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\\excerpt from a post from your last blog which I believe offers some answers to this blog... "And this one: "A woman in childbirth found herself abruptly flying over the hospital and into deep, empty space. A group of circular entities informed her she never existed, that she had been allowed to imagine her life but it was a joke; she was not real. She argued with facts about her life and descriptions of Earth. “No,” they said, “none of that had ever been real; this is all there was.” She was left alone in space." - doubter//
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People are going to have a lot to say about your latest blog. It reminded me of many NDEs I have read and also from the online essay about the holographic universe.

None of it is real. It is all generated from our consciousness. Consciousness may be the only thing that is real? The other side, and this side? The more I read the more I tend to lean that way? It's almost too weird to comprehend but it might be true?

Also as far as meeting other beings and them actually being us? Our "higher selves" whatever that means, Michelle M said the exact same thing in her NDE description when she said "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 as if all things are all different parts of the same body, so to speak."

Roger Ebert's final moments with his wife article it says, " 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."

and from the Universe as a hologram which I'm pretty sure was written by Michael Talbot, "For if the concreteness of the world is but a secondary reality and what is "there" is actually a holographic blur of frequencies, and if the brain is also a hologram and only selects some of the frequencies out of this blur and mathematically transforms them into sensory perceptions, what becomes of objective reality?Put quite simply, it ceases to exist. As the religions of the East have long upheld, the material world is Maya, an illusion, and although we may think we are physical beings moving through a physical world, this too is an illusion."

And since I learned about the word "Consilience" (from Michael Prescott's blog) when I put it all together it paints a picture that this life is a consciousness created reality and in fact the only thing that is real is consciousness and there is no ultimate place that is "real" at least in the sense we think of as real?

Which reminds me of the quote about an old woman who said something to the effect of "You can't fool me! It's turtles all the way down!"

It's consciousness all the way down, and there is only one consciousness, one "Higher self" and we are generated from that higher self, and we are a part of that higher self, and like the quote at the top of my post says, "A group of circular entities informed her she never existed, that she had been allowed to imagine her life but it was a joke; she was not real. She argued with facts about her life and descriptions of Earth. “No,” they said, “none of that had ever been real; this is all there was.”

Consciousness is all there ever was. The other side is a consciousness created reality and this place that we call the physical Universe? It's not so real either. Or to quote Niels Bohr “Everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real"

Something tells me Michael you've ever been out of your body, went into the astral world, wrote a note on a table and returned a week later and it was still there, like I have. If you've done such things, you probably wouldn't be thinking the realms are hallucination or illusion-based.

I read Myers' work also. Hallucination is being conflated with objective reality. In the astral, or ANY higher realm, ANYONE from any level suffers the risk of falling into a subjective realm. In "Life in the World Unseen" the author warns to "keep one foot in the objective at all times." That's because on a higher level of consciousness if you focus inward and "daydream" it'll start to turn into the equivalent of a lucid dream of your own creation. To the outside (OBJECTIVE) world the person will appear to be in a daze. Or people may enter these subjective realms together.

But then an objective world exists outside of that. Which is a real and tangible other side. Where I've been able to do things like talk to people who are dead, have them provide me full details about their name and where they were from, and then I can find their memorial page on Facebook.

And #2 point: No one on that side worth their salt is going to be fooled for long by an illusion of William Shakespeare. That's because ANY entity that is a part of your own consciousness, when you're in some dream-world, AKA an hallucination, does NOT provide an empathic sense of their existence. Another soul will NOT feel them as an individual aware entity but they'll feel "lifeless" with no essence. This is why it's vastly different communicating to a real person versus a dream hallucination. And it's also vastly different communicating to a real "spirit" on the other side versus, again, a dream hallucination.

Very interesting hypothesis describing the light at the end of the tunnel. I hadn't looked at it this way before. Makes a lot of sense. Also takes the weight off all those poor gods that we require to show up to give us humans guidance whenever we cough or fart ;-).

One fairly consistent feature of NDE accounts is the realization that whatever a person does to others here on Earth, they are literally doing it to themselves.
I can't help but wonder if The Higher Self for all of us is the same entity, hence our common interpretation as God the Creator.
Perhaps ultimately, we (and all of conscious creation) aren't simply different products from the same Ground of Being. We ARE the same Ground of Being. Could we all be manifestations of the same Higher Self?

Michael,
Great post! I am 100% in agreement with what you say.

Having had OBEs (with veridical content) and explored the realms opened to me by them, I think the answer to Cyrus' critique is that there are dreams within dreams, within dreams. In many instances these dreams are shared by multiple dreamers as consensus realities, but that doesn't make them into an objective stand alone truth.

Speaking of lucid dreams. I once had a dream where I was talking to someone about a "dance Troop" that I didn't know anything about. I don't dance and honestly have never had any interest in dance except as a clumsy teen practicing in case. Anyway, I woke up and googled this particular group and although I can't remember it now I do remember that everything I remembered from the dream turned out to be true. But, the biggest take away? Cyrus statement about real VS dream made me think of it. As I was waking up a young dark skinned lady looked at me and smiled and winked. Unlike most dream imagery she was objectively acting on her own. I knew that she was "other" and not any kind of projection or hallucination.

I remember reading about a child who met Santa Claus during an NDE and another person who met Elvis. Who can say that they did not. (Lower level spirits have been known to be accommodating and play a role that is desired by the sitter or experiencer or otherwise fake a personality. e.g. "Dr." Phinuit with Mrs. Piper, the fictitious ‘Phillip” in a Canadian experiment, Dr. Hall’s fictitious “Bessie” with Mrs. Piper.)

