Political Skeptics, what's their motivation?

#1
On a sliding scale of....
....well intentioned....misguided....mischievous....ruthless....wicked....
....where would proponents place the activity of persistent skeptics?

Are they trying to save the world, or herald in a totalitarian Dark Age? Would former skeptics have indulged in or condoned the activities of their current counterparts, or is this an ideological cage fight with no holds barred?
 
#2
I'm convinced that ideological skeptics are eager to strip homo sapiens of his transcendent nature, of this spark of Divinity within him, and herd him into a totalitarian Dark Age.
Of all the skeptic assertions I find the dismissal of free will the most grievous. It absolves the individual from consequence, it elevates tendencies and predispositions into inevitabilities, and reduces morality to the negotiable and relative. Remove moral choice, and you have malleable drones, controlled by fugitive whims. I don't believe all agitprop skeptics have thought through the end game, but a few have, and their vision is not one that elevates humanity as claimed, but reduces it to a biological artefact fighting for survival against the disposition of its fellows.
 
#4
A political skeptic is one who consistently uses philosophical materialism as the sole means to counter evidence for psi, IMO. In practice, it's someone who uses identical methods of enquiry to account for any phenomenon, especially in situations where material science is not (yet) known to account for such phenomena, extrapolating their non-existence by renegotiating or restricting definitions. This usually occurs within a wider political conflict where materialism vies with, and claims ascendency over all other metaphysics.
 
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#5
A political skeptic is one who consistently uses philosophical materialism as the sole means to counter evidence for psi, IMO. In practice, it's someone who uses identical methods of enquiry to account for any phenomenon, especially in situations where material science is not (yet) known to account for such phenomena, extrapolating their non-existence by renegotiating or restricting definitions. This usually occurs within a wider political conflict where materialism vies with, and claims ascendency over all other metaphysics.
So you are simply re-labeling materialists as "political skeptics". By definition a materialist would "have to" act like that. Otherwise they wouldn't be a materialist.

Wikipedia:
the theory of materialism holds that all things are composed of material, and that all emergent phenomena (including consciousness) are the result of material properties and interactions. In other words, the theory claims that our reality consists entirely of physical matter that is the sole cause of every possible occurrence, including human thought, feeling, and action.
I searched on the term and the CISCOP definition of political (pseudo-)skeptic is more valid to me. It basically defines it as a (pseudo-)skeptic who employs political activism to help spread their beliefs.
 
#6
So you consider all materialists to be political skeptic. By definition a materialist would "have to" act like that. Otherwise they wouldn't be a materialist.
No, which is why I followed the definition with an example, and qualified materialist with a political dimension. It's entirely possible to hold that current material science exhausts all metaphysical enquiry, without entering the public forum to denounce vying metaphysics as inadequate or absurd.
 
#7
No, which is why I followed the definition with an example, and qualified materialist with a political dimension. It's entirely possible to hold that current material science exhausts all metaphysical enquiry, without entering the public forum to denounce vying metaphysics as inadequate or absurd.
Yes. Unless you are disavowing the first 75% of your statement. The answer to my question as I see it is: " A political (pseudo-)skeptic is a materialist who uses political activism to help spread, or advocate for, that belief system."

And, as I will keep constantly pointing out, given that materialism is a set of beliefs, labeling its staunch advocates as skeptics seems - at best - silly. I get why they do it. I don't get why those who aren't materialists continue to play along with their game.
 
M

Michael

#8
I would guess they operate in the vicinity of being 'misguided'. When we are being totally honest with ourselves we have to admit that the nature of reality is opaque and visciously difficult to describe with any absolute certainty. The political skeptics are fighting to uphold their bits and pieces of certainty, their rocks in the surging river they cling to and say: this rock I am holding on to, I know with certainty, this rock is real. Any notion that the rock is possibly just a submerged sandbank eroding away under their feat will be met with forceful resistance. The reality is that we are all being pushed along in the stream with no effective ability to navigate the currents.
 
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#9
The political skeptics are fighting to uphold their bits and pieces of certainty, their rocks in the surging river they cling to and say: this rock I am holding on to, I know with certainty, this rock is real
While I agree with your depiction, I'm not sure it's the whole story. Since the advent of New Atheism and the politicisation of what was previously an intellectual or instinctive position, skeptics have blurred the boundaries of language, so that free-thinking, humanism, atheism and other terms with discrete historical meanings have been colonised by a wider polemic. To argue with one is to attack the others.

