Friday, September 16, 2022

Healing Through Consciousness: Ep 12: Materialism's Terrible Influence on Health

We’ve been focusing on more specific health situations in our series lately, and we’ll continue that today with an expansive look at eating disorders. You may know someone dealing with this neurosis – it’s all too common today – and you’ll find an abundance of treatments for this – most of them physical and ranging from highly elaborate nutritional plans to pills to acupuncture to removing part of the stomach.

And the explanations for the problem are diverse as well. But the view explored from the psycho-somatic department of the Keppe & Pacheco Trilogical College offers a deeper perspective too often missing from the conversation.

Dr. Claudia Bernhardt Pacheco heads up that department, expertly oriented by Dr. Norberto Keppe, 94 and still active and adding to his remarkable science daily. Dr. Pacheco joins us again today.

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Wednesday, September 07, 2022

Healing Through Consciousness: Ep. 11: The Spirituality of Health

In the early part of the 20th century, a non-medical educator was hired by the Carnegie Foundation to report on the state of medical education in North America. Abraham Flexner wrote a book concluding that there were too many bad medical schools, too much non-scientific quackery and curricula that were all over the place. Specifically, there was a lack of application of the scientific method in medical education in general.

The report led to the closing of many so-called medical schools in America – some of which were apparently no more than proprietary for-profit trade schools run by one or more doctors. Flexner’s work ended study in alternative health treatments like homeopathy, traditional osteopathy and any physio-medicine using botanical therapies that had not been scientifically tested.

And, of course, medical education came firmly under the control of the American Medical Association.

All that focus on the scientific method took spirituality out of medicine – and science – as well, something Norberto Keppe has spent a lifetime addressing in his Trilogical psychosomatics. Today, an expansive meditation on the spirituality of health, with Dr. Claudia Bernhardt Pacheco.

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Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Healing Through Consciousness: Ep 10: Healing Without Drugs

I’m a product of the ‘60s and ‘70s. I saw guys trying to homestead in the woods of Vancouver Island as I was walking to a favorite swimming hole. I remember the distinctive smell of those funny cigarettes permeating the summer air. I thought they were struggling to find something.

I also remember some idiot slipping a hit of acid into a friend’s brother’s drink at a party, and watching the ensuing bad trip play out horribly in front of us all.

Our question from a listener today addresses those two points. He writes, “I have classified drugs into two categories: mind numbing drugs, like cocaine, tobacco, heroin, alcohol, et cetera, and mind opening drugs, like peyote, cannabis, mushrooms, etc. While the mind-numbing drugs have been found to be dangerous and highly addictive. the mind opening drugs have been used for centuries and show no signs of addiction or even lasting health problems with repetitious use. Does Dr. Keppe acknowledge this distinction between these drugs? If so, what is Dr. K's view of the spirit worlds that the mind opening drugs seem to unlock? Claudia Bernhardt Pacheco is with us again today.

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Tuesday, August 23, 2022

Healing Through Consciousness: Ep. 9: Youth and Addiction

What is an addictive personality? You’ll see all sorts of definitions if you Google that! From addiction being a learning disorder, to a passion for something gone wrong, to the more serious diagnosis that it’s a character disorder, it’s difficult to get a final word on this all-too-common behavior.

I’ve been around my share of addictive behavior, including a favorite uncle who beat his battle with the bottle courageously and, I think, cold turkey, and lived out the rest of his life as a functional and responsible contributor to society. I remember him with great affection.

But it’s in the treatment of addiction that we really find out what’s going on. However, that treatment must involve helping the addicted individual move out of the modern mania of seeing all problems as having outside causes. Dr. Keppe once told me that healing only comes through interiorization, which is the process of helping people begin to have contact with what’s going on inside them. This is a prominent aspect of any psychoanalysis session with Dr. Keppe’s Integral Psychoanalysis.

We’ll see anther wonderful example of that today with Dr. Claudia Bernhardt Pacheco talking to Jen, who’s trying to understand how to help her family. 

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Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Healing Through Consciousness: Ep. 8: Understanding Suicide

Well, this is a relevant – and disturbing – topic for any who’ve experienced its devastating effects. The thought of someone taking his or her own life can leave us bewildered and even horrified. How could someone do that?, we wonder. And why? And when we see it happening in teenagers and young adults, we’re even more mystified. They’ve got their whole lives ahead of them, we reason. And while that’s true, it seems that opting out is becoming an increasingly common choice in many countries around the world – particularly in the so-called developed world. Lucky you are if you haven't been touched by this one. The guilt and anger that resides in the ones left behind is a real thing. 

