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Biblical references are always open to challenge based upon translations. The “many mansions” reference in the Gospel of John as Michael has pointed out has apparently several other translations including ‘rooms’, ‘dwelling places’, lodgings’, ‘abodes’, ‘resting places’, etc. Apparently there are many opinions as to what was actually meant by that passage.
http://www.biblehub.com/john/14-2.htm

It makes little difference which one of the translations one prefers. They all substantially attempt to convey a thought of ‘place’ by use of word symbolism. I like to think that the word ‘mansions’ is closer to the thought that the writer is trying to convey in that ‘mansions’ implies an immenseness, an opulence, an elegance, a largesse and grandeur not conveyed by the word ‘rooms’, lodgings’, ‘resting places’ etc. but more in keeping with what we have been fortunate to understand a heavenly reality to be as reported by those who have experienced a Near Death Experience. Additionally, the passage implies that there are many of these ‘places’ perhaps accounting for the relatively minor differences reported by those who have had an NDE. – AOD

I doubt that very many people even dream about unicorns and hobbits. If we don't dream about these things (I never have) then why would we experience them in a bardo?

Rather dreams seem to contain subconscious imagery derived from psychological impulses in the individual and the collective.

Sometimes this imagery is melded with real world input via the five senses or via psi.

As you say, MP, unicorns are completely fantasy material and they don't resonate with meaningful archetypical constructs.

\\"It would be greatly disorienting for most people to pass instantly from corporeal life to some amorphous nonphysical state." - Michael Prescott//
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It is "continuity" that lets us know we have survived the death of our physical bodies. The same as when we wake up in the morning and we are still living in the same life as the one we went to sleep in. If our life was dramatically different, with no memories or ego left and we were "something else" for all intents and purposes that (in my estimation) wouldn't really be "life after death" or like Raymond Moody calls it "Life After Life."

In order for us to say "the soul survives the death of the physical body" we have to know who we are, who we were, and have memories of the life we lived. If I am not "me" then can I really say that I have survived (intact) the death of my physical body? So I think "continuity" is a big deal when it comes to answering the question of "life after death."

I guess I was wrong to say that "mansions" was a mistranslation. From what I’ve now read, it appears that the word had a different meaning in King James' era.

//According to Merriam-Webster, one of the definitions of the English word "mansion" is "dwelling, abode." However, that definition is noted as "archaic," as the word is no longer used in that manner. Yet, the word "mansion" did possess that meaning when the King James Version was produced in 17th century England.

However, we shouldn't even be focusing on the Latin word mansio as the New Testament was originally composed in Greek. There is nothing about the Greek word μονή that suggests a luxurious estate either. According to Thayer, it simply means a "dwelling" or "abode."//

https://hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/13735/john-142-why-dwelling-places-in-nabre

I don't know Eric, maybe one dreams of unicorns only if one is a 13 year-old girl. Seriously though, unicorns, gnomes and hobbits are only examples of what might be conjured-up if near death experiences were generated by the subconscious mind. (as I referenced previously the only gnome I have read about in an NDE was Santa Claus.) The other examples of ancient Egypt with pyramids for Egyptologists, Jurassic Park for archeologists, and an undersea world for oceanographers might more reasonably enter into one's dreams if one had spent a lifetime in pursuit of those things. Yet, I am not aware of any NDE-er who reports pyramids, dinosaurs or undersea worlds.

Personally I have never had anything that I would consider a 'real-world' dream. As I recollect, my dreams all seem to have something about them that is other-worldly and more concerned with many people than a setting although I do recall settings of cavernous spaces, desirable real estate in the country-side and beautiful bubbling artesian wells and pools of water.

I have thought about this a lot since Michael's previous post and I noticed that most or all people who report an NDE , if they report a bright light or a brightly lit scene may also state that the light was not coming from the sun and often stating that there was no sun. If NDEs are subconscious hallucinations or dreams I don't understand why the sun would be selectively eliminated from the landscapes. It seems to me that identifying the sun as the source of the bright light would be an easy and natural identifier. - AOD

Art, who we really are in a physical reality is the same as who we are in a spiritual reality. It is consciousness that survives not personality, ego or form. No one identifies as a male or female, black or white, rich or poor, human or animal in the afterlife. To leave behind personality and ego is not a loss to the consciousness. It is like taking off a costume and makeup after performing in a play. The actor leaves the theater and goes on to live in the reality of his normal life as his true self. He or she may at another time put on another costume and different makeup and perform another character on stage, a character totally different from his non-stage self and different from any other character he has played previously. But his true identity has not changed; only the costume and makeup are different.

That is not to say that an actor forgets the other parts he has played but he is aware that those were not his true self. The continuity that you seek is within your thinking self, your consciousness and that's what you take with you when you cross over into another reality. - AOD

I agree with AOD. I think consciousness survives death but leaves behind all the social constructs and characteristics that we let define our earthly lives.

Regarding our Higher Self, I'm inclined to believe that the Higher Self is shared by all of us, since in most NDEs that I've read (quite long ago, actually) the Higher Self appears to be the same impersonal force.

AOD, " To leave behind personality and ego is not a loss to the consciousness. It is like taking off a costume and makeup after performing in a play. The actor leaves the theater and goes on to live in the reality of his normal life as his true self."

In my admittedly limited personal experience with ADCs via a medium that has proven very reliable, I would say that the personality is still there after leaving this plane, although some of what you have said must be occurring, albeit gradually, as the communicators appeared to have greater ability to self-reflect than when alive. Perhaps life review experiences aided the enhanced self-reflection. This seems consistent with the many anecdotes quoted by Michael in the previous post. IMO, the personality is still there to some extent. If it isn't, at least the memory of it is, but I think it is the actual personality still in operation.

I do think, based on my studies, that one natural course of development is for the consciousness to shed the ego step by step; a gradual process. However, another option is that the personality is not shed and, as a result, it dwells in a bardo that fits it and then it returns to this plane of existence for another experience in the physical; pretty much as the TBoD describes.

