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The Problem of Pain must be one of the most perplexing problems aside from survival after death, and is certainly one I've pondered for a long time. Maybe the answer is that pain just can't be avoided when the spirit is in material form. Or that there is a good beyond the pain, i.e., God makes good things even out of evil things such as pain. Our pain might be experiences that ultimately benefit us in some way - similar to a visit to the dentist - that in our limited perspective we just can't see now, but one day will.

You are right saying its not that kind of God. The fact that some humans have ideas about God doesn't require that God fit those ideas. God is a collective.

"More likely, a degree of randomness (and injustice) is simply built into the physical world. As our parents wisely taught us, "Life isn't fair."

Interesting post, Michael. I'm not sure I'm convinced, though, that speaking of trade-offs gets to the heart of the matter.

As you've often said, the truth of a statement depends on the level of reality from which you're making it. For those of us who have to grind out an existence here in the Earth plane, it's certainly true that life isn't fair and the world's far from perfect.

But it's interesting to note that NDErs and other mystics make exactly the opposite observation. Having seen the world from a much larger perspective, they insist that despite whatever pain we experience while in the body, everything that happens makes complete sense when the whole picture can at last be taken in.

NDErs never speak of randomness (to my knowledge), but say that everything does indeed happen for a reason. They say that the universe is grander and more perfect than we can possible imagine.

So I think it's a bit misleading to say that pain exists because God is limited. As I see it, limitation happens this way: God *limits himself * when he takes form--for example, when he enters the bodies of humans--thus allowing himself to experience pain.

Simultaneously (because time is not fundamental to all dimensions), part of God remains *outside* the earth system, existing forever in bliss and perfection.

So God is both limited, and he's not, depending, once again, on what level of reality you're viewing him from.

Anyway, that's how I see it!

If God is limited in any way, then the problem of pain ceases to be a problem and becomes merely a fact in an imperfect world.

This is an interesting insight. Another way of stating your proposition would be that God is as omnipotent as is logically or mathematically possible; the existence of natural evil (suffering resulting from natural forces and natural breakdowns of the body) is because there are just no other possible but less cruel worlds where something like humans could exist without there being independent destructive natural forces and imperfect physical bodies which break down and die. Just as it does not seem even with an omnipotent God that a world is possible in which the behavior of numbers is different, for instance where 2 x 2 = 5, or pi = exactly 3.10.

Another logical but unpleasant possibility is that God really is omnipotent. Moral evil (intentional human cruelty) is due to the necessity for human free will. The huge amount of natural evil is due to the necessity for free will on the part of powerful supernatural beings or entities.

Carbon life form based worlds experience entropy. Entropy causes pain pain to carbon based life forms. A entity enters the carbon based world and experiences pain.

Carbon based life forms are imbued with eternal souls. By focusing on the eternal soul as opposed to the carbon based physical aspects, the entity can transcend pain. Mistakenly focusing only on the carbon based aspects, the entity only sees and feels pain.

As I see the question concerning god's perfection and will as it relates to our suffering as carbon based life forms it all comes down to whether or not it is god's choice that we are here, or our own.

All religions say that it is our own choice, whether that be due to original sin, karma, rebellion, what have you; some form of free will is involved. One can see how and why the religions came up with these explanations. It certainly gets god off the hook. However, there is also a ring of truth to the free will concept, IMO.

Michael,

In a previous post, I wrote: “we are all tiny impermanent "cells" within a massive cosmic brain that has great powers of creativity, memory and imagination which it exercises through us individually and collectively while we are in these bodies.”

I think your discussion helps me to further develop that idea, i.e. that we are, as Paul writes in the New Testament (1 Cor. 12), many members of one body. As such, we cannot see the bigger picture. We trust that our little cell-self is doing its part in the great cosmic brain.

If that brain (God's) does indeed have an imagination, then what if my life right now is playing a role (albeit, a very minor role) in a great story or movie that God is reading/playing. Now, I don’t know about you, Michael, but I like stories that have intrigue, action, good guys, bad guys, etc. So, what if I get to be part of God’s “imagination” right now —-- one of the “chosen ones” stepping out to actually play a role, and so excited to do that role no matter what it is! And, what if the writer/director (God)gives me a chance to ad lib a little? Then, after my bit of the story/movie is done, I’m done . . . Or, maybe there’s an update or re-make or sequel, and I get called back! What fun!Fun for the great cosmic brain of God, and, when all's done, hopefully fun for me, too!

