THREE ESSAYS ON THE MEANING OF LIFE
“Out of intense complexities, intense simplicities emerge.”
– Winston Churchill.
In the Introduction to these essays we observed that too great a proportion of humanity, in the West especially, is presently swimming in a sea of meaninglessness. And that many are not only swimming, but drowning, is evidenced by our increasing drug and alcohol problems, and our growing number of suicides (especially among the young).
We find ourselves in this predicament because the sea of meaninglessness, in which we are increasingly floundering, is bound by two hostile shores – neither of which offer us the safe landing of any credible meaning to our existence. These are the shores of opposing lands; one hosting the House of God and the other hosting the House of Disbelief – both “hostile” to any credible meaning because one offering an incredible god and meaning of life; the other denying any of either.
Faced with the above dilemma we decided it was time to accept the challenge that William Faulkner once laid before humanity: “You cannot swim for new horizons until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore”. It was thus we resolved to swim bravely beyond sight of our present hopeless shores in search of some “new horizons” – of lands which may hold evidence of credible meaning and purpose to our existence.
So how did we go – did we find the meaning of life?
If so, what is it?
WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?
Most people, even most academic philosophers, when asked this question commonly answer with various combinations of things like: love; family; friendships; vocation; religion; country/tribe; music; art; compassion; beauty; health; community; various hobbies; sport; romance; etc. etc. In other words we proffer personal meanings – things which we personally find meaningful in life. Generally, such all allow us moments of personally meaningful purpose – but the most pressing existential question for humanity as a species at this time in our history, the West especially – seems to be rather: do our lives have any ultimate purpose (i.e. purpose beyond our mortal body’s ultimately futile attempts to survive) – which purpose could give our existences special meaning (i.e. meaning which all our lives have above and beyond the personal meanings which most of us find or construct).
So, our expedition searched for ultimate purpose and special meaning. We did this by hunting for and exploring the Truths of the human condition. Our working definition of “T” Truth being: that which is true for everybody all the time – i.e. above and beyond our personal, comforting “t” truths. Our expedition took the form of three essays; the first two explored our opposing “H” Houses (the House of God and the House of Disbelief) – theism and atheism – both of which claim to house the Truth of the human condition. Then the third essay explored without our Houses – along the Road to Truth.
Essay 1 (“An Examination of the House of God”) explored religion for Truth. We examined, particularly, the Christian House of God with which we were most familiar. All up, we found that said House was largely an unsound place to dwell because its foundations were unreliable – an incredible and contradictory Book: the Bible. Supposedly the Truth because written/inspired by God, our expedition found the “Holy” Bible unreliable – the Old Testament containing: false cosmology; incorrect biology; largely mythical history; and an unbelievable, male, brutal, ethnic cleansing, jealous, needy, sexist, and parochial god of one chosen people (those who invented him). In sum, entirely the product of man (literally, obviously no women had any hand in it) – not God. The Old Testament “g” god was also a dud – spectacularly unsuccessful in protecting his supposedly “chosen” Jewish tribes – who were repeatedly defeated and subjugated by the surrounding children of lesser gods (Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, Saracens, Turks – to name the worst) to be eventually dispersed from their “promised” land into an always insecure, and frequently cruel, Diaspora.
The New Testament of the Bible, supposedly the “Gospel Truth” about Jesus’ life, words, and actions, was also found to be unreliable. The Gospels are contradictory in several places – which disagreements seem to have been driven by the differing proselytization needs of the competing factions (e.g. Jewish, Gentile, Gnostic) which arose among Jesus’ followers after his death. And full of doctrinising about Jesus, not by Jesus – leaving the real “T” Truths which Jesus brought to us obscured by incredible, House-building “t” truths about the nature of Jesus (man, Son of God, God – all of the above?) Many other factors led to the obscuration of Jesus, including: the length of time Jesus’ words were held in the verbal tradition before written down (by people who did not know him according to neutral Bible scholarship; the Gospel-selection process from the more than four written; the translation of Jesus’ Aramaic words into Greek; the religious editing during the writing and copying of Jesus’ words during the centuries it took the House of God fathers to agree on the New Testament’s final contents (in the 5th century A.D.) In these ways the simple but essential – and observable – Truths which Jesus brought to us were obscured (again “T” Truths being that which is true for everybody all the time) – Truths like: Love (even your enemies – who are also God’s children); Forgive (turn the other cheek – rather than seek revenge); Do unto others (as you would have them do unto you).
However, over time, all the contradictions in the New Testament led to many evils. Different interpretations of the contradictions led to different denominations – which waged evil and bloody war against each other. And the incredibility of the various doctrines about Jesus led to many interpretations – those attacking House of God power were labelled “heresies” and, to preserve said power – heretics were burnt at the stake; tortured to death in bloody Inquisitions; and/or slaughtered wholesale (e.g. the Cathars). The enabler of such evil brutality (in the name of Gentle Jesus!) was the decision by the House of God fathers to include the Old Testament (with its brutal Abrahamic god) in the “Holy” Bible. This primitive Biblical Abrahamic god (which has so bedevilled the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Houses of God over the centuries) is a “g” god of fear and revenge, invented and perpetuated by the religious officers of said Houses to install and maintain their own power and status. Such “G” god is the worst thing which ever happened to any “G” God.
However, there have also been good people in the Christian House of God who managed, despite all the difficulties, to receive Jesus’ message of love, forgiveness, and doing good unto others. Such truly Christian people have contributed much to their societies (charities, hospitals, schools and universities) and much to the ethical framework of the West (underpinning civilising successes like abolition of slavery, labour reform, liberty from despotism, individual rights and freedoms). If the Christian House of God is to have any chance of refilling its pews, and thus be able to continue to do the good things it observably has done over the years, it needs to find the real Jesus – man and message.
Our attempt to find the real man, revealed that Jesus (whether the Jewish Messiah, or not) was a brave and spiritual man who tried to reform his religion (“You have heard it said…but I say unto you…) – and for this he was killed not by “the Jews” or the Romans, but by religion – specifically by his religion’s high priests in an effort to protect their power from his radical ideas and actions. As for Jesus’ real message, our examination found that although millions of candles have been burned, writing millions of lines on this subject (Atonement for Original Sin, the imminent Coming of God, Trinity, Salvation, etc. etc.) his own “T” Truths fit on one line: Love, Forgive, Do.
But what about the big message – Resurrection? This was the big ticket item for the Christian House of God – the key to its success – in a time when life was brief and brutal for most. Despite all the fabulous doctrine spun around the event of Jesus’ reappearance to his disciples after his death (e.g. we get our physical bodies back after the second coming, etc.) we can know that something paranormal definitely happened to Jesus’ disciples after his execution. An event sufficiently convincing to turn his previously cowed and doubting disciples into brave believers – prepared now to die for him rather than deny him. That such a transformation of the disciples is the Truth, not just another Biblical story/allegory/metaphor, is evidenced by the fact that the religion which they formed in his name endures to this day against all the brutal odds – why we are still talking about a humble tradesman from the backblocks of Israel two millennia after his death.
Essay 2 (“An Examination of the House of Disbelief”) examined the soundness of the House of Disbelief – which, like the House of God, also likes to believe that it is home the Truth of the human condition – specifically that there is no special meaning or ultimate purpose to our existence (and no God).
While our examination found that said House’s foundations were sound (mainly the Truths of our physical sciences) we also found that upon these foundations have been built unsound philosophical pillars. “Pillars” like: the problem of evil; materialism; scientism; determinism; reductionism; physicalism; nihilism; existentialism; neuroscientism; behaviourism; natural selectionism; Neo-Darwinism; atheism; relativism; post modernism. Such are mainly materialist fundamentalisms, which would have us believe: that the Universe just “emerged” from a state of nothing (accidentally); life just emerged spontaneously (chemically); we just evolved (mechanically); via nature selecting (blindly); for survival-favouring mutations (randomly occurring) – all indicating that we are necessarily devoid of any ultimate purpose, and therefore our existence does not have any special meaning beyond our personal meanings. The House of Disbelief believes that, united, the physical sciences of physics, chemistry, and biology are on the verge of an indisputable physical/mechanical Theory of Everything.
However, our examination found that said House of Disbelief had no true understanding of how the observably nonphysical factors in the human equation came to exist in a totally material universe – their only explanation being the usual argument that such must be due to natural selection – without having the first clue about how (in a supposedly entirely physical universe) the many things observably nonphysical in the human condition came to be in existence – in the first place – to be so selected by nature, in the second place.
Our examination also found that the supposedly compelling arguments of the House of Disbelief against the existence of any “G” God are, instead, just sound refutations of the unsound arguments that the House of God employs for the existence of its primitive “g” god. While two diametrically opposed positions can’t both be right, they can both be wrong – and this is a good example – our exploration found that both the House of God and the House of Disbelief base their argument about the existence of God around only the Abrahamic god of the Old Testament – as if this is the only possible “G” God. The acceptance of this god by both parties means that all the House of Disbelief has to do is the easy task of demolishing said Biblical “g” god – in order to demolish any “G” God. Similarly, the House of Disbelief’s arguments against the House of God’s purpose and meaning of life (that life is a one-off test for eternal heaven or hell) – especially the House of Disbelief’s arguments stemming from the “Problem of Evil” – are held to be sound refutations of the existence of any and all ultimate purpose and special meaning of our existence. All up, our examination of the House of Disbelief found that the only thing concrete about the House of Disbelief is the rubble it has made of the House of God – but you need more than a pile of rubble from an unsound building, to form a sound one in its place.