Freud put forward that suicide was a result of aggression turned inwards, while Jung offered complex thoughts and ideas about the psyche's journey needing to go through the totality of experience, and while all of that may play a part, it doesn’t really help us in understanding and dealing with suicide. 

Norberto Keppe’s science of Integral Psychoanalysis is, in my view, uniquely equipped to deal with all psychological, emotional and spiritual crises, and in today’s program, a real-life case study with a frequent listener to our programs, Jane, who brings her particular challenge in dealing with suicide. 

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Healing Through Consciousness: Ep 7: The Roots of Depression

This is Episode 7 of the Healing Through Consciousness series on Thinking with Somebody Else’s Head. This time, a clinical look at a modern mental health crisis. I’m Richard Lloyd Jones.

We’ve been laying a foundation for a more psychological and even spiritual approach to health and healing in our first 6 episodes of this series. That’s been important. But Norberto Keppe and Claudia Pacheco’s work in psychosomatic healing is not just conceptual. There’s a vast history of clinical therapeutic treatment of a wide range of physical and mental health disease conditions at the Integral Psychoanalysis center here in Brazil. From depression – our topic today – to cancer to spiritual crises, this is a very robust treatment methodology with impressive success rates over many years. And we’ll dive into an exploration of what’s behind depression in this episode, but first, an overview of Keppe’s approach to psychoanalysis, with Dr. Claudia Bernhardt Pacheco.

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Tuesday, July 26, 2022

Healing Through Consciousness: Ep 6: The Mind and the Immune System

Today on Episode 6 of the Healing Through Consciousness series on Thinking with Somebody Else’s Head, we’ll look at the effect our minds have on our immune system. I’m Richard Lloyd Jones.

One of the consequences of Louis Pasteur’s Germ Theory was the inevitable fear that outside us lurk nefarious elements waiting for their opportunity to pounce. Deadly viruses and germs in birds and pigs and now bats and monkeys are lining up to show us their stuff, and it’s possible they’ve been strengthened by genetic mutations in secret labs.

Gain of Function research is what that’s called, and it’s essentially the process of genetically altering pathogens to make them more infectious.

You heard that right. Making them more infectious. The justification given is that this will allow for the creation of effective anti-viral medicines before the virus appears from nature. So … just to get that straight: Gain of Function research means creating the virus before it even exists. 

Reminds me of the old Monty Python routine about the secret Welsh art of self-defense that counsels you to attack your enemy before the thought of attacking you has even entered his mind.

Because it’s the same rationale, isn’t it? And it’s a little disturbing, not least because the paranoia created by viewing the danger outside increases our fear, and subsequently diminishes our immune system response. 

Today, I’m joined by Cesar Soós, the lead researcher in the New Physics Department of our Keppe & Pacheco College, to look at how the mind is important in our immune system.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Healing Through Consciousness Series: Ep 5: Energetic Infection

Today on Episode 5 of the Healing Through Consciousness series on Thinking with Somebody Else’s Head, we’ll tackle an alternative view of disease infections. I’m Richard Lloyd Jones.

We can be forgiven for following the mainstream view about the origin and treatment of infectious disease. Ever since Carnegie and Rockefeller got ahold of Pasteur’s Germ Theory as a perfect vehicle for pharmaceuticals based on oil derivatives, medical education in the west has been teaching the idea that disease comes from outside. I sometimes imagine what it would be like trying to raise money for research into alternative treatments for cancer, specifically treatments that don’t require expensive surgery or drug treatment protocols. I visualize meeting after meeting with investors ending in many shaken hands and zero signed contracts. It is very difficult to raise money for research into treatment modalities other than drugs and surgery for things like cancer.  

This “invasion from the outside” perspective dominates modern medical thinking, and is pretty much the accepted view of infectious disease among most of us. But what’s not well known is that there was another prominent scientist proposing another cause for disease at the same time Pasteur was developing his Germ Theory. His name was Antoine Bechamp, and his contention was that disease was an inside condition, not an attack from external microbes. All that was explored beautifully in E. Douglas Hume's fascinating book, Béchamp or Pasteur: A Lost Chapter in the History of Biology written 100 years ago or so. 


