Dr. Charles T. Tart on June 22nd, 2009

Recently the ITP faculty attended a workshop that emphasized that students feel more comfortable and work more effectively in courses where they understand the instructor’s philosophy of teaching from the beginning, so here, in a nutshell, is mine.
I always thought I was very lucky and blessed to be able to go to college and graduate school and to make a living doing stuff which, except for some necessary administrative work, was really interesting to me.  I sit at my desk occasionally and think “I like to read, to talk, to think, to write, to do research, and to teach – and they pay me to do it!  Wow!”  By contrast, so many people must work at jobs they dislike or are bored at or make the world a worse place…

I teach this course, even though I’m old enough to retire, because I think its subject matter is interesting and important in making at least a small contribution to our individual and collective psychological and spiritual growth.  That you are here at ITP, of your own volition, that you’re taking this course which is an elective, rather than required, allows me to assume that you too are really interested in its subject matter.  Thus I don’t have to motivate you to keep up with the readings, to read relevant material beyond what’s required, to contribute both your enthusiasm and doubts and questions in class, and to find it a privilege to write small papers each week to share your own enthusiasm and thinking with me and your fellow students.  I bring to class my interest and enthusiasm to share with you, and I’m rewarded by your interest and enthusiasm.  Yes, I bing expertise in content too, but that interest and enthusiasm is more important.  When I see you grappling with our material, intellectually and experientially, in class or in your papers, I feel I’m a success as a teacher!

If, God forbid, it ever reaches a point where nobody says anything interesting in class and the papers are all nothing but book reports, then it will be time to stop teaching….  I know this may happen someday if I get too old or sick, but I doubt it will happen for lack of student interest and enthusiasm.

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88 Responses to “My Philosophy of Teaching”

  1. @Sandy:

    [I’m sorry to have taken up so much of your time. ]
    One of my own worst habits is constantly saying I’m sorry for this, that and the other thing. Perhaps I’m practicing to become British in my next incarnation (terrible joke, sorry), but I know it’s a bad habit of mine and perhaps of yours too Sandy.
    Aspects of your dream put an interesting perspective on my life, so I thought it would be interesting to reflect on them in print – even though, of course, I am much too busy to be alive and live my own life, much less respond to anybody about anything, or…..ooops, sorry! Going off again! ;-)
    [you sometimes wished in the course of your work that you could manage to see the kinds of things that I experience in order to understand it better and so you could be more helpful.]
    Yes, I’m not much for personal psychic and spiritual experiences, and sometimes I wish I had more of them. On the other hand, since my primary mission in this life seems to be building bridges between scientific types and the spiritual world, it’s a good thing I don’t have them. If I were speaking or writing to a scientific audience, the moment I mentioned personal experiences of this type I’d activate heavy defenses in most of them and lose my audience, lose my chance of moving them a little in a good direction. So my relative “squareness” in this is an asset for my mission.
    [The ball of light said that you wished people like me could find some fun in the sorts of odd experiences that I have. It said that you even consciously intended that I be happier about psi.]
    Be relaxed, have fun, learn some things – yes, I’m all for it!
    [you think that seeing a person going through such a personal transformation is useful. It might help to facilitate this process to help others make these sorts of adjustments. Making that process easier is part of what you wish to give to the world. ]
    Yes, that’s why I’m devoting the rest of my career to helping advance transpersonal psychology, which is all about both understanding spiritual experiences better, learning to make them happen more effectively, and learning how to integrate them into life in a healthy, growthful way.
    [The ball of light tried to show me how you think. I though that was kind of funny. I didn’t realize that there were that many different approaches to thinking. You don’t think in a nice sequential 1,2,3, sort of way, do you? It looks random. Like a sort of matrix. If you see the answer and all the steps at the same time, how do you know what order to do things in? Do you just try to do everything at the same time? Working on all the little details of a big picture?]
    I’m still trying to figure out how I think.
    One thing I do know, it’s usually not the logical way it’s “supposed” to be in the scientific world. That is, you see a lot of facts, a lot of data, you make logical inferences from them and logically create a theory that accounts for what you’ve observed. It’s funny, I have a reputation as a good scientist, but for years I harbored a nagging suspicion that I was somehow faking it. My best ideas just come to me, I usually don’t work them out logically. I then rearrange them to make good sense, to help communicate them, but I wasn’t “logical” in getting there.
    When I was a kid I got interested in where my thoughts came from and would try to trace them back. I could go back 10, 20, 30 steps sometimes, but there seemed to be no beginning, there’s just a steady flow. Some of the twists and turns of that flow have to do with what happens to me and how I react to it, sometimes I apply my intentions and direct the flow somewhat, but most of my thoughts (which are a combination of visual images and talking to myself) just pop up. For all I know there may be a variety of ways in which they pop up and I’m not sensitive to the differences.
    For example, last night I was having trouble going to sleep, so I did what helps sometimes, quietly look at the visual imagery in my mind. To my surprise I noticed for the first time that there was a quiet train of very tiny visual images running through my mind! Far out. Then I got too interested in them and lost them. Maybe there are large size images and small size images that are part of the “popping up” process….
    [I guess when you worked as a researcher you were probably open to pretty much any outcome for a project. If you were trying to solve one problem, but solved another one instead, that would be OK with you?]
    I did most of my research with a pretty good idea of how I’d like things to come out, but was always open to things happening another way. Indeed some of my most interesting discoveries were the surprises that came up. I also would pray before doing a research, a sort of “Dear Whoever is in charge, I think it would be good if things came out such-and-such a way, but I pray that they come up whatever way is best from Your Higher perspective.”
    [It looks like you don’t even see time as linear. Yesterday isn’t any more important than 20 years ago. No wonder you seem so patient. (No wonder you became a parapsychologist.) ]
    I don’t really think about the nature of time, I just do what seems to need doing. The reality of precognition totally bollocks my mind, I know it happens sometimes – to others, I don’t want it happening to me – but I have no idea what time really is.
    I became a parapsychologist, as explained at more length in my End of Materialism book, to work on the conflicts between science and spirituality. Still working on them! Happy to be both scientific and spiritual….

