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Aerospace Magnate Robert Bigelow Searches for Answers on Life After Death

Posted on 08 November 2021, 8:34

When Robert T. Bigelow, (below) the founder of Bigelow Aerospace in Las Vegas, Nevada, announced in January that he was launching the Bigelow Institute for Consciousness Studies (BICS) and sponsoring an essay competition on the best evidence for life after death, I had doubts about the success of such a contest.  It seemed to me the best evidence had already been discussed and reported by various researchers and by people experiencing paranormal events, such as near-death experiences, and I questioned whether anyone would be able to come up with fresh ideas on the subject.  I speculated that only a half-dozen people would enter the contest.  As it turned out, however, more than 1,200 applied and 200 of those were selected to submit essays.


The winners were announced on November 1, first prize of $500,000 going to Jeffrey Mishlove, Ph.D., (below) an American clinical psychologist, second prize of $300,000 to Pim Van Lommel, M.D., a Dutch cardiologist, and third prize of $150,000 to Leo Ruickbie, Ph.D., a sociologist and editor for the Society for Psychical Research in England. I was fortunate to win a runner-up prize of $50,000 for my essay titled, “Long Concealed – Now Revealed” in which I argued that the best and most overwhelming evidence was produced and documented before 1920.  Much evidence has been produced since 1920, but it is “icing on the cake” – a cake that was baked between 1850 and 1920.


The essays will be officially posted at the Bigelow Institute website within the next week or two.  Although I have not had the opportunity to read Mishlove’s winning entry, I gather that he cited both current and past evidence in his essay, offering it in a way that should make sense to the average layperson, not just to those with an academic mindset. Of course, those subscribing to a philosophy of nihilism will turn up their noses at it, but those with open minds should find much meaningful evidence to ponder on, not only in Mishlove’s essay but in all those posted. 

As I am not a researcher, academician, psychologist, parapsychologist, or doctor of any kind, I didn’t feel qualified to enter the contest, but I did consider the fact that, from some 25 years of study, I have become a historian of sorts on the early psychical research.  So few people I have met know anything about that research. I’ve talked with or interviewed a number of modern-day researchers and even they seem to know little about the pre-1920 research.  The late Carlos Alvarado, Ph.D., was probably the foremost authority on the subject and Stafford Betty, Ph.D., a retired religion and philosophy professor, is another person very familiar with the subject matter, but I think I can count on one hand the number of people I have met who have really explored the research of the pioneers – men like Judge John Edmonds, Dr. George Dexter, Professor Robert Hare, biologist Alfred Russel Wallace, Sir William Barrett, Sir William Crookes, Sir Oliver Lodge, Dr. Richard Hodgson, Professor James Hyslop and others.

As I see it, the case for survival was made by those pioneers before 1920, but because religion had been impeached by science, especially Darwinism, and because most scientists saw psychical research as having the same objectives as religion, the research carried out by those pioneers was ignored or rejected as just so much bunk.  Moreover, religions rejected it because some of it conflicted with established dogma and doctrine.  Thus, they saw it as “demonic.”

As suggested in my paper, the evidence strongly lending itself to proof that consciousness survives bodily death in a larger reality is substantial; it is nonetheless, complex, confusing, convoluted, complicated and sometimes conflicting, seemingly beyond the limits of exact or pure science. It can, however, be examined from the standpoint of more inexact science; that is, courtroom science. The objective is not absolute certainty.  It is conviction – a degree of certainty that provides much more peace of mind than the blind faith of religions. 

Based on what several of the pioneers were told by communicating spirits, they were experimenting on their side in their attempts to communicate with us.  The discarnate Benjamin Franklin, with the assistance of Emanuel Swedenborg, the great Swedish polymath of the eighteenth century, figured out how to communicate with the material world by means of raps, taps, and table turning. It gradually progressed from there to include the trance voice, the direct voice, automatic writing, materializations, and other phenomena. However, the obstacles to clear communication were many, including the need to overcome distortions by the medium’s mind.  Much of the communication involved thought-transference – the spirit communicator projecting an idea with some symbolism, which was then misinterpreted by the medium’s mind and resulted in incorrect information.  Such inaccuracies brought forth cries of fraud from the debunkers. 

Edmonds, who served as Chief Justice of the New York Supreme Court, was told by a spirit communicator that there was much opposition in the spirit world to communication between realms.  He added that “a combination has been formed to interrupt and, if possible, to overthrow it, and one mode is by visiting circles and individuals, exciting their suspicions of spirits, and bad thoughts as to their good faith and purity of purpose.”

Skeptics often ask why there was so much more dynamic mediumship 100-170 years ago than there is now.  My take on that is that is that people of that time needed it more than we do and the conditions were better. They had fewer escapes than we do – no radio, television, computers, phones, etc. Their church was their primary retreat in times of grief and mourning, but Darwinism had impeached religion and they had no sanctuary or any other haven for escape. The nihilism of materialism resulted in a doom and gloom mindset and a very melancholy approach to life, all at a time when hardships were abundant for most people, and when the greater part of the population was struggling to make a living, to simply survive.  When the fundamentalists of science pulled the rug out from under them and told them that this life is all there is, they lost hope.

Seeing such a condition in the material world, some in the spirit world felt that they had to make their presence known in order to assuage the hopelessness and despair.  Others, however, felt that the added adversity offered greater opportunities to learn and advance, and therefore they opposed it.  There may have been “earthbound” spirits who opposed it because they were still clinging to their earthly religious teachings. 

At some point, around 1900, the so-called Spiritualist movement was in decline, primarily because the waters had been muddied by the charlatans and the fundamentalists of science, thereby casting doubt on the genuine mediums.  On top of that, the genuine mediums were not infallible and when wrong information came through or when conditions were so inharmonious that they could not produce phenomena at all, they also were written off as frauds.  William Stainton Moses, an Anglican priest who became a gifted medium, was told by spirits that they overestimated their ability to help out, not anticipating so much abuse and ignorance on our side. Thus, they withdrew. 

The Great War resulted in a resurgence of spirit communication, but the “Roaring Twenties” that followed the war saw a return to more materialistic ways, extending to hedonism and epicureanism, and a rapid decline in the more dynamic forms of mediumship. When radio, movies, and then television came into the world, people no longer had to sit around their fireplaces knitting or whittling in a somewhat meditative state as they stared into the fire. The “noise” from their electronic gadgets prevented contact from the spirit world and the spirit world gradually gave up.

The turning point was the death of Hyslop in 1920.  A professor of logic and ethics at Columbia University before becoming a full-time researcher, Hyslop promoted the evidence for “survival” more than any other person.  Seeing the disparagement of Hyslop by those stuck in the muck and mire of materialistic science, other researchers were reluctant to step up and take his place. 

The field of parapsychology replaced psychical research during the 1930s, avoiding mediums, any mention of spirits of the dead, or of life after death.  Such mention would have discouraged funding and invited scoffs and sneers from the more “intellectual” academicians and scientists.  If science couldn’t explain the psychic phenomena, then it was left for science to figure it out in the future without invoking something as “ridiculous” as spirits of the dead.

Meanwhile, Hollywood and Madison Avenue continued to promote hedonism, epicureanism, and nihilism.  Research in past-life memories, near-death experiences, clairvoyance and other paranormal phenomena resulted in a few best-sellers and influenced some people who had abandoned orthodox religion to adopt a more spiritual philosophy, but the predominant worldview continued to be one of nihilism, which means “lights out” when we die. 

“It is probably time to end this closed-minded approach,” the introduction to the Bigelow Institute for Consciousness Studies website reads, going on to state that “One purpose of the BICS is to raise awareness among the public and within the scientific community of the importance and relevance of such [research].  BICS hopes to provide a public service by drawing increasing attention to, and encouraging research into, this fundamental and timeless topic…”

Hopefully, such interest in the “survival” issue by Bigelow and other prime movers will help the world reverse directions and see a bigger picture within a larger life.