Michael,

Me again. I know this may be seen as off topic, but I feel a little “detour” is in order:

As a child I watched the Ed Sullivan Show, and I remember a comedy act in which two guys carried on a conversation, the point of which was to show how events could be seen as good or bad, or both! I don't recall their names or other specifics, so I’ll make it up to demonstrate:

George: Hi Harry, what's new?
Harry: My barn burned down.
George: Oh, Harry, that's bad!
Harry: Well, actually it's good. I needed the insurance money.
George: Oh, that's good.
Harry: Well, no, it's bad. I have relatives coming out of the woodwork looking to get some of that money.
George: Oh, Harry, that's bad.
Harry: Well, no, it's good. One of the relatives I hadn't heard from in years; he was able to teach me Grandpa's way of making moonshine.
George: Oh, Harry, that's good!
Harry: No, George, it's bad. I was in the middle of making the moonshine, and I burned down my new barn!

Sorry, Michael! I couldn't help myself: the devil made me do it :)

Judith, that dialogue is funny! I remember it myself, and like you, I used to watch the Ed Sullivan Show. But I would never have guessed I heard that routine so long ago!

Its humor is not dated at all. But I guess that's your point--there's a timeless truth contained in it: even though the parts may be flawed, the whole is beautiful.

Of course, it gives equal weight to a less pleasant possibility: even though the parts may be beautiful, the whole is flawed. :o)

Where's Barbara? I think she'd agree with that last part. (Sorry, Barbara!)

I like your 12:50 comment too. Pretty much the way I see it. I think stories are God's passion.

Pain comes in several forms, physical, emotional, psychological etc. If there was no pain in this dimension, then right here right now would be Utopia and not a heck of a difference from the afterlife, as many believers interpret it to be.
So,God if you're listening, how about a rethink? 50 years or so of Utopia for everyone, followed by painless, in all its forms extinction.Makes more sense than the messy dogs breakfast you came up with.

Michael, do you think this godhead has more control over the immaterial realm? Also although I (and I think most people here) are not Christian, Tony Camplolo's theology in which god gave up power is an interesting note.

Good post, Michael. Clearly, you’re right about God not being omnipotent, and I agree with your implication that he is too high and mighty to be bothered with the minutiae of our lives (he has bigger issues to attend to).

“Our pain might be experiences that ultimately benefit us in some way - similar to a visit to the dentist - that in our limited perspective we just can't see now, but one day will.”

To me, Kathleen, this is arse-about face. We go to the dentist to cure pain. He gives us an anaesthetic injection to stop us feeling the pain.

“God *limits himself * when he takes form--for example, when he enters the bodies of humans--thus allowing himself to experience pain.”

Your God appears to be a masochist, Bruce. Actually, that may be true!

“as carbon based life forms it all comes down to whether or not it is god's choice that we are here, or our own.”

Jeez, perhaps it is our own fault, no-one. But if I knew before I came down what I know now, I wouldn’t have made the descent. We pass through the waters of Lethe and forget what we learn in the discarnate planes. Equally, it seems, we forget the pain we feel on Earth when we leave here. It’s a most inconvenient and very fishy arrangement. How much more efficient it would be to recall the so-called ineradicable data of experience. Sometimes people do seem to remember – NDErs or regression hypnotherapy patients, and it seems to make them happier. So why not as a rule? It doesn’t suit – a wide range of emotions are required from humankind. And the flavor, texture and import of those memories may well be manipulated by whatever process is used to download/implant them.

That we don’t as a rule remember our long history of slavery here (sorry, no-one, I mean our voluntary incarceration here) suggests that our freewill is deliberately limited and our souls are being manipulated. I tell you, we’re food –Snorkler’s messy dog’s breakfast. Philip K Dick’s Matrix had us as literal batteries, but we’re probably emotional generators, and entities up there are hovering up our juicy energies.

