My Review of "The Myth of an Afterlife"

Discussion in 'Consciousness & Science' started by Ian Wardell, Apr 11, 2018.

  1. Ian Wardell

    Ian Wardell New

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    nbtruthman
    Umm . . our psychological states -- beliefs, desires, expectations etc -- will "gravitate" us towards a suitable body maybe.

    If it's an explicit choice I'll choose to be born to parents who are both rich and loving. I'll also choose to be good looking, intelligent, enigmatic, mysterious, outgoing, and strangely alluring. And I'll choose to be born male, in the west, in idyllic countryside.

    But doubt it's an explicit choice as such. What makes you think it is? And your notion we choose to forget is somewhat implausible.
     
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  2. Ian Wardell

    Ian Wardell New

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    Pleased you liked it! No point in reading the shorter version if you've read the longer. Part of the reason why I produced a short version was so it would fit on Amazon. Keith Augustine (the main contributor), is not thrilled with my review. He makes some comments below my review:

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/customer-...=cm_cr_othr_d_rvw_ttl?ie=UTF8&ASIN=B00UV3VFW8
     
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  3. Ian Wardell

    Ian Wardell New

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    Just reading article now. Got to this part:


    //Many of us don't realize the connection between memory and self, [Pribram] explained. Who you are is the sum total of all that you've experienced. Where you went to school, who your friends were, all the things you've done or -- just as importantly -- all the things you've always hoped to do//.

    Materialist alert! I think this is complete nonsense. Memories will have an immense influence on behaviour, but they do not constitute the self.
     
  4. nbtruthman

    nbtruthman New

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    As far as I am concerned, if whatever survives when physical death comes doesn't have my then present memories and ego and personality, so be it - but this isn't a form of "survival" worthy of the term.
     
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  5. dpdownsouth

    dpdownsouth Member

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    Yeah, it's a long winded article... your quote is part of the scene setting.... the author then meets his friend from that materialistic college class, his friend having suffered from a memory erasing tumour, and finds him to still, despite the memory loss, be intrinsically the same person, contradicting the college lecturer's assertion that memories make the self. Ta-dah!
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2018
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  6. Ian Wardell

    Ian Wardell New

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    I don't regard this materialist conception of the self as tenable. See my 13,000 word review.
     
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  7. Larry

    Larry Member

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    I think that's a good point. I also surmise that memory is state specific and that our state of consciousness after death as well as in some non ordinary states affords us access to memories which allow us to see a bigger picture of many lives and a larger purpose which relativizes but includes our present ego identity.
     
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  8. Ian Wardell

    Ian Wardell New

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    Just to be clear, I don't disagree with this though. I assume we will retain our memories, and indeed conceivably we might remember everything that has ever happened to us across all lives. Also the self after death might incorporate all of our past mind states. My conception of the self/soul does not preclude the self/soul being able to manifest at whatever age he or she likes in the afterlife realm(s). This will include one’s personality just before death. Nevertheless, our particular personalities, intelligence and so on immediately prior to death are not special compared to any other age. (the last 3 sentences here I originally had in my 13,000 review, but decided the review was getting way too long so missed out that part).
     
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  9. nbtruthman

    nbtruthman New

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    You get out of engaging my little thought experiment or extreme example by suggesting that the soul really doesn't have a choice - it's attracted and compelled automatically in some way to "compatible" or even "needed" next physical lives. Maybe so, but there are a lot of channeled and other teachings, and between-lives hypnotic regressions, that claim otherwise. In the hypnotic regression state the patient experiences a "between lives" existence, as reported by the hypnotized subjects of Michael Newton, Brian Weiss, and others. Because he has been regressed to a stage before birth - that is, before the current personality came into existence - he is now apparently identifying with the oversoul.

    Hypnotic regression to an apparent between-lives experience, in which the patient remembers an intermediate experience after one earthly incarnation and prior to the next, typically discloses an afterlife environment markedly different from that described in NDEs and mediumship. According to between-lives accounts, the spirits typically remember all their past lives and the other members of their soul group. And they participate in planning their next incarnation, during which they will necessarily forget their higher consciousness and all knowledge of their life-plan.

    The fact remains that many people are saddled with physical lives that no sane human being would ever choose. Let's look at the human self as being rooted in psychological continuity. Would any of the innumerable different versions of this self over the span of a lifetime (having great changes in personality, memories, emotions, likes, dislikes, etc. etc.) choose a future life for themselves of predominant suffering in order to learn spiritual life lessons or for any other reason? I don't think so. The human (except for a few saints) would say it's not worth it. That is, it's not worth it if in any meaningful sense they are still the experiencer in this projected next life.

