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Nice "flashback" post.

Also, this post is a nice way for me to segue (shameless plug), the interview I just concluded with Matthew Cromer on the "Reductionist Mafia".

Even if you don't want to hear the whole 1 hour show, listen to the first 6 minutes for my Skeptics vs. The Godfather mash-up (courtesy of Skeptiko)

"At some point, those of us who are impressed with the evidence for the paranormal will have to start to insist that any doubt applied in this area must be reasonable doubt."

I insist, I insist! Wait a minute, I don’t even care anymore.

By the time you reach the point where you are more than impressed with the evidence, and convinced beyond any reasonable doubt, you also come to another realization. It is not worth any energy discussing it with a mindset that has proven (beyond a reasonable doubt) that it will not be changed. That energy is better invested in learning what it all means and how it applies to life. The “skeptics” will eventually come around, but most likely not in this incarnation. For now, let them have their unreasonable doubt.

Bill,

On some says I agree with you and some days I want to convince people by pointing them to the evidence. If the right skeptic is converted to an open minded seeker, it can make a big difference.

Nobody has ever been able to explain away to me the numerous amazing parallels between near death experiences and what Michael Talbot says one might expect in a holographic Universe. No way can it be coincidental and no way could the average person off the street know enough to make these corroborative statements. All one has to do is read the online essay about the holographic universe at:

http://www.earthportals.com/hologram.html#zine

and then read Mark Horton's near death experience @:

http://www.mindspring.com/~scottr/nde/markh.html to see the obvious parallels.

And I'm not the first person to see these parallels either. Dr. Kenneth Ring has a whole chapter in his book Life At Death about them and Dr. Melvin Morse devotes several pages to it in his book Where God Lives. To me it says something very profound about the Universe and about near death experiences.

“And most people, lacking the time or the interest or, in some cases, the ability to look into the matter for themselves, will conclude that the doubt is justified.”

An excellent point, Michael! Sadly, I think this is the case with a good number of scientists as well. Like most academics, they are too ensconced in their own field’s vast literature to carefully investigate other disciplines. Thus, for their opinions on psi they turn to James Randi and other media skeptics whom they believe to be objective, rigorous researchers. For such scientists, what’s the point of unearthing the original research reports, especially those from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, from obscure journals when Randi et al. have already done so and found them wanting?

I think one of the possible reasons we try and convince others even ultra skeptics of our beliefs into the reality of paranormal phenomena is due to our own doubts.

From my point of view I find the human mind fascinating that in spite of the evidence the mind is capable of filtering that evidence to the point of overcoming our rational minds to maintain our cherished beliefs.

Look closely at debunkers they seldom debunk all of the evidence that have occurred in paranormal phenomena usually they only debunk selected parts of the phenomena.

Marcel you are getting better at being an interviewer. You made Matthew come out and state what his thoughts were concerning consciousness surviving death. You stayed on point. Anderson cooper look out.

I just read the unskeptical skeptic entry and it was hilarious! Imagine: a novelist opining his doubts about global warming as if he had any expertise in climatology accusing others of "bluster and self-serving bombast" and being "wannabes" basing their conclusions on "junk science."

And such accusations coming from one who suffers from "I KNOW disease" when it comes to the reality of such dubious concerns as paranormal phenomena and life after death, but has doubts about the reality of global warming and, one has to wonder, whether smoking causes lung cancer. Sheesh!

What's next? Balancing "evolutionist ideology" with evidence that man and dinosaurs cohabited?

Fortunately, by definition only skeptics of paranormal and Fortean claims can catch "I KNOW disease." Believers are apparently immune from it. I mean, imagine, is there ANY possibility that there might actually be NOTHING awaiting us after death? Of course not! We all KNOW that there has to be something afterward, because that "energy" has to go somewhere, right?

Funny how those who agree with our point of view are open-minded free thinkers while those who disagree are dogmatic ideologues. Is it possible that someone with an opinion other than yours might rationally hold that opinion? Nah! The clods--if they would only check with Michael Prescott before forming their own opinions, they could avoid the logical fallacy known as "coming to a conclusion at odds with Michael Prescott's." Oh well, nobody's perfect. I suggest we overlook the pseudoskeptics' flaws and forgive them of this trespass.

Perhaps the previous poster would like to go acquaint him or herself with the evidence before launching into a head-scratchingly ill-informed campaign against "such dubious concerns as paranormal phenomena and life after death".

If you want to go bully the credulous cheesecloth-worshippers, go off to Victor Zammit's site! There are few 'round these these parts.

P.S. Anyone know the current "Skeptical" position on Leonora Piper? I know Eusapia's ranges from "she did it all with her feet" to "she had an accomplice" to "every investigator set aside their professionality because she was a lascivious woman" etc. etc. yet I can't say I've heard much in the way of criticism towards good ol' Leonora and her acquisition of knowledge supernormally.

