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What stands out is the fact that Tracy doesn't elaborate on details, and as far as I know, he hasn't made a big public deal out of his experience.
Near-death, as well as other mystical experiences are intensely personal and ineffable. No one wants to put the most overwhelmingly intimate moment of their life up to examination and ridicule, especially when mere words cannot possibly describe it.

In this context, the reluctance to convince is convincing in itself.

I wonder if we're eventually heading toward a new mainstream NDE renaissance. (I recall there seemed to a lot of media attention in the mid or late 90s?)

I'm a bit disappointed it has to include Eben Alexander, though at the same time he is getting more people aware of the side of things pseudoskeptics try to sweep under the rug.

Yes I thought that the Tracy Morgan comments were interesting and congruent with what others who have had an NDE have said i.e. "It's not your time." I agree with 'Rabbitdawg' that the low-key disclosure was more convincing that an announcement that Mr. Morgan had a book coming out concerning his conversation with God.- AOD

"No one wants to put the most overwhelmingly intimate moment of their life up to examination and ridicule, especially when mere words cannot possibly describe it. " - RD

Yep. I found myself wanting to hear more about what he experienced and then settling into respect for his brevity and the sense that it must have been a very powerful and private life changing event.

I'm still bemused by the skeptics who say NDEs are a result of "lack of oxygen" to the brain, causing a "hallucination." A hallucination that we're supposed to believe just coincidentally is remarkably the same from person-to-person, as in this account, with yet another millionth (OK, sarcastic) account of someone being told it's not their time yet.

At this point, how can NDEs NOT be the most conclusive proof of an afterlife?

It's things like this, slowly becoming mainstream in the media, that create a new shared narrative about life after death.

Actually I've always had a problem with the "its not your time, you have to go back" element of these accounts.

As with death bed visions, the implication of these details is that either a) our life span is predetermined (by? God? A celestial committee?) OR, where choice is involved, that..well..we do indeed get to decide whether to stay or go.

Why is this a problem? Because lifespan is so very dependent on geography and the era you live in. Why would souls born in,say, Central Africa all be destined from a spiritual-realm point of view to have a much shorter alotted span than those born into Northern Europe? Why would so many people whose job is done happen, or whose life lessons have been learnt, happen to live in the war torn middle east, and not in peaceful middle america? Why, in the west at least, are life spans increasing over the decades and centuries? The practical, physical reasons are obvious but what would be the accompanying spiritual predestination justification for such en masse lengthening of lives over time and in this part of the world, but not another?

Are we to imagine ourselves more (or less) worthy or accomplished souls than those allotted the role of being born into poorer, harsher or more strife-filled environments?

Lawrence, there's actually new research showing a pretty sharp death rate of white middle-aged people in the U.S. If you look at charts showing it, it's like a cliff. I really can't, for obvious reasons, agree that the U.S. is a particularly peaceful country, with mass shootings occurring now on a weekly basis.

Besides, living to a very old age isn't necessarily a good thing, and many people aren't happy doing it. Sometimes the alternative is far better. So I for one don't have a problem with this aspect of NDEs - it seems entirely reasonable.

As an aside, I read a recent Atlantic article on NDEs, and it quoted Susan Blackmore, who's spent a lot of time trying to de-bunk them. Many skeptics it seems have given up on the oxygen-deprivation theory - because it obviously can't explain the strikingly similar NDE narratives. Now, supposedly, those who have NDEs are just experiencing the archetypal "hero" story prevalent throughout Western civilization. OK.

@Lawrence B: I've always supposed that we can stay longer if we so choose when our deeds are done, as it were.

\\"Are we to imagine ourselves more (or less) worthy or accomplished souls than those allotted the role of being born into poorer, harsher or more strife-filled environments?" Lawrence//


Why do you assume that having a long life is better? Maybe the people who have shorter lives are the lucky ones? This is the place of suffering and separation. If heaven is so wonderful maybe the people who get to graduate from this life early are the lucky ones? Besides which according to physics everything is happening at once. We view time differently than it actually is.

excerpt from Alex Paterson's NDE,
"There is a delicious irony in all this. Most people perceive 'death' as one of the worst evils they could experience in their lives (whether it be their own death or that of loved ones) yet if the Near Death Experiences (NDE) had by so many are anywhere near the 'truth', then the most beautiful experience a human being is ever going to have in this life is his or her own death. The irony of the perceived worst being the best highlights the cosmic humour which seems to underlie the 'Game' associated with experience in this realm."
http://www.vision.net.au/~apaterson/spiritual/nde.htm

Lawrence B, you ask the question:
'Are we to imagine ourselves more (or less) worthy or accomplished souls than those allotted the role of being born into poorer, harsher or more strife-filled environments?'

