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My wife’s brother could not speak a word only squeezed their hands when they talked to him or made slight facial expressions.

Right before he passed and right after he saw something or someone in the room he was able to tell each sister that he loved them in a faint voice then he passed within the hour with a profound peaceful look on his face.

This does seem to show that consciousness is not destroyed by Alzheimer' but merely inhabited. That works very well with the view that consciousness is not completely attached by the brain. Either consciousness is not created by the brain at all or if it is then it can survive with out. I use the example of a flashlight. The beam of light was created by the flashlight but it continues existing somewhere once the flashlight is turned off.

My grandmother had been in a coma for some time before she passed. At the critical moment, however, she opened her eyes, sat up in bed, smiled and said to the other patients in the hospital ward, "I'm going now" and passed away. This was in the early fifties but I have never forgotten it.

One naturalistic explanation offered for these episodes is that the dying brain flares up in a last burst of neuronal activity.

I wonder, though, if this would really address cases like the one discussed in the Time essay, where the patient's brain had been largely eaten away by cancer.

Late-stage Alzheimer's also damages the basic structure of the brain, killing off neurons and actually causing the brain to shrink, as illustrated here:

http://www.alz.org/brain/08.asp

From that link, click the "Next" button to see further illustrations on the following pages. The damage, as you can see, is very extensive at both the macro- and microscopic levels.

All in all, it seems doubtful that a brain so severely compromised could regain normal function even with a last hurrah of firing neurons.


And why should it give a last hurrah anyways. Couldn't it have flared up way before death? If not, why not?

Truth be told the last second burst argument is absurd. If it could fire then, it could fire earlier. Why wait till when the brain is absolutely degraded, further affecting and inhibiting it's ability to burst. It would have tried to burst earlier, to save the life of the organism.

And why burst seeing dead loved ones. It could burst anyway. Why just this way?

As the "Time" article said, it's not a matter of the brain's last hurrah, it isn't there at all:

"But it wasn't David's brain that woke him up to say goodbye that Friday. His brain had already been destroyed. Tumor metastases don't simply occupy space and press on things, leaving a whole brain. The metastases actually replace tissue. Where that gray stuff grows, the brain is just not there."

The doctor's last paragraph touched me in a way:

"But many think the mind is only in there--existing somehow in the physical relationship of the brain's physical elements. The physical, say these materialists, is all there is. I fix bones with hardware. As physical as this might be, I cannot be a materialist. I cannot ignore the internal evidence of my own mind. It would be hypocritical. And worse, it would be cowardly to ignore those occasional appearances of the spirits of others--of minds uncloaked, in naked virtue, like David's goodbye."

I was considering the last neural burst hypothesis when reading these accounts, but really, even if it is plausible, why would it produce the SAME basic responses in all those people; to re-connect with loved ones one last time?

Also, these accounts are anything but rare, (as I had originally thought). It's reminescent of the James Leininger reincarnation case, once popularised, encouraged a whole load of other cases to come out the woodwork.

"But many think the mind is only in there--existing somehow in the physical relationship of the brain's physical elements. The physical, say these materialists, is all there is.”

This quote below is a quote from one of my favorite authors. Paul Brunton wrote many books and many were written as notebooks after he passed as he left many notes. Many of these books listed as notebooks appear to be free to read on line. http://wisdomsgoldenrod.org/notebooks/

Some may want to check out his website a most interesting person.
http://www.paulbrunton.org/pb.php

I have about 12 of his books that I consider keeper books. The materialist would do well to take this quote below as wisdom.

“A man’s ignorance and helplessness is in proportion to what he feels about the Universal Mind. If he denies its very existence, if he is an utter materialist, then he has set himself at cross-purposes to Nature and will one day discover that his power and knowledge are as nothing. If he believes in the existence of a Universal mind but regards it as something utterly apart and separate from himself, then his position is much safer. If he recognizes that he is rooted in the Universal mind, and seeks to develop his awareness of it, then he will become strong and wise in proportion to his development. In the first case, the man’s attitude will constitute a permanent danger to him; in the third case, it will constitute a deliverance for him.” #132 the ego.

"But it wasn't David's brain that woke him up to say goodbye that Friday. His brain had already been destroyed." -Aftrbrnr

This begs the question: how come the brain is needed at all?

What are we suggesting? If our normal ‘rules of engagement’ with the physical are suspended at the point of death, how are they suspended and who or what suspends them? And how does the (physical) voice work if there is no working physical brain to direct it? I can understand that there may be lucidity for the soul, but it is not easy to explain how the lucidity is expressed in the physical world via the damaged physical vehicle.

The idea that the brain is simply a transceiver (which can be damaged and thereby rendered inoperative) seems to be undercut by this.

But of course there are also other ‘impossible’ physical manifestations, e.g cases of people appearing (solidly) to others at the point of death to say goodbye.

One possible explanation is that the physical vehicle is briefly returned to a past working state – in other words, that time and space are manipulated by the soul.

Another possible explanation is that the whole physical caboodle is totally illusory, as mysticism suggests –perhaps a mental projection.

Or both.

It strikes me that Haig accesses a tremendous bit of wisdom in the linked essay – perhaps more so than even he knows - when he writes, “The mind is a uniquely personal domain of thought, dreams and countless other things, like the will, faith and hope. These fine things are as real as rocks and water but, like the mind, weightless and invisible, maybe even timeless.” (My italics).

There does seem to be an inordinate amount of materialist-bashing going on around here, isn’t there? Not that I can’t relate, but it’s probably not the most pressing issue regarding spiritual matters out there.

The 2008 Pew Research survey on religion in America showed that an astounding 1.6% of the respondents identified themselves as “atheist”. Another couple percentage points showed up under “agnostic”, but in any case, these aren’t numbers that are likely to grow over time. I realize that the percentages may be a bit higher in Europe, and that these folks do have a significant influence on the educational curriculum in western society today, but ultimately they’re dinosaurs. No wonder the folks at PZ Myers blog are so affable and magnanimous – it’s difficult to be compassionate when you’re attached to a belief system that’s dying a slow, agonizing death.

In all honesty, I think materialism reached its apex in the late nineteenth century – the discoveries of physics in the early 20th century put the materialist in a position that’s pretty uncomfortable, and one that has only grown more difficult since. I mean, if one is going to posit that matter is the core stuff of the universe, it would sure be helpful to know exactly what matter is. At this point it appears to be pretty tenuous stuff, which means materialism itself is a pretty tenuous position.

