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Pretty quote, but then the book is a work of fiction with a happy ending. Suppose Valjean dies after 19 years in prison for stealing the loaf, never escapes and never finds final reconciliation? Would we even bother reading the book? No.

It's not a very happy ending for Javert, who commits suicide. Perhaps he should have our sympathy? Selective, aren't we?

I know a few people who won't read a book or watch a film unless it has a happy ending.

Finding God is a happy ending, unless you suspect the old man is just putting one over on you.

Javert: Here I am God! Forgive me!
God: Oh, buzz off downstairs Javert, I'm waiting for Valjean.

Ah, pain. So many ways of viewing it.

"That our sufferings are rooted in a selfish grasping and in fears and terrors which spring from our ignorance of the true nature of life and death becomes clear to anyone compelled by zazen [zen meditation] to confront himself nakedly. But zazen makes equally plain that what we term "suffering" is our evaluation of pain from which we stand apart, that pain when courageously accepted is a means to liberation in that it frees our natural sympathies and compassion even as it enables us to experience pleasure and joy in a new depth and purity."

"The Three Pillars of Zen", Phillip Kapleau

"Victor Hugo's take on the problem of pain"

I've been grappling with that little matter myself, over the last few days. :o) (As have some of the other minds over at Skeptiko.)

http://forum.mind-energy.net/skeptiko-podcast/4700-why-do-evil-suffering-exist.html

I've just finished writing a comment (tagged today at 12:55 PM) discussing the likelihood that we may be erring in trying to understand the cosmic scheme by looking primarily at what we experience here on Earth.

By the way, I just saw Les Miz for the first time (believe it or not) on PBS. Though much of it is a bit angry and crass for my taste, I found it to be frequently quite moving!

"The pupil dilates in darkness and in the end finds light, just as the soul dilates in misfortune and in the end finds God."

That's actually quite a lovely line. And to follow through on it, if we look at what is seemingly the greatest misfortune of all--death--we find the greatest dilation.

It reminds me of this statement by Rabindranath Tagore: Death is not extinguishing the light; it is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.


"Pretty quote, but then the book is a work of fiction with a happy ending." - Barbara
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I have a high degree of confidence that in the end we all have a happy ending... we call it "heaven." I don't believe this life is the main show, the next life is and after we die we will look back on this life like it was a "dream itself" and went by in the blink of an eye.

The bad stuff we suffer happens to teach the soul the lessons it needs to learn, and that we share those lessons on the other side because of those overwhelming feelings off oneness and connectedness.

Pain imprints on the soul bits of information about the body, like the 0's and 1's in a computer program. Bits of information. And the more emotional it is the more powerful and long lasting the memory it creates.

That is a lovely quote.

I don't see how there's ever a happy ending in life. Even if you make it into prosperous, healthy old age, with everything you want, guess what, you're still going to have to die and give up this life. The richer and the more you have, the more you're going to hate giving it up. And I do think that Art is onto quite a bit of the meaning of it.

Because this life ain't what we think it is. It's just a holographic projection and when we get to the other side we will know that. While we are here we think this is all there is. But after our physical body dies and the soul merges back into the original holographic film it becomes reconnected like being plugged into the internet. All knowledge is instantly downloaded and whatever it focuses it's attention on, it will have access to that information.

the physics of the other side is very different from this side.

I've seen Les Miz on broadway 4 times. I cry from the first note to the last. My eight year old wanted to go see the movie, and I said "fine, as long as you don't mind Mommy crying through the whole thing" to which she said "never mind then."

@Art, I don't know if I would call any of it a happy ending. Almost everyone dies (including a child), but I see your point. Although, I can't say I feel happy at all after it's over. More depressed, I would say

sorry, that was Barbara who mentioned the happy ending, not Art. Forgive me, please.

"I don't know if I would call any of it a happy ending."

I agree, as far as the novel is concerned. I haven't seen the musical. The novel's ending is bittersweet, with Jean Valjean dying of old age and ending up in an unmarked grave, while Cosette and Marius go on to enjoy a presumably happy life together.

Death is an illusion. No one dies. It's as easy as walking through a door.

