Individualism vs. communalism in modern societies

Society is that highly organised and integrated collective of individuals, organisations and institutions which, in any civilisation, has specified roles, functions, and responsibilities to enable arms of that civilisation to operate as efficiently as possible, while offering security, social stability, good governance, and practices for the furtherance of its youth into useful future roles, within an evolving environment which is necessarily potentially destabilising.

Without such a structured entity, humanity would probably operate in a chaotic manner. Unlike the physical and chemical world, where there can be found coherent patterns of stability within the observed chaos, there is no basis for assuming that similar stability would underpin any chaos of humanity. Indeed human chaos is underpinned by social instability through unfettered selfishness. The events of recent history throughout the world support such a conclusion.

In those 4 nations which I describe collectively as the Ultra-West (viz. the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand), which were developed through successive inflows of immigrants from Europe (including Britain), it would have taken quite a while for society to be formed in each location. By necessity, the earlier arrivals had to be self-sufficient in finding a place for themselves and settling down. It would seem that, by the time each society had achieved a necessary stability, and by the very nature of the circumstances of settlement, an ethos of individualism had permeated the psyche of the people. Church attendance may have been the exception. Any sense of communalism which may have prevailed ‘back home’ may have been weaned by new necessary lifestyles.

There may be a flip-side to this development. Did societal alienation then evolve? Through a deficiency in support from one’s extended family (assuming there was one in proximity), a degree of communal support may have been necessary. That is, officialdom may have had to step in to some degree to alleviate extreme hardship, in a material sense. But what of the psychological bulwark available to some degree in more traditional societies?

Francis Fukuyama, an American scholar of renown, wrote in depth of the deterioration of society in the USA, a civilised nation. The USA is a leading member of the Ultra-West. Australian society appears to be following the USA. While Australia is heavily committed to welfare while ruled by the ethos of individualism, it is gradually becoming acclimatised to American culture, business practices, and the philosophy of governance.

This spirit of individualism seems to have engendered claims for more and more personal rights. Taken to extremes, traditional respect for others may be diminished, if not ignored. Conflicts over relative individual rights can occur. In Australia today, surnames and addresses indicating respect for age, position, or relationship have given way to the universal use of first names.

Rights breed rights – even in the open! The proliferation of claimed rights, aided by those using the courts to acquire yet more rights (even for unlawful asylum seekers) can be juxtaposed with the reality that rights are not set out in the Constitution, or a Bill of Rights, or official policy statements in Australia. This results in all manner of societal difficulties, primarily because of a lack of corresponding or counter-balancing personal responsibilities towards the collective.

Some consequential effects of enhanced access to claimed personal rights are the suffering caused to children through the impermanence of marriage and cohabitation, a fear of empty streets (casually brutal attacks by louts or a threat to children), the serious abuse of generous welfare and free medical services, a denial of personal responsibility (eg. acquiring skills to enable employment or to re-locate to centres offering employment), and escalating demands by the well-off for ‘middle class welfare.’

In the light of the above, the unavoidable conclusion is that, at least in the USA and Australia, modern society does not generally offer the cohesion and mutual kin and community support of traditional societies. Does not such support implicate a certain spirituality inherent in mankind to look after one another? Unless governments step into the vacant shoes of extended family, could not escalating personal rights without matching responsibilities be seen to lead to social alienation and to the deterioration of these societies?

Would not weak social bonds and an uncertain sense of community indicate a diminution of valuable social capital?

 

 

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Earth-Spirit communication

It is clear that there is an effective barrier between the realm of spirits and the world of humans. Thus, my Spirit Guide was unable to have me ‘listen’ to him until my casual clairvoyant, B, advised me to listen to my subconscious. Presumably my Spirit Guide was able to communicate with her psychically. Could he reach her because she has clairvoyance skills when I do not?

My initial clairvoyant, C, told me that he is, through a meditative process, able to contact the spirit realm. I presume that, through his clairvoyance skills, he can reach his Spirit Guide; and that the latter facilitates the contacts C needs to help his clients.

How are clairvoyance skills achieved? Inborn? Or, given? B says that messages come to her! I know that she has visions. For example, she told me when my memoir ‘The Dance of Destiny’ would be published. More significantly, she has “seen” me in a past life – as a Muslim warrior with a “curved sword” in my hand and mounted on a black stallion (my horse-rider wife would have been entranced to know that).

