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This hypothesis is almost identical to that of F.W.H. Myers' one on the subliminal self.

It's also similar to a hypothesis by another psi researcher, whose name, unfortunately, I forget. He liked to compare the unconscious to an autopilot, and he called it George because that's the nickname pilots use. His feeling was that George had a direct pipeline to the Higher Self, bypassing ordinary consciousness.

Wish I could remember the guy's name ...

I recall reading a book by Arthur Ellison, in which he called the unconscious mind "George."

Not to discourage anyone from purchasing the book, but the entire chapter addressing astrology is available at Antimatters, Vol. 1, No. 1:

http://anti-matters.org/ojs/index.php/antimatters/issue/view/1/
showToc

It has occurred to me that there may be astrological influences at play in our lives. There is plenty of evidence that humans are affected by astronomical objects, such as studies that indicate influences related to moon phases, and the existence of SAD - the syndrome that affects many who live in northern climates who experience varying levels of depression as a consequence of lowered exposure to sunlight in the winter months.

For me anyway, if these phenomena can be demonstrated it is not such a huge leap to think we may be influenced by other, more subtle astronomical influences as well. This doesn't mean that our lives are necessarily fated, just that each of us may be influenced in certain directions that we are not consciously aware of.

Regarding Michael's metaphysical speculations, there may be a great deal of truth involved in these suggestions. I happen to think that in the end, reality is simply layers of consciousness, populated by myriad thought forms in a timeless eternity. There can never be a way to demonstrate that to someone else, because it suggests that what we call reality is entirely subjective in nature.

The mystics throughout all cultures and disciplines seem to me to suggest the same thing, over and over again.

It is the formless giving birth to the form, so to speak. It means that we can investigate form endlessly and never learn a thing about the formless essence from which form emerges.

>we can investigate form endlessly and never learn a thing about the formless essence from which form emerges.

Or, you might say that we ARE that formless essence investigating form endlessly.

Let me add three words to my post: by inhabiting it.

“On second though, most skeptics probably will stop reading long before the final chapter, and maybe even before finishing the preface,”

Amen to that statement. One researcher that did research on skeptics to the point of even attending their meetings and being one of them found they had a nice size library on the paranormal but in one year no one checked out a book or to the best of his knowledge did not read one book on the paranormal.

“I also suspect that the Higher Self is part of a group of Higher Selfs, which in turn are part of a species-wide or even planetary consciousness”

Good link that is one of the things that I love about this blog. I see it as a gradual return to oneness. The Internet is a classic example of even using technology for our inner desire for oneness of mind.

Maybe nature rather than just being a living environment for humans is actually a huge soul making/advancing process. Very Hindu I know but the more research I do this idea keeps coming to me. I see pet dogs that know shame and appear to have somewhat of a moral consciousness. Could they come back as a “lower” level in human consciousness? I.e. spiritual development. No one seems to know where souls come from. I.e. like bud a born date.

God after my statistical discussion with Marcos I hope that the above statement does not open up a can of worms. I suspect that reading Marcos and William’s statistical discussion is a lot like watching paint dry.

“which is one reason psi is likely to remain a marginal area of study for the foreseeable future, no matter how much evidence is gathered.”

Good point but yet people appear to be hungry for evidence that suggests life after death, meaning of life, purpose of our lives, etc, and that there is more to this world than materialism and extinction. At my local bookstore the paranormal, “new age” spiritual, and religion has the largest selection in the bookstore. As our nation matures I think this hunger for paranormal evidence, books on life after death, and meaning of life will increase.

“It is the formless giving birth to the form, so to speak.” Good insight nice way to put it, but for what reasons? Guess l love those big questions.

At least at this stage of our evolutionary process there is so much suffering in the world. When I see my grandchildren suffer with colds, flu, accidents, etc, and a couple of very serious operations at three days “old” it is tough to tell yourself that thru suffering comes compassion. The mystics tell us the suffering is all worth it when they come into contact with their “higher self”. I.e. spirit?

You may want too look at the comments back on this forum asking the question does consciousness survive the death of the brain?

http://www.perspectives.com/forums/view_topic.php?id=123442&forum_id=91

Here's what one guy says jewishgreg

This is not so much of a religious discussion as it revolves around the locus, or seat of consciousness.

