Podcasts/Sacred Tension-HOH Headless Wayb1tg5

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HOH_Headless_Wayb1tg5 SUMMARY KEYWORDS people, mystical experience, meditation, groundhog, religion, groundhog day, consciousness, experience, head, death, thought, groundhogs, life, feel, headless, god, die, real, live, helmet SPEAKERS Alex, Stephen Bradford Long

Stephen Bradford Long 00:00 All right, we are recording Hello Shnoockums. How are you?

Alex 00:06 I am fine as long as this day doesn't keep on repeating itself ad nauseam will be okay.

Stephen Bradford Long 00:11 Yeah, so happy Groundhog's Day. Let's see you you wrote me. When I asked you what you wanted to talk about yesterday you responded back disgruntled rodents crawling out of dirty holes. And I responded perfect having no fucking clue what you were talking about. Oh, no, I had no idea what you're talking about. But I was like sounds good to me. So yes, Happy Groundhog Day for PEEP for people outside. Does anyone outside of the US like we currently only have one person in the chat right now, but I'm pretty sure that they do not live in the US.

Alex 00:56 It's an American thing.

Stephen Bradford Long 00:57 It does so much. So Alex, do you know what Groundhog Day is? They might not be. They might not be on on chat. Oh, they say yep. Okay, cool. Are you in the US Alex by the way? I don't I keep thinking that you aren't I keep thinking your UK. Yeah, that's right. That's what I thought. Okay. Um, so anyway, hello, kittens. My unicorns my degenerates. Welcome to the house of heretics podcast where Timothy and I drink coffee and talk about bullshit for your listening pleasure. As always reread. We record this every Wednesday morning at 11am. Eastern Time, and you are all welcome to join us. Also a quick note, all features all Patreon. Goodwater what's the term up all Patreon tiers? Yes, now have access to all Patreon content. So $1 all the way up to $10 You all get access to the content. Because life is hard financially and, and, you know, I want to I've decided that I care more about building community than I do about making money. So people get access to all of this content at the $1 tier. Okay, so anyway, how are you shadow comes? What's on your mind?

Alex 02:26 Well, being in the oil is forecasted to be snowed in here. So

Stephen Bradford Long 02:33 I was snowed in like two weeks ago. And it was very, it was very shining. Ask it. I couldn't but I didn't have an opportunity to even enjoy the snow. Because let me tell you, when I'm here in the South and in the south, when when when southerners hear that snow is coming. It is it ruins my life. I'm a grocery store manager for people who don't know it fucking ruins my life. And I want to go up to every single, frantic panicked customer in the store and be like, I promise you, you won't starve. You have plenty of food in your pantry already. You will not have to resort to cannibalism. You won't have to eat your dog. This is not the Donner party like you will be fine. But people panic so hard and then they did it again last weekend and there wasn't even any snow they they forecast like half an inch and sales went up by like $5,000 That day, which for me which for which for a small grocery store that is a huge jump.

Alex 03:52 Right? It was it we're supposed to get more than we have now. So I'm thinking for the most part is going to miss us. Although we did we did have some sleet this morning. And I ran and it's but

Stephen Bradford Long 04:10 Oh, isn't that fun? I love running in bad weather. It is actually I love running in bad weather it like in rainstorms. I try not to run in thunderstorms for obvious reasons. But like heavy rain, heavy snow, heavy eyes, heavy wind, like all all of the adverse weather is really really fun as a runner.

Alex 04:36 Yeah. Well, when the when there's actual snow snow, it actually does feel nice on the feet. It feels very different running in the snow. Yeah.

Stephen Bradford Long 04:46 Do you normally run on pavement?

Alex 04:49 Yes, I do. Yeah,

Stephen Bradford Long 04:51 yeah. That's okay. i For me, it's about half and half. I do have trails half pavement anyway. I'm so Groundhog's Day. i What? Why? Why does Groundhog's Day even exist? Yeah, well, you seem like the kind of person who would know.

Alex 05:13 well, the actual Well Bill Murray movie aside I think most people start to think that Groundhog Day has to do with the what happened to Bill Murray in his in his movie there. But um, Groundhog Day just had to do with this old folks till that when, if a groundhog when it comes out of hibernation, and for those of you who are not American and don't know what groundhogs are, just imagine a beaver without a tail. Basically, that's what it is. And when they come out, and if they see their shadow, that means their six more weeks of winter. And if they don't see their shadow, that means spring is on its way so and it became a tradition, and they normally thinks around February 2.

