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"Some near-death experiences feature either a terrifying void or a hellish environment populated by sadistic demons." - Michael Prescott//

Which are projections from their own mind. In the Tibetan Book of the Dead they tell the newly departed to not be afraid of the demons they encounter because they are only projections of their own mind.

I think Howard Storm's demons were conjured up by his own mind because he had been raised early on as a pentecostal and those images had been imprinted in his mind by over zealous pentecostal Sunday School teachers and so when he found himself dead after having been a self avowed atheist he that that demons are what he should see.

No matter how we identify ourselves in this life after we die there are all kinds of memories and images in our mind and they come to the surface and after we get on the other side we are able to access all of our memories, not just the most recent but memories going all the way back to the beginning of our life.

In one NDE I had read the author said "I thought of a mountain I had seen as a child and there it was the mountain, and not just the mountain but a magnificent most colorful mountain." Our memories become what we see in the place we call heaven.

"And remember, for those of us who aren't wearing blinders, "what we're experiencing right now" includes psi in all its many forms." - Bruce

This is one reason I find the information hypothesis potentially fruitful. With a hard drive, you can read data in your current partition (your normal, everyday experience); read data in other partitions (telepathy); randomly access data by performing a search (remote viewing); get an overview of all data paths (precognition); or rewrite/overwrite data (PK).

The above assumes that telepathy consists of accessing the objects of another person's awareness rather than his/her awareness per se. (Which I think is probably the case.) That is, the other person's informational matrix is accessed, rather than his or her I-thought. But the info-matrix and I-thought are, to some extent, entangled, which is why personality, memories, etc. survive physical death. The individual I-thought, which is immortal, serves as a kind of attractor for these data points.

Remote viewing experiments performed by the government in the Star Gate program often involved giving the test subject geographical coordinates. By identifying the target in mathematical terms, the experimenters were able to get the remote viewer to home in on it, which suggests to me that the remote viewer was unconsciously (or super-consciously) accessing an informational database.

Precognition, in this model, would entail taking an overview of the available pathways encoded on the disk and focusing on the most probable one. Because each path ramifies into many paths, which in turn ramify into many more, it would be easier to assess the probabiloty of near-term events. We would expect precognition to be pretty accurate for events occurring in the next few seconds, less relisbld for events occurring a day or two from now, and not at all reliable for longer-term events. This does appear to be the case, which is one argument against the idea that everything is predetermined (if it were, one might expect all events to be equally predictable).

I Like your laser reader, etc analogy. It's really pretty much what I was saying with my lock and key analogy up thread; only better.

Regarding precognition, I think there may be more than one type. One type would be based on probabilities, as you suggest. Another type, however, may indeed be some kind of fate. There could be other types; like psi involving subconscious decisions that can be tapped into out on the "cloud".

A lab experiment, like Stargate it seems to me, would tend to not be focused on fate based precognition for various reasons.

My own experience is that precognition of very specific fluke, yet serious, events can occur a few months prior to the event. Mostly though, precog, for me, is within 48 hours.

Here’s something I read on the web the other day:
“Is the glass half-full or half-empty? An engineer would say the glass is too big.”

Don't forget: it is only in transcendent states that we get to see the whole picture.

But even with all the transcendental experiences during history we could not solve problems of engineering or medical sciences. In other words, we also need a view that is not so holistic, more scientific and reductionist, in the sense of not focusing the entire picture, but only smaller portions of reality.

Juan said:

"In other words, we also need a view that is not so holistic, more scientific and reductionist, in the sense of not focusing the entire picture, but only smaller portions of reality."

Which is one way of describing why Source chooses to partition itself into you, me, and everyone and everything else.

This latest account on the NDERF site nicely recounts the experience of rejoining the larger self:

"2 Everything is Here/Now."

"We are here and it is now. Beyond that all human thought is moonshine."
—H.L. Mencken

It seems to me that essentially we all come from the same source (God, a Universal power, etc.), but the practicalities of physical life obscure that. That is, for example, in the wild, stallions fight with other stallions in order to mate with a herd of mares, thus ensuring that the genes of the stallion most capable of defending the mares and young from predators is passed on. The mechanism of evolution seems to obscure the underlying reality.

Also, I've been thinking a lot lately of what I don't have a name for, but is close to a sense of feeling the history of a place. The writer Gary Zuvak notes this in his book "The Seat of the Soul." He notes that the weight of human feeling can actually be felt in older historical places, such as Europe, but that it is much lighter in the New World, as in Montreal. I've been in both places, and found he was exactly right. If anyone has experienced something similar, I would love to hear about it.


"It seems to me that essentially we all come from the same source (God, a Universal power, etc.), but the practicalities of physical life obscure that."