Humans are dupes. But it’s Earth I feel sorry for. I could weep (I do weep). We’re wrecking Her. no-one –ask your native Indians. They’ll tell you.

Then there’s our bodies. Paradoxically, even though they are the means of our imprisonment here, I also feel very, very sorry for our marvellous bodies of 100 trillion co-operating cells, which do their best to sustain us, though we often maltreat them and when they die, who represents them in heaven? Nobody. We go off and recuperate for a bit, then it’s back with a new one.

I do have one (very small) hope: there may be a (very small-print) option to be dissipated into fresh quarks. Then Bruce can use bits of me next time.

When I asked my young teenage niece why she cut herself she said, "I just wanted to feel something.

In the Amazon Jungle Indians do a "bullet ant" ceremony where they stick their hands into a bag of ferociously painful bullet ants and let them bite them.

In Malaysia and Thailand Hindu devotees stick metal spikes through their cheeks and back to show their devotion to the God-head.

During the middle Ages men self flagellated themselves trying to get God's attention.

American Indians did a ceremony where they pierced their chest muscles and let themselves be swung around on leather thongs.

In the Philippines men re-enact the crucifixion allowing themselves to be nailed to the cross.

Closer to home people pierce their skin and get tattoos which are both painful.

My brother is a commercial beekeeper and gets stung every day. Even though he is immune to the long term effects of the venom - the initial sting is always painful, feeling like someone threw a hot match on you.

Something is going on that is much deeper than what we can see superficially. Something that humans are driven to do and I believe has something to do with information about the body, allowing the soul to imprint dots and pixels about the shape of the body and being in the body.

I don't see how the world could have been created any other way. Circular solid enormous rocks with large indentations of life giving water as the stage. Free willed beings acting out every possibilty, good bad, ugly, horrific or worse. Pain, how can that not be a possibilty ? Would life be better if we were made free from physical harm amd mental torment ? No fire to put your hand in, or no pain receptors in the hand. What could we learn ? We would surely grow weary of such a boring world and desire it to change.

"But if I knew before I came down what I know now, I wouldn’t have made the descent. "

Well, then you learned something, but are you sure about not doing it again? I know lots of people, myself included, that do the same stupid thing over and over again.

It all boils down to WHO is responsible for us being here where pain is felt. If god, then god is not what we thought it was. If our own free will, then we have no one to blame but ourselves.

The reports from ADCs and NDEs as well as religious texts tell us, one way or the other, *we* are making the choice.

btw, I am not a big Edgar Cayce fan. However, I think he hits the nail squarely right on the head when he describes the reason for incarnation/reincarnation in this world.

I like this explanation (including some subtle bloopers on god's part) a lot. It encompasses my personal perspective on incarnation/reincarnation, free will, etc.

http://www.near-death.com/experiences/cayce03.html

When Barbara Bradley Hagerty interviewed Pam Reynolds for her book Fingerprints of God, (referring to NDE's and life in general) Reynolds half jokingly mused "Every once in awhile I wonder if it's just some kind of big farce". (pg.209)
Personally, I thoroughly understand that sentiment, and the existence of pain is probably the biggest fly in the omnipotent god ointment.

The only thing I would add to the conversation mix right now is to ask the obvious question: Would we understand ecstasy and spiritual transcendence if we never knew pain and evil? In other words, without 'bad', would we know 'good'?
I think we need both.

Do they have to be in perfect Yin/Yang balance?
I don't think so, because all it takes is one good icy blast of cold air on my bare skin to make me appreciate a warm home for a long, long time.

Anyway, just askin'...


Two comments really interest me here.

One is Barbara's:

"Bruce said: “God *limits himself * when he takes form--for example, when he enters the bodies of humans--thus allowing himself to experience pain.”

Your God appears to be a masochist, Bruce. Actually, that may be true!"

So that gets me thinking. Is she right? If God truly chooses to come to earth in the guise of human beings, is he a masochist?

And then Art comes along and helps me to ponder her question by providing a long and interesting list of examples of people who are apparently choosing to experience pain:

"When I asked my young teenage niece why she cut herself she said, 'I just wanted to feel something.'

