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"This means that the effects of deeds on the lives of others must be experienced as intimately as though to do and to suffer the deed were one. "

I agree, Michael. This is impressive. It sounds very much like the way NDErs describe their life review. You know more about channeled material than I do--is the life review completely absent from other writings?

Great post, Michael, as was the preceding one.

This truly is amazing. I also like how the process is described as "purely natural": there isn't a "God" putting on a motion picture show for us.

"in this process of recollection, as an instant comes back to one's mind it brings with it the actual feelings, not of oneself alone but of the others who were affected by the event. All their feelings have now to be experienced in oneself as though they were one's own."

Not really imaginable, this, if something done has affected the life of millions (eg inventing or setting off a nuclear bomb).

I would also like to know if something like shooting all the bison for the hell of it counts as something needing to be suffered and redeemed. Do animals count up there?

"is the life review completely absent from other writings?"

Not absent - in fact there is often some mention of it - but I don't recall other instances in which the life review was described in such a detailed way, with an emphasis on feeling what other people experienced.

Usually the description is more along the lines of, "I had the chance to review my life and see what mistakes I had made." At least, that's my recollection.

If readers can point to other channeled material from before 1975 that describes the life review in NDE terms, please feel free to chime in. The more evidence like this, the better.

It has been awhile since I read it, but "Testimony of Light" by Helen Greaves was written (channelled) in the 1960s and I think it has descriptions of the afterlife that fit into NDE descriptions.

I believe that the life review occurs because the brain deletes itself of the stored memory, and temporarily upon death one's consciousness is reverted to a type of zero-point.

From this point, the consciousness must be "rebooted" and so the etheric storehold of memory is uploaded back into the mind, and it happens all at once.

It also appears that the dream states we experience upon sleep are indicative of the ego-less, mindless, formlessness that may occur after death, or "hades".

It seems there is a distinction between this state of formlessness, and the reconstitution of a new body (the etheric body) to begin sensory life anew in a new environment, but first one must return to the twilight realm of formless consciousness, a type of prototype to the waking world we enjoy in our lives.

Fascinating...... and two great posts in row!

I can't resist noting that the Sherwood communications do NOT confirm a merging with the source a la Dannison ;-) Rather, they present a karmic picture not unlike Tibetan Buddhism.

Guess that Mike Tymns would be very useful for your investigation, he is a profound scholar on this matter, having read many books written before the '75:
http://whitecrowbooks.com/michaeltymn/
(there is a "Post Comment" box at the bottom of his blog)
LLS, Claudio

"As I re-live it, I find it to be at once better, and worse than I knew. I saw it before ‘As through a glass, darkly, but now face-to-face’. I am only in the middle of this retrospect myself and have some way to go before all my earth experiences have been seen and known fully in the light of reality. "

One difference with the NDE experiencers is that they describe the life review as something that occurs in an instant but the spirits usually report studying the incarnation as if that study was an on going project that took time to analyze and assimilate.

I don't mean that in a skeptical way, I'm just pointing it out as an observation.

There's nothing wrong with being skeptical :)

"One difference with the NDE experiencers is that they describe the life review as something that occurs in an instant but the spirits usually report studying the incarnation as if that study was an on going project that took time to analyze and assimilate."

I've learned not to try to figure how time or duration work in the spiritual realm. NDErs are always making paradoxical remarks like: "I could say it lasted a few minutes or it lasted an eternity." It's pointless to try to pin down these matters because outside the body, time is COMPLETELY different than how we experience it here.

How does every single action of one's life appear before one's eyes during a brief life review (as NDErs often insist)? Because fundamentally, everything happens simultaneously. It's the human brain that creates chronological sequence.

And if this doesn't make sense to you, that's as it should be. It means you're alive here on earth. :o)

Agreed Bruce re; seeming timelessness when out of body, but the problem is we don't know what would happen to NDErs if they actually died and did not revive*. Would they spend even more eternities reviewing and learning? Would those timeless eternities be interupted by reincarnations in the physical realm where time and space are real? Would they be borne and buffeted on the winds of karma for many eternities and many physical incarnations and, thus, not go instantly merging with the "light" or "source"?

After life communications such as those that are the subject of the post seem to suggest the answer is "yes" to all of the above.

*My own view is that NDEs are a distorted/compressed and very incomplete experience of death

I agree that all those things you mention are valid aspects of reality: reviewing, learning, karma (which I would prefer to simply refer to as "balance"), and merging with the light.