I have wondered why no westerner has reported encounters with unicorns or other fantasy animals, e.g., Pegasus, Centaurs, Chinese Dragons. If Summerland and other realms are produced by the subconscious mind where are all of these other fantasy lands, reasonable for devotees. What about entering the land of the dinosaurs, early man or land of the Pharaohs for those who have spent a lifetime studying these things---I am sure that that would be a great joy for them; (There are many reports of past life experiences in ancient Egypt so one would think that that environment would show up in NDEs); where are the undersea NDEs, I know that I would look forward to experiencing the undersea world without having to be concerned with breathing; how about experiences on other imagined planets in hallucinated exotic environments?

How can the blind report seeing anything since those who are blind from birth would have no concept of what anything looked like and yet there are reports of persons blind from birth who describe the hospital room or other visual reality during an OBE or NDE.

I must say regarding Shakespeare that there are examples of writing dictated from some other reality that is of good quality although not from Shakespeare e.g., Cummins' 'Frederic Meyers', Doten's 'Edgar Alan Poe', Curran's 'Patience Worth'. They are from other discarnate authors known and unknown. ( Shakespeare as a personality may have taken his place in the oversoul and no longer differentiates as "Shakespeare".)

I particularly liked the movie “What Dreams May Come” starring Robin Williams. It seemed to me that that movie represented a reasonable idea of an afterlife. I recommend that movie for those who at times contemplate an afterlife. - AOD

This may be a good place to report a - to me and personally - striking "coincidence".

The link to the subject of this post is the business of oobes and visiting other worldly realms. Andrew Paquette, the author of a book on his own precogntive dreams, claims to have regularly gone way beyond glimpses of the future but to have occupied and explored a whole complex topography of existence in his dream state and to have regularly left his body, entered what we might call an afterlife realm, encountered in real life people he knows in that dream world etc etc.. He appears to be reporting sincerely whether you believe him or not.

So what's the odd coincidence? Well as precog dreams are my main personal experience/interest I bought and read Paquette's book about 3 years ago I'd guess and still reference its odder contents whenever discussing (never under my real name) the subject online as they're so alien to my own. That is the entire extent of my connection to Mr Paquette whom I have never had any kind of personal contact with, nor attempted to, and who lives on another continent. It's a connection but not one that he has any reason to know about.

I recently joined a facebook group dedicated entirely to posting images of comic book covers. A couple of days ago I commented on one of the posts. Two people liked my comment. I recognised the name of one of them. It was my fellow dreamer Andrew Paquette. 7 billion people in the world. What are the chances.

Rabbitdawg,
"The play's the thing and God is playing all the parts!" - AOD

I was watching the excellent Spanish series "Morocco: Love in Times of War" last night on Netflix, a depiction of the bloody war between Spain and the Berber tribes of the Rif mountainous region of Northern Morocco during the early part of the 20th century and a certain insight struck me that life really is grand theater. Life is a play in which God experiences everything. To die in battle is of no consequence if death is like walking from one room into another as Helen Keller reportedly said. (Except that I shall be able to see, she added.) There is no 'good' or 'bad' in war; it is just a way for spirit to experience emotion and drama. Those characters that are perceived as evil or bad in some way are just the foil which prick emotion and get everything going. All of the blood and broken relationships in that contest are part of a grand play of little real significance.

Just think how boring it must be to not experience the emotion of hate, loss, anger, jealousy, hurt etc. etc. and resolution in heavenly realms.

Physical life could be a great escape from heavenly ennui. - AOD

So how do I know that I am not dead right now?

"These sojourns in what the Tibetans call the chonyid bardo and sidpa bardo take place below the evolutionary level of the higher self, on a lower plane where postmortem existence is largely dictated by the biases, assumptions, and limitations of the subconscious mind. Such existence is a virtual-reality simulation, real enough to be fully immersive and widely shared, but not real enough to withstand the direct apprehension that yields liberation"

This is a wormhole that by logical extension leads to an infinite number of worlds. But during an Ayuhuasca trip in Costa Rica that is exactly what I saw. One can never be sure as what stage they are in...

Great post, I agree 100% and you have put my thoughts and ideas into words. Quick question that popped into my head today, is there any evidence or literature of a discarnate spirit being reincarnated and also communicating at the same time through a medium? Or greeting a loved one during their transition or during an NDE? So basically, if you choose to reincarnate, does a part of your higher self remain in the afterlife to communicate with or meet loved ones as well? Any cases where that has been demonstrated?!

@chris
I may be wrong but I don’t recall any purported communicator saying “you’ve just missed Fred, he reincarnated last week”. :)

Really interesting post, putting such seemingly disparate things together. I have one observation:

"In many Hindu NDEs, the experiencer's death was attributable to a bureaucratic error, which was promptly corrected by returning them to life."

I've noticed this too in NDE accounts told by Hindus, the majority of whom reside in India, a country that is infamous for having a lot of red tape that its citizens must navigate. At first, I thought it worked against the idea that NDEs are real. On second thought, many Westerners' NDE accounts often include statements that they're told "It's not your time," "It's a mistake," etc. Could it be that Hindus and Westerners are probably experiencing the same thing, but just expressing it differently? It also makes sense that people from different cultures and religions perceive those helping them over differently and have different names for them.

