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If we're here for a purpose, shouldn't we ignore topics related to the afterlife?

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  • If we're here for a purpose, shouldn't we ignore topics related to the afterlife?

    This is an offshoot from a discussion I had earlier with MU!! in the Physical Medium thread.

    For the purpose of this discussion, we're assuming that there is an afterlife, and that we have figured out through whatever means that we have been placed on this earth, whether of our own choosing or not, in order to learn and have experiences that presumably will benefit us once we leave this realm.

    Now, once we accept the above, is spending any further time studying these issues and focussing on after-life related topics consistent with our belief? If we're here to learn from our experiences on earth, shouldn't we be focussed on those experiences? I mean, we'll hardly have much use for any information we glean about the afterlife while we're here, since we'll know all about it once our memories return after we die. If we're to learn from our time on earth - shouldn't we be focussing on that?

    (please don't take this as my discouraging anyone from having these discussions - as someone who doesn't believe we're placed here to learn I think there's nothing inconsistent with looking into these interesting issues. I'd like to spend a few threads exploring the implications of various views on these topics - including atheism/materialism if people want to do so)

  • #2
    Originally posted by Arouet View Post
    Now, once we accept the above, is spending any further time studying these issues and focussing on after-life related topics consistent with our belief? If we're here to learn from our experiences on earth, shouldn't we be focussed on those experiences?
    Yes and no. I assume that within the context of this assumption we also agree that reincarnation is a fact. We incarnate to explore all kinds of various viewpoints (and not just worldviews like theism vs atheism, but issues like racist vs racial minority, poor vs common vs rich, etc). It's certainly a unique experience to live life as a Christian, an atheist, an agnostic, an apatheist, etc. But it's also like something to live a life knowing x% much about the afterlife factually.

    For instance, deep NDErs like Christian Andréason and Nanci Danison may know a lot, while your average NDEr will know something but a lot less, and people who just study NDEs and other survival related phenomena know even less, albeit something.

    I believe we're all here to explore different viewpoints. Some are here to live as Christian gone atheist, as atheist gone agnostic, an irreligious person gone Muslim, as born and died apatheist, etc. Likewise, some are here to form a picture of the afterlife based on accounts from others, and live life with that in mind.

    Originally posted by Arouet View Post
    I mean, we'll hardly have much use for any information we glean about the afterlife while we're here, since we'll know all about it once our memories return after we die. If we're to learn from our time on earth - shouldn't we be focussing on that?
    Yes, we should, and we are. We're also here to do whatever we want.

    While obsessing on the afterlife might seem irrelevant, superfluous or even irrational in light of how we will all learn about it eventually and much more so than we can know about it right now, the same applies for everything given the nature of the afterlife itself.

    Want to study world history? Sure, do that, but know that all your studies won't even amount to a second worth of 'studies' in the afterlife, where all knowledge is accessible and you'll be able to go back and see history as it actually unfolded. The same applies to all development of talents and pursuits of specific knowledge. The point, for instance, in a career as a history professor isn't the history itself, but the living of a life as a history professor.

    The same applies to those of us who want to learn about the afterlife. What we're really getting out of it isn't information about the afterlife, but what it's like to live a life where you explore the nature of the afterlife. A beautiful meta-perspective on our activities on this forum indeed, IMHO. So to summarize, we're not wasting our precious time of being human, as we're here to experience what it's like to be a human who lives a life studying what it's like in the afterlife.

    This video is very relevant to this topic. The most relevant parts start at around ~34 minutes and 50 seconds into it, but I recommend the whole video.

    Great thread by the way.

    Comment


    • #3
      I look at it like foreign travel. If I'm going to travel to Paris, for example, I want to know some basic facts about the city--how to get around, sections of the city to avoid, where to find a book, etc.

      I look at non-physical reality (or what some folks call the afterlife) in the same way. I'd like to have a basic idea of what to expect on arrival. It's also nice to have some ideas about how non-physical reality is laid out. On that there are a bunch of ideas. The information can come from mediums, between life regressions, channeling, NDE experiences, OBE practitioners. There are also classic texts like the Tibetan Book of the Dead. And I don't think anyone necessarily takes all these at face value, or at least I hope not. But I look for overlap and general themes.

      I don't subscribe to the idea that once you die, you automatically know everything about non-physical reality. There are those who report that lots of people are quickly sorted into belief system areas. Others seem able to roam about more freely. Some of that freedom, I think, comes from a greater knowledge of non-physical reality, it's spaces, it's rules, etc.

      I personally believe the OBE or lucid dreaming provide interesting avenues for this type of exploration.

