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What is and where is consciousness? Some neuroscientists seem to agree that our sense of a "self" is illusory, but consciousness isn't.

This would mean we are connected in a very strange way... is behind our personal egos a same, unified consciousness?

Does it appear and disappear along the creation and death of infinite universes?

Is all this too out of topic?

\\"This conclusion, in turn, has been used by skeptics to argue that consciousness is generated by the brain and therefore cannot survive death." - Michael Prescott//

My belief in life after death is not dependent on just one line of evidence... it is based on a whole bunch of different evidences that when viewed together give me a high degree of confidence in life after death. If I am putting a puzzle together and only one or two pieces of the puzzle are missing I can still see what the picture is. And in this case it is obvious to me.

In other words there is nothing that a skeptic can say to me that can shake my confidence that something of who I am will survive the death of my physical body. I have read so much over the last twenty years that is just mind boggling and amazing about our universe and who and what we are that I don't think that it is possible to topple my beliefs.

One more thing though. I also don't believe that we are saved by what we believe. From everything I've read belief seems to be irrelevant in the end. Survival seems to be built into the system. At first unbelievers might be a little confused when they first crossover but things get straightened out very quickly once the Light appears. It has something to do with the oneness and connectedness of the Universe.

Those of us who believe are not superior to believers. Their brain just works differently than ours and perhaps it is that way on purpose? It is just another way for us to experience duality and separation in this life?

A niece of mine, who is quite intelligent told me that she tried to believe but she just can't. She considers herself an atheist and has said she hopes that death is the end.

I believe we will all be healed once we are on the other side and connected to that Light. I remember reading one little girl's NDE description and she told her doctor (I think it was Dr. Melvin Morse) "all good things are in that Light."

So if I believe that doesn't make me morally superior to someone who doesn't believe. We are all just playing different parts in this life and it is that way for a reason. Once we get to the other side we will all be equal. Or like the New Testament says "There is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, we are all one in Christ." All the things that separate us in this life simply do not exist in the next; the separation we experience here doesn't exist in heaven.

I have a difficult time understanding these studies that assume vision is somehow related to consciousness. Obviously no one would say that Helen Keller had no consciousness because she could not see or hear. These studies are equating vision, a physical process, with awareness of self, something that is not physical.

There are people who have had one hemisphere of their brain removed and still retained normal full consciousness as well as people with an intact brain. As pointed on in the John Lorber link some people with hydrocephalus whose skull is mostly filled with fluid and had a thin line of brain tissue smashed against their skull still were able to function normally.

My understanding of vision in the physical realm is that it is a complicated process of light waves impinging on ‘rods’ and ‘cones’ of the retina at the back of the eye, stimulating the optic nerve allowing impulses to move through the optic chiasma to the vision centers at the back of the brain where they are perceived by the consciousness as sight. The optic chiasma allows impulses from each eye to be received by both sides of the brain. Whether or not the optic chiasma is severed as part of the corpus callostomy is not stated in the study. (I still do not understand how survival of the fittest can evolve human vision.)

The original study of Sperry and Gazzaniga may be interesting but I think it is irrelevant to consciousness. There is a difference between perception and consciousness. Perception on the physical plane requires a physical instrument to register something; consciousness may exist without being aware of anything on the physical plane as during sleep when dreaming occurs. People reporting Near Death Experiences when their brain is seriously compromised report they are aware and are able to experience ‘vision’ without physical eyes. Even a few people blind from birth report that during their NDE they were reported to be able to see for the first time.

If the brain is a physical instrument allowing the consciousness to be aware of something on the physical plane then without an active physical brain to transmit or filter incoming data on the physical plane , the consciousness may not be aware of physicality but consciousness may still exist on a plane that is non-physical where a different mechanism of sight occurs. - AOD

I remember reading that a recent finding was that the brain continues forming new "connections" for many decades, instead of just through the teens or twenties.

This would allow for another possibility: The older study was of recently damaged brains, and the second was of (possibly the same patients?)of decades-after cases.

\\"People reporting Near Death Experiences when their brain is seriously compromised report they are aware and are able to experience ‘vision’ without physical eyes. Even a few people blind from birth report that during their NDE they were reported to be able to see for the first time." - AOD//

Many NDE'ers say they had 360 degree vision which sounds rather holographic to me... as in being 100% connected to all the information (the whole) instead of just a small part. The same is true of saying it was "realer than real" or "more real than normal." In this dimension our eyes only allow us to retrieve a small part of what is available.

We are only able to see a small part of the light spectrum instead of the whole thing. The same reasoning also explains being able to see "more colors than normal" or "more colors than we have here" (which NDE'ers also describe). Since our eyes only allow us access to a small part of the light spectrum we are limited in what we can see but on the other side, since we are connected to "all that is" we can see the entire light spectrum instead of just a small part.

The Universe as a Hologram,

I think that’s a very interesting point David. The brain does seem to have an extraordinary ability to reorganise and repair functions. I have witnessed it first had in my brother’s arduous recovery from his strokes.

Art said:

“From everything I've read belief seems to be irrelevant in the end. Survival seems to be built into the system.”

