Transcendentalism Today & Spirituality

Total Posts:  2957
Joined  02-12-2004
15 June 2005 18:53

My beliefs (not certitudes, mind you) more or less dovetail with your own. I would like to share with you (and anyone else who cares to read it) what author Israel Regardie said in his book “the Tree of Life;”(which deals with kabbalah,magick,etc…) about “God”,the absolute, the infinite or whatever
term you care to use for “ultimate reality”. Let me
preface this quote by saying I neither wholly accept
these claims, nor wholly reject them. That pretty much
goes for all claims regarding spirituality OR lack thereof.I
think Champion should read this, though I doubt it will
change anything.One can always hope,though.

First of all,the philosophy of the Qabalah is a philosophy of evolution. The universe,with all its planets and worlds and independent beings,was conceived to be the emanation from
a primeval substance-principle which some have called God,the
absolute,the all and so forth. In the Qabalah,this principle,which
is the one reality,is named the Infinite. The Sepher ha-Zohar
,the most important perhaps of all Qabalistic texts,conceives it to
be unchangeable,unknowable to the mind,illimitable,unmanifest
and absolute.Beyond all intellectual comprehension in Itself,inasmuch as it could never be grasped by a mentality
which is but a segment of its all-inclusiveness. It is stated
to be AinNothing.Since it does surpass all finite
understanding,immutable and boundless as its expanses
are to the human mind whose most profound speculation
could not approach to the faintest adumbration of what it
is in itself,it must ever remain a mysterious emptiness—No-thing. In this connection,the graphic conception of the early Egyptians
is very forceful as well as picturesque.The sky or space anterior to all manifestion,was conceived as the naked body of the goddess Nuit,the queen of infinite space,and from her breasts the milk of the stars,the primordial waters of substance,were portrayed as issuing forth. All that can be said with truth of this absolute and
supreme reality is that IT IS. This must suffice. Omnipresent,eternal
and self-existant—these are ideas which transcend even the loftiest
flights of the trained imagination,abstractions beyond the grasp of mortal minds. One of the symbols of this potetiality of the Ain during a period of quiescence is a Circle,signifying that all having
been withdrawn into homogeneity,motion returns perpetually into
itself,as in the glyph of a snake’s tail returns into and is swallowed
by the head. The circle is only broken so to speak by the law of
periodicity.This law,affecting all,and inhering in the very nature of
things,governs the constant flux and reflux,appearance and disappearance of the worlds. The potentiality of the Ain Sophis only mirrored forth with the outgoing from itself of the breath
of creativity,with the commencement of a cycle when the one life
is polarized into spirit and matter. The breaking of the circle of unceasing motion is accomplished by a contraction of its Infinite
light, by a positing of a minute point of scintillating refulgence
within the confines of space(the big bang?). How this concentration
of light into a cosmic center was effected,what its obscure origin,we are unable to tell. There are confused explanations
concerning the will of Ain Soph or the law of cycles,but they
do not really tend to intelligent satisfaction. In one case it is completely impossible to conceive of so infinite and so abstract
a spiritual condition as Ain Soph possessing a will which can
be put into operation,any more than it possesses a mind or a body.The philosophic tradition is that Ain Soph is not spirit
or will but the underlying cause of both;not force or matter but
that which underlies them,their ultimate cause. In the second case,this postulate of the cyclic law to account for the appearance
of the center of light bespeaks of something independant of or
imposing necessity on Ain Soph. If the cyclic law is identified
with the absolute,the postulate becomes identical with the will
to manifest. In any event, since we are agreed in Theurgy that reason cannot be the final arbiter so far as concerns this and
similiar metaphysical questions,the philosophical tradition must
simply be accepted in its bald statement , without endeavoring
to provide rational explanations for a cosmic center of radiance
appearing in space.

  Regardie was quite wordy and redundant. Perhaps he can
be forgiven, since he was only 24 when this book and another
were PUBLISHED in 1932.Nonetheless, he tends to clarify and
unify countless spiritual traditions throughought the world with
his own Hermetic Kabbalism/ritual magick. He continued to write
about and practice “the sacred arts”, so to speak until his death
at 78 in 1985. Many of his books can be found at just about any
major bookstore, in the “new age” section. His writings have been
a significant influence in the modern “new age” movement.

