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Interested take on suffering. It is my thought that good and evil exist. This incarnation of the soul into flesh is an imperfect transition. In that imperfection lies good and evil. Some fleshly incarnations lack a complete soul or lack soul at all. Those incarnations reflect the imperfection of the transition and manifest themselves by evil behaviors. In modern day we call these individuals sociopaths. In this fleshly phase all earth bound souls are subject to both the joy and the pain brought forth by the imperfect transition from a higher realm to this lower level.

C.S. Lewis dealt rather well with this subject, at least form a Christian perspective, in 'The Problem of Pain'.

“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”

It seems Lewis never truly opened himself up to pain until his wife, Joy died. He also said something along the lines of, 'Pain is a harsh teacher. But you learn; by God you learn'

With regard to the issue of the life plan: I've always understood, intuitively, that when we feel that what we're doing is an endless, uphill battle then, as you suggest above, chances are we're heading in the wrong direction. Alan Vaughan deals very well with this issue in his famous book, 'Patterns of Prophesy'. He describes our life blueprint as being like a house that can be altered in terms of decor and other relatively minor issues, but not in terms of the basic structure.


As for larger, collective suffering, sometimes it's easier to face a horror that's being shared by others. For instance, I'm told often that people were never closer, never more kind to each other than during the two World Wars.

It's a very complex issue. Pain/suffering brings out different things in different people. Viktor Frankl wrote of his experience in the death camps of Germany during WW2 and described how some people would save their last piece of bread to comfort those whose emotional distress was worse than their own. While others used every opportunity to curry favour with the guards by betraying their fellow prisoners. Suffering can bring out the best and the worst in us according to our character.

Whether or not life has a spiritual component existence itself is completely arbitrary. We exist at the whims of fate and suffer random blights. We're in no position to understand it. Possibly ever.

I think of this existence and suffering as a motile egg form. The incubator, Earth, is as hellish as an oven baking an egg, but eventually there is release. Why is it so rough here? I suppose to keep us in check on the "Other Side."

We might well be threatened into coming back here on bad behavior. Possibly explaining past life memories. Even then this idea doesn't sound right to me, but I have never been able to wrap my head around life.

"In modern day we call these individuals sociopaths."

I prefer "psychopath", but same dif. Yes. These people, a minority of the population, cause hugely disproportionate suffering. I believe they are evil, low level souls, come here out of malice to cause pain and suffering (and not in Stan Grof's ultimately happy big game play kind of way).

And there's non-psychopath's that sometimes do evil by intent or by accident at various moments in their lives.

That good and evil both exist in this world is the main cause of pain. Why they both exist I do not know except to say that the destructive impulse is present everywhere we look creation.

Then I am also a big believer, to more or less quote John Wayne (in Sands of Iwo Jima), "life is hard. It's even harder when you're stupid". How many times have we heard the lamentations of those who decide to live in a trailer park in "Tornado Ally" and then get wiped out by (big surprise!) a tornado. Duh! It's called "Tornado Ally" for a reason.

Or people that decide to drop our of high school and shoot drugs or be a porn star and then lament when they get an incurable disease and end up poor and ruined. Wow! Never saw that coming (no pun intended).

Between psychopaths and stupidity we can account for an overwhelming amount of the total suffering in the world.

One of the hardest things involving suffering is observing others suffering. It really is terrible having a heart. I wish sometimes that I didn't, life would be so much easier.

And Julie, you're so right. Living in the United States, and in the Northeast, most people were much kinder to each other after 9/11. One of the first effects of a group being attacked is solidarity. If only (perhaps) aliens were to attack the world, imagine how much people all over the world would feel all of a sudden how much alike they really are and how really inconsequential their differences are.

The real "me" is pure consciousness. The physical body is just a vehicle the soul uses to learn about the physical universe.

Suffering exists to teach the soul about the physical universe. Separation to develop a sense of self, and physical pain to imprint or encode memories of the parameters of the physical body. The more emotional and painful the experience the more powerful and long lasting the memory it creates. The soul uses the body to learn about the physical universe and then when it's finished it casts it off like an old suit of clothes.  Physical suffering imprints the parameters of the body on the soul. It teaches the soul what it means and how it feels to be inside or inhabit a body. 

Cutters, self flagellators, those guys in Malaysia who stick swords and pieces of metal through their cheeks, the Filipinos who have themselves nailed up on crosses, and the American Indians who have the flesh of their chests and backs pierced and then hung on hooks up in the air are all being controlled by the soul in order to gather information on the nature of the 3 dimensional + 1 time universe.

Like computer code. The soul comes from a place where absolutely nothing exists without it first being thought of, and before it can be thought of it has to be learned or imprinted on the soul so that one day it will be able to use this information to create it's own reality. Who wants to exist in nothingness for eternity?

