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Why beliefs may not matter


In the US, Australia and the UK (and no doubt elsewhere) people are drawing battle lines over beliefs. Some who identify as Christian are wanting to wage an ideological battle against non-believers. Atheists are battling fundamentalist religious beliefs.

It’s all something of a mess made worse by our struggle to adapt readily to the emerging complex, diverse and pluralistic communities. It’s also a doesn’t help that we think we can engage in rational debates about theological beliefs or that they are even amenable to reason at all.

In an ideal world our communities would comprise people of similar levels of spiritual, intellectual and psychological development. But they don’t.  Hence it becomes not only pointless but dangerous to imagine that our approaches to how beliefs are validated are universally applicable.

The Christian apologist who firmly believes that Christ is the ruler of the world is no better or worse than the devoted materialist/atheist who insists not conception of the divine is reasonable. Neither makes any effort to understand the other and allow them to be who they are.

There are issues of coercion and liberty that are genuinely difficult because they require that, in order to allow freedom, any universalist belief cannot be permitted in a pluralistic culture.  In the US in particular Christian nationalists are creating very real problems with their demands for the universal validity of their claims.

After spending the past 6 years trying to understand what belief is, I have concluded that it’s a construction that satisfies our psychological needs. Our science is moving toward alignment with mystical ideas that reality is crafted by our minds – which are inextricably linked to our psychological states. This is not yet a widely held or popular position, but it is being explored – and that’s a good thing. Materialism isn’t a dominant as it once was, even though it will be decades, if not centuries, before it is finally sent packing as an intellectually justified position to hold.

In essence there is no discernible ultimate objective reality. It is all relational. We can reasonably argue that the Christian god isn’t objectively real, but the same applies to denying that there is any god at all. There are deeper metaphysical arguments about the nature of reality of course, but my point is that we don’t function beyond our psychological nature so we cannot insist our claims are universally valid. To do so is at best impertinent and at worst deluded – and hence injurious to our shared wellbeing.

So, claims about the supremacy of a god can only ever be an expression of a believer’s psychological state. Hence insistence upon universal validity is not only psychologically ‘primitive’ it is also aggressive. It is a kind of tribal mentality where uniformity has survival value. It is not applicable to large complex communities.

Aggressive claims of universal validity seem also to be a response to a perceived existential threat. Conservative religious fundamentalists whose mindset is distinctly tribal legitimately feel under threat by modernity which is promoting non-tribal values. These are more humanist, secular, and inclusive. In a sense they are also more psychologically sophisticated. The tension caused by the mismatch between motives for assertion of universal validity of beliefs and levels of psychological sophistication is a genuine cause for concern. But it cuts both ways. Materialistic atheism is also an extremist and intolerant universalist position.

The antidote to aggressive tribalism’s claims of universal validity isn’t ridicule or employ overly rational counterargument. It’s something more subtle and sensitive than current opponents to such extreme passions seem presently be able to muster. Part of the problem is that opponents wrongly assert their position is more rational. It isn’t. It’s just that their psychological position is different – and maybe more in line with desired values to enable peaceful collective living. Secularists do tend to be more disposed to inclusive principles than do many religious. In fact, we could assert that the values Jesus espoused have escaped formal religion and entered the secular world where they are in harmony with a universal humanism.

Values and behaviors

Regardless of what we believe, our ability to live in harmony with others comes down to what we value and how we behave.

A materialist and a religious devotee can live in harmony perfectly well if they agree on key shared values and acceptable behaviors. This is how our complex pluralistic cultures operate these days – most of the time. What messes things up are extreme beliefs that are claimed to be universal – but without common assent.

If we understand that arguments don’t validate beliefs, only articulate them, we can learn that being distracted by them can weaken our chances of living in harmony with people who are not like us.

What we value as a community isn’t the same things we value as the foundation of a close friendship. The more intimate our relationships the more we prefer people who are like us in important ways. We can handle people who are not like us in our community provided they agree to certain standards of behaviour.

This is normal. This is how communities generally work. Attempts to impose universalistic beliefs usually end in conflict. Our normal is diversity and peaceful co-existence. But our ability to stretch that normal to accommodate unfamiliar and even novel forms of diversity can be tested. Adverse and extreme reactions against accommodating greater diversity tend to be expressed most strongly by those whose religious beliefs are asserted as universally valid.

We can believe what we like

When we understand that we craft beliefs to suit our psychological needs what we believe becomes way less important than our psychological integrity.

Our own understanding of the world impacts how we act in the world, but it doesn’t essentially alter how we behave – we just act through the filters of how that knowledge describes the world – and in accordance with our psychological state. The hint that this is true is to be found in history. Accounts from the ancient world are readily recognizable to us even though our technological development has been massive. Likewise, we have sci stories set in the far future, but they must have psychological themes we can relate to. We are all human and we share the same essential psychology whether we lived 7,000 years ago or 3,000 into the future. Same drama, just different sets and costumes.

Anthropology doesn’t reveal huge differences in the psychological states between stone-age hunter gatherers and middle-class inhabitants of contemporary cities. Our technologies and our knowledge stories may differ hugely, but our humanity is shared and familiar to us all. It has been cultural influences (religious and intellectual) that have created the illusion, and delusion, of inequity. The idea of race, for example is scarcely a few centuries old.

Our passion for reason has led us astray. We have come to see the reasoned argument as the measure of our intelligence. Hence highly educated people will argue for materialism or the Christian God with utter confidence in their reasoning.  What is characterized as a want of intelligence in their opponent is simply a different psychological disposition – developed by life experience and natural inclination.

I didn’t develop an affection for animism because the ideas I found appealed to my intellect, but because they accorded with my experience. I didn’t reason my way into what I now think. I got there because it made sense of my experiences. A religious faith will serve the needs of some, while faith in the dominion of reason will serve the needs of others.

Now, people develop beliefs for a variety of reasons that have nothing to do with non-ordinary experiences. But what they elect to believe is still more determined by their psychological disposition than anything else. They will, of course, craft their beliefs in forms that reflect their appreciation of sensible argument is. The audience for agreeing this is the case tends to be selective – and confined to like-minded allies.

I have avoided the term ‘psychospiritual’ and just stuck with psychological because what applies to the spiritual also applies to the ‘secular’. There is no natural separate category – just what we create in our cultural contexts.

However, a useful guide is what is involved in spiritual training – the disciplining of our emotions and the quietening of the mind, as well as disciplining the imagination and favoring the valuing of personal authenticity. In some traditions significant intellectual training is also valued – but usually never instead of the personal psychological disciplines.

Traditions can become captured by culture so that disciplines of the mind are no more than establishing fidelity to dogma and tradition and personal discipline hardly progresses beyond obedience to rule and authority.  There’s a reason why, in some traditions, priests become purveyors of soulless doctrine and are sexual abusers.  Religion per se isn’t at fault here. It has the same vulnerability as any other human institution.


We must come to distinguish between beliefs as description of how the world works (according to culture, tradition and individual psychological dispositions) and beliefs about values and behaviors that have universal application.

Think the ‘golden rule’ of ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ This is reflected in rules of hospitality, ways of pragmatically living together, the Buddhist ideal of compassion, the Christian ideal of loving your neighbor – and simple intelligent self-preservation.

In the Roman Empire people from diverse religious backgrounds came together, and pragmatically paid homage to Roman deities as required. They lived together in relative harmony because what somebody else believed didn’t matter. Were they good community members? Were the good neighbors?

Early Christians caused bother when they declined to be equally pragmatic. They were persecuted, as a result. That exclusive intolerance has travelled with the faith ever since – with varying degrees of adverse consequences.

I am writing this on my iPhone. I have a grip disability that makes this device a blessing to me. I love science and I love tech. They have made my life better in countless ways. But science isn’t a foundation for explaining human experience – yet. I do think it will get there in a few centuries of intellectual and cultural evolution.

We are still in a ‘boy’s world’ sense of bravado in which intellect is king and emotions are ‘girly things’ to be avoided and denied. But things are changing. I am a fan of The Psychology Podcast which shows me the younger generation is acknowledging the power and validity of our emotional (read psychological) selves. This is a refreshing and vital evolution.

In important ways contemporary psychological research not only validates the essential themes of Buddhism (compassion) and Christianity (love) it sets out pathways for being nicer and kinder with no connection to religion or spirituality at all. You don’t need religion now to be a good community member or a good neighbor. Contemporary psychological and moral insights do the job nicely.

Why bother with religion then? In terms of what it means to be a decent human being that has never been the primary function of religion. This has been woven into religion because it has been part of a holistic discourse on the human condition that has embraced the range of human behaviour.

Religion as we know it began with the animistic sense that our reality was dynamic and conscious, and we humans needed to understand how to relate to it- as a community more than as an individual. In fact, considering the individual’s experience is a very modern notion.

The idea that reality requires us to develop a relationship with it isn’t weird. It is implicit in the religious and materialistic worldviews – just expressed in very different ways. We develop different knowledge stories that reflect our particular psychological filters of our experience, communities and cultures.

But neither materialism nor Christianity (and this may be true for other faiths – I just don’t know enough about them to comment) creates a sensible space for an individual to develop a coherent and effective relationship with that reality. That’s not to say they can’t – because they do that for some – just not many. These days the personal experience is paramount. Traditional communities of thought and belief are less influential – and are poorly equipped to cater to individual needs. New communities are forming, of course.

I found, via animism, a scant foothold on a system of thought that made sense to me. Animism is an out-of-date idea now. But it hasn’t yet been replaced with a superior set of ideas – at least not in an easy to find and digest form. I think we are evolving new ways of understanding the human condition. There are no knowledge certainties, but there are fairly universal values and behaviors that guide well in how to share our communities with others.

I find myself liking the secular more because it meets my values needs – how to be a nice person and why this matters – way better than any religious text. There are universal human attributes that stand in their own account and don’t now need religious texts – though once that was the only source of understanding our subjective/psychological nature. In the past religion, law, and tradition guided families and communities. All three have been evolving for the past few millennia, and we must adapt – as we mostly do.

What is left is the fascinating range of thinking about the nature of reality. The idea that any religious or materialist thinker has a definitive rational opinion is naive. At best they have ideas that appeal to people of particular psychological dispositions. We have diversity because we are diverse. Reality is big enough to accommodate the range of our ideas and opinions.

The cult of reason has turned thinking into a contest – and while this has been useful in evolving our rational understanding of practical things it is a poor model for social and communal thought, which is fundamentally collaborative and inclusive.

When it comes to the region of metaphysics, especially, we must step back and remind ourselves that this is a collaboration and not a contest. We are all discovering the nature of reality via our efforts to be less and less self-referential.

It’s time to stop pointless contestation and pay more attention to living together. That won’t solve the problem – but it may get us going in a better direction.

Arguing about beliefs has led to brutal and pointless wars, and to the persecution, torture and murder of community members. We have invaded and enslaved peoples we have believed inferior with a righteous zeal.

Adherents to universalist beliefs are now excusing conduct that was once unimaginable and inexcusable as they defend against a perceived threat. We can do better than make matters worse for them by making that threat more concrete. Even the ‘good guys’ are now being unkind, insensitive, and arrogant. It’s not just the religious conservative under stress. It’s hard for us all.

I think there are gods, but that’s another discussion.

Some useful resources

There is an abundance of podcasts that help us think better, more modestly, and behave better toward others. They are a kind of secular spirituality in that they celebrate the human spirit in a kind and inclusive way.  Below I have listed a few that I esteem (the list is by no means exhaustive, and I have no doubt there are many excellent ones I don’t know about).

  • Rethinking with Adam Grant
  • You Are not So Smart
  • No Stupid Questions
  • To The Best of Our Knowledge
  • Ideas – CBC
  • The Thinking Mind Podcast
  • Expanding Mind
  • Freakonomics Radio

For those interested in pushing metaphysical boundaries there are a couple of YouTube channels. There are also several YouTube channels that examine religious beliefs and traditions with a strong scholarly foundation. As above, this list is neither definitive nor exhaustive.

  • The Monroe Institute
  • The Other Side NDE
  • Mythvision
  • Data Over Dogma
  • Gresham College
  • Search – Where Do Deity Concepts Come From?
  • Search – Jeffrey Kripal
  • Search – Bernardo Kastrup

Religio rather than spiritual?


The term ‘Spiritual But Not Religious’ (SBNR) is a popular way of making a distinction about one’s personal feelings and the social phenomenon of religion. It draws a distinction between the positive aspects of being spiritual and the negative associations we attribute to religion. By ‘we’ I mean those who have discarded any affection for religions which offend against our spiritual sensibilities. 

I have written elsewhere about religion done well or badly. There are good reasons to discard a religion which can seem to more a source of strife than a source of succour. But religion done badly doesn’t mean that religion per se is beyond redemption.

Here I want to make it plain that I do not intend to defend religion as it is presently practiced, but the idea itself. There are many things done badly – food, sex, poetry etc. But we would not insist that any of those should be utterly damned because of this, surely.

The emergence of the individual

The idea of religion is modern, and it has been evolving for centuries. When the word was framed it had a meaning related to personal connection with the gods. The exact meaning of the original idea – religio – is disputed.

Wikipedia tells us that: “The Latin term religiō, the origin of the modern lexeme religion (via Old French/Middle Latin), is of ultimately obscure etymology. It is recorded beginning in the 1st century BC, i.e. in Classical Latin at the end of the Roman Republic, notably by Cicero, in the sense of “scrupulous or strict observance of the traditional cultus“. In classic antiquity, it meant conscientiousness, sense of right, moral obligation, or duty towards anything and was used mostly in secular or mundane contexts. In religious contexts, it also meant the feelings of “awe and anxiety” caused by gods and spirits that would help Romans “live successfully”.

Cicero thought in terms of adherence to traditional family-based ‘cults’ (not what we call cults these days). Others thought in terms of obligation/duty in a mundane sense. For others it concerned consciousness of the presence of gods and spirits.

The word has connections of binding to, connection with, obligation toward, suggesting that the connection between the human and the divine was understood as non-optional. It was a duty that covered the whole of a person’s life. In essence religio isn’t distinct from our sense of spirituality.

What has fundamentally changed in the past couple of millennia is the evolution of the individual. How we understand what individuality is has, however, become toxic in recent decades. This has been the consequence of predatory commercial interests that are intent on creating the idea of separation. It has intensified under the stampede to exploit ‘youth culture’ in the past 4 decades.

Individually is not separation. The term ‘no man is an island…’ reflects this. It is better to understand individuality as an intensification or particularisation of awareness – especially self-awareness. That intensification can overwhelm awareness of connection – especially in times of intense change. 

Psychologically we are utterly ill-suited to actual separation. But we have evolved away from being deeply locked into family – in which we were no more than part of that larger whole. Now that particularisation dominates our sense of identity.

As a result, we are less disposed to participate in spiritual practices and communities that hark back to how things used to be. This is quite apart from the well-testified to failings of institutional religious culture, theology, and apologetics.