But if I were making the statement you just did, I would remove every word that relates to time: eternities (in the plural? come on!), interrupted, instantly. Because we have absolutely no way of understanding time and sequence--if they even exist--beyond the physical plane.

I know, it makes me a difficult person to talk to about these things. But what can I say? I'm just a radical kind of guy.

No problem Bruce. I am a radical kind of guy too. So I'll stick with my "enternities".

"When you get to the bottom you get back back to the top..."
The beatles

"I am a radical kind of guy too."

Good. Then I'm sure we'll have plenty to talk about. :o)

I was just thinking that to expect an earthling to speak intelligently about time or sequence as it exists in the spiritual realm, is like asking a Flatlander to give a lecture on architecture.

And if we can't discuss time-related aspects of the afterdeath realm, what can we talk about with some degree of confidence? Here's what: the qualities or characteristics that keep popping up in the accounts of experiencers, things like learning, love, beauty, one-ness.

And yes, even fearful aspects if you must, though once you leave the body, they seem less fundamental to me than the positive stuff.

Agreed regarding the time issue. Scientists are always telling us that there was no time before the birth of the universe, and i think they are right.

Without time, everything outside of the physical universe is simultaneous. I first came across this concept when I first read Seth. Then I came across it again with Elias. Silver Birch, when you scratch the surface, also tells us this fact.

Actually it makes sense. It also explains how reincarnation happens simultaneously according to Seth and Silver Birch; that is, simultaneously from the persepctive of the greater spirit, the higher self, the essence, or whatever you want to call it, BUT sequentially for us here, as we have been inserted into space time so we can't really think outside of this framework.

This is why I feel that it is easier to access 'past' lives (from our perspective), but find it difficult to access 'future' lives, although precognition may be an aspect of this.

I agree with Bruce, in that I, too, long ago gave up trying to work out what it's like to exist in a simultaneous framework, and decided that I'll find out all about it when I get there - apparantly it all feels completely natural and simple while in this state - it's only here that we find it all so hard to get our heads around!

I just don't get the idea of feeling the impact you have on everyone else during a life review. So are we to feel the pain of a narrcistic parent even as we struggle with the guilt they have instilled in us? Do we feel Hitler's hate even as we feel the terror of the gas chamber? Are there no lines drawn at all?

On the question of time, my thinking is that there must be some sort of progress. The progress doesn't have to be totally linear - and i don't think it is - yet there must be an evolution and evolution implies some form of time.

If everything is just happening all at once and that's it, then there is no point to the life review, no point to anything, really. In fact, there is not even an afterlife because there is no "after". Everything is already decided. Everything has already happened and is done. Would we not just be mere echoes of a cosmic instaneous explosion? And then what? Absolute nothingness? No anything any where?

This would be an ultimately stark and meaningless existance on a par with what MP wrote about in his "pep Talk" post recently.

I lean more toward something like the Yugas:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yuga#The_four_yugas_and_Brahmajnana

" it all feels completely natural and simple while in this state - it's only here that we find it all so hard to get our heads around!"

Well said, Douglas, and it's exactly how I would answer no one's questions.

For myself, and for others who have experienced timelessness, it engenders exactly the opposite of the meaninglessness you fear, no one. And ultimately, that's all I have to go on--how it FEELS to be in that state, not how you or I think it might or should feel.

I know Bruce. I've experienced timelessness and infinitey myself.

Here's what I think it boils down to. I think timelessness is *a* valid reality or state of consciousness. However, I also think that the experience of time and progress is equally valid.

If I understand you correctly, you think that timelessness is the true perception of reality and time is false or, perhaps, a somewhat necessary delusion.

We may have to agree to disagree on this; which is ok by me. I still think you are a smart and cool guy :-)

I agree with no one on the question of time, because I think there may be a confusion: based on NDEs and mediumship we conclude that in the afterlife the ordinary concept of time does not work, but there is still time, because the time is a requirement of consciousness: being conscious implies moving from a state of consciousness to another state, and moving already presupposes time. What's more, I think the matter does not presuppose the time, just space, because we can imagine a purely material timeless universe without contradiction (so that those who assert that time is an illusion usually be physics), but we can not imagine a conscious timeless universe without contradiction.

Are there no lines drawn at all?

That is a good question, Susan. I heard someone say that none of us will be truly saved until we all are. i don't know though. Seems like there would have to be some protective line drawn at some point.

