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I was discussing religion with my wife yesterday. Both raised in the bible belt and both came out of fundi religion. Her to Agnosticism and me to a Agnostic Christianity. Or liberal Christian. :-) Anyway, I have often though that the main difference (and the thing that keeps me at least marginally although, heretically Christian is this one aspect that I find that does make Christianity different. The thought that source or being would take on flesh and join us in this wonderful, tragic journey through life.

For instance it's one thing to rush in to a dwelling and "save" someone from a fire. But, real love would rush into the building and if unable to rescue you would then sit down with you in the burning building. Anyway, something like that. ;-)

That's my two cents and of course I could be wrong. :-)

Ha too funny - ok, I'll copy over my reply from FB so I don't have to write anything new (I really need to get back to work/can't get my head in the game this Monday)....I agree with all you say, Michael, but I think it goes farther than that. First, for a mythology - or to avoid the negative connotations of "myth" , a spiritual understanding - to work, to be adoptable, it must function as an integral element of social cohesion as well as individual psychological cohesion. Moreover, It cannot interfere with the meeting of the physical needs either. Therefore, the lofty visions of the originators *must* be toned down. Else human biological earthly existence would be given a distant second seat to other worldliness and you'd essentially end up with something more like a death cult. It would be very denying of earthly existence. There are - and have always been - sects like that. So we can see what happens.

Now, as to the idea of the "higher self", it could be any aspect of the totality of one's awareness that is not normally consciously accessed in day to day life. So a satan worshipper (someone working on the dark side) is spiritual too. I guess what most people are trying to do is to access the "right" aspects of their higher selves.

What I think gets lost in all of this is that, at bottom, we are at least co-creators of reality; pure imagination with near infinite potential. Yet we are also earth bound physical beings for the time being. There is a real tension between these two states of being. We're here. There must be a reason and there's a lot to learn and enjoy here. I worry about people that create a mythology that holds that being here sucks. I worry about people that create a mythology with impossible standards such that they get depressed and frustrated with themselves and their neighbors. I also worry about people that create mythologies that deny their vast perceptual/spiritual potential. And I find the whole spiritual evolution that we are witnessing to be truly interesting.

At the end of the day, I guess I am more about freedom than I am about some of the other values that are emphasized - yet I have a moral/ethical side too. Just trying to figure it all out.....

But you seem to be implying that the higher self is wiser than the incarnate self. If that is so, then at least three questions arise:
1. Why do we bother to incarnate?
2. What is the incarnate body's value to the higher self?
3. Why does the higher self not inculcate its incarnate body with a greater degree of its native wisdom?

I'm going to have to disagree with you.

The problem with asserting that all religions about getting in touch with your higher self is that not all religions would agree that that's what they're trying to do. For many if not most Christians and Muslims, God is thought of as something outside them, and definitely not in any sense identical with them. For some forms of Buddhism there explicitly is no higher self -- that's what the concept of anatman is about, denying the Atman, the higher Self of Hinduism.

If we accept a spiritual realm it seems plausible some religions were started by lower level entities, some possibly benevolent and some hungering for human suffering?

Or, and this seems even more plausible to me, that religions are tools used by such entities for benevolent and malevolent ends much the way humans have used them?

Of course humans - possible with some Psi abilities - may have inspired the world religions as suggested by the recent X-men Apocalypse trailer.

Barbara wrote,

"1. Why do we bother to incarnate?
"2. What is the incarnate body's value to the higher self?
"3. Why does the higher self not inculcate its incarnate body with a greater degree of its native wisdom?"

Some possible answers:

The higher self seeks direct, personal experience, which can only be obtained by incarnating.

The life journey of the incarnate self can only be meaningful if the incarnate self is fully committed to it, which means it must forget where it came from. (If life is a video game, it is a fully immersive game.)

The higher self exists outside of linear time, but the incarnate self exists in linear time. Perhaps the various incarnations have all contributed to the higher self. In other words, life journeys taken in the past, present, and future are all represented in the totality of the higher self, which exists in all times simultaneously. In this way the higher self both directs our journeys and is the result of our journeys. Its wisdom is our wisdom, only we have not learned all the lessons yet because we are still occupying a point on a timeline. The ancient symbol of a snake swallowing its own tail may be relevant here - or to put it in more modern terms, we could think of a Mobius strip or a strange loop (tangled hierarchy).