For me, I’m much more concerned with the tenacity of the Western religions, especially when their adherents have access to the technology and weaponry that exists today. The idea of a wholly transcendent personal God, complete with rabid minions armed with who-knows-what is a lethal combination. It was bad enough when they armed themselves with broadswords.

As I see it, what’s really needed today is for far more consideration to be given to the idea that we’re in a spiritual reality right now – that “God” (for lack of a better term) is as fully immanent as it is transcendent. If more people understood that everything they’ve ever encountered was just “God” (I really want a different term) in disguise, I’m sure the collective reality would look very different. As it is, I just have to content myself with the conviction that this understanding is growing, and beginning to manifest on earth, but it’s a slow process. Still, the collective reality is changing – it’s just changing one person at time.

BTW, William, what Brunton fails to mention is that the recognition of being rooted in the Universal Mind arrives simultaneously with the recognition that Universal Mind is also rooted within us. I haven’t read any of his work, so he may elaborate on this elsewhere, but his comment that Stage One will “discover that his power and knowledge are as nothing” and Stage Two is “safe” suggests a paternalistic, punishing aspect to Universal Mind – at least as I’m reading him.

While it’s true that realization arrives with an overwhelming sense of profound humility, Universal Mind itself is ineffable, infinite, unconditional love. It has no form, occupies no space and exists eternally in a timeless state. Yet, this mysterious, formless essence is continually manifesting existence at every moment. Trying to explain it is hopeless, even for those who’ve realized it. Thomas Aquinas – a Brunton “Stage Two” prior to his awakening if there ever was one - fell into total silence and stopped work on Summa Theologica upon his recognition of the Mystery, telling his concerned friends, "All that I have written seems to me nothing but straw... compared to what I have seen and what has been revealed to me."

Brunton seems to be suggesting that those focused on the material world will experience something distressing at the moment of realization, which I don’t think is necessarily true. To be sure, vast, energetic waves of humility, gratitude, compassion and bliss wash through one’s entire being during the experience, but if there’s any unpleasant aspect involved at all, it’s coming from the personal mind.

To that end, it would seem to me that a “Stage One” such as Carl Sagan, who honestly wanted to understand reality and whose primary mistake was simply a failure to understand the depth of his own mind would have a much easier time than a “Stage Two” whose faith was anchored in his own (and others) ideas of “God” - especially if that faith led him to inflict harm on others.

In the After death experience, Ian Wilson recounts the DBV of a Mrs Jane Charles, the grandmother of a good friend(who he trusts implicitly to give an honest account) of his, referred to as Janet T. Janet T lost her baby(can't remember all the details) during Mr's Charles final illness but the old lady wasn't told about it for fear that it would upset her too much.

(From memory)
As Mr's Charles lay dying,she began to speak of 'people in the room' who we couldn't see. She said she knew what it was all about now.... there was a woman that seemed to bother her (but then that became of no consequence) and then her (dead) husband(amongst others) appeared carrying a baby. The old lady was mystified by this, but then declared, "Oh..It's Janet's baby...oh poor thing...never mind, she'll get over it."
Wilson assures us that the was case reliably reported. Mrs Charles was NOT told of the death of the baby.

...that the case was...damn damn why can't I learn to read.

“Stage Two is “safe” suggests a paternalistic, punishing aspect to Universal Mind – at least as I’m reading him.”

This is a misquote as Brunton used the word safer not safe. There is a world of difference between safe and safer. I don’t think I would have used the word safer to explain the difference between materialism and religion but one must keep in mind that these notebooks were written after Brunton had passed from notes he had left from a life time of writing down thoughts that came to him during his life.

Now I do believe that the materialist is on a steeper and slippery slope as one unexplained paranormal phenomena and their entire materialistic paradigm comes crashing down and that is very mentality painful and embarrassing.

But you did discover something about Brunton very insightful as Brunton did indeed in his earlier writings leaned in the direction of a paternalistic punishing aspect to this Universal Mind. If my memory serves me here I think in his later writings he moved away from this idea that karma was a form of punishment. Also I think I even wrote his website and voiced my concern that he believed karma was punishment and then they informed me of his change of attitude towards karma. This was years ago and my memory is suspect on this topic. I also think the spirits book has this karma as punishment, so one must be very wary of making a God in their image.

With my one realization and a later discovery revealed to me that the Universal Mind sees innocence. A punishing, wrathful, jealous “God” has its home in ignorance.

The one mistake Brunton made he did not date his notes. Whoops so we cannot tell exactly how his views changed over time unless one reads very carefully.

Although I don’t agree with all of Brunton’s writings I find him a very interesting writer. He was a life long seeker and has much to offer other seekers interested in the mysteries of life. He was able to accomplish an inner peace in his life that very few attain.

“To that end, it would seem to me that a “Stage One” such as Carl Sagan, who honestly wanted to understand reality and whose primary mistake was simply a failure to understand the depth of his own mind would have a much easier time than a “Stage Two” whose faith was anchored in his own (and others) ideas of “God” - especially if that faith led him to inflict harm on others.”

This is an interesting comment that I tend to agree with. In recent years I have come to believe that atheism may just be a stage for some or most to an awaking process as religious beliefs can be overwhelming. Once we think we have all truth and my truth is thee truth this limits to a degree this process of awaking to the spirit within so to speak but then we are always in the awaking process. But there are many paths and atheism can be as restrictive as any religious belief.

Of course to inflict profound harm on to others is to inflict harm onto oneself and that is little understood today by most of the religious and materialists.

"In recent years I have come to believe that atheism may just be a stage for some or most to an awaking process as religious beliefs can be overwhelming." - william
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Atheism versus deism is just another way to experience duality and separation. Little different than the myriad of other ways we experience separation in our lives, over and over and over again till it's completely imprinted on the soul about what it means and how it feels to be separate, unique, individual. The question is, why is it so necessary for our souls to experience so much separation in so many different forms if they aren't going to use it in the next life? What is the point of all this suffering if we aren't accomplishing anything?

"1.6% of the respondents identified themselves as “atheist”."

Yes, but that 1.6% is disproportionately influential because they are heavily represented in academia, media, etc.

While comparatively few Americans call themselves atheists, I suspect that a large number are atheists for all practical purposes. That is, they seldom if ever think about "spiritual" matters, are primarily concerned with worldly ambitions and material acquisitions, and don't really believe in a spirit world (even if they may pay lip service to it).