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.
His latest book, No One Really Dies: 25 Reasons to Believe in an Afterlife is published by White Crow books.

Next blog post: November 22


At least one of the winning Bigelow contest essays bases its arguments for the afterlife squarely on NDEs. Not surprisingly it is physician Dr. Sam Parnia’s, who is one of the leading researchers into NDEs and also is a leading specialist on resuscitation and emergency medicine. He is active in an ongoing prospective study at major hospitals (AWARE 2), and makes it clear in his paper that his ongoing experience in emergency medicine and clinical studies of NDEs has not led him to change his survivalist views to materialism. The materialist skeptics must be disappointed. His essay is at Sam_Parnia_et_al.pdf .

From the essay:

“Yet, some people continue to dismiss these recalled experiences of death as being “unreal” – in part because they have been inexplicable using current models of understanding. Consequently, they have categorized them as “tricks of the mind” or “visions of a dying brain” – in essence unreal experiences that feel real to the person, but are occurring as either hallucinations, delusions or illusions. In this section, we will review the major limitations of this line of thought and what has facilitated the mischaracterization of these experiences as being “unreal”.
“As people approach death, they transition into a coma and become unconscious from the perspective of others - physicians or otherwise – who may be observing them from the outside. However, during this period of deep unconsciousness, a fascinating transcendent experience emerges. This section will focus on the first dimension of this experience, namely a perception of a sensation of separation from the body and a realization of having died. As will be discussed and examined later, this is one of the major recalled themes that provides tremendous support for the continuation of consciousness in relation to death and runs contrary to the notion that these experiences are “unreal” (i.e., hallucinations, delusions or illusions).”
“Based on the balance of probabilities and the evidence to date, it is proposed that the entity referred to as “consciousness”, “psyche” or the “self”, does not become annihilated; but instead continues after permanent death.”

David Magnan, Fri 26 Nov, 01:28

Lee and Michael,

Re. point 5, LAP or super-psi might be unfalsifiable, thereby making it non-science, but I think the most persuasive argument against it is simply the abductive reasoning to the best explanation with the least complications (i. e. not massively violating Ockham’s Razor or the principle of parsimony. So many paranormal or psychical phenomena for which there is much evidence require a great elaboration of super-psi phenomena to explain that way.

David Magnan, Tue 23 Nov, 20:30

Re:  Physical mediumship and All, Source, The One, All That Is, etc.

1. Physical mediumship is very pertinent to this particular blog but I’ve lacked the time to do justice to it in a comment. As it takes place in the border zone between physical life and non-physical existence (and involves more than just telepathic communication) anyone versed in the Seth material as I am would tend to connect it with Seth’s explications of the nature of physical reality (e.g. everyone creates their own unique physical continuum—but “everyone” includes not just a physical medium, but anyone observing their activities, including those deemed “scientific” observers).

Hopefully the topic will come up again in one of Michael’s future blogs.

2. All, Source, The One, All That Is, etc.

This is key to my current non-working hours pursuits.  In conjunction, Seth spoke of “inviolable identity” (others of “the many in the One and the One in the many) but is there a way to personally validate the reality of what Seth refers to as an all encompassing pyramidal gestalt identity, combining inference with practice?

Hopefully this topic will also show up again.

Bill Ingle, Tue 23 Nov, 18:36

Dear all,

Regarding the value of human terrestrial science it is worth reminding ourselves that our science can only tell us what IN PRINCIPLE our five physical-body senses tell us (ie only what comes to be observed by our unaided senses, eg the ‘naked eye’) unless the sense concerned is aided by equipment such as microscopes to extend the range and/or sensitivity of the relevant bodily sense organ. Further than this, science can learn of non-sensible realities even within THIS universe (such as Tonomura and Aspect investigated) only indirectly, by making INFERENCES from THIS-world measurements and other data that CAN be gleaned. We can also make a few inferences about OTHER worlds from observables appearing to our senses in THIS (physical) world, but we are then wise to be cautious. A necessary postulate may sometimes be possible.‘God’, from our bottom-up viewpoint, is a necessary postulate, but no more. All this is extensively analysed for the intelligent layman (the professional scientist should not need to be reminded) in Dr Maureen Lockhart’s book ‘The Subtle Energy Body’. Science is indeed very useful, as Lee says, but its scope and therefore its authority are severely circumscribed, so science must not speculate beyond its data, and the necessary observables are necessarily in THIS world to be measurable/observable at all, so scientific knowledge of other worlds can only be by inferences which one tries to ensure (but can never guarantee) are reliable. Sometimes it is possible to say that a postulate is a necessary one; that it MUST be true. We think continued life after the failure of the this-world body must be a fact, but as it is usually insensible to us, back here in the familiar world-around, it is an inference even if it is in a contiguous universe only a nanometre from the tips of our noses.

Eric Franklin

One also needs to perceive the balancing truth that even within this sensible (ie the physical) world most of science’s firm conclusions, its theories as distinguished both from its hypotheses and from its dogmatic prejudices, are often, perhaps mostly, not direct knowledge at all, but only logical inference. And, in even the best circumstances, it is inevitably mediated by sense organs. Occasionally (Einsteinian Relativity is a very uncommon instance) good science arises more from thought grounded in fundamental principles that seem firm enough to accept as ‘knowledge’ than from the results of experiment. Science is certainly fraught with philosophical pitfalls and other problems, and is not to be relied upon naively.

Eric Franklin, Tue 23 Nov, 10:49

Hi Kalervo,

Michael’s new post is active and this thread has grown stale in consequence, so I’m going to keep this short.  You seem like someone who is determined not to be swayed from his view, regardless of reply.  That’s fine, although attempting another round of such swaying puts me in mind of Mark Twain’s quip, “Don’t try and teach a pig to sing. It’s a waste of your time, and it annoys the pig.”  I would point out two things, however.  First, your personal choice of what you find satisfying as evidence is in no way scientific, or based on ‘research’, but is, in essence, a philosophic choice.  Whether it is good philosophy or bad is another question.  As such, to dismiss philosophy tout court is to dismiss your own rationale here.  Second, your claim that ‘One Mind’ theories are illogical, given that “A bird is not a fish. A deer is not a bear” ignores the obvious analogy to the dream state.  A dream-bird is not a dream-fish, nor is a dream-deer a dream-bear, but all are in fact the ‘imaginative products’ of one mind, that of the dreamer.  So too, the bird, fish, deer and bear may be so many apparently distinct ‘thoughts’ in the ‘one Mind’ of God.

As for the your valuing psychical research above all other claims to knowledge, you might look at the works of Dean Radin and Ed Kelly, both eminent parapsychologists, both of whose writings are broadly supportive of philosophic idealism and the primacy of consciousness.  As for science more generally, the following quote may be of interest:
“…this idealistic trend in modern physics goes back at least to the twin revolutions of relativity and quantum theory. In fact, of the dozen or so pioneers in these early revolutions—individuals such as Albert Einstein, Werner Heisenberg, Erwin Schroedinger, Louis de Broglie, Max Planck, Wolfgang Pauli, Sir Arthur Eddington—the vast majority of them were idealists or transcendentalists of one variety or another. And I mean that in a rather strict sense. From de Broglie’s assertion that ‘the mechanism demands a mysticism’ to Einstein’s Spinozist pantheism, from Schroedinger’s Vedanta idealism to Heisenberg’s Platonic archetypes: these pioneering physicists were united in the belief that the universe simply does not make sense—and cannot satisfactorily be explained—without the inclusion, in some profound way, of mind or consciousness itself. ‘The universe begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine,’ as Sir James Jeans summarized the available evidence. And, using words that few of these pioneering physicists would object to, Sir James pointed out that it looks more and more certain that the only way to explain the universe is to maintain that it exists ‘in the mind of some eternal spirit.’” [Ken Wilber, “The Eye of the Spirit”,  p.2]

Paul, Tue 23 Nov, 05:27


Even if you accept only point #5 below, what would be the motivation for any scientist to undertake such research?  So he proves it is genuine, but that does not prove life after death if you buy into superpsi, living-agent psi, the cosmic reservoir, etc., etc.  Where does that put us?

