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"We do possess uniqueness and personhood, but we are also part of a larger whole that has its own purpose and intentions. We are both bounded and unbounded; we are defined and limited by our individuality, yet we partake of something larger."

Great post, Michael! Nicely captures the fundamental fact that each of us is but a fragment, and at the same time, the Whole Thing. Our situation is downright holographic, as Art likes to point out.  

"we cannot really grasp this paradox with minds conditioned by ordinary earthly reality. We can state it in words, but we can't make complete sense of it, because it is too far removed from our bodily, physical experiences."

That's such an important point. One of the key lessons of my excursions into altered states has been never again to take words and labels so seriously.

Great post, Michael. I am on the same page with you this time.

The only thing is, when some of these communicators talk about how hard it all is to understand, it does not feel that way to me. So maybe I am yet missing something.

Oh, and I did read the whole article you linked to. Excellent.

I think there is a physical way to explain that our soul is one and yet part of something bigger like the group soul: we suppose that the group soul is a material structure of four spatial dimensions. So this structure projects three-dimensional shadows like the three-dimensional objects project two-dimensional shadows, so each of these three-dimensional shadows is a particular incarnation of the group soul. Thus, we resolve the paradox of how we can be both one and many: an object is one, but if it is illuminated by multiple light sources, then projects several shadows. That is, each of our incarnations is a three-dimensional section of our four-dimensional group soul, as well as different circles are two-dimensional sections of a three dimensional sphere, which would explain the unity in multiplicity.

The good of this idea, which we find in the book Transcendental Physics by Johann Zöllner, is that it can be literal and not just an analogy, and while four-dimensional structure is unimaginable, it is understandable by mathematics.

Ha. I had to look up the definition of "recondite". I learned a new word (something I love doing). I don't think I've ever seen it used before - or at least not since I have become motivated enough to look up words I don't know..

I guess, I am still struggling to understand why the two scenarios are so hard to reconcile.

"In one scenario, the individual with all his faculties intact (and even enhanced) relocates to a spiritual world and proceeds to learn and evolve in this new environment. In the other scenario, the person sheds his ego like a worn-out coat, remembers that he has lived many lives and that all the lives were essentially roles he played, and proceeds to plan a new incarnation."

To me it seems that both are possible via the same mechanism, i.e. expanded consciouness. Which scenario one becomes involved with merely depends on how far and/or in what direction one is ready, willing and able to expand. So a personality could still be a personality, albeit with improved perceptual capabilities arising from release from the material senses or an individual could move past individual level of awareness and realize the connection to other kindred souls (as in a group soul), god(s), or make decisions about reincarnating as a new personality.

The scenarios would exist, in my view, as levels on a continuum that stretches from total ignorance to total enlightenment. "Summerland" being the disposition of souls closer to the ignorance end of the spectrum.

The different description coming from the other side are just different possibilities based on the level of awareness achieved by the communicator, IMO.

I'm sure I am missing something (seriously) because I am trying to see the quandry, but cannot. Maybe some one can help me out here (again, seriously).

BTW, the idea of the "group soul" disturbs me for some reason. Yet, I can feel it and think there is something to it. I don't know why it makes me feel uneasy.

Very interesting idea, Juan. I hadn't thought of it that way. I think it is still an analogy, though. To be literal, it would have to explain what the light sources are - the ones that cause the shadows. Or am I misunderstanding you?

Michael said:

"We seem to simultaneously identify with the small self of the ego and personality, and with the big self of the witness or oversoul or "cosmic consciousness."

Here's how I like to explain this to myself in simple terms. Seth makes a comment that has stayed with me ever since I read it almost twenty years ago because it clears up so many apparent dilemmas: "There are no closed systems."

So even though the system we call the small self usually appears to be separate, it is always connected "around the edges," so to speak, to the rest of the universe. (Which explains the existence of telepathy, as well as episodes of the cosmic consciousness mentioned in that quote.)

What's more, since all systems are open, there is ultimately only one system, just as all drops of water are part of one collective ocean.

The small self opens out to the soul, the soul to the oversoul, and the oversoul to God, the largest system. Or you can substitute your own words for those systems, or add other levels or hierarchies.

And when people argue about specifics, about how to label the various subdivisions, or whether reincarnation is true, I remember Seth's words. I know that when you come down to it, there are no true spatial or temporal boundaries because they would imply closed systems of one kind or another.