  2. Sandy says:

    Dr Tart, if that is really how your mind functions, I hope that your wife takes care of the finances in your house. :-)

  3. Tom Dark says:

    Uh-oh, we might have a regular experiment going here.

    I’ve been trying to find some other word besides “coincidence” in quotes or “synchronicity” out of them, just for style, and am loathe to coin a new one. Another coincidence is that I’ve mentioned you on Roger Ebert’s blog site, Dr. Tart — as coincidentally, he seems to have joined in our discussion independently. His latest subject a surprise:

    http://blogs.suntimes.com/eber.....m_the.html

    …at this writing, he’s posted a couple of dreams he had. Jump in the discussion if you’ve got the time, Roger’ll be delighted. Wouldn’t hurt a bit to plug THE END OF MATERIALISM either. He’s got smart and lively contributors.

    I’ve seen your photo. Are you tall, by chance? Ivey hasn’t shown up again, but a couple of her dreams have made me suspicious that she’s in on this too… this mysterious “tall man.” (Plus I dreamed several years ago that she’d volunteer for a study on the subject)

    Gorgeous baby/aura pic. Sandy, coincidentally, Jesus said “unless ye become like little children, ye shall not enter the kingdom of heaven.” He didn’t mean be gullible and intimidated by big people, he meant the kind of experiences you’re describing. The kingdom of heaven didn’t mean “after you’re dead,” either. I’ll give you dollars to donuts the Dr. Tart you dreamed was a true one, about having fun with this whole thing.

  4. Sandy says:

    Tom,

    I know heaven isn’t about being dead. I’ve done the NDE thing. I know we don’t die. We just change. But sometimes changing can be really difficult.

  5. Sandy says:

    Dr Tart,

    I’m still trying to understand your thinking processes. Or at least what I dreamt your thinking processes might be like. Dreams are just dreams. But it looks like you can see shifting patterns in how people do things. You can distinguish the ebbs from the flows in human endeavors. You love humanity rather than focusing on individuals, but in kind of an abstract, non-judgmental way, with great objectivity. You perceive the world in moving patterns, like a kaleidoscope. Is that why you see all the steps in a process at once and not in any particular order? You don’t really see linear steps; it’s all moving bits of shiny lures. So if you stopped to count all the steps, like you did as a child, you would get different steps in a different order each time you tried. But you can see all the pieces of a puzzle at once, and you still manage to enjoy the big picture too. People shouldn’t discount your ideas because you have an unusual way of thinking. It isn’t unscientific. It is really quite amazing. Linear thinkers probably don’t catch as many interesting thoughts as you do.

    So if your world is always shifting, isn’t that kind of unsettling? Do you have a constant? Maybe like being in nature? I know nature isn’t really constant, but it does seem to follow regular patterns. You don’t seem very much like a science geek. But you at least like gadgets and electronic stuff, don’t you? Computer geeks often imagine everything as a whole system. And lots of professors have a reputation for being absent-minded. I’m not saying that you are like that, but wouldn’t it be a challenge to stay organized if you don’t perceive the world sequentially? How do you keep track of all the bothersome details of life when there are all these really neat ideas to explore? (I bet you leave things on planes.) You’ve already admitted to a fondness for going off on tangents…

    I’m sorry if this is too silly. (Yeah, I know, I apologize a lot. We Canucks are notoriously polite and apologetic. It’s a cultural thing.) I tried to approach this with eagerness, optimism and curiosity. That’s how I thought you might handle it. As a person with a gentle, abstract nature and lofty ideas.