Yeah, it’s like gravity: you don’t have to believe in it to fall down a flight of steps. :)

And I agree with you: it’s amazing how many well-researched phenomena—NDE’s, ADC’s, veridical OBE’s, mediumship, to name but a few—have to be ignored or completely misunderstood to see death as the end. Then, too, there’s that huge body of research on past lives. (Sorry, Art.)

But if you want to see a side of reincarnation that may soften you up a bit, read Carol Bowman’s Return From Heaven. It’s about relatives reincarnated into the same family. It’s pretty touching to read (for example) about a woman whose beloved deceased mother returns as her own daughter.

I know, I know—you have your own idea about what reincarnation *really* is. Just read the book. You may discover a wonderfully compassionate face to this phenomena that you haven’t yet considered.

The researches does point to the fact that their patients are 20 year post operation and that they can't rule out some kind of repair might have occurred as an explanation to the discrepancy from Sperry and Gazzaniga's findings.

Personally I suspect that the impairment from the operation differs from patient to patient. As the operation is so rare and has fallen out of favor we will probably never get final answers. I think the most interesting aspect of which there does not seem to be a disagreement is that most patients with split-brain syndrome retain intact memory, personality and social skills. Is this what you would expect if you "slice" a unified consciousness into two independent streams of consciousness?

Interestingly the same team of researchers has just published a follow-up article in case anyone should be interested:

Unified tactile detection and localisation in split-brain patients


\\"Then, too, there’s that huge body of research on past lives. (Sorry, Art.)" - Bruce//

LOL! I've actually read several books about reincarnation including Brian Weiss's book about reincarnation. I have friends (Christian friends) who are quite enamored and really into reincarnation. Several of them are old Christian ladies! {grin}

I believe the evidence for reincarnation is real enough it's only just that I believe our interpretation of what it is and what is happening is flawed. It is not some religious thing and more just a by-product of the oneness and connectedness of the way our Universe is made.

It is simply tuning into someone else's frequencies. Like a radio that is tuned to more than one station. Probably happens on purpose just to cause more duality and separation in this life so people can argue about whether reincarnation is real or not.

And I believe those so called physical marks I believe those are just thoughts are things and consciousness creating reality. People manifesting stuff that pops into their heads.

I also believe that schizophrenia may be more of the same... people tuning into information from myriads of other people's minds, "hearing" their thoughts and not being able to tune them out. Our brains may be very fine tuned but sometimes maybe they aren't and so they think they are "hearing voices" when really they are just picking up on other people's stream of information.

Our whole universe may be made of information and none of what we see around us may be as real as we think it is. In fact it may all be happening at once and our brain may be just allowing us to experience it as time passing when past, present, and future are all happening at once!

Like my mom used to say "truth is stranger than fiction." It might all be just a play to teach us the stuff that the universal consciousness that controls us wants us to experience to learn a few simple lessons. When we get to the other side we'll realize it was all just a hoax or illusion, or a dream in itself to quote Michelle M's NDE description.

"But the day before he passed away, he wrote me a note: "This is all an elaborate hoax." I asked him, "What's a hoax?" And he was talking about this world, this place. He said it was all an illusion. I thought he was just confused. But he was not confused. He wasn't visiting heaven, not the way we think of heaven. He described it as a vastness that you can't even imagine. It was a place where the past, present, and future were happening all at once." Excerpt from Roger Ebert's final moments with his wife,

Time is NOT real: Physicists show EVERYTHING happens at the same time

This article argues that a lengthy post-op period may allow the patient to learn to react to visual stimuli by unconscious cues. In other words, it wouldn’t be a matter of neurological repair, but of enhanced attentiveness.

I doubt that the severed corpus callosum could repair itself. When nerves are severed —for instance, in a case of paralysis — they don’t knit themselves back together. But it’s conceivable that the "backdoor" connections between the hemispheres (mainly the fornix and the anterior and posterior commissures), which have not been cut, could strengthen themselves. Ordinarily these connections are mere wisps of tissue, but perhaps they can bulk up. I would think a brain scan would reveal this kind of change, but I don’t know.

The linked article in the Journal of Undergraduate Neurolscience Education addresses a debate about the nature of conscious perception of visual stimuli in split-brain patients.

Conscious perception of visual stimuli is not the same as consciousness. Perception of physical reality is a brain function. What the consciousness perceives of physical reality depends upon the integrity of the brain and in this case discussion---the vision system. But whether or not the consciousness perceives something in no way says anything about the nature of the consciousness, i.e.spirit entity or soul. It is about the integrity of the physical form to allow wave vibrations to register in the visual centers of the brain which the consciousness interprets or perceives as vision. - AOD

"It is simply tuning into someone else's frequencies."

Nope. That wouldn't explain the remembrance that some very young kids have about how they chose their current parents, and the deep longing they have to resume relationships with loved ones they knew in previous lives. As I said, you gotta read Bowman's book. To the best of my knowledge, Brian Weiss (whom you mention) and others don't touch on that stuff.

I too have read many books on reincarnation—many more than you, I'm sure—but no one presents the complete, human, story of how this phenomenon works as well as she. But I understand—it's a subject you'd prefer to ignore.

