Mishlove Jeffrey - The roots of consciousness

Author : Mishlove Jeffrey
Title : The roots of consciousness
Year : 2012

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Introduction to the Second Edition. The Roots of Consciousness is a look at the history, folklore and science that shapes our understanding of psychic capacities. The original edition was published in 1975, while I was still a graduate student at U.C., Berkeley, working in an individual, interdisciplinary doctoral program in parapsychology. It is, in part, a personal book containing descriptions of significant events in my own life. It is also personal because in the field of consciousness exploration there are so many competing interpretations that any telling of the story - even in strictly scientific terms - contains many individual choices. I might have, for example, written an account from the perspective of a proponent for a particular viewpoint regarding the existence or non-existence of psychic functioning. In so doing, my goal would not be to sift through competing claims to arrive at a balanced and truthful account. Rather I would be interested in persuading you that my version of reality is superior to those of my opponents. If I were a skeptical debunker I would rail against magical thinking and would argue that every purported psychic event is the result of human error, folly or fraud. This view, which is not uncomon in academic circles, has an ancient history and a marvelously fascinating folklore whose heroes are enlightened philosophers - people who have struggled mightily to break free from the shackles of superstition. By popping the illusory bubbles of myth and magic, such heroes can presumably guide humankind toward an age of rational enlightenment. Within the perspective of this folklore, anyone attesting to such events as telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition or psychokinesis is to be considered either suffering pitiable delusion or perpetrating contemptible fraud. While I doubt that all "skeptics" will feel comfortable with this book, I have become convinced, over the past fifteen years since I wrote the original edition, that the point of view debunkers represent deserves greater respect. True, debunkers often argue from a materialistic, positivistic or scientistic ideology. Their thinking is as colored by their worldview that of other ideologues or "true believers. (The mechanisms by which this can occur are detailed explicitly in Section III.) However, thoughtless dismissal of either true believers or true skeptics sometimes results from a protective reaction which generally serves no other purpose than to protect our own views from too sharp an outside challenge. As the original edition of The Roots of Consciousness was widely used as a college text, I am grateful for the opportunity to inject more critical thinking into the revised edition. On the other hand, an exploration of consciousness might hardly be thought of as complete without an enumeration of the many inner realms of the mind explored by cultists and occultists, mystics and metaphysicians, witches and warlocks, poets and prophets, seers and saints, spirits and spiritualists, scientists and pseudoscientists of all stripes. Were I to write from the perspective of a New Age proponent, I would not fail to sympathetically treat such important terrain in the geography of consciousness as human beings who are the embodiment of dieties, the hierarchy of spiritual beings and planes of non-human existence, the healing power of crystals and pyramids, the worldwide confluence of prophecies regarding the future of the human race. In so doing, I would find no need to refer respectfully to the arguments of those who challenge my perspective. Time and space do not permit me to enumerate all the the many threads and nuances implicit in the two possible scenarios presented above. Nor do I wish simply to elaborate on all the possibilities. We all possess different genetic patterns, fingerprints and personal histories. Similarly, each of us is the creator of our own unique perspective about the power and creativity of our thoughts and desires. While I have sought to present a balanced viewpoint, I realize that many other knowledgable persons hold perspectives about consciousness quite different from my own - that they also believe to be appropriately balanced ! ...

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