Many thanks to August Goforth for allowing me to post his article. It was published in “The Searchlight,” the newsletter of The Academy for Spiritual and Consciousness Studies, Volume 22, No. 2, June 2013. The author is a licensed psychotherapist in private practice in New York City. He is also an intuitive mental medium with physical mediumship tendencies. He collaborated in the book project, The Risen: Dialogues of Love, Grief & Survival Beyond Death, along with Timothy Gray, orchestrated by a spirit group, the Risen Collective. To read more about their book, as well as other writings by August, please visit www.TheRisenBooks.com
The Challenges of the Skeptic Materialist
By August Goforth
“As for the men in power, they are so anxious to establish the myth of infallibility that they do their utmost to ignore truth.” — Boris Pasternak
As physical mediumship continues to re-emerge into the 21st century and becomes increasingly more familiar to worldwide spiritual communities, materialist skeptics are also rising to what their ego-minds perceive as a challenge of some kind.
Who are these resistant and avoidant skeptics, anyway? Do they need any more attention? I recently happened to re-read Soul Force, written by a friend and colleague, Paul Olsen, (1933-2001) a brilliant clinical psychologist, psychotherapist and successfully published novelist. I found what he had to say about skeptics quite stimulating and share it here:
“Skepticism is one of the most prevalent and damaging counterforces to recognizing the power of the soul, a short-circuit par excellence of inner energy. It prevents a living connection, and so it keeps us deadened, inert, checks our every movement.
“The problem with skepticism is that it has become an accepted position. It is even supposed to label a person ‘smart.’ But skepticism is total passivity: you don’t have to do, feel, or think anything at all to be a skeptic. All you have to do is say No. You just have to be negative. It’s an uncharged position, like a dead battery; it has no life to it. It’s a wall trying to dam up a flow.
“The ‘position’ is accepted because it comes from the misuse and misunderstanding of the scientific viewpoint which for decades has had us by the throats. It’s a show-me position that takes the place of imagination with as deadly an effect as a surgical brain transplant.
“Skepticism is a position of arrogance—and it is utterly devoid of imagination and creativity. No spontaneity at all. Yet how can such total passivity be so arrogant? Precisely because anything so passive, so inert, so without curiosity and a sense of wonder, finds itself cut off from its own energy—and so it lives in a world of being acted upon by forces outside itself, and in its helplessness it becomes arrogant. Helplessness—then it feels fear and becomes a dictator that persecutes anything new and different. In psychology this is called ‘overcompensation.’ But kids peg it in a different way: inside every bully is a coward. The skeptic hurts himself far more than he can ever hurt you.
“Maybe at this point you might be asking: what about the ‘healthy’ skeptic? The person who isn’t in the habit of buying the Brooklyn Bridge or getting set up by con men? The ‘healthy’ skeptic hangs loose. The healthy skeptic doesn’t believe everything he hears—but what he does is investigate. Not with the idea of disproving something, but with the idea of finding something that may enrich him. Implicit in the healthy skeptic is that he might find something, and so he sets off actively. He seeks experience. Openly. And so he is not really a skeptic at all. He just wants to do it himself.
“The true skeptic will … avoid exploration, the main reason being that someone has suggested it to him. He will call it all nonsense. But how can he know it is anything at all unless he tries? Obviously he won’t try, so therefore he knows nothing. Or he will try only to defeat the purpose.
“It is important for the skeptic that nothing ever happens.
“So we can say, with pretty good assurance, that the skeptic keeps himself deliberately in ignorance, in his dark trap. This idea is crucial for almost all that follows. Skepticism is a position of inert, self-willed ignorance. It is soulless.
“The ‘healthy’ skeptic, if you want to use that term, will try—with the idea of experiencing something. That is a position of self-willed knowledge.” (1)
The Italian mystic, Massimo Scaligero (1906-1980) reveals many hidden ideas in his exploratory offerings about materialism:
“Materialism is our faith in matter. We do not know how to experience matter by means of the concrete forces of thinking. Materialism is the most obscure mysticism, for it purports to be the opposite of mysticism simply because it is nourished by mathematical calculation and dialectical abstractions. It feeds our inner weaknesses with the dead products of thinking. By failing to penetrate matter, such thinking elevates it to a mystical reality without any awareness that it does so. No bigot devotes him or herself more faithfully to the object of this or her opiated faith than does the materialist.
