THREE ESSAYS ON THE MEANING OF LIFE
“Out of intense complexities, intense simplicities emerge”
– Winston Churchill.
“What is the meaning of life?”
Most people, even most philosophers, when asked this question answer with things like: family; friendship; love (familial and romantic); vocation; religion; patriotism; music; art; compassion; the pursuit of beauty; community; various hobbies; sport; etc. etc. – in other words we proffer personal meanings – things that we personally find meaningful in life.
While most of us have some such personal meanings, the more pressing question for humanity is: does our existence in this reality have any special meaning (defined as any meaning that all our lives share – above and beyond the personal meanings which most of us find or construct). This question is “more pressing” because, as we considered in the Introduction, our personal meanings are failing us more and more – observably, an increasing amount of us are drowning in a sea of meaninglessness – witnessed by our growing drug, alcohol, and youth suicide problems.
Driven by this observation, we began an expedition to explore for any special meaning to our existence that we could find. Our game plan was to hunt for any observable ultimate purpose there may be to this reality we find ourselves in – then ask: does any such purpose have special meaning? (“ultimate” purpose we defined as any purpose available to us all – above and beyond the animal and genetic purposes of our physical bodies).
To this end, we explored for any Truths of the physical universe and of the human condition that we could find (which “T” Truth we defined as: that which is true for everybody all the time – i.e. above and beyond our personal, comforting “t” truths).
We searched for any such Truths, ultimate purpose, and special meaning in three essays:
Essay 1 (“An Examination of the House of God”) explored religion – our Houses of God – which have always claimed to have the Truth of the human condition and of life’s purpose and meaning. We examined particularly the Christian House of God (with which we were most familiar) and found that, while said House did contain some “T” Truths for us (mainly in the words of Jesus) it was largely an unsound place to dwell because its foundations were unsecurely laid on an incredible and contradictory Book – the Holy Bible. While supposedly written/inspired by God, the “Holy” Bible was examined and found to be entirely human – its Old Testament containing false cosmology; incorrect biology; largely mythical history; and an unbelievable, male, brutal, jealous, needy, sexist, and parochial god of one chosen people (those who invented him) – which “g” god was spectacularly unsuccessful in protecting said “chosen” Jewish tribes who were repeatedly defeated and subjugated by every neighbouring and passing tribe (Assyrians, Babylonians, Greeks, Romans, Saracens, Turks – to name a few) – to be eventually dispersed from their “promised land” in an always insecure, and frequently cruel, Diaspora. We then examined the New Testament of the Bible (also supposedly Divinely inspired/written thus an impeccably accurate record of Jesus’ life, words, and actions) and found it to be comprised of contradictory Gospels and letters – such disagreements about what Jesus said and did apparently driven by the differing factions (Jewish, Gentile, Gnostic, etc.) which arose among Jesus’ followers after his death – who seemed to be more motivated to proselytise their differing beliefs about Jesus, than in accurately perpetuating the simple but essential Truths which he brought for us (like: Love, Forgive, Do unto others). Upon examining the history of Bible creation, we found a further muddying of the waters of Truth in that very human process of creation – in the centuries that it took before the contents of the Christian Bible were finally agreed upon, the four Gospels it now contains (there were many more than four written) were not only selected, but edited by various House of God fathers and clerics – who were more concerned with building a “H” House than they were concerned with conveying the “T” Truths of Jesus. All up, the eventually compiled Bible drowns the baby of Jesus’ said Truths in gallons of disagreeing religious bathwater. This watering down of Jesus, and the firm installation of the brutal, Old Testament, Abrahamic god led to the many evils which were perpetrated over the years by the supposedly “Christian” House of God. Such evils were (and continue to be) the main reason why most of the educated world has turned from a belief in any real “G” God – just as the incredibility of the House of God’s supposedly meaningful purpose of life (that it is a one-off test for eternity in heaven or hell) has turned many against the belief that life could have any credible purpose or meaning at all (perhaps our Houses of Gods’ eventual greatest sin if we wipe ourselves out as a species?). While our examination concentrated on the Christian House of God most of our findings applied to all Houses of God similarly founded upon an ancient, brutal god and/or upon a Book of supposedly Divine origin, but actually edited/written/protected by religious officers to authorise and institutionalise their power. The only “T” Truth we are bound to find in our “B” Books is the Truth of our selves (two words) – in the shape of the God and meaning that we find.
As for the Truth of Jesus (man, God, both?) the only things that we found which we can know for sure, is that Jesus was a brave and spiritual man who tried to reform his religion (“You have heard it said…but I say unto you…) and that 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. We can also know that something paranormal happened after his execution to turn his previously cowardly disciples into brave believers prepared to die for him – evidenced by the religion which they formed in his name which endures to this day (but which religion also became corrupted when it came into power, itself).
All that said, amongst the “t” truths, some Truths were found in the Bible (especially Jesus’ injunctions to: Love (one another); Forgive (your enemies); Do (unto others) – undeniable “T” Truths (true for everybody all the time) – especially if we plan to survive as a species. And while our Houses of God were found to be more temporal than spiritual (more about power – over people; status – of office bearers; animal comfort – of control over death and the vagaries of misfortune) there are spiritual aspects. Not only in the beauty of our Houses art, music, and buildings, but in those within who can be truly described as good, spiritual people. There always were, and always will be, religions – because of the numinous aspects of our existence – ruin is impossible but reform would be a good thing.
