David Sunfellow, Can the Scientific Study of NDEs Reveal the Purpose of Life? |413|

#61
the more interesting question is how are they able to prop up such nonsense? same here, how/why do christians cling to the primacy of jesus thing?
I can't speak for fundamentalist Christians (and wouldn't want to), but speaking from a near-death experience perspective, the reason Jesus is such a big deal is: 1. He appears in some of the most well-known and influential near-death experiences (including the one that launched the modern day near-death experience movement -- the NDE of Dr. George Ritchie), 2. The core life and teachings of Jesus echo the universal truths championed by near-death experiences more clearly than any other historical religious figure I am aware of; 3. Jesus, hands down, appears in far more NDEs than any other religious figure. See these links for more details:

Jesus, Near-Death Experiences, and Religion

Religious Figures In NDEs, Especially Jesus & Muhammad

Bottom line: Setting aside the dark, shallow, uninformed, uninspired, and grievously misaligned history of Christianity that took root after Jesus left, there is, I think, something about Jesus (and his life and teachings) that deserves special attention. And special respect. I also think we should be careful to separate Christianity from Jesus, especially the kind of Christianity that was/is promoted by Rome and Christian fundamentalists.
 
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#62
this is exactly the conclusion of every nde researcher I've spoken with.

I guess that's why I always have a hard time with the christian overlay. it seems obvious were talking about a many paths scenario. it's akin to the "biological robots, meaningless universe" thing where the more interesting question is how are they able to prop up such nonsense? same here, how/why do christians cling to the primacy of jesus thing?
Don't most non-secular laypeople "cling" to the associated myth/tradition/etc of their particular faith/practice/metaphysics?

For me the question of Jesus doesn't seem to be empirically proven/disproven anymore than mysteries from other practices (e.g., rebirth, karma, miracles from various faith schools, etc.). I get that the Jesus story is central to the Christian faith, but with the actuality of Jesus and his life story being intractable to prove/disprove I just sort of move on from it.

Stated another way, if one believes there are multiple paths to the truth/enlightenment/whatever, why be troubled by Christians "propping" up their particular path?
 
#63
Essentially they saw it as a diabolical deception, if the Devil could convince us we are one with God through inducing a counterfeit spiritual experience, we then wouldn't think we needed the redemption of Jesus and we'd end up going to Hell. Now, I'm just amazed that someone had that thought!
But how much respect would one have for a God that condemned someone to eternal damnation because they were deceived by a being, much more powerful than they themselves were?

David
 
#64
For me the question of Jesus doesn't seem to be empirically proven/disproven anymore than mysteries from other practices (e.g., rebirth, karma, miracles from various faith schools, etc.).
Well actually, as were were discussing above, the idea of rebirth has quite a lot of actual scientific evidence in favour of it!

David
 
#65
Is it completely unreasonable to suggest that some people are attracted to the good vs evil axis to explain our evistence, while other people may be attracted to other ways of viewing reality,and they might both be equally valid?

David
 
#66
...
Probably WAY more of my view than you wanted to hear Meurs, but that was a damn good post - strikes at the heart of ethics and skepticism.
Thanks, TES. That was educational.

My emotional reaction to the term is just a manifestation of my dislike of scientific materialism. One thing I find that triggers spikes of emotion in me are people who are both arrogant and wrong.

On the one hand using the term data highlights the objective fact that testimonials are data that need to be taken seriously, something materialists seem to reject or ignore. I read hundreds of NDEs looking for patterns, like everyone else. It just never occurs to me to think of that act as analyzing data (even if technically it’s exactly that). To phrase it thus makes me feel like I’m adopting terminology that would appeal to prejudices of skeptics, and my attitude is fuck them :D.

My conclusions from the data:
  • Earth is a school
  • The lesson plans are individual
  • Human-human relationships are the most important aspect
  • Intention is more important than action
  • We can’t possibly understand the impact of our toughts/intentions/actions on the whole of Earth while we’re here

I don't care about Jesus, because I believe the lesson plans are individual. If I'm teaching a 1st grader and know from his parents that he loves Transformers, then I might use Transformer analogies to motivate/inspire him. "Motivate/inspire" is the truth; Transformers are just a tool.
 
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#67
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Don't most non-secular laypeople "cling" to the associated myth/tradition/etc of their particular faith/practice/metaphysics?