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

James wrote, "For many if not most Christians and Muslims, God is thought of as something outside them, and definitely not in any sense identical with them."

True. But I'm suggesting that the higher self has been misidentified as an outside entity.

"For some forms of Buddhism there explicitly is no higher self -- that's what the concept of anatman is about, denying the Atman, the higher Self of Hinduism."

Interesting. I'm afraid I don't know enough about Buddhism to comment on it.

SPatel wrote, "If we accept a spiritual realm it seems plausible some religions were started by lower level entities, some possibly benevolent and some hungering for human suffering?"

This could be another factor in the development of religion. For instance, the descriptions of Moses communing with Yahweh in the tabernacle (a darkened tent) could suggest a darkened seance room. Whether or not there was any such person as Moses, these passages may preserve a historically valid memory of an actual practice in which early Israelite leaders communed with a channeled entity.

And though the entity was believed to be God, who is to say it was not something else entirely, even something of a lower order? Yahweh's repeated instructions to wipe out whole populations seem more reflective of a low-level entity than a highly evolved spirit, much less God. Christian gnostics were so horrified by Yahweh's militaristic tendencies that they concluded he was a fraud - a mere pretender. Maybe there is some truth in this.

“The life journey of the incarnate self can only be meaningful if the incarnate self is fully committed to it, which means it must forget where it came from.”

Michael, I agree with this completely. And in line with that, I would change this:

“In this way the higher self both directs our journeys and is the result of our journeys.”

To this:

The higher self directs our journeys, is the result of our journeys, and by purposely (if temporarily) forgetting its true nature, *takes* our journeys.

I am the part of my higher self that’s having this particular adventure.

Like Jason Bourne, I’m trying to re-discover my true identity.

"1. Why do we bother to incarnate?
"2. What is the incarnate body's value to the higher self?
"3. Why does the higher self not inculcate its incarnate body with a greater degree of its native wisdom?"

My proposals are as follows:

1. We embody for a field of obstacles / resistances that there is not in the postbiological realm.

2. The value to face and overcome obstacles.

3. The wisdom of the higher self is the wisdom of the lower self over time, so the higher self would not be where it is if it were not for the experiences of the lower self, but retroactively the higher self has always been wise; things about non-linearity of time ...

Well said Michael and worth repeating. - AOD

"The higher self exists outside of linear time, but the incarnate self exists in linear time. Perhaps the various incarnations have all contributed to the higher self. In other words, life journeys taken in the past, present, and future are all represented in the totality of the higher self, which exists in all times simultaneously. In this way the higher self both directs our journeys and is the result of our journeys. Its wisdom is our wisdom,. . . ."

no one hits on a question I've always had about Buddhism. I am always uneasy when people talk about killing the ego. or trying to be "nothing." Religion be it east or west tends to pull silly rules out of their butts in order to keep control. The other day I was watching Star Trek Enterprise with my agnostic wife on Netflix. This is to me the most materialistic of all the Star Trek shows. No real discussion of higher power or thoughts that we may be more than the sum of our parts. The character Commander Tucker is writing to a young crew members parents since she was killed in action. He says something about how much he will miss her and how all of a sudden she just didn't exist and how that affected him. What a horrible letter to write to a parent. But, to me it showed how thoroughly (although the show is at least ten years old now) our society has accepted the brain equals all we are mindset. We had a long talk about his of course. I took the "No meaning without a higher purpose route" While my wife took the "so you can't conceive of meaning without belief in a higher power?" Take. Anyway, I enjoy the conversation here.

Off-topic, but there's a Cracked article proposing to debunk NDEs/psychics/etc; it got the NDE info wrong, and presumably other things as well. Would anyone care to take a look at it?

"For many if not most Christians and Muslims, God is thought of as something outside them, and definitely not in any sense identical with them."

I can't speak for Muslims, but Catholics aren't exactly taught this - instead, God is in everyone of us, the people you love, and even the people you hate. That's what makes it so hard.

Anyway, oddly or not oddly, I've been recently impressed by the similarities between Jesus' and Buddha's teachings. Or maybe everyone knows this.

