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Duck soup, thanks for that. I had bookmarked a site that was a message board for end-of-life care nurses, and they discussed a lot of what you wrote about - the dying seeing the dead appear to them. (Unfortunately, I lost the link. But this is pretty convincing evidence.) I don't see any evolutionary benefit for such experiences to occur - these people are dying, and Nature doesn't have much use for the dying. I guess skeptics might say that these experiences are just the brain trying to comfort itself as it shuts down - but why in this particular way? You'd think it would vary it what comforted a person in life - a golf course for a golfer, a big meal for a gourmand, happy hour for a partier, etc.

@Snorkler: Well it seems to me - and the materialist Rosenberg* - that everyday thought is not something that can be explained via materialism so we may need to set a higher bar.

*From his Atheist's Guide to Reality:

1) "…History is bunk…Science must even deny the basic notion that we ever really think about the past and the future or even that our conscious thoughts ever give any meaning to the actions that express them…"

2) "…What you absolutely cannot be wrong about is that your conscious thought was about something. Even having a wildly wrong thought about something requires that the thought be about something.

It’s this last notion that introspection conveys that science has to deny. Thinking about things can’t happen at all...When consciousness convinces you that you, or your mind, or your brain has thoughts about things, it is wrong."

3) "Now, here is the question we’ll try to answer: What makes the Paris neurons a set of neurons that is about Paris; what make them refer to Paris, to denote, name, point to, pick out Paris?...

The first clump of matter, the bit of wet stuff in my brain, the Paris neurons, is about the second chunk of matter, the much greater quantity of diverse kinds of stuff that make up Paris. How can the first clump—the Paris neurons in my brain—be about, denote, refer to, name, represent, or otherwise point to the second clump—the agglomeration of Paris?...

A more general version of this question is this: How can one clump of stuff anywhere in the universe be about some other clump of stuff anywhere else in the universe—right next to it or 100 million light-years away?

...Let’s suppose that the Paris neurons are about Paris the same way red octagons are about stopping. This is the first step down a slippery slope, a regress into total confusion. If the Paris neurons are about Paris the same way a red octagon is about stopping, then there has to be something in the brain that interprets the Paris neurons as being about Paris. After all, that’s how the stop sign is about stopping. It gets interpreted by us in a certain way. The difference is that in the case of the Paris neurons, the interpreter can only be another part of the brain...

What we need to get off the regress is some set of neurons that is about some stuff outside the brain without being interpreted—by anyone or anything else (including any other part of the brain)—as being about that stuff outside the brain. What we need is a clump of matter, in this case the Paris neurons, that by the very arrangement of its synapses points at, indicates, singles out, picks out, identifies (and here we just start piling up more and more synonyms for “being about”) another clump of matter outside the brain. But there is no such physical stuff.

Physics has ruled out the existence of clumps of matter of the required sort..."

Too heavy for my feeble brain to process, Sciborg, but thanks for trying ! Julie, how can you compare the ability to get to know,talk and touch someone close to us, and then conclude that they have feelings of love for us, with reading about and being sceptical of anecdotes of claimed Paranormal experiences from various persons we mostly have never met to ascertain their honesty or soundness of mind ?

"Duck Soup, Thanks for your thoughts. Do you mind telling a little more about your remembrance of “coming here.” I don’t quite understand what you are saying."

Sure, I remember coming here (earth) from over there (heaven I suppose) actually travelling, arriving and planning my life strategy as I lay in the darkness of my mother's womb (presumably)
I know this to be without any question because of how I behaved in my early life, trying to be good (to get a good life review yes there is definitely a life review)...trying to face up to things I couldn't "do" last time. I've always felt like a stranger or an actor playing a role (I didn't really want) in a farce.

I don't know why more people don't remember but I do know my brother did by what he said to me but that's another tale.

"Duck soup, thanks for that. I had bookmarked a site that was a message board for end-of-life care nurses, and they discussed a lot of what you wrote about - the dying seeing the dead appear to them"

No problem, Kathleen, it's called Allnurses.com http://allnurses.com/general-nursing-discussion/death-bed-visions-301825.html

I agree there is no evolutionary advantage in death bed visions or near death experiences. We survive because we have always existed and always will. This is not the real world, some people know that, many others don't, many can't or won't believe it but we all find out one way or another eventually. :-)

"Julie, I can say that I know someone loved me. She tried to comfort ME as she lay dying. I can’t think of any better proof than that." - GregL

Yes, I can go with that. But don't you think it's possible to argue that the dying woman simply wanted/needed a comfortable and accepting atmosphere around her at that time? After all, we often make others feel comfortable in our company so that we may also feel comfortable in theirs.