And Keppe and Pacheco have been expanding on this interior medicine for the past 50 years. And what they’ve been working with changes the way we see disease. The latest on that today, with Claudia Bernhardt Pacheco. 

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Tuesday, July 12, 2022

Healing Through Consciousness Series: Ep 4: Paranoia and Disease

This is episode 4 of the Healing Through Consciousness series on Thinking with Somebody Else’s Head. I’m Richard Lloyd Jones. 

From the time we're young, we're taught to protect our lives from nature. Sprays to keep off the bugs, oils to block the harmful rays, potent cleansers to ward off the offending bacteria waiting to take up residence in the bathroom.

And don’t even think about eating that bread that dropped on the floor.

Nature is often a savage place, we're shown on Discovery Channel documentaries, where evil microbes lurk expectantly, waiting for us to let down our guard for a split second before pouncing. 

You wonder where the vaunted human immune system goes in situations like these, and how hugging your grandmother came to be so dangerous. Well, there are huge financial interests behind this idea that the danger lies outside. We need vaccines to protect us from outside enemies, and some estimates put combined vaccine company profits at some $65,000 per minute. We’ve accepted toxic pesticides as necessary to deal with pesky plagues, and there are obvious implications for human and eco-system health associated with that. Our multi-billion-dollar drug industry to treat symptoms can often exacerbate serious disease conditions. 

We don’t want to branch off into conspiracy theory here, but medical education in the West today is notorious for training doctors that pharma solutions are the only option. And pharma lives on treating outside invasions or faulty hormones, chemical imbalances and deficient organs. 

However, just to throw a significant alternative spanner into the works, Drs. Keppe and Pacheco have been working for decades on treating physical, mental and even social infirmity through a potent form of psycho-socio therapy. And their work suggests strongly that disease doesn't come principally from outside us at all. In their clinic, disease is largely an interior condition, while the modern medical and drug establishment makes its money, and consolidates its hold on treatment and treatment narratives, by provoking fear of what’s going on outside. And they call the shots today. The consequences, however, make us sicker. Here’s Claudia Bernhardt Pacheco.

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Tuesday, July 05, 2022

Healing Through Consciousness Series: Ep. 3: Healing the Soul

From the psychosomatic department of the Keppe & Pacheco Colleges, this is episode 3 of the Healing Through Consciousness series on Thinking with Somebody Else’s Head. I’m Richard Lloyd Jones.

It’s been very interesting to live through this pandemic time, hasn’t it? In the face of a real worldwide challenge, it’s been illuminating to watch how health has taken a back seat to fear. Panic, I think we could say, has largely driven our political and social responses to infection, and this seems to have trumped any reliance on a robust immune response, which used to be the policy of choice for dealing with infectious disease situations. 

And, of course, we must always pay attention to the cynical manipulation of this fear to sell medicines and vaccines and other products to protect us from this outside danger.

In the face of all this, we’ve shifted from a faith in the robustness of human health and potent immune response to a philosophy of trying to protect the massive human population from exposure – a change from believing in the power of nature to trepidation at the dominance of disease.

This just seems inferior – tantamount to an athlete’s misguided response to challenge by playing not to lose instead of going for it with vigor and conviction.

As some progressive health professionals are acknowledging, though, disease doesn’t begin outside; the roots of physical disease lie inside. The soul, actually, gets sick before the body. Welcome to Episode 3 with Dr. Claudia Bernhardt Pacheco. 

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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Healing Through Consciousness Series: Ep. 2: True Medicine

From the psychosomatic department of the Keppe & Pacheco Colleges, this is episode 2 of the Healing Through Consciousness series on Thinking with Somebody Else’s Head. I’m Richard Lloyd Jones.

Our first episode was spent laying out some credentials of our College’s psychosomatic vision and pedigree. And I want to stress that our discussions here in these episodes are based on solid clinical case studies, as you’ll see throughout our series. And where we’re coming from is this: good health is a natural state. In philosophy, great thinkers like Augustine and Plotinus and Aquinas proposed that evil, unlike good, is insubstantial. So thinking of evil as a substantial entity is incorrect. All those years ago, the consideration was that evil is the privation of good, and even that evil is non-existent.