Stephen Bradford Long 06:03 But why? It's a very strange tradition. Like it's a very weird tradition. How did how did this start who decided that a groundhog seeing its shadow on a particular day? Is what forecast the winter

Alex 06:25 I think is probably just people observing and noticing seasons and changes and yeah, that I'm thinking that's probably where it started off.

Stephen Bradford Long 06:36 Let's look this up. Oh my god. Origin of Groundhog Day also groundhogs carry. Plague. Let's see. As in as in the plague that like wiped out 1/3 of Europe. Let's see here. First Groundhog Day featuring. Okay, so this is from the History Channel, so take everything written here with a grain of salt. On February 2 1887 Groundhog Day featuring a rodent meteorologist is celebrated for the first time at Gobblers Knob in WoW, punks.

Alex 07:17 Punxsutawney

Stephen Bradford Long 07:18 Thank you, Pennsylvania. According to tradition, if a groundhog comes out of a toll Yes, yes. Yes. Okay. Groundhogs called woodshop. Let's see here they go into hibernation. In 1887, a newspaper editor belonging to a group of Groundhog hunters from punk says punk but I will say that again. Punk Sultani Thank you called the Punxsutawney groundhog club declared that Phil the Punxsutawney groundhog was America's only true weather forecasting groundhog. The line of groundhogs that have since been known as Phil might be America's most famous American might be America's most famous groundhogs. But other towns across North America now have their own weather predicting rodents from Birmingham, Bill to Staten Island, Chuck. Okay, well, that did not answer any of my questions, but that's fine. Well,

Alex 08:15 it looks like it's Germans fault, actually. Of course it is. So Pennsylvania Dutch brought it over from Germany. Oh, interesting. So but they don't have groundhogs over there. They have badgers. And there's a round

Stephen Bradford Long 08:32 Wait, do you Alex just just posted an article?

Alex 08:38 New York Post?

Stephen Bradford Long 08:39 Yeah. In New Jersey's weather predictor, Milltown Mel dies just before Groundhog Day. Oh, no. This was this article released yesterday. So Alex said I guess this means we're all we're all doomed. He's dead. Yes. So because the groundhog died? We are we're all fucked. We're all going to die. Also, groundhogs carry plague I know I said that earlier but it's gonna Dillos did but I didn't do too but no and I mean, like the the plague like demonic plague. Yeah, yeah. The plague that wiped out 1/3 of Europe and everyone should go listen to last podcast on the laughs series on the plague. Because it is the most horrific thing I've heard in a long time.

Alex 09:42 It was a crazy thing.

Stephen Bradford Long 09:43 Like just the the truly apocalyptic horror of that period of history was incredible. And it's incredible that the plague is still around and it lives in Groundhog And they told a story about these frat boys who were like playing around in a cornfield and they stuck their head into a groundhog burrow, trying to get it out. And within a week all three of these guys were dead from flag, so it's still around. It still exists hold on the cat Watson so have you heard of the God helmet?

Alex 10:39 Oh no. What is that?

Stephen Bradford Long 10:41 So have you read Mike McCarthy's book finding God in the waves? Yes. He writes about the God helmet in it. Okay, that's concerned a bit. The God helmet is a piece of equipment. Allegedly, a piece of equipment that stimulates the part of the brain that is responsible for mystical experience. Ah, yes, I

Alex 11:11 Ah, yes, I remember this part now.

Stephen Bradford Long 11:12 Okay. So because my partner has some disposable income. He got a God helmet.

Alex 11:20 Oh, can you still hear me muted yourself or unplugged your mic there?

Stephen Bradford Long 11:26 Can you still hear me?

Alex 11:27 You're not coming over very well at all. Last thing that came across was because my partner has disposable income.

Stephen Bradford Long 11:35 Oh, god dammit. Oh, there you go. Okay, I have no idea what just happened. But look, now

Alex 11:41 You had your arm resting on your mic, something like that. And that's when it happened. So I don't know if that was corresponding or it was just correlation does not always equal causation. So

Stephen Bradford Long 11:52 Correct. So. Um, yeah, the sorta let me make let me make sure my audio is still working in. Audio Hijack. Check, check, check. Yes, it is. Okay. So because my partner has some disposable income he ordered, he got a God helmet. And I sent you a picture of it without context several weeks ago. Oh, goodness. If you're you just laughed at the picture. I don't think I provided any context. Where did it go? Oh, I'll put this in the chat. Well, I'll figure out how to put it in the chat. Okay. Yes, it's the one where I have the headband. And the

Alex 12:48 Yes, I remember that. And I said that needed to be your new profile picture. Yes.