This is not intended as a criticism of most people, just a statement of fact. Materialism may have hit its high water mark some time ago (I would say around 1950-1960), but it's still a very potent force, and probably will be for a long time to come.

I doubt PZ Myers is worried ...

Materialism is possibly a dying ideology from a conceptual point of view.

Numerically, from the viewpoint of general population, most people are not explicit atheists or materialists. They believe in God, in the paranormal, go to churches (in America, specially)...

But as Michael (Prescott) pointed out, for practical purposes, the secularist-materialist assumptions underlies the behaviour of most people.

They call themselves Christian, but for practical purposes don't believe in the afterlife (that is a basic teaching of Christianity).

They go to the churches, but when they return to home are essentially identical to the secularist individuals.

Thus for most people in America, religion seems to be more like an habit, culturally learned, than a honest commitment to spirituality.

However, most people is not so irrational as to believe and defend, actively and bigotely, the nonexistence of God or of an afterlife.

It would require a tremendous leap of faith and certain personality characteristics to assert with so much conviction and arrogance that God or a spiritual world doesn't exist, that all reality is material, that you're nothing but a bunch of chemical processes organized under a certain pattern or that our whole fate is to be extinguished forever after death.

And this kind of self-defeating beliefs are only shared for a extremely tiny minority of believers, as reflected in the percentage mentioned by Michael H.

An brief visitation of PZ Myers' blog, in the section of commentaries, would suffice to let us know that kind of people would actively support the self-defeating beliefs mentioned above.

Speaking of "materialist bashing," here's an entertaining review of David Berlinski's book "The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions."

http://tiny.cc/S0T7o

I haven't read this book, or even heard of it till now. Sounds kind of fun, though.

“What is the point of all this suffering if we aren't accomplishing anything?”

We are expressions of that that is whatever you desire to call that that is which most call God. The origin of our suffering is ignorance, which the Buddha realized 2500 years ago and the enlightened Hindus have taught for thousands of years. That ignorance born out of our original innocence is a necessity or there would be no us just Isness or whatever you desire to call that that is.

Our ignorance defines as unique souls with some souls more unique than others.

Actually our innocence defines us as unique and as “perfectly imperfect” souls living the life of a human.

The perception of separation is a necessity for Oneness to express its dynamic potential in an infinite variety of expressions or manifestations if we define manifestations and expressions as synonyms. The evolution of consciousness process is not a cookie cutter “creating” perfect souls but infinite unique souls. The uniqueness is in the process.

“They go to the churches, but when they return to home are essentially identical to the secularist individuals.”

Love and cooperation on Sunday survival of the fittest the rest of the week.

“Thus for most people in America, religion seems to be more like an habit, culturally learned, than a honest commitment to spirituality.”

I suspect we are all were we need to be right at this moment. That perfectly imperfect idea again.

"I haven't read this book, or even heard of it till now. Sounds kind of fun, though"

I read Berlinski's book, it's good, he's good sense of humor.

Berlinski is a agnostic jew, and a defender of intelligent design.

I enjoyed his book, but it's not the best criticism of materialist atheism.

A much better book than Berlinski's is John Lennox's book God's Undertaker. A very small but impressively convincing refutation of materialism and atheism. This book includes the best defense of intelligent design that I've read.

Lennox has debated Dawkins two times, and has forced him to make anti-atheist concessions.

A more technical refutation of materialism is Angus Menugue's book Agents under Fire. This book is not easy to read, but once you have grasped it, you will know why materialism, from the beginning, is self-defeating.

Thank you for the recommendations, ZC.

Another view is expressed in "The Dawkins Delusion?: Atheist Fundamentalism and the Denial of the Divine" (Paperback)
by Alister McGrath (Author), Joanna Collicutt McGrath (Author)

Zerdini, Mcgrath in one sense is like a nemesis of Dawkins.

I haven't read the book you mention, but I read Mcgrath's previous book Dawkins's God, a critique of Dawkins' whole scientific work.

And I've seen one of his debates with Dawkins.

Mcgrath is a christian theologian who concedes too much of Dawkins' basic pressupositions and assumptions, and argue from these premises.

For instance Mcgrath accepts neo-Darwinian evolution entirely and reject intelligent design (with arguments and weak objections similar to those of atheists)

That is the reason why I think Lennox has been so effective in his debates with Dawkins. Lennox challenges and refutes Dawkins' basic philosophical assumptions (scientistm, materialism, naturalism, naive emnpiricism, mechanistic worldview, extreme darwinism...) undermining the core foundations of Dawkins' position.

Mcgrath has been effective in showing that many of Dawkins' atheist conclusions are non sequiturs (don't follow from his premises), but better arguments could support Dawkins' position if his premises remain unchallenged.

In my opinion, Mcgrath has not defeated Dawkins convincently in their debates, while Lennox did.

I think if you don't challenge the basic assumptions of Dawkins, including neo-Darwinian theory of evolution (that is basic for Dawkins' atheism), he could have the upper hand in a debate, or force a draw.

I think it is one of the reasons why Dawkins don't want to debate with prominent christian philosophers of religion. They would expose and refute his crude philosophical assumptions, and force him to defend them in the philosophical arena (and Dawkins is not trained to do that).

I'd recommend Mcgrath books for a agnostic or neutral person who accepts many of the contemporary academic ideas (neo-Darwinian theory of evolution, the mechanistic philosophy of nature, etc.), or who is open to God's existence but reject ID.

But people who believes in God or something spiritual, or are familiar with afterlife information, could found Mcgrath's case too much weak.

And atheists will find it unconvincing, because atheism seems to be prima facie more likely if Dawkins' assumptions are correct (and they're for most atheists).

In any case, I'll read the book that Zerdini mention. Mcgrath is a very good writer.

ZC wrote: But people who believes in God or something spiritual, or are familiar with afterlife information, could found Mcgrath's case too much weak.

I agree with you nevertheless it is interesting to read another viewpoint.

"The perception of separation is a necessity for Oneness to express its dynamic potential in an infinite variety of expressions or manifestations if we define manifestations and expressions as synonyms." - william
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LOL! William I think you make it way more complicated than it really is. We are here simply to experience separation to teach the soul what it means and how it feels to be separate, something it can't learn in Heaven due to those overwhelming feelings of oneness and connectedness so often commented on in near death experiences.

