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... if the postmortem mind is free of all physical impairments, then it bears little or no resemblance to the embodied mind and therefore amounts to a whole new mind. In this case, there is no continuity of consciousness between the premortem and postmortem mind, and so there is no individual survival.

The brain filters consciousness like a piece of colored glass filters light. There is continuity of consciousness after death just like there is continuity of vision when you take off your sunglasses.

You can break a filter in two ways. You can clog it or you can puncture it. A clog in the brain filter results in loss of function like amnesia. A hole in the brain filter results in new capabilities like ESP or acquired savant syndrome after a head injury. When you remove the filter as in NDEs you get unfiltered consciousness, 360 degree vision and colors never seen before.

http://sites.google.com/site/chs4o8pt/skeptical_fallacies#skeptical_fallacies_brain

Out of all things spiritual, trying to make sense of conciousness makes my head hurt the most, especially with passages quoted from The Advaita Worldview. I think the simplest way to describe it is that we are spiritual intelligences who are in temporary physical bodies and interacting with the world via our physical computer - the brain. We are dependent on this brain for everything, and our personality can be influenced by our environment and what happens to us, though a great deal may be set from our experiences in previous lives (being naturally talented at art, mathematics, etc). If anything should happen to our brains to damage them, our ability to normally interact with the world and other people is hindered, sometimes cripplingly so, but once the body dies and we are free, we are restored to wholeness and continue on.

One other aspect you might consider Michael, with regards to our conciousness being seperate from our brain, is moments where we feel one way, but do something else. For me, whenever I take a nap during breaks at work, I sometimes can notice that my thoughts and daydreams are acting on their own without any input on my part, as if I'm an observer watching the brain go nuts. One friend, who had taken some drugs at a party, told me that he was having hallucinations, yet knew that they weren't real. If we were just our brains and nothing else, I suspect we wouldn't have the sensation of experiencing something and analyzing it at the same time. Granted, it's a weaker line of evidence than what you listed, but I think it's worth considering.

On a more humorous note, whenever I see any writing similar to what was quoted above, I can't help but wonder just how practical such advice really is. Yes, I am an I-thought, but I'm in a physical body, and that body is telling me I need to go to the bathroom RIGHT NOW. You can be enlightened all you want, but you still need to poop, fart, and sleep like everyone else, and if you're blind or, say, missing your arms, that's going to suck no matter how many positive affirmations you say.

"Second, we must assume that there is a close relationship between one's awareness and the particular set of objects on which it has focused. Otherwise awareness, once liberated from its physical trappings, might focus on any and all objects of any consciousness that has ever been. In this case there would be no survival of the individual personality, but only a kind of universal mind that is aware of everything at once. While this idea might be philosophically appealing and it is found in some spiritual traditions, it's contradicted by the apparently reliable testimony of deceased persons speaking through mediums, as well as the testimony of people who've had near-death experiences, etc. And in any case, the very concept of the I-thought expressly serves to cover this relationship. The I-thought is pure awareness connected to a particular set of thoughts and memories — individuated and egoic, not universal and identityless. It is an I-thought, not a We-thought."

Probably Souls can focus on all objects of any consciousness that has ever been too, and they do; otherwise the concept of Cosmic Consciousness would not exist. Maybe we can choose, at a certain point, to enter this particular state of "Cosmic Consciousness" where we become Source (our original being), and we can choose to leave that particular focus and become "Us" again... That would be consistent with reports of people who have had an NDE and retained their personalities and those who had drug-induced trips that freed them of their egoic minds, like Bruce :)

So are you saying that rather than a pure information matrix that we draw from, as you originally believed. Those experience of the individual are retained as a record or I-thought in the matrix?

I tend to think a bit like Rich Kelly, in that after the -I am- it gets very difficult for the human mind to quantify. In other words what he is saying, is that there is no limits to creation in any form. We can be and create anything we are able to imagine.

As Seth says..

Your prime identity is a gestalt (soul) and is in constant contact with your whole self ( those many identity's you have been over time), of which your conscious self is unaware. However your inner consciousness is aware of its individuality and that it is part of a unity that survives eternally.

So being less than perfect human beings - those brain damaged at birth or by disease / trauma for example. Form some of the variety of experiences of the gestalt or soul.

And as Rich said, we are highly creative beings, creations of god who in turn create. So our inner-verse is a subset of God's multi-verse and forever evolving according to our beliefs. While the multiverse is perhaps partly a gestalt of souls and an infinite consciousness of possibilities :)

Interesting post, good argument

But if reincarnation is a genuine phenomenon then, surely, there must be a 'super I-thought'? Unless we simply are the last person we were . . . . . if you get my drift.

Bravo Michael! You nailed it. This is one of your best posts ever.

"Your prime identity is a gestalt (soul) and is in constant contact with your whole self ( those many identity's you have been over time), of which your conscious self is unaware. However your inner consciousness is aware of its individuality and that it is part of a unity that survives eternally."