Perhaps because there can be none that's reasonable? Yet that hasn't stopped them before.

i believe that skeptics used the incident, where a skeptic invented a fake person and Leonora Piper supposedly brought that person through regardless, to debunk her. using that , they argued that she used nothing more than 'fishing' and 'cold reading,' the usual parlor tricks.

also,the fact that hodigson went ga ga over her and became a sole believer also put a dent in his credibility (basically, if you're convinced, then you're no longer a credible researcher because if you're a true scientist, you would never make such statement- the whole mentality of 'since it can't be true, then it's definitely not true')

lastly, piper made some predication which were completely wrong- such as that hodgison would get married and live long healthy life- but then he died at an early age.

in my opinion, while william james believe that 'to prove that all crows are not black, you only need to find one white crow,' the skeptical would say, 'to prove that white crow isn't white, you only have to find a strand of black feather on the white crow to prove that it isn't.'

that goes to show you how 'scientific' and 'critical' those skeptics are.

"Bill,

On some says I agree with you and some days I want to convince people by pointing them to the evidence. If the right skeptic is converted to an open minded seeker, it can make a big difference."

Joe, Discussing the evidence and what it means is useful and important. However, it is a waste of time and energy to argue with claims that are “unreasonable.” For example, there is no way that you can discuss certain evidence and how it pertains to survival with someone who refuses to even admit that there is any evidence at all that psychic functioning has ever occurred at any point in history. It will simply work itself out in the long run, as the evidence speaks for itself. See for example, the article referenced in another post entitled something like CSICOP losing its thirty year war. Also, I don’t think that converting “the right skeptic” would make any difference at all to others who formerly held the same opinions. They would simply claim that he or she has lost their sanity, just like all the other “believers.”


"I think one of the possible reasons we try and convince others even ultra skeptics of our beliefs into the reality of paranormal phenomena is due to our own doubts."

William, initially that may very well be the case. But once you overcome your own unreasonable doubts, I think it is best to move away from such activities altogether.

"From my point of view I find the human mind fascinating that in spite of the evidence the mind is capable of filtering that evidence to the point of overcoming our rational minds to maintain our cherished beliefs."

It is fascinating. I found, however, that I had no problem giving up certain beliefs (not really cherished, but long held), but it was the doubts that I had a hard time shaking. Even after personally witnessing evidence that I had no logical reason to doubt, I still found myself doubting it. I personally experienced how “skepticism” can blind you just as easily as “cherished beliefs” can.

I read recently about the Elberfeld horses, who apparently could calculate cube routes and answer questions by beating their hooves to a special alphabet. They impressed a number of scientists who came to see them, yet one dismissed it as a case of subtle signalling to the horses on the part of the humans. Case closed, as far as skepdic and Randi's ludicrous "encyclopedia" are concerned. Neither even mention Karl Krall's later successful experiments with a blind horse, or when then horses were asked questions over telephone, who was perfectly aware of that hypothesis and was eager to test it.

It's this utterly unbalanced "case for the prosecution"/"it's impossible so must be fraud or delusion" style, in which doubtful evidence is pushed for all it's worth, and the positive evidence either trivialised or ignored entirely, that so infuriates me.

Someone calling himself "Mike Prescott" wrote,

>And such accusations coming from one who suffers from "I KNOW disease" when it comes to the reality of such dubious concerns as paranormal phenomena and life after death

You can search this blog high and low, and you'll never find me saying "I know" that there is life after death. I think there is evidence pointing in that direction, but it is not conclusive.

>Fortunately, by definition only skeptics of paranormal and Fortean claims can catch "I KNOW disease." Believers are apparently immune from it.

You haven't been reading this blog, or you'd know that I've been involved in an ongoing dispute with just such a "believer."

As for global warming, I never said it's not happening. I only said that Susan Blackmore's op-ed piece was hysterical and overwrought.

If you comment here again, please choose a different screen name. Using "Mike Prescott" is only going to create unnecessary confusion.

"If you comment here again, please choose a different screen name. Using "Mike Prescott" is only going to create unnecessary confusion."
No kidding. I read it this morning before I had my coffee and woke up. I briefly thought "what's up with him?" LOL.

Michael,

I am sorry to hear that you are suffering from a bad case of 'I know disease'. It was very brave of you to suffer in silence, your blog posts certainly showed no signs of your affliction. Your namesake must have gleaned his information telepathically, they do say physic connections are stronger between family members.

I agree to a point, but in a murder trial the burden of proof is on the prosecution. In the case of the paranormal, a long history of skepticism and cultural marginalization has placed the burden of proof on those who know there is something to the paranormal.

But OJ's case was partly won for him by the police themselves, who seriously botched the crime scene investigation and didn't even secure the crime scene from a blatantly racist cop who didn't belong there.

The paranormal has a similar problem to the prosecution's case in the OJ trial, in the number of con artists who've pulled the wool over people's eyes and still do, who are easily confused by outsiders with those who've genuinely experienced paranormal events.

So perhaps one burden on the paranormal community is to do their own skeptical work in challenging and outing the con artists.

