THREE ESSAYS ON THE MEANING OF LIFE
“Out of intense complexities, intense simplicities emerge”
– Winston Churchill.
These three essays have been an exploration for the Truth of the human condition, and what any such “Truth” can tell us about any ultimate purpose and special meaning there may be to our existence. Our working definitions being: “T” Truth – that which is true for everybody all the time; “ultimate” purpose – any purpose our lives may have above and beyond the, ultimately meaningless, purposes of our mortal animal bodies; “special” meaning – any meaning our lives may have above and beyond the personal meanings which most of us construct.
Essay 1 examined our Houses of God, which claim to hold the answers to all the above. While our examination concentrated on the Christian House of God, our findings apply to all Houses of God founded upon a “B” Book. Our examination of the Christian House of God found that while said House did contain some “T” Truths for us (mainly those brought by Jesus: love, forgive, do unto others) the contradictory Bible upon which it was founded – and the incredible doctrinising of the House-building Church fathers subsequent to Jesus – managed to drown the baby of Jesus’ Truths in doctrinal bathwater. Further, the incredibility of our Houses of Gods’ purpose of life – that it is, ultimately, a (one-off) test for heaven or hell – has turned many against the belief that life could have any credible special meaning; just as their incredible, primitive, human, male, sexist, brutal, jealous, parochial, Abrahamic “g” god has thrown the existence any “G” God into doubt. All up, Essay 1 found that the above, plus our Houses of Gods’ history of evil, left us considering any House of God to be an unsound place in which to dwell.
Essay 2 then examined the House of Disbelief, and found that, while its foundations were sound (mainly the Truths of our physical sciences), its disbelief in any ultimate purpose and special meaning to life was supported by unsound philosophical pillars. Pillars like: the Problem of Evil; scientism; determinism; reductionism; physicalism; neuroscientism; behaviourism; natural selectionism; Darwinism; atheism; relativism; post modernism; nihilism; existentialism – all basically materialist fundamentalisms which would have us believe that the human condition (including all our behaviours) can be fully explained in terms of the physical atoms and electrical impulses of our naturally and mechanically evolved animal bodies.
Essay 3 then set out to explore for “T” Truths outside the walls of both our blinkering Houses – Along the Road to Truth. Although I am not a Buddhist (nor I like to think an anythingelseist) the title for the third essay was taken from one of Buddha’s sayings: “There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth – not going all the way, and not starting”. So, by starting, we at least managed to obey his second injunction but whether we managed to obey his first injunction to go all the way along the road to Truth is, ultimately, for each of you to decide. All I can say is that our expedition stopped at nothing, we explored for the “T” Truth of the human condition in the unnatural as well as the natural; the metaphysical as well as the physical; the paranormal as well as the normal.
All up, our exploration for the Truth of the human condition and for any special meaning or ultimate purpose to our existence uncovered sufficient credible evidence to be able to rationally conclude that the Truth of the human condition is that we are not just our evolved material bodies, but a self + body duality – essentially different to the discredited Cartesian mind + body duality (“discredited” because the mind is observably of the body/brain) – and out of the “intense complexities” that are the big existential questions: Purpose, Meaning, Life, Death, Happiness, Love, God, Heaven, Hell, Everything – the following “intense simplicities” emerged:
To find “the meaning of life” we are best served if we first find the purpose of life, then ask if such is meaningful. The purpose of anything is what it does, and the relative reality we find our selves in does creativity. Relativity does creativity by allowing the existence of relatively good, better, best – enabling creativity through selection for best – evolution. Nature mechanically selects for best to create/evolve our meaningless bodies; we select for best to create/evolve our meaningful selves.
Nothing which is creative can be meaningless, but the extent of its meaningfulness is determined by what is created. We are creative, and we create many things. We have varying talents, but the most meaningful thing we all can create/evolve is our self – because eternal.
Life is not a one-off test, but an opportunity – to create. There is plenty of non-paranormal evidence that we have many lives – in which to create/evolve our self. In life, we create our self by firstly being our true self, then by knowing our self, then by growing our self – until we can be happy with/love our self. “Know Thyself” is ultimate wisdom.
The quest to be happy is an unnatural human trait (other animals just seek to be). The key to lasting human happiness is being able to love our self – we can feel passing animal contentment/happiness through our bodies, but we can only be lastingly happy through love of self. “Lasting” because the self is the one thing no one can take from us, and the only source of happiness totally within our control.
We are our own harshest judges; but we do allow that we are worthy of our own love if others love us – our self/soul/spirit – not our animal body, power, fame, talent, money etc.. Love from others, the highest authority we allow of our own self worth, is only ever truly achieved by truly loving others – we love those who love us.
Death is just the end of one opportunity for self creation/evolution. There is no “Law of Once” – the fact that our spiritual self exists with an animal body, once, is only proof of one thing: that such can happen – not that it must never happen again. “It is no more surprising to be born twice than it is to be born once.” (Voltaire).
The fact that our religions have incredible human gods does not disprove the existence of any real God. There is observably an intelligence higher than us behind this finely-calibrated universe written in an intelligent mathematical language (which we strangely can speak). While the nature of God is beyond us, our spiritual selves experience a wordless “D” Divine whenever we are spiritually “moved”, “lifted” (by the experience of beauty, for example).
The everything of this, our relative reality, rests in its creativity. The Absolute is absolute – necessarily non-creative (and meaningless).
While arguments from evidence for these conclusions are in the essays we will reprise a little of them here for those who have started with the conclusion (something I often do myself, and as I advised in the Introduction).
Are the above conclusions the “T” Truth, or just our expedition’s comforting “t” truth?