That's just the kind of wishy-washy Seth, New Age bullsh*t that drives me potty. I really wish I didn't feel the need to say that, but, somehow, I do. My apologies to the offended, but please don't try to elaborate. I am, as of now, permanently ear-plugged with regard to the Seth Material.

This is the best ever Bravo!

A quick note on how I think drugs - and physiology more generally - relate to Michael's thesis. So materialists say that drugs changing consciousness proves that consciousness is in the brain. This is a myopic perspective, IMO.

What I think happens in the case of most drugs is they change the objects on which the I-Thought is focused. You're in pain. The pain is an object of focus. You take an opiate which, by chemical action in the brain, alleviates the pain by, more or less, blocking nerve receptors that transmit "pain signals" and flooding others with chemicals that activate pleasurable sensations. Pain is no longer an object and the I-Thought can move onto other foci. What those other foci will be is also influenced by the experience of the physiologically pleasurable sensations.

Cannabis is somewhat similar to opiates, but has an added component of being mildly mind expanding. Then there are the psychedelics which are amazingly mind expanding. The mind expanding aspect is, IMO, the result of the drug altering the brain's normal sensory input managing process. Evidence suggests that the alteration is due to a slowing down or restriction of specific processing centers. When these centers start going off line the menu of objects that the I-Thought can focus on changes significantly and the I-Thought begins to manifest entirely new foci (psychedelic means mind manifesting).

So the interconnection between physiology and mind is there, but mind is always predominant and fundamental.

As an aside, when you purposefully break the focus on habitual objects, the mind always manifests in new ways. Self-help groups have this right. It's just difficult to do.

"I think the simplest way to describe it is that we are spiritual intelligences who are in temporary physical bodies and interacting with the world via our physical computer - the brain. We are dependent on this brain for everything, and our personality can be influenced by our environment and what happens to us, though a great deal may be set from our experiences in previous lives (being naturally talented at art, mathematics, etc). If anything should happen to our brains to damage them, our ability to normally interact with the world and other people is hindered, sometimes cripplingly so, but once the body dies and we are free, we are restored to wholeness and continue on." - Ian

That's a very concise and clear way of putting it.

"I sometimes can notice that my thoughts and daydreams are acting on their own without any input on my part, as if I'm an observer watching the brain go nuts."

Our thoughts are objects of consciousness, not the subject. I really believe that most neuroses and even some psychoses could be treated pretty easily if this were more widely understood.

"You can be enlightened all you want, but you still need to poop, fart, and sleep like everyone else ..."

This is true, and when I get a bad sinus infection, all my spirituality goes out the window and I just hate the world.

"So are you saying that rather than a pure information matrix that we draw from, as you originally believed ..."

What I "believe" is always evolving, which is one reason I haven't written a nonfiction book about it. Thanks to feedback from Matt, No One, Bruce, and many others, I've amended some of my earlier positions and no doubt will continue to do so. No one should take my opinions* as Holy Writ - even I don't agree with some of them!

*Except for my opinions on politics - those you can take to the bank!


I think that there needs to be some understanding of the distinction between 'mind' and 'consciousness'. As suggested by Michael Prescott and Anantanand Rambachan, mind might be seen as one of those objects of consciousness, not consciousness itself and it is consciousness (I- thought or awareness) that survives dissolution of the body not the mind. Therefore what is observed as neurological damage or physical impairments of the mind in life is not carried forward with the I-thought or consciousness after death. Mind is dependant upon the body for its wholeness. Although neurological damage and physical impairments may block consciousness from using the body with facility, such bodily damage does not intrinsically impair the I-thought. If mind survives, it survives as a memory of consciousness or I-thought.

Similarly personality is an object of the consciousness when it is associated with a physical form and upon dissolution of that form personality also becomes a memory of the consciousness. Consciousness remembers life as a male or female, whole or broken, learned or simple, all of those things that make up a personality.

(As an aside and off-topic which I believe is unforgivable, I want to bring your attention to an Indian movie called "Water" currently available on Netflix. This is not a Bollywood movie but a movie of cultural, societal, and historical significance focusing mainly on issues related to women, specifically widows in India. This movie is the most memorable movie I have ever seen and I have seen a few. The photography is beautiful with scenes of India in the 1930s that make you feel that you are actually there. Casting is perfection; acting is without blemish. The writing and story line are beyond critique. For those interested in religion and how it relates to societal rules, laws and behaviors, there is a lot of that there too. All-in-all an unforgettable movie that would never generate a large attendance in the U.S. Please take a look at it if you can.) - AOD

Wow Amos. That's a pretty powerful movie. I agree with your assessments and can't believe I've never heard or seen it before.

Michael said:

"Thanks to feedback from Matt, No One, Bruce, and many others, I've amended some of my earlier positions."