And by the way, though it's not a topic covered in Bowman's book, your explanation of birthmarks is the sort of absurdly superficial, head-in-the-sand argument that Skeptics make about NDE's and other paranormal subjects.

But you are right about this: “[the apparent past-lives phenomenon] is not some religious thing and more just a by-product of the oneness and connectedness of the way our Universe is made." It's just that there are *degrees* of oneness/separation, and reincarnation stories describe our journey back towards the *oneness* end of the spectrum.

\\"As I said, you gotta read Bowman's book." - Bruce//

No I don't. I'm not interested in arguing with you about it. You're not going to convert me and I'm not going convert you. It's pointless to argue. I've stated what I believe so there's no point in discussing it further. If you want to come back be my guest.

"Confirmation bias is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information that confirms or supports one's prior personal beliefs or values.[1] It is an important type of cognitive bias that has a significant effect on the proper functioning of society by distorting evidence-based decision-making. People display this bias when they gather or remember information selectively, or when they interpret it in a biased way. For example, a person may cherry-pick empirical data that supports one's belief, ignoring the remainder of the data that is not supportive. People also tend to interpret ambiguous evidence as supporting their existing position. The effect is strongest for desired outcomes, for emotionally charged issues, and for deeply entrenched beliefs."

"Confirmation bias is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information that confirms or supports one's prior personal beliefs or values"

How fortunate that you're free of this nasty shortcoming yourself! I'd love to know how you arrived at such an enviable position.

But listen, sarcasm aside, you and I agree on enough stuff so that I'll just let the matter go, and promise not to revisit the subject with you. Fair enough?

Apparently for this physicist, science 'proves' there can't be an afterlife.

\\"How fortunate that you're free of this nasty shortcoming yourself! I'd love to know how you arrived at such an enviable position." - Bruce//

??? Where did I say I was free of confirmation bias? I said you have your beliefs and I have mine. I'm not interested in arguing is all I said. You can proselytize and wax poetic about reincarnation all you want. I've suffered enough in this life, I sure as hell don't want to repeat it over again.

"Where did I say I was free of confirmation bias?"

Personally, I thought you were saying that someone who disagrees with you is showing confirmation bias. However, I may have misunderstood your point.

Hi Art,
You say that you don’t want to repeat this life over again. I agree with you, I don’t either. What I hope for is a different life in which I have a different personality, a strong healthy body, a family and many friends to cheer me on. Maybe one life in which everything does not have to be a learning experience or a challenge, where I can just relax and enjoy being alive. It would be nice if the things I try to accomplish actually come to fruition once in a while
I don’t want to live this life over again either. = AOD

\\"Personally, I thought you were saying that someone who disagrees with you is showing confirmation bias." - Michael Prescott//

Everyone suffers from confirmation bias. It's just part of being human. That's why arguing is pretty much pointless. Simon and Garfunkel said it best...

"Still, a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest" (from The Boxer by Simon and Garfunkel)

Thanks for the linked article. It provided the best laugh I have had for quite a while. Everyone here must read it and save it as an example of the way California university 'professors' think (or don't think).

The article does not provide the credentials of the 'professor' Sean Carroll, a cosmologist and physics professor at the California Institute of Technology. He could be a graduate student or janitor for all that I know. But apparently he thinks he knows everything about everything.

I wish him a life of challenging learning experiences and that he grow up a bit before he be allowed to generate another article about life after death, or not.

It is no wonder that young people of California are so--- well, you know! - AOD

I have a niece who now works in a Law office. She is literally a genius with a high I.Q. and really is quite bright. She says she is an atheist. She has told me she has tried to believe but she just can't. She has also told me she hopes that we don't survive the death of our physical bodies but things I have shared with them has worried her? She doesn't find survival of the soul comforting at all?

Maybe her unbelief is just part of who she is? Maybe it is built into her DNA? Some of us find it interesting and some find it horrifying? And maybe reincarnation is the same way? I know people, people I've known for 50+ years, who are deeply fascinated by reincarnation and are really into it, and the strange thing to me is they are members of a very fundamentalist Christian church, and they are very convinced that we're all going to live many lives... which I find just as horrifying as my niece does survival of the soul.

To me coming back here and having to repeat this life over and over again would be like punishment. I have suffered a lot of loss in my life and then later in life have suffered a lot of physical pain. In fact I wake up every morning feeling like I've been beat by a baseball bat. Why would I want to repeat this over and over again? Ugh!

Everybody suffers from confirmation bias, but there are differences of degree. Some people never change their minds about anything. Others are more flexible. There are also differences in focus. Some people can change their minds pretty easily in one area but are inflexible in another. And there are differences in awareness. Some people are aware of their own biases, while others aren’t.

I think it was F. Scott Fitzgerald who said that genius consists of the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time. This is probably the best cure for confirmation bias, but the psychological tension involved can be hard to maintain.

"Time is NOT real: Physicists show EVERYTHING happens at the same time"

Sorry Art, but that's bullshit. If the block universe is true and nothing happens, then no one is conscious, we will all be philosophical zombies (beings that behave as conscious beings but without being conscious), because without flow of time there is no consciousness. But that at least I am conscious is the most undeniable fact of all existence, so the block universe is not true. Checkmate.

