb in my room over and over. It didn’t help if I turned out the lights, they’d just fly over to my computer. I’d go out of my way to try and get rid of them. After a while of this, I started thinking about it, so I came up with a list of reasons why I hated moths so much.

1. I didn’t like the awkward way they fluttered, as though they are always in a panic. A moth will fly right into your face and not even care, because of their panicked, alien way of moving.
2. I saw them almost as parody of butterflies. Like butterflies, they go through metamorphosis, but instead of turning into something beautiful like butterflies, they merely just change into something equally mundane and hideous.
3. It always bothered me the way they lived in darkness yet craved the light. A moth will immolate itself in fire just to be a part of the light, but it can never be so. When daylight comes, the moth hides. A moth will fly to the first artificial light it sees, even if it kills it.
4. Have you ever swatted a moth? When you do, dust comes out. I couldn’t honestly think of a better reminder of our mortality. It’s like a little Biblical reference. From dust he came…etc.

Fast forward years later and I overhear a conversation online about animal totems, and I ask out of curiosity how you go about finding one, and how you know it’s not just an ego trip. The very first piece of advice I’m given is to look at an animal that scares you the most, especially if it’s an irrational fear. Sure, it’s entirely possible that when a person is afraid of something external, it’s just because, and there is no underlying explanation, but how often is it the case that we project our own internal fears or the things that we dislike about ourselves on external things?

I’ve come to realize that I’ve always been afraid of moths, because they remind me of me, or at least of parts of me. It reminds me of parts of me I’m not always proud of. Like the moth, I too flutter awkwardly, and I too move as though I am in a panic. I hide my panic, but it’s still there. I too expected myself during that time to transform into something beautiful, but what actually happened is that I simply transformed into something different, something that I saw at the time as ugly and dysfunctional. I expected myself at the time to change the world, inspire people, write beautiful things. Instead, I found myself wasting both my time and society’s time, contributing literally nothing positive to the world.

I wanted to be a part of the light, but I always feared what that meant, and as much as I envied the light, I never trusted it. At the time, still confused and pseudo-Christian, I wasn’t even sure what I believed “the light” to be. In the dark, I at least felt at home.

One of the things I learned about the moth recently is that it actually uses moonlight as a guide. It’s just that when it sees a campfire, or a bug zapper, it gets confused and cannot tell which light is from the moon and which light is the “false” light.

I knew that by not hoping in things, I wasn’t setting myself up for failure. How I ever wanted to step into it though. The sun was just too big, too proud, and I wasn’t deserving enough. I didn’t realize at the time all the false light out there, and I found myself burning again and again, just so long as it was light.

Finally, the dust metaphor. I found myself wrestling with existential issues at this age, constantly wondering what the meaning of life was if we were just going to die anyway. Life seemed short and pointless and I couldn’t find a way out.

Is it any wonder then, that moths kept appearing to me to remind my mind of the things I was hiding to myself? And is it any wonder that their presence filled me with an irrational fear and rage, to the point that I would spend 15 minutes trying to hunt one down when I heard it, only to not find it, sit back down, and be interrupted by the flutter again?

The moth has taught me many important lessons. It taught me how to discern true light from false. It taught me that just because the person I am now isn’t who I thought I’d be it doesn’t make me awful. It taught me of my own mortality, but not to live in a panic. The moth is really a beautiful creature actually, at least I think that’s what the most peaceful man in the universe would say. I think the most powerful lesson it has taught me is that it takes a beautiful, whole soul to recognize beauty for what it is, and this world, it’s filled with it. For that, I’m proud to call the moth my totem.

Until next time, may the sides of you hidden away be exposed to the light.

I am stoked to have a patchman now. For the record, this pic looks nothing like me, except for the excited expression of course.

I would like to apologize to all my regular readers who probably assumed that I dropped off the face of the earth. The truth for me is, that 2012 has already been a year of huge changes for me, and I’m trying my best to adjust. Some of the events I’ve worked with just this year include a new move, a new baby on the way, a near death in my family, and a sick dog. As one might say, life just keeps on rolling. However, the year has also been full of wonderful changes as well. The move itself is pulling in all kinds of new experiences, people, and challenges and I’m just loving it.

Anyway, lets get to today’s topic at hand:

“Okay, I bought my shovel, now where’s my hole?”

I heard these wise words from a woman named Ramona down at Stonekeepers metaphysical shop in Murfreesboro Tennessee. I’ll explain them shortly. This woman is full of fascinating stories, her shop was honestly the first real metaphysical shop I’ve ever visited, and I’m glad I did.