Two days after my father in law (RD) died my SIL said she had a "strange" dream. In her dream she was in the hospital looking at her father in the hospital bed and he was still alive. She exclaimed "Daddy, you're still alive! We need to tell the nurse!" At that moment she she turned her head to the door of the room and she saw her father and another man she didn't recognize walking through the door into a bright light. Someone had come to guide or walk with RD to the other side.

Now my sister in law does not buy into my NDE stories. She is married to a Church of Christ preacher who preaches in Dallas, Texas yet two days after RD passed away she had a dream that sounded very much like what many near death experiencers describe. I have heard that exact same "door" metaphor numerous times before.

A couple of months ago my MIL told my wife that she had a dream about RD where she could hear him in the next room singing but she couldn't see him. This is also a common theme. We can't see them but if we listen closely enough, like in our dreams, we can hear him. Perhaps RD was telling MIL that he was close by and he is waiting on her. He isn't very far away.

The Creator of the Universe was a whole lot smarter than we give Him/Her credit for. Everything is perfect, everything is working the way it should, the soul learns holistically what it's supposed to learn regardless of who we are, or where we live, or what we believe.

Everybody is healed when they enter that light. Everyone is instantly enlightened when they become reconnected to that Light. We are like actors in an educational play and as we participate in that play our souls learn the stuff they are supposed to learn. God is smarter than we give Him/Her credit for.

Free will is an illusion. All major religions are based on free will. I'm pretty sure free will is a big fat illusion. We have to believe it's all real so we have the appropriate emotional response to the lessons we encounter because the more emotional the experience the more powerful and long lasting the memory it creates.

We will look back on this life like it was a dream and it happened in the blink of an eye.

excerpt from Michelle M's NDE:
"I felt an understanding about life, what it was, is. As if it was a dream in itself. It's so very hard to explain this part. I'll try, but my words limit the fullness of it. I don't have the words here, butI understood that it really didn't matter what happened in the life experience, I knew/understood that it was intense, brief, but when we were in it, it seemed like forever. I understood that whatever happened in life, I was really ok, and so were the others here."
http://www.nderf.org/NDERF/NDE_Experiences/michelle_m%27s_nd...

from Carl Turner's mystical experience:
"I had the realization that I was everywhere at the same time...and I mean everywhere. I knew that everything is perfect and happening according to some divine plan, regardless of all the things we see as wrong with the world."
http://www.beyondreligion.com/su_personal/dreamsvisions-kund...

from James E's NDE:
"I was not "told" anything in the light, as much as, I just knew everything there was to know. I knew why there was bad in the world, I knew why there was good, I knew that every little thing that will ever occur here, is exactly planned out, in order to bring about something else. Everything we have ever done or known or will know, is perfectly planned out and perfectly in tune."
http://www.nderf.org/NDERF/NDE_Experiences/james_e_nde.htm

Here is a NDE from Germany. The woman's name is Helga. See what she says,

"I was out of my body and fully consciousness. I could hear what everyone was saying during my operation. I was above my body and also IN the wall. I felt that I was in the whole room at once, the whole clinic, even the whole world!"

http://www.nderf.org/NDERF/NDE_Experiences/helga_c_nde.htm

See what I mean when I say it has a "holographic" flavor? She felt like she was in the whole room at once, the whole clinic, even the whole world. I have read so many similar NDE's.

When they say that they tried to touch someone and their hand passed right through them. It reminds me of the holographic projector at the Oak Ridge, TN Museum of Science and Industry. They have a holographic projector there that projects this ball out into space but when you try and grab it your hand passes right through it.

I have probably read several hundred NDE's that corroborate or are congruent with the holographic universe theory. If true it has profound implications for life and why we are here.

Our Universe is a holographic projection, not quite real, and after we cross over we will look back on this life about the same way we view a Netflix DVD. No one really died. They are all in some big Cast party in the sky having a grand old time.

We have to believe it's all real while we are here so we learn the lessons we came here to learn but after we cross over we will realize it's actually just a holographic projection, like a play or a movie.

We are all just playing our roles. The education of the soul is too important to leave up to chance. The soul's lessons are embedded in our everyday lives and it is holistically imprinted with what it needs to learn regardless of who we are, or where we live, or what we believe.