"Apparently for this physicist, science 'proves' there can't be an afterlife."

Carroll's argument is that if there is an afterlife, then it must be the result of classical physics. We know everything about classical physics and nothing of this knowledge indicates that there is an afterlife. Therefore an afterlife cannot exists.

I deny the first premise, an afterlife can exist even if we know everything about classical physics, because it can be the product of physics at a quantum or even subquantum level, which we hardly know. Therefore it is not true that an afterlife cannot exists. And the most probable is that there is an afterlife for cases about NDEs, mediumship, memories of past lives ...

"I believe the evidence for reincarnation is real enough it's only just that I believe our interpretation of what it is and what is happening is flawed."

But why have that bias against reincarnation and not have a bias against mediumship by claiming that they are all psi agent living or fraud or a bias against NDEs claiming that they are all brain generated hallucinations with mild psychic experiences. It is not rational, past life cases point to reincarnation even more strongly than NDE or mediumship point to an afterlife.

I think I understand your perspective about reincarnation. And, to some extent I may agree with you until I read something you write like the following:

“To me coming back here and having to repeat this life over and over again would be like punishment.”

I don’t want to argue either but after all this blog is an opportunity to discuss---not argue --- these matters in a civilized way. You seem to be stuck on living this life over and over again. Is that what you really mean because as I said above I don’t want to relive this life over and over again either?

Have you considered that you might choose to live a completely different life? You might choose to live a life that is rewarding and free of pain. Although no one who lives a long life is ever free of pain. Pain is part of the human condition that one accepts when one agrees to reincarnate. I know we have discussed this in previous posts long gone so I don’t want to repeat what I said previously but each time you present your views on reincarnation you keep reverting to not wanting to live the same life over and over again.

Even spirit entities in the afterlife don’t agree about reincarnation. Some think it occurs for a few spirits but that it is a choice and some choose to not reincarnate. While there are others, the spirit entity Patience Worth for example who opines that reincarnation does not exist. ( It may be that Patience Worth misunderstood the question or the concept of reincarnation equating it perhaps with resurrection since she said something about having to reanimate the old body again and why would anyone want to do that.)

Well, reincarnation in a different body is not the same as resurrection of the old body. I may be mistaken but even in the Biblical scriptures one finds reference to being resurrected in a new spiritual body, I think. There are at least two or more suggestions implying reincarnation; one relative to John the Baptist and another one about people who suffer in some way because of transgressions in a past life.

Atheism is a kind of default position when one is mired in physicality and uninformed of the multitude of circumstantial evidence of survival of the spirit entity after death of a physical body. . I find myself falling back into that default position also at times even though I have read a lot of materials suggesting survival.

Atheism and agnosticism have little to do with reincarnation. Whether or not there is a ‘God’ may not have much to do with reincarnation if reincarnation is just a normal process which spirit entities go through from time to time. To be born many times is no more of a miracle that being born once. (I think Ben Franklin has been reported to have said that.)

Anyhow, I am a believer in reincarnation or to be more precise, transmigration of souls from one physical form to another. It is all a matter of spirits moving through physical life to obtain understanding or enlightenment. To what end; who knows? - AOD

"??? Where did I say I was free of confirmation bias? I said you have your beliefs and I have mine. I'm not interested in arguing is all I said. "

You know what? You *didn't* say you were free of it. I just read it that way, and that's my bad. I apologize.

\\"What I hope for is a different life in which I have a different personality, a strong healthy body, a family and many friends to cheer me on." AOD//

Then you wouldn't be you. It is the things we have experienced in this life that makes us who we are. A newborn baby is conscious and sentient but they know nothing about this life, they are like an empty pitcher. Some things about who we are is predicated on our DNA like whether we are outgoing and extroverted or introverted but then some of it happens because of the environment we are born into and raised in.

Who we become is like a lump of clay that is squished and molded by the body we are born into and the environment we grow up in and some of it is affected by our biochemistry and hormones which are "made" by the DNA we inherited from our parents. We are a mixture of nature and nurture.

But every baby has to learn about the universe it is born into and how to use it's arms and legs and what things taste like, look like, feel like, cold and hot, and sound like. All our senses and all the information we absorb as we go through life is teaching us about this strange 3 dimensional + 1 time universe we live in. Babies are learning machines and they spend the rest of their lives holistically learning and being imprinted with information regardless of whether they want to or not.

"In any case, a more recent study casts doubt on Sperry and Gazzaniga's conclusions:"

The replication crisis strikes again!

"In other words, either consciousness originates in "the cloud" and is downloaded to the brain as needed, or consciousness originates in the brain and is periodically uploaded to "the cloud" for safekeeping."

This is Rupert Sheldrake's position.

I used to follow Carol Bowman’s blog many years ago until I tired of the same thing over and over again. She does a good job I think but a lot of women commenting on the blog talked about their kids or grandchildren, questioning Ms. Bowman if she thought that their kids might be remembering past lives so I quit reading the site after a while. (I don’t have any children.)

I have started to read Bowman’s “Return From Heaven” and I am pleasantly surprised to find that she writes of cases which she did not have on her blog at the time I participated and I have not read about anywhere else. They are very interesting cases of children remembering lives as a family member of a previous generation. So far, I find the book adds to my library additional possible evidence for reincarnation.