An alternative way to pose the question is, is the brain thee generator of human consciousness and self-awareness, or is the brain simply a tuning instrument by which consciousness operates while we're restricted to our biological state?

What is known, for example, is that level of self-alertness and consciousness corresponds to the amount and veracity of activity in the brain. When we're asleep, our consciousness is at a sub level. In a coma, or major paralysis of the brain, consciousness completely disappers.

People in a vegetative state, whose brains are smaller in mass and volume usually show no sign of consciousness.... this is all evidence of the theory that consciousness is completely dependant on the brain, and that the brain's demise is ultimately means the consciousness's demise as well.

Leo, that argument just plain doesn't work well due to the transmission theory. If the brain is damaged, it still can't receive consciousness and the effect is the same. I suspect that if the brain is damaged to the point where it cannot be awakened/express consciousness but can still RECEIVE consciousness, the person wouldn't have an out of body experience or any other sort of transcendence that others do.

What is known, for example, is that level of self-alertness and consciousness corresponds to the amount and veracity of activity in the brain...
...
People in a vegetative state, whose brains are smaller in mass and volume usually show no sign of consciousness.... this is all evidence of the theory that consciousness is completely dependant on the brain

Neither of those are particularly compelling arguments against a "reception" theory.

The extent to which a radio is capable of picking up a station is dependent on the power levels supplied to its components... a radio with serious damage to various components will have trouble operating correctly. Does that provide evidence that radio broadcasts are generated within the radio itself?

As to whether a reception model is even required for survival of consciousness: the http://www.quantumconsciousness.org/hackery.htm>Penrose-Hameroff quantum microtubule theory locates consciousness in the brain but has an interesting side effect that consciousness may be able to survive the brain's biological demise (as mentioned http://www.stuarthameroffblog.com/index.php?entry=entry071002-065715>here).

Yeah I know about Stuart Hameroff's work and John you are right I just don't understand sometimes why people jump to conclusions without looking at both sides of issue I mean here we have a guy on a forum and he concludes consciousness does not survive death. Also Stuart Hameroff's theory supports neutral monism not substance dualism and says nothing about a immaterial soul that moves on it's own. The only thing his theory supports is that the information in the microtublers are released and expands into space.

Perhaps that information in the microtubules IS the soul? It may not be "immaterial" but that seems to be the implication.

I'm not sure whether the material/immaterial distinction means so much in the quantum age.

In a Newtonian worldview, "material" has connations that are so at-odds with our subjective experience, you're faced with either denying the existence of consciousness, or creating a separate "immaterial" reality in which to house it.

But now that the underlying physical reality acts in distinctly "non-material" ways, it doesn't seem at all clear what "immaterial" would mean any more – or where to draw the line between the two.

If the new physical reality doesn't rule things out in the ways that the old one did – and if our understanding of that reality is still at the stage where it "leaves plenty of room" for what was previously labelled "immaterial" – then should we be judging new models based on how well they wear the old tags?

And while "released information" does sound bland and unimpressive with its old connotations, bear in mind that it's in the context of a view of the universe in which "...Platonic values including mathematical truth, ethical values and beauty [are] embedded in the fine structure of the universe, specifically in fundamental spacetime geometry at the infinitesimally tiny (and ubiquitous) Planck scale."

If geometry is allowed that much weirdness, I'm not too comfortable pinning down what they might have in mind for "information"...

William wrote..

"When I see my grandchildren suffer with colds, flu, accidents, etc, and a couple of very serious operations at three days “old” it is tough to tell yourself that thru suffering comes compassion. The mystics tell us the suffering is all worth it when they come into contact with their “higher self”. I.e. spirit?"

well what if the ones who are suffering are not the 3 yr children.. they

are the souls who made the concious choice to undergo those experiences at say 3 yrs old for our/ypur benefit...

I find Astrology perfectly acceptable if what is predicted is what a soul has chosen in advance as its life path...

this choice is due to the need to make karmic balances...

but each have got freewill within this scheme to create good/bad karma..

PS : I also beleive in reincarnation and haven't had a single astrological reading done yet.. ddn't see the need...

Mike D. wrote,
>I recall reading a book by Arthur Ellison, in which he called the unconscious mind "George."