Belief is irrelevant. Agreement is irrelevant. Acceptance is irrelevant. You will experience duality and separation, time and space, and make memories of what it was like whether you want to or not.

You will become un-assimilated and resistance is futile.

"I don't believe this life is the main show, the next life is"

Maybe. But I think (and have often heard) that enlightenment is learning that whatever level of reality you find yourself in, what really matters is *now*.

"Belief is irrelevant. Agreement is irrelevant. Acceptance is irrelevant. You will experience duality and separation, time and space, and make memories of what it was like whether you want to or not."

Maybe it's not so much a matter of making memories somewhere down the line as it is creating what you experience moment by moment. And exactly "who" does the experiencing anyway? It all comes down to duality.

@michael, the musical ends the same way.

Whenever I think about the "going off to have what we presume is a happy life together" for Cosette and Marius, I think about the beginning of Phantom of the Opera, which opens with a miserable old man remember his lost love (Christine, the lead). So although Phantom ends as if they went off and enjoyed their life together, the protagonist ended up old, crippled, and alone anyway.

"Maybe it's not so much a matter of making memories somewhere down the line as it is creating what you experience moment by moment." - tsavo
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I am deeply suspicious of free will and lean heavily towards fate and predestination. Perhaps the education of the soul is too important to leave up to chance?

The more emotional the experience the more powerful and long lasting the memory it creates. There is a very strong connection between emotion and memory.

When we were in grade school and the teacher handed out workbooks the teacher knew what was in the workbook and what we were supposed to learn - but we didn't until we did the lessons and as we worked through the workbook by the end of the year around the first of June we had finished the workbook and were allowed to toss those workbooks in the trash and run out joyfully into the "Summerlands!" {grin!}

Art,

Oh to be able to believe the NDEs, all of them, without the slightest reservation!Why does one hang back? I want so much to believe in them. Really believing, nothing in this life could hurt one.

And why are some people given NDEs, and not others? Why cannot we all be as certain about the nature of afterlife as NDEers are? Withholding certainty from some of us seems so unfair. Or are NDEers deluding themselves? And one last naive question: Why only NDEs ... why does someone who has actually died not return to life?

"I am deeply suspicious of free will and lean heavily towards fate and predestination. Perhaps the education of the soul is too important to leave up to chance?"

In reference to what you say here (setting aside the issue of duality) I once *almost* had an opportunity to ask the Dalai Lama how much randomness he felt there is in our life, leaving the door open to a possible answer ranging from complete predestination on the one hand to free will embedded in complete chaos on the other. Unfortunately, the question never got asked.....

"Oh to be able to believe the NDEs, all of them, without the slightest reservation!" - Sophie
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When I was about 19 years old (like 41 years ago) I remember a preacher holding up a bible during his sermon and exclaiming "it's either all true or it's all lies!"

Now at the time that made a little bit of sense to me seeing as how I was young and naive - but now that I'm a whole lot older I know that's not the way life is. Some of it can be true and some of it can be made up baloney. It doesn't have to be either all true or all lies. It can be a little bit of both.

William James said that it only takes one white crow to prove that not all crows are black.

You have to be able to sift the wheat from the chaff. Go through and figure out what resonates with you. What you believe to be true, what you can use, what makes sense to you.

I tend to believe those NDE's that are the most congruent with the holographic universe theory. The ones that say things that match what I've read in popular physics books. And I may not even believe all of any one NDE. Some of it might have been stuff that the author stewed over and added in later - like saying that the "being of light" just had to be Jesus, or a lot of generally accepted New Age beliefs.

Oh by the way, I've gleaned a lot of really good stuff from death bed visions. I think death bed visions are uplifting and awesome and I gain a lot of hope from reading them. There is a free online book that is a really fun read that I bet I've read through at least twice "Death Bed Visions" by Sir William Barrett and it's a must read for anyone who is interested in the question of "life after death".

Death Bed Visions - Sir William Barrett
http://www.survivalafterdeath.info/books/barrett/dbv/contents.htm

It's about 26 pages long and an easy read. Good stuff!