Another problem with proving the paranormal is that it is sporadic and seemingly random in its manifestations. (If not random on its originating level, it at least appears so to us most of the time.) It's seldom repeatable, while in a murder trial usually the forensic evidence for or against is irrefutable. The long history of unprovability leaves the public somewhat skeptical even in the face of proof from improved modern-day methods of study. At the same time there's a haze of embarrassment that hangs over the public who would otherwise embrace the evidence for the paranormal. They don't want to be seen as gullible, as falling for something that may turn out to be a con. Besides, what's in it for them? Besides embracing reality and truth, that is. For them the question remains, what is reality and what is true?

Taken in part from Barabara's comment:

"Another problem with proving the paranormal is that it is sporadic and seemingly random in its manifestations. (If not random on its originating level, it at least appears so to us most of the time.) It's seldom repeatable, while in a murder trial usually the forensic evidence for or against is irrefutable."

This to me is a HUGE problem. While I can't deny something may be happening...the problem is that it is indeed TOO RANDOM.

This is one of the few reasons why I believe EVERYTHING (including the paranormal) to not be (and never was) about us as individuals...in the "spirit world, material world or any world"...it just seems to ALL, including us as parts of ALL, to be running for a reason that we cannot attach meaning to BUT TRY TO....because it ALL (inlcuding us) was NEVER designed for us, again as JUST parts of IT ALL.

Just because we can think about and measure something...does not mean IT HAS GOOD INTENTIONS FOR US.

Billw wrote: "William, initially that may very well be the case. But once you overcome your own unreasonable doubts, I think it is best to move away from such activities altogether."

Again I failed to fully explain myself and what I meant by doubts. I believe these doubts may linger at a subconscious level and we are not fully aware of these nagging inner doubts.

But also there is something within us that wants to share our discoveries/beliefs/insights so inner subconscious doubts may not be a correct label to put on everyone.

It appears to me that everything and I mean everything including doubts is perfection in action. That our entire earth experiences “the good and the bad” give us opportunities to advance our soul. For Matthew C “our perceived soul”.

In other words good can be bad and bad can be good. Karma may be an underlying principle that works towards the unfoldment of our divine potential and we humans in our ignorance or innocence put good and bad labels on these experiences.

Our experiences on earth may be analogous to a lapidary machine; put us in and tumble us around in some friction of “good and evil” and because of karma we come out after many incarnations polished and divinely more loving and are capable of moving on to other worlds, experiences, or whatever’s.

As one of my favorite author’s stated: where would you go to school if your world were perfect and then went on to state that this world is perfectly imperfect.

If we are to believe Tom Harrison (I read his online book and ordered his full version) when he writes and talks about him Mom, Minnie, then some physical phenomena (and materializations) ARE consistently repeatable. Now if we can find another Minnie and have her agree to be tested.

Nice post about OJ, Barbara. Yes, the police botched the heck out of that case. And it featured a lying, racist cop, as one of the lead guys who also found the all important glove. And who also happened to have a history of talking about disliking interracial couples.

How about? Mr. Fung!

Yes, I was addicted to the case.

Barbara wrote:

"Another problem with proving the paranormal is that it is sporadic and seemingly random in its manifestations."

Not surprising, as it is dealing with the conscious, subconscious and unconscious mind of the psychic. Anyone who has ever seriously tried to meditate knows just how “random” and “sporadic” the mind can be. Combine that with experiments that are rarely fit the natural conditions under which psychic perceptions occur and results for which probability calculations are impossible, and you get exactly the inconclusive data that is subject to endless debate.


If we knew absolutely for certain that there was life after death - death would lose some of it's power over us. I believe losing someone we love, is the most powerful lesson that we have to experience while we are alive. It's the ultimate form of separation.

"Combine that with experiments that are rarely fit the natural conditions under which psychic perceptions occur and results for which probability calculations are impossible, and you get exactly the inconclusive data that is subject to endless debate." - Bill W
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I believe that it's that way on purpose. We may never be allowed to know absolutely 100% for certain that there is life after death. If we knew absolutely 100% for certain that one day we would be reunited with our loved ones on the other side, we wouldn't mourn their passisng quite as much. Death would cease to be the powerful lesson in separation that it is for the soul. I believe one of the main reasons our soul spends time in the physical universe is to experience separation, and through that experience of separation the soul learns what it means and how it feels to be a separate, unique, individual. We will most likely never be allowed to know absolutely for certain that there is life after death.

"...give us opportunities to advance our soul"

...Who says ANY SINGLE INDIVIDUAL wants to "advance"....advance to what?...a bigger schmuck than you already are?

By the way, how many times does the "great soul" have to "learn" these things? How many times should a mother have to lose the child or someone lose their loved one to cancer....how many?

That it can believe that MURDERING flesh and blood is a lesson...maybe the "great soul" is a retard and IT needs SOME LESSON'S OF ITS OWN!!

It is all sooooo beyond sick that any child or grownup could understand...yet scary that they don't.

There are NO lessons except that we are being screwed, blued and tattooed by carrying on this farce...yet when you get down to it...we, as a species, didn't (don't?) have a choice...because whatever runs this ALL doesn't care about us as individuals...or even us as a species.

What happened to the dinosuars? Did they learn anything? How retarded.

