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The Herb Fest was good. I met some really cool people. I found the ND population to be more cliquish than the rest, so I wandered among the botanists and MD's, herbalists and nutritionists, asking everyone their opinions about the lectures. I got a great many opinions and came to a grasp of what people believe in these days...like for example, I would hazard a guess that maybe half of the people at the herb fest believe in past lives. Maybe more. They believe in reincarnation and that your current life is a product of what you did in past lives. Do you? If you do, I'd love to hear the story. I confess: I'm a skeptic. As I've said before I don't "believe" in reincarnation...though it is widely accepted among the alternative healing community.

When I ended up in ND circles I was curious to find out what people really think about homeopathy. It turns out that budding naturopaths do, by and large, "believe". I have only had one naturopathic student talk to me about NOT believing it. Each believer has a story about the moment that they came to believe. It is generally some amazing cure. The crowd told me to use homeopathy on animals, because they don't have expectations, and that would prove homeopathy for me. It was kind of refreshing to hear one practice ND and speaker say that he doesn't "do" homeopathy. I don't think so far that I will do it either. I am open to being convinced but it will take more than all these lovely tales of someone associating a dramatic change with a dose of something. It reminds me of religious people, looking for a sign. Most of the time you don't look for signs, but anything that happens after a dose is a "sign" that makes you think everything is somehow different.

Don't get me wrong, I do believe in "energy" or qi, because I have had ample personal demonstration of it. And I don't doubt that many people have amazing shifts in qi from taking in a few drops of a strange dilute substance. But all these stories don't constitute PROOF of causality in my mind. Association is enough for it to become widely practiced and accepted, which then culturally generates a willingness to believe. I won't believe it is anything but placebo effect until there is some science backing it up. So far those research papers have not been showing up in my life. And so far, I can't tell that all these homeopathics that I am taking are doing anything.

I am the test pony. I am currently taking UNDA numbers 1, 5, 228: 5 drops under the tongue 3 times a day and keep them in order from smallest to largest number. This little ritual has no meaning for me. I need more of a suggestion as to what it might do. If they were to tell me what it would do, and then I would have that happen to me after the fact, that would increase my willingness to believe.

At my school I am required to take 5 quarter-long courses in homeopathy. Being an unbeliever as I am, I will keep my mouth shut. I hope that I am convinced, because if the evidence isn't there, and it is purely a process of indoctrination, I will not just pretend that I believe. I'm resistant to brainwashing. I have to be convinced.

Back to the Herb Fest, there was a range of belief regarding diet. There were the vegetarians, who were still fighting for the rightness of their way. The more they shouted out about the science supporting their claim that a vegetarian diet is right for humans, the less anyone paid attention to them. There was a showdown during a class on insulin resistance, in which the speaker, who was suggesting that a meat-heavy low-carb diet is fine for people who are insulin resistant, was confronted by a few vegetarians who wanted to fight the good fight of proving you can be healthy on vegetables alone. Vegetarians consider BEANS to be a protein, whereas low carb eaters call them a carb. There is a new population of people who used to be avid vegetarians who are now avid meat eaters because they became convinced that it was the healthy thing to do. They can argue "both sides". It was an entertaining spectacle.

The food, unfortunately, was entirely vegetarian and lacking in the proteins that I have been instructed to eat at every single meal. I do not have to eat a LOT of meat, but I do need to eat at least some nuts or cheese with every meal. At this retreat I was taking more than my share of sesame seeds and goat cheese from the salad condiments, trying to get my proteins and fats. They ran out of hardboiled eggs in the morning so I ate a lot of yogurt, because everything else on offer was pure carb. It was good, mind you, with lots of fresh blueberries which everybody loves.

The lectures were all over the place, from hard science (neurotransmitters) to clinical (pain management) to woo woo. There were a lot of references to Chinese herbs and to the system of herbs being warming, cooling, drying, etc. There were also classes on pulse and tongue diagnosis, which I did not attend. I am an unbeliever there too. I am interested in medicines that have been around for thousands of years AND we know something about how they work. It's just my Western mind, being obstinant, I know.


