Talking With Jenny Cockell
 Glimpsing Heaven

ISHAR and Open Sciences

I mentioned these two projects in a recent post. A crowd funding appeal is now underway for ISHAR, the Integrative Studies Historical Archive and Repository, and although still ‘under construction, the Open Sciences web portal has quite a lot of stuff to poke around in.

According to its website, also still under construction, ISHAR is a project created by the mind/body community to provide a ‘world-collection of cultural and scientific knowledge, research and discussion with an emphasis on integrative medicine and consciousness studies, including all notable subjects therein’.

The project is led by Deepak Chopra, and has support from the likes of author Bernardo Kastrup, parapsychologists Dean Radin and Marilyn Schlitz, various scientists, medical directors, healers, etc. I spoke a while ago with Rome Viharo, an experienced web media professional who is closely involved in building the website. He says that as well as providing a comprehensive database of scientific research, the plan is to run themed discussions on different areas on a quarterly basis.

ISHAR’s appeal is asking for a $20 donation (or however much folks can afford.) I think this project is going to get traction and I urge readers to donate.

Rupert Sheldrake’s Open Sciences is also worth watching (although as far as I know it has not asked for donations). Rupert describes it as ‘a portal for open-minded scientific research, listing open-minded scientists, linking to relevant web sites, books and journals, containing a selection of videos and essays, and with a series of blogs on open questions in the sciences.’

I sense a more directly confrontational approach, and on a wider front, than ISHAR. The mission statement begins:

We believe that the sciences are being constricted by dogmatism, and in particular by a subservience to the philosophy of materialism, the doctrine that matter is the only reality and that the mind is nothing but the physical activity of the brain. We believe that the sciences would be more scientific if they were free to investigate the natural world in an un-dogmatic spirit, following the scientific methods of data collecting, hypothesis testing and critical discussion.

The site has also published a detailed Manifesto for a Post-Materialist Science, an outcome of the summit of scientists that took place at the University of Arizona in February. Sample extract:

... the nearly absolute dominance of materialism in the academic world has seriously constricted the sciences and hampered the development of the scientific study of mind and spirituality. Faith in this ideology, as an exclusive explanatory framework for reality, has compelled scientists to neglect the subjective dimension of human experience. This has led to a severely distorted and impoverished understanding of ourselves and our place in nature.

Both projects are scheduled for launch in October, at which time I expect there will be a fair bit of publicity. The SPR’s Encyclopedia continues to make good progress, and hopefully will appear next spring or summer.


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I like the manifesto for post materialist science. But I think they should have included some additional points:

The fine tuning of the universe to support life is strongly indicative of a transcendent creator (a creator outside the universe).

The inability of materialism to account for the accumulation of large the amounts of genetic information required for the origin of life and macroevolution leaves the only known causative agent proven to produce information, codes, and cybernetic systems, i.e. consciousness, as the best explanation for the origin of life and macroevolution.

Nice post, Robert and ncu9nc. :)

exciting times !

I have no problem with Rupert Sheldrake's website having "a more confrontational approach". For him to portray such an endeavor as balanced and inclusive would be disingenuous. Rupert has made his position on spiritual and paranormal issues quite clear in his many books and talks, so I wouldn't expect him to give mainstream materialism a voice on his own dime.
Nor should he. In our current culture, reductionism and promissory materialism is loud enough. His website could provide another much needed refuge for alternative information.

Depak Chopra is the one I have a problem with. He says some great stuff, and I don't doubt his personal integrity, but his public persona makes me cringe. I swear, I can't help but think "huckster" every time I see him. His website all but screams "Seeking inner peace? Looking for God? Buy my stuff!"
Don't get me wrong - I don't begrudge a spiritual/paranormal researcher, teacher or author making a good living. Heck, I hope they make a very good living. I wish more of them could. Sometimes however, a hard to define line gets crossed that makes me chafe (think: Sylvia Browne).
But then, that's me. Depak obviously fills a need, and he has never directly hurt me, so what he does is his own business. Who knows? Maybe I'm subconsciously jealous.
Still, I just can't help but think that he could throw half a million dollars into building the ISHAR website and write it off as pocket change.

Ultimately, it's great to see respectable web based alternative sources of information springing up, but what is really going to matter - and stand out - is integrity. This is where I see the SPR website taking the lead.
The SPR has never had a serious challenge to its reputation as an organization, although I'm sure individual members have had their personal closet skeletons uncovered from time to time.
The SPR welcomes sceptic's, believer's, and the merely curious to join. They have no need to nit-pick over 'balance'. All that matters to them is the data, with different takes on the same data allowed and given a voice. Lines have to be drawn, but those lines are generously inclusive.
At the end of the day, I believe the slower yet deliberately moving SPR site will be the go-to source for everyday people who are spiritually curious, yet intellectually discerning.

"Depak Chopra is the one I have a problem with. He says some great stuff, and I don't doubt his personal integrity, but his public persona makes me cringe. I swear, I can't help but think "huckster" every time I see him. His website all but screams "Seeking inner peace? Looking for God? Buy my stuff!" " - Rabbitdawg

Especially when he teams up with Oprah! Ditto Wayne Dyer. Even Raymond Moody seems to have jumped on the bandwagon to some extent - he charges an absolute fortune for the online courses he offers.

Lol! I googled Deepak Chopra and I came across a link titled: "Deepak Chopra continues his wooful whining."

Rab, Julie and Boo

I share your sentiments. He reminds me of everything I dislike about the tree-huggy, incense burning, 'Buy my spiritually useless useless New Age tut, and pay lots to attend my (probably)stupid and useless workshops, crowd'.