For me the question of Jesus doesn't seem to be empirically proven/disproven anymore than mysteries from other practices (e.g., rebirth, karma, miracles from various faith schools, etc.). I get that the Jesus story is central to the Christian faith, but with the actuality of Jesus and his life story being intractable to prove/disprove I just sort of move on from it.

Stated another way, if one believes there are multiple paths to the truth/enlightenment/whatever, why be troubled by Christians "propping" up their particular path?
A comment from Wikipedia and then a couple links concerning the historical existence of Jesus:

"Virtually all New Testament scholars and Near East historians, applying the standard criteria of historical-critical investigation, find that the historicity of Jesus is effectively certain, although they differ about the beliefs and teachings of Jesus as well as the accuracy of the details of his life that have been described in the gospels." -- Source

The Shroud of Turin (Pay special attention to the TEDx talk by Barrie Schwortz, creator of the Shroud of Turin website. Barrie was the official documenting photographer for the Shroud of Turin Research Project, Inc., (STURP), a team of American scientists and researchers that spent 120 continuous hours conducting an examination of the Shroud in 1978.)



Loving Our Enemies: The Core of Jesus’ Vision in the Sayings Gospel Q (pdf)
 
#69
Regarding reincarnation / the possibility of two children remembering the same past life I have found the work of Harold Percival extremely revealing and provocative. It has unlocked a lot of mystical symbolism and correspondences for me. His view was that our soul is 12-parted with a 13th oversoul.
Each part incarnates successively alternating male/female while there are instances of concurrent incarnations. Many other traditions, if looked at from the right angle, teach the same.

For those with whom this may resonate or interest...
Clif High gives a decent overview of Percival's thinking here:

Thinking and Destiny (Percival's magnum opus):
https://thewordfoundation.org/wp-co...-by-Harold-W-Percival-fourteenth-printing.pdf
 
#72
I would take Jesus as fundamental more seriously if I'd read NDEs from other cultures that saw Jesus in their NDEs and converted as a result. (Western atheists don't count).
Good point. Jeff Long says that of all the NDEs that have been collected from around the world by his NDERF website (4,600 so far, from 23 different languages), Jesus shows up in about 6.5 percent of these. How these NDEs break down in terms of culture and religious background, I don't know. I would assume that the appearance of Jesus in non-western NDEs will, once the numbers come in, be very small because he may not be a spiritual figure that people from non-western cultures recognize or relate to.

In the meantime, there is a growing body of evidence that indicates a significant number of Muslims are having spiritual experiences that feature Jesus as the central figure. As far as I know, the reverse (Mohammad appearing to Christians), is not happening. If anyone has information about Christians encountering Mohammad, please correct me. What's unfortunate about this is that most of these spiritually transformative encounters have been gathered and promoted by fundamentalist Christians which obviously calls the validity (and accuracy) of the data into question. Honestly, I'm not sure what to make of it, but here's where to go to find out more:

Jesus Appearing To Muslims
 
#73
Hi guys, first time here but I've been listening to Skeptiko for years now. First I'd like to thank Alex for putting out such a great show to occupy many long commutes.

I wanted to make this post because I feel like one part of the equation wasn't really approached during this episode. Last week you had Rey Herndandez on talking about his experience where he learned all aspects of the paranormal, psi, whatever you want to call it, including NDE's, are just different ways to connect with "them". Them being some kind of extra dimensional entities, etc, we all know the story.

One thing I never hear anyone ask about NDE's is a pretty important one. How do we really know who or what these beings are that people encounter? Can you really know if the experience is not some form of simulation experience? I don't know if it's even possible to know, but I think running into beings that instantly make you feel calm and at peace reeks a lot of some abduction experiences.

In Robert Monroe's second book on his OOBE's he talks about an experience where he learns the earth was engineered as a giant "loosh farm" by an entity that wasn't 'the' God, but would appear to be God by our perception. You find a similar line of thought in the Gnostic belief system with the idea of a demiurge.

I'd love to see some NDE's experiencers put under hypnotic regression to see what they recall in that state. In any case I think it's something worth asking.
 
#74
Good point. Jeff Long says that of all the NDEs that have been collected from around the world by his NDERF website (4,600 so far, from 23 different languages), Jesus shows up in about 6.5 percent of these. How these NDEs break down in terms of culture and religious background, I don't know. I would assume that the appearance of Jesus in non-western NDEs will, once the numbers come in, be very small because he may not be a spiritual figure that people from non-western cultures recognize or relate to.

