Thursday, July 28, 2011

Esther, Jerry Hicks and Abraham: Did You Eat the Whole Thing?

Esther, Jerry Hicks and the Abraham-Hicks Scam: Some Truths

Esther, Jerry and Abraham Hicks
The Abraham-Hicks thing's a puzzle, isn't it? Not so long ago, I ate the whole thing, just as you may have.

Hard as it is to believe Esther, Jerry Hicks and Abraham's claims, it's easy enough to agree on what are called the "teachings," or at least what they used to be.

But a vocal group of skeptics and critics call the whole show an Abraham Hicks scam, a fraud that Esther and Jerry Hicks kept running for twenty-five years.

100 Nonphysical Teachers

Esther and Jerry Hicks insisted that a hundred or so "nonphysical" teachers, speaking in unison as "Abraham," voluntarily arise in Esther Hicks' head to deliver "blocks of thought" which she translates as teachings of eternal wisdom.

At best, this fails to explain why she stood barefoot on stage in  ritual garb, going into apparent trances and talking with an eerie accent, as if the entities themselves were speaking.

Over the years, the accent diminished, another mystery, but older recordings are still available.

The truth about Esther Hicks and Abraham is probably more obvious than obscure, with a quarter of a century to look back on for contradictions and inconsistencies, jumbled information and an accelerating mania for selling workshops, cruises, books and associated products.

This souped up marking apparatus went beyond what skeptics thought possible, openly tooling up Jerry Hicks' cancer to goose ticket sales for DVDs, workshops and webcasts.

(And, no, while he was alive and fighting, they have never admitted that Jerry Hicks was being treated for leukemia. That admission would immediately prove that the core of what Esther Hicks has been preaching all along is false.)

I've written several articles and participated in more forums than I can count in which the primary topic is Esther Hicks and Abraham. If there is a point of view I haven't heard or debated, I'd be surprised.

I have criticized flaws in Abraham's teachings and especially in Esther's evolving, frequently mean-spirited style, which lacks, not just empathy, but ordinary kindness. Nothing else I've written on any subject draws as much attention. Or hostility.

Esther, Jerry Hicks and the Abraham Hicks Scam: Facade Crumbles

I once wrote an article, Is Esther Hicks Faking? My conclusion, then, was that she wasn't. After recent developments, however, I've had to reverse my opinion.

Anyone reviewing the twenty-five year public history of Esther Hicks on stage, speaking the same message, evolved and honed, would have a hard time concluding that it was a gimmick. A performer with skills greater than Laurence Olivier might not be able to pull it off. Even stars in long running plays and televisions shows give it up sooner.

Holes were discovered in the overall fabric of Esther Hicks' Abraham "truths" when challenged by events like the World Trade Center disaster. Despite the obvious craziness of it, Esther Hicks, as Abraham, continued to insist that all deaths are voluntary. In other words, each is a suicide. "No exceptions!" she announced when challenged after the disaster.

Even more than in the past, marketing and sales messages saturate every step, more taking than
giving in the lessons.

I realized that at least some of the "teachings" had to be bogus, inventions of Esther and Jerry Hicks. Either that or their "eternal beings," Abraham, were whacked or not very bright.

Then, starting in mid-2009, the presentations began to unravel and the spirit grew coarser. In depth studies, like those reported in the blog, Kyra Speaks, began poking holes in the Esther, Jerry Hicks and Abraham story that couldn't be glossed over.

Esther, Jerry Hicks and the Abraham Hicks Scam: Abraham Hicks and Others

Maybe you've heard of Seth or even Theo. Maybe Chief Joseph has crossed your path. All of these have human counterparts who claim they are conduits from another spiritual or nonphysical world. The say, in other words, that they do what Abraham does through Esther Hicks.

Esther, Jerry Hicks and Abraham were neither first nor original. (You can argue they were the first with overt meanness and disdain for followers who don't snap instantly into line.)

The success Esther and, especially, Jerry Hicks had in promoting Abraham as well as the lack of critical scrutiny spawned an outburst of newcomers claiming to be channeled and ready to dispense wisdom.

Success spawns imitators. Even when new channels are not involved, self-appointed teachers and law of attraction life coaches abound. There are even people who claim that they too channel the same Abraham Esther does. Could there be a shortage of nonphysical entities, forcing them to share?