Consider the paraffin hands experiments of Charles Richet and Gustave Geley.  They had the “spirits” produced molds of their hands under highly controlled conditions - body searches, locked doors, holding the mediums hands, putting a colored dye into the paraffin to rule out the possibility the medium somehow smuggled his own molds into the room, etc., etc.  The hands produced did not match any hands in the room and one was a child’s hand. 

Geley came to believe in the spirit hypothesis, but Richet, a Nobel Prize winner, rejected it even though he could not otherwise explain it beyond that it was somehow produced by the medium’s subconscious in ways that science could not understand.

What else could they have done to rule out fraud?  If nothing, how does one rule out superpsi, living-agent psi, the cosmic reservoir?

Incidentally, indications are that Richet eventually accepted the survival hypothesis, but would not go public with his change of view.

Michael Tymn, Tue 23 Nov, 01:35


I agree with points 4 and 5. Science is perfectly suited to study physical mediumship and I am not sure what court room science has to do with the assessment of phenomena that can be measured using scientific methods and scientific instrumentation. I personally know of relatively young PhDs involved with research into psi and consciousness survival- plenty of scientists have backgrounds well suited to the study of physical mediumship, especially given all the technology at their disposal, not in existence during the 19th century. Of course many have no interest in this subject matter, but I disagree that science does not prepare one for psychical research.

If ectoplasm is produced, a sample can be taken for analysis- this has nothing to do with court room science. If hands materialize, lasers and other instruments can help to analyze such materializations to preclude fraud. Scientists/MDs can study a medium’s voice functions, auditory function, and brain activity during the sitting.

Solid scientific controls can also be established to preclude fraud. The list goes on and on. I am specifically referring to scientific study of physical mediums of today who claim to produce ectoplasm, materialization of hands out of the air, etc. The scientific method can easily ascertain whether something has been produced by fraud and confirm whether something cannot be explained by science.

As for studying mediums who claim to communicate with the dead and pass on messages to a sitter,  scientists such as Julie Beischel are already doing this research using far more controls than any researcher used during the 19th
century (if anyone knows of any 19th researchers utilizing quintuple blind controls during their study of mediums, please let me know), precluding sensory leakage. Julie, with her PhD in pharmacology and toxicology has the ideal scientific background to prevent sensory leakage while studying the accuracy of a medium’s claims- and more- given that the science of toxicology and pharmacology teaches the scientist how to develop highly controlled studies to test effects of drugs vs placebos. She has taken this knowledge, gained through many years of scientific training, and transferred it to the rigorous study of mediums.

Brazilian scientists, and others, are using functional mri’s to study brain activities of mediums during trances, etc,

There is plenty that science has to offer to this field and I suspect Bigelow will next fund scientific experiments to try to expand the field of knowledge.

Lee, Tue 23 Nov, 00:07

The kinds of words that ring true for me are “interconnected,” “a part of,” and “If I hurt another I hurt myself”.

That’s the kind of stuff we need to work on at this stage of the game, IMHO.  Whatever is way down the road, I believe it is going to feel right and good when we get there.

Lloyd, Mon 22 Nov, 22:08


There are a number of problems problems with what you propose, including:

1) the particular discipline of the “scientist” does not prepare him or her for psychical research;
2) the phenomena to be examined do not lend themselves to pure or exact science, only to inexact or courtroom science;
3) the phenomena for the most part extend beyond the boundaries of known science and therefore the scientists can do no more than speculate on what they have observed;
4) even the most objective scientist can do no more than straddle the fence in his/her conclusions; those who dare lean in the direction of spirits and survival risk damage to their professional reputation.
5) the superpsi hypothesis or theory, whatever name is given to it, is unfalsifiable; thus, even if the researchers conclude the phenomena are genuine, it does not “prove” spirits and survival, only that whatever is being observed is beyond science. 

And so it has gone for the past 170 years.

Michael Tymn, Mon 22 Nov, 21:33


Larry Dossey provides no evidence. Instead, he interprets some cases in such a way that they seem to support his “One Mind” theory.

Religious beliefs are not evidence either.

It is okay if you prefer “testimony” to evidence, but I don’t find that “testimony” as credible as you do. To me the evidence from psychical research surpasses all religion, philosophy and theory. Moreover, “One Mind” theories are illogical. A bird is not a fish. A deer is not a bear.

Kalervo, Mon 22 Nov, 19:45


I agree with your suggestions. I have not given this much thought yet. I would just add I would like to have new scientists, who are open minded, study physical mediumship of today, not the same few that have been doing it for decades. It is not that they are not credible, I just think it would be refreshing if younger scientists from major universities would take part in helping to develop rigorous controls, monitoring experiments and then analyzing results. Perhaps a skeptical scientist added to the the mix would also add to the credibility of such experiments, if they were to take part in all phases of the experiment.

Lee, Mon 22 Nov, 17:51

Some ideas would be: experiments of the mediums and transmediums of today. Let the doubtfull scientists ask the questions they find necessary to the mediums of today.
Put some computers at work to analyse and compare the content of all the spirit teachings and NDE’s.
Encourage people to tell about their experiences with spirit or the strange synchronicities.
Film with the most sensitive camera’s some medium in action and try to discover the reason of the voice change by some trancemediums.

Chris, Mon 22 Nov, 15:39

Dear Paul,

Thanks for your comment, earlier today, which is a welcome reminder of the comfort we should all feel, and an excellent gathering together of the great variety of sources of strong evidence which I believe we all admire, longer though it is than a comment from Newton which, similarly excellent, brought forth irritated objection even to its much shorter length.

It is good to see that we have precisely the same conception of “God” and of our own subminuscule size, but also secure and integral position, within His/Her Being. As we all realise, that understanding is far from new, having been in the human mind for thousands of years, and doubtless it was “God” her/himself who put the idea there. As has been recently suggested, the conception of ideas is inspiration from Above, and is surely one and the same process as mediumship.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Mon 22 Nov, 13:26

Thanks, Michael.

I cannot recall if someone here or elsewhere mentionioned that Bigelow will now have all 29 winners brainstorm together ( perhaps in rotating groups via zoom?) next steps. I think that would be a terrific idea as every winner, in their own right, has something unique to add from their own area of expertise. The question now is how to progress beyond our current state of knowledge, as expounded in the essays, via perhaps some new experiments that can take us a step beyond our current state of consciousness survival knowledge.

Michael, I really hope you and other winners are somehow grouped together to brainstorm next steps, as I do not think it is enough to just leave things as they are. I think only through unique experimentation can this field of knowledge be expanded upon. If not, then we are left with knowledge that everyone (who is serious about this field) was already aware of. Hopefully Robert is willing to fund some type of new experiments that could be designed through the collaboration of the 29 winners.

If anyone has ideas for possible experiments, I would be more than interested to hear of them.

Lee, Mon 22 Nov, 10:47


Yes, I am familiar with the Scole phenomena, although it has been about 10 years since I read one of the books about them. I also exchanged a number of email with one of the key researchers, now deceased, and whose name escapes me at the moment.  I don’t recall how many experiments there were, but there were a number of them.  It is difficult to compare different experiments over time with others.  I would rank them in my top 10, but I doubt they would make my top five.  I’d have to go back and read the reports about them to really answer your question, but I’m fairly certain they would not make my top five.  Thanks for asking.

Michael Tymn, Mon 22 Nov, 09:03

As I bang out a new blog, with or without Sir Arthur’s inspiration, or more likely with or without inspiration from his “group soul,” I want to thank all who have contributed comments to this post.  They are much appreciated.