Your points on unicorns and gnomes is taken. Another from me is that insane people who hallucinate and have persistent delusions due to psychosis don't present with the belief that they are - or are in communication with - gnomes and unicorns. Rather, we tend to see religious/spiritual ideation; e.g. The devil, Christ, demons, angels, witchcraft, harmful influence from the thoughts of, or mechanically induced methods of, others (like neighbors, "the government"). We also see mind control of patients attributed to dead relatives and other deceased personalities. Sometimes space aliens, though rare, are blamed for the symptoms. The point being that the list of influences is not infinite.

We don't see unicorns and gnomes in the delusions of insane people. Nor do we typically dream about these things. Nor do they show up in NDEs. Nor are they a factor in ADCs. We all - even insane people- seem to recognize that unicorns and gnomes are not real. They are just fun fantasies. And that differentiation is interesting because it suggests that there is something "real" in all the other forms of non-normal experience, including psychosis.

I think that personality is so much dependent upon how one is raised by one’s parents, one’s physical form and what one experiences in life. Infants often seem to have a certain bent toward a certain personality, maybe a residue from a past life, but I think that it is additionally shaped---or sometimes erased--- in the present life by not only parental influence, influence of siblings and peers if there are any, environmental and climate situations, one’s educational opportunities, economic status, culture, the time in which one is born, and many other things one is exposed to while maturing. Most of us fail to realize that what we are as a personality is not entirely of our own doing and not what we are as a spirit consciousness. One may come to believe that one’s personality is what one is, but not so, at least not on a spiritual level. One’s personality is what one develops in life as a way of surviving and moving through whatever life situation one finds oneself in.

Death erases most of the baggage of personality and allows the spirit to begin again with a clean slate, not always entirely blemish-free but nevertheless with a chance to start over in some other situation with some other parents etc. At times there may be bleed-through of a past life personality in small children or perhaps in people who have some problems with gender identity or other identity or behavioral issues but most people have no memory of their past-life personalities although they may influence them subconsciously.

I have come to believe that so much of what I am in this life, that is, my personality---is determined by the body form I find myself in. I think that a large part of my personality is largely determined by my physical form with its inherent weaknesses and strengths. With a different physical form, I believe that I would have a different personality. I think that physical form is the most important factor in a developing a personality. - AOD


AOD:
"....who we really are in a physical reality is the same as who we are in a spiritual reality. It is consciousness that survives not personality, ego or form......
He or she (the actor) may at another time put on another costume and different makeup and perform another character on stage, a character totally different from his non-stage self and different from any other character he has played previously....That is not to say that an actor forgets the other parts he has played but he is aware that those were not his true self."

I agree with Art. This picture painted by AOD has a crucial difference from the actual experience of human beings. Humans (almost always), unlike the actors in the metaphor, have no memory of their true identity. They literally are their parts - they are their personalities, egos, memories going back to childhood, and physical bodies. This is their "I". And as far as they are concerned the sufferings and joys they experience are of supreme importance.

They are therefore justified in rejecting this New Age/reincarnational spiritual rationalization of Earth life for humans. An extreme example proves the point: the "I" that deliberately chose a terrible life of predominant suffering is obviously not the "I" that experienced the suffering, since that latter "I" would never choose such a thing. Therefore the human "I" must really be a fundamentally different being from the "true self".

Therefore, to follow this rather bleak chain of reasoning, in this reincarnation theory there really is no humanly meaningful form of survival of physical death. What survives is essentially another, different being. I think I would prefer another theory, but of course our preferences probably have no bearing on the actual truth.

I was oddly enough re-reading the LOTR the other night, and that night actually had a brief dream about one of the characters (meeting one of the Witch Kings). So maybe people do dream about hobbits and unicorns. But again, no one seems to meet Witch Kings or hobbits in their NDEs.

AOD, I do increasingly agree with what you seem to be saying, and that we are immersed in a sort of play here, and everything seems very real, but really isn't. It's as if we are watching a particularly well-done movie or television series, and the actors seem exactly as the characters they portray. But then when we turn it off, we come back to ourselves, and of course realize it wasn't real. A lot of people explaining their NDEs seem to express something similar with sentiments like they "knew they were home," it felt more real, and a general feeling that what happens in life isn't really important at all, even though it really feels like it at the time.

"If NDEs are subconscious hallucinations or dreams I don't understand why the sun would be selectively eliminated from the landscapes. It seems to me that identifying the sun as the source of the bright light would be an easy and natural identifier." - AOD

This is an interesting point. The absence of a sun in the sky has been reported in a great deal of channeled literature. I wasn’t aware that the issue also comes up in NDEs, though I do know that people report a sort of ambient glow to the "paradise" landscape. Why there would be no sun as such, and apparently also no nighttime, is odd. It suggests that while many aspects of the Summerland environment may be projections out of a collective subconscious, there are certain fundamentals that must obtain - rules of the game that must be followed.

Perhaps this also accounts (in some way) for the absence of obviously mythical creatures, talking animals, dinosaurs, or undersea environments. Perhaps a balance must be struck between some preset parameters and the freewheeling improvisations of discarnate consciousness. How this would work, I have no idea.

"In this reincarnation theory there really is no humanly meaningful form of survival of physical death. What survives is essentially another, different being." - doubter

I suspect that each ego does survive, but that it is like a spoke in a wheel, with all the spokes adding up to the Higher Self. I also suspect that the Higher Self is a spoke in a larger wheel, with all the spokes in that larger wheel adding up to the Soul Group that undergoes these incarnational adventures together.

I doubt that anything important is lost. The ego (I believe) survives, but with a far more open relationship to the Higher Self - a relationship that is of necessity largely cut off during incarnation. This would account for two seemingly incompatible facts: a) the personality of the deceased can come through a good medium very clearly, and b) deceased communicators often seem newly aware of their former failings and mistakes.

As I see it, the ego gradually opens up to the Higher Self (this process is what transitioning from lower to higher planes is all about), but retains its own identity and self-awareness. As this process unfolds, the ego becomes wiser, more compassionate, more loving - less egotistical, less like the ordinary earthly conception of an ego. But it is still a distinct self-identity. And the transformational process is incremental, taking place at whatever pace is necessary to prevent sudden disorienting shocks.