Those guys in the middle ages who self flagellated themselves were being directed by the soul to hurt themselves so that they could be imprinted with the parameters of the body. Like computer code. Cutters, people who hang themselves from hooks, tattoos, body piercing, those guys in Malaysia who stick metal through their gums and skin, are all being used by the soul to learn about the body. 

Sometimes life doesn't offer us a choice. No one chooses to be burnt, or get a paper cut, or to be bitten by a mosquito and have to scratch, or poison Ivy, or any of a myriad of other unpleasant experiences, but suffering and pain seem to be inherent and inescapable experiences of the physical Universe. 

It doesn't matter to the soul whether the experience is positive or negative. All that matters is that it experiences the physical universe, and lots and lots of it. And as far as it being hot or just warm, or freezing cold or just pleasantly cool, it's just a matter of degree. The soul just has to store up enough information to last for eternity. 

Life's lessons are embedded in our everyday lives and the soul learns holistically whether we want it to or not. We don't have to do jack squat for the soul to learn what it needs to learn.

There are a lot of things in life that you can't really know or understand unless you experience them for yourself. For instance, sex. I knew about sex when I was in the fifth grade. I knew a lot about it since I had read the book The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck when I was in the fourth grade. But, knowing what sex is, is way different than having actually made love to another person and actually doing it. The feeling, the emotion, the smell, the sounds, the touch, etc. Those are things you can't capture in a book or even on a DVD. Even just watching somebody else experience it is not the same. You have to participate in it to truly understand it. 

There are a myriad of experiences in life that are like that. Tastes, smells, feelings, emotions, touch, sight, sounds, etc. What it feels like to jump into a wave and ride it into shore, what it feels like to ride a bike real fast over a small hump in the road, that feeling in the pit of your stomach, etc.

How do you capture what a green olive tastes like on paper? You can see someone on TV eat an olive but you in no way shape or form know what an olive tastes like until you actually put one in your mouth and bite into it.  How do you describe the color red? What a flower smells like? What it feels like to have the Sun warm you? When you say we KNOW something, that is way different than actually experiencing it for yourself.

I used to read the encyclopedia when I was a kid, and I learned a lot from it, but reading about something and actually experiencing it for yourself are two entirely different things and the more emotional the experience the more powerful and long lasting the memory it creates.

I think there's another factor to consider; what seems horrible to you might be a necessary factor of exactly what someone else needed. First example I can think of right off is that endless unsuccessful job interviews on my part were awful, but someone else got those jobs and, since I have supportive family and disability benefits to fall back on, odds are some of them needed that job more than me. Or, I don't know, you inhaling that flu virus means some child or old lady or person with a compromised immune system didn't. The world is more complicated and interconnected than most people allow for.

It occurs to me that by far the most painful period of my life was my school years. In short, I didn't really fit in, I hated it and I was trapped. It was the 'being trapped' that caused the pain.

Children have little choice about what happens to them in the same way that prisoners of war or victims of atrocities, such as the death camps of WW2 Germany, are rendered helpless by their situation - non of which is of their own making. Our free will is largely dependent upon our immediate circumstances.

The notion of a biblical hell rests on exactly that same principle: being trapped in an excruciatingly painful situation with no means of escape. And it's the same with our penal systems: loss of freedom and opportunity to escape is a form of torture - even if only mental and emotional.

So what I think I'm getting at is the realisation that we can only fulfil a life plan if we are allowed the opportunity to do so.

The only alternative arrangement that I can imagine is that we are here deliberately and purposely to suffer; to be trapped and to realise and thereby understand exactly what that means. But that doesn't sound like something I would have willingly signed up for. I'm not a massochist by nature and my feeling is that we humans, along with all other living creatures, devote our lives, for the most part, to the avoidance of pain.

For me, Kierkegaard had it in a nutshell when he wrote something along the lines of, 'Why am I here? If I am forced to stay, why was I not consulted? Is there a manager? If so, I demand to see him!'.

Or something . . . . . .

"Between psychopaths and stupidity we can account for an overwhelming amount of the total suffering in the world."

The two conditions aren't mutually exclusive.

"One of the hardest things involving suffering is observing others suffering. It really is terrible having a heart. I wish sometimes that I didn't, life would be so much easier."

The one thing I *really* can't stand to see or hear about is animal suffering. I can't remember a time when I didn't feel this way and I don't suppose I'm likely to change anytime soon. The emotional pain it causes me is indescribable.

Julie, I'm the same way, and have always felt that way. Michael has laid out some great thoughts on why suffering is necessary in some instances, and I agree for the most part, but I don't see how it applies here. I don't get it, and never will. Maybe J.R.R. Tolkien was onto something when he wrote once that there's orc blood in some of us.

Julie: I get that. It's kind of weird that seeing adult humans suffer affects me less than animals or children, especially since I don't even LIKE children and have all the maternal instincts of a lawnmower. Even in fictional cases; I can watch adult human characters get hurt or killed in horror movies all day, but if a child character is killed I get uneasy and if animals are hurt I want to cry.