Stephen Bradford Long 12:55 So it was a really cool experience. And I don't, so I don't know how much of it was self induced. It's it, it's really hard to say if it actually works or not judging from my experience, I don't actually know if it works or not. Because the power of suggestion is really powerful. We are very prone to the power of suggestion especially with things like mystical experience. And so it is entirely possible that I had a self induced mystical experience. Um, but it was really cool. I I put it on for about 45 minutes. And at first I just you so my eyes were closed, I had those those eye shields on. And at first I was just seeing like, geometric patterns, just like flashing geometric. It was it was almost hallucinogenic, just like geometric shapes, like shifting and appearing. And then I had kind of this deep sense of well being and the feeling of warmth, and like warmth and love and light, the kind of experience that I used to have. When I would speak in tongues when I was a charismatic Christian years ago. And kind of that feeling of just overwhelming. Kind of joy and peace and quiet and and light and warm. There's it's like a sensation of physical warmth. So that was cool. And then John, my partner with the coolest part is that. So it was divided into two sessions. And so then he switched it over to another configuration. And instantly that feeling turned off, like it had like it was a faucet that had been turned off. And that was when he had switched the configuration and it started to stimulate another part of the brain. It was a very, very, very cool experience. And then I during the second session, so as to sessions, that made a total of 45 minutes. And that second session, I had this feeling of like lifting of rising, it was very cool. Like it was this physical sensation of rising almost like I was I was rising out of my body or rising up, it was very cool. And again, I was obviously primed to experience something. And that alone is enough to ensure that you will experience something like that alone is enough to to for some people to ensure that that they will have a cool experience. So and I know that I'm very prone to mystical experience, I think I'm just naturally wired to have kind of weird numinous experiences. Regardless, it says something really cool about the human mind. It's like if, if the God helmet was working, if it was the thing that was stimulating this response inside of me? Well, that means that that there is a biological component of mystical experience, which of course, we all know, but it's still kind of radical it. It. what it suggests is that religious people aren't lying, when they say that they are experiencing things. And I think that's really challenging for a lot of atheists. They aren't just being delusional, they're actually experiencing something real inside of their own brain that and that doesn't mean that what they are perceiving about the world around them is real, but it means that they're having a real experience. So that's what that means. On the other hand, it means if it if the God helmet wasn't what was stimulating this experience for me, it still means that altered states of consciousness are are very easily accessible to us, even through something as simple as the power of suggestion. And that's also super cool. Does that make sense?

Alex 17:55 Oh, yeah. Yeah. Following along it. I had thoughts going every single which way on it? Yeah, I first thought that was problematic that I think no, it's not really problematic. Because the way I thought was problematic, well, you can simulate religious experiences or mystical experiences through this. But then I said, well, that really doesn't discount though the mystical experiences that people have had, as well. So

Stephen Bradford Long 18:35 and what's the difference between a simulated mystical experience and a real mystical experience?

Alex 18:41 Who does the simulating? I don't know. No, I met I mean, that's what I would say, who does the who initiates this? The expose so

Stephen Bradford Long 18:55 so an authentic mystical experience would be something that arises naturally? I don't know. Whereas a where Yeah, I don't know. And, and what's so interesting to me is, so this device was invented was invented in the 80s. And I personally think that the device has some good evidence to support it. A lot of the scientific studies that were done on it were in my limited non scientific understanding, fairly rigorous. But what the cultural controversy over it since the 80s has been really interesting because you have atheists being like, Ha, Checkmate. Checkmate theists, this is all in your head. And then you have other atheists being like, Oh, this proves that what religious be People are saying is actually true.

Alex 20:03 That's That's what that's basically similar to the thought processes going in my head. Yeah. Like, well, what is what is simulated? What is actual what is real? Yeah, exactly. And who determines that.

Stephen Bradford Long 20:17 So it. And then. And then on the theistic side, on the religious side, you have religious people who are very threatened by it, and who feel like it is infringing on their territory. And so and it feels very threatening to them. And then there are other religious people who say, this is proof that we are wired for God, this is proof that God designed us to have a connection with him. And so it's just like the kind of culture war the debate over this device and in terms of how different people interpret it is just so fascinating, right? Some people are very threatened by it, other people embrace it as proof that religious experience is all psychological. And then there are other people who embrace it as proof that God invented the human mind to have a connection with him. And so it's like, everyone is just imposing their priors on this device. Um, yeah, it's really, really, really interesting. But I, I had that experience, and I walked away just kind of amazed that something happened, and I don't know what happened. Like, I don't know what the trigger was, I don't know if it was self induced. I don't know if it was a placebo effect, or the power of suggestion. Or if it was genuinely the electromagnetic pulses, stimulating parts of my brain. I don't know. Or, or maybe a combination of both. I just have no idea. But regardless, I walked away from that experience with like, Oh, that was really cool. I had a real experience. Either way.