Exactly—just as they were designed to do. So that we may have a different sort of experience here in the physical, and be convinced of its authenticity. It's the props that make the play seem real.

To complete my last thought: And surely the most significant of those props are time and space.

For those who might be interested, I've just published a review of "the myth of an afterlife" A 5,000 word version, and link to a 13,000 word version.

I'd like to leave a comment on your page but the sign in process is too complicated. Phineus Gage was a very good looking young man, who became disfigured. Don't you think he would react with anger and change of mood and that it had nothing to do with brain function? He basically lost a good life, home and family. His chances of attracting some female to marry would be reduced considerably. I think that a change in attitude and mood, and descent into alcoholism might be a normal response having nothing to do with any damage to his brain. - AOD

I don't understand your comment. That *what* had nothing to do with brain function?

I think AOD's point is that Gage's radical personality change, which is conventionally attributed to brain damage caused by the railroad spike that impaled his skull, may have been simply a natural reaction to his disfigurement.

It's an interesting idea, although certainly there are many cases in which brain damage (or changes in brain chemistry) can cause personality changes. Dementia patients, for instance, can start issuing profanities or racial slurs and can become violent, even though they previously would never have talked or behaved that way. Even alcohol can alter the personality temporarily - many people become more boisterous, outgoing, or aggressive when intoxicated.

Keith Augustine, by far the most prolific contributor to "The Myth of an Afterlife", doesn't like my review.

He says one doesn't need to be a materialist to disbelieve in an afterlife. In fact I constantly reiterate this point, at least in the 13,000 word version. I don't think he's even bothered reading that version (which is my original proper version).

I have been through these points he makes time and time again with him. It gets tedious having to continually repeat myself time after time.

The only thing new is where he comments:

//consider giving professional reviews written in accordance with professional editorial standards more weight than those of random amazon customers with an axe to grind when deciding whether or not a book is worthwhile.//

I certainly don't think that people should necessarily give more weight to professional reviews. People should give weight to those reviews that appear to be well thought out, that consider all relevant aspects, that are comprehensive etc.

Incidentally, I have kind words to say about Keith. In the longer review I say:

//I’ve only touched on a few of the difficulties that Keith Augustine raises against the interpretation of NDEs as being a gateway to an afterlife, and I’ve suggested some responses. In so doing I’m not at all saying that these difficulties are without merit. I’m merely sketching the obvious responses. And I think it makes for an interesting debate that is far removed from the countless books on NDE’s from proponents of an afterlife who blithely ignore all such apparent discordant evidence. It is also far removed from what skeptics’ typically write on this subject who, almost without exception, simply lack the necessary knowledge to give an informed opinion. Keith Augustine’s thoughts on the evidential value of NDE’s make a refreshing change and people really should take note of them.//

Yes, that was my suggestion Michael. I guess I was also thinking about those people who had half of their brain removed and those people with hydrocephalus who were found to have a millimeter of so of brain tissue who reportedly were still able to function normally. - AOD

A very well written, very readable and concise overview of all the important arguments, it's a gem. I also particular liked 'believer beware', that's a while ago but was also spot on.

Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant and the first part of the brain that it suppresses is the part that controls inhibitions. It only takes a small amount of alcohol to affect our behavior and motor control.

That is also why people who have been drinking think they can still drive and also why people are more likely to have unprotected sex while drinking. That is also why the more a mean drunk drinks the meaner and more belligerent they become.

Alcohol also suppresses the p53 cancer suppressor gene and why people who drink are more likely to get liver, breast, pancreatic, and breast cancer.

Sadly came much too late to this conversation, I'll just quote Calvino as I suspect much what we think we see "beyond the Veil" is the Veil-as-Mirror:

"In Eudoxia, which spreads both upward and down, with winding alleys, steps, dead ends, hovels, a carpet is preserved in which you can observe the city's true form. At first sight nothing seems to resemble Eudoxia less than the design of that carpet, laid out in symmetrical motives whose patterns are repeated along straight and circular lines, interwoven with brilliantly colored spires, in a repetition that can be followed throughout the whole woof. But if you pause and examine it carefully, you become convinced that each place in the carpet corresponds to a place in the city and all the things contained in the city are included in the design, arranged according their true relationship, which escapes your eye distracted by the bustle, the throngs, the shoving. All of Eudoxia's confusion, the mules' braying, the lampblack stains, the fish smell is what is evident in the incomplete perspective you grasp; but the carpet proves that there is a point from which the city shows its true proportions, the geometrical scheme implicit in its every, tiniest detail.

It is easy to get lost in Eudoxia: but when you concentrate and stare at the carpet, you recognize the street you were seeking in a crimson or indigo or magenta thread which, in a wide loop, brings you to the purple enclosure that is your real destination. Every inhabitant of Eudoxia compares the carpet's immobile order with his own image of the city, an anguish of his own, and each can find, concealed among the arabesques, an answer, the story of his life, the twists of fate.

