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

#81
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.
Reasonable, but you'd think he'd pass that along and allow them the opportunity to get acquainted with his teachings once they're back on Earth.

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
Interesting, but then Jesus is an important Prophet in Islam, whereas Mohammed has no place in Christianity.
 
#82
(This isn't to imply that I believe there is a universal objective for human incarnation. I believe the reasons are as varied as individuals).
That’s an interesting point. I must admit to being caught up in the ‘what is the purpose’ question.

A good reminder to think bigger. Thanks.
 
#83
Epic questions. Based on my current understanding, which is constantly growing, deepening, and expanding (I hope), here are few answers:

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.
Yeah that oneness thing doesn't appeal to me. Seems to attract depressed people as an alternative to suicide, a different kind of annihilation. Or maybe I need a few hundred more lifetimes to get it.

Then again if oneness were all that, God wouldn't have ensouled the rest of us. Obviously He appreciates the pleasures of becoming.
 
#84
That’s an interesting point. I must admit to being caught up in the ‘what is the purpose’ question.

A good reminder to think bigger. Thanks.
I suspect soul groups have a plan and members will take on roles in service of that plan, roles that will vary life to life. Also, if there are young souls, maybe their goals are a bit lower bar like "hey don't kill anybody or punch them in the dick please if you can help it."
 
#85
Those obvious reasons aren't completely obvious to me! Can you spell them out please.

David
Sure, thanks for asking! The main reason is that there are not enough bodies over the known history for everyone to reincarnate within a few years. A reasonable estimate of all people who have lived is roughly 100 billion. There is a good article (Bishai, 2000) on this topic: it concludes that reincarnation is possible - in terms of population growth - if we assume that the average time between incarnation has not remained constant over time (it would have been much longer before). It also states that "the database of interviews with children who recall past lives currently suffers from sample selection bias by all accounts" which supports my point.

The article is available here https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/3c83/0f5c86fbb2de3a10ab055719c578587b47b4.pdf

There is also another issue. Only very few actually remember a past life. If everyone would incarnate quickly (ignoring for a moment the first point above), why only very few remember anything of their past lives? One could come up with many hypotheses to answer this question, but I think that one relevant answer is that we are dealing with exceptions.

Antti
 
#86
Sure, thanks for asking! The main reason is that there are not enough bodies over the known history for everyone to reincarnate within a few years. A reasonable estimate of all people who have lived is roughly 100 billion. There is a good article (Bishai, 2000) on this topic: it concludes that reincarnation is possible - in terms of population growth - if we assume that the average time between incarnation has not remained constant over time (it would have been much longer before). It also states that "the database of interviews with children who recall past lives currently suffers from sample selection bias by all accounts" which supports my point.

The article is available here https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/3c83/0f5c86fbb2de3a10ab055719c578587b47b4.pdf

There is also another issue. Only very few actually remember a past life. If everyone would incarnate quickly (ignoring for a moment the first point above), why only very few remember anything of their past lives? One could come up with many hypotheses to answer this question, but I think that one relevant answer is that we are dealing with exceptions.

Antti
Well David Sunfellow already raised the interesting point that there have been instances in which two children remember the same past life. As I said, this may imply that successive incarnations are not always sequential in our time. Many NDEers report that time does not exist up there. However you interpret that, it does make deductions based on population figures rather shakey.

The question as to why so few remember, is probably a bit like the question of why only about 15% of people who suffer a cardiac arrest remember an NDE. We seem to have a powerful forgetting mechanism, which you can observe in action if you wake up from a dream - even a nightmare. Often the whole thing is forgotten in a minute or so!

Of course, we probably agree that the research into re-incarnations should not be stifled on the grounds that it is impossible - there has been far too much of that approach already!

David
 
#87
I suspect soul groups have a plan and members will take on roles in service of that plan, roles that will vary life to life. Also, if there are young souls, maybe their goals are a bit lower bar like "hey don't kill anybody or punch them in the dick please if you can help it."
How much evidence is there for soul groups., and is it all based on hypnotic regression?