Thanks for saying that, Michael. That means quite a lot to me. I'm not ashamed to admit that I stared at that sentence for a minute or two, basking in the good feeling of having my contributions recognized by you, an online friend who has been an important part of my life over the past dozen or so years.

(Another part of me went: what -- I'm only *third* on that list?! :) )

I then thought about whether this is a two-way street -- whether your thoughts have influenced mine in a similar way. And for me, it's different.

What I'm about to say may sound arrogant, in fact, it may well *be* arrogant, pure and simple. Or foolhardy, or naive, or the like. But it seems to me that I've been fortunate to have had some experiences in altered states -- not NDEs, but perhaps of a similar profundity -- that have presented to me reality-as-a-whole.

Which is not to say that I remember all the details -- far from it. But certain essentials came through to me in those experiences, mostly in the 1990's and early 2000's, that have stayed with me, and in some fundamental way, have answered my most important questions.

Now in one sense, this is untrue. I keep learning and learning, discovering truths about myself that have only -- and can only -- become clear through my maturing. I'm still delighted by a plethora of unknowns that keep me eager to complete my stay here.

And yet at the same time, in some way, I have this powerful sense that all I need to know is already here inside me, and nothing anybody says can seem to tempt me away from it.

So you may wonder, why do I then even bother reading what you and others have to say? And this is really important: because I learn certain things -- maybe the most important things -- only through relating to others. And your genius, Michael, in the context of *my* life, has been in stating your views, and creating a forum, in such an excellent manner, as to draw me in, remove me temporarily from my relative isolation, and get me being with people.

Then, too, in addition to our obvious similarities, you and I differ in a number of ways, and both sides of that coin seem to be essential for what I enjoy doing here.

I hope that in being this frank, I'm not pushing you and others away. I'm only stating directly what my behavior over the years has probably already made clear!

Fantastic post! Thanks for the shout-out, but of course I got my ideas from Ramana Maharshi (got the term I-Thought from a book of his writings, and his method of realization was to ask "Who am I?"), Ibn Rushd = Averroes (shared universal mind made particular in the organism), and pretty all of Western and Eastern civ. :) If I've added anything, it's this: I don't think consciousness is possible without the I-Thought (since it is *the* consciousness), and animals evolved to "access" it if you will to achieve consciousness in various dimensions. It may also be why machine consciousness ends up impossible (unless machines can access the I-Thought too).

I'll make some more particular comments after I get some translation work done. It's not Searle's Chinese Room but Matt's Japanese Room. ;)

For now, though, most impressive, sir!

Julie, yes, Seth can be like that, but there's still lots of gems in the Seth material. My favorite is "The Nature of Personal Reality."

I don't know if this ties in, but I'm thinking about early childhood experiences a lot lately. In my own experience, I did have the feeling of coming from somewhere else. I remember being particularly surprised when I saw death for the first time. And it was the only time I was definitely sure of seeing an apparition. And the more I think of it, my own experiences with children seems to be not that they're the "empty vessels" of stereotype. So it does seem like there is an eternal "I consciousness."

Julie I think it's all wishy washy, after all it's not a science blog but people's opinions and beliefs denoting their personal journey. Pure conjecture, as no one really knows.

'Seth' is just one of many channel's discussed on this blog.

Point taken Michael. Cheers.

Great post, Michael, I think one of your best. You constantly push the envelope in what is coming to be known as afterlife science ("AS"). AS is still in its infancy, but so is quantum mechanics ("QM") and general relativity ("GR"), both each only approximately 100 years old. Analogizing the comparison, QM and GR have been relatively (no pun) easy to confirm experimentally whereas AS has been more reliant on anecdotal data, unsurprisingly because we are still trying to develop metrics for its ontology/causation and quantification.

I understand what you mean about the Seth material, Kathleen, but it's just so sprawling and long winded at times. But then I find the American style of writing tends to be a little like that. So Seth was/is presumably American?

That aside, I'm quite happy to accept that there might well be an eternal "I consciousness". I'm just curious as to whether it's expressed as the personality that we inhabit here in this lifetime. If we retain our present personality after death then, one imagines, it must be. Are we, here and now, the sum total (or essence) of all we are and have ever been?

Maybe the afterlife experience is similar to playing a video game. I used to play a few "scary" ones, and would get really caught up in it ("Aliens," I think it was, and I'd turned off the lights to heighten the effect). You get really jumpy and immersed in it (my nickname was "Trigger Happy" unfortunately). You'd feel a certain way playing the game, but then it was over and you were still yourself, and you can look back, and not feel upset by it. I'm hoping that's what the afterlife will be like.

If reincarnation occurs, then I suspect we are each, right now, the product (the sum total) of all the lives we've experienced. If so then we are probably far, far greater than we know and I imagine that this earthly existence is akin to looking at the world through a porthole. But could we really remain, essentially, the same personality throughout; wouldn't that limit our potential for experience?