While many skeptics express the reactionary nature of their beliefs (mostly against superstitious medievalism and sloppy thinking) a significant number of their prominent spokespeople have expressed political ideas based on an idea of science as a moral arbitrator. I believe this to be intellectually presumptuous and politically sinister, as material science allows for no counter discourse as a mediating influence.
 
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Ian Gordon

Ninshub
Member
#10
I would guess they operate in the vicinity of being 'misguided'.
I think we should be careful with threads like these, or at least make sure they're not directed at the "persistent skeptics" that have been restricted in the CD forum. My vote goes for all of the above depending on the people involved: well-intentioned... misguided... to ruthless/wicked (organized guerrilla skeptics outside this forum).

While many skeptics express the reactionary nature of their beliefs (mostly against superstitious medievalism and sloppy thinking) a significant number of their prominent spokespeople have expressed political ideas based on an idea of science as a moral arbitrator. I believe this to be intellectually presumptuous and politically sinister, as material science allows for no counter discourse as a mediating influence.
This I agree with completely.
 
#11
I think we should be careful with threads like these, or at least make sure they're not directed at the "persistent skeptics" that have been restricted in the CD forum. My vote goes for all of the above depending on the people involved: well-intentioned... misguided... to ruthless/wicked (organized guerrilla skeptics outside this forum).
I posted the thread to discover whether my experience of skeptics echoed those of other proponents. I agree there are those who require a standard of evidence for unusual phenomena that meets or exceeds those of the mundane phenomena, and delight in raising the bar for anything novel (aggravated pedantry), but such people have intentionally or unintentionally become pawns in a bigger game. The removal of morality, free will and vying narratives about the human condition, is totalitarian. The accommodation of exclusive philosophies has a bleak history and one that should be exposed at every turn.
 

Ian Gordon

Ninshub
Member
#12
I posted the thread to discover whether my experience of skeptics echoed those of other proponents. I agree there are those who require a standard of evidence for unusual phenomena that meets or exceeds those of the mundane phenomena, and delight in raising the bar for anything novel (aggravated pedantry), but such people have intentionally or unintentionally become pawns in a bigger game. The removal of morality, free will and vying narratives about the human condition, is totalitarian. The accommodation of exclusive philosophies has a bleak history and one that should be exposed at every turn.
Ummm... you won't get any argument from me on that one! Thanks for your thoughtful posts here, Gabriel. As usual. :)
 
#13
I think we should be careful with threads like these, or at least make sure they're not directed at the "persistent skeptics" that have been restricted in the CD forum.
It's a difficult decision to make, but I would suggest one of the identifying characteristics of a political skeptic, is an unwillingness to move from a previously held position, no matter what the subject or data, over an extended time period. When the data is peer reviewed and academically respectable, reason suggests a small percentage would, at the very least, give pause for thought without questioning motives or methodology. When motive and method are the exclusive tool for debate, the argument is indistinguishable from ideology.

Those of a skeptical predisposition who choose to engage fully with the data, and challenge it in other ways - in particular by original research of a topic - cannot be counted as political skeptics and are invaluable to a discussion.
 
#14
Of all the skeptic assertions I find the dismissal of free will the most grievous.
What? I just find it ridiculous.

It absolves the individual from consequence [...] and reduces morality to the negotiable and relative.
As does the NDE, though. Nothing we do here on Earth really matters if you listen to what people are telling us about the afterlife. Yeah, we can grow on a spiritual level, but it's not as big a deal if we don't, as it's all just a role-playing game anyway and we have unlimited tries and time to get everything we ever wanted done. At the end of the beginning of eternity (our incarnation career), we're all going to have experienced what it's like to be serial killers, losers who seemingly achieve nothing with their lives, etc trillions of times. We're all also going to live trillions of lives filled with delusions, such as those that we don't possess free will. I will too, in future incarnations. I'll want to, and so will you. It serves some lives their very purpose for people to have those beliefs, and it all adds to the fun.

Meta-perspectives on life are always... fun, I guess is a good word.
 
#15
What? I just find it ridiculous.