      Also, as a percentage, not that many people are really spending much time thinking about the afterlife on a regular basis. Well, actually, I think everyone thinks about it a lot, but not that many people take it up as an object for active study. I view it like anything else. Some people study baseball, some people study making sour dough bread. It's an interest.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Hjortron View Post
        Want to study world history? Sure, do that, but know that all your studies won't even amount to a second worth of 'studies' in the afterlife, where all knowledge is accessible and you'll be able to go back and see history as it actually unfolded. The same applies to all development of talents and pursuits of specific knowledge. The point, for instance, in a career as a history professor isn't the history itself, but the living of a life as a history professor.
        if all knowledge is accessible in the afterlife, that must include the knowledge of what it would be like to be a history professor, so what would be the point? and what could possibly be the prearranged purpose of living life as a human mental vegetable who does not experience anything anyway? or the purpose of living a life as a tapeworm? or the message from the afterlife is that only humans get one?

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Arouet View Post

          Now, once we accept the above, is spending any further time studying these issues and focussing on after-life related topics consistent with our belief? If we're here to learn from our experiences on earth, shouldn't we be focussed on those experiences? I mean, we'll hardly have much use for any information we glean about the afterlife while we're here, since we'll know all about it once our memories return after we die. If we're to learn from our time on earth - shouldn't we be focussing on that?
          I agree you should be focused on what you are experiencing on earth. What the NDEers and mediums have been saying is that how you treat other people while you are alive is more important than what you believe about religion.

          That doesn't mean you have to ignore evidence for the afterlife. Many people find knowledge of the afterlife helps them recover from grief when they have proof their loved one is not truly dead. Communicating with spirits can help people resolve issues such as estrangement and help people move on with life after the death of a relative. Knowledge of the afterlife can help reduce fear of death. All of these things help people focus on their life not their loss or fear of death.

          Knowledge of the afterlife also deters suicide.

          Also many people chose to live differently if they know they will experience the consequences of their actions in this life, the afterlife, or a future incarnation. When you understand that the conditions you experience in the afterlife will depend on your actions in this life, it may change how you act during life. If you believe in the life review that NDErs experience where you experience the effects of your actions from other people's point of view you will be less likely to cause pain to others because you will not want to have to experience that pain yourself during the review. This helps people focus on how they treat other people during their life.

          Also, knowledge of the afterlife makes the transition after death easier. Some spirits, because of beliefs in materialism or obsession with their earth life do not complete the transition to the spirit world and they become earth-bound. That may cause problems for the living when they produce haunting phenomena or obsess (exert harmful influence on) living people. It also makes things difficult for their spirit guides who would like them to complete the transition to the spirit world so they can continue with their spiritual evolution.

          Furthermore, the purpose of science is to learn the truth about the universe. Seeking the truth is no sin. What could be more important to science than the information that there is more to the universe than the physical world we see around us?

          This is why I think activist skepticism is harmful.

          Comment


          • #6
            You raise something very interesting, Arouet. Hmm. Let's suppose I want to become an electronics engineer. Well, at the start of my studies, I already have access to any number of electronic devices. I don't think that should stop me pursuing electronics further, though.

            There's the question of what stage I'm at and how I get to the next stage. I might know that I'm here to evolve, but the more I know about how to do that, the more effectively and efficiently I'll do it. Knowing that something is so is not the same as understanding it in more and more refined ways. When a young boy sees a beautiful woman, he understands her in a different way from a mature adult in his prime or an old man well past his prime. I know that as an old codger myself, I see beauty in women (young and old) whom, as a younger man, I might not have found beautiful.

            I do have difficulties accepting the idea that when we die, the afterlife realm is one in which we know everything. I can't see the point. What I think is that we all see that realm differently; each according to what s/he's learnt. Until such time as we come to perceive Reality immediately and directly as it actually is, we will want to reincarnate, learn a little more so that there'll be fewer veils between us and Reality. For whatever reason, incarnating is the best way to evolve a bit further.

            Comment


            • #7
              Arouet said:

              If we're here to learn from our experiences on earth, shouldn't we be focussed on those experiences?
              Absolutely. But that doesn't mean it's crazy to explore other categories of experience, too.

              As an analogy, think about people who are deeply interested in history. We live in the year 2012, but does that mean we're doing something wrong if we happen to be fascinated by life in *other* times (and places), even to the point of becoming historians? Or perhaps writers or readers of historical fiction?

              If we're not focusing all our attention on the present moment, does that mean we're not living life fully?

              And it seems to me it's the same for the afterlife. What happens after we die is an aspect of reality--like history--that I myself find immensely interesting.

              And not just interesting, but practical in terms of what it says to me about how to live in this moment.

              Up to about 1991, I was an atheist and materialist, 100% convinced of the rightness of my stance. But for the past twenty years, I've been studying near-death experience and related subjects, as well as having my own experiences in altered states, which I believe have taken me, at times, into the same realm.

              I'm more than happy to call myself a student of "death," or the afterlife, or the spiritual aspects of existence. And I look at my life now and compare it to how I was before, and I would never want to go back. I'm a better writer, teacher, and a more generous and loving person.