And I get the school thing too. I was treated so badly by my peers at a single-sex school that I started to question my gender identity because it had been hammered into my head so much that girls ought to All Get Along and there must be something wrong with me if they hated me so much, and I was assaulted on the school bus, which is something of an example of the "can't get away" issue you bring up.

I think there's some truth in what you say, Art. But the sheer quantity and degree of suffering in many people's lives seems far in excess of what would be needed to accomplish a feeling of separation.

With regard to animals ... In the aggregate, they undoubtedly have known far more suffering than humans, since animals outnumber humans and have existed on the Earth for a far longer period of time. Most of this suffering is caused by other animals: predators, disease organisms, and parasites.

I think it has to do with the issue of "compromise" - desperate competition for survival is necessary in order to ensure a variety of viable species, but this same competition means that there will be many losers who suffer and die. Perhaps a world can be imagined in which there is no competition for survival, but it would probably be a static world of fixed, unchanging species. The universe seems to be set up (or to have developed) in such a way that possibilities are multiplied, and every available option is tried, even at the cost of waste, failure, and pain.

As for humans who abuse animals, I think it has to do with malignant spiritual forces and also biological/neurological problems. Serial killers typically begin by torturing and killing animals. There is probably a line of continuity between the pure sociopath and the "ordinary" insensitive and abusive person.

\\"I think there's some truth in what you say, Art. But the sheer quantity and degree of suffering in many people's lives seems far in excess of what would be needed to accomplish a feeling of separation." - Michael Prescott//
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I remember reading an NDE description of a woman and she said that we here in this reality just can't begin to comprehend the feelings of oneness and connectedness. Perhaps life has to be the way it is in order for us to overcome the physics of heaven?

As described by near death experiencers heaven is a place where you feel like you are one with the Universe, everywhere at the same time, oneness and connectedness, all knowledge, when you think of something all the information is instantly downloaded as a bolus of information into your mind, where time and space don't exist and where simply by thinking of a place or time you can be there experiencing everything about that time or place. And where buildings seem to be made out of knowledge, and there are more colours than normal, and it "realer than real" or "more real than normal."

Another words, the physics of heaven is very different from the physics we experience here. When we get there we have to have developed enough of a sense of self so that we don't forget who we are and just merge back into that "Borg" collective consciousness. Time moves only one way in this reality but in heaven it seems to be very fluid, moving both backwards and forwards, and where whatever we focus our attention on that is what we experience.

I have to say, I'm always puzzled by how capital-S Skeptics discussing this subject often talk like they can't imagine a God concept which dropped the omnipotent rather than the omnibenevolent.

Great post, Michael!

This is more of a rephrasing than anything, but I think the key element is this: the world/physicality is real, and spirit is real, but both are emergent phenomena in the Universe. Both are evolving.

Re the nature and existence of evil, I have two arguments. First, we can extrapolate from Gödel's incompleteness theorem that no system is both complete and non-contradictory. I think evil is the inherent contradiction in Reality, its dissatisfaction with itself. Only in Source as Plenus is the problem "solved" and true completeness/harmony achieved, though this requires infinite activity. The truly good news of Reality is that there will always be more to do to create infinite perfection, yet infinite perfection also guides our action. You talked about this in a post recently.

Second argument: it is clear that Universe exists, Earth exists, love and life exist. Therefore, one of two things is true: there is not an evil power that can destroy all, or there is such a power that is nevertheless prevented from doing so. If the latter is true, we run into a problem: if there is a Good power that prevents the Evil power from destroying all, then why doesn't it prevent all evil from occurring? Why is evil "just so" in the world: i.e., causing quite a lot of trouble but not total annihilation? I think this is logically possible but not backed up via the evidence we take seriously here: NDEs, ADCs, channeled material, etc. Rather, we would end up with a religious perspective like that of Islam, in which Allah is seen as controlling both good and evil precisely. Which I don't believe.

Thus, my conclusion is that evil itself is an emergent phenomenon (due to the aforementioned contradiction), and its power is limited. Love wins because Love is coherent. Fear loses because it is ultimately self-destroying.

Also, I don't think there are such things as evil Higher Selves or evil higher-dimensional beings. An evil nature would lower the vibration of such an entity and prevent it from being "higher" in the first place.

"Source as Plenum." I don't even want to know what a Plenus is...

Between psychopaths and stupidity we can account for an overwhelming amount of the total suffering in the world.

Posted by: Eric Newhill | February 06, 2017 at 04:00 PM


Along with 1) humbug and 2) good intentions.

desperate competition for survival is necessary in order to ensure a variety of viable species, but this same competition means that there will be many losers who suffer and die. —MP
Epstein's Law (quoted in A.J. Nock's Memoirs of a Superfluous Man states, "If survival is the first law of existence, exploitation is the second."