One of the big problems with religion it seems, is people not seeing the forest for the trees, the adherence to the little bureaucratic rules taken entirely out of context, abiding by the "rules" without any understanding of why they're there. So in that respect they're very similar. And they all get easily used by the ambitious and the sociopath alike - they're great vehicles of ambition and cruelty.

one aspect of religion that interest me is the difference in explanations - or lack thereof - for why we experience earthly life. Christianity really offers nothing if one reads what Jesus is supposed to have said. The OT just kind of suggests that Yahweh created us as tools to worship him, but he gave us free will and with it, we screwed up. Islam is pretty much the same as the OT. Buddhism and Hinduism are a little more sophisticated in that they have some explanations around primal psychic energies congealing into distinct entities with desires and karma that led to lives in delusion in the dense realms (e.g. earth).

There was also, before all those religions, Zoroastrianism; which was a great religion in its day. best I can tell, it explained the purpose of life as giving souls the option of joining the fight for good and order in the universe - or to join the forces of chaos and darkness. So like an incubator for new forces in the great war.

All of the explanations seem like thin gruel. Also they are all, without exception, earthly life denying while, curiously, maintaining anthropomorphic qualities. No surprise that people are seeking more meaning wherever they can find it.

"I took the "No meaning without a higher purpose route" While my wife took the "so you can't conceive of meaning without belief in a higher power?" Take. Anyway, I enjoy the conversation here."

But you raise three different issues: the meaning of life, the afterlife and God. They are separate issues and only the second is empirically approachable.

Juan said: But you raise three different issues: the meaning of life, the afterlife and God. They are separate issues and only the second is empirically approachable.

I think the meaning of life leads naturally to the concept of God or the disavowal of god. But, I do get to an extent what you mean. For me I tend to like something I heard on a youtube video on the New Thinking Allowed channel. An Eastern concept (maybe Hindu I really don't remember) When it comes to God the person said the concept of belief or non belief isn't even logical. The question is either you have experienced something or you have not experienced something.

Personally, I do find the Darwinian wet dream of some Star Trek type thoughts to be extremely sterile and without any real individual hope. Maybe that's why I am more in line with liberal Christianity (my own skepticism included) than with Buddhism (which I do respect although I don't practice it or buy in) or atheism (which I freely admit) leave me cold.

\\"1. Why do we bother to incarnate?" - Juan//


How can the soul know or learn what it means and how it feels to be separate living in a place where the feelings of oneness and connectedness are infinite and overwhelming as described by near death experiencers?

The only way is by coming to this Universe and experiencing separation.

How can the soul learn what time and space and how it feels to have a body and control that body unless it comes here where time and space and embodiment exists?

The only way to know what time and space and what it is like to be embodied and control a body is by coming here and experiencing time and space and being in a body. You can't learn to drive a car simply by watching somebody else do it or reading a book about it. You got to get in the car and drive it yourself to get the feel of it.

Michael, what do you mean by the higher self? I would like to engage you in a conversational exchange about that because I think/feel it is imperative to come to some kind of agreement about what is meant by that term first before sharing my views. Thanks

Presumably, I am assuming that by the words "higher self" you mean "God". But I could be wrong.

There are several traditions in religion and esotericism that allow a person to get in touch with that part of the self. In some places that part is called a fylgia, or a fetch, or the Holy Guardian Angel, etc. It is seen as "higher", or conscious in a different way, but is still seen as distinct from the divine, God, or the Gods. So my "higher self" is likely real, but it doesn't make me cognate to Jesus, or Odin, or Apollo, of Mother Mary, all of which likely have their own ontologically independent existence.

Michael your first paragraph prompted me to start browsing around and I learned something I didn't know before as a result. I found information on Judaism that stated that rather than being founded by one individual, Judaism was the result of an entire group of people all hearing the voice of God at the same time. It stated that according to every Torah script ever found, that 3 million people heard the voice of God at/on Mt. Sinai..I thought that was interesting. I don't know the implications of that information but it may tie into this discussion somehow! For me it is just fascinating to learn how our world religions developed as they did. Thanks for the work you do on your blog. I learn much from it.

"I found information on Judaism that stated that rather than being founded by one individual, Judaism was the result of an entire group of people all hearing the voice of God at the same time."

Sounds like a legend - one of many in Jewish lore. For instance, when the Hebrew scriptures were translated into Greek, it was claimed that all 70 translators, working independently, produced the identical result. This showed that the Greek translation was inspired by God.

An interesting and very readable account of the origins of the Hebrew Bible is "Who Wrote the Bible?" by Richard Elliot Friedman.

http://is.gd/c2egXt

"So my 'higher self' is likely real, but it doesn't make me cognate to Jesus, or Odin, or Apollo, of Mother Mary, all of which likely have their own ontologically independent existence."