The point I'm trying to make is that I understand all the arguments for and against believing in the afterlife. But the difficulty is that intangible issues cannot be understood by left-brain-type thinking. There are things that we know and we somehow just know that we know them. In many ways, they are the most important things in life. But we can't analyse them: we can't show the workings out in the side margin.

We know when someone loves us because we feel it. It's not scientifically demonstrable to others because, for one thing, those that love us might not always behave as if they do. And those who behave as if they do don't necessarily in fact love us at all. And when we say we are hurt because we thought someone loved us but then we realize that they don't, we're not being altogether truthful, not even to ourselves. We simply chose to ignore the inner voice that tried to tell us the truth all along.

As an aside, I really don't see why anyone should ever want to prove that love even exists. And if we do have such a desire then I would argue that we've seriously lost touch with ourselves. It's the same with matters of the spirit and, in particular, issues such as after death communication. If it's real, if it's there, we feel it. And if we don't feel it and have never felt it then I think we have to consider the possibility that we are simply not really listening.

"One should follow, confidently and simply, the directions of one's inner voice." - I-Ching

"Naturally, this story is often dismissed as hallucination due to sensory deprivation but that doesn't account for why the men both saw the same things amongst many other incredible visions too many to list here."

People in confined spaces can share hallucinations. It is called folie à deux.

"What we need to get off the regress is some set of neurons that is about some stuff outside the brain without being interpreted—by anyone or anything else (including any other part of the brain)—as being about that stuff outside the brain."

But you are describing the problem of intentionality, which is unrelated to the issue of an afterlife.

But the difficulty is that intangible issues cannot be understood by left-brain-type thinking.

I do not think that is entirely true, because the psychic researchers have made some progress, not as the physical sciences,
but of the analytical and rational manner.

"We know when someone loves us because we feel it."

But we know when someone loves us because we perceive how that person behaves, which is susceptible of scientific study, but either as the natural sciences, but as the human sciences. So the research of the afterlife is closer to the human sciences that the natural sciences.

@Julie
I believe in many things of which I have no direct experience. I believe in Tahiti, that American flags are planted on the moon, that the fusion of Hydrogen atoms produces sunlight, that incredible lost worlds of life once existed on earth, and that great leviathans prowl the ocean depths. Confining knowledge to the poverty of personal experience would be like exploring the world at night with a flashlight. We must have faith in the testimony of others to move forward.

Nasa has spent millions and will spend millions more in a quixotic quest for biological traces in our solar system. No one knows whether living beings swim in underground seas on Europa, or the hydrocarbon lakes of Titan, or beneath some moist rock on Mars. What makes this effort an enormous leap of faith is the mystery at the heart of it. How did life begin here? No one has a clue. You would think that there would be some shadow of doubt cast upon this venture, some reigning in of enthusiasm, some morbid obsessing that we may be a tiny oasis of life in all the inky blackness of space. Apparently not.

Oh ye of little faith! Be like unto these fanatics, these zealous believers, these hopeful apostles of materialism; untroubled by the lack of one coherent signal in the radio noise of space, constant in the face of overwhelming evidence that we are all alone.

Of course, we’re not alone, but the alternative thesis is that the E.T.’s which science is in search of are, like the dark matter and dark energy of cosmologists, undetectable, yet all around us. There is a soul sickness, a spiritual blindness that afflicts us here, that makes us irrational. We chase after faint possibilities, vague hints, while rejecting the mass of extra-terrestrial communication that is right before us. Jesus spoke to this queer brain fever thusly: “Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.”

Where doubt comes alive for me is in the certain inadequacy of my imagination to even vaguely approximate what is so. Any belief or conviction that I have is but a signpost pointing to the next step on what I expect may be a very long journey out of the twilight and into the full light of understanding. In his presidential address to the SPR in 1882 professor Sidgwick said:

"Scientific incredulity has been so long in growing, and has so many and so strong roots, that we shall only kill it, if we are able to kill it at all as regards any of these questions, by burying it alive under a heap of facts. We must keep "pegging away" as Lincoln said; we must accumulate fact upon fact, add experiment upon experiment, and, I should say, not wrangle too much with incredulous outsiders about the conclusiveness of any one, but trust to the mass of evidence for conviction."
What Sidgwick is describing here is not just the methodical way that science proceeds, but how it is for each of us personally. Keep pegging away friends.

