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"The purpose of life is simply to provide a variety of experiences by which God can know itself. Not quite true, since the deeper purpose is spiritual training and advancement; however, true in the sense that God (spirit) does get to "know itself" only via this training."

Michael, you're getting smart in your old age. :)

Here's another way of saying it, from PIHKAL:

"Life is the One telling stories about itself to itself. It is all storytelling."

Which should be good news for someone who has earned his living telling stories.


So if I understand you correctly, Bruce, I am God.

Yes, I can get behind that.

:-)

And there is also the Seth's point of view about this question :“Now, you ARE your entity (your soul). You are its materialization in space and time as you understand it. There is no division between your entity and what you are...
You are your entity growing through the seasons. The entity is not some soul, completed, perfect, done, and you a product. You are a living portion of the tree of your entity. You experience newly in your own dimension, and therefore enrich your entity as it constantly enriches you, for your source springs from it. But you are one, and there is no division.”

I think there has to be a way to separate evil souls from good souls or spirits. Either that, or evil people become somehow transformed, as I can't imagine them suddenly not wanting to harm their fellow spirits just because they've died. I think it was Pope Francis who said there is no hell, just people who do not want to know God or goodness. I know there would be some people who would be sickened by the whole idea of living peacefully in the afterlife. Where they go, who knows? Maybe they must become rehabilitated, or go back to live again to get it right. Or we entirely lose our personalities when we die, and the personality is revealed as entirely non-real - if this is the case, then nothing we do here would actually matter.

All very Nietzschean, but too vague in the sense that morality has to have a standard to live up to. How is that standard set? If this is some kind of practical exercise in the great university of spiritual development, who sets curriculum? And if we each do that for ourselves, then what we have is the ultimate existential quest. But the question still remains to what purpose?

"So if I understand you correctly, Bruce, I am God."

Yes, but just remember who you get to boss around: you!

I don't think of things in terms of purpose or meaning. I believe those terms are grounded in a dualistic thinking that sees self separated from others. However, I do see things as being significant in the sense that they are a sign of unity. A good deal of our worldview is based on what we have experienced or seen. This is one of the reasons the new age types who grew up in relatively affluent areas of the United States or Western Europe don't have the same worldview of someone born physically or emotionally impaired, or in mindnumbing poverty.
One of the reasons I have so much respect for my ancestors, actually our ancestors is their incredible resiliency and moral courage to lives that were bitterly hard the last great philosophers and sages of the Mahayana tradition states that there are two levels of reality one which is imperfect and impaired and contingent upon our perceptions and habit. The other is an unimpaired perfected wisdom that sees things in their interconnectedness.

Well let's put it this way the mind is the ocean and we are individual mind streams are a wave upon it. When the energies that formed the wave dissipate it returns to its essential nature the ocean. The ocean however always manifest itself in waves eventually so the time will come when that mind stream is again formed during with it not just some of the energy form its former form as a wave but united with the entire ocean.

Every creature is born with its sensory tools for survival but they also limit our understanding, we think all the froth and bubbles are ourselves but this is just a manifestation of ourselves. Meaning and meaninglessness, purpose and purposelessness, random and nonrandom ultimately come down to perspective, there is no ontology behind them all that is true of our dualistic mind, but it's not true of the cosmic mind which we are a part of it transcends all distinctions but abides in all of them. That's my take on it

"Life is the One telling stories about itself to itself. It is all storytelling."

Sure. I think that is all there is to "reality".

That said, some stories - and characters in them - make you feel good. They move you in a positive way. Some stories - and characters - make you feel bad; very negative.

It's the feeling that counts. Not, mind you, the superficial cheap emotive message of propaganda, but the heart and soul of real stories.

I think the universe wants to feel good. Love feels good. It soars. Hatred and selfishness feel bad, heavy. What role did you play? What is your resulting specific gravity? It's not judgment, yet it matters. That's how I reconcile the seemingly opposing view points.

If life is about learning to do the ‘right’ thing with an ultimate purpose of moral and spiritual growth, then one might ask---moral and spiritual growth toward what ends? And, ‘right’ according to whose standard? Is there a book of rules somewhere? Right or wrong, good or bad are subjective judgmental determinations. Depending upon circumstances, what is right in one setting may be wrong in another and good and bad are beliefs of a culture. (Sacrificing a fair maiden to the gods may be considered good in the ancient Aztec culture but bad in the modern American culture.) Perhaps this view is more humanistic rather than spiritual.

