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Thanks for your thoughts, Michael.

Let's look at these examples one by one.

Alexander:

His mention of "pure information" seems sort of a non-sequitur. I can't quite figure out why he brings it up, because the rest of the paragraph is devoted to Consciousness, and his capitalizing of it makes its relative importance clear.

Notice that when he says "pure information is the core of all that exists," it's in reference to what the *materialists* talk about it. My guess is that he brings it up because he feels that it's as close to a spiritual perspective as mainstream science comes.

And notice too that *after* he talks about information, he goes on to say "And at the very deepest level . . ."

And after that, "And if you’re able to go far enough, it all is around that Consciousness." So the build-up, the ultimate reckoning, doesn't seem to be about information at all.

The James Jean quote within that paragraph is not about information but rather "a thought," and a thought is something that is held in the mind of a living being. So once again, life is seen as primary.

Bottom line: As I see it, Alexander doesn't seem to be speaking about information passionately or from his own experience.

Grant Morrison:

Hard to know what to make of this one because it's reported second hand. If Morrison himself used the phrase "pure information," then you may be correct that this runs counter to what I've been saying.

On the other hand, his traveling into "a medium of pure information" doesn't necessarily mean that he viewed that information as the core essence of everything.

Ketamine user:

Again, the fact that he says he had a darting journey "through seas of pure information" is far from saying that he saw that information as the rock bottom ground of being. (That may be his intention, but you can't tell from that excerpt.)

So the fact remains: over and over, mystics talk reverently about a single all-embracing being, consciousness, or mind at the heart of it all.

Or they'll say they learned that the cosmos emanates from pure love.

I've yet to hear a similar revelation about information.

Woops! I omitted your first quote, which may well be the most interesting.

"I sense that in some way I was exposed to pure information at a rate that far overloads the capacity of any physical entity. It was all that is all at once and it is Love."

Does he mean that the information itself is love? If so, that is certainly significant, and backs up the importance of information.

If that is his meaning, then it's the most reverential reference to information I remember hearing from a mystic.

Though note that he capitalizes Love and God, but not information. That does seem to suggest that information is secondary, no?

At any rate, I'd be interested to see if there are similar quotes, because I don't think that your others are as impressive.

Michael, as to that first experiencer, I just read his full account, and the reference to "information" seems less significant to me now. He says:

"I remember that immediately upon regaining some sense of what we know as normal waking consciousness I felt loved, immersed in love, carried by love. I perceived that I was made from Love and that everything else was made of the same stuff. "

*Made from Love*: now that's clear. It's the sort of revelation I'm referring to, and the same insight we receive again and again from mystics, in the most unmistakable terms.

No NDE or similar experience that I'm aware of comes close to speaking of information in the same way.

Running a word search of his story brings up 21 mentions of God, 12 of consciousness, and 8 of love. In the body of his account, "information" comes up only the one time you quoted it.

I think it's telling that experiencers repeatedly feel compelled to capitalize Love. Who does the same with information?

The Physical World as a Virtual Reality by Brian Whitworth identifies many characteristics of the physical universe that seem to indicate the universe is a simulation. These characteristics include the big bang where space and time were created from nothing when the simulation was started. Quantum minima represent the smallest allowable values for computational purposes. The speed of light is limited because there is a maximum rate of processing. Non-local effects such as wave function collapse and entanglement can be explained if they are the result of calculations processed outside the simulation. Curvature of space by mass and time dilation from acceleration can be explained as processing load effects. The laws of conservation of mass, energy, charge, and spin result from the requirement of a stable simulation to conserve information. Simple mathematical natural laws, like gravity and electromagnetism, are a result of the algorithmic nature of the simulation. Quantum randomness can be simulated with a random number generator. All elementary particles are identical just as if they were defined by data structures in a computer program.
http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/0801/0801.0337.pdf
The youtube video Digital Physics Argument for God's Existence explains that the best explanation for the simulator is that it is a mind. Quantum phenomena show that a mind is required for matter to exist. But a mind does not require matter for its existence so only mind can exist outside the simulation. The mind in which our universe exists would be God by definition. The video also points out that like a computer simulation, quantum mechanics indicates that the parts of the universe that are observed are the only parts that are actually instantiated.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v2Xsp4FRgas

"The Physical World as a Virtual Reality by Brian Whitworth identifies many characteristics of the physical universe that seem to indicate the universe is a simulation."

I've followed Whitworth's work over the years, and while I don't claim to understand his more technical arguments, I do think he's a brilliant guy whose insights deserve to be more widely known.

A somewhat less math-heavy approach to the virtual-reality idea is found here:

http://www.bottomlayer.com/

"*Made from Love*: now that's clear."