I would be heartbroken to find out that Summerland is just a hallucination however. I'd like to think that the progression to different realms is as described in "Life in the World Unseen." In that account, the realms are real, but the more enlightened one becomes, the more they can progress to more beautiful realms.

"I would be heartbroken to find out that Summerland is just a hallucination."

It's a hallucination, but real. To put it less paradoxically, it’s a hallucination in one respect but real in another respect.

A hologram of an apple is a real image, but not a real apple. It has a kind or degree of reality, but not the same kind or degree of reality as an apple.

A virtual reality environment is real in the sense that the images and sounds are real, there is real coded information underlying all of it, and you and others can interact with the environment and with each other. But it is unreal in the sense that the trees and dragons you encounter are images, not actual trees and dragons.

"Something tells me Michael you've never been out of your body, went into the astral world, wrote a note on a table and returned a week later and it was still there, like I have. If you've done such things, you probably wouldn't be thinking the realms are hallucination or illusion-based."

In a VR simulation you can put your sword on a table, leave it, come back later, and find it there. Even so, the sword and the table are only images.

I think much of the resistance to this idea stems from the tacit recognition that if the astral environment is (to a degree) unreal because it is generated by the ego-mind, then the ego-mind itself must be (to a degree) unreal.

Unsettling as this prospect may seem, I think it’s probably true. As I see it, the ego is analogous to light refracted through a prism. The light begins as clear, colorless light (the clear light of being, the undifferentiated awareness of the cosmic mind), then is altered by its passage through the prism (the matrix of experiences unique to each individual). As a result, it emerges as a specific wavelength of colored light (the ego-persona). But ultimately it is still only the clear light in combination with a particular, essentially random refractory field.

\\"I would be heartbroken to find out that Summerland is just a hallucination."//
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What is real are our emotions and feelings we experience. The setting may be "a dream in itself" to quote Michelle M's NDE, or a "hoax or illusion" to quote Roger Ebert's final moments with his wife, or "Maya or illusion" to quote the online essay "The Universe as a hologram". Niels Bohr, one of the founding father's modern quantum physics says "Everything we call real is made out of things that can't be considered real."

I have read so many NDEs and popular science books about the holographic universe and quantum physics that allude to the "unrealness" of our universe and I've thought about this quite a bit and the conclusion I've come to is that even if the place is made out of things that aren't real, or is only a holographic projection, or a "hoax", the things that we experience here, the feelings and emotions, and the pain, and touch and feel, and the love, smell, and sound is real because it is "downloaded" into our consciousness.

What an olive tastes like, what it felt like to make love to someone, the love that we felt, what it felt like to go body surfing in Malibu, or snorkeling in the Florida Keys, all those memories are real even if the place was just a holographic projection from some holographic film in another dimension.

If this Earth life is a school and we come here to experience certain things then all those "lessons" I've experienced in this life, even if it they were "designed in a lab" felt real to me and I have those memories so all my memories are real.

And perhaps that is how the Universe wants it to be? Maybe we are supposed to think it's all real because if we knew it was just a hoax or illusion we wouldn't feel the emotion that is needed for us to remember? We wouldn't mourn or feel as much and we wouldn't experience as much because we'd just be sitting around waiting to cross over into Heaven? There is a strong connection between emotion and memory and the more emotional the experience the more we remember the things we experience. https://www.webmd.com/balance/news/20050131/emotions-make-memory-last

Why try so hard here if it is so much better on the other side? Why mourn anyone at all if we knew for sure that this side was just a hoax or illusion? It's in the "not knowing" that the lessons are learned.

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/

If the summerland/physical seeming afterlife of tradition and from which one presumes supposed communication of various forms comes, is a temporary/illusory location before you enter a more nebulous realm where the sense of individual identity is presumably diminished or dissipated (or have I misunderstood?)...then doesn't that raise the question of where those telling us that's the case (such as Myers or whoever informed the Tibetans) are when they're telling us about it?

What I mean is has eg Myers left the more earthly seeming place ("summerland") in order for him to know that its an illusion? And if he has, where is he? What are his surroundings then in the place from which he's telling us this? Presumably there must be some form of existence analagous to a physical earthly one in order for him to still be identifiably myers , and for him to have the motive and means to be communicating with this world at all?

Cyrus wrote, "Something tells me Michael you've [n]ever been out of your body, went into the astral world, wrote a note on a table and returned a week later and it was still there, like I have."

His "ever" should have been "never" as I indicated above in brackets; MP recognized that and silently corrected it in his comment above. (Hmm—how about fixing Cyrus's post, which is confusing as-is?)

\\"where the sense of individual identity is presumably diminished or dissipated" - lawrence//
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I think the whole purpose of this life is to experience enough separation here so we don't lose our individual identity after we transition to "heaven". It may be impossible to "become" a separate unique individual in heaven so it has to be accomplished here and the way we do that is by experiencing separation over and over again till it is thoroughly imprinted onto the soul what it means and how it feels to be separate.

From the moment we are born and separate from our mothers till the day we die and our death becomes a lesson in separation to the our loved ones we leave behind. Life is one great big long lesson in separation. Religion, politics, race, culture, language, dialects, gender, sexual orientation, wealth, I.Q., education, socioeconomic status, weight and height, color... life is one great big long lesson in separation.

People who have NDEs say they felt an overwhelming feeling of oneness and connectedness in heaven, feeling like they were "one" with the Universe, or "I was the Universe", or "I literally felt like I was everywhere in the Universe at once." Perhaps those feelings of oneness preclude learning what it means or how it feels to be separate so we have to learn it here?