Thanks for the recommendation Bruce. - AOD

\\"Everybody suffers from confirmation bias, but there are differences of degree. Some people never change their minds about anything." Michael Prescott//

I changed my mind about life after death and this universe we live in after we got a computer and I stumbled upon a site called "survival science" and started reading about near death experiences. It was about the year 2000 and I was 47 years old.

Before that it wasn't so much that I was an atheist as death just wasn't something I thought about. There was also a link on the survival science website about the holographic universe and the connection to near death experiences. The parallels and corroboration between them was obvious to me and it just jumped out at me.

Dr. Ken Ring wrote a whole chapter about the holographic universe and its connection to NDEs in his book "Life At Death" and I think that is what got me studying about it. And there were other people who also saw the same "consilience" between NDEs and the holographic universe as I did including the astronaut Dr. Edgar Mitchell. Dr. Melvin Morse also mentioned the holographic universe in his book "Where God Lives."

So I sort of changed my mind but before I just didn't care or think about it. I probably leaned on the "no survival" side and thought the whole idea of "heaven" was sort of silly. It was a revelation to me about how much information there was and how many people had experienced about life after death.

Now probably my most favorite stories are deathbed visions and nearing death awareness stories. There is just something about them that sounds true to me. Some pretty weird things happen when people are close to dying and I find it difficult to believe that they are all just hallucinating or making it up. They can't all be hallucinating the same thing?

\\"Some people can change their minds pretty easily in one area but are inflexible in another." - Michael Prescott//

Me and reincarnation. My hemorrhoids are bothering me right now. I sure don't want to have to experience this again? {grin} The pressure of just sitting here is annoying. I gotta get up and move around.

You are right Art, it wouldn’t be me, Amos Doyle, but it would be someone else. Regardless of the form I find myself I would still be the soul entity that I am now; an entity with no name. And, that’s a good thing. I would not want to drag around all of the personalities I have been in past lives with me in a present life. I want to forget them. But the thinking part of me, that part that is aware of itself will still be me. Amos Doyle will be a past life memory that I, whoever I am, might conjure up at some point but would no longer be part of my personality. - AOD

\\"Regardless of the form I find myself I would still be the soul entity that I am now; an entity with no name." - AOD//

We are all interconnected and our separation is an illusion. In a holographic universe nothing is separate from anything else. That is what near death experiencers describe in their NDE descriptions, that is what they mean when they say they felt an overwhelming feeling of oneness and connectedness. "I felt like I was the universe" or "me and the Universe were one." And that is what Love is, oneness and connectedness.

We come here to become separate unique individuals and to learn what it means and how it feels to be separate - which is something that can't be learned in heaven due to those feelings of oneness and connectedness. We experience enough separation in this life so we don't forget who we were, and for those that die young they just borrow some of the separation that the rest of us experienced. We don't live for just ourselves and on the other side we will all share our stories because we will all be connected to that Universal consciousness or the "Akashic records."

"So far, I find the book adds to my library additional possible evidence for reincarnation."

Amos, I’m glad you're enjoying it. I think you'll find that besides providing stunning evidence for the phenomenon, Bowman does what Stevenson (for example), doesn't. She presents the *larger* picture—the emotional and spiritual context of the cases.

In particular, she highlights the often profound experience of those who get to reunite with beloved family members—parents, grandparents, etc.—who are reborn as their sons and daughters.

I have been thinking. When I was growing up they used to say that all of the cells in the body were replaced every 7 years. Now, I don’t know if that is true or not but assuming that there is some truth in it for at least some cells, that means that I am now using the 11th body known as ‘Amos Oliver Doyle’. You see, I have been reincarnated at least 11 times in this lifetime and I didn’t even know it! I didn’t change but my body, my form --- did.

That’s 11 different bodies! But I still feel like I am the same person. That is, my thinking self did not detect a difference as it went through all of those body changes. I know I am not the same body or personality I was 80+ years ago. But as far as my sense of self is concerned I still feel like I am the same person. I am still ‘me’! If I were to guess how old I am I might say around 30 or 35 the age than many spirit entities appear to be.

My first memory in this life may have been a month or so after my birth. I remember a warm summer day when I was lying on a soft surface in bright light in front of an open black-screened window with white lace curtains being gently blown toward me. I think that is the way it will be with reincarnation into another form in another lifetime. I will just wake up one day in a warm sunny crib as I did in this lifetime and begin developing another personality and experiencing another set of challenges and learning experiences. But I will still be the same ‘spirit entity’ that I am now. I will still be 'me'! - AOD

\\"I will just wake up one day in a warm sunny crib as I did in this lifetime and begin developing another personality and experiencing another set of challenges and learning experiences." AOD//

Or you will wake up in a hovel in Africa with parents who have AIDS and then when you are 9 years old they will die and leave you to take care of your two younger siblings. You will have to scrounge in garbage piles for food to eat and every day will be a struggle to survive. That is how the majority of Earth's human population lives. Hand to mouth. They make about $2.00 a day which buys them a bag of rice and some scroungy vegetables to boil and eat with their rice.