This philosophy of meaning relies on four things being so: 1.) the existence of our nonphysical self; 2.) that our nonphysical self can spiritually evolve; 3.) that we have many lives; 4.) that there are higher realities beyond this Earthly one. The essays found enough credible evidence to reasonably accept these propositions – always “on the balance of probabilities” – sometimes “beyond reasonable doubt”. To briefly reprise a little for the benefit of anyone starting with this conclusion (and to encourage them to read the essays):
1. THE EXISTENCE OF OUR NONPHYSICAL SELF?
While there remain mysteries to the human condition (like consciousness) we can reasonably conclude that we have an animal body, mechanically evolved by natural selection, with animal needs and genetic imperatives – but must we necessarily conclude that we are just those physical, animal bodies? Or is the Truth of the human condition more complex, are we a duality – a physical/spiritual duality – while we have an animal body, are we our spiritual self? Essay 3 examined considerable evidence that while we obviously have animal, bodily needs, we also have spiritual needs – even at times risking our animal bodies and their selfish genes to meet those spiritual needs. This, and other evidence led us to conclude that the human condition is to be, more truly, a body + spiritual self duality – distinctly different from the discredited Cartesian body + mind duality (“discredited” because the mind is not separate from the physical body, but obviously of the body/brain). However, neo-Darwinian materialists, must disagree – if they are to keep their present grip on modern philosophy, they need monism (everything is physical) to be the Truth of the human condition. But this from the man who wrote the book on evolution (literally) – Charles Darwin:
“In my journal I wrote that whilst standing in the midst of the grandeur of a Brazilian forest ‘it is not possible to give an adequate idea of the higher feelings of wonder, admiration and devotion which fill and elevate the mind.’ I well remember my conviction that there is more in man than the breath of his body.”
Charles Darwin, “Autobiography” (my emphasis).
This quote from his autobiography refers to Darwin’s time as a young man, sailing around the world on a voyage of biological discovery aboard the H.M.S. Beagle. On a stopover in Brazil, he explored the jungle, and at one point found himself standing and admiring its beauty – which led him to consider one of the mysteries of the human condition: that we can recognise and admire beauty – even in things inimical to our body’s survival. Further, he found his self (not his body) moved spiritually by such beauty, experiencing: “higher feelings of wonder, admiration and devotion”. Darwin’s consideration of this mystery led him to conclude that the human condition is to be more than just an animal body: “I well remember my conviction that there is more in man than the breath of his body”. However it needs to be remembered that Darwin was spiritual as a young man (originally contemplating a career in the ministry) – but what were his thoughts towards the end of his life, especially after his discoveries that our animal bodies physically evolve through the blind, brutal, mechanical process that is natural selection?
The omnipresent brutality of natural selection certainly put paid to his earlier conventional, religious belief in a benevolent God, but did he still think that there was “more in man” than just our bodies? To answer this we will consider his answer to our second necessary proposition, above: whether the said “more” that he recognised (our nonphysical self) can evolve?
2. THAT OUR NONPHYSICAL SELF CAN SPIRITUALLY EVOLVE?
Towards the end of his autobiography we get this from Darwin, speaking now as an older man:
“By degrees it will become intolerable to him to obey his sensuous passions rather than his higher impulses, which rendered habitual may be almost called instincts.”
Charles Darwin, ibid. (P. 94)
Ignoring Darwin’s sexist language, which was common for the era, (by “him” and “his” he was referring to humanity) we need to consider that: “by degrees” is slowly/evolvingly; that behaviour “rendered habitual” is behaviour which has become your usual behaviour (in this case, to obey our “higher impulses”); and that higher impulses are spiritual impulses (because above/higher than our base, animal “sensuous passions”). So, “By degrees … higher impulses … rendered habitual” is spiritual/self evolution – our self evolving to the point where we usually choose to obey our higher spiritual impulses rather than our body’s baser sensual passions – because the reverse has now “become intolerable”.
In Doubt? Consider “intolerable” to what? Certainly obeying our “sensuous passions rather than [our] higher impulses” could not be intolerable to our body – which gets much contentment from meeting its sensuous passions (and thereby spreading its selfish genes) – rather it could only be intolerable to our self/soul/spirit (call such nonphysical part of us what you will).
3. WE HAVE MANY LIVES?
The proposition that we have many lives is considered by many to be a paranormal idea, however the main researchers we considered in our exploration for Truth used nothing more “paranormal” than hypnosis – and I was firstly led to examine the idea of how many lives we (our spiritual selves) have, after a friend of mine had an experience which indicated (I’m tempted to say “proved”) that he had a previous existence on Earth – and he was the least “paranormal” person I know. His total normality and the observable effect his experience had on him intrigued me, but my natural scepticism was overcome when I found it was possible to examine the phenomenon of past lives without entering the “paranormal” sphere. I started with Brian Weiss – a senior psychiatrist at a leading U.S. hospital – whose professional experience left him with no doubt that we have many lives. I moved on to the work of Dr. Helen Wambach (who did a large, many subject study on past lives) and Professors Ian Stevenson and Jim Tucker of the University of Virginia (who extensively examined children who had verifiable past life experiences without any fore knowledge of the subject).
That we have many lives has to be opposed by both the House of God and the House of Disbelief – because fatal to the interests of both. The House of God has to make us believe that 1.) life is a test; 2.) that we can have only one life; 3.) which single “test” determines our eternal fate; 4.) that they have the power and knowledge to help us gain the best outcome (gain heaven/avoid hell). The House of Disbelief, on the other hand, makes much of the philosophical “Problem of Evil” which argues that: if we have only one life, such is meaningless for most thinking people because of the huge disparity between our experiences and the level of the playing fields upon which such experiences are played out. The House of Disbelief also uses the “only one life” dogma to combat the above observation that life allows self evolution – arguing: “sure, we may be able to evolve ourselves over our life, but then we’re dead and gone forever!”
It is interesting to note that “only one life” is not only dogma crucial to both the House of Disbelief and the House of God – but the only tenet of necessary belief that they both hold. Given that our exploration found both Houses to be unsound – how much for the shared keystone of those two unsound Houses?
4. HIGHER REALITIES BEYOND EARTH?
While we found plenty of evidence to create and support propositions 1, 2, and 3 just from an intellectual consideration of normal life experiences and behaviours, proposition 4 required consideration of evidence from paranormal life experiences and phenomena. Basically, we were required to have the courage to take Faulkner’s challenge – issued at the Introduction to these essays:
“You cannot swim for new horizons until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”
Those “new horizons” being, hopefully, of a land which offered evidence for our life having some ultimate purpose and special meaning, and the “shores” we had to have the courage to swim beyond sight of being those of the lands upon which the House of God and the House of Disbelief are built – diametrically opposed to each other, but both “hostile” (one way or another) to any rational belief that our existence has special meaning and/or ultimate purpose.