The House of Disbelief was also found to be just as much about comfort for its own residents, as it accuses the House of God being for its members. Comfortable in its disbelief, it makes no effort to hunt for, and bag, big game – like a real “G” God. Nor does it search for a real ultimate purpose and special meaning – visible in our universe’s unexplainable miracles and mysteries (consciousness, quantum enigma – anyone?) – instead of hunting for such difficult and dangerous game (dangerous for its residents’ comfort) the House of Disbelief settles instead for the easy and cruel sport of slaughtering the sacred cows of those who are religious.
Having found that both our “H” Houses are fundamentalisms concerned with winning the argument for their comforting “t” truths, rather than finding “T” Truths which could be inconvenient, Essay 3 (“Along the Road to Truth”) set out to explore the new horizons of a land beyond the blinkering walls of both for any Truths that we could find.
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 to go all the way along said road is, ultimately, for you to decide. All I can say is that our expedition explored the mysteries of our physical universe and the miracles of the human condition. “Mysteries” of our physical universe like: the incredible unlikeliness of something (rather than nothing); the incredible unlikeliness of life (from an inert, necessarily sterile, billion-degree beginning); the essential role of consciousness in the existence of matter; the intelligent mathematical language the universe was written in. And “miracles” of the human condition like the fact that we, just a blindly produced product of the universe, can speak the aforementioned mathematical language in which it was written; the existence of nonphysical factors in the human equation like virtues, shame, ethics; our understanding of the beauty of non-Darwinian form, music, art; the existence of our nonphysical self and the pivotal role of being able to love that self to our happiness; the fact of us (supposedly just atoms) having consciousness; the fact of our humour; the fact of the existence of our spiritual needs (the satisfying of which “lifts” us – not our atoms – and how we frequently spend our Darwinian survival capital, and risk our supposedly selfish animal genes, to meet such spiritual needs. And more.
In pursuit of such miracles and mysteries we baulked at nothing – we explored the unnatural as well as the natural; the metaphysical as well as the physical; the paranormal as well as the normal. All up, we uncovered sufficient credible evidence that the human condition is to be so much more than the House of Disbelief’s supposedly accidentally existing, chemically alive, and mechanically evolving physical matter of our bodies – and so much more than the House of God’s worshipper of a primitive, brutal, human god. And that such “more” allows our existence to have an ultimate purpose – beyond our body’s animal purposes, and the largely venal purposes of our religions – which ultimate purpose, in turn, allows our existence special meaning beyond our own, personal meanings.
So, considering the findings of the three essays together – what answers do we have to the big questions of philosophy: Purpose, Meaning, Life, Happiness, Love, Death, God, Everything?
To quote Churchill, out of the “intense complexities” that these questions represent, the following “intense simplicities” have emerged:
The purpose of anything is what it does and relativity does creativity. Relativity “does” creativity by allowing the existence of relatively good, better, best – which allows creation through selection for best – evolution. Nature selects for relatively best genetic mutations, thereby creating/evolving our physical bodies, and we select for which of our behaviours make us relatively happiest about our selves – thereby creating/evolving our nonphysical selves. We are and become – our behaviours – we are not our matter.
Nothing which is creative can be meaningless – the extent of its meaningfulness resting in what it creates. Nature is creative, but creates things physical – which, under the law of entropy, must return to component atoms – thus things which are ultimately meaningless (for example, our bodies). We are also creative, we create things physical which can be meaningful (for example, things of utility or sensual pleasure) and we can create things nonphysical (beauty, joy, humour) – but the most ultimately meaningful thing we can create is our selves.
Life is not a test of our selves – but an opportunity to create them. We do this by firstly being our true self; then coming to truly know our self; then growing our self – until we are happy with our self. We are driven to do this by humanity’s unnatural need to be happy – only truly met by being happy with self – and that only truly met when we are able to love our self.
Our body gets necessarily passing animal happiness/contentment via the pleasing of its senses – “necessarily” because all tickle is no tickle; you have to be thirsty to get happiness from drinking; hungry to get pleasure from eating; etc. Any happiness derived from personal beauty is insecure – at constant risk of age and misfortune. Happiness from fame, power, status, money is in the hands of others. Only happiness with self can be lasting because it is the only source of happiness totally within our control.
True love (i.e. not conceit) of true self (i.e. not some image of our animal ego) is key to our happiness. Such honest and true self love is problematic because we are our own harshest judges – but we do allow that we are truly worthy of our own love if others truly love us (i.e. our self/soul – not our bodily beauty, power, fame, talent, money etc.). Love from others is only ever truly achieved by truly loving them – everybody loves those who love them.
Death is just the end of one opportunity for self creation/growth/evolution. There is plenty of evidence that we have many lives – and no evidence that we must have only one. That our nonphysical self exists with a physical animal body is only proof of one thing: that such can happen – hardly proof that it must never happen again. If it can happen, it will. Voltaire put it well: “It is no more surprising to be born twice than it is to be born once.”
The Truths and many good deeds of our religions do not prove the existence of a “G” God – just as the incredibility of their “g” gods and their many evils do not disprove any real God. However, the crucial dimensions, forces, and finely calibrated ratios of our universe (all written in an intelligent mathematical language) speak of an intelligence higher than us. There is also evidence of something beyond an entirely material description of our universe in the existence of nonphysical factors in the human equation – for example, our nonphysical selves, which can be spiritually (not physically) “moved”, “lifted” by nonphysical things like beauty, for example.
The everything of this relative reality is its creativity. The Absolute is absolute – necessarily non-creative – thus purposeless and meaningless.
So, is the above the Truth of the human condition and of the meaning/purpose of our existence – or have we just found our own, comforting “t” truths?
The House of God would say we have failed to find the Truth – because little of what we concluded agrees with their “B” Book (which must be the “T” Truth, because having been written by/inspired by – God). And the House of Disbelief would also say that we have failed because there is no such thing as Truth – there can only be our own “t” truths – and there can be no ultimate purpose or special meaning to life – which was just a spontaneous, accidental occurrence in a universe which, itself, just occurred accidentally (and from a state of nothing).
And both Houses would say that this philosophy of meaning can be discarded because it depends upon evidence from the paranormal. This is a bit rich from the House of God, because it is founded upon two, key paranormal events: the reappearance of Jesus after his bodily death, and Paul’s epiphany on the road to Damascus. But the House of Disbelief, rightly and necessarily, must shun everything paranormal – being founded upon the undeniable Truths that are our physical sciences’ understanding of the normal physical world – so let’s have a look at the assertion that this philosophy of meaning sinks or swims on the Truth of paranormal evidence.
THIS PHILOSOPHY DEPENDS ON THE PARANORMAL?
As we saw in Essay 3, three of the main tenets of this philosophy: 1.) that we are our nonphysical self rather than our physical body; 2.) that life is observably an opportunity to be, know, and grow said self; 3.) lasting human happiness depends upon being able to love our truly known self – are not deduced from paranormal phenomena but are based on evidence from normal life experience. These three tenets, alone, can support a reasonably strong and rational argument for special meaning and ultimate purpose to our existence beyond the animal purposes of our bodies. While such argument does not rely on paranormal evidence, it does become stronger if evidence that we have many lives is allowed – because, as we considered in Essays 2 & 3, the House of Disbelief’s strongest argument against the above argument for special meaning and purpose from self growth – is the “Problem of Evil”. The Problem of Evil argument being: many lives are too short and/or handicapped to allow self realisation and growth. However this argument is seriously weakened if we have many lives (as is the House of God’s meaning of life: a once-off test for eternity in heaven or hell).
Because both of our Houses are damaged if we have many lives, both of them attack the idea – dismissing it as “paranormal” – relying on the taint brought upon the paranormal by the many fraudulent practitioners which unfortunately inhabit it. As above, the House of God is hypocritical in this – because it relies on the paranormal itself; as for the scientifically-based House of Disbelief, the evidence for many lives that part of this philosophy relies upon came not from paranormal researchers, but from academic and medical research (Professors Stevenson and Tucker; Drs. Wambach and Weiss).
That said, many lives, and some other conclusions of this philosophy, have flowed from, or are strengthened by, paranormal evidence and research. For example: that there are higher planes of reality beyond this or present relative reality; that our self continues its evolution through these (increasingly beautiful) planes – towards our eventual reunion with the Divine/Absolute from which we came. All up, the paranormal evidence we allowed for credible consideration does not form the basis of our expedition’s philosophy of meaning, but it does allow an answer to the huge “WHY?” question which is credible enough to be worth considering. Said WHY question is the elephant in the living room of all philosophies of meaning: even if it is allowed that there is enough observable evidence to reasonably state that life allows us the opportunity to be, know, and grow our self – this big “WHY” question remains. Because this expedition did accept Buddha’s admonition from Essay 3 (to not only start on the road to Truth, but “go all the way along it”) we will tackle that elephantine question below.