Esther, Jerry Hicks and the Abraham Hicks Scam: Teachings of Abraham Hicks

Abraham, it is said, takes over the mind of Esther Hicks in a meditative state and delivers "blocks of thought" for interpretation. Why this caused an accent, a la Theo, is not explained, since Abraham tells audiences that there are no words of verbal communications in the spirit world.

Here are some basics:

  • The central teaching from Abraham is that the "Law of Attraction" is the most powerful force in the universe. (Not that it describes the force; it is it, showing a specific ignorance of scientific principle.) Thought empowers vibrations that attract their equivalent. Thoughts force the universe to deliver the essence of what is being thought about. The more emotionally powerful the thought, even if ill-defined, the more more complete and quick is the delivery.
  • Because most of us are unaware of the power inherent in our thoughts and emotions, we create realities by default. That is, the universe has no choice but to deliver, no matter how unintentional or careless your "thought vibrations." A fear of something, for example, has the ability to bring that fear into your life. As Esther and Jerry Hicks write in Ask and It Is Given, "You get what you think about, whether you want it or not."
  • Acknowledging the confusing complexities most people must sort through, Abraham has suggested a number of implementing practices. In brief, they encourage "reaching for the next best thought," giving students step ladders to find their way up incrementally.
  • Abraham teaches positive thinking and sustaining faith in results. Manifestations of desires that must arise in complex lives where other desires and conflicts compete . Sorting out is a learning process. A lack of faith delays graduation.
  • I recently read a law of attraction "expert" (There are many self-proclaimed.), insisting that, in order to achieve your desires, you must maintain an intense focus on them. This is not what Esther Hicks says. Abraham has taught that the universe gets the message every time and will deliver every time, instantly. No need to think hard or to hold onto a thought deliberately. Allowing the delivery is your issue, so be careful what you wish for. You will get it, according to these teachings.
  • "Life is supposed to be fun," is a motto derived from the teachings and embraced by Jerry and Esther Hicks and their followers. If you are struggling with the law of attraction in your life, relax, take a breath, and try to find the impulse that most motivates you. Be easy with it, as Esther has conveyed from Abraham. Struggle merely indicates that you are going in the wrong direction. Pick up you oars and let yourself float easily downstream.
  • Finally, a practice of daily meditation is critical to success. Connecting with your inner self, Marianne Williamson has said, is as essential as taking a shower, and Esther, Jerry Hicks and Abraham agree. Meditation was the first thing Theo recommended to Esther and Jerry, and it was through meditation that Abraham was allowed to enter our lives.

Esther, Jerry Hicks and the Abraham Hicks Scam: Truths

The teachings coming from Esther Hicks and Abraham began simply, grew tangled and, finally, full of contradictions and perilously bad advice.

(You don't need health insurance or doctors because, if you follow the teachings correctly, you will never be sick, a bit of "infinite wisdom" proved false when Jerry Hicks began treatments for leukemia.)

But it's easy to see how this happens more visibly as the "teachings" meet reality and have to be justified.

The challenge of turning teachings into demonstrable results would be hard enough, but the bizarre nature of some of them (All deaths are suicides.) make the effort impossible.

As all smart religions eventually do, this one simply dismisses skeptics as failures who don't understand the teachings or are unable to practice them effectively. Esther, Jerry Hicks and Abraham rarely give interviews and, after making fools of themselves in a conversation with a British journalist, have stopped entirely. The questions remain unanswered, simply dismissed instead.

Dissenters and doubters are evicted from their workshops, and the tightly controlled official Abraham Hicks Forum quickly deletes threads deemed "off topic." Why would any conversation about "truths" need protection, I wonder.)

If you'd like to assess for yourself, read the core books, most importantly Ask and It Is Given, which I find to be one of the weirdest and least coherent books ever published. (You may see it completely differently, but that's what discovering truths is really about, isn't it?)

Avoid anything having to do with The Vortex, the books, the guided meditations, etc. That's all rehashed garbage heaped on the market with nothing new to say.

Once you get your basic information, anything else is just elaboration and sales. 