When the racial discrimination I had to undergo during the White Australia era and the tribal discrimination at work during the last 5 years of my career became excessive, my right hand itched. Instinctively, I wanted to wield a scimitar again. Strangely, my wife discerned my unspoken interest in scimitars.

My efforts to peer into my past lives through auto-hypnosis did bring me flashes of insight about scenes indicative of Central Asia. As well, when I set out to design a stained-glass scene, the initial designs reflected the beautiful mosques of that region (so I discovered later). Learning throughout life is a slow progress as one’s mind and inner eye become more focussed.

A more intriguing issue is how a spirit can see, hear, remember the past on Earth, know about my life after his death, and despond to a comment he has heard, thus displaying a functioning mind. All this was displayed by my uncle to clairvoyant C and to me while he was pertinently an insubstantial entity, his Earthly body with all its operating organs having been cremated.

Looking at the human mind on Earth, it appears to arise from the brain, with the latter the repository of memories. Yet, my mind also appears to be nomadic and adventurous; that is, not relying on my brain.

As a Seeker of understanding (not just knowledge), I speculate about matters which are new to my brain, seeking patterns, even creating patterns. Refer my daily WordPress posts on my blog ‘An octogenarian’s final thoughts’ (copied to Facebook and to my book pages on amazon.com – see author profile). That is, my mind is a somewhat independent facility. I suspect that it is linked to Consciousness.

Perhaps it is a shared Consciousness which enables Earthling-Spirit communication.

The spirit realm’s impacts on my life

Soon after I had survived death by dengue (fever) at age 18, a yogi called on my widowed mother and me. He convinced her that I would be going south to study. That direction for study was unknown to our community. I was despatched south. I left Australia 4 years later, as he had foretold. I returned to Australia as an immigrant a year later, thereby confirming the yogi’s somewhat cryptic hint that I would be overseas a great deal.

In my early 1990s, when the spirit of my uncle had materialised in the presence of clairvoyant C, Uncle told C that “the spirit world had experienced difficulty in getting him to Australia.” Many years later, I began to wonder whether a number of young educated Asian youths from British colonial territories in Asia, and thereby fluent in English, had been selectively manoeuvred into racist White Australia.

With unquenchable faith in our most durable cultural heritages, and equipped with the necessary traits of tolerance, fortitude, and resilience, and through un-planned marriage to Anglo-Australian girls, we would progressively change Australia’s assumed white supremacy to a cosmopolitan, tolerant polity. Australia would thus become colour-blind, essentially through tinted children with white mothers and coloured fathers appearing in the schools; with the teachers emphasising the commonality of all mankind, irrespective of country of origin or ethnicity. My wife and I contributed a great deal of time and effort to supporting our children’s schools.

It seems to me now that higher beings in the spirit realm are using appropriate trajectories of personal destiny paths to improve the morality of mankind wherever possible. I do like that, in spite of the reality that, socially, I remain a marginal member of society. That may be because of the role of those of us sent into exile as ‘scene changers.’ I am thus an instrument of societal change, while necessarily being changed by that role.

Most significantly, about a decade ago, I found a small mirror pulled off my kitchen wall and placed upright on a kitchen bench. Soon after, a photo was taken from a wall and inserted between vertical blinds on a window sill. Then I knew who was responsible for both events. They were the actions (I surmised) of someone who had once been very close to me, indicating that she is now dead. When I spoke to the unsighted spirit, her actions ceased.

Then, when the widow of the uncle who had appeared in spirit form to offer me guidance died, and she had been the second-most important woman in my life, she appeared to me in my mind as I was falling sleep on the evening she left Earth. On another occasion, someone who had helped me cope with the racism of White Australia let me knowwithin my mind – that she was departing Earth. I am truly grateful for such messages.
What is obvious is that the spirits of the recently-dead are able to reach some of us psychically. I am envious of clairvoyant C. He is clearly able to reach out to the realm of spirits.