And if, as some believe, it's all happening simultaneously then I can't understand how it could possibly work as a learning strategy. In order to develop in our learning we have to build upon already established bases in linear fashion.

Also, if the notion of group souls is a reality then it follows that we would indeed have to reincarnate together, otherwise we'd lose our connection with each other as we change and grow. Or could it be like losing touch with a friend only to reunite in later years and find that the core of the old friendship is still there? But that requires a familiar and recognisable personality that persists throughout. We would have to remain essentially the same at the end as we were at the very beginning.

"You cannot lose from your life those who belong there and you cannot keep in your life those who do not." - Confucius

Great post Michael. Also glad to see a recommendation for Water. In fact I'd recommend all of Mehta's Elements trilogy:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elements_trilogy

Mr. Prescott this entry in your blog is a keeper, thanks so much for writing it. I've come to the same conclusions about how it works, and it is nice to see so many folks (from the comments) who also share this understanding of the process. You don't need to post this in your blog if you think it will open up a can of worms, but I would like to know how you think your model of consciousness can be applied to understanding how Remote Viewing or other anomalistic congnition events work.

Julie, I could see reincarnation being similar to being an actor or actress who's played many different characters in plays and movies. Or even more like we actually are every day - our personality shifts depending on our environment. With our boss we're one way, with a spouse a different way, with our pets, another way, etc. It's not that we're being phonies, but that personality is multi-layered and can respond to the environment. But we're still the same person at the end of the day.

"I would like to know how you think your model of consciousness can be applied to understanding how Remote Viewing or other anomalistic congnition events work. "

Benton, I'm curious to see how Michael fits this into his model. My own understanding of it is that the body is just another object of consciousness or a focus of consciousness. That focus can be disrupted due to serious illness or clinical death, intense fear, drugs, meditation, lucid dreaming or just plain intent and, when it is, the I-Thought, the real you, focuses on something else in the time/space matrix (or greater reality).

Actually I think time and space are just a couple more objects in the mind of the I-Thought. So once you gotten past those thoughts, then you can be anywhere and time you want to be.

Julie,
I seems to me that personality can only survive as a memory of the I-thought. I don't believe that consciousness retains the same personality "throughout", although remnants or memories of a past-life personalities may influence a present incarnation. For example, the memory of a archetypal female past life personality may influence the current life consciousness to continue to be attracted to female interests, whether or not the current consciousness in embodied in a male or female form. Similarly an archetypal male past life personality may direct the present incarnation toward things representing maleness. As opportunities in both genders are experienced in past lives, the embodied soul more commonly finds itself somewhere in the middle on a scale of maleness and femaleness. Maleness and femaleness (not gender) are a continuum and are an intrinsic component of every soul consciousness like the Yang and Yin in Chinese philosophy and souls vacillate from one end of the scale to the other producing an archetypal Marilyn Monroe on one end and an O.J. Simpson on the other.

From past life reports apparently souls belonging to a 'group' do at times reincarnate together, but in other incarnations do not. It is not the personality that is recognized but the soul entity itself that is known--- that is, the I-thought . The time embodied is but an instant of eternity therefore there is little chance that a soul entity would be forgotten by those with whom it is in vibration. The soul embellished is recognized upon return to the Group as a new and improved version of the I-thought just as those of us who return to high-school or college reunions are recognized as (hopefully) a new and improved version of what we once were. - AOD

Yes, Gurdjieff said something similar, Kathleen, but it's not true for everyone. Some people simply are their own person regardless of present company. Of course, there's the existential aspect of learning, but that's a different thing. The more we learn about ourselves the more control we have over our behaviour and character.

Michael,

Some additional comments:

||Since this is what all the evidence tells us, there is really no reason to doubt it merely on philosophical grounds. It would make more sense to rethink our philosophical arguments than to discard empirical evidence.||

Right, the phenomena should be primary. In turn, skeptics have to deny each and every phenomenon.

||Consciousness implies both a subject and an object. This much is obvious, but most people have a mistaken idea of what the subject is. I think it is this mistake that makes it hard to appreciate the force of the transmission hypothesis.||

I actually think you end up arguing against the pure transmission hypothesis yourself. I think you end up with the hybrid hypothesis I espouse. We don't transmit an external "soul" or "spirit" that contains our consciousness, memories, etc. Rather, the brain "accesses" the I-Thought to be conscious as well as our externally extant memories and other content (I think there is plenty of other "data" that the brain accesses externally, such as entire brain/somatic states. For example, the "muscle memory" that allows us to play a piece of music, which is not a memory in the ordinary sense.) When we die, the I-Thought of course still exists, as well as does the entire content of our minds, since "information" is indestructible. That mind continues as before to interact with the I-Thought; hence, life after death.