So we swam for new horizons, and our courage took us to the land of the paranormal.
The paranormal is a fertile field for metaphysical information, but it is equally fertile for fraudulent weeds – often throwing seeds of poisonous misinformation and dangerous disinformation. Such poison and danger come mainly from fraudulent operators who seek to exploit those who go there – usually vulnerable folk – “vulnerable” because, typically, recently bereaved and in need of comfort and reassurance.
Given the uncertainty presented by the undoubted presence of such fraudulence, should this exploration which is trying to be a rational exploration for the “T” Truth of the human condition, enter the paranormal at all?
SHOULD THE PARANORMAL BE CONSIDERED?
Paranormal experiences, whether you personally believe them or not, are part of the human experience – many sane and credible people have them. And, having accepted Buddha’s injunction to go all the way along the road to Truth, we had to consider all human experiences for any Truth. Not only that, but, as Essays 1 & 2 discovered, we had concluded that no path to Truth was possible through our two main belief systems: the House of God or the House of Disbelief – diametrically opposed fundamentalisms held by people who were only concerned to protect their own “t” truths, rather than to explore for any “T” Truths which could prove to be inconvenient to their own power and comfort (yes Virginia, while Disbelievers have long accused Believers of seeking status and personal comfort, both are also to be found in “D” Disbelief).
And, more importantly, we came to believe that if humanity is to survive, our spiritual evolution needs to catch up with our tearaway technological evolution. We presently have atom bombs in the hands of countries which have a primitive religious spirituality derived from ancient “B” Books containing divinely-approved Armageddon scenarios – or in the hands of countries with no spiritual beliefs at all and/or Darwinian, survival-of-the-fittest beliefs.
So, to the paranormal, a field dedicated to things spiritual, we were led. But, recognising the dangers, with a healthy scepticism (as opposed to fundamentalist “S” Scepticism) – wide awake to the potential for fraudulence and for the possibility of any personal, confirmation bias – paranormal information is attractive to ordinary folk as well as the distraught. There is much good news there – and most want to believe it.
THE PARANORMAL AND HOW WE APPROACHED IT
But the credibility of our whole (decade-long) expedition was now on the line. Recognising this, we were careful of who we allowed as reliable experiencers or researchers, and what we allowed from them as credible evidence. All up, we approached our exploration of the paranormal in Essay 3 with an open mind but also a healthy “s” scepticism (as compared to a fundamentalist, shut-minded “S” Scepticism). We were careful to confine ourselves to researchers and experiencers who mainly had professional experience and academic qualifications, and who had already achieved much in life – e.g. personal status, professional respect, financially successful careers – before they went into the paranormal field (i.e. they had much more to lose, than gain, if they indulged in fraudulence). Your typical frauds, on the other hand, start with nothing – thus have nothing to lose – but plenty to gain (usually money, status, power over people, fame etc.).
So, while it was understood that there would always be a risk that our expedition for Truth would be derailed in the paranormal (not only by the fraudulent, but by those who are genuine but misguided, deluded, and/or incompetent) such risk was considered much reduced by our criteria for whom we chose as guides therein. We considered it a risk worth taking because we only have to find one true paraphenomenon for classical physics’ and materialist idealism’s entirely physical (and hope-less) model of the universe to be broken. Even if only one past life; only one experience of a next reality beyond this one; only one communication with a surviving consciousness could be verified – then the possibility of many lives, higher realities, and our self’s/consciousness survival of bodily death are established as “T” Truth (as per our working definition: “true for everybody, all the time”). In this we were encouraged by the words of the father of Psychology as a science: William James – who said: “If you wish to upset the law that all crows are black, you mustn’t seek to show that no crows are; it is enough if you prove one single crow to be white.”
ONE WHITE CROW?
So how did we go?
Our expedition found, in fact, several “white crows” – credible evidence from rational, already successful, qualified and respected academic professionals in different areas of paranormal research (e.g. NDE’s, past life recall, mediums, ITC). Such researchers were people of the calibre of Professor David Fontana, Professor William James, Professor F. W. H. Myers (séances and mediums); Professor Ian Stevenson, Dr. Brian Weiss and Dr. Helen Wambach (past lives); Dr. Sam Parnia, Dr. Pim van Lommel, and Dr. Kenneth Ring (NDE’s); Professor Ernst Senkowski and Anabela Cardoso (ITC) – to mention just a few in each field – and other general researchers and experiencers over the past years of the calibre of Sir William Crookes, Sir Oliver Lodge, Dr. Robert Crookall, Lord Dowding, Sir William Barrett, Professor James Hyslop and many other credible and academically qualified researchers of the British and the American Societies for Psychical Research. These researchers confirmed each other on the main points which were most salient for our above conclusions: the survival of self/consciousness after bodily death; that we have several lives; there are other realities beyond this one.
DEGREES OF PARANORMALITY
And what also needs to be considered is that there are degrees of “paranormality” (to coin a word) in the paranormal studies we allowed as worthy of consideration. Not only, as already mentioned, the work concerning many lives conducted by Dr. Helen Wambach, Professor Ian Stevenson, and Dr. Brian Weiss (all academically qualified) – there is coming to be more science than anything paranormal in the study of NDE’s (e.g. the work of Drs. Sam Parnia and Pim van Lommel and others; and ITC (Instrumental Transcommunication) allows objectivity and repeatability – thus study by scientific method (it also uses common electronic equipment; mediumistic “powers” are not claimed or necessary; researchers freely share “how-to” expertise rather than keep it to themselves to make money or gain fame).
There has also been an increasing amount of work done with various psi – like mental telepathy, ESP, psychoimmunology, PSD, psychokinesis, etc. The lines between what is paranormal or normal are not as distinct as materialist members of the House of Disbelief like to believe – especially when the discoveries of quantum mechanics are considered. This from neuroscientist Dr. Mario Beauregard (Assistant Professor at the Neuroscience Research Centre, University of Montreal):
“Materialist scientists and philosophers are also led to consider certain [paranormal] phenomena such as psi, NDE, and mystical experiences as anomalous. These phenomena are anomalous only to the extent that we cling to the false assumptions of scientific materialism. Seen and understood through the lens of quantum mechanics, most of these phenomena do not appear anomalous at all. So-called paranormal events are, in effect, perfectly normal…The time has come for my colleagues to embrace the many possibilities of the universe opened by the new physics and free their minds from the shackles and blinders of the scientific materialist credo. ”
“Brain Wars”, Mario Beauregard. P. 212
We will have a bit more of a look at the implications of quantum physics in a moment, and a little look at just what we have come to accept as “normal” and/or “paranormal”.