. . . most people is not so irrational as to believe and defend, actively and bigotely, the nonexistence of God or of an afterlife.

This seems to be borne out in another, follow-up survey by Pew, in which only 7% of respondents claimed no belief in eternal life. Another 14% admitted to not knowing, but that still leaves nearly 80% who do anticipate surviving physical death. Or at least, "so they say".

http://pewforum.org/docs/?DocID=380

I find the terminology and assumptions contained in the survey to be interesting, specifically the idea that eternal life is something that is to be "attained".

As far as the various books and individuals that challenge materialism, it does seem to me that most are still battling it out from a standpoint of theological arguments or assumptions. To simplify to the extreme, the materialists argue that existence is essentially accidental and random, while their opponents argue that everything was created by a wholly transcendent deity of some sort.

Few of the materialists opponents seem to suggest a third option, although there are occasional voices in the wilderness, such as Steve Talbott, in his article "Can the New Science of Evo–Devo Explain the Form of Organisms?" (available at AntiMatters). After discussing the remarkable complexity of form in the biological world and the problems that very issue creates for the staunch materialist, Talbott writes:

"In a less dualistic age (the theologians) might have realized that any Divinity worthy of the title must be not only transcendent, but also immanent, working from within the depths of physical process — and, further, that the transcendence must not be thought to contradict the immanence. Darwin, in turn, might have realized that to acknowledge phenomena as the qualitative expressions of mind does not require us to suppose an interfering agency. We can freely grant the evident mind-like character of the world, which always presents us with significant form, and this in no way threatens the integrity of scientific knowledge."

I'd add that the same argument can be made "all the way down" - that we can not only see the signature of that immanent divinity in biological processes, but that we can just as easily interpret physics the same way - as the ongoing processes of a transcendent and immanent divine essence.

Talbott closes his piece much more eloquently than I can:

"When we truly see — that is, when we see with understanding — what we see are phenomena bathed in the aesthetically satisfying light of reason. We see ideas so meaning-rich, so manifold, so intimately interwoven with one another, that they can manifest materially only as imaginal forms. These forms are what nature is. To understand a phenomenon of nature means to apprehend its forms and trace them as exhaustively as possible through all levels of their physical manifestation until the picture stands complete before us. A great deal of scientific work serves this purpose admirably — or would do so if only we paid attention to all our cognitive activity.

"The scientist who does give this kind of attention to nature will be rid once and for all of the cold, Darwinian shudder, exchanging it for the inestimable delight of discovery — discovery, within his own imagination, of the imaginal powers shaping the world before his very eyes."

FYI, the Steve Talbott article is here (PDF):

http://tiny.cc/ayX5w

"When we truly see — that is, when we see with understanding — what we see are phenomena bathed in the aesthetically satisfying light of reason. We see ideas so meaning-rich, so manifold, so intimately interwoven with one another, that they can manifest materially only as imaginal forms. These forms are what nature is”

Brilliantly stated: this first sentence is profound when he states, “When we truly see---- that is when we see with understanding”. This word understanding is key as only understanding removes doubt. Understanding is in the realm of divine intelligence not just the intellect, in actuality the intellect can be very misleading and often a roadblock to understanding and this library of information might be called intellectualism.

Most of the world confuses these two realms of knowledge.

“As far as the various books and individuals that challenge materialism, it does seem to me that most are still battling it out from a standpoint of theological arguments or assumptions. To simplify to the extreme, the materialists argue that existence is essentially accidental and random, while their opponents argue that everything was created by a wholly transcendent deity of some sort.”

Well stated: the third option I believe is nature the very incubator for the evolution of consciousness process (“as the ongoing processes of a transcendent and immanent divine essence”) that makes every soul unique but for every soul to be unique it is a necessity to for souls to have limited awareness that the Hindus and Buddhist call ignorance. That ignorance is responsible for most if not all of our suffering and a very well kept secret in the world.

The religious would rather be called sinners and cherish ego gratifying guilt then be called ignorant. The atheists worship at the altar of intellectualism and their belief that they alone have reasoning abilities; so ignorance only belongs to those that do not have their cherished beliefs in materialism.

“as the ongoing processes of a transcendent and immanent divine essence.”

Amen:

This quote above is such a brief statement but comprehensive and much more exquisitely stated then my evolution of consciousness process. Well-stated Michael H.

I find fate an interesting aspect of our lives as I worked for a Japanese consulting organization called kaizen, which means “gradual on-going improvement” in processes as a process oriented approach to improvement. When I read the book kaizen for the first time in 1986 it took my breath away and had to take a walk around the block often the words were overwhelming my mind. This seemed strange to me at that time that a business book would take my breath away now I see the spiritual aspects of such a book. I think fate plays its hand much more than we can even comprehend. Much more.

As a side note most of the world prides itself on being results oriented the very opposite of “the ongoing processes of a transcendent and immanent divine essence”. Sorry fell back into my consulting mode. Retiree thing.

Somewhat OT, though it might tie in with deathbed visions ... Here's an interesting news item about young children who "hear voices":

http://tiny.cc/UDOp0

Seems like a pretty common phenomenon. Some glitch in the brain chemistry? Or nascent mediumistic/psychic abilities?

I wonder if this ties in with the "invisible friends" reported by many children.

The article calls the children's voices "auditory vocal hallucinations". If Dr. Pimm Van Lommel is right and our brains act like recievers and transmitters of information perhaps all these children are doing is tuning into someone else's frequency. Perhaps they just haven't developed a strong enough sense of "self" to tune out all the extraneous information that floods our Universe? Once their own sense of self becomes solid enough they are able to tune out some of the information that is flooding their consciousness and just be themselves. And by the way, I think this also probably has something to do with what we label as "reincarnation."

“And by the way, I think this also probably has something to do with what we label as "reincarnation."”

If a belief in reincarnation was just about children and their memories than this is a most interesting point. But other aspects of reincarnation as a reality is available to anyone interested in doing the research. It was a very distributing discovery for me many years ago to find research that highly suggested that reincarnation is probably a reality for most souls.

I spent two years that turned out to be more about spiritual ambition to become “enlightened” so I would not have to return to this physical world with all of its struggles and suffering. My research also has revealed some evidence that older mature souls can decide to reincarnate or not to return to this physical world. Some souls return at what appears to be a mission to help humanity.