  6. Sandy says:

    Dr Tart,

    I’ve been trying to figure out why your discussion of my dream didn’t make me retreat in the way that I usually do. I guess because it was pretty objective and non-threatening. I didn’t feel any pressure to be “psychic” afterwards. I don’t know if I really related how your thought processes work very accurately, but that line of thinking was helpful to me. My own thought processes and way of relating to the world changed after my NDE. I’ve been trying to work through that, and it isn’t like there are lots of counselors out there with experience dealing with NDErs. The counselor that I had been seeing knew about all the good NDE stuff (being a better person, no fear of death), but he had no clue about the tough part (high divorce rates, sudden changes in career and life direction). So I’m trying to make sense of who I was and who I am on my own.

    I didn’t used to see information as a matrix before my NDE. I was not into abstract thoughts. What I was really good at was taking an idea and translating it into something physical. Because I liked things that I could pick up and hold. Things that seemed real. I had this great sense of the world around me as it exists in the here and now. I liked painting because I could show people how I saw the world through my art. I didn’t have to discuss it; I could just show them.

    After the NDE, that changed. I don’t see the world as it is so much as I see the world as it is becoming. And thoughts are becoming as real as objects once were to me. Sometimes I even see those patterns of thought, where all the pieces that make up the whole show up in whatever order they want. That kaleidoscope thing. I’m starting to solve problems in a similar way to what my dream showed Dr Tart doing.

    I can see the changes in my colors. There were changes after my childhood NDE as well, but they were not so drastic and I was young and grew into them. This change is a big one and I don’t know if I like who I am now. I used to be really social. A party girl. Tom Dark would have liked who I was very much. Now I need so much space. I get overwhelmed because everything feels like too much. I don’t know how to integrate such divergent parts of a whole. I used to just feel stuff and know stuff. Now I think about things way too much.

  7. anonymous says:

    “Yes, I’m not much for personal psychic and spiritual experiences, and sometimes I wish I had more of them. On the other hand, since my primary mission in this life seems to be building bridges between scientific types and the spiritual world, it’s a good thing I don’t have them. If I were speaking or writing to a scientific audience, the moment I mentioned personal experiences of this type I’d activate heavy defenses in most of them and lose my audience, lose my chance of moving them a little in a good direction. So my relative “squareness” in this is an asset for my mission.”

    Hi Charles,

    It would probably help parapsychologists to design experiments if they experienced psychic functioning. There are companies that give classes in remote viewing which they say anyone can do. Also, Spiritualist churches usually have have classes in mediumship and spiritual healing. Many people find that they are able to learn these skills even though they did not realize they were psychic when they started the class.

    In my opinion, all parapsychologists should take classes like these. I think it would be easier to demonstrate a phenomenon scientifically if you knew how to do it yourself. They don’t have to talk about it to people who would not be receptive but they can still learn and experience it.

    “For example, last night I was having trouble going to sleep, so I did what helps sometimes, quietly look at the visual imagery in my mind.”

    Did you ever notice if these images were precognitive?

    Did you ever try to ask a question and see if the images showed an answer?

    I have a technique I describe on my web site that explains how to induce such visions using relaxation exercises. I have had many helpful answers to questions and also many precognitive perceptions. I also keep a log of my experiences.

    Do you find that the students in your meditation classes start having psychic experiences once they start meditating?

  8. Tom Dark says:

    Funny you’d think that, Sandy. Before I met Catt I’d spent 10 years alone, loving every moment of solitude I had. We’re a match for 2 main reasons: she’s an extremely rare individual who sees life from and acts on her dreams as I’ve taught myself to do, and we spend our days largely silent, absorbed in our projects.

    I much prefer looking at everything (aka “the universe”) alone and without a committee — that also excludes a committee of thought, such as a given institution may provide.

    My favorite quote of Einstein’s: “I live in that solitude which, painful in youth, is delicious in maturity.”

    • Sandy says:

      I liked my solitude back when I was an artist, Tom. Solitude has always been easy for me. But there was a time when I enjoyed parties too. I had a very diverse collection of friends back then: opera singers, punk musicians, bagpipers, artists of various sorts, a few writers, scientists, engineers, soldiers, a ballet dancer… (Now most of my friends are scientists and engineers.) Back then dreams were great subjects for my paintings, and I read tea leaves without any concern for seeming nuts. I thought everyone saw colored lights around everyone else. I was even sad about outgrowing my childhood imaginary friends, but I thought that was just part of growing up. I was very connected to the world in a physical sense. I could take ideas and make something real with them; it’s just that my ideas tended to be very artsy and unusual back then. (Nowadays, I’m more likely to design a piece of scientific equipment and have someone else build it.)