This is where we differ, Bruce. To me, that's not clear at all. I have no idea what it means to be made from love. To me, it's a vague, touchy-feely sentiment with no content. It's like saying we're all made from rainbows or laughter or hiccups.

At least when we talk about information, we're talking about something that can be connected to physics and can help us to understand phenomena like quantum entanglement and the double-slit experiments. See nt39g9ioofi's comment above. How does "love" help us to understand anything?

Also, I have my problems with the idea that the spacetime universe is all about love. If this were true, then (to put it bluntly) why is the world such a crappy place? Why is it set up so that living creatures can survive only by killing and eating other creatures? Why is there AIDS or the Ebola virus, or earthquakes or famine, or war? Why are most people pretty miserable a great deal of the time? Why do we find ourselves being enslaved over and over again by Caesar, the Borgias, Bonaparte, Hitler, et al?

I don't doubt that there is some love in the world, but love doesn't seem to be the dominant theme. Pain and suffering are more common. Maybe it would make more sense to say that the world is "made of pain." This would be more in line with ordinary experience.

The Beatles sang a lot of nice songs about love, and then John Lennon got shot and George Harrison died of cancer and Paul McCartney watched the love of his life waste away and die. Maybe they should have revised their lyrics: "Pain, pain, pain ... Pain is all there is ..."

Yeah, I'm a pessimist. :-(

Bruce, "Again, the fact that he says he had a darting journey "through seas of pure information" is far from saying that he saw that information as the rock bottom ground of being."

One of the effects of psychedelics, on me at least, is that once things have settled into a groove, information is readily accessible. It's like the mind focusses on a topic and, with a quickness of mind not normally experienced, all sorts of topic related information flows in out of thin air. In the case of psilocybe mushrooms, it is the spirit of the mushroom itself that is providing the information about past, present or future events.

Of course it would be easy to dismiss all of that as fantasy and hallucination except that some very detailed and idiosyncratic information proves to be correct. This is particularly impressive when the information pertains to a future event and only slightly less so when it is about a present or past situations about which one does not have normal knowledge.

So I do think there is something to the idea that there is some kind of information matrix woven into the fabric of reality. However, as Bruce says, I don't think it is a correct conclusion to say that, therefore, reality is information. An aspect of? Yes. The bottom line? No.

Also, during those experiences I have never felt that the core of my being is information. I have, however, felt that I produce and consume and process information. It's one of my functions; just not the whole of me. There is something else. It's an ineffable feeling.

It's like information is a currency of reality. But there are other more basic aspects to it, IMO. There could be beings out there that use a totally different exchange system.

What does everyone think about this particular quote from Keith Augustine and Michael Martin's new book called "The Myth of an Afterlife".


"Through work with psychotropic compounds, accidents or disease which causes [sic] specific kinds of damage, and genetic mutation in animal systems, it seems that this simple analogy (i.e the TV set metaphor) must be fleshed out much more before it can do useful work. . . . A particular kind of damage can cause a man not to be able to name red vegetables, or to cause him to believe and claim vehemently that his left arm does not belong to him. Does that really jibe with the brain being just a transmitter? Not in any simple fashion. If, when one pulls out a certain transistor, the TV show does not stop but rather shows the protagonist start to walk on his hands for the rest of the program, one starts to suspect that some important aspect of the fundamental information content was indeed directly related to the hardware that was removed. (2005, pp. 633–634)"

"There's also the problem of knowing which revelations to believe. If two experiencers have dramatically different stories to tell, whom do we trust?"

Personally, I lean more towards NDE's and mystical experiences than drug-induced ones. While most of NDE and mystical (out of body experiences, mediums, etc.) are fairly similar in messages, locales, etc. what few drug-induced experiences I've read are all over the place in terms of imagery and messages. As you pointed out, the former category does have verdical evidence, and they seem to occur beyond the experiencer's control; because of that, I'm more inclined to an experience that's beyond someone's control, rather than a drug-induced attempt to have one.

I said: "*Made from Love*: now that's clear."

Michael said: "This is where we differ, Bruce. To me, that's not clear at all. It's a vague, touchy-feely sentiment with no content."

You're missing my point. I was saying that although we may be left wondering exactly how much importance some of these people attach to information, when someone says "we're made from love," it's clear that he or she sees love, not information, as primary.

I was referring to the *intent* of the report, not its validity, because that was the subject of your post -- who's reporting what.

But as to the actual truth of "we're made from love" -- well, to claim that "it's like saying we're all made from rainbows or laughter or hiccups" is to trash the entire body of literature on NDE. "I was one with the light and the light is love" is one of the most common refrains we hear.

"At least when we talk about information, we're talking about something that can be connected to physics"

In saying that, you're dismissing one of the main themes of your blog over the years: science is not the only way, or even the best way, to approach the big questions.