Juan said "People in confined spaces can share hallucinations. It is called folie à deux.

Not so fast, my friend:-) Sounds a good fit but it's not the same thing. Folie a deux is a psychiatric condition, a psychosis where two people can suffer from the same delusion,for example, the delusion that they were both being followed by the CIA without any evidence for it or more extremely that they are both Napoleon Bonaparte.
Theses miners were not suffering from any psychiatric condition neither before or after (they were examined by psychiatrists)

What they saw was hardly what you expect a couple of hard headed miners to see who were not religious at all. Hank Throne had never seen the pope and didn't know what he looked like and only described him as a bloke in fancy clothes.

How can two people hallucinate the same vision when one of them doesn't even have the sensory input, the memory to create the vision in the first place ? And why would the gold cross light up the monkey hole so that they could shore it up...there should have been ZERO light down there, non at all.

The vision was not even a vision according to Fellin, it was the spirit of the dead Pope himself, not only that one of his friends who had died many years ago came to him with a tablet and held it up to show the miners that their names were not on it..and therefore they were going to be rescued.

I know, I know, it can't happen, it's too far fetched but there's so much more to it.

The odds against the drillers finding the correct spot to drill down the bore hole were miniscule, no one had any accurate plans.
The big rig that was brought in to do the final bore hole broke down and couldn't be moved any further into the site so they took the chance and drilled right there where it was.
The reamer came down right on top of the Pope's head in the monkey hole.

These are facts but obviously most people won't accept them and I don't blame them. ;-)

Juan - I actually agree with you on intentionality. My point is that it's easy to doubt materialism, I actually hold it to be the worst metaphysical position possible.

That said, sometime more is needed to me as certain in afterlife as I am in the falsity of materialism.

"So how do any of you here know if anyone really loves you?"

Interesting question, and my guess is that when you come right down to it, love is what we're *always* asking about.

But that should be obvious. Since many people live in fear of the afterlife, mere survival is evidently not our prime concern.

What we really want to know is: "Is love real? Is love for me? Will I love and be loved when this body dies?"

No form of existence makes an ounce of sense without love. So all fear, whether the focus is this life or the one to follow, is fear of the absence of love.

Vacations bring profound thoughts. :)

Juan, "People in confined spaces can share hallucinations. It is called folie à deux."

This is most often seen over long periods, where one person is delusional and transfers it so to speak, although the French have a name for that too, it's often the case in my experience.

The Shepptan mine disaster was two weeks and though hallucinations cannot be ruled out, the fact that Hank Throne had not seen a picture of the pope and mentioned it first. While the other stated that he had already seen it, but didn't mention the fact, gives some credence to the story.

We are a society that places emphasis on rationalisation to problem solve and understand, so PSI, OBE'S, NDE's, Remote viewing, influencing, etc, are all categorised as deception, hallucination, unproven etc.

There's not much we haven't sort to label and explain. A lot stems from our culture as well, for example, 'Rhwe', in Africa, means lying on the floor naked and drunk, 'kaelling' in Danish- means that person standing at the supermarket cursing her children. We try to explain all we experience.

That's not to say we are correct though and much of the labels were allotted well in our past, including spiritual experiences seen to be mythical.

Even remote viewers find the 'mind' needs to follow a co-ordinate or associated stimulus, to remote view. Therefore to remotely 'see' a target, do we need to assign the electrons a ready chosen probability to connect to?

Unless we study consciousness which appears to travel as demonstrated in remote viewing and learn how it affects/ perpetuates our environment. We are doomed to making assumptions entrenched in false belief systems.. That's how I see it, anyway. Cheers Lyn.

Juan: I don't believe you properly read or understood a word that I wrote.

"I believe in many things of which I have no direct experience." - David Chilstrom

Me too.

"No form of existence makes an ounce of sense without love." - Bruce

I agree.

David Chilstrom said, "We must have faith in the testimony of others to move forward."

Well then how does one do that in an age of disinformation? These times are worse than the dark ages because misleading or false information, of which there is currently an over abundance and disseminated worldwide, is worse than no information at all! Too much of what we hear through the news media or read whether in scientific journals or mainstream books today has later proved to be false, outright lies, subsequently revised, or discarded completely.

I suppose it is a fantasy to believe that at one time the printed word was trustworthy. Perhaps it never was. - AOD

A perhaps more intriguing question than "Why are some deaths accompanied by signs/apparitions etc and others aren't?" is "why are the apparent abilities of the dead to make themselves known so varied?"

