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At the very least we exist with functional dualities - Good/Evil, Matter/Mind, Order/Chaos, etc.

I think the simple answer to why we exist in an imperfect world if there is an afterlife and God exists is because the afterlife is imperfect and "God" may simply not care as much as we'd like. (Or "God" is the bifurcating source from which all entities are born, so more like Hinduism's Brahman or possibly Plotinus's One.)

At the least it's unclear to me how people shift through the varied claims and deduce that there is some perfect order underneath it all. Recalls a story in the Italian writer Calvino's Invisible Cities collection about a chaotic city which housed a perfect, gorgeous carpet ->

"An oracle was questioned about the mysterious bond between two objects so dissimilar as the carpet and the city. One of the two objects -- the oracle replied -- has the form the gods gave the starry sky and the orbits in which the worlds revolve; the other is an approximate reflection, like every human creation.

For some time the augurs had been sure that the carpet's harmonious pattern was of divine origin. The oracle was interpreted in this sense, arousing no controversy. But you could, similarly, come to the opposite conclusion: that the true map of the universe is the city of Eudoxia, just as it is, a stain that spreads out shapelessly, with crooked streets, houses that crumble one upon the other amid clouds of dust, fires, screams in the darkness."

Regarding a cosmic Plan... I am impressed by the logic of "as below, so above" (did I invert that?). So I envision a chaotic scene of many types of things/entities "above", one bunch of which are the old souls who guide reincarnation. And also probably run the host of angels who do all the little miracles abundantly found in literature and the net. (These angels may or may not be human souls -I can only guess.) Other bunches cause trouble -evil or trickery, who knows.
I have been disabused of any notion that God has a perfect knowledge of the future, or has omnipotence. (This to explain the problem of evil -another subject.) And I am not at all sure there is A Single God.
This leads to the only source of spiritual authority being the ever-increasing wisdom of old souls, honed over perhaps billions of years of observation and meddling(?)

So, yes, a plan, or many plans with a single general theme (our well being?), guiding us but not controlling us, driven by eons of evolved compassion, informed by the history of many many societies/civilizations, in many species. But always imperfect, buffeted by the wild noise of chance. Chaotic, but essentially good.

Yours,
Olbab

\\"Regarding a cosmic Plan... I am impressed by the logic of "as below, so above" - David//
---------------

Perfect description of the holographic universe. We live in the holographic projection and the place we call Heaven is the holographic film that our Universe is projected from.

Upon the death of the physical body the soul simply transitions to the holographic film that our Universe is projected from. It's as simple as that.

That is why in the New Testament it says "anything you bind on Earth will be bound in heaven and anything you loose on Earth will be loosed in Heaven." Which means that the stuff we have loved and lost while we were here... we get it all back. We really haven't lost anything.

Olbab said:

"I am impressed by the logic of "as below, so above" (did I invert that?)."

Yes you did. And that's no small thing since the real version implies exactly the opposite of what you go on to say.

"As above, so below" suggests that we are descended from the spiritual world—as most cultures throughout history have known—rather than accidentally evolved from the muck, the viewpoint since Darwin, and apparently yours.

I'll go with the original.

Michael said:

"There is something more compelling about the idea that if we could pierce the veil and see what's really going on, all would be perfect oneness and perfect harmony."

Glad you included that, Michael! And don't forget, it's not just an idea but an *experience*, one that's been reported again and again by NDErs and mystics of all kinds.

Those of us who have had such an experience take William James seriously when he says:

". . . the existence of mystical states absolutely overthrows the pretension of non-mystical states to be the sole and ultimate dictators of what we may believe . . . for there never can be a state of facts to which new meaning may not truthfully be added, provided the mind ascend to a more enveloping point of view. It must always remain an open question whether mystical states may not possibly be such superior points of view, windows through which the mind looks out upon a more extensive and inclusive world."

Sam Parnia's Erasing Death (2013) is now only $2 temporarily for an e-book version, at http://www.amazon.com/Erasing-Death-Science-Rewriting-Boundaries-ebook/dp/B0089LOFWG?_bbid=1475779&tag=bookbubemailc-20

"I am impressed by the logic of "as below, so above" (did I invert that?)." Olbab

"Yes you did. And that's no small thing since the real version implies exactly the opposite of what you go on to say." Bruce

Actually, I think there is a lot to Olbab's inversion. We carry into the next realm traits and qualities that we develop in this one. So there is at least a feedback loop.

