Amsterdam, the Netherlands
29 May 2004
Readers who are especially interested in the yajna procedure that I published on 23 May should download that entry again. Some additions and corrections were since put in.
Be advised that the same may happen to yesterday's material about mantra-mudra puja. In2-MeC entries that feature a lot of photographs with accompanying text and captions are very demanding to produce. Often I write them in a hurry. After they are published, I notice omissions and errors while reading them online. That's why a day or so later the already-published text changes. But, you see, that's the great advantage of writing E-editions: I can go back and rE-edit! Hard-copy editions are as they are, mistakes and all, forever.
While we're on the subject of books in print, here are some In2-MeC recommendations.
Maya The world as virtual reality by Richard L. Thompson, Govardhan Hill Publication 2003, 304 pgs. softbound, ISBN0963530909
. . . the brain has no location within the virtual space created by the VR [virtual reality] computer, but it is nontheless able to interact with a virtual body that has a position in that space.
Sataputa Prabhu (Richard L. Thompson) constructs a metaphorical bridge between computer-generated virtual reality and that which goes under the name of "physical" or "objective" reality: the world around us. His thesis is that just as the brain of the experiencer of virtual reality is not located within virtual space, similarly the consciousness of the experiencer of physical reality is not located in physical space--or even mental space, since both mind and matter are aspects of physical reality. As philosopher Charles S. Peirce wrote, "Mind is matter seen from the inside, and matter is mind seen from the outside. " The experience of mind and matter constitute Maya, a veil of illusion that obscures the Ground Reality to which our consciousness belongs.
Sadaputa Prabhu argues that paranormal phenomena--psychokinesis, visions, hallucinations, visitations, near death experiences, poltergeists, apports, non-traditional healing--are evidence that from Ground Reality, consciousness interacts with the virtual program of the mental-physical world. It's this point that draws fire from modern Mayavadis. They have no problem with the thesis that the objective world is Maya. They often have no objection to the evidence of paranormal phenomena. But that Maya is grounded upon a higher reality--a capital-R Reality--makes "those who stick to Maya" (Srila Prabhupada's conversational definition of Mayavadis) uncomfortable. Barry Kavanagh reviewed Maya--the world as virtual reality in the February 2004 issue of a British magazine dedicated to the investigation of paranormal phenomena; his conclusion is:
Things may not be "as they seem," but I am not convinced this is a sign of mystic consciousness, generated from beyond the veil of illusion.
Mayavadis, with a mindset that most paranormalists certainly share, are entranced by the study of Maya, the world-illusion. They believe it is premature to conclude that the very existence of the world-illusion logically calls for the existence of a Reality beyond that illusion. "Evidence is needed for these [paranormal] phenomena," writes Kavanagh, "before they are used as evidence for something else. " In other words: "Don't ask us to believe in Reality before we're done studying Maya. " The problem is, it is the nature of Maya to supply unlimited mystical bafflement for the Mayavadis to study. Their method of knowledge is a treadmill--endless information-gathering and theorizing that arrives at no certain conclusion. That's Maya! The key to the Mayavadis' unwillingness to surrender to Reality is their abiding trust in what they admit are untrustworthy: the mind, the senses, and sensory-mental data. They believe a priori that these are the only valid means by which knowledge can be obtained. If capital-R Reality is outside the purview of mind, senses and sensory-mental data, then Reality must ever be "unknowable. " If the only thing that can be known via mind, senses and sensory-mental data is Maya, then that is what Mayavadis resign themselves to study--even though it is illusion.
As they said in days of old:
Hunc mundum tipice laberinthus denotat ille
"Our world symbolically expresses this labyrinth. "
Archaeological Anomalies Small artifacts compiled by William Corliss, The Sourcebook Project 2003, 319 pgs. hardbound, ISBN (09)15554461
William Corliss has published a total of 39 books under the imprimature of The Sourcebook Project. His purpose is to reopen the questions--more or less all the questions--that are "answered" to the satisfaction of Western science. Corliss does this by putting into print his painstaking compilations of numerous cases of verified physical evidence that fall outside what I will call (with no apologies for the sarcasm) THEOSOPHS--THe Established, Offical Screed Of the Pompous Hierophants of Science.
Archaeological Anomalies--Small artifacts comes as volume 21 of the Catalogue of Anomalies series. As the subtitle tells us, this book is a detailed list of artifacts or things made by man. Included are the sorts of things that ancient people deliberately made--e. g. machinery, carvings, cloth--and things they left behind inadvertantly, like footprints and bones. The book is concerned with small artifacts; an artifact like, say, the ruins of Mohenjo-Daro, an ancient city in Pakistan, is too large to be included. Large artifacts are covered in two earlier volumes of this series.
All the artifacts listed clash in some way with the world-view of "bona fide" archaeology. One example is Maya Blue pigment. This is a blue coloring used by the Maya civilization of Central America in murals and ceramics, a blue so brilliant that it still astonishes today, 15 centuries later. Modern analysis of the chemistry of Maya Blue reveals that it is "nanostructured", which means "structured at an extremely small level. "
Molecules of blue indigo dye were combined with polgorskite clay to create a chemical structure like a network of microscopic cages. Each cage-structure, formed of clay, houses particles of indigo. In this way the dye is protected and so prevented from fading. But in addition, nano-particles of metal were added to make the pigment even more brilliant than normal indigo blue.