David Stone
Find all my books on my Amazon Author Page
Some additional articles about Abraham Hicks.
Is Abraham Hicks A Fake presents a more detailed discussion of the flaws.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Tax Bad Food, Subsidize Fruits and Vegetables

The obesity epidemic can be conquered, the health crises that go with it, and best of all, we can make huge inroads in government budget deficits, all while doing the right thing.

So impressively effective, it hardly sounds like an American program anymore.

Bad Food? Tax It, and Subsidize Vegetables

WHAT will it take to get Americans to change our eating habits? The need is indisputable, since heart disease, diabetes and cancer are all in large part caused by the Standard American Diet. (Yes, it’s SAD.)
Though experts increasingly recommend a diet high in plants and low in animal products and processed foods, ours is quite the opposite, and there’s little disagreement that changing it could improve our health and save tens of millions of lives.

And — not inconsequential during the current struggle over deficits and spending — a sane diet could save tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars in health care costs.

Yet the food industry appears incapable of marketing healthier foods. And whether its leaders are confused or just stalling doesn’t matter, because the fixes are not really their problem. Their mission is not public health but profit, so they’ll continue to sell the health-damaging food that’s most profitable, until the market or another force skews things otherwise. That “other force” should be the federal government, fulfilling its role as an agent of the public good and establishing a bold national fix.

Rather than subsidizing the production of unhealthful foods, we should turn the tables and tax things like soda, French fries, doughnuts and hyperprocessed snacks. The resulting income should be earmarked for a program that encourages a sound diet for Americans by making healthy food more affordable and widely available.

The average American consumes 44.7 gallons of soft drinks annually. (Although that includes diet sodas, it does not include noncarbonated sweetened beverages, which add up to at least 17 gallons a person per year.) Sweetened drinks could be taxed at 2 cents per ounce, so a six-pack of Pepsi would cost $1.44 more than it does now. An equivalent tax on fries might be 50 cents per serving; a quarter extra for a doughnut. (We have experts who can figure out how “bad” a food should be to qualify, and what the rate should be; right now they’re busy calculating ethanol subsidies. Diet sodas would not be taxed.)

This program would, of course, upset the processed food industry. Oh well. It would also bug those who might resent paying more for soda and chips and argue that their right to eat whatever they wanted was being breached. But public health is the role of the government, and our diet is right up there with any other public responsibility you can name, from water treatment to mass transit.

Justifying a Tax

At least 30 cities and states have considered taxes on soda or all sugar-sweetened beverages, and they’re a logical target: of the 278 additional calories Americans on average consumed per day between 1977 and 2001, more than 40 percent came from soda, “fruit” drinks, mixes like Kool-Aid and Crystal Light, and beverages like Red Bull, Gatorade and dubious offerings like Vitamin Water, which contains half as much sugar as Coke.

Currently, instead of taxing sodas and other unhealthful food, we subsidize them (with, I might note, tax dollars!). Direct subsidies to farmers for crops like corn (used, for example, to make now-ubiquitous high-fructose corn syrup) and soybeans (vegetable oil) keep the prices of many unhealthful foods and beverages artificially low. There are indirect subsidies as well, because prices of junk foods don’t reflect the costs of repairing our health and the environment.

Other countries are considering or have already started programs to tax foods with negative effects on health. Denmark’s saturated-fat tax is going into effect Oct. 1, and Romania passed (and then un-passed) something similar; earlier this month, a French minister raised the idea of tripling the value added tax on soda. Meanwhile, Hungary is proposing a new tax on foods with “too much” sugar, salt or fat, while increasing taxes on liquor and soft drinks, all to pay for state-financed health care; and Brazil’s Fome Zero (Zero Hunger) program features subsidized produce markets and state-sponsored low-cost restaurants.

Putting all of those elements together could create a national program that would make progress on a half-dozen problems at once — disease, budget, health care, environment, food access and more — while paying for itself. The benefits are staggering, and though it would take a level of political will that’s rarely seen, it’s hardly a moonshot.

Government and Public Health

Health-related obesity costs are projected to reach $344 billion by 2018 — with roughly 60 percent of that cost borne by the federal government. For a precedent in attacking this problem, look at the action government took in the case of tobacco.

The historic 1998 tobacco settlement, in which the states settled health-related lawsuits against tobacco companies, and the companies agreed to curtail marketing and finance antismoking efforts, was far from perfect, but consider the results. More than half of all Americans who once smoked have quit and smoking rates are about half of what they were in the 1960s.

