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I agree that we aren’t saved by our beliefs, though I’d argue that the better we understand "the other side," the easier it will be to navigate it and adjust to it.

I’m not really trying to change your belief system — just pointing out what I see as holes in your argument, so that other people will see both sides of the story. In general, I’d suggest caution when it comes to simple one-size-fits-all explanations of psi and the afterlife; the more I look into the subject, the more I’m convinced it’s immensely complicated.

Hi Michael!

Couldn't resist responding briefly to this:

"What Wade calls "unity consciousness" (which roughly corresponds to Horton's NDE) is all but unknown in the NDE literature ..It may be the case that mystics with highly advanced consciousness will experience an NDE (or an actual dying experience) of the transcendent type, but it’s safe to say that the vast majority of us will not."

I find this startling. My favorite source of fresh NDE’s these days is the vast repository of “exceptional accounts” at NDERF. And while I admit that I do focus on reports of this kind, (what I would call) transcendent NDE’s featuring revelations of oneness and unity are extremely common.

“All but unknown” seems out of the question!

The good news: I’m glad to hear you say (I think somewhere in these comments) that you see consciousness as primary. Rather than “information” or some such lifeless thing.

So I give you 50% on this annual checkup. :)

Bruce

I don’t think we’re saved by what we believe but we’re certainly shaped by it and so is the way we interpret the world and our relationships with others.

As far as I can see, if there is an afterlife, our attitudes (which are shaped by our beliefs) will probably have a significant impact on our experience and how we interpret it, no?

//My favorite source of fresh NDE’s these days is the vast repository of “exceptional accounts” at NDERF. And while I admit that I do focus on reports of this kind, (what I would call) transcendent NDE’s featuring revelations of oneness and unity are extremely common.//

I’m not too familiar with NDERF, though I did read a book issued by the site's founder a few years ago. The problem I have with sites like that is that there’s seldom, if ever, any fact-checking. Anyone can tell a story on the Internet. There may even be a kind of informal competition to get the most page views by telling the most spectacular story. We see this in some book-length accounts, which can appear to be embellished for greater popular appeal or even made up entirely.

I may be wrong, but I’m guessing the majority of NDERF stories, especially the more quotable ones, are invented. A similar thing happened when a letter attributed to Jack the Ripper was published in a London newspaper near the start of the Ripper murders. Suddenly, hundreds of letters and postcards from Jack the Ripper started flooding police stations and newspaper offices. Virtually all were fakes. It was a fad.

So when I say transcendent NDEs are very rare, I’m talking about documented, investigated cases, not self-submitted accounts that haven’t been confirmed. A proper investigation usually involves interviewing the patient, the patient's family, and any doctors, nurses, or orderlies who can be tracked down, as well as reviewing the patient's medical records. This is the kind of work Michael Sabom (an MD) did, for instance.

Nice caution, Michael. - AOD

"I may be wrong, but I’m guessing the majority of NDERF stories, especially the more quotable ones, are invented. "

A pretty strong statement for someone who's "not too familiar" with the site. I've read hundreds of those accounts over the years, and my own guess is that they're predominantly real.

>The holographic universe theory explains everything.

then it is useless because it supposes the death of science, because what sense would it have to continue investigating? It's like the idea that everything is answered by affirming "God did it."

>And I'm not saying that I disbelieve the evidence for reincarnation, only that the implications of what that evidence means is misinterpreted as to what it means.

But the problem is that your interpretation of the birthmarks and memories of past lives would be much more forced for impartial people than the simplest interpretation for the majority, that is, that these children have those marks because their spirits print on their bodies the wounds that killed them. But as interpretation, it is subjective.

>A little bit of it is "real" from the other side, but like Myers said "it's like talking to an obtuse secretary through a frosted glass."

Yes, but the evidence on the NDEs also have weaknesses, which you insist on not admitting, as many seem hallucinatory, that people have not died irreversibly, that we do not know in many cases when they occur and in what state the nervous system is when they happen. The cases of mediumship also have their weaknesses, such as discerning whether the information comes from the medium or the deceased, or all the garbage that many have said, but at least the supposed spirits have died irreversibly and there are "drop-in" cases that they could hardly be explained as actions of biological beings and that they suppose a much harder evidence than the NDEs cases.

"A pretty strong statement for someone who's 'not too familiar' with the site."

On reflection, I probably should say I mistrust many of the NDERF reports, not necessarily most of them. I don’t spend much time on the site, but I did read the book by NDERF's founder and site admin, Dr. Jeff Long, who collected many of the cases in one volume.

https://www.amazon.com/Evidence-Afterlife-Science-Near-Death-Experiences/dp/0061452572/

I can accept the likely validity of the more mainstream NDEs, but I’m suspicious of the outliers if they are only self-reported with no follow-up.

"I've read hundreds of those accounts over the years, and my own guess is that they're predominantly real."

But have they been investigated? I give more credence to cases that have been verified by an outsider than to cases that are simply written up on the Internet by anonymous or pseudonymous individuals. In part, this reflects my cynicism about the sheer quantity of made-up stuff that people post online.