What I mean is all these stories we read and hear about ghostly encounters when someone has just died range from a voice, a meaningful coincidence or a dream to full on solid seeming and fully conversational apparitions.

Why, if the deceased can do any of these things sometimes within minutes of the death, don't they all do the most impressive of them? How do they learn to master these skills instantly? If a full on apparition is possible - why do most people who witness anything only witness a symbolic event months or more after the death? It can't be about the dead getting their energy back or needing time to master their new existence or what have you because some of the most direct and physical seeming apparitions in the literature happen at the time of death itself or immediately afterward. How and when did those particular spirits learn how to master such displays if time is required?

SPatel said, "My point is that it's easy to doubt materialism, I actually hold it to be the worst metaphysical position possible."

Well no, it is not easy to doubt materialism. That's why the spiritists and parapsychologists keep banging their heads up against a brick wall trying to convince materialists that a non-material world exists. You say that you hold a belief that materialism is the 'worst metaphysical position possible'. It is not metaphysical at all! Materialism is easy to understand from the materialistic viewpoint that we all find ourselves in whereas metaphysics is not.

Last night at dusk I was looking across the fields wet with dew seeing the stars and lightning bugs blend into one twinkling light show equal to or better than anything Disney could contrive. There really is no materialistic explanation for what I saw. How could this be? Why does this 'be'? Please tell me how could molten lava or basalt over time change itself into a small insect that can produce light? Somebody tell me how this can happen by some intentionality of hot rock?

It was a magical time for me. as I found myself truly in a magic kingdom, unexplainable using materialistic concepts. - AOD

"What they saw was hardly what you expect a couple of hard headed miners to see who were not religious at all. Hank Throne had never seen the pope and didn't know what he looked like and only described him as a bloke in fancy clothes."

You may be right, but I wanted to say that the situation may seem suspicious to be hallucinatory, and there are other more robust cases of apparitions of the deceased.

"Juan: I don't believe you properly read or understood a word that I wrote."

I think I do understand you: you claim that the afterlife / postmortem communication is like love: we know it's there by intuition and it can not be analyzed scientifically. But I disagree, because we know that others love us to observe their behavior and the afterlife is scientifically approachable as evidenced by psychic research.

@Juan: I addressed the issue of love as determined thusly:

"We know when someone loves us because we feel it. It's not scientifically demonstrable to others because, for one thing, those that love us might not always behave as if they do. And those who behave as if they do don't necessarily in fact love us at all."

I stated that evidence found by scientific research into intangible issues is open to alternative explanations. That's why the sceptics are so vociferous. Perhaps one day there will be irrefutable scientific evidence in support of the afterlife. But on current trend it doesn't appear very likely.


@Julie -

So fitting!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ssVvkfcL9HI

I agree, Sleepers. And it's a lovely song. :)

AOD asks “how does one do that” (have faith in others testimony) “in an age of disinformation?” I strive to give others the benefit of the doubt and assume good intentions. Because of the beam sticking out of my own eye, I think it likely that others suffer from the same blinding affliction and likewise see the world through a distorted lens. I require the vision of these others, however slanted and skewed, to compensate for my own shortsightedness and limited perspective.

Informed faith is not blind, nor naive, for it assumes flaws in the instrument of human perception. I don’t agree that “These times are worse than the dark ages”, for the problem of separating the wheat from the chaff is timeless and simply part and parcel of the human condition. Think of it as an exercise of the soul.

I take the charitable and optimistic view that every human being is an immortal, striving as I am to purge the dross of error and on the path towards fulfilling their ultimate destiny. Some may be on the expressway, others are taking the tourist route, but all are ineluctably drawn towards an inevitable and happy fate.

I'm still a sort of Doubting Thomas myself, but it's always seemed pretty obvious to me that there are good reasons why the dead shouldn't be able to easily contact the living. While several of us here are discussing beloved parents that have passed away, there are many evil, malignant people and it makes good sense to prevent them from contacting us. It seems unlikely to me that they would have changed. And then there are people who, while not exactly evil, aren't exactly pleasant - I have several deceased relatives who distinctly fall in this category. It seems natural there would be some kind of barrier to prevent easy contact.

There is a great deal of evidence to support the idea that communication back to us here(if it is at all possible) is not necessarily easy at all and requires a mix of the right skills, circumstances and conditions, there certainly are many cases of apparently spontaneous communication but there are also many of people who claim to have found it very difficult and who have tried for a long time to pass communications back to the living before succeeding.