That’s difficult to accept, but it’s meant in the sense of the nature of life being good, and problems or pain or cruelty being nothing but attitudes against that inherent goodness. In terms of our health, then, sickness could be a kind of proof of something we’re doing against our health. Individually and collectively, of course. We can see this as attitudes or habits we adopt that work against our natural health, like a propensity for junk food or the destruction of our natural food with toxic chemicals, as I mentioned in episode 1.

Seen this way, sickness represents a distortion of health, not a naturally occurring situation at all. A challenging idea, which dramatically changes how we approach health and the treatment of disease.

Let’s tread into those exciting waters on our episode today with Dr. Claudia Bernhardt Pacheco.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Healing Through Consciousness Series: Ep. 1: The Psychology of Health

Welcome to our new series on the Thinking with Somebody Else’s Head podcast. I’m Richard Lloyd Jones.

We’re calling this series Healing Through Consciousness. An abstract title, perhaps. In our western civilization, with its over-emphasis on the material solutions for disease of pills, surgery, vaccines, righting our chemical imbalances and tweaking our diets, it’s possible we’ve diminished the importance of the most crucial aspect in our human quest for health and longer life: our vast inner universe of feelings and perceptions, values and philosophy of life, intuition and consciousness.

This is the psychological life, meaning psyche or soul as the Greeks considered it. 

Now we’re not suggesting, of course, that diet and exercise and good habits have no place. That would be foolish. What we are suggesting is that those good habits come from an inner equilibrium and sanity that spring from a healthy psyche. Exploring the pathway to that inner health is what we’re attempting here in this series.

So our contention is that our outer world of laws and norms and habits is a reflection of our inner beliefs and attitudes. If we have a predominance of chemically treated, non-organic, genetically modified food, that’s coming from an inverted mentality that puts corporate profits above human health – and that’s a psychological problem long before it becomes an economic one.

Our work in this series comes from decades of scientific discoveries and practice that are a product of the great psychoanalysts and social scientists, Dr. Norberto Keppe and Dr. Claudia Bernhardt Pacheco, both of whom have a peerless pedigree in psychosomatic medicine. Keppe worked for years at the largest university hospital in Latin America, the Hospital das Clinicas in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and Pacheco, the daughter of a prominent Brazilian physician, wrote a seminal book on psycho-somatic healing that give us the title for our series, Healing Through Consciousness. Both are highly sought-after international psychoanalysts and founders of the Keppe & Pacheco Trilogical Colleges that are offering cutting edge university programs in psycho-somatic medicine, environmental management, clinical theology, arts and education.

It’s a potent, transdisciplinary approach, as Claudia Bernhardt Pacheco explains here in our first episode.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Special Podcast Series: The Modern Relevance of God - Ep 17: True Religion

Welcome to Episode 17 – our final episode – of the Modern Relevance of God Podcast Series on Thinking with Somebody Else's Head. I'm Richard Lloyd Jones. 

You know, as I think about it, 17 is kind of an odd number for the final episode in a series about spirituality, isn't it? It's not particularly a number of completion ... although I guess adding one and seven together equals eight and eight brings balance between the material and spiritual worlds in Numerology, so maybe that's something. But I'm not much one for the esoteric in these things anyway – a holdover from an upbringing rooted in practicality-as-the-correct-path in life. I've wanted this series to be as down to Earth as possible in my desire to illustrate how God is relevant in our modern world, which has been severely stripped of spirituality through a domination of positivistic science and robust materialism and all the other things we've discussed in these episodes. In that light, our series, which considers more archaic wisdom that has been largely dismissed in modern thought, is like a throwback.

And a large part of our series has been our attempt to rescue that ancient wisdom as still relevant in our world. After all, the fundamental questions of human existence still remain don't they? And if you don't find yourself wondering about the meaning of it all from time to time, I suspect you're in the minority. Norberto Keppe though, who has not spoken directly in these episodes but whose voice echoes through every moment of them, saw very early on in his work, that human problems were profoundly spiritual, much more related to philosophy than material. After all, if we've elaborated any structures or followed any way of doing things, that's come from a way of seeing things. And if we've seen things wrongly, if we've embarked on individual or collective organization from a skewed perspective, we're going to wind up with out of whack institutions and laws and practices.