I went to live for short periods of time with Buddhist and Hindu monks and catholic priests and even made plans to move to India and live in a cave as I was living a single life at that time. It soon was revealed to me in my long meditations that my journey had more to do with spiritual ambition than enlightenment.

It appears that if you don’t want to return to this physical world you probably will but if you have surrendered your ego’s domination over your actions and thoughts and don’t care if you do or don’t return and have learned all the lessons this earth has to offer then you probably won’t return.

I think an older soul looks at living the life of a human a lot different then we do as we are journeying through this life. Newer souls may just come crashing onto the scene. There appears to be all levels of soul development on this planet. The aspects of sympathy, empathy and compassion are good indicators of soul development with compassion being an extremely rare phenomenon as it is based in understanding not knowledge or benevolence.

I do believe at this time that sympathy and empathy are stages of soul development on our journey to awaken to compassion for all souls including our own soul. Yes even Hitler and Stalin.

To simplify to the extreme, the materialists argue that existence is essentially accidental and random, while their opponents argue that everything was created by a wholly transcendent deity of some sort

You're right.

It's widely admitted by most intellectuals that the two worldviews in dispute are scientific materialism (naturalism) and theism.

This dilemma is not an arbitrary one, but something that follows from certain metaphysical assumptions in modern philosophy.

This dilemma is annoying for pantheists, mystics, followers of Ken Wilber and other people whose metaphysical assumptions are incompatible with materialism and theism, but hardly these people have well-developed and sound worldview to offer as alternative.

I'm myself in this "third group", because I'm not a materialist nor a theist in the proper sense. But with theists, I share dualism (that is rejected by pantheists and some mystics).

But this is irrelevant to the fact that scientific materialism and theism are relatively well developed worldviews, with clear elaborated concepts and implications, and grounded solidly in philosophical assumptions. Thus the dilemma is not absolutely true, but it's based on the best alternatives on the table.

For instance, materialism and theism offers answers for the following questions:

-The origin of life (chance in materialism, a creation by God in theism)

-The origin of consciousness (in materialism: none, because consciousness not exist at all; or if it's exist, it's a epiphenomenon of evolution. In theism: we're created at image of God, who is a inmaterial spirit, hence we are inmaterial spirits too)

-The purpose of life (in materialism, no ultimate purpose at all, only temporary purposes according to individualistic criteria. In theism: know and love God and all of our fellows human beings).

-The origin of the universe (in materialism, the universe wasn't created, it's eternal; or it's self-created; In theism: it was created by God)

Both views, regardless of which is true, are well-articulated, supported by some evidence or plausible in certain contexts, and highly influential academically (materilism) or socially (theism, not only the Christian one).

Thus it's not strange that the most effective critics of materialism and atheism be theist philosophers.

Thinkers like Menuge, Lennox, Behe, Demski, Meyer, Plantinga and others are true nighmares to materialists. They have attacked and refuted the core of the materialist philosophy, and are forcing some honest materialists to rethink their convictions.

Yes, non christian spiritualists like many readers of this blog will believe that materialism is false on other grounds different thatn theism proper: psi, afterlife works, etc.

But we're a relatively small and insignificant community (socially speaking) with no weight in the intellectual world.

And we don't have a well articulated alternative wolrdview to offer, except isolated facts like Stevenson' research, some cases of NDEs, mystical experiences and the scientific replications of psi by Dean Radin and other scientists. These facts, if accepted, suffice to refute materialism, but by themselves are insufficient to elaborate an alternative worldview -- that should include answers to the metaphysical problems mentioned above and even ethical considerations.

So third alternatives exist, but they're largely considered irrelevant, unsophisticated, unarticulated, ecclectical or insufficient.

On Talbott comment:

In a less dualistic age (the theologians) might have realized that any Divinity worthy of the title must be not only transcendent, but also immanent, working from within the depths of physical process — and, further, that the transcendence must not be thought to contradict the immanence.

It's very similar to Thomas Aquinas' philosophy.

In Aquinas' view, so-called "final causes" are immanent in the natural order. Every material object is directed at something outside itself or more exactly, to prodicing certains effects instead of other.

The heart has as final cause to pump the blood to the organs (instead of being useful to smell), the eyes have as final cause the ability to see (innstead of being directed at the production of saliva, for instance) and so on.

Contrary to the dishonest misrepresentations of atheists, specially of Dawkins, Aquinas' teleology have nothing to do with intelligent design or William Paley.

For ID, teleology is a particular design of an intelligent designer (God or any other agent). For Aquinas, teleology is immanent in nature, a property of the material world.

This is the basis of Aquinas' fifth way to prove the existence of God.

But the point is that Talbott's comment about immanence and trascendence resonates with Aquinas' thinking, as far I can see.

It seems to me that Dawkins' "selfish genes" are teleological in the Aquinas sense.

I doubt Dawkins would see it that way, though.

Thanks for the excellent summary of dueling philosophical positions, ZC. I agree that the "third way" is not yet a fully coherent or comprehensive worldview.

“And we don't have a well articulated alternative wolrdview to offer, except isolated facts like Stevenson' research, some cases of NDEs, mystical experiences and the scientific replications of psi by Dean Radin and other scientists”

From my point of view mediumship needs to be included in this list you have called isolated facts. There has been much qualitative evidence with scientists working with selected mediums to attain evidence that gives a high probability that their evidence is factual. I.e. there are and have been a lot of white crows in their research.

Also bedside visitations during the time of crossing over and OBE’s offers more evidence of the paranormal and that this world is not just material.

“So third alternatives exist, but they're largely considered irrelevant, unsophisticated, unarticulated, ecclectical or insufficient.”

I think many writers have articulated with their books and a view that a meaning and purpose of life exist beyond what materialism and religion teaches but most are labeled new age. I think there is a huge mass of people that read these books and work at living their lives accordingly or at least attempt to.

The human mind very much desires a deity made it its image for a variety of reasons. Also I have noticed that many humans want a God as a king. Some type of authority figure I suspect.

Everyone has a deity of sorts the atheist deity is their intellect. The interesting point being the Absolute cannot be comprehended by the intellect.

"young children who "hear voices""

Interesting - just the other day, my neighbors were telling me that their 2 year old daughter was talking to what she described as a "scary women" in a closet in their house, going so far as to introduce them to her. They didn't think to much of it until their cat looked at the same place their daughter was and started hissing...

I consistently read "John Lennox" in the above comments as "John Lennon" and wondered why I had never heard about him having these opinions before!