But first, what do Sceptics have to say about the paranormal?
OF SCEPTICS AND SCEPTICISM?
As stated, an open but sceptical approach is essential for any honest exploration for “T” Truths in the paranormal field, however, reading the prominent sceptics of our time reveals that there are many who are fundamentalist “S” Sceptics. Such Sceptics are almost always fundamentalist materialists who, believing all must be matter/energy, hold that all aspects of the human condition must be completely explicable in terms of our physical body and its mechanical evolution by natural selection. Fundamental materialism sees no need to even contemplate anything spiritual, let alone seriously examine it, believing that physics, chemistry, and Darwinian biology are on the verge of unifying together into a “Theory of Everything” – which can successfully describe everything about the human condition. “There is only physics, all the rest is stamp-collecting” – Rutherford; “Physics can explain everything” – Hawking. Such materialutionists (to coin another word) believe that any honest researchers who have come to believe that paranormal phenomena are “real” must have been victims of confirmation bias. However, “S” Sceptics have such a fundamentalist Disbelief that they must always approach paranormal evidence to discover the necessary fraud which must exist – and find the proof of fraud in any slightest, theoretical possibility that such could exist – their analysis of the remarkable Scole séances being a good example.
It must be seriously considered whether this is disconfirmation bias?
All that said, we do need to seriously consider any arguments against accepting paranormal information – however fundamentalist they may be.
EVIDENCE AGAINST ACCEPTING ANY PARANORMAL EVIDENCE?
Essay 3 examined the evidence most commonly put forward by “S” Sceptics as disproof of paranormal phenomena, and found that there are five common arguments upon which they rely:
1.) Some operators in the paranormal have been proven to be fraudulent – claiming to be genuine mediums but caught using such methods as “cold calling” techniques etc. to bluff people into thinking that they are communicating with the “other side”.
2.) There have been different descriptions of what happens after death and what the afterlife is like – if the “afterlife” is true, then every account of it should be exactly the same.
3.) Some of the information received from even the best mediums is sometimes wrong.
4.) There is no physical proof of paranormal phenomena.
5.) The normal is so real.
Let’s have a look at these arguments:
Argument 1.): while it is a fact that there are plenty of fraudulent “mediums” and “psychics” must this necessarily prove that all paranormal mediums and mediumistic phenomena are fraudulent, especially those accepted as genuine by the qualified and experienced researchers which we investigated?
Fake “psychics” using techniques like cold calling (starting off with a series of broad statements, some of which are bound to be true for some people in the audience, then focussing in on those: “I’m getting a message from someone called Bob, I can feel chest pains, etc., etc.”) – are actually cynical performers, not the spiritual mediums they claim to be – making a lot of money from needy people by supplying them with simple, longed-for messages (“I have just spoken to your departed husband and he survives and is OK – he sends his love and is waiting for you.” etc. etc.) The sometime “hits” of such performers are remembered, their “misses” wilfully forgotten by those in need of comfort. However, the information received by those mediums who were accepted as genuine by the researchers we used as guides into the paranormal, went way beyond such simple stuff – into arcane, complex, spiritual and metaphysical content – often conveying very personal information unknown to anybody other than the (often anonymous to the medium) séance sitter. Many of the more highly regarded mediums sought no fame/notoriety (and often charged no money) – and were in a trance (i.e. not being able to question – thus elicit any information from the sitter – through cold calling or any other trickery). The séances which our researchers accepted as genuine and credible evidence for survival of self/spirit and the existence of other realities, were closely watched for fraud by experts – for example, the scientifically qualified observers from the SPR (Society for Psychic Research) at the remarkable Scole séances (a magician was also used to look for any tricks). Some other mediums tested by the SPR, and eventually accepted as genuine, were closely watched 24 hours a day to see if they were indulging in any fraudulent information-gathering (one of the best, Leonora Piper, was closely watched for long periods over some years – even to the extent of being made to live in the investigator’s house during the course of a series of séances (often with sitters anonymous to her); being followed when not in séance; and having any mail she received opened. It must also be remembered that in Piper’s day there was no such thing as the ready information about people we have these days via the internet etc. Despite all this Piper was able, for years, to pass on lots of arcane, secret, highly personal information from people who had died and were now in another reality. For Professor William James, Piper was his “one white crow”. All up, the researchers we relied on were not fools – nor recently bereaved – but highly educated, and much too experienced in the paranormal to mistake charlatans for genuine mediums.
Argument 2.) which comes from the observation that alleged NDE’s vary, stems from the fact that Sceptics accept and include all weird/mental experiences as “paranormal” – if the experiencers claim them as such. Once the term “NDE” became generally known by the public, many have declared: “I’ve just had a Near Death Experience!” but most often have actually had: an experience caused by epilepsy; an anaesthetically induced mental phenomenon (e.g. especially from the drug ketamine); a frontal lobe seizure; an hallucination; a party-drug trip; a mental event caused by carbon dioxide, endorphins; etc. etc. Sceptics see the common discrepancies between alleged NDE’s as disproof of real NDE’s – arguing that all NDE’s should be the same. However these events listed above are mental experiences of the body/brain, not paranormal phenomena, and such experiences vary widely. An international association comprised of NDE experiencers and researchers – IANDS (International Association for Near-Death Studies) – has developed an authentication scale of key determinants of a true NDE, and those NDE’s which rate highly thereon, agree on the two main points pertinent to the conclusions of our investigation into the Truth of human condition: 1.) survival of consciousness/self after bodily death; 2.) realities beyond this one. Commonly, those NDE’s accepted as genuine also describe a next reality of great beauty; intense feelings of non-judgemental love; a life review; higher beings. Reports from NDE’s accepted as genuine are also bound to vary to a degree because, commonly, experiencers have great trouble in finding earthly words to describe such unearthly experiences – and experiencers have different educational levels and cultural expectations – higher beings encountered during NDE’s are usually given different earthly names from the religious expectations of the experiencer (e.g. Jesus, Buddha, etc.).