||Pure awareness, when linked to a specific set of objects, is known in some traditions as the I-thought.||

And you say later,

||The I-thought is pure awareness connected to a particular set of thoughts and memories — individuated and egoic, not universal and identityless. It is an I-thought, not a We-thought.||

I think this needs to be adjusted, since you then quote Anantanand Rambachan as saying:

[b]I-thought is able to understand itself as nonobjectifiable, illuminating awareness, distinguishable from the body, senses, and mind, relating to all of these as subject to object, and as identical with brahman, the non-dual ground of all reality.[/b]

The I-Thought *is* Brahman.

||[The I-Thought] thus accounts for the continuity of consciousness and for the often-reported insistence that the deceased "I" is the same as the physically embodied "I."||

I think this is not quite right. The I-Thought is universal and the same for everyone. The mind maintains continuity because its information content is indestructible (as is true of all information systems, which is why we don't have to argue whether animals or even rocks have an Afterlife. They do *qua* their specific information content).

||When we talk about a disembodied consciousness – the consciousness of a discarnate person – we're talking about an evolving dynamic process that involves all the objects of consciousness and the I-thought, but not the physical structures of the living organism. The absence of those physical structures is the key difference.||

This is a very good description, but I think we *do* retain the physical structures to a certain extent. Their information content continues to exist as well, and the body/mind "interface" to which we are used clearly, based on NDE testimony, can continue to be used. But it's also clear that it's not totally necessary and we can evolve out of using this "interface" in the Afterlife. Clearly a complicated topic!

||So there must be some way in which the objects of consciousness are preserved – whether we call it the Akashic records or whether we simply maintain that information, once brought into existence, cannot be destroyed.||

Right, this is a key point!

||Second, we must assume that there is a close relationship between one's awareness and the particular set of objects on which it has focused. Otherwise awareness, once liberated from its physical trappings, might focus on any and all objects of any consciousness that has ever been.||

Indeed, the paradoxical thing here that realization systems like Ramana Maharshi's (and I would say Buddhism, though it points toward Void and not Plenum, so to speak) recognize is that we are *already that liberated awareness.*

I think the whole state of affairs becomes clearer when we consider the hypothesis that animals evolved and had to "find" the I-Thought in order to be conscious and respond better to their environments (and I would say spiritually evolve as well). The primitive minds "access" infinite awareness (the only true awareness, actually) with some pretty simple goals at first--survive, reproduce--but in time, as with humans, spiritual complications ensue, and we find ourselves torn between identifying with our limited, a posteriori minds and Brahman. Spiritual systems and religions come into being to deal with this most important of crises.

But as Ron Popeil said, "Wait, there's more!" For it is the composite *striving* of the Universe that brings the I-Thought into being. It is its end goal, its ultimate purpose. So our lives are not merely something far below the I-Thought: we are workers bringing the I-Thought into being. Forward and backward causality. Thus, our lives have real meaning. Everything matters. This is why individuality is treasured and each person is clearly treated as worthy of love in the Afterlife.


||This is how we can say that the personality survives death, even if the personality has been grossly attenuated or deformed by dementia, mental illness, and other impairments. It is also how we can say that in cases of terminal lucidity, the dying person abruptly recovers his or her personality ("she was herself again").||

I had such an experience with my father in the year he died, 2001. I talked to him on the phone while I was in Japan about a month before he *started* to go into the final series of problems from which he would not recover. He seemed like my old dad again: clearer, brighter, happier. The light was there again. So I believe that it isn't just on the deathbed that this can occur. Again, it appears to be a case of a future state (liberation in the Afterlife) exerting backward pressure on the present. Or maybe, on the deathbed, the barrier between higher-dimensional reality gets blurred and the light of the Afterlife is bending 3D fiat reality. "Shared death experiences" clearly are an example that implies an actual shift in the rules of our reality.

||If we look at consciousness as an I-thought entangled with an information matrix in an evolving system that is subject to temporary limitations and impairments, but in which no data are ever permanently lost, the skeptical objection simply becomes irrelevant.||

Excellent summary sentence, but I would ammend it to "*the* I-Thought." There is only one.

One again, brilliant post, Michael!

"The time embodied is but an instant of eternity therefore there is little chance that a soul entity would be forgotten by those with whom it is in vibration. The soul embellished is recognized upon return to the Group as a new and improved version of the I-thought just as those of us who return to high-school or college reunions are recognized as (hopefully) a new and improved version of what we once were." - AOD

Thank you, Amos, for putting all that so well. I think I'm in vibration with you! :)

Speaking of evidence as noted on Reality Sandwich looks like Parnia's study is getting some traction:

Consciousness after clinical death. The biggest ever scientific study published


https://bioethics.georgetown.edu/2015/07/consciousness-after-clinical-death-the-biggest-ever-scientific-study-published/

"In our opinion, the study led by Parnia merits special attention, because of its scientific rigor and the prudence of its conclusions, which are supported by scientifically proven facts. We hope that this study can also be extended to those who have been diagnosed as brain dead and have come back to life."