Oops, Epstean's Law, not Epstein's.
h/t to Apple's insufferable and inescapable spelling corrector.
(A legacy of Jobs?)

"Also, I don't think there are such things as evil Higher Selves or evil higher-dimensional beings. An evil nature would lower the vibration of such an entity and prevent it from being "higher" in the first place." -Matt Rouge

This is very important. Evil only has as much power as we give it.

One of the oldest explanations for suffering not mentioned is the Judeo-Christian Garden of Eden: man and woman were living blissfully together in the garden, along with animals, all living blissfully together, and then of course, the Fall and disobeying of God.

On a deeper level, the Garden of Eden story might refer to the suffering caused by unchecked human egos, as it seems the greatest portion of the suffering in this world is due to humans being brutal to each other and animals. In some sense, I could see the disobeying of God in the Garden of Eden was caused by Eve letting her ego get the better of her and wishing to be like God, as the serpent says to her: “For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” A parable for the danger of egoism?

The mere fact you drive a car suggests that at some stage you will have an accident, be hit by another, injured or killed.Illness and death by ever present viruses and bacteria or lifestyle choices etc.

Have it all lumped in, and it only magnifies the good and bad.

I do think at times some negative experiences are purposely used to bring change in a persons life- Dr Weiss was told by a client during hypnosis, his son died so that the resulting trauma would induce him to alter his profession of doctor to psychiatrist.

I do feel with more media- facebook, twitter etc people are told of cruelty, inexcusable behaviour etc. More are protesting as well. So reading of Syrian governments torture, killings etc will mean we all know, and some will even set about changing the injustice or ensuring that full justice is meted out. Lyn x.

If it's considered that suffering is incompatible with some higher purpose to our existence, then what would the world have to be like so that it is compatible with some higher purpose?

Perhaps if no one ever experienced any pain; not just physical but mental pain too? And no one ever experienced misery, least of all depression? Indeed, that our lives are in a constant state of maximum happiness?

And what would such happiness consist in? Pleasures? Or the feeling you had as a kid waking up on Xmas morning? Or in a perpetual state of a certain type of intellectual satisfaction?

Obviously that's silly. But perhaps people mean there's too much suffering -- not that we shouldn't have any suffering at all. But how do we work out how much suffering would be compatible with some higher purpose?

I think arguably suffering, pain, anguish, despair, loss of a loved one etc, could conceivably be held to be compatible with some higher purpose. For much of history mankind lived a life full of dangers, the constant threat of death, and suffering, and loss. Close brushes with death from predators with the consequent comradeship and camaraderie when others save your life, and you theirs. The collective outpouring of emotions, the bitter and sweet taste of life in the raw.

In the modern west we are cosseted from all the harsh elements of life. I'll probably die an old man rather than get eaten by a predator. But perhaps, safe and rich as we are, the modern western way of life loses something. It loses the sheer rapture of being alive. If we never experience any dangers, then the sheer thrill of having overcome dangers is also lacking.

So it's not clear to me that suffering is necessarily incompatible with some higher purpose. The problem here is we don't know what the purpose of life is! Hence I think it's impossible to answer such a question.

Maybe it is, but until we know what the purpose of life is, why we are here, how can we say what the nature of our lives should be like?

"One of the oldest explanations for suffering not mentioned is the Judeo-Christian Garden of Eden: man and woman were living blissfully together in the garden, along with animals, all living blissfully together, and then of course, the Fall and disobeying of God."

Not to be too persnickety about it, but this explanation is mentioned. It's under the first heading in the main post: "God is punishing us."

Perhaps pain is God's megaphone to raise us from of Gurdjieff's state of sleep?

Anyway, I've never been able to see 'good' and 'evil' as things in themselves. Rather they are facets of human nature. Pushed far enough we are all probably capable of performing an evil act of some degree or other. It's one of the ways in which we differ from other specues of animals.

I just finished reading Haraldsson's "I Saw A Light and Came Here". Which, btw, is a good high level primer on cases suggestive of reincarnation as well as related topics. The book didn't do much for me as I am already familiar with the research and issues from having read Ian Stevenson's far more in depth and more voluminous identical research. It would be a good introduction to the topic for someone previously unaware that good investigation had actually been done.

At any rate, it got me thinking in ways I hadn't for many years.

Germane to the split brain post, it is clear that memory and personality are not the product of or stored in the brain. Nor does the personality dissolve or join into a union of All, etc, upon death. Rather, memories and personality remain within a non-physical perceptual entity that could generically be referred to as "the soul".

Germane to this post; in addition to psychopaths and stupidity, suffering is also the result, IMO, of getting bogged down obsessively in petty setbacks and hassles of a single life time - petty in the sense that we live on and on and will inhabit new bodies in new situations. With that perspective, a few months or even years suffering with a terminal illness becomes a pretty small thing. Having a loved one pass away is more like they went on a temporary vacation as opposed to gone forever. Even the person that has done evil and is tortured by a guilty conscience should realize that there is opportunity to redeem oneself in the future.