If life is a cosmic game played out by a cosmic mind, i.e., Consciousness, then again, to what purpose; so that Consciousness (God) can know itself? God by definition is omniscient and already knows itself. Perhaps rather than knowing itself, God is creating itself. Much in the way that the physical universe created and is still creating itself, God is creating itself. God today is not the God of yesterday nor is it the God of tomorrow. This makes God beyond comprehending since it is always changing.

I like to think that consciousness was and is prime. Before there was the physical universe there was perfect mind---perfect consciousness; an omniscient omnipotent consciousness. And consciousness, in an orgasm of ecstasy exploded into paroxysms of energy in one incomprehensible act of creation, the energy waves of which formed galaxies of suns and planets, all condensing from wave to particle at the observation of the omnipotent consciousness.

Michael, you may jest with Bruce when you ask if you understand him correctly that you are God, but perhaps you are more correct in that acknowledgment than you know. If during the ‘big bang’, the primal consciousness also exploded into innumerable bits and pieces of consciousness and one of those bits is the consciousness that you experience then, yes, you are part of the ‘God’ consciousness. You are God, as is every other consciousness.

Perhaps the purpose of life is that each bit of consciousness is perfecting itself, recreating itself to rejoin other consciousnesses to become as it was in the beginning, one omnipotent omniscient consciousness. With deference to Roger Ebert, life is not an elaborate hoax perpetuated by some cosmic trickster, although it may be other than it seems. (Perhaps in other circumstances he would have chosen other words.) Rather, it could be that each consciousness is part of a symphony or a tapestry, in which each consciousness is a note or a thread, separate but being woven together with other threads as a whole cloth, each lending its hue to the total pattern.

Considering that you may be a part of God, then as such, God actually may really be closer than your very breath and when you pray, God hears you; not only you but every other conscious being in the universe because every consciousness is part of God. According to my favorite poet, God hears even the wings-whirr of the insects in prayer and considering evil in the world she says when speaking about heaven, “E’en the crime-stained wretch, abasked in light shall cast his seed and spring afruit!

"In fact, a certain amount of suffering and tragedy is necessary to ensure maximum diversity and maximum drama."
Art Kleps said, they "thicken the plot."

Trouble with that conclusion, no one, is that I suspect there are people who get a great deal of pleasure (sense of power) from expressing anger and aggression. Perverse pleasure, perhaps. But our psychological health goes a long way towards determining what makes us feel good.

We have to believe it's all real so it evokes the emotion that is necessary to imprint on the memory the lessons we came here to learn. There is a very close connection between emotion and memory. The more emotional the experience the more powerful and long lasting the memory it creates.

If we knew for certain that this life was really just a holographic illusion we might not emote as much and the soul wouldn't learn what it was it came here to learn. We simply learn here what can't be learned on the other side.

The lessons have to be powerful enough to overcome the physics of the other side. The feelings of oneness and connectedness, the lack of time and space, etc. The soul uses what it learns here to create it's own reality in heaven.

Emotions Make the Memory Last - WebMD
Jan 31, 2005 - "Ever wonder why some memories can stay vivid for years while others fade with time? The answer is emotion."
http://www.webmd.com/balance/news/20050131/emotions-make-memory-last

Highly astute post!

I don't think there is really a contradiction at all, and the philosophical solution is rather simple. When people are tuning into the One, the Unified State, the place where "all manner of things shall be well," they are tuning into the final state of the Universe, the place where the vector of the Universe (Love) is pointing, becoming, arriving.

In our lives in the physical Universe, we are through our actions augmenting or opposing that vector: Love vs. Fear. In fact, through all of our incarnations and states of being, we will be either building or opposing that vector. The end state of the Universe is infinitely great, infinitely beautiful, infinitely loving, and we will never fully complete it, except in the realm of Infinity. Yet, paradoxically (but intelligibly), that end state is already within us, and we are within in.

I think, in that sense, things both matter and don't matter. It matters very much if we side with Fear and oppose the vector, and it matters very much if we spread Love and augment the vector. Yet we already know that Love wins in the final state. We know we cannot defeat it, and we know that that is where we are going and where we ultimately are.

I think that's how the two perspectives are reconciled. Actually, I think the second perspective is philosophically a little weak and not really in contradiction with the first, which is basically correct, albeit not complete.

I think your F Scott Fitzgerald quote captures something very important. I do think however, in fact I'm sure, he was not implying that what facilitates the functioning of such first rate minds is an ability to consciously synthesise these opposing ideas into some kind of rationally coherent whole.