    • Sandy says:

      Tom, i think you would have understood my approach to the world back then. I saw everything as patterns in the physical world that could be followed and made real. I think in a way you see patterns in space through your mind’s eye. Patterns that account for all the senses, places and emotions of whatever it is. It could be a foriegn land or a chesire cat. But it probably isn’t enough for you to paint a picture. Writing is probably a better medium for you.

  9. Tom Dark says:

    I wouldn’t advise a man who’s had more opportunity than 99.99% of the population to take “psychic” lessons, Anonymous. As he suggests, it’s an asset that he hasn’t. As he says, he is here to create bridges. He is to my mind like Melville’s Ishmael, an astute observer on the high seas who sees much. I know of only one other scientist of whom I think the same. The rest of the credentialed scientists I know, involved in this area of study, I consider quite gullible and strangely arrogant — maybe predictably so. I won’t name names, but I could.

    I mentioned elsewhere in a whimsically pointed posting that I know a remarkably intelligent man who worked in Psychological Operations for the Department of Defense, that is, in the Pentagon. He told me that the “remote viewing” pool there was 100% accurate — strategists said the pool was better than satellite photos. He said that the program used was developed by the famous psychic Sylvia Brown. But, as I said, this didn’t explain why the soldiers were still getting their asses kicked.

    I’ve so far heard two first-hand tales about the “remote viewing” industry. The other was from a woman who was a Lockheed engineer, who was enlisted in the development program there. It also so happened that her uncle and his wife had produced the most influential work on matters psychic to date — it’s mimicked everywhere, never matched. That’s Robert Butts and Jane Roberts. The woman said Lockheed eventually abandoned the program. Her uncle couldn’t describe his feelings on learning that the U.S. government had been monitoring him and his wife for decades.

    To use more whimsy to a point: you can “remote view” me all you like, but if your mind ain’t right, I’ll kick your ass for it.

    The internet is infested with scare stories about “remote viewing,” as well as other hirsute developments an imaginary all-powerful secret government are up to. Some swallow them indiscriminately and burp up an insistent screech about it among whoever they can. Some have gotten quite angry with me for not getting upset over something about which they have no authentic knowledge or experience whatsoever.

    I’ve suggested that the most important, the central aspect of study of psychic or psychological areas must be what “a belief” is. Dr. Tart wrote about the passing of Gertrude Schmeidler, a pioneer in applying intellectual method to the search for “extrasensory perception.” One important thing she found was that those who believed in it did better in the tests.

    A football player who believes he is the best quarterback on the team will be the first-string starter. If he isn’t, don’t believe what he tells you about what he believes. If he’s the starting quarterback and says he doesn’t believe he’s all that good, don’t believe that either.

    That’s where to start in sorting out one’s terms of study. Presently, it’s a mess everywhere, and terminologies are often more in the way than not. I do very well at what I do and I have yet to meet anyone from a class or workshop who can match what I do. I know others who are better at “it” than I am who never would join such experiments, as I wouldn’t. (I hope the impromptu experiment here between Sandy and me will be given due consideration.)

    But how to judge good, better, best in this area is further from scientifically useful than the finest of “remote viewers” could view.
    (Incidentally, I’ll hope you’ll also notice the little occasion of that among these postings. Sandy admitted that she was playing with birds at the time I hinted what came to mind about her in that given moment in a previous posting. There’s much more to it than the shallow concept of “remote viewing,” but one mustn’t go around jarring people who have enough to deal with as it is.)

    A good critical analyst will tell you that words are essentially meaningless (Dr. Pasqual Schievella is an expert in that field, and for his 75 years of Doctoral study, his name is worth looking up, although he’s pretty much a materialist). These meaningless words must be organized in as coherent and semantically considered fashion as possible, or such a science will be forever going in circles about “ESP” or “PSI” or “remote viewing,” and so on.

    Not even the words “psychic” or “telepathic” denote more than arbitrary circumscriptions and a narrow defining of what those phenomena truly are. “Synchronicity,” now a popular term, does more to obscure what the occasion of a coincidental event that evokes a sense of “numinosity” may be than elucidate it.

    We tend to hang our beliefs on words and terms in too literal-minded a way. Sociologically we build quite a few Towers of Babel that way — socially, religiously, politically, economically and scientifically. We look too eagerly for what Emerson called “a shallow consistency” in his famous saying. Our expectations become much too narrow that way, and so results are often not recognized for what they are.