David
 
#88
[QUOTE="We are coming here to become more fully embodied; to bring heavenly states of consciousness into the created universe; to transform earth into a reflection of heaven."[/QUOTE]

If Earth is a level of school for souls (let’s call it grade 2), an individual who matures enough will leave to go to grade 3.

Older souls keep leaving and fresh batches of grade 2s keep arriving.

If the analogy is correct, we’ll never have a heavenly Earth. In the same way that a grade 2 class will never resemble a room inside a university.
 
#89
How much evidence is there for soul groups., and is it all based on hypnotic regression?

David
I'm just a meandering seeker, so I don't have a handle on the literature, just what I've bumped into. As far as soul groups, I got exposed to the notion from yes, reincarnation testimony (mostly hypnotic regression) and Spiritist books. I might've heard talk of them in NDEs, but I can't recall one off the top of my head.
 
#90
If Earth is a level of school for souls (let’s call it grade 2), an individual who matures enough will leave to go to grade 3.

Older souls keep leaving and fresh batches of grade 2s keep arriving.

If the analogy is correct, we’ll never have a heavenly Earth. In the same way that a grade 2 class will never resemble a room inside a university.
It does appear that we're at a volatile/unstable point in our evolution: destructive power seemingly far head of our spiritual evolution.
 
#91
One thing I never hear anyone ask about NDEs is a pretty important one. How do we really know who or what these beings are that people encounter?
Someone once suggested that the NDE realm is just another simulation and that the being encountered (let’s say a deceased loved one) is actually the larger consciousness system playing that role, to comfort you during your transition. This facsimile is necessary because the soul of your dearly departed is long gone, possibly reincarnated. It was also suggested that we soon forget (like a dream) our passed special people. I find both ideas quite sad.
 
#92
Someone once suggested that the NDE realm is just another simulation and that the being encountered (let’s say a deceased loved one) is actually the larger consciousness system playing that role, to comfort you during your transition. This facsimile is necessary because the soul of your dearly departed is long gone, possibly reincarnated. It was also suggested that we soon forget (like a dream) our passed special people. I find both ideas quite sad.
The trouble is that simulation hypotheses are almost purposely designed to be un-falsifyable - so I kind of ignore them.

David
 
#93
The trouble is that simulation hypotheses are almost purposely designed to be un-falsifyable - so I kind of ignore them.
But, David, surely that applies to all other hypotheses of a related nature. The trouble we have is that in trying to understand how things are in NDEs. dreams or any thing else, we are stuck with metaphors. The metaphysical can only ever be 'like' the physical - and vice versa.

And since there must be multiple consciousnesses engaged in a co-creation of a perception - as there are in all perceptions in fact - what is considered by some as a 'simulation' is more like a mutual creation whose function is to be a means of transmission - a transaction of intent and desire.

We persist in thinking like materialists - as if the habit of subject and object thinking applies - one passive and the other active. I don't know the technical jargon for this - so I hope TES will oblige. Going back to the idea of a holographic reality from the last show, these 'simulations' or co-creations are interfaces of desires and intents - as kinds of performances that act out 'messages'. We have to stop seeing them in concrete terms. Put it this way, our thinking is Newtonian in a Quantum reality - so its functional in a self-limiting way.

My point is that these 'hypotheses' are sometimes less about hypothesising and more about struggling to get language and thought sorted. Is it a simulation or a co-creation? I think back to the brief flowering of Marshall McLuhan and the idea that the 'medium is the message' (never mind that he actually said 'massage').

Consider that the experiencer projects the desire that is expressed as Jesus, and Spirit (in whatever form) engages the projection by animating it and adding a script so that will is conveyed. In the intimate connection between the two, the detail of the 'embodied' projection has no objective attribute - and we err by assigning an objective significance to it. If Jesus is the model of an ideal in the experiencer's life 'he' will be employed as the medium of the 'message'.

