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Eric wrote,

||But ADCs describe exactly that very often.||

I don't know if that's really true on a regular basis, but presumably they know that they are not in the real place but a simulacra thereof.

We do NOT see that in NDEs. Why?

NDEs clearly "run on rails" of some sort. They are not random dreams, hallucinations, etc. Even if we were to grant a materialistic cause, that would have to be explained.

Hi Michael,

>> 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. <<

IMO that's a non sequitur. If our own mind--
if the seat of the "I"/ the "self"-- operates on and causes changes in some astral holodeck, it may imply that the holodeck itself is existentially malleable (or at least that the holodeck has some underlying "real" structure that can be molded by consiouc observers), but it doesn't follow from this that the Self is similarly malleable or similarly "unreal."

On the contrary, the fact that the self can reshape the very fabric of an astral realm suggests that the "self" has an inner *will* possessing causal power. That seems a bit more stable than the scenario you envision, unless I"m mangling your views.

*What* is it that reincarnates, if not a "real" self that has at least some *independent* existence (albeit in frequent symbiotic relationship with biological lifeforms)?

I'm not completely rejecting your prism analogy... I need to reflect on this more.

I think the application of religious nomenclature represents bias, even if it does seem to represent a somewhat accurate description of the phenomena.
I mean, your standards for the "real" are never defined but you label everything as unreal as lower on a spectrum of higher consciousness. In an achilles and the tortoise way the material universe is basically energy vibrating at different frequencies surounded by spaces. It may as well be a simulation. Which, would coincide with a Buddhist model of the unreality of reality - a kind of cosmicism via an infinite cloud connected solipsists.
But if nothing is real, then where is the standard of value of the Real arrived at from? I mean if nothing is real then everything is equally unreal, and as "real" as it ever gets. Plenty of people's quality of life comes from deeply internal experiences - like reading for example, or virtual spaces, or religious or meaning modeling like all of the above. Osensibly all this (conversation, analysis) is an unreal experience that can still have a "real" value.

A book is unreal, and yet you read and write. By this vague triaging of value by "reality" and the casting off of some experiences because they're unreal in the model of Buddhism, while the Real remains undefined, you're basically saying the illiterate is nobler than the lettered. Why write, why read, and why discuss if all words are unreal? And how is sorting other people's experiences into the nomenclature of Buddhism any more accurate than someone who compartmentalizes by simulation theory, or a Summerland? This seems like a confusion of map and territory.

This post points out the obvious. How can we know this existence is not just another plane on the Bardo? If the Bardo theory is accurate it would point to the conclusion that all states of existence might be illusionary. That kind of plays into the idea that all that we perceive is just a hologram. If the brain is just a receiver this could just be consciousness dreaming about materiality. Wow... Very thought provoking post.

"But if nothing is real, then where is the standard of value of the Real arrived at from?"

I wouldn’t say nothing is real. I’d say there are degrees of reality. If you dream about or hallucinate or simply imagine an apple, the apple exists only as a subjective idea. If you view a hologram of an apple, you’re viewing an objectively real image, but it’s still only an image. If you view an actual apple, then you’re seeing what we like to call "the real thing." And yet even the real thing is ultimately a collection of atoms, which are composed of subatomic particles, which can behave like waves and may be essentially frequencies or probability distributions. And probability distributions are simply data - information. So it’s at least arguable that the physical world reduces to information - "it from bit," as physicist John Wheeler put it.

The information, then, would be fully real. What else is real? Consciousness, which renders the information into experience.

These would be the two components of a dualistic system - consciousness and the information that it processes. There might, admittedly, be still deeper levels; maybe both consciousness and information are emergent properties of some other thing. By this route we could reach the conclusion that everything is the Mind of God - the information is God's thoughts, and our consciousness is a splinter of God’s awareness. But we don’t have to embrace this conclusion. We can stop at information and the I-thought of consciousness, without positing anything deeper.

How could we visualize a reality consisting of information processed by pure consciousness? Interestingly, some after-death studies suggest a way. The hypnotic regressions performed by Michael Newton, for instance, depict a between-incarnations realm of abstract, geometrical patterns navigated by colorful orbs of light. The orbs are Higher Selves, existing essentially as pure consciousness in a nonphysical realm. Some channeled literature, such as "The Survival of the Soul" reviewed in a recent post, offers a similar picture.