But once we do we don't lose our sense of uniqueness after we transition to heaven?

Excerpt from Mark Horton's NDE description:

"I was unique yet I was the tiniest part of the whole." http://www.kuriakon00.com/celestial/nde/mark_horton.htm

Great post Michael! On this subject interesting what Seth said from “Seth Speaks: The Eternal Validity of the Soul”, Chapter 9 – The “Death” Experience

"A belief in hell fires can cause you to hallucinate Hades’ conditions. A belief in a stereotyped heaven can result in a hallucination of heavenly conditions. You always form your own reality according to your ideas and expectations. This is the nature of consciousness in whatever reality it finds itself. Such hallucinations, I assure you, are temporary. […] There are teachers to explain the conditions and circumstances. You are not left alone, therefore, lost in mazes of hallucination. You may or may not realize immediately that you are dead in physical terms.

Christianity has believed in a heaven and a hell, a purgatory, and reckoning; and so, at death, to those who so believe in these symbols, another ceremony is enacted, and the guides take on the guises of those beloved figures of Christian saints and heroes. Then with this as framework, and in terms that they can understand, such individuals are told the true situation. Mass religious movements have for centuries fulfilled that purpose, in giving man some plan to be followed. It little mattered that later the plan was seen as a child’s primer, a book of instructions complete with colorful tales, for the main purpose was served and there was little disorientation.

....

You will find yourself in another form, an image that will appear physical to you to a large degree, as long as you do not try to manipulate within the physical system with it. Then the differences between it and the physical body will become obvious. […] You will simply be learning to operate in a new environment in which different laws apply, and the laws are far less limiting than the physical ones with which you now operate. In other words, you must learn to understand and use new freedoms."

"What I mean is has eg Myers left the more earthly seeming place ("summerland") in order for him to know that its an illusion? And if he has, where is he?"

As I recall, the "Myers" communicator said he had progressed beyond the Lotus Flower paradise, as he called it. He does describe higher realms. Whether or not these descriptions are persuasive is an open question. I would have to reread the two books - it’s been a while.

The chief communicator in "The Survival of the Soul" also claimed to occupy one of the higher realms. The descriptions provided are vague, but suggest a realm in which beings exist as colorful lights in an environment of vibrational frequencies. Between-lives regressions suggest a rather similar mode of existence.

“Road to Immortality” was purportedly dictated to Geraldine Cummins by ‘Frederic W. H. Myers'. Ms. Cummins transcribed Myers’ thoughts by automatic writing during 1923-24, 1927 and 1931. (Myers died in 1901) ‘Myers’ regarded Cummins as the “interpreter” which according to Ms. E.B. Gibbes, Cummins’ companion and writing assistant, meant that the inner mind of the medium was necessary for the interpretation of messages and writings which purport to emanate from the unseen world.

Gibbes claims that ‘Myers’ was “entirely unknown to us personally” when the transcriptions began and additionally affirms that they had not read any of his works. Gibbes states that “Alleged communications from the Unseen frequently assert that the language used by them is conveyed by thought. It is, therefore the thought that is thrown, as it were, into the automatist’s or interpreter’s inner mind, and there it finds the words that express it.” According to ‘Myers’ the actual words depend largely on the inner mind of the automatist. He reportedly said that “Sometimes we only send the thoughts and the medium’s unconscious mind clothes them in words.”

Gibbes goes on to provide a kind of additional disclaimer that there may be accounts of confusion of ideas and trivial remarks which are sometimes reputed to reach us from another world and which fail to convince the public of the reality of the survival of human personality. She adds that “the alleged communicator [Myers] particularly states that he is not infallible – that he endeavours to write of “the truth as I perceive it.” ”

Considering the foregoing, some people have questioned whether or not Cummins’ book was really dictated by Frederic Myers. Personally I also question that it is from Myers. Nevertheless ‘Myers’ states in Chapter 6, “Group Soul” that there are “a number of souls all bound together by one spirit, depending for their nourishment on that spirit” and that when he was on earth he belonged to a group-soul whose “roots were in the invisible”. All of the souls in the group are bound together by the one spirit and that each soul life on earth somewhat determined the subsequent physical life of other souls in the group. Each soul left a pattern which was to be followed by subsequent souls in the group. Therefore as we evolve we enter into those memories and experiences of other lives “that are to be found in the existence of the souls that preceded us and are of our group.” Myers says this as undoubtedly “true in so far as it is what I have learned and experienced.”

According to ‘Myers’, “. . .in the After-death, we become more and more aware of this group-soul as we make progress. Eventually we enter into it and share the experiences of our brethren. You must understand, therefore that existence for my soul---as separate and apart from my individual ego---is dual. I lived two lives, one in the world of form, and one subjective, in the community of which I am a member.”

‘Myers’ sketched out seven planes of existence starting with ‘the Plane of Matter’ and progressing to “Out Yonder, Timelessness”. “When you dwell in Out Yonder, you, as a part of the Divine Principle in its essence, are wholly aware of the imagination of God. So you are aware of every second in time, you are aware of the whole history of the earth from Alpha to Omega. Equally all planetary existence is yours. Everything created is contained within that imagination, and you, now by reason of your immortality, know it and hold, as the earth holds a seed, the whole of life, the past, the future, and that is, all that shall be forever and forever.

