14th Dec ’11  (taken from my personal journal)

So, does anything ethereal actually exist?

(To be clear, I am applying this question to the existence of: …ghosts or apparitions; unbounded tappable energy such as Chi / Qi; the spirit world; benevolent or malevolent universal beings or forces such as a god or gods; etc.)

On what appears to be a separate subject (but isn’t); from the many different scientific and naturalist books, journals, films, documentaries, etc, that I have read or seen, it seems to me that life in all its forms develops the ability to take advantage of not only the obvious environmental aspects of its location, but also, often amazingly, the far more subtle aspects as well.
There are many examples offered by Lyall Watson in his book Supernature.

Now, if life is constantly displaying these adaptations made to suit, and by default, showing the awareness of the most subtle stimuli, then surely if there were any other ethereal aspects to existence on this planet, surely life would have found a way to exploit it to its benefit.

(added 13th Jan ’12 – Hmm, an interesting thought… maybe the ‘spirit of life’ came before physical form? Perhaps that spirit exploited the physical universe to produce what we think of as life…?)

After all, we each have an unsuppressable will to survive, and when put in a life-threatening position, it has been made clear many many times by those who have been there, that a person will do anything they can to stay alive.

An obvious example that springs to mind is the reaction of a drowning person when another swims to their aid. The person who’s drowning will, in their panic, use the other person as a floatation aid and try their hardest to scramble up them to say afloat. In doing so, they risk drowning the person coming to their aid.
Another example is the stories we’ve all heard where for one reason or another, there is a sudden need for a mass of people to escape from a crowded area – a collapsing building; a fire; a gunshot heard; etc. People will scramble over one another to get away from the perceived threat. The mass hysteria affects almost every person in the crowd and can result in injury and death to those who fall and get trampled upon.
The driver behind this apparent disregard for the life of another is not a human trait, but a much much older trait that can be witnessed in all forms of life when faced with death.

So going back to my initial question; ‘does anything ethereal actually exist’…
…with regard ‘ghosts and apparitions’ :
If such a thing does exist, then according to the stories we hear, it exists outside of the physical world, but can affect the physical world at will.
However, my knowledge (learned, not experienced) does not suggest that those within the physical world can use the supposed existence to their advantage, therefore there is no way for life forms to adapt accordingly to use this ‘energy’ source.
(I do have a theory (not yet expanded upon) that is outside the scope of this entry, but is to do with the ‘absorption’ of events in the physical surroundings, that can be witnessed in a dis-embodied state by another – see entry 8th July ’04.)

…with regard ‘unbounded tappable energy such as Chi / Qi’ :
My personal experience through the world of Martial Arts strongly suggests that there may well be some kind of ‘energy’ that can be used.
However, even though I have experienced strange things, I still struggle to believe that it is anything more than a ‘receiving’ person simply being compliant to the wishes of another.
My feeling at the moment is that as we are obviously capable of picking up on the smallest of subtle messages (watch Derren Brown!) in a completely unconscious manner, then we are each subject to the possibility of being unconsciously manipulated by the power of suggestion, especially when it would confirm our belief in the abilities of someone we respect and hold in high regard… such as a traditional Martial Arts instructor.
Other than a couple of particular instances, I have yet to witness anything that could not be explained by this rationale.

…with regard ‘the spirit world’ :
With this title I include Astrologists, Tarot card readers, psychics, mediums, astral planes, seers of ghosts/spirits, oujii boards, and all other aspects of the Western version of the Spirit world… (except out of body experiences… from what I’ve read, it seems that this might be something that I can achieve within a lifetime, so I should reserve judgement until this is experienced.)

If it is possible to attain some form of knowledge, whether it be concerning past, present, or future, I find it impossible to believe that other life forms would not have picked up on this subtle stimulus over the last 600 million years, and used it to their advantage of survival, and / or reproduction.
It is currently understood by the scientists, that the development of the ‘eye’ was such an evolutionary leap forward, that it raised the chances of survival for a species enormously. …imagine a predator trying to catch prey that could see it coming, when the predator itself couldn’t see…
Light itself is a very subtle stimulus, but the detection of it through light sensitive cells is a good example of how life adapts to a subtle stimulus.
If it were possible to ‘see’ into the future, then considering the obvious survival benefit, doesn’t it seem reasonable to suppose that the last 600 million years would have been long enough for life to ‘find a way’…?
I have witnessed nothing to suggest that the spirit world exists.