An oracle was questioned about the mysterious bond between two objects so dissimilar as the carpet and the city. One of the two objects -- the oracle replied -- has the form the gods gave the starry sky and the orbits in which the worlds revolve; the other is an approximate reflection, like every human creation.

For some time the augurs had been sure that the carpet's harmonious pattern was of divine origin. The oracle was interpreted in this sense, arousing no controversy. But you could, similarly, come to the opposite conclusion: that the true map of the universe is the city of Eudoxia, just as it is, a stain that spreads out shapelessly, with crooked streets, houses that crumble one upon the other amid clouds of dust, fires, screams in the darkness."

Ah one more thing that hopefully is a worthwhile contribution:

Just wanted to add Myer's thoughts on Consciousness & Time, as it gets into the question of free will, our Higher Self (Holy Guardian Angel?), and probably futures:

-F. W. H. Myers on the Subliminal Self-

Ian Wardell said: "... it (Kieth Augustine's critique of NDEs as evidence of an afterlife) is also far removed from what skeptics’ typically write on this subject who, almost without exception, simply lack the necessary knowledge to give an informed opinion. Keith Augustine’s thoughts on the evidential value of NDE’s make a refreshing change and people really should take note of them."

As for Keith Augustine's objections to NDEs being indications of the existence of an afterlife, I think the veridical evidence of many accounts is pretty overwhelming. This evidence simply can't even remotely reasonably be contended to have been either unconsciously or consciously invented by the experiencers or the investigators. This evidence trumps Augustine's various criticisms. This area is exhaustively covered in The Self Does Not Die: Verified Paranormal Phenomena from Near-Death Experiences, by Titus Rivas, Anny Dirven, and Rudolf H. Smit. I agree with Michael's review of this book (at ), in which he said,

"....the sheer number of them (veridical NDE cases) and the obvious efforts that have been made to substantiate the patients' accounts add up to a powerful argument for the significance of NDEs – not as the hallucinations of a traumatized brain, but as ontologically real events".

Years ago, I thought that the mind equaled the brain and materialism was a hard fact. And anybody who says otherwise, is wishful thinking and desperate for some sort of afterlife. Especially after reading a couple of articles on this person’s blog I’ve stumbled upon

And this:

But then I realized that some “skeptics” won’t accept anything against the materialism worldview no matter the evidence. It took me a while to realize that.

Just came across this article which is fantastic, in the best sense, judging by its beginning:

Harry Brower Sr. was lying in a hospital bed in Anchorage, Alaska, close to death, when he was visited by a baby whale......

\\"As for Keith Augustine's objections to NDEs being indications of the existence of an afterlife, I think the veridical evidence of many accounts is pretty overwhelming."//

I wonder if Keith Augustine knows about the connection between NDES and the Holographic Universe theory? Like if he has read The Holographic Universe by Michael Talbot, and Chapter 12 of Ken Ring's book Life At Death, and chapter 6 of Dr. Melvin Morse's book Where God Lives, and if he understands the implications of this connection between NDEs and the holographic universe theory and what it means?

I have read literally thousands of NDE descriptions and I'd say about a third of them make some reference to the holographic nature of the place they visited?

How does Keith explain this away? Does he even understand it? I find this connection between NDEs and the holographic universe theory even more evidential than the veridical evidence that NDE'ers have seen in their out of body experiences. It can't just be coincidental.

What kind of existence do we inhabit?

It depends on your brain chemistry.

I do not consider this to be a logical proposition. The answer is not objectively one or the other. You can't prove it by logical analysis and you shouldn't look for an answer in logic. If you want the universe to be nurturing, you should try to alter your brain chemistry. Studying spirituality can sometimes alter your brain chemistry (see "Notes" here). but a direct approach to hacking your brain chemistry can also be effective.

The reason I say this is because people do not make decisions or choose beliefs based on logic. They do so for other reasons. They can be persuaded but they are not persuaded by logic they are persuaded by other means. We use reason only after the fact to defend our beliefs and decisions.

In an interview on FoxNews@Night with Shannon Bream on March 19, 2018, Scott Adams explained that people don't use logic to make decisions even though we think we do. (2:59:

We humans ignore facts but we think we don't. The great illusion of life is that we're rational beings making rational decisions most of the time. But when you become a hypnotist, the first thing you learn is that that's backwards and that mostly we're deciding based on our team, our feelings, our emotions, irrational reasons, we make our decision and then we rationalize it no matter how tortured that rationalization is."