One size does not fit all. SOME humans know this..."THIS GREAT SCHOOL" should take this lesson and apply to ITSELF.


I am reposting this, in part (with some editing), from another couple of comments I made:

If the brain is redundant (MUCH LIKE NATURE ISTELF) or one could say possibly operate holographically...if ANY bit of electrical activity can exist while somone is "dead" but REALLY HAVING the brain still running off of a small group of cells...couldn't this possibly be an answer as to a lot of NDE stuff?

Granted, the universe may operate in a so called "holographic way" but I believe we shouldn't ever so readily take it to mean that WE GO ON HAPPILY EVER AFTER...we eat chickens and maybe whatever this all, WHATEVER IT IS, EATS us and then shits and pisses us out...get my drift?


Also, for anyone who says that energy never dies, guess what?....I and YOU are NOT energy/code/consciousness OR WHATEVER THE HELL ONE CAN COME UP WITH...we are INTRINSICALLY DIFFERENT...KNOW WHAT I MEAN?

I think the universe treats us like a math equation (because esentially that is what we are).


Rich, I'm starting to get email complaints about the number of comments you're posting. They're usually off-topic and filled with annoying all-caps formatting. You say the same thing over and over in a highly belligerent manner.

Please try to restrain yourself, stay on topic, and lay off the shift key, or I'll have to block your IP address.

Sorry if this comes across as rude, but nobody gets to monopolize the comments threads.

Art,

If we're not meant to know the truth about the afterlife, how does that explain people who allegedly have face to face contact with their loved ones ones they are dead? See Minnie Harrison for one example. Those people apparently saw their loved ones and saw that they were fine. So how come they were able to know? And what was stopping others from find out beside their closed mindedness to the phenomena?

Hey Michael and ALL, sorry about the CAPS key...I have a habit of using it to bring attention to certain words I post...it does not mean I am trying to be rude to anyone. I will try to lay off the caps key because people are misinterpreting the intent.

Also, about staying on topic, I don't know that I have really been off topic....although it may be possible in reponse to someone else's comment.

Mediumship brins into the picture "life after death," history of the human race, present state of affairs, etc.

I believe personally in order to study/comment on something one must take into consideration many things and not just that one exact thing...otherwise the answer is out of context.

Much like global warming...one must not only take into consideration people but the very earth itself and even the sun.

So, having said this, I don't ever mean to offend anyone....including my friend Art...I think well of you and any 'harsh" comments I make should not be taken as against you or directed at you Art or anyone else on this blog...they are directed at the world as I see and believe it to be.

Sincerely, Rich.


Art wrote:

"I believe one of the main reasons our soul spends time in the physical universe is to experience separation..."

My 50 year-old cousin suffered a stroke a few years ago. He was down and out. But with the help of his amazing wife and his determination, he fought his way back. Recently, he started driving on his own. He still can't speak but hopefully, one day, that will change.

Yesterday morning, he woke up and found his 52 year-old wife dead in bed. He's been through hell over these past few years and now this.

So Art, he's supposed to learn about separation now? Nice theory. I'll be sure to pass it on to him at the funeral.

Italics is a more conventional and aesthetically pleasing method of adding emphasis to text. To use italics on a blog simply use the following format: (i)this comment is in italics(/i) but use <> instead of ( ). Perhaps best used, sparingly.

Yesterday morning, he woke up and found his 52 year-old wife dead in bed. He's been through hell over these past few years and now this.

So Art, he's supposed to learn about separation now? Nice theory. I'll be sure to pass it on to him at the funeral. - JoeMB
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The more emotional the experience the more powerful and long lasting the memory it creates. The soul has to experience enough duality and separation to last for eternity. From the moment we are born and the umbilical cord is cut and we separate from our mothers till the moment we die and our death becomes a lesson in separation for our loved ones who are left behind life is a never ending lesson in separation. The soul doesn't care about the physical body. People who have NDE's look back on their bodies after they left them with about as much emotion as we reserve for a pair of worn out tennis shoes. By the way, I'm highly suspicious that the voice inside our heads is not "our soul." People report feeling no emotion or feelings for the loved ones they left behind. Some NDE'ers feel guilty for it. They say they couldn't believe how ready they were to leave behind their loved ones. This ain't the main show. Michelle M says it's like the blink of an eye compared to eternity. We are only here for a very brief time and then our spirits or soul go back into eternity. I think this life is a school and think that our soul is here to experience duality and separation, time and space, and imprint memories on the soul of the parameters of a physical body. Write "computer code" of what "out there" looks and feels like. And perhaps make memories of what it feels like to be alive, make love, eat delicious food, ride bicycles, go swimming, and all the myriad things that can only be truly known by experiencing them.