This essay only examined our religions’ gods – it was not an attempt to establish anything about the existence, or not, of any real “G” God. Essays 2 & 3 were more interested in such.
Essay 2 (“An Examination of the House of Disbelief”) examines the soundness of the House of Disbelief – which, like the House of God, also likes to believe that it houses 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 all basically materialist fundamentalisms, which would have us believe: that the Universe just “emerged” from a state of nothing (accidentally); life emerged chemically (spontaneously); we just also just emerged (mechanically); through the selection of nature (blindly); from amongst mutations (which happened randomly). The House of Disbelief believes that, united, the physical sciences of physics, chemistry, and biology are on the verge of a physical/mechanical Theory of Everything – which can fully describe the human condition as existing accidentally, spontaneously, mechanically, blindly, randomly – just the necessarily meaningless product of accidentally-existing physical atoms and electrical impulses. However, our examination found that the House of Disbelief had no true understanding of how the observably nonphysical factors in the human equation came to exist – their only explanation being its uncompelling 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 nonphysical in the human condition came to be in existence in the first place – to be selected by nature in the second place.
The supposedly sound arguments of the House of Disbelief against the existence of any “G” God are just refutations of the unsound arguments of the House of God for the existence of its primitive “g” god. While two diametrically positions can’t both be right, they can both be wrong – and this is a good example – both the House of God and the House of Disbelief have accepted that the Abrahamic god of the Old Testament is the only possible God that there can be. The acceptance of this means that all the House of Disbelief has to do is the easy task of demolishing said Biblical god – to demolish “G” God. Similarly, the House of Disbelief’s arguments against the House of God’s purpose and meaning of life (especially its 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 as much about comfort for its residents as the House of God is for its members. The House of Disbelief, comfortable in its disbelief, makes no effort to hunt for, and bag, big game – like a real “G” God, or a real ultimate purpose and special meaning in our universe’s unexplainable miracles and mysteries (the nonphysical consciousness of physical matter; the quantum enigmas; the extreme fine tuning of our physical universe’s delicate ratios between essential forces; the intelligent mathematical language our universe is written in). Instead the House of Disbelief settles for the cruel sport of slaughtering the sacred cows of others.
Essay 3 (“Along the Road to Truth”) 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, then set out to explore beyond the blinkering walls of our Houses for any Truths we could find along life’s winding road. 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”. By starting we at least managed to obey his second injunction, but whether we managed to obey his first by going 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 intelligent mathematical language the universe is written in – and “miracles” of the human condition like: the fact we can speak the aforementioned mathematical language; the existence of nonphysical factors in the human equation like virtues, shame, ethics, and our understanding of the beauty of form; the existence of our nonphysical self and its pivotal role in our happiness; the fact of our consciousness; of our humour; 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, human god – and that such “more” allows our existence to have an ultimate purpose beyond our body’s animal purposes and the venal purposes of our religions – which purpose, in turn, allows our existence special meaning beyond our own, personal meanings.
So, considering the findings of the three essays together – what can we conclude about the existence of any “ultimate purpose” of our universe which may allow our selves’ existence in it to have “special meaning”? To use the opening quote from Churchill, above, out of the “intense complexities” (that are the big questions of philosophy: Purpose, Meaning, Life, Happiness, Love, Death, God, Everything) the following “intense simplicities” emerged:
The purpose of anything is what it does – and this our relative reality does creativity. It “does” this because relativity allows the existence of relatively good, better, best – which allows/forces creation through selection for best – evolution. Nature mechanically selects for best to create/evolve our material bodies (mortal, thus necessarily meaningless) – and we select for best behaviours to create/evolve our nonmaterial selves.
Nothing which is creative can be meaningless – but the extent of its meaningfulness can only rest in what is created. We are creative. And we create many things (good, bad, and ugly) but potentially, our most meaningful creation stands to be our self (because nonphysical and immortal).
Life is not a test – but an opportunity – to create our self. We do this by firstly being, then knowing, then growing – our self. “Know Thyself” is ancient wisdom because it allows us to know whether we can love or loath our self – the key to true and lasting human happiness (or unhappiness).
Only humans seek to be happy, other animals just seek to be. The key to lasting human happiness is being able to love our self – animal contentment from the senses is necessarily passing (all tickle is no tickle); happiness from personal beauty is at the mercy of time; happiness from fame, power, status, money is held at the grant of others; the self is the only source of human happiness totally within our control.
While genuine self love is essential to our happiness, we are our own harshest judges. But we do allow that we are truly worthy of our own love if others truly love us – our self/soul/spirit – not our passing animal bodily beauty, power, fame, talent, money etc. (which only engenders envy and hate from others – and animal, egotistical conceit from us instead of true self love). Love from others is only ever truly achieved by truly loving them – we love those who love us.
Death is just the end of one opportunity for self growth/evolution. There is plenty of evidence that we have many lives and no evidence that we must have only one. The amazing fact that our spiritual self exists with an animal body, once, is only proof of one thing: that such can happen – not that it must never happen again – if it can happen, it will. Voltaire says it well: “It is no more surprising to be born twice than it is to be born once.”
The fact that our religions have incredible, human gods proves nothing about the existence, or not, of any real God. The physical world with its essential forces and finely-calibrated ratios and constants, all written in an intelligent mathematical language, offers evidence of intelligence higher than us. And we – our nonphysical, spiritual selves – experience a wordless “D” Divine whenever we are spiritually “moved”, “lifted” (by the experience of beauty for example).