As does the NDE, though. Nothing we do here on Earth really matters if you listen to what people are telling us about the afterlife. Yeah, we can grow on a spiritual level, but it's not as big a deal if we don't, as it's all just a role-playing game anyway and we have unlimited tries and time to get everything we ever wanted done. At the end of the beginning of eternity (our incarnation career), we're all going to have experienced what it's like to be serial killers, losers who seemingly achieve nothing with their lives, etc trillions of times. We're all also going to live trillions of lives filled with delusions, such as those that we don't possess free will. I will too, in future incarnations. I'll want to, and so will you. It serves some lives their very purpose for people to have those beliefs, and it all adds to the fun.

Meta-perspectives on life are always... fun, I guess is a good word.
You may be guilty of cherry picking NDE testimonies. There are numerous accounts that suggest bad people come to sticky ends, and that what we do on earth is of absolute importance to fulfilling our destiny. I'm not sure why you find lack of free will unproblematic, at least morally. If its adherents on this board are any guide, it promotes lack of any choice in response to situations and the infamous meat robot view of humanity. I don't believe the passionate, creative, wondering human experience can be reduced to an illusion of biology without moral consequences for society.
 
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#16
You may be guilty of cherry picking NDE testimonies. There are numerous accounts that suggest bad people come to sticky ends, and that what we do on earth is of absolute importance to fulfilling our destiny.
It's not that I cherry pick NDEs, it's that I look at the totality of NDEs and try to make sense of them, cumulatively. Those "numerous accounts that suggest bad people come to sticky ends" are essentially only relevant in the initial stages of death, such as the possibility that one might not instantly enter the light, or that the life review may be a little rough. But after that, a continued eternity of infinite bliss awaits for everyone without judgment or long term negative consequences of what we did here.

As to what we do on earth being "of absolute importance to fulfilling our destiny", I fail to see where you've gotten that data from, or indeed even how you arrive rationally at such a position. With eternity to achieve everything, there's no hurry to perfect our spiritual cores in any particular incarnation. It's OK to "fail" and just relax. Whatever we're meant to achieve, we will - eventually. As the by far strongest psychedelic on Earth, Ayahuasca, made extremely clear to me (and have to lots of others), "life is at least an ultra-joke". It literally told me so. And lots of others have gotten the message that "nothing on earth really matters", "life is pointless and there's no reason to try", etc. And we do tend to take this whole role-playing exercise way, way too seriously. If a fish turns left or right in the ocean as it's swimming right now, does that really matter in the grander scheme of things? Likewise, does it really matter whether you do your homework or if you just commit suicide? It's just a human experience, and we can do precisely whatever we want to. It's sad to see that many people are paralyzed by their moral fears of doing whatever they want. But then again, those moral fears are also part of the game, so... Yeah.

We can grow tremendously if we take these lives seriously, from a spiritual perspective. We can grow so much in love, empathy, compassion, wisdom, etc. But we don't have to, so there's no pressure. We're extremely brave just for coming to this challenging dump of an existence, and we don't need to fear that we can fail in any sense whatsoever.

I'm not sure why you find lack of free will unproblematic, at least morally. If its adherents on this board are any guide, it promotes lack of any choice in response to situations and the infamous meat robot view of humanity. I don't believe the passionate, creative, wondering human experience can be reduced to an illusion of biology without moral consequences for society.
Because I find no false belief problematic, morally. Not that I'm a moral relativist, but I view morality more as a matter of "certain behavioral values promote a peaceful society, and some do not". I don't think there can ever be any blame or immoral actions, because this entire existence is really just a game anyway. We can do nothing wrong in the grander scheme of things. Even if we nuke this entire planet into oblivion, or create the greatest imaginable dystopia, looking back at it from the spirit realm it's going to be more like "Oh, that was interesting and kind of crazy :D I might want to try that again sometime." We are meant to go crazy and occasionally kill each other, rape each other, etc. It's just a sandbox, a role-playing game and we do what we want to.

Even if you don't believe in free will, you can still behave in a way that promotes a peaceful and otherwise rational society. In fact, most people who believe we don't have free will do just that. And you can very easily justify it by "that's just how I want to live." It's not like "there's no free will, therefore we must wreak havoc because there's no accountability." Very few people reason like that, and if they do, it tends to be a phase anyway.