Short answer: NO
SC

Lawrence B wrote,

||Why is this a problem? Because lifespan is so very dependent on geography and the era you live in.||

I had always interpreted the "it's not your time" thing as meaning, "You are here because of what's happening to your body now, but unlike most people who reach this point, you are not staying because you are going to be revived." In certain cases, however, as you note, the experiencer can choose to stay.

So I don't see it as being about a pre-planned lifespan.

@Art "Why do you assume that having a long life is better?"

I don't. Which is precisely why I worded it "more (or less) worthy".

Whether a shorter or longer lifespan is good or bad objectively, or a reflection of moral good or bad isn't the point. But rather I'm saying it is so dependent on location that it seems greatly at odds with the implication of some kind of spiritual decision making about the invidual- whether it's one's own decision or that of the hypothetical heavenly beaurocracy.

@ Matt Rouge "I had always interpreted the "it's not your time" thing as meaning, "You are here because of what's happening to your body now, but unlike most people who reach this point, you are not staying because you are going to be revived." In certain cases, however, as you note, the experiencer can choose to stay.

So I don't see it as being about a pre-planned lifespan."

Fair point. But then, beyond the "I decided to go back" and "you must go back" there are the "you have more work to do/god has plans for you" of the original article above and the prediction of visiting dead loves ones that the surviving individual will live many more years.. these surely suggest pre-determination, don't they?

Lawrence, Edgar Cayce, for what it's worth, said that countries and races of people had their own Karma and that people are born into those groups that are a best match to the individual karma and development needs. Could be that life span is part of that arrangement.

If we take the testimony of experiencers seriously, then it is their view that they were compelled to return, whether by their own conscience or a force beyond their control. It is interesting that the rejection is framed consistently in the form “it’s not your time” or some variation thereof. Even in Asian cases, where the “deceased” is brought before Lord Yama, and returned because of a case of mistaken identity or clerical error, it may be seen as “This Mr. Smith’s time is not up”, whereas “That other Mr. Smith has finished his business on Earth.”

The compulsion to return may be the dictate of divine gatekeepers or the act of friends serving our best interests and that of the greater whole. Whether it’s because one has more to learn or more to achieve, a second chance at life is a gift.

The issue of destiny is interesting, and clearly our lives are shaped by outer forces compelling us in certain directions that are met by an inner compulsion which either yields or resists the flow of circumstance. My life, career, relationships, etc. could have gone in many directions, but it’s clear to me that my path in life was partly chosen by me and partly chosen for me. Whether the other party is my “higher self” or some other being or beings I do not know. I am certain though that, thankfully, my ego is not running the show.

Lawrence B, you ask the question:
'Are we to imagine ourselves more (or less) worthy or accomplished souls than those allotted the role of being born into poorer, harsher or more strife-filled environments?'

Longer answer: NO; although I've sometimes asked myself that same question: especially when looking at my neighbours car. SC

Good questions Lawrence - I personally find the NDEs to present a very odd perspective for this life.

To say it's just a school to learn seems questionable, at least those who say it's a meaningless but interesting video game make it seem less nonsensical to me.

Along that line, Saj, and considering what many NDErs have said, the question is: why come here at all? Why do we need lessons in anything?

If one is going to believe the whole thing - which I pretty much do at this point - one can only assume, knowing how brutal material life can be - that the soul made a decision to descend to material life. The only thing that makes sense is that the soul came to experience what it couldn't experience in a perfect realm - you can't have courage because there's no danger, or sadness because there's no loss.