Bingo! Arthur Ellison is the name I was trying to remember. Thanks.

The problem I have with Braude and other modern parapsychologists is that they think they have to reinvent the wheel -- a wheel that was solidly constructed by early members of the SPR. They've taken the wheel apart and are still working on the spokes, trying to fit the spokes to the center piece, seemingly disregarding the solid center piece that old researchers came up with. Apparently, they feel that if they find something new, it justifies their occupation.

In his 1989 presidential address to the SPR, the late Professor Ian Stevenson pointed out that between 1910 and 1980 at least six presidents of the SPR asserted that telepathy had been proved, or nearly so. He wondered why, if telepathy had been proved by 1910, later presidents found it necessary to reiterate the claim.
Stevenson speculated that each generation of researchers tends to believe its methods superior to those of its predecessors and therefore they may have seen the earlier evidence as not so strong. He also theorized that mainstream science and the world at large did not hear the earlier assertions and therefore it was necessary to repeat them again and again.

Like so many other things, the modern wheel they are working on falls short of the solid wheel of yesteryear.

Satya wrote: “well what if the ones who are suffering are not the 3 yr children.. they are the souls who made the conscious choice to undergo those experiences at say 3 yrs old for our/your benefit”

Well there are at least two schools of thought on suffering. One is the soul does not suffer but just observes its suffering at only an awareness level. Guess I should mention that Christians believe suffering may be due to our fall from grace. This belief in my view fails many logic tests.

The other is that souls do suffer and when they have experienced pain and suffering a very long time in a human vehicle when they cross over they need extended “time” to sleep and rest or sometimes they are taken to much like our hospitals to be vibrational and/or mentality mended.

It appears that a more advanced soul may choose a certain fate sometimes even a harsh fate to advance itself in love (compassion) and (divine) intelligence. Less advanced souls may just come crashing in on the human scene due more to desires than spiritual planning.

When a person (soul) begins to claim a perceived personal human identity then I suspect as a human they indeed suffer. Even a baby feels pain. I think I should have stated pain and suffering.

In an interesting synchronicity (premonition?), I ordered Braude's book from Amazon yesterday (12th), having no (conscious) idea that Michael would be posting about it today (13th). I'm looking forward (or, perhaps, "crossways", as I'm uncertain as to what "time" is or if it is in any way linear) to it.

I share Michael's trepidations about astrology, as well as his resignation about how much the closed-mindedness of educated/indoctrinated people will continue to stifle research into the fundamental realities of existence. Leo's contribution to the thread only serves to underline the dismissive sense of certainty which such people bring to the subject. As a counter, I would offer the news story from this past July telling of the French civil servant whose skull is almost entirely filled with cerebrospinal fluid, leaving room for only a small fraction of the cerebral cortex. Additionally, anatomical and functional hemispherectomies have been performed since early in the 20th century with no loss of what we call consciousness, and medical history is replete with cases of people of normal function being found to lack cortical tissue beyond the brain stem. All of this medical information is not considered to be in dispute by the medical community, regardless of their position on the nature of consciousness itself. As a starting point, I would recommend reading "Irreducible Mind", a voluminous compendium of the scientific evidence which refutes adherents of the mind/brain hypothesis. The bibliography alone will give years of reading and weighty argument against the materialist viewpoint. Any blithe dismissal of such a scholarly work would invite dismissal itself.

My opening comments regarding the nature of time are based not only on my own premonitory experiences with dreams but also on modern research and, most recently, my reading of a book first published in 1927 by an English aeronautical engineer named J.W.Dunne titled "An Experiment with Time". Although his prose can seem a bit cumbersome to contemporary sensibilities (he did, after all, receive his primary education in late 19th century Britain), the essence of his experiment demonstrated the minds ability to quite literally foresee future events, an ability his experiment indicated was inherent in ALL of us, not a "gifted" minority. His researches predated the contemporary experimental findings of Radin, Bierman and others. Such results seem to some to be non-commonsensical, but what we call "commonsense" has little value aside from social behavior. Modern physics has no "law" which disallows the flow of information between what we refer to as "past, present and future". Most informative to our analysis of prejudgmental attitudes was the reaction of the Nobel Prizewinning chemist Kary Mullis to the results of experiments into presentimental physical reactions in research subjects by Dean Radin. Dr. Mullis offered himself as a test subject after expressing his disbelief in Dr. Radin's tests demonstrating mental/physical reaction BEFORE stimulus. After the same test was performed on Mullis, with the same presentiment response as a result, Mullis said: "It's spooky. I could see about 3 seconds into the future. YOU SHOULDN'T BE ABLE TO DO THAT" (my emphasis). Such an expressed reaction shows the power of preconception to limiting our ability to understand what we call "reality". If the theory says it cannot be, then it ISN'T, regardless of what actually IS. Michael's fears are justified: progress in true understanding of conscious existence will continue to be slow for humanity as a whole. Individual progress will be spurred primarily by personal experience, but will be hampered by all the informational problems which we can conceive of and, most likely, more after that. Please forgive the too-lengthy posting.