I've been pondering the Life Review... here are some questions that I'd welcome answers to from the crew:

1. Let's say I do something that isn't objectively "wrong," yet someone nevertheless feels greatly hurt by it. Do I still have to go through all that person's suffering? One example would be breaking up a relationship.

2. Does intention have anything to do with the level of suffering I experience in the Life Review? Consider a crash I cause in which people die, causing a chain reaction of suffering. Would there be a difference if A) I'm just not a very good driver, B) I'm texting while driving, C) I'm driving drunk, D) I commit suicide by intentionally crashing into the car.

3. Now here's a mind-bender: What if I have ill intentions and do something I think is wrong but which is actually not wrong. An example would be, let's say I'm in organized crime and I get revenge on someone who is doing harm to others by ratting them out to the authorities. My intentions are malicious and I don't care about saving people from the suffering this other person could cause, and indeed that other person will suffer because he's going to prison.

4. It's also possible to do horrible things that cause no suffering at all. For example, what if someone creates a deadly bomb that just happens not to go off and never causes a bomb scare (i.e., it doesn't even inconvenience anyone)? I should think that such malevolent intentions deserve a place in the Life Review too, yet it's hard to see how such a thing would fit in if it's based only on others' actual suffering.

There are a couple ways around these conundrums that just seem to raise other conundrums.

For example, the most *organic* way for the Life Review to progress (in my imagination) would be that I simply have to review *everything* (which is what a lot of NDErs say actually does happen), and the chips just fall where they fall. I would see the repercussions of all my actions, and they either make me feel good or bad as the review progresses, based on the feelings other people experienced.

Yet the conundrum this causes is this: Is my judgment automatically made *perfect* for the sake of the review to ensure that my "takeaways" are perfect? E.g., let's say I have to go through all the suffering my girlfriend went through after our breakup, regardless of how right or wrong I had been. Very well. But what's to guarantee I learn the right things from this? I might very well think, "I shouldn't have done that--I feel how she suffered--it's horrible!" But that could actually teach me the wrong life lesson if in fact the relationship wasn't viable.

So it's hard to see how the Life Review process could work without some type of *assessment*: i.e., zeroing in those acts in which the person did or tried to do something that was actually wrong.

Yet... Life Reviews do *not* seem to be described, in general, so as to indicate the presence of someone doing the assessing. It really does sound more organic.

Anyhow... your insights will be appreciated!

The articulacy of the apparent messenger, E.K, strikes me as an avenue of investigation. For anyone with the inclination and software, it should be possible to analyse Sherwood's vocabulary and compare it to the content of her messages.

If the vocabulary remains the same, it could imply that she is the sole source of the content. If there's some diversity that shows a greater or lesser vocabulary, it could be pursued as evidence that the messages originate elsewhere.

The quotation, 'a glass darkly,' is intriguing and indicates cultural references within the message. One could infer that the vocabularies of purported messengers are bound to particular markers and would, by logical extension, include differences in terminology.

For example, if one messenger quotes from scripture or poetry (glass darkly), another might use a metaphor tied to engineering or architecture.

One would look for phrases or terms that are obscure and have niche value. Given the wealth of channelled material that pre-dates the internet age, it'd be reasonable to consider the vocabulary as being slightly more *innocent* than post-internet. There'd be less cultural contamination, fewer opportunities for mischief and a cleaner data pool of language to analyse.

Re time in the Afterlife...

I think we've all experienced the way time works in the Afterlife to a certain extent--in dreams. My guess is that the "rules" are very much the same, except that in the Afterlife you are OBE forever and all of the effects are magnified.

Here are my guesses as to those "rules":

1. There is no entropy. This is going to be the biggest thing that affects everything else. Physical objects cannot be destroyed permanently. Any physical location or situation can be recreated at any time. "You can never go back" does not apply. Also, memories never degrade, so things that happened in the "past" do not seem more distant "over time." This alone would give a huge boost to the feeling of simultaneity.

2. Time does not "take time." In dreams, one can have a huge experience in just a second of "real time." It is like listening to a song in your head: you can hear the whole song in order quite fast without it actually feeling "sped up," and you can jump around in the song without feeling as if you were actually listening to the parts out of order on a CD. On the other hand, one can be in the moment for what feels like eternity. There is no "time pressure" to be out of a situation.

3. All situations remain "now." Since any situation can be recreated AND memories never degrade AND there is no "time pressure" to leave a situation, you never feel cut off from any moment, and being there is a matter of focus. So the feeling of simultaneity is further intensified.