Rather, such people also possess the 'negative capability' required to cope with the uncertainties and stresses that come from attempting to live with, and live out, what appear to be contradictory positions.

Such uncertainties and stresses can give rise to a great deal of emotional tension and suffering. So, for me, having this ability is primarily about strength of character rather than just possessing some kind of intellectual ability; and I would place having this strength of character at the heart of what it means to be a spiritually advanced person.

I say this because of its fruits: A spacious tolerance, an ability to listen to and emphasise with differing points of view and perspectives, an acceptance of ambiguity and lack of literal minded dogmatism. I would also add flexibility, but with the caveat that this is not about 'anything goes'. People possessing this in my experience are quite prepared to make a stand when they think this is required. There is a bottom line; a chunky core of strongly held values (which, like Michael, I see as centred on love and compassion for others).

So as I see it the important step, as Michael has done here so well, is to identify and not flinch from the apparent contradictions that beset a spiritual take on the world; and not to worry if they cannot be readily and immediately resolved. Perhaps they are there to be experienced and lived through, rather than be regarded as just some sort of cosmic crossword puzzle set for us by God.

Btw, I don't agree that Eastern religions don't care about morality. The whole notion of karma can be very strict with respect to how actions will affect one's next incarnation, etc. Moreover, in both Hinduism and Buddhism (among other religions) being caught up in Samsara is seen as undesirable, so there are actually two layers of judgment that say that it matters: 1) avoid bad karma, or it'll get ya, and 2) even having good karma isn't good enough; you have to transcend it all, and morality is a necessary condition of such transcendence (e.g., the Noble Eightfold Path).

The whole, "Yeah, you reincarnate, but just let it all hang out, man," take on things seems pretty modern to me.

Some of Robinson Jeffers' poems explored over this matter.

Michael, Matt, no one, and others: it does seem to me we're finding common ground with a vision that is eloquently presented here (I've linked to this before):

http://books.google.com/books?id=PANEMQvjEMAC&pg=PA100&lpg=PA100&dq=%22we+can+now+try+to+summarize+the+insights+from+holotropic+states%22&source=bl&ots=hKA0YZurpW&sig=seM1tYumy1ub8kI2pX2x9i1N398&hl=en&sa=X&ei=yNtGU7nsKKnlyQGj0IGQBA&ved=0CCkQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=%22we%20can%20now%20try%20to%20summarize%20the%20insights%20from%20holotropic%20states%22&f=false

"Trouble with that conclusion, no one, is that I suspect there are people who get a great deal of pleasure (sense of power) from expressing anger and aggression. Perverse pleasure, perhaps. But our psychological health goes a long way towards determining what makes us feel good. "

Julie, I can't agree with that. The impact of such people on others is negative. That negativity is real. True joy does not negatively influence others; by which I mean their souls and not their egos - which may be in some twisted. I think you are mistaking ego gratification for perceptions of the eternal and psychic soul.

Bruce......ok. Just please don't link to any Nanci Danison. Someone up thread said something about "character" and it sounded right to me. Some things in the cosmic game should go unexplored/unexpressed. Good character dictates that we do not explore our creative nature by violating the rights of others; e.g. Adolf Hitler. I recognize that souls will go down those roads, but I do think doing so has consequences. It's not all OK.

Thanks for the link Bruce. The selection from the book and the poem says it all for me. I wish I could afford to purchase the book but $80 is a little pricey for me right now. - AOD

The Nook version is $30.

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/cosmic-game-the-stanislav-grof/1018383835?ean=9781438405094

The Google Play digital edition is $16. (See the red "Buy Ebook" button on left side of page.)

http://books.google.com/books/about/The_Cosmic_Game.html?id=V9z-z6wwaJsC

Incidentally, there's a first-season episode of "Frasier" in which Frasier is struggling to find a quiet place to read a book. The book is "The Cosmic Game."

Now that I've checked, I've learned that Frasier was actually trying to read another of Grof's books, "The Holotropic Mind."

Every thought has purpose and meaning. Just as every experience has purpose and meaning. Every expression has purpose and meaning.

The perfect feedback system called karma is like a giant mirror reflecting back to the doer. Calling the physical world a hoax or a game is judging by appearances and indeed this also has purpose and meaning.

The world has yet to ask the question beyond the origin of our suffering, struggles, hardships, sin, evil, etc.

As one of my favorite authors stated: “Where would a soul go to school if your world were perfect”? A soul’s uniqueness is a process yet to be discovered by the world.

Or: “ If The World Were Perfect It Wouldn’t Be” Yogi Berra, i.e. souls are “perfectly imperfect” for a divine reason.