The everything of this relative reality – this relativity – is its creativity. The Absolute is absolute – necessarily non-creative.
So, how did our expedition for the meaning of life go – have we managed to approach the special meaning and ultimate purpose of life?
The House of God would say not – because little of what we concluded agrees with their “B” Book (which must be the “T” Truth, supposedly having been written by and/or inspired by God). The House of Disbelief would also say not – because there can be no ultimate purpose or special meaning to life (which supposedly just occurred spontaneously, chemically in a universe which, itself, just occurred accidentally).
And both Houses would say that this philosophy of meaning can be discarded because it depends on evidence from the paranormal.
THIS PHILOSOPHY DEPENDS ON THE PARANORMAL?
Not so. Two of the main tenets of this philosophy: 1.) that we are our nonphysical self rather than our physical body; 2.) that life is an opportunity to be, know, and grow said self – are not deduced from paranormal phenomena but are based on evidence from normal life experience. These two tenets, alone, can support a reasonably strong and rational argument for special meaning and ultimate purpose to our existence, but such argument becomes stronger when evidence that we have many lives is considered. Some would regard such “evidence” as being paranormal mumbo jumbo – however we only considered evidence that we have many lives flowing from academic and medical research (Wambach, Weiss, Stevenson et al) – whose research involved nothing more paranormal than hypnosis.
That said, there are other some further tenets of this philosophy which have flowed from paranormal evidence and research. These tenets (e.g. that there are higher planes of reality beyond or present, lowly, relative reality; that our self evolves through these increasingly beautiful planes; towards our eventual reunion with the Divine/Absolute from which we came) do not form the basis of our expedition’s philosophy of meaning, but do tend to provide some underwriting rather than erosion. Such also serve to approach a possible answer to the “WHY?” question – the elephant in the living room of all philosophies of meaning.
While our expedition for Truth selected its paranormal sources carefully for credibility, expertise, and non-fraudulence – for some, that this philosophy seriously considers evidence from the paranormal, at all, 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”. Essay 3 considers at 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).
WHY THE PARANORMAL?
Essay 3 accepted Buddha’s challenge to not only start on the road to Truth, but to go all the way along it. To this end, the so-called “paranormal” being part of human experience, we considered that it had to be explored if we are to go all the way towards finding any full Truth of the human condition.
However, 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 (into the arms nice men in white coats?). All of which makes our 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 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, start with nothing – thus have nothing to lose, but plenty to gain (usually money, status, power, fame etc.). As stated above, there is also the risk that our expedition for Truth could be derailed not only by the fraudulent, but by those who are genuine but misguided, deluded, and/or incompetent.
THE RISK OF CONFIRMATION BIAS
There is also the risk of being derailed by our own confirmation bias. Much information from the paranormal is attractive not just to the recently bereaved (who commonly go there in search of comfort) but also attractive and comforting to ordinary folk as well – for example, information of: our self’s survival of bodily death; reunion with loved ones; higher and more beautiful realities beyond our present one, etc..
RISKS WORTH TAKING
All up, we considered the risks of outer and inner deception much reduced by our mindfulness of such and by our criteria for those whom we allowed as credible and qualified guides. And we considered the risks, philosophically, worth taking – even the finding of one true paraphenomenon could have huge philosophical implications – demolishing both materialist and religious fundamentalisms’ entirely incredible (and hope-less) models of the universe to be broken. Even if only one communication with a surviving consciousness could be verified; only one experience of a next reality more amazing than the primitive imaginings of our ancient religions – 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 we go?
ONE WHITE CROW?
Our expedition found, in fact, several “white crows” – credible evidence of the existence of: our nonphysical self/soul/consciousness; the self’s survival of bodily death; realities beyond this Earthly one – all from rational, already successful, qualified and respected academic professionals – from various 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 Professor Ian Stevenson, 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; in 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 experience and summary of the better mediumistic evidence (“The Afterlife Unveiled”, 2010) and Professor David Fontana’s experience and meta-analysis of the evidence from all fields (“Is There An Afterlife”, 2005) good, non-ideological places to start. I have never personally sought an encounter with the paranormal but am aware of the experiences of some credible friends – but such experiences related by friends can only be regarded as evidential to the receiver – with a personal weight only – entirely dependant on the credibility of said friends.
MAIN PARANORMAL FINDINGS?
All up, the better researchers confirmed each other on certain salient findings: 1.) that a spiritual self exists independent of the physical body; 2.) which self survives the death of our animal body; 3.) that we can have multiple lives if such are needed for our spiritual evolution; 4.) that there are other realities beyond this one into which we spiritually evolve when ready; 5.) that spiritual growth/evolution continues into higher and higher planes of existence.
The evidence supporting these findings is mainly in Essay 3. And some of it comes from the “normal” scientific community.
“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. And when the scientific discoveries of quantum mechanics are considered, the lines between what is paranormal or “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 here we need to consider the evidence that the “S” Sceptics of anything paranormal rely on?
OF SCEPTICS AND SCEPTICISM?