Without understanding the mechanism it is perhaps unwise to make assumptions about what should and what should not be possible.

As extraordinary as Ducksoup's claim to remember "coming here" is, uncannily its no the first time I've read that claim this week.

In the book I quoted earlier about the exorcist author William Blatty claiming he keeps seeing signs from his dead teenage son, he helps paint the picture of the deceased as unusually spiritual and unworldly in life, well in early childhood anyway. He claims that he, clearly and witnessed by both parents, said "I love you" at one month old (!). But the more interesting part - and he claims his wife kept a contemporary record of his childhood utterances, so there is no relying on flawed memory - is that at three, staring out of a window he said to his mother behind him, without turning round at any point "Do you know why I came here, Mommy?" When she replied no, why?, he answered "I came her to help people".

Blatty draws the readers attention to the extraordinary choice of words.. came here, rather than was born.

Other incidents reported include, again at 3, asking his dad how he learns - reading and experience he's told. " He shook his head and said ' that's not how I learn. I learn from the sky. God teaches me."

Finally at 5 the child is recorded as saying to his mother "You know Mom, when God was making me I was a little bit scared and a little bit sad. But then I saw you."

That's a good point Kathleen. - AOD

You are truly a trusting soul David.

I have been taken advantage of too many times by trusting people's "good intentions" to give them the benefit of the doubt any more. 'Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me!' There are far too many people whose intentions are to delude, to defraud, or to defame.

It's not a matter of having blurred vision, some people see clearly and what they see on the horizon is their success at the expense of other's failure. I'm not just talking about money here.

I agree that separating the wheat from the chaff is a timeless endeavor and yes probably part of the human condition. That's exactly why one needs to be cautious and not accept things on faith that people are good intentioned, or simply have faulty vision.

Sometimes people do lie,cheat and steal; even people from good families, with good education, position or societal status. I think I need to always be vigilant knowing that not everyone is as trustworthy as I am. :^) - AOD

And I think you are too cynical, Amos. :/

On the subject of a veil separating this life and the next (assuming it exists), I thought this excerpt from And She Came Back* (one of the submissions to Tart's Archives of Scientists’ Transcendent Experiences) was interesting to me:

"During this whole interaction I was aware of someone else...A man who seemed to be there to help Rene do what she
wanted to do (see me) and make sure that everything went as it should...In thinking about the presence of this other person I have the idea that his function was to insure that I did not remember some of the things that Rene and I discussed. I know we talked about the kids and loving each other. I am also sure that I would have had a million questions about what it was like to be dead. However, I do not remember any of the content of our discussion and that is not like me. In some way, completely unknown to me, this other person had the ability to make sure that
Rene and I could get together and that I would take away from that meeting only the
information presented here."

*link -> http://anti-matters.org/articles/141/public/141-246-1-PB.pdf

@Kathleen
I agree, there are some nasty pieces of work roaming around and personally I think there >are< consequences when they leave the earth and not just an unpleasant life review, although I don't want to be judgemental and possibly everybody can redeem themselves, possibly.

@Lawrence B

I find it "extraordinary" that more people don't remember where they came from, these memories are so deeply rooted. It should have been an advantage in one sense to know where I've/you've come from but I can't say it has been. When you "know" for certain that everything you do is being monitored (no one gets away with anything) you tend not to be as successful at least in some areas of the rat race.

Very interesting link Sciborg. I am glad I read the whole account.- AOD

Real interesting find SPatel. This story makes me wonder about the labels materialist science puts on things. OBE’s are “just” lucid dreams and lucid dreams are “just” dreams and dreams are just brain phenomena. There you go, all wrapped up in a neat little bundle, no need to linger here. The book “The Long Trajectory” (also an SPatel recommendation), although a tough philosophical slog, considers dreams to be part of a transphysical existence. A peek at possible worlds beyond, requiring a geometry much different than our Euclidian material one. For anyone interested in connecting Alfred North Whitehead’s philosophy to quantum physics and to life after death, here is your book. All three of you. (lol)

As I read thru all the comments, what I see is the questioning of how we can believe anything. Julie questions how can we know we are loved. AOD questions how we can trust anyone. I myself question my own experience. We seem to have arrived at the place where Descartes “demon” dwells. The one who can manipulate outside reality so much, that we can never trust anything to be real. How to escape the conundrum? I believe Descartes solved this by saying that our own questioning was enough to prove that we are “real.” It’s a start anyway. I think therefore I am. It is in line with QM, I observe therefore I am. Therefore, knowing myself to be real, I intend to reject the repugnant philosophy of reductionist materialism for one. Once this materialist idea is jettisoned, the world is open to possibility. The possibility of life after death being one, the possibility that our dreams may be gateways to that other place is another. The possibility that a loved one’s voice calling your name after their death, is real, is a third.

