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The Legacy of a Truth-Seeker

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(This is a new, revised and extended version of a poem I originally published in 2012. I feel that this version is the only appropriate and complete one, the earlier one having missed a crucial half of the 'story.' This is also the final version. The video above was created by Peter Jones and imbues the poem with life. Thanks Peter!)

The Legacy of a Truth-Seeker

Having trodden the path for cycles uncountable,
Having crossed the ocean of mind from end to end,
Through all veils, its fountainhead have I finally seen.
To you, honest truth-seeker treading the path behind me,
I grant the gift of my legacy.

I have learned thus:

Only untruths can be experienced.
Hence, only untruths can exist.
Truth is fundamentally incompatible with existence
For it is that which gives rise to existence,
Like a loudspeaker gives rise to sound.

Experiences are self-referential tricks:
They arise from nothing and are made of nothing.
If you dig deep enough within yourself,
You shall always find the laye…

Without Philosophy, Medical Science is Lost

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By Larry Malerba, DO
(This is a guest essay by Dr. Larry Malerba, adapted from his new book Metaphysics & Medicine: Restoring Freedom of Thought to the Art and Science of Healingwith a Foreword by Don Salmon. For my own perspectives on the topics addressed below, see my earlier essay on the subject.)

For quite some time now, freedom of thought has been under siege within the medical profession. More often than not, the war against new ideas is justified in the name of science. When a discipline like science becomes so certain of itself that it believes it can manage without periodic reexamination of its basic principles, it starts to resemble a doctrine. The more doctrinaire it is, the less receptive to outside input it becomes, and the more it balks at challenges to its authority. In the final analysis, medical science justifies its assertions simply by virtue of the claim that it is science. As a consequence, medicine has become intolerant of freethinking and is fast falling be…

Debating materialism at Sages & Scientists 2014

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As many of you know, last August I gave a talk and participated in a panel at the Sages & Scientists Symposium in Carlsbad, California. This is an extraordinarily interesting and balanced event, where most sides of the metaphysical spectrum are represented. Deepak Chopra envisioned and hosts the event every year. Carolyn Rangel, of the Chopra Foundation, masterfully puts it all together and runs it. The result is unique and that weekend will stay with me for years. Sages and Scientists surely deserves a lot more coverage than it gets. It's an example of the kind of thing we desperately need more of in our culture.

Here is the video of my brief talk. It works well as a general and easy overview of my philosophy, very accessible to any lay person:


And here is an edited, shortened version of the "Science and Consciousness" panel held in the first evening of the event. I trust you will find much to think about in this discussion involving some of the world's best kn…

To understand the anomalous we need MORE skepticism, not less

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Recently, arch-skeptic Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine and field-marshal of militant skepticism worldwide, wrote a surprising piece for the Scientific American. In it, Shermer relates a synchronicity that happened recently to him and his wife (both of whom I've had the recent and sincere pleasure to meet in person), in the occasion of their wedding ceremony. The synchronicity seems indeed to have been particularly disconcerting, impacting both Michael and his wife Jennifer at a deep emotional level. I'll let you read the details for yourself. The point I want to make here is this: Shermer confesses that the synchronicity – which he termed an 'anomalous event' – has shaken his skepticism to the core. Personally, I think this is unfortunate; it reflects a generalized misinterpretation of what skepticism actually means. Indeed, I think the problem with the militant skeptic movement is that it isn't skeptical enough. Like an army attempting a forward-es…

Theology: Jerry Coyne's reply

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A few days ago I posted an essay responding to Jerry Coyne's attack on theology. The essay was later picked up by the Science and Non-Duality website. Coyne has now responded to it in his blog. The present post is a reply to that.