…with regard ‘benevolent or malevolent universal beings or forces such as a god or gods’ :
Ok, here’s the biggie!  Considering how many people believe in a god of some form, why do I not? And more importantly, why do I think they’re all wrong? (Arggh… I feel like I’m holding a loaded gun to my head!)
Firstly, I should point out that it is not strictly true that I do not believe in the existence of ‘something’.
I do.

However, I should also point out that I do feel that whatever ‘it’ is has been over-analysed and massively over-complicated across the millennia. And, that belief systems have been invented, then bastardised by those in power to control the marauding masses. They wanted to make sure that they never had revolting peasants!

An area that I am very confidant of, is that I cannot find anything that makes me agree that the great ‘something’ is self-aware, or even that it has the capacity to love, hate, or even to simply care. It simply is.
My current position is that it is the creative force of the universe, in the same way that gravity is the attractive force of the universe. It is simply a universal property that permeates everything.
It is encouraging that Steve Newell (a Christian church leader) points out that the word ‘God‘ is Hebrew for ‘I am…’ therefore, nameless.
It is my view that somewhere in the past the understanding of the great ‘is’, was changed by an influential person, from something that is at least similar to my view above, to that of one that is made in our image [sic] and one that is self-aware, the omnipotent and benevolent ruler of the kingdom of heaven and earth.
I cannot shake the feeling that it is all far too anthropomorphic.

So why do so many millions, nay billions of people believe in a version of this?
Well, the majority of people have been brought up to believe in the existence of a great being(s) that must be appeased in order to be permitted to be raised to the next level of existence. Of these people, very few will take time out to review their beliefs to see if they are valid.
People do not think – as Adolf Hitler noticed. He is credited with saying ‘Isn’t it fortunate for those in power, that people do not think.
Those who do take a step back are invariably natural philosophers, and of those that I’ve met, or read of, it seems that they almost always lose their faith.
Is this because they have found fault with the dogmatic lessons?
Is it because they have realised something similar to that which I have realised?
I can’t help but wonder if those that do go back to their faith have chosen the answer they like, then spend a lifetime searching for the questions to validate the answer.
Albert Einstein famously did this when, after understanding that the quantum world introduces the ‘probability’ of an event, rather than a definitive value, declared ‘God does not play dice!
He had chosen all along to continue believing in the Christian God, then when his investigations revealed something utterly perplexing, he chose to ignore it. The answer he had found was so far outside of our everyday experience, that he chose to discount it.
I can find no evidence that God exists in the monotheistic or polytheistic manners depicted within the religious systems of the world.
However, I would say that Taoism, Animism, Buddhism, and similar, seem to be on the right track…


However, even with all the above said; I cannot deny that there are many cases where the experiences cannot be explained in any rational manner. .. I’ve had a few.
…awoken at night by a pet cat walking over my pillow, only to find there’s no cat in the room. Had the feeling that it was a particular cat as a familiar pattern of movement occurred, but that one had died some time previously.
…watched a fox walk through a gate mounted in a gap in a wall, only to return the next day and find no gap, only an old solid stone wall.
…unexplained flashing lights in the sky, too fast and too irregular to be aircraft. The first time it was three short stationary flashes. Two days later, three short fast moving flashes, with the first at the same point as the stationary ones. Some months later, three stationary again. Seen twice since, but not in the last few years.
…a variety of strange experiences in the Martial Arts world, but most notably, we would pair up and stand facing each other at a distance of a few meters, then attempting to concentrate ‘mental’ focus, we would try to push the other over ‘with the eyes’. I tried this with my son and was unable to do it until he turned away. I pushed and pushed, then suddenly ‘pulled’, and he rocked back on his heels…!

There are many who might say:
‘There’s proof of the spirit world!’ for the first two, and
‘There’s proof of aliens in hyperfast spaceships!’ for the third.
‘There’s proof of Chi energy!’ for the last.

But I refuse to jump on those bandwagons. I have no proof that they are the right ones.
I simply do not have an answer.