Or from another point of view, the Higher Self is gradually built up out of the experiences, ordeals, and hard-won wisdom of the lower selves. But since time operates in some entirely different way in this dimension, what *will be* already *is*. So the Higher Self is both the initiator and the end result of the incarnational process. It is the hand that draws itself.

As for reincarnation, I would see it as a candle lighting another candle. Some part of the first candle's energy (flame) is passed on, yet the original candle still burns as brightly as ever. The various incarnations of the Higher Self could be visualized as a series of such candles, each one lighting the next in line until all are aglow. The glow of all the candles together is what makes up the Higher Self - which (paradoxically) both brings the lower selves into being and is brought into being by them, in a tangled hierarchy, a sort of Möbius loop.

*Therefore the human "I" must really be a fundamentally different being from the "true self".*

But it can not be, because all the evidence about an afterlife refers to the cases where the memory, personality, etc., of the deceased, ie, the human ego, can continue to be manifested, or in other words, there is no evidence of an afterlife that is about the true self and not about the human self.

Personally (but this is just me) I think the whole story we have made up about reincarnation is a bunch of hooey. I believe the evidence we have for reincarnation is real enough but I don't believe our interpretation of the evidence is anywhere near correct.

We don't know exactly what is going on but I'm pretty sure that there is not some traveling "soul stuff" that takes over bodies and then goes back to heaven for a vacation and then does it all over again. Besides sounding ridiculous it makes no sense to me at all. Who in their right mind would want to come back to this place of suffering and pain if they didn't have to?

Something else has got to be going on. Something having to do with our brains acting like receivers and transmitters of information and development of the self and being a separate unique individual. Children after a certain age, after they have developed their own sense of self, oftentimes forget those early memories, and move on with their lives - unless some adults that are infatuated with the idea of reincarnation keep reminding them about those early memories.

It is probably more like a radio being tuned between stations and picking up information from the "Akashic records" or the collective unconscious, but once they have developed their own sense of self those memories fade away.

And since thoughts are things and consciousness creates reality the so called birthmarks are just those early memories imprinting birthmarks on their bodies, and eventually they are forgotten and the child moves on.

And who knows what all our minds are capable of tuning into when we are hypnotized? What information can be downloaded and experienced from the collective unconscious?

I think it is difficult to understand what is meant by the words ego, personality and consciousness. Unfortunately, the dictionary definitions don’t help much.

The ‘ego’ is defined as “the part of the mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious and is responsible for reality testing and a sense of personal identity.” Personality is “the combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individual's distinctive character” and consciousness is defined as, “the state of being awake and aware of one's surroundings.”

I don’t think that these definitions are defining what is, they are defining states of being They are consensus agreements by people who contribute to or compile dictionaries. Others may have differing understandings about what these terms could mean.

For me, consciousness may be the easiest to define. It is the thinking, feeling, initiating ‘I am who am’ embodied in every living animal and perhaps in every living cell, not necessarily only present in awake beings in physical form but also in sleeping or comatose individuals and as a distinct entity in non-embodied states of being.

Personality is a set of unique behaviors generated by a consciousness in a living being; such behaviors determined as a response to the environment e.g., body form, gender, culture, climate, and parental guidance and education.

Ego is the most difficult to define and perhaps only applicable to higher level beings like humans. It is a consciousness’s sense of who it is, it’s sense of worth or value as a human being within a given society or culture.

Of course these are working definitions and there most surely are others. But, in discussing survival of the consciousness, it is important to know what is being talked about. - AOD

"It suggests that while many aspects of the Summerland environment may be projections out of a collective subconscious, there are certain fundamentals that must obtain - rules of the game that must be followed." - MP

This, to me, is the final mystery to be solved.

Michael, I totally agree with all you propose concerning the nature of the individual, the higher slef, the afterlife....everything. Ten years ago, my opinion wasn't so firm. It is through thinking about all this, having some experiences and then discussing over and over here that I have arrived at my understanding. Thank you for your dedicated hosting of this blog, all the fine thought provoking posts and discussions.

Please pardon my presumptuousness, but it seems that you have gone through a similar process and reached similar conclusions.

Getting back to what is, for me, the final mystery....how is that consensual reality is formed? This seems an especially salient question regarding the Bardo/afterlife. Like attracted to like? Vibrational energies or frequencies modulating at the same rate? Psi communication building worlds via a give and take negotiation-like process as to which fundamental elements of objective will be attended to and which will not?

“All the evidence about an afterlife refers to the cases where the memory, personality, etc., of the deceased, ie, the human ego, can continue to be manifested, or in other words, there is no evidence of an afterlife that is about the true self and not about the human self.” - Juan

I would say most of the evidence involves the human self, but there is some evidence (admittedly not quite as strong) for the higher self. For instance, there are between-lives hypnotic regressions in which the patient experiences an “oversoul” level of existence, looking back over a succession of incarnations and planning the current one. A lot of channeled literature makes reference to this concept also. Then there are transcendent experiences of cosmic consciousness (occasionally reported in NDEs but more typically reported as episodes of ordinary life, e.g., Maslow's peak experiences) in which the ego gives way before a higher self.

I think there is evidence for both types of survival, which is why it’s tricky to work out what’s going on.

Doubter,
I appreciate your response but I am confused when you say that, “[T]herefore the human "I" must really be a fundamentally different being from the "true self". I may misunderstand the point you a trying to make but apparently you and I agree. The human “I” is a fundamentally different being than the “true self’.

I think that one has to come to the understanding that reincarnation of consciousness does happen, at least for some spirits. There is an abundance of evidence from many cultures and from many researchers strongly suggesting that consciousness reincarnates, at least for some people. One has to have not considered the evidence spontaneously provided by many children under five years old to not entertain reincarnation as a viable theory. I don’t think of the theory of reincarnation as anything ‘New Age’, in fact it is very ‘Old Age’ as belief in reincarnation has existed in many cultures of people over hundreds of years.