Another example from dreams. Have you ever had a dream that you "knew" you had years ago, but you remember it, and it feels as though you had it last week? Or even last night? Sometimes it's even possible to look back on a dream at several different points in time and get the eerie feeling that you've just had it--again and again. The mindblowing thing is this: you *have* just had the dream, even though you had it years ago, since that dream time is outside our normal system of time. I think this feeling is very close to what we will feel in the Afterlife concerning "events."

4. Communication is instantaneous. People in the Afterlife communicate via telepathy, and the "bandwith" seems to be extraordinary: thoughts, feelings, pictures, sounds--anything--can be transmitted instantly in perfect detail.

5. There is no pressure to do anything.

No sickness, dangers, or bills to pay. No aging. No pressure means there is a feeling of a constant pool of time in which to *be*.

---

So, all that said, in what way is there still time *at all* in the Afterlife?

First off, I think there is time in the mundane sense that you can perform actions as you did on Earth in pretty much the same way. E.g., you can wave your hand in front of your eyes, and it feels as though you're waving your hand in front of your eyes. The experience is sure to be qualitatively different--clearer, perhaps no blurring, etc.--but I think the sequence of it would be preserved.

Second, as no one indicated, there seems to be wide agreement that there is progress in the Afterlife, so there is going to be some type of "before" and "after" in terms of information entering your mind. After all, it's not as though you go there and--boom--you're omniscient. For example, if you're going to do a geometry proof, you're not going to suddenly understand everything about geometry. You're going to have to study somehow. That may be a very quick process, but it will still be a process.

I hope the above provides some food for thought. I'm certain it's neither complete nor fully accurate.

I know what you mean, Matt. It does get complicated when you delve a little deeper into the possibilities.

However, I think there is a wisdom in us/out there that can sift the wheat from the chaff pretty effectively.

Also, when NDErs say EVERY event of their lives and EVERY impact, I sense this is hyperbole. In fact, I think there is a lot of hyperbole in NDE reports. People resort to hyperbole in their every day lives to describe experiences that are less than mundane. Why would this not be true of a (first time?) mind blowing experience like an NDE?

P.S. on the topic of hyperbole in NDEs, I think it would be interesting to compare the descriptions of NDEs coming from group a) experienced psychedelic users and/or deep meditation practicioners and group b) main stream people with no previous deep mind expanding experience.

P.P.S on the subkect of time/timelessness, E.K (from the post) says this, "I am only in the middle of this retrospect myself and have some way to go before all my earth experiences have been seen and known fully in the light of reality."

Being in the middle implies a beginning and an end and that means time exists in some form.

"Re time in the Afterlife…"

Interesting, Matt! You've broken down the larger concept of time into its various aspects or implications. That seems like a useful way of talking about time outside the body. Certain familiar characteristics may still apply, others may not.

I like your dream example. Normal consciousness is structured in terms of the clock and the calendar, while spiritual consciousness is organized or experienced in a completely different way--perhaps by reference to certain associated phenomena, feelings, or events, as in those dreams you allude to.

I remember well one of my first hashish experiences back around 1970. I had visions of a hard and brittle ruler-like calendar in my mind, and I suddenly saw how we arbitrarily divide our lives into fixed units of time that have no fundamental reality.

I hope to comment in more detail when I can.

"Also, when NDErs say EVERY event of their lives and EVERY impact, I sense this is hyperbole. In fact, I think there is a lot of hyperbole in NDE reports."

This is a tricky one. You may well be right. But I hate to give a blanket OK to that statement because I think the problem is often the reverse--non-experiencers assume that NDErs are exaggerating when they're not.

If one has not had a profound mystical experience oneself, it's almost impossible NOT to assume that NDE and similar accounts are overblown.

I'm not saying this is true for you, no one, because I have no way of knowing exactly what you've experienced, but I see it all the time with people who live almost exclusively in their intellects. When you try to explain to them the depth of feeling, ecstasy, love, and insight that is possible in mystical states, they simply have no way of grasping what you're saying.

It's completely understandable.

Re hyperbole in NDE accounts...

This is indeed very tricky. NDErs do not seem to bring back perfect recall of "everything" they did in their lives, although they may bring back some long-forgotten memories or new insights about old memories (via the feeling what others felt thing). Hence, they seem to bring back a memory of the *fact* that they re-experienced "everything."