So a lot of suffering is due to framing things in a narrow perspective

I see that, Michael, sorry.

I guess my question is, why is God punishing us? I was brought up Catholic, and the answer is always because we sin. But I like to think of the Bible sometimes pointing out deeper truths. The sin of egotism covers them all except anger (maybe). And it's interesting, at least to me, that right after Adam and Eve sin, they then come to know shame, the opposite of egotism - when they begin wearing clothes (fig leaves).

The “pain is an illusion” idea, however seemingly potty at face value, could perhaps have some merit to it. Think of the pain a marathon runner goes through - the equivalent pain in a different context would likely be perceived as absolute agony. The perception of pain is clearly changed by context, as demonstrated with the example just cited.
How far can one go with this idea? Allegedly Buddhist monks have been able to alter their perception of pain (not the fact they actually feel the sensation itself) to such a degree they are able to be operated on without a general anaesthetic. So, in light of this, it would seem one can take this idea to quite an extreme.
Does this mean pain is an illusion in the strictest literal sense? No, and here’s why. If someone feels a sensation, and experiences that sensation in a particular way – very pleasantly, moderately pleasantly, very unpleasantly, mildly unpleasantly, whatever – this can never be an illusion, in principle! All there is, in the relevant sense, is simply the experience itself. The stimulus that causes the sensation, and the causal physical pathway (nerve twitchings) are not relevant to the question of whether the experience of the sensation is an illusion. Pain from a phantom limb is every bit as real as the pain from an actual limb. Pain is simply the subjective experience of a sensation – a purely mental event. And it is the only definition of pain which is relevant to the issue of whether a world full of suffering is reconcilable to the existence of a deity.
Of course it is immediately obvious that suffering is totally compatible with the notion of a deity, because the proposed deity might be evil or indifferent. Therefore no more explanation is needed. But what about a genuinely loving deity? Much more tricky!!!
Having said this, it is in fact comparatively easy to conjure up various theories for why a loving deity would permit suffering, which are intellectually satisfying. The problem starts however when one begins to reflect on how awful pain can be. To put it another way: I can imagine a hypothetical (or maybe not) situation where before coming into human life and experiencing pain for the first time, I was amply satisfied with the explanation ‘suffering exists because of X ’. I might know intellectually that pain is awful, but this would not necessarily be enough in itself to reject the (potentially) brilliantly logical and compelling justification for suffering I have just been hypothetically given. Then, upon experiencing as a human how awful pain can actually be, from an experiential rather than strictly intellectual point of view, no theory seems to be adequate in justifying it. All conceivable theories appear to fall short of justifying the torturous suffering that people (and animals) can experience in earthly life. And that describes my frame of mind at the moment. I cannot even envisage god himself approaching me and giving me a blindingly ingenious reason for why he permits suffering, and me subsequently accepting it. And this is simply down to the absolutely horrific nature of true suffering.
Strictly speaking I am an agnostic. But in terms of balance of probability I think the near death experience is what it actually appears to be – a genuine spiritual experience. The NDEer I have personally taken most notice of is a lady by the name of Nanci Danison. According to this NDEer, we are all part of god, in a literal sense. God somehow created individuated bits of consciousness within its own vast field of self-awareness. These pseudo-beings are conceptually, but not literally, separate from god’s core consciousness, and are projected out into a universe made of pure energy, which really only exists in god’s mind. It did this so it could experience everything it knew conceptually, but could not experience. The primary reason for allowing suffering to exist is simply because it is something which god knew intellectually, but not experientially – like everything else. So like everything else it desired to experience it.
If true (and I am by no means asserting it is true) it makes me wonder whether god simply was not able to grasp how awful suffering is to experience. Maybe the intellectual knowledge was not enough? If so, does it now believe it made a mistake?
The secondary reason, alleged by Nanci Danison, for god permitting suffering, follows the adage: ‘In order to appreciate the sweet you must first taste the bitter’. It could only experience’ and fully appreciate ‘its own blissful nature by contrasting it with the exact opposite – life on Earth!
In summary, I think god made a mistake. It created suffering without really grasping what it would be like to actually experience.
Of course, maybe all this is bs, and suffering exists merely as an accidental quirk of a meaningless universe.

Life has to be the way it is in order to imprint on the soul enough bits of information to overcome the lack of separation and time and space in the place we call heaven. Otherwise after the body dies and the soul transitions to the other side it would forget what it is like to be separate and what time and space look and feel like. We'd just merge back into the oneness and connectedness of that great holographic film we call heaven.