Then a most incredible event occurred. A woman I did not know, and whom I had met only a few minutes earlier, began to tell me repeatedly, with her voice becoming raised “Your Spirit Guide says that you are not listening to him. He has tried to reach you a few times. While she spoke thus, she kept looking over my left shoulder. “Can you see him” I asked with great curiosity. “Yes” was her reply. “Can you describe him?” She did! Later, I asked her how I could listen to him. “Listen to your subconscious” was her reply.

The crucial issue here is that I had no idea that I have a Spirit Guide. In the light of my unending travails … … ! That the spirit realm existed was news to me until the spirit of my uncle made himself known. “Where now, old sow?” as might have been uttered by philosopher Lin Yutang to his porcine pet, is my question to myself.

Evidence of life after Earthly death

My personal evidence is as follows. After reading a large compendium providing an up-to-date summary of findings in the paranormal realm, I went to consult a clairvoyant. He had been recommended to me. I wanted to ask him (hereafter referred as C) how he went about his business.

At the doorway to his consulting room, C greeted me thus: “I have the spirit of your uncle with me. Will you accept him?” I was totally flummoxed. Since I had 3 uncles, and C could see the spirit, I had him describe the spirit. His description covered height, skin colour, clothing, and footwear.

Since he was obviously my no. 1 uncle, the oldest in his family, I naturally accepted him. He had also been the second-most important man in my life (after my father). But, as I could not see him, and as he communicated silently with C, I had to rely upon C to know what Uncle said.

I was told that Uncle had been sent by ‘higher beings’ to advise me, as he was “the one I was most likely to accept.” What Uncle said to C indicated that he knew what happened to my life after his death; he even described the cabin bag that I had brought to Australia from Singapore. He referred to his sister, my mother, in a tone of reminiscence; and advised me about my spiritual progress. Near the end of an hour-long session, he responded to a comment that I had made to C. That meant that he could hear what I had said. Since he could see C, I assumed that he could see me too.

It is undeniable that Uncle had retained his mind and his memories after his death; that he could communicate with C; that he see and hear me; that he could process my message and respond to it as if he had a brain as well; and that he could project himself in and out of the material realm at will.

An insubstantial entity had displayed his ability to relate to the realm of substance from which he had departed, using organs of vision, hearing, thought, and memory – which are Earthly facilities. How? All these organs had been cremated with the rest of his body years before.

What is significant is that C provided a comparable service to many others, including 2 of my friends. They confirmed to me that their experiences with the spirit realm through C‘s skills were comparable to mine.

To the professional intransigent sceptic I say this. It is pure folly to proclaim that something is not, or cannot be, without being able to deny real experiences of fellow-humans in a substantive manner. Think about those who claim that God is not, but without being able to prove that assertion.

C is clearly able to contact the spirit realm. He has told me that he obtains advice from the spirit realm through his own Spirit Guide before certain consultations. I suspect that, although he had no previous contact with me, he had sought advice about me. For that I am grateful.

I now have evidence that life on Earth and in what I refer to as the Afterlife has meaning. My Hindu religio-cultural inheritance in this life, suggestive of a continuity of Earthly life through many incarnations, should sustain me through alternative cultural milieus through time.

Following that consultation, I began to write about what Uncle had suggested – “to seek to contribute to building a bridge from where you came to where you are”; to wit, migrant integration into the nation of choice. My books are available as inexpensive ebooks at amazon.com (USA), and its international affiliates (Canada, UK, Australia, France and Germany).

Since that life-changing experience through meeting Uncle, I have had certain other exposures to spirits. I believe these to be spiritually uplifting.

Past-life regressions

Unlike the spontaneous, volunteered claims by very young children (usually aged between 3 and about 6) about an immediate past life, regressions under hypnosis by adults to past lives – especially multiple past lives – cannot be as easily accepted as credible; they  cannot be investigated by interrogating anyone alive for confirmation.

My personal concern is of cryptomnesia (false memory). That could be triggered by the subject’s imagination and nature. In all investigations of the paranormal, some corruption by a parent, or a certain extent of subconscious recall by adults of what had been read or heard of – and interpreted through imagination – could be expected. The human mind is extensible and thereby fallible.