  I have personally found beliefs like this more plausible than those proposed by scientific materialism(not to mention far more
agreeable,which I admit may bias me towards these beliefs).
I have found them infinitely more plausible (and again agreeable)
than those proposed by exoteric, dogmatic Judeo-Christianity(this
includes Islam) with it’s “ferocious devil-god yelling with drunken glee”. A god that condemns, or excuse me “permits” souls to enter
into eternal damnation for everything from Atheism to practicing
Zoroastrianism.I still insist on taking everything with a large grain
of scientific salt, but if I were a betting man, I would probably place
my bets on the reality of some alternative spiritual realm, like the one proposed by Regardie(more accurately,the kabbalists) rather
than the arid, mechanical, nothingness of scientific materialism or especially the reality of a cosmic super-tyrant,a man writ large, in conventional Judeo-christianity. I think more and more people every
year are becoming interested in “New Age”,mystical-occult ideas and spiritualities. The exoteric religions have overall been a curse to mankind, IMO and I believe in the opinion of many here. Science
has given us much,but it has not answered all our questions,nor
solved all our fundamental problems. I firmly believe mankind must
come to terms with an alternate vision of reality, or mankind and much life on this earth, shall either perish outright and
sooner than we must; or our civilization and the earth will
be dramatically altered and probably not for the better.Both
many materialists and many religious will scoff at these beliefs
without a second, or even first glance and that in itself,is a
big part of the problem.

Total Posts:  1453
Joined  22-01-2005
16 June 2005 04:53

I was following the thread of ID thinking that Kurt has been describing . . . up to a point, but when I read

“Every soul is like a separate cell or atom on earth which combines with other cells or atoms to make up the existence of every living person, plant, animal and even the air which sustains all life; so also do souls perform, either individually or in unison. The bonding of the first two righteous souls, the first reasoning entities, the ID whom mankind has called God, originated somewhere in the universe on our earth or on a planet in another solar system, possibly billions of years ago”

I then realized that you had fallen off into some kind of soul-talk that leads directly to god-talk and I could no longer rationally continue to comprehend your ID story.  If the “union of two righteous souls” created the Designer, then who “designed” those souls?

And when I came up to your description of having your own soul “commune” with the mother ID soul, well I simply lost all interest at that point.  I feel that perhaps as a teenager I might have been temporarily convinced by your cosmic rationale, but at this point I find it all too self-aggrandising on your part (even though you permit that every soul can partake of this sacred communion if they make the effort).  Problem is, I don’t think the idea of souls is very believable.  To me, it seems like another form of Cartesian dualism - perhaps much like Leibniz or Spinoza, who both had versions of your own theory.

I do agree that its an itoxicating way of describing the world and I don’t see much malevolence in it, but quite frankly, I just don’t want to go there.  It is a step into the hypothetical and speculative realm that I am not able to make.


Total Posts:  9
Joined  02-01-2005
16 June 2005 12:39

Teilhard de Chardin expands on the idea of “‘cosmic consciousness’‘.  If he is not on your bookshelf, he was a scientist (palaeontology) and a Jesuit priest (though forbidden by the Vatican to promote his ideas). His opus “‘The Phenomenon of Man”’ (published posthumously, I think, in 1955 to avoid excommunication!) is an attempt to present a homogeneous view of the universe. He was, of course, completely opposed to the Cartesian view. You may find his concept of’a ‘noosphere’’ of interest, where he sketches a vision of a spiritually evolving universe, where the potential for consciousness is everywhere in cosmic matter. His ideas were derided by some scientists at the time, but the expansion of knowledge in neurology, psychology, and the influence of quantum physics has led to renewed interest in his ideas.
I find your posts illuminating.

Kurt Kawohl
Kurt Kawohl
Total Posts:  15
Joined  13-06-2005
16 June 2005 13:50

I have had three spiritual experiences in my 63 years & I think I know but then again I have to rely on my brain accurately translating these experiences which were puzzling and overwhelming….and then that is where faith takes over but then rationality replaces it with doubt and one realizes that every man is fallible because what man considers as God is way too astonishing for any human to accurately grasp.

Many people have had spiritual interactions with God and anyone desiring it with their entire soul can have this same experience; mine was not superior to anyone else’s.

Dr. Lommel the cardiologist stated:

Dear Kurt Kawohl,

Thank you for mailing to me your near-death experience. The response from your father is what you usually hear from people who have experienced such an experience and try to communicate about it. This is such a hard confrontation. But I also know, that many, many people are open for it, and I also know that this is not a dream, hallucination or a vivid imagination.

Be careful in communicating about your experience, and listen to your intuition in finding people who want to listen. Be patient. I wish you all the best.