I highly doubt that Odin or Apollo actually exists or ever did exist, except perhaps in the sense of "thought forms." Jesus and Mary were real historical figures, so they would have the same reality as any other deceased persons. (This is not to say that the real Jesus and Mary were exactly like their scriptural depictions.)

"I am assuming that by the words 'higher self' you mean 'God'."

I mean the diamond:

http://michaelprescott.net/the-diamond.html

I don't mean God. I'm saying that the higher self is *mistaken* for God. However, there may be a sense in which the two are the same, which I hope to explore in my next post. Stay tuned!

Hi Michael,
I think I have read at least two versions of your 'Diamond'. By far and away this version which you linked is the most exquisitely beautiful one, clearly written and easily understandable by probably everyone. This has got to be a chapter in your first non-fiction book which you will surely write , sometime soon I hope. You have enough in this blog and your other writings to write a best seller I think. - AOD

"I highly doubt that Odin or Apollo actually exists or ever did exist, except perhaps in the sense of "thought forms." " - Michael

I wouldn't be totally dismissive of thought forms. Some time ago you discussed the concept of "functional entities", which, IMO, was an key item on this blog.

We know that if the creative powers of minds focus their intent on conjuring up an entity, it might very well appear and have the personality intended as well as paranormal powers *even if that entity is purely imaginary*. This has been documented in séances.

We never talk about the voodoo religion of Haiti (or African), but it is very well documented that people have been being possessed by the same voodoo entities (gods and spirits) for centuries. These possessions also include paranormal and super human phenomena. So it isn't just that people are acting like they are possessed (i.e. role playing). Do we believe that these various voodoo spirits are "real" in the normal sense that word is used? They seem to me to be exactly functional entities.

What I am proposing, of course, is that given the proper intent and sufficient focus, Odin et al may have come alive and talked to people, provided victory in battle and so on.

That is difficult for us to accept today, yet it may well have been the case. We are probably giving life to gods by other names and guises today, but these things are so integrated in our lives that we hardly even notice.

Been following the comments, and I don't have anything particular to add except: What a great exchanges on everyone's part! I think the model under discussion is likely very close to "correct."

"We know that if the creative powers of minds focus their intent on conjuring up an entity, it might very well appear and have the personality intended as well as paranormal powers *even if that entity is purely imaginary*. This has been documented in séances."

So how can we know if not all mediumistic sessions are examples of functional entities? I do not say it like that, I just wonder.

Michael, I read your blog post and you said you were ill and meditated during the day and had some kind of very powerful experience, even though your experience doesn't seem to be related to any concept of a "higher self" or "God" at all.

If you knew the first thing about Hindu philosophy you would also know that brahman is equated with atman - that is, God and the human soul share the same essence but have quantitative differences. For example, a person is made in the image of God but does not have unlimited powers of omnipotence.

Now it seems very clear and plain to me that there is no pretension of so called Jesus or guru figures claiming to have unlimited power let alone run of the mill psychic mediums, and that such notions or concepts derive from an unhealthy mentality or even physical brain health.

So when you are comparing the concept of the higher self with God this must be a colossal delusion. There is absolutely no way that a created being - humans - can have knowledge of any origin of existence nor the power to create anything new without using materials that already exist.

It isn't a case of humbling ourselves before the immensity of the universe as inferior to said, it is just that we rightfully lock up insane people in civil society because they seem to impede the evolutionary process.

There are undoubtedly "strange" phenomena that occur in the world but something unexplainable is not the same thing as dogmatic opinions or concepts of how reality works. Those doctrines, dogmas, or concepts lead to more confusion instead of less.

It also ought to be borne in mind that there are indeed mathematically precise laws in the universe that lead to coincidences which are completely independent from subjectively based biases that confirm a person's beliefs instead of being objectively substantiated.

My point is really very simple. "God" is beyond the human understanding in the mind and certainly cannot be reconciled with man made mental conceptions that have as their basis a solipsistic power or control over natural forces except in an extremely limited way.

In other words, something else is in control of all this. And it isn't you or me or anybody else.

Heh. Once the followers have been playing "telephone" even just for a few decades I'd presume even a full "clean" divine revelation might have mutated quite a bit, not to think what doing that for several generations will have done, and most holy books have been collected into their more final forms only after many decades or even centuries after the fact. Might be something of a miracle if there is much of anything left of the original messages.