However, for some, that this philosophy in some places seriously considers evidence from the paranormal serves to taint the whole of it – because they regard such evidence as belonging to/coming from an, at best, uncertain and subjective paranormal world – or, at worst, a totally fraudulent “world”.
ENTERING THE PARANORMAL?
Not only had we received Buddha’s above admonition to go all the way along the road to Truth but, in the Introduction, we accepted Faulkner’s challenge to have the courage to swim for new horizons beyond sight of our present philosophical shores.
Thus it was mainly in the above spirit that we entered the world of the paranormal. And, further, being part of human experience, we considered that it had to be explored if we are to go all the way towards finding the full Truth of the human condition.
Essay 3 considers at more length the reasons for, and risks of, entering the paranormal, but we will reprise a little of such considerations here for those starting with the Conclusion (something I often do myself – and as I advised in the Introduction).
RISKS OF THE PARANORMAL?
There are dangers (especially to our expedition’s credibility) in exploring the land of the paranormal – brought about not only by downright fraudulence and disinformation, but also by well-meaning misinformation and incompetence – all potentially leading us, not only intellectually into bad philosophy, but personally up the garden path (and into the arms of nice men in white coats?). All of which makes the choice of non-fraudulent guides, and well-qualified researchers absolutely essential.
THE PARANORMAL AND HOW WE APPROACHED IT
In our exploration of the paranormal we were thus careful to confine ourselves to researchers and experiencers who mainly had academic qualifications and related professional experience in their field. Most importantly, we tried to select those researchers (often scientists or medical doctors) who had already achieved much in life – by way of personal integrity and respect, professional status, and financial sufficiency – before they went into the paranormal field. In other words they had much more to lose, than gain, by indulging in any fraudulence. Your typical frauds, on the other hand, usually start with nothing – thus have nothing to lose – but plenty to gain (commonly money, status, power, fame, etc.).
As well as the risk of fraudulence, there is also the risk of our expedition for Truth being derailed by our own confirmation bias.
THE RISK OF CONFIRMATION BIAS
While the most common customers of the paranormal are the recently bereaved in search of comfort, much information from the paranormal is attractive to the majority of us as well. For example, there is evidence of our self’s survival of bodily death; reunion with loved ones; higher and more beautiful realities beyond our present one; etc..
However, we considered the risks of such inner deception much reduced by our mindfulness of it – and by our criteria for those whom we allowed as credible and qualified guides.
Philosophy, to get anywhere, needs to take risks (something academic philosophy seems to have forgotten in its rush to be the politically-correct handmaiden to our physical sciences?). We considered the risks worth taking. (In all fairness to academic philosophers, we have no tenure to seek or protect).
RISKS WORTH TAKING?
Even the finding of one true para-phenomenon (of, say, realities beyond this Earthly one; or of one communication with a surviving consciousness) could have huge philosophical implications – would demolish our prevalent fundamentalist models of the universe – materialist and theist. Then a whole new world of “T” Truth and meaning is opened up to the philosophy of meaning. 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.”
So how did our exploration of the paranormal go – did we find our white crow?
ONE WHITE CROW?
Our expedition found, in fact, several “white crows” – already successful, qualified and respected academic professionals from various, different areas of research into the paranormal (e.g. NDE’s; mediums; ITC; past-life recall).
In the field of past lives researchers of the calibre of Professors Ian Stevenson and Jim Tucker, Dr. Brian Weiss, and Dr. Helen Wambach. In the field of séances and mediums researchers of the calibre of Professor David Fontana and Professor Stafford Betty. On the phenomenon of NDE’s researchers of the calibre of Dr. Sam Parnia, Dr. Pim van Lommel, and Dr. Kenneth Ring. In ITC – researchers like Professor Ernst Senkowski and Anabela Cardoso – to mention a few of the best in each field. We also considered general researchers of things paranormal from the past – of the calibre of Professor William James, Sir William Crookes, Professor Sir Oliver Lodge, Dr. F. W. H. Myers, Dr. Robert Crookall, Lord Dowding, Professor Sir William Barrett, Professor James Hyslop – and many general researchers belonging to the British and the American Societies for Psychical Research.
While members of this expedition are necessarily banned from personally entering the paranormal (if we are to keep our intellectual distance and neutrality), I personally found Professor Stafford Betty’s experiences and summary of the better mediumistic evidence (“The Afterlife Unveiled”, 2010) and Professor David Fontana’s experiences and meta-analysis of the evidence across several fields of the paranormal (“Is There An Afterlife”, 2005) the best non-ideological overviews of the field. While I have never personally sought an encounter with the paranormal, I am aware of the experiences of some credible friends, but such experiences related by friends can only be regarded as evidential to the receiver – and with a personal weight only – entirely dependent on the credibility of said friends based on personal experience of them.
MAIN PARANORMAL FINDINGS?
All up, Essay 3 found the researchers from different fields of paranormal who met our criteria for professional experience in the field, academic qualifications, personal status and credibility – confirmed each other on certain salient findings: 1.) that a spiritual self/consciousness exists independent of the physical body; 2.) which consciousness survives the death of our animal body; 3.) that we can have multiple lives; 4.) that there are other realities beyond this one; 5.) that our spiritual growth/evolution continues into these higher and higher planes of existence.
As well as research into the paranormal, we also considered research by “normal” science into certain psychic/paranormal phenomena – which research has tended to confirm the validity/normality of such phenomena previously dismissed as paranormal.
“NORMAL” SCIENTIFIC SUPPORT FOR THE PARANORMAL?
There is an increasing amount of normal/orthodox scientific work being done on psychic phenomena, like mental telepathy, ESP, psychoimmunology, PSD, NDE’s, psychokinesis, etc. When discoveries from such sources is added to those from quantum mechanics, the lines between what has been previously regarded as paranormal and the “normal” are not as distinct as materialist members of the House of Disbelief like to believe. 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 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 accept as “normal” and/or “paranormal”) – but first we need to consider what, exactly, is the evidence that materialist “S” Sceptics have that disproves any, and every, thing paranormal.
SCEPTICS’ DISPROOF OF THE PARANORMAL?
Essay 3 examined the evidence most commonly put forward by “S” Sceptics as disproof of paranormal phenomena, and found that there are six common arguments upon which they rely:
1.) Many operators in the paranormal have been proven to be fraudulent – claiming to be mediums and psychics but caught using such methods as “cold calling” techniques etc. to bluff people into thinking that they are communicating with the “other side”.
2.) The paranormal has provided 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 by mediums is wrong – even the usually most accurate mediums are occasionally wrong.
4.) Honest believers in the paranormal are actually victims of confirmation bias – their judgement affected by what they want to be true (because beguiling) and/or by what confirms their (perhaps unconscious) personal prejudices and/or needs.
5.) There is no physical proof of nonphysical phenomena.
6.) The normal is just so real.
Let’s have a look at these arguments:
Argument 1: (Observable fraudulence)
There are, observably, many fake operators using supposedly paranormal “powers” – but actually 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.”). These are actually cynical stage performers, not the spiritual people they claim to be – making a lot of money from the curious and the needy and/or bereaved – usually by supplying them with simple, longed-for messages (“your departed husband survives, and is OK – he sends his love and is waiting for you.” etc. etc.) The sometime “hits” of such performers are remembered, while their misses are wilfully forgiven/forgotten by those in need of comfort.
While it is a fact that there are plenty of such fraudulent “mediums” and “psychics” (possibly even the majority are?) – must this necessarily prove that all paranormal operators and phenomena are fraudulent? As we have considered (after William James): there has to be “only one white crow” to prove that not all crows are black.
Also, the information received by those mediums accepted as genuine by the researchers we used as guides into the paranormal, went way beyond such simple fraudulent stuff as the stage performers, above. Such credible mediums provided arcane, complex, spiritual and metaphysical information – often very personal and unknown to anybody other than the (often anonymous to the medium) séance sitter. Many of the highly regarded mediums sought no fame/notoriety (and often charged no money) – and were also in a trance, therefore not being able to question the sitter to elicit any information from them 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 at the remarkable Scole séances (where a magician was also used to look for any tricks). Some other mediums tested by the more rigorous members of 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 months, even years – once 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) – and had 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 that 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 (often in scientific and technical fields), and much too experienced in the paranormal to mistake charlatans for genuine mediums.
Argument 2: (Some paranormal information differs.)
Most of us expect that if there is an afterlife reality, it must just be the one simple reality on one plane which, like our Earthly reality, can be fully explored and readily, completely known. There is also the expectation that if our consciousness survives death, then everything is revealed at once. However, neither is the case – from the most tested and found credible sources, there are reportedly several planes of reality existing after this one – of increasing beauty and complexity. Those who communicate with us mostly report that they are existing on the next plane, and only have limited experience about the higher planes. What they do experience/learn of such they find hard to describe with Earth words. Higher beings who have evolved sufficiently to belong on the higher planes, reportedly have passed on from Earthly connections and concerns – and thus seldom communicate.