Off We Go Into The Dream of Sleep

Off We Go Into The Dream of Sleep is excerpted from Amazing: Truths About Conscious Awareness. I've edited for online reading.

Off We Go Into The Dream of Sleep

When we go into meditation or even deep sleep, we pull down some walls, roll up the sidewalks and wander more freely through awareness. We see things we’re taught to pass off as dreams, as if dreams don’t count.

Dream interpreters put together stories in which unconscious travels explain cramps and blocks in our waking lives. What happens beyond the curtains of sleep is reshuffled and categorized as one more collection of symptoms, reinforcing perceptions of life as a jaunt from illness to illness, one all-inclusive disability.

But isn’t it just as easy to explain what goes on when we melt the three dimensions as a timeless swim through dimensions, realities and alternatives normally unknown by us?

What we call consciousness is a result of being awake, so why not unconsciousness as leaning in the direction of what's missing in ultimate reality?

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It’s very hard to go there in conversation because, as far as we know, our travels are made alone and seem nonconformist and singular, as if we’re shaping new languages and arts.

What we know about our dreams is that every reality and every memory is reduced in translation to rational reality. We interpret strange perceptions within the limits of conscious awareness.

Our ultimate reality is left incomplete through an excess of common sense. Our weirdest memories are probably never laid down because we have no context for them, no city in which they can live. We don’t know what the hell kind of building we’re supposed to make out of these strange materials, even as we go back every night and fondle the them again.

But if those of us eager to know, to push discovery with philosophical-lyrical imagination, can scrape up some truth out of the crazy stuff underneath, maybe making it seem less crazy, we can get past the barriers of logic.

That’s what Timothy Leary was trying to do with LSD before popularity and scare tactics crushed the effort.

Physicists analyze tons of data, looking for new information, as particle accelerators detail quantum interactions, but we need to fit what we learn into a context more holistic than mechanics now permit. We need to imagine new sorts of gears, pulleys and electrodes. We need to get back the spiritual awe the founders of modern physics had.

Are we looking at energies left over from the Big Bang, or are we seeing the tracings of God? Is life
accidental, or is it full of meaning, information and wisdom?

Even something else, maybe more directed but not controlled? Can we ever know truth by leaning from facts alone?

Answers to those questions have begun to percolate through public conversations. Zen meditation, for example, is being claimed to have informed monks centuries ago of insights physicists are getting to now, but meditators explain it in spiritual terms, as Oneness, while science reaches for a Theory of Everything. Each is a little leery of the other, but what they heck, maybe they can still get married.

It’s a worthy courtship, after all. Pretending that we are what we are or “It is what it is,” as the self-appointed realists say, ignores significant evidence about ultimate reality that points in the other direction, toward “It is what it isn’t.”

Down deep, the things (for lack of a better word) that make us up are different from the ones we know in the reality we see every day in conscious awareness. We must accept that realism is realistic only at a level and is far from the fantasies of ultimate reality. We’re stuck.

To know who we are, we have to get beyond the security of conventional thinking and see what there is to know when we become revolutionary, radicalized irrationalists, pioneers in search of ultimate reality.

David Stone
You can find all of my books on my Amazon Author Page.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Strangeness of Inner Spaces

Strangeness Of Inner Truth is the eighteenth chapter in my book, Amazing: Truths About Conscious Awareness. Each chapter is designed as a standalone set of ideas, independent, but melding in with the others.

Strangeness of Inner Truth

Our inner spaces are peppered with strangeness. We invent like mad scientists to plug holes with acceptable excuses for insight.

Comfortable enough realities latch on with security for an adhesive. Security nurtured evolutionary change. Going forward where security is less certain demands uncommon courage. Everyone has some courage, but we will also need a stronger commitment to risk than we’ve had before.

But think about this: we’re already going into those scary places, like it or not. We have no choice but to enter them when we sleep. Even if we can avoid the strangeness everywhere else, in sleep we seep into realms of awareness so odd we can’t accurately remember most of it.
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Unconsciousness is a form of blindness. Nothing more.

Some dose themselves every day to resist being awake in sleep. An endless continent of unknowns is what we’re crossing. We keep our eyes closed and whistle in the dark, which really is not the same as never going there.