A thought: after reading about NDEs etc for years, fact is I'm more and more getting the feeling that in some ways our earthly existence might be some sort of roleplaying game. One perhaps designed as a teaching device. Only we come here with no real memories of what the rules are, or what we are supposed to aim for (some people seem to have some sort of idea though), and have to try and figure it all out while playing.

"I'm more and more getting the feeling that in some ways our earthly existence might be some sort of roleplaying game."

Yes, I think a fully immersive video game is a pretty decent metaphor for our time on earth. And virtual reality looks (to me) like a good metaphor for the spacetime universe - an apparently real construct that is actually grounded in information processing.

From an account of Roger Ebert's death:

"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. I thought he was just confused. But he was not confused. He wasn't visiting heaven, not the way we think of heaven. He described it as a vastness that you can't even imagine. It was a place where the past, present, and future were happening all at once."

http://www.esquire.com/entertainment/tv/news/a26606/roger-ebert-final-moments/

There's a 4-hour show on radio on Coast to Coast AM on reincarnation and after-death communications, starting right now. (I should have posted this 12 hours earlier.)

"Your experience doesn't seem to be related to any concept of a 'higher self' or 'God' at all."

I do think it relates to the higher self. The diamond is the totality of all the incarnations experienced by a particular soul. This sum is greater than any individual incarnation.

"If you knew the first thing about Hindu philosophy ..."

I don't. The only Hindu text I've read is the Bhagavad Gita, and it didn't mean much to me. Then again, I'm not really talking about Hindu philosophy. I'm talking about what FWH Myers called "the subliminal self." He used the image of a house. We live on the main floor, but there is also a basement (the subconscious) and an upper story (the super-conscious). The total self is far greater than the comparatively small portion we experience ordinarily, which is why episodes of "cosmic consciousness" strike us with such force.

I have the impression you think I'm saying that religious figures could access the higher self at will, but this isn't my view. I suspect they accessed it only sporadically and fleetingly. So when you say that gurus lack the power to create, control, or fully comprehend the universe, you are certainly right (though some adepts do seem to have achieved unusual control over their own bodies). Even the greatest mystics merged with it only briefly, and were able to remember and impart only a small fraction of what they experienced.

"So how can we know if not all mediumistic sessions are examples of functional entities?"

I am not sure it matters. Maybe we are all, in some ways, functional entities.

I think that one could take the 'Diamond' metaphor to a higher level and say that each 'Diamond' is a chip off the ol' block so to speak, that is, each 'Diamond' (oversoul, higher self etc.) is a part of a larger 'Diamond' that one could call 'God'. Granting that, each incarnation or facet of the smaller diamond is part of the larger Diamond albeit unpolished and imperfect. Thereby each of us, each or our personalities, is a miniscule part of God and connected to all of the other 'Diamonds' that go to make up the great "I Am". - AOD

Very good point, AOD. Actually it anticipates my next post (whenever I get to it). Diamonds, after all, can be strung together to make a necklace or bracelet ...

On Hindu philosophy, IMO don't know if Brahman would really be "God". That's probably more Ishvara?

The computationalist Bach's concept of a "God of Movement" might be closer to the idea of Brahman as that which comes before the space-time in which we interact:

http://palmstroem.blogspot.nl/2015/12/four-gods.html

Or, another conception would be Plotinus' One which is more like the Ground of Being than a deity that interacts within creation.

Of course for Plotinus and the Neoplatonists there was the Divine inside all of us.

I think you are confusing monism with pantheism, in the sense that you are using the former to equate yourself with God. The latter makes use of the idea of universal connection but not ultimate creation.

I hope I put that well enough.

I know there are some physicists that claim that the singularity in the big bang model represents some kind of particle of infinity without space and time, but there doesn't appear to me to any reason to believe that the big bang isn't a fact that proves creation.

Something that is finite (the human brain) cannot give rise to something infinite (an infinite universe). On the contrary, it seems to me to be the other way around.

Stayin' tuned and waiting for "Part Deux"...

AOD said:

"each of us, each of our personalities, is a miniscule part of God and connected to all of the other 'Diamonds' that go to make up the great "I Am". "

I agree with Michael: you got this just right.