This from the woman who thought she heard a discussion on collecting badgers on the radio at lunchtime only to discover it was collecting BADGES...

From my point of view mediumship needs to be included in this list you have called isolated facts.

You're right, William.

I didn't try to make an exhaustive list of all the facts that refute materialism.

Certainly, mediumship evidence is one of the most important facts that refutes materialism, even more important than NDEs.

I accept the likely existence of afterlife precisely by the force of some cases of mediumpship, they're in my view the best evidence for afterlife.

The point I was trying to make is that those isolated facts, by themselves, don't support any alternative worldview so articulated as scientific materialism and theism.

It's true that some people in the "third way" have tried to articulate a position, but when you read them closely, you'll find that they left out the many of "isolated facts" that I've mentioned, or defend positions inconsistent with them.

Ken Wilber has articulated a system, but I think it is not very compatible with the afterlife, understood as survival of the personal identity. My opinion is that Wilber's holon thesis blocks the afterlife inference, or make it hard to understand or incoherent.

It has strong philosophical problems too, see for instance this online book critical of Wilber's entire philosophy:

http://www.integralworld.net/meyerhoff-ba-toc.html

It doesn't mean that Wilber, like other writers, has not made important contributions or ideas.

My idea is that, as far I know, "third way" theorists have not articulated a worldview that could be considered a serious alternative to scientific materialism (philosophical naturalism) and theism.

My idea is that, as far I know, "third way" theorists have not articulated a worldview that could be considered a serious alternative to scientific materialism (philosophical naturalism) and theism.

Wilber's probably the most comprehensive attempt at a third way (and he bores me to death), but I've said before in these threads that I don't think philosophy as practiced today will lead to anything but endless arguments.

Talbott's holistic, organic views do seem refreshing to me though, and he has several other writings at the Nature Institute website. His comment in the piece "Ghosts in the Evolutionary Machine" addresses the current logjam pretty well:

"Here, incidentally, we can recognize the common ground shared by intelligent design advocates and their conventional opponents. Both view the universe as a grand machine. This groundless assumption is the explicit foundation equally of the case for intelligent design ("the machine requires a Designer") and the case for a materialistic, mindless universe ("a machine is merely a machine - and we learned long ago simply to ignore the question of a Designer or First Cause, or to conceal it behind the obscurity of the Big Bang"). The theists correctly understand that a machine requires an intelligent designer, whether we acknowledge this fact as such or attempt to smuggle the designer into our thinking by obscure bits and pieces. The materialists, in turn, see well enough that a machine-world is no suitable habitation for a human soul and spirit.

"The only way out of the ill-tempered and lightless debate between the two sides is to recognize that the intelligence we see in the world is not imposed from the outside upon pre-existing material, in the way we impose our design upon a machine. The intelligence in nature works always from within."

http://natureinstitute.org/txt/st/mqual/digital_organisms.htm

Whatever one chooses to accept as true, it does remain interesting that the entire premise of reductionist science looks more and more suspect the more we learn. Talbott's "The Twilight of the Double Helix" (for those brave enough to wade through it) is a pretty remarkable exploration of the incredible complexity, interconnectedness and apparent communication that goes on at the core of biological processes.

http://natureinstitute.org/txt/st/mqual/genome_1.htm

I'll freely admit that these ideas appeal to my sensibilities largely because they dovetail with my own mystical worldview. It's probably not a coincidence that the banner at Talbott's home page features a quote from Thoreau: ""The question is not what you look at — but how you look and whether you see."

“I accept the likely existence of afterlife precisely by the force of some cases of mediumship, they're in my view the best evidence for afterlife.”

I agree then take into consideration all the other evidence of a paranormal nature that dovetails with what the spirits are saying from the other side and my own personal experiences I think a better case for life after death can be made than Darwinism.

Below is a quote from Brunton on some mystics claiming to have attainted a union with God. From his notebooks written after he passed from his notes he left in his home.

These are his words not mine. Now why would a mystic need to pass through a metaphysical discipline or maybe they did in a past life. Not sure I agree with mystics having a confused notion what God is. But do agree that a claim that many have a union with God may not be the exact words to use as the mystic lacks the creative power and ability of that that is, which most call God.

“Much grotesque misconception exists among the mystics about this claim to have united with God. Not having passed through the metaphysical discipline and consequently having only a confused notion of what God is, they do not comprehend how exaggerated their claim is. For if they were really united with God, they should have the power of God too. They would be able to set up as creators of entire universes, of suns, stars, and cosmic systems. This feat is plainly beyond them. Let us hear no more of such babble and let them confine their strivings to realizable aims”. Brunton.

“The mystic who talks vaguely of being one with God must surely know that the experience has not put him in personal management of the universe.” Brunton.
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“If the mystic really attains a complete identity with the World-Mind, then all the latter's evolutionary and dissolutionary powers and especially its all-pervading all-knowing character would become the common property of both. But even the most fully perfected mystic has no such powers and no such character.” Brunton.

The Brunton quotes absolutely cracked me up, William, especially the bit about the mystics having a “confused notion” about what God is. Are we to assume that Brunton’s notion is somehow less confused?

These are good examples of what happens when someone tries to imagine what mystical realization is like though. Brunton, in identifying with his own personal mind, can't help but interpret the mystic as claiming to have "become God", while the mystic understands that it's exactly the opposite.

Not that anyone has, but if I were to be asked how one can understand mystical realization, the only advice I could possibly share with another would be to not try and “understand” anything, but to instead try and find an overall sense of contentment right here and now - to discover and entertain unconditional positive feelings within themselves – things like humor and joy and gratitude and compassion – and then just go about their life in that frame of mind and see where it leads them.

I wonder if Brunton would have regarded that to be a “realizable aim”.

"try and find an overall sense of contentment right here and now - to discover and entertain unconditional positive feelings within themselves"

But how is this possible in a world with so many terrible problems and so much suffering and injustice? To take just one example, look at the earthquake in Haiti. How can we feel unconditionally positive about a world where 100,000 people can die in an instant, and untold thousands more are left starving, homeless, and suffering from gangrene and dysentery?

I think we would have to close our eyes to reality to feel unconditional acceptance of this world.

I know it's possible to say that all the world's suffering is part of a cosmic plan that will be clear to us in the long run, but that doesn't change the here-and-now reality of suffering for countless millions of people (in fact, for all of us, to a greater or lesser degree).