We'll create a peaceful society when enough people want it. We won't create it by trying to deduce moral rules about how people must behave.
 
#17
Even if you don't believe in free will, you can still behave in a way that promotes a peaceful and otherwise rational society. In fact, most people who believe we don't have free will do just that. And you can very easily justify it by "that's just how I want to live." It's not like "there's no free will, therefore we must wreak havoc because there's no accountability." Very few people reason like that, and if they do, it tends to be a phase anyway.
If there's no free will, the phrase "that's just how I want to live" is a contradiction. It would have to be substituted by something like, "that's just the way I'm obliged to live".
 
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#18
Regarding bad people coming to sticky ends, YouTube contains numerous accounts of hellish NDE experiences for immoral or amoral actions. We can only base our conclusions on the word of those who return, for those who don't, we have no idea what becomes of them. Is hell the equivalent of ten awful minutes, a thousand years, forever? There's no way of telling. That's equally true of those who glimpse a state of bliss.

There's a huge difference between life as a huge joke in which nothing we do is of the least importance, and not being paralyzed with fear over the consequence of every action. I can't accept there's no difference between taking part in a high school shooting and helping out in a soup kitchen, for the individual or the society in which they live. As for souls on a path to enlightenment, both eastern and western sacred texts emphasise the same thing in different ways. I'm not sure why we'd want to voluntarily 'Return to Go' by acting on whims when we can advance ourselves through our application of free will.
 
#19
Regarding bad people coming to sticky ends, YouTube contains numerous accounts of hellish NDE experiences for immoral or amoral actions.
I'm well aware of that, but it's also full of NDEs that began hellishly, and soon turned around as the individual corrected their way of thinking. But all deep NDErs agree that we will all enter the light eventually, and be able to stay there indefinitely.

There's a huge difference between life as a huge joke in which nothing we do is of the least importance, and not being paralyzed with fear over the consequence of every action. I can't accept there's no difference between taking part in a high school shooting and helping out in a soup kitchen, for the individual
Then clearly, your mind isn't wide enough. First of all, as NDErs say again and again, it's not the actions per se, but the intent. A hypocrite in a soup kitchen (who doesn't really want to be there but feel that they "have to" for some reason) is on a lesser spiritual path than the school shooter who feel that they're doing the world a favor by being themselves and spreading their message. Also, killing people isn't bad if there's an afterlife. Those who die get to paradise, those who grieve get together, emotions will flow through and they will learn a lot more about themselves than the continual grind of daily life might provide them with. Additionally, see this:

so you say you want to save the world ... by JDBourdon

People of good faith – NDErs or not – desperately want the world to be different, to be better. Small wonder – what a frightening place this world can be! In the words of the poet James Morrison, "The future’s uncertain, and the end is always near." Yikes!

If only others would realize that love is the most important thing. If only others would realize we are all "one." If only others would realize their material possessions will not go with them, and may very well blind them to what’s important in the cosmic, eternal sense.

Religionists/spiritualists: if only others would worship god more. Atheists: if only others would worship god less, and get to work on the problems.

Regardless of religion (or non-religion) people of good faith pursue the goal of a better world by joining organizations and movements, proselytizing for various religious, philosophical, ideological or spiritual beliefs, contributing money or goods...and perhaps even make a career out of helping others.

Many, many others – probably the majority – simply reflect upon our time here and sincerely hope our lives "made the world a little bit better."

Good deeds, good causes, and making this a better world through them: isn’t this the primary purpose of life?

NO! NO! NO!

They rest on a false premise, an illusion. The primary purpose of your life is not to create a better world, it’s to build a better you in the primary, eternal dimension.

One of the most striking and important insights that hits NDErs during their experience is, "Everything is the way it should be." This comes even from NDErs who in their initial stage rage at god, demanding to know why there is so much suffering on earth, so much injustice.

And they receive an answer – to which their response is, "Oh, yeah – how could I have forgotten?

Good deeds to make the world a better place? Good causes to make the world a better place? These are illusions in support of the greatest illusion of all: that this world is the primary dimension.

I once heard of an NDEr - a doctor – who realized during her life review that her being a doctor was not that important. A doctor! How could that be? Doctors ease pain, save lives. They do it every day! How could this possibly not be meaningful – at least more meaningful than, say, being a secretary?