You say that, “. . . the ‘I’ that deliberately chose a terrible life of predominant suffering is obviously not the ‘I’ that experienced the suffering, since that latter "I" would never choose such a thing.”

Well, yes it is and yes it would! The true ‘I’ choses to inhabit a certain body living a certain life in physical form. From a physical perspective that life may be “terrible” as you suggest but that if a subjective evaluation. To the embodied consciousness, that life may be the one that provides the necessary experience for further development, that is , growth of the consciousness toward merging with a higher consciousness.

Simply because personality and ego fade after the consciousness transitions to another reality does not necessarily mean that memory of that personality and ego is lost to the consciousness. They become part of the library of textbooks that we all accumulate for future reference after we earn our diplomas in physical life. - AOD

I have to say that it is going to be an insurmountable adjustment if consciousness does not jettison personality and ego of one life after transitioning to a higher reality. That is especially true if one entertains a belief in reincarnation with its accumulation of many personalities and egos. Am I to believe that all Kings, Queens and Presidents maintain their egoic role in the afterlife? Surely their personalities and egos would be wounded there.

Are all behaviors of personality maintained in the afterlife even though they may be quirky or culturally disagreeable. Do all entertainers and sports figures maintain their high opinions of themselves and their flamboyant personalities? Are all lesser personalities subservient to these dominant ones? Is there a hierarchy of personalities? Do sexual deviants continue with their personalities in Summerland? Or, is there a special place for these aberrant personalities and egos?

These personalities and egos are all roles that the consciousness plays while embodied on earth and which are given up upon entering the world of spirit. - AOD


Art, I sympathize with your frustrations related to all of the “hooey’. At times it does seem like a lot of hooey to me too. It is OK to say “I don’t believe it!” New ideas take time to be incorporated into a belief system. Sometimes it requires changing an entire paradigm before one can go forward.

Maybe there are ‘Akashic Records’ or a ‘collective unconscious'. Maybe ‘thoughts are things’ and ‘consciousness creates reality’. Maybe there is reincarnation. Maybe there is survival of consciousness or maybe not.

The bottom line is that no one really knows for sure but to quote Michael Tymn, “We are all blind gropers searching for truth.” - AOD

Michael said, ". . . while many aspects of the Summerland environment may be projections out of a collective subconscious, there are certain fundamentals that must obtain - rules of the game that must be followed."

I agree that there must be some established construct which sets the scene for 'Summerland" just as there is for an earth environment. Reports from NDE-ers, and others don't describe a hodge-podge of environments. Although they may not be identical, there is a certain similarity about all of them as they are described as filled with light, "beautiful" "peaceful" "colorful" and welcoming. They feel like "home". Often other beings. sometimes in large numbers, are encountered which either appear as recognizable forms or as ambiguous balls of light.

We are talking about 'Summerland' here, not hellish locations sometimes reported by some who stay briefly there but later move on to Summerland. Hellish locations may be constructed by the collective unconscious as a learning experience for the aberrant soul to drive a point home kind of like when your parents make you eat your spinach or Brussels sprouts because it is "good for you". - AOD

P.S. I have to recommend Ministerio del Tiempo on Netflix. It is very creatively written with an interesting cast, good direction and photography and concerns a governmental and bureaucratic Ministry of Time whose employees are able to go through doors in time tweaking certain things here and there but making sure not to change anything to the extent that history isn't changed. Each episode is about some relatively important part of the history of Spain. It might make you think about what is possible or not! Or considering what conversations on this blog are about, perhaps it really is possible as part of a spiritual reality to enter into various time periods when one takes on again---physicality. - AOD

Regarding the sun in the afterlife, "Life in the World Unseen" also states that there is no sun, just ambient light, but a very beautiful ambient light.

"Who in their right mind would want to come back to this place of suffering and pain if they didn't have to?"

Buddhists and others believe that we reincarnate - I don't know if it's voluntary or not - in order to progress spiritually. I don't necessarily believe in reincarnation, but I have observed that some young people are astonishingly more mature than many old people. The idea is that these young people are "old souls" and far along their path to spiritual enlightenment, while the selfish, cruel, etc. have many lifetimes to go and will be on the Wheel of Life for some time.

Imagine dying and finally going to Heaven and when you get there you ask to see your mother that died when you were fifteen years old and they say "Sorry! You just missed her!" And you ask "where is she?" and they say "she's a little blond girl living Phoenix, Arizona."

Bummer! I just missed her! I was hoping to get to see my mom again and she just reincarnated. Just my luck! Damn!

AOD: "You say that, “. . . the ‘I’ that deliberately chose a terrible life of predominant suffering is obviously not the ‘I’ that experienced the suffering, since that latter "I" would never choose such a thing.” Well, yes it is and yes it would! The true ‘I’ choses to inhabit a certain body living a certain life in physical form."

Sure, in this theory the true "I" makes the future life choices. My point was that the human "I" in this extreme example certainly would never choose a life of suffering. That is the basic nature and psychology of human beings - to avoid suffering and to instead seek joy. Please try to people who would deliberately choose to experience various horrors of torturous pain and suffering all for soul growth. I think such individuals would be very rare in the population.

AOD: "Simply because personality and ego fade after the consciousness transitions to another reality does not necessarily mean that memory of that personality and ego is lost to the consciousness. They become part of the library of textbooks that we all accumulate for future reference after we earn our diplomas in physical life."

If the reincarnation process works this way the unique human consciousness and personality and ego with all its associated memories becomes a sort of metamemory, along with many other memories of other human lives, in the mind of the "true self". I think to call this the "self" is a misnomer. It is an almost unimaginably greater being with obviously a very different "personality" if you could call it that, along with different desires, motivations, dislikes, essentially alien to the human personality.

I certainly accept that there is a lot of evidence for reincarnation and that this picture may really be the truth - I just would like to point out that this is not any form of meaningful survival of the personal human self and consciousness.

I think Michael's theory of the true nature of the reincarnation process is more in accordance with the evidence of mediumistic communications and childhood (immediate) past life memories, and the strong intuitions of personal survival brought back by many NDEers. In this conceptual system the unique human personality and ego persist as a center of consciousness. But they also become one more manifestation of the "true I" super-being - the human memories and earth experiences become another small part of its total being.

Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any way of avoiding the conclusion that another and very different being makes our future life choices, because we as humans would never make many of these ourselves. So be it, I guess. We just don't have to like it.

AOD: "Are all behaviors of personality maintained in the afterlife even though they may be quirky or culturally disagreeable.....Do sexual deviants continue with their personalities in Summerland? Or, is there a special place for these aberrant personalities and egos?"

Interesting questions. The teachings of Ron Scolastico's Guides contained something on this. They said that the High Self may choose to expunge some negative personalities and egos, if bad enough.

Doubter,
I think I understand what you are saying and I agree that the "I" of human life would probably want to avoid suffering at all costs but I am not sure that an 'oversoul' or the true "I" (whatever word symbol is used to identify it) would actually choose a life because it knows that that life will be one of suffering. Suffering is inherent in all life no matter which life is chosen and depending on one's choices in life one may experience more or less suffering. That is the way physical embodiment works. One just has to accept that. While there might be a general plan for one's life I don't think that the outcome is necessarily foreordained or that the purpose of life is 'suffering'.

I think that most lives are chosen for very mundane purposes, for example , two souls might want to incarnate together just so they could help each other. On the other hand, it might be necessary for some souls to experience isolation to experience loneliness so that they might come to realize the value of family and friends.

Few souls incarnate for some monumental reason or purpose and I think that age regression therapy to past lives bears this out in that most people who are regressed tell of very common-place lives, albeit sometimes full of drama and tragedy at times.

You say that, "If the reincarnation process works this way the unique human consciousness and personality and ego with all its associated memories becomes a sort of metamemory, along with many other memories of other human lives, in the mind of the "true self". I think to call this the "self" is a misnomer. It is an almost unimaginably greater being with obviously a very different "personality" if you could call it that, along with different desires, motivations, dislikes, essentially alien to the human personality."

I certainly like and agree with that statement of yours and have no comment. Similarly I like the following comment of yours and I agree whole-heartedly.

"In this conceptual system the unique human personality and ego persist as a center of consciousness. But they also become one more manifestation of the "true I" super-being - the human memories and earth experiences become another small part of its total being."

Spot on! - AOD

Doubter,
I didn't mean to imply that there is only one purpose in life. Life offers a multitude of opportunities to learn and grow. I think that reincarnation provides an opportunity for a slower and more gentle learning experience differing somewhat from the fast and furious way we are expected to learn things in school. Many, but not all, people have enough time to have several meaningful learning experiences and to fulfill several purposes during a single lifetime. I do think that when the major goals or purposes of life have been achieved, that somehow the motivation to continue on is diminished and the soul begins to prepare for transition back to its true home. - AOD

Well Doubter,
Why haven't you said anything about Dr. Ron Scolastico before? I checked out his web site https://www.ronscolastico.com/a-thumbnail-sketch-of-life-and-death.html and my gosh! there he was speaking my language. He certainly deserves a focused read of his transcripts of readings from "the Guides". Thanks Doubter. - AOD.

"I would say most of the evidence involves the human self, but there is some evidence (admittedly not quite as strong) for the higher self. For instance, there are between-lives hypnotic regressions in which the patient experiences an “oversoul” level of existence, looking back over a succession of incarnations and planning the current one."

You're right, but how do we know that's true? We can only assume it; the only thing that we can verify are the data that we compare with the records and the states of the world, that is, the human ego with the memories, motivations and personality.

AOD: ".....but I am not sure that an 'oversoul' or the true "I" (whatever word symbol is used to identify it) would actually choose a life because it knows that that life will be one of suffering."

I don't see how that could be otherwise, because surely some of the basic factors in such life choices will almost inevitably lead to great suffering. Or at least, the soul being making these choices may deliberately ignore these inevitable negative factors and only focus on certain other purposes for the upcoming incarnation. These inevitabilities of consequences are the basic choices of time and place of birth and the particular couple that will get together to produce the child. Millions of children are continually born into times and places where there will inivitably be terrible poverty, even starvation, social injustice, and other bad environmental factors. Also, some choices of the particular humans to bear and bring up the upcoming human child will inevitably cause terrible harm to the child due to inherited genetic defects and bad personality factors.

AOD: "I think that most lives are chosen for very mundane purposes, for example , two souls might want to incarnate together just so they could help each other."

Perhaps so, but then the soul being making these choices is deliberatately ignoring all the probable negative factors I just enumerated, and many more. Either that or this soul being can't predict even obvious consequences. This seems unlikely to me.

AOD: "Similarly I like the following comment of yours and I agree whole-heartedly.

"In this conceptual system the unique human personality and ego persist as a center of consciousness. But they also become one more manifestation of the "true I" super-being - the human memories and earth experiences become another small part of its total being.""

Perhaps I don't understand your belief system correctly. I was meaning to contrast this with Michael's. My impression is that your conceptual system doesn't really involve the indefinite persistence of the unique human personality and ego - that instead it's sole fate is to be subsumed as static metamemories into the vastly greater total being of the Oversoul. Michael's system appears to involve both the indefinite persistence of the unique human personality as a center of consciousness, also with, additionally, the combining of the human personality into the vastly greater total being of the Oversoul.

"But how do we know that's true? We can only assume it; the only thing that we can verify are the data that we compare with the records and the states of the world, that is, the human ego with the memories, motivations and personality." - Juan

True. But even the evidence of personality isn't conclusive, since it could be a false persona built up by super-psi. Nothing in this area is truly conclusive.

Still, if we find correspondences between a variety of sources, we may be justified in thinking that those correspondences are meaningful. If between-lives regressions, channeled literature (e,g., Seth), some NDEs, and major mystical traditions all converge on the idea that a Higher Self stands behind multiple earthly incarnations, then I would be inclined to accept it.

Of course, all such discussion threatens to recapitulate medieval debates about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Someone coming to this comments thread without any grounding in the empirical evidence for postmortem survival would doubtless find our whole conversation extremely bizarre!