It's why those religious monks in the middle ages self flagellated themselves, why little middle class girls take knives and intentionally cut themselves, why South American Indians stick their hands into bags of bullet ants, why people get tattoos and body piercings, and North American Indians cut the muscles in their chests and hung themselves by thongs, and Malaysian religious fanatics take big hunks of steel and pierce their bodies. It is the soul guiding or forcing those people to gather as much information of what it is like to be in a body and the parameters of that body.

Everything in this life happens for a reason and that is simply to teach us here the things that can't be learned in heaven. That is why we are here, otherwise there is no reason to be here. The reason we are here is universal and it applies to everyone everywhere during all time.

We are all here for the same reason, to experience duality and separation, time and space, what it is like to be inside a body and control that body and the parameters of that body, what "out there" looks and feels like, and make memories of what it was like to live in a 3 dimensional + 1 time Universe.

http://www.webmd.com/balance/news/20050131/emotions-make-memory-last

After we cross over we will look back on this life like it happened in the blink of an eye.

Excerpt from Michelle M's NDE,
"I felt an understanding about life, what it was, is. As if, it was a dream in itself. It's so very hard to explain this part. I'll try, but my words limit the fullness of it. I don't have the words here, 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 okay, and so were the others here."

http://www.nderf.org/Experiences/1michelle_m_nde.html

Suppose a person who has recurring nightmares told you they were terrified of going to sleep because of all the bad dreams they were having. Would it allay their fears at all if you were to tell them it was only dreams they were having, and none of it was real? Probably not, the reason being obvious – while they are asleep it is very real. It is not as if during the nightmare they were able to say to themselves “Well none of this is real, therefore I do not need to fear that monster who is trying to eat me.”
The basic point I was making in my previous post is that suffering is suffering no matter how the events being experienced causing the suffering relate to reality, and a justification for this suffering, in my view, must directly address the experience itself. I believe the experience, as it is actually experienced, is the only relevant point to any proposed justification of suffering.
Of course there is one caveat. If the events are not real then the consequences are not real either. Someone who is suffering recurring nightmares can at least take a degree of solace in the fact that they will not be permanently damaged in any way. They know they will wake up each morning and not have to continue suffering the consequences of the dream events. And so it is with Earthly events, assuming a higher reality of reality where Earthly events are indeed not perceived as being real.
Nanci Danison’s justification for suffering is exactly along the lines expressed in the above NDE account. All the arguments in her books and videos appeal exclusively to the non-real nature of Earth events as seen from a higher level of awareness, and also the fleeting nature of the experience from this higher perspective level. I have never been satisfied with this explanation however. To me, the perspective from higher levels of reality are not at all relevant to the issue of suffering, the above caveat notwithstanding. For me, the justification has to directly address the experience specifically and exclusively from the perspective of the experiencer. It may be the case that upon returning to the spiritual realm we have the luxury of viewing the Earthly experience as fleeting and non-real, but that does not change the fact that the experience itself was (potentially) horrific, and also experienced as if the events occurred over an extended period of time.

"The basic point I was making in my previous post is that suffering is suffering no matter how the events being experienced causing the suffering relate to reality"

Well said - and very succinct! (I do so like it when you stop writing as if for an end of term essay, our Mark.) :)

The suffering we experience here is necessary to learn the things we came here to learn. What we experience here has to be powerful enough to imprint on the soul what it means and how it feels to be separate, what time and space look and feel like, what it is like to be limited to and inside a body and control that body - and the shape and parameters of the body, what "out there" looks and feels like, and make memories of what it was like to live in a 3 dimensional + 1 time Universe where separation exists. We here in this place can't begin to comprehend the overwhelming feelings of oneness and connectedness in heaven.

It has to overcome those feelings of oneness and connectedness and lack of time and space. When a newborn child is born it is pure consciousness but it is also an empty slate. It has the capacity to learn and understand and think but if you have never been in a place where space exists and time only goes one way and separation exists then you can't imagine and know what it is like to think and understand, or to know what it means or how it feels to be separate.

This Earth life is a school and we are here to learn just a few basic things and then shed this body and transition into that great holographic timeless place where time goes both backwards and forwards and the feelings of oneness and connectedness are overwhelming.

Sentience and consciousness without having spent time in a body and learned about being inside and control a body is like being a gas inside a cylinder but never been outside that cylinder. You have to learn about time and space and dimensions and separation otherwise it is impossible to understand or know what they are. Same reason it took our distant ancestors so long to use and make metal objects. They were stuck making rock tools simply because they didn't know about metal, or that even such a thing as metal existed.

Hi Mark, A few years ago a bunch of us here had a pretty heated discussion re; Danison. I feel the same way you do about her ideas....and then some.

Mark Green,

Excellent comments!