"Maybe they should have revised their lyrics: "Pain, pain, pain ... Pain is all there is ..."Yeah, I'm a pessimist. :-("

Now I get it: you're having a bad day. :)

For an antidote, read something you yourself wrote on a day when you were taking the "touchy-feely" stuff more seriously:

http://michaelprescott.typepad.com/michael_prescotts_blog/2012/12/the-diamond.html

From that post:

"As best I can describe it, it is the feeling of my whole body tingling with a kind of pleasurable electric current and suffused with indescribable joy, coupled with a sense of peace and acceptance, "the peace that passeth all understanding" - the sense that everything is all right and there is nothing to worry about, complain about, or fear. "

Am I crazy to hear just a *hint* of "we're made of love" in that? At the very least, does it open the door a smidgeon to that possibility?

(I've referred to this post in the past, Michael. I hope you're not mad at me for doing so. I don't see it as "using your own words against you" but reminding you of stuff you sometimes seem to forget.)

Great comment, no one!

Why give priority to information over other ideas? I think that with concepts as mind, matter, information and space-time we can build consistent models where the mind is material, matter is potential experience, matter is data or mind and matter are excitations of space-time, but they are just models, in a sense they are all true and false...

I reiterate my position. We need improve the evidence on the existence of an afterlife rather than engaging in these metaphysical speculations.

"Now I get it: you're having a bad day. :)"

I'm having a bad life ... But aren't we all? Life is awful for billions of people, and pleasant for very few. I just don't see love as something that has much explanatory power for the way things are. Unless it's a really, really extreme form of tough love ...

I remember my post on "The Diamond," but here's how I would interpret it now: I had an encounter with my higher self. And my higher self naturally will feel compassion and love for me, since I'm an outgrowth of it. This is similar, perhaps, to the love of a mother for a child. It doesn't follow that the whole of reality is made of love or expressive of love. The Self loves itself, but unless I take my Self to be all of reality, I'd have to say that this powerful love has no wider significance.

When people say God is love, I think they are identifying their higher self as God. NDErs who encounter a Being of Light are probably encountering their higher self. These mystical and transcendent experiences are valid, but misinterpreted. These people are not coming face to face with God or a Universal Mind - they're "simply" coming face to face with their highest Self. (It feels like more than that because, I think, reality for each of us is subjectively rendered as a private bubble of experience, so the Self feels like all of reality).

"When people say God is love, I think they are identifying their higher self as God. "

Exactly. And they're right. :)

As the guy you used for your first quote says (paraphrased): there's only One Thing here.

"When people say God is love, I think they are identifying their higher self as God. NDErs who encounter a Being of Light are probably encountering their higher self. These mystical and transcendent experiences are valid, but misinterpreted. These people are not coming face to face with God or a Universal Mind - they're "simply" coming face to face with their highest Self. (It feels like more than that because, I think, reality for each of us is subjectively rendered as a private bubble of experience, so the Self feels like all of reality). "

Yes. This is what the Bardo Thodol (Tibetan Book of the Dead) tells us.

Those old school guys had a lot of time spanning generations to do little else but figure this stuff out. While such ancient esoteric texts contain a fair degree of cultural peculiarities and dogma there is also a lot of basic truth in them.

Michael, I agree the world sucks, and claims of the universality and power of Love and that suffering has redeeming purposes, have limited traction. Whether or not we are really immaterial beings.

Re. The Physical World as a Virtual Reality by Brian Whitworth,

The virtual reality simulation concept is intruiging, but it is not clear what it is saying about the human beings (and other conscious entities) that interact with the world. It seems to me we must be of a basic nature entirely apart from the virtual reality simulation, which is basically a mechanism.

This is related to the free will debate. If consciousness (and therefore "free will") are limited to being in essence either of the two logical mutually exclusive alternatives - determined or random - they aren't really consciousness or free will at all. This is trying to impose the rules that apply to physical matter, which includes computers, to another realm where they don't apply. It downgrades the conscious entity to an automaton. We aren't in essence a mechanism of any sort including a physical reality simulation.

I think when people try to describe their NDE and similar experiences, one word seems to apply to many of them; that word is 'ineffable'! These experiences are beyond words and are expressed in terms meaningful to the experiencer but perhaps, as Michael said, we ought to be careful about taking such accounts at face value.

Eben Alexander says that cosmologists and scientists say that "information is the core of all that exists". Just what is this' information' ? The word 'information' is an all encompassing general term that needs to be defined. What information is at the core of all that exists? Mathematics? Language? Music? Wave Lengths? Digital? Symbols? and on and on. How and where is that information stored? I think that explaining what is meant by information may be one of those 'ineffable' things and no one is really able to do it to everyone's satisfaction. It is not known how information is stored in the brain let alone on the skein of time.