“The end state of the Universe is infinitely great, infinitely beautiful, infinitely loving, and we will never fully complete it, except in the realm of Infinity. Yet, paradoxically (but intelligibly), that end state is already within us, and we are within in.” This is well stated.

“The soul uses what it learns here to create it's own reality in heaven”. Like attracts like in these spheres or dimensions after we transition. We could also state a soul’s vibration level attract those like its vibration level in Art’s heaven.

@no one: I take your point, but there are an awful lot of people who derive an awful lot of pleasure from violence and horror if only in the form of fiction. Also, immediately after writing my last posting here, I came across the following article on the BBC. It puts an interesting spin on this discussion:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/6057734.stm

Hope the link works. :)

I think these two positions on the purpose of existence can be synthesized by the dialectical logic, that is, the search for all possible experiences is a necessary but not last part of the search for the good.

Star Wars can be a example to understand this. It is said that Anakin Skywalker is the Chosen One who will bring balance to the Force, but he falls into the dark side and do terrible things, but in the end he redeems, defeat the Emperor and brings balance to the Force, so it seems the path of the Chosen One has to deal all with the facets, that is, dealing all the experiences, not only the good but also the evil, but in the end the way through the dark side is only one moment for the last good.

Bruce, You know I do like Grof, right?

Every time I think about Grof/Cosmic game the metaphor of a group of musicians improvising comes to my mind. As a pianist maybe you can relate. Being a guitar player I have jammed with all kinds of different musicians playing in all kinds of styles. Improvising is fun exploration. When it's working out it really feels great. When your timing is off and/or you get out of key then the experience gets uncomfortable for a bar or two. If it happens more, then you might get kicked out of the group.

Improvising musicians = the one and souls exploring awareness. So that always colors my interpretation. I can't get past it for some reason.

Also, regarding holotropic states; I don't think that people living from ego and in a mental space where they can do bad to others experience holotropic states. If they did, they would start to change their outlook. So Grof's ideal is incompatible with what we call "evil". Just a thought any how. Maybe it means something.

I'm pretty sure that the William who commented above is longtime commenter William E. Fechter, who contributed many thoughts to this blog before taking a hiatus a couple of years ago. Recently, William published a book on the subject under discussion. It's called Original Innocence, and he was kind enough to send me a copy. Basically he argues that what we call sin or evil is actually ignorance grounded in innocence, and that this "original innocence" was necessary if the cosmic Mind, in generating individual souls, was going to allow those souls to discover the world for themselves. The book is sold on Amazon:

http://tinyurl.com/kr5zptx

Welcome back, William!

"So Grof's ideal is incompatible with what we call "evil".

no one, your heart's in the right place, but statements like that can be misleading.

On the one hand, Grof is a therapist who helps people lead more loving and joyful lives. Wearing that hat, I suppose you could say he regards evil as the enemy.

But it's also true that The Cosmic Game discusses in depth why negativity, in all its forms, is essential to creating a universe rich in experiential possibilities.

And wouldn't it be hypocritical for us to be shocked by such a viewpoint? We who seemingly can't live without the books, movies, and news stories that enthrall us, and that offer such a rich mix of light *and* shadow?

"When your timing is off and/or you get out of key then the experience gets uncomfortable for a bar or two. If it happens more, then you might get kicked out of the group."

And (continuing the metaphor) find yourself recruited by a different group with a different role to play. :)

I have to say, though, that I admire the fun you have improvising music with other musicians. My own playing tends to be more solitary. But I do love it.

Speaking of which, I just bought an iPad, and am transferring my entire library of scores to it. I can now go to my friend's house and bring 120,000 pages of music with me. (Once I get it all scanned, or import the scans from the internet.)

And I can use my foot (and a Bluetooth pedal) to turn pages!

Hi Michael,

I lean more toward the idea that life is for moral advancement than toward the idea that it is just a game. However, I do think there are elements of both. Beyond either of these, though, I've moved more toward the meaning of life as involving relationship.

Many years ago I read a science fiction short story whose title and author I can't seem to come up with at this point. (If anyone recognizes it, please do tell!)

In it, some strange visitors knock on the door of a house on the outskirts of a major city, asking if they may visit for a while. The resident lets them in, probably out of curiosity more than anything else. The visitors arrange themselves in front of the big picture window at the front of the house, facing the city, as if expecting a show.

The show comes in the form of a nuclear blast that levels the city. The house they chose happens to be just outside of the blast zone in which everything is destroyed, providing them with a fine view of the apocalyptic destruction of the city from just outside the reach of the bomb.