By way of background, I'm not sure how long you have spent time reading here (and forgive me if you have commented in the past and I didn't know), but we've talked about (i.e., furiously debated the issue of) Nanci Danison and her NDE here quite a bit. I'm on the "neg" side of that debate. Not totally negative, mind you. She had an experience that I think was real, but it wasn't actually an NDE (she was under anesthesia and never in danger of dying), and to me and some others, she comes off as a know-it-all prophet who ranks her experience far above those of others, saying she's had the deepest NDE of all time, or something like that. FWIW, her experience and her interpretation seems similar to that of others who had profound (to them) experiences but didn't die. There was one woman serving in Iraq whose vehicle was hit and she was knocked out a bit, and I recall one man whose details escape me (maybe someone here will remember: yes, I know zero information is pretty vague :)). Eben Alexander is a recent example (he was in a coma), though his experience and interpretation are still different that those above.

Moreover, the above debate dovetails nicely with the debates we've had about Grof and his "cosmic game" interpretation of reality, with which I disagree (though think he also makes many good points).

||Someone who is suffering recurring nightmares can at least take a degree of solace in the fact that they will not be permanently damaged in any way. They know they will wake up each morning and not have to continue suffering the consequences of the dream events. And so it is with Earthly events, assuming a higher reality of reality where Earthly events are indeed not perceived as being real.||

I think this is an excellent point. What if someone had an OBE (which is what a dream is) that was hyper-real and extremely traumatic? The fact that the person was "OK" afterward would be cold comfort. Well, this happens: it's called alien abduction. Now, I don't know how to fit such phenomena into my worldview, but I don't deny that such things happen. If if they aren't "real," they have profound consequences.

||Nanci Danison’s justification for suffering is exactly along the lines expressed in the above NDE account. All the arguments in her books and videos appeal exclusively to the non-real nature of Earth events as seen from a higher level of awareness, and also the fleeting nature of the experience from this higher perspective level. I have never been satisfied with this explanation however. To me, the perspective from higher levels of reality are not at all relevant to the issue of suffering, the above caveat notwithstanding.||

Yes, this "whoops, no biggie!" approach to the issue certainly seems deficient to me as well. It's as if to say, "A higher power didn't protect you from this, but a higher power or something equivalent will just erase it later. Or make it so it didn't matter. Something." That said, I think that suffering is also essential to our development as spiritual beings. I think it makes intuitive sense that an existence that was simply floating ignorant and unformed in bliss for eternity would not have much meaning.

||For me, the justification has to directly address the experience specifically and exclusively from the perspective of the experiencer. It may be the case that upon returning to the spiritual realm we have the luxury of viewing the Earthly experience as fleeting and non-real, but that does not change the fact that the experience itself was (potentially) horrific, and also experienced as if the events occurred over an extended period of time.||

I think that, rather than simply dissolving into the collective upon death as our cure for what ails us, we are able to overcome our pain by the nature of the higher dimensions. The very different nature of time Over There is one big part of how we heal and continue to develop.

By way of background, I'm not sure how long you have spent time reading here (and forgive me if you have commented in the past and I didn't know), but we've talked about (i.e., furiously debated the issue of) Nanci Danison and her NDE here quite a bit. I'm on the "neg" side of that debate. Not totally negative, mind you. She had an experience that I think was real, but it wasn't actually an NDE (she was under anesthesia and never in danger of dying), and to me and some others, she comes off as a know-it-all prophet who ranks her experience far above those of others, saying she's had the deepest NDE of all time, or something like that. FWIW, her experience and her interpretation seems similar to that of others who had profound (to them) experiences but didn't die. There was one woman serving in Iraq whose vehicle was hit and she was knocked out a bit, and I recall one man whose details escape me (maybe someone here will remember: yes, I know zero information is pretty vague :)). Eben Alexander is a recent example (he was in a coma), though his experience and interpretation are still different that those above.
Moreover, the above debate dovetails nicely with the debates we've had about Grof and his "cosmic game" interpretation of reality, with which I disagree (though think he also makes many good points).
||Someone who is suffering recurring nightmares can at least take a degree of solace in the fact that they will not be permanently damaged in any way. They know they will wake up each morning and not have to continue suffering the consequences of the dream events. And so it is with Earthly events, assuming a higher reality of reality where Earthly events are indeed not perceived as being real.||
I think this is an excellent point. What if someone had an OBE (which is what a dream is) that was hyper-real and extremely traumatic? The fact that the person was "OK" afterward would be cold comfort. Well, this happens: it's called alien abduction. Now, I don't know how to fit such phenomena into my worldview, but I don't deny that such things happen. If if they aren't "real," they have profound consequences.
||Nanci Danison’s justification for suffering is exactly along the lines expressed in the above NDE account. All the arguments in her books and videos appeal exclusively to the non-real nature of Earth events as seen from a higher level of awareness, and also the fleeting nature of the experience from this higher perspective level. I have never been satisfied with this explanation however. To me, the perspective from higher levels of reality are not at all relevant to the issue of suffering, the above caveat notwithstanding.||
Yes, this "whoops, no biggie!" approach to the issue certainly seems deficient to me as well. It's as if to say, "A higher power didn't protect you from this, but a higher power or something equivalent will just erase it later. Or make it so it didn't matter. Something." That said, I think that suffering is also essential to our development as spiritual beings. I think it makes intuitive sense that an existence that was simply floating ignorant and unformed in bliss for eternity would not have much meaning.
||For me, the justification has to directly address the experience specifically and exclusively from the perspective of the experiencer. It may be the case that upon returning to the spiritual realm we have the luxury of viewing the Earthly experience as fleeting and non-real, but that does not change the fact that the experience itself was (potentially) horrific, and also experienced as if the events occurred over an extended period of time.||
I think that, rather than simply dissolving into the collective upon death as our cure for what ails us, we are able to overcome our pain by the nature of the higher dimensions. The very different nature of time Over There is one big part of how we heal and continue to develop.