In the Amazon Jungle Indians do a "bullet ant" ceremony where they stick their hands into a bag of ferociously painful bullet ants and let them bite them."

And his list goes on.

Quite a few years ago, I had an experience, while in a deeply altered state, that surprised me. Its focus was Jesus.

The experience struck me as strange because I was raised as a Jew, so Jesus was never central to my religious life, and religion and religious symbols have never been important to me anyway. (Except perhaps briefly, as a child--but certainly not Jesus.)

But in this experience, I realized that Jesus's story is OUR story--yours and mine. Each of us comes to earth, a son or daughter of God--a part of God, really.

And like Jesus, we come here, in part, to experience pain.

So is Barbara right? Are we--and therefore God--masochists?

On the surface, there are a variety of reasons for how and why different people experience pain. A look at Art's list makes that clear.

But I think if you go deeper --and that's where my journey about Jesus took me--you find a reason that is the same for all of us, Jesus included.

We experience pain because doing so fosters the highest good. And the highest good is a God--which is a way of referring to the aggregate of all of us together--that can know the richest, most varied, most beautiful, most ecstatic, most loving existence possible.

And pain, like it or not, is an integral part of that equation.

And that's because pain, like evil and ignorance, is one of the negative universal forces that make division into separate entities possible. Without negativity, God remains ONE, and there are no stories to be told, no dramas to be resolved--in a word, no interest!

So we don't feel pain for itself, but for the rewards that pain makes possible.

Is that masochism?

Maybe, but masochism implies a life whose FOCUS is pain. And that's not true of this universe (as NDErs and mystics tell us), although at our special outpost here on Earth, it often seems that way.

Michael--thanks for continuing to provide a forum where we can have such great conversations as this, and many others over the years. It seems that you and I share just the right amount of agreement--and disagreement!--so that I find myself stimulated to the max.

Michael--I love the titles you come up with for your posts (like this one). Always to the point, and often funny.

As someone who does a little writing myself, I'm curious--do you spend some time thinking up your titles, or do they just come to you?

Great post!

The myth of the Western religion-style "God" is so strong that it is hard to shake if one has been born into it.

The issue is exceedingly complex. I *know* for a fact that entities will help us and that pain is sent to us to teach us. I can give two stories of my own.

In the 1990s, I had a benign but very annoying heart arrhythmia (PVCs) that I believed then and believed now was sent to me to set me straight in life. I feel that I signed on to be a lightworker in this life, and much of us is expected. I was overly arrogant at that stage in my life, feeling that things were going my way because I just deserved them. The torment that was sent to me was a *very* merciful way to teach me pain and put me in my place, since it was extremely uncomfortable (imagine your heart skipping every other beat all day long) yet did not physically impair me or do any kind of lasting damage.

Yet I can also tell a good story within the bad story. One night I really couldn't take it, couldn't sleep, and so I said, "I ask any and all of the good beings in the Universe to hear me; please give me relief from this." And the arrhythmia turned off (temporarily, so I could sleep) as though *a switch had been flipped.* Now, I still had to go through a couple more years of pain with the thing, but they did signal to me that they were out there.

And here's something from right after Christmas. We were driving in Illinois, and I was using the map function on my phone, and it was rather dark, etc., but mostly I just wasn't being careful enough. I almost rear-ended a car, was just a few feet away, but the person next to me successfully alerted me--and I didn't. Then, not 15 minutes later, I turned left in the wrong lane (I knew I was but didn't think there would be a problem) and almost drove right into a car going right. I could see the accident unfold right before my eyes--but it didn't happen.

Now being saved twice in this way was not miraculous, but I absolutely felt that I was spared the horrendous inconvenience and trouble (though almost certainly not injury) either accident would have caused by a higher power. It was a real, "It's not your time," kind of moment. I was extremely grateful.

I also broke up with my girlfriend recently, and the psychological pain has been intense. Yet, at the same time, I feel that it has contained an ineffable lesson for me. She has not suffered much at all, it appeared, and my guides have told me that she has in essence gotten a "free pass" on the pain this time around.

All this said, there *is* free will in all of this. It is, as I stated above, an extremely subtle and complex layering of intentionality, free will, natural outcomes, etc.