I was going to say something along the lines of traits and qualities we develop here "contaminate" the next realm, but then I caught myself. I do not believe in utopias; not on earth and not in other dimensions to which our consciousness may travel or dwell.

I think that the thing we call "God" is farther removed from our perceptual capabilities than most realize. Those ineffable moments that we may experience from time to time lift us out of our puny existence for a spell. However, they are not God realization. Just another level of possibility still many many levels removed from full godhood.

God isn't human.


Apologies Bruce, but I think the view Olbab presents is hardly Dawkin's view. A materialist fanatic like Dawkins wouldn't consider spiritual ancestors guiding us. Olbab simply continues the vein of question I believe Lawrence began - why does the beautiful, orderly spiritual world produce this one? Whatever for?

I at least have found explanations put forth where the Good of the other side is taken as an assumed pillar to be unsatisfactory. Not that they aren't true, but for me it's hard to reconcile this idea with the suffering of this world and the other evidence suggesting immaterial entities.

This isn't to say David's is the definitive *right* answer, or even that there is an afterlife, but it takes the evil of this world more seriously from my personal perspective.

I actually think James points to this battle in the name of objective morality as well:

"For my own part, I do not know what the sweat and blood and tragedy of this life mean, if they mean anything short of this. If this life be not a real fight, in which something is eternally gained for the universe by success, it is no better than a game of private theatricals from which one may withdraw at will.

But it feels like a real fight,—as if there were something really wild in the universe which we, with all our idealities and faithfulnesses, are needed to redeem..."

Which isn't to say I or James think we should just accept there is a great deal of Evil, as he goes on to say:

"These then are my last words to you: Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact. The ‘scientific’ proof that you are right may not be clear before the day of judgment (or some stage of being which that expression may serve to symbolize) is reached. But the faithful fighters of this hour, or the beings that then and there will represent them, may turn to the faint-hearted, who here decline to go on, with words like those with which Henry IV greeted the tardy Crillon after a great battle had been gained: ‘Hang yourself, brave Crillon! We fought at Arques, and you were not there!’"

"God isn't human."

Oh yes I am. :)

no one said:

"Actually, I think there is a lot to Olbab's inversion. We carry into the next realm traits and qualities that we develop in this one. So there is at least a feedback loop."

Good point. But the *primary* movement is from Source (above) into its parts (below). It all starts with Source.

At least, that's how we mystics see it, and what the quote was originally intended to mean.

"I think that the thing we call "God" is farther removed from our perceptual capabilities than most realize."

Really? I think most of us grasp that a full understanding of God is far removed from our normal waking consciousness.

"Those ineffable moments that we may experience from time to time lift us out of our puny existence for a spell. However, they are not God realization."

I don't give much thought to God realization as a permanent, final state. But in those ineffable moments you refer to, I think we can indeed know God.

Can we know God fully and completely?

Even God doesn't know itself fully and completely! That's why it keeps venturing into manifest reality, trying out different guises and forms (including you and me)—to learn more about what it can do, feel, and experience.

We are God's cutting edge.

I do remember an NDE however that struck me as pretty interesting and supports the holographic universe. It was something to the effect that we wind up doing exactly what we liked doing here, recreating the environment perfectly. For instance, certain people who enjoyed "partying" found themselves in bars where they could booze, fight, flirt, etc. forever. I've come across similar descriptions that seem to imply the same,actually a lot, from Plato's cave description, to automatic writing received from the dead ("the real Sunnybank is here" from "Across the Line").

Michael said:

"There's recently been some discussion on this blog of why life can be so difficult . . . The more I see of human behavior, the more I think that a great deal of it can be explained in terms of anthropology, evolution, social conditioning, and biological needs."

I think that while these are all valid approaches to understanding our problems, none of them addresses the root cause—Source creates the manifest world by splitting off parts of itself (since no other raw materials exist). And those parts will naturally feel, to varying extents, Homesick.

It's no coincidence that virtually every NDEr talks about the ecstasy of returning home.

"I don't know how many children have such experiences, but I would imagine that any who do would benefit from this charming little book."

I would like that someone to do a study with children to find out if they perceive apparitions of some kind, if the apparitions provide veridical information that could hardly be obtained by ordinary means, if the apparitions can be perceived by other psychic adults and if the apparitions show an autonomous behavior identifiable with a deceased human being.