Alex 22:22 Yeah, I get that some a lot. Through meditation. Me too. I'm trying to find that formula. Ah, because I notice every now and then it like when I do the exact same thing, the experience is not repeated in the same way. And I don't know exactly why it's like that. I just know that each meditation experience I have is very unique. Yeah, same. So I don't know for certain on that. And, and I hate it when I'm trying to talk about meditation because it's like, next to impossible for me to describe it. And I feel like I'm like it is

Stephen Bradford Long 23:15 next to impossible. So one of my favorite meditation practices, of course, as I've been exposed to from Sam Harris, is called the headless way. Have you heard of this? It is the trippiest form of meditation I have ever encountered in my life. This isn't

Alex 23:38 a type of body scanning. No, okay, no, then I don't know this one, go. Hey,

Stephen Bradford Long 23:43 so it's by a British guy. It was developed by a British guy named Douglas Harding. Let's see if I can explain the headless way in a way that does not make me sound absolutely insane. So we very often have a feeling of being a self within our head, usually. So you know, if we close our eyes, and end ask Where am I feel? Where do I feel like my seat of awareness is, it's usually a sensation, right here behind the eyes, or in the face, it's a feeling and or if you look across the room at something, so I'm currently looking at a ghost poster. I have this feeling of being a subject of a subject object duality of a subject behind my eyes, looking across space at the object, which is the ghost poster And the whole premise behind non dual meditation is that that whole subject object thing is an illusion. And that everything is just our consciousness, our. And so the headless way, is where you in a meditation practice you, you use your visual field and you look around you to and you look for your head, notice that your head is nowhere within your visual field. Look for your head. And there is something about that within a meditative process where you realize that your identification of your sense of self being attached being a sensation behind your eyes, is an illusion. And where your head should be, is simply the world. And it's, it's an incredible experience, it's almost like your, your head vanish, you have this sense of your head, vanishing, and your your sense of identification with your face vanishing. And suddenly, who you are is your entire field of awareness. And a one of my favorite headless methods is to point at yourself. So take your you take your finger, and you point at yourself. And you ask yourself, What am I pointing at? And in kind of a weird way, you realize, I'm pointing at nothing? And what for? Where in my frame of reference? What in my frame of reference? Am I pointing at? Well, nothing. There's nothing that I'm pointing at. There's just emptiness, where my fingers being pointed at as a matter of experience as a matter of consciousness, there is, what I'm pointing at is simply nothing. And then that experience dissolves that duality between subject and object. I have no idea if what I just explained makes sense. But it is really, really cool.

Alex 27:29 No, I actually totally get it. And I found the guy's website. So I put it there in the in the notes there on the chat. For there. But what the reason I was saying asking if it were body scanning, is because this one where I had the most mystical experience ever with meditation involved body scanning. And the very last part of the was with Michael Ganga, doing the meditation is like, see if you can remove your head. And yes, I was like, and that freaked me out when that happened. So yes, it's

Stephen Bradford Long 28:06 yeah, that sounds very similar to the headless way. Yeah, we're basically the same thing, right? It can be incorporated. So so the headless meditations can be incorporated into other meditations like standard Vipassana and body scan and so on. But it's, I don't know, it's, it's destabilizing when you first experienced Yes.

Alex 28:30 That's, that's the word destabilizing? Yes. And,

Stephen Bradford Long 28:35 yeah, go on. Now. Because it's

Alex 28:37 like, you're trying to your sense of individualism goes away. Yes. And that can be very disconcerting. Especially if all of a sudden, you what you thought you knew, is perhaps not what, what it actually is, and so that, but at the same time, it can be comforting in a way to realize that how much we are interconnected with each other.