And we're not just part, we're the whole thing—though for the purpose of having a specific sort of adventure, we've chosen to temporarily forget our limitlessness . . . until it serves us to remember it once again.

From Michele M's NDE:

"I remember understanding the others here.. as if the others here were a part of me too. As if all of it was just a vast expression of me. But it wasn't just me, it was .. gosh this is so hard to explain.. it was as if we were all the same. As if consciousness were like a huge being. The easiest way to explain it would be like all things are all different parts of the same body.. so to speak."

In moments like that we know ourselves as God.

David R wrote, "Something that is finite (the human brain) cannot give rise to something infinite (an infinite universe)."

I think you've thoroughly misunderstood what I'm saying. Nowhere have I suggested that the brain equals the self, much less the higher self.

david r,

||If you knew the first thing about Hindu philosophy you would also know that brahman is equated with atman - that is, God and the human soul share the same essence but have quantitative differences.||

I think that is basically correct, and I don't think what Michael wrote contradicts that.


||For example, a person is made in the image of God but does not have unlimited powers of omnipotence.||

Well, that's Biblical language, not Indian, but yes. And I also think that "God" is not omnipotent. Again, that's a Western conception.

||So when you are comparing the concept of the higher self with God this must be a colossal delusion.||

If "God" in the Western sense, then yes. Otherwise, no.

||There is absolutely no way that a created being - humans - can have knowledge of any origin of existence nor the power to create anything new without using materials that already exist.||

Dubious on every level.

||It isn't a case of humbling ourselves before the immensity of the universe as inferior to said, it is just that we rightfully lock up insane people in civil society because they seem to impede the evolutionary process.||

Non-sequitur.

||There are undoubtedly "strange" phenomena that occur in the world but something unexplainable is not the same thing as dogmatic opinions or concepts of how reality works. Those doctrines, dogmas, or concepts lead to more confusion instead of less.||

Dogmas like the dogmas of Western religions?

||It also ought to be borne in mind that there are indeed mathematically precise laws in the universe that lead to coincidences which are completely independent from subjectively based biases that confirm a person's beliefs instead of being objectively substantiated.||

Meaning unclear.

||My point is really very simple. "God" is beyond the human understanding in the mind and certainly cannot be reconciled with man made mental conceptions that have as their basis a solipsistic power or control over natural forces except in an extremely limited way.||

It depends on how one defines "God," but I agree that there are many things beyond a *full* human understanding, and perhaps many things completely beyond our understanding. Though we would have to understand them in order to determine that we cannot understand them, which is of course a paradox of sorts. E.g., my dog cannot understand symbolic language (except maybe a few words in a way different from that of humans) and probably doesn't even know that humans are communicating with each other when he hears them talking. It would be naive to suppose we do not have similar limitations. (E.g., I have no doubt there are advanced beings that can simply "see" the solution to any NT complete problem, such as the complete decision tree for chess, even though such a thing could not be calculated using all the matter in the universe with our current digital technology.)

||In other words, something else is in control of all this. And it isn't you or me or anybody else.||

Or maybe it is to some degree.

"Something that is finite (the human brain) cannot give rise to something infinite (an infinite universe)."

I don't know David r, I don't see why not. We are a part of the universe, made of the same atoms etc. Personally I think it's a matter of thought. Believe you can connect with what I see as a universe of consciousness, and you probably could.

That's how I see it anyway. We are creatures inhabiting our self made illusions. Lyn x.

"I am not sure it matters. Maybe we are all, in some ways, functional entities."

That matters, because if what is presented in mediumistic sessions are functional entities, then these entities do not exist beyond the intentions of those present at these sessions and are not a sign of the existence of an afterlife.

But I can think two meanings of "functional entity": in a broad sense we can all be functional entities, both the spirits of the deceased and the biological beings, in the sense that we all depend for existence of the intentions of all sentient beings. But in restricted sense functional entities only exist in relation to a limited group of sentient beings.

I do not think that in some mediumistic sessions functional entities are manifested in a restricted sense because these entities have been presented without someone alive intended to do, that is, "drop in" communications, and because they have been told what they do outside the sessions.

Matt writes: "E.g., my dog cannot understand symbolic language (except maybe a few words in a way different from that of humans) and probably doesn't even know that humans are communicating with each other when he hears them talking."

And you know this because? Frankly, I think it's a ridiculous assertion.