Today nanotechnology is very "cutting edge science"; in terms of the modern archaeologist's idea of the world of 1500 years ago, Maya Blue is as startling as, say, finding a silicon microchip in the hardened ashes of Pompeii.
Other anomalies are:
- an iron pot that was found at Thomas, Oklahoma, in 1912--inside a chunk of coal estimated to be 312 million years old (archaeology admits no human beings on Earth at that time);
- a skillfully-crafted bone harpoon from West Africa dated at 80 thousand years (archaeology admits no human beings on Earth at that time who were big in the skillfull crafts department);
- Roman amphora (pottery of the Classical Age) found off of the coast of Brazil (archaeology says that the first Italian to sail into South American waters was Columbus, long after the Classical Age);
- a buckle from ancient China made of aluminum (an alloy that is supposed to be a modern invention);
- ancient pottery from Ecuador that is very like Jomon pottery of Japan (archaeology admits no prehistoric contact between Japan and the Americas).
These are only a few of many, many curious anomalies that Corliss has compiled from impeccable sources.
Fabulous Science by John Waller, OUP 2002, 308 pgs. hardbound, ISBN 0 19 280404 9
The previous book under review presents exceptions to THEOSOPHS; this book, Fabulous Science, investigates THEOSOPHS and finds it to be, in some way or other, flawed or even fraudulent. Three examples of many given:
Pasteur, while right in his hypothesis that micro-organisms were not spontaneously generated, did not actually have experimental results to support this. In fact he suppressed data that he did have that didn't support his hypothesis. This is not the way science is supposed to work.
Eddington's 1919 experiment that was hailed around the world as validating Einstein's theory of relativity actually did no such thing. Eddington massaged the data to make it fit the theory. (He was a great enthusiast of relativity and was of the opinion that only he and Einstein actually understood it. ) Later experiments confirmed the theory, but it was Eddington that made relativity a household word. A case of propaganda masquerading as science with false credentials supplied by the scientific establishment.
The modern theory of evolution is credited to Charles Darwin. But before him there were many other evolutionists. The truth is that Darwin shaped his theory from their ideas. Lamarck was one such before-Darwin evolutionist. He held that when a living entity acquires a special trait--like a chimpanzee that learns to pull the stinger off the tail of a scorpion before eating it--that trait is passed biologically to succeeding generations. Thus the descendents of this chimp don't have to learn to pull off scorpion stingers because the trait is "in their blood. " Lamarckian evolution is discredited today. Indeed, students learn in school that Darwinian evolution triumphed over Lamarckian evolution. The subtext here is that the latter has become saddled with a heavy load of political incorrectness since the Communist tyrant Josef Stalin made Larmarkianism a component of his version of Marxism-Leninism. But in fact Darwin's first book, On the Origin of Species, argued the very same idea--that a trait acquired by an animal will be inherited by its offspring. The messy reality of Darwin's work was later smoothed over to fit the myth of modern evolutionary theory.
Of Moths and Men Intrigue, Tragedy and the Peppered Moth by Judith Hooper, Fourth Estate 2003, 337 pgs. paperback, ISBN 1 84115 393 1
The concern of this book is similar to that of Fabulous Science, except that it focuses on one specific case of flawed and fraudulent science: industrial melanism. Melanism means "dark coloration. " At one time THEOSOPHS held that as cities became industrialized, the naturally light-colored peppered moth evolved a darker coloring. And so, compared to their countryside kin, city-dwelling peppered moths were "melanistic. " The reason was that because the surfaces outside (trees, leaves, walls) were covered by factory soot, moths of lighter color that alighted on such darkened surfaces were more prone to be spotted by enemies like insect-eating birds. So, by natural selection, darker moths prospered in the city and lighter ones disappeared--though in the unpolluted countryside, they could still be found in plenty. Beyond the city limits, natural selection worked against melanistic moths. I remember having to learn about industrial melanism in my high school biology days. The science textbooks I had to read were replete with neat illustrations of light and dark moths on soot-blackened tree trunks. Of Moths and Men shows that, from the very beginning, this bit of "science" was pure humbug. . . but only lately do scientists grudgingly admit it as such.
1953 was the year the industrial melanism scam began. That was when an amateur lepidopterist (butterfly collector) named HBP Kettleswell went public with his "discovery" that the peppered moth population in cities was darker than that in the country. He not only proposed the hypothesis of industrial melanism to explain his observations, he even had proof. But it was all bogus. Kettleswell's practice was to nail darker moths to trees to make sure people who wanted proof would observe these unfortunate insects getting eaten by birds.
Science fell in love with industrial melanism. It came to be taught in schools around the world. Finally the fraud was exposed by Theodore Sargeant, who himself was accused of being a fraud by diehard Kettleswell devotees.
As they said in days of old:
Tum podex carmen extulit horridulum
"The ass gave out a terrible song. "