Quote:
-At least at this stage of our evolutionary process there is so much suffering in the -world. When I see my grandchildren suffer -with colds, flu, accidents, etc, -

I have determined there are two sides of life-- the right-side concerning a return to the oneness and purity of God (love, closeness, etc) and the left-side concerning the growth and progress of self as an individual. Chaos, discord, pain, suffering, and all of this strengthens our individual characters, and are part of the left-path. (The directional metaphors concern some ancient pagan religious ideas I adopted)

The left-hand path may involve the desire for success and achievment to strengthen your individuality. But, it must always be balanced with the right-hand path or else you become selfish. Ideally, we reach our maximum potential as individuals through this process. (This is why I reject Buddhist notions of discarding so-called material pursuits, like success and accomplishment. Challenge and hard work is necessary, to say the least.)

Therefore, I now view disease as a soul strengthening process. When I have the flu, and I get better, I appreciate not feeling sick so much more.

The information is not the soul because the soul has identity, memories, thoughts etc] I think that the soul moves into other universes once we die not just information stuck on the planck level.

Well there are at least two schools of thought on suffering. One is the soul does not suffer but just observes its suffering at only an awareness level. Guess I should mention that Christians believe suffering may be due to our fall from grace. - william
--------------------------------------------

Suffering is to imprint on the soul the parameters of the physical universe. Life's lessons are embedded in our everyday lives and the soul learns holistically what it's supposed to learn without any conscious from the individual. The more emotional the response the more powerful and long lasting the memory it creates. Flagellators, cutters, self-mutilators, Philipino religious fanatics who re-create the crucifixion, are all being controlled by the soul in order to imprint "computer like code" or "information" on the collective consciousness or Akashic records of what it means and how it feels to exist in a 3 dimensional + 1 time universe. This information will or can be accessed in the Spiritual Universe in order to "conjure up" whatever kind of reality one might wish to create after crossing over. I believe the soul is here to experience duality and separation, experience time and space, and imprint memories of what it's like to be inside or inhabit a body. Who wants to live or exist in eternal nothingness for infinity? Politics, religion, race, language, culture, gender, sexual orientation, wealth, I.Q., height and weight, even the shape of our teeth help teach the soul what it's like to be separate, unique, individual. The soul uses the body to learn about the physical universe and then discards it with hardly a backward glance after it's finished with it and feels about as much emotion at the loss of the body was what one might feel for a pair of discarded tennis shoes.

"This is why I reject Buddhist notions of discarding so-called material pursuits, like success and accomplishment. Challenge and hard work is necessary, to say the least."

That seems more like a superficial reading of the Buddhist tradition than anything that is actually advocated in any of the Buddhist canons.

I can understand what Cyrus is saying though. A lot of people say you have to abandon your ego in the pursuit of spirituality but isn't the ego who we are?

If we were sent here to learn anything, what would be the point if we were meant to all come out thinking the same way?

I believe you have to deal with life as a reality. Doing your job and having a family- that's my view of how you define your spirituality. You have to find it in what you actually do day to day, rather than change what you do day to day to find it.

Oneness giving birth to twoness demands a not knowing (ignorance) status. With that ignorance comes suffering. With that suffering comes opportunities to advance in compassion. Compassion is love in action. Best description we may have for that oneness is love. The circle of life is now complete. Oneness returning to oneness but then oneness never left oneness. Oh the paradox of life.