To respond to Newton, yes, my sitting with trance medium was early in my studies of psychical matters—before I retired from my regular job and had less time to explore.  I was more into reincarnation and NDEs at the time.

As for a trance medium being aware enough to turn over a tape in a tape recorder, I have not been able to recall anything similar to that with Piper or other trance mediums.  I know that there are various degrees of trance and I have no idea what degree of trance Pacheco was in when I sat with him. His eyes rolling back in his head and the voice change made it appear genuine, but there was very little evidential information.  I was at about 60% certainty before the tape recorder change, at which time, I went down to about 10% on him. At the same time, I recognize that there may have been an admixture of spirit communication and subconscious coloring. That possibility puts me at about 15% now. Special thanks to Lloyd for sharing his father’s experiences.

Michael Tymn, Mon 22 Nov, 03:39


I believe you argue, and I paraphrase here, that the mediumship we see today is nowhere near the quality of 19th century mediumship. Jeffrey Mishlove in his essay notes how the Scole experiments produced the most incredible phenomea ever witnessed (or something to this effect- I don’t have the essay in front of me so I am relying on my memory).

I am curious as to whether you are familiar with the results of the Scole experiments, and what you make of Jeffrey Mishloves claim.

Thanks for your thoughts.

Lee, Mon 22 Nov, 01:27

As I recall, there is quite a lot of information written by Richard Hodgson and Eleanor Sidgwick concerning Leonora Piper going in and coming out of trances.  Your father’s experience reminded me of the similar later trances of Mrs. Piper in that much was made of her babblings during the period when she was coming out of trance.  -AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Sun 21 Nov, 21:21

Hi Kalervo,

The matters you raise – critical as they are – deserve further elucidation.  Unfortunately, to do proper justice to each of your points would require a very long comment, better yet an article proper or even a dedicated book.  As for your first point, there actually is a book (actually, a few now), Larry Dossey’s “One Mind”, that you might look at.  For myself, as I alluded to earlier, I think idealism captures part of the picture but stands incomplete, it being necessary to complement it with a proper metaphysics of Being.  You speak of ‘evidence’, but really what we have to work with is ‘testimony’, which one hopes may be at once authoritative, wide-ranging and mutually confirming.  My view is that that such matters are best approached from gathering and consulting the testimony of the wise, both incarnately and discarnately.

First, however, let me address your claim – which is the real concern I sense behind your statements –  that ‘union’, ‘unification’ or ‘merging’ with what Myers terms ‘the Great Source’ would result in ‘annihilation’.  The true state of affairs, as borne out by the discarnate testimony, is more subtle and paradoxical than that, a merging with the Whole that nevertheless retains an exalted individuality-in-unity, one greatly transformed and expanded from one’s present egoic state.  Myers actually addresses your question directly:

“This merging with the Idea, with the Great Source of spirit does not imply annihilation. You still exist as an individual. You are as a wave in the sea; and you have at last entered into Reality and cast from you all the illusions of appearances. But some intangible essence has been added to your spirit through its long habitation of matter, of ether the ancestor of matter, of what the scientists call empty space, though, if they but knew it, empty space is peopled with forms of an infinite fineness and variety.” [F.W.H. Myers in Geraldine Cummins, “The Road to Immortality,” no pag.]

Let us first consider testimony from the (once) incarnate wise, and for ‘One Mind’, let us speak instead of the ‘Real’, ‘Ultimate Reality’, or ‘Supreme Principle’, which is indicated by such terms as the Gottheit or Godhead of Meister Eckhart, Hyperousios or Super-Essence of Gregory Palamas, Ein Sof or unmanifested Deity of the Zohar, the Good of Plato, the One of Plotinus, Ibn al-’Arabī’s al-Dhāt or Divine Essence, Śaṅkarācārya’s Nirguṇa Brahman or attributeless supreme Reality, the eternal Tao or Principle of Lao Tzu, and the Gzhi or primordial Ground of Dzogchen.  The Real is not only transcendent, but also immanent, its trace within us typically identified as Spirit, indicated by such terms as the Hebrew ruaḥ, Arabic ruḥ and Greek pneuma, as well as the daimon or immanent genius of Socrates, Plato’s hegemon or leader within, the funkelein or divine spark of Meister Eckhart, St. Paul’s inner man, neo-Confucianism’s liang-chih or inner sage, ka or spiritual essence of the Egyptians, and Ātman or Self of the Vedanta.  The realization of one’s identity with Spirit, one’s essence and highest aspect, is spoken of in terms of the theosis of Hesychasm, fanā’ and baqā’ of Sufism, and mokṣa of Vedanta.  This realization is also of one’s identity with the Absolute, of the recognition that there is only the Real.

All of the above testimony is on the incarnate side, as it were.  Let me turn next to the discarnate side.  First of all, I would encourage you to take a look at my reconstruction of George Wright’s “The Green Book”, discussed (with link to the document) by Michael Prescott [] and by Michael Tymn [].  This remarkable posthumous document marries in a single vision a monistic idealist metaphysics of the emanation of the Divine Source into creation and the subsequent return of that creation to its Source to a cosmological understanding of human becoming that encompasses both incarnate and posthumous existence.

As for broader discarnate testimony regarding Divine unity and the unification of the individual soul with it, there are two lines of consideration that are particularly relevant: first, the immanent presence of the Real both within and without; second, the gradual (and perhaps infinitely drawn out) unification of the soul with the Real at the soul’s furthest degree of return or stage of maturity and advancement.

Let me first provide a brief selection of quotations from the discarnate literature that speaks to this first point, the immanence of the Real:

“In some way, all aspects of form into which creative energy is constantly converting itself are the source. We are all, in so far as we are in alignment with Him, ‘God.’ We are his personality en masse. People like you and me are very minute specks of Him, but the very advanced people are more ‘substantial’ parts of Him and they administer the laws in a sense, though there seems to be certain automatic inevitability about the law in action.” [Philip Gilbert in Alice Gilbert, “Philip in the Spheres,” p.44]

“The whole Universe is of God; the Planets revolve from the power of God within them, touched and supported by power without. God is creative, from Him all life springs. Elemental man is a manifestation of God-power through form, which in the lower creation is manifest in a different way, though he can deteriorate to less than they. All life as projected into human bodies is therefore a ‘bit of God’, and we are in consequence truly His sons and by that fact immortal.” [Claude Kelway-Bamber, “Claude’s Book,” p.43]

“You are divine, therefore, holy, and holy is the never changing, always enduring, never vanishing eternity, which serves even the Godhead Who created it. You, too, are eternal; sink this highest of all thoughts deeply into your hearts, for out of God originated the eternity you feel in yourself.” [Sigwart in Jospeh Wetzl, “The Bridge Over the River,” p.50]

“All inspiration flows direct from Him Whom you call God; that is to say, from the Great, All-Pervading Spirit, Who is in and through and amongst all.
…You live, indeed, as we live, in a vast ocean of spirit from which all knowledge and wisdom flow into the soul of man. This is that indwelling of the Holy Spirit, of Whom it is said in your sacred records that He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. This is that great truth of which we have before spoken, that ye are gods, in that you have within you a portion of that all-pervading, all-informing Spirit, which is the Manifestation of the Supreme, the indwelling of God.” [Imperator in William Stainton Moses, “More Spirit Teachings,” no pag.]