In the meantime, there is a growing body of evidence that indicates a significant number of Muslims are having spiritual experiences that feature Jesus as the central figure. As far as I know, the reverse (Mohammad appearing to Christians), is not happening. If anyone has information about Christians encountering Mohammad, please correct me. What's unfortunate about this is that most of these spiritually transformative encounters have been gathered and promoted by fundamentalist Christians which obviously calls the validity (and accuracy) of the data into question. Honestly, I'm not sure what to make of it, but here's where to go to find out more:

Jesus Appearing To Muslims
I've spent a lot of time reading through NDE's for encounters with Jesus and have pretty much found the same thing. For the longest time I was a 'Jesus is a pagan myth' guy but there's been several NDE's and testimonies that have made me rethink everything. I'm intrigued by the power of calling on Jesus in distressful paranormal experiences, mainly NDE's and sleep paralysis.

The recurring theme in hellish NDE's appears to be that calling on Jesus either immediately takes you out of the experience or it takes you out after a point of complete surrender. Have you seen this occur with any other entity or name? The same appears to work for sleep paralysis, which was a huge surpise to me. People report all sorts of traditional negative sleep paralysis entities being obliterated when they even think the name Jesus. Maybe it's the power of the subconscious belief, but I've yet to see people report the same effect with other entities. If there are I'd love to see them.
 
#76
Am I weird to feel that the word "data" for a bunch of stories is slightly off-putting. It might be accurate technically, but to me feels science-fetishy, an artifact of science's place as the dominant religion in 2019.

That said, I love the book.
I don't think David claims data/research ( which doesn't in any way diminish his contribution... just different), but Jeff Long qualifies IMO.
 
#77
Hi guys, first time here but I've been listening to Skeptiko for years now. First I'd like to thank Alex for putting out such a great show to occupy many long commutes.
yr so welcome. thx for joining us.



One thing I never hear anyone ask about NDE's is a pretty important one. How do we really know who or what these beings are that people encounter? Can you really know if the experience is not some form of simulation experience? I don't know if it's even possible to know, but I think running into beings that instantly make you feel calm and at peace reeks a lot of some abduction experiences.
totally agree... really big... really important questions IMO. more in ep 415 :)
 
#78
there is, I think, something about Jesus (and his life and teachings) that deserves special attention.
- do you believe there's a hierarchy to the extended consciousness realm being reported by near-death experiencers?
- do you believe jesus (and/or his father) is at the top of this hierarchy?
- do you believe that every soul is a part of god (collective) and in that way fundamentally indistinguishable from any other being / entity / human?
- are non-dual teachers like eckhart tolle, mickey singer and former guest dr. Jeffrey martin wrong in their understanding of the relationship between our human soul and god consciousness?
 
#79
- are non-dual teachers like eckhart tolle, mickey singer and former guest dr. Jeffrey martin wrong in their understanding of the relationship between our human soul and god consciousness?
Alex,

I know you are asking David but here are my views...

I understand that people are interested in these questions (I am too) but at the same time we should be careful about drawing conclusions from them because these topics cannot be understood fully through words alone without having the experiences.

Non-dual experiences are reported by people from many different cultural traditions as well as by NDErs and evidential mediums. I don't think the experiencers are wrong, I think people who haven't had the experience don't understand what it is like to experience it so their ideas about non-duality may be wrong.

http://ncu9nc.blogspot.com/2015/03/realizing-ultimate.html
You might have heard it said that "we are all one". What does that mean? The quotes below explain it. These quotes from: an ancient [Hindu] text, an advanced meditator, a near-death experiencer, a spirit communicating through an evidential mediums, a materialist atheist , Christian scripture, Christian theologians, [a Carmelite Nun], a Native American medicine man, a Jewish Scholar of the Kabbalah, and a Sufi philosopher, all describe something very similar:
Regarding hierarchy, the only situations in which I have heard about anything like "authority" pertains to undeveloped spirits, but above a certain level I only hear use of terms like "advising", "choosing", and "guiding". And there is the problem of us physical beings understanding time correctly. If spirits are rising through the levels of the non-physical realms but time is an illusion, who is higher than whom? Another problem is identity, different incarnations of an entity are described as being like facets of a diamond. It can be hard to say if one entity is higher than another when you don't know if they are one entity or two.
 