GregL

@Duck soup...and what is it you remember about that place from which you came?

"I find it 'extraordinary' that more people don't remember where they came from, these memories are so deeply rooted."

Duck Soup, here's another guy who shares your memories of life before birth:

http://www.amazon.com/Souls-Remembrance-Roy-Mills-ebook/dp/B008ROO4LW/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1436121659&sr=8-1&keywords=roy+mills&pebp=1436121664900&perid=1QC6GXW37GMB3QGQKHPK

Thanks for that account, Lawrence, Blatty is a very interesting man - I think The Exorcist is the least of his works (although it still scares me, LOL). There's something about children remembering this kind of thing that always affects me for some reason. There is a certain innocent up until about age seven, or maybe a certain strange kind of wisdom you sometimes see in children, almost as if they haven't forgotten something. But then we become caught up in the world and it seems to go away.

"@Duck soup...and what is it you remember about that place from which you came?"

Just that it was a place where I was very happy. I don't remember the geography or the layout or anything like that but I do remember the brilliant brightness and the disappointment of the dullness of here by comparison. Sometimes in winter when the sun shines at it's strongest on newly formed snow, I get a deja-vu feeling.

That "glare" that you get ...it sort of stirs a memory that basically goes like this....yes I remember, I was once in a place where it is impossible to be unhappy ..that kind of thing, fleeting but it's there alright.

I think I've probably said enough now:) I don't want to sound smug or glib and these memories certainly haven't made living easier, just the opposite, I've had to force myself to go on with the business of life because presumably we are here for a purpose.

"Duck Soup, here's another guy who shares your memories of life before birth:"

Thanks for the link. I'm a bit suspicious of such detailed testimonies, though. I'm not saying he's wrong or he's having us on, his account may be true...only he knows.

\\"This story makes me wonder about the labels materialist science puts on things." - GregL//
----------------

Even dismissing something and saying, "Oh it was just a hallucination" explains nothing. Labeling something a hallucination doesn't explain where it came from or what it means. Materialist love to dismiss NDEs as being "just hallucinations" but the definition of a hallucination is just something unexplainable. We don't understand enough of the brain or how it works to explain what hallucinations are or how they are produced.

We who are blind will always insist
To the sighted that colour just doesn't exist.
And when they protest such fancies to be,
We laugh "It ain't so, from what I can see".

When my son (now 16) was three years old, we attended a church service with his grandparents. The denomination was, uh, well, we'll say "conservative" and there was a lot of fire and brimstone and talk of sin and threats of eternal punishment.

After the service was over, my three-year old-son asked me if I liked church. I said, "it depends."

He answered "I didn't." I asked why.

He said "Because what they said is wrong. God is a big ball made of love."

"How do you know that?" I asked.

"Because I remember being with God before I came here."

He was always extremely verbal (he spoke in complete sentences at age 7 months) and after that for about a year he would talk about the big ball of love that was God. Eventually he stopped talking about it. He doesn't remember it now. In fact he is an atheist these days.

But he'll outgrow that too I think.

Wow! Normally I had participated well before now, but I was reading all of the great comments and couldn't keep up. Just a few things:

GregL wrote,

||A few years ago I had a mutual dream with my mom about a visitation from my brother, who had died several years earlier. The dream was highly evidential and I described it here several times.||

I think that's the simple answer to your question of why Mom didn't do anything--yet. Most of the time the departed find it easiest to visit us in our dreams. In fact, I think it's fair to say that *most* of the time they will appear before long.


In response to Duck Soup,

Yes, my daughter described at one point the life before this one and "coming down into mommy." We had never prompted her on any of that, and she was so young (probably four so), that it is hard to imagine her having derived it from TV, books, etc., for kids.

Lawrence B wrote,

||What I mean is all these stories we read and hear about ghostly encounters when someone has just died range from a voice, a meaningful coincidence or a dream to full on solid seeming and fully conversational apparitions.