Well I don’t know about you but all of this gets to be over-much. I am more inclined to think that Cummins was proselytizing as the book progresses, becoming overcome by her own thoughts rather than transcribing the thoughts of F.W. H. Myers.- AOD

I agree with you, Michael, that a lot of the Summerland and other earthly-like environments are likely just very solid, very realistic manifestations that ultimately aren't real. However, I don't view that as a bad thing: I like the idea that, after finishing a lifetime, we can relax and unwind by fulfilling all our heart's desires and things we never got the chance to do, or were impossible.

Want to fly like a bird?
Want to have a mansion to live in?
Want to have oodles of kinky sex?
Want to help the Fellowship stop Sauron?
Want to take on a T-rex in a fistfight?

Being able to do all that would be great fun, and eventually, when we have our fill, we can say, "Okay, I'm satisfied. Time to move on!"

In a way, I think it's like going to Disneyland or any other theme park. We know all the themed areas aren't real, but that doesn't diminish our enjoyment.

"I agree with you, Michael, that a lot of the Summerland and other earthly-like environments are likely just very solid, very realistic manifestations that ultimately aren't real." - Ian

Well, this reality we are in right now is the same as you describe, IMO.

"In a way, I think it's like going to Disneyland or any other theme park. We know all the themed areas aren't real, but that doesn't diminish our enjoyment."

The problem is that it isn't all enjoyment. It's a trap built by desire and desire leads to suffering.

Personally, I am willing to take the pleasure along with the suffering because I am interested in building out my individuality, but at least I know what it's all about and can make that conscious decision.

At the end of the day wherever you are, there you are. It's you and only you. It's all a Bardo of your making. That is the realization, IMO, that counts. Next step is to gather and save the energy so that you can build bardos or exit bardos at will.

Let me relate a Salvia divinorum experience that is relevant to this discussion. Anybody who has tried this natural psychedelic knows that the smoking method of ingestion causes a very fast effect, which most know is NOT a euphoric party-drug by any means. If that's what you want, you are much better off sticking with cannabis (legal states only).
Anyway, I tried Salvia for spiritual insight and my experience was that it was not about what was happening to me but what seemed to be happening to the world around me that was earth shattering. After the initial plunge, which is like a yanking from one state of mind to another, I remember looking at the chair and end table next to me suddenly pixilate and then the many pixils started to just fall away as if my virtual reality world was dissolving in front of my eyes. This did not last long, thankfully, but made the distinct impression on me that somehow my perception of physical reality was something "built up" for my benefit and not actually real. When I heard the Roger Ebert illusion quote, this experience roared back in my memory.

Both Eric's and Steven's comments make a similar point, which I think is probably valid - that our present reality, just like Summerland etc al., is Maya (illusion). The difference, though, is that the Maya of postmortem bardos seems to be easier to transcend. The first item in the main post tells how a hellish NDE was transformed into a pleasant NDE by the simple act of prayer. But in this life, if you’re a captive in the Hanoi Hilton or a North Korean prison camp, you can pray all you like, but you will still be there.

Physical reality (as we call it) seems much less plastic, much less susceptible to our thoughts, than the VR environments of the afterlife. I’m not saying our thoughts while incarnated have no power, but their power is much more limited than it appears to be in the postmortem state.

"Christianity has believed in a heaven and a hell, a purgatory, and reckoning; and so, at death, to those who so believe in these symbols, another ceremony is enacted, and the guides take on the guises of those beloved figures of Christian saints and heroes."

The only problem with this is that many atheists report meeting Jesus in their NDEs, and are pretty adamant that it's Jesus that they met.

Also, I just came across this kind of sad, but interesting study: "Neurologists Find Brain Still Shows Signs Of Self-Criticism Minutes After Death," which is kind of what I would expect (see https://www.theonion.com/neurologists-find-brain-still-shows-signs-of-self-criti-1822589107)

Happily, The Onion is a satirical website!

According to idealism there is no ontological difference between the waking life, hallucinations of a living or the bardo after death, all are experiences. But what is the practical difference? My guess is that the waking life experiences could be caused by the collective subconscious, a reality resulting from the set of all sentient beings that exist, what would be the matter for materialism. On the other hand, the bardo after death as well as the hallucinations of a living are more personal and individual, they would be the result of our individual subconscious, although the communication with other minds is still possible making our postmortem reality can evolve through time. .

"Physical reality (as we call it) seems much less plastic, much less susceptible to our thoughts, than the VR environments of the afterlife. I’m not saying our thoughts while incarnated have no power, but their power is much more limited than it appears to be in the postmortem state. " - MP

What you say seem indisputable from our every day perspective, but maybe a bardo seems equally real and externally dictated to those in it. maybe. I don't really know. But isn't that what is said about a bardo?That it seems real to the experiencer.

For reason of that question, I've long been interested in PK. PK seems like it violates what we think are the laws of solidity in this realm. Then again, obvious PK is a rare phenomenon.

We have to be careful with words like 'illusion', 'maya' and 'hallucination'.

The word 'maya' is interesting. It's usually translated from the Sanskrit as the relatively negative sounding term 'illusion' in English, but actually it has a far more nuanced meaning. One of its senses is illusion in the sense of 'magic', a 'magical creation'.

Just because something is an illusion, doesn't mean it is not real. After all, there is an illusion.

An alternative way to put it is that this world, and bardo worlds etc *are* real, but their reality is consciousness.