From my point of view because the Buddhists do not teach that we have a soul they miss the point of human life as lessons to advance the soul in love and intellgence. I have a book on Buddhism written by a Thailand Buddhist monk with a PhD in Buddhism where he states that life is not only worthless but also disgusting.

Reincarnation without a soul? A cue ball hitting a cue ball rebirth analogy. That is not what entities are telling us through mediums from the other side. There appears to be personal identities in many of those dimensions.

The Buddha told his followers to be open to new discoveries but like most followers of any master they failed to listen.

The Buddha must be given tremendous credit for discovering that the origin of suffering is ignorance but then Hinduism teaches the same thing and Buddha was a Hindu.

Maybe the Buddha needs to be given credit for moving followers from the many gods idea and developing a path to reduce or eliminate suffering.

Buddhism is a very profound religion when it comes to understanding consciousness and the symptoms of ignorance such as attachment and craving.

Many Buddhists now call the Buddha the perfect one. We humans appear to have a need to make gods out of those that point a finger to truth.

"I can understand what Cyrus is saying though. A lot of people say you have to abandon your ego in the pursuit of spirituality but isn't the ego who we are?"

I'm not sure what you mean when you refer to "spirituality" but my point is that Buddhist teachings are often taken out of context, especially in the Western New Age bastardized accounts of Buddhism. In terms of the Pali Canon, moving past perceptions of self & not-self are only reserved for advanced practitioners who have thoroughly mastered the phenomenological perspective of dependent co-arising. It is not meant for people who have no experience with a phenomenological analysis of mental processes or beginners on the Buddhist path:

"Many people have misunderstood this point, believing that the Buddha's teachings on non-attachment require that one relinquish one's attachment to the path of practice as quickly as possible. Actually, to make a show of abandoning the path before it is fully developed is to abort the entire practice. As one teacher has put it, a person climbing up to a roof by means of a ladder can let go of the ladder only when safely on the roof. In terms of the famous raft simile [§§113-114], one abandons the raft only after crossing the ocean. If one were to abandon it in mid-ocean, to make a show of going spontaneously with the flow of the ocean's many currents, one could drown."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/wings/part1.html#part1-a

"It is important to note that dependent co-arising makes no statements as to the existence or lack of existence of any entity to which these events pertain or to whom they belong [§230]. As we noted above, such terms of analysis as "being," "non-being," "self," or "other," pertain properly to the modes of cosmology and personal narrative, and have no place in a radically phenomenological analysis. Questions and terms that derive from the conventions of narrative and the construction of a world view have no place in the direct awareness of experience in and of itself. This is one reason why people who have not mastered the path of practice, and who thus function primarily in terms of a world view or a sense of their own personal story, find the teaching of dependent co-arising so inscrutable. Even though the Buddha's phenomenological approach answered his questions as to the nature of kamma, it also reshaped his questions so that they had little in common with the questions that most people bring to the practice. As with all insights gained on the phenomenological level, dependent co-arising is expressed in terms closest to the actual experience of events. Only when a person has become thoroughly familiar with that level of experience is the analysis fully intelligible. Thus, although the detailed nature of dependent co-arising is one of its strengths, it is also one of its weaknesses as a teaching tool, for the subtlety and complexity of the analysis can be intimidating even to advanced practitioners."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/wings/part1.html#part1-b

"As §195 states, this clear knowledge is based on knowledge of the four noble truths. These truths are best understood not as the content of a belief, but as categories for viewing and classifying the processes of immediate experience. In §51, the Buddha refers to them as categories of "appropriate attention," a skillful alternative to the common way that people categorize their experience in terms of two dichotomies: being/non-being, and self/other. For several reasons, these common dichotomies are actually problem-causing, rather than problem-solving. The being/non-being dichotomy, for instance, comes down to the question of whether or not there exist actual "things" behind the changing phenomena of experience. This type of questioning deals, by definition, with possibilities that cannot be directly experienced: If the things in question could be experienced, then they wouldn't be lying behind experience. Thus the being/non-being dichotomy pulls one's attention into the land of conjecture — "a thicket of views, a wilderness of views, a contortion of views, a writhing of views, a fetter of views" [MN 72] — and away from the area of direct awareness where the real problem and its solution lie [§186].