    So, maybe, in these regressions the human self is temporarily becoming conscious of its oversoul. Maybe our present self is no more our real self than that of any of our past incarnations. Our higher self is as much unknown to our present egos as an actor totally absorbed in his role. If the oversoul or real self or high self, or whatever it is called, doesn't make such bad (from a human standpoint) choices, then this merely "kicks the (responsibility) can down the road" so to speak. Then some even higher being(s) must be responsible for such a system of great injustice and badness, of so much human suffering. That is, unless the materialist point of view is taken. This materialist view would be that this is the inevitable meaningless outworking of a meaningless system with no creator. If materialism is ruled out, then it boils down to: if the oversoul isn't to blame, then it must be the work of somebody or something else.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2018
  10. tarantulanebula

    tarantulanebula New

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    I find I basically agree with nbtruthman's most points of view.

    Remind: if you didn't have the memories you currently have, you would not have been able to written any of the previous posts or joined any of these discussion.

    If you didn't have the memories you currently have, you would not have control over your behavior in any way, or even what you are.

    To say that without your current memories, you would still remain some of "your essence", is only a wishful fantasy and wished without taking responsibilities of considering what may actually happen.

    Out memories are more important to us than someone might think, not to say its "usefulness", but to say its essential to make us "our true self".
     
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  11. Ian Wardell

    Ian Wardell New

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    I said the soul doesn't really have a choice? I think we very rarely deliberately choose things. It overstates our rationality. We are emotional beings. I would guess it's an emotional resonance that might "gravitate" us to certain host bodies to be reborn. Is that a "choice"?

    I'm not sure how far we can trust channelled material. Presumably it's a telepathic communication, but the receiver's beliefs, dispositions, emotions etc might influence the message. I'm also not sure how much we should trust memories elicited under hypnosis. I don't believe that the evidence suggests they are reliable. How many past lives induced under hypnotic regression have been verified? Very few I believe? But if those memories are false, then so too will any alleged "memories" of what happened between lives.

    You need to look to people who have natural memories, the young children that Stevenson and Tucker researched. They sometimes reports memories between lives. But I lack sufficient knowledge here. I was hoping that this thread would be about my awesome review! Not all this new age stuff.
     
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  12. Ian Wardell

    Ian Wardell New

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    I'm also leery of this suggestion that there's some sort of external agent, or one's higher self (whatever that is), that somehow decides where to get born. Which doesn't mean to say it's a blind mechanistic process either. Maybe our psychological states, our implicit yearnings, aversions etc, are the most relevant aspects to be considered here.
     
  13. Ian Wardell

    Ian Wardell New

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    Well, first of all I'm not saying I believe this new age stuff, but...

    What life should we choose? A life with maximum "happiness"? But what does happiness mean? A life that has maximum pleasures? Or the feeling like you had as a child when you woke up on a Christmas day morning? Or if you were in a permanent state of a certain type of intellectual satisfaction?

    Or perhaps we should at least choose a life where suffering is minimised (although would we necessarily know that upfront?).

    We should bear in mind that, for much of history, mankind lived a life full of dangers with the constant threat of death, and suffering, and loss. Close brushes with death from predators with the consequent comradeship and camaraderie when others save your life, and you theirs. The collective outpouring of emotions, the bitter and sweet taste of life in the raw.

    But, if we are cosseted from all the harsh elements of life. Perhaps we also lose the sheer rapture of being alive. If we never experience any dangers, then the sheer thrill of having overcome dangers is also lacking.

    Until we know what the purpose of life is, why we are here, how can we say what the nature of our lives should be like? How do you know what we ought to choose given infinite knowledge and understanding of all things?
     
  14. tarantulanebula

    tarantulanebula New

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    I say two points:

    1, Sure, on earth we are not for enjoying everything, but many many sufferings have been totally unnecessary and meaningless. I don't agree that "any kind of arduous life is a process of soul learning". Even if some sufferings are meaningful and necessary, they are meaningful for someone else, not the experiencers themselves.

    2, Many people tend to confuse "state" with "our self".
    Even if some essence which is common among all the past "me", and can be extracted from me to a higher realm, and then be gotten down to another incarnation, that essence doesn't represent "my self", because that essence is only a constant state, not a "move" with "time's flowing".
    Our "self" keeps changing with "time's flowing". We are always in "now", and "now" always keeps changing, we are not a "state" or "essence" fixed in any specific time forever. At this very moment, "now" is 2018-04-20 01:21:04, so I'm "the me in 2018-04-20 01:21:04", in tomorrow 2018-04-21 01:00:00, I will be "the me in 2018-04-21 01:00:00", and "the me in 2018-04-20 01:21:04" will no longer be me any more, instead, it will become a "state" that represents a trace "I" left when "my self" moves along the time. So even if there is some essence which is shared among all the "past me", this essence is not "my self", because it is only a "state", not a "move". I rely on "time's flowing" to be existent, and I'm always the "me in now". This implies I'm always changing and none of my states are fixed forever, because "now" keeps changing, yes, this "changing" is a basic trait of "our self".