Why, if the deceased can do any of these things sometimes within minutes of the death, don't they all do the most impressive of them? How do they learn to master these skills instantly?||

I would ask, How is it that you can create different environments in your dreams, speak to people telepathically in them (do people's mouths ever move?), shift to different scenes instantly, and so on? You don't have to learn those skills. I think it's similar in the Afterlife. The Departed will simply "see" an opportunity or way to communicate. Of course, it's different that dreaming in that they are fully conscious. They could try different things, perhaps consult with other spirits about how to go about it.


||If a full on apparition is possible - why do most people who witness anything only witness a symbolic event months or more after the death?||

I would also point out that time to the Departed works quite different than our time. A spirit could decide a "long time later" to talk to you "now." And a couple months later might seem "now enough" to the spirit.

||It can't be about the dead getting their energy back or needing time to master their new existence or what have you because some of the most direct and physical seeming apparitions in the literature happen at the time of death itself or immediately afterward. How and when did those particular spirits learn how to master such displays if time is required?||

A lot could happen at the time of death in that the spirit is on the bridge between both worlds. Further, a spirit "much later" could decide to give the sign at the time of death for the reason I gave about time above.

Hope this helps!

Julie says: "Does anyone here have any thoughts about what it would take to make them believe that the afterlife is an absolute reality?"

I've been exploring the origins of religions as a sort of curiosity since I was in my teens (I'm now 66), not particularly about afterlife, but about the commonalities all religions seem to have.

This has been through periods of personal Christianity, atheism, agnosticism, to the present summary of my beliefs, which don't neatly fall into any religion's box.

In recent years that's branched out into looking at all sorts of other anomalous experiences, some of which are still confusing or definite dead ends (the step off the normal track for me was UFOs and channeled aliens, five or ten years ago), and I'm currently totally convinced there's an afterlife based on what I've read from many different non-interconnected sources, combined with things that have happened to me first-hand in recent years as my studies started to converge on something. But I wouldn't call it "afterlife"--more like other-life. If you can convince yourself that there are things going on connected with this world that you can't see, then the idea of afterlife seems more like a naming problem than a question.

The most important concept I've gotten out of this is the idea that pops up again and again in the mystical world that when one is searching, information that is appropriate and relevant will be delivered, at the right time to be useful, and this has happened to me consistently along the way. As a result of that, I'd say that someone who's not honestly interested, or is skeptical, will never have sufficient proof presented, nor would any proof be sufficient.

Further, I'm not even convinced that such knowledge would be useful to most people or relevant to their lives, and in general I don't talk about what I'm up to with anyone, so I would just say, in the current context, that it really all just comes down to the golden rule. In so many different ways that's the bottom line and the only point. I guess that's not relevant to the present discussion, except to say that the question of "afterlife" hardly seems like an important issue to me these days.

We are on exactly the same page, Michael D!

Also, what we, with our linear perspective, refer to as the afterlife is indeed a misnomer. It's simply an ever-present level of consciousness that is interwoven with what we think of as normal awareness. And the brain is the governor that limits how much of that consciousness we experience while in physical form.

There is (or was, he's probably dead now) a French mystic who said that we should listen carefully to the intimations we get from our deeper consciousness in meditation and other mystical states. He added that it is vitally important not to discuss such intimations with others as they simply will not understand. The reason for this is that such messages are timely and very personal. To invite the doubt and/or derision of others with regard to such insights is to allow them the opportunity to close the door on our inner wisdom. We are all suggestible to some extent or other. And the very sensitivity that allows access to the deeper states of consciousness is what makes us vulnerable to the influence and attitude of others. If I can find, or remember, the name of that French mystic I'll post it here.

MichaelD said, " . . . in the mystical world that when one is searching, information that is appropriate and relevant will be delivered, at the right time to be useful, . . . ."

I think this is similar to something from The Bible i.e. "Seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you; ask and it shall be given to you." I don't remember the chapter and verse but perhaps you have come to understand what the ancients said thousands of years ago. I think this is part of the power of belief of the mind or consciousness.. That is, maybe things manifest because we believe they will if we seek, knock and ask. Perhaps the more people who entertain a specific belief system and seek, knock and ask then the more likely that that belief will manifest in reality.

That's why I am so worried with the current state of world affairs. The power of negative belief systems in our culture is gaining strength and the lack of strong counteracting belief systems because of agnosticism, not caring and fence-sitting, allows aberrant belief systems to take root and grow, crowding out belief systems with less vigor.