“The Brunton quotes absolutely cracked me up, William, especially the bit about the mystics having a “confused notion” about what God is. Are we to assume that Brunton’s notion is somehow less confused?”

Two things to keep in mind here. These quotes are from short notes Brunton wrote down over many years but did not date and his personal journey of seeking lasted almost sixty years. Others after he passed decided how to place these notes in what order and followers of any so-called guru almost mess it up so to speak. Short quotes very seldom do the author justice. I have read 18 of his thirty or so books and have found them interesting.

There is no one author of any book that I agree with totally except maybe my own manuscript and even that changes over time. If one reads Brunton carefully his beliefs change over time. Example his view of karma as punishment changed over time to a law or principle that fosters soul development, which I agree with.

His was able to achieve a very high level of inner peace in his later years and it appears he did not do research into spiritualism and mediumship which can be a huge disadvantage in his understanding of life on the other side or even the purpose of this life and all of its suffering. He does not spend much time writing about the soul but most on the human condition, which I find is somewhat religious oriented rather than soul or spiritually oriented.

“Brunton, in identifying with his own personal mind, can't help but interpret the mystic as claiming to have "become God", while the mystic understands that it's exactly the opposite.”

I think he was referring to those emotional mystics that make such claims that they are God. Well in a way they are but in a way they are not God. They do not have the power of God to create but they are God in a sense how can one say anything or anyone is not of God and have their being within God.

Still waiting for someone to explain to me what lies outside of infinite Oneness.

But how is this possible in a world with so many terrible problems and so much suffering and injustice? To take just one example, look at the earthquake in Haiti. How can we feel unconditionally positive about a world where 100,000 people can die in an instant, and untold thousands more are left starving, homeless, and suffering from gangrene and dysentery?

You don’t need to convince me that we live in a world that has serious problems and suffering, MP. Why do you think I keep reminding everyone that we’re in a spiritual reality right now? But to clarify, I didn’t suggest that we feel unconditionally positive about the world, I suggested that we find and entertain unconditional positive feelings within ourselves.

I don’t know if I can articulate this well or not, but the tragedy in Haiti, which is just the most recent atrocity to come crashing into the collective consciousness, does provide an opportunity to look at the not-so-obvious difference between compassion and sympathy.

When we look at what happened there, we sense the loss, but we each do so in very different ways. Those who look at Haiti and feel sympathy have an inner experience themselves that is upsetting and uncomfortable. If we examine that feeling within ourselves - and are brutally honest– we might notice that the upset we experience is coming from our personal minds – from a sense of dread that the same thing could happen to us, and how awful it would be to experience that.

The experience of compassion, on the other hand, feels very warm to the one experiencing it. There’s a genuine sense of loss involved for sure, (it even feels more genuine to me), but compassion isn’t experienced as remotely uncomfortable. It feels deeply warm, yet impersonal or unconditional, sort of as if the feeling has somehow expanded to encompass those to which we are feeling the compassion.

The most interesting thing about the difference between the two feelings isn’t about how they feel to us, though. The most remarkable thing about the two feelings is how they appear to affect the other person involved.

The Haiti example won’t apply here, except to those who have been personally affected or are involved down there, but what I have discovered myself is that if I encounter someone who’s experienced a loss, and I can find genuine compassion for them, the very fact that I’m feeling, within myself, a warm, expansive feeling appears to raise the other person’s spirits - somehow leaves them feeling a sense of hope going forward, however little that may be.

On the other hand, if I’m in a lower state of mind myself, and can find only sympathy, that is, if I'm experiencing an uncomfortable feeling within myself, it seems to lower the other persons spirits – it’s as if it reinforces the loss somehow.

I don’t know if this makes any sense or not – the difference between the two feelings seems so subtle when I try to describe it, yet they’re dramatically different when they’re experienced, to everyone involved it would appear. It’s strange – it’s not like I’m telling the other person that I’m personally experiencing warmth or discomfort – I might even use the same words – but the other person just seem to pick up on the difference.

So, in an attempt to answer the question as to how we can find positive feelings when there’s so much injustice in the world, I can only say that finding those deep, unconditional feelings within ourselves, regardless of the circumstances we’re faced with at any moment, seems to me to be the only choice that makes any sense, for everyone involved.

Try it - it’s much more fun when you’re dealing with someone who’s experiencing something positive, though – then you get to pick-up on their excitement and exhilaration, and those are warm, joyful feelings.

Still waiting for someone to explain to me what lies outside of infinite Oneness.

If the Oneness is infinite, Wiliam, what could possibly lie outside of it?

I think he was referring to those emotional mystics that make such claims that they are God.

I think he's another one of those people who think they have the authority to comment on an experience that they've never had. Brunton sounds to me like a guy who would have benefited from Marcus Aurelius' advice:

"Waste no more time talking about great souls and how they should be. Become one yourself!"

“I think we would have to close our eyes to reality to feel unconditional acceptance of this world.”

Or seek deeper into what is reality. I personally think we as souls at this stage of our evolutionary process see and understand very little of what is reality.

“If the Oneness is infinite, Wiliam, what could possibly lie outside of it?”

That was my question but I asked the question is such a way that I wanted someone to explain what lies outside of infinite. From my point of view nothing lies outside of infinite. We are expressions of this infinite but this does not mean we have the divine intelligence or creative abilities or power of this infinite. That is what Brunton was stating to my knowledge.

"Waste no more time talking about great souls and how they should be. Become one yourself!"

Every one is becoming a great soul some just get there sooner than others. That variation thing again.

When Brunton was taken to the hospital the last few days of his life in the hospital room the nurses and doctors claimed there was a peace that they had never seen. His essence and energy appeared to create an inner peace that others could feel in the entire room.

“I didn’t suggest that we feel unconditionally positive about the world, I suggested that we find and entertain unconditional positive feelings within ourselves.”

I don’t think this statement is quite correct for as we view ourselves is how we view the world. Example we cannot show compassion for the world without having compassion for ourselves. Compassion is based in understanding not feelings but understanding does indeed affect our feelings.

“Haiti, which is just the most recent atrocity to come crashing into the collective consciousness, does provide an opportunity to look at the not-so-obvious difference between compassion and sympathy.”

This I agree with as sympathy says I know how you feel where compassion in based in understanding not our personal feelings or fears or the underlying reality of the phenomena. Compassion is rare extremely rare I have only experienced true compassion once to my knowledge and that was during a dream state visitation when telepathic communication with an entity in the spiritual realm.