University of Virginia psychologist Jonathan Haidt expressed similar views in his book The righteous Mind. He wrote that people don't use reason to form their beliefs, they use reason to justify their beliefs which they form for emotional reasons. William Saletan described Haidt's views in the Sunday Book Review:

Why Won’t They Listen? ‘The Righteous Mind,’ by Jonathan Haidt By WILLIAM SALETAN SUNDAY BOOK REVIEW MARCH 23, 2012

The problem isn’t that people don’t reason. They do reason. But their arguments aim to support their conclusions, not yours. Reason doesn’t work like a judge or teacher, impartially weighing evidence or guiding us to wisdom. It works more like a lawyer or press secretary, justifying our acts and judgments to others.

Saj Patel,

I appreciated the intro to "Invisible Cities." I'm going to check that book out. Do you recommend any particular translation?


What you wrote has a lot of merit. Minds are definitely hard to changes, and humans are very good at what used to be called, unapologetically, "apologetics": picking a belief system and defending it every which way but loose.

I find Trump enabler Adams hard to take. If he feels that reason isn't going to convince anyone, then why is he bothering to make arguments?

I think reason does have a lot of power, but it's true that it is not the only power. Direct experience is more powerful still.

"Reason doesn’t work like a judge or teacher, impartially weighing evidence or guiding us to wisdom. It works more like a lawyer or press secretary, justifying our acts and judgments to others."


"Men are rather reasoning than reasonable animals, for the most part governed by the impulse of passion."
—Alexander Hamilton

"The bottom line, for me, is that hallucinogenic drugs, when considered as a whole, generate a wide variety of subjective experiences, many (if not most) of which are clearly drawn from the user's subconscious mind. People who encounter Homer Simpson on an acid trip are not likely to be meeting an actual Homer Simpson who exists on another plane of reality."


But once I was reading some quasi-Whiteheadian dude who conjectured that dream characters might have actual consciousness or sentience. Perhaps they seem to be such a given to us in the dream (that we've known for so long so well), because they are composite characters out of the unconsciousnesses of 3 billion real people?

Get this. Everything is subject to metaphors out of the collective unconscious. Everything is tenuous (think I need to watch that youtube on Charles Pierce). There are conjunctions of experiences-of-places + experiences of developments + metaphors (that pop to mind) that all synch-up and/or interact like Whitehead's actual occasions prehending one another willy nilly any separation in time. And when they synch-up this way or that, it's the synch-up that governs what we think and hence what we write. A bleak necessity took me across old roads yesterday (experienced in my youth more joyfully) to the doc. The prognosis was non malignant. Coming back across those roads, it was spring...a time my mother loved. The sun had emerged. They were the old roads I traveled when a kid in spring. From despair to vivid remembrances of mom! What would the Tao Te Ching say had happened?

No use trying to nail it all down. At least, though, a dude from our time (Sheldrake) is going back to Pierce.

Now for a tangent.

Rupert Sheldrake theorizes the smallest phase of an embryo must draw on the morphic field, once cells have differentiated some for determination of what shape a developing organ begins to assume. No one has shown any gene mechanism that determines shape...morphology. Perhaps he means the blastosphere must do likewise at earliest cell specialization [shape of such cells and their organelles]...I dunno. As far as Aurobindo's breakdown goes, according to Satya Prakash Singh looks to me as though the soul could be small enough to run a mile (by its scale) on the head of a pin...I mean when it breaks on into what we call the "physical universe" [anaologous I guess to what they say about the first nanosecond of the big bang?]. For all I know in this soul-seed, or 'psychic body' [Aurobindo by way of Singh], all the directives for morphology (and everything else physical) could be contained. But at this stage of my thinking I can't quite jettison Sheldrake's theory. I conceptualize anatomic morphology blueprints in a "morphic field," and the soul simply expanding into every cell of its new home.

And then, according to the way I conceptualized it earlier today 4/18/18, something analogous to the above expansion happens. Into the soul, dwelling in its new environs, comes the Great Spirit (or Holy Spirit or Atman). Here we have a flow of infusion. A flow in time. Like water for a plant [not like the GREAT Spirit wasn't infusing the soul continually per its need before it busted into the physical universe...doubt we'll EVER understand much of that]. Of course we know water taken in by a plant contributes to building. Suppose then we think of those particular water atoms having contributed to soul-structure in its new home morter. It hit me today that if one asks what exactly the Higher Self is, maybe one could's this morter?

One could say the morter's in the bricks, or the bricks are in the morter (Acts 17:28).

Morter would be a relatively inert analogy, so then one might conceive this morter as...through and through all the soul's "components"...something like frontal cortex tissue [cells actually making their own decisions as Barbara Ehrenreich wrote about recently]. I am writing here about some respects probably a "non-local" all these analogies, taken from local phenomena, have their limitations. I know this morter/tissue of mine here sounds like chi meridians, but I don't lean to assuming it is the meridians (maybe meridians of the soul?).