Q1. You can call consciousness outside the brain “spirit”, if you like. But
this can be confusing, because not everybody has the same ideas about what
exactly “spirit” should be. And there are several “levels” of consciousness,
waking consciousness, dreaming consciousness, “subconsciousness”, collective
human consciousness, morphogenetic consciousness, higher cosnciousness,
Cosmic consciousness, Divine consciousness. All these levels of
consciousness are interconnected, and available, also during our life in our
Q2. I agree with you that also deep mental stress can facilitate the access
to other levels or other aspects of our consciousness, See also answer Q1.
But also NDE, meditation, regression therapy, isolation, depression,
terminal illness and other circumstances can facilitate this effect.
Q3. This phase-space is a higher dimensional space, presumably not just the
fourth dimension, according to Quantum Mechanics. Induced experiences are
never the same as a NDE, sometimes several elements can be experienced, like
flashes of the past, a feeling of not being in the body, or a period of
unconsciousness, but aspects like a life-review, or transformation after the
experience are hardly mentioned after induced experiences. All
ND-expeirences are personal experiences, where finding words for it is very
difficult, and cultural, demographic and religious factors play a role in
this. So I have never heard a similar experience ever.
Q4. Braindead is a sometimes very difficult diagnosis. But when the brain
has no function any more, without circulation in the brain, there should be
no access to stimuli whatsoever according current medical science, which
“believes” that consciousness is exclusively produced in and located in the
With kind regards,
Pim van Lommel, cardiologist

The Ultimate Truth is indecipherable by the human mind and can only be divulged to the spirit which also often misinterprets its meaning, hence we have various religions and beliefs.

Total Posts:  407
Joined  16-06-2005
17 June 2005 13:24

[quote author=“Kurt Kawohl

You wrote:

Is the mind possibly able to receive inspiration
from a spiritual source and can the mind possibly transmit its data into
another dimension? Logic disputes this.

If we look at some hypothetical questions:

1. Science and psychology is an attempt at logic, but does the analytical approach more
often produce or stifle creativity?

A. example: scientists 200 years ago would have completely rejected the
ideas that:
1. several tons of steel (an airplane) could stay afloat in the air.
2. Electricity could be harnessed.
3. Radio waves could be sent around the world.
4. Man would walk on the moon.
5. Man would travel to other planets.
6. Machines could analyze data and correctly store it better than man.

2. Will man 200 years from today be able to:
1. Harness the power of the atom to produce all of its required energy?
2. Disassemble and reassemble atoms into another area?
3. Find a mode of travel faster than light?
4. understand the string theory, black holes, the existence of several
5. Utilize thought transference?

Knock knock. smile  may I say that I can accept your general idea - The most sucessful ‘inventors’ were inspired by ‘dreams’ and imagination (including Einstein) However I pick you up on one point….and perhaps add to your argument…...The ‘scientist’ is not the group to do this for us - ie. Somewhere around 1486-90 Leonardo Da Vinci produced drawing for an ornithopter with a sophisticated flight control system: the first in history. The design only appeared twice and didn’t reappear again in history until 1799, when another inventer used a similar system.

Its interesting how that occurs in time…..ideas seem to have a life of their own? .....recycling?

Total Posts:  2957
Joined  02-12-2004
19 September 2005 18:24

Getting back to the post subject, the idea behind End of Faith needs a conclusion in social action to be effective at all.  to me the question really is, what kind of spirituality do we want to teach our children.  it seems obvious that there is a fundamental spiritual need of humans that is satisfied by religious institutions and has been since their origins.  we need something like religious institutions, that satisfy the same fundamental spiritual needs, but do so without threatening the rational or scientific method.  i would point to poetry, art and meditation.  but just like Harris’ argument against the inaction of religious moderates, we need to see that a transformation of our culture will not happen on its own.  we need to actually create these institutions.

Total Posts:  635
Joined  06-02-2005
20 September 2005 03:32

Hey Mike, wha’da ya hiddin in my head or somethin!!

I’m going to a local secular humanists meeting tonight for the first time, and if they’re not all grey-hairs who are just interested in pot-luck suppers, I would like to discuss this idea that concerns me most. All people, I think, want to feel like they’re a part of something bigger than themselves. Something that connects them to others and nature. While an atheistic worldview is intellectually satisfying, not everybody will find it personally satisfying as an isolated endeavor. To replace the connection that some feel during religious activities, I think, there has to be some sort of secular replacement that celebrates our humanity, something that highlights the feeling that we’re all in this together, and we need and should cherish each other. Secular events, like the 4th of July or Memorial Day, seem to have lost most of their inspirational character. Celebrations of the seasons, and our connection to nature, seem mostly to have been highjacked by religious rituals. Modern city dwellers are unlikely to have seen a beautiful starry night and I’ve known a couple who have never even seen a cow in person.  Sometimes I wonder if the lack of religiosity in Europe is due in part to the fact that they seem much more locally connected to each other, spending more time than we do enjoying company in the cafes and pubs. I have had more philosophical discussions in a year in Italy than I’ve had here my entire life. 