In one of the small but significant details of the story, the strangers offer the resident some candy that they have brought with them. He takes a piece, and it is amazingly delicious. Then he reaches for another, and it is absolutely nauseating.

The strangers, it turns out, are looking for intense experience--pleasure, pain, beauty, destruction . . . it doesn't matter, as long as it is intense.

I know this represents one conception of God, especially prevalent in some Eastern philosophies. But I simply can't imagine that God is a disinterested stranger who creates good and evil, pleasure and pain, simply for the variety and intensity of the experience. There is a certain cool, detached aloofness that doesn't square with the idea of God as infinitely loving and wise, and as being in close relationship with the beings S/He has created.

I have come to think of the purpose of the universe more and more in terms of relationship. Moral and spiritual growth do not happen on some arbitrary scale pre-set by God. Nor are they entirely relative to one's own particular conscience. They have to do with forming mutually loving relationships based not only on a sense of understanding and caring for those with whom one is in relationship, but also on serving them in helpful and practical ways.

I do not believe God requires the universe in order to understand and experience God's own nature. Rather, I believe God created the universe, and humans in particular, in order to have others with whom God can be in a relationship of love, understanding, and service. That is what gives meaning to our lives as humans also: loving and constructive relationship with one another and with God.

More abstractly, we live in the interplay between love and truth. Love is a force or entity that brings everything together as one. Truth being an entity or force that distinguishes and even separates every distinct thing from every other distinct thing. This interplay is why I don't reject either "oneness" or "discreteness" views of reality. Life exists in the interplay between the two.

I don't generally wax too philosophical in too sustained a way on my blog. But I made an exception for a two-part article based on two talks I delivered at a Swedenborgian camp last summer, exploring some of these ideas:

Wavicles of Love
http://leewoof.org/2013/08/10/wavicles-of-love/

and

Containers for God
http://leewoof.org/2013/08/11/containers-for-god/

These articles represent some of my own thoughts on the subject, drawing heavily on concepts found in Swedenborg's writings.

Thanks michael. good to be back to the best paranormal blog on the net.

I like William's comments a lot, thank you!

@ Bruce/no one

I like Grof too. I think he's "right" and only incorrect in that his story is incomplete. It's incomplete in some critical ways, but still he does such a good job with what he does delve into.

We had a super long debate, but since then (and because of the debate and what it taught me!) I think I can distill where Grof is in error a bit more succinctly.

I think it's also relevant to Michael's post here...

OK, so the One has adventures in consciousness as individual souls. The people in this world (animals, etc., too) are having individual adventures in consciousness. So far, so good.

The issue: What prevents something/someone having as his/her/its adventure in consciousness becoming a world-destroying/-controlling/-changing/-dominating/-etc. entity or force?

We see that Hitlers and Stalins come into being, and those guys are having an "adventure in consciousness" that "thickens the plot," but what prevents an entity from being that immediately destroys all life?

The implication of Grof is that all "adventures are possible," but that is clearly not the case, as we live in a stable Universe. Thus, we may conclude that such an adventure is 1) not possible, 2) not allowed, 3) a mix of not possible and not allowed.

The atheist actually has the initial advantage here: "Hey, the reason why no such entity destroys the Universe is that such a thing doesn't exist and cannot exist. Unless it's a supernova or a natural force like that. This is just a world of matter and energy, and what happens is simply what is possible given the constraints of natural law."

This line of thought would have seemed *obviously* true to me when I became an atheist at age 13. Yet... the fly in the ointment is the spiritual/psychic/etc. phenomena that we in this forum have directly experienced and do not have the convenience of hand-waving away (plus those of others which jibe with our own).

So then we are left with the same question: What provides stability in this Universe? Traditional religion has another easy answer: God controls everything. Yet most of us here do not believe that (for good reasons), and we don't have a simple answer for the question.

My answer to the question, which may or may not be correct of course, takes a clue from the Greek creation myth (it works with other creation myths too). There was a primordial chaos out of which emerged the Titans (then gods), who imposed order. And I think that is basically it: raw, naked, anything-goes, primordial Reality attempted to fulfill all possibilities at once, yet that is logically impossible, since there are an infinity of contradictory possibilities. Thus, out of this soup of contradiction arose the gods, which is a metaphor for the order-creating powers. This "struggle" probably did not even happen via "events," primarily.