"I'm working on a building

"It's a Holy Ghost building..."

At a given stage, after enough "work," the building becomes an adjunct identity...a place to rest when we're burnt out by attempting to CONTROL destiny with our egoic decisions? As the soul is to the body, so would Higher Self be to the soul?

"For we which have believed do enter into rest..."

Note: Not sure if Satya Prakash Singh and a Surgit Singh both wrote one book each with very similar titles.

Matt, Adams is not using reason to convince anyone he is using techniques of persuasion. He disguises them in what seem to be logical arguments. Look at some of the techniques, they seem like arguments, but if you think about them they are bad arguments.

Pricing merchandise at $9.99 instead of $10 results is higher sales. Everyone knows it is only $.01 difference. Everyone knows it is a sales gimmick. But it works.

The question I think is important is not why is he using reason, but why should anyone believe him.

Being "hard to take" is a technique of persuasion, it makes people think about you more, if you are smooth they hardly notice you and forget about you quickly.

I find Adams interesting when he talks about persuasion - something he knows more about than I do and something I can consult other sources to verify what he is saying. When he gets on to specific political issues, things he is no more qualified to understands than me, I tend to turn off the video.

You may be right that reason has power. But the what Adams and Haidt are saying is a good model for materialist/spiritual debates (and most political debates). To me it explains why these debates are not effective. It explains why you hear such "idiotic" arguments from the other side. It explains why there are so many controversies in the history of science.

If you want to convince people of anything, you will do better to understand the science of persuasion in addition the subject matter.

One possible, and largely Buddhist, way of looking at things is to suggest that reality lacks a given teleological structure or axiological blueprint, which is precisely *why* both maximal states of both good and evil are constructible and obtainable. In this sense, reality’s neutrality means the essence of the universe is not good or evil but that neutrality is a kind of openness, allowing for the creation and reiteration of good and evil. If the mind has a constructive role in what it experiences in psychedelic states, OBEs, and death (that is, if the subtle body in part builds the world around itself perceptually), then we can imagine that the mind’s freedom can lead it to heaven or hell. This is not to advocate for solipsism. Like minds dream alike, and make and shape worlds on a group-collective level. A “pure land” in Mahayana Buddhist is created but then can house many souls...

Good comment. I think you are on target.

Dave Atch,
" Perhaps they seem to be such a given to us in the dream (that we've known for so long so well), because they are composite characters out of the unconsciousnesses of 3 billion real people?"

I too think there is something to that.

Returning to the original topic of the post...I feel that the attempt to malign psychedelics as being less "real" or somehow impure or faulty spiritual experiences is simply based on analysis of a flawed data set. On the psychedelic side, Michael is drawing from "trip" accounts posted on line by pubescent idiots. There are other data sets, scientifically collected, involving the accounts of mature people using psychedelics responsibly in well guided therapeutic and/or research settings that speak to beautiful and life changing (for the better) experiences.

On the pro-NDE side, we have accounts that have made it into sensational books that are almost religious in nature. I have long stated that I suspect that unpleasant or simply banal NDEs are far more common than what is presented in these popular venues.

So lack of good data leads to bad analysis.

One more thought about all of this - it seem to me there is a lot of unexamined bias based on *modern* western standards.

Not too far back in the past, most people on earth faced harsh brutal conditions and violence was a real day to day possibility.

People had to farm - farming is extremely fickle. Bad weather or cop disease can result in famine and death. People had to hunt. Lack of animal protein and fat would result in starvation and weakness. People had to fight - to the death - enemies. Being a capable (meaning brave and lethal) warrior was a valued skill.

Today - for westerners - food comes from the grocery store. There is no need to appease and be in harmony with the gods that control the capricious variables involved in farming. There is no need to achieve a predator's view of things in order to have a successful hunt. There is no need to become in touch with one's dark side and dark spirits in order to defeat existential threats.

Today, if you want to know what a friend or foe is up to, you use a drone or satellite, or go on facebook or text message, etc. Back in the day, the ability to remote view, to have OBEs, to have precog experiences on command was highly valued for these same functions. Survival depended on it. At bottom, working with a host of what we, today, would call "lower forces" or even "evil" was necessary and valued.

So if psychedelics put one in touch with lower forces, forces of the earth, then devaluing them for that reason is a recent value judgment and is limited to western societies.

Note that in third world environments, voodoo and psychedelics and similar spiritual practices are still common.

Christianity, New Age and other spiritual systems that emphasize "The Light" etc are great if you are able and willing to be a protected cog in a large bureaucratic system like Rome with plenty of surplus and a highly specialized division of labor. However, such values are stupid and fatal if the bureaucracy to permit indulgence in them isn't there.