It has also been found that reports from genuine experiences of the next reality can vary especially if said experience was brief (the experiencer revived from bodily death more quickly than others). Researchers have found that, in the early stages after bodily death, the experiencer can encounter that which he/she expected to find after death – for example: nothing, hell, conventional heaven – etc. Such differing expectations also leading to differing reports of “the other side”.
Argument 3.) that sometimes some of the information received through even the best mediums is wrong – does not outweigh the sheer volume of correct information which has no explanation: private, personal, and/or arcane information known only by one of the sitters in the examining group – from a medium in a trance (i.e. not able to speak to the sitter in order to get information from them through cold-calling techniques). There has also been a phenomenon in paranormal research into the genuineness mediums called “cross correspondences” – where bits of information are sent from a deceased entity to different mediums not in contact with each other – which information only makes sense when compiled with the other bits. Normal people in normal life make mistakes and even proven mediums, although necessarily sensitive to the spiritual, are human beings with only human brains/abilities. Some communicators from “the other side” complain that getting information to even the best mediums is difficult at times – one described it as sometimes being “like trying to dictate words to an obtuse secretary through a shut, frosted-glass window”.
It must also be remembered that not every piece of information conveyed to such “an obtuse secretary” has to be proven correct to prove survival of self/consciousness – again, as Professor William James noted, just as there only has to be one “white crow” to disprove all crows are black – there only has to be one genuine message from a surviving spirit/soul/self in another reality to prove survival of spirit/soul/self after bodily death and the existence of subsequent realities to this Earthly one. There certainly has been way more than one such white crow in the volumes of arcane and intensely personal information passed on by mediums, about/from deceased people totally unknown to the medium – supplied to sitters unknown to the entranced medium – all supervised by experienced members of the Society for Psychical Research.
Argument 4.) stems from the assertion of materialists that if anything cannot be proven, nor disproven, to exist by physical science methods – then it cannot exist. This is a fundamentalist viscous circle – insisting that the nonphysical cannot exist because it is not empirically provable by physical means? However, while we can’t produce a lump of the self to be measured or felt – we can feel our said self being “moved”, “lifted”, “inspired” by beauty, for example – which nonphysical beauty we also can’t run a tape over. Sceptics usually disparage such mystery with dogma like: “beauty is only in the eye of the beholder”. Essay 3 considers the mystery of our understanding and appreciation of beauty at some length – here, in our consideration of this argument, we just need to consider again Darwin’s reflections, quoted earlier, that some nonphysical part of us can be affected by something nonphysical (in his case, the beauty of a dangerous jungle – i.e. inimical to the survival of his body) establishing in him a “conviction that there is more in man than the breath of his body.”
Argument 5.) stems from the fact that the normal seems so real to us, being continually experienced by us – whereas the paranormal is infrequently experienced by the average person. The paranormal experiences of others, even close and reliable others, has no reality for us (but those who have genuine NDE’s never forget them and are changed by them – unlike hallucinations etc.)
But we need to look more closely at the claim of materialist ideologues that the paranormal can’t be the Truth because it can’t be measured with materialism’s ever-so-normal ruler. I, personally, most frequently lose any belief in the paranormal, any belief that there can be any realities other than this one, for example – because this one feels so real. But let’s have a look at the reality of this normal world – let’s have a look at the materialists’ “normal” ruler with which everything must be measurable to exist.
JUST HOW REAL IS THE NORMAL?
How real is “normal” reality – the ruler by which the reality of everything must be measurable to exist – as our physical scientists and materialists claim? For starters, has it even been proven that such normal reality, itself, actually concretely exists? Matter – once seen as so “solid, massy, hard, impenetrable” (in Newton’s words) has been shown by quantum physics to be largely illusory – overwhelmingly space. Further, even those subatomic particles of matter which are not space are actually a chimera of energy fields and quantum potentialities which can resolve/collapse as physical matter rather than waves through our nonphysical consciousness of it.
So, what’s more “normal”, then – the apparent normality/concreteness of this life in this physical world (which needs our nonphysical self’s consciousness of it to exist as concrete matter), or the apparent paranormality of the “afterlife” – similarly existing because of our nonphysical self’s consciousness of it?
Quantum physicists Bruce Rosenblum and Fred Kuttner recount an argument between four fellow quantum physicists, during a physics conference they attended – about the weirdness of quantum theory and its implications for the “reality” we live in:
“A fourth summarised the argument by saying, ‘The world is not as real as we think.’ Three of these arguers have Nobel Prizes in Physics, and the fourth is a good candidate for one.”
“Quantum Enigma” (2011), Rosenblum and Kuttner. P.9
More from Rosenblum and Kuttner in a moment, but the above accords with the information from Professor F.W.H. Myers – sent by paranormal means to fellow members of the Society for Psychical Research – that the next reality which awaits us is the actual, real one: being “the original of the earth”, the Earth being only “an ugly smudged copy”.
Shades of Plato’s cave!
But some will continue to insist that information such as this, even though gleaned from credible paranormal research, just seems too bizarre to be taken seriously. “Too bizarre” – compared to what – compared to our “real” world perhaps?
THE PARANORMAL IS TOO BIZARRE – COMPARED TO THE REAL WORLD?
You want bizarre? – I’ll give you bizarre – consider what our physical sciences are telling us about this real, normal, non-paranormal world that we seem to be in:
· This present material universe is accidental.
· Ours is just one of an infinite number of universes coming into, and out of, existence accidentally.
· This, our universe, continues to exist because it, accidentally, can.
· All the fine settings of the forces, ratios, constants, etc. which allow the universe to continue to exist into the teeth of natural entropy must also be accidental (even though they are written in an observably intelligent language – mathematics).
· There can be no “First Mover/God” – all must exist by chance – even though such “chance” is trillions of trillions of trillions to one against.
· The inert/inorganic matter, which emanated from an accidental (and sterile) billion degree big bang – must have become alive/organic accidentally, chemically, spontaneously.
· The original single physical cell(s) of accidentally-existing, spontaneously-living matter must have developed nonphysical factors (like consciousness) from accidental, random physical mutations to physical matter mechanically selected by blind nature.