Ramona told me that when she started her business, she knew nothing about metaphysical stuff. She opened her crystal shop envisioning that it would be a jewelry and gift shop. She had crystals yes, but knew nothing about their metaphysical properties. I believe she told me that she had difficulty with business at first as well. More people were buying her gems and crystals for metaphysical reasons than for simple knick-knacks. One day, a man walks into her store, sees a large crystal cluster and says, “Excuse me maam, that’s my crystal over there.”

Ramona told me she was taken aback at first by the man’s nerve, explained how expensive it was, and he just repeated that it was his crystal. The man turned out to be a shaman. Between her conversation with him, and a friend giving her The Ancient Secret of the Flower of Life by Drunvalo Melchizedeck she became quickly hooked and her store began to take a more metaphysical turn.

How not to use crystals – a lesson in hoarding and intent

On my entire drive to Tennessee, I was thinking about how I would finally be able to purchase crystals on my own without having to worry about a thing. I was excited about it, but I had no idea where to look for a metaphysical shop. When I arrived in Tennessee, I went into one of those Earthbound trading company places in a mall somewhere. They sell some crystals, but the selection isn’t as good as an actual crystal store. Ryan Boyd, the writer for astral 101, had suggested I look for Citrine and Prehnite starting out. I didn’t find either of these there, so I instead bought a few random bags of crystals and said to myself I’d find those other crystals elsewhere. One of the shopkeepers mentioned Stonekeepers, so I wrote it down and told myself I’d look for it the next day.

I went to bed that night excited to try my crystals out, so I quickly half-assed a “dedication”, stuffed the entire bag under my pillow and waited to see how I felt. I felt a few tingling sensations, but no better dreams, no super rested feelings. What’s am I doing wrong here? I thought. Have I been deluding myself about this stuff all along? After all, experience is how I know whether there’s validity in a thing.

A shot of the outside of stone keepers. Did I mention this place is awesome?

The next day, I left for Stonekeepers, determined to find “the right stones”, the ones that would work for me.  When I got there, I asked Ramona for some citrine, and prehnite tumble stones, and a copy of the crystal bible. I cracked the thing open and looked up my crystals, hoping that the stones would help me do the kinds of things I wanted to do. After a while of my random browsing, Ramona offered to show me around her store and we got to talking. I asked her if she had any resources that explain how crystals work, and why they help us.

“Let me share a word of advice for you. All of those crystal books each say a different thing. Now if you’re curious what they say, that’s fine, but by trusting in only the books, you’re giving an awful lot of your power away to them. Which one are you going to trust? I don’t know if it’s good for business or not, but when people shop for crystals, I encourage them to search for what feels right.”

The shovel part

Hey! This thing is busted!

Here’s the direction the conversation took next:

“Let me ask you a question. What does a shovel do?”

“It digs holes,” I tell her, curious about where she’s going with her line of questioning.

“Can you dig a hole without a shovel?

“Yes.”

“Can you do other things with a shovel? You can use it to prop open a window, right? You can use it to dig or fill holes. There’s a bunch of different things you can use a shovel for. It’s just a tool. Crystals are the same way. What works for you may not work for somebody else. When you buy a crystal, you’re putting your energy and intention in it. It’s that intention that works the crystals. So many people who come in here want a magic solution to a problem. Usually they are looking for either love or jobs. They buy the crystal thinking it’s going to just magically solve the problem. That’s like saying, okay I bought a shovel, now where’s my hole? Without the intention and action, it won’t help.”

He’s just not that into you – crystal edition

So I had all of these crystals, but when I bought them, I forgot the most important step, to use my energy and intention to actually put meaning into them. Since everything is energy, I wouldn’t be surprised if you could do it one way of the other with virtually anything. We’ve seen the example of what happens when you write the word “love” on a glass of water. What you intend in your life is what you manifest in your life. If anything, crystals are beautiful. Why wouldn’t you want to manifest beauty into your life? Just remember, that the crystals aren’t going to do all the work in your life and magically make everything perfect. If you want to change, you have to strengthen your will, make intentions, and act. Please remember that last one, because without it, you’re merely dreaming with stones in your hand, not using crystals to help focus and manifest what you want.

I have an additional story to share about Ramona next time, but I will save that for next time when I talk a little about Jung and synchronicity.

So until next time, don’t just buy your tools, use them.

Livewithwonder can be contacted though email at livewithwonder@thespiritscience.net, his blog at livewithwonder.wordpress.com, or on twitter at @mrthejazz1.