So, though I'm wearing blinkers at the moment and choosing to temporarily narrow my focus to Bruce Siegel, I *am*, quite literally, everyone who has ever lived or ever will live.

And at the same time, I am my soul, my oversoul, and God.

Make sense?

Yes, Bruce that makes sense.

I think you are saying what I was I was saying about expanded consciouness (or awareness), but in a different way. It's all one and we are all one. How big (or small) a view of that picture we want to see at any given moment is simply a matter of where we place our attention.

Concerning Michael's examples, they could be addressed by saying that we can almost simultaneously focus our awareness very narrowly on the ego or we can zoom back out for a larger view in which we can observe our ego in action (think Google Maps. It's all one map). This seems simple to me and that is why I struggle to understand the questions and theories around us being separate entities (i.e. ego, soul, spirit) operating in one person during earthly existance.

I guess fundemental to my understanding is the idea that awareness after death is not so different in how it operates than awareness during life on earth. We meet all kinds of people with all different levels of awareness. Some people, we have all met them, are so narrowly focussed that they are stereotypes. Then there are people that really break the mold. Notice that, regardless of awareness focus level, everyone has opinion and that too very few qualify authoritaive statements with an "IMO".

If I am right about awareness generally following the same rules after life as during (it is, afterall, awareness in either realm, isn't it?), then we should expect to obtain a wide variety of after life reports regarding conditions over there, the meaning of it all, how it all works, etc.

I think Michael's theory (dilema?) regarding multiple components going their separate ways after death becomes a potential explanatory piece of the puzzle if one assumes that upon death there is total enlightment and that after life communications are all absolutely accurate depictions of an ultimate and objective truth.

Then again, I don't agree with the premise that, ".... that there are, broadly speaking, two kinds of scenarios spun about life after death. In one scenario, the individual with all his faculties intact (and even enhanced) relocates to a spiritual world and proceeds to learn and evolve in this new environment. In the other scenario, the person sheds his ego like a worn-out coat, remembers that he has lived many lives and that all the lives were essentially roles he played, and proceeds to plan a new incarnation."

I don't agree that there are only two scenarios and I don't think that the two scenarios depicted are even that typical. I am thinking (as usual) Tibetan Book of the Dead. Also, Seth and some of the other alleged enlightened souls' communications.

Furthermore, can we dismiss much of the evidence arising from mediumship as the product of a "mania", but then draw upon it to concoct theories of the nature of the soul? This seems facile, contradictory and self defeating simultaneously.

Getting back to the "two scenarios" meme, why cannot it be one? Why not some souls take time, perhaps considerable time, after death to learn and evolve and then gradually shed the worn out coat, where others, due to some inherent characteristic, perhaps greater flexibility in making awareness shifts, do this much more rapidly? Why does this much more simple explanation not work? Again, in life we see all kinds of different aptitudes for learning. Some people, even after exposed to structured education, maintain illogical, contradictory and naive understandings of some basic concepts while others, like Einstein, are able to almost instantly grasp the most comlex ideas without needing much formal tutelage.

Why should it be different after death?

In my other comment had an analogy and a literal assertion. That analogy is the group soul and the embodied soul are as a three-dimensional object and its two-dimensional shadows or sections. The literal assertion is that the group soul is a four-dimensional material object and the embodied soul is a three-dimensional projection of that object. If this projection is defined as shadow or section, is something i do not know, but i think it is better understood as section, so do not need any light to project. Now, a sphere can be drawn infinite two-dimensional sections would be circles, should not we then infinite souls in each group soul? No, because we are in physics, not mathematics, so that in a real ball, a basketball, one can only extract a finite number of two-dimensional sections. From there a finite number of souls in each group soul.

Therefore, it is if the embodied soul is a three-dimensional section of four-dimensional group, no light is required and is not true that the soul group cause the embodied soul, but the embodied soul is the group soul from another perspective. One thought that you support on the notion of David Bohm on quantum level, which seems to projection of a high dimensional reality.

Thanks, Juan. That's a helpful explanation.

Robert Monroe experienced the whole/part of himself during his many out of body experiences. When he first encountered the 'whole' of himself, he wanted to bow to it like a god! the whole of himself was that much larger, brighter, more intelligent, etc.