I have a lot of semi-lucid and lucid dreams, and I find that more and more I experiment in the dreams with the actual dream world--but then find it is very hard to bring those experiments back in full. For example, I dreamed that I was in a house, and there was a person in front of me, and I was keen on observing how clear my perceptions were, and I said to the person, "I can see every pore on your skin." But when I came out of the dream, I had a memory of being able to see that detail but it still wasn't fully "proved" to me that I could because I really couldn't bring back that mode of experience.

NDErs, however, come back saying that they experienced total clarity and it was *not* like a dream. That's an important difference.

BTW, one excellent way to prove (at least to oneself and those willing to believe one's testimony) that an NDE is not like a dream is to ask, if possible, to read a book or other such text during the NDE. It's impossible to create a text in a dream that just sits there, unchanging, like a real book. If I had an NDE and tried to read a book and my memory of the text was that it was shifting and nonsensical, I would be very worried. On the other hand, if I could pick up a book and read it just like a "real" book, that would be a powerful sign indeed.

BTW, I've experimented with reading in my lucid dreams. It's possible to get crystal clear text to appear, sometimes a whole sentence that you can focus on and read. But it's impossible (in my experience), to have a whole unwavering page just sit there. It's also a fact (from what I have heard) to have a hypnotized person read an imaginary book. They get confused and can't do it.

When I was self inducing OBEs I was also experimenting with lucid dreaming. I found what you say, Matt, about shifting images to be absolutely true of lucid dreaming and sometimes true in the OBE experience.

In a lucid dream - or what I think of being that state of awareness - I can't imagine being able to read text; maybe a single word or short phrase, but nothing more. It seems like focussing to hard or for too long causes a loss of perceptual control.

I found that sometimes the same thing would happen in an OBE, with the loss of control causing the experience to spin into a lucid dream state and then normal dreaming or snapping back to normal waking consciousness. On the other hand, an OBE can occur with remarkably sharp, clear and unwavering perceptions - sometimes of other worlds - that more resemble NDE descriptions in many qualitative aspects. So I think that there is overlap between the NDE and OBE, but not between dreaming and the NDE.

And yet, at a more macro level, I think that the afterlife experience and dreaming are probably very similar in some important ways for most people. That is that the perceptions are the result of deep seated personal (karmic) tendencies as well as outside forces that interact with those tendencies. As these karmic forces are restless, the images shift frequently.

Here's a suggestion (if you don't mind and if you haven't tried it already), Matt, when you are lucid dreaming and you feel that you have gained a level of control over the dream state, will yourself to meditate. So you will be meditating within a dream, perhaps meditating on the chakra at the solar plexus or the one between the eyes. Might have some interesting results.

"I'm not saying this is true for you, no one, because I have no way of knowing exactly what you've experienced...."

Bruce, I just know human nature, especially because, being human, I've done it myself. It's too easy to get carried away with fantastic states of consciousness and arrive at conclusions like, "This is it! I know everything. This is the ultimate truth!".

I like to think that over the course of my life I have begun to reach some kind of a valid understanding. Awesome peak spiritual experiences have certainly influenced that understanding, maybe even to a large degree, but I feel like the real growth has been in slow increments, has been hard work and has been occasioned by set backs and has taken many years. Maybe that's just me, but I kind of think otherwise based on what I have seen.

"Hence, they seem to bring back a memory of the *fact* that they re-experienced "everything.""

Actually, I don't what I was rambling about in my last. This statement of yours, Matt, is a nice summary of the problem.

Matt, your concerns about the details of the life review are interesting and thought-provoking, but they reflect a basic assumption that I don't share. The assumption (as I see it) is that the process is a purely “natural” one, in the sense that it is not designed by any supreme moral authority, i.e. God. Instead, it is some sort of automatic process of sloughing off the etheric body, which produces an experience that the person interprets from a moral perspective.

My assumption is that the whole show is ultimately God's show, and that God is way smarter than any of us and has designed the process to give us exactly what we need and to teach us exactly the lessons we need to learn. (I guess I'm sounding like Art here, though I don't buy into his idea that we have no free will or that the exclusive purpose of life is to learn about separation.) The life review has a moral component because it was designed for the purpose of instilling moral lessons–not necessarily in a harsh judgmental way, but for the sake of spiritual growth.