@Matt: "We don't transmit an external "soul" or "spirit" that contains our consciousness, memories, etc. Rather, the brain "accesses" the I-Thought to be conscious as well as our externally extant memories"

Yes! That's entirely consonant with my mini-mystical experience - the one that I experienced when I was just nine-years-old and which, I believe, I've recounted here in the past.

Matt said:

"The I-Thought is universal and the same for everyone."

Michael and Matt, whoever wants to answer this—I'm trying to understand this "I-thought" concept. I was resisting the value of it initially, but then, after re-reading Michael's post, started thinking that it might have some value for me.

Even though I question whether there is a fundamental separation between subject and object, at certain levels of reality it is certainly useful to make that distinction. And Michael's post gives me a way to do that.

So just when I was starting to feel good about letting something new get past my stubborn defenses, I read Matt's words (quoted above) and now I'm confused.

It seems to me that the two of you have radically different notions of what I-thought means. In the above quote, Matt is describing it as that which unifies us. And Michael, on the other hand — you're apparently talking about it as that which distinguishes us from one another.

Any thoughts from either one of you about this?

Michael said:

"In this case there would be no survival of the individual personality, but only a kind of universal mind that is aware of everything at once. While this idea might be philosophically appealing and it is found in some spiritual traditions, it's contradicted by the apparently reliable testimony of deceased persons speaking through mediums, as well as the testimony of people who've had near-death experiences, etc. "

I disagree. NDE literature is rife with testimony to the effect that at the heart of the phenomenon is the experience you're dismissing here: that of being everything-all-at-once.

The same notion is expressed in many ways, over and over.

While I know much less about mediumistic communication than you, Michael, based on the many accounts I'm referring to, and more importantly on my own experiences, I feel confident that as we leave the body we gain the ability to enjoy *both* ends of the spectrum — our individuality and our oneness.

I think the idea of one or the other is a red herring.

Fluidity — that's the key. All options become instantly available.

Make any sense? Or do you think I'm overstating the case?

Matt, what is Brahman? I mean, how would you describe it?

Thanks for the many excellent comments!

Yes, I'm sure I've somewhat misunderstood the I-thought. It's a slippery concept to grasp. On one hand, it is said to be identical with pure awareness, but on the other hand, it is said to be the thinker, the experiencer, and the ego (this was stated in part of Rambachan's book which I didn't quote, because I thought it would only confuse the issue). My takeaway was that the I-thought is pure awareness that identifies with a certain set of objects and so becomes a de facto ego; when it learns not to make this identification, the ego drops away and enlightenment or cosmic consciousness is achieved. But is it still the I-thought then, or is the "I" part only applicable to the egoic structure? I don't know.

This, by the way, is one way of answering the question of how the I-thought would relate to cosmic consciousness.

As for remote viewing, I would speculate that if awareness can somehow be liberated from the world of "things," it may access the world of pure information, at which point it can travel anywhere and experience anything. It's interesting that remote viewers in the Star Gate program often did best when given only geographic coordinates to focus on. This could suggest that they were in touch with a purely mathematical reality, and that the focus on numbers was helpful in putting them in the right mindset. In the same way, remote viewers who concentrated on maps and saw the corresponding locales may have been assisted by the fact that a map is a visual representation of distilled information.

Reincarnation? That's a toughie. I am not sure that we *can* understand it, because it seems to involve some kind of n-dimensional geometry that is counterintuitive to us. We're like Flatlanders trying to understand how somebody can see inside a house (a rectangle) with a closed door and no windows. For us, it's easy - we simply look down at the rectangle drawn on the sheet of paper and see the little figures inside. But for the 2-D figures in the square, who are not aware of any dimension of "up/down," it is impossible to grasp.

From a higher perspective it may be quite simple to see how a person's identity can be both one and many, but from our earthly perspective it's perhaps an insoluble puzzle.

OK, now reading up a bit more, *I* seem to have gotten the I-Thought wrong as conceived by Ramana Maharshi.

http://www.angelfire.com/space2/light11/diction/ramana.html#14

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahamkara#Aha.E1.B9.83k.C4.81ra_and_spiritual_development

From Wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramana_Maharshi#Vichara_-_Self-enquiry

||By paying attention to the 'I'-thought (Ahamkara or Aham-Vritti[68]), inquiring where it comes from,[68][note 22] the 'I'-thought will disappear and only "I-I"[web 25][note 4] or Self-awareness remains.[note 23] This results in an "effortless awareness of being",[68] and by staying with it[web 7][note 24] this "I-I" gradually destroys the vasanas "which cause the 'I'-thought to rise."[68] When the vasanas disappear, the mind, vritti[note 25] also disappears, since it centers around the 'I'-thought, and finally the 'I'-thought never rises again, which is Self-realization or liberation.[68][note 13][note 26][note 27]||

So Michael's mechanics could be right, or Ramana's above could be right (or they could be one and the same--not sure!).