As stated, given the fraudulence of some denizens of the paranormal, a sceptical approach is essential for any exploration for T” Truths in the paranormal field. However, reading the prominent critics of everything paranormal reveals that there are many who are “S” Sceptics – almost always fundamentalist materialists who believe that everything is comprised of, and can be reduced to – its fundamentals: matter/energy. Such materialists believe that they are on the verge of a physical Theory of Everything – which can explain any and every aspect of the human condition in terms of physics, chemistry, and biology – viz.: we are just matter (physics); made spontaneously alive (chemistry); then evolved mechanically into us (biology). There is plenty of fundamentalism in evidence among this Theory’s devotees: “There is only physics, all the rest is stamp-collecting” (Rutherford); “Physics can explain everything” (Hawking); Feynman felt that even philosophy was only suitable for “cocktail parties”.
Apart from their blustering assertions about being able to “explain everything” using physics, what hard evidence do Sceptics rely on to dismiss anything nonphysical – especially the paranormal?
EVIDENCE AGAINST ACCEPTING ANY PARANORMAL EVIDENCE?
Essay 3 examined the evidence most commonly put forward by “S” Sceptics as disproof of paranormal phenomena, and found that there are five common arguments upon which they rely:
1.) Some operators in the paranormal have been proven to be fraudulent – claiming to be 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.) There have been different descriptions of what happens after death and what the afterlife is like – if the “afterlife” is true, then every account of it should be exactly the same.
3.) Some of the information received from even the best mediums is sometimes wrong.
4.) Honest believers in the paranormal are subject to confirmation bias – their judgement affected by what confirms their 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:
Fake operators using techniques like cold calling (starting off with a series of broad statements, some of which are bound to be true for some people in the audience, then focussing in on those: “I’m getting a message from someone called Bob, I can feel chest pains, etc., etc.”) – are actually cynical performers, not the spiritual people they claim to be – making a lot of money from the needy and bereaved by supplying them with simple, longed-for messages (“I have just spoken to your departed husband and he survives, and is OK – he sends his love and is waiting for you.” etc. etc.) The sometime “hits” of such performers are remembered, their “misses” wilfully forgotten by those in need of comfort.
While it is a fact that there are plenty of fraudulent “mediums” and “psychics” – possibly even the majority are – must this necessarily prove that all paranormal operators and phenomena are fraudulent? Can there be “one white crow”?
The information received by those mediums who were accepted as genuine by the researchers we used as guides into the paranormal, went way beyond such simple stuff as the circus performers, above – into arcane, complex, spiritual and metaphysical content – often conveying very personal information unknown to anybody other than the (often anonymous to the medium) séance sitter. Many of the more highly regarded mediums sought no fame/notoriety (and often charged no money) – and were in a trance (i.e. not being able to question – thus elicit any information from the sitter – through cold calling or any other trickery). The séances which our researchers accepted as genuine and credible evidence for survival of self/spirit and the existence of other realities, were closely watched for fraud by experts – for example, the scientifically qualified observers 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, and much too experienced in the paranormal to mistake charlatans for genuine mediums.
Most of us expect that if there is an afterlife reality, it must just be the one reality on the one plane which can be fully explored and known – like our Earthly plane/reality. There is also the expectation that if our consciousness survives death, then everything about any next reality (and any God) is automatically known to us at once. However, neither is the case – from the most reliable sources, there are several planes of reality existing after this one. Those who communicate with us mostly report 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 exist on higher planes, reportedly have passed on from Earthly connections and concerns and seldom communicate.
Also some alleged paranormal experiences (like NDE’s) are not such 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 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 beyond this one. Such NDE’s also commonly concurring on a next reality of great beauty; intense feelings of non-judgemental love; a life review; the presence of higher beings.
A reason for discrepancies between real NDE’s is that experiencers have different educational levels and cultural expectations – higher beings encountered during NDE’s are usually given different earthly names according to the religious expectations of the experiencer (e.g. Jesus, Buddha, etc.). Researchers have also found that NDE experiencers can encounter, initially, those personal expectations which he/she had in life – for example: nothing, hell, conventional heaven – leading to differing reports of “the other side”. It must be remembered that NDE’s are necessarily brief and sketchy – resulting in information which is vastly less detailed than that from other paranormal means.
Sometimes some of the information received through even the best mediums is wrong. It must be considered whether this outweighs the sheer volume of correct, private, and arcane information which has been supplied by mediums over the years (often to sitters anonymous to the mediums). Masses of such private, personal information has been delivered by mediums after no cold-calling fishing expedition (often from a medium who is in a trance therefore cannot elicit information from the sitter). 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 (comprised mainly of highly credentialed, often originally “S” Sceptic – researchers – not Spiritualists) found many white crows – the most evidential being phenomena called the “cross correspondences”, and others called “book tests”. The correspondences were in the form of bits of information sent through various individual mediums (who were not in contact with each other) – arcane information only making sense to, and of personal significance to, those to whom it was sent – and that only when all the various bits through various mediums were considered together. Book tests were information sent through mediums of the obscure location of certain books and the page number of certain obscure information therein. Hundreds of these book tests were successfully carried out by researchers.
As for the occasional wrong communication via mediums – 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”.
Sceptics believe that anyone of academic repute 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 comforting confirmation of prejudices and/or needs. However, it must be seriously considered whether the “S” Sceptics’ approach is disconfirmation bias? Such 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.)
Stems from the assertion of materialists that if anything cannot be proven (nor disproven) to exist by physical science methods – then it cannot exist. This is a fundamentalist viscous circle – insisting that the nonphysical cannot exist because it is not empirically provable by physical means! However, while we can’t produce a lump of the self to be measured or felt – we can feel our said self being “moved”, “lifted”, “inspired” by beauty, for example – which nonphysical beauty we also can’t 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
Stems from the fact that the day-to-day physical world we live in is obviously so real – 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 is dubious – as is anyone reporting such experiences.