  10. anonymous says:

    For much of my life I noticed I had a lot of mental imagery while I was falling asleep. Mostly I saw people. When I started taking classes in mediumship I started seeing these people in my mediumship class. Sometimes they were spirits, some times they were living people I hadn’t met before. So, for much of my life I was having psychic perceptions but didn’t know it. It wasn’t until I started taking classes in mediumship and found that I could percieve psychically that I began to consider the possibility that I was also having psychic perceptions outside of class. When I started examining my hypnogogic imagry I frequently found psychic information in it.

    This is why I am very skeptical when people say they don’t have psychic experiences. Meditation calms the mind, especially the analytical, rational, verbal, left hemisphere which interfers with intuition, so I am even more skeptical when meditators say they don’t have psychic experiences. What I think is more likely is that they don’t know that for most people, psychic perceptions are very similar to ordinary mental impressions and unless you know when and where to look, you may not pay attention to psychic perceptions because you assume they are just ordinary mental activity. Classes in mediumship, remote viewing, and spiritual healing, as well as daily meditation sessions and any time one is in the hypnogogic state are all good times to watch your mental activity and be on the look out for psychic perceptions.

    anonymous

    • Sandy says:

      Anonymous,

      Does that mean that my ghosts, the colors around people, and all the weird stuff I experience are really just varieties of dreams that contain pyschic information?

  11. Sandy says:

    Tom,

    I tried an experiment. Instead of dreaming while asleep, I tried to find the punk girl while staying awake. I can do it with ghosts sometimes. Maybe they are all just dreams too.

    Today her name is Kim.

    She said you had been using your inner vision today, with great clarity. You were using it to guide management decisions. You want to share your gift with others, but you believe that your guidance is being ignored. You are trying very hard to be a good person and mentor in spite of this. She said that in the end, everyone has to make their own choices in life and learn the lessons of free will and responsibility. She also winked and said that it was OK to shine a little light on the path you think is the good one. Even though you think you are being ignored, what you really want will come through in a surprising way.

    After she was gone, I noticed her colors are what I see when I think of you. It isn’t easy seeing colors for someone you only know from a blog. I’m surprised enough when they come through in emails sometimes. I actually think you would get along with both my before and after NDE colors, based on the colors I see for you. That isn’t all that common. I’ve been thinking a lot about how I perceive colors today. I find it interesting that all three of the other main posters (Tom, Anonymous, and Dr Tart) in this thread have colors that seem to have a very good affinity for the colors I developed after my last NDE. And yet you are all very unique people. (I don’t even have a natural affinity for the colors I developed after my last NDE.)

  12. Tom Dark says:

    Well Sandy, a woman named Kim called yesterday. She’s a friend of Catt’s who’s still in the movie production business. She’s just borderline of the punk generation. Riffing associatively: just 5 minutes ago I referred another woman to a client of ours who’s looking for a film editor for his animated short. Kim’s done for awhile and very much wants her time off.

    Now it’s your turn to associate the name Kim for yourself.

    Yeah you keep saying “they’re just dreams.” But be mindful of the little coincidence between Dr. Tart and my posts, which he pointed out. I wrote that one does not stop dreaming when awake and he elaborated on this (worth reading again) and added an illustration.

    Coincidentally, the woman to whom I referred this possible job is an illustrator. Coincidentally again, the job is for a well known psychologist and author. Coincidentally again, the job has to do with crawly cartoon bugs, and it came up because of a joke we’d made about crawly bugs. Coincidentally once more, her personality was implied along with yours, your Kim’s or Joy’s, and the large old teacher’s in my dream of you a few nights back, mentioned here. It was the dream about a lesson in integrity.

    Waking thoughts are specialized forms of dreams, and dreams are thoughts expanded into images and actions. They can make puns and rebuses. My favorite example is a dream of a woman stranger I met in a dream one night, wearing a set of pearls and holding a glass of sherry. The next morning I heard from a woman stranger named Sheri Perl. What she was after in the dream was precisely what she was after in waking reality, as it turned out; but in the dream, she was portrayed more honestly.

    I’m not looking mentally at an image of a rhinocerous when I write “rhinocerous” to you, but an image of a rhinocerous will likely be the first thing to pop into your mind when I say the word. With a bit of telepathy and quickness, you may see other images that were actually on my mind when I wrote this now-past previous sentence. Whatever you saw would be your interpretation, but sometimes interpretations match. Throw a word at me about that sentence, just for the heck of it, and let’s see. I’ll remember.

    I didn’t see colors for you when I first read your posts here, but rather an invisible and translucent kind of conscious knowing — it expanded in my mind in a flash, like the room suddenly got bigger. No interpretation necessary for me. You do fine. Now let’s hope those people I think are ignoring my sage perceptions give me a big happy surprise.

  13. anonymous says:

    “Does that mean that my ghosts, the colors around people, and all the weird stuff I experience are really just varieties of dreams that contain pyschic information?”

