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Being that unnamed friend mentioned above, I would quibble a bit with one point:

that personality is an illusion from which we should liberate ourselves to become pure Consciousness.

I would state it more like this:

Personality is an object in consciousness. Pure consciousness is the only true subject. We do not "liberate ourselves" from personality, we simply see that the personality that we thought was "I" was in fact only an object in consciousness, part of the story. This is not a new idea, it is essentially the viewpoint of virtually all mystics from every religious tradition (both east and west).

Illusion would seem to denigrate the personality. In fact, personalities are how consciousness is able to understand itself. Actors on the stage, if you will. Ultimately there as part of the story, witnessed by the One consciousness, which is who we all are in actuality.

In any event, thanks Michael for sharing your "big view" here. I think your readers will all find it quite interesting and hopefully fruitful to read and discuss it.

>In fact, personalities are how consciousness is able to understand itself.

But isn't it the mystical view that, upon death, the personality dissolves and disappears? "Like an insubstantial pageant faded, leaving not a rack behind ..." If so, personhood ultimately can't be important. Or am I misunderstanding this?

That may be how some dogmas teach it, but that does not make sense to me in light of what we know from the NDE and from the clear feelings of *love* that are felt for our human aspects.

I believe that nothing is lost, that every touch, taste, smell and thought of our lives is preserved as part of the story. If time is simply part of the story, then in some sense all times touch the now, and Consciousness would presumably have access to all of it.

That doesn't change that all these things are, in fact, happening to Oneness instead of the assumed separate selves.

I don't know, this is a very difficult conversation to step into, because in reality, we only have what different sets of belief have to say about subjects, and what resonates with each of us personally as "truth". I think we can get glimpses of truth though from higher states of consciousness, NDEs and practicing present moment awareness.

If we call consciousness the marble, the statue would be consciousness as form, and what the statue believes it to be would be personality or ego.

I disagree that eastern thought says that the block of marble is superior to the statue. Eastern philosophy says that the statue IS the block of marble, and your own analogy illustrates it perfectly! Thanks! Object and subject are the same material only appearing to be separated but are indeed one thing and the statue cannot be at all without the block of consciousness.

Where do you get the idea that God has likes and dislikes? How does rendering God impersonal make God sub-human? To me saying that God has likes and dislikes is anthropormorphizing God. And yeah, the God of the old testament did have human characteristics, anger, jealousy and many others. But is the God of the old Testament the same as consciousness? I don't think so.

Gosh there is so much here that I disagree with, hahaha, sorry! I don't think personality and individuation starts at "terrible twos". It can start pre-conception with the thoughts and ideas that our parents have about who their children will be ten years before they are conceived. "My boy Bill..." Conception..."our baby", amnio or sonogram "our son" or "our daughter" and you are given a name, bedrooms are painted particular colors, toys that "you will like" are purchased, all of it goes into the basket of who you are before you even take your first breath. You are given a name, names come with connotations...Gertrude vs. Paris...labels labels and more labels, the kid doesn't have a chance! And is any of it real or simply external thoughts, plans and ideals placed on you?

Also I think we may have a miscommunication about what the ego is exactly. I see the ego as identification with that part of me that is false, all that stuff that goes into the basket of who I think I am. The receiver of awards, the child who couldn't run laps, the good kid, all those ideas, thoughts, that either bless us or call us unworthy. A person in their own eyes and in society's eyes is deemed a success or a failure by the contents of the basket. Up until a couple weeks ago, Mel Gibson had a pretty good basket! (pun intended) Now his basket has turned to caa caa because we all identified with it...and IT WASN'T REAL. What his basket or ego also contained was some shadow that rendered the rest of it useless! How can anything this fragile, this volatile, be the sum total of what we are? It can't be! A man who by all external signs was a huge success as a human is now a dismal failure who will probably never work again.