It all goes back to Plato's cave - the shadows on the wall are real, but they are not the ultimate reality. It doesn’t follow that there is no ultimate reality. We just have to see what’s casting the shadows - if we can.

"So it’s at least arguable that the physical world reduces to information - "it from bit," as physicist John Wheeler put it.

The information, then, would be fully real. What else is real? Consciousness, which renders the information into experience. " - MP

I think that's it. That's as far as we can go without getting lost in abject and fruitless speculation. What you have laid out there makes sense.

I got to thinking about what things must be like on the subatomic level, at the level of protons, neutrons, and electrons which, to quote Michael Prescott may be “essentially frequencies or probability distributions or simply data-information.” Try to imagine yourself at that level which those who know say it is mostly space.

What I don’t understand is how those frequencies or probability distributions ‘know’ how to arrange themselves into forms large enough that we can see them. I mean what provided the blueprint so to speak for all of the elements and subsequently for things like rocks and water---and US!

I know there is such a thing as positive and negative charged particles which attract or repel each other but, after all of that electro- magnetism has occurred, what is it that combines those resultant substances into ‘things’, things that we can see and interact with in a physical reality. And, why do those things have boundaries or limits of construction. And as applied to living things why don’t cells just keep dividing and dividing into some humongous blob. Why is there a limit or boundary of not only one form but for millions of forms. Why is there a limit to a human body or any living creature, plant or animal? And how is it that various organs in the body have a limit. Why doesn’t the liver just continue to grow and grow into some amorphous blob?

There is something else going on here. There must be a plan or something or someone is directing the reality we see. Is it us? Or is it God? - AOD

'Why is there a limit to a human body or any living creature, plant or animal? "

AOD, Sheldrake says it morphic fields that control the forms of things; which is another way of saying that consciousness has organized itself and that organization is then expressed in the physical realm via the organization of molecules into higher orders of structure. Materialists, of course, say it is "genes", but the gene theory is obviously untrue. Even a geneticist will tell you that genes themselves merely turn on and off protein manufacture. Genes have nothing to do with order or morphology. They keep looking for the material mechanism and they haven't found it yet. IMO, they never will.

Also, with regards to atomic particles, etc. - as Einstein said, at some point, it's all energy. Somewhere the energy becomes matter; which is a lot like what mystics and spiritualists have been saying for ever. People often laugh at the spiritualists talk about "vibrational level", but it is consistent w/ Einstein and other leading physicists.

It's easy for an open mind to conclude that behind the scenes, consciousness and energy are primary and all that exists arises from it.

Now why would consciousness end up creating a giraffe or a giant redwood tree? I don't know. These are concepts that work in this band of energy vibrational level. So there's a functional evolutionary perspective. Other bands of energy vibrational level have entirely different entities populating them. As Michael says, these entities are probably ultimately facets or fragments of some uber mind (aka God). I think it's too big for us to ever really understand, but we, here, have sure done a pretty good job of at least getting some kind of grip on the larger picture (I think)

Yes, I have come to understand Sheldrake’s ‘morphic fields’ better over the past year and perhaps there is something to his ideas. Regarding consciousness creating giraffes and trees I imagine that creativity, that we see as evolution of living things, is part and parcel of some of the conscious minds in the afterlife.

It seems to me that the age of dinosaurs had reached its maximum in creativity and as such, maybe out of boredom or that the creation had been taken as far as it could go, that it was discontinued intentionally by consciousness in some way. It’s seems strange to me that the entire dinosaur world was destroyed quickly, more or less and that a new world order of conscious creation was begun. Maybe this has been done many times over the eons. I sometimes imagine being a creating consciousness in a spiritual sphere, helping to create by my consciousness, evolutionary changes in living organisms of the earth and a myriad of other planets throughout our universe and perhaps others.

If have often thought that what doesn’t make sense to me is the wondrous variety of the birds. Their colors and designs seem to me to be way beyond simple survival of the fittest and environmental adaptation. I think they were created by artistic spiritual consciousness with a sense of good design, color and beauty. I think flowering plants is another example. Maybe what we as humans see on planet earth is life forms evolving, perhaps due to survival of the fittest or environmental adaption but it could be that there is another factor involved: creation and direction by conscious minds. I think it would be a grand activity in the spirit world to participate in on-going creation of living forms on earth and on other planets. I look forward to it. - AOD

Here is a wood duck obviously created by evolution of the fittest, natural selection and adaptation to the environment. AOD

I agree about birds. There's even a detectable humour there in some of the patterns.