    Hi Sandy,

    I don’t know.

    When you have these experiences, are you dreaming?

    The communications you have with more advanced spirits (ie. non verbal communications) seem to be like what most people experience during mental mediumship.

    When a thought arises through unconsicous mental process and appears in the mind, it might originate in the individual from waking mental activity, from dreaming, or from psychic perceptions or from spirit influence. But all these cases may seem very similar to the individual because they share the mechanism of rising from the unconscious into the conscious.

    However when you see spirits objectively that seems different. Some people have speculated that objective mediumship is just an extreme form of subjective mediumship. I don’t know if this is right.

    I can usually tell that when I percieve something that it is coming to my awareness through my senses and not arising in my mind the way thoughts do. However I have to keep my door bell and telephones disconnected because when I try to go to sleep I will somtimes hallucinate that I hear them ringing. I can usually tell this is a hallucination but it is realistic enough that I would rather be sure that if I hear them I know it’s a hallucination so I keem them disconnected. If I heard spirits talking aloud to me during the day, I suppose I might think it was the same phenomena as when I hear bells ringing when I’m trying to sleep.

    However, all the times I’ve actually “heard voices” (psychically or by hallucinations) I could easily tell they were coming from my mind and not through my senses – there was a big difference, not like when I hear the bells. Most people when they experience clairaudient (hearing spirits) in mental mediumship hear the spirit talking in the voice of the percipient, it sounds like their own thinking not a spirit talking.

    When you hear spirits, do you hear them speaking in their voice or your voice?

    • Sandy says:

      Anonymous,

      I’m not sure if I am dreaming when I have these experiences. When I was in counseling, I asked about altered states of consciousness and how that related to my situation. My counselor had a background in religious anthropology, taught meditation workshops and had a research interest in altered states of consciousness. So he had some informed ideas about this subject. He said it didn’t appear to him like I was in anything other than a normal state of consciousness when I talked to ghosts (he had seen me do that in his office). He did wonder about what I might be going through when I had experiences of being close to the NDE place and of other realities that seem to touch this one sometimes, but I never had those experiences in his office. The best I could do was email him while still in the process of having such experiences and that isn’t easy to do. (After a while it becomes very hard to use words.) He likened my experiences to those of a shaman.

      I hear spirits talking in their own voices. The “dream people” like Kim/Joy sometimes talk in a way that could be me or someone else I know. I sometimes see a ghost that belongs to a person that I’ve corresponded with for over a year. Other people have seen this ghost too, but it isn’t a real ghost, it seems to be a sort of “invisible friend” to this person (he doesn’t see the ghost himself). I had been hearing the ghost for a while and was used to its voice, but it surprised me to find out – because I heard my friend’s voice for the first time in a video – the ghost had the same voice that he did.

      • Sandy says:

        I guess I should say that when I talked to ghosts in front of my counselor, it was always when I could understand them (the ghosts) without having to meet them part way. Some ghosts, the one who communicate using symbols, are hard to understand unless you meet them part way.

        One ghost, a homesick first-year student who had committed suicide, was very close to this world still. She couldn’t even see other ghosts. She had to learn how to talk to me, but once she did I didn’t have to zone out to hear her. She was like talking to any living teenager.

  14. anonymous says:

    “However I have to keep my door bell and telephones disconnected because when I try to go to sleep I will somtimes hallucinate that I hear them ringing.”

    I am not certain of the source of these hallucinations. Once I thought I heard someone knocking at my door while I was falling asleep. I knew it wasn’t real so I thought it must be a spirit who wants to visit me but is too polite to just barge in on my consciousness. I asked mentally, “What is it?” and I saw person in my mind’s eye. I asked them who they were and I saw scenes from their life the same way.

    Now that I think about it, I suppose I should try to see if there are spirits trying to communicate when I hear bells ringing. I have had analogous visual hallucinations where I saw a vision of my answering machine showing a message had been recieved. At first I thought I was psychically percieving that there was a message on the machine, but when I checked, there was no message, so I have to wonder if it is spirits who know I will ignore them if they ring, trying to tell me they have a message for me.

    It can be hard to tell what is psychic and what is not. For this reason I advise people never to do anything because they think they had a psychic perception unless they would do it without that experience too. When I have had important synchronicities in my life that seemed to be psychic in nature I didn’t know there was anything psychic going on until afterward. At the time I thought I was just doing something I decided to do. Once the synchronicity occured then I realized something odd happened.

    Generally the most reliable way for me to tell I’ve had a psychic experience is if there is some type of confirmation. either I see a person in my mind who shows up as a spirit at a mediumship class and is recognized by someone I’m giving a reading to, or if I percieve something that seems to presage something that happens to me in the future.