Also some allegedly paranormal experiences (typically, NDE’s) are not paranormal phenomena at all. Sceptics accept any weird/mental experience as a “paranormal” NDE if an experiencer claims it to be such. Once the term “NDE” became generally known by the public, many have declared: “I’ve just had a Near Death Experience!” but actually experienced a blackout/dream 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. These are mental events/hallucinations of the body/brain, not paranormal/spiritual experiences of another reality – and are, most often, widely varying, discrepant experiences. Sceptics see such discrepancies between these alleged NDE’s as disproof of all real NDE’s – arguing that all “after death” experiences should be the same. 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. Those NDE’s which rate highly thereon, have a high correlation with two of the propositions pertinent to the conclusions of our expedition: 1.) survival of consciousness/self after bodily death; 2.) realities exist beyond this one. Such NDE’s also commonly concur about the great beauty of the next realities; intense feelings of non-judgemental love; a life review; the presence of higher beings.
One reason for discrepancies between real NDE’s is that experiencers have different cultural expectations – higher beings encountered during NDE’s are usually given different earthly names according to the religious expectations/beliefs of the experiencer (e.g. Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, etc.). Researchers have also found that NDE experiencers can initially encounter the personal expectations which he/she held in life – for example: nothing, hell, conventional heaven – leading to many of the differing reports of “the other side”. It must be remembered that NDE’s are necessarily brief (before the physical body corrupts) – resulting in information which is vastly less detailed than that from a consciousness which exists in another reality.
Argument 3: (Occasional mistakes).
Sometimes some of the information received through even the best mediums is wrong. But the sheer volume of correct information vastly outweighs the occasional mistakes – and information which is private information, often arcane, and mostly supplied to sitters anonymous to the mediums. The correctness of the information goes way beyond what is possible by chance and most often delivered by a medium who is in a trance – therefore cannot elicit any information from the sitter by any trickery like cold-calling. 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 beyond ours to prove survival of spirit/soul/self after bodily death and the existence of subsequent realities to this Earthly one. The Society for Psychical Research, which is comprised mainly of highly credentialed, often originally “S” Sceptic researchers looking for the truth of the matter (i.e. not convinced Spiritualists) has found several white crow mediums over the years – only established as such after extensive testing against sitters anonymous to said mediums and other tests regarded as highly evidential, like the “cross correspondences”, and the “book tests”.
The so-called cross correspondences tests organised by the SPR were in the form of a message from the supposedly surviving consciousness of a deceased person – sent to a friend/colleague who knew them on Earth. The message was sent in bits through separate the mediums who were being tested (and were not in contact with each other) – and was usually arcane information of personal significance only to those whom it was sent – and only making sense when the various bits from the various mediums were considered together. The so-called book tests were comprised of information sent through mediums concerning the location (usually obscure) of certain books and the page number of certain obscure information therein. Hundreds of these book tests were successfully carried out by researchers.
All of the above successful tests vastly outweighed the occasional wrong communication from mediums. And it also needs to be considered that even the best, correct-way-beyond-chance mediums, are human beings with only human brains – and often only fair average language 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 like “trying to dictate words to an obtuse secretary through a shut, frosted-glass window”.
Argument 4: (Confirmation bias).
Sceptics believe that any intelligent, honest, non-fraudulent person who has come to believe that paranormal and/or spiritual phenomena are “real” must have fallen victim of confirmation bias – they are humans, after all – it is only human to seek confirmation of comforting beliefs (like survival of death) and confirmation of personal prejudices and/or needs.
This is bound to be a fact in the formation of many human subjective beliefs. However, it does not answer the above objective tests – and “D” Disbelief and “S” Scepticism are often formed subjectively. Just as certainly as confirmation bias exists, so does disconfirmation bias. Many Sceptics have such a fundamentalist Disbelief that they only ever approach paranormal evidence to discover the necessary fraud which must exist – and they 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 (the Scole séances are available on the internet for you to make your own mind up about.)
Argument 5: (No physical proof).
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 vicious 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 nonphysical self to be measured or felt – we can know that it exists when we feel our said self being “moved”, “lifted”, “inspired” by beauty, for example (which nonphysical beauty we also can’t weigh on scales or heat over a Bunsen burner on a laboratory bench).
Sceptics usually try to disparage the mystery of our understanding and appreciation of nonphysical beauty with dogma like: “beauty exists only in the eye of the beholder”. Essay 3 considers the mystery of our understanding and appreciation of beauty at some length – here, we will just consider Darwin’s observation that some nonphysical part of us (our self) can be affected by something nonphysical – in his case, the beauty of a dangerous jungle (i.e. dangerous to the survival of our supposedly selfish genes) – which observation led him to the “conviction that there is more in man than the breath of his body”:
“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
Argument 6: (The “normal” is just so real).
Stems from the fact that the day-to-day physical world we live in is obviously so real: comprised of matter and able to be experienced through our bodily senses – touched, smelled, tasted, seen, heard – REAL. Anything that can’t be so experienced by our physical senses must be dubious (as is anyone reporting such experiences).
But must our body’s sensual experience/proof of normal physical matter’s existence axiomatically disprove everything that it can’t physically sense?
Materialists have to say so, because they hold that anything/everything, to exist, must be of matter/energy – real, palpable – normal. For them, absence of physical, material proof is as good as disproof of existence. However, if we are to use such a material ruler to measure the reality of anything/everything, we first need to have a look at the very reality of said material ruler before we can conclude on Argument 6.
JUST HOW REAL IS NORMAL MATTER?
So, just how real is “normal” material reality?
Let’s look more closely at matter, the supposed stuff of reality – the material stuff which materialists assert everything must be of – to exist. Has matter ever been proven, itself, to actually concretely exist?
No, in fact matter, once seen as so “solid, massy, hard, impenetrable” (in Newton’s words), has been shown by quantum physics to be largely illusory – more force than substance – sub-atomic particles don’t seem to exist in any way that makes sense – they actually occupy a point in space precisely zero metres across. Matter is more a wave-particle duality, a “possibility” of matter – which, even more strangely, needs our nonphysical consciousness of it to exist/resolve as matter. Enter the Quantum Enigma, and, even more enigmatically, the mystery that is our nonphysical, non-material consciousness.
How do materialists square, not only the role of consciousness in the existence of matter, but the very existence of our nonphysical consciousness with their belief that we can be entirely described in physical terms – just matter and energy? Consider this from two quantum physicists:
“…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.”
“Quantum Enigma”, Rosenblum & Kuttner, P. 10.
How about Darwinian evolutionary theory – surely this can explain away the problem of consciousness? – as we considered in Essay 2, evolutionists believe that everything about us which is apparently nonphysical can be explained by natural selection (their “sonic screwdriver” which can fix everything). But how did nonmaterial consciousness come to exist in an entirely material world, in the first place, to be selected by nature in the second place?
The mind is obviously of our brain matter (studies have shown that brain damage can affect our mind) but is consciousness similarly just of our brain matter – like our mind is? What if the material brain is just a physical tool (which, like any tool, can be broken) – just a transceiver for consciousness? Which consciousness/soul/self is more truly “us” than our bodies – whereas our brain/mind just something we evolved and use to cope with our physical world? 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.
And what are the implications if “your body is not you” – if we are our actually our nonphysical self, our consciousness? 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 our consideration of “paranormal” phenomena: that we, our nonphysical consciousness – our real self – survive physical death.
We need to look closer at reality.
REALITY/NORMALITY Vs. PARANORMALITY/UNREALITY?
What’s more real then: this “normal” relative reality (comprised of energy which needs our nonphysical self’s consciousness of it to exist as matter), or the “paranormal” reality of the afterlife (similarly existing because of our nonphysical self’s consciousness of it after the death of our physical body?)
Quantum physicists Bruce Rosenblum and Fred Kuttner recount an argument they witnessed between four of their fellow quantum physicists (during a physics conference they all 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 (italics authors’ own emphasis).
More from Rosenblum and Kuttner in a moment, but the above accords with the supposedly paranormal information sent through a medium by Dr. F.W.H. Myers (founder of the Society for Psychical Research) after his death to fellow members of the S.P.R. – that the next reality which awaits us is the actual, real one: being “the original of the earth”. Myers described our world as being only “an ugly smudged copy”.
SHADES OF PLATO?
The above communication from Myers evokes shades of Plato’s cave dwellers, who mistook the shadows of the real world outside which were cast on their cave wall to be the real world – because those shadows were all they could see – therefore all they could “know”.
But some will always insist that the paranormal just seems too bizarre to be taken seriously – compared to normal world we live in. Such people have obviously not closely considered just how bizarre the “normal” world we live in is.
THE PARANORMAL IS JUST 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, our universe, came into existence from a state of nothing.