There. That's my (not ENTIRELY rational) prejudice airing out of the way for today!

It seems appropriate to mention here something that happened in my family this weekend.

On Saturday afternoon the TV was on in the kitchen when I went there to say something to my husband, Gerald. He replied, "It's a pity but . . " whereupon a man speaking on the TV immediately said, "It's a pity but". I left the room and little while later, when I again said something (I can't remember what offhand) a voice from the TV immediately repeated those two or three words exactly. I always take notice when that kind of thing happens, as it has occasionally in the past, and felt the two occurrences were synchronistic; possibly heralding something out of the ordinary - but I kept my thoughts to myself.
In the early hours of the next morning we got a phone call to say that my mother-in-law, Molly, had died. Despite the fact that she was ninety-years-old her death wasn't expected.
Later that morning one of my brothers-in-law, Andrew, called and told my husband that staff at the nursing home where Molly was resident had handed him a note list of details, including hymns, that she wanted at her funeral. The list had been compiled some time ago and put away for safe keeping. Andrew went back to his car and glanced down the list. One of the hymns was 'Morning Has Broken' and he thought it an unlikely choice for a funeral. Then he turned on the car radio and the hymn 'Morning has broken' was playing.
But that's not the only coincidence. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I was on our yard doing morning stables, when two lines from that very same hymn came into my mind: 'Sweet the rain's new fall sunlit from heaven, like the first dew fall on the first grass'. Within five minutes Gerald came out from the house to tell me of Andrew's experience. Chance or synchronicity (meaningful coincidence). Any thoughts?

Hi Julie, it's interesting when you get coincidences in clusters like this. Makes it harder to dismiss as meaningless.

As I understand it, they're most likely to occur in deeply emotional situations. They've happened to me in the past, but I can't say it's something I notice very much generally.

If you're interested in coincidences have you checked out Robert Perry's book Signs (see the panel on the left)? He also has a website: He has a very worked-out system of understanding when coincidences are attracting your attention to something you need to know. Fascinating stuff!



Thanks, I'll research the book, Robert. But in my heart I already know when coincidences are attracting my attention. My only problem lies in believing them.

@Julie, I've had many periods of time in my life where events seemingly fall into place in a preternatural way. I call them "phases". Sometimes these events are miraculous, other times merely pleasant or neutral, occasionally they're uncanny and unsettling, but they're always deeply personal.
It's the deeply personal part that makes me reluctant to tell other people about them.

With the exception of my wife, who has her own ineffable moments, and is often around to witness and share mine, most folks wouldn't grasp the significance and synchronicity of it all. Coupled with the fact that our *educated* Western culture reflexively dismisses such things as coincidence or imagination, I tend keep the details to myself.
Even people who might be open to seeing life through a spiritual lens can have a hard time grasping the significance. Again, it's the deeply personal nature of these periods of our life that gets our attention. Ya have to be there.

When they happen, I'm not sure if it's Nature/God/a Deeper Order taking action, or if I'm in a state of Presence that raises my awareness level. Probably a little of both.
In any event, when it happens, it's real. At least, quite real to me.

I understand, Rabbitdawg. But I try to force myself to be brave and upfront about these issues - as far as is reasonably sensible. After all, if one doesn't speak of them one never knows if others have experienced similar.

A few years back, a musician friend and I were chatting about festivals we’d played at and who were the best of the other acts we’d seen at said events. I said that mine was probably the incomparable John Otway at Glastonbury in 1995. After a few Otway related anecdotes, my friend then said then said ‘John Otway eh, my god, what do you think the chances of HIM making it onto Top of the Pops would be now?’ Otway had not had a hit record for about thirty years (even then, he’d only made it to about number 25) and was playing, mostly, in smaller venues. At that exact moment my son, who was five at the time, walked up to the TV, switched it on, and we were greeted by the sight of John Otway playing on Top of the Pops.

We were speechless. Neither of us knew that there had been a national campaign organised by Otway fans to get him back into the charts; both of us had forgotten that it was Thursday evening, and neither of us watched TOTP anymore anyway. Amusingly, if my son had asked me if he could turn on the TV, then I would have said ‘no’ as he was supposed to be getting ready for bed. So, as neither I nor my friend really listened to the radio anymore, if it had not been for that, then we would never have been any the wiser.

That is one of the less remarkable examples of the extremely odd coincidences that have occurred to me. I tend to find that I get something like that, roughly, once every four or five years although, sometimes, such events occur in clusters. Sometimes they seem to be portentous (usually spectacularly so) in some way, but mostly not. Even if they are just mathematical certainties, then they certainly have the effect of waking one up, and making one think. And, yes, I tend to find that every time this subject is raised, others have similar stories of their own.

That's exactly the way it happens with me too, Steve. But I'd go one step further and say there are times (days, weeks - even months) when I seem to be in contact with something. I can sense what feels like a wise and benign presence working along side me and leaving clues here there and everywhere.

This presence tends to leave at times when life gets hectic and my attention needs to be more focused on practical issues. It's as if I don't have the resources to maintain the required level of sensitivity when I'm busy and/or stressed. I then have to slow down and find my way back, and it doesn't happen all at once. Can anyone here relate to this?

I have a question about If that site is a place where 'brilliant scientists' like Steven Pinker, can have conversations and stuff like that, how come Rupert Sheldrake's not in there? Isn't he a 'brilliant scientist'? It's almost as if those people are allowed to post as long as they don't talk about NDEs, afterlife, or anything supernatural.

He is listed as a contributor, Boo (about two thirds of the way down on the right): -

Given the preponderance of prominent Ratty Rationalists (including Dawkins) in the list, I find that quite encouraging (sort of).

Ok. Thx

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