Individuality is still poorly understood, but it helps if we remember it is about intensification, not separation. Larry Siedentop’s Inventing the Individual remains, in my view, as a landmark exploration of the theme.

Spirituality and religion aren’t separate things

While the distinction reflects an understandable aspiration, we must not assume that spirituality is inherently virtuous. Spiritual practices and beliefs can be just as offensive to rational and moral standards. There are ‘spiritual’ cults, for example, which manifest the same kind of offenses attributed to traditional religion.

For this reason, we are better off distinguishing been spirituality/religion done well or done badly rather than trying to craft problematic definitions that make the moral distinctions we desire.

So, let us allow that ‘Spiritual But Not Religious’ is well-intentioned but essentially meaningless, and potentially badly misleading. We must remember that being ‘spiritual’ isn’t an assurance of anything of any value. Were it otherwise we would not have the abusive cults that lure, trap, and abuse so many.

What matters then?

Even the idea of doing something well or badly isn’t especially useful until we have a clear understanding of what relative merit means in this context.

Dan McClellan, one of the co-hosts of the Data Over Dogma podcast, is a biblical scholar who I see regularly on YouTube. He makes the vital point that the Bible is a resource a Christian can employ to frame their faith in ways that serve their individual dispositions. In effect, you can be religious or spiritual in a Christian sense and exhibit vastly different values than other Christians. The Spiritual But Not Religious have access to a far greater set of resources than Christians and can be equally wildly divergent in their perspectives.

In short, no matter how we define ourselves we can draw on abundant resources and ‘authorities’ to substantiate what we believe – and what we think of ourselves.

A Christian (current or former) will maybe interpret my selection of Genesis 1:26-27, Acts 17-28, John 15, and Matthew 22:34-40 to assess my take on Christian sources in many ways. But they can’t argue against my freedom to do so other than by insisting their interpretation trumps mine. The point I am making is that even as a non-Christian I can selectively dip into the faith source material to construct a set of ideas that speak to my spiritual ideals. 

In the same way a religious believer could select from the great array of spiritual sources ideas that might reinforce their beliefs. What none of us may be able to do is find confirmation of any claim of exclusivity or unique claim to divine revelation, sanction, or blessing. Such an idea is essentially what should be kept as a private conceit of singular community or tradition. We humans all like to imagine that what is ours is better than anybody else’s. Mostly it is gentle and harmless conceit, but it can become brutal and oppressive.

How do we define religion or spirituality?

The Australian social psychologist, Hugh Mackay, observes in The Way We Are (2024) that we have a variety of ‘gods’. Hugh isn’t theorising. His professional life has been listening to people talking about what they think, feel, and believe. Those ‘gods’ may be ill-defined and idiosyncratic, but they encompass the spectrum of our passions – sacred and secular.

The distinction between sacred and secular is personal and contextual. Neither exist as an independent category. This is something those heavily invested in their beliefs will recoil at. Its good to think that what you believe has objective independent validity.

There is abundant evidence that human psychology is inherently spiritual or religious. But that doesn’t mean that we have to believe what others believe. It means that there is an inherent inclination to create an existential sense of connection with reality. How we then express that is an entirely different matter. You can be an adherent to a faith tradition, a follower of any number of ‘spiritual’ ideas and philosophies, an atheist, or a materialist. This psychological impulse isn’t dependent on what we believe. But it is shaped and populated by our experiences – on a personal level, and on a cultural level.

My early research into animism convinced me that our ancestors looked upon their reality as a conscious thing. The key concern of the animistic awareness was the relationship with realty must exist for it to survive or thrive. Our culture’s materialistic discourse, along with Christian theology, has done a lot to disrupt that sense of essential relationship. It really wasn’t until the advent of materialism that the idea of reality being made up of just ‘dead’ matter and energy took hold. For many our sense of reality is now a disrupted and fragmented confusion of many powerful relationships [personal, communal, cultural, and material] that compete for attention and primacy.

Our intellectual and religious institutions have created an extreme demand that any such relationship must be mediated by science or theology and must be validated by either. We have learned to distrust our own senses. The cultural discourse that dominates us suggests that dogmatic science and theology share a concern for control – and compete for ultimate power.

This desire for control contrasts against the evolving impetus of individuals wanting their own sense of relationship. Individuals have a more nuanced desire for relationship [with whatever their sense of the whole is] than any general community can create. The impulse to exert social control at an existential level is now beyond its use by date. There was a time when this was fair enough, but no more.

So, we have come to see religion as about social control and spirituality as about individual expression. One is burdened by historic baggage and the other an anticipation of relational freedom – impaired by little understanding of what that really means.

What about the idea of God?

There’s some fascinating academic work being done on the roots of the Christian idea of God, showing the evolution from a polytheistic origin to a supreme being which is part polytheistic inflation and in part mystical idealism. There is no real point in taking the Christian God literally, because it embodies a collection of conceived states.

The subject of God or gods is contentious, depending on what ideas you have been exposed to. Even going back an early stage of Christianity and Islam, and among some Jewish mystics there was a sense that God was beyond imagination and conception. This was the ‘One’, the ‘All’ – the absolute ground of all being. For a monotheist this was all that was needed. Except that this God was imagined and conceived in very concrete terms – idols crafted from the mind and imagination.

Polytheistic traditions had the same absolute ground of all being but allowed that there were gods and goddesses. They were ‘of the One, not as the One’ as I was firmly told by a teacher. The distinction is critical.

There may be good reasons for a community to shift from a polytheistic to a monotheistic theology. That might include social control at a time when that was the best option for a community’s survival. Bring everyone together under a shared way of seeing things. But, regardless of any such imperative there is no absolutely compelling reason to insist on such a perspective.

No religious perspective can exist with a single divine agency. Christianity has its archangels, angels, the trinity, its saints, Jesus and his mother. That’s a substantial community of beings in service of the One God. We must remember that gods and goddesses are just our names for agents. They are not fixed definitions.

In short, any conception of the divine is supported by an ecosystem of agents who will be named and described by individual traditions to fit their interpretations and histories.

But are there really such divine agents? So much depends upon what we believe and experience. Not all claimed agents are as they as said to be. Many are no more than the ardent mistaken or delusional fantasies of believers.


We have an innate desire to feel existentially connected to our reality. If our sense of our reality is mediated by faith traditions, then that sense of connection will attempt to work through our traditions [this applies to secular culture as well]. 

Some may be driven by an inner desire to build a connection in a manner that tradition, history, and culture do not accommodate or even tolerate. That desire must, and will, find satisfaction through individual expression.

However, we must remember that this impulse works through sacred and secular modes of expression. We cannot maintain a balance if we assume that our singular focus must be on the sacred. This is of great importance these days because there is so much valid new knowledge about our condition and nature that is being developed in the secular sphere. The separation into sacred and secular is a context-dependent distinction we make to express our values about relationships we have in our sense of reality. It is not objective.

The thing about seeing ourselves as individuals is that our sense of relationship with the divine must evolve away from the tribal/communal sense toward a more universal sense, and this takes a lot of adjustment. It is unsettling because we are progressively taking responsibility for that relationship – and we can’t continue to shelter behind beliefs, assumptions, and attitudes that leave us dependent upon authority and tradition.

For some the individualistic path will be travelled in good company. For a few it might be more solitary – not because it is a case of separation or isolation but because the challenges may be too intense or particular to fit well in a group. But there’s always the companionship of divine agents – as teachers or guides – though we may not always be aware of their presence.

Ultimately, we choose the language we use. You may prefer not use religious to describe yourself because of how others may interpret that, or because you retain adverse memories and feelings associated with the word. Saying I am “Spiritual But Not Religious” is still meaningful, still useful.

A reflection on Robert Temple’s A New Science of Heaven


It has been a while since I have read any of Temple’s work so I was keen to get into A New Science of Heaven (2022). I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a survey of scientific ideas variously ignored by ‘mainstream’ science or suppressed by interests with the motive and power to do so.

The central theme is plasma. Temple argues that this is the dark matter, which constitutes 90% of the cosmos. Physical matter makes up the other 10%. That’s interestingly how the Kabbalistic Tree of Life might be interpreted – with the lowest of the ten sephirah, Malkuth, being the sole expression of physicality.

Plasma is, apparently, potentially non-organic life and the seat of considerable intelligence. But its not remote from us, as one might assume from a Tree of Life image. Rather it is intimately connected to our experience of physical being. Our souls are plasma? They must be something.

For me this description of plasma filled in gaps in my imagination and thinking about my long history of non-ordinary experiences and the idea of animism. This is what I want to reflect on below. I want to be clear that this is my reaction, as I digest what I have encountered in the book. You won’t find the ideas I discuss in the book itself, save maybe a few mentioned in the context of Temple discussing ignored or suppressed science.

Being and location

The huge idea that hit me was a reminder of an idea found in Acts 17:28 – ‘that great being in whom we live and move and have our being’. I had come across this idea when I was training in ritual magic and wasn’t aware it was in the Bible until I searched for it while writing this post.

We live in a great being. Christians have long insisted that God is apart from his creation, so it is kinda contradictory and confusing. Our bodies are pretty much a community of many lives, so the notion that we dwell in a ‘great being’ obeys that Hermetic idea – ‘as above, so below’.

So, the idea that there are vast plasma entities in which we live isn’t novel. Nor is it radical. For me the novelty is adding a more concrete concept to replace what was just a vague metaphysical notion.

It seems to me that we exist in a plasma substratum within which physical reality is like the seeds we find in various fruits. What may be remote from our awareness or senses isn’t remote from our being. Our physical being exists in a medium – like a seed in the flesh of a fruit.

My imagination is, I think, contaminated by the idea of space – as a void of some kind. Perhaps the habituation from Christianity and materialism has made me think in terms of isolation and separation from the essence of our being. The Christian God is mostly seen as remote – as an artisan rather than being infused in that which he created. But Acts 17:28 has a different meaning. Its not a huge step from a remote god to no god.

Animistic consciousness is essentially an expression of that essential assertion – we dwell in primal conscious being. The image of the divine artisan creating things misleads us. Better the divine imaginer who crafts from their own conscious essence agencies that remain within that essence. That must be our fundamental reality. It makes more sense. It solves problems that exist when we think in terms of separation and isolation.

Animistic consciousness is fundamentally relational. When you have agency, intent, and will, how you behave in relation to others possessing the same attributes matters a great deal. And because lives/spirits are interconnected there is an imperative to navigate the complexity of any ecosystem competently – and with compassion, gentleness, and wisdom.

Horizontal and vertical dimensions

I know there are dimensions of being that are beyond those I can engage with via my physical senses. But my ability to describe them is limited for several reasons. The first is that from the perspective of my sense of physical being I do not have highly functioning senses that reach into what I call the meta-physical dimension. I have limited conscious sensory ability in that dimension. The second is that there is an innate limitation imposed upon humans. We are here to experience physical life (horizontal) rather than the spectrum of meta-physical realities (horizontal). Those experiences are confined to shamans, mystics and those blessed/cursed with ‘special gifts’. 

Those ‘gifted’ souls are permitted awareness of things unseen for reasons not evident, usually. Some are granted steady and reliable access. Others have fragmentary, almost taunting, exposure for ‘educational’ purposes (or so I am told).

The reality of the vertical dimensions isn’t in dispute – unless you want to be churlishly argumentative – in which case you have no place here in this conversation. Every human community for as long as we can know has asserted not only the presence of the meta-physical, but its primacy as the source of causation.

The idea of plasma beings in primary and secondary forms which hold our physical reality gives us a way of understanding that what seems to us to be invisible is part of a spectrum of the continuity of being. The spirits of my experience don’t exist in a vague dimension no more substantial than imagination or faith but in a complex reality that is more essential to the nature of things than my physical awareness of being can affirm.

When it is acknowledged as real, the opportunity to know more opens up. When it is imagined as comprehensible reality that knowing becomes more concrete. The idea of plasma beings has ‘thickened’ my sense of what enfolds and holds me. I feel more connected.

Of gods and other beings

Monotheism makes us silly. There is, necessarily, one ultimate unified Being to which all other beings are subordinate. But to imagine this is the God of the Christians is to be mistaken, and wildly conceited.

Sound scholarship has provided very good evidence that the God of the Christians has evolved from a polytheistic tradition via culturally motivated promotion to supremacy. It’s not unknown – and the truth is deflating. The hint is that this supreme God is still treated like a member of a polytheistic community. The other hint is that the supreme deity is always spoken of in terms awe – ‘unknowable’, ‘unimaginable’, – as The One or The All. This isn’t the Christian God, save in the mouths of mystics.

This One or All isn’t the god of believers. Their gods may exist, but they are “of the One, not as the One” (as I was firmly told). And I say ‘may’ because the idea of plasma permits us to imagine vast conscious intelligent agents who may interact with humans as part of an intentional purpose – or which may be crafted from our collective imagining.

Plasma beings may even collaborate with human imagination to frame a presence and a relationship that serves our needs – and theirs. Either that or our ideas of gods might be entirely our own. It’s a bit like unrequited love in a way. The object of our desire is real, but the relationship is simple fantasy.

I have encountered a ‘god’ presence. It was in the form of an intense radiation whose impact put me on the floor and left me struggling to stay conscious. It was a shared experience. It was sudden and not sought. There was a communication as well. And it was repeated. The experience is, for me, beyond dispute. That is to say that it happened. The explanation of it I still accept only provisionally. I can’t verify the explanation, and because I am a deep sceptic I don’t have grounds to develop a settled opinion.

The explanation that it might have been a plasma being greatly appeals to me. That makes huge sense. But that doesn’t progress the ‘who’ side of the question. The ‘why’ side still bugs me too.

Gods as plasma beings make immense sense to me. Spirits of all kinds as plasma beings is also really attractive. The idea that our fundamental nature – who we are in essence – is plasma deeply appeals.

I like the idea that our fundamental nature is plasma. That fits with my experiences in engaging with deceased parents. It fits with my OOBE experience. That was just the one – with verification. It was educational and not an indulgence. So, life is essentially inorganic and not dependent on physical matter? That makes sense.

What do we know?

I have grown up on a mixed diet – Christianity, the whole smorgasbord of New Age woo, heavy duty occult and esoteric thought, an abundance of science (material and human), philosophy and etc. 

Now and then I have encountered keystone ideas which have radically transformed my thinking. Back in 2004 it was encountering the idea of animism, which, for some reason, I had either missed or ignored for decades. In 2024 it is plasma. That’s 20 years between inspirations. But I don’t know if that is fast or slow.

I don’t expect the reader to be as excited as I am. I am on my own journey of discovery which opens up doors or kicks me in the backside as spirit decides I need it. I have come to acknowledge that I live a spirit enmeshed life. I don’t mean that in any breathless sense. It’s more like I am stupid and non-material agents are prodding me along in the desperate hope that I might come to my senses. Why me? I have no idea.