As considered, doubt, ”s” scepticism – is good, anyone can “make stuff up” and if we believed everything that we are told, but can’t touch, then we would be easily and frequently mislead – and as a species we would not be as successful. Philosophic materialism serves a purpose and was probably naturally selected. But is our sensual proof of normal matter’s existence axiomatic disproof of everything, paranormal?
A materialist has to say so because everything, to exist, must be of matter – real, palpable, normal. For them, absence of material proof is as good as disproof of the possibility of the existence of anything nonphysical, spiritual, paranormal. To asses the dubiousness of the paranormal world’s reality – such dubiousness being revealed by comparison with the undoubted reality of the non-paranormal, material world – we need to first have a look at the reality of said material, non-paranormal world.
JUST HOW REAL IS THE NORMAL?
How real is “normal” reality?
Let’s look more closely at matter, the 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, occupying 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? As we considered in Essay 2, evolutionists believe that everything about us 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 (studies have shown that brain damage can affect our mind) but what if the material brain is just a physical tool (which can be broken) – just a transceiver for consciousness? Which consciousness/soul/self is “us” – 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.
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.
NORMALITY Vs. PARANORMALITY?
So, 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 being authors’ own emphasis).
More from Rosenblum and Kuttner in a moment, but the above accords with the 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 took the shadows of the real world outside which were cast on their cave wall to be the real world – such 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” (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 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, which was the emergence of the organic from the inorganic (matter which, itself, was produced by a sterile, billion-degree big bang) also just happened accidentally, chemically.
· This original, entirely physical single-cell life then mechanically evolved into many lifeforms because of physical changes (random mutations) to its physical matter. Some of these physical changes somehow eventually caused one lifeform to have nonphysical characteristics – like: dignity; humour; an understanding and appreciation of beauty (the experience of the latter often “lifting”, “moving” some nonphysical part of that lifeform.) That lifeform often exhibiting a need to be so lifted, moved, by frequently risking its body with its cargo of selfish genes in that endeavour.
· The above lifeform reached the top of the food chain although having a sense of right and wrong, altruism, charity, shame.
There are also other mysteries in our universe – consider 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, dark matter 27% – and normal matter the remainder (approx. 5%). The first thing we need to consider is: the matter which we can see (which includes the matter of which we are comprised) – and which we call “normal” – only represents 5% of the universe?
Is the rest the “paranormal” world.
Consider some of the information received by researchers into the paranormal. 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, non-fraudulent researcher into paranormal phenomena.
And the vast amounts of dark matter and dark energy are not the only unresolved mysteries of our physical world. Consider this also – about what quantum mechanics is telling us about our physical world, 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” (our mysterious consciousness creates this our present reality! – why can’t it create the next realities?)
· “many parallel worlds” (the planes of reality to come beyond this 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) present matter forms evidence for the existence of this present reality.
Can we any longer doubt the existence of the “paranormal” world on the basis that this “normal” material world is just sooo real in comparison? Restating the above conclusion from the debate between four of our leading physicists: “The world is not as real as we think” (Rosenblum & Kuttner).
We need to reconsider what’s normal – and 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.
So what are the philosophical implications of all the above?
HOW STANDS PHILOSOPHY IN LIGHT OF PARANORMAL EVIDENCE?
If all the above is the “T” Truth, then academic philosophy stands rather flat-footed.
Materialism is still the dominant philosophic 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 the handmaiden to science. The explanatory power of physics, chemistry, and Darwinian biology is such that most in academia feel that these sciences, combined, stand on the verge of a “Theory of Everything” – a bomb-proof foundation for the House of Disbelief. But if the evidence from the paranormal is correct, materialism is incorrect – and academic materialist philosophy needs to be challenged.
Would this be a good thing?
Materialism is, of course, a fundamentalism (all is fundamentally matter and/or energy) and while it does serve some good (e.g. combatting the obvious dangers of religious fundamentalism) fundamentalism of any sort is dangerous. Materialism is a monism – holding that everything is of one substance: mattergy, to coin word (i.e. matter + energy which are basically the same thing) – including us. Materialism thus means disbelief in human dualism (human = matter + soul/self/spirit) as a description of the human condition, and this belief that we are merely matter implies there can be no special meaning to our existence – only personal meanings that we invent for ourselves. Belief that we are just our soulless matter which disperses at death also means that we must hold that there can be no afterlife of the self/soul – and no possibility of a reality for us (just dispersed atoms after death) other than this one. In short, materialism is the main source of the sea of meaninglessness we considered at the Introduction – a sea in which too many of us are drowning. While the House of Disbelief says we can still construct meanings for ourselves, not many manage substantial and/or durable ones which can get us through our inevitable “dark nights of the soul” (witness our various addictions, mental crutches, and ever-increasing suicide rates). Also, the physical sciences which have given us materialism (with its corollary of meaninglessness) have also given us atom bombs – a dangerous combination in the hands of the wrong people (of which there always seems to be plenty).
All that said, if materialism is the “T” Truth, then it is the Truth – for good and ill – despite whatever we may wish. But I believe that our exploration (of the normal and the paranormal) has revealed that materialism is not the Truth – just the comforting “t” truth of some. Essay 2 considered the comforts of “D” Disbelief (briefly: removal of guilt; removal of the fear of Divine judgement and punishment after death; the libertine lifestyle).