Stephen Bradford Long 29:16 And it's, I find it incredibly exciting. Like when I, when I first experienced it, when I first experienced the dissolving of the self. And there are so many different ways within meditation to do that. So there's the direct path, and there's the indirect path and the indirect path is more of a typical, you know, like mindfulness practice where you're paying just minut detail a minute it's incredible attention to the minut detail of and just, you know, like exclude Is it attention to every minut detail of experience in it, it kind of unfolds naturally. And the, the abandonment of the self just kind of unfolds naturally. And then there's there are other methods, there are other schools of meditation, where it's a direct path and where it's immediate. And it's, it's like, looking at an optical illusion. And, and mentally forcing that optical illusion to shift is what it's like. And both, I think both are really beautiful, the direct and indirect path, I think both have their benefits. And the way Sam Harris describes it, is as as finding the optical blind spot, and that the sense of self is an illusion. But it is, but that, but we can teach ourselves, to see it to see that it is an illusion, at any time, and the same way we can teach ourselves to see the blind spot. And the way you see the blind spot, is you will get Stephen King here, you close one eye. So I'm looking at the T on this book cover. And you hold it at arm's length, and then you move it to the side and then boom, the T is gone. Because it is in my optical blind spot. And so the optical blind spot is where a nerve passes through the retina, or where Yeah, I think we're a nerve passes through a retina and so our brain fills in that spot. But, but if you look for it, you can find it and Sam Harris draws a comparison between that and non dual selfless meditation where it's like, it's a very, he takes like a very technical and practical approach to it, where you can learn specific techniques that just obliterates that sense of self in the same way you can find the optical blind spot.

Alex 32:21 Yeah. Why my mind is going like 1000 miles an hour right now.

Stephen Bradford Long 32:29 What's on your mind? Oh,

Alex 32:30 well, I mean, well, this has nothing well has nothing in everything to do with a friend of mine in Germany. Who is Salvation Army officer? Is was dying of cancer? Oh, no. And last night. Yesterday, he wrote he has this blog in English is called life and eternity labour no knavish, Kate in German. And he said last yesterday, this is my last posts on this account. This evening, I'll be receiving medication for a palliative sedation. So my pain and suffering on this world will have an end. And then he quotes John 316.

Stephen Bradford Long 33:25 Wow. Yeah. Yeah. I felt like, yeah, yeah, go on, go on.

Alex 33:37 I know, I that just hit me in so many ways, because I know him to be a very kind and compassionate man who was dealt a really bad hand when it came to cancer. I mean, I keep I kept on reading his posts about what was going on and how nothing seemed to be going the right way. And but so I don't know. I mean, that's been in my head though, too. And then talking about meditation like this just brings it all into a weird sounding horse.

Stephen Bradford Long 34:16 Well, I mean, tragedy is going to happen to all of us in some way. Right. And I really think that the wisdom and insight gained from meditation is the way at least for me, to confront the innate tragedy of death. And it's like there and the intrinsic the the innate tragedies of life, disease, death, illness, heartbreak, you know, just all of this stuff that befalls us. And it's and it's going to be for all of us like There's no escaping that shit, life's gonna fuck us up no matter what, we're going to get a terrible diagnosis or someone close to us will, death will likely be painful and will likely be humiliating, right? Like this is just these are just the facts of life. And more and more, I really feel like meditation. And these ancient practices that have been passed on to us are the way forward. And the way to deal with it is the wrong way to fray but to but to confront it with grace. And to not, and to have a chance of dying a good death.

Alex 35:53 Well, and I read the comments, and a lot of them were were I don't want to say try it, because that's not the right word. I mean, it's it That's too harsh. formulaic that's also some bad. But, um, but oh, those platitudes, there are a lot of platitudes that were said, not all of them, definitely not all of them, a lot of them were taking leave of him and what I had written, it's sort of hard to translate into English. Because I mean, I just wanted to be honest with him about what I myself was feeling about it. And so we get back over there to the site. But um, well, I had told him like, in English. I said, the tears are starting now. It has been a joy for me to know you, you are. Oh, and I can't say this in English. As because it's my one of my favorite words, you are resting in God, the German word is, is a beautiful word that means surrounded, buried, secure. comforted, and that's all I could think of right now on that. And then I see other people saying, hey, we'll see each other again. A lot of people said that we'll see each other again. And I was talking to a friend of mine, who is American, and actually met him a couple of weeks ago and didn't realize that he had cancer. You know, it's not something that you go and announce to everybody, like, Hey, I'm dying of cancer, by the way. You don't you just it's not something that you tell everyone. And he I told him yesterday is like, Hey, Mark is dying tonight. And, and in Yes. And he asked me how he's feeling is that got a lot of mixed emotions about it? And he asked me why. And I said, Because death is so permanent.