I wonder if you have read the Bhagavad Gita...it's facinating reading and illustrates the points that Tolle and many others make about consciousness beautifully. I recommend the edition that Christopher Isherwood worked on.

>Where do you get the idea that God has likes and dislikes?

From the Judeo-Christian tradition, mainly. That tradition may be wrong, of course. But it also may be right.

I would hope that God prefers Churchill to Hitler, Louis Pasteur to Jack the Ripper, Mother Teresa to Ted Bundy. I would hope that moral values are not a mere delusion, but something built into the fabric of reality at a deep level (as moral intuitionism maintains). Otherwise, we live in an amoral universe, and we have no reason to be moral ourselves. Perhaps this is part of the perennial appeal of Eastern thought? "If God is dead, everything is permitted."

>A man who by all external signs was a huge success as a human is now a dismal failure who will probably never work again.

He'll work again. Money talks, and he's made bunches of it. But you're right that this shows the fragility of "the bubble reputation," as Shakespeare put it. Reputation is not selfhood, though.

>I wonder if you have read the Bhagavad Gita

Yes. The principle "Commit to the process, detach from the outcome" is what I mainly took away from it.

Hi Michael...here is how I understand the "God prefers Mother Teresa over Hitler" thing.

Ultimately, consciousness is pure love, pure awareness, so how could pure love have a preference over one of it's children? Pure love wouldn't feel disappointment in the behavior of any of it's creations.

For whatever reason, consciousness appears to split and human form arises. When form ceases, what is lost? Anything? Where does it go? It goes back to consciousness because it never left consciousness. So human life from the perspective of Earth, from the temporal plane appears to be fragile, and it is terrible when it is lost, when our loved ones pass, but when our mourning begins to abate we can remember that nothing of our loved ones died or went anywhere but back to the source, pure love, pure awareness, pure consciousness.

Recently I encountered a person who took these teachings the wrong way, and that has been my question: What would prevent someone then from killing without regard? They could justify their actions by saying "It makes no difference, it all goes back to the source." What becomes clear though, when truly practicing presence is that killing is not an action that comes to mind. It's just not what is up for you, not on your plate. If it is, you are probably not present, you are probably in anger since there is justification coming to mind. "I can do this because it all goes back to source and source won't judge me."

Then the question comes up of killing in the moment, someone enters your house and threatens you or your loved ones. Here, we are present, and who knows what we will do? We will probably kill to protect and no thought process is involved because we are in the moment and no where else.

Bill Moyers interviewed the Dalai Lama years ago. During the interview a mosquito landed on the Dalai Lama's arm. Bill Moyers asked him "What do you do?" The Dalai Lama said, paraphrasing, "Sometimes I brush it away, sometimes I flick it, other times I let it drink." To me, this illustrates exactly what Tolle talks about when he says that nothing is lost on our path when we know our reaction. If we are still growing in presence, and we can become present enough to be present with distress, anger, anxiety, sadness, fear, nothing is lost in our growth because we are the witness to the emotion and the action emanating from it.

Well, let's imagine there are two people. The first is a regular person who can tell the difference between good and evil. The second is a sociopath who has no concept of any such distinction. The first person is clearly superior to the second, correct?

Now imagine that God is the second person. God, in this case, recognizes no distinction between good and evil. God is a kind of sociopath, without a conscience. If this is so, then isn't the regular, goodhearted person superior to God?

Presumably, however, no human being is better than God. So if most (or even some) humans can distinguish between good and evil, then surely God can, too. And if the average decent person can show a preference for good over evil, surely God has a preference, too.

I realize this may sound simplistic and old-fashioned compared to the esoterica of mysticism. But sometimes simple ideas are true.

Well, let's imagine there are two people. The first is a regular person who can tell the difference between good and evil. The second is a sociopath who has no concept of any such distinction. The first person is clearly superior to the second, correct?

Sure, at the level of personhood and comparison, yes.


Now imagine that God is the second person. God, in this case, recognizes no distinction between good and evil. God is a kind of sociopath, without a conscience. If this is so, then isn't the regular, goodhearted person superior to God?