And what are the implications for the existence and nature of God if the evidence we considered from paranormal sources is correct?
HOW STANDS GOD IN LIGHT OF PARANORMAL EVIDENCE?
The main aim of this expedition was not to explore for proof of the existence of God – or disproof – rather it was to explore for any “T” Truths of the human condition (again, Truth = that which is true for everybody, all the time) that we could find and, through a consideration of any such Truths, to approach any special meaning and ultimate purpose that our existence may have. However, we also accepted Buddha’s challenge to “go all the way” along the road to Truth, and thus do need to contemplate any implied Divine because the existence of such would certainly be a big Truth to contemplate the philosophical implications of – and a “D” Divine was sometimes implied by some of the evidence emanating from both normal and paranormal sources.
So, first, what of the existence of any God?
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 God 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. In fact, Essays 2 and 3 encountered plenty of evidence of a “D” Divine in the apparent blueprint for the universe – evidenced not only by its essential dimensions, forces, and constants all set in delicate balance and fine ratios to each other – but all such having been written in an intelligent language (mathematics). We also found evidence of a Divine in the various mysteries of the human condition – like the fact we (supposedly just atoms emanating from the universe) can speak the intelligent mathematical language that the universe is written in – and that we observably have nonphysical factors like: a self; consciousness; an understanding and appreciation of beauty; unique (to the animal world) notions of shame, dignity, ethics, virtues, right and wrong, existential humour, etc. Further, when we explored paranormal phenomena, experiencers (of NDE’s for example) frequently reported an encounter with higher beings and an overarching Divine presence (also reporting that there is no one true religion or faith – frequently returning more spiritual but less religious).
However, while the existence of a “G” God was implied at certain points in our expedition for Truth, what can we conclude about the nature of any God?
THE NATURE OF GOD?
While a complete understanding of Divine/Absolute nature must be beyond us creatures born of this relative reality, surely we can more closely approach the Divine than the incredible religious speculations of our ancient ancestors – many driven by the vested interest of priestly power – and whose prescientific understandings could only manage to envisage a human, male god with all the usual failings of a male leader: vanity, jealousy, parochialism, anger, brutality, cruelty, sexism, and more?
But, should we even try to approach the nature of God?
Why not – our Houses of Gods’ above incredible speculations about the nature of God have led to the many evils which have flowed from religion over the centuries (Crusades, the Inquisition, burning people at the stake, jihads, suicide bombers, etc.). The House of Disbelief also is partly founded on the incredibility of the House of God’s speculations about God – and that said House of Disbelief has its own speculation about the nature of God: basically that God is imaginary, non-existent (lending force to its dangerous philosophy of meaninglessness and its above considered corollaries).
So, what is our expedition’s speculation about the nature of God?
SPECULATIONS ON THE DIVINE
We have seen that science believes, “in the beginning” there was an event (basically energy becoming matter) which most are calling the “big bang” (or similar “big inflation, big expansion” etc.) – which event was the beginning of everything which now exists. So the key to any Divine must lie before the big bang – and the natural question to ask is: what exactly went ‘bang’. To that end we are basically asking: what existed before the big bang?
Ask this of a physicist and the answer is: “there can be no ‘before’ the big bang because time, itself, began then”. However, physics also tells us (under the proven laws of thermodynamics) energy cannot be created – therefore, because energy exists now, it must have existed to make the big bang possible. Energy, then, must be eternal/absolute – contingent on nothing – prime characteristics we also ascribe to God. So, maybe what existed before the big bang created a relative universe (allowing here and there, this and that, you and me, now and then) was Absolute/Energy/God? And maybe Energy/God became the universe – rather than the religious notion that God “created” it (the House of God’s notion that God created the universe leads to the House of Disbelief’s favourite comeback: “Then who created God?”).
If the Divine Energy (or some of) became this universe (there is some speculation that there could be many) – then 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.”
Further, in Essay 3 we examined the mystery that is consciousness, and concluded that our personal consciousness is what we try to describe when we use the words “soul, self, spirit”. And we also concluded that our consciousness seems to be an individuation of something larger – a universal consciousness – in Professor David Fontana’s (always better) words: “an ocean of pure unitary consciousness of which each individual consciousness is an expression”. So, if our physical body is of the original “E” Energy, and our soul/consciousness is part of a universal “C” Consciousness, the implications are that we are of God – body and soul/self. The closest you will come to God, on this Earth, is another human (or any species with consciousness).
Which leads to another thought:
Maybe we and all living things are how God experiences the universe? For example, the physical senses of our bodies are how God sensually experiences this physical universe, and our soul/self is how God experiences the nonphysical 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 describes much of his personal philosophy) his books are worth reading with plenty of new ideas about what a real God may 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 sensually (touching, tasting, hearing, smelling, seeing) and spiritually (ecstasy from being “lifted”, “moved” – by beauty or love, for example). Meaning we found evidence that we may well be how God experiences our part of the Universe – body and soul. And, lest we lapse into anthropocentrism, the next part of Walsch’s sentence, 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.
And what of those other things which also expected to flow – if a “G” God exists: heaven, hell, Divine judgement, and immaculate justice?
OF HEAVEN, HELL, JUDGEMENT, AND JUSTICE?
The existence of a God usually implies Divine knowledge of us – and Divine opinion/judgement of us (our selves, souls) – and that to consequences: justice, usually in the shape of a heaven or hell. These are large questions because they concern most of us at some time or other during our Earthly existence – especially when we near the end of it.