However, I’ll take another look at NDERF, now that the subject has come up. Maybe I’m being unfair to them.

"However, I’ll take another look at NDERF, now that the subject has come up. Maybe I’m being unfair to them."

Glad to hear you’re keeping an open mind, Michael. I suggest you sample the ones chosen by Jeffrey Long as "exceptional":

https://www.nderf.org/Archives/exceptional.html

 “I’m suspicious of the outliers”

You’ll have to read quite a few to know which ones those are. It seems that you have more acquaintance with channelers than NDEr’s, whereas I’m the opposite.

Which reminds me: since your favorite sources are usually published authors, one might say that these anonymous writers—with no money at stake—have one less reason to make stuff up.

"You’ll have to read quite a few to know which ones [the outliers] are."

By "outliers" I mean accounts that are well outside the professionally researched cases — not just self-reported accounts that may differ from other self-reported accounts.

I did take another look at NDERF, but I’m afraid it still strikes me as more of a feel-good site than an objective research option. One of their books (by Jody Long) is even advertised as a "feel-good" collection. There’s a lot of talk about God, and an emphasis on "extraordinary" NDEs, which probably results in attracting more of them.

I wouldn’t use it as a resource.

"Since your favorite sources are usually published authors, one might say that these anonymous writers—with no money at stake—have one less reason to make stuff up."

Some of the published accounts are made up — there was a Christian NDE book by a young boy with the unfortunate name of Marlarkey, which was exposed as a fraud — but the sources I’d rely on are those written by NDE investigators who publish in peer-reviewed journals and give detailed info on the cases.

Again, anybody can make any claim online, especially when posting anonymously or pseudonymously.

It is becoming more and more obvious that we live in the Age of Misinformation. It has been very informative for me over the years to see how humans like to elaborate their stories---any story---and how they like to play a game of one-upmanship, telling a better story than others. I don’t think NDEs, especially those reported on the internet, are any less likely to exhibit those weaknesses than any other “fake news” that we see so much of today in the media. Some NDE-ers become media darlings in some circles and go on to write and promote a book about their experiences. Eben Alexander is a recent example. But, it is likely that some people who experience an NDE are accurately reporting what they experienced. It is just difficult to sort them out. I tend to believe the video accounts more than the written accounts on the NDERF site.

I like the information published by Karlis Osis, and Erlendur Haraldsson in a book titled “At the Hour of Death” which based on a four-year study documented the reported experiences of almost 50,000 terminally ill patients observed by hundreds of physicians and nurses in the United States and India. The book was published more than 40 years ago but it has been reprinted several times and I think is a reliable source of information about NDEs.

I would just like to say a word about the Malarkey story which has been thoroughly discussed on this blog previously. I still think that the reported fraud is questionable. The relationships among the family members were very complicated with the disabled boy totally dependent upon his fundamentalist religious mother for his care. The parents apparently went through a contentious divorce and the father is now deceased I think. I think it is possible that the young boy was coerced by his mother to recant his near death experience considering her fundamentalist religious beliefs - AOD.

I'll tell you what else is a good read, deathbed vision and nearing death awareness stories. Something about them just strikes me as true. There are several really good books about deathbed visions that I have really enjoyed reading, Final Gifts by Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelly, Visions, Trips, and Crowded Rooms by David Kessler, Going Home, Irish deathbed vision stories by Colm Keane, The Art of Dying by Peter Fenwick, One Last Hug Before I Go by Carla Wills-Brandon, Glimpses of Eternity by Raymond Moody, etc.

Michael, with regard to your comments about NDERF:

”There’s a lot of talk about God”

Not a problem for me. When approached in the right way (i.e. separately from religion), God is one of my favorite subjects. Long’s second book, in fact, is called “God and the Afterlife.” And kudos to him for having the courage and good sense to write it.

“There’s . . . an emphasis on ‘extraordinary’ NDEs.”|

*Many* NDE’s are extraordinary. And they just might be the ones that can teach us the most.

Now admittedly there’s a fine line between what I would call extraordinary, and the sort of one-of-a-kind weirdness that makes it hard to take seriously what someone is reporting.

But you and I apparently have a different understanding of what such an “outlier” account is. Maybe that’s partly because I’ve read more of these NDE stories than you, and partly because much of what they contain reminds me of my own amazing experiences.

“One of their books (by Jody Long) is even advertised as a "feel-good" collection . . . I’m afraid it still strikes me as more of a feel-good site than an objective research option.”

Could it be both? Is it possible that discovering the true facts of our larger existence might tend to make us feel good? Apparently, that’s precisely the message virtually all NDEr’s would like to shout from the rooftops.

Now admittedly, if I were writing a book, I might hesitate to play up any *individual* NDERF account, because of the very question you raise: how do we know they’re all real? I *might* hesitate—I’d have to think about it, and take it on a case by case basis.

But to use this material as Long does in both of his books—as a data pool for observing larger trends and truths? I think that makes good sense. Just as I’m justified in saying (to get back to the point that began this discussion) that NDERF offers strong support for the notion that transcendental NDE’s featuring unity consciousness are far from unheard of.