"I don't give much thought to God realization as a permanent, final state. But in those ineffable moments you refer to, I think we can indeed know God."

then

"Even God doesn't know itself fully and completely!"

Seem to be in contradiction to some extent. How can you know something that, apparently, is evolving?

"We are God's cutting edge".

Seems pretty hubris filled, but, again, by that definition, then why do we need to be in an altered state to "know" god? Me sitting there half asleep drinking my coffee at my desk would be as valid an experience of god as me in a deep meditative state or me on a psychedelic or me in any frame of mind for that matter.

And I realize that some would say "YES!!! Now you get it!", to which I reply that it doesn't help much because now we are back to where we started. If it's Joe Schmoe that just lost his wife in a rough divorce and who has digestive problems due to being over worked and under paid because of a bad economy and he's got termites in his peg leg and a broken down car or it's "god" who just lost his wife, etc, etc. How is it helpful?

I reject the whole thing as 1. being an unproveable form of solipsism and 2. I further contend that "god" or "The Source" is an unknowable force of awesome and inhuman nature 3. As this power is filtered through many layers of reality we start to see different types of individual consciousness emerge; one of which is humanity. 4. By the time you get to a layer of reality where you have something that could be called humanity you are far removed from the raw energy of source and there is no communication or understanding possible between the two. 5. The things and experiences that people sometimes call "god" are beings and perceptions related to the next layer up; not the apex.

That is what I propose.

\\"There's recently been some discussion on this blog of why life can be so difficult . . . The more I see of human behavior, the more I think that a great deal of it can be explained in terms of anthropology, evolution, social conditioning, and biological needs." - Bruce//
---------------------

But underlying all that there is a much deeper hidden reality that we aren't privy to where all these experiences arise and where the laws of our Universe come from. Life's difficulties are the way they are to overcome the differences between the physics of where we are now and the physics of the other side.

There are just some things in heaven that simply can not be learned there like what it means and how it feels to be separate, what time and space look and feel like, what it's like to have a body and control that body, what it's like to live in a 3 dimensional + 1 time Universe. All these things are how near death experiencers describe the other side.

If you want to be a separate unique individual and know what it's like to have a body and what time and space look and feel like it has to be accomplished here. And those lessons have to be powerful enough so that when we cross over into heaven we won't simply be absorbed back into that great "oneness and connectedness" and lose our sense of self.

The lessons we experience here have to be painful enough so that we don't forget who we are after we leave this physical body behind.

Personally, I think the simplest answer as to why life is so difficult is that it's a three way mix:

1. The natural laws that are part of the universe/nature inevitably cause chaos (earthquakes, storms, ice ages, etc.)

2. Chaos and suffering resulting from personal choice, whether free will or otherwise (humans interacting with each other, the environment, and other life forms, while animals kill to get food, etc.)

3. Life is meant to be challenging because we can (but not always) grow quickly by going through difficult situations and learning from them.

In short, life's supposed to be a challenge to develop our character. From the spiritual realm it looks easy, but once we take physical form, we realize it it's anything but.

Art, in your last comment (December 17 at 12:32 PM), you quoted Michael's words as if they were mine.

no one said:

"How can you know something that, apparently, is evolving?"

In the same way that, despite the fact that you continue to change, your friends know you.

To be clear—I don't claim to know anything about God's evolution, or even if the word is truly useful in this context.

"Seems pretty hubris filled, but, again, by that definition, then why do we need to be in an altered state to "know" god?"

As I see it, God *is* an altered state of consciousness—the state in which we know our largest self.

This stands in contrast to ordinary awareness, which you might call God in self-forgetfulness.

I like what Anita Moorjani said in describing her NDE: I realized that God isn't a being, but a *state* of being.

". By the time you get to a layer of reality where you have something that could be called humanity you are far removed from the raw energy of source and there is no communication or understanding possible between the two."

I'm one of those people—like NDErs and other mystics—who are convinced that direct communion with God can happen in an instant. It may not last for long, but it leaves you changed.

No One: 2. I further contend that "god" or "The Source" is an unknowable force of awesome and inhuman nature
Art Kleps put that very pithily: "God has no IQ."