Advertisers know we respond to uniforms an symbolic garb, so they stick a lab coat on some desperate actor and attempt to induce us to see the actor as a credible authority so they can flog us stuff. The audience (the desire), as experiencer, projects the acceptance of authority symbols, and the advertiser (the will) crafts the illusion so it can convey an intent. There's nothing 'mystical' about it - at least in any way that lifts it beyond the necessary craft of influencing. And spirit is very much about influencing - much in the way a parent influences a child - and the will of the parent interacts with the desire of the child in a weird way through a co-creation of images and ideas that have no real objective meaning.
 
#94
Someone once suggested that the NDE realm is just another simulation and that the being encountered (let’s say a deceased loved one) is actually the larger consciousness system playing that role, to comfort you during your transition. This facsimile is necessary because the soul of your dearly departed is long gone, possibly reincarnated. It was also suggested that we soon forget (like a dream) our passed special people. I find both ideas quite sad.
That person you're talking about is probably Tom Campbell. This idea specifically of his was discussed in this thread http://www.skeptiko-forum.com/threads/an-inconsistency-in-experiences.4337/ and there was some good conversation and criticisms of that line of thinking and the simulation hypothesis in general.

Personally, I found him to be compelling initially, but after doing research on him, his ideas, and the community around him he became less and less credible to me. Now, I don't pay his ideas any mind really and I view the simulation hypothesis only metaphorically.

The computer simulation is a good tool to use linguistically in order to understand the "systems" involved metaphysically since it brings the language away from esoteric terms, but what some people fail to realize is that it is not meant to be taken literally, just symbolically like any other way of explaining the metaphysical stuff.

After the thread discussing his ideas, I have also reached out to the popular OBE expert Jurgen Ziewe and asked him his thoughts on it as well. Ziewe has spoken with Campbell in the past so I thought he'd be a good one to talk to. Essentially, Ziewe explained that using Campbell's theory, Campbell also thinks the reality we are living in right now is the same as it would be in the afterlife in terms of it being virtual and our friends and family (currently) are not really "real" right now either. Clearly, not many people find this compelling as it violates everyday reality and doesn't make any sense metaphysically, so this part of his theory of everyday reality is rarely mentioned by people.

Furthermore, Ziewe did not find it compelling and said it went against his experiences doing OBEs. Cyrus Kirkpatrick (a less well known OBE guy) has heavily critcized Campbell on his website and brings some arguments against him as well (though I have not spoken with Kirkpatrick ever personally). According to Kirkpatrick, It seems more recently Campbell (in private discussions or in public) has also backtracked a bit and does not really believe in the "universal consciousness pretending to be deceased people" anymore and is unsure himself at this point. I would add that Campbell has (strangely) never really discussed his OBEs in depth like Ziewe, etc have, so no one really knows how his experiences actually hold up in comparison to everyone elses.
 
#95
From David Sunfellow - 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.”

There are various versions of this to be found here and there. Its an almost perfect summation, better than DT Suzuki's 'For God to be God he must be not-God' I think. At core is the notion that reality is an act of infinitely complex and dynamic doubt and affirmation - of which our 'objective' reality is a simple and static representation of the tiniest of fragments - vanishingly small. Its the kind of thought that must be worried beyond the intellectual teeth and drawn into the deep imagination. Its too much for our petty intellects to digest.

I listened to Alex's interview with David late in the week with a sense of gratitude that here was a conversation that touched a deep subject in a good way. I don't think the theme of 'hellish' NDEs was resolved in a neat way, but I thought David made the good point that they were part of a spectrum of possible human experiences. We don't all get to experience extreme states - otherwise they'd not be extreme.

There are multiple depictions of 'hell' that, in being imagined, maybe with good cause, can be immensely therapeutic. But they are a state, rather than a place - and contingent rather than absolute. But some say that there are those who are irredeemable - beyond redemption - and who are recycled rather than consigned to eternal suffering (a cruel idea in any case if literally imagined). Whatever the reality is, such extreme seems scarce, and hence of no real instructive use.