"do you spend some time thinking up your titles, or do they just come to you?"

They just come to me. If I gave them any thought, I might be able to come up with better ones!

Just to expand a little bit on some possible objections to my post...

Why doesn't God create only "good" bacteria and no "bad" bacteria? My answer: good and bad often depend on context. E. coli is good when it's in your intestine, but not so good when it's in your stomach.

Also, bacteria are constantly mutating to adapt to changing conditions, and these mutations account for a lot of the so-called bad bacteria. But what's the solution? If one-celled organisms could not mutate, there would be no evolution, and life as we understand it would be impossible.

Someone, either on this thread or an earlier one, suggested that God could have created a world in which living beings exist purely on sunshine. But maybe this just isn't possible. Animals seem to require the concentrated nutrients found in plant matter and animal matter. Plants can live on sunshine and nutrients from the soil because they are not very active, but a busy, active creature may simply require the higher energy input that comes from chowing down on a nice thick steak!

One of the many worlds I inhabit I call "Opposite World". This, among all others, is the one where I've always felt most at home and have inhabited the longest. Career? It's an intense game, but a game nonetheless. The big one, death, the thing everyone fears the most? I've often joked to others about whether it might be the exact opposite and death leads to a situation that is *better* than life in some way. Not ascribing any rationale for this, or motivation, just imagining and resonating with the general idea over the years. [BTW, I would consider such resonating a type of personal "experiential" event.] Along the same lines, and relevant to the topic at hand, I've thought about the possibility that everything we consider bad, horrible, evil, etc, from the tiniest thought to the most heinous crime, is in fact an opportunity to "transcend" something difficult. Don't know where suicides would fit into the picture (ie why not just suicide then?) but suspect it involves the reason transcending should be desirable in the first place. I realize there are religious overtones here but I am not religious. IMO religions have both good and bad aspects, but are fundamentally limiting because they are belief systems. I also realize that these ideas are not unique to me, but have been stated in many different ways by many different people over the course of history. Just throwing it out there as a personal byline without any desire to justify things.

In "Opposite World", "nice, good, happy" would also logically have to be different. I haven't pondered this as much as the "ouch" factor, but probably even "good" needs to be transcended in some way. Perhaps transcending is all about getting us out of a dualistic mode, I don't know.

transcend: rise above; use for the purpose of getting to a better place

transcend is NOT: succumb; give in to; repress; build a wall against

We should also celebrate the title with the song "Ouch!" by the Ruttles:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iVFRgoQe86U

:)

Art's list of folk inflicting injury on themselve,in the main involve superficial cuts and piercings. They don't open up their bodies and pour acid over their internal organs.
I'm sure I'm not the only one here who has had to witness a loved one suffering excruciating pain from being gradually eaten away from stomach, bowel, cervical cancer or similar.That is a cruel and crappy way to die.If some 'higher being' is aware of it,could do something about it,yet allows that suffering to continue to the very end, then that entity is not a 'higher being' at all, but is a cruel. heartless S.O.B! What is the point of inflicting such horror on hapless victims and their loved ones? Maybe the Afterlife isn't that great afterall, and to simply arrive in a dull, boring, fairly ordinary dimension sans pain would feel like Utopia by comparison.

Barbara - Philip K Dick’s Matrix had us as literal batteries, but we’re probably emotional generators, and entities up there are hovering up our juicy energies.

A nightmarish fantastic vision, a distinct though remote possibility. The hidden underlying reason for the human tragicomedy on Earth. It's all a deception, with entities cultivating human emotions, struggle, intense experiences of any kind, then lapping them up. Religion could have the intentional purpose of creating strife, intolerance, cruelty, persecutions. Intense negative emotions, massive suffering. Especially delicious. NDEs and other cosmic consciousness experiences could have the purpose of creating just as intense joyful, expansive positive emotions. A special flavor, even more delicious.

Hopefully this is just fantasy, and though contrary to much human experience, reason and logic, the apparent message of NDEs and the "perennial wisdom" of the ages is somehow still the actual truth.