“Nowhere have I encountered the furnishings of a conventional heaven or glimpsed the face of God. On the other hand, certainly I dwell in a psychological heaven by earth’s standards, for everywhere I sense a presence, or atmosphere, or atmospheric presence that is well-intentioned, gentle yet powerful and all-knowing. This seems to be a psychological presence of such stunning parts, however, that I can point to no one place and identify it as being there in contrast to being someplace else. At the risk of understating, this presence seems more like a loving condition that permeates existence and from which all existence springs….
While I mention this [atmospheric] presence as itself, so thoroughly does it pervade everything that attempts to isolate it are useless. All theological and intellectual theories are beside the point in the reality of this phenomenon. I know that this presence or loving condition forms itself into me, and into all other personalities; that it lends itself actively to seek my good in the most particular and individual ways; yet that my good is in no way contrary to the good of anyone else, but beneficial.” [William James in Jane Roberts, “The Afterdeath Journal of an American Philosopher,” pp.162-3]

Let me next provide a brief selection of quotations from the discarnate literature that speaks to this second point, the gradual unification of the soul with the Real in the soul’s path of return and ascent:

“Life is a steep mountain which we have to surmount before we can return to the Great One.” [Mike Swain in Jasper Swain, “From My World to Yours,” pp.73]

“The process of purgation through which we pass leaves the soul more free from its strait jacket and more impelled to follow a path which will lead finally to union with the Godhead.” [T.E. Lawrence in Jane Sherwood, “Post-Mortem Journal,” pp.121]

“We are able to accept the straightforward plan of steady progress, progress according to natural laws controlled and directed by Creative Mind. There is a gradual refinement of mind and matter until states of formlessness become desirable and the soul becomes merged with the unifying Spirit we call God.” [Jim McLean in Lesley May, “Letters from Mother,” p.115]

“After death, the soul sees and embraces at a glance all its past emigrations, but it cannot see what God has in store for it. This foreknowledge is only possessed by the soul that has attained to entire union with God, after a long succession of existences.” [Allan Kardec, “The Spirits’ Book,” no pag.]

“At higher levels of consciousness, Group Souls unite to form greater Units. This, I reason, must be the continued Law of Progress into Divinity which is a Unity, a Oneness, a total, mysterious and glorious whole. But only thus far dare I aspire to the Divine Plan. Here / and now I am privileged to be enabled to touch only the fringe of the consciousness of Groups working at this level and to co-operate with them.” [Frances Banks in Helen Graves, “Testimony of Light,” pp.139-40]

“All is order, advancement, progress. And all is unity. Life cells within Life cells, centres within Centres, Groups within Groups, into the very Heart of Divinity.” [Frances Banks in Helen Graves, “Testimony of Light,” p.118]

Lastly comes the seventh state, the merging of the journeying soul with its spirit. When you attain to that beatitude you pass into the Beyond, you realize the meaning of the word immortality. Matter is transcended, cast off. You enter into timelessness and become one with the Idea behind all life, one with God, one with that portion of His Spirit which has been connected with you in all the planes of existence.” [F.W.H. Myers, in Geraldine Cummins, “The Road to Immortality,” no pag.]

Finally, let me also include a critical statement from Imperator that – like my opening quote from Myers – speaks very directly to the concerns you have expressed:

“[The soul] is refined until the dross is gone, and the pure spiritual gold remains. We know not of its life in the inner heaven. We only know that it grows liker and liker to God, nearer and nearer to His image. It may well be, good friend, that the noblest destiny of the perfected spirit may be union with the God into whose likeness it has grown, and whose portion of divinity, temporarily segregated during its pilgrimage, / it so renders up to Him who gave it. These to us, as to you, are but speculations.” [Spirit leader Imperator in William Stainton Moses, “Spirit Teachings,” 156-7.]
Stainton Moses: ‘You do not know what becomes of it then? Does it lose identity?’
We do not know. It would naturally lose much of that individuality which you associate with independent existence. It would lose the form which you associate with personality. And the spirit would be proportionately developed, until it was fitted to approach to the very Centre of Light and Knowledge. Then, indeed, it might be that individual existence would be forever merged in that great Centre of Light . . . . We only know that ceaseless progress nearer and nearer to Him, may well assimilate the soaring spirit more and more to His nature, until it becomes verily and indeed a son of God, pure as He is pure, stainless as His own immaculate nature, yea, perfect with some measure of His infinite perfection. This is our vision of glory; assimilation to the Divine; growth in knowledge and in grace; approach nearer and yet nearer to the Essence of created Light.
…Stainton Moses: ‘It feels that if the final cause of life is absorption into the Source of Life, it seems we toil in vain.’
Life! What know you of it? Its very meaning is narrowed down in your mind to that miserable shred of existence which is all you know as yet. What know you of the future glories of being, which even in the surrounding spheres make being a blessing?
What can you picture of the existence of the higher realms where the emancipated spirit lives in union and communion with the godlike and sublime? How can you hope to picture the still grander life of contemplation, the very conditions of which are the reverse of all you now experience; where the avenues of true knowledge are indefinitely enlarged, and where self and all that cramps and binds is forever lost: and where that which you now call individuality, personal identity, or some such synonym of self-hood, is gone forever?
And if, when the countless ages which no finite mind can grasp are at last exhausted; when the fount of lower knowledge has been emptied of its contents, and the spirit has done with the things of sense, and has been perfected through labour and suffering, and been made fit to enter on its heritage of glory, and to dwell with the God of Light in the heaven of the perfected; if that loss of self-hood to you seem now annihilation, loss of individual existence, or absorption into the eternal Sun of Truth, what is that to you? Lower your eyes lest you be blinded.
Trust us, the knowledge gained by the journey of life, throughout its vast extent, will amply compensate for the toil of having existed.” [Imperator in William Stainton Moses, “More Spirit Teachings,” no pag.]

Paul, Sun 21 Nov, 21:01

Michael, your skepticism concerning the trance medium you consulted some 25 years ago is understandable from the edited, excerpted transcript you’ve provided. But I’m curious…how far into the study of psychical research were you at the time of this session? Were you already interested in this stuff about the afterlife and communication with the departed and beginning to look seriously into it, or were you at the time preoccupied with your journalism job, family life, etc., rendering this session with the medium merely a birthday present lark?

Newton E. Finn, Sun 21 Nov, 19:41

I believe Robert Bigelow has more in mind than an essay contest—he has ample resources to proceed into active investigation and I expect that’s the direction he’ll go in.

Merely reading about attempts to respond to the challenge of determining what the best evidence for an afterlife is, no matter when these attempts took place—- 1870 or 1998—won’t enable anyone to fathom what’s involved here, in my opinion.

What’s required is engaging relevant intuitive parts of self—scientific detachment, analysis, the workings of intellect, etc.; these aren’t without value but by themselves just aren’t sufficient.  If you wanted to learn how to swim you could read all available literature on the topic but that would pale compared to getting into the water, even flailing around in deep water.

This then becomes a question of _how_ to engage relevant intuitive parts of self.

One way would be to take classes in mediumship, with a teacher certified in one of the main Spiritualist churches—I’ve known several people who sought training to augment their natural abilities (like many, they saw the dead from an early age; unlike many, they didn’t take “That’s only your imagination” advice from parents or others to heart).  The training took years.

In the classes I took, you had to stand and deliver after the opening meditation (which served to firm up a shared intent, shared with those in the class and those they would attempt to contact, a healing intent)—there was no place to hide. 

Students served as other students’ guinea pigs, each acting as the medium or reader and scanning the class, or as the sitter who would be approached by the reader.

Everyone developed their own approach under these circumstances.  I scanned the class with my physical eyes closed, looking for interior “mind’s eye” visuals.  Other “heard” something.  When an interior image seemed appropriate and associated with a particular fellow student or sitter, I would then approach them with “May I come to you?”

This was followed with an attempt to secure 5 pieces of “evidence”—the sitter says yes or no to each and the interaction only proceeds to communication if there are 5 yes’s; otherwise it ends.

Evidence was all over the place—preferences of the deceased—fond of a particular kind of jewelry, owned a particular kind of dog with such and such a name, lived in city X, served in the Korean War, etc.

This form of mediumship is limited by the memory of the sitter.  They may have no knowledge or recollection of some prior ancestor or have forgotten someone from their past who seeks to convey a message.