Ian wrote, "Personally, I think the simplest answer as to why life is so difficult is that it's a three way mix: 1. The natural laws that are part of the universe/nature inevitably cause chaos (earthquakes, storms, ice ages, etc.) ..."

The question for me is: Why would a perfect, infinitely intelligent and infinitely capable God create natural laws that "inevitably cause chaos"? The answer sometimes given is that we learn by adversity. But the randomness and apparent meaninglessness of so much of this chaos - like the earthquakes and storms you mentioned - seems to work against this thesis.

On the other hand, if God is not perfect and not infinitely intelligent or infinitely capable, then maybe this imperfect world is the best one possible under the circumstances. It may represent a necessary compromise, or it may be a work in progress whose full implications could not be foreseen.

The Gnostics had an idea similar to this; they believed that our cosmos was created by an imperfect deity. But they also believed in a higher, perfect deity who could be known by those with true wisdom (namely, the Gnostics themselves). Maybe they were right about the first part but wrong about the second. Maybe not. But it could explain a lot.

"The question for me is: Why would a perfect, infinitely intelligent and infinitely capable God create natural laws that "inevitably cause chaos"?"

Because people come together in adversity of that kind? Under such circumstances, the cards are reshuffled. I remember an old fisherman who lives in Hope Cove, on the wild South Devon coast, speaking nostalgically about the way village life had changed due to the impact of 60% holiday homes. He said:

"This used to be a real community. Everybody hated everybody else's guts. But whenever there was a disaster they all pulled together."

Art wrote : "There are just some things in heaven that simply can not be learned there...what time and space look and feel like, what it's like to have a body and control that body, what it's like to live in a 3 dimensional + 1 time Universe"

I have some sympathy with this idea and have also followed Art's link to the holographic universe essay (from Michael's previous post, not this one), which I agree introduces a compelling concept. In terms of learning about qualia that cannot be experienced in a higher dimension, might it also be the case - and a more thorough, holistic case - that we would also have needed to experience life as animals, birds, fish, plants, microbes; in short, all forms of life in this 3D (+ 1 time) universe?


"...they believed that our cosmos was created by an imperfect deity. But they also believed in a higher deity.." - Michael

I guess that's what I'm saying, more or less. Though I contend that the follow-on "..who could be known by those with true wisdom.." is not realistic or even possible because God isn't a personality (I like that "doesn't have an IQ") and isn't human.

The more individualized awareness becomes the "farther" it is from the source/god and the more specialized its perceptions. There are many realms where there are consequences of identity politics, but sticking with the physical realm we know best, identity politics causes conflicts, which can lead to chaos and suffering.

When we have a myriad of types/classes of organisms - and even individuals within those classes - each with its own specialized perceptual biases and resulting identity, we have the basis for conflict and, ultimately, suffering . Example; the needs of a bacteria may conflict with the needs of a human resulting in suffering of the human and, by extension, other members of the human class.

The other way that suffering happens as a result of individualized identity is that we simply recognize that something bad is happening to *me*. Whereas at the God level there is simply one energy that is neither created nor destroyed - like white noise.

Once we realize that our experiences of "god" and "angels" and all that are actually glimpses at a higher level of organization, but a higher level that is still human - as opposed to the true source - things become understandable. There is no ultimate god planning our lives or much of anything else - nor watching out over us. There are imperfect layers of identity where identity politics weigh heavily in whatever decision making occurs.


I found Michael's blog years ago with dial-up, and somehow lost track of it. For me, it's good to again read speculation regarding answers to these questions. It seems possibly to be going in the direction Husserl had envisioned.

Olbab's "old souls" idea is similar to my own conjecturing at times.

If we look at development during "youth" of any creature's life on Earth, it seems it mirrors somewhat (or re-capitulates) the birthing process itself. I used to align somewhat (in moments) with Origen or gnosticism. Lately I've had another idea.

Firstly, I realized that my idea of co-eternal (souls/God) was not really that...that I in fact held on to a notion of souls being created...however many bilions, and billions, and billions of years ago. Secondly, what drives people such as those who read here? A lack of knowledge. The "pleasures of the mind." The fruit from that tree (of the knowledge of good & evil)?

"I have been disabused of any notion that God has a perfect knowledge of the future, or has omnipotence."