If we're not meant to know the truth about the afterlife, how does that explain people who allegedly have face to face contact with their loved ones ones they are dead? - JoeMB
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I said "absolutely 100% for certain." There are numerous hints in life that this is not all there is, but as a general rule what we have is anectdotal evidence, not scientific fact. The EVP that we get sounds like something, but it's not a clear voice like over a telephone. Near death experiencers bring back amazing and sometimes evidential stories, but then there is always someone standing in the wings ready to cast doubt. Death bed visions are comforting and uplifting but seldom is there a large group of people who share these visions with the person who is in the process of crossing over. There is always a glimmer of doubt that what we think we are seeing is what we are actually seeing. There are millions of Michael Shermers ready to cast doubt on our experiences. I've had several mystical experiences of my own; some that are downright amazing, but I'm sure that if I went to the James Randi board and posted them they'd shoot them down and tear them apart - make light of them, and I'd be left with very little. They'd simply dismiss them as brain hallucinations. It would be amazing if we were shown beyond a shadow of doubt that there is life after death; but there are so many questions - what form does this life after death take? Do we continue to exist as individuals? What will be our relationship to our loved ones who have gone on before us? Parents? Children? Spouses? What form does it take? After 7 years of intense study I have a high degree of confidence that something of who I am will survive the death of my physical body, but as to what that something is, I don't have a clue.

Art,

Do you think that this life only has meaning in relation to the (possible) one to come? Or could you affirm life, including both its great joys and sorrows, on its own terms, laying emphasize on this world, rather than the next one?

Friedrich Nietzsche thought that we devalue our lives in this world by focusing too much on 'otherworldly hopes'. He urges us instead to '[r]emain faithful to the earth' by concentrating on our lives and developing attitudes that help us cope and flourish in this world, with all the messiness and contradictions included.

Do you think that this life only has meaning in relation to the (possible) one to come? Or could you affirm life, including both its great joys and sorrows, on its own terms, laying emphasize on this world, rather than the next one? - Ryan
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Is this a rhetorical question? Do you want what I think or what I've read in near death experiences? My beliefs are based on what I've read in near death experiences, death bed visions, and the holographic universe. What most of them say is that this is not the main show. It's only the blink of an eye compared to eternity. Michelle M calls it "a dream in itself." Albert Einstein called the Universe a "persistent illusion." We're only here for the briefest of moments before moving back into the Implicate Spiritual Universe. When I look back over my life - the time I remember with the fondest memories were those years I spent in college at the University of Georiga. They were the best years of my life. I had so much fun. I got married my sophmore year in school and my wife and I rented a big old house on Hancock Avenue. We had a lot of family and friends over visiting and it was so much fun. I enjoyed going to classes and learning new things. I am now 54 years old. I have pretty serious arthritis pain in both my hips and my back, and my right knee bothers me as does my right shoulder and I have hemorrhoids. I wake up every morning hurting. I think this physical Earth life is a school, and I think the lessons we are here to learn are fairly simple ones. I don't buy into "we're here to learn to love or become One With God." Neither of which make a bit of sense to me. I think life is simple. The soul used the body like a workbook to experience duality and separation, time and space, and imprint memories of what it's like to live in a 3D + 1T Universe.

Friedrich Nietzsche thought that we devalue our lives in this world by focusing too much on 'otherworldly hopes'. He urges us instead to '[r]emain faithful to the earth' by concentrating on our lives and developing attitudes that help us cope and flourish in this world, with all the messiness and contradictions included. - Ryan
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I wonder if Friedrich Nietzsche had severe arthritis pain in hips and back, and wonder if his shoulder and knee bothered him? I wonder if he hurt like hell everyday when he got out of bed? That sort of changes one's perspective on things.

>'I wonder if Friedrich Nietzsche had severe arthritis pain in hips and back, and wonder if his shoulder and knee bothered him? I wonder if he hurt like hell everyday when he got out of bed? That sort of changes one's perspective on things'

Nietzsche was very sickly and suffered much physical discomfort and ill health throughout his short life. He also lost his father at a young age. He eventually died insane (probably due to syphilis). He showed remarkable resilience and fortitude in creating his philosophy of life affirmation. The whole point was to be able to affirm life in both its wonderful and tragic aspects, and not hope for anything else. This ultimate affirmation was represented in his concept of eternal recurrence, where an individual would be prepared to live their exact same life over and over again, not just without complaint but with zest.

All the best Art. I hope I didn't offend you.

>Is this a rhetorical question? Do you want what I think or what I've read in near death experiences?

My question is not at all rhetorical? And I was not being condescending or sarcastic. I enjoy reading your views on life and the universe.

My interest is whether you (or anyone else reading this) think(s) life – including pains and grievances – can meaningful without reference to an afterlife? As Joseph Felser puts it in a comment which applies to a wider range of views than just Christianity:

'The Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh has said that he does not agree with the traditional Christian view that hope is a virtue; because by focusing our attention on an imagined future which is supposed to compensate for the anguish and pain of our past, we are preventing ourselves from fully experiencing and seeing deeply into the present moment, which is always where life has to be met and lived. Or, as Jesus says in that verse from the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas: "The Kingdom of the father is spread out upon the Earth and people do not see it." What is it, then, that is right before our eyes, but has hitherto escaped our notice?'

None of this means there is not an afterlife. Or that we should not speculate about it. I was just raising the question: can our lives only be thought of as meaningful if there is an afterlife? Our can we learn to value life first, and use this as the motivation for desiring - but not placing too much emphasis on - survival.