So, until our society offers more avenues to celebrate all that is wonderful about being human in the here and now, many will feel a certain emptiness with a dry rational worldview.

Well, let’s just hope that this religious streak our society is going through is just a phase. 

Later, Rod

Total Posts:  2957
Joined  02-12-2004
20 September 2005 07:43

That’s exactly how I feel too Rod.  “celebrating our humanity”  It’s true, we have so much to celebrate!  I think celebration of the seasons is absolutely necessary.  I think Mardi Gras is the kind of celebration, that while based on a religious event, concentrates enough on happiness and the festival that you could equate it with a celebration of humanity.

concerning the replacement of religious institutions, fear/guilt from an all-powerful god and hellfire is an amazing motivator to get people sitting in a room together once a week.  I guess it makes sense that there hasn’t been as much of a conspicuous effort at group spirituality by rationalists/secularists/humanists/atheists.  The beat movement and the psychedelic movement were aimed at that, secular group spirituality, but I want a kind of spirituality that can have broader appeal.  Those movements were all about dropping out of the racist, homophobic, sexually repressed society that they couldn’t imagine would ever change.  We can’t just keep ignoring religious America and dropping out of it.  Drugs are great for some and I think can rocket you to some spiritual and ethical insights about happiness, but they also scare a lot of people and they aren’t necessary for the conversion.  But the conversion itself is necessary.

on a side note, another reason why Europe has less religious folk is the communists.  there are plenty of places that are still devoutly religious, like southern germany, but atheists have numbers like 40% sometimes east of the curtain.  You bring up a great point.  I think philosophical conversation can definitely get people over the hump, and it worked for me when I was in school.  I think we should stop focusing on people like Plato, though, who get fixed on everlasting absolutes and glorify death for an ideal, and restore admiration of the pragmatic philosophers.  starting with Epicurus, Heraclitus, through Hume and up to the American Pragmatists.  We have this great tradition of poets, philosophers and novelists on which we could base a new secular spirituality, but we call it fiction and keep it in its pigeonhole.

Total Posts:  36
Joined  28-02-2006
08 March 2006 15:18

[quote author=“Kurt Kawohl”]
Man’s spirit is energy which invigorates and energizes man, a force, essence; energy can transfer from one source to another. The remainder of man is physical substance.

Very few people will hear me declare that I am a “Nihilist” in public. I am not stupid enough to do such a thing. I refrain from using the word at all except at a distance, and most importantly to emphasize my worldview.

I value altruism and human companionship, caring, and that meaningless word “love”. The rub is that I see all these things as Darwinian games within a game selected for by nature to provide social leverage, sexual currency, and protection for offspring. It’s not that I see these things as merely being related to these three competetive benefits, it’s that I see these things existing exclusively for these reasons, and for no other purpose. Nature could have just as easily
selected for killers and rapists. But anyone can see that such an environment is not good for anyone’s survival and reproductive success. Altruism is a win-win situation.

Consider that the two best ways to demonstrate your social superiority over someone else are:

1.) Provide, nurture, love, and edify them (thus opening a bank account for future reciprocation for yourself, and your offspring).


2.) Smash their head in with a large rock.

Choice one makes much more sense and that’s what nature went with.

When Oprah Winfrey says that it makes her feel good to give to the poor or to give everyone in an audience a new car, she without question actually believes herself. But when you introspect deeply into the nature of humanity, you will find that the kernel of this process of altruism is tied up as a deep-seated desire to observe and display one’s own superiority and mastery over other people. This is where the exciting rush and feeling of aliveness comes from. It doesn’t matter that Oprah doesn’t realize this, it only matters that her altruism provides her with the social power nature intended. Nature doesn’t care “why” you take an action, as long as you take the action you were designed to take.

Picture two people arguing over who pays the bill at a restaurant. Neither are upset that they have to get rid of their money. In fact, both parties would rather part with a few extra bills just to avoid the humilitation of being nurtured by the other. Neither party wants to be nurtured and each of them wants to display superiority while masking this absurd process as “altruism”. Just complicate this a bit more, make it a bit less transparently obvious and throw in families, jobs, politics, sex, “love” and property and you have the same exact event being played out in the guise of human altruism day in and day out all over the planet.

We can rest assured that Oprah will reach her dying die without having the slightest understanding that natural selection created human nature, and will naively in her open coffin, veins puffed with liquid chemicals, and even more make-up than she normally wears, not having the remotest fawking clue about her total lack of personal autonomy. Gawd what I would do to be able to sew my cherry back on and be like her.