The reality is that for some having the crap scared out of them is good thing, and it may circumvent nastier material experiences. I am inclined to think that a hellish NDE could be a mercy - because we don't know what the alternative might be. Let's remember its usually a crisis that precipitates the NDE in the first place, and that's not really a random thing. So let's assume there is intent behind the induction of the experience and it is for the individual's benefit.
 
#96
We persist in thinking like materialists - as if the habit of subject and object thinking applies - one passive and the other active. I don't know the technical jargon for this - so I hope TES will oblige.
The nihilist is confronted with the prison bars of Planck finite-ness. One can argue the reality/nihility of a truncated beginning to our Universe, or a limit to the extent to which its inflationary footprint has reached. But one cannot argue the quantum Planck limits of time, energy, space and gravity. Our observable Universe is served up to us in digitized packets.

The appearance of quarks arising from the M-froth carry with their appearance, Huffman protocol overhead just like are used in data transference Lossless communications. Why would a phenomenon which is supposedly foundational, or 'the last turtle at the bottom of the stack', need to adhere to an accuracy protocol or any form of packeting/quanta? It is the standard to begin with, it is not simply accurate, it is the target. One either is the wave, or surfs the wave, but one cannot be both. These are the cleverly decorated prison bars which contain us. This realization is much akin to the guy in Star Trek who went insane because he crawled to the end of their world's 'horizon' and found the sky to be nothing more than a tactile dome.

In answer to your question Michael, I suppose the best word I can ascribe to mankind's dealing with this as an ontology, is 'subception'.

We are at face-value monist materialists who are subconsciously attempting to convince ourselves of an intent-based model, through the anachronism of ascribing to reality, characteristics much similar to that which we nascently understand - to be computation and simulation. Monist nihilism is neither a theory, nor is it a scientific hypothesis, as it bears none of the disciplines of scientific hypothesis. It is simply a necessary placeholder, the threshing board against which we exorcise our nihilism. It is the Null.

The least scientific thing one can do is to actually believe the Null.
 
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#97
A point I was hoping to make, is that it’s easier to believe in some higher purpose whilst the evil things are only heard of and not seen. However, after you have seen, the two are much harder to reconcile.
Of course, yours is an excellent point. I for one do not buy into this delusional, utterly implausible idea that the pain and suffering sentient beings experience in this material world has "a higher purpose". Such horrific means would not justify any (supposedly) benevolent purpose - it would be a blatant contradiction in terms.
 
#98
Well David Sunfellow already raised the interesting point that there have been instances in which two children remember the same past life. As I said, this may imply that successive incarnations are not always sequential in our time. Many NDEers report that time does not exist up there. However you interpret that, it does make deductions based on population figures rather shakey.

The question as to why so few remember, is probably a bit like the question of why only about 15% of people who suffer a cardiac arrest remember an NDE. We seem to have a powerful forgetting mechanism, which you can observe in action if you wake up from a dream - even a nightmare. Often the whole thing is forgotten in a minute or so!

Of course, we probably agree that the research into re-incarnations should not be stifled on the grounds that it is impossible - there has been far too much of that approach already!

David

Interesting point about the power of forgetting. It seems to also work when unexplainable events happen. Like when synchronicities or moments of brief precognition happen from a dream, unless I write them down immediately some part of my mind quickly dismissed and forgets them. For this reason I write them into the notes in my phone.
Every now and then I go back and look at them, and I am astounded at their number and at how difficult it is to just explain away many of them.
It seems as if we have some kind of built in mental mechanism that erases things that aren’t directly involved with the material reality.
 
#99
Of course, yours is an excellent point. I for one do not buy into this delusional, utterly implausible idea that the pain and suffering sentient beings experience in this material world has "a higher purpose". Such horrific means would not justify any (supposedly) benevolent purpose - it would be a blatant contradiction in terms.
Many of the sections in my book tackle this difficult subject head on. Here's one example that includes some fantastic quotes from near-death experiencer Natalie Sudman:

Chapter 34
The Sweet Spot

Six centuries ago, a Catholic nun named Julian of Norwich (1342 - 1416), had a near-death experience. Along with discovering, in direct opposition to the church’s teaching, that God loved everyone, unconditionally, she also discovered that everything in the universe was unfolding perfectly: “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well,” she declared.