Lawrence B,

You wrote,

||Fair point. But then, beyond the "I decided to go back" and "you must go back" there are the "you have more work to do/god has plans for you" of the original article above and the prediction of visiting dead loves ones that the surviving individual will live many more years.. these surely suggest pre-determination, don't they?||

Well, I think it can be both. The person is sent back because of the resuscitation, but they can also be told s/he won't be back for awhile.

As for predetermination, I think the Afterlife has higher time dimensionality, which means that they see our future as their present. But that doesn't mean that their knowledge determines what we will do, if that makes sense.

A similar improbable (unjust?) discrepancy often occurred to me with people who promote belief in personal and interventionist guardian angels. If such entities exist and do what the writers of popular books and tv shows suggest they do, then why are they so willing to push Mrs Jones from Idaho out of the way of a runaway tractor, yet as far as is apparent work no such miracle of disaster avoidance for people who are crammed into refugee camps in Sudan or are slaughtered in Syria?

Though not my intention in starting this post it does occur to me that the most obvious explantion for this selective salvation from physical danger if "angels" were involved is the fulfilment of different predestined outcomes. And we're back to square one.

I'm not intending to sound sneery when bringing these things up.. I'm more than persuaded of survival of consciousness. But the classic picture of the nature of surival and spiritual existence as painted by the anecdotal material does have more than a few holes in it which I don't think should be left unquestioned.

Simon:

". . . I've sometimes asked myself that same question: especially when looking at my neighbours car. SC"

You might take some comfort in the car I drive: a 1981 Honda Accord I bought . . . in 1981. (Only 117,000 miles.)

Forgive me if someone else here has covered this point, but if time is merely an illusion, a construct of three-dimensional Earth life, then what does it matter how long or short the stay? I imagine it's more a case of remaining as long as it takes to absorb the required learning. After that I would imagine we're free to hang around, if we so choose, or simply hop on the next bus.

Personally I believe in reincarnation, it's point being simply to experience, as that in itself promotes personal growth. I tend to think (backed by NDER'S), we choose what we need to work on, and that destiny dovetails somewhat with freewill.

I tend to also feel that what comes around goes around, so we all have our share of sad / bad / happy / great experiences through various life experiences. Lyn x.

I feel I'd like to report here something that occurred to me very distinctly in a dream early this morning. (The kind of dream that follows from waking early and sipping back into sleep.)

In it I was shown various flowers, mostly roses, brightly coloured, covered in dew and sparkling with life. As I observed the flowers I was 'told' (I can't really say how, it was just a very strong impression) that they are here to remind us of what is beautiful and true. I was given to understand that, however ugly the world might appear at times, a flower is a reminder of the beauty that transcends all, and that that is the sole purpose of flowers - a kind of mnemonic device.

Perhaps that's obvious; mundane even when put down in words. But the accompanying feeling was very profound and made me see a significance that had never before impacted on me in quite that way.

Lawrence B wrote,

||A similar improbable (unjust?) discrepancy often occurred to me with people who promote belief in personal and interventionist guardian angels.||

Good question. First, I think we *do* have a "paranormal" ability to protect ourselves that is based on seeing into the very near future.

Second, I think it's clear that sometimes humans get saved through improbable/impossible means. This could be through information-based psi, PK, or the intervention of an outside force.

I don't feel as though I have a personal guardian angel, but I do feel that spiritual entities of some sort are looking out for me, whether they be my Higher Self or someone else or a combination of the two.

"Guardian angel" may be a mythological package in which to wrap various phenomena. But mythological does not necessarily mean "untrue," so various people could relate to the angel concept in various ways.


||I'm not intending to sound sneery when bringing these things up.. I'm more than persuaded of survival of consciousness. But the classic picture of the nature of surival and spiritual existence as painted by the anecdotal material does have more than a few holes in it which I don't think should be left unquestioned.||

I think you are right to question it, and I don't think the answers in this case come all that easily.

Julie Baxter wrote,

||Forgive me if someone else here has covered this point, but if time is merely an illusion, a construct of three-dimensional Earth life, then what does it matter how long or short the stay?||

I don't think time is an illusion more than anything else in 3D reality (e.g., space, matter), but it clearly doesn't apply in the same way in higher dimensions.

||I imagine it's more a case of remaining as long as it takes to absorb the required learning. After that I would imagine we're free to hang around, if we so choose, or simply hop on the next bus.||

Yes, I think this is basically true. Also at work are simple cause and effect and the rules of the 3D world. If a person does something really stupid and gets killed, or just gets murdered by someone else, there might or might not be a "real" spiritual reason for that.