One possible answer to posts not getting through. If one spends a significant amount of time reading other comments, then it is advisable in my experience to refresh the page before typing and submitting your own comment, otherwise you'll likely get the notice that "your session has expired" and you will have to start over again, as I did with the above relatively brief post.

tsavo - I've thought about the possibility that everything we consider bad, horrible, evil, etc, from the tiniest thought to the most heinous crime, is in fact an opportunity to "transcend" something difficult.

It sounds nice, but there are a lot of problems. It's already been discussed in another thread, but who or what decided that it would be worth it? Who or what is doing the transcending in cases where there isn't much or any "person", just the ability to suffer?

@ doubter
"It sounds nice, but there are a lot of problems. It's already been discussed in another thread, but who or what decided that it would be worth it? Who or what is doing the transcending in cases where there isn't much or any "person", just the ability to suffer? "

No idea. Transcending just fits in nicely with Opposite World for me. Gives me a satisfying way to think about and accept bad stuff.

"Reynolds half jokingly mused "Every once in awhile I wonder if it's just some kind of big farce". (pg.209)- Rabbitdawg
---------------------

That is exactly how we will look back on this life after we cross over. Michelle M in her NDE description called it a "dream in itself" and that we will "look back on it like it was the blink of an eye."

In the holographic universe Talbot says that our Universe is "Maya", an illusion. A projection from someplace else. Dr. Brian Greene, PhD physicist, in his interview in National Geographic even says that our Universe seems to be a projection from someplace else.

Albert Einstein says that past, present, and future are really happening all at once. In a hologram all the information is being downloaded at the same time. In a holographic piece of film all the information all ready exists, much in the same way that all the learning one does in grammar school is in the workbook but first the students have to work through the problems in order to learn what it is they need to learn.

You have to be able to think of a universe where the laws of physics are very different from this side. It will be the laws that one might experience if one were living on or in the original holographic film instead of the projection from that film. This side is the "place of separation" and the other side is the "place of oneness and connectedness."

The problem though is how does one keep that sense of a separate unique identity in a universe where the feelings are of being totally connected? I believe the answer is that we have to experience enough separation and information about this life so we don't forget it in the next. And it has to be emotional enough that it is thoroughly imprinted on the collective unconscious - because there is a connection between emotion and memory - the more emotional the experience the more powerful and long lasting the memory it creates, that we don't forget what it was we came here to learn - after we die.

Snorkler - ...What is the point of inflicting such horror on hapless victims and their loved ones?

Good post. Unfortunately the usual answers (though possibly the truth in some way) are scant comfort to actual sufferers. There just isn't a spiritual philosophy that can actually reduce physical pain in particular. There are some New Age channelled claims that somehow deeply identifying with the soul and reducing the "fear of badness" associated with pain alleviates the suffering, but this just doesn't work. How could it - the badness of pain is built into, hard wired into, our brains. So what if the pain doesn't damage our soul or spirit - it still hurts anyway.

"Unfortunately the usual answers (though possibly the truth in some way) are scant comfort to actual sufferers. There just isn't a spiritual philosophy that can actually reduce physical pain in particular."

You've made this point repeatedly (one might even say, ad nauseam), but I would ask: Is there *any* verbal/intellectual answer that would comfort the sufferer or reduce physical pain? I can't think of any. If there is none, then it seems to me that it's not a strike against the spiritualist position to say that it can't do what no other position can do, either.

If there is some verbal position you could offer to the sufferer that would provide immediate comfort and reduction of physical pain, what exactly is it?

If there is no such position possible even in theory, then why keep harping on it?

"I realized that Jesus's story is OUR story"

Right on, Bruce. I had this same thought when I was leaving the christian church behind for good as a young man.

I could never see why christ's suffering on the cross was any different or in any way special compared to what we all will go through, both physically and emotionally. I would say that some people experience at least equal physical pain and for longer periods of time in their final illnesses.

Also, we all also ask, in great despair, sooner or later, "God why have you abandoned me?"

Finally are we not all taking sin upon us when we enter this realm?

Truly, christ is us. His story is our story.

"truly, Christ is us.His story is our story"

I wish I could share your confidence and insight No One, I really do.
Unfortunately, based on personal accumulated evidence thus far,the science hypothesis, that my distant ancestor was pond slime is no less credible than the God hypothesis.