Norberto Keppe's discovery of inversion, which we discussed back in episode two, is the missing link here. The one which allows us to reintegrate theological and philosophical wisdom back into science, so that scientific practicality can expand to providing really significant understanding of our human experience. True transdisciplinarity, I think. Through understanding that we're inverted, we can admit that we've rejected God because we've mixed Him up with religious institutions and considered all that irrelevant, evidence of inferior minds, unimportant in a world that's evolved beyond these superstitions. 

But exactly the opposite is required if we're to right things on this planet and restore our society to its original state: Paradise Regained in the ancient consideration, the Promised Land. In our final episode, let's consider what practical spirituality would look like in these troubled times with Claudia Bernhardt Pacheco.

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Tuesday, March 08, 2022

Special Podcast Series: The Modern Relevance of God - Ep. 16: Humanity's Deep Need for God

We've been attempting in this series to make the scientific case for the relevance of a more theological consciousness in our everyday lives. Along the way, I've been impressed with what Dr. Joseph Ghougassian elaborated in the preface he wrote to Keppe's book, Glorification that if we have religions in the world, this must be because of a metaphysical dimension in us. "Worshiping is natural to the soul," he wrote, "And not something imposed by institutions." Otherwise it wouldn't have been so practiced through the millennia, long before we built churches to formalize the ceremonies. This goes deep to the nature of faith, then, and the acknowledgement that anyone acting morally or ethically is doing it out of a belief that it's important, regardless of whether the moral practitioner is a member of any congregation or not.

And what is faith anyway? Fidelity to the truth, goodness, love, beauty for one thing, although our relativism muddies the waters with questions about who defines the truth and who has the final say on beauty? Keppe describes faith as the direct knowledge of the essence. And you have to have a metaphysical view of a correct and initial beautiful reality to grasp that abstraction, not an emergence from the primal mud and alterations over mutations in time. That latter won't arrive at any satisfactory conclusions for understanding the big religious questions that percolate in all of us, irrespective of dogma or belief. Faith, then, provides the answers that reason cannot achieve by itself. 

Tennyson wondered about that:

Strong Son of God, immortal Love,

Whom we, that have not seen thy face,

By faith, and faith alone, embrace,

Believing where we cannot prove;

Now, I recognize that the "show me the money" practicalists listening might bristle at that, but I take heart that anyway, you're still listening. And that indicates another level of acceptance at work than just the grey matter between the ears. I've been there and put together this episode to try to address those tendencies of painting spirituality and religion with the same brush. Let's distinguish them in this episode, again with Claudia Bernhardt Pacheco.

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Wednesday, March 02, 2022

Special Podcast Series: The Modern Relevance of God - Ep.15: Resonance with Mother Mary

I've been impressed in my personal journey of discovery with the rational arguments for the existence of God throughout history, by Augustine and Anselm, and more recently, as I mentioned back in episode 11, by the logical argument for Jesus elaborated by Oxford's C.S. Lewis. They all make provocative reading. 

But for me, a devout and believe-it-when-I-see-it modern materialist, it wasn't until Brazil and the surprising revelations of my latent hidden spirituality that unveiled during the psychoanalysis and study with Claudia Pacheco and Norberto Keppe that I began to understand in an elementary way the essential relevance of theology in my life. Keppe writes about God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit and even demons in a lucid, practical, scientific way that's very tangible - especially when accompanied by studying his profound work and exploring reactions to it through the interior exploration provided by personal psychoanalysis. 

Keppe's books, Glorification and The Universe of the Spirits were turning points for me - Glorification even being marked for publication in the U.S. before being ultimately turned down by the editorial board of a large and prestigious publishing company. Keppe wrote in Glorification that any discussion about what is obvious is a waste of time. Keppe maintains that we reject the obviousness of a creator because of our extreme envy, which causes us to invert our perception, rejecting, ignoring, or distorting reality and denying the true spiritual and material riches that God has created. Religion, after all, in the true sense of the word, which means to bind, to reconnect, religion is within us. And that inner journey can lead to some surprising revelations, let me tell you that. 

Our episode today was another eye-opener for me back when Claudia Bernhard Pacheco and I talked about it in a far-reaching discussion for this series. The importance to humanity of the Holy Mother, in today's episode. 