Back when I was in High School I used to like to read Historical Fiction books. Stories that were loosely based on history but with the author taking liberties with the truth. The author would go and research a time period that he/she was interested in and then write a novel about it, adding actual historical characters that existed but then expanding what we actually knew them - but making for a really good read. Anya Seton was one of my favorite Authors.

My point is I believe that is what a lot of what we are left with when we study life after death. In fact I suspicion that the New Testament (and probably the Old testament) are basically historical fiction. There probably was a person called Yeshua Bar-Joeseph who was a rabbi and he probably was crucified on the cross but after they cut him down three days later he woke up and walked out of his tomb and started talking about the Kingdom of Heaven. He was probably a very intelligent and highly articulate Jewish Rabbi and probably had a very deep and profound NDE and so he used parables to try and explain what he saw and experienced during his NDE. Another words, the New Testament is based on some truth - but later in order to make the story more interesting - or more exciting later authors added in myths and tales that were common during the first Century. So what we are left with today has a grain of truth to it - and a whole lot of added filler.

Thanks for these posts, Art. I fear you must be right. Certainty about the afterlife would be so nice, though. (Your bible/fiction alignment is sterling.)

Nice posts, people!

i basically agree with you Art.

"Why only NDEs ... why does someone who has actually died not return to life?" Sometimes (just sometimes), I think that there are plenty of instances where living things come back to life, in the form of apparitions. I've had several apparition experiences, and so has a very trusted friend of mine. Maybe it's not a matter of being dead and coming back to life, but just the physical body dying. The soul or spirit never died in the first place. It's hard to believe most of the time, but than when have so many people experienced apparitions? Granted, some of these could be wishful thinking, as when a loved one dies. Or when one is in a supposedly haunted place, and expects to experience something. But there are plenty of instances, when apparitions manifest under neither of these conditions, seemingly out of the blue.

Art: Everyone is instantly enlightened when they become reconnected to that Light.

Then why do so many mediumistic communications seem to be from discarnates that exist on much lower planes? Why do NDEers bypass those lower realms to go into the Light? It occurrs to me that this could be a self-selection phenomenon where the small percentage of people that have NDEs are precisely those that are evolved to that point. The rest of us have to go to the lower places.

Free will is an illusion.

That might be the case but as a practical matter we must live as if free will is the truth. Our legal and criminal justice system relies on the premise that people freely
choose their actions and should be punished accordingly. Adults in full possession of their faculties are fully responsible and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. Without a criminal justice system society would fall apart.

Then the question is, if humans don't have free will, then do souls have it?

The old argument is that there is no free will because there are only two possibilities for the will: it is either random or it is deterministic (a process of cause and effect). It is obviously not random, so it must be determined and not free. If logic applies in all realms both physical and spiritual (and it is hard to imagine it doesn't), then souls also don't have free will.

If souls don't have free will then the whole spiritual belief system based mainly on NDEs would seem to have a problem.

Art: Everyone is instantly enlightened when they become reconnected to that Light.

Then why do so many mediumistic communications seem to be from discarnates that exist on much lower planes? Why do NDEers bypass those lower realms to go into the Light? It occurrs to me that this could be a self-selection phenomenon where the small percentage of people that have NDEs are precisely those that are evolved to that point. The rest of us have to go to the lower places.

Free will is an illusion.

That might be the case but as a practical matter we must live as if free will is the truth. Our legal and criminal justice system relies on the premise that people freely
choose their actions and should be punished accordingly. Adults in full possession of their faculties are fully responsible and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law. Without a criminal justice system society would fall apart.

Then the question is, if humans don't have free will, then do souls have it?

The old argument is that there is no free will because there are only two possibilities for the will: it is either random or it is deterministic (a process of cause and effect). It is obviously not random, so it must be determined and not free. If logic applies in all realms both physical and spiritual (and it is hard to imagine it doesn't), then souls also don't have free will.

If souls don't have free will then the whole spiritual belief system based mainly on NDEs would seem to have a problem.

Sorry for the double post, but the spam filter apparently caught it.

"Then why do so many mediumistic communications seem to be from discarnates that exist on much lower planes? Why do NDEers bypass those lower realms to go into the Light?"

