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Throughout all the cultures in the world there is the concept of spirits

by Jim Kata
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Jim Kata
#1
Feb28-12, 05:46 AM
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Throughout all the cultures in the world there is the concept of spirits, angels, fairies, ghost, gnomes, totems etc. A dismissive view is that people who have seen these things are crazy, but a more accepting view is that people have actually seen such things. I myself have had sleep paralysis before and have seen an incubus, and have had the feeling of astral projection while lying in bed. I know these are figments of my imagination, but by seeing them they might as well be real since perception is a major part of reality. My question is do psychologist have an idea of what these things represent, and why they seem to be so universal across all cultures?
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lisab
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Feb28-12, 09:56 AM
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Joseph Campbell wrote a lot about common themes found in myths from cultures all over the world. I've only read one or two of his books, and that was a long time ago, so I don't remember much of it. But if you're interested in this topic, I recommend his books. He discusses the common human psychological reasons he believes explain why these themes are so widespread.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Campbell
Dotini
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Feb28-12, 03:33 PM
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Quote Quote by Jim Kata View Post
My question is do psychologist have an idea of what these things represent, and why they seem to be so universal across all cultures?
Quote Quote by lisab View Post
Joseph Campbell wrote a lot about common themes found in myths from cultures all over the world...
...He discusses the common human psychological reasons he believes explain why these themes are so widespread.
In keeping with the universal mythology theme, the noted psychologist Carl Jung wrote extensively on the subject of universal archetypes, even touching on the subject of UFO's.

"In his earlier work, Jung tried to link the archetypes to heredity and regarded them as instinctual. We are born with these patterns which structure our imagination and make it distinctly human. Archetypes are thus very closely linked to our bodies. In his later work, Jung was convinced that the archetypes are psychoid, that is, "they shape matter (nature) as well as mind (psyche)" (Houston Smith, Forgotten Truth, 40). In other words, archetypes are elemental forces which play a vital role in the creation of the world and of the human mind itself. The ancients called them elemental spirits."

http://www.iloveulove.com/psychology...archetypes.htm

For a very sympathetic discussion of "spirits, angels, fairies, ghost, gnomes, totems" across all times and cultures, please consult Jacques Vallee's cult classic, "Passport to Magonia", or Patrick Harpur's lesser known but very skillful, "Daimonic Reality - Understanding Otherworld Encounters".

Respectfully submitted,
Steve

Jim Kata
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Feb29-12, 03:04 PM
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Throughout all the cultures in the world there is the concept of spirits

Thank you for the reading suggestions guys. I will definitely look into it.
alt
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Mar1-12, 07:20 AM
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Quote Quote by Jim Kata View Post
Throughout all the cultures in the world there is the concept of spirits, angels, fairies, ghost, gnomes, totems etc. A dismissive view is that people who have seen these things are crazy, but a more accepting view is that people have actually seen such things. I myself have had sleep paralysis before and have seen an incubus, and have had the feeling of astral projection while lying in bed. I know these are figments of my imagination, but by seeing them they might as well be real since perception is a major part of reality. My question is do psychologist have an idea of what these things represent, and why they seem to be so universal across all cultures?
but by seeing them they might as well be real since perception is a major part of reality

Would you apply the same measure though, to everything anyone can dream or hallucinate or imagine ? The UFO's of a ufology group ? Manifestations of the Virgin Mary at Fatima ? Flying pink elephants of a drug tripper ? Or the fairies at the bottom of the garden of a 17th century schoolgirl ?

That would broaden the concept of reality and then some !
zoobyshoe
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Mar1-12, 02:07 PM
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Quote Quote by alt View Post
but by seeing them they might as well be real since perception is a major part of reality

Would you apply the same measure though, to everything anyone can dream or hallucinate or imagine ? The UFO's of a ufology group ? Manifestations of the Virgin Mary at Fatima ? Flying pink elephants of a drug tripper ? Or the fairies at the bottom of the garden of a 17th century schoolgirl ?

That would broaden the concept of reality and then some !
I don't think he expressed it perfectly eloquently, but I think I know what he meant. I also had a terrifying hallucination during sleep paralysis once, and the fact is that, while it's happening there is no distinguishing it from reality. I didn't start to question it until the hallucination ended and I could move again.
MarcoD
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Mar1-12, 02:27 PM
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I think some posts gave good enough references where you can find explanations of these phenomena.

Personally, I don't think you really need that elaborate reasoning to understand the need for people to project or explain the world in terms of familiar concepts.