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Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Special Podcast Series: The Modern Relevance of God - Ep. 14: Resonance with Jesus

Welcome to Episode 14 of the Modern Relevance of God podcast series here on Thinking with Somebody Else's Head. I'm Richard Lloyd Jones.

My dad used to say the problem with the human being was we were born without an owner's manual. I used to nod in agreement, but now I'm pretty sure my father was a little simplistic in his understanding. To be fair, I think he meant it in a lighthearted way, a joshing comment not meant to be scrutinized as to its theological accuracy. But like all things related to my spiritual understanding, I have to respectfully disagree with my dad's conclusion. For not only do we have numerous written documents outlining correct behavior one with another and nation to nation, we have the universal knowledge deep in us from birth guiding us to act in conformity with the principles of goodness, truth and beauty. We feel ashamed when we're caught in a lie. We recognize and feel repugnance towards injustice. We try to hide our peccadillos.

Universal knowledge, "infused" Plato called it, is in us from birth. "The one in many" is how it's defined and these universal principles come to us intact and complete. And they form the basis of everything we do in society that's right - from personal commitments, to looking after our health, to negotiating business deals. "The fingerprints of God in the human soul," is how Keppe defines it.

And we have examples to follow, too. Just in the last century, we witnessed grace and generosity in the face of injustice in Gandhi and King and Mandela. We have saints throughout history who were more virtuous than normal. So virtuous their bodies lie uncorrupted - in defiance of the usual process of returning to ashes and dust. 

And we have the greatest example of all time in the life of Jesus. More than a great moral teacher - and he was certainly that - Jesus reminded us of what it was to be a true human being, elevating us to our correct level. Let's delve into that now, with Claudia Bernhardt Pacheco.

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Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Special Podcast Series: The Modern Relevance of God - Ep. 13: How We Miss Paradise

Welcome to episode 13 of the Modern Relevance of God audio course here on Thinking with Somebody Else's Head. I'm Richard Lloyd Jones.

As I’ve been developing this series, I have to admit I’ve been wondering about the acceptance of its premise in the English-speaking world. Living in Brazil for the past 20 years has coloured my perceptions and tastes in ways I wasn’t expecting. My Anglo-Saxon feeling of assumed superiority has been challenged here in surprising ways. I imagined the typical cultural challenges of language and bureaucracy and doing the exchange in my head about the cost of stuff. I traveled to Europe for long stretches back in my backpacking years after all, but now have come to understand the difference between those mostly tourist concerns and the deeper questionings and soul searching that mark the real existential stirring provoked by making home somewhere else.

I can characterize this with a story. One of my Brazilian colleagues at the language school I work with here in Brazil was giving a Portuguese class for foreigners one day. A diverse group: an American, a couple of Colombians, a guy from Argentina and a young woman from France. One of the Colombians was talking about his spiritual and religious beliefs in one class, openly expressing his reverence for life and God. The French woman rolled her eyes dismissively and uttered something in French about how backward this was. To her surprise, my colleague speaks French, and to her greater surprise, he jumped in immediately with a gentle rebuke. “No, no,” he said. “We’re in Brazil now. Here we don’t ridicule people for their beliefs.” 

It must have been a sobering moment for the European, a consciousness that on this question of tolerance, Brazil is light years ahead of the rest of the world.

Well, exactly that cultural arrogance has also been challenged in me. My worldview, nurtured at the breast of a secular education which indoctrinated me in modernization and often vehement criticism of religious consideration in human affairs, has been challenged here. Especially in Norberto Keppe’s science, which I’ve been deeply studying and working with. This is a science based on extensive clinical practice that doesn’t exclude philosophy or spirituality in treating human beings, and it’s brought ample opportunities to question my deep-seated biases and personal philosophies. At the end, I’ve found basic fundamentals of my philosophy of life inadequate and even profoundly wrong in the pursuit of happiness and fulfillment. 

One of these wrong ideas is corrected in this episode, with Claudia Bernhardt Pacheco.

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Tuesday, February 08, 2022

Special Podcast Series: The Modern Relevance of God - Ep.12: The Ceaseless Attack on Christian Values

This is episode 12 of the Modern Relevance of God audio course here on Thinking with Somebody Else's Head. I'm Richard Lloyd Jones.