Almost all sources, including OBErs like Robert Monroe, agree that there are unpleasant realms of the afterlife, as well as heavenly realms. I don't see the value in dismissing all of these reports. Though it would be nice (I guess) to think that we all attain instantaneous godhood, it doesn't seem to work that way at all.

The book Less Incomplete by Sandie Gustus, which I'm reading now, summarizes the results of hundreds of OBEs initiated by Brazilian paranormalist Waldo Vieira and his colleagues. It's an interesting read, though the statements are frequently of the type that cannot be verified, except perhaps by personal experience (i.e., OBEs of one's own). The claims are mostly consistent with Spiritism (Allen Kardec's movement), which is still popular in Brazil.

FWIW, Vieira and company assert that there are multiple "levels" of the afterlife, and that a great many people are at least temporarily stuck in earthbound conditions or hellish environments. Some are said to be so disoriented by their transition that they are basically immobilized or stunned. Others are in a state of perpetual anger or frustrated sexual arousal.

Similar reports date back at least as far as the ancient Greek notion of Hades (a limbo for confused spirits) and the Hebrew idea of Sheol (a similar concept) -- i.e., 3,000 or 4,000 years ago. It seems likely that early mediums found it easier to access the lower realms, while the higher realms were harder to communicate with and took longer to become known. By around the time of the Maccabees, the idea of heaven was entering Jewish consciousness; a little later it got a big boost from early Christianity, which seems to have been a very medium-centered religion.

If we take such traditions seriously, as well as modern research like Vieira's and Kardec's, then I think we have to conclude that the afterlife is a variegated dimension(s) offering different environments appropriate to different states of consciousness. It's not a one-size-fits-all proposition.

"Then why do so many mediumistic communications seem to be from discarnates that exist on much lower planes." - doubter
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I'm sorry, I don't believe in different planes. I'm the holographic universe guy. In a hologram there is only the holographic film and the hologram (or holographic projection). We are presently living on or in the holographic projection and when the body dies the soul merges back into the original holographic film.

I have absolutely no interest in different planes, reincarnation, pre-birth memories, etc. Non of that stuff to me matters or is interesting. If it fascinates you and you want to believe in it - have at it. I was just sharing with you the world as I see it. It is what I believe. You are completely free to believe whatever you want. My beliefs are mine.

I don't think it matters what we believe. In my belief system belief is irrelevant. The soul's lesson are embedded in our everyday lives and it it holistically imprinted with what it needs to learn regardless of who we are, or where we live, or what we believe. Every soul learns what it is supposed to learn and plays the part it is supposed to play.

Hi Art,

Perhaps there is a middle ground, as proposed by Seth. Seth basically agrees with you, that in the broader scheme of things, there are no 'planes' or 'levels'. Robert Monroe also agrees with this, that it’s all one big spectrum of consciousness.

However, within this big spectrum of consciousness, there are many, many, many (you get the idea), 'clumps' of consciousness, focuses of attention where sympathetic expressions of consciousness gravitate towards each other in the action of Like attracts Like.

These various localised expressions are what we humans label as various 'planes', or 'levels'. But this is purely for our own benefit. In reality there are no planes or levels, but both Monroe and Seth (as well as others) do say that various aspects of consciousness do form pools of consciousness that manifest in myriad ways throughout the spectrum of consciousness. Monroe experienced this for himself during his explorations.

Monroe created his own labels, such as Focus 1, F10, F27 etc, but he was clear that these where simply labels that he used to describe various modes of consciousness. They are NOT places, they are expressions of consciousness.

The Physical World itself, is likely a particular expression of cobnsiousness.

So the talk of 'planes' and 'levels' is not entirely wrong, but it's probably a misinterpretation of how consiousness functions.

In line with the above, I have no problem, therefore, with the idea that people after death gravitate towards those expressions of consciousness that resonate with them; I think this is a natural action which is found on all levels, even here (Don't you tend to gravitate towards people who you like, and/or who express similar interests to yourself? Think of us here on this forum!).

I have said before that I don't think NDEs are indicative of what we all experience immediately upon physical death. Maybe some do, but perhaps there are many actions, and some people may only get there on a more gradual basis.