All IMHO.

@Kathleen:

"The only thing that makes sense is that the soul came to experience what it couldn't experience in a perfect realm - you can't have courage because there's no danger, or sadness because there's no loss."

I guess to me it seems entirely possible that our existence beyond this life (assuming there is one, I admittedly remain agnostic) and being born into material reality could contain arbitrary (or if we go Gnostic, deliberate) forces that force us into this life.

Life doesn't seem like a school to me, given how arbitrary and unfair it can be, though perhaps it takes a billion life times to really get the lessons to sink in.

I suppose part of me is wary of the idea we choose to suffer in this life as it seems like the kind of thing that would easily dovetail into something akin to India's caste system which has caused Indians no shortage of suffering.

Of course it could simply be the case that reincarnation between this universe and some Otherland is a brute fact reality souls are subject to. I read somewhere, though it might be malarkey, that at least a sub-sect of Druids celebrated death and mourned birth because the former signaled a return to Summer Country and the latter a departure from that better existence.

=-=-=

@Julie:

Thank you for the dream of flowers that you shared.

There's an interesting piece in Beyond Physicalism that notes a mystic vision by the poet Kathleen Raine in which a flower is filled with vital light:

"I found that I was no longer looking at it, but was it; a distinct, indescribable, but in no way vague, still less emotional, shift of consciousness into the plant itself. Or rather I and the plant were one and indistinguishable; as if the plant were a part of my consciousness. I dared scarcely to breathe, held in a kind of fine attention in which I could sense the very flow of life in the cells. I was not perceiving the flower but living it. I was aware of the life of the plant as a slow flow or circulation of a vital current of liquid light of the utmost purity."

I'm way along the space / time continuum. Like Rick Kelly I feel life's not only a stage play, but I recently read an article of a woman,s experience when 16 of having an experience of an expanded consciousness. Then realised that although she had gone here or there, wherever she was, she was really just inside herself i.e. hadn't gone anywhere.

So yea, I feel we imagine our world here and imagine it over there. It's all just consciousness. Cheers.

Matt writes: "I don't think time is an illusion more than anything else in 3D reality (e.g., space, matter), but it clearly doesn't apply in the same way in higher dimensions."

Yes. What I meant was that while time might seem important in 3D reality it's not relevant in the bigger picture. In fact, even as we get older in this life our perception of time alters greatly. Just last evening my grandson was showing me a small dinosaur that is one of his favourite toys. With great emphasis he explained, "I've had it since I was six!". He's only seven now.

Well while we're expressing our doubts about the classic image presented of the other side from the other side, I may as well raise the whole "earthly life is for learning/growing" thing. As Saj Patel suggested above it doesn't quite make sense.

First on the question of purpose: in the standard summary we're presumably pre-existing in this heavenly realm from which we are sent - or resent - to the material world in order to learn to ....well...take your pick. Love and be kind seems to be the most popular way to end that sentence. Alternatively to experience negative things such as pain, loss and, through them, empathy.

The generally unexpressed problem with this, to me, is that in the first instance it suggests "heaven" isn't so heavenly and that we're going around up there not being terribly loving if we need to come here to learn how. That's not a picture of the afterlife we'e ever presented with. In the second scenario - empathy through suffering is the purpose - I'm left to ask why? I mean if there is no pain and suffering "there", why would we need to experience it, since there is no such thing there with which to empathise! If the negative stuff is a product of the material world, the idea that the material world exists in order for us to be able experience it in order that we feel empathetic to those suffering etc is in some way rather circular. Equally suffering the negative in order to better appreciate the already existing positive of our spiritual existence seems a bit unnecessary, shall we say. Why would we need to appreciate it, when its absence only exists in the world created to ..er..experience its absence?

So that is the first conundrum, for me. The second is the one of memory.

How do we fulfill our intended task/role/behaviour if we have absolutely no knowledge or recollection that that's what we're meant to be doing?