In spite of Pascal's infinitely speedy point scanning the 3D universe (analogy), I've found myself doubting in moments that God has omniscience even in regard to Her/His present creative venture...ie this present universe. For, to endow us with freedom, it had to be unfathomably large. Perhaps it is fundamentally our realm, and not His/Her realm. We could imagine the creation of angel beings if we wish. One thing they might have lacked which they desired may have been..."knowledge" regarding their own beginnings and futures. However angels speculated, they may have lacked the particular assistance our brains give the "Higher Self," or angelic-cognitive-state.

We have been instructed to pray. Perhaps this is how God becomes aware of our own particular/unique/local...condition/state/situation.

One more thought from me - the idea of source/god as "everything" *and* loving and perfect cannot be true, by definition. If source/god is everything, then it is love and hate, knowledge and ignorance, order and chaos, pain and pleasure....

Kind of like "The Force", which appears to be unconcerned with human values and lends itself to both good and evil alike depending on the will of the person utilizing it.

Once we understand that, then discussions about how god can permit evil and suffering become moot.

\\"In terms of learning about qualia that cannot be experienced in a higher dimension, might it also be the case - and a more thorough, holistic case - that we would also have needed to experience life as animals, birds, fish, plants, microbes; in short, all forms of life in this 3D (+ 1 time) universe?" - Adeimantus//
--------------------------

Excerpt from Randy Gehling's NDE (10 years old),
""That was really cool! I kind of felt as though my body exploded - in a nice way - and became a million different atoms - and each single atom could think its own thoughts and have its own feelings. All at once I seemed to feel like I was a boy, a girl, a dog, a cat, a fish. Then I felt like I was an old man, an old woman - and then a little tiny baby."
http://www.near-death.com/experiences/with-pets/randy-gehling.html

It's a holographic universe oneness connectedness thing.

Like others I wonder if worrying about God is the mistake. If someone is breaking into houses in your area you might wax metaphysically for a moment but the bigger concern is local police stopping the thief.

Similarly there are levels of reality that, as have been mentioned, come before the Source/Brahman/God. Perhaps there is a way to experiment, in James' "radical empricist" fashion, making changes in this world via rituals and such.

If - and it's admittedly a big if - there is contributing factor to human suffering outside the material world it seems "closer to home" than the ultimate level of the Prime Mover.

"On the other hand, if God is not perfect and not infinitely intelligent or infinitely capable, then maybe this imperfect world is the best one possible under the circumstances."

But what is the evidence for the existence of this imperfect god? And if that imperfect god exists, would not that be an alien civilization, namely intelligent beings but part of the nature that originated from random and non-intelligent reality, which constitutes the atheism?

"Once we understand that, then discussions about how god can permit evil and suffering become moot."

That is because you manage a impersonal concept of God, but who manages a personal concept of God the existence of evil can be a philosophical problem.

"One more thought from me - the idea of source/god as "everything" *and* loving and perfect cannot be true, by definition. If source/god is everything, then it is love and hate, knowledge and ignorance, order and chaos, pain and pleasure...."

Probably true.

And there is no actual reason as to why we couldn't merge with this God/Source after we cross over.

"But the faithful fighters of this hour, or the beings that then and there will represent them, may turn to the faint-hearted, who here decline to go on, with words like those with which Henry IV greeted the tardy Crillon after a great battle had been gained: ‘Hang yourself, brave Crillon! We fought at Arques, and you were not there!’"

Very moving, SPatel, you had me investigating William James.

There is an arc of justice in the universe. Sometimes it's almost invisible. Sometimes it's there for all to see - witness Martin Shkreli.

no one said:

"One more thought from me - the idea of source/god as "everything" *and* loving and perfect cannot be true, by definition. If source/god is everything, then it is love and hate, knowledge and ignorance, order and chaos, pain and pleasure...."

This is an important point, no one. I'm grateful for your making it because you forced me, today, to further clarify what I believe to be true, and how to explain it.

My answer is not a short one. Give me a year or so to get it ready. :)

"The question for me is: Why would a perfect, infinitely intelligent and infinitely capable God create natural laws that "inevitably cause chaos"? The answer sometimes given is that we learn by adversity. But the randomness and apparent meaninglessness of so much of this chaos - like the earthquakes and storms you mentioned - seems to work against this thesis".

To me, if we are each an essence of omnificense experiencing life with mostly freewill. All the randomness is self perpetuated, and if we influence matter, that as well. Perhaps our lesson is how conscious thoughts influence ourselves, each other and all matter in the universe. I feel over life we slowly come to see our impact on others and our environment - global warming etc Lyn x.

