The Pattern Behind Self-Deception

I like going to uncomfortable places with my spiritual practice. I'm not sure what this is about but as soon as I get cozy with a point of view I like to begin exploring the opposite view. Especially things that make me uncomfortable seem to hold a perverse fascination for me and I am drawn to jump in there with that feeling and wriggle around in it. Usually I learn from it. Sometimes it gives me the heebie-jeebies and I flee. I think it has something to do with reconciling opposites.

The most interesting states of consciousness have emerged when apparently irreconcilable forces crashed in my inner world, hurling me to the outer limits of what I can conceptually frame. Often catastrophically collapsing everything I thought I knew and then from that rubble something strange and shiny emerges. I have got a huge amount of mileage out of magically jamming God and the Devil like this for instance, to name one dualism that I like to meddle with. The other being the atheist perspective with the theist - which as you may have noticed took the form of this recent controversial posting.

Lately it has been the attempt at reconciling scientific materialistic and animist perspectives. Reconcile is a strong word, I suppose. It really just is two parts of my own experience, both vivid and undeniable, reacting horribly to the utterly alien radiation of the other.

This has taken the form of investigating ideas which scientifically attempt to explain away, well, pretty much everything about magic, spirituality and the paranormal. This glib TED talk hits a nerve in that regard - striking at the heart of what magic and divination are all about: the emergence of meaning from pattern and how we delude ourself in that process. What if our preoccupation with sorcery really just is some cognitive defect - an evolutionary artefact? Check it out and share your thoughts. As occultists, conjurers, card readers  - how do you respond to the ideas presented in this lecture?


  1. Ok I spend a lot of time thinking and working with these issues. The most useful tool, in my opinion, is the concept of world view. This is not just our conscious philosophy, it is also are unconscious views of reality, in fact it is our reality.

    The reason that that the points made in the video seem persuasive is that they arise out of the atheistic/materialist world view which is held by Science and Academia and is our standard modern reality. More details here http://renaissance-astrology.blogspot.com/2008/12/modern-world-view.html

    The problem is that it is very difficult to see our world view as one of many possible world views, it simply is reality and anyone who denies it or views things differently is simply wrong or likely insane.

    That's true of the speaker in this video. He attacks belief, without recognizing that he himself believes in science and the atheistic/materialist world view. For example, in talking about patterning he indicates that he believes in randomness, that the brain is the basis of thought and consciousness and that a objective reality exists separate from any observer.

    My worldview has shifted more to a traditional one in which nothing is random, the mind and consciousness use the brain not vice versa and can exist separate from a physical body and there is no objective reality separate from consciousness/an observer.

    However, world view is seamless. One cannot "prove" something that is impossible according to one's worldview. If an atheistic/materialist saw the Archangel Gabriel it would be an illusion, a hologram, or a hallucination because angels don't exist, regardless of the physical evidence!

    Atheistic/materialism, in my view, cannot be reconciled with traditional world views that include the spiritual. In seeking to do so, we only underline how prestigious science, dependent on atheistic/materialism, is for our society and how much we depend on its seal of approval.

  2. Well you know..This is why I do not dig the occultism that branched out from theosophical or crowley-like schools of thought. Magic masquerading as a genuine science is a bit retarded.

    I'm not saying magic isn't real obviously being a fellow magician afterall, but since magic deals with an invisible and highly conceptual universe (one which can not be observed solely by the 5 senses), science can not explain it or even perceive it.

  3. Fascinating presentation. If occultists didn't play with the idea of whether what we do is simply a result of brain activity, or to put it more bluntly a delusion, then we'd be fooling ourselves. It is in the spirit of sincerity and honesty that we put our beliefs up to the test.

    Yet, to my satisfaction it passes the test. What patterns I see, what results I receive, are not merely coincidences, but have been so strongly correlated with my work that to continue to doubt would be a delusion in of itself.

    We are dealing with something that is by nature metaphysical and yet attempt to explain it using physics, biology, and similar sciences that are are ill-equiped to deal with realities that though subjective are no less real.

    Furthermore, I do not believe it is our natural state to believe. I think it is our natural state to not know, so we attempt to fill this "void" by either asserting belief, or asserting a skeptic's perspective. In reality what we claim to know for certain, science included, is far less then we think. Was it not Socrates that said, "the fear of death is the presumption of wisdom."

    Proof doesn't exist on either side at this point. Yet it is important to point out that there is no dichotomy between belief and scientific inquiry. In fact that two have historically been bed fellows and are strong associated with similar intentions.