Well you are assuming that "God" is a person, separate from other people.

I would say that God is the Beingness / Awareness that is the essence of what is. But God is also the beings themselves, so in that sense is personal.

Think about the universe where Abby and Tess live. Would that universe be interesting if they did not have villians to defeat, challenges to overcome? Who are your heroes without the Jack Reynolds and the Mobius' to vex them?

In the end, there are no separate people, no isolated fragments. Just beingness experiencing what it is like to be. And from that place there is no good nor bad, just the wholeness of the story itself. . .

>I would say that God is the Beingness / Awareness that is the essence of what is.

Okay. Is this Beingness/Awareness capable of distinguishing between good and evil? If yes, then it has preferences. If no, then it's inferior to the average decent person. I don't see any way around this.

To say the Beingness/Awareness just is the average decent person (and all other people) doesn't help. The question would still remain: Is this aspect or essence moral or amoral? If moral, it's got qualities of personhood. If amoral, it's at a lower level of development than a person.

>Would that universe be interesting if they did not have villians to defeat, challenges to overcome?

There are plenty of challenges in life even without murderers (or dictators or terrorists, etc.). Personally I would much prefer a world where no one used violence against other people, even if it meant that we had fewer opportunities for drama. And I doubt the people who were marched into the gas chambers at Dachau were grateful to Hitler for the chance to be part of a dramatic event ...

Michael,

Of course we want to make a better world where people do not do violence against one another. If you look at those people, they do have reasons for what they do.

And you keep talking about all these things suffered by "people". Who do you think is having all these experiences, ultimately? Why do some NDE life reviews show what *everyone else* experiences based on what a person has done?

I would submit that is because there is only one experiencer.

Far be it from me to tell anyone to change their worldview if it works for them. I am a big believer in the maxim, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." If nondualistic mysticism is working for you, by all means stick with it. You may be right, I may be wrong. Who knows?

I have been wrong about many other things in my life, and I may be way off base on this one, too. That said, here's what I think ...

>And you keep talking about all these things suffered by "people". Who do you think is having all these experiences, ultimately?

People.

Sorry if it sounds obtuse, but that's how I see it. The contrary position may seem obvious to you, but when I look at it, I see people. I see individuals.

>Why do some NDE life reviews show what *everyone else* experiences based on what a person has done?

It's a learning experience. What would be the point of learning, if we already know everything?

Ultimately I reject the mystical viewpoint because it strikes me as amoral, nihilistic, self-contradictory, and elitist.

Amoral because it implies that good and evil are ultimately one and the same.

Nihilistic because it implies that there is no ultimate purpose to an individual life.

Self-contradictory because it seems to be based on the premise that things are and are not, simultaneously, in some nebulous way that defies explanation.

Elitist because it implies that only a select few are "enlightened," while everyone else is a kind of zombie acting unconsciously.

These criticisms aren't new. They were lodged against the Gnostic movement nearly 2000 years ago. Since that time, some people have embraced Gnosticism and related ideas, while others have not.

The debate will continue - probably forever!

It's not about debate, or intellectual positions, or winning an argument. I should have dropped out of the discussion before it reached that point.

No, don't drop out! You and Claudia are the only ones who are even reading these posts!

I didn't mean "debate" in a bad way. I meant "exchange of views."

My outlook is more conventional, at least in the context of Western society. It may be wrong. A lot of times, perhaps most of the time, the conventional wisdom is wrong.

There is something appealing to me about "Unity consciousness," as Jenny Wade calls it, but I can't get past my empirical-logical-moral objections. These may be "egoic" defense measures, I admit. But if so, I can't see my way around them.

This probably puts us at a stalemate, since I can't really see what you're saying. But feel free to keep contributing. You may be getting through to someone else, even if I'm not "getting it." Or maybe you are planting a seed that will ripen in due course.

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