The first noble truth of Buddhism is "all life is suffering" and for the majority of Earth's human population that is what life is. We here in the 1st world, the developed world, don't have a clue what it is to be really poor and to really suffer.

People who wax poetic about reincarnation don't imagine themselves being reincarnated to live on the streets of Calcutta and be a prostitute or to live in Indonesia on $2.00/day. That is how a large percentage of humans on Earth live. I had an Indonesian sister in law who told me how the poor people in Jakarta live. My brother said that the water comes out of the tap polluted and the water that runs in the gutters in the street has human feces and urine in it.

In Brazil they have street kids who live in the favelas and they are hunted by the authorities who just kill them because there are so many of them. They steal and commit crimes because that is the only way they can survive.

Streets of Death, street kids in Brazil

Regarding the California professor, he's certainly not for un-dogmatic discourse.

This discussion reminds me of perhaps the most famous brain-damaged person in medical history: Phineas Gage. Folklore says that after he got a massive tampering iron blown through his head, Mr. Gage suffered from debilitating personality changes: Becoming cruel, swearing, unable to hold a job, etc. However, after recently doing some more reading about him, I was surprised to learn that more research has revealed that he actually more or less completely recovered from the accident, both physically and mentally, to the point where his personality - as far as I can tell - was essentially the same as before, save for the final three months of his life. He was even able to hold a coach-driving job in Chile, which involved rising early, caring for his horses, hitching them up, taking fares, chatting with passengers, and navigating roads for up to 13 hours a day... pretty impressive for someone who got a giant metal spike through his brain!

Does all that mean Mr. Gage proved that our personality is created entirely by the brain, or that it exists outside of the brain? Like others here, I believe that we - spirit beings - interact with the physical world through the brain, and when it's damaged, that affects us, like how damaged computer can still operate, but how it processes data and runs programs is different.

With regards to reincarnation, I'm firmly with Art in that I find it a horrifying idea beyond anything the greatest horror writers could come up with. The only reasonable explanations I've found for it are:

1. Each of us are part of a larger entity (Michael's December 22, 2012 post about the diamond is a good analogy), and upon death we reunite with it and never live another life. However, another part of this larger entity lives a lifetime on the physical realm and can access our own memories, skills, and the like. We still exist as individuals, yet are part of a whole, like a cup of water poured back into the ocean.

2. According to channeled messages minister Ben H. Swett received, reincarnation is available, but it is not what God desires for us, as those who want it are addicted to earthly experiences. He does allows it, though, if we really want to go back.

Good comments, Ian. Yes, the Phineas Gage case remains fascinating. To the extent that his personality did change (some say he became quick-tempered and sullen, where before he had been amiable and placid), I can’t help thinking that any traumatic disfiguring accident might well cause emotional changes, regardless of brain injury.

It’s funny how reincarnation is widely seen as a fun adventure in the West, while in the East, where the idea seems to have originated, it has traditionally been seen as a nightmarish fate. The whole point of the Buddha’s teachings, as well as the Tibetan Book of the Dead, is to *escape* from the wheel of rebirth. Life is understood to consist mainly of suffering, and living another life just means more suffering. The Buddha counseled detachment from all desires as a way of disconnecting from the dangerous illusion of earthly life. The Book of the Dead instructs the spirit to see through the illusions of the immediate postmortem experience and thereby escape being caught up in a new incarnation.

For those interested in compelling evidence for reincarnation—not that it's hard to find—there's an extraordinary case described in astonishing detail in Haraldsson's book: I Saw A Light And Came Here. The ease and accuracy with which this kid spouts information about his former life . . . well, it's like he's describing relationships and events from *this* life rather than a past one.

The book itself is in the dry, scholarly tradition of Stevenson, and I've decided not to buy it. But this case is included in the free sample in the chapter called "Too Good To Be True?”, so there's no reason not to enjoy it.

By the way, Jim Tucker's “Return To Life,” which I also read just recently, is another book that, like Bowman's, is not just persuasive but a pleasure to read.

And since others are sharing their feelings, let me say that I myself am not at all eager to return here. My life has been hard enough, and this world crazy enough, that—in my present frame of mind, at least—I would surely choose to leave this place for good.

But the evidence for reincarnation is clear. And I trust—I *know*, actually—that this Cosmos is fundamentally benevolent beyond my wildest dreams, that Spirit is truly on my side (and on everyone's), that the Universe wants me, above all, to love and to enjoy, and that things will work out for the best.

Nice post!

Re the reincarnation issue, can't both sides be right?

*You* don't come back, but your Higher Self does from a higher-dimensional, non-linear perspective, and you maintain that connection with members of your "soul family."

It may be that in some cases, such as kids with strong past life memories, birth marks corresponding to injuries, etc., a particular facet of the diamond (per Michael's conception) has taken a more direct and linear route to the "next" incarnation.

Just a thought (that I'm pretty sure Michael has covered before, but there it is!).