Doubter,
In my long life I have had many personalities which to some extent persist in my memory but they have been subsumed by my current personality, which is continuing to slowly change day by day. These changing personalities of my life persist to an extent but they are not where my focus is now. Somehow, whatever I am has floated on top of all of those personalities over the years and here I am, still me, but not the same personality that I was at 1 year old or 15 or 25 or 49, or 60 or 70 years old when my form was very different from what it is now. This same conscious, thinking ‘me’ that has been present with all of those personalities of my life is the one that will continue to exist as a consciousness in a spiritual reality but without the overlay of all of those personalities from present and past lives.

When the Moses of the Bible asked God what his name was, God replied that, “I am that I am.” (Exodus 3:14)

There is nothing more! Personalities and egos will drop away when I become part of the ‘Great I Am’. – AOD

Michael, as an aside, in one episode of El Ministerio del Tiempo, 17th century Spanish writers Lope de Vega and Miguel de Cervantes were vying with each other to be granted by the King of Spain an opportunity to meet William Shakespeare when he visited Spain during the signing of the peace treaty after the war between Spain and England. It is interesting how Shakespeare is portrayed by those who cast that character, in that Shakespeare is portrayed by a typically Spanish tall robust masculine actor rather than the somewhat effete person shown in drawings of Shakespeare available to us. The Spanish characters made a great effort learning the “unpronounceable’ name of Shakespeare first using a garbled Spanish pronunciation before finally learning the English pronunciation, barely getting it right. Also, there is a passing suggestion that ‘Macbeth’ might have been based on the relationship between the Queen of Spain and the King portrayed in that episode. Probably not! - AOD

"It is probably more like a radio being tuned between stations and picking up information from the "Akashic records" or the collective unconscious, but once they have developed their own sense of self those memories fade away."

I do not see that as the most probably. Evaluate here the most probable is always subjective but Ian Stevenson concluded that in some cases the most parsimonious interpretation is the reincarnation.

"But even the evidence of personality isn't conclusive, since it could be a false persona built up by super-psi. Nothing in this area is truly conclusive."

It's true, but not all the evidence is of the same kind. The evidence about the survival of the human ego after the biological death is empirical, while the evidence about the true self consists in accepting something that we can not verify. It is true that the afterlife hypothesis also has a non-empirical element, that is, to infer the identity from raw data, and that is why the super-psi hypothesis is conceivable, but once again the afterlife hypothesis is the most parsimonious interpretation and it is of a different kind to the evidence of true self.

AOD:
"In my long life I have had many personalities which to some extent persist in my memory but they have been subsumed by my current personality, which is continuing to slowly change day by day. ....Somehow, whatever I am has floated on top of all of those personalities over the years and here I am, still me, but not the same personality that I was at 1 year old or 15 or 25 or 49, or 60 or 70 years old when my form was very different from what it is now. This same conscious, thinking ‘me’ that has been present with all of those personalities of my life is the one that will continue to exist as a consciousness in a spiritual reality but without the overlay of all of those personalities from present and past lives."

You ultimately do not seem to engage with my logical arguments, but instead reiterate your same belief system. Even using your above analogy, the temporary or current version of your personality self at even the highest level of development and oldest age in this life, would almost certainly not ever knowingly choose a path of immense suffering, no matter what the spiritual growth to be gained. This would be mainly due to the keen personal experience of the inherent badness of extreme suffering. If not yourself, at least this would be the case for the vast majority of human beings. I certainly could say that speaking purely for myself.

The obvious evidence of the deplorable human condition of many strongly implies that some being, presumably the "high Self" or "I", does indeed sometimes make such decisions. The basic question here is, does whatever "It" is really deserve to be called the Self, or is it really another entirely separate being?

I appreciate your determined faith in this belief system, and would be tempted to subscribe to it were it not for my logical mind, which tends to rule the roost perhaps too much. The channeled teachings of Ron Scolastico's Guides are a case in point, where there is immense reassurance in them if doubts due to the reason and logic of the intellect are not allowed to intervene. The ancient question: is one to be ruled by the head (intellect) or the heart? It really does seem to be the choice of either Truth or happiness.

With all due respect you are starting to lose me Doubter. I am not sure that I know what your “logical arguments” are. I think we can both agree that there are some “deplorable human conditions” and that most of us, in our current incarnation and personality would want to avoid them whenever possible. I guess I tend to believe that the oversoul or ‘true self’ accepts or declines opportunities for soul growth at the point that chances for reincarnation are presented to it. I also believe that inherent in life are suffering and pain to a greater or lesser degree and experienced by the incarnated soul depending upon its choices in life as determined by its current ‘personality’ or by fortuitous outside circumstances imposed upon it but I also think that most lives do not have a foreordained fixed path so that pain and suffering in a lifetime may not be apparent to an oversoul when accepting an incarnation. When considering a lifetime perhaps the oversoul chooses possibilities rather than certainties for a life.

In the larger view, a life span is momentary and pain and suffering ultimately are of little consequence to the greater identity. - AOD

"The obvious evidence of the deplorable human condition of many strongly implies that some being, presumably the "high Self" or "I", does indeed sometimes make such decisions."

However, not all the evidence is of the same type. What if there are no such decisions? And if the bad are just things that happen and no agent is responsible for that? The NDEs do not show that everything is decided, neither the apparitions and mediumship, and the cases of children who seem to remember their past lives point to the fact that reincarnation is a purely mechanical process, not a decision.

In one between-lives regression, the hypnotized patient, allegedly speaking from the perspective of the oversoul, considers the life led by one of her incarnations and says something like, “I think it worked out well for her as well as for me.“ I realize this type of evidence is open to doubt, but if it’s legitimate, it certainly suggests a clear distinction between the Higher Self who chooses the incarnation and the incarnated self who lives it.

From what I can tell, both selves survive, with the now-discarnate self occupying a Summerland environment or similar plane, while the Higher Self continues to occupy a much higher plane. But according to most traditions, the two are eventually bought together as the lower self evolves upward.