People think it is crazy and evil to own guns or fighting knives for self-defense these days. That's because they can afford to indulge in such luxury. Someone else will deal with the dirty work. A Native American or an African tribesman would have relished the ability to fight off existential threats with such technology and would have thanked the gods for delivering it. Of course, some people today in our culture still use such technology to do the work that most don't have to - and the most tend to forget about that and pretend that it doesn't happen.

Anyhow, hopefully I've given enough examples to illustrate my point.


I'm aware that Adams wants to set himself up as a persuasion guru. I've seen several interviews including the long one on the Rubin Report on YouTube.

In that interview, his own persuasion skills seem lacking, as he admits that a large number of his friends have kicked him to the curb because of his support for Trump.

I simply don't buy that he has anything to offer that wasn't known before, and, if anything, I think the techniques work less successfully now than in any time in the past. I've also studied books on related topics, including the work of Dale Carnegie and Zig Ziglar. I think people today are more sophisticated and don't get persuaded as easily.

I also don't think Trump is the Great Persuader that Adams thinks he is (he's called him one of the best in history, something like that). Trump has divided the country, polarizing opinion about himself even further as president instead of winning over new MAGA converts.

I agree that Trump is an effective, charismatic speaker, but he's only good at getting on board people who are of a particular lifestyle and mindset in the first place: namely, downscale whites with a strong authoritarian streak.

He doesn't persuade; he embodies.

It is my understanding that in some polls, President Trump has an approval rating of over 50%---must be all of those "downscale whites with a strong authoritarian streak" dontcha think? - AOD


Wow, your last comment above was one of the best you've ever made IMO. Really gets to the heart of an important aspect of things. Bravo!


I read your blog post, and I thought it was excellent. Especially your point about how the self must evolve, and that is not taken into consideration by the materialists in their definitions. They are truly stuck in a limited paradigm, as you aptly point out.

I like my human personality self - we've been through a lot together. As far as I am concerned, if whatever survives when physical death comes doesn't have my then present memories and ego and personality, so be it - but this isn't a form of "survival" worthy of the term. Especially if whatever survives had anything to do with choosing this present life. To clarify - if whatever survives physical death also has many other memories and a larger purpose that includes the ability and inclination to if necessary choose a future life of suffering, then whatever this surviving "self" is, it isn't really me, my personal human self. It's someone/something else. Of course, between-lives life choice channelings and regression accounts may be fantasies of the subconscious mind, and in reality such choices are involuntary and automatic - just the operation of an impersonal "system".

Fortunately, very many mediumistic communications and NDE accounts indicate persistence of the human personality self for at least a long time.

Re: Eric's point about NDEs a lot of what we get is pre-filtered. I recall Japanese NDEs that were far more disorganized and frankly, IMO, honest about the full spectrum that ranges from coherent experiences of One-ness all the way to nonsensical dreams invoking fictional characters.

There's also a politically charged history w/ regard to NDEs and Pure Land Buddhism in Japan and China.

Finally on Skeptiko Alex looked into certain cultish aspects of NDE research, and other posters brought up the challenges in communicating the mental issues faced by some NDErs post experience.

It's not all love and light, it can also just be confusion and arguably even madness.

It was? :-0

To add on to it.....note that the Hebrew God (Yahweh) had a dark, violent, jealous side. By the time Rome came into full power, we get Jesus making a new deal; a deal that is all about happy stuff, peace, forgiveness, paying onto Ceaser, etc. Christianity is a bureaucrat's religion. Be a good cog in the system. Don't make waves. Don't worry, you'll be rewarded in the hereafter and God will sort out the injustices.

We could say that Jesus was right because NDEs tend to confirm what he said...or we can say that NDEs confirm what he said because westerners are pre-conditioned by what he said to experience such thought forms in the afterlife. Whereas psychedelics show us the truth BEYOND THOUGHT FORMS. I choose the latter.

I think the evidence supports my position because non-western NDEs are not the same as western NDEs in terms of beings of light, etc.

As I always say, westerners are far to lacking in self-awareness when it comes to the degree to which Christianity has shaped their very perception of reality; even if they claim to be atheists.

Saj Patel,

Many years ago - before the internet - when my interest in the paranormal was first piqued, I spent time carefully reading Ian Stevenson's volumes at the University of Arizona library. Of the paranormal collection there, they seemed to be among the most scientifically based works there.

Stevenson, of course, was studying cases in foreign countries with very different cultures. A couple cases stood out for me in that they involved "in between life" accounts.

In one of these cases, a man had been a criminal and was executed by hanging (I think it was hanging, but this is all from memory). The moment his neck snapped he was propelled into another realm and that realm seemed hostile and populated by unfriendly entities. As his anxiety increased, a guru type figure appeared and told the disembodied criminal to "take cover". The hapless criminal spirit wasn't sure what that meant, but instinctually began to act. He observed a very sick child and the child's spirit was leaving its body. The criminal also observed (or somehow knew) that the child's body wasn't totally beyond repaid. So as the child left, the criminal somehow "entered" the body.