“The most interesting thing about the difference between the two feelings isn’t about how they feel to us, though. The most remarkable thing about the two feelings is how they appear to affect the other person involved.”

This is a correct statement as I have experienced compassion and was profoundly affected by the compassion I received from another. It is impossible to describe the effects of compassion there are no words to describe it. None that I know of.

“regardless of the circumstances we’re faced with at any moment, seems to me to be the only choice that makes any sense, for everyone involved.”

Compassion is not a choice it is a state of Being with a level of understanding. If everyone had the ability to make that choice for compassion everyone would make that choice. Compassion reflects our level of consciousness in infinite love and divine intelligence. We cannot choose compassion or sympathy the choice is made for us as it reflects our level of soul development.

Someone that has attained such a level of consciousness that they demonstrate compassion for another would find it impossible to choose sympathy. Someone who has attained a level of consciousness to demonstrate sympathy cannot choose to show compassion. It would be beyond their ability to do so.

I’m sorry that you’ve reached those conclusions, William, but those who choose to agree with you are choosing to accept incredible limitations on themselves.

In reference to the earlier discussion in this thread, I came across an article in the New York Times yesterday that could easily be interpreted to support Talbott’s premise of a deep intelligence operating from within nature. Japanese researchers, working with slime mold, created a problem which essentially asked this single-cell organism to address the same issues humans were faced with in designing the Tokyo rail system. The slime mold not only solved the problem, but did so with such efficiency that the researchers created a mathematical model based on this simple organism’s behavior that they say could help humans design other networks:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/26/science/26obmold.html?ref=science

Now consider this, as well as Talbott’s comments above, in the context of what we currently refer to as the “mystical” point of view, in this case as expressed by Richard Bucke: “He does not come to believe merely; but he sees and knows that the cosmos, which to the self-conscious mind seems to be made up of dead matter, is in fact far otherwise – is in very truth a living presence. He sees that instead of man being, as it were, patches of life scattered through an infinite sea of non-living substance, they are in reality specks of relative death in an infinite ocean of life.”

This may all seem entirely unrelated to the anecdotal stories referenced in MP’s main post, but on the other hand, it does all depend upon how we look at it. If we work from the premise that what the mystics have been saying over the centuries has validity, then we might also want to pay attention to their claim, to quote Bucke again, “that the foundation principal of the world is what we call love.”

If so, the idea that the very same love can break its way through otherwise broken matter in order to reach those that love is oriented towards doesn’t surprise me a bit.

Ben, in response to your question about how does the physical voice work when the brain is no longer working to direct it, I just wondered if it really is the physical voice being heard? When my Grandma was close to death, I visited her and had conversations with her. Thing is, she had throat cancer and everyone kept telling me that she couldn't speak. She wrote everything down on paper when anyone else was around. I thought at the time that she saved up her energy to talk to me in private because I was the favorite. It would have never occurred to me then that maybe we were able to talk because I could hear her psychical voice instead of her physical voice. Could it be possible as people near death that they start to access the ability to communicate psychically instead of physically?

Sometimes I wonder why I came back to this world after I died. I can see the bad stuff. Not just in far away places like Haiti or in big cities like Los Angeles… Stuff happens everywhere that would make any sensible person want to retreat back to the NDE place. And yet I know this place is important and beautiful too.

I think part of it has to do with connections. Many of us are thinking about Haiti now because of the tragedy there. Somehow that sadness has connected the world in a way that it wasn’t connected before the earthquakes hit. It is sad that it takes bad stuff to make such connections, but in a weird way that seems to work better than good stuff does, or at least it works on a larger scale. The idea of connections seems really important to me. In the NDE place connections were effortless. We have to work at them here. The thing is, when we make them… for whatever reason… they bring us closer to the underlying beauty of this existence.

As usual I'm jumping into this conversation very late, but I found Zetetic Chick's points about the "third way" to be very interesting.

I generally feel disdain around both materialism (objectivism, reductionism, other god-awful philosophies) and religiosity which are the two prevailing mind-sets for most people in the West. As somebody who follows spiritual research I generally consider myself as belonging to some undefined third-world view.

Those who made the most headway in trying to define this world-view in concrete terms were probably the Spiritualists. This didn't work out very well because Spiritualism is / was an "ism" that came forth in an age of cults and public weariness towards new movements and ideas.

But what you'll find is public perception of things like communication with the deceased is rapidly increasing. I dare to say it's more commonly accepted and discussed in 2010 than ever in history (except perhaps.. ancient Egypt?). So, in an undefined way, it's slipping through the cracks.

The bane of its existence may very well be the "new age" movement, otherwise known as the worst attempt yet to define an organizational movement around not only communication with the departed, but a million whack-ideas, ranging from 2012 nonsense, to healing crystals, Plaedian aliens, and other bunk topics which completely invalidates the legitimate phenomena.

In essence, a world where life after death is recognized as legitimate is an entirely separate culture, far removed from the religious or materialist philosophies humans have grown up with. This would be a culture with an entirely new and unique set of philosophies and issues.

Flash-forward 100 or 200 years to a world where communication with the deceased has become technologically advanced and accepted by society:

On the plus side, I do think that in such a world there would be a higher appreciation about life. More people would take chances and dare to really "live" versus being afraid of boogeymen and staying inside their homes their whole lives. There would certainly be less materialism, which would mean the possessive, covetous, and selfish nature of many would diminish. And with less attachment to organized religion there would be more emphasis on individuality and self-expression.

The down-side: with an entire new system of philosophies, there would be many strange and alien philosophies and movements.

There would be assemblies of people who take Earth-life completely for granted. Imagine highly suicidal people prone to extreme levels of risk-taking or public displays of death.

This world would see followers of "Chaotic philosophies", perhaps in rebellion to the perceived order in the universe. These people would herald the importance of conflict and would be prone to terrorist attacks and blowing up buildings simply for the purpose of undoing other people's work.

And communication with afterlife entities could seduce entire countries. Imagine a third-world country ruled by the whims of a council of mediums who believe they are taking orders from far superior intelligences, which are in reality disruptive or dark entities.

So, as you can imagine, this would be an entirely different world. When you think about it this way, perhaps it's easy to understand why people are so weary of the supernatural, because some people just like the world for as it is right now.

However, when I look at the direction we're heading, this theoretical society may come around sooner than we think. Perhaps not our generation, but in a couple of hundred years.

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