I think one of the greatest difficulties I've had in coming closer to spirituality has been a pretty common one: mixing up God with religion. If God was all the mess stirred up by the church over the centuries, I wanted nothing to do with Him. It's a frequent oversimplification, one which doesn't require that much thinking actually. Just a knee jerk generalization in the same vein as all Chinese people look the same. And just as lacking in sophistication. 

God never created a church after all. Neither did Jesus. This is something we do a lot. A phrase uttered by a politician whose party we don't like is worthless and evil, by definition. The Montreal Canadians are hated by Toronto Maple Leafs fans automatically. 

And vice versa. 

I heard a Serbian soldier in Bosnia back in the war years there say, "The Croatians are animals. I can't even bear to breathe the same air as them." And that after centuries of integration and intermarriage. 

We have this black and white mentality, which serves us well in life threatening situations: "The fire is there, so I'm going over here," but this on/off, zero/one digital mind is very poor at the more complex and subtle abstractions we require when considering meaning of life questions. So lumping God and religion together as one pathological partnership to be vehemently discarded is a little too smug. 

Anyway, I want to suggest that this attack is not only against the Church; it's against the spiritual values that the church — for all its faults — preserves for us. And that is much more problematic.

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Tuesday, February 01, 2022

Special Podcast Series: The Modern Relevance of God - Ep. 11: Are We Victims of God?

How many times have you heard this phrase: "I don't believe in God anymore because how could a loving God allow all this misery on Earth?" Usually it's a Bruce Willis-like character in a war zone in some desolate African country squinting his eyes and muttering weightily, "God abandoned this place a long time ago."

The writers mean this to be profound. a world-weary comment on the state of Man, but it's really overly simplistic. After all, is it God’s hand working in evil and terror, or Man’s? Isn't it a little unethical of us to blame God for actions we've been taking for millennia? Like the serial killer who blames his victims for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, blaming God for our wars and cruelty also avoids the crucial missing condition: our participation. After all, if the hammer is only a tool that can be used for good or harm, aren't we the ones making the choice?

It seems we've become experts at blaming others for what we are doing. But this doesn't absolve us of blame; it merely illustrates our corruption in avoiding the responsibility. 

Are we victims of God? Episode 11 with Claudia Bernhardt Pacheco.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Special Podcast Series: The Modern Relevance of God - Ep. 10: The Problem with Atheism

Can God and science exist together? I think that’s a fundamental question. I've heard some of the more vocal scientists proclaiming that a belief in God is the sign of a weak mind. Well, one thing I’ve discovered: the deeper I delve into the theological and philosophical knowledge, the more I encounter rather brilliant minds, actually. Some very intelligent people have speculated about, argued for, worshiped and drawn inspiration from what they believe to be a higher power. So I don't think you and I are losing any brain capacity in wandering a little down that well-trod, but increasingly abandoned, pathway.

Belief in God in many so-called developed countries is at an all-time low. Well, maybe it's more a lack of belief in organized religion that's really being expressed in any of these studies that are quoted, and I’m reminded that we mustn't confuse one with the other.

And I wonder about the real beliefs of some self-professed atheists and agnostics anyway, who profess no belief, but live their lives according to strong ideals of goodness and service. Why are they doing that? There's a belief in something being evidenced there, even though they might cringe at that being called God.

In episode 10, I explore the problem with atheism with Claudia Bernhardt Pacheco.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Special Podcast Series: The Modern Relevance of God - Ep. 9: The Psychotic Separation from God

The Dark Night of the Soul. In the theological canon, this signifies a spiritual crisis in a journey towards union with God. In more secular language, that would be the transformational journey that takes place when you're suffering. 

A journey of transformation. A conversion, even. A deep repentance for a path ill chosen. And at the end, "the sudden reception of grace," as Aquinas called it. Surely that's what slave trader John Newton must have gone through on that wild stormy night as he stood on the wind-swept deck and surprisingly found himself muttering, "May God have mercy on our souls." Apparently that caused some reflection when he retreated to his captain's chambers below. An atheist, and self-avowed scoundrel appealing to divine salvation in a time of need. And a questioning that led him to repent his misspent ways in the slave trade. eventually becoming an Anglican minister and penning the unforgettable words, "I once was lost, but now I'm found, was blind but now I see." Amazing grace, indeed. 