But you’ll have to read *many* of these accounts—with all their quirky medical, personal, and emotional details—to be properly convinced (or not).

Michael, I concede a point to you: it is harder than I thought to find direct expressions of unity consciousness in the works of some well-known NDE investigators.

On the other hand, a quick search does turn up this quoted experience on the IANDS site, which, steeped as it is in the work of Moody, Ring, et al, is not a place one would expect to find information that’s not well-supported in the literature:

“I went into a flow of oneness that I think is God, (I called that the isness); it is a state of bliss where I am all there is.”

That’s powerful, and is exactly the sort of thing one finds again and again in the NDERF exceptional accounts.

Then, under “Features of the NDE,” IANDS says:

“More than 15 common characteristics of an NDE have been reported by near-death experiencers . . . [including] a sense of oneness and interconnectedness”

I think it’s particularly meaningful that IANDS would include “oneness” in their list of core features.

And Pim van Lommel, certainly one of the most respected NDE researchers says: “It’s an experience of oneness, of unity . . . Everything is connected.”

But again, you are at least somewhat correct about this, and I admit to being surprised. I wonder if some NDE researchers have simply chosen not to emphasize this aspect of the phenomenon.

By the way, this quote is exactly the sort of God-talk with which I—and Jeffrey Long—feel comfortable:

“I went into a flow of oneness that I think is God, (I called that the isness); it is a state of bliss where I am all there is.”

I mention this because you say that all the talk about God on NDERF puts you off. Yet you seem to be indulging in it yourself:

"For those who don't like the computer model, here's an alternative. We can see the world as a manifestation of ideas in the mind of God."

And:

"the ground of being, which is the mind of God and its contents"

Excellent!

\\"God is one of my favorite subjects." - Bruce//

The universe is permeated by consciousness, "the collective consciousness", and that universal consciousness is what we call God. It is "all that is." Everything that is emanates from that consciousness, and we are a part of that universal collective consciousness. When we talk about God we use language that seems to assume that we are separate from God but the truth is that oneness that people who have mystical and transcendental experiences so often describe belie that assumption.

Those overwhelming feelings of oneness and connectedness that so many near death experiencers describe are a byproduct of that universal collective consciousness. In this life we experience so much separation that is how we think the universe really is and we assume that is how all reality is. The other side that is described by near death experiencers seems to belie that assumption.

From the moment we are born and separate from our mothers and the umbilical cord is cut in two, till the day we die and our death becomes a lesson in separation to the loved ones we leave behind life is one great big long lesson in separation; what separation means and how it feels. Religion, politics, language, dialects, gender, sexual orientation, wealth, I.Q., education, looks, culture, war, etc. the list is endless. Even message boards quickly turn into lessons in separation when people start arguing and debating the smallest points.

And the funny thing about it is that we don't have to go looking for duality and separation - it will find us all on its own? If life has meaning experiencing separation must be what it is because it seems to be a universal human experience.

Art said:

"We . . . assume that we are separate from God . . . but transcendental experiences belie that assumption."

I like this! (Forgive the editing, Art.)

The funny and strange thing about it is that this Universe, the place we are now, seems to be awash in duality and separation. Which is exactly the opposite from what many near death experiencers and people who have transcendental experiences describe they felt during their experience; and also exactly the opposite from what happens in the world of the quantum where subatomic particles seem to communicate with each other, and the people who investigate them.

Even the internet, a relatively new thing, turns out to be an excellent vehicle for experiencing separation. I can't post anything on a message board without someone wanting to argue about it. I could say the sky is blue and someone would figure out a way to disagree. Duality and separation seem to be inherent and inescapable properties of where we exist right now. And we don't have to go looking for them, they will find us all on their own.

So, I wonder if there is a reason for that? Does that difference exist for a reason? And since this life is only temporary, the blink of an eye compared to eternity, is this Earth life just a school? A place where we learn what it means and how it feels to be separate, and become separate unique individuals? Which is something that can't be learned in heaven due to those overwhelming feelings of oneness and connectedness?

From the moment we are born and separate from our mothers till the day we die and our death becomes a lesson in separation to our loved ones we leave behind life seems to be one great big long lesson in separation. The death of someone we love, divorce, religion, politics, language, dialects, gender, sexual orientation, wealth, education, status, looks, height and weight, the color of our skin and hair and eyes, and the major them to almost every story, the lyrics of many songs, movies, etc. The ways we experience separation in this life seems to be endless.

Just a random question. I’m not sure if anyone on here has taken dmt.
I’ve never taken it, and I don’t want to.
But I’ve heard that some people, like atheists, have taken dmt at some point, and had their beliefs reinforced, like the experience from the drug just confirmed them that brain=mind.
Why is that?

Read examples here: https://www.quora.com/What-would-happen-if-an-atheist-or-hardcore-rationalist-materialist-were-to-take-a-high-dose-of-a-psychedelic-such-as-DMT-Might-they-wonder-if-there-is-more-to-the-mind-than-just-the-physical-brain-What-if-Richard

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