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 28th, 2008 04:04 pm (UTC)
I've noticed that people who tend to be into herbs and such tend to believe in past lives, yes. My mother is one.

Why do you need to eat so much protein? I've heard that any more protein than a few almonds a day is extraneous unless you're a bodybuilder.
Jul. 28th, 2008 04:44 pm (UTC)
How much protein you need depends a lot on your body and metabolic type: not everybody is the same. I am eating protein at every meal because it is recommended as a way to support depleted adrenal glands. I'm told never to skip meals, and to make sure that there is at least a couple ounces of protein-rich food with every meal. They want me to eat meat more than I do, because I'll often eat nuts instead.

Does your mother grow herbs or use them? It sounds like you don't believe in reincarnation. Is that true? Do you believe in something?
Jul. 28th, 2008 05:39 pm (UTC)
Neither grows nor uses really -- just knows about them. I.e. if I wanted to know what herbs are good for ailment x, I'd go to her and she'd probably know.

I think whether reincarnation is true or not is irrelevant to me. Because we lose most/all of our memories in it anyway, it wouldn't matter to me if it were true.

I don't think it's true because I'm not a dualist -- i.e. I believe you can't separate the material realm from the experiential realm: every thought, feeling, memory, etc. has a corresponding physical element, so I can't imagine a mechanism which would transfer a person between bodies without also transferring something physical to hold the information.

It's possible the transfer works through some unknown physical method of course -- such as electromagnetism or something undetectable to the senses. But I doubt there's a hidden physical mechanism for another reason: unless we assume the "souls" are reproducible, i.e. that anyone born must have a soul and that it must have come from some previous life -- that would mean that the number of souls in existence would have to remain constant, which is contrary to what we know about the human population (which has increased over our history) or the earth's population if we allow transfer between species (which has also increased over the earth's history).

We could also allow interplanetary reincarnation, as the Scientologists believe, but that still requires either a steady-state universe where the number of lives living in the universe is constant, with no increase or decrease in that number (which is contrary to what cosmology we know) -- or a nearly limitless number of free souls with sometimes long delays between incarnations, or soul generation and destruction of some sort (perhaps souls could be converted into matter or energy under extreme conditions, the way matter and energy are interconvertable under extreme conditions)

Another reason I doubt it is that I can't imagine any use for it. Why would the universe or life require a reincarnative mechanism? What's the benefit of it? If we imagine two alternate universes, one with reincarnation and one without, would life in the one with it have any type of advantage that would allow them to evolve it? If not, then it's something that didn't evolve from life, but was either introduced by some external agent outside of the universe, or arose from the nature of the laws of the universe. I find the idea that reincarnation could evolve with life as an advantageous trait interesting, and more conceivable than the idea that consciousness or experience is somehow special or built-in to the laws of the universe.

But as I said, if it's true, I don't really think it matters. It'd be interesting in the abstract sense, but not something that matter one way or the other -- i.e. it won't change the way I live or think or how I act.

I think a lot of people believe in reincarnation because they use it as a rationalization to explain why they have problems in life, believing it's their karma left over from their last life. Or they just believe in it because they don't like the idea that they or others will be gone forever -- which would be true even if reincarnation is true in any case, because most of their memories and personality are gone forever either way.

Or they sometimes use it like the Christians use hell, as a belief that they'll be rewarded in the next life and the others who don't act the way they like will be punished by being born as a lesser animal (this is a common belief among Hindus for example, and oddly mirrors how Christians use the idea of heaven and hell).
Jul. 28th, 2008 05:48 pm (UTC)
One problem with interplanetary reincarnation too is that souls would have to travel long distances instantly, faster than the speed of light, which is in violation of what we have observed about the universe. Or else the souls would need to know ahead of time where they're going to be reborn (where there's going to be an increase in the total need for souls on a planet) and travel there at or below the speed of light to arrive there on time.
Jul. 28th, 2008 05:45 pm (UTC)
I was emailing Dr. Zwickey about homeopathy and any research that is being done. There are apparently research studies being done on it, and some of them are using animals, because of the lack of a placebo effect/expectations. The funny thing was that she said that they are showing that animals, sepecifically dogs, can actually have a placebo effect! That is surely going to cause a problem in the realm of complimentary medicine if people start to poin that out all the time.