Temple’s book reminded me how much remains excluded from the discourse of our reality (yes, there are other sources too). He is talking about genuine science, not speculation rooted in nothing more than fancy. We have two sources of truth – our direct experience and trusted reports from those engaging in empirical research. Even so that’s still a vulnerable foundation. We must be careful.

Beyond that there’s a strange world of passions and power. Communities and cultures have always had their gatekeepers whose function has been to protect the dominant discourse from disruption. There were times when that was a matter or survival for the whole community. Now it seems that what is being protected is what a minority believe. Are they right? Like a Facebook relationship status – it’s complicated. Every time I speculate, I discover another aspect to a potential explanation.

Access to high quality knowledge and ideas is essential as we evolve how we understand our place in our reality, and its nature. We need a new understanding of our spirituality – one grounded in science – as befits our times.

Temple’s discussion of plasma acknowledges that a good deal of research is hidden from public awareness. Fair enough, up to a point. Plasma offers a way of comprehending the UPA phenomenon – and that exposes us to an existential trauma – especially for materialists and hard-core Christians. Neither group is comfortable with the potential. Should we all be denied access to critical insight because they are freaking out? I don’t know and won’t be tempted to offer an opinion. We need to think about what is knowable and known in a sensible manner.


Temple’s book is a watershed moment for me because it triggers a host of thoughts that activated by the idea of plasma beings. It fills in gaps and completes inferential loops. It links science with ancient lore. I love how ideas about dark matter mesh with the Kabbala’s Tree of Life. It restores my faith in a sense of fundamental elegance in how we evolve our knowledge. I expect science to confirm spiritual truths. 

By itself Temple’s book can seem like a lonely lighthouse on a dark materialistic sea. But seeing it as a member of a community of ‘non-conforming’ thought it is more like a pilot boat navigating our present troubled waters.

We are collectively in an awkward place. We are moving more into a post-Christian culture. I am deliberate in saying ‘post-Christian’ rather than ‘anti-Christian’. We are moving away from times when demanding conformity of thought was socially valued. We are moving away from the naïve existential muddling as Christian thought struggled to grasp the implications of the idea of individualism that was triggered by the faith’s inception. That has taken a few millennia – and that’s neither too slow nor too fast, given what that transition means on an evolutionary scale.

The idea of plasma doesn’t take us anywhere new. What it does is affirm what we have always known – but helps us escape the straightjackets of religious and scientific dogmas that edit out key ideas.

For me what was especially potent was the notion that plasma restored the idea of ether – something that had been refuted by scientific thought for a few centuries. I have allowed that ancient thought hasn’t always been affirmed by contemporary science, so I have been prepared to suspend speculation on ideas as a consequence. That allowance isn’t an assumption of error, just that, absent contemporary evidence I can’t think through some ideas in a contemporary way. That matters to me. The past is a different country to where I live. It is a bank of knowledge and ideas I withdraw from, but I must convert what I take into currency suited to my present.

Temple’s book is a conversion tool. I am immensely grateful for that. It has put the ethers back on the table, and then taken that idea to a very different level for me.

Note 1: Since finishing the book, I have been practicing sensing a non-physical substantiality around me. Early days but there’s a trending sensation of feeling distinctly being in a ‘thicker’ medium. I remember Broomhill speaking of thin and thick time and this is something similar. Thick time is more spirit infused – more soup than plain water. There are cycles of lower and higher intensity and I think this is a high intensity period for me. This doesn’t mean that I will return to the same kind of thinness as before. The base awareness always grows. The high intensity will drop back to regular intensity with an added degree. I guess.

Note 2: I am also reacting to an intense re-examination of what I belief is. I started inquiring about the nature of belief in late 2018 when I became intrigued by Donald Trump. Why did so many people think he was plausible? Like a mug I thought a quick 6 months of research would answer my questions. In late April 2024 I am still inquiring. The idea of plasma has just sent an earthquake-like shock through what I had thought was a decent conception. Back to the drawing board.

Temple’s book could disrupt your mindset – if you let it. It could, like an earthquake, throw your ideas into a mess on the floor, so when you pick them up there is a new order and new unknowns to be chased down.

On liberation from formal religion


I recently listened to an audiobook – The Surprising Rebirth of Belief in God: Why New Atheism Grew Old and Secular Thinkers Are Considering Christianity Again -by Justin Brierley. Brierley thinks the present ebbing of Christianity in western cultures is about to change. That’s okay. He is an apologist, and this is his job. But this isn’t going to happen.

The book explores the decline of the kind of muscular atheism expressed by materialists, and it is true that a handful of intellectuals have discovered some value in traditional Christianity. Some have abandoned atheism for Christianity. There’s nothing remarkable about that. This has been going on for years. Changing camps goes both ways. People find what they need.

The title is somewhat misleading. Not all professions of atheism are hard core. So much is a reaction against Christianity in its intolerant dogmatic expression. For some it’s enough to just abandon the faith. For others there is a progressive rediscovery of some idea of the divine free from dogma and tradition.

There is a trend showing more people are saying they are not aligned to any religion. The category ‘spiritual but not religious’ has been growing steadily in recent decades. The Pew Research Centre has some interesting data from December 2023. This is US data. Overall, 70% of Americans say they are spiritual, including 22% who say they are spiritual but not religious. Around 28% say they have no religious affiliation (atheists, agnostics or ‘nothing in particular’).

Interestingly a Jan 2024 Pew report notes that 41% have become more spiritual, whereas 13% have become less so. But while 24% say they have become more religious, 33% say they have become less religious.

The trend seems clear, more people are becoming more spiritual but less religious. Brierley’s hopeful prognosis for Christianity seems far more optimistic than realistic.

Growing beyond formal religion

Pew notes that, “An overwhelming majority of U.S. adults (83%) say they believe that people have a soul or spirit in addition to their physical body. And 81% say there is something spiritual beyond the natural world, even if we cannot see it.”

The trend isn’t away from spiritual beliefs, only from the organisations and cultures which once held dominant sway over the community. This trend might include solo DIY spirituality, membership of groups and communities – everything from yoga classes to wiccan covens or occult orders. In essence, being spiritual has increasingly little or nothing to do with religious affiliation.

Over the past few months, I have been moved to get into books on alternative perspectives on our spiritual influences. The list isn’t exhaustive of what is available, only what I have read/listened to recently.

  • TechGnosis: Myth, Magic, and Mysticism in the Age of Information by Erik Davis
  • The Sacred History: How Angels, Mystics and Higher Intelligence Made Our World by Jonathan Black
  • Encounters: Experiences with Nonhuman Intelligences: Explorations with UFOs, Dreams, Angels, AI and Other Dimensions by D. W. Pasulka
  • Knowing What We Know: The Transmission of Knowledge: From Ancient Wisdom to Modern Magic by Simon Winchester
  • Modern Occultism: History, Theory, and Practice by Mitch Horowitz
  • Magisteria: The Entangled Histories of Science and Religion by Nicholas Spencer

The compelling takeaway for me was the reminder of just how strongly esoteric and occult thought has influenced western culture since the birth of the Renaissance, and especially since the 19th century.

The idea that Christianity has dominated the evolution of spiritual and moral values in western culture over the past 1700 years is deeply misleading. This is not to say Christianity has had no significant influence, but it does add a dimension on why Christianity’s influence has significantly declined in the past 150 years.

Larry Siedentop’s Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalismis a compelling account of how Christianity contributed the evolution of Western secular liberalism and the rise of individuality. In a way it is a description of how the faith made itself redundant. It had a use by date, which has come due for many of us.

Formal religious organisations have been losing their appeal in our contemporary times steadily. In part it is reliance on anachronistic content that is poorly attuned to our times. You can’t effectively communicate resolutions to contemporary issues by relying on 2,000-year-old stories. They can be a guide but not a solution. In part it is also the manifest moral failings by ordained representatives. Ordination has been proven to be no assurance of integrity – rendering the ceremony no more than an administrative performance to be randomly interpreted at an individual level. In essence an organisation saturated in the past, avoidant of contemporary knowledge, and unwilling to fully engage with current reality cannot survive, let alone thrive.

The issue isn’t the moral dimension. Religions have no ownership of morality, as biological and psychological research shows. They can shape it, but not always in accordance with contemporary expectations.

Religions create a social discourse that frames ethical and moral imperatives in that social dimension. Our biology and psychology trigger moral values independent of religions and their cultural and historic foundations. This is why there is a clash between ‘progressive’ values and religious values. Attempts to assert ownership of, or primacy over, moral values will fail without force to impose that ownership. That force has been countered by the emergence of more democratic, liberal, and inclusive values – especially in the past 60 years.

The role of formal religion was once central to a community’s survival. But that has changed as our communities have become larger, more complex, more diverse, and more concerned about meeting internal needs of harmony and inclusion. The idea that religions might thrive by resisting the forces of social evolution is absurd. This is why formal religions have become more aligned to ‘conservative’ values as our communities continue to evolve toward more tolerant and inclusive pluralism.


I quit Christianity when I was 6. I was obliged, under threat of physical chastisement, to attend Sunday school when I was 5. When I chastised my father for being unforgiving, I was hauled off to church, away from the influence of Jesus. I liked Jesus. He was a very nice man, way nicer than my father who was somewhat disturbed. But I wasn’t sent to Sunday school to learn to be like Jesus apparently. I was removed from the light of love to the darkness of spiritual anger and tribal drams. I loathed the church, and I loathed the unloving self-righteous people who infested it.

I couldn’t fully live out my quitting for another 4 years, after my parent split. And then it was total. I retained an affection for my Sunday school Jesus. I had nothing against him, and there was a lot to like. But I can’t imagine a 2024 Jesus being anything less than totally contemporary, speaking in terms anybody would fully understand. I imagine he would be fully familiar with current psychology, science, and philosophy.

I esteem the wisdom of the ages deeply. That is my bedrock upon which I have built my present search for spiritual insight. But that search is crafted from the best contemporary knowledge I can find. In what we call the humanities is an extraordinary wealth of knowledge and insight whose interpretation is energetically contested by materialists and the religious (dogmatists and open-minded inquirers) as well as the spiritual but not religious. Nothing is settled.

That contestation is the healthy way knowledge grows and individuals mature psychologically, intellectually, and spiritually. We all seek fulfilment of our own inner needs. But we must now understand that in the diversity of human experience conformity to dogma is no longer the way for all.

There is now no dominant authority of tradition or dogma – only the petty efforts of those who crave it for their shelter. They are a natural part of the diversity of inquirers. There is a larger, loose, and complex community of knowledge-seekers and truth-lovers contributing to an ever-evolving discourse. We can all find what we desire and/or need.

Who knows where things are going, and how they will evolve along the way. There is no doubt individuals will find what they seek, and the company of fellow travellers to celebrate and affirm what they value. But will we see future spiritual organisations exerting power over communities through dominating dogma and force? Maybe in some distant time.

In the meantime, we have plenty of dogma free inquiry and exploration to relish and celebrate.

Reflecting on the Superhuman


In his 2022 book  The Superhumanities: Historical Precedents, Moral Objections, New RealitiesJeff Kripal argues that academic studies under the broad heading of the humanities must escape the unidimensional constraints of materialism and embrace that other dimension we call by many names – spiritual, occult, magic, mystical, psychical, to cite a few.

This other dimension suggests the reality of ‘superhuman’ powers, but the idea of the super man has been distorted and debased by Nazism and materialism. Superpowers are preserved in our consciousness as fantasy, telling us something of the idea’s fundamental importance. 

Christianity set out to eradicate unauthorized superpowers – with only God, Jesus and saints being permitted actors. All else were of the Devil and were, by their very nature, evil. Later, as science developed a more assertive materialistic culture, anything that did not fit a rational materialistic model was dismissed as fakery and folly. Superpowers became fictional or the stuff of weak-minded belief. 

Despite what religions and materialism insist, our unmediated culture retains links to a deep intuition we have that these superpowers are a birthright – in our imagination, at least, for now. We will have all different memories of our childhoods, but the younger you are the more you will have been exposed to superhumans and superpowers as the media transitioned from paper comics to movies and animation. Superpowers are very much part of our now. But are they fantasy or heritage?

As a scholar of religion Kripal has carved his own unconventional path. He does not imagine the ‘divine’ expresses only through formal and approved channels. He sees it erupting into our normal in manifold ways. This is no sudden insight, as the following books show:

  • Mutants & Mystics: Science Fiction, Superhero Comics, and the Paranormal, 2011
  • Authors of the Impossible: The Paranormal and the Sacred, 2012
  • The Super Natural: Why the Unexplained is Real (with Whitley Strieber), 2018
  • Changed in a Flash: One Woman’s Near-Death Experience and Why a Scholar Thinks It Empowers Us All (co-authored with Elizabeth G. Krohn), 2018
  • The Flip: Who You Really Are and Why It Matters, 2020

I have read a lot on religion over the decades. And I have explored the transgressive essences of this other ‘super’ dimension thoroughly as well. That was a necessity, given my own lived experiences. 

Kripal is arguing for a bold and necessary move forward out of one dimensional thinking about who we are as humans and into a two dimensional comprehension of who we are. This transition is becoming urgent. 

Human as Two

Kripal writes of Human as Two (H1+H2 – these symbols are my idea, as far as I know). This isn’t just a reference to body and soul but two distinct consciousness – one generated by our organic existence and the other of a more fundamental nature, but still (for the most part) mediated by our organic being. Sometimes this second sense (H2) of being can be experienced without organic mediation – as in out of body experiences. 

For many, it is Human as One that is alone true – only H1. Also, H2 can be seen as a highly limited domain that we are discouraged from engaging without powerful dogmas that can act as an effective invalidation of anything beyond pure imagination – effectively making it a fuzzy H1 affair.

None of this is novel or radical, but we have engaged with this theme in messy ways and for a long time, lacking clarity and intellectual discipline. 

Kripal’s book is a call to academia to release its grip on the materialistic biases that have distorted and limited its vision. At a time in our culture when reason and intellectual rigor are highly esteemed, alongside the scientific method, clinging to materialism is little more than indulging in ideological bias – and unworthy of any claims to genuine advancement in knowledge. 

In a way what we have created is a profoundly unbalanced progression. I like the ideas of the anthropologist Robert Redfield who wrote of the technical and moral orders of a community in his 1953 book The Primitive World and Its Transformation. We have progressed the technical order while the moral order has been allowed to atrophy, relatively speaking. I think Redfield’s use of the term ‘moral’ as related to traditional and archaic cultures and can be inflated to embrace all the 2nd dimension (H2) themes and the psychological as well as the moral. The point here is that ‘moral’ in an archaic culture embraces the precepts of animism, myth, and magic as part of a relational connection with a living cosmos. 

Redfield noted that technical order used to be subordinate to moral order, but that has flipped. Now the technical order dominates. Now we measure our success in terms of technology and commerce rather than in any relational sense concerning human and other lives.