That familiar thing we call “reality” is just something we built out, scraping it together from the materials and tools we had. It’s surprising how radically it changes without being noticed, plunging to invisible depths and nudging the membranes of external dimensions.

Reality’s functional, not real. In the end, if we ever see one, it may turn out that nothing is as firm and changeless as the real world.

Awareness evolved, made strong by its power to help us believe we’d tamed chaos. All ultimate realities are quantum, more bizarre than the nice world we navigate, and it’s likely even odder mechanics lay beneath. We never evolved senses that let us go so deep, but ignoring a thing doesn’t cause it to go away. It may make it more formidable.

Macro creation is a wonderful place in which to bop around, flavored with Walt Disney Worlds and soaring mountain peaks, but we can only claim that God created it if awareness is God. If awareness is God, then we need to kick out all those inconsistent claimants to the title.

Here is an equation that makes sense: God equals awareness. We are free to celebrate the simplicity. Then, we need to encourage God to flourish.

Factors that persist in reality are ones that enhance or secure survival without elevating risk. If not, the thing itself will be discarded like a humanoid’s tail. Everything’s connected.

Nothing exists in isolation, and success is assured only through usefulness.

So, why would nature shape a sack of molecules into the complex gobs of matter we call men and women and reward them for curiosity and exploration? Sure, those qualities protected us from other hungry creations, sabertooth tigers, for example, but we surpassed those threats long ago without any ebb in curiosity.

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Some keep looking beyond to places where there are no threats, only mysteries and wonder, passionate about it as if turned on by discovery.

Some inter-cranial gymnastics are taking place that we aren’t sure will lead to reasonable conclusions.

Our consciousness must once have been primally embedded in the wholeness of whatever universe banged or whooshed out fourteen and a half billion years ago. We departed for places unknown in a jiffy.

Eventually, we deviated into logical, three-dimensional realities that are accessible and secure. We now know that these realities are partial. We’re hobbled by all we don’t know. It’s not a surprise, and it doesn’t really matter what we say. Our universe can’t be the universe. There’s more, and we know it.

But why should we care, really? We’re doing fine with the fraction we do know.

Remember the source of longing?

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As one species among many that share roots and interests, we’re romantics who just can’t get over our first love. We want to get the thrill back.

Our first love was God, a wholeness, and the tool we’re using in our search is awareness. We can’t afford to be afraid of knowing. Like that aching young romantic, we need to move ahead. Any Dutch uncle worth the title would put his arm over our shoulders and gently advise us to let what Ralph Waldo Emerson called “half-gods” go.

We can’t have back what we once had. We can’t reassemble a past that in which we never took a full inventory. It’s over, but as we grow up, we can do better. Emerson’s gods may arrive.

We already know so much. We know that there is more out there than we see, touch, taste, feel and hear, which is an enormous insight, and we know that part of the reason we don’t get all of it is that we don’t know what to look for. We’re just beginning to recognize the clues. It’s like being engaged in the search for lost valuables, our only information about them being that they’re worth something.

But here’s the thing. If you accept the fact of intuition, of information coming to us from “out of nowhere,” an experience we’ve all had, then you already know that, as Conan Doyle concluded, someone somewhere is trying to help.
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We’re not stranded and clueless, and maybe we’re not well informed because we’re just not ready or willing to know. Remember how young we are. It’s true that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and equally so that no tourist ever discovered all of it on a summer vacation.

David Stone

Strangeness Of Inner Truth is the eighteenth chapter in  my book, Amazing: Truths About Conscious Awareness. Each chapter is designed as a standalone set of ideas, independent, but melding in with the others.

Find all my books on my Amazon Author Page.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Can We Know God? How?

Can We Know God? How? is a free chapter from my book, Amazing: Truths About Conscious Awareness.

Can We Get To Know God? How?

We’re wrong about our universe being the one and only, the real thing–just like Coke, or that we even know much about it. All we have to do, and we’re good at this, is ignore mountains of evidence to the contrary, but our ignorance is balanced by our feeling better and more grounded in reality, isn’t it?