· There is no “First Mover” to the universe (like a God) – which means, although we are in an observably cause-and-effect universe, all is effect and no cause.
· All the fine settings of the forces, ratios, constants, etc. which allowed the universe to come accidentally into existence (and continue to exist into the teeth of natural entropy) happened by chance – even though such forces etc. are written in an intelligent language (and the “chance” is trillions-upon-trillions-to-one against such fine settings all happening together by accident).
· We can speak that intelligent mathematical language even though it is not necessary to survive (no other animal can speak it).
· Life – the emergence of the organic from inorganic matter (which matter was produced by a sterile, billion-degree big bang) – and the subsequent emergence of RNA and DNA – also just happened accidentally, chemically (the odds of such being accidental, again, trillions-to-one against).
· This original, entirely physical single-cell life then mechanically evolved into many lifeforms because of random physical changes (accidental mutations) to its physical matter. Some of these physical changes somehow eventually caused one lifeform to have nonphysical characteristics – like: dignity; humour; understanding and appreciation of beauty (the experience of the latter often “lifting”, “moving” some nonphysical part of that lifeform.) Further, as we saw in Essay 3, that lifeform often exhibiting such a need to be so lifted, moved – that was stronger than its naturally selected drive to survive (evidenced by frequently risking its body with its cargo of selfish genes in that endeavour).
· The above, apparently mechanically evolved lifeform reached the top of the food chain although having a non-mechanical sense of right and wrong, charity, shame – not possessed by any other lifeform (that we know of).
There are also other mysteries in our physical universe which we need to consider – for example, dark matter and dark energy.
DARK MATTER AND DARK ENERGY
Such matter and energy are called “dark” because we cannot see them. Physics knows that dark matter and dark energy exist because of their gravitational effects on galaxies. Science has also been able to discover that dark energy makes up about 68% of the universe, and dark matter 27% – totalling 95%. The first thing we need to consider is: the matter which we can see, and which includes the matter of which we are comprised (that we call “normal” matter) only represents 5% of the universe.
We also need to consider whether the dark 95% matter and energy comprises the reportedly vast paranormal world of many spheres? Communicators from the next realities which apparently await us after bodily death report that our astral bodies are still of matter/energy (although less dense) – as are the worlds to come. These worlds are of massive size and comprised of several levels or planes in/around/beyond the Earthly one. A good account of the physics of the next realities are to be found in “The Afterlife Unveiled” by Professor Stafford Betty – a credible, academic, non-fraudulent researcher into paranormal phenomena.
And the vast amounts of dark matter and energy is just one of the unresolved mysteries of our physical world. We also need to consider the mysteries that quantum mechanics is revealing about our physical world – mysteries about the possibility of a reality beyond this physical reality – and about us:
A REALITY BEYOND?
“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”: if our mysterious consciousness creates this our present reality! – why can’t it create the next realities?
· “many parallel worlds”: are these the planes of reality to come beyond this our present one that paranormal sources describe?
· “each of us in each of them”: obviously not our present bodies – so which part of us exists in these many parallel worlds/realities?
· “a universal connectedness”: paranormal sources also inform us of a universal consciousness – the unity of everything.
All up, the above implications of quantum physics and of the existence of vast amounts dark matter and energy, form evidence for the existence of realities beyond this one – just as much as our experience of the existence of (“undark”, but still mysterious to us) present matter forms evidence for the existence of this present reality.
Can continue to doubt the existence of the “paranormal” world on the basis that this “normal” material world is just soooo real? To restate the above conclusion from the debate between four of our leading physicists: “The world is not as real as we think” (Rosenblum & Kuttner).
RECONSIDERING THE WORDS “NORMAL” & “PARANORMAL”
We need to reconsider what’s paranormal? To repeat a part of the above quote from “Brain Wars” by neuroscientist Professor Mario Beauregard: “…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.”
“Anomalous” (deviating from what is expected) is probably the better word than “paranormal” which carries too much wooo-ooo baggage for many – which baggage fundamentalist Sceptics play on.
So what are the philosophical implications of all the above?
HOW STANDS THE PHILOSOPHY OF MEANING IN LIGHT OF PARANORMAL EVIDENCE?
Our expedition for Truth found that, after the dazzling triumphs of our physical sciences, materialism is overwhelmingly the dominant position of most academic philosophies of meaning. As noted in the essays, academic philosophy, once well described as being “a footnote to Plato”, is now better described as being a handmaiden to science. Most in academia feel that the explanatory power of physics, chemistry, and evolutionary biology is such that these sciences, combined, form a comprehensive “Theory of Everything” – a bomb-proof materialist foundation for the House of Disbelief. However, if any of the evidence we considered from the paranormal is correct, then materialism is unsafe – and the adoption of materialist philosophy as academia’s default, obviously needs to be rethought.
Materialism is a fundamentalism: the universe (and everything in it) can be entirely described and understood in terms of its physical fundamentals – matter and/or energy. Materialism is thus a monism – holding that everything, including us, is of one substance: mattergy – to coin a word (i.e. matter + energy which are basically the same thing). But evidence from the paranormal indicates that after our body’s death, consciousness survives (consciousness/self/soul – call it what you will) – meaning that the human condition is to be a dualism: human = body + self/soul/consciousness. This dualism is not the same dualism as the Cartesian dualism (human = body + mind) – which has been generally rejected by philosophy because, observably, mind is of our body/brain – not separate to it (damage to the body/brain affects the mind). Essay 3 also found non-paranormal evidence for the body + self/soul dualism – for example people who have experienced negative mind/behaviour changes after brain damage often choose to have brain operations to restore their previous better behaviours – a case of the self/soul (selfishly?) choosing to risk the animal body (and its selfish genes) because the damaged mind-driven behaviours did not make it happy (incidentally also a demonstration of free will). Essay 3 found plenty of non-paranormal evidence against the human condition being a monism – in the separate existence of our nonphysical self, including the fact that the key to lastingly satisfying the (unnatural) human need for happiness was to feel good about/be able to love our self.
All up, the monist belief that is materialism stands insecurely – from both paranormal and non-paranormal evidence.
And how stands God in light of our exploration of both paranormal and non-paranormal evidence?
HOW STANDS GOD AFTER OUR EXPLORATION?
The main aim of this expedition was not to explore for proof (or disproof) of the existence of any real “G” God, rather it was to explore for any Truths of the human condition that we could find (again, our working definition of “T” Truth = that which is true for everybody, all the time) – and through a consideration of any such Truths, to approach any special meaning and ultimate purpose that our existence may have. But it must be said, in the process, we did find some evidence for the existence of a “G” God – which, of course, is relevant for any exploration into meaning and purpose.
So what was that evidence – non-paranormal and normal – and what did it imply for the philosophy of meaning?
NON-PARANORMAL EVIDENCE FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
Essay 1 (“An Examination of the House of God”) examined religion rather than God, and concluded that our present religions have incredible, human-shaped “g” gods taken from primitive Books written in prescientific times – during which era we had little understanding of the Truth of the magnificence of our universe, and therefore of the true magnificence of any Divine responsible for it. However, the paucity and incredibility of our primitive religious “g” gods does not mean that there necessarily must be no real “G” God (or Gods – for that matter). In fact, Essay 3 encountered plenty of evidence of a “D” Divine – firstly in the non-chaos of the universe resulting from its apparent blueprint. Such non-chaos/blueprint is evidenced not only by our universe’s essential dimensions, crucial forces and fine constants (all set in delicate balance and ratios to each other) but also the fact that all the above were written an intelligent language (mathematics). We know maths is an intelligent language because we, an intelligence, can speak it – a mysterious fact that also speaks against the “accidentalist” explanation for our universe so beloved of materialists: if all the universe is accidental, how can we (supposedly just a further accidental product of it) speak the mathematical language that universe was written in – to the extent that we have become one of the creators of the universe through our sciences (like genetic engineering, for example). Mysteriously, we are creatures and creators of the universe – both. That’s odd for an accidental bunch of matter, accidentally alive and mechanically evolved through random mutations. And we also found evidence for something beyond blind physics in the nonphysical aspects of the human condition – how do we (supposedly just physical matter and energy according to our physical sciences) observably have nonphysical factors like: a spirituality which can be moved and lifted by beauty (natural and humanmade); and we have unique (in the animal world) nonphysical notions of shame, dignity, ethics, virtues, right and wrong, irony, existential humour – to mention a few.
And when we explored the paranormal world we found more evidence of a “D” Divine.
PARANORMAL EVIDENCE FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
The experiencers of, and researchers into, various paranormal phenomena – who we allowed as evidential, because they passed our stated criteria – not only reported communication with recently deceased spiritual entities on the next plane of reality which apparently awaits our consciousness’ departure from this reality, but also encountered higher (more spiritually evolved) beings from even higher planes of reality to come – who spoke assuredly of a God/Divine which awaits all who achieve ultimate spiritual evolution. Such God was said to be beyond the present understanding of us, and of any of our religions – it was also said, on more than one occasion, that there is no one true religion or set of beliefs which open the gates of heaven/realities which await (only openable by our spiritual evolution). Some of those who have returned to us after experiencing real NDE’s (“real” as opposed to epilepsy, anaesthetic trips, ketamine hallucinations, etc.) also have reported that there is no one, true religion or beliefs (some who were originally religious returned more spiritual but less religious from their experience).