Stephen Bradford Long 38:34 Yes. And it's also fundamentally mysterious in. I lean towards, nothing happens when I die. I vanish, my consciousness vanishes. But the fact is, no one knows. Like, absolutely no one knows what happens after we die. I, if I were to, you know, if I were to, if I were forced to put money on what I think would happen, I think that when I die, nothing happens. My consciousness ends. But the fact is, there is still so much that we don't know about the universe, and there's still so much I mean, there's, we practically know nothing about consciousness. Everyone should go listen to my interview with Philip Goff about that about how little we actually understand about consciousness. And so I'm ultimately agnostic. Like I'm agnostic, I lean towards nothing happening, but none of us know what happens when we die. And I and I kind of and and while I think that's way more terrifying. I also think it is way more respectful and compassionate to lean into that. And to not try to give pat answers simple answers, like, we will see you again, right? We don't we don't know that no one knows that. And so instead of leaning into that, I feel like it's way more compassionate and maybe even more consoling might be more terrifying, but it's more humane to lean into the mystery.

Alex 40:34 Well, I think I mean, I am seeing it from both sides. Also. Anne Lamott has this wonderful phrase that I absolutely love. And she quoted, she's quoted to a priest that she knew. And she said, the opposite of faith is not doubt the opposite of faith is certainty. Yeah. And so when my doubts spring up to that. And I see people say things like, hey, we will see each other again, they're leaning on to the faith side. And I don't know either. What happens for certain when you die for a cause, if you want to ask me for certainty for clear cut answers, besides the physical parts of decomposition and all that that goes with it? Yeah, I could tell you all about that. But does, do we then really disappear then? Or is that? I mean, what happens to that consciousness? I don't know for certain. And I'm okay. With that. And I'm saying that hesitantly is,

Stephen Bradford Long 42:06 I as I have had to force myself to be okay with it, because I don't have any other choice. Like, I don't have a choice but to be okay with. And here's

Alex 42:17 the part that I think maybe both you and I can agree on is like when you let the terror overcome you. it paralyzes you, and then you're not really living life. Yes, absolutely. And I think no matter if you're an atheist, a Satanist or a theist or a pantheist, like myself, that paralyzation is no does no good for anybody, especially for yourself.

Stephen Bradford Long 42:43 Absolutely. So yeah, I mean, life is for living. There's a trite saying for you, but ya know, I mean,

Alex 42:53 it's not trite. I don't think it's trite.

Stephen Bradford Long 42:56 I, you know, I and I've talked about this time on the show before, I know, I talked about in my interview with Ben Burgess this week about Christopher Hitchens.

Alex 43:06 Yes, I did listen to the esterday. Yeah. And

Stephen Bradford Long 43:10 I talked about this with Shiva, honey, where it's just, I'm thinking about death a lot lately. And it isn't a morbid thought it isn't. I think. I think that I am solidly and adult now. That's why and part of adulthood, you know, maybe Contrary to popular belief, I'm actually an adult. And I may not always act like it, but I'm technically an adult. And I'm just intensely aware that I am aging into this body, even though I'm still really young. I'm 33. But I'm but I feel, but there's like this sense of, oh, I can actually now feel my body changing in a way that I couldn't when I was in my teens and 20s, I can actually kind of feel my own limitations in a way that I didn't when I was in my 20s. And that isn't saying that I you know, like, I can't get out of bed and I have arthritis and I'm you know, struggling with cancer. And I know that death is around the court. No, not at all. Like that is like I'm still really, really, really young. But it's just like this very subtle sense of, oh, I have limitations. I'm not like the super athlete that I was in my early 20s When I could, you know, run for miles and do hot yoga, and you know, do strength training. And just like I was I was in very, very, very good shape. And there, it felt like there were very few limitations on me. Now I don't have that experience anymore. And so I've been thinking a lot about death. And it isn't a morbid thought. It's just This awareness of death in a way that I wasn't previously. And also, I used to believe with a certainty that I was going to live forever. And I know that's as as you know, as a Christian, as a traditional Christian, I believed that my consciousness was immortal. And looking back now, that's kind of crazy to me. That's a route that's kind of insane to me that I just took for granted that I was going to live literally forever, that I was literally immortal. That's what I believe. That's what I was raised to believe that because I had accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, I, meaning my consciousness would exist in perpetuity, for all eternity, it's crazy to me that I believed that because now, I don't and the leap, the leap from believing that you will live forever to where I am now, which is the acknowledgement that I will likely that there is a non it that there is a not insignificant chance that my consciousness will vanish at the point of death. That is literally a, an infinite leap. literally an infinite leap. Going from I am living forever. I am literally going to live for eternity, my consciousness is going to exist for eternity in the presence of God. To I will have maybe, if I'm lucky, 90 Plus, around, you know, hope, you know, a good long life 90 to 100 years, average life 70 years of consciousness, that is literally an infinite leap. How the fuck am I supposed to deal with that? From I'm from believing that I'm going to live forever to I probably won't live forever. But ultimately, I don't know what happens after I die. Kind of a tentative materialist agnosticism, that is a leap that is simply impossible to articulate. Like that is that is a jump that is simply impossible to express. And, and I don't think that and I again, I wish that I had to say this so often, I wish that my fellow non religious people had some respect for the magnitude of that leap, and the existential terror that it generates. If you've spent your entire life believing that you are going to live forever and then suddenly, you're confronted with the possibility that you won't that is a Lovecraftian level of horror.