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#80
- do you believe there's a hierarchy to the extended consciousness realm being reported by near-death experiencers?
- do you believe jesus (and/or his father) is at the top of this hierarchy?
- do you believe that every soul is a part of god (collective) and in that way fundamentally indistinguishable from any other being / entity / human?
- are non-dual teachers like eckhart tolle, mickey singer and former guest dr. Jeffrey martin wrong in their understanding of the relationship between our human soul and god consciousness?
Epic questions. Based on my current understanding, which is constantly growing, deepening, and expanding (I hope), here are few answers:

As with most apparent NDE contradictions, there is at least a kernel of truth in all perspectives. For example, there are apparently Christian heavens and hells that are created and maintained by souls who resonate with these archetypes. Ditto for Buddhists. And Hindus. And ancient Egyptians. And Native Americans. You name it. And they are all wonderful and part of the big plan. Lots of heavens and hells with all kinds of delightful and terrible beings that are ordered according to their vibration. The more loving the vibration, the higher and more loving the realms we experience; the more godless, selfish and self-centered the vibration, the more unpleasant the realms we experience.

On the question of individuality, yes, we have individual souls and they are evolving; they are becoming increasingly individuated as spectacularly unique expressions of the Divine. And, on the other hand, yes, there are also primordial non-dual states that we can experience where our individuality is lost and we merge with God no longer able to perceive ourselves as individuals anymore. My current understanding is that non-dual states are more primitive forms of expression. They exist. They can be experienced by all of us. That's where we all come from. But we've been there and done that. This world is about becoming individuals, not merging back into the primordial soup that we came from. Returning to the great Oneness is easy compared to mastering the challenges of this world. NDEs, as a whole, trumpet this perspective very loudly. We are not coming to this world to learn how to leave it and escape back into non-dual states of undifferentiated oneness. We are coming here to become more fully embodied; to bring heavenly states on consciousness into the created universe; to transform earth into a reflection of heaven.

One of the great dangers associated with classic eastern perspectives that thumb their noses at this world and focus mainly on leaving it is that if we do manage to experience non-dual states, those states tend to turn us into zombies. We can loose ourselves in the primordial soup. On the other hand, classic eastern perspectives also hold some of the keys to the kingdom we are trying to create in this world. One of those keys is the need to connect, repeatedly, with our divine natures. If we don't, then we get lost in the material webs of this world. So, again, I'm talking about a middle path that incorporates the best of all the world's traditions, and, hopefully, sidesteps the traps, which, because our souls love adventure and have a fantastic sense of humor, are everywhere.

By the way, one gigantic theme that is associated with NDEs is that most of the people who cross over and experience the love and light of the other side, do not want to come back to this world. Are they allowed to stay put and bliss out? No, they are sent back, often kicking and screaming, because their souls came to this world to experience something they couldn't experience on the other side. People who spend their lives chasing non-dual states are often in the same boat. Try as they might to stay in these deeper states, they often get dragged back into this world to take care of whatever earthly callings and developmental issues they have neglected.

Here are a few of the many NDE quotes that are included in my book that discuss the general perspectives I am talking about:

Near-death experiencer Amy Call:

"True learning happens in the body. This is a big deal to me personally because so much of my life was about wanting to escape the body and wanting that for other people. I also grew up hearing that when you die you get to take off that glove; you get to be free and so I thought that here [in this world] is the more negative, that there [on the other side of life] is the more positive. The understanding in this place -- as hard as it is to see and understand -- is that true learning happens within the body because when we are in experience, in this form, there is something that evolves within us at the level of the soul that makes the body an important part of the whole. It isn’t that one is good and one is bad. The two work together in an important way. That was very healing for me personally, to come to a better understanding."

............

Near-Death Experience Mellen-Thomas Bennedit:

"Creation is God exploring God's Self through every way imaginable, in an ongoing, infinite exploration through every one of us. Through every piece of hair on your head, through every leaf on every tree, through every atom, God is exploring God's Self, the great "I AM.”

"The other side is not all it is cracked up to be. There's a lot you can't do on the other side. There's a perfect combination though. A body without spirit is a wasteland and a spirit without a body is a wasteland. And we are the perfect matrix of body and spirit. With body and spirit, you can have it all."

"The body is the most magnificent light being there is. The body is a universe of incredible light. Spirit is not pushing us to dissolve this body. That is not what is happening. Stop trying to become God; God is becoming you. Here."

"God gave everything to us, everything is here -- this is where it's at. What we are into now is God's exploration of God through us. People are so busy trying to become God that they ought to realize that we are already God and God is becoming us. That's what it is really about. When I realized this, I was finished with The Void, and wanted to return to this creation…"
 
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