All the various states are fluctuations of this consciousness. A mirage can be said to be an illusion, but it's also real, it exists. You can swear it's not real until you are blue in the face, but it will still be there in front of you.

If we accept that, ultimately, everything emerges out of - is made out of, and subsides into - consciousness, then we can say that all phenomena are real in their own way. All apparently real things owe their reality to that which is ultimately real - consciousness.

This world, and the spiritual realms, may best described as 'dependently real'.

That which is dependently real can still be totally stable and convincing. And yes, as someone alluded to above, how do you know that you are not in one of the afterlife realms now?

Answer: you can't be 100% sure. Best thing is to contemplate your current and past experience: are you stuck in a loop? Mind you, people get stuck in emotional loops in the physical world as well!


A mirage is an illusion and 'real' to the same extent that the images we see in a mirror or a reflection in a window glass are real. Images in printed pictures, on film or in digital format are illusions but real images composed of silver halide, ink or pixels. They are representations of something that may or may not exist in a three dimensional reality. They are real images but are illusionary in that they only represent real things, a kind of elaborate detailed symbol or language.

I have observed that animals (dogs) probably have difficulty seeing or interpreting the illusions in photographs, movies, on TV or on computer screens. I think what they see is the three dimensional reality of a flat surface and that is all. ( That may not be totally true in all cases as I have seen birds fighting with their reflection in a window glass or cats sparing with their reflection in a mirror but, these images are life-sized and seemingly responsive.)

Hallucinations of sound occur also. (I have tinnitus which meets the definition of a hallucination, I understand, but to me it is a constant real sound which no one else is able to hear.)

If consciousness provides meaning and/or reality to any illusion whether it is a mirage, movie, reflection, photograph, or computer screen then who is to say that consciousness does not provide organization and meaning to all light and sound waves and other vibrations or waves transmitted by the brain and nervous system or otherwise impinging on it. (That's kind of obvious, isn't it!) - AOD

Sure, I understand the issue of illusions being, in some respect, real. In the main post I wrote:

"The experiences are real but hallucinatory - actual adventures in nonphysical realms, but adventures realized in terms of thought-forms and cultural constructs dictated by the experiencer's own mind....Such existence is a virtual-reality simulation, real enough to be fully immersive and widely shared, but not real enough to withstand the direct apprehension that yields liberation."

Since there still seemed to be some uncertainty on this point, I added in the comments:

"A hologram of an apple is a real image, but not a real apple. It has a kind or degree of reality, but not the same kind or degree of reality as an apple.

"A virtual reality environment is real in the sense that the images and sounds are real, there is real coded information underlying all of it, and you and others can interact with the environment and with each other. But it is unreal in the sense that the trees and dragons you encounter are images, not actual trees and dragons."

The analogy breaks down because the hologram or VR environment is not generated by the viewer's mind. But if we grant the existence of thought-forms that can constitute a fully immersive world, then, in such a world, we would be surrounded by our own (and other people's) objectified thoughts. And we would mistakenly assume that these thought forms have an entirely independent existence, when in fact we collectively are responsible for them. In this sense we would be living in a shared fantasy or collective hallucination.

There is no exact parallel in earthly life, since (as far as we know) our thoughts do not become externalized as thought-forms here. So we have to use imperfect analogies like holograms, VR games, hallucinations, mirages, etc.

"The problem is that it isn't all enjoyment. It's a trap built by desire and desire leads to suffering."

I'm not sure I agree with that; I believe that desire, in itself, is not a bad thing - I don't see how anyone could see a problem with desiring to become more compassionate towards others. The problem comes when we focus on unrealistic desires (a 50 year old man is unlikely to become a basketball superstar), or shallow ones that do not bring lasting happiness.

Focusing on animalstic and low-conciousness desires (eat, survive, procreate, become rich and famous, becoming better than everyone else) is unlikely to make anyone happy in the long run. But focusing on higher, more spiritual desires (becoming self-aware, helping others, contributing to solutions on global problems, etc.) can bring longer, more lasting happiness and fulfillment. That's not to say that more carnal desires can't be enjoyable, but they should be experienced in moderation, and with the awareness that they will not last forever.

Great post and great comments!

Michael, I think you have done an admirable job of summing up the data. For me, the frustrating thing about trying establish my own worldview with respect to the Afterlife (afterworldview?) is that it seems nearly impossible to "process" all the data points so that they are consistent with each other and make an overarching conclusion based on them that makes sense.

Your "spin" on the data, so to speak, is the title of your post: "lost in the bardo." It's a view that sees the initial stages of the Afterlife for most people as not being the real deal. Illusion and so on. While you cite a lot of data in favor of this view that I cannot deny, I think there is a lot of data that backs up a view that is more or less opposite: that is, that the Afterlife that people experience immediately is "real," and people are cared for and are not lost, wandering in illusion (I will try to use this word in this comment with all the nuance you intend). To wit:

• Dead relatives coming to greet the deceased would seem to be real people with agency acting on behalf of the deceased. Further, if the Afterlife were illusory, there would seem no reason not to mix the living and the dead, but NDErs are fairly consistent in seeing only the actual dead as dead (to the extent that this become veridical content, such as seeing someone who died in an accident as dead, but not a survivor, when they could not have had that knowledge yet).

• Animals such as beloved pets are often seen in the afterlife, and they sometimes greet humans. If we agree that animals have an afterlife as well, I think it's difficult to fit that fact into the "bardo" picture. I.e., animals would seem to exist continuously in "Summerland" and not evolve upward from there (though I agree that humans do). But if Summerland is their "real" afterlife, then isn't it fair to think of it as just as real for us, even if we eventually rise upward from it? That it's not a place in which we are lost?