It's very common a to see people with an interest in spiritualism take up the idea of an impersonal deity–a God that is roughly equivalent to a field of energy, say. But as C.S. Lewis perspicaciously pointed out, this conception of God actually elevates human consciousness above God's consciousness. Human beings, after all, are more than just an energy field a; we have a moral sense, free will (or at least it certainly appears so), purpose and intent. An energy field lacks these things, and so it would appear to be inferior to a human being. But does it make sense to suggest that God would be lacking in qualities that human beings possess?

I realize there is a danger in anthropomorphizing God, but I think there is an equal danger in subhumanizing God, so to speak. And if we reduce God to something less than a human person, or take God out of the picture altogether, then we inevitably start to worry that the world is ultimately pointless and meaningless, even if it does consist of multiple planes of reality, including spiritual planes. After all, what difference does it really make a whether or not consciousness persists after death, if the whole shebang is ultimately a pointless exercise in automatic, mechanistic processes? Existence does not acquire meaning simply because it is prolonged indefinitely.

So in answer to your list of questions about the life review, I would say that you're not going to be made to feel bad about anything you don't *deserve* to feel bad about. If your motives were good and you did your best, you're not going to be harassed by pointless and undeserved guilt, but if you intended to hurt someone or neglected your genuine obligations to another person (or even harmed or neglected an animal in your care), then you'll be forced to deal with the implications of your actions. As Art would say, "Yes, God is that smart."

That's my take on it, anyway. Your mileage may vary! :-)

Michael,

Thanks for your comments, excellent as always. Where *is* Art, by the way?

You wrote,

I would say that you're not going to be made to feel bad about anything you don't *deserve* to feel bad about. If your motives were good and you did your best, you're not going to be harassed by pointless and undeserved guilt, but if you intended to hurt someone or neglected your genuine obligations to another person (or even harmed or neglected an animal in your care), then you'll be forced to deal with the implications of your actions. As Art would say, "Yes, God is that smart."

My feeling is that this is exactly as you say: there is an intentionality, intelligence, and directedness to the life review that one could not expect from a purely organic, natural process. There is also a "Hey, look at this" aspect to the experience: the experiencer *must* pay attention to it; it's not like pain or some other natural function that one can at least try to ignore.

And yet... there is a very strongly organic aspect to it as well. It's almost as if the Truth inherent in the actions makes itself manifest in apt proportion, as opposed to a being making selections based on superior or even perfect judgment.

IOW, it's as if each life review is the best possible and perfect life review possible for that person based on a mathematically perfect standard.

We associate implementations of similar standards with an actor, a being. E.g, we need experts to adjudicate who was at fault in a traffic accident; the truth just doesn't appear for us. Hence, in this case, our cognitive biases and Western tradition of describing such things encourage us to say, "God is the expert, or judge, in the life review."

Based again, however, on the NDE accounts and the "behavior" of the Being of Light, I would say that God is, it turns out, the Spirit of Truth and Love that does "just appear."

I don't get a Western "God" vibe from the Being of Light at all.

But as C.S. Lewis perspicaciously pointed out, this conception of God actually elevates human consciousness above God's consciousness. Human beings, after all, are more than just an energy field a; we have a moral sense, free will (or at least it certainly appears so), purpose and intent. An energy field lacks these things, and so it would appear to be inferior to a human being.

Of course, this assumes that a "God" exists that can be superior or inferior. I think that the Spirit of Truth and Love idea is closer to fact that a demiurge-type "God" who could choose A or B (free will) but then decides on C just because he can. Free will is a virtue in imperfect beings but not in perfect ones, since they can only do what is perfect.

After all, what difference does it really make a whether or not consciousness persists after death, if the whole shebang is ultimately a pointless exercise in automatic, mechanistic processes? Existence does not acquire meaning simply because it is prolonged indefinitely.

It would also not acquire meaning simply because a being more powerful than any other controls all things either of necessity or arbitrarily.

If a Supreme Being is operating under the necessity of perfection (as is theorized, basically, in Aquinas), then it's hard to see how that is different than a mechanistic world: that which must happen will happen. Now we can theorize that a world with a perfect God at the helm would be "nicer" than one run by impersonal mechanistic processes. But we also know as fact that *our* world is often quite horrible. So we get the argument from evil, which I find conclusive: a "nice" demiurge-type "God" is *not* in control of this world.

But let's assume for a second that a perfect God is in control and ensure that no evil or unpleasantness exists in the entire universe. Would such a state automatically be "meaningful"? Perhaps such a God would build us so that we felt it was all meaningful, yet, looking at the hypothetical from the outside, I don't think we'd concur that it actually was.