Alex 48:24 Yeah, I just I think right now. All I can do is be at peace. With whatever happens, and when it comes to my faith there is this song. Oh, goodness, it was a I think it was a Kirk Franklin song. And it for those of you who don't know, Kirk Franklin is like a gospel singer. That did a lot of good, great work, but I want to see if I could find it. I want to find this okay, I believe that was him. Maybe it wasn't I had to find these words. Because they're so important. Okay, no, I'm sorry, it wasn't Kirk Franklin. It was Andre crouch. I apologize. But this is the These are the words he wrote, you may ask me why I serve the Lord? Is it just for heaven's gain? Or to walk those mighty streets of gold? And to hear the angels sing? Is it just to drink from the fountain that never shall run dry or just to live forever and ever, and that sweet, sweet bind by? And then here comes the chorus, here's the answer. But if heaven never was promised to me, neither God's promise to live eternally. It's been worth just having the Lord in my life, living in a world of darkness, you came and brought me the lights. I remember this from when I was a little kid. And, and I had to think that if my faith does not change for people, for myself, and for people that are around me right now, when I'm alive, and I'm waiting for something to happen, when I die, then I don't have the whole point of my faith, then.

Stephen Bradford Long 50:55 Absolutely.

Alex 50:57 And so, and when I see other people living in their faith and their religion, whether it is as a Satanist, or as a Muslim, or as a Buddhist, or as a Christian, if they are doing good in this world, and are bringing lights and life into this world, that I think they're doing what what needs to be done, and that they are living a fulfilled life.

Stephen Bradford Long 51:24 Absolutely. And, you know, one of my, one of the most universally known satanic symbols hold on the pentagram, yeah, I have one here, pretty wooden pentagram, it's on my altar. So true, the traditional pentagram is upright, where the, the point is up, and that tends to represent, you know, a concern with the spiritual and the heavenly. The, and there's not necessarily anything wrong with that, I mean, that has its place. So this isn't me bashing that at all. The Satanic path is the inversion of that. And that is a concern with the material world. That is a concern with the carnal with the here and now. And I think a lot of people so penname, who calls Satanism, a carnal religion, and I, and he says that he doesn't mean that just dropped the pentacle. And he says that he, you know, doesn't mean that as like Material Girl, Madonna, not. But as it is a it is a religion of the senses, but it's also so it's a religion of the senses and sensuality. But it's also a religion, of concern for the living conditions of living conscious creatures here and now. And it isn't necessarily concerned with the next life, it's concerned with this life. And it isn't necessarily concerned with the with the heavenly, It's concerned with the earthly. And I love that symbol within Satanism, that inversion of the pentacle down to earth, and it's like this grounding down to earth, to be concerned about the material conditions of people now. And yeah, I love that. And as far as and like you said, Anyone who who is also concerned with that, like anyone who is first and foremost concerned about the well being of their neighbor, is someone who I think is a good person, right? For lack of a better term.