Hi Matt
Nanci Danison is certainly a very controversial figure, there are no two ways about that. Yes I agree, I think her experience was real, but I also believe it was a genuine NDE. I know that it puts some people off when she claims her NDE was the deepest and most extensive on record, it sounds a bit like bragging doesn’t it? But I think I understand why she makes this claim. Some elements of her experience make far more sense if looked at in this way when contrasted to the perspectives of those who might have had a far less extensive experience. I am pretty sure the other NDEer you were referencing is Natalie Sudman, someone else who’s NDE interests me. And yes, I see many similarities between the two accounts.
One thing I might caution against is assuming that transcendental NDEs will necessarily be correlated with cases where the physical body has died. I don’t know that it quite works that way. Also the lack of evidence that Nanci’s body died does not mean she did not in fact die. We have to take her word for this of course, but that goes for most other NDEers as well.
There are one or two aspects of Nanci’s account which I find quite disturbing, which I discuss here:- http://afterlife-knowledge.com/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.cgi?num=1388759222%2F170#170. You might want to read and possibly comment. I would be interested in hearing other peoples’ views on what I discuss here.
In summary, I still remain highly ambivalent about Nanci’s NDE. There are some aspects of her account which appeal to me, but others that don’t.
(I have just found the thread on Michael Prescott’s blog discussing Nanci Danison. I will read and possibly comment if I have anything further to add. Thanks for pointing it out.)

Hi Matt and Eric
Nanci Danison is certainly a very controversial figure, there are no two ways about that. Yes I agree, I think her experience was real, but I also believe it was a genuine NDE. I know that it puts some people off when she claims her NDE was the deepest and most extensive on record, it sounds a bit like bragging doesn’t it? But I think I understand why she makes this claim. Some elements of her experience make far more sense if looked at in this way when contrasted to the perspectives of those who might have had a far less extensive experience. I am pretty sure the other NDEer you were referencing is Natalie Sudman, someone else who’s NDE interests me. And yes, I see many similarities between the two accounts.
One thing I might caution against is assuming that transcendental NDEs will necessarily be correlated with cases where the physical body has died. I don’t know that it quite works that way. Also the lack of evidence that Nanci’s body died does not mean she did not in fact die. We have to take her word for this of course, but that goes for most other NDEers as well.
There are one or two aspects of Nanci’s account which I find quite disturbing, which I discuss here:- http://afterlife-knowledge.com/cgi-bin/yabb/YaBB.cgi?num=1388759222%2F170#170. You might want to read and possibly comment. I would be interested in hearing other peoples’ views on what I discuss here.
In summary, I still remain highly ambivalent about Nanci’s NDE. There are some aspects of her account which appeal to me, but others that don’t.
(I have just found the thread on Michael Prescott’s blog discussing Nanci Danison. I will read and possibly comment if I have anything further to add. Thanks for pointing it out.)

Hi Julie. I think all that essay writing at uni years ago has stuck with me, and continues to influence my writing style. But I have at least resisted the temptation to include an intro, main body, and conclusion section in my posts. :)

How about God allows free will (there's a massive proof of free will that almost gets there from mathematicians John Conway and Simon Kochen, online), to allow development but can sometimes intervene? (of course people report God experiences in the many ways that have been discussed here previously). So there will be suffering.
This accords with "If there is a God, then anything is permitted", philosopher Slavoj Zizek.

http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2012/04/17/3478816.htm

He has some wonderful ideas in this esp. that hedonists of all sorts can now basically do what they want ... but in do so are so utterly trapped in their own social "rules" that they are never free!

On the contrary a person who "does what God wants", which I guess means doing good to others throughout life, is free and unencumbered psychologically. That endows freedom of mind and spirit.

"On the contrary a person who "does what God wants", which I guess means doing good to others throughout life, is free and unencumbered psychologically. That endows freedom of mind and spirit."

I think that's a fascinating point, Alan. Gurdjirff said that anyone who maintains an innocence of mind until late middle age is rewarded by life. And certainly, a clean heart offers a sense of protection.

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