The existence of a heaven is pivotal to most of our various Houses of God, but they disagree on its nature – in accordance with their disagreeing “B” Books and doctrines. 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 on 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 wed to “dark-eyed houris”; or the temporary Buddhist heaven where occupants reside in a paradise until they use up their Karma, whereupon they have to reincarnate (possibly even as an animal) – unless they have managed to get off the reincarnation merry-go-round by being perfect enough to attain Nirvana.
However the denizens of the House of Disbelief, on the other hand, conclude that there cannot be any heaven. The force of its argument relying somewhat on the incredibility of religious heavens and on the (partial) understandings that our physical sciences have of our physical world – “partial” because the mystery of the nonphysical consciousness of our entirely physical brain/matter; and the enigmas of quantum mechanics – still represent huge gaps in our sciences’ inchoate Theory of Everything (just to mention two of the biggest).
Essay 3 explored beyond the walls of both our “H” Houses for any eschatological Truths that we could find. Our expedition examined the evidence gathered by those paranormal researchers who met our criteria for personal integrity, professional qualifications, and existing status before they ventured into the paranormal – and found their evidence more credible. Said researchers concluded that the nonphysical part of the human equation (our self/soul/consciousness) survives the death of the physical body – in another reality – which reality has certain of the characteristics most generally regard as heavenly: a place of great beauty and overarching love. Further, they found evidence that it 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 have talked of music whose beauty is too exquisite for us to tolerate at our present, Earthly and lowly level of spiritual evolution. So the Heaven described by communicators from the next reality is not the religious single place/reality of eternal rest (eventually boring), but several ascending realities through which we can grow in knowledge and spirituality through our own efforts towards spiritual evolution – continuing our self creativity/evolution that we began on Earth.
The nature of hell, most of our Houses of God can more closely agree on, than they can agree about heaven (usually seen to be a place involving lots of fire and brimstone). Again, they rely for evidence on their ancient “B” Books – and on the rabid imaginings of various religious officers who are trying to maintain their power over people through fear.
The House of Disbelief denies hell. Again its conclusion is based on the incredibility of our Houses of Gods’ evidence for a hell – and also again – on the House of Disbelief’s understanding of atoms and energy. Physical science, to hold onto the self-claimed hegemony of its almost complete Theory of Everything (physical), must deny that there can be anything beyond this physical reality of known physics – like another reality/hell. This is a source of comfort for many residents of the House of Disbelief and, as we discussed in Essay 2, a reason many reside therein.
Essay 3, again, found our chosen researchers into the paranormal to be more credible than both our Houses on this hellish subject. Such researchers found that, while there is no traditional religious hell of an eternity in a lake of fire, there is a purgatory-like reality – a place of dimness and without beauty – comprised of various regions inhabited by beings with similar 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 (as some Houses of God have it), but a desire to move towards the light of higher realities through achieving forgiveness. Love from above is said to be always available for those who can’t love their selves. Progress is said to involve a past life review – which involves experiencing what they have caused others to experience during their past life – the good and the bad. And the experience of truly evil souls must be truly hellish – the likes of Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, and various other leaders who have oppressed many come to mind – whilst communicators from the next reality tell us that there is no eternal hell, the experience of such people as these must seem pretty much like it. In this immaculate process, all “reap as we sow” – something that those who are presently oppressing others in this life (various present-day dictators, cruel despots, evil religious leaders, robber oligarchs, corrupt capitalists, sexual predators, corrupt politicians, brutal gang members, violent spouses, and the like) should contemplate. Faustian-like pacts against our self/soul for one brief life of power and privilege on this Earth-reality can’t be worth experiencing all the many lives of suffering caused to myriad others.
Communicators from the afterlife report that there is no judgement “from on high” by an all-knowing God, but judgment there is – self judgement – and, as has been recognised by many on Earth, we tend to be our own harshest judge. Such self judgement, as above, occurs during a past-life review wherein we finally achieve the Truth about our selves through experiencing everything we caused others to experience – suffering all the sadness and pain we caused, and enjoying all the joys and pleasures we created for others as well.
As we discovered in Essay 3, true happiness comes from being able to love our self/soul/spirit (not our body) – conversely true unhappiness must come from hating the self. The way forward is seeking forgiveness from those we hurt, and by taking the opportunities which reportedly exist in the next reality to continue our self/spiritual evolution – usually by being of service to other souls who are struggling. But free will remains a Law, and we retain choice to move forward, or not – and how – reincarnation on Earth, with all its challenges, is said to be often chosen as the best/quickest way forward.
So, according to our researchers and communicators, we all “reap as we sow” – Karma is also a Law (as is free will). The above experience of self is immaculate justice indeed – and immaculate punishment. 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 of the purgatorial experience of a selfish, jealous, loveless soul coming to know her self, through experiencing that which she caused others to experience; torment, 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.
Coming to know your self can be hellish indeed – and the wisdom of the ancient dictum to “Know Thyself” never more obvious. The sooner we manage it on Earth, the better.
As for the religious notion of Divine justice being eternal hell for those who are evil – it is denied – while there is suffering, it is said that the gates of purgatory are only locked on the inside. Free will never ceases to be a Law, and we can always choose to move forward, as above. And, reportedly, everyone does eventually – the book “Testimony of Light” by Helen Greaves (a medium of apparent credibility) contains an account of a senior Nazi’s self-torture and eventual choice to journey towards the Light of God’s Love – which is never withdrawn from anyone.