Alex 54:00 Well, and Okay. There. I've said this before and another and I'll just bring it up again. Jesus tells in his teachings, the story of the parable of the Good Samaritan, and I know you know this, but for those of you who don't know it, and what a Samaritan was, you gotta remember Jesus's audience was primarily Jewish. With some exceptions, of course, and Samaritans were like the blood enemies of the Jews, they just did not mix at all. They hated each other for various different and basically had to do with lines of faith and blood purity and all sorts of other unfortunate things, but they hate each other. And juice teacher was trying to end this as part of Jewish rhetoric and this is how they talked with each other. This is how they engaged each other was having a nice little debate with Jesus and says, How do I get eternal life. And Jesus told him this story about this good samaritan about there is a man walking on the highway who gets mugged and robbed and left for dead. And two people pass by him. One was a Jewish priests and the other was a Jewish Levite, who is a temple worker, people who probably should have known better, but would have also been correct and not helping them out. Because if they had gotten blood on them, than they would have been ceremonially unclean to serve in the temple. So they left for dead there. And then along comes a Samaritan who went and saw the man helped him even though he was a blood enemy, paid for his medical bills and, and got him help the help that he needed. And Jesus. And I just go back to the original question, I was like, What do I do, must I do to have eternal life. And it was the Samaritan who got it, the Samaritan who, according to Jews, had the wrong beliefs, or had the wrong theology, but had the absolute right actions. And this was the person who got eternal life. And so I so when I see all these people fighting over doctrine and dogma, that that frustrates me to no end. Fame. Several weeks ago, we had one of our oldest ladies in our congregation at church, my church is the disciples of Christ. And she was asked to give the sermon but really what she did, she just talked off the top of her head and was great just listening to her talk. She She's, I think she's in her 80s, I believe. But one of the things that she said, and I just loved it, and she said, you know, lots of people criticize us and do Disciples of Christ, because we have no, we have no dot dogma. And she said, that's been like one of the criticisms that we end the disciples of Christ that you can believe anything and everything. But she said, but it's really true about us. We have no creed, but Christ. And I hoped that. Yeah, that's lovely. It I'm just

Stephen Bradford Long 57:31 also, I mean, go ahead. I'm very skeptical of the real religion. Let me Yes, I hate it. I fucking hate it. And part of the reason why I hate it is because I'm a Satanist. And so my real religious credentials are constantly under fire. And people are constantly trying to come up with the measures of a real religion, while a real religion has has a robust theology. TST does not have a robust theology. In part, because it's so young, you know, like it started in 2013. So of course, it doesn't, of course, it doesn't have a robust theology, it, it's very young, and then Satanism in general, is still very young. And so it's like, we're still working on it, we're still developing that, but that doesn't change the fact that it is an authentic religion, authentic, authentic religion is, is separate from, how robust the theology is, how new or old it is, how big or small it is, I mean, whether it has a book or not, whether it has a central book, or not, whether, you know, just all of these, all of these various things that people try to use as like the measuring stick of what a real religion is, right? And it to me, it is always so annoying, because it is fundamentally limiting and district disrespectful to various religions. If you say, well, all religions require a deity. Well, that well, there goes huge swathes of modern Judaism, and huge swathes of Eastern religion. Buddhism has no God. Exactly. And if you say well, it requires supernaturalism well there go more huge swathes if you say well, it requires a central book a central text, well there go indigenous religions, if you say it requires a gathering place, a physical gathering place. Well, there goes a lot of the online religions that are that are also valid if you say, Well, it can't be new. Well, there goes Wicca, like which was founded in the 60s, like any at any point if we try to limit religion, and of course it can't be everything like there has there does have has to be a limit to the edges otherwise everything is religion. But that where that line is, is a constant source of debate for religious scholars, and very often attempts to limit it to put to say, well, it requires a deity or it requires a text or it requires it to be older, it requires a supernatural belief or whatever it is, will inevitably, like a cut out a vast swath of what is accepted to be religion. Anyway...

Alex 1:00:33 No, I mean, my, my pastor for this week is for this week's sermon, he's actually crowdsourcing material, and us asking people about when they felt ostracized by other people, because of the way they believed. And for me, I told him is when somebody told me that he and I don't worship the same God. And I said, this at first frustrated me and comforted me at the same time, it frustrated me because I consider this person to be a brother in the faith and somebody I really could reconcile with. And even though we might believe slightly differently, we still had things in common. But at the same time, I was comforted in the fact that his idea of God was not my idea of God. And I would choose my idea of God over his efforts.

Stephen Bradford Long 1:01:25 Absolutely. And it has a huge impact on how we live like. Anyway, we need to wrap this up.

Alex 1:01:32 Oh, my God, I look but yeah,

Stephen Bradford Long 1:01:35 but this has been great. And thank you, everyone who has listened in on the stream and after the fact, and we'll see you soon. Go experience having no head look up the headless way. What's the website? Stop. Org. Yeah, headless.org Go check it out. Do the really simple exercises, you'll it's trippy as fuck, and you might have an interesting experience. Anyway, bye bye bye.