However, while the existence of a “G” God was implied by both normal and paranormal evidence on our expedition for Truth, what was revealed about the nature of any God?
THE NATURE OF GOD?
Should we even try to know what is most likely ineffable? Probably a futile ambition – but perhaps humanity needs to at least try to more nearly approach the nature of God than we have managed so far? Why? Because too many of our Houses of Gods’ various speculations about the nature of God have led to the many evils which have flowed from religion over the centuries (Crusades, the Inquisition, burning heretics at the stake) and still flows today (jihads, suicide bombers, the oppression of the Palestinians, etc.).
So, here goes.
We will start with paranormal evidence about the nature of God.
THE NATURE OF GOD FROM PARANORMAL EVIDENCE
This about the nature of God received through the mediumship of Rev. William Stainton Moses. Stainton Moses (1839 – 1892) – a M.A. graduate from Oxford and a Minister of the Church of England who developed mediumistic abilities later in life. The book, below, was a record of his communications with a highly evolved spirit from the higher planes of the next realities – written by him via the paranormal process of automatic writing:
“You have framed for yourselves a God whose acts accord with your own instincts. You have fabled that He sits on high, careless of His creatures, and jealous only of His own power and honour. You have fabricated a monster who delights to harm, and kill, and torture; a God who rejoices in inflicting punishment bitter, unending, unmitigable. You have imagined such a God, and have put into His mouth words which He never knew, and laws which His loving heart would disown…Base and foolish fancy, produced of man’s cruel heart, of man’s rude and undeveloped mind.”
Rather – the nature of God is more truly:
“…a God of tenderness and pity and love, instead of a fabled creation of harshness, cruelty, and passion.”
“Spirit Teachings”, William Stainton Moses, Pp. 19 & 20.
Other evidence from paranormal sources told the same story about the nature of God.
What evidence is available about the nature of God from religion?
THE NATURE OF GOD ACCORDING TO RELIGION?
Our ancient ancestors first derived their speculations about the Divine and its powers from observations of the powers and forces of nature. Such powers and forces were observably greater than ours, thus obviously from a source greater than us – a god. Thus they devised Sun gods, sea gods, fire gods, thunder gods, etc.. Religion was a device, an attempt, to control these greater powers 1.) for our survival, even; 2.) harness them for our flourishing.
In time, monotheisms arose in a few places to corral the multiplicity of often competing gods – into a single, all-powerful god. To be able to influence, even control, such a god gave its controllers great powers.
Religious officers, medicine men, priests not only devised our gods, but the nature of these ancient gods – and such nature was shaped by the interests of priestly power. To that end, the nature of ancient gods was usually to be human and male – thus having all the exploitable weaknesses of a male king/leader: vanity (thus responding to praise); insecurity (thus needing worship); jealousy (no worshipping of other priests’ gods allowed); parochialism (a chosen tribe – others peoples could be killed or enslaved). Dictated by vested interest, religions’ gods were typically awful, punishing gods on the one hand (to instil fear) and loving, paradise-offering gods on the other hand (to reward the faithful) – basically the common carrot-and-stick routine which, as all power-seekers know, works best with humans. The Abrahamic god of the Old Testament and the Qur’an was a classic of this type.
We also need to consider what our sciences have resolved about the nature of God.
PHYSICAL SCIENCE AND THE NATURE OF GOD?
Certain of our physical sciences (e.g. physics, cosmology) claim to understand enough of the universe to be able to comfortably assert that the physical universe just emerged accidentally – out of a state of nothing. Other of our physical sciences (e.g. chemistry, biology, neuroscience) claim to know enough about life and our bodies to be able to comfortably assert that life is also accidental (just happening spontaneously, chemically) and our bodies just due to the mechanical selection by nature of random mutations best suited to survival. All up, they conclude we can be fully and satisfactorily described as accidental matter, spontaneously alive, then mechanically evolved – thus no God is needed – the “nature of God” is that God is just a product of our wishful thinking.
However, Essay 3 found that the human condition was to be way more than our physical matter and energy – there are many nonphysical factors in the human equation and trying to explain the totality of us in physical terms is like trying to describe a book in terms of its paper – you can do it but you will fall way short of a complete description. Further, our exploration found that there are critical mysteries remaining between us and a total understanding and explanation of even the physical world – like: the quantum enigma; the presence of dark matter and energy; the nature of gravity; how the necessarily sterile, inorganic chemistry of the billion degree big bang became organic chemistry; the origins of DNA and RNA through random mutations; how random mutations to DNA evolved such complexity so quickly. Our physical sciences are even more out of their depth in trying to explain the mysteries of the nonphysical world, like: our spiritual selves (that which is not of atoms but can be sensed/experienced when being lifted, moved – by the nonphysical, like beauty, for example); how we, supposedly just chemically alive atoms can have nonphysical consciousness; how nonphysical things (like humour, dignity, shame, a sense of right and wrong, certain altruisms, etc.) can exist, in the first place, in a world entirely made of atoms and energy – to be “naturally” selected, in the second place.
So, considering all the evidence from sources religious, scientific, normal, and paranormal – what is our expedition’s speculation about the nature of God?
OUR EXPEDITION’S SPECULATIONS ON THE DIVINE
“In the beginning” it seems that there was an event which most are calling the “big bang” (or similar: “big inflation, big expansion” etc.) – which event was basically energy becoming matter – and the beginning of everything material which now exists. So, if there is any Divine/Creator God, it is logical to presume that such must have existed before that big bang.
But a physicist would say: “there can be no before the big bang because time, itself, began at the big bang”. However, physicists also tell us that, under the proven laws of thermodynamics, energy cannot be created nor destroyed. So, if the big bang was energy becoming/converting into matter, then energy must have existed before the big bang. And if there was no time before the big bang, and energy must always exist – it is an eternal absolute – contingent on nothing. These are the prime characteristics we also ascribe to God. So, are we talking about “E” Energy here – the original Absolute/Energy which transmuted into matter – being God (or of God at the very least)?
If so, God, or some part of Energy/God became the universe – as opposed to the religious notion that God created the universe. In this way, we – and everything in this “U” Universe – are of God. The following comes to mind (to quote one of the better parts of the Bible):
“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:40).
Further, in Essay 3, when we examined the mystery that is consciousness, we found that our personal consciousness is what we try to describe when we use the words “soul, self, spirit”. And we also concluded that our personal consciousness seems to be an individuation of something larger – a universal consciousness – in Professor David Fontana’s words: “an ocean of pure unitary consciousness of which each individual consciousness is an expression”. So, if our physical body is of the original Energy/Matter, and our soul/consciousness is part of a universal “C” Consciousness, the implications are that we are of God – body and soul/self.
All up, our exploration’s conclusion is that the closest you will come to God, on this Earth, is life itself – especially another human – but any species with consciousness. This has huge implications for how we treat each other and all lifeforms – and also leads to another thought about the implications if such is the Truth.
Given we are of the original energy, and given we have consciousness – maybe we and all living things are how the original energy source (what we try to approach when we use the word “God”) experiences the universe? Meaning, the senses of our bodies are how the original energy source/God physically experiences this universe, and our soul/self/consciousness is such experiencing the nonphysical/spiritual side of the universe – like beauty in all its forms (natural and human-made). This from one of Neal Donald Walsch’s conversations 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 (his extraordinary books are claimed to be received by the paranormal method of automatic writing) or the New Age (which seems to best describe much of his personal philosophy) his books lead to plenty of mind-opening, non-religious new ideas about what a real God could be. That aside, certainly our own investigations of the human condition found that the human condition is to be a body + self/spiritual duality – experiencing the universe both sensually: touching, tasting, hearing, smelling, seeing – and spiritually: the self (not the body) being “lifted”, “moved” by the experience of beauty, for example. Meaning we could certainly be one of the ways that any original energy/God experiences our part of the Universe – body and soul. And, lest we lapse into anthropocentrism, the latter part of the quote from Walsch, above, should also be noted: “and through everything else that exists” – the nature of God is everything, not just us. Again: “as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me” comes to mind.
So that’s about as far as our exploration towards Truth has been able to go towards the “Nature of God”. While it is ultimate vanity to imagine that our minds – born of, and only experienced of, the relative – can fully understand the Absolute/God, certainly the above is more towards the Truth of the nature of God than the complete denial of any Divine or of any “first cause” (of a cause-and-effect universe!?) that is promulgated by our physical sciences. And more towards any likely God than the psychopathic “B” Brute of the Bible – who not only aided the murder of the original inhabitants of the promised land but spent an inordinate amount of time persecuting his own supposedly “chosen people” for worshipping other gods and/or not worshipping “him” frequently enough and/or correctly (usually involving the sacrificial killing and burning of lots of animals).