· That us bundles of accidental matter, spontaneously alive, should blindly evolve to be able to speak the mathematical language that the whole accidental thing was accidentally written in – when such ability is not necessary to survive (no other animal can).
· That one bunch of accidentally-living, accidentally-existing, matter should be writing this, and another bunch should be reading it?
If that’s not bizarre enough, consider what quantum physics is now telling us about our normal physical world – and ourselves:
“In chapter 15 we describe several contending views, interpretations, of what quantum mechanics is telling us about the physical world – and, perhaps, about us. These are all serious proposals developed with extensive mathematical analysis. They variously suggest observation creating a physical reality, the existence of many parallel worlds with each of us in each of them, a universal connectedness, the future affecting the past, a reality beyond physical reality…”
Rosenblum & Kuttner, ibid. P. 10.
Let’s see – that’s:
· “a reality beyond physical reality” (isn’t that what the researchers into the paranormal are telling us about: a reality beyond this physical reality?)
· “observation creating a physical reality” (our consciousness creates this our present reality! – why can’t it create the next?)
· “many parallel worlds”?
· “each of us in each of them”?
· “a universal connectedness”? (more evidence of universal consciousness and the unity of everything which we received from paranormal evidence).
Through our understandings of quantum physics we have entered, not only an era of post-classical physics, but a post-materialism era as well. Again, it is actually “concrete” matter which is the chimera, not the much more real and normal nonphysical spiritual phenomena which we experience and live with every day. Nonphysical phenomena like our experience of being spiritually moved by beauty (as Darwin was in the Brazilian jungle) and our constant experience of our nonphysical consciousness. For a physicalist, a materialist – something nonphysical like consciousness must always be a mystery:
“…most contemporary experts admit a mystery, usually one encountering consciousness. Although it is our most intimate experience, consciousness is ill defined. It’s something physics can’t treat, but can’t ignore.”
Rosenblum & Kuttner (ibid. P. 10)
Instead of our physical brain/body being ”us”, as materialists claim – we are our self/consciousness – the bodily brain is just a physical tool, a transceiver for consciousness. This from scientist Dr. Bernado Kastrup:
“Your physical brain and body have been just tools of your consciousness: a highly-sophisticated, semi-autonomous transceiver…somewhat analogous to any other tool you may have used to interact with the material aspects of reality…From this perspective, your body is not you; you are just its user.”
“Rationalist Spirituality” – Bernado Kastrup, P.101.
What are the implications for our expedition towards the Truth of the human condition if “your body is not you”? This:
“It is inescapable to conclude from our argument that nobody ever truly dies and nobody is ever truly lost to others.”
– ibid. P.103.
So, evidence from a physical scientist which supports the key finding from the “paranormal” field that we, our consciousness, our real self – survive bodily death. After considering the Truths of quantum physics, we need to reconsider what’s normal – and what’s paranormal? Again, from Dr. Beauregard’s quote above: “Seen and understood through the lens of quantum mechanics, most of these phenomena do not appear anomalous at all. So-called paranormal events are, in effect, perfectly normal.”
And what of God? The main aim of this expedition was not to explore for God, rather it was to explore for the Truths of the human condition and, through a consideration of any such Truths we could find, to determine any special meaning and ultimate purpose that our existence may have. But we accepted Buddha’s challenge to “go all the way” along the road to Truth – and thus do need to contemplate the Divine which was frequently implied by some of our explorations into life’s mysteries.
Essay 1 concluded that our religions have incredible, human-shaped “g” gods – taken from primitive Books written during prescientific eras which had no understanding of the true magnificence of our universe, and of life. However, the incredibility of our religions’ “g” gods does not mean that there necessarily can be no real “G” God. In fact, a “D” Divinity was quietly implied, several times, by some of the evidence considered in the other two essays – especially in the mysteries of the human condition like our spiritual self, consciousness, humour, our understanding and appreciation of beauty, virtues, shame, ethics, etc. – and in the mysteries of our universe like its essential constants and forces set in fine ratios to each other, all written in the intelligent language that is mathematics (which we, strangely, can speak).
Our examination of the paranormal also revealed that experiencers (of NDE’s, for example) frequently reported an encounter with higher beings and sometimes an overarching Divine presence (but also reported that there is no one true religion or faith – it not being uncommon for them to return more spiritual but less religious).
But what of the nature of God?
While a complete understanding of such Absolute must be beyond us creatures of the relative, surely our present human speculations can more closely approach the Divine than those of our ancient ancestors – whose prescientific world could only envisage a human male with all “His” usual failings: jealousy, parochialism, vanity, anger, cruelty, sexism, and more. Such a primitive speculation of a brutal, human god has caused (and is still causing) many evils to flow from religion – an incredible god which has emptied our current Houses of God of all but the timid and the angry.
WHAT CAN SCIENCE PROVIDE ABOUT THE EXISTENCE OF ANY GOD?
I think it fair to say that, while some scientists have developed a belief in a God from their scientific work, more have not – or have even lost a previously held religion. However, this exploration for Truth has encountered many hints and whispers of a Divine hand involved in our immaculately functioning physical universe, its amazing creativity from chaos, and the mysteries of humanity (like consciousness, for example). The atheistic, materialist triumvirate of physics, chemistry, and Darwinian biology felt that they were on the verge of a materialist Theory of Everything, but such is being challenged by the implications of quantum physics and consciousness.
So what is the speculation of this expedition about God – based on all we have examined?
This expedition has been told by science that “in the beginning” there was an event which most are calling the big bang. So the key to any God must lie before the big bang – and the natural questions to ask, of course, are: “what went ‘bang’?; what existed before the big bang?”
Ask this of a physicist and the answers are: the big bang was energy becoming matter; and “there can be no ‘before’ the big bang because time began then”. However, if, as physics also tells us in the laws of thermodynamics that energy cannot be created – energy must have already existed before the big bang. Thus energy is absolute/eternal – basically the prime characteristics we ascribe to God. So, maybe that should be “E” Energy – God? And God became the universe – rather than “created” it?
This has implications for the human condition, of course, making us (and every living thing) – of God. “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:40) comes to mind (to quote one of the better parts of the Bible).
And there is also the mystery of consciousness. In Essay 3 we examined consciousness and concluded that our consciousness seems to be an individuation of something larger – a universal consciousness – which overarching consciousness again resembles a Divine?