WE might speculate that the so called "higher self", an aspect of our mind hidden from our conscious daily awareness is driving our experiences...but if so why are so many people in the world wicked to each other? If our task is to be loving and kind and some part of us remains aware of it, why so often aren't we? And if we're wholey unaware of our intended purpose, how are we expected to fulfill it? WE often hear that people who have NDE's become much more spiritual and less materialistic with this new found certainty of an afterlife, and devote themselves to charity and family...so clearly knowing is useful! Why then don't we recall or know with certainty where we came from and why we're here?

It might be tempting to suggest that our ignorance is a necessary part of the plan, that the veil of forgetfulness we pass through at birth is divinely ordained for reasons we need not concern ourselves with. Tempting, but flawed. We clearly are NOT forbidden from knowing about the afterlife or we wouldn't be on this blog typing away. Near death experiences, ghostly visitations, mediumistic communications, religious revelations all suggest there is no ban on us knowing about where we came from and are going to. And the first of these very definitely suggests its positively useful for us to know. So why don't we know and remember?

That's surely one almighty design flaw!

Julie said:

"I was given to understand that, however ugly the world might appear at times, a flower is a reminder of the beauty that transcends all "

I think that’s true. I also feel certain that plants are here for there *own* purpose, to experience joy in their own plant-like way.

Matt writes: "I think we *do* have a "paranormal" ability to protect ourselves that is based on seeing into the very near future."

'The future casts its shadow before it.' - Goethe

"I don't feel as though I have a personal guardian angel, but I do feel that spiritual entities of some sort are looking out for me, whether they be my Higher Self or someone else or a combination of the two."

That is exactly how I feel too. The more quietly I live my life, the more time I spend in my own company and that of animals, the less alone I feel. That isn't to say that I don't enjoy the company of and affection for others. But I do feel most at home when I am free just to observe and to think - or should I say to let the thoughts come.

I agree with you, Lawrence. And I don't think we'll ever have a clear picture of the afterlife (until we get there.)

As for the guardian angels - they're not something I find very credible. However, the stories I've heard all seem to indicate that their supposed intervention sf very very short-term. Maybe a few minutes. It would take more than a few minutes to fix the disaster in Syria. Maybe they are only limited to a few minutes of intervention, and that would be changing the course of human history. I think there most likely is a God, and He wants us to do most things for ourselves.

Saj Patel writes: "I was not perceiving the flower but living it. I was aware of the life of the plant as a slow flow or circulation of a vital current of liquid light of the utmost purity."

Yes, that conveys something of the feeling of it. The flower is there to spark a memory of who and what we really are - especially when we feel lost and alone. Like Bach's music, the flower can take us home, at least for a little while.

I think you've hit the nail on the head Lawrence. The idea that the afterlife can make sense of this life ends up seeming very nonsensical.

Of course there's a sort of positive nihilism that we could take on, in which nothing we do in this life matters because it's just a silly game souls play but this is rather unsatisfying.

I think if the afterlife is real a lot of things probably affect where souls wind up in the same way a variety of random factors affect one's trajectory in this life.

I mean looking at reincarnation cases karma doesn't seem to have anything to do with it, and it's easy to see how that would be grafted on by brahmins who wanted to perpetuate a caste system with them on top. Or, as I mentioned elsewhere perhaps all religions had partial influence by demonic entities feeding on the evil we do to each other - explains the religious support of slavery and imperialism as well.

So perhaps some souls unfortunately end up with these "Black Lodge" entities, others are lucky enough to wind up with the "White Lodge" guys, and others just end up tossed around in a karmic wheel. I really should look to see if any NDEs match up with the weirder DMT trips and shamanic spirit travels Hancock mentioned in Supernatural.

@Kathleen:

But why is changing the course of human history a bad thing especially when arguably good bit of suffering has been caused by belief in God?

And why do we need to do most things ourselves, when it seems our actions here make little to no difference in the grand scheme?

Off topic: Here is to a consciousness vs. body discussion at the "Sages and Scientists 2014" conference held in late 2014. The participants are major names in the consciousness discussion arena, such as Henry Stapp, Bernardo Kastrup, Michael Shermer, Deepak Chopra, Stuart Hameroff, and others.