Luciano, "And there is no actual reason as to why we couldn't merge with this God/Source after we cross over"

Except that after death communications make it clear that we don't merge, at least fully, with a god. Rather, individual awareness remains in effect.

"My answer is not a short one. Give me a year or so to get it ready. :)"

Bruce, I'm already looking forward to it :-)

Here's a NDE that mirrors Seth in explanation of our universe and how we affect it.

http://ndestories.org/cami-renfrow/

Cheers.

"My answer is not a short one. Give me a year or so to get it ready." - Bruce

Couldn't you just do it 'Zen like': give us the bottom line and we'll work out the rest for ourselves? :)

When we start talking about meaning and purpose and free will and how everything happens for a reason type stuff, my mind goes right to the death of a small child. I think I've mentioned this before, but I deal with this kind of thing for a living and see it constantly, so I do find it hard to get on board with the "we're hear to learn" attitude when I see so many kids never getting the opportunity to learn past their 5th birthday (and many sooner than that). This whole "life and death" process seems entirely random and it feels like many people have an innate sense of evil, which gets these unlucky kids put into a home environment that ends in their murder (and sometimes worse). Just pure randomness. There's no explanation for it. If a higher power does exist, he has certainly left the building when it comes to some of our most vulnerable.

What could we possibly be doing on earth for a mere few months of life? What purpose would it serve, to be born, then quickly murdered? No language, no walking, no development of anything that is remotely significant or contributing, in any culture or society? If it ain't random, it sure as hell feels like it.

Great post and great discussion!

I especially liked these comments by Bruce,

||As I see it, God *is* an altered state of consciousness—the state in which we know our largest self.

I'm one of those people—like NDErs and other mystics—who are convinced that direct communion with God can happen in an instant. It may not last for long, but it leaves you changed.||

Yes, this last thing sounds like a flash of "satori," which of course I think many (most?) of us experience.

no one said,

"because God isn't a personality (I like that 'doesn't have an IQ') and isn't human."

This reminds me of Spinoza's concept of God as expressed his Ethics. In fact, he says nearly exactly this (http://www.gutenberg.org/files/3800/3800-h/3800-h.htm):


"[...] neither intellect nor will appertain to God's nature. [...] from God's supreme power, or infinite nature, an infinite number of things—that is, all things have necessarily flowed forth in an infinite number of ways, or always flow from the same necessity[...]. Wherefore the omnipotence of God has been displayed from all eternity, and will for all eternity remain in the same state of activity."

And:

"[...] God cannot pass either to a greater or to a lesser perfection [...]; therefore [...] he is not affected by any emotion of pleasure or pain.

[...] Strictly speaking, God does not love or hate anyone."

Due to these and related statements, Spinoza has therefore been perceived as an atheist or a pantheist.

Sleepers writes: "What could we possibly be doing on earth for a mere few months of life? What purpose would it serve, to be born, then quickly murdered? No language, no walking, no development of anything that is remotely significant or contributing, in any culture or society? If it ain't random, it sure as hell feels like it."

Could it be that the learning is for others - perhaps those close to the child?

@ Julie

"Couldn't you just do it 'Zen like'?"

Yes, that's my plan. But it means slapping you in the face and it'll take me a while to work up the courage.

@Matt

Glad you liked that quote. I can't think of anything more important!

\\"When we start talking about meaning and purpose and free will and how everything happens for a reason type stuff, my mind goes right to the death of a small child." - sleepers//
------------------

But if there is no death and that child is alive in another dimension (heaven) and when her parents and brothers and sisters cross over she will be there to greet them just like I expect my mother will be there to greet me when I die. And if when we get to the other side it's like waking up from a dream and we look back on this life like it happened in the blink of an eye and that it was like a hoax or illusion then the only thing we have left is the lessons we learned like what it felt like to be separate, what time and space looked like, what it felt like to be inside a body and control that body, and live in a 3 dimensional + 1 time Universe. And the emotion we felt helps us remember those lessons.