Moreover, to call people crazy who see spirits is the same as calling people who believe in a deity crazy. It's irrational but human.
Ryan_m_b
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Mar1-12, 02:31 PM
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Quote Quote by zoobyshoe View Post
I don't think he expressed it perfectly eloquently, but I think I know what he meant. I also had a terrifying hallucination during sleep paralysis once, and the fact is that, while it's happening there is no distinguishing it from reality. I didn't start to question it until the hallucination ended and I could move again.
I've suffered from sleep paralysis and nightmares quite a bit to the extent where now if I "wake up" paralysed it doesn't bother me because I know it's not real and will end soon. Just the other week I "woke up" paralysed whilst dreaming that hands were reaching over from the sides of the bed and dragging me. I actually felt myself slide towards the edge of a bed with a hand round my neck. However being so used to this I simply relaxed and waited, I even found the idea of falling off the bed quite comical because if that didn't trick my body into movement nothing would. After a short time the hands disappeared and I could move again. No harm done, I just went back to sleep.
zoobyshoe
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Mar1-12, 04:26 PM
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Quote Quote by Ryan_m_b View Post
I've suffered from sleep paralysis and nightmares quite a bit to the extent where now if I "wake up" paralysed it doesn't bother me because I know it's not real and will end soon. Just the other week I "woke up" paralysed whilst dreaming that hands were reaching over from the sides of the bed and dragging me. I actually felt myself slide towards the edge of a bed with a hand round my neck. However being so used to this I simply relaxed and waited, I even found the idea of falling off the bed quite comical because if that didn't trick my body into movement nothing would. After a short time the hands disappeared and I could move again. No harm done, I just went back to sleep.
Wow, that's incredible! I suppose if anything like that happens often enough you'd learn to roll with it. I've only had sleep paralysis 4 times that I remember. Twice there was no accompanying hallucination. The third time the hallucination was neutral. The forth time was the terrifying one. I'll be very happy if I never have that experience again. I felt profoundly disturbed by it for about three days afterward.
Ryan_m_b
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Mar2-12, 01:50 AM
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Quote Quote by zoobyshoe View Post
Wow, that's incredible! I suppose if anything like that happens often enough you'd learn to roll with it. I've only had sleep paralysis 4 times that I remember. Twice there was no accompanying hallucination. The third time the hallucination was neutral. The forth time was the terrifying one. I'll be very happy if I never have that experience again. I felt profoundly disturbed by it for about three days afterward.
Yeah the first time I ever had it there was no hallucination. That made it worse because I was a teenager and was so disturbed by it I thought I had some sort of degenerative disease, thankfully I googled and found out that it's a fairly common thing.

I hope you never have get it again, nor ever have to get used to it!
alt
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Mar2-12, 08:47 AM
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Quote Quote by zoobyshoe View Post
I don't think he expressed it perfectly eloquently, but I think I know what he meant. I also had a terrifying hallucination during sleep paralysis once, and the fact is that, while it's happening there is no distinguishing it from reality. I didn't start to question it until the hallucination ended and I could move again.
Yes, I understand what the OP meant.

But I took issue with his ..

but by seeing them they might as well be real since perception is a major part of reality


I think that's a bit of a stretch to say they might as well be real. If you accept that, you can also say that dreams and acid trips might as well be real. But they are not.

Also I note you said you eventually questioned your experience as stated above, and determined that it was a hallucination - last I heard, hallucinations are not real.
zoobyshoe
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Mar2-12, 07:10 PM
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Quote Quote by alt View Post
Yes, I understand what the OP meant.

But I took issue with his ..

but by seeing them they might as well be real since perception is a major part of reality


I think that's a bit of a stretch to say they might as well be real. If you accept that, you can also say that dreams and acid trips might as well be real. But they are not.

Also I note you said you eventually questioned your experience as stated above, and determined that it was a hallucination - last I heard, hallucinations are not real.
I'm not sure the OP is suggesting we should regard them as real when we're not hallucinating. The point is that they might as well be real during the episode.

When I had my terrifying one back in the 80's there was no google, and no one I told about them had ever heard of such a thing. I hoped it had just been some sort of perversely vivid nightmare, but I had no reassurance it was merely that. To the extent it psychologically disturbed me, it might as well have been real.
Jim Kata
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Mar2-12, 09:48 PM
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Would you apply the same measure though, to everything anyone can dream or hallucinate or imagine ?
This is exactly my point. In my definition of reality there is room for things that can not be measured. I'm not saying these things are physical manifestations. I'm saying just because something is imagined or hallucinated does not mean it is of no value. If you were to have a spiritual experience while on ayahuasca that changed your perception of the world, would you trivialize it because it wan't "measurably real"? I don't know what value to place on dreams or hallucinations, but since we spend one third of our lives asleep and a good portion of that dreaming, I think we should place some value on these things. In the end, all we will have of our lives is our memories and other thoughts stored in our mind.
alt
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Mar3-12, 04:04 AM
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Quote Quote by Jim Kata View Post
This is exactly my point. In my definition of reality there is room for things that can not be measured. I'm not saying these things are physical manifestations. I'm saying just because something is imagined or hallucinated does not mean it is of no value.
Sure - I agree. A great idea for instance, has great value. Your characterisation of a dream or a hallucination as "might as well be real" however, is not the same as it having some degree of value. But I think we're getting semantic now, and I do undertand what you're saying.