Victor Frankl talked about man's search for meaning, and he declared that this was to be found in overcoming oneself, giving oneself to a cause, or even to another to love. He speculated that being truly human meant being directed to something or someone other than ourselves. He called this "the self-transcendence of human existence" and witnessed it frequently, even in the depths of despair that was Auschwitz. 

But I'm wondering now, if the transcendence we're seeking isn't something more than just moving beyond ourselves, but is in fact a search for something, not other than ourselves, but greater than ourselves. Something to believe in certainly, but also something to explain our existence and all of this magnitude we live inside. And for this, we need theology. We can't get there through apps or economics. We need that wisdom that plums the depths of human experience to find the answers to the questions, not just more questions. 

The country of Portugal was established based on this dream of a new world, a Fifth Empire that would initiate a period of 1000 years of justice and peace and spirituality on Earth. "The Kingdom of God," they called it. It's a dream that resides like a memory inside the human breast and the desire for this signifies that we recognize the loss of it. We've become separated from it, and even from the consideration of it, and this has had enormous ramifications for our daily lives. The Psychotic Separation from God, in this episode with Claudia Bernhardt Pacheco.

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Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Special Podcast Series: The Modern Relevance of God - Ep. 8: The Origin of Evil

So far in our series, we've been looking at the nature of life and God, and how that knowledge has been pushed aside from our daily considerations and from scientific inquiry, obviously. The concretization of the scientific method was an attempt to free the human being from superstition, squalor and medieval cruelty.  

The cherished ascendance of reason that emerged out of the philosophy at that time, however, while successfully challenging the corrupted church authority, also diminished the importance of the theological themes that are still relevant to our understanding. The nature of man, the struggle between good and evil - those got buried, too. 

And where does the ascendance of reason leave those iconic stories about the presence of evil in human experience? The stories from the sacred texts of all philosophies, what do we do with those now? How do we understand the depth of Dante or even Jekyll and Hyde or Faust with only reason at our side? 

Norberto Keppe's recent work has been concerned to reintroduce the analysis of evil and the evil influence in daily human life, but scientifically. The advancement he has made in seeing the spiritual battle between good and evil in more scientific terms is a huge step forward. And backward at the same time, reaching into the ancient knowledge and bringing it into the modern light, stripped of its superstition and fantasy. Welcome to Episode 8 with Claudia Bernhardt Pacheco.

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Wednesday, January 05, 2022

Special Podcast Series: The Modern Relevance of God - Ep. 7: The Fall of Man Updated

Welcome to Episode 7 of our Modern Relevance of God podcast series here on Thinking with Somebody Else’s Head. I’m Richard Lloyd Jones.
I was struck in re-listening to our last episode that perhaps some more explanation of the story of man might be necessary. I also realize the challenge today of Biblical references. Religious life has often been equated with fanaticism, and that conjures up images of cults and Kool Aid and suicide vests, doesn't it? But let's be careful not to fall into that dismissive mindset too quickly, because after all, the story of man! Yeah, these are rich waters to navigate. Great minds have considered these questions of religion and belief and man's place in the cosmos, and simply brushing off these considerations as simplistic, superstitious and obsolete, would be a little hasty, I think. Evidence of what Viktor Frankel called “contemporary nihilism.” In his great book, Man's Search for Meaning, Frankel writes, “Man has suffered another loss in his more recent development inasmuch as the traditions which buttressed his behavior are now rapidly diminishing.”
And one of the traditions we are collectively leaving far behind in the rearview mirror is the story of the Fall of Man, a story which is present in most, if not all, of the cultural traditions on our planet. There has to be something there. In fact, I propose that our greatest human documents, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Rights of Man, the constitutions of many countries, are actually reflections of this memory of a time in paradise when we lived in harmony with nature and God, when we fulfilled our purpose in the Creation. We remember these universal principles, these fingerprints of God in the human soul as Keppe calls them, and they're called forth from deep inside in moments of inspiration, like revelations. So, let's not shy away because of prejudices or dismissals of our religious traditions. Let's continue in our exploration of this spiritual life. As Jung inscribed over the door of his house, “Whether summoned or not, God will be present.”
So, for this episode, an excerpt from an interview I did for our podcast, Thinking with Somebody Else's Head, with Claudia Bernhardt Pacheco about the Fall of Man and what this story is really about.