“Materialism … signifies the actual situation of present-day humanity. Materialism is the uncognized and, therefore, the unelaborated basis of all the doctrines and spiritualisms, traditional or not, which ignore the underlying process that gives rise to material appearances. It shuns the task of confronting the problem of the physical objectivity of nature: sensory perceptions and its coming into being as representation. This is a problem that cannot be solved theoretically, but only through the active penetration of reality.
“ A corresponding … error, which leaves the authority of matter over us unchanged, is to accept the physical world as it is, and matter as it appears. With this error, we engage in abstracted experiments or calculations with the physical world and material appearances, or we seek to transcend them theoretically or mystically.” (2)
Some people are Skeptics with a capital S. These Professional Skeptics feel it’s their job to remain closed in their minds and hearts while retaining the right to question anything. Many of them include scientists, who represent a very small minority of humanity on earth, but have been placed on pedestals that raise them above the majority. This misapprehension disempowers the majority, disabling them from assessing their own valid experiences of personal reality. Science has given us brilliant advances in many aspects of human living, but not without a lot of trials and errors. The facets of truth that science presents as dogma are often successful in creating distractions from those with alternate viewpoints. Yet scientific history consistently reveals the inevitable result of radical exchanges of such dogma. Former universally accepted and supposedly proven axioms are continually replaced by new discoveries, which are then made formal by a collective agreement of this minority. Such has been the course of mainly Western science as it has evolved on earth. This is finally changing as science rediscovers the idea of the energy we call spirit. Science is wonderful, amazing, and necessary, and can provide a certain amount of insight into our existence, but not all. Given the amazing changes in our scientific world-views over the past one hundred years, can we truly think we can now put a cap on what is to come in the next hundred?
Earthly, western scientific methods are not derived from Nature, but from human minds that see themselves as separate from it. But it’s not the only way of thinking about things. If something can be seen, held, heard, smelled and felt, then scientific measurement can be applied. If they’re too subtle to be detected beyond the senses, then they’re beyond known scientific methods.
The materialistic reductionist models of Western science have attempted to govern humankind’s world-mind for the past two centuries. This is particularly exemplified in the dominant Darwinian life-models. These reified theories have been less concerned with subjective value issues, focusing primarily on objective experiences manifested by those human senses that can be used to physically see, hear, touch, smell, taste, and measure. Traditionally, materialistic science has sought to gather, weigh, measure, compare, and ultimately predict and control aspects of our existence, even if no under-standing of the phenomenon is ever gained. Value is seen in terms of who can predict with the greatest accuracy, and thus who will have the most control. The Global Madison Avenue, or the world of advertising, uses materialistic science to assign value to whatever market they wish to control, including their primary target, the mental market of the masses—the collective ego-mind. One does not have to look too deeply to reach the conclusion that most of our modern societal beliefs—and worldly ones as well—are created, maintained, and controlled by the collaborative efforts of the media and the Global Madison Avenue. Imagine what might happen if the same energy from the efforts placed into creating and selling fossil fuel-burning cars was channeled into communication with the Risen.
(1) From the chapter “Freeing Your Emotion” in Soul Force: A Step-by-Step Guide to Inner Strength, by Paul Olsen, Ph.D, 1978, New York: M. Evans & Company. Quoted with kind permission by the author’s family. This book is freely accessible at an online archive at: http://archive.org/details/soulforcereleasi00olse
(2) From the chapter “Forces of Opposition: Mediumship” in The Light: An Introduction to Creative Imagination by Massimo Scaligero, 2001 (translated by Eric L. Bisbocci, Lindisfarne Books,) SteinerBooks/Anthroposophic Press/Lindisfarne Books, 610 Main Street, Gt. Barrington, MA 01230. Quoted with kind permission by the publisher.