"As for the self/other dichotomy, there is the initial difficulty of determining what the self is. Any true self would have to lie totally under one's own control, and yet nothing that one might try to identify as one's self actually meets this criterion. Although the sense of self may seem intuitive enough, when carefully examined it shows itself to be based on confused perceptions and ideas. If one's basic categories for understanding experience are a cause for confusion in this way, they can lead only to confused, unskillful action, and thus to more suffering and stress. For example, when people view the source of their problems as poor relationships between themselves and others, or inadequate integration of the self, they are trying to analyze their problems in terms of categories that are ultimately uncertain. Thus there is a built-in uncertainty in the efforts they make to solve their problems in terms of those categories.

A second problem, no matter how one might define a self, is the question of how to prove whether or not it actually exists. This question entangles the mind in the unresolvable problems of the being/non-being dichotomy mentioned above: Because the problem is phrased in terms that cannot be directly experienced, it forces the solution into a realm that cannot be experienced, either. This fact probably explains the Buddha's statement in §230 to the effect that if one even asks the question of whether there is someone standing outside the processes of dependent co-arising to whom those processes pertain, it is impossible to lead the life that will bring about an end to suffering. Regardless of whether one would answer the question with a yes or a no, the terms of the question focus on an area outside of direct experience and thus away from the true problem — the direct experience of suffering — and actually make it worse. If one assumes the existence of a self, one must take on the implicit imperative to maximize the self's well-being through recourse to the "other." This recourse may involve either exploiting the "other" or swallowing the "other" into the self by equating one's self with the cosmos as a whole. Either approach involves clinging and craving, which lead to further suffering and stress. On the other hand, if one denies any kind of self, saying that the cosmos is totally "other," then one is assuming that there is nothing with any long-term existence whose happiness deserves anything more than quick, short-term attempts at finding pleasure. The imperative in this case would be to pursue immediate pleasure with as little effort as possible, thus aborting any sustained effort to bring about an end to suffering.

These problems explain why the Buddha regarded questions of existence and non-existence, self and no-self, as unskillful, inappropriate ways of attending to experience."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/wings/part3.html#part3-h-1

"The first step is simply to identify the hindrances and factors for Awakening as they are experienced, noting their presence and absence in the mind — a movement toward what the Buddha called "entering into emptiness" [II/B]. As III/D makes clear, there are several preliminary steps in concentration practice leading up to the ability to do this. When these are mastered, one can focus on, say, the hindrance of ill-will not in terms of the object of the ill-will, but on the quality of ill-will as a mere event in the mind. The question here is not, "What am I angry about?" or "What did that person do wrong?" but simply "What is happening in my mind? How can it be classed?" Given the well-known Buddhist teaching on not-self, some people have wondered why the questions of appropriate attention at this step would use such concepts as "me" and "my," but these concepts are essential at this stage — where the mind is still more at home in the narrative mode of "self" and "others" — in pointing out that the focus of the inquiry should be directed within, rather than without. This helps to bring one's frame of reference to the experience of mental qualities as phenomena in and of themselves, and away from the narratives that provoked the anger to begin with. Only when this shift in reference is secure can the concepts of "me" and "my" be dispensed with, in the third step below."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/wings/part2.html#part2-a

“On the other hand, if one denies any kind of self, saying that the cosmos is totally "other," then one is assuming that there is nothing with any long-term existence whose happiness deserves anything more than quick, short-term attempts at finding pleasure”

If there is an “other” there is a self to perceive that other.

It appears that the higher dimensions that we reach as an entity (soul) after we cross over that there is less suffering in those dimensions. It appears even for most people that after crossing over there is much less suffering than human life. Most go to a place called paradise or Summerland and some make it all the way to a heaven condition.

This has been my point with Buddhism not teaching the existence of a soul. The Buddhists appear to focus only on two conditions: human and emptiness. Although I agree with the Buddhists that the human condition is much about suffering but that suffering appears to give a soul opportunities to advance in compassion.

The Buddhists appear to see suffering as not serving a purpose. With a belief in a soul suffering appears to be necessary condition to advance the soul in compassion. Maybe everything even suffering has some kind of universal purpose. As Emmanuel stated everything is perfectly imperfect. Emmanuel is a colossal optimist.