What if a Supreme Being is *not* operating under the necessity of perfection? Well, that gives us a pretty scary Universe. A flawed or even evil God controlling everything. Would that be more meaningful than mechanistic processes?

In short, I don't think the existence of "God" ensures the existence of "meaning." I think "meaning" and "purpose" are properties inherent in That Which Is that were not arbitrarily created (God: "Let's give the Universe 'meaning.')

By the way, I remember a conversation I had with my aunt when I was young in which I said, "There has to be a God; otherwise life would have no meaning." Also, in his debate with Christopher Hitchens, William Craig makes a similar point in his opening statement. It's a common intuition and it's correct in this sense: if what atheists say is true, then life indeed does not have the kind of meaning that we, as believers, feel that it has.

By modus tollens, if we assume our intuition of meaning is correct, then what atheists say is not true. Yet it is then a primitive leap of logic to say, "Then God as we conceive him exists."

Materialism does negate meaning except for an arbitrary kind. Yet, as I believe (perhaps correctly or not) I have shown in my arguments above, meaning cannot be dependent on the existence of a "God."

"But we also know as fact that *our* world is often quite horrible. So we get the argument from evil, which I find conclusive: a "nice" demiurge-type "God" is *not* in control of this world."

Maybe there is another possibility.

First, that was a great comment, Michael - one that I agree with.

Matt, What if god is pretty much just as Michael thinks it is. However, god also takes a (at least partially?) hands off approach to life on earth because it wants us to have the chance to exercise our free will and to learn, ultimately, how to co-create out of love and truth?

As a parent I found it very nerve wracking the first time I let my children go down the block on their bicycles all alone, or the first time they were able to go out with friends without adult supervision. I knew I had to let them go because over-protecting them would stunt their psychological development as well as moral development. They simply had to be left alone to make their own choices and i knew they would get dinged and bruised. I knew they would get in trouble sooner or later and, when they did, their mother and I would be there to help pick them up and we used that as an opportunity to discuss - to review - and to learn from. Also, when they, all on their own, made good choices, we would share some hapiness together because they were maturing on the right path.

What if we are god's spiritual children and god is like a parent of an adolescent concerning life in this realm? Does that not negate the argument from evil?

no one,

Great idea about trying to meditate in a lucid dream. I will definitely give that a shot the next time opportunity permits.

I think it's plausible that God could be hands-off in the way you describe in terms of letting people make their own choices so as to learn from them.

BUT, God is also credited as being the creator of the world, and would a "good" creator God allow the world to be as nasty as it is for its human inhabitants? Disease, natural disasters, etc. Things like viruses and cancer have no role in the food chain and thus seem like arbitrary miseries.

Most damning of all, however, to the concept of a God who values free wills and the choices that people make, are things like mental illness, which lessen or destroy our ability to act freely.

If you look at the nature of the everyday world, it's pretty much what one would expect from a materialist-atheist perspective. The energy of the sun and evolution have caused a planet-full of suffering animals to come into existence. I can't really blame atheists who have no connection to the spirit world from thinking there is no "God." But I am connected to it, and that's why I know that materialism is not the correct story.

I know Matt, I know.

I recently lost my father. He was a first generation American and he fought and sweated and struggled to make something of himself and his family. In the end he was tired and crippled in body. He had outlived his savings and his friends and his wife. That stimulated a lot of thinking for me. Also, I have personally been experiencing some adversity that is starting wear me down a bit. More thinking.....

The wrost that can happen here on earth due to natural disasters, viruses, evil humans is that we lose everything up to and including our bodies. That was going to happen any how sooner or later.

Our attachment to these things causes us to suffer when they are threatened or actually lost.

If we are fundementally spiritual beings and we live in an afterlife as do all those we truly love, where then is the pain caused by all that physical loss?

Even the pain of being confronted with hate should be eliminated once we are in the spiritual realm.

So, I am thinking that in the big scheme of things, the suffering on earth is not much more growing pains.

Mental illness is an interesting case. i have some theories on it that would counter what you propose, but I won't share them right now because I don't think I'd word propoerly and could end up offending when that is not the intention.

These event have been going on forever. Here is a link http://www.visionsofjesuschrist.com/miraculous_stories.htm to daily news reports that are often over-looked.

More...