After some gratuitous attacks and sarcasm directed at the Science and Non-Duality website, Coyne writes:
"Kastrup, who was trained as a scientist (see below) but then jumped the rails and abandoned materialism, has decided that I’m dead wrong—that theology has an object after all, and that he can prove it." There isn't a single instance in my essay in which I use the words "prove" or "proof." My point was, and remains, that there is a coherent way to think of certain concrete aspects of nature as matching the most common attributes associated with the word 'God.' Coyne creates a straw man here.
“Why Materialism is Baloney” sets off warning bells, but of course that must perforce be the view of someone who’s defe…

The magic trick of disappearing consciousness

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Explaining consciousness remains one of the top unanswered challenges in science and philosophy today. How can the warmth of love, the bitterness of disappointment, the redness of an apple, the sweetness of strawberries, be explained in terms of mass, momentum, charge, spin, or any of the attributes of matter? How can concrete qualities be explained in terms of abstract quantities and relationships? Nobody has an answer to this, and not for lack of trying. Such absolute failure to resolve the so-called 'hard problem of consciousness' has led to a bizarre twist in philosophy of mind over the past three or four decades: the trick of disappearing consciousness. In a nutshell, it consists of this: since we cannot explain consciousness in terms of unconscious matter, it must be the case that there is actually no consciousness; that consciousness is somehow an illusion. In what follows, I'll contend that this position is absurd, lacks empirical and logical integrity, and is pur…

In defence of theology: a reply to Jerry Coyne

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Theology has been the subject of much bashing by neo-atheists over the past several years. A fresh blog post by Jerry Coyne today seems to encapsulate the essence of their grievance: theology is claimed to be a discipline with no subject of study. Correctly defining theology as "the study or science which treats of God, His nature and attributes, and His relationships with man and the universe," Coyne asks rhetorically: "What good is a discipline that tries to tell us about the qualities of a nonexistent object? It’s as useful as a bunch of scholars trying to tell us about the characteristics of the Loch Ness Monster, or Paul Bunyan." (the hyperlink is mine) Any counter-argument to this is delicate, since it necessarily requires defining the most overloaded word in the history of language — 'God' — in some particular way that many are bound to disagree with. Yet, there are some common attributes almost always associated with 'God,' and 'God'…

Does it matter whether all is in consciousness?

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In an earlier article in this blog, I summarized my metaphysical position in two brief paragraphs. That has led to two misunderstandings, both of which derive from this point: Although I say that all reality is in consciousness, and that there is no universe outside, or independent from, subjective experience, I also do not deny that reality exists independent of personal psyches, like the human psyche. I maintain that empirical reality is an experience of an impersonal mind, which I like to call 'mind-at-large' in honor of Aldous Huxley. As such, empirical reality isn't created by personal psyches, and would still exist as an experience in mind-at-large even if there were no life in the universe.

The first misunderstanding that may arise from the above is to think that mind-at-large experiences empirical reality in just the way we, as personal psyches, experience it. I've addressed this error in my previous essay. The second misunderstanding is to conclude that there…

On how the world is felt

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In my previous article in this blog, I summarized my metaphysical position in two brief paragraphs. That has led to two misunderstandings, both of which derive from this point: Although I say that all reality is in consciousness, and that there is no universe outside, or independent from, subjective experience, I also do not deny that reality exists independent of personal psyches, like the human psyche. I maintain that empirical reality is an experience of an impersonal mind, which I like to call 'mind-at-large' in honor of Aldous Huxley. As such, empirical reality isn't created by personal psyches, and would still exist as an experience in mind-at-large even if there were no life in the universe.

The first misunderstanding that arises from the above is to conclude that there is no difference between this impersonal mind-at-large and a material world fundamentally outside consciousness, since in both cases reality exists independent of personal psyches. I will address th…

My philosophy and quantum physics

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In my book Why Materialism Is Baloney, I argue that we do not need to postulate a whole universe outside consciousness – outside subjective experience – in order to make sense of empirical reality. The implication is that all reality, including our bodies and brains, are in consciousness, not consciousness in our bodies and brains. My worldview is compatible with a classical view of nature: it doesn't exclude the possibility that objects may exist in definite states and locations even if no living creature is observing them. Indeed, my worldview accepts a non-personal form of consciousness underlying all nature, in which objects can still exist as non-personal experiences, with definite outlines, even when not observed by personal psyches. The latest experiments in quantum mechanics, however, seem to defeat this classical view of empirical reality.* They seem to show that, when not observed by personal psyches, reality exists in a fuzzy state, as waves of probabilities. Although …