And the reason why we still have evil and disorder within goodness and order is that no system can ever be both complete and noncontradictory (per Godel), and thus everything that "happens" in the Universe is about completion/creation and resolution with the final resolution in the realm of Infinity being Love itself. We are ourselves "agents" of completion and resolution.

"I lean more toward the idea that life is for moral advancement than toward the idea that it is just a game." - Leewoof
-----------------

And the third alternative is that it is to learn about the physical universe. What it's like to be inside, control, and limited to a physical body, be separate, what time and space look and feel like, and make memories of what it was like to live in 3 dimensional + 1 time universe.

We simply come here to learn what can't be learned on the other side.

"...........We are ourselves "agents" of completion and resolution."

Great comment Matt (the whole comment). Well said. I agree. Though it does lead, to my mind, to some sort of Manichean conclusion. For some reason I always end up there and I don't know if it's our culture, or something else, but a Manichean perspective seems so un-cool. I actually try to reason and to feel my way out of it. Yet there I am once again.

"I lean more toward the idea that life is for moral advancement than toward the idea that it is just a game. However, I do think there are elements of both."

I think so too, which makes it difficult to parse out what it's all about.

William, I've seen your excellent comments in older posts here. Yes. Welcome back!


"I do not believe God requires the universe in order to understand and experience God's own nature. Rather, I believe God created the universe, and humans in particular, in order to have others with whom God can be in a relationship of love, understanding, and service. That is what gives meaning to our lives as humans also: loving and constructive relationship with one another and with God." - Leewoof

I must say that I rather like the idea of being one of God's domestic pets. But it does seem to me that He's reaching the stage where He's breeding and keeping too many and thus letting the place fall into squalor. One reads about such things in the papers all the time. Perhaps a cull is on the cards? :/

I have read several NDEs that state that this Earth life is a school and we are students. That would mean that the day we die is graduation day! Yippee! LOL!

Hi Art,

I, too, am looking forward to graduation day.

Hi Art,

"And the third alternative is that it is to learn about the physical universe."

Well, my third option was developing relationship.

But to run with yours, I would add that it is to develop what can be uniquely developed in a material universe as compared to a spiritual one.

Compared to spiritual reality, material reality has a certain sense of fixity, inertia, and resistance to change about it. Here we exercise our muscles against an environment that resists our efforts. This develops strength of character.

The flip side is that once we whip our particular corner of physical reality into a particular shape, it tends to retain that shape and resist change.

The very fact that material reality is the most fixed and inert of the levels of reality provides a crucial component to our becoming distinct and individuated beings. We build a fixed container or envelope for ourselves here, which provides the boundaries and the direction of our spiritual self. This serves the purpose of preventing us from just spilling out into the surrounding spiritual environment and losing our identity in the process. (I am aware that some eastern philosophies see this as a plus. But why develop individuality in the first place if it is only going to be lost?)

In other words, our time spent in the material world adds a set of specific boundaries to us as individuals, which enables us to continue as distinct individuals once we consciously enter the spiritual realm at death.

Hi no one,

"I must say that I rather like the idea of being one of God's domestic pets."

Haha, hadn't quite thought of it that way. I suppose in relation to God, we do have something of the status of pets.

However, there is one crucial distinction: Unlike pets, we can exercise our freedom in choosing not to be God's pets, but to move away from God instead. It seems to me that the element of human reason and free will lifts us above the level of mere pets.

"no system can ever be both complete and noncontradictory (per Godel)"

Matt, as I see it, you sometimes approach metaphysics in a way that's less than ideal. It's futile to try to grasp these matters by holding on tightly to theories and formulas like Godel's. Language simply does not have the power to nail down fundamental truths that you seem to think it does.

All we can do is speak in metaphors.

For example: is the cosmos intended to be the ultimate game? Well, it's certainly not Monopoly or Grand Theft Auto. But it has game-like qualities -- just as it also has educational and moral implications, so speaking of "a school" seems reasonable as well.

Then too, the universe often seems like a grand work of art, or perhaps a vast theater designed for enacting endless stories and plays.

We can even approach the Big Picture as a science project, and perhaps play around with various concepts like E = MC squared, holography, or Sheldrake's notion that the laws of physics are not really laws, but habits. (Which might help to explain the stability you were asking about, by the way.)

So we can approach reality from any of these angles, and gain insight.

But here's my point: we limit our understanding when we take *any* category, theory, or formula too seriously. How can the infinite be captured in words and symbols?

“Every single thing in this whole vast universe is filled with God, and has a specific purpose in the mind of God.” Lee Woofenden Containers for God.