Check out the common European blue tit - the punk of the bird world. It even has the eyeliner!

Wow, I thought I was the only one who saw humor in the evolution of animals, especially birds. I think that those spirits who participate in creation do seem to be having a fun time with design. They must have a sense of humor. - AOD

RE: Blue Tit
What an absolutely exquisite beautiful little creature. Tell me, what was the evolutionary need for that beauty? He would have survived if he had been grey-brown all over. I am sure he would have blended in to the environment a lot better. - AOD

\\European Blue tit: //

I went to the link and looked at the little bird and I thought to myself "that bird has got to be related to our north american "black capped chickadee." They look very similar. So they are in the same family, Paridae, but are different genus and species. So they are related. And by the way our Tufted Titmouse is also in the same bird family, Paridae. I remember seeing somewhere a hybrid between a black capped chickadee and a tufted titmouse. It was a hybrid that happened naturally out in nature.

hybrid between tufted titmouse X black capped chickadee,

If color in animals evolved by sexual selection and not environmental adaptation or survival of the fittest then I think we have to grant that those animals, birds, fish, insects see color ---perhaps---and, how discriminating those females of the species must be to select such beautiful colors and designs. Yet those who know say that animals don’t see color! However if consciousness participates in the evolution of life, then it is easy to understand why it may be that diverse colors and designs in living things exist. - AOD

\\"Yet those who know say that animals don’t see color!" - AOD//

I'm pretty sure birds see color. They use the ability to pick out berries and seeds and insects.

from the online article: "Vision is the most acute bird sense, and birds have a keen sense of color that is vital for foraging, breeding and more. Understanding how birds see color can help birders take advantage of that sense to better appreciate and attract birds. Birds see more colors than humans in several ways. Not only are birds able to perceive familiar colors as well as parts of the ultraviolet spectrum that are invisible to human eyes, but they also have better visual acuity to determine subtle differences between similar shades of color, gradations that humans are not able to discern."

Many years ago I read a book called "Beyond Natural Selection," by Robert Wesson, which covered peculiarities in nature that seem to defy a straightforward Darwinian explanation. Wesson was not a creationist or Intelligent Design advocate, simply someone who thought there was more to the story. The book has been trashed by some biologists (see link), and it may well be flawed, but some of the content was at least thought-provoking. In particular I remember a discussion of the fantastically complex methods used by some species to reproduce.

As I recall, there is one sad little insect that has to be ingested by a larger predator, then pass intact through its digestive system and emerge out the other end. Only when it is embedded in a pile of feces will its prospective mate seek it out. Since Darwinism presumes that evolution favors species that reproduce most rapidly and efficiently, it is hard to see how such a Rube Goldberg approach would ever come about through natural selection alone, though no doubt a Just-So story can be devised to account for it.

As a side note, I can only assume that, with my luck, I will be reincarnated as that insect.

Well, you guys, if we’re gonna talk birds and beauty, you need to know about what is undoubtedly the most exquisite offering on the internet:

It’s a presentation of each of the 435 plates in John James Audubon’s classic Birds of America. Just click any picture. Then, on the following page, scroll down to where it says “Download high-resolution file.” Each painting is downloadable in breathtaking high resolution.

Back in November, I saw a copy of this book in my Barnes and Noble for just $25, fell in love with it, and have been captivated by it ever since. I fell so deeply under its spell, in fact, that I bought a second copy—just in case something happened to the first.

I’ve also downloaded most of those plates from the Audubon site, so I can enjoy them on my Macbook Pro Retina screen, as well as on my iPad (after doing a little Photoshop work on them).

The creation of the book is a story in itself. The first edition was more than 3 feet high, each page hand-colored.

So does the variety and over-the-top magnificence of birds prove that there is a God?

I’ve thought about that a lot recently. And for me, the proof is not in the thing, but how we feel about it.

Bottom line, such splendor awakens our love (and its variants: delight, pleasure, joy, etc.)

And for my money, there’s no atheistic explanation for love.