In any case, the basic truth is the same: the individual "borrows" consciousness from Universal Consciousness, which is unitary--we all share the same one. There is then a process of individuation in the particular organism/entity.

I hope this also helps answer Bruce's point. And sorry I commented with some level of confidence when I was incorrect! I'll have to adjust my terminology accordingly. :)

Very good post, Michael, I congratulate you. My own answers to the two skeptical objections are as follows.

About that if the psyche may remain after death only in a grossly impaired form, it is not indicated for the evidence about NDEs and mediumship. Specifically NDEs show increased cognitive abilities and appearance of new skills: increased wakefulness, telepathy, perception of 360 degrees, and mediumship has reported that happens a tunnel effect, ie, the medium constricts the skills of the deceased when the deceased it shows.

And whether postmortem psyche has nothing to do with living being because it lacks physical limitations, one must ask what makes us the same person over time: our DNA? No, our history makes us who we are, so an individual changes but still the same person after her / his death because she / he retains its history, and the acquisition of new skills is a change of identity nothing more than the trasicion from child to adult, for instance. The common thread is the story of the individual.

"I feel confident that as we leave the body we gain the ability to enjoy *both* ends of the spectrum — our individuality and our oneness."

I believe more that way 'Bruce too.

That we retain our separateness, but as we are now pure consciousness and in a quantum reality of past and present consciousness, we can access that as well by simply becoming aware of it.

I feel with many NDE'S, they find when they are released from their bodies they come to realise that their conscious mind can expand and access all conscious information. And I feel people's NDE"S vary depending on what they think or where they place their awareness at that time.

I have read Star-gate, and played with a bit of remote viewing- not that I know much. But it seems to me when viewing they tend to use a number of methods to connect them with a target. The ones I have used online give you a number that is associated with the picture to be used. Some people work well with co-ordinates, particularly if seeing remote areas, but I know at one stage when helping a sponsor to make money by predicting an increase in shares. Those at Star-gate would say pick an apple to represent the share if it went up, and if down a plum. The actual association is of no importance, its just easier to concentrate on a simple thing rather than a series of concepts. Lyn x.

I should say, the actual concept is of no importance, the association is. if using co-ordinates for remote viewing, they serve both functions however. They are a simple concept and denote an area.

So in a way, I see remote viewing as the person telling the universe what a series of concepts will be. Much as we agree on our universe- i.e. a chair is a chair. Shares going up is now an apple. So over the weeks if I see an apple- this tells me the shares are going up.

I'm sure many have seen it, but here's a link to Harold Puthoff one of the physicists who instigated Star-gate. Broken into six video's- the first is about how the program came to be. The others look at the actual Star-gate program- and he mentions at one stage getting his dentist as a sponsor who would only do so if they remote viewed and told him which shares to pick.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j9TNf_FtR60

Cheers.

If I were asked to define my 'identity' how would I respond? Well first of all it needs to be made clear that my identity is not 'me'. It is not my I-thought, my awareness or soul. My identity is a construct, a garment so to speak dependant upon a physical existence. Were it not for the 'accident' of my birth as a male of certain genetic constituents to a well-intentioned young couple of meager means and status living in the middle of the United States of America in the 1930s, my identity might be different. My soul has inherent within it potentialities to be any personality or identity. The soul plays with the physical tools and environment at its disposal and depending upon its enlightenment directs its physical existence toward constructive purposes perhaps predetermined before its birth. Under other circumstances of birth into physicality my personality or identity might be that of the Queen of England, had I been born into the royal family 89 years ago, as the oldest female child in line to the throne. What one is as an identity or personality is an accident (or intentionality depending on one's views) of birth into physicality. Reincarnation is the wheel upon which soul, awareness or I-thought assumes various identities in its quest for further enlightenment. - AOD


Seth says:
"Your prime identity is a gestalt (soul) and is in constant contact with your whole self ( those many identity's you have been over time), of which your conscious self is unaware. However your inner consciousness is aware of its individuality and that it is part of a unity that survives eternally."

Julie Baxter says:
"That's just the kind of wishy-washy Seth, New Age bullsh*t that drives me potty. I really wish I didn't feel the need to say that, but, somehow, I do. My apologies to the offended, but please don't try to elaborate. I am, as of now, permanently ear-plugged with regard to the Seth Material".

I don't like new age wishy washy stuff. However I disagree with you in what I think Seth is saying. What we are is our inner essence, the self as I call it (see my essay http://ian-wardell.blogspot.co.uk/2009/03/is-after-death-conceivable.html part 3). This self I describe seems to correspond to the "I thought".