This quote is a well stated. Since infinite is All and All there is no other. For other/s to exist, indeed for expression to exist, there must be an initial or origin of an unawareness of one’s divine reality. A synonym for unawareness is ignorance.

The dilemma with the word ignorance is what kind of infinite all-knowing “God” would create souls that are ignorant. Ignorance leads to suffering as the Buddha realized.

The Buddhists have stopped at the origin of suffering even though the Buddha told his followers to be open to new discoveries. Why not ask the next question beyond the origin of suffering.

If it was important to discern the origin of suffering and worth many years of Buddha’s life in meditation, then the question what is the origin of ignorance is worth asking.

A Hindu sage once stated when Oneness became many ignorance was born. The reality is that when Oneness became many innocence was born.

The judgmental, fearful, competitive, and unaware human ego judge’s by appearances and the underlying reality of all phenomena as innocence does not fit into its existing paradigm and societal beliefs. We must not condemn the ego for it has divine meaning and purpose.

As far as the term Containers for God, I prefer the term Expressions of God but that is a whole new dialog that involves the subtle difference between awareness and consciousness.

Bruce,


||Matt, as I see it, you sometimes approach metaphysics in a way that's less than ideal.||

Yes, and sometimes I'm wrong, too!

||It's futile to try to grasp these matters by holding on tightly to theories and formulas like Godel's. Language simply does not have the power to nail down fundamental truths that you seem to think it does.||

I think that language's ability in this regard ranges from a pretty low level up to 100%. "1 + 1 = 2" is a "fundamental truth" that we are able to grasp with perfect clarity. Other stuff is much more difficult.

You also seem to be fairly confident in Grof's philosophy and feel that he has expressed how things are accurately. I wouldn't say to you that Grof is wrong because such things cannot be expressed; I would simply argue against the position to the degree I disagreed.

||For example: is the cosmos intended to be the ultimate game? Well, it's certainly not Monopoly or Grand Theft Auto. But it has game-like qualities -- just as it also has educational and moral implications, so speaking of "a school" seems reasonable as well.||

Yep, I agree with all of that!

||Then too, the universe often seems like a grand work of art, or perhaps a vast theater designed for enacting endless stories and plays.||

Right!


||We can even approach the Big Picture as a science project, and perhaps play around with various concepts like E = MC squared, holography, or Sheldrake's notion that the laws of physics are not really laws, but habits. (Which might help to explain the stability you were asking about, by the way.)||

Agreed. :)


||So we can approach reality from any of these angles, and gain insight.||

Yes. I don't think my citing of Godel's theorem saying anything against what you are positing here.

||But here's my point: we limit our understanding when we take *any* category, theory, or formula too seriously. How can the infinite be captured in words and symbols?||

We do it all the time. And I think that even when we are less than 100% accurate, there is still value in the expression. As with Grof, I don't think he's 100% right, but his book is still quite valuable, as it has the power to raise the average person's level of understanding and bring them closer to the truth (this is the case whether he is 100% right or 60% right or whatever). Whereas a book by a creationist saying "Jesus did it" is wrong *in our current social context* and does not have the power to raise the average person's level of understanding (that book in the year 1800 might have a bunch of new information and perspectives and could be edifying to the average person; but granted that we now know that evolution is true, a book that says it isn't is going to hurt people's understanding, on average).

So yeah, I'm not sure I understand how you can advance Grof as being right but then say, "Language has limited power."

I hear a struggle with theodicy in all of this. I recently came across a passage in Nicholas of Cusa's "On the Vision of God" that might make help build one bridge between the two paradigms.

Cusanus writes, "For thus you [God], who are the absolute being of all, are present to all as if you had concern for no other. And for this reason there is nothing which does not prefer its own being to all others and its own way of being to all other ways, and it so upholds its own being that it would rather allow the being of all others to perish rather its own" (9.)

In other words, God's game is so enjoyable that even God gets lost in it and creates evil due to egoistic attachment to a certain finite perspective or role in the game.

As such, perhaps the key is to play the game but self-reflexively realize that it is the only game (i.e. that of infinity), and therefore treat it with utmost reverence--that is the spiritual trick par excellence!

"However, there is one crucial distinction: Unlike pets, we can exercise our freedom in choosing not to be God's pets, but to move away from God instead. It seems to me that the element of human reason and free will lifts us above the level of mere pets." - Leewoof

You mean some people are like strays? ;)

"But here's my point: we limit our understanding when we take *any* category, theory, or formula too seriously. How can the infinite be captured in words and symbols?" - Bruce

Why try to describe the ineffable?