  15. anonymous says:

    I wouldn’t advise a man who’s had more opportunity than 99.99% of the population to take “psychic” lessons,

    I’d also recommend remote viewers take classes in mediumship and mediums take classes in remote viewing. You can’t have too many experiences.

  16. Tom Dark says:

    Bingo, Sandy. When I was writing “rhinocerous” I was also noticing out of the corner of my eye that the moon had just appeared out of the clouds in the western sky.

    Now isn’t this more fun than just theory, theory, theory?

    When I was reading Marie’s post at rogerebert.com, my horse Harley came in the doorway and stomped his hoof at me (I used it for my reply to Marie). Next I read your post, and one of my kitties leaped up and playfully snagged my pants. What does it mean when a post you are reading excites the creatures around you?

    • Sandy says:

      It might be fun, but it isn’t very scientific. You could just be saying that moon was the correct word. It is hardly a double-blind test.

      If a post you are reading excites the creatures around you, that suggests that they think you are paying way too much attention to a silly machine when you could instead be playing with them.

  17. Tom Dark says:

    Let’s not take my meanings out of context, Anonymous: I wouldn’t advise a man who’s had more opportunity than 99.99% of the population to take “psychic” lessons, Anonymous. As he suggests, it’s an asset that he hasn’t. As he says, he is here to create bridges.

    Now then, you’re recommending people spend their money on classes, such as they are. Look what Sandy’s been doing throughout this thread, who hasn’t. Let’s see you do your stuff… and if you can, give us a cost breakdown on how much one has to pay somebody to learn how to spontaneously use one’s inner senses.

  18. Tom Dark says:

    Yup Sandy. I AM saying “moon” was the “correct” word, actually, one of a number of probable words or impressions. Mustn’t let this go a couple days because I’ll forget that precisely-cubed moment. Take another guess if you like and I swear on a stack o’ bibles I’ll tell the truth.

    Double-blind tests won’t work with methods that are designed through the empirical methods of science. One can indeed be stuck with a dilemma of proofs. Empirical or materialistic science frowns on the idea that “people believe what they want to believe,” but of what science may be made of psychology or psychic matters, it must begin there. And, as the large old teacher in my dream dream-told you and the others the other night, the matter of personal integrity is of prime importance.

    Well, I’m sitting here answering your post and once again, kitty comes up and claws my pants. Why now? I sit here all the time and he never does that. I’ve been sitting here all this time answering queries and such, and he picked this moment out of the rest. Harley didn’t stomp at the door, though. Kitty’s stopped, and I bet he won’t do it again tonight. I’ll let you know if he does. I’m saying animals aren’t anywhere near as self-centered as humans.

  19. Tom Dark says:

    Oooops! Double-blind tests won’t work with methods that are NOT designed through the empirical methods of science.

  20. Tom Dark says:

    Nope. Coffee cup wasn’t on my mind while I wrote the “rhinocerous” sentence. I don’t drink coffee that late at night. Keeping a moment’s memory in mind for this game is almost a physical effort. Give it one more shot if you like. Use the force, Leia.

  21. Tom Dark says:

    You’re just guessing now. But I was thinking “arrow” before your post showed up, as I stepped out the door to check on the horses. Thinking about coincidences and things lately in discussions, I remembered a line from a book I edited about a biblical prophecy supposedly shooting 2,000 years into the future like a “divine arrow.” I still feel a little guilty about that, as I didn’t believe it and would never be so literal-minded about “prophecies,” but was just improving on my client’s phrasing.

    Before I forget: while I was writing that sentence, the comic strip “Ferdinand” was going through my mind alongside “Gordo,” where I first read the cute thing about “I bet you can’t stop thinking about a rhinoceros.” That was 47 years ago. The image of the funnies page came to mind (from The Catholic Universe Observer). At the same time I was thinking about the last time I used that analogy, a few days before, and as far back as 5 years ago. I was also thinking about one of my older brothers, who once gave me a T-shirt with Albrecht Durer’s famous illustration of a rhinoceros on it.

    There were other side-thoughts too, but these main memories of that moment are more than enough to illustrate. The following day I happened to learn that the comic strip “Ferdinand” still exists. Then I dreamed about my brother.

    It’s not unreasonable to suggest you would have picked up the impression of “moon” out of your own curiosity and natural sense of significances. I hesitated all at once to look in surprise at the moon over my shoulder out the window.

    We think thoughts that generate more thoughts that generate more thoughts. All of the thoughts of that moment writing that sentence wandered off into other associations, joining with other long ongoing sets of thoughts. The two that had a certain intensity enough to form an event as though “for” me, were the comic strip and the dream about my brother, from whom I haven’t heard in a few years.