Alexander also said that everything we see ". . . can be essentialized into vibrating strings of energy and higher dimensional space-time." This sounds like gobbledygook to me or a shout-out for help from quantum physics.

Is the information matrix something like a blueprint for "all that exists"? Did all of that information have to come first--- before it became reality; who put it there is the first place---and where is the 'there' where it exists? What about things that don't exist yet in space/time e.g., floating atomic magnetic bubble cars ? Is there information about them somewhere--out there? What about new hybrid plants and animals---new species--- new works of art---World War III---the end of the world ; is information about all of that in the matrix? If so, this is beginning to sound a lot like predestination. Everything has already happened in the information matrix.

I rather like to think that if there is a depository of information about reality it is beyond space/time and exists for lack of a better word in something like the Akashic records. It's not like a blueprint however, but more like a snap-shot in time , maybe similar to a DVD on which is recorded everything as it happens in space/time and that it is accessible to certain gifted people or in a life review during an NDE. But, this is a mechanistic perspective of looking at it. In reality supposedly time does not exist so from the higher perspective outside of time and space, all that has ever happened or will happen is observable as it happens at a glance so to speak.

Pearl Curran, while she was receiving dictation from the spirit of Patience Worth once described her experience as accessing historical information from a "magic picture book", although she did not mention the Akashic Records as did Edgar Casey. Here is a little bit about how she described it .

She described pictorial visions which accompany the coming of the words from Patience Worth. She wrote that those visions “acted as a sort of primer,. . . I am like a child with a magic picture book. Once I look upon it, all I have to do is to watch its pages open before me, and revel in their beauty . . . . . When the poems come, there also appear before my eyes images of each successive symbol, as the words are given me. If the stars are mentioned, I see them in the sky. If heights or deeps or wide spaces are mentioned, I get positively frightening sweeps of space. So it is with the smaller things of nature, the fields, the flowers and trees, with the field animals, whether they are mentioned in the poem or not. When the stories come, the scenes become panoramic, with the characters moving and acting their parts, even speaking in converse. The picture is not confined to the point narrated, but takes in everything else within the circle of vision at the time. For instance, if two people are seen talking on the street, I see not only them, but the neighboring part of the street, with the buildings, stones, dogs, people and all, just as they would be in a real scene. . . . If the people talk a foreign language . . . I hear the talk, . . . "

This sounds to me as if she were accessing information previously recorded somewhere 2,000 years ago, information which she reportedly had no way of knowing but information which turned out to be historically correct.. - AOD

@Leo: Just seems like the usual materialist part line divorced from actual engagement. But I guess there are enough desperate skeptics willing to pay circa $60 for a Kindle Edition.

Even looking at the summary on Amazon, part of their "case" is the contradictions between religions. This has nothing to do with whether or not there is an after life.

That said, I do think the idea that NDEs have veridical components doesn't convince me there's anything definitive about what they say about the afterlife. I think there are contradictions between NDEs that get overlooked, there are cases where the narratives are ridiculous or bizarre that do get passed over, and on the other side there are apparently veridical cases resulting from drug trips.

Now I'm not trying to push a Super-Psi argument here, just that we may experience clairvoyance AND hallucinations during an NDE or that the weird bizarre realms from drug trips may be just as real as the paradises of an NDE.

Yes, Michael I think it is an extreme form of tough love. It's a love to help us grow stronger. It is not a love to meet our every desire---to soothe our every hurt. That's the kind of love parents give their children these days in the U.S. and look where that has got us. We are suffering the consequences of a generation or two that thinks it is entitled to everything and any deprivation, however slight, is seen as intolerable and in need of elimination. There is no appreciation or understanding of how fortunate they are, no understanding of how far humanity has come so that they can enjoy their life.

That smothering kind of love stifles creativity and growth and promotes weakness. I see healthy young men and women in my wife's medical practice who at thirty or forty years old still can't provide for their own needs and mother continues to provide food and shelter, transportation, entertainment, medical care and loving emotional support. These dependent adult children were not encouraged by their parents to grow up and unfortunately, they never will as long as mother continues to hover over them and they can continue to get disability payments.

God's love is not such that it produces a bunch of whining spirits with a sense of entitlement. Your higher self is, yes, a part of God but your higher self is not God's love. God's love belongs to God, not to you or your higher self. Your higher self may feel compassion for one of its expressions in life, i.e., you, but compassion is not the same as love as compassion connotes understanding and feeling-for , understanding the need for whatever experience one is going through and sympathy for your struggles. That's compassion. Your higher self acknowledges your individual need for growth and agrees to experience through you, another expression in reality. God's love under girds all of this reality and in quite moments you might be able to experience its warmth and humor. - AOD

@Leo: About the transmitter thing specifically, that's just a confusion between an analogy and what's possibly going on. If reality is all Mind or a Dual Aspect Neutral Monism then the brain matter has mental aspects along with constraining our self (what Weiss would call a higher grade Occasion in The Long Trajectory).