• Crisis apparitions I think are a very significant data point. If we agree that these manifestations are real, then they are deceased with both agency and the power to appear to others about their situation. They would seem to be the furthest thing from "lost in a bardo."

• I have to disagree with the characterization of life reviews: ||The "life review" common to many NDEs and some channeled accounts, and described in Buddist terms as peering into the mirror of karma, is another illusory, self-generated experience - which may account for the fact that a person typically sees what he needs to see and feels that he is being judged only by himself.|| The word "illusory" here seems particularly unjustified, since the person is reviewing real experiences. Now if you say that the illusion is that there is a Being of Light guiding the person when it is really that person's self, I would say 1) that would not be an illusion, though it might count as a mistaken conclusion about the nature of the being, but more importantly 2) I think we need to take the accounts at face value and accept that they were deeply meaningful, hyper-real, mediated by something outside oneself, etc. I think they are something that, as described, are the very opposite of being lost in a world of illusion.

• I would say that most NDEs indicate a world of purpose and guidance. Some describe places of learning, and so on.

• I think AOD's point is very significant: ||I have wondered why no westerner has reported encounters with unicorns or other fantasy animals, e.g., Pegasus, Centaurs, Chinese Dragons. If Summerland and other realms are produced by the subconscious mind where are all of these other fantasy lands, reasonable for devotees.|| I think one of the best arguments against he Skeptical perspective on NDEs is that they are *not* random dreams. The content can vary quite a bit, but clearly they are running on some sort of rails. And that is true of Summerland descriptions as well.

So... At the same time, it would be wrong for me to deny the uncomfortable data points. I would like to paint a nice, orderly picture of the Afterlife, but I cannot. I think it is *fairly* orderly, in the aggregate, but I can't explain the outlier material, of which there is much.

My conclusion? I can't come to one.

Ian,
I didn't say desire is good or bad; merely that without desire, you wouldn't exist. It's the Buddhists that value desire badly and seek to eliminate it from their being so they can dissolve into nothingness.

As an aside, I do not agree that desiring to help others is an unmitigated good. Seeking to help others can result in all kinds of unforeseen consequences; some of which may be totally at odds with the original intention, even if it was as pure as the freshly fallen snow.

But no one and nothing is that pure. Hence, the desire to do anything - nay to simply "be" - sets in motion the entire panoply of life replete with all the angels and demons, love and hate, joys and tragedies. I think it's kind of beautiful in a horrible kind of way.

"becoming self-aware, helping others, contributing to solutions on global problems, etc."

I realize this is not meant as an exhaustive list (hence the "etc."), but I can't help adding items such as: raising a family, doing creative work, advancing knowledge, and even providing entertainment – all of which strike me as just as important as the ones listed.

In fact, I'm a little skeptical of "contributing to solutions to global problems" as a goal, because this so often results, in practice, in making the problems worse. (E.g., the decision to stop using DDT in order to help the environment had the unanticipated consequence of causing millions of unnecessary deaths from malaria in tropical nations.)

In general, I think it's better to focus on the issues in our own lives, rather than trying to solve the problems of the whole world, even if this might feel more satisfying.

Ian commented that he did not agree with another commenter that desire leads to suffering. but he went on to say that "Focusing on animalstic and low-conciousness desires (eat, survive, procreate, become rich and famous, becoming better than everyone else) is unlikely to make anyone happy in the long run." He continued saying that "focusing on spiritual desires can bring longer, more lasting happiness and fulfillment

Well, I have heard that said before but it has never convinced me that eating surviving, procreating or becoming rich and famous, (successful) are not desirable happiness producing pursuits or that high minded or spiritual desires are more fulfilling and long-lasting. I am not even sure that partaking in the lower desires 'moderately' is good advice---a kind of 'Puritan-lite' I guess. I think that one should live life to the fullest and that often means fulfilling one's own desires even though they may be 'animalistic' provided that others are not harmed in the process. Desires based on biology are prime and without them humans would not survive.

I think in this context there is a kind of negative connotation to the words "animalistic' or "low consciousness" which is undeserved especially when applied to very necessary desires---actually needs---that allow for the survival of the human race. In contrast there may be high minded pursuits that have produced a lifetime of unhappiness, with the hope that happiness will eventually come in an afterlife. I am not sure that self sacrifice, that is, giving up one's own legitimate desires is the way to find happiness in this life.

Now I don't necessarily subscribe to the maxim "eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we will die" but one must have water on one's own bucket before one can offer a drink to another. - AOD

I think when considering an afterlife we have to stop thinking in terms of form. It is consciousness that survives, not form. In the physical realm, consciousness finds itself in physical forms, human or otherwise. I believe that all living forms have a consciousness, more highly developed in some forms than in others perhaps and that there is a kind of evolution of consciousness of less evolved consciousness to more highly developed consciousness throughout the physical and spiritual world. - AOD

@ Paul
"I may be wrong but I don’t recall any purported communicator saying “you’ve just missed Fred, he reincarnated last week”. :)"

Funny you should mention that. I read of something like that just a few weeks ago in "The Survival of the Soul and its Evolution After Death," by Pierre-Emile Cornillier. I can't give you a page reference, but it was a situation in which the author Cornillier hoped to make contact with an individual but was told that the individual had reincarnated, and that it was unusual for someone to be reincarnated so soon.