Is there *any* verbal/intellectual answer that would comfort the sufferer or reduce physical pain? I can't think of any. If there is none, then it seems to me that it's not a strike against the spiritualist position to say that it can't do what no other position can do, either.

You have made me think more deeply on the issue. Indeed, there does not seem to be anything possible even in principle, because of the basic nature of human animal awareness and experience. It is probably not possible also for some other forms of suffering than physical pain.

The main problem I have with the positions of many spiritual philosophies is that they claim to justify and even to alleviate suffering in humanly meaningful ways. They do not and can not in my view. I feel that any such justification to be valid and meaningful would have to be acceptable to the actual sufferer. We need to honor the person's actual experience. In other words, can he say "I went/am going through hell, but it's really all right because my soul is benefitting". In my opinion if the spiritualist position can't pass that test it's not valid at least in the human world. It may still be valid in another reference plane somewhere else, to somebody or something else.

I feel that any such justification to be valid and meaningful would have to be acceptable to the actual sufferer.

Do you feel you speak for all people who suffer or just yourself and few you've spoken to? I've heard many people say their faith or spiritual beliefs brought them comfort, hope and eased their physical/emotional pain in times of illness or crisis. Are those accounts any less meaningful or valid than yours?

If a person chooses to focus only on the pain and discomfort they feel and nothing else, it can result in a kind of myopia, and it's likely impossible for them to receive comfort from anything. Offering them support and guidance is still a kind practice, even if they are unable to appreciate it at the time.

"Truly, christ is us. His story is our story. . . . I had this same thought."

Glad to know I'm not the only one here who sees it that way!

"If a person chooses to focus only on the pain and discomfort they feel and nothing else, it can result in a kind of myopia, and it's likely impossible for them to receive comfort from anything."

That's a good point. Sometimes we can let in the positive information and influences, and sometimes we can't. Sometimes we just forge ahead until a window of opportunity seems to open up.

I've had a few memorable "open window" periods in my life, and I'm grateful for them!

Liked your post "No One" by Edgar Cayce, it resonates with me, as well as "(.'s)" ?? post.

I often think an insects life mirrors ours on this earth, there are a multitude of varieties, some are born deformed, others eaten, ravaged by weather, or afflicted by disease. All a consequence of simply existing in this world. Much as cancer (cells gone haywire) erode our bodies.

And although I loved my father ( who died of cancer) very much, I can see how he cared for everyone, till he finally had to relinquish that control on life and allow us to care for him. His passing also meant my mother who had been with him since she was sixteen, could find her independence.

I am reminded too, of an experience I had which I think mirrors Gods dilemma in some ways. For some years in Thailand, I regularly gave a street vagrant who was obviously mentally impaired, some money. One day as one street food vender went to give him food, I offered her money, and it caused such a conundrem, that I realized my interference was stopping a system that was already working well. As to interfere always creates a different experience, which then alters how people respond and act, creating a ripple effect, and one not necessarily intended. Better I think that cause and effect (karma), much of it a result of how you think and therefore act in this world towards others, determines your fate.

Also as has been mentioned here many times by others, if we are reborn time and time again to purge the karma of previous lives, we would see more clearly how suffering from a higher prospective makes sense. How many of us wish for example, that those who rape or kill could experience the trauma they inflict on others, themselves?


"Glad to know I'm not the only one here who sees it that way!"

We have been seeing eye to eye on a lot of things lately, Bruce. I even made a concession that brought us together on aliens in psychedelic visions.

Now it's your turn. You can begin to bridge the final major rift by conceding the evilness of Nanci Danison.

If God were to protect us from pain, would we still know that we are sentient beings?

"many spiritual philosophies ... claim to justify and even to alleviate suffering in humanly meaningful ways."

It probably depends on what kind of suffering we're talking about. For instance, one of the worst forms of suffering is grief over the loss of a loved one. Someone who believes in life after death and in eventual reunion with his loved one will probably find more comfort than someone who regards life as an accident and death as extinction.

Those who have been convinced of life after death by visiting a medium or having an after-death communication are probably even more likely to take comfort than those who have a purely intellectual grasp of the issue.