Taking a drug may open us to different realms, to the underlying Potentiality that proceeds the actuality we enforce via consciousness (See Dupre's The Solution to the Problem of Free Will), etc. Same issue with removing part of the brain - we're not talking about something that is an artifact like a machine but something born from Nature and relating to the truth of reality in a deeper way.

So yes, the TV metaphor breaks down but nothing about drugs or brain damage contradicts the filter/transmitter idea.

Like 'Bruce', I tend to think the examples you have used back up the argument that consciousness underlies all.

"It was all that is all at once and it is Love".

i.e. That informant so to speak, was All that is ( a conscious god), who expressed the emotion of love.

"You have to know that Consciousness is not this epiphenomenon of the brain, but is, in fact, a far richer thing that completely precedes and is outside of (and supporting) all of the material realm and this apparent reality".

Ie. consciousness lies outside the brain and supports reality.

"-that maintains the physical universe is a construct suspended in a higher-dimensional space of living information ..."

Living information ? Is he not referring to that of a living being?

And "pure information" to me means like you say- all consciousness instantly. I tend to think humans switch semantics like thoughts, consciousness, information and use them interchangeably to describe the wealth of information contained in a consciousness. Or use it as you might define my thoughts when telling others i.e. by passing on that information.

As to observation tabbing an electron and controlling the outcome of an event. I think the term 'observation' is a simplistic term. What we are really doing is transferring our thoughts e.g. I think the outcome will be this rather than that.

So to me it's my thinking or beliefs that travel through the universe to influence reality :) Lyn.


The "everything is LOVE" line does seem a bit hokey. But I think of it this way: the opposite of love is hate, and hate in action is destruction, which is the destruction of life. Famine is a terrible thing, but in many cases it's human-made. There's usually plenty to go around, but it's often just the result of an economic system (such as feudalism) or war, all fueled by hate and/or greed upon the part of humans. Personally, I see most of the suffering in this world as deliberately brought about by human actions. I hardly ever see animals - if it all - act so hateful and destructive as people. The whole love thing sounds so hokey to us because our weak and selfish human nature has such a dread of, God forbid, actually acting with love. So love gets a bad name, but without it, God knows how much worse we'd make everything.

**Update**

I heard another part of a story I've shared with ya'll before. I got to talk to my sister in law, Pam, this morning about a dream she had a few days after her father died.

My Father-in-law, RD. RD died January 10th, 2012. A few days after RD died Pam had a dream about her father. In her dream Pam saw her father in the hospital bed and he was still alive. She exclaimed, "Daddy! You're still alive, we need to tell the Nurse!" RD answered her "That won't be necessary."

And then Pam turned and looked and saw RD and another person (whom she told me today was a silhouette) walking through the doorway into the brightly lit hallway. We don't know who the person was who met RD and walked through the doorway with RD into the Light.

So the part that is new to the story that I didn't know before because I had heard it secondhand is that Pam clearly heard "That won't be necessary" (as to telling the nurse that RD was still alive) and that the other person walking with RD out the door was not clearly defined and Pam saw it as being a silhouette.

This is a beautiful story and has "ring of truth" to me. Pam is not a new agey type and is not prone to making up or telling stories like this.

@Amos
As a member of the generations you mention, I agree with you that a lot of us are exactly like you describe. But there's also an equal amount that do want to be fully independent. For many of us, the problem is the recovering economy and the astronomical price of living in many areas of the country. For me, moving isn't an option because I need to remain where I am if I want to follow my dream career. Furthermore, my area isn't friendly towards 20 and 30somethings: Even with six years in college under my belt, I had to take a part time, minimum-wage job; two of my friends work full time and earn almost $20 an hour, and that's still not enough to afford a cheap apartment, let alone medical insurance, car insurance/gas/repairs, and many other necessities of life. I myself still live with my family, and without their help I would be on the streets. If/when I get a job where I earned enough to get a place of my own, I would take it and move out, but I have to be realistic about my income and living within my means, and this is the best I can do right now.

Personally, I would think God's love is a perfect balance between "soft" and tough love: Don't do everything for us, but offer emotional support to help us get through tough times, and also send us the tools to get through those times, whether through inspiration, religion, and whathave you.

SPatel, '

I have never heard of any accounts where drugs users had veridical aspects resulting from drug trips. No one on ketamine, dmt etc ever report seeing things where they were verified in a hospital. Plus people who have a nde are often dramatically changed by their experience they are certain they had a nde. Plus drugs cause distortions of reality.