I think most naturalists are closet Nihilists. But in our world, being happy and healthy is totally unrelated to being honest and truthful. Publicly declaring one’s self as a nihilist in the sense I have described here is suicidal, despite being thoroughly supported by mainstream science. In fact, I think it is true by definition that this sort of nihilism (which I have adopted against my will kicking and screaming against the cold facts) is simply the only worldview supported by mainstream science. As far as I know, no other testable theory exists.

Total Posts:  2821
Joined  29-04-2005
08 March 2006 16:42

Ckitzman, what a shame Oprah is too stupid ever to be capable of gleaning anything of what you’re saying. Nicely put.

Total Posts:  2338
Joined  19-02-2006
10 March 2006 03:03

I think most naturalists are closet Nihilists. But in our world, being happy and healthy is totally unrelated to being honest and truthful. Publicly declaring one’s self as a nihilist in the sense I have described here is suicidal, despite being thoroughly supported by mainstream science. In fact, I think it is true by definition that this sort of nihilism (which I have adopted against my will kicking and screaming against the cold facts) is simply the only worldview supported by mainstream science. As far as I know, no other testable theory exists.

Please oh wise catholic school history teacher and science expert demonstrate the nothingness at the core of being. Show me the test so I too can see the nothingness of the world. I am worried that you will give me the happy and healthy answer instead of the honest and truthful one. How do I know which answer you are giving me. I can bear it let me see this test give me the honest and true test.

I never read this thread before thinking the whole new age thing as silliness but it seems like easy pickens here.

Total Posts:  36
Joined  28-02-2006
18 March 2006 01:03

Do you think that Zen is nihilistic? Of course, zen people say no. Zen’s accusers say yes. I am a zen nihilist. I wanted to point that out but forgot. I *do* think that zen is nihilistic. My spiritual path went:

fundamentalist christian-15yo

-Literalism, ignorance, desire for justice and coherence

confused ex-christian- 18-19yo

Curiosity and cursory knowledge of biology make it impossible to be a fundamentalist. Nothing yet to replace it due to ignorance.

spiritualist- 19~27yo

Explosion of knowledge into histories of spiritual systems, meditation, OBEs, NDEs, ESP, meaning, love, compassion, karma, lesson learning, life adventure, immortality of the personality.


Spurred by reading Ken Wilber. The dawning of realization that spirituality simply doesn’t work. The realization that spirituality is an immature grasping on to fantasy.


Further knowledge into neuroscience (ie temporal lobe epilepsy), biology and evolution, human nature, the loss of belief in ESP, the realization that zen satori is a brain state that says nothing of anything ultimate…..

I still favor zen. Zen is the only spiritual system which does not require beliefs to make happen. Satori is real, it is profound, it is true and its insights are true and real..though I am convinced it is a brain state which provides no information on whether consciousness survives death. Good zen people will admit they have no idea.

Oh and to respond to your inquiry, the way to perfect equanimity, satisfaction, and “nothingness” is to remove all the testosterone from your body completely.

Zen in a nutshell (NPI)

“Act One. Life at Zero. The interview with a man who lost his testosterone continues. He explains that life without testosterone is life without desire. Desire for everything—food, conversation, even TV. And he says life without desire is unexpectedly pleasant.”

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Joined  06-02-2005
18 March 2006 03:36


But in our world, being happy and healthy is totally unrelated to being honest and truthful.

I’m not sure if you are saying you believe this, or you are making the claim that most others feel this way. I would think that a clear conscience is a prerequisite to happiness.


Total Posts:  2821
Joined  29-04-2005
18 March 2006 03:51

Rod, ckitzman may or may not back me up, but I read his statement as an admission to failure for humanity. To carry on status-quo socially, in business, sexually and every other way, people lie to themselves and others. “We” lie so often and arbitrarily that we tend not even to see a lie as a lie. It’s only when someone lies in a style we are not accustomed to that it sticks out as a lie.

Total Posts:  2338
Joined  19-02-2006
18 March 2006 04:15

Is this your scientific proof of Nihilism? Its a nice conversion story it really is. I’m touched. But I see nothing logical or scientific in your statement. Frankly it makes little sense. I don’t believe in ESP should I become an atheist as well. Now a few days ago you retracted your statement then you erased your retraction. Will this statement remain up or will this idea make you uncomfortable as well and cause you to delete it.

Homunculus as to the failure of man to live to its potential, We Christians call it original Sin. I am glad to see that the effects of original sin can be cured scientifically by removing testorerone. No wonder women are so much better than us.