RE: virus: Belief and Knowledge (was: The truth about faith)

Wright, James 7929 (
Tue, 08 Jul 97 09:18:00 EDT

I knew I would regret starting this.....

From: Wade T.Smith[]
>Wade, the problem I THINK you're having is that you are looking for
>something you can get a hold of - something that can be shown, inferred,

>demonstrated to an outside person who has no background or training in

>the field - the way that one can SEE evidence of mass, motion,
>acceleration, force, and so forth. Am I correct in interpreting your
>position here? Please say if not.[JHW]

You have once again raised a very tattered strawman. I am not looking for


This is the second time I have written you, and the first was another
thread ... how have I once again raised anything? But remember your
denial, for later in the message!

>Yet the proponents of Zen and enlightenment all insist that there is
>nothing physical to be measured, nothing concrete to be observed, it is

>an INTERNAL process/result/function (I am stifled by a lack of a correct

>word/concept here)[JHW]


>and must be experienced, directly and thoroughly by
>each individual, to be understood. [JHW]

Well, the problem I think _you_ are having, is, you believe them... that
you lend credence to this purely speculative and unfounded and biased
and, well, unprovable assertion.[WTS]

How can I believe what I haven't experienced when the experience is the
basis of understanding what it is? I do not follow your use of
speculative, unfounded,biased and unprovable, unless you START by
demanding that the only acceptable proof of demonstrable, well-founded,
impartial and provable is PHYSICAL test - which I started by saying did
not apply.

>I am leaving out the accounts by
>various observers of Tibetan monks sitting comfortably while naked in
>snow, controlling heartbeat down to the point of death, etc. as goals
>that were accomplished by "omphaloskepsis", a word I am repeating
>looking it up here.[JHW]
I have actually worked with Herbert Benson, who is perhaps the leading
'observer' of these things. There is nothing, once the _physical_
biological facts are laid out by an objective and measuring and
disinterested person, unaccomplishable by ordinary humans, in quite
prosaic ways....

Anyway, 'enlightenment' is not what I was looking for, no, I was much
younger then....

I was looking for what you mean by 'non-physical'. You _seem_ to mean
'mystical', and I am sorry, but that, to me, to be blunt, is bullshit.

If what you meant was the world of 'thought'- then you are also wrong,
for the Tibetan, and any other monastic/cult/priest class, has barely
scratched the surface of why the mind does what it does. Although the
world of thought may well be what 'memetic' is, I have little reason to
suspect any prolonged study of Tibetan yogic practices will greatly
enrich any memetic discipline.

And I am not for a second discounting any yogic/meditative practice.
There is good, substantive, experimental evidence, besides my own
anecdotal successes, that such practices, even _completely stripped of
their 'mystical' trappings_, have a beneficial and repeatable outcome.

Once again, the crux of my argument is twofold- one that you define your
terms, and two, that you supply some evidence for your extraordinary
claim of a 'non-physical world.'[JHW]
Defining terms when language suffers and is inadequate is a real
challenge - I will try, later, after I have thought about it a while.
But since you ignored entirely the real thrust of the first message, I
will try again - let's see if your skepticism admits at least a partial
gray area.
I am now a contemporary of Isaac Newton, a genius of the first order and
the first proponent of calculus and the theory of gravity. Being a genius
myself, I do Einstein's thought experiments and arrive at Special
Relativity. I propose it to Newton, and he roundly rejects it - how can
time be affected by mass? There is absolutely no instance of this theory
that is demonstrable on the earth, and the instruments that would show it
using eclipses, etc. are simply too crude and rough to perform
confirmations. Nuclear science is hundreds of years in the future, and
even photographic plates are not available. "Show me proof!" Newton
demands, and I cannot. "Aha! Therefore your theory is false, purely
speculative and unfounded and biased and, well, unprovable assertion!"
Wade, if you begin by assuming that all the knowledge, equipment and
techniques needed to show the verifiability, falsifiability,
reproducibility and so forth of the powers of the mind are already here,
how can you be surprised that no proof you will accept is possible?

And you are not alone in supplying to this list a statement barefacedly
absent of substantiating evidence....[WTS]

If you start by rejecting anything that cannot be shown physically, I
suppose you are correct...

I do not ask you to believe. I do not ask anyone to believe ... only to
investigate for themselves. If the only phenomena you can accept are
those which give readings on meters, glows on phosphor tubes or change
colors in test tubes, then I hope you live long ... far longer than it
takes for smarter scientists and more ingenious engineers to develop the
tools that will be required to measure the powers of the mind.