An alternative theory is that perhaps we all DO experience this rapid expansion of consciousness for a certain period, but then subsequently to that, our consciousness then filters down to various expressions depending on our past experience, and at that point we gravitate towards those areas/expressions that are often described in mediumistic accounts.

Let’s not be too keen to force a one size fits all model here. The reality is almost certain to be far more complex than we can imagine, even it is simple from a higher perspective.

Kathleen,

The apparitions phenomenon is very intriguing. Bernardo Kastrup turns in agreement to Haraldssen's explanation of it:

'Either encounters with the dead are created by the minds of the perceivers, or the dead are making us aware of them by creating a sensory image in the mind of living observers ... If the latter theory/explanation is true, ... it is easiest to imagine that the deceased person creates a perception in the mind of the perceiver. We find a similar phenomenon in hypnotism ...'
http://www.bernardokastrup.com/#!/2012/09/apparitions-ghosts-and-mediumistic.html

And I do take your point that only the physical body dies. But what I am asking is that if the incarnate consciousness can have an NDE, why can it not have a full death experience, then a return to life experience? (Remember the reports of NDEers that refer to physical-body defects healed after an NDE? On that principle, the dead body can also be made whole again, no?)

And here is an appeal: I clearly remember reading a piece of Jung's where he refers to a woman who came back from the dead and was anxious to catch up on all the local gossip. (Jung infers from this that the discarnate know nothing about the lives of the incarnate.) I am not imagining this, for I recall reading this piece repeatedly: I was determined to work out whether Jung was making this claim that a woman came back to life as a claim of fact, or merely positing it as a possibility. I recall deciding that he must be making it as a claim of fact. Now, I simply cannot find where this piece of Jung's appears. Does anyone know of it?

Elizabeth Kubler Ross talks about some woman she worked with who came back from the dead and talked to her. I think she said the woman wrote something down? Or something to that effect. A woman at Church I know, Geraldine, told me that when she was 16 years old 2 days after her grandfather died she saw him standing in the doorway of her bedroom. The woman is now in her early 70's.

Our preacher, Darryl, told me he was working on an electrical box and he got zapped with 240 volts and it knocked him out and he said he remembers looking down on his body. Another guy at Church, Todd, told me that when he was 8 years old he got hit by a van and had a full blown NDE. He remembers being held by an angel and all the love he felt.

And then there's Cecil from Church. Cecil is now retired but he told me when he was 16 years old he was out in a pasture and a big thunderstorm came up and he got under this big tree in the pasture to get out of the rain and he heard a voice tell him, "Run Cecil Run!" He said he just stood there, and then a 2nd time, "Run Cecil Run!" and he still didn't move, and then finally very loud and insistent, "Run Cecil Run!" So he took off running as fast as he could and when he got a little ways away from the tree a great big bolt of lightening hit the tree and split it in two. He said if he'd been standing under the tree he would have been killed. I told him that perhaps God had other plans for him?

When I was a kid my mom used to say to me, "truth is stranger than fiction". At the time I didn't believe her. I thought no way could truth be stranger than fiction - but now that I'm a whole lot older and perhaps a little wiser I think perhaps she was right, truth is stranger than fiction.

Free will is an illusion.

No NDEs report contains that free will is an illusion. Is not it ironic that you mention the many fragments of reports of NDEs and you not become aware of this? Moreover, since some reports of NDEs can be inferred that free will is a prerequisite for our existence, because without freedom we could not learn that some things we have done are bad.

I am deeply suspicious of free will and lean heavily towards fate and predestination. Perhaps the education of the soul is too important to leave up to chance?

This is, the education of the soul is too important that we must be like trains to not get out of rails. What interest could see how a train is on its rail if all we have done for this purpose? The interesting thing is that we do good with no guarantee we will not do evil because we are free. But anyway I intuit that freedom and fate are compatible, just that we cannot understand how they are compatible from our earthly situation.

I have absolutely no interest in different planes, reincarnation, pre-birth memories, etc. Non of that stuff to me matters or is interesting.

This is not what we interest, but rather to examine all the evidence with the fewest number of prejudices and find out where it leads. And you should realize that some cases of mediumship upon planes and children who seem to remember past lives are as strong as some cases of NDEs.