The child slowly recovered from being deathly ill. When recovered enough to communicate, it was clear to the parents that the personality had totally changed. Basically, the parents perceived that someone else was now in the child's body. That's why Stevenson was called in and the resulting story (summarized above) is what the child told Stevenson. There were verifications involving the life of the criminal that the child could not have normally known and, as Stevenson noted, it was a weird and unflattering story for the child to tell if not true.

That in between lives story is very different from the Western NDE.

In another similar account, a person was killed in an accident and kind of hovered around for a while. In fact, the child claiming reincarnation described, in between lives, hanging out in a tree observing the activities of the family that he was to be re-born into. Again, no bright lights/being of light, etc.

Now, some NDE researchers say that the fact that even atheists see the being of light, etc proves that the being exists independent of thought forms and expectations. I disagree. IMO, it's more like an atheist dies and finds himself still conscious. Trying to make sense out of that fact, the atheist falls back on what his culture has to offer; Christianity and related thought forms. People from non-western cultures don't have that fall back position. So they have very different experiences more frequently.

This is not to detract from religion, the being of light, etc. It is to suggest, in some ways, that religion is even more important than many think. This is because our thoughts, focus, energies are actually creating reality. This is the same reason that vacuous idiots taking psychedelics have idiotic experiences (see Erowid) and well grounded thoughtful people have profound experiences.

NDEs and psychedelics have a lot of overlap in a Venn diagram kind of way.

Now, back to the original question - is the universe mostly friendly or mostly hostile?

Based on my previous comment, I'd say it's neither. Rather, it's, ultimately, what you make of it. That's all there is in reality - you.

I think it might be the case Western NDEs are filtered both by cultural pressure as well as by those who need to push the Love & Light narrative.

When you start adding up accounts like those from Hancock's Supernatural, The Siren Call of Hungry Ghosts, Vallee & Fort's ideas about us being harvested by higher beings we find a picture not of Gnostic Evil but more an expected wilderness that reflects this world's chaos.

This isn't to say that there isn't something Good out there, and possibly it is taking part in William James' "real fight" to redeem Reality.

Hey, probably off topic, but have you heard of some people who were “dead” for awhile and reported nothing? Like no light, no NDE, no going through tunnel, no visiting the deceased. Just oblivion.

I’v seen other articles similar to this somewhere, but I don’t have time to post the links right now.

@ Matt Rouge:

Apologies, missed your comment - Harcourt Brace Jovanovich is, according to Amazon, the publisher of my version ordered in 2001 :-)

\\"To clarify - if whatever survives physical death also has many other memories and a larger purpose that includes the ability and inclination to if necessary choose a future life of suffering, then whatever this surviving "self" is, it isn't really me, my personal human self." - doubter//

I agree and for the record I don't buy into any those complicated new age explanations. I don't believe in different levels of heaven, or reincarnation, or pre-birth memories, or higher purpose, or demons or evil goblins etc. Like the Tibetan Book of the Dead says "they are just projections from your own mind."

Those were attempts by humans to explain things they heard and saw that they didn't understand. I believe the evidence is real enough only our explanation for what it is falls fall short of the mark. All those things can be easily explained by the oneness and connectedness holographic nature of our Universe and the other side. It is generally assumed that all "new agey" types believe in reincarnation but I think there is a much simpler explanation.

We've made it way more complicated than it needs to be. It doesn't have to be "all or nothing." Like I heard a preacher say one time as he was holding up the bible "it's either all true or it's all lies." At the time, when I was nineteen years old, I didn't think much about it but now that I am much older I know that it can be a little bit truth with a whole lot of embellishment and the story told out of sequence.

We have to peel back the onion and find the kernel of truth hidden inside. Some of it is true and some of it has been highly embellished by storytellers so they can hold our attention. A little bit true and a little bit embellished and told out of sequence.

There’s a discussion of "distressing" NDEs at the link below. Virtually all researchers seem to agree that these are reported infrequently, with the truly hellish kind being extraordinarily rare.

I suspect that people who claim that unpleasant NDEs are more common than reported fall generally into two categories: the conventionally religious, who believe in both heaven and hell, and who feel that hell is underrepresented in the NDE literature; and those who simply feel that NDEs as advertised are "too good to be true." The latter group may harbor a deep pessimism/cynicism about life, or may find a "happily ever after" outcome intellectually unsophisticated.

Still, all we can do is rely on the reports, and they weigh heavily in favor of positive NDEs. Even many of the "distressing" ones turn out, on analysis, to be positive experiences that the person misinterpreted because of disorientation, confusion, or a conflicting belief system. Extremely few documented instances of being tormented by malign beings have been reported. As I recall, Nancy Evans Bush, after a thorough review of the literature, was able to track down only about half a dozen for her book "Dancing Past the Dark."

