I don't believe in New Age term: "Energy"

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Al Hakim
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Re: I don't believe in New Age term: "Energy"

Post by Al Hakim » 10 Sep 2011, 21:07

Many a word is used in different contexts by different people. Just consider legal terms like "to possess" and "to own" viewn by a lawyer or a "normal" person. I want to say that the word does not matter itself but the context in which we are using it. If we speak about energy in a non-physical way we should explain how we want it to be used.
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Re: I don't believe in New Age term: "Energy"

Post by treegod » 11 Sep 2011, 14:26

Al Hakim wrote:Many a word is used in different contexts by different people. Just consider legal terms like "to possess" and "to own" viewn by a lawyer or a "normal" person. I want to say that the word does not matter itself but the context in which we are using it. If we speak about energy in a non-physical way we should explain how we want it to be used.
Al Hakim
Yes, absolutely. The context of a word (like"plasma" in physics" or biology) is an important indicator to what it means. :shake:

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Re: I don't believe in New Age term: "Energy"

Post by brucethedruid » 16 Sep 2011, 05:45

"The problem usually is that you will find scientific words in fluffy texts"

The problem is not that they are using scientific words. The word "energy" predates its specific use by physicists. The problem is scientists have taken an English word, given it a specialized meaning, and now insist everyone use their peculiar definition. This is the real problem of linguistic and conceptual disconnect between the scientist and the layperson: both are in some cases not even speaking a common language.

At this point, I would ask those that are scientists, or at least those who consider themselves to be scientists, to consider words that were specifically coined by the scientific community, but have been picked up by lay people who have altered their meaning. Is this wrong? Now consider how many words like "energy" that are thought of as "science" words, but are actually words of vernacular English that have been altered in meaning by the scientific community.

It also should be pointed out, that all philosophical groups develop jargon to communicate their peculiar ideas more efficiently among members, scientific and religious groups included.

If we accept that New Agers maybe using "energy" in its older, prescientific, usage, then we might find less to complain about, and actually have some common ground with them.

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Re: I don't believe in New Age term: "Energy"

Post by Heddwen » 16 Sep 2011, 10:19

Some of the so called fluffy texts are not so fluffy any more. In my experience there has been a move to produce and duplicate more hard hitting research in new age areas in order to acheive credibility. My previous references were intended as an example of this. I admit that there is still a lot of dross published in dubious areas but at least steps are being taken in the right direction and rightly so if you want to be taken seriously.

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Re: I don't believe in New Age term: "Energy"

Post by Bart » 16 Sep 2011, 10:38

If you describe something, you will probably use existing words. The problem starts when you try to take a word which can be clear like energy, and than define that you cannot meassure it. Only metaphorical energy cannot be measured, but that is not is being claimed.

other areas which have plain English words, tend to be used for science and come back in fluffy texts: words like the observer effect or the uncertainty principle. Unfortunately the word placebo effect rarely comes up.

I do think it is good things are researched properly, because I do think we can learn from other areas which are not economically interesting for pharma companies (no bashing, just plain truth). Bitching and moaning that other people do not do it will not help. stand behind your principals and prove them.

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Re: I don't believe in New Age term: "Energy"

Post by Al Hakim » 17 Sep 2011, 21:32

I always get stomach-ache when hearing terms like "fluffy texts". That implies the depreciation of what you are saying at the same time. So, who is the serious side? Is it just a professor from Yale's or Oxford University? I rather advocate the idea that everybody can be a reasonable philosopher, even if nine out of ten of his ideas are rubbish.
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Re: I don't believe in New Age term: "Energy"

Post by DJ Droood » 17 Sep 2011, 22:56

Al Hakim wrote:I always get stomach-ache when hearing terms like "fluffy texts"
I've always cringed at that word too..."fluffy bunny" is the ultimate neo-pagan put-down to describe someone who doesn't have the same level of commitment to the same set of absurdities that you do.
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Re: I don't believe in New Age term: "Energy"

Post by Bart » 18 Sep 2011, 09:25

Al Hakim wrote:I always get stomach-ache when hearing terms like "fluffy texts". That implies the depreciation of what you are saying at the same time. So, who is the serious side? Is it just a professor from Yale's or Oxford University? I rather advocate the idea that everybody can be a reasonable philosopher, even if nine out of ten of his ideas are rubbish.
Al Hakim

Ok, but if your using the same words, you imply you start with the same assumptions. Otherwise you just need to use other words/definitions. Anybody can be a philosopher, to me it really depends on which set of assumptions you base your theorem. Yes, they are all assumptions, all will be revealed after the great departure.
So whether you think a professor from Yale might actually know something, or you choose to think they are blind and stupid. The choice of words, in my mind, defines the starting point. and for me fluffy means the second one: preferably no connection to any scientific "truth"

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Re: I don't believe in New Age term: "Energy"

Post by Heddwen » 18 Sep 2011, 10:31

DJ Droood wrote:
Al Hakim wrote:I always get stomach-ache when hearing terms like "fluffy texts"
I've always cringed at that word too..."fluffy bunny" is the ultimate neo-pagan put-down to describe someone who doesn't have the same level of commitment to the same set of absurdities that you do.
Me too. and lets face it you can get a piece of research to say anything even contradict each other. From the scientific community et al.