JoeMB, I have no words for what happened to your cousin/you and when I look at it...all of us...this stuff affects me and makes me so very angry.... even as distant as I am from you/your cousin. I have no words for how disrespectful this place is...absolutely no kind words. I exist because I am here (so I just do whatever it is I do) and for anyone who cares about me...that's all.

Ryan, thanks for the italics tip but I'll just stick to normal letters I guess since people think I take things out on them or think that I am crazy or God knows or doesn't know what.

Art (one of your comments in part): "It would be amazing if we were shown beyond a shadow of doubt that there is life after death; but there are so many questions - what form does this life after death take?

Do we continue to exist as individuals? What will be our relationship to our loved ones who have gone on before us? Parents? Children? Spouses? What form does it take? After 7 years of intense study I have a high degree of confidence that something of who I am will survive the death of my physical body, but as to what that something is, I don't have a clue."

Hey Art, you ask some good questions regarding the possible "hereafter."

I don't know how true all of this is of course but supposedly in the Bible Jesus did show the people of that time proof of "life after death."

Frankly, I shouldn't have to wonder about what happened back then or wonder why horrible or good things happen.

Anyway, I think of course there is more than meets the eye about it all, of whatever this all is... I just remain very highly cynical in what it means to me or you or anyone or anything...if anything at all of course.

And I think I have heard, seen, and just experienced more than enough reason(s) to be highly cynical.


,i>where an individual would be prepared to live their exact same life over and over again, not just without complaint but with zest. - Ryan
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LOL! Sounds like Hell to me. What possible purpose could it serve? Imagine a cloud of pure consciousness existing in a place where nothing exists. Nothing that is, unless it has been first thought of. But, the question is "how does one go about having new thoughts?" Our ancestors were stuck in technological pattern of producing stone tools for 50,000 years. Why? What prevented them from creating new technology? I think it was because that's not how the mind works. It is much easier to make imaginative leaps after you've been exposed to new things. The soul comes here to experience time and space to help it learn about time and space, because they don't exist on the other side, without first having been thought of.

"I was told that before we're born, we have to take an oath that we will pretend time and space are real so we can come here and advance our spirit. If you don't promise, you can't be born." (from Jeanie Dicus' near-death experience, 1974)

"Space and time are illusions that hold us to our physical realm; out there all is present simultaneously." (from Beverly Brodsky's near-death experience, 1970)

"During this experience, time had no meaning. Time was an irrelevant notion. It felt like eternity. I felt like I was there an eternity." (from Grace Bubulka's near-death experience, 1988?)

"I didn't know if I had been in that light for a minute of a day or a hundred years." (from Jayne Smith's near-death experience, 1965?)

"Earthly time had no meaning for me anymore. There was no concept of "before" or "after." Everything - past, present, future - existed simultaneously." (from Kimberly Sharp's near-death experience, date unknown)

"Time could also be contracted, I found. Centuries would condense into seconds. Millenniums would shrink into moments. The entire civilization that I was part of passed by in the blink of an eye." (from John Star's near-death experience, date unknown)

" ... time is an illusion. The phenomena from which we deduce its existence are real, but we interpret them wrongly…" (from Julian Barbour 1999)

"Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion." - Albert Einstein

The problem with current stories and research is they "were not around" for those in the past...they relied on other crazy beliefs hoever true or untrue.

Some worshipped volcanoes not understanding that the volcano was not about them...it just exists doing whatever it is that it is doing...I believe that it is like we are doing....doing whatever it is we are doing...us not being anything about us...but about something sinister and uncaring. The proof being untold lives and lies.

>LOL! Sounds like Hell to me. What possible purpose could it serve?

No purpose at all. That's the point. But Nietzsche was not necessarily saying that this is how the universe is. But asking, how strong can an individual become? How much suffering and meaninglessness can an individual endure and still say yes to life? And if given the chance would he/she say yes to the same life over and over again. It is a question of how much we value life.

Nietzsche was reacting to a philosophical tradition that goes back (at least) as far as Plato. This is the tendency to see this life as unimportant and illusionary compared to the pure and eternal world that awaits. The problem with this view is that it is pretty nihilistic when you actually think about it. When Socrates was sentenced to death and drank the hemlock he made some comment to the effect that he would soon be cured. He meant that life was a disease, and death was the cure! Nietzsche wanted to free us from this outlook, he urged us to focus our attention on the life we presently have.

I'm not trying to argue that anyone should adopt this outlook, or lose their interest in survival. I am just offering an alternative perspective. The question of life after death is an interesting one but if taken to extremes, it can unwittingly become a kind of death worship, or opiate. To think of death as preferable to life is surely a damning indictment of life.

Art, I like your thought experiment using the 'cloud of pure consciousness'. Perhaps new experiences do help to create new mind, new thoughts and therefore a grander universe, with more developed souls. Perhaps without new experiences our minds would stagnate. And a wide range of experiences; both good and bad, teaches the soul lessons it cannot learn elsewhere. Those NDEs that you quote collectively do display a striking convergence.