You can't learn to drive a car just by reading a book about it watching someone else driving the car. You have to actually sit in the driver's seat and control the vehicle yourself. Same with riding a bicycle or flying an airplane.

And same with being inside and controlling a physical body. If you are pure consciousness, soul stuff, the only way you can truly know and understand what it means and how it feels to be physical, what time and space feel like, and be separate, is to come to this Universe, get inside a body and "drive it."

"So yeah, I'm not sure I understand how you can advance Grof as being right but then say, "Language has limited power."

Grof is right in this way: he understands that we are closest to the truth when we leave the analytical, language-oriented, mind behind. I'm certain he would agree with me that one session in a deeply altered state (an NDE, for example) can teach you more than reading a thousand books--even his own.

That's why his life's work has been devoted to helping people *experience* those states. Other than the Cosmic Game, which is philosophical rather than practical, all his books--all his words--have been devoted to helping people acquire understanding from direct experience, rather than from theories, concepts, formulas, or language in any form.

Your understanding of Grof is limited, Matt, because you've read only the one book.

“In other words, God's game is so enjoyable that even God gets lost in it and creates evil due to egoistic attachment to a certain finite perspective or role in the game.”

This statement is an example of making “God” in the image of man. Which of course exists at this stage of our evolution of consciousness process.

The concept of evil or good comes from the unaware mind, which fails to understand the perfection of the Infinite.

Four synonyms for game are amusement, entertainment, competition, and sport. All four of these choices are misapplied expressions of that perfection which lies from within.

Evil is also a misapplied expression that manifest itself as phenomena, therefore it is nonexistent as a reality, but does exist as phenomena.

The underlying reality of all sin and evil is ignorance. Any choice made that might be labeled as sin or evil that choice is always made due to one’s ignorance (unawareness) of their divine reality.

The problem in understanding this, even if we put aside rational deduction, is that some folks, like Bruce and Grof, achieve a state of altered/higher awareness and they see a cosmic game without consequences for individual choices, or more accurately, without a true division of good and evil. Others, like myself and many others, use the methodology to achieve altered/higher awareness and we see the game like qualities of the cosmic play, but we also come away with a Manichean perception. How can these disparate perceptions be reconciled? Who is "right"? ...........So on and on the debate goes.

Hi Julie,

"You mean some people are like strays? ;)"

Well . . . most animal strays seem to be strays not by choice, but because they were abandoned by their human owners. That is not something I think of God as doing to us, appearances to the contrary notwithstanding.

But other than that, I do agree that some people are like strays! :-)

It seems that some of the study participants felt an improvement in their mood after contemplating death (as annihilation) because they became more aware of the briefness of life and therefore the need to enjoy every moment, pursue their dreams now, and put aside pointless grudges.

And yes, some people do prefer the idea of extinction. As I recall, the philosopher C.D. Broad, who was deeply interested in psi, said he hoped there was no afterlife, because he felt he had beaten the odds already by having a prosperous, happy life, and he didn't want to press his luck. (I believe, however, that in time he became reluctantly convinced by the evidence for life after death.)

Isaac Asimov said extinction was fine with him, because it was the only fate suitable for a rational mind. IOW, an afterlife would be too mystical for him.

Anthony Flew, an atheistic philosopher who late in life changed his mind and decided there probably is a God, still maintained that he did not believe in life after death, and added that he hoped for extinction. He seemed unfamiliar with any afterlife evidence besides NDEs.

I'm sure the list can be extended indefinitely. There are subconscious motives for pretty much anything we believe. That's what makes objectivity so difficult. It's also why attacking someone's position on the basis of motive is a double-edged sword; our own motives are always equally suspect.

Here's the source for C.D. Broad's embrace of personal extinction:

http://tinyurl.com/noqq76c

Colin Wilson visited Broad in 1968 when Broad was 80 years old. Wilson reminded Broad that he had once written, "So far as I can tell, I have no desire to survive the death of my present body, and I should be considerably relieved if I could feel much surer than I do that no kind of survival is possible." In the interview, Broad elaborated: "I've been terribly lucky in this life; everything has gone very well. I've achieved all the success I could probably want – probably far more than I deserve – so I don't like the idea of taking a chance in another world. I'd rather just come to an end."

This write-up says nothing about Broad's ultimately deciding that the evidence for life after death was convincing, so maybe I misremembered that detail. Or maybe this is implied by the words "I should be considerably relieved if I could feel much surer than I do ..." (which suggests he found the evidence convincing enough that he couldn't discount it).

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