Of course, academic inquiry hasn’t completely ignored H2. There have been plenty of PhDs awarded on H2 themes – but not always celebrating it. As Kripal notes, often an inquiry is driven by a form of critique – and that can lead to efforts to invalidate or re-interpret in H1 terms only. There are H2 courses as well, available in some institutions. But the point is that H2 themes are still taken to be contested and in conflict with the H1 only perspective. Things are, however, changing in the right direction. 

I get that there’s a need to intellectually validate H2, but it’s not a battle that has to be constantly fought. At some stage the irrationality of materialism must be admitted, and a white flag raised on its behalf. This is, however, likely to happen via generational change rather than the emergence of a revolutionary insight.

Kripal has dragged the debate out of the shadows – well, to the extent that the H1 only adherent will address his challenge. However, his arguments will add clarity to kindred spirits. I noticed that the Kindle version Superhumanities seemed to be priced as a student’s book rather than for a more general market. So, he is speaking more to the next generation via university students?

My recent posts have argued that we need to rethink our spirituality and Kripal’s book fits neatly in with that sense – as if there is a current of inspiration flowing and we can clamber on board. 

I read/listened to Ingo Swann’s Resurrection of the Mysterious and D. W. Pasulka’s Encounters recently as well. Swann reminded the reader of the determined anti-psychism spirit that is part of both Christianity’s denial of unauthorized awareness and materialism’s denial of anything not anchored in the H1 only mindset. 

A crisis of consciousness 

A few weeks ago, I listened to a discussion looking at the astrology of 2024 on The Astrology Podcast. It was super technical at times, and a bit beyond my knowledge, but it moved me to reverse my decision not to have a reading for the year ahead.  What was of particular interest to me was the comment that there are major technology changes that may be foreshadowed in 2024 but which will really hit in 2025-26. These changes will be revolutionary. It’s not that I necessarily believe these forecasts, but they do gel with other indicators. 

Pasulka’s book put a lot of emphasis on AI. This interest in AI was also reflected in a short article on management themes for 2024 from the founder of the Neuroleadership Institute, David Rock that I read a few days ago. There are other indicators as well that suggest something that might be a watershed change is in the offing. The focus may be on the technological dimension in a purely materialistic sense, but we must not ignore the psychosocial and psychospiritual elements as well (H1+H2). It is difficult to imagine AI as relevant to H2 without understanding it as a form of ‘animation’ of the human-made world. You need an animistic perspective to see this. Without this angle AI seems like a threat to the H1 only mindset. But please wonder why we want a human-made environment that talks back, communicates and thinks, relates to us as seeming peers, possesses powers we do not have, and may serve us to do evil upon us? Its an animistic cosmology.

I have been reading in management and organizational psychology for a little shy of 40 years. It’s an area that has attracted a growing level of academic interest – and hence it’s a good trend indicator for wider social and cultural themes. The human is (now) at the centre of our inquiry. There has been a steadily increasing trend toward empathy and inclusion that requires higher levels of self-awareness and psychological maturity. This is still mostly H1, but we can see the dawning light of H2 on the horizon.

As AI evolves there is an evolutionary impetus for us to become more empathic and holistic. Sure, the technological growth is often driven by unempathic and almost sociopathic types (maybe in search of a AI agent who will give them unconditional love), but the rest of us embrace what is offered.

With technological trends as well, we are being pushed into various crises of conscience and consciousness as a tension between adaptive and reactive responses grows. 

All in all, a watershed change in 2025-26 seems not unlikely. Part of that adaptive/reactive tension is likely to be the tension between H1 only and H1+H2 adherents (with H2 Champions). We must flip the technical/moral dominance to bring the moral order back. That, by the way, includes embracing the suite of holistic environmental and quantum science implications as they apply our sense of who and what we are. 

It is worthwhile repeating here that certain religious faiths fall squarely in the H1 camp precisely because they are motivated to curtail or control H2 experiences. For example, for some US Christian nationalists, Jesus has become “too woke” for them.  We must not automatically assume religions are pro the superhuman. In fact, the opposite is often true. A purely mythic superhuman can be a rationale for insisting followers remain controllably within the H1 camp. The idea that a true believer acts in the imitation of Christ is often considered a challenge to authority rather than  fulfillment of the faith’s objectives.

Kripal’s employment of the superhumanitues is provocative in a good way because it forces a reimagining of an idea that has been relegated to a corner where it can be ignored or invalidated. I have a memory of a book well known in academia that I will not name because I cannot verify my memory. My memory is that it says, “because there are no such things as spirits…” and heads off on an argument based on that assertion. But I do clearly recall numerous instances of writers in anthropology reinterpreting the ideas of indigenous peoples because they were presumed to be mistaken in their interpretations of their experiences. 

The superhuman is thus often redefined as part of naïve delusions and immature fantasies. This is why we now find the theme in movies meant for 12 year olds, but described as ‘family’ so permission for adults to enjoy can be smuggled in. Arguably only 5, at the most, of the 50 highest grossing movies of all time are ‘real world’. The other 45 fit into the fantasy category, and 10 at least (by my count) fall into the superhuman category – but that’s a matter for debate. 

Equally, we can argue about why we watch movies – to escape from some state that is oppressive or to aspire into a state that is liberating and fulfilling? Is what we call fantasy hopeless dreaming or anticipation?

The ‘supernatural’ was considered the misperception of the ‘primitive’ mind in a lot of early anthropology. Anthropology doesn’t like to be reminded of the disrespectful notion of ‘primitive’. Now it ‘respectfully’ re-interprets perceptions and interpretations to correct and improve understanding. Not ‘primitive’ (sorry about that), just wrong. 

In our culture the H2 stuff is about what we see as superpowers. We are conditioned to see them as mythic or scarce – applied only to exceptional people.  Or its all superstitious and ignorant BS. But they also can be read as part of our destiny – potential or inevitable sometime down the track. 

The standard sci fi vision of humans living in a hi-tech world – as in 2nd Gen Star Trek – is that they have the time to pursue self-development as if that means only H1 competencies like sports, arts, and education. The goal is still the refinement of the individual – only not in the H2 sense. Imagine otherwise. What if our self-development goals were H2? That would disrupt the narrative that proposes only technologies evolve and humans evolve only in adaptation to the technologically dominated and mediated environment. What if human evolution was not Darwinian (driven by adaptation to the physical environment), but by a H2 level impetus?

Kripal observes that our traditions, going way back, celebrate the superhuman. So why isn’t our H2 potential knitted into our vision of who we are? Why are we merely monkey-made-good and not that other soul/spirit side as well? The present ‘rational’ perspective is that seeing our H2 nature is optional is rational because it is not substantiated by evidence and is hence no more than a matter of (irrational) opinion. 

That simply isn’t so. The evidence is abundant, but it can be accepted or ignored, depending on motive – like any evidence. Motive is something we need to think through. Why would you choose ignore/deny half of who you might be?

I am reading/listening to an interesting book called The Misinformation Age. It explores how valid knowledge can be distorted and misrepresented. The actuality of our H2 nature is distorted by propagandistic efforts from both religion and academia where there is a motive to distort or deny evidence. That motive is about control and authority, and surrendering either will likely precipitate a crisis of consciousness – and identity – among those who desire to exercise control. This is no conspiracy theory. Somebody (individual or group) exerts control over a community – imposing and policing norms. As we evolve into ever more complex and pluralistic communities those controls become more abstract. This is precisely what current right-wing passions are reacting against. They want simple and singular. This applies also to materialism.


At the opening of The Superhumanities Kripal shares a poster for a course – Mutants and Mystics: Race, Sexuality and the Future of the Human(ities). The poster features a costumed superhero character asking, “Are you one of the mutants?” 

This gives me a thrill. It is clearly aimed at a younger student audience. I so wish it was available when I enrolled at UTas in 1970s. I didn’t stay long.

What I love about the poster is that it takes a playful approach to a deep matter. It creates a sense of excitement that is very present, and future looking. Kripal puts the potentiality well in saying, 

As someone who was once trained in Hindu and Buddhist philosophies, which insist that the real as such cannot only be known as such but that this is the very purpose and goal of a human life-form, I have always found this Western academic assumption to be a rather obvious and most dubious piece of Eurocentrism. Why stay within these reasonable (European) limits when much of humanity has not? Who says they are limits, and to what end? (P 97)” (The bold is mine)

There is also a sense of ‘irreverence’ in the poster. But who says reverence is the only way? What about curiosity and innovation? What about excitement? Religions have relegated so much of human potential to dark corners and basements through invalidation or denial. Kripal observes that, “most of all, religion is looking the wrong way: it is looking backward to the past, not for- ward to the future.” (P 94).

Rational intellectual inquiry into the whole of who we are should be our best hope, but that won’t be something we can realise until the choking fingers of materialism are loosened from the throat the spirit of inquiry. – and we are allowed to be mutants without fear. 

Kripal’s works are invigorating and unsettling, and getting unsettled or disrupted is necessary if we want to open ourselves up to our future and our potential. The books are also demanding. That’s a good thing, but these days we are seduced toward the easy. To consume input that demands we pay attention and find something that makes us work hard to get best benefit can be a surprise. I highly recommend Kripal’s works, but I don’t want to mislead. You’ll have to work for the reward.

Imaging formally studying the humanities (psychology, sociology, the arts, philosophy and so) with a H2 perspective on who we are. What a blast that would be! Why isn’t this how it is now?

Why we need to end the science v religion dichotomy


It is beyond doubt that the great civilisations were religious in some form or another, and this did not impede scientific development. It is also beyond doubt that ideologies and dogmatism impede scientific development, whether they are religious or scientific.

Materialism has a cranky intolerance of religion in general. Its aversion to religious dogma is frequently well-founded but unbalanced and mostly ill-informed. It is at best an ideology driven by unaddressed personal issues. And we also have fundamentalist religious dogmas that are irrationally intolerant of science.

We have extreme aversions. Each camp presumes it is right and the other is wrong. Atheists debate fundamentalist Christians in pointless performances that pander only to their own. They are not debates seeking to resolve an issue. Neither camp has depth knowledge of the other. This is what happens when combative ideologies engage in ritual combat.

Science and religion are essentially fairly modern ideas – especially as contestants. We need to understand this. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on religion quotes Paul Griffiths (a theologian I think) as saying: hardly anyone has any idea what they are talking about—or, perhaps more accurately, that there are so many different ideas in play about what religion is that conversations in which the term figures significantly make the difficulties in communication at the Tower of Babel seem minor and easily dealt with. I recommend reading the full article.

I think it was the American philosopher John Dewey who denied there was Science, only sciences and scientists. We often talk of Science as if it is a settled body of knowledges and beliefs rather than a method of inquiry. But capital ‘s’ Science isn’t really a rational thing. It’s a convention or habit (and a bad one at that). Scientists can be deeply dogmatic and cruel to those with whom they disagree, as well as dishonest.

In essence, while there might be ideals fairly associated with science and religion, they cannot be applied universally. We may have to offer only finely nuanced descriptions of what we intend to convey if we want to avoid being misunderstood. Indeed, maybe we should come up with new ideas and words about both.

A personal position

I grew up with a passion for science and an aversion to the Christianity of my parents. I wasn’t anti-religious, just anti bullshit. By the time I turned 15 I had been hammered by an array of non-ordinary experiences that left me unable to turn to either science or religion for guidance. That’s still pretty much the picture today.

Between the two was a strange zone which offered succour through what is variously ‘pseudo-science’ (a term I detest) or sundry ‘New Age’ beliefs. It was often attractive – if one’s intent was to discover a comforting dogma to indulge in. But the absence of intellectual integrity was always a danger signal to me.

To be clear, I don’t disparage the discovery of a comforting dogma. Sometimes that’s an achievement – if the root of the comfort has integrity. Shelter from the storm of doubt has its appeal. But it’s just not something I am into. I had to resolve my non-ordinary experiences into some kind of theory that satisfies my personal needs.

So, I grew up with a hunger that was not assuaged by the offerings I found, though I drank eagerly from cups offered by both science and religion. However, they were more like hospitality to a pilgrim rather than temptations to dwell. We all have our own path to walk.

I read extensively in the sciences and in religion/spirituality. I was a sci-fi and fantasy devotee for a few decades. I have read only 2 fiction books in the past 25 years. I have been tracking my audiobooks since Dec 2018 and I have been getting through 4.5 a month on average. This doesn’t include podcasts and Kindle. I mention this to emphasise that I am a serious inquirer.

What kicked of my audiobook list keeping in December 2018 was the discovery of Donald Trump’s extraordinary impact on the US. This became a deep fascination for me because it triggered an intense curiosity about the nature of belief. My Trump book category has 59 inhabitants. The largest group is political history – 60. I needed a refresh so I could make sense of Trump’s environment in a non-naïve way. Allied to this need are the 36 social commentary books. My religion/spirituality group also has 59 occupants, including quite a few on American expressions of religion. There are also 12 books on metaphysics and 2 on mythology.

I have had an enduring parallel interest in how workplaces have been evolving. I have a category called professional development with 58 books on organisational psychology, management and diversity, equity, and inclusion. This has been supplemented by 22 books on psychology.

Apart from the 1 fiction book, there is 1 book on writing, 2 on economics, 4 autobiographies, 9 on indigenous culture and history, 11 on ET/UFOs, 15 on science, 16 on philosophy, and finally 16 books on history (including 6 on ‘pseudo history’). 

I have tried to explore the world I live in using contemporary knowledge to discover something of the human drama and how we are responding. Trump represents a profound existential crisis at a cultural level. It’s not just the US – it’s just way better examined and documented there. My professional development and psychology books have explored the individual in social and organisational settings with an emphasis on moral dimensions.

The UFO/ET books have driven home the drama of our opening awareness to other lives and dimensions. This has been reinforced by the books on metaphysics and science. This drama accompanies expressions of religions of course, but it’s a common human heritage that should be as much a part of our shared secular discourse as any other theme.

Trump represents an appeal to tyranny – a purely human effort to resist the evolutionary forces that are transforming our experience of being human. The past 30 years or so in particular have utterly transformed living in ‘advanced western’ countries. I have no doubt this is true for other countries – I just don’t have the lived experience to assert it is so without qualification.

We are change resistant creatures in a maelstrom of transformation. Exhaustion and resistance are normal. It is easier to articulate resistance concretely and harken back to the known than it is to voice confidence in an unpredictable future. Resistance may be futile, but at least it seems comprehensible.

The present as a balance between past and future

The balance is important to me. Reliance on texts from pre-modern agrarian cultures strikes me as crazy. For example, the Bible no doubt aspired to contain the best wisdom and insights of its time of creation, but valid ancient ‘wisdom’ will be validated by modern wisdom – eventually. So many foundational insights of ancient wisdom are affirmed by contemporary human sciences. On the other hand the messy struggles to make sense of new spiritual ideas will not ensure unless they become baked into ideologies demanding compliance and faith rather than reason and discernment.

The mystical nature of Jesus, the core of Christianity as a dogma, cannot be validated. It remains a personal election as an essentially unimportant matter. This unimportance is a profoundly contentious matter for believers. Atheists have gone beyond it, as have those who have adopted alternative paths. The ability to discern between wisdom and dogma is developed only through discernment and struggle.