Of course, when you come right down to it, there’s no “scientific” reason for the existence of *anything*.

I don't know Michael, but sometimes I feel like I am already embedded in a pile of feces. ( My web site was attacked yesterday with 8 malicious files and I still haven't got them removed yet.) - AOD

I have known people who as a consciousness of spirit would find that way of reproduction very funny and probably are making a statement of some kind or another by facilitating it. It seems very human-like to me. Who can say that spirits don't have a sense of humor.

(You'll only come back as a insect Michael if you want to. Actually it might be interesting for one brief moment. And who knows, you may have already had that experience in your soul growth.)

Thanks for the example Michael, I will add that to my collection. - AOD

I am not surprised that Wikipedia only included negative comments about Wesson’s thoughts in his book “Beyond Natural Selection”. Wikipedia is so predictable when it comes to any thought about a possibility of divine creation or basically anything contrary to mainstream simplistic Darwin’s natural selection etc.

Wesson’s book is somewhat dated being published in 1991. There are more recent books like “Signature in the Cell"---2009 by Stephen Meyer and “Undeniable”---2016 by Douglas Axe among several others that provide a more evidential and scientific thesis to support ‘intelligent design' or I should say, something other than 'Natural Selection" operative in the evolution of life.

Always interesting discussions here, and I'm always so late to discover a new post that it's a bit moot to chime in, except I'll note 2 things:
1. One thing I found interesting about Rajiv Parti's NDE (Dying to Wake Up) is that he was raised Hindu but had a more Christianity-oriented NDE -- and caught some flak from his Hindu wife for that. Yes, he was living in the U.S. and therefore subject to that cultural influence, but I still would've thought that if it were primarily a matter of subconscious expectation, his more formative programming as a child would've taken precedence.
2. I have a few posts on my new blog that poke at some of the same mysteries you do, Michael, though from a more personal perspective, and you or some of your readers might be interested. (In fact, several have related experiences in comments here that I'd love to excerpt as guest posts; if anyone's interested in doing so, please contact me by clicking through from my name here.)

Oh, and while we're on birds and a cosmic sense of humor (if not aesthetics, exactly):

AOD, about birds' bright colors: in theory, some male birds sport such bright colors in order to attract females. The females like to shop around and like the guys with fanciest brightest colors. The male birds with the best color would be able to mate, thus passing on their genes, so that there would be more brightly colored males.

Slightly OT, but I was watching something regarding algorithms, and I thought that the perhaps the universe isn't made up of bits of information but of algorithms (complicated recipes). Probably others have thought this before. It does seem one of the really bad flaws in this system is the generation of suffering. If a creature that has contracted some disease is going to die, according to a specific algorithm, why isn't it quick, instead of long (and often distressing and painful)? It seems to go against the idea of a God, much less a merciful one, or a competent one. On the other hand, there's a New Age school of thought that we need the pains and travails of life in order to appreciate the bliss of the other perfect world from which we come, that we actually come here to experience the many challenges and troubles in order to be able to fully appreciate the perfect spiritual world and ourselves.

Great post Michael. I have a few corrections and comments.

The first item you mentioned was Howard Storm's NDE where you mention he was tormented by demons. Storm claims he was tormented by evil deceased human souls - not "demons" per se. Any NDE claiming to have seen a "Satan" or "demons" (non-human) having fun in hell torturing human souls is false. There are many hells where "birds of a feather flock together" where, in Storm's case, human souls can only have pleasure in tormenting themselves.

There are many, many afterlife realms (dimensions, frequencies, universes, levels of consciousness, etc.) each different in their own way and experienced differently according to the perspective of the observer. In the case of mediumship, this phenomenon deals mostly with contact with entities nearest to the earth - entities of dubious reliability. For example, take the Edgar Cayce readings. Cayce traveled to many realms to get his information and channeled many entities. He received most of his important information from personally having an OBE journey to the heavenly Hall of Records. Although case did not use a control, spirit entities would come through in a reading including the archangel Michael and the Apostle John. It is believed that much of his medical information came from the soul of some highly knowledgeable physician on the Other Side. Some of Cayce's sources where the subconscious minds of those he was giving the reading for. However, it is probably certain that some of Cayce's readings were from sources which can only be called dubious, earthbound sources. It is my belief that much of mediumship, performed by less enlightened people, are receiving information from lower afterlife realms - even devious earthbound souls.

