Speakers 1999-2000 Season
Spiritual Implications of Psychic Abilities
Our September speaker, Russell Targ, will speak to us about the concepts developed in his and Jane Katra’s new book The Heart of the Mind: How to Experience God Without Belief. At the core of the book is the idea that, through quieting the mind, the experience of God is available to everyone, that mystical experience does not require belief in the supernatural, and that mystics of every spiritual persuasion have described these experiences through the ages. It is Russell’s contention that experiences of distant healing and expanded awareness are universally available. In his experience, meaning, love and peace of mind require only that we calm our minds of internal chatter and open our hearts.
Russell Targ has spoken to us before about his work at SRI International where he was a cofounder of the project to investigate psychic phenomena in the 1970s and 80s including work for the CIA on the possibility of using non-local psychic abilities for espionage purposes. More recently, he retired as a senior staff scientist at Lockheed Missile and Space and has continued to study ESP at Interval Research Corporation in Palo Alto.
Home page of Russell Targ
The Alphabet Versus the Goddess - The Conflict Between Word and Image
Dr. Leonard Slain
Our speaker for our first meeting of the new century and millennium is Dr. Leonard Shlain. He argues the idea that the invention of writing, particularly its alphabetic form, reconfigured the brains of all who learned this skill. This has had immense consequences on the cultures in which it occurred and in the attitudes of the people involved. Widespread literacy has been immensely beneficial, yet as Sophocles once warned, " Nothing vast enters the life of mortals without a curse."
Dr. Shlain argues, citing much evidence from history, that alphabetic literacy has had much to do with the shift to patriarchal cultures. The effects include an associated shift from the power of the Goddess and has led to the decline of women's rights and feminine values. Indeed, history records that this shift has been a curse for its victims even while it has immensely expanded the scope of human endeavors. In his talk he explore these ideas in detail. He will also argue how recent developments are beginning to reverse this historical trend.
Leonard Shlain is the author of the bestseller Art & Physics: Parallel Visions in Space, Time, and Light. His new book The Alphabet Versus The Goddess: The Conflict Between Word and Image has been published by Viking in the US and Penguin internationally. He is the Chairman of Laparoscopic surgery at California -Pacific Medical Center
Elisabeth Targ, MD
Our speaker for our February meeting is Dr. Elisabeth Targ, M.D. She is director of Complementary Medicine Research at California Pacific Medical Research Institute at California Pacific Medical Center. She is also Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California School of Medicine. She was the Principal Investigator for two studies of the effectiveness of prayer and distant healing. The results of this study were published in the Western Journal of Medicine. Her work on distant healing has been featured in Time magazine, USA Today, and the Wall Street Journal. She is currently the Principal Investigator for a four year study sponsored by the Department of Defense on spiritually based interventions as part of a psychosocial treatment of women with breast cancer. She has been actively involved with the development of programs to educate medical personnel on appropriate ways to incorporate spiritual interventions into medical care.
Her talk will focus on her research on distant healing and on the growing evidence for the efficacy of non-local healing. It is an interesting question - what is implied by the accumulating evidence for the reality of distant healing. It certainly suggests that, at some deep level, we are all connected. Similarly, the idea of psychic healing suggests a deep connection between what we call our essence and our bodies. In what sense, then, is the deep connection to others a part of, or linked to, the connection to our bodies and our health? The evidence Dr. Targ will discuss bears directly on these vital questions.
Hypnosis and Mirror Gazing: Two Research Studies
Dr. Arthur Hastings
Our March speaker will be Dr. Arthur Hastings who will speak of two studies which he conducted at The Institute of Transpersonal Psychology. The first concerned a technique developed by Raymond Moody in which a person gazes into a mirror in a darkened room seeking to contact a deceased relative or friend. In the study more than half the subjects felt they made a contact which included dialog, vision and other sensory interactions. After the experiment, they felt a great reduction of feelings of bereavement.
The second study used hypnotic suggestion to re-evoke the altered state of consciousness the subjects had previously experienced under the drug Ecstasy or MDMA (now illegal). No drugs were taken during the study, but the subjects reported that the hypnotic state was identical to that reached under the drug. The subjects experienced walking in nature, self reflection, conversations with their partners, and even participation in a shamanic journey.
Dr. Hastings suggests this technique has great potential for psycho-spiritual work, for enhancing medications and for theories of consciousness.
Dr. Hastings is a professor at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology where he teaches classes in transpersonal theory, altered states of consciousness, and parapsychology. He is a co-director of the William James Center for Consciousness Studies. His most recent book is on channeling, With the Tongues of Men and Angels.
Spiritual Aspects of Martial Arts
The Indonesian martial art, Pencak Silat Gerakan Suci, has its roots in the great Hindu empires that ruled the Indo-Malay peninsula for nearly a millennium until the coming of the Muslims in the late 1500’s. It has always had a strong spiritual base from which to draw, but it was under the tutelage of roving Sufi Masters that it reached its true flowering. The first hint of the mindset of a Silat stylist comes from the name which roughly translates as “combat done artistically” or “martial art”.
The development of the student proceeds through three layers, the physical, the artistic and the spiritual. And although they can be viewed as “levels” they are more properly viewed as refinements. You must learn to fight effectively, without clouded judgment or emotion. But you must distinguish yourself from the animals and common brawlers by making every movement spring from a place of beauty and grace. Further, you must acknowledge the source of your movement by dedicating each and every step to that which gives you breath, the Divine. Gerakan Suci, which means “sacred movement”, incorporates all of these concepts into a cohesive curriculum. All of these concepts are framed within the verses and prayers of the Koran. The presentation will include demonstrations.
Rennie Saunders has been a student of the martial arts for 27 years and a seeker of truth for nearly as long. He began his Pencak Silat training under Pendekar Herman Suwanda of Bandung, West Java. He came to Islam in 1992 through his martial arts training and became a student of Shaykh Taner Ansari of the Qadiri-Rifai Sufi Order. Like the art itself, Mr. Saunders martial journey has flowered under the tutelage of this modern roving Sufi Master.
Connecting with a Higher Intelligence
Jean Millay PhD
Our speaker for the last meeting before the summer is Jean Millay, Ph.D. speaking on connecting with a higher intelligence. Each of us no doubt has our own thoughts about what is a “higher intelligence,” where and how it exists, and the nature of the reality it reflects. These different ideas are reflections of our differing belief systems. In consequence, consensus may not be achieved and perhaps should not be.
However, Dr. Millay will offer a method to focus the mind so as to bypass local thoughts, feelings and emotions. The resultant state allows a person’s awareness to identify with the multidimensional consciousness beyond the ordinary space-time manifestation. From the intention to maintain a steady focus of attention in the center of the body and brain, the mind becomes clear. From the pure wave forms of nonverbal thought and allowing the EEG to become phase coherent, it is possible that the answers to life’s fundamental questions may arise in one’s awareness. The ability to stop talking to oneself long enough to identify with this higher intelligence is the practice by which communication with it becomes firmly established. This ability, Dr. Millay maintains, is “hardwired” into the human nervous system.
Dr. Millay has spent some thirty years researching issues of consciousness, often through the use of biofeedback, particularly with the brain. She has also conducted experiments with free-response telepathy and remote viewing. She is the author of The Multidimensional Mind: Remote Viewing in Hyperspace, a result of this work. She is now retired and living with her partner in an energy efficient shelter using solar power in the Great Basin.