Excerpt from Roger Ebert's final moments with his wife, "But the day before he passed away, he wrote me a note: "This is all an elaborate hoax." I asked him, "What's a hoax?" And he was talking about this world, this place. He said it was all an illusion."
http://www.esquire.com/entertainment/tv/news/a26606/roger-ebert-final-moments/

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

"This whole "life and death" process seems entirely random and it feels like many people have an innate sense of evil, which gets these unlucky kids put into a home environment that ends in their murder (and sometimes worse). Just pure randomness."

Perhaps because it is random, so that the afterlife can be a brute fact of existence as the physical facts and there is not a purpose for this.

Although reincarnation may be the answer for those who have died prematurely. However, the evidence for reincarnation does not indicate the existence of a purpose or divine justice. If X stabs in one eye to Y, the divine justice would make us think that X reincarnate without an eye, but type Stevenson evidence indicate otherwise, what Y reincarnate without an eye, that is, that karma is a physical and mechanical process.

Bruce writes:

"I'm one of those people—like NDErs and other mystics—who are
convinced that direct communion with God can happen in an instant. It may not last for long, but it leaves you changed."

"@ Julie

"Couldn't you just do it 'Zen like'?"

Yes, that's my plan. But it means slapping you in the face and it'll take me a while to work up the courage."

Yes, that's exactly how God gets the message across too. We Westerners sometimes call it being cruel to be kind. :)

In terms of arguing back against some of what I see here, I would refer to the Western Myth-style thinking I talked about in this guest post I did: http://michaelprescott.typepad.com/michael_prescotts_blog/2015/04/guest-post-.html

The disappointment in the level of fairness and order we see in this world comes from a very deeply ingrained template in which we see a Father-type "God" making a perfect world that we humans somehow mess up. Needless to say, I think this view of things is incorrect. The good news is, IMO, that the Reality we get instead of that is at the same time much more challenging and rewarding than being, in essence, God's pets.

Matt writes:

"The disappointment in the level of fairness and order we see in this world comes from a very deeply ingrained template in which we see a Father-type "God" making a perfect world that we humans somehow mess up. Needless to say, I think this view of things is incorrect. The good news is, IMO, that the Reality we get instead of that is at the same time much more challenging and rewarding than being, in essence, God's pets."

Yes, I'm very much inclined to agree. :)

"The disappointment in the level of fairness and order we see in this world comes from a very deeply ingrained template in which we see a Father-type "God" making a perfect world that we humans somehow mess up." - Matt Rouge

Agreed. Furthermore, the father god and life plan type thinking remove agency from individuals. I guess that is a lot of its appeal.

@Juan: Good point on the transfer of harm across lifetimes.

This idea of overarching justice and order just seems infeasible to me and it appears the afterlife reflects that.

Positive NDEs - assuming they are accurate representations of anyone's afterlife - are likely just individuals isolated in certain planes that are nice resorts for the lucky to tumble into but hardly the totality of what's out there.

@Kathleen: James is a great read as he was a great writer who fully grasped the nihilistic disease of materialist thinking.

As for Justice, I think the potential exists within us but both here and on the other side (if it exists) it requires brave souls to fight for.

I just found another account of a mystical awakening that echoes my own understanding.

A prime insight from it:

"To deny, fear, or hate anything in the universe is to deny a part of oneself, to be controlled by that part, and to divide oneself from something that God wisely allows to exist."

I like how she explains God’s connection to us. Rather than a relationship that might be described as king-to-subject, owner-to-pet, or inventor-to-plaything, she sees God as the formless being that lives in us and through us.

Her words to God: “You created us [humans] so you could see yourself.”

The whole piece is here:

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

The word "father" for God comes from Jesus Christ, does it not? Probably even Hinduism too. In the language Jesus spoke back in the day his term actually meant "Dad" in our modern English usage. Abba.

It is a term of intimacy and endearment. It is a shame people have got a distorted view of it as some kind of controlling and manipulating totalitarian overload! Very unfortunate.

"It is a shame people have got a distorted view of it as some kind of controlling and manipulating totalitarian overlord!"

Well, if we posit that there is an omnipotent God who takes a personal interest in our lives, he would have to be something of a totalitarian overlord to mastermind the deaths of thousands of people in a tsunami, or to permit children to be born with crippling birth defects, or to cook up the Ebola virus, etc.

These aren't problems caused by humans' free will. So in the God scenario there are only two options: 1) God is willing to inflict horrible misery on humans (and other life forms), or 2) God is not omnipotent (he is limited in some way, and the pain and suffering are a result of his inability to do anything about it).

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