    To imagine that as if "our self" can exist as a state of essence in any specific time, or all time, forever, is a wishful illusion, self-deceive.
     
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  15. Ian Wardell

    Ian Wardell New

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    Ugh... I just don't buy into this new age narrative that our lives, that our existence, is a process of learning, of soul-making, and suffering cannot possibly contribute towards that end. That our lives, our existence, is like school...

    What we do, what we experience, needn't be because of some grand purpose or ultimate end . .at least not in the narrow sense you're conceiving it. It's a very narrow minded, naive simplistic view I think. Our everyday lives, our everyday activities, can be purely for the sake of it, for the raw experience, not necessarily because it makes me a more enlightened soul or whatever.

    I reject this dichotomy that either our lives are a process of soul-making, or our lives and the Universe are ultimately absurd and we've just here for the ride until eternal darkness descends upon us.

    No . .no . .no. It's much more complex than that. There's something we're not getting.

    But tell me your conclusions Tarantula.
     
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  16. nbtruthman

    nbtruthman New

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    This seems to be another version of the New Age narrative, that we are here simply for the soul to experience limitation and to remember "who we really are" (a split-off portion of God) while in a very limited and harsh environment with no neural memory of our true nature. The soul doesn't really need to learn anything (as in the "Earth is a school" concept), since it already knows everything. We're here simply for the soul to experience the challenges and other experiences of a very constrained Earth environment - any kind of physical experience is OK, good or bad from the human point of view, whatever that may be.

    Unfortunately, this idea doesn't "pass the buck" of responsibility for the egregious mass of innocent human suffering involved in Earth life. It still seems to sit squarely at the soul's doorstep, and the implications I have outlined as to the nature of this soul and its relationship to the human self are still clear. Of course, to be cautious, this chain of reasoning may be faulty because there are some other radical, unconsidered factors at play. One could be that it's a system set up by some some other being(s) further up in the spiritual hierarchy.
     
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  17. Ian Wardell

    Ian Wardell New

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    Why don't you guys state your position. What is human suffering (pain? unfulfilment? depression?) incompatible with? How do you know it is incompatible with this position? What alternative do you suggest?

    I'm unable to further respond until you actually state what your argument is. At the present time I have no idea what you're arguing against.
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2018
  18. nbtruthman

    nbtruthman New

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    Physical and mental suffering seem to be inherent facets of human consciousness, and their badness is inherent to our basic nature as humans - what pains us is bad and what gives us pleasure or joy is good. The brute fact of the existence of egregious amounts of innocent human suffering is incompatible with the notion that reality is benevolent, friendly, toward humans. This fact invalidates most of the body of religious, esoteric religious, and channeled New Age teachings. It seems more the situation of a grim, despairing reality, with occasional glimmers of light. It's a matter of the predominant nature of reality - no one doubts that our experiences constitute a mixture of good and bad elements. As to alternatives, I don't think it is healthy to think in detail about what they may be.
     
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  19. Ian Wardell

    Ian Wardell New

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    I'm not interested in defending what others have said. This suffering issue seems to be an issue with certain conceptions of God. But I don't hold such a conception of God. I believe reality as a whole is somehow infused with awareness, and indeed a manifestation of awareness. And all things, all events, everything that has been, everything that will be, is infused with ultimate meaning. A meaning that eludes us in our daily day to day existence, but whose existence might be very briefly glimpsed with peak experiences and mystical experiences.

    As for whether suffering refutes this, well I've already said above. To repeat what I've said in a blog post.

    I think arguably suffering, pain, anguish, despair, loss of a loved one etc, could conceivably be held to be compatible with some higher purpose. For much of history, mankind lived a life full of dangers with the constant threat of death, and suffering, and loss. Close brushes with death from predators with the consequent comradeship and camaraderie when others save your life, and you theirs. The collective outpouring of emotions, the bitter and sweet taste of life in the raw.

    In the modern west we are cosseted from all the harsh elements of life. I'll probably die an old man rather than get eaten by a predator. But perhaps, safe and rich as we are, the modern western way of life loses something. It loses the sheer rapture of being alive. If we never experience any dangers, then the sheer thrill of having overcome dangers is also lacking.

    So it's not clear to me that suffering is necessarily incompatible with some higher purpose. The problem here is we don't know what the purpose of life is! Hence I think it's impossible to answer such a question.

    Maybe it is, but until we know what the purpose of life is, why we are here, how can we say what the nature of our lives should be like?
     
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  20. SciFiFanatic101

    SciFiFanatic101 New

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    Have you heard of the Hindu/Buddhist concept of samskaras or vasanas? They roughly translate as psychic predispositions and are the main fuel of the reincarnation process. Unless you thouroughly destroy or sublimate these powerful innate tendencies of the mind, you will continue to be reborn in samsara, the physical world. You would have to become a Buddha or an enlightened yogi to get off the wheel of life.
     

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