              I like myself more and I'm more at peace.

              So as I see it, my focus on what you're calling afterlife topics has taken me deeper into this life and better able to succeed with it.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Bruce Siegel View Post
                Up to about 1991, I was an atheist and materialist, 100% convinced of the rightness of my stance. But for the past twenty years, I've been studying near-death experience and related subjects, as well as having my own experiences in altered states, which I believe have taken me, at times, into the same realm.
                So what happened? Why did you start studying NDEs?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Arouet View Post
                  This is an offshoot from a discussion I had earlier with MU!! in the Physical Medium thread.

                  For the purpose of this discussion, we're assuming that there is an afterlife, and that we have figured out through whatever means that we have been placed on this earth, whether of our own choosing or not, in order to learn and have experiences that presumably will benefit us once we leave this realm.

                  Now, once we accept the above, is spending any further time studying these issues and focussing on after-life related topics consistent with our belief? If we're here to learn from our experiences on earth, shouldn't we be focussed on those experiences? I mean, we'll hardly have much use for any information we glean about the afterlife while we're here, since we'll know all about it once our memories return after we die. If we're to learn from our time on earth - shouldn't we be focussing on that?

                  (please don't take this as my discouraging anyone from having these discussions - as someone who doesn't believe we're placed here to learn I think there's nothing inconsistent with looking into these interesting issues. I'd like to spend a few threads exploring the implications of various views on these topics - including atheism/materialism if people want to do so)
                  I don't think there is much use in asking this question. It's a function of the fact that these ideas are wholly unconstrained. They can be whatever people need them to be. If you try to put constraints on the ideas using reason and facts, rationalizations can be made for why those constraints don't apply.

                  Linda

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Arouet, what are the most important things in life?

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Lots of replies folks! I will respond. Some of this requires some thought.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        In the scenario that Arouet puts forth, I would say that it is just as "important" to study the afterlife as it is to study cosmology. It's not of much practical use now, but it sure is interesting.

                        On the other hand, if our knowledge of the afterlife tells us that studying the afterlife is dangerous to our future well-being, then perhaps we should hesitate.

                        ~~ Paul

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Michael Larkin View Post
                          So what happened? Why did you start studying NDEs?
                          Great question, Michael! I remember the sequence of events well. I had just finished reading Sagan's Cosmos. Ironically, it was a skeptic who opened the door for me.

                          In the book, Sagan made his famous statement that there are as many stars in the universe as there are grains of sands on all the beaches of planet Earth. That struck me. Somehow, in trying to picture something so vast, my mind and imagination expanded beyond their normal limits, stretching my usual sense of what was and was not possible.

                          I was a member of a book club at the time, and they were offering a book called The Afterlife Experience by Ian Wilson. Despite its name and my rabid materialism, my newly-stretched mind found the subject intriguing:

                          "The purpose of this book is to explore the central question of whether death is unequivocally the end of our experience, or whether, just conceivably, something of us--consciousness, spirit, soul, call it what you will--carries on, to experience, and be experienced, after death. It is what some have called the "big question," the grandest and most enduring mystery."
                          Somehow, the question made sense to me, on the level of, "Well, what DOES happen to the molecules and atoms of my body when I die? Might they become part of the soil, and then turn into plants and so forth, and thus have some sort of conscious experience? And is there some way in which I (whatever "I" really means) might participate in that experience?"

                          So I could comfortably ask that question while still being absolutely certain that matter is all that matters.

                          Wilson's book turned out to be the perfect introduction to the subject, because he spends MOST of it rejecting various forms of alleged afterlife evidence, and even mocking them: mediumship, ghosts, past lives. He found the evidence for all of them lacking.

                          Today, I disagree with him, and find those to be valid phenomena. But at the time, his rejection of those ideas helped me to trust him.

                          And the whole book leads up to the one thing for which he could NOT find a materialist explanation that totally satisfied him: the near-death experience. So that got me started!
                          Last edited by Bruce Siegel; December 19th, 2012, 02:28 PM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Paul C. Anagnostopoulos View Post
                            In the scenario that Arouet puts forth, I would say that it is just as "important" to study the afterlife as it is to study cosmology. It's not of much practical use now, but it sure is interesting.

                            On the other hand, if our knowledge of the afterlife tells us that studying the afterlife is dangerous to our future well-being, then perhaps we should hesitate.

                            ~~ Paul
                            Let's hope, Paul, that you have as much true study of the afterlife as you do the cosmos.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Paul C. Anagnostopoulos View Post
                              if our knowledge of the afterlife tells us that studying the afterlife is dangerous to our future well-being, then perhaps we should hesitate.

                              ~~ Paul
                              Right. And maybe masturbation causes hair to grow on your palms. We simply need more research.

                              I know I'm doing my part.
                              Last edited by Bruce Siegel; December 19th, 2012, 04:43 PM.

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