By this she meant that all the injustices we see and experience in this world serve a glorious purpose that lies beyond human comprehension. "Our reasoning powers are so blind now, so humble and so simple," she wrote, "that we cannot know the high, marvelous wisdom, the might and the goodness of God."

If you’ve read this far, you know many other near-death experiencers report the same thing.

And they go a step further.

Along with declaring that every kind of evil, rotten, distasteful experience under the sun serves the greater good, they also declare that we create our own realities. We aren’t innocent victims when our car is stolen, our identity is hijacked, or we (or the ones we love) contract deadly illnesses. Ditto when wars, plagues, political upheavals, economic disasters, fires, floods, earthquakes, and tornadoes turn our lives upside down. On some level, we not only agree to every awful thing that happens to us, but we cheerfully collaborate. Here’s how near-death experiencer Natalie Sudman tackled this topic in her book, Application of Impossible Things:

"As outrageous as it may seem to our perspective in the physical, the man who built the bomb that blew me up may have performed that action at my own request. This is not to imply that because it was at my request, his actions are acceptable within the physical world and ought to be overlooked. The role may have been agreed upon in order for the bomber himself to experience what it’s like to be chased, arrested, detained, or killed for the violence he visited on others. The bomber’s actions don’t have to be condoned in the physical world because he and I as Whole Selves agreed to blow me up; we all keep playing our roles within the context of the physical (the collective reality that we as Whole Selves have chosen to focus upon and participate in) according to what we think is good and right.

“That as a Whole Being I actually chose to be blown up flies in the face of more than one cultural base assumption. We generally assume that things happen to us and that there are many things that we simply can’t control. Accidents happen, mistakes are made, some people are lucky, and some are not. My experience simply doesn’t support this base assumption. Whether consciously aware of it in the physical mind or not, my Whole Self is fully aware of every experience as a cooperative effort between my focused awareness within the physical world, my Whole Self, and other individual Selves. I craft my physical experiences. Things don’t happen to me without my consent; they happen because I created, co-created, or agreed to experience them."

Let’s repeat that last sentence:

“Things don’t happen to me without my consent; they happen because I created, co-created, or agreed to experience them."

While this is a tough pill to swallow, the blessing in adopting this perspective is that it gives the power back to us. We are no longer victims of outside forces. When we encounter challenging situations, we can turn to the deeper parts of ourselves to find out why. And what to do about them.

Which brings me to the sweet spot.

The sweet spot is first learning, feeling, intuiting that all is well. Then, when we are confronted with aspects of our lives that we are unhappy about, we engage the creative forces within us to find out how we created them, and how they can be changed – or, if not changed, handled in ways that turn lemons into lemonade.

And speaking of lemonade, let’s not forget all the good things in our lives. Near-death experiences also insist that we, in cooperation with the deeper parts of ourselves, create them as well.

Learn More About Near-Death Experiencer Julian of Norwich

Application Of Impossible Things

Learn More About Near-Death Experiencer Natalie Sudman

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Of course, yours is an excellent point. I for one do not buy into this delusional, utterly implausible idea that the pain and suffering sentient beings experience in this material world has "a higher purpose". Such horrific means would not justify any (supposedly) benevolent purpose - it would be a blatant contradiction in terms.
Good point. I think by habit we equate incarnated suffering to the kind of no pain, no gain productive suffering. But can there be any productive outcome for a soul who's experiencing her body having its head slowly removed? I can only self-soothe by clinging to the hope that the souls of these victims are advanced enough to take on these pains for the benefit of other souls (including the perps). Because those perps are capable of such crime, someone needs to reflect the consequences back to them.
 
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