His experiences around this idea are laid out in his book "Ultimate Journey'. I would highly recommend anyone with interest in this idea and how it actually works out in an individual's life (and in the life of the 'whole'). steph

For what it's worth, I recall one channeled source, a very poor peasant, simply state that she could choose whether or not to return to earth (this should please Art), and simply had no desire to. Another said simply that he had "no need" to reincarnate any further, all lessons having been learned. So maybe we simply choose whether to reincarnate.

Bruce Moen had much to say about the Afterlife Journeys (his series of stories). He may not explain as much as we'd like; but, when we're looking for pieces of the puzzle, we look in a lot of unusual places.
Thanks for this article. Eye-opening for sure.

Thank you Kathleen. That is comforting. I have a hard time figuring out why so many people are so enamored of reincarnation. It sounds like a horrendous possibility to me. I'm fighting athletes foot right now and it's quite bothersome, burning and itching, even on the very bottoms of my foot. My right shoulder hurts from trying to do "dips" in a gym class, both my hips have osteoarthritis, my lower back hurts, and both my knees. I've had four or five root canals on my teeth, and numerous fillings, and four crowns. I wake up every morning in pain. I remember I cried for three days when my mom died when I was fifteen. Heck, I even remember crying when I was six years old when I found out my parents were getting a divorce. I do agree with the Buddhists on one thing, "all life is suffering." Why in the hell anyone would intentionally choose to come back here is completely and utterly beyond me.

Sorry to hear of your troubles, Art, and hope you're feeling better. I personally believe we get the choice to reincarnate. Perhaps some souls see great opportunities to do good in a certain time and place and thus choose to come back. As for Buddhists, the idea that they believe "all life is suffering" is false. They believe all life contains suffering - but joy as well - and that all things are temporary. By understanding that all things, good and bad, are temporary, we can endure them easier, and not take them so much to heart, which is the cause of so much of our suffering. And although the Buddhists believe in reincarnation, they seem too to believe that it can be avoided by living a good life, that is, by becoming aware of our immortal spirit and striving to do the least harm to all living creatures.

For me there are only 3 options to resolve this issue.
1. Reincarnation doesn't exist at all.
2. It does exist in the traditional form that the soul is reborn to learn necessary spiritual lessons albeit by choice.
3. The soul or ego portion of you - the thinking ME part exists in the spiritual realms for ever whilst another part the Spirit is reborn.

Option 3 has the difficulty that the new reborn life will develop into a seperate personality with his/her own mind. To what extent can it be said this is reincarnation? I can understand the argument that ultimately we are all part of something much bigger but the new personality will not really be ME even though we may be connected at some deeper level or indeed be the same in some unknowable way.

How does Karma work under option 3? If I have led a miserable, nasty & selfish life are we saying that another part of my spirit/oversoul will be reborn & that new life will have to carry the can for my actions? This doesn't sound like justice to me!

I personally think option 2 is more sensible. What if the thinking part of ME is the spirit & that my current personality/ego is just temporary - another chapter in a very long book. Could it not just be absorbed into the greater me? the culmination of all the prior lives & experience I have accumulated.

The problem I see is the source material is contradictory. Possibly reflecting the level of development of the communicating spirit. channeled sources contradict with some mediumship material & regression evidence. Michael Newtons patients during regression have reported choosing future life conditions. Some NDe reports said they saw souls waiting to be reborn & some of the direct voice mediumship of Leslie Flint has spirit messages saying how they remembered former lives. How can they remember former lives if the ego/personality part of them remained in the afterlife forever?

There are no easy answers to any of this just speculations. For me it is enough just to accept survival.

Studies have shown that most people have a natural level of happiness, which varies from person to person. We tend to revert to this personal baseline no matter what our circumstances. A person with a naturally high level of happiness can suffer a paralyzing accident and, within a year, feel roughly as contented as he did before his injury. It may sound incredible that someone confined to a wheelchair can be as happy as he was when he could walk, but that's what the evidence shows. Another person may win the lottery and be temporarily elated, but if his natural level of happiness is low, he will soon find things to complain about; within a year he will be as unhappy as he was before he struck it rich. "There's nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so." Attitude is everything, and unfortunately, our attitudes tend to be deeply engrained and resistant to change.

A related point is that we tend to focus on different things. Art is unhappy (in part) about athlete's foot, a sore shoulder, and dental work. I've had all those problems and never found them significant. On the other hand, I can get deeply depressed if a book I'm writing isn't going well, or if there's some political development I don't like, or if I have noisy neighbors. Many people would find these problems trivial. We all have our priorities, and what's inconsequential to one person may be deadly serious to someone else.