"No NDEs report contains that free will is an illusion. Is not it ironic that you mention the many fragments of reports of NDEs and you not become aware of this?" - Juan
-----------------------------------------

Excerpt from James E's NDE:
"The moment I stepped into the light. I then knew everything there ever was to know, every answer to every question that could ever be asked. ... ...
I was not "told" anything in the light, as much as, I just knew everything there was to know. I knew why there was bad in the world, I knew why there was good, I knew that every little thing that will ever occur here, is exactly planned out, in order to bring about something else. Everything we have ever done or known or will know, is perfectly planned out and perfectly in tune. ...... It taught me that everyone, everything, is in its right place. Always will be, no matter how much we try to change, or try to destroy, or try to create, were simply doing exactly what was planned. The meaning of life, as I felt it to be, is simply to live." http://www.nderf.org/NDERF/NDE_Experiences/james_e_nde.htm

Excerpt from Carl Turner's Mystical Experience:
"I had the realization that I was everywhere at the same time...and I mean everywhere. I knew that everything is perfect and happening according to some divine plan, regardless of all the things we see as wrong with the world."
http://www.beyondreligion.com/su_personal/dreamsvisions-kundalini.htm

and from Michelle M's NDE:
"I felt an understanding about life, what it was, is. As if it was a dream in itself. It's so very hard to explain this part. I'll try, but my words limit the fullness of it. I don't have the words here, but I understood that it really didn't matter what happened in the life experience, I knew/understood that it was intense, brief, but when we were in it, it seemed like forever. I understood that whatever happened in life, I was really ok, and so were the others here."
http://www.nderf.org/NDERF/NDE_Experiences/michelle_m%27s_nde.htm

"I'm sorry, I don't believe in different planes. I'm the holographic universe guy. We are presently living on or in the holographic projection and when the body dies the soul merges back into the original holographic film."

Art, as I see it, your view of the cosmic scheme is black and white. You think that consciousness exists in one of two states: here on Earth, it lives a life that is devoted largely to separation and suffering, while after death, it finds perfection, and nothing else.

Earth = imperfection. Spirit world = perfection.

Black on the one hand, white on the other.

Now to a certain extent, I agree with you. Perfection IS real, and the Earthly experience IS a difficult one.

In fact, I think the Earth plane may be one of the most difficult environments to be found. And in that sense, you may be right that Earth is pretty much the polar opposite of perfection.

The problem with your perspective, though, is that it doesn't give consciousness enough to do over eternity. It doesn't provide for the infinite variety and range of experiences that it takes to keep consciousness interested and engaged over the long haul--the sort of adventures, journeys, and story lines that are to be found in so many writings from so many sources.

But I can relate to your mindset. It's understandable! At the moment, when you think about leaving your body, you're not looking for drama. :o)

I think we can all relate to your desire for a restful dip in calm waters.

But you're also meeting resistance from those of us who are saying, Geez, Art! You're gonna be bored after a while!

Maybe your perspective will change after you've had your long, lazy, fill of 100% pure delight.

"In reality there are no planes or levels."

Douglas, I really like what you have to say in your recent posts. In many ways, we have a similar way of looking at things.

In regards to this comment, here's another possibility: maybe both schools of thought are right.

Maybe Source sometimes projects parts of itself outwards for the experience of "going to school" over a period of many lives. And sometimes, it enjoys sending out offshoots to experience "quick" excursions into alternate realities, followed by rapid returns to wholeness.

So some of Source's journeys involve planes or levels, and some don't.

In a universe with infinite possibilities and an eternity to play around with them, wouldn't that be the likeliest scenario?

By the way, my last comment is another way in which Art can be right--while also being wrong. :o)

"...The moment I stepped into the light. I then knew everything there ever was to know, every answer to every question that could ever be asked. ...

"I had the realization that I was everywhere at the same time...and I mean everywhere. ...

From these reports of NDEs does not follow that free will is an illusion or absent. The only thing that follow is to know that our lives follow a plan and that despite the evil that we see the reality is fundamentally good. And I wrote that the alleged incompatibility between free will and fate can be only apparent because of our earthly situation.