My experience is that only by reading a large number of NDEs can a person get "the big picture" of what the afterlife is like. NDEs usually involve realms far beyond the earth - beyond the reach of mediumship. Here are some examples.

-- The so-called "Being of Light" who greets the NDEr (and everyone has a greeter) can be anyone known to the NDEr: a relative, a religious figure, an "angel", even a pet. The world religions agree that God is the light. Everyone manifests God's light in one degree to another according to their spiritual development. Read the NDE of Jan Price and her greeting by her deceased dog who showed her the dog heaven -

-- Souls in the afterlife are androgynous and have no genitals. Read the NDE of OB/GYN Richard Eby -

-- During an NDE it is possible to see all three versions of yourself -- your dead physical body, your soul body, and your higher self body (spirit). Read the NDE of the late Dianne Morrissey -

-- There are Christian heavens, Muslim heavens, etc. Realms exist for virtually any group that exists (birds of a feather). Existence in these realms is not static. Souls travel instantaneously from realm to realm at the speed of thought. See Mellen-Thomas Benedict's NDE -

-- There is an earthbound realm, called by Buddhist the "Realm of Hungry Ghosts", where deceased human souls (who are addicted to some habit, person or place, that went beyond the physical) are kept bound to the physical realm (although unseen by those who are the object of attraction) until they literally "see the light" and enter, or simply realize that they have died. Many earthbound souls have simply, and temporarily, no realized they have died! See George Ritchie's NDE and tour of the Earthbound Realm -">">

-- Many NDEs receive affirmation of the reality of reincarnation. See "NDEs Affirming Reincarnation" -

-- Alien abductions can be viewed as similar to NDEs. See Ken Ring's article on NDEs, UFO encounters and Shamanism -- Also read Betty Andreasson's Alien Abduction and NDE --

-- As for the reference to Keith Augustine arguments, all of his skeptical arguments have already been debunked here --

-- In my article "Why NDEs are Different?", I make the case that the physical realm is but a mere shadow of the spirit realm (the real world, the realm of thought) and that everything that exists in the physical realm has its origins in higher spirit realms -- only they exist in a more perfect form in these higher realms. Experiencing the afterlife much like experiencing the physical world except with limitations. This means everyone experience is subjective, based upon many factors including religious beliefs, cultural background, biases, etc. But after reading hundreds of NDEs about the afterlife, one can conclude that travel is instantaneous; communication is by thought transfer in "blocks" of information; vision is 360 degree, the senses of taste and smell are extremely heightened; sleep is not necessary; living in eternity is simply like living a day that lasts forever; there is no sex in the afterlife; but something better (soul merge). Read more here -

NDEs are, by far, the most reliable source of afterlife information. Mediumship sources are from entities from realms closer to earth who may or may not be authoritative and may be dubious.

Kevin Williams


I noticed on my post, this one URL didn't translate well from the Internet Archives --">">

Also, about the NDE of Richard Eby (the OB/GYN) where he learns there is no sex in the afterlife, I meant that he learns he has no genitals. This implies there are no physical sex in the spirit.

Kathleen said, “AOD, about birds' bright colors: in theory, some male birds sport such bright colors in order to attract females. The females like to shop around and like the guys with fanciest brightest colors. The male birds with the best color would be able to mate, thus passing on their genes, so that there would be more brightly colored males.”

Yes, Kathleen that is one of the mainstream evolutionary theories. What that theory really says is that females of the species, especially birds, are able to discern color and design; that they are able to appreciate beauty; that their eyes and brain have evolved to differentiate colors. The theory gives all of the power of evolution to female birds while the poor male just waits for the female to select him for her favors. It is known that ugly males occasionally mate too however so females, on occasion must select not by color and design but by availability. (It takes great will power not to make additional comments here!)

These colors and designs in birds also bring with them certain phenotypes that would act against evolution of the species and in fact might cause the species to go extinct. Bright colors, it seems to me, would make that bird more susceptible to attack not only by other males, but also by predator species (one would think that but apparently not so, as flamboyant birds exist today) Similarly, excessive adornments in plumage would slow the male down, making him more likely to suffer predation as well as to inhibit the ability to mate. It is also assumed that these evolutionary mutations would persist in the species, that is, the one lone mutation would somehow proliferate and not only would the one female bird appreciate it, but apparently all of the other females would too.