It reminds me of studies showing that a surprisingly high percentage of scientists “believe in God,” suggesting one of the conventional deities. Many also say they attend church services, although realistically if all the people who say they go to church did, we’d have a construction boom like none other to meet the demand.
Albert Einstein: Science and Religion
Albert Einstein: Science and Religion
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Looking for solutions, leaders on both sides of the science versus religion controversy have endorsed the suggestion that we recognize two separate domains, one using rational science, the other using less rational belief systems.

The argument is that these ways for looking at the world are too different to be reconciled and should be respected as separate domains with different pathways to truth. That’s about as much of a stretch as anyone has ever been asked to imagine.

If we’re bumbling along in disassociated conscious realities, does calling them “domains” do anything more useful than just make it sound easier? What do we gain, except peace, of course, and is peace worth the price of willful ignorance? Wouldn’t we be reinforcing the inadequacies of both?

The reality is that neither argument satisfies, and any merger requires too much sacrifice of one for the other.

With all we don’t know, you’d think we’d be more humble. You’d think we’d stop arguing for territory and get on with the merger.
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Science as currently practiced has unacceptable limitations. It can’t allow for anything we’re unlikely to directly investigate, which leaves most of reality out. God will never find a home in science because, if there is a supreme being of any kind, It would be too large, small and complicated for us to grasp.

Only belief is roomy enough for a God, but it must allow us to get cozy with eternal ignorance.

Is it really all that important that, now or ever, we know everything?

When we refuse any door because weakness waits behind it, we can be sure we will never catch a full glimmer of eternal light. You can’t get there from here if you leave open only the doors you’re sure about. Sound footing is a trap of self-assurance. Any trail you wander, however enlightening, must be the wrong one.

Religion, generally, is so afraid of having its tenets knocked down that it insists they stay, no matter what the evidence. So, while learning from the insights, we need to outgrow both science and faith as methods of understanding.

We need to invent something else, some sort of practical search that’s versatile enough to leave every door open, honoring uncertainty and making corrections on the fly. I don’t know what it might be, but we invented science and religion. We can come up with something even more legitimate, maybe, if enough of us want to.

Poetic science? Scientific poets?

Only fools discount religions as sources of wisdom, even of facts.

Fact number one: faith seems to be universal. Some claim that belief is encoded in our genes, that we have belief in the same way we have hunger and thirst. That satisfies efforts to discount it by making it an accident of nature, a flaw to be overcome. Another vestigial advantage that’s left its trace, like a tailbone.

Faith is too soft and indefinite along its edges to be considered in the same way as the evolution of skeletons or eyesight. The best explanation may be that we adopt belief systems because we’re naturally alert to some greater reality than the one we observe directly or anything our philosophers and explorers have come up with.

Trouble comes when we try to secure ourselves by pinning whatever it is down with definitions, meanings and intentions. That’s adjusting truth to fit need out of hunger.

Words to Live By: Faith
Words to Live By: Faith
DeWitt, Debbie
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We put one God or another in charge, for example, when no God ever applied for the job. We say our deity has a universal plan, everything falling into place, just as it should. This silliness palms off responsibility.

We’d be better off if we stopped defining God anthropomorphically and accepted that there is something ineffable going on, something much bigger, smaller and more complex than we have tools to describe.

This would give us a clearer way to see what we can. We shouldn’t let ourselves be put off by sustained wonder. What’s the big deal about knowing everything right now, when we’re still so young, or ever?

A major flaw in the evolutionary engineering of the human psyche is a weakness for easy answers, even foolish ones. We don’t have the patience to let big questions float and buzz around us for long, at least not long enough so to avoid answering them inadequately.

We prefer intellectual magic, a product about as satisfying as cotton candy is for nutrition.

Science resists its own discoveries, building roadblocks to intuitions we know we can’t investigate by going from fact to fact. Admitting that we really don’t or can’t know the whole truth isn’t going to hurt anyone.

Or, heaven forbid, that we may never know it factually. Poor and premature judgment carries its own penalties. Passion multiplies the congestion.

We don’t know.

That’s the big one.

We’re walking through the woods like the first pioneers, and we not only don’t know where home is, we don’t even know if there is one. It’s the weakness of insisting we know or can know, of soaking wonder in cocksureness, that cripples us.

Mountain Path
Mountain Path
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You've been reading "Can We Know God?," a free chapter from my book, Amazing: Truths About Conscious Awareness

David Stone
Find all my books on my Amazon Author Page.