Only recently have I been able to see the profound difference between compassion and empathy. Most think they are synonyms nothing could be farther from the truth. I believe at this time the more compassionate we become the less suffering we experience in this life and in the next life in other dimensions. Unless of course maybe even a very advanced compassionate soul may choose a life of suffering on earth to advance faster in love and intelligence.

If we only had human lives to look forward to and not a rest stop between lives on earth then I would agree human life would be worthless and maybe even disgusting. For what purpose is all that suffering?

The Creator of the Universe is so smart that the soul learns what it's supposed to learn whether we want it to or not. We don't have to do jack squat. Life's lessons are embedded in our everyday lives and the soul learns holistically what it's supposed to learn whether we want it to or not. The soul learns in the same way that children learn before they ever go to school. They just absorb information. Just by being alive they learn how to talk and interact with other people. Even the soul of the most ignorant human on earth learn's what it's supposed to learn. The soul of a mentally retarded child is learning just as much about the physical Universe as a genius. Yes, God is that smart.

"If there is an “other” there is a self to perceive that other."

The question is not whether the subject/object distinction has permanent ontological validity but whether it is ultimately a perceptual illusion with regard to mundane phenomenal experience. I've said this other times, but the idea that Buddhism(at least the Pali Canon) takes an ontological stance on the soul/self question is a gross misinterpretation. The Buddha, as recorded in the Pali Canon, seems to suggest that the questionis incoherent and something like a Kantian Antinomy. The Buddhist perspective is that conceptual analysis only goes as far as the khandhas (for Kant, this would be phenomena). Trying to extend conceptual thinking to an "unconditioned reality" (for Kant, the noumenon) results in inconsistencies.

"Books on Buddhism often state that the Buddha's most basic metaphysical tenet is that there is no soul or self. However, a survey of the discourses in the Pali canon — the earliest extant record of the Buddha's teachings — suggests that the Buddha taught the anatta or not-self doctrine, not as a metaphysical assertion, but as a strategy for gaining release from suffering: If one uses the concept of not-self to dis-identify oneself from all phenomena, one goes beyond the reach of all suffering & stress. As for what lies beyond suffering & stress, the Canon states that although it may be experienced, it lies beyond the range of description, and thus such descriptions as "self" or "not-self" would not apply.

The evidence for this reading of the Canon centers around four points:

The one passage where the Buddha is asked point-blank to take a position on the ontological question of whether or not there is a self, he refuses to answer.
The passages which state most categorically that there is no self are qualified in such a way that they cover all of describable reality, but not all of reality which may be experienced.
Views that there is no self are ranked with views that that there is a self as a "fetter of views" which a person aiming at release from suffering would do well to avoid.
The person who has attained the goal of release views reality in such a way that all views — even such basic notions as self & no-self, true & false — can have no hold power over the mind."

http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/thanissaro/notself.html

Kevin wrote: “. . . progress in true understanding of conscious existence will continue to be slow for humanity as a whole. Individual progress will be spurred primarily by personal experience, but will be hampered by all the informational problems which we can conceive of . . .”

I’d suggest that individual progress will always depend upon personal experience. The anomalous data regarding consciousness that has already been compiled is more than sufficient to cast doubt on the fundamental premise at the core of western civilization.

The premise I’m referring to is ‘the autonomy and superiority of the human reason as judge of reality’. This single idea, taken by Plato and developed by Aristotle has led to everything that surrounds us today. We appear to inhabit a universe that now contains the products of human reason to an impressive degree, from our industrial capabilities to chemically enhanced agriculture to satellite technology to the advent of the computer age and the internet. It would seem almost ridiculous to suggest that the idea of the primacy of human reason might be flawed – one need only awaken in their climate- controlled home to the refrains of their favorite music wafting from their alarm clock before brewing their coffee and retrieving today’s breakfast from their refrigerator to know that reason rules.

And yet, despite all of our achievements, there is a pervasive emptiness in our lives, a relentless sense that gnaws at us, a sense that there’s something more that we’ve somehow misplaced. This emptiness manifests throughout our society – in an excessive pursuit of wealth and possessions, in crime, drug and alcohol abuse, the pursuit of casual sexual encounters, and on an on. Many attend weekly worship services to be sure, but it’s as if, for most, spiritual development is relegated to an afterthought, an hour per week of whatever faith allows one to carry on their “real” lives with minimal interruption.