There’s much our sciences won’t explore or validate, but what they have is of immense value as affirmed enduring truths – rather than metaphysical guesses and acts of faith and belief that deny any obligation to seek the adjudication of educated reason.

Modernity is a celebration of intellectual passion – for good or ill – and refusing to be a part of it is to profoundly misunderstand the wisdom of the past in favour of dogmas that dull minds and stifle imagination. A god wants this to be the preferred way?

We are on the cusp of profound changes. The technologies that facilitate our aspirations may not be wisely husbanded, but they will continue to change how we experience our lives. Regardless of the cause, climate change will oblige us to adapt to unwelcome extremes. Our engagement with other sentient agents will become more overt and intense.

Every now and then I tune into popular culture to see what’s trending. Movies can be a remarkable barometer. A few years ago, when I started looking at lists of top grossing movies, I was astonished to see a mere handful of ‘normal life’ movies in the top 100. The most were sci fi and fantasy. Oddly Titanic, one of the few ‘normal life’ movies was #1 back then. 

It seemed our spiritual and religious passions were being catered for via sci fi and fantasy. Our imaginations were way beyond the iron age agrarian settings of our foundational spiritual sources.

Time to seriously rethink.

What next?

About 2,000 years ago a small movement generated by a Jewish spiritual teacher became a world transforming force. It would be unrealistic to say this movement caused the transformation, but it certainly was the carrier of a great evolutionary impulse – and came to symbolise it. It was not the exclusive carrier, just the dominant one. That impulse has flowed on, and the carrier has waned in power and significance.

Larry Siedentop’s Inventing the Individual is the most compelling exploration of this idea. It is little read by folks interested in religion because nothing about the books suggests it has anything to do with the theme. Even the subtitle – The Origins Of Western Liberalism – hints not at all that the book is on the impact of Christianity.

Through Jeff Kripal who taught me to see religion in a secular context, I came across Luke Lafitte’s Machine Intelligence and the Imaginal Realm – Spiritual Freedom and the Re-animation of Matter. Lafitte’s book was no easy read and I am not sure I read it the way he intended. I wrote him a thank you note but he didn’t reply. But it pushed me to understand that we must see our spirituality in our own context – for most this is urban and high tech. It’s not agrarian and iron age. There’s no reason why our next ‘saviour’ may not be ET or a cyborg.

Incidentally, in looking up Jeff Kripal on Amazon I discovered he’s finally got a new book out (see the hyperlink above). Even the Kindle version is priced as an academic text. But he’s one of my favourite, and most provocative, authors – so no audiobook. I bought the Kindle version. The title, The Superhumanities: Historical Precedents, Moral Objections, New Realities, hints of another fascinating adventure. The website blurb proclaims – A bold challenge to rethink the humanities as intimately connected to the superhuman and to “decolonize reality itself.”

Reality isn’t terra nullius. This is a difficult concept to grasp at first, because we create our experience of it. But in so doing we impose our preconceptions, our conditioning, our habits of thought. We can shut out what is there by imposing ideologies and dogmas that flood our consciousnesses with asserted ‘truths’. These ‘truths’ include our faith traditions, materialistic ideologies and other beliefs and opinions. This also includes concepts baked into our cultural norms – religion and science are good examples.

This kind of thinking might be unfamiliar to the reader steeped in the standard fare on spirituality and religion. It could even be unsettling. The familiar spiritual and religious discourses carry a sense of the known, even if we don’t know much about them. They are established. But they are also backward looking – and there’s something of value in that – especially if the spirit of the past is absent in the present. However, looking backwards doesn’t help in the current age – unless our goal is to return to the simple low-tech agrarian life.

Thomas Campbell’s My Big TOE opens up and entirely different landscape – one that straddles the physical and the metaphysical. Campbell is associated with the Monroe Institute, established by Robert Monroe, as is Frank DeMarco, an author whose works have fascinated me.

These are not the only source of different ways of engaging with spiritual an religious ideas, but they are forward thinking and the direction we need to be heading, backed by contemporary sciences. We have new territory to expand into – as explorers, not colonisers. The inhabitants of the deeper reality aren’t into us trying that stuff.


My grandson is turning 18 in a week as I write this. His spirituality is not steeped in old lore. Rather it is grounded in Star Wars and the Marvel universe. A few years back he asked his grandmother if there was a god and she said there was in a most unhelpful way. She was eager to affirm her belief and so lost the chance to ask an essential question, “What do you mean by ‘god’?” He has had no motivation to reopen the question. Maybe that doesn’t matter, but it seemed to me to be a lost opportunity to initiate a calm discourse blessed with subtlety and insight.

Old lore has its values if approached in a fortunate way. I grew up steeped in Theosophy, ritual magic, and Wicca, but not always in helpful ways. I had to struggle with credulous associates who were believers rather than seekers. But I got a good grounding in a decent idea of human spiritual anatomy. Nobody would expect a doctor to practice medicine with no understanding of physical anatomy. That is tangible and measurable in concrete ways. But no such requirement is imposed upon practitioners of spiritual or religious traditions. We are content with traditional dogma and commentary. That’s what killed so many people when medicine was a gentleman’s pursuit rather than a science.

Lisa Feldman Barrett, in How Emotions are Made, argues that our theory of emotions is all wrong. We don’t have an accurate anatomy of emotions. Our penchant for religious ideology has infected our capacity for scientific thought and perpetuated an affection for dogma disguised as reasoned truth.

There’s a lot about the past we must jettison. Yes, more transformation/change fatigue – especially if we get it wrong out of sloppiness, laziness, or ideological hubris. And the odds of that are high.

My grandson is a child of the 21st century. He is inner urban, high tech. His spiritually can’t look back – behind him there’s only a fog of ideology and ignorance far denser than what surrounds him now.

When I discovered the idea of animism, I knew quite quickly it was anachronistic, but I didn’t have good alternative to convey what it meant to me. Unlike others who took to the word I wasn’t in need of something to articulate a sentiment. I was looking for an explanation for lived experience. I am seeing now that religion and even science are words that are better scraped from our minds into the dustbin of redundant notions. But we can’t be too hasty. We must have at least made a down payment on what will replace them – and we are a long way from doing that.

If my grandson came to me and asked, “Is there a god?” I’d like to say, “That’s an interesting question. Tell me why you want to know.” Then we might have a conversation about our future, not our past.

Boundaries and filters


Between our sense of being in our world and how we imagine the divine we have boundaries and filters that are both organic and psychological. 

The organic boundaries and filters are created by our brains to ensure our organic being is able to function in the physical world – to at least survive and maybe flourish. 

The psychological boundaries and filters are more complex because they relate to both spiritual and psychological maturity. The extent to which this can be appreciated depends upon how we think about our nature.

A Christian will have an understanding that is essentially different from a Buddhist because each has a distinct theory of human nature and the soul. I have read extensively in both and found Buddhism had a more cogent theory of human nature. Christianity relied on dogma and faith. It was more a drama of philosophy. Each tradition arose from a very different root.

This difference is of interest as we discover more about what it is to be human – fusing new science with old lore. Considerably more intellectual energy in the west has been devoted to the eastern paths than Christianity.

In the first quadrant of the 21st century there are interesting trends in western cultures:

  • Christianity is struggling to hold onto its once dominant role.
  • Atheism has increased, largely as a reaction against Christianity.
  • Alternative expressions of religion and spirituality are growing.
  • There has been a steady growth in spiritually orientated inquiry in neuroscience and psychology.
  • Our access to ideas and information and the means to share or contest them is unprecedented.

The idea that what we believe, and value is a zero-sum game has taken root among those who are traditionalists and who have an adverse reaction to these trends.

This is a good time to reflect on how we behave as individuals and community members. We can contribute to the evolution of our psychospiritual environment. Or we can try to jam our stakes of hubris and dogma into the spokes of the evolutionary wheel.

We humans do not evolve in any orderly way. Any reflection upon the human condition globally will reveal a spectrum with stark differences. That lack of equality may be unfortunate, but it’s a feature, not a bug. It makes it harder for the ‘good guys’ to exert their beneficent influence. But who said being a ‘good guy’ was easy? This is nowhere better illustrated in the Biblical idea of the false prophet.

Consider this: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (Matthew 7:15). There is more at

Considering whether what you have been induced to believe looks like an obligation, but it is also a huge burden. It is way easier to find a comfortable nook of faith and belief and settle down than become an irritating type who questions the prophet.

In these days who really knows what is good and true and right? So many people in the present marketplace are motivated by personal gain to present themselves as prophets and guides.

I think our best defence against being a sucker to a fraud or a roadblock to our own evolution is to be aware of two instruments we have and use all the time.

We set boundaries and we create filters to keep us safe and to conserve our energy. If we take responsibility for doing so, and add a modicum of insight we improve our chances of not being suckered and distracted.

Beliefs as boundaries and filters and why they matter

Brain science suggests that the brain will process input from the material world and our imagination in a similar way. I had been listening to Andrew Newberg and Mark Robert Waldman’s Words Can Change Your Brain when this insight was casually delivered. The implications were stunning, and I had to stop listening because my head was off down a luminous path.

Our reality, as substantially organic beings, is created by what our senses tell us, plus our imaginings. I want to distinguish between imagination in the ‘creative’ sense and imagination arising from beliefs generated by the mere fact of being conscious organic beings. What we believe to be true, we imagine to be true. And what we imagine to be true we, we can believe to be true.

In our normal lives we process sensory data and modify it with guesses/predictions. This is mostly done in a non-rational unconscious way that can also conform with shared beliefs. Those shared beliefs can be culture-wide, held by a small community or entirely individual.

We modify our organic sensory experiences with multiple imaginations/beliefs, and these make up our reality. That multiplicity of imaginations/beliefs includes the sum of our subjective personal experiences which intersects with other individual subjective imaginations/beliefs and group imaginations/beliefs – family, faith, community, and culture. It’s a massive body of interweaving stimuli that we need to manage. Without boundaries and filters we would be overwhelmed.

What’s true or false, good or bad, sacred or profane, essential or optional, valuable or worthless matters massively. We set value filters and we set boundaries or limits on what we can think, believe, or entertain.

Filters in action

I share a passion for the sacred and the divine with most of humanity. I have beliefs and ideas that are my tools for engaging with what I imagine the sacred and the divine to be. They fit my needs.

I do my best to esteem values and beliefs that are good and true. But I am deeply aware that this is a highly personal business. My personal filters are adapting to new ideas – blocking old notions and being more responsive to new ones. And I resist some ideas when they seem to be too confronting – until I have had time to adjust myself them. But it is also possible to set my filter to block challenging notions.

We filter as we dare.

Boundaries in action

I must limit what I can engage with. Hence there are some religious/spiritual ideas/beliefs/practices I will not consider or pay attention to. They do not meet my needs.

This does not mean that I do not do honour other ways and disparage them as unworthy. They might be something I’d enjoy and value if I had a mind to explore them.

Boundaries are important. Some paths have deep and valued cultural traditions, and they demand time and attention that leaves no energy to engage beyond. Other paths may be a struggle between an alluring diversity and the need to develop depth on only a few options.

Fences keep some things in and other things out. If we manage our boundaries well, we can grow in a balanced way.

Seekers versus followers

We are in an age when being Spiritual, Not Religious is a class that distinguishes itself from the Religious. It’s a distinction that might be thought of as DIY as opposed to following an established method. Its not inherently superior because it has major drawbacks.

But what it does do is articulate a discontent with settled established traditions and aspire to new insights. This is pretty much like early post-Jesus movements. When the filters and boundaries become atrophied as components of a cultural artefact and tradition, they come to serve more the cultural dimension and less the sacred.

The divine is always breaking the rules humans set to contain it. But this isn’t through what we call ‘revelation’ which is a political term to suggest that the divine speaks only through approved established channels. A better term is ‘insight’- an ongoing evolution of awareness open to all.

But cultures need a sense of connection with the divine as much as individuals do. So, faiths serve a vital function at a cultural and communal level. That function esteems stability and conformity. Hence there have always been non-stable non-conforming minorities intent on ‘truth-seeking’ over compliance and conformity.

The importance of evolution

Everything evolves, but at very different rates. Western culture has been messed up by the dogma of perfect creation. Simply, what God creates has to be perfect – so evolution is ridiculous as an idea. 

But evolution is the ability to adapt to change, and change is everywhere. God didn’t create a static reality, so the ‘perfect’ creation is adaptive – evolving.

Humans are change resistant. We like things to stay the same, despite the hype over us chasing novelty with a passion. We like a healthy mix of stability and novelty – a lot of the former and a little (but steady flow) of the latter.

So, here’s the thing. Most humans like stability and they like their religion integrated into their culture and community in a way that lets them get on with the essential job of maintaining organic being on a spectrum from survival to flourishing.

But because the divine is always dynamic it puts pressure on the stable and change-resistant to adapt more readily to the changes that are flowing into our reality.

I think this is why movements like Buddhism, Christianity and Islam evolved. What we don’t know is what were the influences on the imaginative level that triggered these movements. We tend to think of the imaginative as not substantive, but if we see it as a dimension comprised of a fusion of belief, fantasy, thought, and emotion it is actually a powerful influence that is shaping our reality. You can call it consciousness if you like.

Our sense of reality is mediated by our brains through the combining of input from organic senses and our consciousness. Of course, there’s a whole field of inquiry about exactly what those words may mean. But the basic idea is plain.

Evolution is a theme that runs through it all. Its only a particularly obdurate, but small (though disproportionately influential) minority that resists. We need to imagine evolution in more fruitful ways.

Setting our own boundaries and filters

We all do this. It is necessary for our emotional and mental health. We can do so as members of large established communities of faith, as members of orders and covens, or as solo or independent loosely affiliated seekers or believers.

There are risks in any of those settings in terms of distorting truths. In fact, no filter will reveal undistorted reality. Filters are an inescapable element of our consciousness. We can’t remove them. We can only be aware we have them. And we need boundaries to protect ourselves from our own follies and conceits as well as protecting others from the same.

The needs of seekers are not met by the communities of followers, and vice versa. Enmity from either toward the other reflects psychological and spiritual naivety. 

We are each where we are. Pride in being who we are and in a contest with those who are not like us is psychologically and spiritually immature.

What we set for ourselves is in response to our needs and expectations. It’s not a measure of any contest we have with others.


We like to think that what we believe is true. It is – for us. Our reality is only partially shared with others. This is the awkward truth about our organic existence. We can know about ‘objective reality’ only via our brains which process input from our organic senses, plus our imaginations. In short, what we think is our experience of ‘objective reality’ is crafted our imagination/belief – and the ignorance, pride and immaturity that comprises a good measure of it.

To the extent that we value a shared/objective reality we must acknowledge that our beliefs/imaginations set boundaries and create filters that profoundly influence how we experience it.