The great debunker Ian Wilson (refer his ‘After Death Experience’), in asking “Is a genuine ‘past life’ coming through?” when examining past-life regressions under hypnosis, begins with the Bridey Murphy case. Lacking verifiable historical information, that case was left in limbo (so to speak). However, good ‘deep trance’ subjects have reported regressions to past lives over the years. Wilson accepts that “there is not the slightest evidence for deliberate, conscious fraud on the part of either hypnotist or the subject hypnotised.”

Yet, “… many of these run-of-the-mill regressions can show signs of the subject fantasizing, or drawing on present twentieth-century knowledge, rather than knowledge of the period appropriate to his or her ‘past life.’” As well, while ‘suggestion’ by the hypnotist can, in fairness, be ruled out, subjects may be influenced by any ‘expectations’ expressed by a hypnotist; for ex ample, that there is no ‘no rest between one life and another.’

Credibly, Ian Wilson asks “… why we retain in our minds material that we cannot get access to without the aid of a hypnotist? … ‘we’, whatever ‘we’ might be, are something of rather more permanence than our physical bodies?” This is an encouraging conclusion by one who seems to have difficulty acknowledging the existence of human souls.

Hans TenDam (refer ‘Exploring Reincarnation’) makes a sound distinction between adult recollection and past-life regression under hypnosis. “Full regression, originally a hypnotic state, brings back memories, but more intense, more like reliving than remembering … we experience the situation just as it happened at that time.” That makes the reported regressed life more credible. Since “Hypnosis is a psychotic shift in consciousness, not a loss of will” (TenDam), the hypnotist needs to be trustworthy.

Hypnosis is subject to certain fears: that the subject is open to suggestion; losing control; given instructions contrary to one’s beliefs; or psychologically damaging; but all are without foundation. Stage hypnosis can, of course, be based on ridicule; but in fun.

Strangely, hypnosis can ease or solve psychosomatic complaints. Physical trauma in a past life can apparently manifest itself in the present body. Two friends and I can attest to seers removing specific pains. In my case, the seer/healer called upon her Spirit Healer to identify a couple of my past live traumas. When I challenged her by pointing out that my past lives are surely private (within my soul memory, possibly), she said that her Healer had access to them. What could I say?

After her healing, my pains disappeared, for ever. And I had not told anyone about them. What could I then say? And I had consulted the healer only in an investigative capacity; to learn about psychic healing. My friends had comparable experiences.

TenDam concludes from his survey thus: “Apparently our soul registers every experience, conscious as well as unconscious. It stores all of our sensory impressions, all our beliefs and thoughts, all our semi-conscious and subconscious reactions.”

I am not sure that I want to delve too deeply into my past lives. Yet, the most recent one intrigues me. And I have intimations of aspects of that life, and where on the globe that occurred. I find that fascinating.

As well, I have clear evidence of life after death.

 

Spontaneous past-life recall by children

“Ian Stevenson, from the Department of Parapsychology of the University of Virginia, is the international authority in the area of child case research. He has collected about 2,000 cases of apparent past-life recall. Of these he has examined more than 200 cases exhaustively. He has reported his findings in books and numerous articles. In northern India he examined 105 cases, in Sri Lanka 80, and a few dozen in Turkey, Lebanon, Alaska, Thailand and Burma.”

“Research into child cases may be compared with legal investigations. It is important to get as many precise and independent testimonies as possible. If a child has never been near the place where the past person lived, and has not met any people from there, it is possible to experiment on the spot.” … …

“Stevenson , who now has data on more than 2,000 cases, takes careful account of all alternative explanations of apparent recollection. … His opponents are less informed.”

These extracts are from ‘Exploring Reincarnation’ by Hans TenDam. Colin Wilson, a renowned writer on parapsychology, describes it as “ … the great definitive work on reincarnation.” “… he has written not as a believer, but as a detached observer …”

TenDam also states “In the cases Stevenson examined, the intermission between death in the previous life and birth in the new life is usually between 1 and 4 years. An intermission of more than 12 years hardly occurs. Between 25 and 75 percent of the past lives which children remember can be identified and verified, usually because the deceased person’s family is still alive. He found changes in sex in 6 to 16 percent of his cases. This differs according to region.”