"I personally believe we get the choice to reincarnate. Perhaps some souls see great opportunities to do good in a certain time and place and thus choose to come back." - kathleen

What's ironic is my wife has these two friends, twins, who are now 62 years old, large sized ladies, who have health issues, arthritis, knee problems, etc. that have been raised in a fundmentalist Christian religion (as was my wife) who are absolutely enamored by reincarnation. They read books about it and like talking about it and watching TV shows about it; and they both went to a Christian college, which is where they became friends with my wife. Isn't it strange that there are now so many "Christian" folks that seem to be infatuated with reincarnation? It has really permeated our culture, even some fundamentalists are buying into it. I really fail to understand why anyone would want to come back? This life is full of so much suffering? Death, divorce, losing friends, unfairness, wealth inequality, sadness and suffering, AIDS, cancer, heart disease, etc. Yet there are LOT of people who seem to have really bought into the reincarnation story. Boggles my mind. I'm really hoping something else is going on because I really don't want to come back. Right now my right butt muscle is hurting. For no reason at all. I guess it just decided it wanted cause me grief.

I think deep down I am deeply suspicious of free will and lean heavily towards fate and predestination. It has to do with my classes in holistic teaching and learning. I have 30 graduate hours towards a Masters degree in Holistic Teaching and Learning from the University of Tennessee College of Education.

I believe the soul's lessons are embedded in our everyday lives and it is holistically imprinted with what it needs to learn regardless of who we are, or where we live, or what we believe.

I think the reason we are here is very simple; that what we are here to experience and learn simply has to do with the differences between the so called physical universe and the place we call heaven. The physics of this side is very different than the physics of the other side. I base this on descriptions of the other side I've read in near death experience descriptions. There are things we can learn here that can't be learned on the other side. Stuff that we will use on the other side to "create" our own reality. And if you had never experienced them you wouldn't know or understand them, just like a person who had never tasted or eaten an olive wouldn't have a clue what an olive tasted like.

I think it's as simple as experiencing separation, time and space, and making memories of what it was like to live in a 3 dimensional + 1 time universe. And if you had never experienced these things you wouldn't or couldn't exist as a separate, unique, individual.

"Right now my right butt muscle is hurting."

Jeez, Art ... not to be rude, but it sounds like you focus on every negative thing.

"Death, divorce, losing friends, unfairness, wealth inequality, sadness and suffering, AIDS, cancer, heart disease, etc."

Okay, fair enough, but how about love, kindness, comfort, happiness, pleasure, health? Not to mention learning, travel, art, music, children, sports, pets, good food, a hike in the woods, a day at the beach, a desert sunset, or a refreshing nap.

Looking only at the downside of life, while reserving all your hope and optimism for the next life, seems like a big mistake to me, reminiscent of the old saying, "Don't wish your life away." I'm not trying to be overly critical, just hoping to offer some perspective.

Art, I think the idea of reincarnation is "romantic" in some way, and it's a great story line. It comes and goes it seems, just like the current tedious interest in vampires. Also, I think every one's had the experience of certain places feeling unaccountably familiar, or of experiencing dreams of other times and places that feel that they mean something more.

"Jeez, Art ... not to be rude, but it sounds like you focus on every negative thing." mIchael prescott

Until I was in my mid 40's I rode bikes, swam, went skin diving, fishing, hiking in the Smokey Mountains, worked out with weights, did the stairmaster, etc. Until all of a sudden one day I woke up and felt like I had two paring knives stuck in my hips. It was excruciating. I went to the radiologist and got X-rayed and he showed me the bright white calcium buildup around my hip joints and in my back. He told me I have osteoarthritis and one day I'll have to have hip replacement. He also showed me these long spur like projections coming off my spine, pointed inwards, and told me if one of those broke off then I'd be in real trouble.

So you see, until about the mid 1990's, I was active and felt good and didn't hurt, but it was like overnight that all came to a screeching halt. So it would be nice to be young and active again, but every time I am my back goes out on me and I'm in excruciating pain for the next couple of weeks.

So unless you have experienced that you really can't know what it is to be me. It's like pretending everyone in the world enjoyed a standard of living like the United States when the truth is that very few people in the world live like we do. There are orphans in Africa who have lost their parents to AIDS and have to take care of their younger siblings, struggling to survive, living on little more than cornmeal. There are even still people in AFrica who drink dirty water and get guinea worms that migrate through their bodies and cause excruciating pain.