And when it comes to the sacred and divine, what we can say as an expression of confident truth? I am starting to see objective reality as the stone inside a peach whose flesh is woven from all who engage with it and imagine it (human and other than human). We esteem the peach not for the stone, but the flesh.


Soon after I drafted this, I began listening to Lisa Feldman Barrett’s utterly remarkable book How Emotions Are Made. She builds on Newberg’s and Waldman’s work by arguing that what we think we know about emotions isn’t right.

There’s so much good work done in psychology and neuroscience these days that our notions of the spiritual/religious can be transformed – if we have a coherent theory of being human as a spiritual being.

Ritual by Dimitris Xygalatas is another beautifully conceived book that gives a fresh understanding of ritual as both a sacred and secular impulse.

For those who grew up in the Christian tradition and who are trying to decondition their mind from that influence, I also recommend the works of Daniel McClellan – his presence on YouTube and Tik Tok and the Data Over Dogma podcast especially.

We have religion all wrong


I think we have religion all wrong. I am not saying that what we call religion isn’t what we think it is, only that things we think aren’t religion are essentially the same thing as well. 

The error we make is in assuming that religions must involve some idea of God. In fact, God is an idea, a signifier, of some sense of ultimate being and cause. It is a seminal theory of everything – at its most fundamental level. To the materialist there is evolution and the Big Bang to signify being and cause. 

God is a big idea, but also vague, filled out by metaphysical imagination. The idea doesn’t have to resolve in any kind of personhood, but it may do so for some. When we survey the spectrum of big God ideas they vary greatly. Incidentally, I am using ‘God’ to denote a principal deity, not just the highly personalized Christian idea. All traditions have a singular overarching sense of deity. This includes the God of monotheists, the God of deists, the indescribable and unimaginable deity of mystic traditions, and various chief gods of the variety of polytheistic traditions.

The sense of The One or The All in its various renderings isn’t God in the same sense. Its more a unified pervasive consciousness (which raises the question of what we mean by consciousness) that’s closer to the mystical sense of indescribable and unimaginable deity – and may differ in name only. The word ‘God’ (with a capital G) can be employed to cover a spectrum of ideas but denotes a personal association with them. Whatever we mean by ‘God’ we include a personal association.

The materialist imagines Nature that is driven by evolution and bounded by laws. To the materialist reality is an ‘it’ and any ‘thous’ that exist arise directly from ‘it’. To the ‘religious’ ‘it’ has arisen from a primary ‘Thou’.

This ‘it’/’Thou’ distinction is a handy shorthand for some complex ideas that can overwhelm our ability to think clearly.

Whether we think reality is fundamentally a thou-generating-it (materialistic) or an it-generating-Thou(religious) essentially depends on our circumstances. If we are raised in a culture where religious faith is valued, we are more likely to assume an it-generating-Thou. Intense religious practice or experience will confirm the habit of thought. Rational aversions to religious practice, culture, or dogma may trigger a preference for a thou-generating-it explanation. Consciousness, in this view, can only ever be epi-phenomenal. 

The animistic perspective might be called a thou-generating-Thou. But let’s be also clear that the religious perspective is an ‘it and thou generating Thou.

To the extent we can exert intentional rational choice over what we believe, we make what I call a ‘metaphysical guess’ on which option is chosen and what detail we prefer. For most of us that guess is sufficient until something motivates a desire or need to change. That is to say that we can’t ‘know’ the truth in any objective sense, we can only decide what is true for us.

Does it matter?

To us as individuals or communities it does matter, because so much of our subjective psychology, as individuals, or shared cultures of meaning and value are constructed upon these choices/guesses.

But on a rational scale, in terms of what is true or false, it does not. This is because, absent a genuine fearless passion for truth-finding, people will inhabit a subjective zone of belief until it loses any value or utility. Truth finders will assert it does matter to them. But imposing the same values upon others is unwise. Their position is indistinguishable from any other subjective position to anybody else. Consequently, claiming nothing is often a good move. That is to say that silence can be the wiser option.

The Truth is likely more than we can presently believe. This suggests that all we can assert at any time is that we are truth seeking in the best way we can. This isn’t a competitive activity. It is not a zero-sum game. It a matter of belief – one held among many. It is the best opinion we can presently craft.

Our current high standard of truth seeking involves disciplined rational inquiry. We don’t value disciplined self-awareness to the same extent. But we can see from past traditions in many cultures that these 2 forms of discipline have been highly valued together. In fact, they have been an essential union.

Ardent truth seeking via faith, belief, and personalized subjective spiritual experience, as popular as it is, is inherently unreliable. It eschews rational and subjective discipline in favour obedience to unchallenged norms and conformity with unexamined ‘truths’. At best this approach is entry level. It is discarded as people become more reflective and critical. The entry level paths will not disappear any time soon.

It is a mark of our times (over the past 200 years for instance) that we have been undergoing a revolution in both rational inquiry (as exemplified by science) and self-inquiry (as exemplified by religious and spiritual, philosophical, and psychological inquiry). This revolution has by no means run its course. There are, I believe, a few centuries to go yet, at least. 

Do please note that both rational and subjective inquiry have been highly energetic. The pity is that it is uncommon to find both so energetically pursued in the same individual.

We are witnessing a steady transition away from traditional religion into alternative forms of thought, belief, and practice, and into atheism and materialism as this revolution progresses. In essence, our expression of our religious impulse is evolving and diversifying.

Truth matters, of course. But assuming one knows it is another thing. Of greater concern is whether our individual passions for ‘truth’ are cooperative, collaborate or collegiate rather than contested and combative. Whether we are good neighbors and community members or whether we want to pick fights and foster division is what matters in our mundane lives. 

What we believe has become more important than how we behave. This might be a post-Enlightenment legacy, but we can see the seeds being sown in early Christianity. Now we can condemn good people because we disagree with their beliefs, even though they have no adverse impact on us as individuals or the community as a whole.

This is changing as theological or faith-based dogma is being asserted as objective fact, absent any rational foundation. But this isn’t an abuse of ‘religion’ itself, just the manifestation of social expressions of fear and anxiety communicated through a particular community’s culture.

It is interesting that in our recoded history concerns about character have remained constant. All else may have changed – the cultural, political, economic, technological, or scientific – but the problem of character remains. We still haven’t figured that how we behave matters more than what we believe. What we believe influences how we behave, but this is often because we believe that what we believe matters more than how we behave.

How we manage our belief/behaviour is critical to our welfare. But this is linked also to identity at a cultural and individual existential level.

Is religion inherent in our nature?

In my early research into animism, I concluded that we had a shared psychological architecture that was animistic at its core. If we aren’t explicitly animistic, we are implicitly so. 

It is true that some people assert they are flat out materialistic and won’t have a bar of any idea they are in any way animistic. But have you ever heard a materialist talking about evolution? They cannot avoid ascribing agency to it, while defending their words by insisting it’s just a matter of language. Maybe.

I have come to see that we are also inherently ‘religious’. We all have a theory of everything. Now this is mostly entirely vague and not at all thought through – and extends no more than our need it to ‘explain’ our situation to ourselves. It doesn’t need to be objectively true, just subjectively coherent. It is an existential dialogue, not a rational one.

Our traditional idea of religion has served us well in doing this for most of human history. We mustn’t misunderstand it now.

This idea has two utterly imprecise, but related, ideas behind it. The first is – ‘as above, so below’. The second is allied – a sense of holographic reality in which any small thing models what is large. 

Even from a purely organic perspective we need to develop some theory of being and behaviour made up from the best ideas we can come up with. This is how we survive in the physical world. We don’t live in a fog of question marks. Our brains routinely fill in the gaps. In short, no matter who we are, we have the best theory of everything we can develop.

This extends beyond the organic to the psychological where our theory of everything blends our experience of organic being with whatever subjective awareness we can have.

As organic beings we have a most remarkable organ – the brain – whose function it is to receive and process input from our reality, regulate our own bodies and stimulate behaviour in response to the input. Neuroscience suggests our brains may be inherently holistic. Yet while we may possess an innate potential for holistic awareness we are limited by our sense of identity and relationship. If you like, our egos constrain how our potential for identity and relationship may express – as an individual, as a community member – how we think, feel and act.

Our cultures have an innate overriding theory of everything. This may be fused with religious traditions, philosophical traditions or other intellectual traditions depending on how complex and pluralistic the culture may be.

The term ‘religion’ isn’t always used in a spiritual context. The idea of a secular religion has been around for ages. If we understand it is in our nature to develop holistic notions about reality, no matter how vague they are, we may see that ‘religion’ is a universal form of encountering our reality.

There’s nothing about spiritual religious practice or belief that isn’t replicable in an entirely secular context. There’s nothing in our psychology that is distinctly spiritual as a separate attribute. Rather we are inherently spiritual – and this has a secular expression too.

Between spiritual and secular ‘religion’ we must distinguish between a common form and singular content in important ways. For example, the difference between French and Chinese cuisine is pronounced. You would be unlikely to mistake the two. But both are obedient to the same rules of chemistry and physics. Both serve nutritional and social needs. 

We could argue that Chinese food traditions and methods are not a cuisine because that word is French and Chinese food is cooked differently. But that would be pointless in terms of understanding food and the people who prepare and eat it. 

Cuisine and religion, as terms, are similar. If you define either in a narrow way the differences can seem to be about nature and not form. 

If religion is defined in a way that describes Christianity, then Buddhism seems less like a valid religion and materialism not at all. But if we define religion in terms of process rather than belief the distinctions cease to be so patently evident. 

The need for ToEs

The term Theory of Everything (ToE) has become popular from a scientific perspective in relatively recent times. A ToE is an effort to develop an integrated theory that ‘explains’ reality. We all have our modest versions of a ToE to ‘explain’ our lived experience, not to describe how reality works. It’s a personal thing. Our brain doesn’t do question marks. When we don’t know for sure, our mind thinks “There be dragons.” For dragons, substitute any number of other ‘fill in the gaps’ notions. These dragons can be hopes or fears.

Our self-consciousness is a small light which merges with reality as the known, the unknown and the unknowable via knowledge and emotions employing rational ideas, myths, metaphors, rituals, and symbols. Our options are to engage with it the best way we can and be content, or aspire to a deeper, more complex, and better-balanced engagement.

We are always crafting our holistic ToE to help us be conscious of the part of our reality we are aware of. It just happens to be mostly vague and often wrong.

Terms like ‘sacred’ and ‘enlightenment’ have spiritual and secular applications, and neither negates the other. While we do need language to distinguish ideas, we must move beyond the imagined antagonisms that pit science and religion, and spiritual and secular against each other.

We create conflict when we see members of the same spectrum as distinct and adversarial. This conflict happens when things are insufficiently thought through, and we activate our subjective impulse to be competitive. Then we are centred in our organic being, triggering all the primate mechanisms which sit ill at ease with our ‘spiritual’ nature.

Belief is a powerful tool, but also a stronger prison. Our ToEs can be compasses or confusions.


You will note that while there are endless scholarly books written about religion, you’d struggle to find many about materialism or atheism. There are plenty of books on both themes but not many as disciplined inquiries. We just haven’t thought things through in a balanced way yet.

We are on the verge of huge breakthroughs in understanding. Our past ideas about religion and spirituality don’t serve us well because they are polarised in a misguided contest that marks the early stages of revolution of thought. Time to let them go.

Our reality is complex and multi-layered. No single ToE will explain it (yet), but any of many may serve the needs of an individual or a community as part of an evolutionary progression. Spiritual religions, as ToEs, serve multiple primarily existential subjective needs. Secular ToEs may meet both subjective and rational needs. Intellectual ToEs may serve what seem essentially rational needs but can’t be separated from subjective and cultural needs. Of course, any of the 3 can be blended in any measure to meet singular personal or communal needs. We are doing this now.

So, have I lost something vital in all this? I hope only the narrow focus upon, and privileging of, poorly thought through claims and arguments. Our western culture has not championed self-awareness. We have debased emotions as weak and irrational. We have celebrated isolated rationalism in religious and intellectual pursuits for so long the trend toward deeper self-awareness is an unfamiliar and uncomfortable thing. One the one hand we have hyper intellectual materialists attacking religion and on the other purveyors of fundamentalist religious dogma attacking reason and science. Neither are psychologically healthy – and by that, I mean neither emotionally nor spiritually.

There are extraordinary dimensions to discover if we give ourselves permission. Religion is what made us who we are. It has been a healthy fusion of intellectual and scientific inquiry, psychology, philosophy over many millennia. Mind and emotions were honoured together. But like anything else human, it has cycles of expression. It soars and then plummets. It reaches a point where what has served to stimulate growth becomes a sea-anchor. 

Our love of stability is balanced by a spirit of curiosity and a love novelty. But we resist positive changes and pursue adverse ones because we are dominated by our organic nature and are hence captive to its often maladaptive and irrational reactions to novel situations.

We have a lot to rethink about ourselves and the reality we live in.

ET or ED? Is that the question?


I have been binge watching YouTube and listening to audiobooks after listening to Rick Strassman’s DMT The Spirit Molecule. I am on my 4rd Jacques Vallee audiobook as I write. Last week I finished listening to Ross Coulthard’s In Plain Sight – the best book on the UFO/UAP theme I have come across.

Coulthard’s conclusion is that the UFO/UAP phenomena are real but we don’t know who or what they are. Vallee, who worked on Project Blue Book, isn’t convinced that the operators of UFOs/UAPs are ET.

This matters to a huge extent because we are accustomed to imagining all visitors to Earth are from the same dimension – our familiar time-space sense of reality.

Vallee dissents – and is in good company. Strieber’s experience recounted in Communionis closer to Vallee’s interpretation. There is mounting evidence, in my opinion, that supports Vallee’s perspective. My direct experiences make much more sense if the Extra-Dimensional [ED] perspective is valid. 

Of course, there is no suggestion that the ET or ED choice is a mutually exclusive option. The point, rather, is whether what is being reported in any given instance is generated by ET or ED.

Why does this matter? Well, sci fi has accustomed us to ET. Think Star Wars and Star Trek. The key is in the word ‘star’ – those things we can see in the night sky if we are far enough away from light pollution. 

Star Trek 2nd generation introduced us to ED in a gentle manner. Whitley Strieber’s Communion doesn’t tackle the theme of ED in a specific way – but the hint is there. Strieber’s story isn’t a gentle introduction to ED. But then engaging with ED has always been perilous – as the many stories over human generations affirm.

What is relatively novel is associating ED with the ET/UFO. Strassman’s report of his DMT subjects encountering ET-like entities triggered my present interest.

The disturbing implication from all the claims and reports may be that our governments aren’t just secretly dealing with ET, but maybe also ED. It is this 2nd option that would most alarm – as it violates our model of reality – not just a sense of probability we have company in our dimension. The naïve question as to whether we are alone in the material universe is still being uttered – and believed as sensible. 

Surveys suggest a lot of folks are cool with the idea that ET is real. There’s always a disparity between what we imagine and the reality. Saying that you believe UFOs are real isn’t the same as being cool with a face-to-face encounter. For the past 70+ years we have been culturally tuned to be okay with ET. But imagine there’s more.