On an unrelated note...
Concerning the "dead poets", Chico Xavier is alleged to have "psychographed" works of deceased Brazilian poets, and those works were supposedly admired for their verisimilitude and quality. I don't know how credible any of that is, but it's definitely part of the lore surrounding Xavier, and an important part of how he initially became well-known.

Interesting discussion. One thing that psychedelics tend to show users in undeniable fashion is that what is normally considered the external world is largely colored - if not totally created - by ones inner mental focus. A user just becomes that sensitive to such connections that the relationship between inner and outer cannot be overlooked, but by the most dull minds.

However, it really shouldn't require psychedelics to arrive at that realization. I think that lots of people are distracted by digital entertainment, but if we'd put down the tech for a bit and really feel our personal existence, we'd realize that our thoughts are, indeed, creating our reality. I know that if I get too focused on al of the political issues, or if I focus too much on the tragedies of my life, or on my personal failings, or if I obsess on something I want to have that I don't and probably won't get, I am experiencing a much different - and far less pleasant - existence than if I focus on my blessings, on my accomplishments, on the beauty of nature, on loving someone, on creating art or music, etc.

I think that's all there is to this bardo business. Just when you're dead, you don't have a +/- solid/objective external world to mitigate or distract from the consequences of your internal focus and, therefore, your internal energies create an external world. It's like consciousness abhors a vacuum. In the absence of an external world, you build one. The building blocks are your thoughts and feelings. The rest works just as it does today (see above)

@Eric Newhill
"It's like consciousness abhors a vacuum. In the absence of an external world, you build one. The building blocks are your thoughts and feelings."

The idea is seemingly that the "you" here is plural. So if the afterlife world is a dream, it's a collective one. So much afterlife literature describes how balkanized the afterlife is, especially at the "lower levels." We somehow end up in the region that is the best fit for us, given our level of awareness. It's hard to say whether this any of this is true, but it is a remarkably consistent theme.

Interestingly, even in Christianity there is a tradition of different "heavenly" destinations for the saved.

Todd,
Agreed. That's the last part I haven't figured out yet - the shared dream wherein we can acknowledge the existence of others and they of us. How does that work?

I suspect it has to do w/ sufficient commonality of energies that there is a meshing at some primitive level. Then the multiple awarenesses mutually work out how to fill in the details so as to abolish the vacuum.

Matt wrote, "it seems nearly impossible to "process" all the data points so that they are consistent with each other and make an overarching conclusion based on them that makes sense."

IMO, we've got shards of truth, lots, but they don't fit together.

Matt, great point about AOD's great point "I think AOD's point is very significant: "I have wondered why no westerner has reported encounters with unicorns or other fantasy animals, e.g., Pegasus, Centaurs, Chinese Dragons." I've never read an NDE that described elves, dwarves, fairies, etc., all of which are very familiar to Westerners. You would think by now, if NDEs are said to be hallucinations, that someone would have met a hobbit or two. But people just meet dead relatives and pets - not the living sales clerk, guy at the post office, or the dog down the street. For that matter, why don't they "find themselves" in actual places on earth - a Paris cafe, a beach in California, etc. If NDEs were just random hallucinations, that's what we would see. Nobody ever seems to have related that they found themselves in Moscow or the Canadian mountains. It seems more than coincidence.

Roger,

Yep!

Kathleen - "For that matter, why don't they "find themselves" in actual places on earth - a Paris cafe, a beach in California, etc"

But ADCs describe exactly that very often.

Good comment Kathleen! - AOD

Eric,
I think you may have identified an important distinction between 'near death experiences' (NDEs) and 'after death communications' (ADCs). The definition of ADCs is very comprehensive, I think, including any and all varieties of contacts between spirits in the afterlife who are permanently 'dead' and persons on the earth plane, including raps, apparitions, odors, automatic writing, direct voice, etc while an NDE is simply a reported conscious experience of a temporarily 'dead' or dying person or a person near to or thinking they are near death.

I can see where a person newly entering into another level of consciousness might be inexperienced with mentally producing an environment so that a generic environment is provided, perhaps by an oversoul or other spirits and based upon expectations of the afterlife by the dying person, e.g., pearly gates and streets of gold and heavenly scenes with dead relatives and Jesus or contact with Yamdoots and Devdoots as reported in the Indian NDEs. (see "At The Hour of Death" by Osis and Haraldsson)

But once the disembodied consciousness gains understanding of the spiritual level and what they can and can't do there, that consciousness might be able to and probably does create an environment in which they have some mental or emotional attachment or desire to experience. Kind of like Star Trek's 'Holodeck'. For example, once I became acclimated to the afterlife, I might want to envision myself in Victorian England during the 1800s or a in a cottage on the beach at Malibu during the 1940s or a cafe in Paris in the year 2000.

I think that an after death communicator may be reporting something different from what a near death experiencer reports because they are in fact existing in different environments created by their conscious desires. - AOD


Eric, I'm not sure what you mean. I've never come across an NDE in which the person said that they found themselves in a particular, recognizable place on earth. Maybe I've missed something, but I've never come across it. If NDEs are hallucinations, one would think that people would report that they visited a familiar place on earth.

And, as AOD pointed out, if NDEs are hallucinations, one would expect people would report that they met fantastical creatures or beings. But they don't. They may say they met angelic-type people, but not unicorns, dragons, etc.

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