I don't know how true all of this is of course but supposedly in the Bible Jesus did show the people of that time proof of "life after death." - Rich
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I think Jesus was most likely a near death experiencer and over time his story got added onto and became embellished till it was barely recognizable from the original. The Gospels were not written till many years after his death, plenty of time for them to become embellished. By the way, the story of the Egyptian god Horus is so similar to the story of Jesus that it's amazing. There are plenty of online links comparing the two.

Art, thanks for the followup response. I don't know what to make of any of the Bible since there is a alot of "odd happenings" in the it. I can easily assume there to be some "extraterretrial happenings" or other "funny business" to fool humans for their own purposes...leaving us as just their garbage to throw away when done.

I don't necessarily believe the above by the way. The point that I am trying to make is that it is so easy to interpret things in different ways that I easily come to the conclusion it is not really about us but rather whatever this all is.

Here is a link to a creature that one can wonder of "its purpose." Therefore, one can say, things/us don't necessarily have to have a (cosmic) purpose:

http://physorg.com/news102951188.html

Here is kinda my belief, I suspect that life is being manipulated for not its "purpose" but for some uncaring purpose(s).

See what I mean about beliefs Art?

We are a bunch of parts that want to be parts while "the whole" uses us or whoever or whatever for its purposes. if any...like that "jellyfish worm."

>By the way, the story of the Egyptian god Horus is so similar to the story of Jesus that it's amazing. There are plenty of online links comparing the two.

There are also online essays that debunk this comparison - this one, for instance. Few, if any, New Testament scholars still accept these "Christ myth" claims, though they were popular in the 19th century and continue to crop up in unscholarly New Age books about Jesus.

how strong can an individual become? How much suffering and meaninglessness can an individual endure and still say yes to life? And if given the chance would he/she say yes to the same life over and over again. It is a question of how much we value life.

The problem with all of this philosophizing is that it is conceptual.

All of it is conceptual. Conceptual bullshit in fact. And sooner or later life will expose the flimsiness of all of our conceptualizations.

We create these grandiose thought structures and then believe them to be real. It is like someone who learns twelve species of tree and then walks through the forest, saying to himself "Black Oak", "Red Maple", "Sassafras", "Black Oak", "Tulip Poplar", "Red Oak", "Loblolly Pine" instead of experiencing the shapes, the changing light conditions, hearing the insects, experiencing the uniqueness and irreducible nature of every moment and sensation.

Look at young children. They have not learned to kill life through conceptualizing it. The average five year old is almost infinitely more alive than most every older teen or adult, because they have not buried consciousness under layers of deadening abstraction filtering out the experiences of the moment.

Eckhart Tolle hits the nail on the head: "Suffering requires a self and a story that is believed in". When it is seen that the stories of the woeful, pitiful me are not credible, the suffering is no longer experienced as personal suffering.

I can tell you that the "me" story of Matthew was full of intense suffering and failure. Mother committed to a mental institution. Brother committed suicide. Personal life a disaster. Until finally it all simply crumbled and collapsed of its own weight and contradiction. And it was seen that the entire edifice of beliefs was simply not real and all of his supposed problems were as substantial as a sand castle built on the beach at low tide.

I like these lyrics by Sting very much:

Sooner or later, just like the world first day, sooner or later, we learn to throw the past away
History won't teach us nothing
Know your human rights, be what you come here for

What I want to say to people who are locked into their conceptual scripts like "life is full of horrible, irredeemable suffering" or "we're being manipulated and used by life" or "I'm so terribly wounded, so damaged, so hopeless" etc. is simply that you have been deceived by a story playing itself within your head. You are Consciousness, you are Life itself, watching the unfolding story of the universe from one particular perspective and you have forgotten what you actually are.


Rich, thanks for the sympathetic thoughts. Pissed off is the way I feel about my cousin's situation right now. But hey, we're all spiritual beings so I'll be sure to tell him to cheer up and get over it because this is not the main show.

I realize there may be a bigger picture and reasons for certain things happening. But for the person going through the experience, those words are meaningless. So I rarely utter them in that kind of situation. It does no good from my experience. Maybe somewhere down the line. But not now.

I had one relationship break-up that devastated me. Some people told me it happened for a reason and not to get stressed out over it. For me, that wasn't possible.
Now, six years later I'm married to a new (great) girl. And you know what? I still don't understand why that break-up had to occur and I probably never will. Maybe I'll know when I'm dead.

I am finding it interesting to try to guess who wrote each post as I read them. I am getting good at knowing MP's, Rich's and Art's posts. You all have a specific style.

By the way, those descriptions of NDEs are found throughout the hallucinogenic literature. No difference whatsoever.

Nobody here has explained why some NDEs are very negative and why some people who die and come back have no NDEs at all. And some have unique experiences that don't match the stories that we all hear about all the time.

And, as far as anecdotal stories? With Tom Harrison's group and the people who visited his Mom's circle, they knew for a fact that there was no death. You can say anecdotal isn't scientific. But for me, I look at the credibility of the witnesses and the anecdotes are very, very strong. And for the people who saw materialized people, the guessing game of whether or not we survive death was over. Why did they get to see that?