The essays concluded that it is the human condition to be a body + self duality – and the self is synonymous with soul, spirit, consciousness – making us, and every living thing with consciousness, of God – “body and soul”, as the saying goes. Meaning that we, and everything that has consciousness, are part of how God is conscious of/experiences all that was created – through the physical senses of our bodies (both pleasurable and painful), and spiritually through our nonphysical self/soul.
The following purports to be direct from God – or at least from Neal Donald Walsch’s conversation with God:
“ ‘... what I am seeking is to know Myself experientially. I am doing this through you, and through everything else that exists.’ ”
“Conversations With God”, Neale Donald Walsch – Book 3, P.11
While I don’t know whether to place Walsch in the paranormal or the less credible New Age, his books are worth reading with plenty of new ideas about what a real God may be. Certainly our investigations of consciousness and the continuing discoveries from quantum mechanics are backing him up.
So there’s a speculation on the nature of the evident Divine based on what our exploration of the physical and nonphysical world we find our selves in. All up, while a complete understanding of the nature of the Absolute/God must be beyond creatures born of, and only experienced of – the relative – these essays conclude, on the balance of evidence, that through the bodies and selves/souls/individuations of Divine consciousness of every living thing – a mysterious but inclusive Divine experiences everything the universe has created (which includes all our creations). Every thing that every living thing experiences – is the experience of the Divine/Everything.
And what of the other large question most people ask of the philosophy of meaning: heaven and hell – do they exist?
HEAVEN AND HELL?
One of the most consistent reports from experiencers and researchers who met our criteria for honesty and credibility – is that, after bodily death, we (our self, soul, consciousness) experience another, higher, plane of existence which has certain of the generally expected heavenly characteristics: a place of great beauty with a feeling of overarching love – wherein there is a reunion with all of those souls we loved on Earth (even pets). But there is also agreement on the existence of a past life review – which we must experience/endure if we are to belong in this next reality – and/or to eventually progress/spiritually evolve into even higher realities. During this life review we come to truly “Know Thyself” through re-experiencing all of our last life – but through the eyes and experiences of others – suffering all the sadness and pain we caused, and all the joys and pleasures we created as well.
To answer the question, heaven and hell do exist – but they are the one place.
So, the information from the next reality is that we do “reap as we sow” – basically, what you do to others, you do to your self. We all yearn for justice, and that’s Divine justice: heavenly for those who have been heavenly to others; hellish for those who have been hellish to others – a bit of both for most.
While there is no eternal hell in a sea of fire, for some, it must seem like it – Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Kim Jong-un, et al come to mind – whose experience of the millions of painful lives they caused others to suffer on Earth must end up seeming like eternal hell. There are presently plenty of dictators, despots, religious leaders, oligarchs, rogue capitalists, sexual predators, corrupt politicians, and the like – who need to reconsider the Faustian pacts against their souls that they have entered into on Earth – trading the experience of one brief life of power and privilege on Earth – for the experience of all the suffering they caused to which awaits them. And, according to information from the paranormal, it can get worst for those who have earned it: after the past life review we are reunited with our fellow soul mates – and who our souls mates are might surprise us – those who killed in the name of a god join fellow murderers (not 72 virgins); robber capitalists join fellow robbers; those who were selfish join selfish others; etc., etc. And not always in a heavenly place – there evidently is a purgatory-like place (not hell, but dismal) where we take in all we have learned of our self, where we truly come to “Know Thy Self” and consider our way forward (the most effective usually another opportunity at spiritual evolution on Earth-like realities) – to the beautiful higher planes of existence which are available to all who achieve the necessary spiritual evolution. Such higher planes are of a beauty beyond our present experience – beauties which communicators from the higher planes find hard to convey because there are no entirely suitable Earthly words, but some have talked of music which is too exquisite for us to tolerate at our present, lowly level of spiritual evolution.
But, there is an elephant in the living room of all philosophies of meaning – “WHY?”
WHY? – THE ELEPHANT IN THE LIVING ROOM
While we found that there is, most likely, a God – but why is God doing this?
This is commonly called the “Mind of God” question – and probably best avoided if you only have a mind of man. The sensible answer is that the evidence indicates: “that this is just how it is” – and our exploration for meaning and purpose could stop there – because “just how it is”, is purposeful and meaningful. But we have taken Buddha’s injunction to try and go all the way along the road to Truth. And also, as we have seen, the House of God and the House of Disbelief both have proffered dangerous speculations on this WHY question – “dangerous” because both leave us drowning in the sea of meaninglessness which we encountered in the Introduction. If we hope to survive as a species, we have to do better (“this species could do better” – sounds a bit like my old report cards!?).
All speculations are only as good as the evidence they rely on. The essays found both of our Houses had poor evidence for their dangerous speculations. Our Houses of Gods’ speculations (that God made the Earth as a testing-ground for us – his prime creation) are poor because based on the poor evidence of ancient, contradictory and unreliable “B” Books written in brutal eras. Whereas the House of Disbelief dangerous speculations of the accidentalness, therefore meaninglessness, of our existence is based on the evidence of our physical sciences’ semi-complete understanding of the physical world – and their totally complete inability to comprehend the nonphysical world.
So, what is our speculation, and what is the evidence for it?
WHY? FROM THE WHAT!
We will attempt to approach closer to a credible WHY? speculation of the universe by looking closely at the WHAT! of the universe.
OK – “what” does the universe do?
What the universe does is creativity.
As we said at the start of this Conclusion, the purpose of anything is what it does – and this relative universe does amazing creativity (out of the initial seeming chaos). The absolute is absolute, thus necessarily uncreative (everything just is – immutable, unchangeable) whereas relativity is highly creative because it allows the existence of things relatively good, better, best – thus allowing creative selection for best. We and nature are both creative agents of this universe – nature mechanically selects for best from random mutations to create all the various animal bodies, and we select for best from our behaviours which make us happiest with/able to love our self – thus creating/evolving our self.