If you were to have a spiritual experience while on ayahuasca that changed your perception of the world, would you trivialize it because it wan't "measurably real"?
No, I would certainly not trivialise it. I've had some very profound inward experiences, and profitable ideas (and some bummers, too).

I don't know what value to place on dreams or hallucinations, but since we spend one third of our lives asleep and a good portion of that dreaming, I think we should place some value on these things. In the end, all we will have of our lives is our memories and other thoughts stored in our mind.
Agian, I agree with all that, and place great value on positive, or at least, interesting, mental experiences.
Ryan_m_b
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Mar3-12, 04:14 AM
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Quote Quote by Jim Kata View Post
This is exactly my point. In my definition of reality there is room for things that can not be measured. I'm not saying these things are physical manifestations. I'm saying just because something is imagined or hallucinated does not mean it is of no value. If you were to have a spiritual experience while on ayahuasca that changed your perception of the world, would you trivialize it because it wan't "measurably real"? I don't know what value to place on dreams or hallucinations, but since we spend one third of our lives asleep and a good portion of that dreaming, I think we should place some value on these things. In the end, all we will have of our lives is our memories and other thoughts stored in our mind.
I'm not sure what you mean by "can not be measured" because everything you then go on to mention is clearly measurable to some extent

I want to say I agree with a lot of what you're saying here because it is true that hallucinations can drastically change people's lives. So long as people are intellectually honest about this then there is no problem (too many people judge the extent to which something changed their life to be equal to the extent of its content's validity i.e. "my vision of Jesus was so profound and changed my life completely, that's why I think Jesus is real"). What I disagree with is the definitions used here. Dreams are real experiences, as are any hallucination. They can be measured, analysed, discussed etc. The distinction is that they are not experiences of the real.
zoobyshoe
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Mar3-12, 07:32 AM
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Quote Quote by Ryan_m_b View Post
I'm not sure what you mean by "can not be measured" because everything you then go on to mention is clearly measurable to some extent

I want to say I agree with a lot of what you're saying here because it is true that hallucinations can drastically change people's lives. So long as people are intellectually honest about this then there is no problem (too many people judge the extent to which something changed their life to be equal to the extent of its content's validity i.e. "my vision of Jesus was so profound and changed my life completely, that's why I think Jesus is real"). What I disagree with is the definitions used here. Dreams are real experiences, as are any hallucination. They can be measured, analysed, discussed etc. The distinction is that they are not experiences of the real.
I agree with your point that dreams are real experiences without also being experiences of the real. However, I'm not sure what you mean in saying a dream or hallucination could be measured.
Ryan_m_b
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Mar3-12, 07:41 AM
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Quote Quote by zoobyshoe View Post
I agree with your point that dreams are real experiences without also being experiences of the real. However, I'm not sure what you mean in saying a dream or hallucination could be measured.
By measured I meant described and analysed from a variety of perspectives and fields.
nitsuj
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Mar6-12, 05:39 PM
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Quote Quote by alt View Post
Yes, I understand what the OP meant.

But I took issue with his ..

but by seeing them they might as well be real since perception is a major part of reality


I think that's a bit of a stretch to say they might as well be real. If you accept that, you can also say that dreams and acid trips might as well be real. But they are not.

Also I note you said you eventually questioned your experience as stated above, and determined that it was a hallucination - last I heard, hallucinations are not real.
I can tell how you're defining "real" here, but look at the comment's context this way. (not that I read the whole post, just your quoted part)

If Joe believes in spirits but his friends don't you can't say "it might as well be real". If Joe and all his friends believe in spirits I think you can say "it might as well be real.".

Said differently if Joe's culture believes in spirits, and it's in bedded in the social structure of "daily life" I think that it (spirits) might as well be real.

Physical currency (bills & coins) might as well be valuable. It that sense "it might as well be real".

Funny enough I feel it must be said, I don't believe in ghosts...anymore. as a kid with an impressionable imagination & seeing an "Unsolved Mysteries" episode with fantastic special effects had me convinced ghosts were REAL! But only where dark & in old cruise ships, castles & attics.

Another take on "it might as well be real"; From marketing class an example of poor marketing - product marketed as "Monster Spray" used to keep monsters away, sells poorly due to the obvious reason of it also makes the issue "more real".


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