Alan Botkin's book Induced After-Death Communication is full of examples of people who were suffering from unresolved emotional issues, and who found relief, inner peace, and even joy as a result of a single IADC session.

It's also well established that NDErs typically lose their fear of death and worry less about the problems of life.

People who experience deathbed visions also seem to lose their fear of death. Even people who simply witness the dying person's report of a deathbed vision can be considerably comforted. I know someone (a medical doctor) who was at his elderly father's deathbed when his father said, smiling, that several men in white had come to take him away. He died soon after. The doctor, interpreting the men in white as angels, took great comfort from this experience.

But I doubt anything can take the sting off sheer physical pain, like having your hand crushed by a machine on an assembly line. I don't think spiritualism claims to be able to alleviate that kind of suffering. However, after the pain has subsided and you have to deal with the daily reality of a mangled hand, you might take comfort in the idea that your physical body is not "who you are" and that this life is only a temporary sojourn, not the be-all and end-all.

Bottom line: it's not a panacea, but spiritual belief can be helpful in some circumstances, especially if it is grounded in direct personal experience. If it were not helpful, it probably would not have been a feature of societies around the world from time immemorial.

"Now it's your turn. You can begin to bridge the final major rift by conceding the evilness of Nanci Danison."

Thanks for the offer. I think I'll just wait till you see the light about that little matter too. :o)

"Bottom line: it's not a panacea, but spiritual belief can be helpful in some circumstances, especially if it is grounded in direct personal experience. If it were not helpful, it probably would not have been a feature of societies around the world from time immemorial."

Very nice comment.

When I began to open to a spiritual reality twenty years ago, my own faith took shape in the form of a knowing that I mentioned here the other day: Even though the parts may appear flawed, the Whole is beautiful.

I think faith always boils down to that.

And yes--personal experience is crucial. But we all have meaningful experiences of one kind or another. The question is whether or not we're open to what they're telling us.

I notice you keep mentioning Alan Botkin, Michael. I was deeply impressed with his book, too. And also with a radio interview with him that I heard about the time his book came out. A number of his patients came on, each with a compelling and moving story. For me, their believability added a new dimension to what I had read.

And when I think of Alan Botkin, I also think of a conversation I had with him. I had written a favorable review for his book on Amazon, one of the first. So he sent me a thank-you email, and suggested that we talk.

We had a a great conversation. And at the end, he asked me--I suppose because I live in L.A, rather than owing to my status as a music teacher--if I knew anyone who could help him get a movie deal. I was flattered.

"And at the end, he asked me--I suppose because I live in L.A, rather than owing to my status as a music teacher--if I knew anyone who could help him get a movie deal."

Heh.

"Heh."

You know you haven't told a story very well when you get a response like that. Or, you've told the wrong story. :o)

Its an imperfect world, as "(,)" so aptly explained. To have perfection, to fix every ill, every problem, means we would not come to learn, to understand the outcomes of our behaviour, of others, and how difficulties can ultimately teach us lessons.

Disease happens, as does error, and a drunk person wanting relief or pleasure from imbibing can cause accidents that inflict injury to others.

Its often also those who hold much responsibility who feel the burden of an error. Such as pilots for example, that fail to take the right action when a system fails causing many deaths. We all make errors and mistakes, as to err is human, and we need to have some compassion and understanding for others.

And some people cope better. You read stories of those who are thankful for their cancer or affliction, as it has taught them to see how they worried abut the little things and how inconsequential they were.

I know when nursing, you want to save everyone, and then when someone dies, over time you come to realize you can only do your best, that's all you can do.

Lyn x.

When a newborn baby is born it's not long after that they begin to start exploring their body and the world around them. They put their hands in their mouths and taste their feet and hands and thrash around and practice being inside the body and controlling it. That little soul is in a hurry to learn as much about the physical universe as possible. It tastes and feels and listens to the universe around them to learn what it's like to be inside a body, and be in control of that body, and explore the 3 dimensional universe around them.

"You know you haven't told a story very well when you get a response like that."

No, "heh" is my low-key equivalent of LOL.

"No, "heh" is my low-key equivalent of LOL. "

LOL. (My low-key equivalent of RFLMAO.)

Lulz, you guyz.

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