Skeptics, in contrast to agnostics and fence-sitters, do have a strong belief system that provides sufficient proof for them and when enough of them get together and with the right tools, e.g., Wikipedia, they can be very effective in changing mainstream thought thereby gathering more strength to produce the ugly realities and belief systems we see emerging today. - AOD

I'm not sure the skeptics can change mainstream thought, Amos. The only people who are deeply interested in fundamentalist skepticism are those who make up the other side of the coin: fundamentalist believers. The problem is not so much the issue as the attitude of mind - which has always led to ugly belief systems throughout the ages. There's nothing new under the sun - or so they say.

Most people sit on the fence because they simply don't' have the emotional/intellectual strength to feel particularly passionate about anything other than their immediate needs and wants.

"All that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing" - Edmond Burke

I am also enjoying the dialog between AOD and Julie. Two superb intellects in action!

AOD wrote,

||That's why I am so worried with the current state of world affairs. The power of negative belief systems in our culture is gaining strength and the lack of strong counteracting belief systems because of agnosticism, not caring and fence-sitting, allows aberrant belief systems to take root and grow, crowding out belief systems with less vigor.||

Per my recent post on the death of the Western Myth, I think we are "losing our religion," but not spiritual belief specifically. We are losing our faith in easy answers and sure dogmas. This creates a global malaise as we go into the collective Mist: we are going through a kind of hangover as we give up the Dogma Sauce. But there are many benefits, as well, such as greater tolerance of others based on the understanding that things aren't so simple.

I think we are seeing a kind of sheep/goats effect wherein those who cannot handle ambiguity double down on old school beliefs, whether religious or political. ISIS being a prime example of that: "If you're going to take our familiar world away, we're going to be the most primitive, violent, and despicable version of Islam you ever done seen!" Sufi sheiks they are not. I could mention American versions but shall demur for the sake of forum amity. :)

||Skeptics, in contrast to agnostics and fence-sitters, do have a strong belief system that provides sufficient proof for them and when enough of them get together and with the right tools, e.g., Wikipedia, they can be very effective in changing mainstream thought thereby gathering more strength to produce the ugly realities and belief systems we see emerging today.||

Yes, it's ironic, unfortunate, but also probably inevitable that the simplest and most parsimonious belief system is also fundamentally incorrect. As I said in my guest post, Skeptics also fall prey to the Western Myth and its simplistic "answers."

So let's talk about your current skeptic (in the true sense) period. I read your comments, and the intellectual rigor behind them impresses me, and the spirit of them makes me nod my head, as they reflect my own suffering from doubt. But perhaps you are confusing being in the Mist with justification for more despair and doubt than is appropriate; i.e., perhaps the pendulum has swung a bit too far, i.e., perhaps the excessive doubt is in turn yet another source of comfort!

Julie Baxter wrote,

||Also, what we, with our linear perspective, refer to as the afterlife is indeed a misnomer. It's simply an ever-present level of consciousness that is interwoven with what we think of as normal awareness. And the brain is the governor that limits how much of that consciousness we experience while in physical form. ||

That is so true! I recently asked a friend who is focused on Ascension whether what I was feeling made sense or not: the feeling that I am dying while alive, sometimes starting to go through a life review right here and now. The feeling that the barrier between this world and the Afterlife is simply breaking down. She affirmed that she was experiencing the same thing. It can be *very* scary, mostly because it takes the conventional wisdom of Reality and thrashes it violently.

"There is (or was, he's probably dead now) a French mystic who said that we should listen carefully to the intimations we get from our deeper consciousness in meditation and other mystical states. "

Julie, are you thinking of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin?

Thanks Bruce, but no. The man I'm thinking of is Frederic Lionel. Here, below, is the very interview to which I was referring. It's from a documentary made for Channel 4 in 1992, called 'Transformations', produced and directed by Kurt Hoffman. I bought a VHS copy of that documentary (which is well worth watching) in 1995 and you have no idea how long it's taken me this morning to find it in my library . . . . . . . and then to find a YouTube copy of the very clip to which I refer!

It's now twenty-years since I last saw this clip in which Frederic Lionel tells us just about everything we need to know. Enjoy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hXr3ouDAWis

@Matt: I understand exactly where you're coming from. I too find that as I get older the past comes more clearly into focus. This can be an uncomfortable experience because, with hindsight, I can now see where I could have acted more kindly in various situations.

But I can also see how my choices were limited by what I understood at those times, my conditioning and the limits of my world view. It's so easy to be wise with hindsight. ;)

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