There was a moment where the pain came and I literally passed out and I had that out-of-body experience when I could see the nurses running in the room and doctors reviving me, but I came back.

http://globalgrind.com/style/supermodel-lenka-dayrits-topless-leukemia-yoga-recovery-photos#ixzz1vii7VHKu

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"As I got closer, the light got brighter and brighter, warmer and warmer…I felt welcomed. Loved, I felt like I belonged there," said Tommy.

http://www.myfoxatlanta.com/story/18577651/what-happens-after-death
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Death loses its sting
Two women tell their stories about near-death experiences and how they led them to embrace an all-encompassing love of God.

http://readingeagle.com/article.aspx?id=387184

Thank you for this succinct summary from the Jane Sherwood text. I have also enjoyed reading your column about Robert Crookall, whose work was pointed out to me recently. Much neglected - until now.

"If you look at the nature of the everyday world, it's pretty much what one would expect from a materialist-atheist perspective."

Really? From a perspective that's purely materialist-atheist, there would BE no world. That's big!

And if you think that premise is flawed, please explain to me, in materialist terms, why and how there is something rather than nothing. Or even how that question can be approached, in principle.

I'm inclined to believe there is a distinct difference between the dream state and the apparent afterlife state. I feel like the descriptions of "Hades" more closely resemble the dream-world, or a formless state that occurs immediately following death.

I also lucid dream, and even my most lucid dreams do not hold a candle to waking reality. Instead it is formless, and sometimes timeless, impressions and interpretations of events and storylines. Even if I am fully conscious within the dream, nothing can solidify. I think we experience some of that transcendent consciousness but it's part of an environment that's not "real".

These spirit texts seem to describe how we go into this non physical, formless mental world for a while until our etheric bodies are restructured and we can finally enter into a waking, real environment again that may possess some of the qualities of the dream-state, in terms of the progression of time and space, but is ultimately a real, sensory world like ours.

Things perhaps become more abstract and less linear within higher and higher planes, but the immediate realms of the afterlife are described to be earthlike enough that some are not aware that a significant change even occurred by comparison to living on Earth.

Cyrus, are all your dreams "formless"?

I wouldn't say my dreams are as real as my NDE, but many of them are as real as being awake. Have you never woken up and been surprised that you were sleeping?

I've had only one or two lucid dreams that I can recall, but they weren't formless at all. Quite the opposite - everything seemed almost preternaturally clear and vivid. I imagine the experience is different for different people.

'In short, I don't think the existence of "God" ensures the existence of "meaning."'

To me, meaning comes from the conviction that one's life has a purpose, even if that purpose is not clearly understood - the conviction that it's all part of a larger plan. I don't see how there can be a plan without a planner, or a purpose without a purposeful intelligence operating behind the scenes. So for me personally, some sort of God (and not just a Ground of Being) is necessary to imbue the world with meaning and purpose. Otherwise we're dealing with an essentially purposeless set of events, even if they stretch over many incarnations or many different planes of reality. I realize that this is basically a Western mindset, and that Eastern religions often do without God. But then it seems to me that Eastern religions often end up embracing the ultimate pointlessness and purposelessness of everything, though possibly, as an outsider, I've misunderstood them.

I doubt there is a God or an ultimate meaning of existence, but now I have more open to these possibilities than before. However, the manifest world seems closer to what might be expected if atheism were true, because bad things happen to good people, good things happen to bad people, there is pain and injustice to innocent people, etc. Why is there something instead of nothing? I do not know, but the existence of the world is not against atheism, because we take the existence of the world as a primitive fact without further explanation. So my attitude would be naturalistic, but the difference between me and the majority of atheists-materialists is that I've noticed that a group of phenomena reasonably pointing to a afterlife. Yes, life after death does not guarantee ultimate meaning of life, but who says we have to have an ultimate meaning to life? The psychic evidence suggests that the afterlife is a natural phenomenon like all others.

" . . . the existence of the world is not against atheism, because we take the existence of the world as a primitive fact without further explanation."

Yes, atheists do that, but at some level they're not quite comfortable with that state of affairs, because they know that the absence of a materialist explanation--or even the possibility of one--necessitates a metaphysical approach. So they come up with silly arguments like the one in that ridiculous new book "A Universe From Nothing".

It's reviewed here: http://monkeywah.typepad.com/paranormalia/2012/05/something-from-nothing.html

Michael You have mentioned that you have consulted a number of mediums. Would you mind telling me which ones you found most evidential?

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