And what does our exploration for Truth conclude of those other things, the existence and nature of which traditionally vex humanity, things accepted as existing if a Divine exists – namely: immaculate Divine judgement and justice – and subsequent heaven or hell,?
JUDGEMENT AND JUSTICE; HEAVEN AND HELL?
Most religions incorporate a god who knows the Truth of us. Such total knowledge leading, after our bodily death, to judgement and justice – which justice is usually in the form of a heaven or hell.
These questions of the existence and nature of heaven and hell concern most of us at some time during our Earthly existence (especially when we near the end of it).
Heaven and/or a hell are essential tools/weapons of our various Houses of God – in their struggle to maintain control over us. Religion’s power over us coming from its ability to influence which of these it is to be for us at death – and usually for eternity.
But our various Houses of God disagree on the nature of heaven – as spelled out in their differing “B” Books. For example, there is the Christian heaven with hymn-singing choirs of angels where all the redeemed sit around rapturously gazing on the face of God while waiting for the resurrection of the dead and a New Earth after Judgement Day. Or the Islamic garden of Eden watered by running streams, the believers wearing fine clothes and jewelry while resting upon soft couches eating eternal fruit – the righteous to be given “high-bosomed maidens for companions” and/or be wed to “dark-eyed houris”. Or there is the temporary Buddhist heaven, where we reside in a paradise until we use up our Karma – then reincarnate (possibly even as an animal) – unless we have managed to get off the reincarnation merry-go-round by being perfect enough to attain Nirvana.
The denizens of the House of Disbelief, on the other hand, conclude that there cannot be any heaven. Their evidence, apart from the incredibility of religious heavens, being the (partial) understandings that our physical sciences have of our physical world – “partial” because, as the essays discovered, giant mysteries remain. With such incomplete understanding of this reality, it is amazing that the House of Disbelief can be so dogmatic about its denial of the existence of any other realities – especially given the huge amounts of dark matter/energy which surrounds and/or envelopes us (95% of the stuff of the universe – which could well be the stuff of other realities and dimensions than those apparent to the physical senses of our non-dark bodily matter?).
Essay 3 also explored beyond the walls of our “H” Houses for any paranormal evidence. This area of human experience offered evidence of realities beyond this Earthly one – some of which resembled most people’s expectations of heaven: a place of great beauty and overarching love where we are reunited with those we loved who have “gone before”. Further, credible researchers found evidence that the next reality was comprised of several ascending planes of greater and greater beauty – through which we can continue to spiritually evolve towards an eventual reunion with the Divine Energy from which we came in the beginning. The higher planes are described as being of a beauty beyond our present comprehension – beauties which communicators from the higher planes find hard to convey to us on our basic Earthly plane because there are no entirely suitable Earthly words. Some talked of music whose beauty is too exquisite for us to tolerate at our present, Earthly and lowly level of spiritual evolution. All up, the Heaven described by NDE experiencers and communicators from the next reality is not the religious single place/reality of eternal rest, but of several ascending realities which require some continuing endeavour from us in order to grow our knowledge and evolve our spirituality – continuing our self creativity/evolution that we began on Earth. Some reportedly choose to return to Earth for the particular spiritual growth they need.
The nature of hell, most of our Houses of God can more closely agree on – usually a place involving lots of fire and brimstone. Again, they rely for evidence on their incredible ancient “B” Books – and on the rabid imaginings of various religious officers, for whom the concept of hell is essential to maintain their power over people through fear. “Hell” is their stick – as “heaven” is their carrot.
Of course, the House of Disbelief must necessarily deny hell. Again its conclusion is based on the incredibility of our Houses of Gods’ evidence and, also again, on its own partial understanding of this relative reality.
Our exploration for Truth, again, found the evidence of the researchers into the paranormal who met our stated criteria for non-fraudulence, qualifications, etc. to be more credible than both our Houses on this hellish subject. Such researchers found that, while there is no traditional religious hell, there is a reality which has similarities with religious purgatory – a place of dimness without beauty – inhabited by unevolved beings tending to gather in groups of like-minded souls – the selfish with selfish; the violent with violent; murderers with murderers (no “high-bosomed maidens” in sight for suicide bombers). The only way out of such a dim purgatory is not the lighting of candles and prayers of others back on Earth (as some Houses of God have it), but a genuine repentance and a desire to move towards the light and love of higher realities. Forgiveness is available to all, but is said to have to be earned – through genuine repentance – shown, not just spoken of, through actions (often by helping others in their spiritually unevolved soul group to advance as well). Love and help from more spiritually evolved souls is said to be always available for those who honestly want to climb out of the grim reality in which they find themselves. Progress ahead is also said to necessarily involve a past life review – which involves experiencing what we have caused others to experience during our past life – the good and the bad: the joys and pleasures; the sadnesses and pain.
Anyone who feels that the purgatory described above is a tame justice and punishment (compared to the traditional religious hell) should consider this – from researcher into the paranormal, Professor Stafford Betty – a description sent through a medium of the purgatorial experience of a selfish, jealous, loveless soul coming to know her self, through experiencing that which she caused others to experience – mental torment, soulful hurt, jealousy and heartbreak:
“Take me, tear me, or destroy me. Drown my reason past all hope of restitution or, by one tornadic blast of torture, put an end to feeling and terminate this agony. Hell! Hell! In mercy take pity on my condition; open your gates and let me bathe my sufferings in your fiery lake. Hell! Hell! I say, in mercy open and let me in.”
“Heaven and Hell Unveiled”, P. 62, Stafford Betty.
Such a past-life review/experience as this illustrates that, while there is no eternal fire and brimstone – coming to truly know our self through past life reviews can be truly hellish. Given the suffering of the above unevolved soul (who “only” made the lives of a few, painful) the suffering which the likes of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot must suffer (and various other brutal and oppressive leaders, past and present) defies contemplation.
AS WE SOW, WE REAP
Thus communicators from the next reality confirm as universal Truth the House of God’s tenet that “ye reap as ye sow” – something that those who are presently in power over others in this life should consider. Taking a potentially eternal Faustian pact against our self/soul for a brief life of power and privilege on this Earth-reality is not a good idea. The wisdom of the ancient dictum to “Know Thyself” is obvious, and the sooner we each manage it on Earth, the better – coming to know our self eventually through the experiences we caused others could be hellish.
Paranormal research informs us that our self/soul/consciousness is eternal. But no one has to remain in purgatory-like conditions for eternity. It is said that the gates of purgatory are only locked on the inside. We are not forced to experience a past-life review – free will apparently never ceases to be a Law – but spiritual advancement requires the self knowledge that past life review provides immaculately. Eventually, even the worst tire of the gloomy conditions and soul mates they have condemned their selves to, and choose to move forward. “Testimony of Light”, a book by Helen Greaves (a medium of tested honesty and credibility) contains an account of the painful emergence of one of the worst humans who ever drew breath: a senior Nazi – and his eventual remorsefulness at the terrible cruelty he had inflicted on many – and his choice to undergo the painful journey towards the Light of God’s Love – which is never permanently withdrawn from anyone.
So basically that’s about it – whatever you do to others on Earth – you end up doing to/for your self. Life is not a test, but an opportunity – to be, know and grow – our self. Best done in this life – and sooner than later.
But there is always an elephant in the living room of any philosophy of meaning: “WHY?”
It may be observable that our life in this relative reality is an opportunity to be, know, and grow our self – but why? This is commonly called the “Mind of God” question (and probably best avoided if you only have a mind of man). The most sensible answer to such Why? questions is: “this is just how it is” – and we could stop there because we have found that “just how it is”, is purposeful and meaningful. However, we accepted Buddha’s injunction to not only start along the road to Truth, but to go all the way along it – thus we are committed to have a go at philosophy’s ultimate question.
WHY? – THE ELEPHANT IN THE LIVING ROOM
Physics says that there is no “Why?” – everything, the universe(s) and eventually life, just happened – accidentally and from nothing. But our exploration found that there are many nonphysical mysteries that this purely material approach can’t answer (and a few physical ones as well).
We also found that there is evidence of an overarching intelligence – a “G” God if you like – in the finely designed universe – and in paranormal evidence from the next realities.
But just the existence of a God is not an answer (as the House of God likes to think) – just another question: why is any such God doing this?
Some religious folk feel they have an ideal cop-out to this question: God, to be God, is necessarily ineffable to the human mind – therefore “God works in mysterious ways”. Other religious folk impute human motives to their god: “He” is churning out souls to worship him (as my religious studies teacher assured me at school). Or He creates souls, then tests them on Earth to see if they are worthy of keeping him company in heaven for eternity. Or other similar human motivation/reason.
But, finding both the House of God’s and the House of Disbelief’s speculations incredible, we will attempt to approach closer to a credible WHY? speculation of the universe by looking closely at the “WHAT” of the universe – what this universe truly does – because, rationally, the purpose of anything is what it does.
WHY? FROM THE WHAT!
So, what does this relative reality/universe do?
As we noted above, what relativity does is creativity – because it allows the existence of things relatively good, better, best – which, in turn allows selection for best (to survive) by nature (natural selection – evolution.)