The answer is that your primary mission here is you. You are not here to save lives or the world. You choose this mission to aid your own progress. That is the way you serve god.

Your first reaction reading that may be: isn’t that selfish? No, it isn’t – because the Catch-22 is that the only way you can fulfill your mission is by coming at everything from love – love of others, love of yourself.

Consider a doctor, then. The doctor examines a patient, and knows that the recommended approach is a certain medicine, and writes that prescription. One of dozens he may write that day. He does it without a thought, as routinely as his secretary handles a call. How much compassion was involved? Was any love summoned from the core of being in doing these things? Did a loveless, detached decision improve his vibration?

Consider: a rich man tosses a homeless guy $10 without a blink or barely a thought, it gets rid of the pest and hey, isn’t that a good deed I did?Someone else walks by and feels genuine, deep compassion for the homeless person, gives him a smile, but no money – can’t afford it, or sincerely feels they don’t want to help at that moment.

Now, the panhandler, given a choice between the two, will ofcourse prefer the $10 – his very physical survival is what’s at stake. When that’s the situation, it’s Priority #1 for him and, for that matter, the rest of us. The $10 will initially help him more than the compassion, no doubt about it.

But a year from now it is that genuine compassion that he’ll savor in his darkest, most desperate hour – the compassion that said he mattered - not the long-gone money. Again, what’s eternal? If deeds could build that stairway to heaven, the afterlife would look mighty patrician.

Good causes?People support them to make a better world. Many devote their lives to causes, and they come from love.

But many, many others fuel their support of "good" causes with rage, anger and fear, or even to get back at others. For example, there are vegetarians whose "love" of animals causes them to absolutely hate people – to hope they’ll get cancer from eating meat! And we live at a time when "love" of god/allah – or more accurately, "obedience" to god/allah – causes some to strike from the coldest hatred imaginable.

The true weight of supporting "good" causes from these negative vibrations is a self-poisonous judgment of others. That’s what is eternal. And the negativity is destined to grow, because it demands (usually futilely) the world change.

Some of these people are aware of the rage building within, and know, in their most insightful moments, that their lives are not happy. Yet it’s easy to tell oneself, "Well, I can’t fix my life, but I can make the world better, and if there’s a god I’ll be blessed for that."

But that reasoning misses the very point of our individual lives. NDE life reviews consistently reveal your life here is about you – you don’t see a review of someone else’s life. And NDErs continually report that many of the "good deeds" they expected to see were conspicuously absent in their review.

Why? Because these deeds simply had no positive value unless they arose from genuine love and compassion. The deeds themselves,or even their magnitude in "changing the world" did not count – only the magnitude of the loving intentions behind the deeds mattered...and they mattered to the individual.

If deed and causes count the most, then it follows that the outcome also counts. Which means a father who dies trying to save a drowning child would be get thumbs-down from god. Who believes that? We don’t control the outcomes of the events in our lives, no matter how much we try. We do control our intentions – indeed, no one but us determines them.

Some people – even some NDErs – "quote" god as saying something along the lines of, "I gave you a perfect world, and you messed it up. It’s mankind’s doing, not mine." And some say that god is so disgusted with humanity that he’s just this close to closing shop on us.

Mankind’s fault? Who gave us diseases? Who gave us earthquakes and floods?

Who gave us the different languages, races, generations and experiences that confuse us? Who gave us scarcities?

Who gave us senses that don’t automatically connect with god? Who gave us millions of deceptions that make us believe the physical world is all there is? Who gave us mortality?

The answer is... god. Which means that either god doesn’t have the power to stop these conditions, or god hates us... or that theseconditions are difficult but absolutely necessary illusions for us and for god to grow in the primary dimension – the eternal one.

It is the latter. As NDErs say: the world is as it was meant to be. Yes, even as challenging as it is.

Does that mean we do nothing to try to make the world a better place? Of course not. Do what you will - help the homeless, contribute to research that may cure AIDS, volunteer to help the elderly. The suffering in the world is there to provide opportunities for growth.

But don’t concentrate on events, deeds, causes and outcomes – if you do, you may act from hate, anger or fear. Your mission is you. That is apart from saving the world.