I was sometimes successful; there were also times when I said “No” to a fellow student, as I was unfamiliar with whoever they were attempting to describe, but then, driving home, a memory arose of a likely person, whether a relative or someone I’d known in my childhood.

I also ran into a problem, as I began to acquire vivid, detailed “past life” information, one time involving the teacher and another student, both involved with a particular opera house in what is now Germany.  There’s no way to validate this kind of information, though—it’s outside the boundaries of “evidential” mediumship.

There are other ways to invoke intuitive parts of your self; quite a few.  Realize that science as we know it is deaf, dumb and blind in this area and can’t help but be.

Great scientists may be inspired, their inspiration arising from their own intuitive aspects, true, but science today is divorced from even its own origins and originators, who were never as “ego bound” as is considered normal by all in our present world who believe that everything can be understood using the rational intellect alone.

Bill Ingle, Sun 21 Nov, 19:32


No, I never went back to the medium and I pretty much wrote him off as a fraud.  However, not long after a psychic told me that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was influencing me in some way. She had no knowledge of the session with Pacheco. Perhaps that was some kind of telepathy.  I don’t think these blogs are the result of automatic writing, at least as I understand it, but I often feel that certain books and subjects “sort of fall into my lap,” and I wonder if Sir Arthur, or perhaps someone in his “group soul,” is motivating me to continue my search. I sometimes ask myself why I am continuing with an interest in the subject matter and tell myself it is time to return to more worldly subjects, back to writing about sports and more mundane subjects.  Then another book “falls into my lap” to explore.  Surely, Sir Arthur has better things to do and is probably out of vibrational range now, but the idea of a group soul tied to him seems like a possibility. Jon recently mentioned that he was reading one of Stewart Edward White’s book, all of which I read about 20 years ago, and now I am back to reading those books and finding things that escaped me the first time through. Things I read yesterday tie in with the discussion about Kastrup’s ideas—more in opposition to them than in agreement with them, which I will attempt to discuss here in a future blog or two.  As I understand Kastrup, we are all merging into some kind of egoless Oneness, i.e., losing our individuality, a message that comes from many others, but the “Invisibles,” which seem to be a group soul communicating through Betty White, say there is a big paradox in that respect, that we are working on achieving more individuality so that we can better join in the Oneness, or words to that effect.  More on White and the Invisibles in a future blog. I remain, as the Glastonbury spirit told Bligh Bond, a “blind groper” searching for answers. To return to writing about mundane matters like sports midway into the ninth decade of life seems like a return to pure philistinism. Right now, I am excited about getting back to re-reading White. So much of it seems new to me, even though I read it all many years ago.

Michael Tymn, Sun 21 Nov, 19:05

Lee (Sat 20 Nov, 20:31),

“I do not think it fair to bash Kastrup for not knowing about 19th century mediumship cases. Clearly Mishlove never told him he would bring up these cases prior to the interview so Bernardo was honest and explained that he was responding from a position of ignorance when questioned about cases that he had never studied.”

I disagee. Kastrup has established himself as a leading expert and advocate of a self-developed variety of Idealism and at least appears to question survival. And he brings this on with the self-proclaimed authority of a leading academic.
By assuming this position he inherently proclaims himself to be an expert in all the evidence that pertains to the elements of his philosophical/metaphysical position, his proposed world system. That in turn reasonably requires him to have delved into and studied all of this evidence, which surely includes the 19th and early 20th century mediumistic communication data.

If he just dismisses all this empirical evidence, then he is obligated to show in detail how it can plausibly be dimissed. He has not done that. He doesn’t deliver on this requirement to have studied and either accepted or plausibly rejected the clearly relevant data, which failure I believe severely damages his credibility.

David Magnan, Sun 21 Nov, 17:33

RE:  The tape recorder incident, and what it might or might not reveal about the authenticity of the medium you were seeing that day.

My Dad was a trance medium starting around 1960—that is, he would go into a trance and allow spirits to temporarily take control of his speech and movements.  When the session was over, there was usually a single involuntary jerk of his whole body, and then he would look around and rub his eyes.

I don’t recall a jerk happening as he was going into a trance, though.  Just a gradual calming down, followed by soft chatter in the language of the spirit guide, gradually getting stronger, and then, at some point, the spirit would break through into English.

Dad said he was either unconscious, or sitting in the back of his head, or out of his body while the sessions were going on.  So I suppose it is possible that a trance medium could still be partly in control, and able to butt in like you describe, without breaking the continuity.  Using Dad as a model, it might possibly be during something like that calming down stage.  IMHO, we still don’t know if there is any one way the phenomena manifests that might give any clue about whether it is authentic or not.  Perhaps every medium is different.

In any case, this would make an interesting study:  The nuances of trance medium sessions.  Are they similar across mediums?  I wonder how many trance mediums are practicing today, or how much (7mm film) footage there is from days gone by?  Perhaps other mediums, or sitters, have left detailed comments about their experiences.  Perhaps there could be a poll of modern day trance mediums, with a sample group that has been tested and one that has not?  How many trance mediums are tested today?

Dad was an open-minded skeptic about it all.  For the most part, he and the rest of the family believed we were really talking to spirits.  After all, there were verifiable pieces of otherwise unknowable data that would show up from time to time.  But I remember one time, after coming out of a trance, Dad said, “This could all be my subconscious mind,” and then he nodded his head from side to side in mild amazement, and moved on.
I myself went through an all-too-long phase in my teen and adult years when I attributed the verifiable incidences to super psi coming from Dad.  It took looking hard at the literature, and consistently following your blog and a few others, like Michael Prescott’s, to finally convince me that the spirit world is real again.

Thank you for being there.  And congratulations on your win.  You certainly deserve it!

Lloyd, Sun 21 Nov, 17:27

Michael, did you ever confront the medium with that recorder-incident? I saw once a video of a ‘transmedium’ speaking as Erik Medhus in her own voice but with the ‘vocabulary’ of Erik. She suddenly spoke in the 3th person (he) instead of the first person (I) and it felt immediately that it was wrong. Of course this is my personal vision, who am I to judge?

Chris, Sun 21 Nov, 08:30


it doesn’t matter whether we merge into “the One mind” sooner or later. The end result in both cases is annihilation.

I strongly disagree with your view, because:

1) There is zero evidence for the existence of “the One Mind”.

2) There is zero evidence that any individual consciousness would merge with it.

3) Those cases you mentioned (and many other cases as well) suggest that individual selves continue to exist after death.

4) The idea of merging with “the One Mind” or “source” is illogical.

5) Discarnate spirits themselves affirm that individuality is never lost:

Kalervo, Sun 21 Nov, 00:26

Since Sir Arthur’s name came up again, I’ll share part of a reading I had with a trance medium about 25 years ago.  The medium, Arthur Pacheco, had a reputation here in Hawaii as being a “channel” for Doyle. After a minute or so, his eyes appeared to roll back in his head and his voice changed completely from a local Portuguese accent to a thick Scottish one, difficult to understand at times.  I was skeptical and still am for reasons mentioned below. Some of it was evidential in that he knew I was a journalist. I wrote a sports column at the time for the morning paper and it had my name in bold print and a photo of me at the top of the column. When my wife made the appointment as a birthday present for me, she gave my full name. Thus, he might easily have recognized my name.  After he went into trance, this was recorded (much abridged as the reading took about 40 minutes)

Oh, we’ve got the body now and we can begin to speak.  Very well. Um, oh, oh, oh.

Doyle here. I am almost speechless, which of course in my case is rather rare.
Yet I would begin.  I think it’s only proper that we begin the way of an introduction.
I function as a spokesman for a particular counsel which I am affiliated.  Currently we are attempting to speak through the medium to get our own thoughts across all the more clearly to you.