While just the beauty of the creativity of the original energy and the creativity of its creatures (consider the beauty of some of our creations – especially of our arts) allows an answer to the WHY? question, the creation of our selves allows an even stronger one, because our nonphysical selves are eternal. And strengthened again by the evidence that there are further, higher planes of reality beyond the immediate next – upon which succeeding planes of existence our eternal self/spiritual growth/evolution continues – to an eventual reunion with the Divine energy from which we came “in the beginning”. In such ultimate Union (reunion?) with universal consciousness we exist beyond the strictures of time and space, able to experience (like time lords?) the creativity of the entire universe(s) and the creations of its creatures – anything, anywhere, anytime. Able to experience through the individual consciousness that all living things have – know what it is like to be them – to feel and experience all their feelings and experiences: what it is to fly like an eagle; swim like a porpoise; run like a cheetah; witness and/or participate in any event, great or small, of human history – what it was like to create, perform, witness: the great music; sing the great songs; paint the great works; pen the great poems; rock the great concerts; win the grand prix; kick the winning goal in the World Cup; drive the great cars; drink the great wines; eat at the great tables; make love with the great lovers?
Golly! Got a bit carried away there – but, according to some credible research into the mysteries of consciousness examined in the essays, not so silly – all consciousness, all conscious experiences, last forever beyond time and space.
But, for some, this brings up another WHY? question: if existence on the next planes/realities is so fantastic – why continue to live on this often barbaric one?
WHY SHOULD WE CONTINUE TO EXIST?
Life in this reality can be hard, often unfair – too hard and too meaningless for some at times – and suicide (and suicide bombing) is becoming a bigger and bigger issue for humanity. As stated in the Introduction, more and more of us find ourselves drowning in a sea of meaninglessness – between the shores of two lands, both hostile to meaning – the land of Belief (upon which the House of God is built) and the land of Disbelief (accommodating the philosophical House of Disbelief). If we have credible evidence that we have many lives in this world – and, eventually, an existence in more beautiful, peaceful, and loving realities – why not shuffle of this present, often unpleasant and hazardous, mortal coil and move on?
One of the things paranormal evidence is definite about, is that suicide, while not leading to hell (as most religious traditions hold) most often leads to another life on Earth where we will have to face similar issues to those challenging us now – if we are to grow/evolve into the next realities, we might as well face our present challenges/opportunities to know our self – and take the opportunity they present for growth? Suicide in the face of dire illness is apparently a different matter.
So, that’s about it, folks – have we found the purpose and meaning of life; have we obeyed Buddha’s injunction to go all the way along the road to Truth – beyond reasonable doubt?
BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT?
But I think it fair to say that we have, on the balance of probabilities, established that there is more credible evidence for special meaning and ultimate purpose than there is evidence against. However, it must be considered that if such special meaning and purpose to our existence was obvious and provable “beyond reasonable doubt”, then, as William James noted, life would not work to such an end – as it now does. Life would have no mysteries, everything would be clearly understood and our path laid out to follow, we would not be asked to make difficult choices for our self (we become our choices, after all) – life would be just a tour through a theme park – pleasant enough but, offering no self growth, would therefore be essentially meaningless. Whereas, how life presently is, is redolent of special meaning and ultimate purpose – we are given no plans or instructions to follow, but must make our own way through life’s dangers and delights, its thrills and spills, which constantly ask/force us to come to our own decisions and make our own choices – becoming those choices when habitual (as Darwin noted). In this process of self creation “S” Sceptics are actually more doing God’s work than I am – by telling people that life is devoid of special meaning and any ultimate purpose (because we are just accidentally existing physical matter, spontaneously alive and mechanically evolved) – they are inviting people to “just do it”, to create their own meaning and purpose, in other words to be their true selves. Being our true self is the necessary first step before being able to know your true self, thus the start of the immaculate self-creation process that is in our self’s existence(s) in this relative reality with an animal body. “Immaculate” because a complete and honest life (lives, if necessary) leaves the Truth of us – our self – revealed.
What we do with such revelation – grow/evolve, or not – is our free choice to make and is usually driven by whether we are happy (with/can love our life-revealed self) or not.
But some would say that the philosophy of meaning developed in these essays is just like religion, asking us to give up the only thing we “know”: the here and now of this immediate and certain reality for a future comprised of potentially better, but unseeable, untouchable, therefore uncertain realities beyond this one. Not so, this philosophy doesn’t ask us to “give up” anything; doesn’t ask for any sacrifices in the “here and now” – but, firstly, indicates a way to live best in the here and now by being happiest about our self: through being, knowing, and growing our self and so gaining the love (not fear or envy) of others. When others truly love our self (not our body, fame, power, money) such is the strongest evidence we allow that we are worthy of our own love – which is the key to lasting happiness.
Even if the other tenets of this philosophy are wrong, and the death of our body is the end of everything, there is no downside – we still live this, one and only life, best – because happiest. However, if this philosophy is right about life being an opportunity for self growth/evolution into higher, even more magnificent realities than this one – then it will not only allow us “to live best” in this reality but also lead us best into a next reality way more heavenly than those imagined by our ancient religions: singing “sweet hosannas” to a needy god?; keeping 72 virgins happy? (what do the females get?) In this way, we are offered a win-win wager – much better than Pascal’s Wager – which wager involved losing Sundays, getting all dressed up and going to hear unbelievable sermons from an incredible Book – just in case the Abrahamic god was real.
But Pascal and evangelical fundamentalists will reply that there is a downside: I will end up in hell for eternity – their idea of God must be right – because their ancient Book says so. But our exploration for “T” Truth found their “B” Book written by God is actually a “b” book written by man (it is obvious no woman had a hand in it) – which gets astronomy wrong, biology wrong, history wrong, Jesus wrong, and God wrong (envisaged as a misogynistic, parochial, male brute). Such Abrahamic “g” god was/is a failure – failing the Hebrew tribes who invented “him”, time after time; is failing the Muslim tribes now; and over the centuries drew the “Christian” tribes into some of the worst behaviour known to man (in “his” name!). While these essays imply a “G” God/Gods/Higher Agency, we can’t know the nature of such Divine – but we can know what God is not – and such jealous, vengeful, murderous Abrahamic god is definitely what God is not.
As someone once tried to tell us (before his religion killed him) – to live life best (and to take its opportunity fully) – we should love, forgive, do unto others. However, life, in its immaculate way, asks you to decide for your self – literally.
Graeme Meakin – last revised 18th December, 2017.