Hi Julie,
I suspected you would jump on that statement about dogs. I too had to say, "Well, maybe" when I read that. I live very close to dogs and I have to say that I think they know and understand a lot more about what is going on than we humans think. That is not to say that I think they understand all or some of human conversation but I know that at least in two cases that dogs do come to understand language, the English language in my examples.

I had a dog that understood the following among other words and sentences: 'Where are my shoes?' 'Where are my pants?' 'Go get your leash out of the drawer.' (Which he would do by opening the drawer with his paw and rummaging around in the drawer until he found his leash.) 'Go get your comb.' 'Do you want to go for a ride.' 'Do you see any horses?' 'Do you want a meaty bone?' 'Where is your ball?' 'Go get your toy.' 'Look right.' 'Look left.' 'Go get the paper.' as well as the usual stop, go heal, etc.

The dog I have now surprises me when she is under the covers at the foot of the bed and I say 'Turn around and come up here.'---and she does! And this is said in a normal conversational tone.

I also think that the dog I have now is intuitive or psychic or whatever as she seems to know in advance what I am going to do. Most likely she is reading body language which dogs are especially good at but it is surprising sometimes when she seems to be a step ahead of me , responding to my thoughts or feelings.

As Hippocrates is reported to have said, "The soul is the same in all living creatures, although the body of each is different."

I also think it is inappropriate to judge animals by human standards. In many ways I think that some animals are more advanced in consciousness that humans are. I cringe to think what would happen if humans did ever come into contact with beings on other planets as we would probably think they are all inferior to us. - AOD

Check out this: My Dog Understands English: 50 Dogs obey commands they weren't Taught, a $4 ebook at:
http://www.amazon.com/Understands-English-commands-werent-taught-ebook/dp/B00GXKR252/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1454977317&sr=1-1&keywords=my+dog+understands+english

Julie wrote,

||And you know this because? Frankly, I think it's a ridiculous assertion.||

I'm merely talking about prima facie evidence. Dogs can't talk.

I think the canine thought process involves associations rather than concepts. If you say, "Do you want to go for a WALK? Let's go for a WALK. We're going for a WALK!", the dog will eventually learn to associate the word "walk" with the activity of walking. But it's not as if the dog knows the meaning of the word in an intellectual sense, or even that "walk" is a word, or that there are such things as words. If you rang a bell every time you took the dog for a walk, he would associate the bell with the activity of walking in exactly the same way.

That's not to say dogs aren't perceptive - maybe more perceptive than humans in some respects. But there's no reason to think they have any grasp of language.

"I'm merely talking about prima facie evidence. Dogs can't talk." - Matt

But they can communicate. Isn't that the purpose and effect of talking? Moreover, to suggest that dogs (a species that has lived closely with we humans for many thousands of years) doesn't understand when we humans are communicating with each other is an assumption - and a very arrogant assumption to boot!

"That's not to say dogs aren't perceptive - maybe more perceptive than humans in some respects. But there's no reason to think they have any grasp of language." - Michael.

I seem to recall that Matt's point was that dogs don't understand when humans are communicating with each other. They do. Even a meeting of eyes is communication - probably the most intense form of communication there is and one that dogs understand probably better than anyone. They, like many other domesticated animals, do indeed have a profound understanding of body language. Therefore one might reasonably suppose that they observe and are aware of communication between humans when it occurs.

Dogs are also acutely aware of atmosphere and changes in such. Hence they probably get the gist of the important aspects of communication that occurs between human beings in their presence. And the fact that they can be demonstrated to understand when their owner is returning home, even at randomly selected times and over great distances, suggests, at least to me, that their grasp of what is occurring within and between us all is far superior to our own intuitive understanding.

Michael said:

"That's not to say dogs aren't perceptive - maybe more perceptive than humans in some respects."

Just *maybe* more perceptive?

"Deborah Wells and Peter Hepper of the Animal Behaviour Centre at Queen's University Belfast, in Northern Ireland, showed in one study that dogs brought in at right angles to a trail recently walked by a person could determine the direction that person took from as few as five steps. In other words, the first step in the direction the person walked has a little less odor than subsequent steps, because its odor molecules have begun to diffuse into the air. "I find it really astonishing, kind of mind-boggling, that they're able to detect such minute odor discriminations," Horowitz says."

Comparing humans to dogs in this respect, but switching senses, it's like we're not just legally blind, but virtually blind.

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