As for the suffering in life, it may perhaps be analogous to putting a pet or an infant through a painful medical procedure. From the patient‘s point of view it is pointless cruelty, but from the point of view of the pet's owner or the child’s parent, it is necessary and humane. It does not imply a lack of love for the patient - quite the opposite, in fact - though the patient lacks the mental faculties to understand and appreciate the upside of the pain involved.

Of course, there is also the gnostic viewpoint, which holds that the god of this cosmos is a sadist who torments us for his sick pleasure!


Juan: "What if there are no such decisions? And if the bad are just things that happen and no agent is responsible for that? The NDEs do not show that everything is decided, neither the apparitions and mediumship, and the cases of children who seem to remember their past lives point to the fact that reincarnation is a purely mechanical process, not a decision."

You have made the good point that the empirical evidence is limited to various types of communications from the discarnate human self/personality (or past human self), not ever from the supposed Oversoul or High Self.

Of course this could be due to the inherent nature of this Being, because It is never interested in giving such evidence of its own existence to doubting humans.

But anyway, perhaps a well-grounded spiritual belief system should be limited to beliefs for which there is at least some empirical evidence.

If there is no Oversoul or High Self making future life choices and decisions, these concepts would have to ultimately be fantasies created by human imagination primarily because of the instinctive human drive to supply a rational meaning and purpose and agency to the vagaries of the human condition. This instinctive human drive is real and certainly psychologically instrumental in other human affairs. Channeled teachings and other communications claiming to be from or about Oversouls or High Selves would then actually be created by the subconscious minds of the channelers.

The conditions and patterns of individual lives would be as materialists believe - entirely the luck of the draw.

I think this is logically reasonable, but it is so very unsatisfying to me that I cannot subscribe to it. As Michael has pointed out there are also the many "cosmic consciousness" and other "Peak in Darien" experiences, some NDEs, between-lives regressions, and some major mystical traditions. I think it is most likely that there really are sentient somebodies or somethings behind it all. Or maybe the reality is that there is a complex mixture of the sentiently chosen and the completely random.

Juan: "What if there are no such decisions? And if the bad are just things that happen and no agent is responsible for that? The NDEs do not show that everything is decided, neither the apparitions and mediumship, and the cases of children who seem to remember their past lives point to the fact that reincarnation is a purely mechanical process, not a decision."

Not sure I entirely agree with this summary of the evidence. NDEs, in my opinion, often do point to a higher-level decision-making process. The experiencer is often told that he (or she) must go back because it is not yet his time, and that he has additional responsibilities to fulfil or more lessons to learn. The Being of Light is always interpreted as a higher entity that looks after and cares about the experiencer. The life review is difficult to understand except as a deliberate teaching method, and the experiencer typically says the point of the review is to determine where he fulfilled his intended purpose and where he went astray. All of this points to a life plan in the mind of some higher entity with a strong personal connection to the incarnate spirit.

Regression therapy and some channeled literature reinforce this implication. Some people who remember past lives (including some children whose memories did not depend on hypnosis) say they recall choosing their new parents or reincarnating by choice to fulfill a specific purpose (e.g., to remain close to a family member - a mother reincarnating as her daughter's newborn child, say).

What appears to happen is that the Higher Self chooses a set of circumstances into which some extension or aspect of itself can be incarnated in the hope of learning certain lessons or fulfilling certain (karmic?) obligations. But once incarnated, the lower self has little or no memory of its mission and can easily go off track. The Higher Self may try to nudge the incarnated spirit back on course via dream messages, synchronicities, and other subtle hints. But the ego of the lower self may ignore or resist these messages. Then, in the life review, the lower self sees where it went wrong and failed to completely fulfill its mission.

There also seems to be a curious mix of predetermined and ad hoc elements in life, with certain tragedies being preordained and others occurring by sheer accident. I suppose this could be compared to a computer game in which certain actions are preprogrammed and others depend on the players' choices.

I think that Jungian psychology may start to enter into this conversation here particularly if Carl Jung's concept of "archetypes" is brought into discussion. Wikipedia's definition of archetypes includes the 'collective unconscious' as was briefly mentioned here also. I am not so sure that I understand it or agree in total with the Wikipedia definition of archetype but I can resonate with the definition somehow even though I may not understand the depth of it. It states in part that,

"In Jungian psychology, archetypes are highly developed elements of the collective unconscious. The existence of archetypes can only be deduced indirectly by using story, art, myths, religions, or dreams. Carl Jung understood archetypes as universal, archaic patterns and images that derive from the collective unconscious and are the psychic counterpart of instinct. They are inherited potentials which are actualized when they enter consciousness as images or manifest in behavior on interaction with the outside world. They are autonomous and hidden forms which are transformed once they enter consciousness and are given particular expression by individuals and their cultures."

If upon reincarnating, a soul or whatever else one wants to call it, chooses another life perhaps in some cases but not all, the choice is made from a selection of "archetypes", so that the detail is not defined but a general outline or template of the incarnation is known beforehand. And to quote Michael Prescott,

"There also seems to be a curious mix of predetermined and ad hoc elements in life, with certain tragedies being preordained and others occurring by sheer accident. I suppose this could be compared to a computer game in which certain actions are preprogrammed and others depend on the players' choices."

I have been fascinated with the life of Marilyn Monroe from a spiritual perspective of course, as I think that she represented a certain archetype of the 'blond, sexualized female entertainer'. She, like several other entertainers who reached the pinnacle of their careers and achieved world fame, died shortly after the pinnacle was reached, e.g., Michael Jackson, Prince, Elvis, and others. Their careers had no where else to go except down. I place John Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln in this same category, that is, if they wanted to live that archetype ,their lives would be predestined to an early death. I can't imagine the archetypical 'Marilyn Monroe' going on to become a grandmother archetype. I think she achieved what she came to do and then just left. The same with Elvis or Lincoln etc.