"I have never heard of any accounts where drugs users had veridical aspects resulting from drug trips."

Leo, people who take ayahuasca frequently report gaining access to information at remote locations. Here's a report on the phenomenon:

http://www.maps.org/news-letters/v21n1/v21n1-53to55.pdf

Kathleen said:

"The whole love thing sounds so hokey to us because our weak and selfish human nature has such a dread of, God forbid, actually acting with love."

On this general topic, I'm reminded of what Emanuelle, the spirit channeled back in the 70's, once said (paraphrased):

"In this life, you have set for yourself the task of finding love where love seems not to be."

Somehow, that has always seemed to me be particularly relevant.

@Leo: People have given accounts of using ayahuasca and having clairvoyance, and there are accounts of Psi while using psychedelics.

As for drugs causing distortions of reality, one could say an NDE is just a giant distortion of reality.

Even the changed experience isn't necessarily indicative of there actually being any reality to the experience of higher realms, Supernal Love, etc.

Like Michael I don't think "All is Love" seems like a good reflection of the actual state of reality. And I think if we try to relate the evil of the world to a parental deity trying to teach us we could charge such a God with abuse.

At the same time, I wouldn't agree we're in some kind of Gnostic prison. Rather I think just as in this world, one would have to make the subtle/transphysical worlds (if they exist) better through actual effort and digging one's hands into the conflict between Good and Evil.

I think the attempts to re-formulate scientific and philosophical thinking by way of taking an information theoretic approach are very interesting; and hold great promise for moving us beyond the Cartesian distinctions between the physical and the mind (or the objective and the subjective) that are currently so deeply embedded within such thinking. And for all sorts of reasons (not least to facilitate greater acceptance of the sort of ideas discussed on this blog), we do need to move our thinking on from such Cartesian prejudices (whatever the technological benefits such thinking has helped us produce up to now).

I also think, however, that the thinking in this area is still at a relatively early stage of development, with an ‘information theoretic’ approach meaning different things to different people. This is reflected in the recent postings on this blog. As far as I can see, all we can do on this subject at this stage is establish for ourselves a few stakes in the ground. For what it is worth here are mine.

First, as a concept ‘information’ cannot be regarded as confined to the physical or mechanical realm. Yes, there are well established physical theories about information; most notably Claud Shannon’s. I recall that Shannon himself, however, acknowledged that his theory was incomplete because it didn’t account for the distinction between meaningful information and gobbledygook.

So, to be ‘information’ in any useful sense of the word it must also be meaningful. Now, ‘meaning’ is in philosophical terms a notoriously slippery concept. But for me, deciding on whether something is meaningful or not is more than just highly context sensitive, it also (at least in many cases) must take us across the Cartesian divide and embrace ‘mind’ or subjective factors.

Looking at definitions of information brings this out more clearly. For a long time a leading definition was that coined by Gregory Bateson i.e. information is ‘a difference that makes a difference’. I find this a very neat definition, but it does rather imply that information is still something purely physical. I recently, however, came across what was – for me – a much more accurate definition by Luciano Floridi.

Floridi is a philosopher currently working up a fully-fledged Philosophy of Information. He defines ‘information’ as: ‘a distinction that makes a difference’. Just one word is changed, but as well as resulting in a definition that captures much better what information is to my mind, it also brings out far more transparently the role of mind (perception)/subjectivity.

One consequence of this is that information here doesn’t necessarily have to be regarded as wholly distinct from consciousness, or requiring consciousness as an add on. That said, we are still a long way from solving the ‘hard problem’ flagged up by Doubter; but an information theoretic approach is not per se just another way of reducing everything to the physical.

Another consequence that flows from using Floridi’s definition is that information cannot in itself be regarded as ontologically fundamental. That said, I’m fully with Matt when he says that meaningful information – once created – is indestructible (Akashic fields, the Mind of God or whatever).

Finally, thinking in information terms opens up the whole question of how meaningful information gets to be created (something else Shannon’s theory doesn’t address). The biggie here for me is: how life got started (i.e. how did the information encoded in our DNA first come about).

Just to add, this rather sourly toned paper from some of the leading physicists & philosophers working on interpretation of quantum theory issues illustrates that not everyone - by a long chalk - in the scientific world is enamoured of an information theoretical approach:


http://www.academia.edu/6527443/The_Message_of_the_Quantum

There is a fundamental difference between Shannon information and meaningful information, and it doesn't seem to be physical. The notion of meaningful information is capsulized by the concept of Complex Specified Information (CSI). Consider most any paper in Science magazine. It is certainly Shannon information and fairly complicated, with a lot of letters and numbers. But so is alphabet soup.