I, personally, seldom look at videos. I find them to be too slow moving - I prefer reading - but I enjoyed this video because I could see writers I respect move and talk.

The video may start right in the middle; if so, reset the slider bar so you are at the beginning of the video.

I viewed this video when Bernardo Kastrup said on his Facebook page that it wasn't getting the attention it deserved.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhFK-p7nqbo&feature=youtu.be

Just for the record, life ain't supposed to be a bowl of cherries. Life is supposed to be hard and to evoke lots of emotion. This life that we live here is designed to be difficult. It's the nature of our Universe. It's how we learn and remember.

Life has to be hard enough and evoke enough emotion to overcome the "lack of" certain things in heaven, or at least the place we call heaven. Like the lack of time and space, lack of separateness, lack of being embodied, etc.

How's the soul supposed to know what anything is, or even "think" of anything unless it's spent time being embodied, feeling, touching, smelling, seeing, tasting, controlling a physical body, etc.? On the other side we will create our own reality and we'll have access to all the memories that have been stored in the entire universe from the beginning of time.

We'll be able to use those memories and the things we've learned to create our own reality. We are "gods in training." That is why we are here. Consciousness is only potential but before it can create it first has to have some kind of basis of thought to create from.

"Your entire life is an ILLUSION: New test backs up theory that the world doesn’t exist until we look at it."

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3107996/Our-entire-lives-ILLUSION-New-test-backs-theory-reality-doesn-t-exist-look-it.html

@ Saj and Julie

"I found that I was no longer looking at it, but was it; a distinct, indescribable, but in no way vague, still less emotional, shift of consciousness into the plant itself. Or rather I and the plant were one and indistinguishable; as if the plant were a part of my consciousness."

Thanks for posting this, Saj! I like the fact that, in line with what I was saying, she describes the plant as a conscious entity.

I appreciated the message in your dream, Julie, but I was a bit distracted by this:

"a flower is a reminder of the beauty that transcends all, and that that is the *sole purpose* of flowers" [emphasis mine]

Julie, do you agree with me that plants are conscious, and live for themselves as well for others? That they're here to experience reality as only a plant can, not merely placed here for the benefit of humans?

For me it’s no small point. I think our strictly anthropocentric view is one of our most glaring and harmful delusions.

"First on the question of purpose: in the standard summary we're presumably pre-existing in this heavenly realm from which we are sent - or resent - to the material world in order to learn to ....well...take your pick."

In the literature I've read, the radical difference between the spiritual realm and this realm is that in the first thoughts are things, so there is almost no resistance to our will. So my hypothesis is that we embody to face resistance, obstacles that can be overcome but that pose a challenge for us.

Art states;
"Just for the record, life ain't supposed to be a bowl of cherries. Life is supposed to be hard and to evoke lots of emotion. This life that we live here is designed to be difficult. It's the nature of our Universe."

Sorry Art, can't agree with that.
Life isn't designed to be difficult; it is not the nature of our Universe; rather, the opposite is true. Nature, of itself, always finds the easiest solution in which to instigate itself. Why should it do otherwise? If there is another realm named Heaven, then I don't see why we should lack for anything. If we do, then it wouldn't be Heaven, would it? Thats assuming ,of course, that we reach it (Heaven, that is.) No; it's Mankind that creates difficulties. Whats more; for the most part, it's deliberate.

Bruce writes: "Julie, do you agree with me that plants are conscious, and live for themselves as well for others? That they're here to experience reality as only a plant can, not merely placed here for the benefit of humans?"

Ah, I see what you mean. Yes, certainly, flowers have consciousness - and presence. They are part of nature's system of ecology and are important to every form of life in different ways: the birds, the bees etc.. But in terms of their relationship to us (we humans) their sole purpose is as a link to our home. Come to think of it, Wordsworth said it all in his poem:

"I wandered lonely as a Cloud
That floats on high o'er Vales and Hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd
A host of dancing Daffodils;
Along the Lake, beneath the trees,
Ten thousand dancing in the breeze.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Outdid the sparkling waves in glee: --
A poet could not but be gay
In such a laughing company:
I gazed -- and gazed -- but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude,
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the Daffodils."