Extra-dimensionality is a whole different ball game conceptually. ED intersects with religion in ways ET does not. On an existential level ED precipitates a trauma whose dimensions can’t be casually anticipated.

The roots of existential trauma

I have memories, as a child, of waking up with my pyjamas in disarray [inside out and wrongly buttoned] and being the wrong way round in bed – head in the bottom of a tightly made bed [my mother was a nursing aid for a time] and my feet on my pillow.

I have other memories of being terrified of going to sleep because I would find myself spiralling down a well. I would black out eventually, but that early stage filled me with dread because it was conscious and inexplicable. I tried telling my parents, but as 6yo I wasn’t believed. I imagined it all and when I persisted in this silliness, I was taken to see the doctor – who had no clue.

Many years later the bed mayhem was described in a magazine I was reading on ‘alien abductions’. It wasn’t a case of believing so much as discovering other people had the same experiences. What is involved in taking your pyjamas off, turning them inside out, putting them back on after unbuttoning them and rebuttoning them out of alignment? Add to that getting out of a bed made with hospital precision to do all this and then getting back into bed headfirst while being asleep/unconscious the whole time.

The idea that I did this from the age of 4-6 in some kind of stupor is beyond credibility. The idea that humans came into my bedroom, performed all this without waking me or my twin sister is equally so. My parents? Who else would engage in such an elaborate exercise?

My point is that the ET/ED explanation offers sense of sense – not that I buy it, yet.

Zoom forward to the early 1970s. I am in the Sydney suburb of Glebe and in a house known to us as Chez Ritz. It’s a squat. It is abandoned and the hippies have moved in. A fresh batch of very clean acid has just arrived from the UK. I have a very nice trip and toward the end, in the coming down phase, I find a bed and settle down. Initially I am touring a vast museum of utterly stunning craftwork from across the galaxy [or so it seemed], and then I am suddenly in what seems like an industrial clinical setting lying on a metal table and surrounded by entities now best known as ‘Greys’. I freak out, sit up and have a cigarette. Then I lie down again because I want to get back to the museum. But I am instantly back on the table. This time I decide to quit the exercise and go get a coffee.

At this time, I know nothing about UFOs or ET. I have been reading a lot of sci fi but haven’t the slightest clue beyond that. Because I have no context for doing otherwise this experience drops away from my awareness for over 20 years.

In Bathurst, NSW, in 1995 I am reading a magazine that features a woman’s account of what she describes as an alien abduction experience, and it exactly matches my acid experience. I am startled by article, and it triggers an intense flood of memories of the acid experience. Was it real? I had no idea, but I was intrigued.

Soon after there is an advert for a psychic fair on the grounds of a local motel. This wasn’t a thing I would be normally into, but I had a strong urge to go, so I did. There was a woman talking about Alien Abductions and I went to her presentation. I booked a hypnotic regression session with her in Sydney a few weeks ahead.

I was to drive to Sydney from Bathurst leaving around 05:00. But my car would not start. I had a Mazda 626 which had been utterly reliable for several years. Never a problem. But now it seemed like the battery was dead.

Around 09:00 I rang up to apologise and reschedule and got an alt time around 15:00. I made that call because my car started with ease once I had no chance of getting to the appointment. But then, when it was time to leave for the later appointment, I was invaded by a potent sense of threat. If I went ahead, I would be involved in an ‘accident’. It was evident that something was determined I should not get to the appointment. I rang and cancelled.

I wanted still to follow up with some connection with people who had experienced ‘abductions’ and was given a phone number of a guy who was active in setting up and running support groups. But my efforts to speak to him were confounded by a series of bizarre events, including the sound quality of a call going suddenly haywire. It became evident to me that there was an intentional effort to deflect me from that objective.

I decided it was smart to quit any notion of hypnotic regression. I had been warned off.

I don’t know for sure that my nocturnal childhood experiences were related to abduction experiences. But whatever it was it left me afraid of the dark and fearful of going to sleep. I was 8 or 9 before I got that under control.

The acid induced encounter with the classic abduction scene faded in my memory after the initial terror subsided. I had no context to make that experience anything more than a weird deeply scary acid thing.

Over 20 years later the reactivation of that memory triggered a series of events that culminated in the interferences and sense of threat that warned me off exploring hypnotic regression. It is interesting that shortly after encountering the magazine article on a Saturday morning in Bathurst I headed to my favourite café. I was walking past a bookshop that had just opened and suddenly found myself being steered into the shop. In a fog I picked up a book, paid for it and was in the café before I was aware of what I had bought. It was John Mack’s Abduction. I had finished it before lunchtime the next day.

At that stage I was still thinking in ET terms – because nothing else had come to me. however, I had been having ‘non-ordinary’ experiences all my life – but they were in a separate category – and equally incomprehensible.

Why I find the ED proposition more compelling

Sometime before the acid experience [circa 1970] I was in Melbourne where I fell in with a group led by a compelling woman. It believed it was being contacted by ETs and there were claimed sightings made by members, including an assertion that UFOs routinely hovered above the house in Sydney – to which the group had relocated.

There was, of course, no evidence of UFO activity beyond that claimed by members – or so I thought. I will briefly recount 3 events that fused the UFO theme with other paranormal elements. I have written at length on these elsewhere.

Around 02.00 I was walking back to the house after visiting friends and as I passed the Randwick Racecourse, I saw what appeared to be a UFO on the ground over a 100 metres away. There were ‘people’ walking around. They seemed neither short nor all. The UFO was between 2 buildings and there was a light source – about which I have no recall as to its nature – but that was what attracted my attention. I stopped and watched a few moments but then became aware that if I could see them, they could see me, so I moved on. I said nothing about this the next morning because I was aware that claiming to have such an experience would be impolitic. Though small, the group had an inner core who had the experiences and the outer group who believed. I wasn’t in the inner core, but neither did I believe.

Three of the core members departed north to Tamworth and Armidale where one had family. When they returned, they were furious at me for following them. They said they saw me in the street and when they approached me to admonish me, I walked into a newsagency and disappeared. That should have been a clue, but it wasn’t. I hadn’t left Sydney in the 3-4 days they were away.

One evening we were engaged in a group discussion. I was sitting at a small breakfast bar beside a woman. I remember the conversation being so interesting I ignored the promptings to go outside. These were becoming increasingly insistent, and I was being equally resistant. I wanted to stay. Suddenly I was hauled off my stool and frog marched down the back steps and deposited on the lawn. I sat there, bewildered, for a short time. There was no evident agency that so forcefully removed me. I went back to the conversation and returned to my stool.

The woman sitting beside me asked me what I was doing. I had no idea. My left hand had picked up a marker pen and was scrawling symbols over a newspaper. I was completely unaware. She called the group’s attention to my hand’s conduct and suddenly I was being handed page after page from notebooks as my hand covered each page in hieroglyphs at a furious pace. I was completely detached from what my left hand was doing. Eventually I think my hand just ran out of energy.  I was able to write in this ‘script’ for about 6 months after.

The point of these 3 events is that while the theme was UFO/ET the events, as a whole were not necessarily so. The racecourse UFO does fit the ET theme but not the other 2 events. They belong to a different theme of spirit or sorcery.

It is possible to imagine that ET in nuts and bolts ‘flying saucers’ from our time/space continuum also possesses psychic powers. I am not saying this isn’t the case in any instance, just that I don’t think this applies here.

At the time I didn’t have any alternative frame of reference, so I bought into the language. But it didn’t feel right. I was a sci fi and fantasy devotee. I hoovered books in both genres. At this stage I had done little reading in intellectual disciplines or the paranormal etc. But, to me, what the group was into was less sci fi and more spiritual/fantasy – though I could make no sense of what that implied at the time. It would be a long time before I could.

I wasn’t, and still am not, an easy believer. I grew up having non-ordinary experiences as well as a passion for science. As a child I saw how belief and dogma betrayed a claim to moral integrity. I was to later learn how belief and dogma betrayed a claim to intellectual integrity. 

Truth and reality seem always just out of our grasp. This is more evident in Eastern philosophy whereas our culture grasps for certainty of what is knowable.

I am on my 4rd Jacques Vallee book. He is the best overall advocate for the ED case – derived from a scientific perspective. At best he is a mere footnote in the wider ET/UFO discussion. I get that for most ET/UFO fans Vallee represents a position they know little about, distrust greatly, and find distracting/ irrelevant. 

To appreciate Vallee’s work sufficiently there’s a lot of work to be done. I am fortunate that I am well read in the necessary areas. It isn’t okay to be expected to take an author on trust. I respect Vallee’s work because I feel confident that I am able to evaluate it from a position of familiarity. Its not my position to encourage the reader to believe Vallee. That’s a personal choice. In expressing my opinion, I am conveying information about my choice and why I made it.

What interests me is that until a few months ago I had ignored his books though I had been aware of him for decades. It is time?

Contrast or Contest

There is no way I can dismiss the idea of ET/UFO/UAP in/from our time/space continuum as wrong or irrelevant. I am not disputing we may also be visited by ET from our dimension.

My earlier reading on the UFO/UAP theme made it evident that there are devoted advocates of the proposition that all is ET. Its not a debate I want to get into for the simple reason that there is no point in having an argument with anybody who does not understand your position.

The ED proposition has been largely ignored, although it’s been around since at least 1969 since Vallee published Passport to Magonia [a book I still haven’t read – just bought a kindle copy]. And there have been hints in John Mack’s and Whitley Streiber’s works. In Mack’s Abduction there is a remarkable, but unremarked, account by a woman who complained that she was ushered, during an abduction experience on a UFO, into a standard terrestrial conference room. Her ‘ET’ hosts seemed miffed. She had telepathically said she had wanted to “conference” with them, so they created what they thought was a fitting setting. That level of ability to rearrange settings in this manner is more consistent with accounts of ED than a material craft. This is more like a VR experience where the setting is created by AI.

David Chalmers’ Reality+ is an instructive read at this point. Chalmers is a philosopher who is seriously into the nature of reality – with a great exploration of the idea of VR and the concept of what we call reality is a simulation. But this must be explored in the context of Thomas Campbell’s My Big Toe. Campbell is an OOBE veteran and a physicist. There’s an intriguing connection between Campbell’s theory that immaterial reality may be likened to computer generated realms and Chalmer’s thoughts on simulation/VR.

There are extant theories that merge ET and ED perspectives in ways that hurt our brains. It looks like our time/space dimension isn’t discrete, but just a POV – as seem through the eyes of organic beings in the perspective on reality.

The idea of ET or ED may be no more than an artefact of our mindsets and have nothings to do with the intrinsic nature our being. Huxley observed that our brains are ‘reducing valves’. It is said that incarnating souls have memories of past experiences normally blocked. From my own direct experience, it does seem that our dreams are masks for lucid levels reality.

In short, we have no idea what is going on in the wider environment in which we exist. Our conscious awareness is essentially 2 dimensional in a 3 dimensional reality. There’s a gem of a book called Flatland by Edwin A. Abbott in 1884 which is the ideal model to understand the limitations of our ordinary awareness.

We cannot anticipate what our material science will be like in 1,000 years. Maybe we might become adept in quantum dimensions. Maybe our understanding of psi, magic, spirituality, OOBEs etc will have merged into a coherent understanding of consciousness, psychology, and philosophy utterly unlike anything we can currently imagine.

Maybe, also, we are interacting with agents who are already at that level of sophistication and the ET/ED distinction is more about purpose and method than source.


Ross Coulthart’s In Plain Sight [July 2021] is the best UFO/UAP book I have come across in ages. It’s a great survey of contemporary themes and developments. But Coulthart’s conclusion is that we don’t know who ET is or where the come from.

That match’s Vallee’s conclusion re ED, though he does insist whoever they are have been engaging with humans since as far back as we can discover. Graham Hancock’s Visionary [2022] is a useful perspective, as is Rick Strassman’s DMT: The Spirit Molecule and DMT and the Soul Prophecy. Strassman will discourage casual readers. His work is highly disciplined and can be a bit dry but is immensely rewarding.

Whether you are an ET or ED advocate/devotee there is no certainty beyond dogmatic bravado and fanciful over-confidence about which is actual or dominant. We really are clueless. Now that’s not to say there is nobody who knows, just nobody anywhere close to the public domain – for the moment [and how long that moment will be is anybody’s guess].

Knowing isn’t just about intellectual smarts. There’s a psycho-spiritual level of development that is also necessary. We over-estimate the importance of intellect as a primary means of knowing. It needs balance because the ability to interpret data is equally critical. Psychological maturity and health and self-awareness are equally critical – if not more so. They are not easily won. 

I have been motivated in my inquiry by 2 things. The first is an interest in the proposition that ET from elsewhere in our dimension is visiting us. I have been a huge sci fi fan since my late teens and this has always been a real prospect. The second is a need to make sense of my own direct experiences which have intersected with ET/UFO theme. For a time that was the only explanation available to me, so I went with it, albeit with reluctance. That reluctance was triggered by a gut feeling that it didn’t apply, at least to my experiences. 

I had been formulating personal position more aligned to the ED theory for the past 6 or 7 years. But it has really only been in the past 18 months that my reading and thinking have converged upon ED with strong confidence. But as I have noted, I am not ruling out visitations by ET, and maybe even an intersection between ET and ED.

It is easy to be corralled by what we know and believe. This has been very much my own experience. My ability to see possibilities has been shaped by what I have been exposed to. Coming to Vallee late has triggered a cascade of insights because I had been exploring the ED option in an inarticulate manner. Vallee’s argument created a rational structure that suddenly made lucid sense, and jumble of notions and sentiments were able to become coherent and organised.

I am not ruling out that I could be way off beam, but this is where I am at the moment – still a million miles from certainty.

All this matters in the context of this blog because the ED explanation opens up extraordinary reflection on our ideas of gods and spirits. The presence of the ETs we call ‘Greys’ in DMT experiences [and my acid experience] can be taken to be one of 3 options:

  • An intersection between ET and ED with massive implications for how we understand our history and the evolution of our consciousness.
  • An intrusion of ET into ED with equally huge implications.
  • ED masquerading as ET with ditto implications.

Whatever way we look at it, whoever is intruding into our ‘normal reality’ seems to have been doing so for many thousands of years, isn’t about to stop doing so, and most probably exerts a profound influence upon the evolution of our consciousness.

Denial of this actuality on religious, intellectual, or political grounds serves no good. To say or think otherwise suggests we cannot, and should not, live with what its true. This is a strange and very modern phenomenon that has been generated by Christian and materialistic dogma. The Christians deny what is rejected by their dogma, as do materialists. 

This straitjacket of dogma seems to be what the tic-tacs in the US Navy are alerting us to. The mismatch in technological capacity is just ridiculous. They could take us out with embarrassing ease. But craft also seem to crash. Vallee reports terrifying interactions with ‘aliens’ that result in injury, sickness, and death, but they aren’t reported because….