To me, at least, it seems a tad churlish to prefer the distressing and sometimes crazy experiences reported by psychedelic drug users to the reports of NDErs. The NDE reports are convincing (I think) because brain activity is typically limited at the time, suggesting that the experiences are not manufactured in the brain; because veridical observations are sometimes made in what is described as an out-of-body state; because a common pattern is observed (tunnel, light, life review, reunions, return); and because variations on the pattern seem to fall within fairly narrow parameters. With drug trips, only the OBE element (veridical observations while out of the body) would seem to apply.

Or to put it another way, if the best evidence for another plane of reality was the reports of people who’ve experimented with hallucinogens, I don’t think I would take the idea seriously. Occam's razor would suggest that the "other reality" was simply a fantasy produced by a pharmacologically altered brain. (I suspect it's more complicated than that - but only because other, stronger evidence leads me to assume the existence of other planes of reality in the first place.)

As for "happily ever after" being too much like a fairy tale ... what if the inspiration for fairy tales and similar mythic journeys is the subliminal memory of the between-lives experience?

I am actually arguing that psychedelics, properly used, show people that reality - or the reality they perceive - is generated from their thoughts and energies and that they have the power to change those thoughts and energies if they want to and work at it. True, a lot of people either miss or fail at this latter revelation, yet it is still there to be gleaned by the few who can receive it.

I am not saying that psychedelics show one an ultimate reality. I do not believe that humans are capable of experiencing ultimate reality. Because to say that they can is to say that reality is, ultimately human. I believe that there is much to reality that is beyond human perceptional capabilities, whether the human is embodied or disembodied.

As for happily ever after being a fairy tail, I think that a) it depends on your definition of happily ever after. If "summer land" sounds like happily ever after to you, then sure, it's there. b) the fairy tail depends on one ignoring the seamy side of the paranormal, hungry ghosts, demons, etc, for which there is ample evidence and which I have encountered myself. I know that some well proven mediums make shields around themselves and/or have their guides create protections. What are they protecting against if not the dark side of reality, evil spirits, etc? Evil spirits have been known throughout the history of this stuff.

You're still disregarding NDEs from other cultures. And yes, I'm a cynic. Unpleasant NDEs and similar experiences simply do not sell books - thus they are filtered out for pure profit motive and for ideological reasons. That's the way all human political activity operates and I fail to see how the afterlife is any less political than anything else, probably more so.

@ Michael - There are coherent experiences of psychedelic journeys. These are not "dark" in the Satan heavy metal sense, but rather as Eric describes they are what you would expect if the tooth & claw + economic/civil trade offs of this world extended beyond the Veil.

Hancock documents this in Supernatural.

In tandem with these reports of the beyond by psychdelic shamanic practices one finds there are also veridical reports of things happening far away.

I'd like to see a total listing of all experiences, including ones that were deemed too incoherent to be considered NDEs. Sadly not sure such a listing even exists.

All that said I think it there are places beyond the Veil much like what NDErs describe but I think there's way more than that out there.

Eric, can you give specific examples of NDEs from other cultures that fall into the hellish category? As I said, Nancy Evans Bush surveyed the whole (worldwide) literature and found only a handful of well-documented cases.

I’m not saying there is no dark side to the paranormal. I even wrote an essay called "The Dark Side of the Paranormal." 🙂 But I don’t see the empirical evidence for the proposition that hellish NDEs are much more common than generally thought. You can speculate that such reports are being suppressed for political or commercial reasons, but speculation isn’t evidence. Serious researchers are, one hopes, more interested in finding the truth than in selling books, yet they haven’t found many hellish cases. The majority of such cases - in fact, nearly all of them - were reported by a single researcher, Maurice Rawlings, who was a fundamentalist Christian. His results haven’t been replicated by people like Bruce Greyson, Kenneth Ring, and Michael Sabom (even though Sabom himself is a believing Christian).

A good discussion of Rawlings and his "distortion of the data" is found here:

Saj, I’ve read "Supernatural," and I reviewed it (positively) on this blog, but since then I’ve developed real doubts about Hancock's credibility. He’s made claims in other books that just don’t hold up. I now find him sensationalistic and tendentious, and I think he often fails to tell the whole story - only the parts that suit his purpose. For one example (among many), see this link:

I do concede that there are recurring elements in different kinds of hallucinogenic experiences: insectile creatures show up in DMT trips, reality is reduced to pixels, tiles, or blocks in salvia trips, etc. But I don’t see coherent *narrative patterns* that recur across a wide number of experiences reported by different people. Do you know of such cases?

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