I'm thinking that not many of us get to see something like that because there are not many mediums who can do that. It's a simple numbers game. I do NOT think it's because the Universe is keeping the majority of humans from finding out because it would ruin our learning process related to separation.

One more thing. If people had a problem with Rich's posting style, why not just mention it to him in a nice post? Why tell on him or complain in a private email to MP? Is this high school? Sorry, but that bugged me.

>'The problem with all of this philosophizing is that it is conceptual.
All of it is conceptual. Conceptual bullshit in fact.'

Matthew, you make some good points in your post but I can't agree with the above statement. My interest in philosophy adds meaning and pleasure to my life. I am not trying sell any particular point of view, and I do not hold any dogmatic beliefs.

My comments on Nietzsche's philosophy of life affirmation were not presenting a grandiose or masochistic view of life that I believe to be true. In fact, there was no metaphysics or epistemology involved. I was simply trying to explain how one philosopher tried to meet the challenge of life. The difficulties and tragedies that life throws at us are something that each individual has to make peace with, or learn to cope with, in his own way.

But Matthew, since we are creatures of narrative who don't have access to a God's eye point of view your story, the perspective you adopt, that :

'You are Consciousness, you are Life itself, watching the unfolding story of the universe from one particular perspective and you have forgotten what you actually are.'

And that we should disregard the illusions of the the self and our conceptual scripts. This point of view itself shares equal footing with other perspectives. There is no non-paradigmatic viewpoint from which to judge reality, no objective platform. What you say though is quite descriptive and I don't find much to argue with.

I do find your ideas very interesting. But they too are a personal viewpoint, a way that allows you to cope with, and hopefully enjoy life. However I do think you have some genuinely important insights, that are in line with the teachings of many of the great religions. When the ego dies, we can experience life in a new, more beautiful way. I agree that a lot of our suffering is unnecessary if we can learn to identify with the higher part of ourselves.

One other reason why I don't think that philosophy is just conceptual bullshit is that there is no such thing as a purely empirical science. Many philosophical assumptions form the bedrock of the scientific method. There are also meta-issues, such as whether scientific theories correspond to reality or are just the best stories, artefacts or tools that have been developed so far.

This point of view itself shares equal footing with other perspectives. . . But they too are a personal viewpoint, a way that allows you to cope with, and hopefully enjoy life

You're creating and spinning a conceptual story out of what I wrote. You're also assuming that we need something to help us "cope with" and "enjoy" life. I'm claiming the opposite -- that our conceptual stories are what make this seem to be a vale of tears.

I'm pointing out an escape from the cul-de-sac of identified conceptual suffering for people who are tired of that racket.

Go watch at a five year old sometime -- I usually see them in the grocery store. Totally free from existentialist mental bullshit. Aware, awake, alive and free. We were all five, once. What changed for us, seemingly? We can all write a thousand paragraphs about that.

What changed in our essence? Nothing. Still the same "I AM"ness, the same "me" experiencing everything. Seeing that nothing has actually ever changed in the core of what we are, is itself liberation and freedom from our tiresome conceptual identifications, our bullshit rationalizations of why life sucks, why we can't live now and have to wait until life after death, why we cannot accept what IS. We are not an object, and the mind does nothing but objectify -- the mind is clueless about reality, about what we are.

Matthew,

I agree with a lot of what you say. So I won't dissect and analyse your comments. I have recently been reading about how the Zen satori experience offers the kind of release I take you to be referring to:

'Zen...opens a man's mind to the greatest mystery as it is and hourly performed...it makes us live in the Garden of Eden...I do not know why – and there is no need of explaining – but when the sun rises the whole world dances with joy and everybody's heart is filled with bliss' (Suzuki, 1964, 45, 75)

I agree that by the time we reach adulthood we often lose the 'glory and freshness of a dream' quality to our consciousness. And maybe our conceptual stories do cause a lot of our problems. But I think some experiences, such as loss of various kinds, are difficult before they are rationalized, at least for a lot of us.

My point is not that this world is a 'dim, vast vale of tears', or a Garden of Eden. And we don't all have to be existentialists. For me philosophy, as well as friendship, enjoying nature, meditation, aesthetic experience, music and laughter, enhance life and provide fulfilment. I am not caught up in any conceptual script, philosophy for me is just one facet of a life I am trying to make the most of.

Ryan, thanks for being such a gracious foil. I am always wary of being this direct, and am glad to see that it rolled off like water from a duck's back.

The fact that I came down this bluntly is based on a history of some comments on this blog that I felt needed to be addressed, and nothing to do with you personally, or even directly on your commentary.

>'Ryan, thanks for being such a gracious foil. I am always wary of being this direct, and am glad to see that it rolled off like water from a duck's back.'

No problem Matthew. I really don't believe in bad tempered debate. Debate should be engaged in with good humour and light-heartedness. We shouldn't be more attached to our beliefs than our fellow human beings. Exchanging opinions can be fun and serious at the same time, but is not something worth falling-out over. All the best.

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