THAT’S ALL FOLKS?
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.
But there is always an elephant in the living room of any philosophy of meaning: “WHY?”
We accepted Buddha’s challenge 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
The big one is: Why the universe?
Physics says that everything, the universe(s) and life, just accidentally happened – from nothing. We found that there are many nonphysical mysteries that this purely physical idea can’t answer. We also found that the evidence points towards a blueprint, a real overarching intelligence – a “G” God.
So the question becomes: why is any such “D” Divine doing this? 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: “that this is just how it is”, and our exploration for meaning and purpose could stop there – because we have found that “just how it is”, is purposeful and meaningful. But we’ll soldier on under Buddha’s injunction to go all the way along the road to Truth.
Religious people have the ideal cop-out to this question – God, to be God, is necessarily ineffable – therefore “God works in mysterious ways”. Some impute human motives: God is churning out new souls like sausages for entertainment; for company; to worship “Him” (as my religious studies teacher assured me at school) – or some similar human reason.
Philosophy often reaches a point where it has to indulge in speculation – but the worth of any speculation is determined by the evidence upon which it is based. So what then is our expedition’s speculation, and on what evidence is it based?
WHY? FROM THE WHAT!
We will attempt to approach closer to a credible WHY? speculation of the universe by looking closely at the “WHAT” of the universe.
So, what does this relative reality/universe do?
What relativity does is creativity – because it involves the existence of things relatively good, better, best. The existence of such relative things allows (creative) selection for best (evolution). Whereas absolute reality is …errr…absolute: everything just is: immutable, unchangeable – thus necessarily uncreative (and thus also devoid of meaning).
So “Why?” the universe exists is to create – because that is what it does.
But elephants still abound – Why were we created?
After life arose (still a mystery, but the “how” seems bound to be solved one day by science) nature selected for best and thus created/evolved our living physical bodies.
After consciousness arose in our bodies, we, our self, became possible. To find the Why? of us, let’s again apply the “what” question again – to our self, this time.
One “what” we, our self, does is to be conscious of the universe – through our self/consciousness we experience the universe. We experience, have consciousness, of the material universe sensually – physically through our animal bodies, and we experience its nonmaterial things (like beauty) – spiritually through our nonmaterial selves/souls. Thus, through us (and every living thing with consciousness) – everything about the universe is experienced.
Another “what” we do, is to be one of the creative agents of this creative universe. We create things of beauty: art, music, literature, dance, varieties of flowers. Things of use: buildings, machines, technologies, breeds of animals, types of fruits and vegetables. But, most importantly (because most lastingly), we also create our selves – through our choices amongst our behaviours which make us happiest.
But there is still another elephant in the living room of this philosophy – why self creation?
WHY SELF CREATION?
Why does life allow us the opportunity to be, know, and grow our self – what’s the point?
Most of the answers to the above WHY? questions come from reason applied to Earthly evidence. To answer the WHY? question about self creation we will rely solely on evidence from paranormal research.
We have been advised by communicators from the next realities which await us that our self is eternal – not only surviving into the further realities which exist beyond this one, but continuing our spiritual growth/evolution through the experiences offered to our selves in these 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 strictures of relativity, able to experience all of the creations of the physical universe and of its creatures through their consciousness – beyond time and space – anything, anywhere, anytime. Able to experience all of Animalia – what it is like to: fly like an eagle; swim like a porpoise; run like a gazelle. Able to witness, participate in, experience every event of human history – great or small: what it was like to sing the great operatic arias; rock the great concerts; create the great art; fly a fighter jet; to perform the great solos; ride the first 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 research into the mysteries of consciousness examined in the essays, not so silly – universal consciousness is accepted by many – and quantum physics has encountered a universal connectedness/entanglement. And 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, concerning the seventh and final plane of our spiritual evolution from the relative reality of our Earth existence, towards “the true reality” – union 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 world; 2.) and, eventually, existences in more beautiful, peaceful, and loving realities – does it therefore encourage thoughts of suicide amongst those who are struggling – as a way 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 to advance our 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 was Faulkner‘s (“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 the new horizons of a land 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. 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; and 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 redolent of ultimate purpose – which purpose gives it special meaning. In this current reality we find our selves in, 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 test for eternal heaven or hell, so beloved of religions, but an opportunity – an immaculate opportunity for self discovery – to “Know Thyself” through our choices. And then it is an opportunity for self/spiritual evolution (higher choices) if we are not happy with our known self. We discovered on our journey along the road to Truth that we are driven to this self evolution by the unique human need to be happy (“unique” because all other animals are just driven to be). Beyond the immediate survival concerns of our animal body, 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 – which seldom work in this reality and never in the next). And we also discovered that, because we are our own harshest judges, the surest evidence we allow that we are worthy of such self love is when others love us; and that such love from others is best attained through loving them (we love those who love us).
The holy grail of philosophy has always been seen to discover “how to best live”. Surely, to be happiest is to best live? To be happiest we need to be loved. To be loved we need to love. Thou shalt love one another – sounds familiar?
All of the above was evident to our exploration for Truth just by examining our life in this reality. But if we allow evidence from paranormal phenomena, then our spiritual evolution of self has consequences beyond just being happy in this brief life. Whether you find such evidence convincing, or not, is up to you – life, in its immaculate way, asks you to decide for your self – literally.
Graeme Meakin – last revised 10th July, 2018.