Good article in Daily Mail about NDE's.
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Near-death patients do see afterlife
by JENNY HOPE, Daily Mail

"Doctors claim to have found the first scientific evidence that patients have experiences of an afterlife when they are clinically dead.

One in ten heart attack patients experienced emotions, visions and lucid thoughts when they had been unconscious with no pulse and no breathing activity, say the researchers.

The study is believed to be the first to ensure that the patients who reported a near-death experience (NDE) were clinically dead before being resuscitated.

The findings also contradict the notion that lack of oxygen is responsible for NDEs. Those who had the most compelling experiences had the best reserves of oxygen. Debate has raged for more than a century

over whether the sense of entering another world, feelings of peace and a light at the end of a tunnel are evidence of an afterlife, or simply hallucinations.

The latest study, by Southampton University researchers, suggests the mind may continue to exist after the brain has ceased to function and the body is clinically dead."

full article can be read @:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-24509/Near-death-patients-afterlife.html#axzz2JgvwxXz4

Art,is that Daily mail article in connection with findings of the AWARE study?

This is probably quite old, the Parnia study at University of Southampton, published in Resuscitation in 2001.

....I knew that every little thing that will ever occur here, is exactly planned out, in order to bring about something else. Everything we have ever done or known or will know, is perfectly planned out and perfectly in tune.

That pretty much implies that there is no free will. If we can believe this. This NDEer apparently didn't think through the implications. We would have to be essentially robots carrying out a prearranged plan down to the tiniest detail, blissfully believing in the illusion that we have some choice in things.

An old fashioned analogy would be that in a higher reality we are like a phonograph needle in a groove, blithely going along and feeling as if we have free will choices as to where to go next, but in reality the needle inevitably traces out the pattern already embossed on the record which includes not just all our thoughts but all the incredibly complex interactions with the world. This goes against normal intuition, but that doesn't mean it couldn't be true. Maybe the determinist materialists are right after all, in their logical argument against free will.

I think of it like when you are in school and the curriculum is set. It is important for you to learn certain things so in order for you to learn the things you need to learn, you have to experience certain things. The education of the soul is too important to leave it up to chance.

But the great thing is that after the play is over (death) we cross back over and it's like a big cast party in the sky! We all congratulating each other for playing our roles so well. And we are all equal. All actors. We have to believe it's real so we have the essential emotional response that is needed to imprint memories (google emotion and memory).

Since there is no separation or time or space on the other side we have to experience and learn about those things here. Become unassimilated so to speak. The exact opposite of the Borg collective. Learn what it's like to be a separate, unique, individual and what time and space are like so after we cross back over we lose our Borg designation and go back over as Hugh or Art or Tony or Michael.

That pretty much implies that there is no free will.

No, it implies that there is no free will if free will is incompatible with fate or predestination, but I believe that only our current situation leads us to believe that free will is incompatible with the fate, so that having a higher perspective we would realize that free will and fate are compatible. Free will is free to choose, but this does not mean that we are choosing what we have already planned. But this is a difficult problem that philosophers have discussed for many centuries.

The exact opposite of the Borg collective.

So, the heaven is like the Borg collective, where we lose our individuality to merge with a hive mind. No, you're wrong here, because no NDEs report contains that we lose our individuality, but quite the opposite, but our consciousness undergoes some major changes, we retain our individuality. The Borg analogy is very bad because it leads to confuse the feel that we are connected to the whole world with the loss of individuality and merge with a collective mind.

"So, the heaven is like the Borg collective, where we lose our individuality to merge with a hive mind. No, you're wrong here," - Juan
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I didn't say that. I never said you lose your individuality once you cross over into Heaven. You're reading into my post what I didn't say. You are taking the metaphor too far. At some point all metaphors break down.

I said that the reason we come here is to learn what it means and how it feels to be separate. Once you learn that you don't lose your sense of individuality once you cross into Heaven.

I reiterate - the whole point of life is to become an individual. You don't lose your individuality once you have experienced separation.

Excerpt from Mark Horton's NDE:
"I was unique yet I was the tiniest part of the whole."
http://www.mindspring.com/~scottr/nde/markh.html

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