Peter Kingsley has argued that this disconnect that pervades our society is philosophical in nature, and can be traced back to a misrepresentation of human reason as defined by Plato and elaborated by Aristotle. But who originally developed the idea of the infallibility of human reason? His name was Parmenides, and as well as being the father of Western logic, he was a mystic. He introduced logic to the west in a shamanic poem, where he uses divine logic to demonstrate the illusory nature of our senses. To quote Kingsley:

“Nowadays we like to think of rationality as completely distinct from mysticism, of science as something utterly separate from the knowledge of another reality. But that’s just an optical illusion. Really there can only be one kind of knowledge. And rationality is simply mysticism misunderstood . . . the categories of irrationality and non-rationality are simply constructs of our rationality. You could say that rationalism requires a critical or skeptical attitude. The trouble is that I have never met a skeptic who is prepared to be radically skeptical about his skepticism.

“Always we want to learn from outside, from absorbing other people’s knowledge. It’s safer that way. The trouble is that it’s always other people’s knowledge. We already have everything we need to know, in the darkness inside ourselves.”

http://www.peterkingsley.org/home.cfm

This brings me to The Major’s comment: “A lot of people say you have to abandon your ego in the pursuit of spirituality but isn't the ego who we are?”

The ego is certainly who we think we are, and the ego is tricky. Eckhart Tolle has said, “It’s recognizing the ego in its many disguises. I’ve met Buddhist monks who had enormous egos without knowing it. I remember being in a monastery afraid to approach them because they seemed so aloof.”

Tolle has also said, “The madness of the world is not just out there; the root of the madness lies in every person’s mind.”

The Major goes on to say, “I believe you have to deal with life as a reality. Doing your job and having a family- that's my view of how you define your spirituality. You have to find it in what you actually do day to day, rather than change what you do day to day to find it.”

There is great truth to this. It does seem to me that our development must be integral to who we are, and I’d even suggest that it’s always dangerous to follow anyone else’s ideas of truth. There’s nothing wrong with listening to others, but I think the key, to paraphrase Kingsley, is a willingness to explore “the darkness within ourselves.”

“whether it is ultimately a perceptual illusion with regard to mundane phenomenal experience.”

But oh what a grand illusion. The mere actuality that we are communicating about self and other moves us beyond mundane to profound. Here are some synonyms for mundane: everyday, boring, dull, routine, commonplace, unexciting, and humdrum.

Don’t know how your life has been, although I agree much of life fits the mundane phenomena but life at least as we perceive it can be much more than mundane.

I suspect the following are not mundane experiences: Ride around in a humvee in Iraq without armor and then tell yourself well this is sure mundane. Don’t think so. While giving a keynote address to thousands and then tell yourself well this sure is a mundane experience. Write a best selling novel and tell yourself that sure was a mundane experience.

This has been my point because the Buddhists do not teach that we have a soul to many of them all phenomena would be mundane and to that PhD Buddhist monk life is not only mundane but worthless and to him even disgusting.

Actually because life is a circle even a soul is temporal. But our greatest fear of losing “our identity” is a mute point, as we become that that is realizing of course we were always that that is and really never left isness, absolute, God, pure awareness, or whatever. Another paradox of life.

When I went to stay with this monk and saw a picture of 12 monks (the leaders of this sect) on the wall all but one of them had a frown on their faces. The only one with a smile on his face was, you guessed it; the monk that stated that life was worthless and disgusting. Looking at that picture was the moment for me that I would not be just a Buddhist.

You may ask why stay with a monk that stated in his book life is disgusting. I met him at a unity church, he invited me to come out and stay at his temple, and then when I left he gave me his book to read.

Although I think Buddhism can be a wonderful path I have noticed in my research once we choose a path or religion or atheism, or even agnostic our minds appears to shut out all other incoming information especially if it challenges our “path”.

“The madness of the world is not just out there; the root of the madness lies in every person’s mind.”

One can spend much of their entire life trying to change life (those) around us only to discover that one must change one’s mind to find the peace and joy we seek. Whoops there is no “person’s” mind to change. Oh the paradoxes of life.

Life doesn't have so many paradoxes once you break it down to understandable frameworks.

Cyrus: Your own little form of reductionism? :)

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