The only reason that I mentioned that I was speechless, is not for lack of wits but rather that ... well lets put it like this…well, you and I have been related fairly recently.  I’m speaking blood relative now.  Though I tell you that it is the better part of wisdom that the exact details of such a relationship not be divulged, at least not now.  So if you don’t mind for the nonce I shall prefer to leave it in the ethers, as some say.  But do know that it all shall be revealed really, really at the proper time.

One such as you with your undying quest—- I shall call it—- to know, to experience, to be and therefore to share the truth as you understand it, can only be rewarded you see.
Would that more knew.  I wish that they would.  That if only that they could hold fast to the things that are most truthful in their lives and their understanding and their philosophies.
Why, it’s only a matter of time before the good lord shall in infinite wisdom afford them the opportunity to share it with others.  And so it’s been, you know.

By and by…(words not understood due to accent)  I recall even now should I cast my attention retrospectively that I would oft lament unto my wife: “How is it that they cannot understand these things?  How is it that they scoff at the very mystery of life?”  And yet, well, I was surrounded by it, wasn’t I.  All about…... 

......You’ve been before the very throne of God Almighty.  What makes you think these mortals will understand?  Look at them groveling about for food, for shelter.”  And it stopped him just for the moment; just for the moment.  But then he put his hand down, just like that, tapped the earth and said “Some will understand.”...ha..ha..ha..ha…

And so they have and so they shall, friend.  And so they shall understand you…...
Now, look here, let us get one thing quite plain betwixt the two of us and it is this: authors work with authors.

In that you’ve taken this
step, in that you’ve elected to do the thing that you are now endeavoring to do, you should find much help coming from very sources.  We stick together you might say as a family of sorts.

Not alone when discussing or writing about topics that are of spirit, but in anything that can elucidate the minds of men.  Why to explain the rules of the game, of soccer for instance is enlightening…yes, enlightening.  For suddenly your brother walks away knowing something that he did not know before.  The light in the aura registers the joy for the soul knows its own worth and its own intrinsic path toward ultimate enlightenment…...

But again, back to you, let us take this interesting little direction.  You are soon to become more acquainted than ever I do believe with the concept of those that collectively form what is known as the great karmic board.  The so-called Lords of Karma.  Oh yes, these beings do indeed exist.  I believe the old Hindus might have referred to them as the Limpikas.  So does Madame Blavatsky, that was her term I believe..

But any rate, these beings can be addressed, can be approached as one might approach ones senator—-not always in person, for they are not physical after all.  But in the written document, in the petition if you will and it is precisely for this point that I have come really.  That I might…well…coach you, I suppose, if you don’t mind the pun on how to reach them.  What would I do were I in your case? Well, I should do this. I should set my self down and begin tapping away on those keys…...................
...ha…ha…  They won’t know that; they don’t need to. Oh, on these topics that you find vis a vis holes in his philosophy.  Oh, he’ll just be spouting off things that he thinks will make him effective.  That’ll be another thing; a bit controversial that.  Yet again you’ll be writing, leaving the athletic field for the anont…. In times past, you were…well… a practitioner of the magical arts in all the various lives—-three times in England that I am aware of.  And in one particular case, we crossed paths in that very life.  Why I must admit though that in that life you struck fear into my heart…. ...I heard this very gruff voice—-yours—- ha..ha..ha…  saying to me “Why waste all that energy on crying like an old lady, when you can be using it to build a future that your father wants you to build?”  Well, the shock of it, eh.  I turned about only to see you of all people.  The old boo boogey…..”

What made me most skeptical is that the tape clicked off at 30 minutes and he had the awareness to reach out, open the recorder, and turn the tape over while supposedly still in “trance.” I’ve attempted to find out if the trance condition would permit such awareness, but nobody I have talked with seems to know. Anybody here know?

Michael Tymn, Sat 20 Nov, 23:30

Bravo!, Lee. And thank you!

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Sat 20 Nov, 22:56

Dear all,

Despite the resumption of pointed criticisms from AOD I have to point out that Kastrup does NOT alter my own belief that personality does indeed survive death, and that utterances from beyond the grave are utterances by living and identifiable, nameable, historical, individual humans. (He himself does not preclude the possibility that this view is the correct one.) I simply said that his methods of thought have led him to a great measure of truth, and that his opinions are therefore intelligently argued and rational, not being based on emotion or vague thinking, as many opinions certainly are (which fact has no bearing on whether the views themselves are right or wrong - think clearly!). Mike Tymn recently pointed out the carelessness with which many people read, so attributing meanings that simply are not there.

Neither am I trying to bask in the sunlight of any recognised expert. After all, most physics experts think we are ALL insane, and are not of even remotely similar opinions to Kastrup, or Mishlove. And I am not making any claim to have revolutionised thinking on the subject, but only to have pointed out that there is available a small item of unsuspected support from geometry and physics that most choose to ignore or have not noticed.

If what I offer as views on the matter are THAT badly misunderstood I am being read very carelessly indeed, and the present innuendos, based on such negligent reading and now resumed with increased force, are worth nothing. I prefer my own 98% trust that our real being NEVER HAS BEEN in the physical universe, but is merely CONTIGUOUS WITH IT, and even now, as we live our Earth-lives, is in fact IN another universe*, and will simply stay at home there when we withdraw from our physical bodies.

*Just think out the consequences of the following fact: it takes RESEARCH to discover the PHYSICAL universe. It is NOT the given-in-experience body of knowledge that we would expect it to be if we, the real living essence, the real identifiable and unique nameable ‘I” that each of us IS were in fact physical, part of THIS world. We, our real Being-there, are NOT of this world. Think it out.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Sat 20 Nov, 22:45

I do not think it fair to bash Kastrup for not knowing about 19th century mediumship cases. Clearly Mishlove never told him he would bring up these cases prior to the interview so Bernardo was honest and explained that he was responding from a position of ignorance when questioned about cases that he had never studied.

I don’t think it is fair to expect every scientist or philosopher or other, with an interest in consciousness survival, to have read 19th century mediumship history as they each focus on an area of interest to them, just as Michael does not focus on NDE science or mediumship research of today.

Would we bash Michael and question his intelligence if someone invited him for an interview about consciousness survival and then learned that Michael did not know much about scientific studies of mediums being undertaken today? Everyone has their area of interest and expertise, and one is not an ignorant person just because they have no knowledge about some specific area of research they are not involved with or are not aware of.

Bernardo is clearly a very bright guy who is extremely knowledgeable in other areas, such as neuroscience, which he spends time studying.

He also won a Bigelow essay contest prize so he obviously has something to add to the discussion of consciousness survival, but from his own perspective.

Lee, Sat 20 Nov, 20:31

Thanks, Paul, for an edifying quote from a most edifying book, an overlooked gem in spiritualism’s jewelry box. Do not Doyle’s tone and balance remind you of Michael’s? Here’s another quote from “The New Revelation” that speaks directly to the issue of the nature of the afterlife raised in the Kastrup interview; i.e., the extent to which our individuality or personality survives our death.

“But when we come to examine this charge of materialism and try to construct some sort of system which would satisfy the idealists (like Kastrup), it becomes a very difficult task. Are we to be mere wisps of gaseous happiness floating about in the air? That seems to be the idea. But if there is no body like our own, and if there is no character like our own, then say what you will, WE have become extinct. What is it to a mother if some impersonal glorified entity is shown to her? She will say, ‘that is not the son I lost—I want his yellow hair, his quick smile, his little moods that I know so well.’ That is what she wants; that, I believe, is what she will have….”

Newton E. Finn, Sat 20 Nov, 17:57

First of all, before getting into the thicket of unpacking the interview between Bernardo Kastrup and Jeff Mishlove, I think it useful to also note the other interview Jeff refers to that treats the Maróczy/Korchnoi chess game, that he did with Vernon Neppe titled “The Chess Game from Beyond the Grave”  ( For those who might have had their minds changed regarding this case by Bernardo’s comments, I would encourage them to watch this and have their minds changed back.  Neppe wrote the best treatment of this game, which appeared in the Journal of the SPR, v.71.3, n.888 (July 2007) (, and which one may only wish Bernardo might have familiarized himself with before offering up comment.