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Re: I don't believe in New Age term: "Energy"

Post by Lily » 18 Sep 2011, 14:35

Heddwen wrote: lets face it you can get a piece of research to say anything even contradict each other. From the scientific community et al.
Studies demonstrating, or not, the efficacy of energetic healing modalities show only that: the modality has an effect. Or none.
This does not prove an underlying mechanism of action; there is currently no branch of science that has brought evidence that a vital principle, "energy" (including all terms for it outlined in my first reply on this thread), exists.

Until then there are less esoteric explanations such as effects on the vegetative nervous system and hence stress response/pain signaling or its perception, possibly immunomodulation via the vegetative system.

That is the power of the scientific method: a body of research, replicated or even better - validated by experiments building on previous results, leads the way to an overarching theory. Take evolution for example: although Darwin knew nothing of molecular genetics, because it did not exist yet - this entirely different branch of the theory matches the original one. Give or take a few species that were re-classified based on genetic evidence.

But despite the idea being around for centuries, there is not yet a theory of vitalism.

article, with an interesting pro and contra flame war in the comments...
http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/ind ... -vitalism/
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Re: I don't believe in New Age term: "Energy"

Post by Canu Taliesin » 24 Sep 2011, 12:27

Apologies for the long post, but this is not an easy matter. It is apparent to many of us who work with 'energy' on a regular basis that it is either a quality of or directly linked to consciousness, the very ground in which not only the sciences grow, but the place where all human endeavour and experience takes place. It is strange, mysterious, and I know of no one who has yet been able to give a full account of it. Never mind the scientists failing to define it and understand it, not even the poets, the greatest of practiced imaginers and dreamers, have managed to find words suficient to describe it, and they have no conceptual restraints what so ever. So what I've written here is inevitably limited.

We cant talk of energy without first talking of consciousness. While consciousness is the only real constant we can ever claim to know, our modern understanding of it is drastically inconsistent. Traditionally, we have only observed it either from the perspective of its physical effects (neurons firing, fluctuations in electro magnetism, chemical influence), or from the perspective of it's psychological dynamics. The vast majority of us still have no grasp of its actual condition or nature as we experience it. As far as our specialised knowledge of it goes, having so many experts in a field doesnt mean they can tell you how big the field is or how exhaustive their investigation of it has been, for all they know they may very well be looking at the gate. That is also obviously true for the rest of us.

Budhism is as good a starting point as any to begin, as it considers consciousness as energy and vice versa. A revealing fact is that the teaching the Budha gave as a remedy for all suffering, the meditation known as Vipassana, is essentially a way of dissolving the conscious energy that accumulates in and around the body. The dissolution of energy, which is inseperable from all of one's past experiences, reactions and present sense of self, also dissolves the calsified constructs of the mind, and at root, the ego. Budhism, possibly the oldest teaching regarding the mind, at heart does not separate consciousness from energy, but treats them as the same thing. It's theory of mind, especially the Tibetan, may be the most fully developed science of consciousness we have, having come to the conclusion many thousands of years ago that only through direct observation of the self can we hope to perceive the truth of our existence. The ego is only a small crease in a larger fabric, and the Budha, in his generous wisdom, taught how to iron out the creases. In a ver real way, consciousness is not restricted to the location of the individual. What the individual experiences as the self is a 'bunching' or compressing of the universal fabric of conscious energy. That localised consciousness easily becomes blind to its own nature because it is caught up in its own 'folds'.

Any attempt to directly experience energy therefore requires a loosening of the fabric, a relaxing of the conscious energy that we are. No awareness can be brought to energy if the mind is too tightly bundled, folded and compressed; that is, caught in its own self-determined, self-fulfilling structures. On the other hand, all people have the deep, instinctive link to their own energy (that's what they fundamentaly are after all!) whether they acknowledge it or not, and many people have no problem being able to bring it into their awareness in some small way or another, to loosen the mind enough to allow it experience itself as a wider phenomenon than just the restricted, individual mind. The deep habitual constructs of the individual consciousness are the main barriers to a personal experience of energy. That is why most spiritual traditions based on this understanding set out to shake those psychological structures loose, to undo the tight folds in the fabric of consciousness.

Clearly, not much of what I've written here will be proof for many of you, as what we know of energy clearly doesn't mach up to the practice of science, which needs to negate the influence of the observing consciousness to validate it's method. The problem being the observing consciousness is actually what needs to be studied here.