The problem with being realistic about reality is that it disrupts the many folks who profit from delusions and illusions. On the one hand I think we are so far down the illusion/delusion rabbit hole that a harsh dose of reality would be so catastrophic to our ‘normal’ it would be better if that reality is leaked out [evolution by osmosis]. On the other I wonder if what is happening now is a determined leak against the death grip of dogmatists struggling to find a way of continuing their exploitation. 

I have not been a fan of ‘disclosure’, not because I oppose it as an idea, but because I think the demands lack the needed subtlety of insight. Such ‘disclosure’ will not be pain free on any level – existential, political, or economic. But there’s a difference between a painful initiation and a catastrophic and traumatising revelation. 

We are not evenly disposed or capable, so the one-size-fits-all scenario strikes me as reckless and immature bravado.

We could be at a watershed moment for some and a breaking point for others – and how that goes is down to all of us.

Reflections on UAPs and what they mean for us


I have been following the recent upsurge in popular media engaging with the UFO/UAP theme with great interest because it is part of an increasingly public discussion on a topic long considered taboo. Are we heading toward a watershed moment? 

That’s an important question because we have collectively been under mounting psychic pressure for the past 50 years or so. That’s always a risky thing to say because it’s a kind of arbitrary statement, given human history since the year dot. My personal favourite cut off point is around the middle of the 19th century. But history buffs will disagree and have their own. 

UFOs have been in popular imagination since the 1950s – actually pretty much since the advent of the A bomb. If you haven’t seen the 1951 movie The Day the Earth Stood Still, check it out on Youtube.

My sense of ‘psychic pressure’ is idiosyncratic. It may be just age/experience related, but it has a validity. The pace of technological and social change has been accelerating. Sometimes one triggers the other. We have the impact of social media, AI, and personal tech ramping up psychological pressure. And now UAPs are triggering existential dramas – What are they? Who are they? What do they want?

The firewall of denial and ridicule is being eroded. There is a determination to force a public confrontation with truth via a US government public hearing. Formal ‘disclosure’ has been ardently advocated for ages. I am not a fan. Be careful of what you wish for.

But it is clear there is a growing demand for a pressure release. UAPs may be symbolic of the wider existential crisis because so many critical issues seem to be converging and this one theme has the potential to be the cathartic trigger that opens the floodgates.

Is this a good thing? Of course, it is, so long as we understand that what we are asking for is an undermining of our sense of reality, which has become excessively self-referential. The west is tainted by the weird Christian fantasy of the ‘chosen people’ – a delusion that even atheists and materialists have unable to escape from. We aren’t alone and nobody is chosen by God. There is no one way to spiritual grace – the lazy path of belief and faith. But this infection infests our culture. It is profoundly attractive because it promises high payouts for minimal effort. It is profoundly profitable too.

The result is a toxic bubble of conceit and delusion we are obliged to live, whether we conform or rebel.

I have just finished Ross Coulthart’s In Plain Sight [2021]. It’s a bonkers [in the nicest way] survey of the contemporary scene. It’s a must read. If you are not familiar with Coulthart he was a journalist with 60 Minutes Australia before it lost its soul and went freelance. The UFO/UAP theme has become a passion for him. He does very good work.


I have just finished 2 Jacques Vallee audiobooks . I have been aware of Vallee for decades but have never been moved to read any of his books until last week.  I was motivated to do so after listening to Graham Hancock’s Visionary (an update of his earlier Supernatural). I got into that book after listening to Rick Strassman’s The Spirit Molecule – another book I had been aware of for ages and finally got around to. Why Strassman now? Just a sense it was time. 

Hancock and Vallee pushed a powerful message – a lot of the UFO/UAP material conforms to psychedelic and folklore reports. Vallee asserts that UFO/UAP reports are not extra-terrestrial [ET], but extra-dimensional. That is to say that they do not originate in our space time material dimension but elsewhere, and still Earth connected. 

Both authors have forced me to go back through my many non-ordinary experiences. I agree with their argument. That makes the current UFO/UAP discussion very interesting because the public discourse is only about ET. Fair enough. Talking about extra dimensionality in public is going to hurt a lot of brains and make a lot of folks seriously unhappy. The UFO community also has it culty devotees to a singular POV.

So, I have been working through UFO/UAP videos on YouTube, trying to gauge the current collective mood. I have a sense of a watershed moment impending. By that I mean a public discussion that is irredeemable- denial is now futile. But I have thought that before – wrong or impatient?

But denial of what? It’s no longer just about denial about the reality of UFO/UAPs. I think that’s pretty much water under the bridge to all but the stalwart denialists who seem to be a steadily diminishing portion. We must move on to the who and what and why. 

This is disputed territory. There are claims which can’t be verified. They are asserted to be rationally and empirically based. But we are back the old familiar problem of trust and faith. We are talking about a field already sown with endless lies.

And then there’s speculation and guesswork. Both are necessary, given the paucity of evidence. It’s a case of liking an assertion/argument at your peril.

Nuts and bolts or inter dimensional craft?

This is a great topic that really gets advocates of either camp seriously steamed up. I mean this can get bitter and cruel.

Vallee favours the argument that UFOs are not extraterrestrial and are home grown inter dimensional phenomena. It’s a compelling argument that accords with my own experiences. 

However, there is no reason why both may be true. Neither prospect excludes the other. Both may be happening at the same time. No reason why not. It’s worth exploring this idea.  To do so I want to add a term – Extra Dimensional [entity] – ED. So we have ET and ED. 

Some assumptions – 

ET is not ED but ET may be fully aware of ED and even have a relationship with ED. 

We must assume that ET and ED exist on a spectrum of potentialities – from benign and helpful to malign and predatory. There is no reason to assume we are immune from the spectrum of motives and intents we are aware of in the expression of nature on our planet. 

The great difficulty here is that we have limited awareness of extra dimensional realities. We are primarily aware of our dimension, which we experience as space and time. Both we take to be infinite, so we really have little awareness of the spectrum of potential and its scale in our own local ‘reality’. My personal sense of space and time is limited to an array of empirical and psychological scales that start from very immediate and instant to vaguely large and long. That is to say – anywhere from what is immediate and knowable to what utterly boggles our minds and ruins our ability to imagine at such a scale.

The easy way to think of how these vital dimensions go together is to imagine a cross. The horizontal represents our space time dimension. The perpendicular represents what I am calling here inter dimensional. This includes what is encountered in OOBEs, the spirit world and VR. With the exception of rare individuals, most of us have limited conscious awareness beyond our immediate environment in the perpendicular. If you imagine standing by the ocean, most of us barely get our ankles wet while others [a very few] are swimming surfing or sailing. 

There’s good reason for this. We are here to have a physical experience, so our awareness of what is beyond is naturally limited. Some of us are here to integrate the physical and the metaphysical. Some of us are just about physical experience.

However, there is a vast difference between being highly aware of inter dimensional realities and being aware that such exist. One is experiential and the other speculative. There is, for instance, a huge difference between experiencing an OOBE and accepting the evidence that such are real. obviously, if you are reading this your life experience is likely to be about integrating the physical and the metaphysical.

Our theory of reality isn’t effective if it excludes inter dimensional levels – because they are part of a continuum of our reality the same way space time is. We must remember the image of the cross as something that ‘fleshes out’ our reality. Despite what we claim of our 3D reality it is only 1D in another context.

For my own purposes I describe the axes of the cross as physical on the horizontal and metaphysical on the perpendicular. That’s a personal application that may not suit others.

Both axes of the cross constitute our environment. We function in both and are influenced by both. That’s been how our ancestors have understood things since as far back as we can have any informed idea.  In fact, Hancock’s Visionary is an attempt to interpret the awakening of that extra dimensional sense. 

These days the impact of materialism is a bit like intellectual napalm – depopulating our near inter dimensional environment and rendering ED as fictions or delusions. But, even worse, our ability to think holistically is impaired. Rather than having a 360-degree awareness we have a chaos of narrow beams – and this is what is carrying us into the future in a lurching and fumbling fashion.

What is reality?

In the past few months, I have encountered David Chambers’ Reality+ and Carlo Rovelli’s Reality is Not What It Seems. These are philosophical and scientific treatments of a theme that Thomas Campbell explored in his My Big Toe books. Inter dimensionality fits with experience, philosophy, and science as well as myth and folklore.

ET, by contrast, is mostly sci fi. Might be true and real, but there is way more evidence for ED. I am not ill-disposed toward ET. I just don’t presently have evidence that persuades me it is the dominant source of the phenomena that is being reported and is the focus of attention.

There is an abundance of material that supports an argument that our sense of reality is limited and particular. If we think what we think it is is all there is, we are wildly off the mark. This is ignored in an environment dominated by materialists and, oddly, Christians. Christianity has long dominated western culture and there has been no more determined agency to depopulate the normal and natural spirit community than a faith determined to invalidate all but what it asserts as valid. No wonder materialism found an easy purchase.

This strikes me as important because our culture is dominated by a mentality that is doggedly materialistic and excessively self-referential. Its not just intellectually immature, it is psychologically immature a well. The essential metaphysical gaffe of materialism is that we are primates with a brain-based consciousness – and this is the foundation of our reality. That assertion flies in the face of a long parade of evidence. The same applies to religious dogmas which assert their truths are definitive and exclude alternate ideas.

Its not that we are necessarily wrong in asserting this or that is real. But we are wrong when we assert that only this or that is real. Reality extends beyond our senses and our comprehension – and this is where ET and ED come from.

Where to from now?

I have been surveying current thinking on the UFO/UAP theme. I am keen to see where things progress. I don’t believe we are going to a general ‘disclosure’. If ET and ED are both active that’s going to be a huge problem of complexity to overcome at the level of public discourse – how to explain both, let alone either. At present I am not convinced its only ET or only ED. If it’s only one, I think the evidence points more to ED.

For the moment I am going with the notion of both. ED has been around a long time. Its part of the local environment in the sense that the extra dimensional is always part of our reality. Its close, where as ET come from a long way off.

Let me put it this way. The extra dimensional was an integral part of indigenous Australian culture long before white people turned up in their sailing ships. Suddenly the indigenous Australians had to deal with both. One they were used to dealing with, the other was profoundly disruptive and damaging.

ED has a spiritual and moral dimension to its nature, whereas ET has spiritual and moral ramifications that hit long before the question of nature can be asked. After 200 years the moral implications of the invasion/settlement of Australia aren’t resolved. Even so this isn’t exactly accurate because ET is often mistaken to be ED. The Spaniards who invaded South America were mistaken for divine beings. In fact, this was common – divine beings or ghosts. Yes, ghosts, spirits of the dead. White people to black people looked like the dead.

It is possible, too, that ET and ED might work together – for good or ill.


Some folk claim they know what’s going on. But how would you know? What is certain, to me, is that this is all maddeningly complex. However, some things do seem to me be more or less true – or I assume it is wise to assume they are. These are:

  1. ET and ED may be distinct classes of entity we should not confuse.
  2. ED has been with us since our beginnings. Their presence and nature have been distorted and concealed by religious and materialistic thought.
  3. ED isn’t inherently malevolent – but some may be. It is probably wise not to assume all who claim to be good are. And it may be equally wise to assume ED is dangerous until proven otherwise. Here I don’t mean there is an intent to cause harm – it could just be a consequence of interaction.
  4. ET, if present, could also be dangerous. The impact of Europeans upon indigenous peoples around the globe may not have been intentionally malign, but the consequences have been catastrophic.
  5. In terms of ED maybe we are getting back to business as usual as the power of religious dogma and materialistic thinking wears thin. There does also appear to be a significant beneficent element that’s more tough love than any fantasy of gentle niceness. In fact, ED seems to have been the engine driving the evolution of human consciousness. We need to remember that potentiality. It’s disputed as a theory, but I like it.
  6. ET is a different matter – if present. Maybe humans have set up trade deals. Maybe its all okay. Who can say?

Whatever the reality is, I think we can kiss goodbye our happy delusion that we live in a bubble crafted by religious fantasy and silly materialistic thinking. Reality is multi-dimensional and is well populated.

I think we are getting poked and prodded because its time to wake up from that delusion – which has put us in a perilous situation. 

This is my opinion only. I don’t have secret sources. What I do have is a lifetime of non-ordinary experiences, including ‘abduction’ experiences. I have had experiences that would fit the usual UFO story, but I have never felt comfortable with that explanation. Everything I have experienced fits well inside the ED explanation. But I quizzed an ED source about ET and the message was plain. They are around but avoid them. In fact, it was “Leave them alone and they will leave you alone.” 

I am not claiming I am right here. I have the filters of my own experience which distort the truth and activate biases. What I can do is reflect as honestly as I can on what I have experienced and what I have learned in an effort to make sense of it all. I am confident that it is wickedly complex, and I have a sneaking suspicion that it is far more remarkable than I dare imagine.

I do think that we, as a culture, are heading toward a critical development in our shared sense of reality – which is being severely taxed these days – but ‘we ain’t seen nothing yet.’ If you think QAnon and the Christian right in the US has gone nuts, please do remember that this is over entirely terrestrial sociological concerns. I shudder to think what they’d do with a general ‘disclosure’ of ED/ET.

This is why I am no fan of ‘disclosure’. I entirely get that fans of disclosure feel they are ready. Maybe they are. But their assessment of the rest of the population is, I think, worryingly naïve.

This is a complex business. It is necessary and inevitable, but we do nobody any service if we misunderstand what is happening. My guess is that if, and when, ET shows up in plain indisputable sight, there is going to be a collective, visceral, and instinctual freak out. This is because despite our intellectual bravado we are still inhabitants of organic bodies which will instinctively react to the appearance of a potential threat. Whether we like it or not, our biology may react in ways we can’t control or are not conscious of – and may mistake is arising from the whole of who we are. This already warps and distorts religion.

Some will convert that instinct into a fight or flight response and express that as a social movement or a religion. We are already seeing unconscious identity-based fears creating deep distrust, loathing, and fear in the conservative Christian movement in the US. That’s how they handle fellow humans.

We have a sad history globally. Indigenous populations have suffered profound psychic stress under the influence of invaders/settlers. It has been catastrophic for many. Can we be sure that this will not happen if ET turns up?

I want to suggest that we consider that it has taken us 70 years or so to get to our present state of awareness/response – and still we are flipping out over the existential threat of being outnumbered by non-anglos, finding non-conforming sexual identities threatening – and so the list goes on.

If we can’t handle human diversity what hope do we have adjusting to the reality and presence ET or ED? 

It’s a well-attested truism that we over-estimate our abilities. I have just completed over 20 months research into why Diversity, Inclusion & Equity campaigns and strategies don’t work. Disability Inclusion is a passion for me. Our best efforts thus far are not impressive. Unconscious reflexes and conditioning dominate our responses. The protective exclusion reflex is more potent than a desire to include.

To be blunt. We can’t handle ourselves. What in hell makes us think we can handle ET or ED?