Spontaneous recollection by little children can differ “… greatly in precision and detail, similar to normal recollection.” Acceptance by their families would reflect prevailing religious and cultural values. Christians would be the least likely to listen to a child talking about a past life. The implications for the existence of souls and a reincarnation process would not be consistent with God’s Will, as interpreted by His intermediary, the priest.

Staunch Christians, especially recent converts, are likely to be professionally sceptical about reincarnation, in spite of all the evidence for its existence. They would “… expect the process to exhibit certain recurring patterns or rules … expect indicators of the length of time between one life and the next ; also the sort of distances the soul or consciousness may travel in order to be reincarnated …” (Ian Wilson). Cultural differences are also apparently not allowed in this clockwork universe. As has been reported repeatedly, even professional scientists can reject findings (reached through strict research) which challenge the prevailing paradigm.

Those of us who have had personal experiences of life after death or have partners or friends similarly involved, simply ignore those who cannot accept reality. There is life after Earthly death.

Is reincarnation not real?

Many sceptics claim that there is no reliable evidence for the reincarnation process. However, there are many real experiences which say otherwise. One strand comes from reliable professional research on volunteered (that is, spontaneously uttered) past-life memories of very young children – usually aged between 3 and 5 (up to 7). Then there are my experiences; these I am unable to deny, although I tend to be a sceptic by nature. (I am not gullible.)

As well, there are tribal beliefs in every continent which accept the reincarnation process in one form or another. Most of the major Western religions also seem implicitly to accept the possibility of reincarnation (refer the New Testament); whereas the Eastern (Asian) religions accept reincarnation. The oldest version – in Hinduism – is based on the soul going through many Earthly lives on a path of moral purification.

The scientific method (based on the null hypothesis), has no role to play in this matter. How could it be applied? Any institutional religion based on authority and rigid control can have little credibility on this issue. I have read that, against the prevailing background of many cultures in the world holding a belief of some sort in reincarnation, the early Christian Church decided that control of the lives of its followers necessitated the rejection of reincarnation.

Indeed, reincarnation, with its cause-and-effect trajectory, can, according to Colin Wilson (a renowned writer on paranormal phenomena), be seen as reflecting free will. During each life, through free will, one could shape one’s future life. Otherwise, the reincarnation process is meaningless; that is, without purpose or direction. Unlike the early Church’s intention to interpret God’s Will, human free will may be less dependent on the Will of God or spirits.

Colin Wilson also refers to Hans TenDam’s book ‘Exploring Reincarnation’ as the great definite work on reincarnation. “ … he has written, not as a believer, but as a detached observer …” The back cover of the book (1990) states “Unlike some writers in the field, Hans TenDam examines, freely and frankly, the range of explanations of past-life recall – the many different hypotheses about body and soul. None fits the evidence, he concludes, as well as reincarnation.”

The most persuasive of the evidence for the reality of reincarnation comes from the extended and substantial work of Dr. Ian Stevenson. According to the great debunker Ian Wilson (refer ‘The After-Death Experience’), “Dr. Stevenson’s reports … are prodigiously detailed and, as such, undeniably represent the most authoritative and scientific approach supportive of belief in reincarnation available in any language.”

Not surprisingly, some of the professional debunkers did embark upon some strange means of studying the issue. One approach was to weigh a body before and after death to see if the alleged soul had weight! I am reminded of those scientists who measured the skulls and weighed the brains of Australia’s Aborigines: was that to see if they were fauna?

There will also be researchers who, being human and thereby holding religious views, cannot accept explanations arising from studies which challenge that religious position.

Here is what TenDam has to say in his extraordinary book.
“So a great many people belief in reincarnation. Why? The majority undoubtedly because they have been brought up to believe in it. But in the final analysis, belief is based on experiences, reflections, and arguments that convince people of its plausibility.”

“People having apparent memories of their own past lives is an area of experience like any other. We need neither doubt that these experiences are what they profess to be, nor believe that they are beyond sober analysis and criticism. I can easily accept past-life recall, because I have had such experiences myself, and have hundreds of times observed other people having them, but I don’t take them for gospel.”

I too have had intimations of an immediate past life, supported by a spontaneous vision by a seer; yet, I am far from convinced. But I have no doubt that life continues after Earthly death; the spirit realm provided the evidence.