    We are taught that thinking is morally questionable and potentially dangerous; that happy people hardly think at all, and it’s especially wrong for women to think. This “instruction” permeates our culture to the point it seems invisible — until we come to disastrous examples, such as times where “loose lips sink ships.”

    A woman was arrested in 1944 in England, under witchcraft laws, because while playing with a ouija board she learned about a planned Navy attack and mentioned it out loud.

    “Psychics” make people nervous. Dear god, please don’t let her mention how often I masturbate!

    As a matter of fact, an old and rather well-to-do psychic confided to me last year that in a previous life, I was victimized often with anal sex by my partner. “And that’s why I don’t care for it to this day,” I replied diplomatically. I could see that he was a homosexual, I had turned him on, and he went “psychic” to test me just in case. I’m real well versed in quite a few of my incarnations.

    Because of this rather telepathic injunction against “thinking too much,” we often ignore what we’re thinking — we shut it off and make ourselves even more uncomfortable with the notion that “not thinking” is a virtue.

    Screw that, thinking is GOOD. G-O-O-DOUBLE-DD. So I hear my thoughts and my thoughts’ thoughts pretty routinely. So far it has not prompted me to do evil. Because of that, it’s a little easier to hear what others are thinking, too. Distance, or space, doesn’t matter.

    When I saw you with your birds I also saw that they give you a valuable liberating feeling. Because of that, I feel yet more affection the birds hopping around out my front door right now. I’ve made sure to toss them more seeds. God they’re cute. See what your thought did?

    • Sandy says:

      I admit it. I picked coffee cup knowing it was incorrect. Arrow came up with two other words, oak and faith. It didn’t feel like it belonged to rhinoceros, but it did seem to belong to you. To me oak trees relate to ships on the ocean (Heart of Oak). The two words together with arrow seem to suggest having the faith that you will make the correct choices to get to where you need to be.

      I’m not a big thinker, Tom. I’m more into doing stuff than thinking about stuff. And sometimes I really don’t want to be psychic. I can be a goat. I have no problem with performing psychic tricks if they can be used to prove I’m not a psychic.

  22. Tom Dark says:

    From the psyche where psychic things happen, there’s no difference between a think and a do, Sandy. Besides, you gave yourself away when you said you “think too much.” ;)

    I was thinking about “faith” a few days ago. I think about it periodically, and probably will ’til I one day come up with an essay about it. The concept is all screwed up. In public religious parlance it’s come to mean blind obedience to ideas that don’t even make any sense. The way I feel faith about one thing or another is kind of psychic… like tendrils feeling around in the unknown that suggest the thing is out there. Gently, gently.

    Ah, from a tiny acorn doth the mighty oak grow. Such thoughts are a background hum in my mind, but nothing in the foreground lately. I finished a bottle of wine 2 nights ago and thought they had oaked it a tad too much… that’s where the vintners add the flavor of an oak barrel to the wine. And as usual, that thought generated a splay of other associations, but no action except I don’t want any more wine for awhile.

    What’s become of Anonymous? I’ve got a dream for him.

  23. Sandy says:

    I hope it is OK to keep adding to this thread. I see Dr Tart’s latest main entry, and it seems to suggest we may be getting too wordy and off-topic around here. Sorry.

    I just wanted to say something about the fear of psi. I suspect most people have it to some degree, and I wonder if it keeps such abilities in check. The reason I think this is that I think fear limits us in a lot of ways, not all of them bad. But when you lose your fear, you lose your limitations. I’m sure anyone who has read through this thread will wonder why someone like me is having anomalous experiences if this is true. (I’m even having one as I type this.) Shouldn’t my fears prevent that from occurring? All I can say is that being a NDEr took away my fear of death. That is a major fear, at least from what I’ve seen in other people. I think the absence of that particular fear may be why I experience the world as I do.

  24. Tom Dark says:

    Eh, Sandy, I’m not out proselytizing for the cause. I’ve had all the psychic sideshows and speculative conversations I can take. My reason for showing up here was for a kind of teacher’s debt for Dr. Tart’s book of 35 years ago, and a run-down on his latest.

    I noticed you had a talent for dreaming — anyone can and everyone does, but so far, very few suspect the advantages they can take. On those few occasions where it’s opportune, I suggest my “dream game” and by now, I’ve certainly proved my point at least to myself and “him who has ears to ear.” I’m sure you had this talent before your accident.

    I thought a spontaneous experiment here might be of use to you and Dr. Tart and this site. A thread devoted to an experiment like this could be beneficial to all involved, but a serious one would take a whole lot more writin’ than I’ve done, and generally triggers very long posts from those involved in it.

    Others might come across this and think to join in. This is actually a social experiment.

    Woops. Phone just rang. I’ve gotta go have din with a client.

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