Animal species with a unique phenotype are more likely to die out quickly or if they do produce progeny, the progeny are more likely to revert to the normal phenotype. There are just not enough specimens with the same mutation to insure that it will become part of the genotype. (At one time I bred Guppies, a fish with a variety of colored spots and fin developments and parakeets of various colors. Unless I carefully selected the varieties I wished to develop, and kept them separate from the general population, the new variety, color, or in the case of fish---fin development---would quickly disappear in the next generation and those that followed resulting in a fish or bird that looked exactly like the original wild variety. Only by my conscious selection and isolation of new varieties was I able to maintain the new strain.)

If ‘evolution by female selection theory’ is correct, then birds must have a highly developed consciousness in order to have insight into what they are doing not to mention some innate sense of proportion, design, color etc. The female bird must get some sense of pleasure (assuming that non-humans can experience pleasure) and perhaps status among the other females in associating with a male that is gorgeous. If the 'sexual selection' theory is correct then that implies that birds as well perhaps other animals have a consciousness not too different from a human consciousness.

I think this is a very anthropomorphic way of explaining color and design in birds and I, in my humble opinion, don’t agree with that theory. Those of us that may be spiritualists can easily see a more highly developed consciousness participating in the evolution of not only birds but other living things. That is what ‘intelligent design’ is all about. - AOD

Well it certainly appears that the afterlife is BYOB or bring your own Bardo. From someone who comes from my Buddhist tradition that would not be too surprising. Distilled down to its most essential that conventional world we experience is permeated with illusions, or perhaps more clearly stated and incomplete view of reality. Traditionally it's held that there are two realities conventional reality and ultimate reality. Conventional reality is shaped by epistemological factors we see the world through our senses tied to our cognition. Another kind of animal in this world say a cat or a mantis shrimp receives the world differently because of its unique combinations of senses. Cats can't see several colors we can but it can see ultraviolet ligh andt smell scents that are not possible for us smell. Mantis shrimp is a whole different universe of sght. On top of that our cognitive processes utilize language which both limits and expands our view of objects.
Years ago when I was studying with a Tibetan teacher I had a vivid dream of a Buddha realm in which all the trees were like jewels vibrating a mantra like quality all the beings were luminous and they were both genderless in actuality what could be either gender potentially in another realm.

Of course near-death experiences are not death experiences they are the memories of people who have been in a state of clinical death according to our current understanding. I'm going to be old-fashioned and say that you're not really dead until you can't come back in this body and talk about it.
Now if you're still attached to your body enough to return to your body even if year even if you were clinically dead then you would be attached to the memories within that body, during that time not to mention whatever chemicals were flowing through your body. As for evidence from psychics that too his modified by the medium (in more ways than one). Just the psychic medium as a worldview from which any impressions they receive are going to be filtered through. Therefore the most important information is that which can be verified but not always the way the medium conscrues it through their own worldview of the afterlife.

In the late Dr. Ian Stephenson's work and his successor Dr. Tucker on reincarnation those subjects that they have found potential evidence of their claims of reincarnation being true, if they have any memories of the in between state vary greatly. In some cases the child will talk about choosing his parents and coming back down, some will talk about God others will not it shows as much variety as do the visions of the afterlife world

Mr Michael, your conclusions appear contrived to a certain extent. It could be the case as you have postulated, but there is room for your interpretation to be incorrect in many ways vis a vis the paranormal data. The closer truth is that most of the accounts of the paranormal phenomena are subjectively based, even if independent people share those experiences. And the bottom line is that many of these experiences contradict each other. It is more honest to say you do not know wtf is going on instead of trying to understand conflicting data.

Haven't posted for a while. Talking to spirit on the illusory life we lead- as they chat to me daily now (and as Robert Ebert states). They say each and everything on earth has consciousness at some level, and as we have consciousness as well. It is a conscious world. So I guess there is some dreamlike capacity to it. Just thoughts in my head. Lyn x.

Hm... now I wonder if it might be possible to visit Barsoom (as ERB wrote it, not what is in that movie) after death. Of course as an idealized me, or wearing an otherwise a much better looking body. :D

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