This leaves Specification. Specification can be defined as an independently given pattern. The problem with this is that specification is subjective, and subjectivity (or consciousness) is a fundamental mystery. Specification is a product of mind. Accordingly and unsurprisingly there is no (and probably can't be any) objective formula that defines it in quantified terms. But the property of specification is still real and can be practically employed to discriminate between chance alphabet soup and design.

So, unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any way of rigorously mathematically defining and quantifying CSI or meaningful information. But, like consciousness, although we can't rigorously define it or explain it, we definitely know it exists. It seems to be an essential aspect of the world and part of ourselves.

Amos O. Doyle has it right. We sentient beings know that we suffer and that there is something bent, something wrong about suffering. How do we know that? Do we perceive that there is something else? In knowing that we arrive at God.

From my own experience, which is a experience of prayer, I affirm that all is Light, all is One.

It's a universal experience. In one of his letters, Aldous Huxley put it this way by speaking of "the Allrightness of everything" and "the Light."

Even Aldous Huxley.


This life isn't supposed to be perfect. It is through imperfection that the soul learns the lessons it came here to learn. It isn't about "love", it's about duality and separation, time and space, what it's like to be inside and control a physical body, and make memories of what it was like to live in a 3 dimensional + 1 time Universe. The things that can't be learned in heaven due to the difference between the physics of holographic film (heaven) and the projection from that film (where we are now). We are here simply to learn the things that can't be learned there.

The alternative is to live in some kind of strange Borg collective where everyone thinks exactly alike, looks exactly alike, and thinks exactly the same thing at the same time. By experiencing separation the soul learns what it's like to be separate, unique, individual, and what it's like to be embodied and share the memories of living in a Universe where the physics is very different from heaven.

excerpt from Mark Horton's NDE:
"From this vantage point, I had to merely think of a place and time and I was there, experiencing everything about the place and time and people present.

I have always, I don't know why, had a very strong "pull" toward Scotland. I have some Scottish ancestry, but no more so than English, Swedish, and Prussian, but I don't know why I have such a strong affinity for the land, its history, its culture, and the music. (No sound in this world can stir the feelings that the sound of bagpipes arise in me!) Well, one of my first "trips" was to Scotland, on a high cliff overlooking a grey, crashing sea during a violent thunderstorm. I was there! I could feel the wind lashing at me and the driving force of the rain while I could see and hear the crashing of the thunder and the sea. All I had done was have the merest fleeting thought of the land and I was there!"
http://celestial.kuriakon00.com/nde/mark_horton.htm

Bruce,

You notice in the article you gave me though that it mentions about dreams. I wouldn't say an nde is a dream. He also mentioned healing a lot plus it didn't seem hyper-real at all like nde experiences experience. Are you saying by the way that brain chemicals cause nde's?. Because if drugs were to induce these experiences than their probably is simply a chemical reaction of the brain. But the thing is SPatel Nde do not cause distortions of reality where drugs often do. Well as far as I know people who are having drug induced hallucinations do not feel forever changed by their experience.

"as far as I know people who are having drug induced hallucinations do not feel forever changed by their experience."

Some people do. There are people whose worldview has been permanently altered by a single LSD, ketamine, DMT, or ayahuasca trip.

Hi Michael,

I stand corrected. But their are differences in nde and ketamine for example such as revival of memories and seeing deceased loved ones. This was mentioned in a post by you titled Irreducible Mind and the NDE. Also their are mark differences in LSD and ayahusca as well. DMT too.

https://thesurvivalindex.wordpress.com/2012/10/21/are-ndes-just-dmt-trips/

"Are you saying by the way that brain chemicals cause nde's?. Because if drugs were to induce these experiences than their probably is simply a chemical reaction of the brain."

As Michael has already said, people do report being forever positively changed by a single psychedelic session.

Also, there have been a few studies suggesting that psychedelics do enhance ESP. Furthermore, remote viewing, diagnosing illness and knowing the future is exactly why Mexican indigenous people used/use magic mushrooms. Numerous non-natives who have used the mushrooms properly have confirmed that they do just what the natives say they do.

Clearly, if ESP, remote viewing and knowing the future are features of mushroom use, then it's not all just an hallucination caused by brain chemicals. Ditto NDEs and OBEs.

That brain chemistry is involved shouldn't be so confounding. One is merely re-setting the tuner in the transmitter/receiver. With the re-set, one is able to connect with non-ordinary bands of perception.

I know what your saying Noone, as I see the brain as a transmitter/receiver/filter/reducing valve. I am just saying that their are features in nde/obe that don't resemble drug trips to the otherside.

Leo said:

"Well as far as I know people who are having drug induced hallucinations do not feel forever changed by their experience."

I was about to answer Leo in detail, but I see that Michael and no one have saved me some work.