(First version. Composed, 1804)

Thank you for your question Bruce. I might never have made the connection between Wordsworth's insight and my dream had you not encouraged me to think more deeply on the subject of flowers.

S.Patel

"But why is changing the course of human history a bad thing especially when arguably good bit of suffering has been caused by belief in God?"

Some argue otherwise, but I believe we all have free will. If angels were going to go in and solve the problems of Syrian refugees, that would totally absolve other people from helping them.

I know it's unconventional, but I'm not sure belief in God has caused as much suffering as many people believe. Criminals gravitate toward causes that enable and justify their innate violence and sadism. It could be any cause. Many ISIS members are new converts for instance. Even the IRA had problems with attracting criminals. The criminal mindset pretends it believes in the cause, but it's just an outlet for violence for them.

And why do we need to do most things ourselves, when it seems our actions here make little to no difference in the grand scheme?

@Art:

"Life has to be hard enough and evoke enough emotion to overcome the "lack of" certain things in heaven, or at least the place we call heaven. Like the lack of time and space, lack of separateness, lack of being embodied, etc. "

Sorry, but this seems to be a strange explanation. Why would haphazardly distributed suffering on Earth help us navigate the realm you are describing (though I don't really see how time can be illusory).

As others note the intervention of the other side(s?), if they exist, seems to itself be rather haphazard.

This reality might be a school, but it seems to me it can just as easily be a prison, a quarantine, or even a safe haven from some meta-cosmic war. Or perhaps the division of realities and cycle of souls is just how things are, and even the tour guides of the NDEr are mistaken. (Or they could just be feeding off the souls stuck in endless bliss, but I don't think there's any good reason to be that suspicious.)

We wouldn't learn anything if life were easy. We'd sit around and watch television and eat Funyuns and Doritos and drink copious amounts of Pepsi and Coke and do and learn absolutely nothing.

This Earth life is a school and it is through the emotion that is evoked by life's experiences that we remember the lessons that are learned.

Emotions Make the Memory Last
More Detail, Easier Recollection With Emotional Memories
http://www.webmd.com/balance/news/20050131/emotions-make-memory-last

Lawrence writes: "WE might speculate that the so called "higher self", an aspect of our mind hidden from our conscious daily awareness is driving our experiences...but if so why are so many people in the world wicked to each other? If our task is to be loving and kind and some part of us remains aware of it, why so often aren't we?"

Because life damages us and damaged people are very damaging?

Julie, I see that you like poetry.
Heres one (unfinished) from my father, Stuart Certain: The Enfield Poltergeist

Red sky at night,
Janet's in sight
(circa 1977-78)

Bruce:
"You might take some comfort in the car I drive: a 1981 Honda Accord I bought . . . in 1981. (Only 117,000 miles.)"

I certainly would. Sounds like a prototype for 'Back To The Future!' SC

Julie,
The Wordsworth poem reminded me a poem I wrote almost 60 years ago. It might provide an idea of what I was thinking about when I was a teenager.

"Here lately I've been taking notice
Of the laughter of my Maple trees.
In golden tones the mirth of summer
Showers down with every autumn breeze.

I once suspected while at leisure
These trees were so enrapt with pleasure
From their rompings with the springtime showers,
They'd giggle through the midnight hours
And every morning at the dawning
I'd catch them yawning.

Now at my feet the leaves still blushing
Have danced to earth to smirk at crushing
And there they'll lie forever after
The rib for another springtime's laughter."

-AOD

There's a difference between life being "easy" and, say, children forced into prostitution or slavery. Seems unlikely many of these victims will ever even hear about NDEs?

What lessons exactly are learned? And why does it involve a world that seems completely arbitrary rather than built for the purpose you claim?

Once we add in other descriptions of reality from negative NDEs, shamanic journeys and so on I think it makes more sense to say the experiences had by positive NDE accounts aren't a complete cartography of post-mortem existence, and maybe it's possibly false. There's no reason that souls can't be deceived or deceive themselves even after partially detached from the brain.

It also helps explain why such a supposed wondrous afterlife doesn't seem to improve things much in this one. The afterlife -if it exists - shares the same unfairness and problems as the world we live in.

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