There are concepts and models which we can use to discuss energy, regardless of it's ambiguity. Almost all native spiritual traditions have at least the remnants of concepts which can be useful while trying to discuss these things. Although I would be careful with a term such as nwyfre, for example, and to bare in mind that you are altering it's meaning if you use it to describe what we are attempting to conceive of here as 'energy'. Awen is also a different concept, as should be clear. These two are more like conditions of energy, not the energy itself. Not that there's anything wrong with adopting new meanings for old words, just that you understand they mean different things when expressed in Welsh, today and historically.

The two main traditions of energy arts that we in the West are familiar with are the Yogic and the Taoist, both of which have clear links and overlaps with Budhism, but these certainly are not the only ones. The Yogic chakras are very familiar, especially to the hermetic or occult movements of Europe, but the Taoist practices maybe the most refined. The Taoist tradition has many concepts which have chimed strongly with different practicioners all over the world. I have had many discussions with oriental teachers and masters of t'ai chi, bagua zhang and the other internal martial arts. In these conversations they have used chi and energy almost interchangeably. The Taoists have a very sophisticated and complex science of energy, the main metaphysical description of which is what informs the derivative arts of acupuncture, TCM, feng shui, I Ching, chi kung, as well as the above mentioned martial arts. What we find within all of these disciplines is the consistency of approach based on quite stable concepts.

An important concept within the Taoist arts is that energy follows the mind, not a million miles away from the Budhist conception. It is also true to to say that energy is conditioned by the mind. That means that not only is the overt direction and aplication of energy determind in large part by the focus of the mind, but its quality and nature are also influenced by the conditions of the mind engaging with it. As an example, in the early stages of Taoist meditation, practicioners are traditionally taught how to smile into their own body's energy, filling the space within the body with the sensations of a golden, over flowing smile. By bringing a smiling attention to the inside of the body, they learn how to condition their energy with a simple attitude of the mind.

The process of learning to focus and condition energy in the Taoist traiditon is a lifetime's work. It is no easy feat to learn this skill of overt manipulation of chi or energy. It takes a long time to develop the necessary skill and many masters study for decades, after which they can manifest energy as a physical force, able to push or strike martial opponents with it. Some masters even teach their students by subtly guiding their students movements by manipulating their energy. There is a traditional tendency for oriental teachers to avoid discussing chi with younger or newer students for the first few years of training as it can be a distraction and lead to false assumptions or conceptual blockages leading to stunted development in later practice. The Budhist teachings also try to shift focus away from energy as an overt practice in itself as it can be a distraction from the ultimate goal of enlightenment.

The modern Taoist schools are also the main proponents of scientific research into chi or energy. Many papers have been published over the last few decades. I've been told that the two referenced below are amongst the most recent, the first being peer reviewed in the Chinese Nature journal, the second being a study made by research students in the California Institute of Human Science. Note that neither experiment claims to measure chi energy, but shows it's physical effects. As yet, there is no method of measuring the energy itself, probably as there is no method of measuring consciousness in its actual state.

http://www.scientificexploration.org/jo ... _3_yan.pdf

http://www.cihs.edu/whatsnew/Non-Touch% ... -v20n2.pdf

I'm away for a while now so wont be posting for a few weeks.
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Re: I don't believe in New Age term: "Energy"

Post by eilis » 21 Jan 2012, 19:40

Energy is a scientific term and I can go with the E=MC squared sort of definition. I have difficulty with "Vibrations" that people say they feel and also generally with the concept of the Soul which seems to be an extension of the EGO after death.
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Re: I don't believe in New Age term: "Energy"

Post by treegod » 22 Jan 2012, 16:44

eilis wrote:I have difficulty with "Vibrations" that people say they feel
To me it's just non-verbal perception. You go to a place and get a "sense" of what it is before describing it conceptually. It's that gut feeling, that bauchgeful (I think the Germans call it), it's the feeling in your bones. Nothing "otherworldly" about it, it's just the bodies way of getting a feeling for things before the thinking kicks in (if at all).
eilis wrote:and also generally with the concept of the Soul which seems to be an extension of the EGO after death.
It's natural to look for some continuity, whether that be personal or not.

Recently I spoke to someone and asked them what they thought life was like without belief in the afterlife and they said "S**t". In other words their belief in the afterlife boils down to an emotional prop, which is just a type of survival mechanism, isn't it?

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Re: I don't believe in New Age term: "Energy"

Post by NovaStar » 23 Jan 2012, 11:35

Energy, Chi or whatever - for me, it is the best way to describe what is gained or lost in interactions or events.

After an argument we may feel drained of energy despite not actually moving much.
During a gig or after doing something we enjoy, we can experience a heightened energy experience which isn't just attributable to adrenaline.
Spending time with a loved one, or outside with nature can make you feel more energised.

So nothing tangable, but still very much experienced.
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