\\"It’s funny how reincarnation is widely seen as a fun adventure in the West, while in the East, where the idea seems to have originated, it has traditionally been seen as a nightmarish fate." - Michael Prescott//

My feelings exactly. And yes there is enough suffering to go around for everyone, even rich people, whom we often believe have these idyllic perfect lives. Just think of Lori Loughlin who will now be spending time in prison and Michael Douglas whose son became a drug addict and spent time in prison for selling drugs. Even Donald Trump lost a brother because of alcoholism. I don't believe this life is a bowl of cherries for anyone.

But you are right... I have friends who are in love with the idea of reincarnation and coming back and the strange thing is that they are fundamentalist Christians! LOL!

\\*You* don't come back, but your Higher Self does from a higher-dimensional, non-linear perspective, and you maintain that connection with members of your "soul family." - Matt//

I don't think most people really have a handle on what the implications of the "connectedness and oneness" on the other side really implies or means. If reincarnation exists it is that everyone's life on the other side is shared throughout the entire piece of holographic film. I will know what it was to be you and you will know what it was to be me.

On this side separation is what we experience and understand. We talk about God like we are somehow separated from him/her/or it and that God somehow exists somehow entirely separate from us. If the holographic universe is true what that implies is that collective consciousness that permeates the Universe, which we call "God", we are a part of it and are never entirely separate from "It".

We are always permanently connected to God and that everything we experience and learn on this side is stored in the "Akashic Records" or "collective consciousness" of the Universe and after we cross over it will be completely available to us to access and simply thinking about a thing will allow us to know and understand it. If reincarnation exists it exists simply as a by-product of that total connectedness and oneness of the Universe.

But the lives that we are living right now are creating "us" and I am or will be totally "me" on the other side. I won't lose my separate unique identity on the other side. I will be connected to everyone and everything on the other side, and it will feel completely normal just like being separate here feels normal, and the physics of the other side - while completely different from what we normally experience here - will feel completely normal and not strange on the other side.

It will be just another way of understanding reality. Time and space will be different in that we will be able to access and experience all points in space and time simply by thinking about them and we will have access to "all knowledge" simply because we will be part of that great universal holographic film that we call "heaven". And if you want to "live" as another person and see what it was like to be them I suppose that will be possible, but very very few near death experiencers willingly come back.

The only NDEers that I've read that want to come back are mostly women with either babies or small children that they want to raise and take care of themselves. Everyone else only comes back reluctantly.

"And I trust—I *know*, actually—that this Cosmos is fundamentally benevolent beyond my wildest dreams"

OK, but Bruce, how do you *know* that what you say is true? I mean, it sounds elegant and simmetric to me, and apparently it was very strong to you, but that doesn't make it real, many people "feel" very different spiritual things to be true, they can't all be right.

I've lost both my parents to cancer, a horrible and debilitating disease, my mother at 19, and my dad this year, and I'm not yet 26. I don't feel the Cosmos to be benevolent and caring... if anything it seems quite random and unfeeling, unplanning.

I have got almost no signs of my parents (not of the unambiguous kind if anything), no important beautiful epiphany or any of those things that give everyone so much confidence.

If anything this Universe feels not concerned with our lives at all.

I lately read a woman's NDE where she returned with a different interpretation of why souls come to the physical dimension. She was quite convinced by her transcendent experience that earthly life was a sort of sacrifice that we take upon ourselves in order to face pain, fear, hate and other negative emotions that are impossible in more "godly" realms, and that without someone experiencing these "dark" sides of the world, the totality that is god could not exist. So, in a sense, we're here so the rest of creation could be "there",as much as there is a there and here.

It's an explanation that could sound like some theoretical metaphysical exercise trying to explain the existence of evil, but as she explains it, this was an understanding that she experienced deeply and directly during her NDE. Not here to promote her view or any other perspective, but interested in thoughts in how this may fit or not fit with other understandings of reincarnation.

\\"If anything this Universe feels not concerned with our lives at all." - Luciano//

Losing your parents... Duality and separation seem to be inherent and inescapable properties of the place we are now. 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. Religion, politics, race, language, dialects, culture, gender, sexual orientation, wealth, looks, status, education, I.Q., the list is endless. Life is one great big long lesson in separation and there is no escaping it.

So the question is "why?" The interesting thing is that people who have near death experiences describe the other side, "heaven", in terms that are exactly the opposite of what we experience here. The loved ones we have lost are waiting for us on the other side, they have overwhelming feelings of oneness and connectedness saying things like "I literally felt like I was everywhere in the Universe at once", or "me and the Universe were one", or "I felt like I was the Universe."

So the question is "why should we need to come here and experience so much separation if we get it all back and feel so connected and one in heaven?" Perhaps the reason for coming here is to learn what it means and how it feels to be separate? If you lived in a place where there is no separation then how could know or understand what it means or how it feels to be separate, unique, individual if you had never experienced it? The only way to know what it means and how it feels to be separate, unique, and individual is if you had come here and spent some time in a place where separation existed. So we come here and experience all this separation and then after we cross back over we don't forget who we were, and we know what separation is even though we will be living in a place where oneness and connectedness is the rule rather than separation like what we experience here.