My point is that life is not beautiful and wonderful all over the world like it is here. People in third world countries live in Favelas and slums and drink filthy water and lack sanitation and live in misery.

I just re-watched "What Dreams May Come" with Robin Williams and at the end of the movie they choose to reincarnate back and do it all over again. I notice that the children they showed that were supposedly Robin Williams and Annabella Sciorra as children were beautiful little white kids living in privileged conditions, like in the United States. So who decides who ends up living in poverty in some 3rd world country?

And why is it always the Earth and not some other planet in the Universe? The Universe is a very very very big place. Why do they reincarnate back on Earth every time. Why aren't they some kind of alien creatures living on another planet in another galaxy light years from Earth? None of this sounds fair or makes any sense to me.

In the original version of that movie, the wife is punished for having committed suicide by being forced to reincarnate. Robin Williams chooses to reincarnate with her in order to share the punishment and stay close to her. But test audiences disliked this ending, so they changed it to a purely voluntary act. It didn't really work that way, either. The movie has some good moments and nice art design, but dramatically it's kind of a misfire, I think.

"And why is it always the Earth and not some other planet in the Universe?"

Ian Stevenson's cases generally involved a past-life personality who lived within a few miles of the current individual. Could there be some attraction that pulls people back to familiar surroundings?

"So unless you have experienced that you really can't know what it is to be me."

You're right, of course, but I think you'll agree that *some* of your examples of life's awfulness might strike people as rather minor - dental work, muscle spasm, sore shoulder, athlete's foot ...

I'm not downplaying the osteoporosis, though. Chronic severe pain is a terrible thing. Maybe a hip replacement would fix the problem. I've known people who had hip or knee replacements and came out of it feeling years younger.

"You're right, of course, but I think you'll agree that *some* of your examples of life's awfulness might strike people as rather minor - dental work, muscle spasm, sore shoulder, athlete's foot ..." michael prescott

yeah, I must not be in pain because you can't feel it. that is the interesting thing about this life isn't it? On this side we aren't connected so it's impossible to really "grok" what the other person thinks or feels, emotions, etc. This is the "place of separation" and the other side is the place of "oneness and connectedness."

excerpt from Rosemarie's NDE:
"I was going backward as if I was going away from that place of separation."

excerpt from Mani O's NDE
"I flew into it. it was so amazing overwhelming it was like it so hard to explain it was though I was one with the world I knew everything I felt everything I was here and there it was as though as I one with the whole universe, it's just so beautiful words can't explain it."'s_nde.htm

I'm not denying the pain of your osteoporosis, Art, but ... athlete's foot?

When you start bringing up things like athlete's foot, a sore shoulder, or past dental work, it seems like you're working awfully hard to see the negative.

Maybe the chronic pain of your osteoporosis has affected your outlook about everything. That would certainly be understandable, but in all fairness you can't necessarily expect other people to feel the same way.

Anyway, I hope you can eventually get some effective treatment for the osteoporosis. As I said above, hip replacement can be amazingly helpful, and most people make a full recovery.

I recently came upon an account of a NDE on Dr. Jeffrey Long's NDERF website which may be of interest in relation to the current discussion.

Did you have a sense of knowing special knowledge, universal order and/or purpose?    

Yes. I came to understand that we all choose to come to earth to fulfill a plan of some sort or even learn about a particular interest. We choose our bodies and parents and life plan. May I also add that some people come here for the most simplest of reasons to learn how to play tennis for example or simply for the cake and food, as silly as this sounds our life plans aren't so high and lofty as one might think. I DIDN'T MEET ANY SAVE THE WORLDERS OR ANYONE WISHING TO BE A PRESIDENT. MOST HAD SIMPLE WISHES. I was also told we could exist on different planes for another lives but our life here on earth is a life purely to experience physical pleasure or pain but to have a physical experience because all other planes we don't need a body as a vessel. I also learnt that this life here is just a drop of water in the bucket of lives in which we all experience, many here on Earth & many in other realms of existence. All to progress and grow in some way. The main purpose here is to LOVE. I was also told that this would be my last life here on Earth as there will be nothing left for me to learn by coming here again. I had the feeling though that I'd be off to some other magical place! Linda G No. 1653 (Emphasis in the original).

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