God is always, always, through "good" and "bad" events, trying to summon our eternal nature. It is the realization and manifestation of that love that is the struggle and the glory, and which will produce a better you... and secondarily, a better world.
and this:

(Continued in next response)
 
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#20
(Continued from the last response)

Also see this:

Why does the world seem to be completely insane?

Yes, it always appears that you are in a minority of sane people (or perhaps you are the ONLY sane person) in a sea of completely confused crackpots. The reason that so many other people seem completely confused and wrongheaded is that they use different symbols and metaphors to view the world. It is impossible to discuss important issues such as politics, families, violence, justice, etc. without resorting to symbolism. Anything that does not directly refer to something that can be physically sensed, such as justice or one's concept of God must be referred to by metaphor and symbol. If you and another use different symbols, you will be unable to communicate effectively. Some of the main metaphors in use today are:

Conventional religion
Science
Power, that is, dominance and submission
Artistic and aesthetic worth
Traditional political categories
Material wealth and security
Romanticism and relationships
Honor, valor, and courage
Bigotry, racism, and exclusivity
Depth psychology (Freud, Jung, etc.)
Humanism and "new age" psychology
Traditional philosophy

Chances are that your views and beliefs about the world center around one or several of these metaphors. For example, if you see the world in terms of moral worth and submission to a higher law, you are conventionally religious. If you see the world in terms of cause and effect and experimenting to find the right solutions, you are oriented toward science.

People who share one or more basic metaphors will find that they can communicate effectively with one another and work together constructively. People who do not share any metaphors will usually be unable to regard one another with anything beyond fear, hostility, and contempt. Because of this lack of communication between groups, most discussions of important issues in the public arena quickly degenerate into grandstanding and name calling, because in the absence of real understanding between the disagreeing parties, only mob psychology is left to sway public opinion.

In all of this you may be left frustrated and unable to act, because you have not yet realized that:

The World Doesn't Want to be Saved.

The world is a teeming mishmash of cultures with a bewildering array of values and ideologies engaged in their own version of the good life. People are generally not interested in changing the metaphors through which they view the world, so real understanding between groups with conflicting viewpoints is not achievable in the short term. The good news is, that's OK, because the world isn't supposed to be saved on a global scale. It must be saved at the level of the individual. And despite the fact that the level of the individual appears to be statistically insignificant, it is in fact the most significant, because it is only at the level of the individual that a creative synthesis of conflicting metaphors can occur. Once a connection is made at the individual level, the process of spreading successful new metaphors throughout society is essential automatic if the society is ready for them. If the society is not ready, the new metaphors will not be accepted under any circumstances. So don't beat you head on a rock. Solve your own interpersonal communication problems. If the world is ready to benefit from your solutions, you will not be able to stop it from using them.
On the level of the individual, it doesn't matter what you do. Because when you do it, you do it for you, and no one else. If you want to create a better world, then first create a better you. The world may come around eventually, but it's really not the point or the goal of our individual lives here to try to make that happen. We're here for ourselves - to grow, to play, to laugh, to go crazy, to enjoy the ride, to experience, to learn. Or whatever else we may want. We chose these lives. We get to do whatever we want with them. If that means becoming a spiritual guru, a healer, or blowing up a building and killing thousands of people, well, it's just a matter of what you want to do and what you feel is in your best interest. Elaboration.
or the society in which they live.
These are two different things, though. If we want to live in a peaceful society, we have to want it collectively and try to behave in ways which promote that goal. But keep in mind that we already come from the most peaceful existence imaginable. We'll spend eternity - literally - in peaceful co-existence. This world isn't meant to be a utopia, it's just a virtual reality game that we're exploring for the fun of it. It may become a better world down the road, but it may also not.
I'm not sure why we'd want to voluntarily 'Return to Go' by acting on whims when we can advance ourselves through our application of free will.
Because we're tired of learning and want a break and just want to party our ass off? :) I know I'll want at least the equivalent of a ~10^50000000000 years long break from incarnation after this go around. I have some serious partying to do :D And that's btw what the afterlife is all about. It's not a dull existence of being cherubs and playing harps - or of hurrying to reincarnate again just so that we can learn even more as quickly as possible- it's having fun as hell and enjoying existence to the absolute fullest, bathing in love and bliss and peace and joy all along as we do so.
 
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