Here's a testimonial I just ran across that impresses me because the guy seems so healthy and well-grounded:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LMKw0k-aGn8

It's part of a large collection of videos from the same treatment center:
https://www.youtube.com/user/TemploCaminodelaLuz/videos

I think we also need to double check NDEs. My understanding is there are a variety of experiences that are sorted out for not being coherent stories - I wonder how many of those would, in fact, be akin to psychedelic trips.

In fact, I wonder if the number of ordered/disordered experiences is equivalent or vastly different between NDEs vs drugs, to what extent shamanic training plays a role.

Even varied religious traditions warn of hostile powers & tricksters in the subtle worlds. Why I think the battle between Good & Evil takes place at many, if not all, levels of reality.

"The world doesn't just get better, it's the people in the world who make it get better...."
-Hal Duncan's It Gets Better video.

""The world doesn't just get better, it's the people in the world who make it get better...."

Actually, I don't think the world gets better at all. Nor does it get worse.

It just changes!

Hi Bruce,

There is no doubt that magic mushrooms can have a profound effect on a person's life and make them feel they were in touch with the otherside. But drug induced experiences don't interest me much as materialist often have a quick answer to that and that it just proves Keith Augustine, Susan Blackmore theories that they are just brain based hallucinations. When you have cases where drugs are not involved for example when someone comes close to death and reports accurate verdical details of what is going around them plus have it timed that they really had this experience when their was no brain that is very powerful evidence that an afterlife exists. That is what I found significant of the latest study done by Sam Parnia the case he mentioned where audio stimuli timed this man experience exactly when he had no brain activity.

"Why is it set up so that living creatures can survive only by killing and eating other creatures? "

I've had a vegan diet for years, and am still kicking so far. Knock on wood. Vitamin levels are fine and in good health (same wood, same knock). I know a lot of older vegans who have been that way for decades and children being brought up that way with normal health. Not that vegans don't get cancer or other diseases and it's certainly far from some sort of 'magic bullet' (which, sadly, recent media exploits and certain organizations seem to promote), but, based on that, would have to question whether our world is really set up so that killing other creatures is mandatory for survival. At least not for all creatures. And at least not for some people. The idea of eating other living creatures sprouted from somewhere, and people thought it was a good idea, and people kept doing it, and we keep doing it, but that doesn't mean it's absolutely necessary.

@Sleepers: http://www.riseearth.com/2015/06/bad-news-for-vegans-plants-can-sense.html

"Not that vegans don't get cancer or other diseases and it's certainly far from some sort of 'magic bullet' (which, sadly, recent media exploits and certain organizations seem to promote), but, based on that, would have to question whether our world is really set up so that killing other creatures is mandatory for survival."

You forget that vegetables are also creatures.

I was talking about the animal kingdom in general, not just humans. Carnivores evolved to eat meat; if this was part of the cosmic plan, it seems inconsistent with love. Even some plants will crowd out and smother other plants, or eat insects, etc. Regardless of what diet humans choose, nature really is "red in tooth and claw."

Let's not forget that when we plow a field to grow soy and other vegan crops, we are directly killing a bunch of rodents and insects, but also, the destruction of the natural environment has some negative repercussions for animals as well.

Life kills life to live. There's no way around it.

Isn't the willingness to be eaten a loving gesture? ;)

Good point(s). Nature does put a damper on the whole "love is all reality" thing. It does seem to be nothing but "utter chaos", but as Matt previously pointed out to me, that's just my perception of it. Its the meaning (or lack thereof), that I attach to it, or that materialist thought is attaching to it. And its how rational thought and materialist thinking is teaching us "educated" folks about the world in our times, so its easy to follow it, without a critical eye. That thinking dominates. But its a world view, just like anything else, and as the evidence, such as that outlined comprehensively on this blog points out, that narrative begins to sink under evidence that something more exists outside of that paradigm.

Explaining evil in the world always seems to be the most difficult argument among all religions/spiritualism, etc. If purpose exists, then why does this happen? And why does life suck so bad? Its a hard thing to respond to as a person of faith or with evidence based spiritualism. "Pure chaos" is the simplest answer. But unlike popular belief, I've never found that the simplest answer is the correct one. Quite the opposite actually.

Anyhow, thanks Julie, for the link. Off to Outback! ;-)

Leo said:

"But drug induced experiences don't interest me much as materialist often have a quick answer to that"

I understand what you're saying, Leo.

I myself am interested in these experiences because they've provided me with the most beautiful, joyous, loving, insightful, and sacred moments of my life.

I question whether there's a quick explanation for that.

But for the part of me that's wedded to the sort of evidence I can hold in my hand, I have my precognitive dreams. No drugs involved there, and, as far as I'm concerned, the fact that we can glimpse tomorrow's events today means that our consciousness is timeless.

And timeless means eternal.

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