Now the self is unchanging, we are always the same "I thought" or stream of consciousness, but the properties of this self can vary widely. Obviously we can entertain different thoughts, be in different moods etc. But we can also vary in how intelligent we are, our interests, our pre-occupations etc at different times. Just compare your adult self to when you were a child.

So in a sense we have many identities over time as Seth says. But we are still the same self which survives eternally.

Would someone clarify me if the concept of Brahman is the same that some identify as Source?

Amos Oliver Doyle - || If I were asked to define my 'identity' how would I respond? Well first of all it needs to be made clear that my identity is not 'me'. It is not my I-thought, my awareness or soul. My identity is a construct, a garment so to speak dependant upon a physical existence. ||

Of course you speak for yourself here. My definition of myself is indeed my personal identity. As far as I am concerned, it is the real, the only meaningful definition of "me", not some intellectual abstraction describing a fundamentally different entity. "I" am the actual human being who sometime suffers, sometimes feels joy, and instinctively identifies himself as his physical body, mind, and unique personality. "I" am not the being who according to New Age belief systems has chosen this life (at least not as long as "I" am in my right mind).

A High Self with so transformed a consciousness and perspective of many different lives and personalities and realms of existence that it could make such a decision for its own reasons, would not be human, would not be the human person. It would be alien to its human.

@Matt: "We don't transmit an external "soul" or "spirit" that contains our consciousness, memories, etc. Rather, the brain "accesses" the I-Thought to be conscious as well as our externally extant memories"

Julie Baxter
"Yes! That's entirely consonant with my mini-mystical experience - the one that I experienced when I was just nine-years-old and which, I believe, I've recounted here in the past".

I'm afraid that I just find everything Matt says complete gobbledegook.

"In any case, the basic truth is the same: the individual "borrows" consciousness from Universal Consciousness, which is unitary--we all share the same one. There is then a process of individuation in the particular organism/entity."

Yes, Matt. This makes sense.

I like to think in terms of Universal Consciousness partitioning itself into countless entities, all of which go their own way (at some level), but are never fundamentally distinct from their origins, or from each other.

"Partitioning itself" makes clear that everything *begins* with source, and that ultimately, all actions are source's actions.

I can never forget the depiction of this cosmic event that I once witnessed in a psychedelic trance--the mind of God exploding into all the beings in the universe.

That was the Biggest Bang of all.

doubter said;

"A High Self with so transformed a consciousness and perspective of many different lives and personalities and realms of existence that it could make such a decision for its own reasons, would not be human, would not be the human person."

Agreed. "Ocean" does not equal "wave".

"It would be alien to its human."

Hardly! Is the ocean alien to the wave?

Doubter,
Speaking as a physical being of course you would identify yourself as a physical body, mind and personality but according to the I-thought concept these three things are objects, objects of the I-thought and survive only as a memory after the I-thought, ( awareness, consciousness, soul) leaves the body at it's dissolution. Body, mind and personality are those things that I think of as the garments of physical existence. The 'you' that you speak of is a human being but human beings do not exist in the world of spirit. There are no real bearded males or buxom females in Summerland. They are illusions and only exist as imagoes of a past life experience. Consciousness is prime; it has no form other than those forms it occupies as a physical being---human or otherwise. - AOD

Bruce,

||I like to think in terms of Universal Consciousness partitioning itself into countless entities, all of which go their own way (at some level), but are never fundamentally distinct from their origins, or from each other.||

I think that is true. But what if all those countless entities are also *working toward* the creation of Source?!

||I can never forget the depiction of this cosmic event that I once witnessed in a psychedelic trance--the mind of God exploding into all the beings in the universe.

That was the Biggest Bang of all.||

I do not doubt that this is true!

Ian Wardell wrote,

||I'm afraid that I just find everything Matt says complete gobbledegook.||

I'm OK with that, just so long as the gobbledegook makes sense!

:)

@Ian: it's not so much what 'Seth' says as the way 'he' says it. There's no beginning, no end and just a sticky, gooey mess in the middle. I like brevity. But each to his own. :)

"Now the self is unchanging, we are always the same "I thought" or stream of consciousness, but the properties of this self can vary widely. Obviously we can entertain different thoughts, be in different moods etc. But we can also vary in how intelligent we are, our interests, our pre-occupations etc at different times. Just compare your adult self to when you were a child.

So in a sense we have many identities over time as Seth says. But we are still the same self which survives eternally." - Ian

But does that really need to be said? Isn't it blindingly obvious that in the course of our lives we are subject to many influences?

That aside, we are still in the same script, we still have essentially the same character when we die as when we were in or infancy. Indeed, with age we tend to find ourself turning back to the things we loved as children. It's called a second childhood. But I don't see how that relates to being many different characters over many different lives. By which I mean to say there's nothing in the least bit profound in what 'Seth' has to say on the issue. But I have to hand it to 'him', he's got stamina. ;)
T

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