Norma Jeane Mortenson ('Marilyn Monroe') achieved her archetypal role by sheer willpower. She didn't have to turn out to be 'Marilyn Monroe' and based upon a very early photograph I have of her it seemed unlikely that she would but she made certain choices and with great fortitude propelled herself along a predetermined pathway ending in the archetype. In a way, the path was cleared for Norma Jean to become 'Marilyn Monroe', provided that by her will power she made the 'right' choices. Norma Jean created 'Marilyn Monroe' according to a archetypal template, consciously or subconsciously. She transformed the archetype and gave it expression in her culture., according to the definition. Others in previous generations have transformed that same archetype in their cultures also and there are those at present who are attempting that archetype now. - AOD



\\"All of this points to a life plan in the mind of some higher entity with a strong personal connection to the incarnate spirit." - Michael Prescott//
-------------

Excerpt from James E's NDE description,
"It taught me that everyone, everything, is in its right place. Always will be, no matter how much we try to change, or try to destroy, or try to create, we're simply doing exactly what was planned. The meaning of life, as I felt it to be, is simply to live."
http://www.nderf.org/Experiences/1james_e_nde.html

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

Like I keep saying, this Earth life is just a school and we simply learn here the things that can't be learned in heaven. Life isn't supposed to be easy and fun all the time. It is through life's difficulties and challenges that we learn the things we came here to learn. The more emotional the experience the more powerful and long lasting the memory it creates.
https://www.webmd.com/balance/news/20050131/emotions-make-memory-last

A few days ago I attended a spiritualist church service - a kind of spur of the moment decision as I am not normally inclined to go to any kind of church service. I was duly rewarded with a message delivered by the attending medium that evening. The message was from my deceased step-mother with a short interjection from my father. Both died while I was in my teens, half a century ago.

The messages were brief, not particularly veridical but very much in keeping with the relationship I had with them in my distant youth. However, I found myself wondering about the time gap and whether I would have expected them to remain in the between-life realm for fifty or more years. Stevenson's work suggests a speedy return to this life but some channeled works such as the Seth material maintains that this period can vary between hours and centuries though more often something like 30 years or so.

Then there may be other things to consider such as whether the whole of the spiritual being (soul) is incarnated or perhaps a fragment assuming a certain personality? Perhaps, even if the personality of my step-mother had been somehow integrated into a new one, reborn on earth, her essential self continues as part of a greater, gestalt soul?

I find the whole concept of reincarnation quite perplexing because of complicating factors such as the nature of time in the afterlife, reported parallel lives and multiple personalities within a combined (gestalt) soul. There is also the question of choice and, from my own reading, I must conclude that reincarnation is, above all, a choice and not a requirement. The soul can, therefore, choose to learn and progress by other means than earthly incarnations but the process may be somewhat more lengthy than the school of hard knocks that is earthly existence. Nevertheless, I fail to see why that should matter given that time is inconsequential in the big picture.

Did you hear Stephen Hawking's dead now? RIP.

Ian Stevenson’s published cases of reincarnation in children concerned past lives where traumatic early death occurred. Most or all of the published cases of Stevenson’s involved people who died of gun shots, knife wounds, poisoning, drowning, traffic accidents, snake bite or other unexpected tragic means. The interval between lives was relatively short, sometimes a matter of weeks. Perhaps Stephenson could only find veridical evidence in cases where there were living friends and relatives left behind so those were the ones he published. Stevenson also was interested in birthmarks and often these cases did have birthmarks corresponding to the actual wounds of the previous life and for which documentation could still be found. Often newspaper articles about the deaths were still available.

A more recent tale of reincarnation concerned James Leininger who claimed a life as a World War II pilot James Huston who died 53 years before the birth of James Leininger. Through hypnotic regression Morey Bernstein elicited ‘Bridey Murphy’, reportedly born in Ireland in 1798 and reborn as Ruth Simmons 59 years after ‘Bridey’s’ death. Hyponotic regressions of Brian Weiss produced intervals of past lives of 100s of years. Ian Stevenson did not put much stock in hypnotic regression as a means to determine past lives but preferred to study spontaneous cases reported by children, usually under 5 years old.

It seems to be rare that children who remember a past life recall dying of congestive heart failure at 90 years old or of some other disease of aging. That is, there are few or no spontaneous reports from children of people who died rather peacefully in bed. So, maybe those whose life was cut short by traumatic means perhaps feel a need to return to life quickly to attend to unfinished business. -AOD

"NDEs, in my opinion, often do point to a higher-level decision-making process."

"Regression therapy and some channeled literature reinforce this implication."

But those cases do not point to everything being decided, only that some things are decided. This is decisive because if not everything is decided, then not everything bad has to be decided by the higher self and this can be identical to the lower self because both would choose the same, they only differ in the knowledge they have.

Simeone have read the new book of michael shermer?https://www.amazon.it/Heavens-Earth-Scientific-Afterlife-Immortality/dp/1627798579

"Simeone have read the new book of michael shermer? https://www.amazon.it/Heavens-Earth-Scientific-Afterlife-Immortality/dp/1627798579 "

Shermer has no credibility. He simply ignores a ton of empirical evidence. For instance Ian Stevenson's research into children who remember past lives, which was just alluded to by AOD in the next to previous post. So much for Shermer's expectations of some sort of post-human revolution where immortality is achieved by medical engineering terchnology and/or AI advances.

I don't know Doubter. I scanned the preview of Shermer's new book and he seemed to be providing a lot of interesting information, more history maybe, than anything else. I probably will buy the book. I often read comments from materialists, like Shermer, that say that there is no evidence that supports survival of consciousness. However I suspect that most of those people who say that have never read much (or any) of the voluminous documentation easily available if one makes an effort to find and read it. - AOD

In reading the comments about Shermer's book on Amazon I see that there is some mention of the Malarkey NDE case, concerning the boy who, after publishing a book about his NDE, recanted his tale of a visit to heaven during a traumatic accident. This case gives the materialist something to trot out in their every discussion of NDEs. Some of you may remember that that case was thoroughly discussed on this blog several months ago and many extenuating circumstances were considered, e.g., the parents' apparently hostile divorce, financial loss or gain, the mother's strict evangelistic Christian views, the boy's total dependence upon his mother for his care, the boy's desire not to disagree with his mother etc.. It does become wearisome to listen to this and similar arguments from materialists when it is obvious they do not know or won't consider all of the facts about any given situation. -AOD

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