Thus relativity is creative, therefore meaningful (in terms of what is created). Whereas absolute reality is …errr…absolute – everything just is: immutable, unchangeable – thus necessarily uncreative (and thus also devoid of meaning).
So the “Why?” of this universe is to create – because that is what it, most assuredly, does.
But elephants still abound – Why were we created?
Let’s apply the “what” test again – if the purpose of anything is what it does – what do we do?
One thing we do is create – we are creative agents of the universe.
So the why of us must rest in what we create?
The essays established that there are animal/physical and spiritual/nonphysical factors in the human equation. Accordingly, we create things animal/physical and spiritual/nonphysical. We create physical things for our animal survival: tools, utilities, cities, foods, environments, medicines, sciences. Such creation is understandable as having been naturally selected – allowing adaption to environment and survival. But the more mysterious is our creation of beauty.
We also create things nonphysical for our spiritual enjoyment and growth – beauty in all its forms: music, art, literature, dance, decorative architecture, etc. – things which have no other purpose than to “lift”, “inspire”, “move” our soul/self/spirit. Things which, as we saw in Essay 3, meet our spiritual needs – which we often meet before, or even at the expense of – our bodily needs and genetic imperatives. Things which nourish, grow, evolve our spiritual self.
So, some of what we do is also to nourish/satisfy, create/evolve our spiritual selves.
Which presents us with another WHY? questions – why self creation?
WHY SELF CREATION?
Why does life allow us the opportunity to create/grow/evolve our self – what’s the point?
Most of the answers to the above WHY? questions come from reason applied to Earthly evidence. To find any answer the “WHY? self creation” question we will also turn to some evidence from paranormal research.
We have been advised by several communicators from the next realities which await us after this one, that our self is eternal – and further, that not only do we survive into said realities, but we continue our spiritual growth/evolution through higher and higher (and more and more beautiful) planes of existence – eventually and inevitably to reunite with the Divine energy from which we originally came “in the beginning”. In such ultimate Union (reunion?) with the Divine/Universal Consciousness we exist, like time lords, in the Absolute and beyond the relativities of time and space – able to experience all of the creations of the physical universe: the formation of Earth, the beginning of life, the formation of continents, the evolution of species. Able to have the experience all Earth’s creatures through their consciousness – anything, anywhere, anytime – what it is like to fly like an eagle; swim like a porpoise; run like a gazelle. And able to witness the history of humanity – any event in time and space – and to experience every human experience: what it was like to sing the great operatic arias; rock the great concerts; create the great art; fly a fighter jet; to perform in the great orchestras; ride a rocket to the moon; dance the great dances; pen the great poems; win the grand prix; score the winning try in the World Cup; win a gold medal; drive the great cars; drink the great wines; eat at the great tables; make love with the great lovers (even know what it was like to make love to yourself?)……
Golly! Got a bit carried away there? But, according to some non-paranormal research into the mysteries of consciousness examined in the essays, not so silly. For example, a universal consciousness is implied by quantum physics’ encounter with universal connectedness/entanglement. And from the paranormal, there’s this communication from Dr. F.W.H. Myers (died 1901), member of the Society for Psychical Research and Cambridge don – communicated through the mediumship of Geraldine Cummins and concerning the seventh and final plane of our spiritual evolution from the initial reality that is the Earth plane – towards the “the true reality” that is our eventual reunion with the Supreme Mind/Consciousness of God:
“… various souls [our individual selves] are now fused and pass into the Supreme Mind, the imagination of God, wherein resides the conception of the Whole, of universe after universe, of all states of existence, of past, present, and future, of all that has been and all that shall be. Herein is continuous and complete consciousness, the true reality.” (P. 6)
“So you are aware of every second in time, you are aware of the whole history of the earth from Alpha to Omega. Equally all planetary existence is yours. Everything created… you know and hold…the whole of life, the past, the future, all that is, all that shall be forever and forever.” (P. 40)
“The Road to Immortality”, Geraldine Cummins.
However, for some, all of the above raises another WHY? question: if the eventual planes/realities are so fantastic – why should we continue with our present physical body, in a frequently too hard life situation in this often barbaric reality – why not move on to the next, better life or reality?
WHY SHOULD WE CONTINUE TO EXIST HERE?
As stated in the Introduction, there are a growing numbers of suicides as more and more of us find ourselves drowning in a sea of meaninglessness. For many, life in this reality seems too hard, too unfair – making suicide (and sometimes even suicide bombing) look comparably attractive. One of the tenets of this philosophy is that we: 1.) have many lives in this reality; 2.) and, eventually, existences in more beautiful, peaceful, and loving realities – does it therefore encourage thoughts of suicide amongst those who are struggling – to escape a present unpleasant reality for another, better existence?
One of the things paranormal evidence is definite about, is that suicide, while not leading to hell (as most religious traditions hold) leads to spiritual stasis and, most often, to another life on Earth in order to advance our self-truncated spiritual evolution. There is consensus from paranormal communicators that, while the challenges of Earth existence are not the only way towards self growth – they are the surest and quickest way to “Know Thyself” – which, as discussed, is the crucial key to self/spiritual growth. We might as well face our current Earthly challenges and take the opportunities they present to know and grow our self – and the opportunity that such struggle presents for growth into higher realities?
Suicide in the face of dire illness, from several reports, is a different matter.
THAT’S ABOUT AS FAR AS WE CAN GO
So, that’s about it, folks – that’s about as far as we can go.
This philosophy of meaning was spurred by a challenge, and obeyed two injunctions: the challenge from Faulkner at the Introduction (“You cannot swim for new horizons until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore”) and the injunctions were Buddha’s (“There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth – not going all the way, and not starting”). We took the courage to swim beyond sight of our current shores – which bound the sea of meaninglessness in which too many of humanity are presently floundering – towards new horizons hosting a road to “T” Truth. We then obeyed Buddha’s injunctions to: 1.) start on this road, and; 2.) attempt to go all the way along it.
How did we go? Did we succeed – did we arrive at the Truth of the human condition, and thereby discover the meaning of life – beyond reasonable doubt?
BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT?
That’s for you to decide, 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 to our existence than there is credible evidence against such. However, there remains sufficient mystery and room for doubt that such meaning and purpose cannot be known beyond reasonable doubt. And this is how a meaningful life should be. If there was no mystery in life, if the purpose to our existence was obvious and provable, then life would not work as immaculately as it presently does. This from Professor Fontana (referring to Professor William James’ take on this point):
“William James may have been right when he lamented that it rather looks as if the Almighty had decreed that this area should forever retain its mystery. If this is indeed the case, then I assume it is because the Almighty has decreed that the personal search for meaning and purpose in life and in death are of more value than having meaning and purpose handed down as certainties from others. If the certainties of life and death were so well known that they appeared in every school textbook, there would no longer be scope for the personal search, and for the inner development that may be possible only as a product of such a search.”
David Fontana “Is There an Afterlife”, P. 327
If life had no mysteries for each of us to decide on personally; if we had no choices to make because our path was clearly laid out and inevitable – life would be just a tour through a theme park – pleasant enough, but essentially meaningless. Whereas, how life presently is, is rich in ultimate creative purpose – which purpose gives it special meaning. In this current reality in which we exist, nothing is laid out, our life demands constant decisions – and our decisions define us – we become our choices. In this way life is not the one-off test for eternal heaven or hell, so beloved of religions, but an ongoing opportunity – probably through many lives – to “Know Thyself” through your choices. If we succeed in this, life then presents its biggest opportunity – if we are not happy with our self, truly known through our choices, then life is an opportunity for higher choices – spiritual evolution. We discovered on our journey along the road to Truth that we are driven to this self/spiritual evolution by the unique human need to be happy (“unique” because all other animals are just driven to be). Once our immediate, animal survival concerns are met, so much of human life is an endeavour to be happy – and the most reliable way to be lastingly happy is to be happy with/able to love our selves – “reliable” because it always works; “lastingly” because our self is the only source of happiness totally within our control (unlike power, money, beauty, fame) – and there is evidence that the self is eternal. We also discovered that, because we are our own harshest judges, the surest evidence we allow that we are worthy of our own love is when others love us; and that such love from others is best attained through loving them (we love those who love us).
Even if the rest of this philosophy of meaning is wrong, the holy grail of philosophy has always been seen to discover “how to best live” – and surely, to be happiest is to best live? To be lastingly happiest we need to be able to love our self (consider that self-loathing is the unhappiest you can ever be). To best be able to love our self, we need to be loved by others. To be loved by others, we need to love others – people love those who love them. To be happiest, to best live – thou shalt love one another. Sounds a bit familiar?
Our exploration for the meaning of life concludes that our existences in this relative, thus creative, reality allow us the opportunity and meaningful purpose of creativity. We create many things – things good, bad, and ugly – through which creativity we will be truly known. We conclude that the most meaningful thing we can create is our self. But life, in its immaculate way, asks you to decide for your self – literally.
Graeme Meakin – last revised 21st October, 2018.