We simply come here to experience and learn the things that can't be learned in heaven and they mostly have to do with physical things like having a body and learning how to control that body, and what time and space look and feel like, and make memories of what it was like to live in a 3 dimensional + 1 time Universe, which is pretty much the opposite of what the physics sounds like as described by numerous near death experiencers. This Earth life seems to be a school and we simply learn here the things that can't be learned in heaven.

"I was unique yet I was the tiniest part of the whole." Excerpt from Mark Horton's NDE description,

"There is no distance here. So time does not exist." Mark H NDE,

Emotion make the memories last,

And by the way another interesting thing about heaven is that they say it feels like home and that the different physics of the place doesn't feel weird. They say it is "realer than real" or "more real than normal." And that time and space don't exist there, at least not in the same way they do here, and that because of those feelings of oneness and connectedness you have instant access to "all knowledge" and that simply by thinking about a topic you suddenly know and understand all about it. And it all has to do with the holographic, oneness and connectedness, of the other side.

“OK, but Bruce, how do you *know* that what you say is true?”

Good question, Luciano. For a brief answer here’s the best I can do:

Three ways of knowing combine to convince me of the same core truths:

1. My personal experience in mystical, NDE-like states of consciousness.
2. The reports of others whom I have come to trust—people who have had similar experiences.
3. Evidence arising from fields of investigation like mediumship, past-life studies, out-of-body experience.

To the best of my understanding (say both my lawyerly and intuitive selves), all three point in the same direction!

First of all Luciano, you have my sympathies. It must be very difficult to lose both parents to cancer for you as a young man. In some ways I think that a diagnosis of cancer is worse on the family than on the one who has the condition. Cancer is really a simple disease but one of many forms with devastating outcomes. Simply, it is uncontrolled growth of cells. The natural check on cell growth has been turned off somehow. Our current medical treatments of cancer are multiple and often curative but in some ways worse than the disease.

I and some of my family members have had that condition and fortunately some of us have survived it so far. Cancer is a serious challenge for both the patient and the family but, sometimes things happen in life that seem bad at the time actually turn out in the long run to have some positive or beneficial outcome for the individual. That is not to diminish your loss or your emotional and physical pain in losing both of your parents but they have gone on in their journey and you must go on too. You are now released by them to follow your own bliss. You may find that memory of them provides motivation for you to accomplish far more that you might have done otherwise.

The spirit entity, Patience Worth says in one of her poems that we "awake in yesteryear" when we die. If that is indeed the case them perhaps my parents and maybe your parents are happily existing in some Summerland of their most joyful past before you or I were born. I can visualize my parents in their youthful adulthood happily existing either together or apart from each other pursuing the dreams of their hearts for a little while until such time as they feel a need to experience another life, either with me or without me or as Kahlil Gibran says in one of his poem, until he 'gathers sand and foam for another body and another woman shall bear me.'

Several or many accounts of people who have had a 'near death experience' (NDE) report that after they left their body they were met by other people who had died some of whom they knew and many they did not know. As they were trying to decide whether or not they would stay on the other side or come back to life, many of them considered those who would be left behind if they died and the impact their death would have on them. Often, the NDEer would understand that those who would be left behind would be OK, that their children would be taken care and would grow up to be fine adults. The pull back to earth sometimes became too strong however and they returned to their dying body to continue living often in a cured revitalized state. Some did think that their loved ones, little children especially, would benefit from their loving care if they returned to life. Older children were often seen as able to fend for themselves and had no need for continuing attention or care from them.

I sometimes think we expect too much of those who have left this reality and gone on to another one. Maybe they are not that concerned about us anymore. I think one should consider that all relationships are tenuous at best whether they are husband and wife, parent and child or friends and acquaintances. In this physical reality we don't know what the relationship may be in the larger reality. What was a close relationship in physical life may in fact be just a passing fancy when seen in another reality. That is, a parent and child relationship in this life may not be the same in another reality. The hierarchy of age is not fixed in a spiritual reality as it is a physical life so one could consider that child and parents are equal in age, person and status in the hereafter.

Having lived to an old age, I have lost parents and many people in my extended family, many friends and acquaintances and I am now left with very few people in this physical life that are meaningful to me. Since I have more relatives and friends in the spirit world than in this life. I would have thought that at least one or more of them would have made themselves known to me, that is, that they survived. But like you I can only say that any communication from them has been "ambiguous'.

However I have had several other experiences that I consider "Intimations of Immortality" including my deceased father's voice before my mother died; short messages on billboards pertinent to my dying mother, Signage relative to the death of my beloved dog on his death anniversary, a short greeting from the spirit of Pearl Curran from a medium, and a whole scenario of circumstances too convoluted to recount, related to my wife at the beginning of our relationship.

What I am trying to say Luciano is that of course we miss those who have gone on and memories can be painful but if one really believes in an afterlife then one knows that everything is playing out as it should. That our relatives are happy and are progressing on their paths toward enlightenment. It may be that we all have been together in many lifetimes and will perhaps be together in future lifetimes if that relationship would help us to grow as a spirit. The new relationship may not be the same as the old one. Instead of a parent child relationship, maybe will be a relationship between friends or acquaintances or a relationship with other family members, brothers, sister, aunts, uncles, grandparents. The possibilities are endless I suppose. - AOD

" All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts." As You Like It: William Shakespeare

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