I'm still curious about research. Maybe I should jump in second year.
Jul. 29th, 2008 02:50 am (UTC)
Yeah, you need one more thing to do. =-O

Cool finding in the research! I am not surprised that an animal can have placebo effect. Animals thrive on attention and contact, and a new kind of attention and contact, loaded with psychic energy, could have a strong impact on them.
Jul. 29th, 2008 12:51 am (UTC)
Reincarnation: skeptical. I do think consciousness survives death, but not identity. I think memories of past lives, the ones that are not bullshit or wishful thinking, have more to do with a Jungian type of collective memory. There is a lot more to what I just said, I'm just too lazy to write about it.

My only knowledge of herbs comes from my experiences practicing Magick as a (former) Wiccan and (dilettante) Thelemite. These days I suspect they have more value as nutritional supplements than they do as mojo or juju, but that has to do with my predisposition to mysticism dismissing externalities as part of the illusion of Maya rather than saying such illusions are meaningless.

Truth be told, I'm more inclined these days to living my everyday life than pondering the imponderable.
Jul. 29th, 2008 03:08 am (UTC)
I also lean toward a Jungian understanding of the collective unconscious and archetypes...so you don't have to explain more, I know what you're getting at.

What's a Thelemite?

I just can't stop pondering...tis my nature.
Jul. 29th, 2008 09:34 am (UTC)
Jul. 29th, 2008 02:32 am (UTC)
Seems like your herb fest experience ran you right into the vast availabilites of the spectrum of conscious and intentional thought.

Me...it's whatever works. We all, individually, are a sum of our experiences. The ongoing yin and yang of nature versus nurture. That frames our perspectives.

So, if another feels differently, then so be it. Dogmatic thought tends to be overbearing and tedious. Leaves no room for growth and makes people just like what they say they aren't.

hmmmmm...(in the southern non-commital way of saying)..."What about that?"....


Jul. 29th, 2008 02:45 am (UTC)
Re: perspectives....
Yep, people believe what they believe, and it doesn't need to matter much. Beliefs are water under the bridge.
Jul. 29th, 2008 06:41 pm (UTC)
Re: perspectives....
I would say that beliefs, more than water under/ or past the bridge, are reality to some at that point in time. More so, their metaphysical reference point.

I think that is why I get so pissed at the judgemental Christians who want to "save me" from their perceived form of eternal damnation.

I find it interesting how the native Americans concept of a medicine wheel, or continuum, works well for me. It allows for change. It allows for stagnation. It allows for all, and still works. Pretty cool.

Weather channel says it is nice out in the PNW. The Carolinas are still dry, but good for photosynthesis. re: sunny...

Love ya,

Jul. 29th, 2008 07:48 pm (UTC)
Re: perspectives....
Maybe I should have said that people who cannot see past their own beliefs are water under the bridge. Believing IS reality....up until you realize that reality is something other than what you construct with your mind, that we each create an illusion of reality that is ours and ours alone....and then when you can see your own illusion, you can see everyone else has them too, and life gets simpler because you stop giving your own beliefs so much weight. Other people's beliefs become less intimidating too, when you know that that's all they are. If that makes any sense at all....

Suz arrived yesterday and it started raining today. I guess to welcome her back. All is well here. I have a suntan on parts that have never ever had a tan before. =-]
Jul. 30th, 2008 03:32 pm (UTC)
I believe I was a raven in my past life. I like to pick up shinny things on the ground that catches my eye.
Aug. 2nd, 2008 02:34 am (UTC)
You were a raven, huh. Anything else besides liking shiny stuff that makes you think that?
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )



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