I’ve watched the entire interview with Bernardo carefully as well.  What struck me most consistently was Bernardo’s seeming near-complete ignorance of the topic on which he was asked to opine.  These situations never end well.  Jeff brought up the Maróczy/Korchnoi chess game (16m), which Bernardo gave no indication of having previously come across.  Jeff next brought up the George Chapman case (‘Surgeon from Another World’), which he, again, hadn’t heard of.  Later, Jeff brought up the Cross-Correspondences (47.30m) – in the estimation of many people (including myself) the very best ‘single’ piece of evidence we have for survival – which Bernardo explicitly admitted to never having heard of (52m).  The only explicit item of the voluminous literature associated with survival that he notes familiarity with is a book he doesn’t recall the title of by an Icelandic psychical researcher he can’t recall the name of (whom Jeff, to his credit, immediately surmises must be Erlendur Haraldsson).  As a final note here, Bernardo’s suggestion that 19th century references on survival are questionable because they didn’t have ‘reliable records’ (27.30m) is a bit of a howler, given the often exhaustive rigor and care that the best researchers of the day (all of them highly educated, many of them trained scientists, some of them Nobelists) brought to their task.  One would have liked at that moment in the interview to have been in a position to slide Gurney, Podmore and Myers’ “Phantasms of the Living” (c.1886) across the proverbial table to Bernardo’s attention and further comment.  Further, Bernardo seemed ignorant of much more recent literature on survival, such as the work of the Windbridge Institute on multiple-blind medium studies.

To Bernardo’s credit, as the interview went on and he realized more and more just how out of his depth he was, he proceeded to explicitly confess his ignorance of the topic (which he identified as ‘psi’, itself a bit of a confusion on his part) (27m, 33.30m, 48.30m).  This leads me to my second broad observation on the interview, which is that Jeff very gently but also fairly skillfully took Bernardo on a journey, such that Bernardo’s position at the end of the interview was very different from what it was at the interview’s start.  This requires a bit of unpacking.  Bernardo’s ‘analytical idealism’ is his philosophic restatement of idealistic philosophy, which is a venerable tradition one finds as widely dispersed philosophically as the ancient Eastern Yogachara/Cittamatra schools of Buddhism to the relatively recent Western teachings of Berkeley, Hegel and Schopenhauer (on the latter, see

Now, idealism, including Bernardo’s ‘analytical idealism’, tends strongly toward a monism or non-dualism.  There is ‘One Mind’ (50.30m) (to borrow from Larry Dossey’s recent book title), or ‘One Self’ (60m) of which we – individuated personalities that we appear to be – are ‘differentiated alters’, to use Bernardo’s technical language [here, ‘alter’ is a borrowing from the psychiatric literature on multiple personalities].  This is how the One may take on the appearance of the many.  I largely agree with Bernardo on this (with certain critical provisos involving the metaphysics of Being, which he neglects); further, and more importantly, his general view is broadly in keeping with the core doctrine of the Perennial Philosophy, which is the best coherent, cross-traditional basis we have for understanding the nature of reality at its most foundational level.  However, in the absence of knowledge of the consistent testimony found in the posthumous literature, Bernardo makes the fundamental mistake of theorizing in the absence of facts, which leads him toward a kind of ‘undifferentiated consciousness’ view of posthumous reality.  But as Jeff notes through the course of the interview, we have good evidence of agency, distinct personality, memory, knowledge and skill in a variety of posthumous accounts, all of which align with the consistent discarnate testimony that there are discarnate individuated selves, rather than an ‘Akashic field’ (cf. Ervin László) or something like that.  By the time the interview is winding down, Bernardo has largely reversed himself on this, admitting to Jeff that he (Jeff) is “better equipped to know what reasons there may be [for accepting ‘differentiated survival’] than I am” (54.30m).

So, where Bernardo wants to go, which he states right out of the gate, is that following the death of the body, the ‘differentiated alter’ of egoic, embodied existence is dissolved – the whirlpools (to use a favorite metaphor of his) are ‘unwhirled’.  But, as Jeff points out, this isn’t consistent with the discarnate testimony – quite so.  The issue, which Jeff puts his finger on (32m) is our differentiated, subjective selves are not disembodied upon death, but rather find ourselves in a new kind of finer body (here, if I had one book to insist Bernardo read, it would be Robert Crookall’s “The Supreme Adventure”, which goes over all this in admirable detail).  In other words, we continue as subjectively differentiated alters that are finely embodied, but embodied nonetheless.  Bernardo comes round to entertaining this position in suggesting that ‘differentiation is hierarchical’ (53m).

Here, if I had to summarize Bernardo’s general sensibility with regard to survival, I would broadly say that he is right in the long term and wrong in the short term.  What I mean by that is that immediately following death, and for a very long while after, we remain subjectively differentiated, but at very high, advanced levels of progression and return, we merge more and more fully into the One Mind, One Self, and One Source that is our beginning and our end.  To quote from Myers’ “The Road to Immortality”, “Lastly, the Seventh Plane. The spirit and its various souls 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.”

A final note, regarding Bernard Carr’s hyperspace model of discarnate reality, which Jeff brings up near the end (55m), and which Bernardo finds deeply attractive and resonant with his ‘analytical idealism’, is to state (to echo an earlier comment of mine) that this is not consistent with the mass of consistent testimony we have, which speaks of the ‘placement’ of discarnate ‘realms’, ‘levels’ or ‘spheres’ not in terms of hyperspace dimensions, but in terms of levels of ‘vibration’ or ‘frequency’.  Although Bernardo is ignorant of this, such a view is far more in keeping with idealism than Carr’s hyperspace conjecture, as these ‘levels of vibration’ are explicitly stated in the literature to be at once of and in consciousness.  For instance, Myers, in “The Road to Immortality”, explicitly refers to these levels, taken collectively, as “the ladder of consciousness”.

With regard to the underlying metaphysics of posthumous reality, Bernardo has much to teach that is of benefit, but first he needs to instruct himself further.  I suspect if we, say, locked him in a monastic cell for a month and provided him with food, coffee, a comfortable reading chair and the complete back issues of the Journal of the SPR (which Jeff nods to at 47m) along with the best general books on the topic of survival, he would come out considerably changed in his views.

Paul, Sat 20 Nov, 17:38

I share Lee/AOD/Michael’s take on the Kastrup interview by Mishlove. Kastrup, whose blog I follow and several of whose books I have read, is a valuable ally of spiritualism when it comes to deconstructing materialism. But he’s developed his own unique take on the “transcendent” world (the analytical idealism in which he is heavily invested) without having considered the compelling evidence of psychical research that Michael, like Conan Doyle before him, has made so accessible. To his credit, Kastrup admits this ignorance in the interview, while also indicating an open-mindedness to learning more about this sort of evidence IN RECENT CASES. His flippant dismissal of late 19th and early 20th century evidence, unfortunately, undermines this avowed open-minded stance and shows him to be locked into the modernist fallacy that the new is usually, if not always, better than the old. As Michael has long maintained, when it comes to afterlife evidence via mediumship, by far the most impressive material was gathered before WWII.

Newton E. Finn, Sat 20 Nov, 17:31

I think that Bernardo Kastrup is over-rated.  I have watched and listened to him for several years now and I think he appeals to people who are impressed with his philoso-talk but have little idea what he is opining.  His reputation is enhanced by people who don’t understand what he is talking about but think that it sounds intelligent and since it is presented under the guise of academia,  they just assume that the fault is theirs rather than Kastrup’s.

Of course there are some people who read into Kastrup their own fabrications and claim that Kastrup agrees with their musings thereby riding on his coattails as their claim to fame.  - AOL

Amos Oliver Doyle, Sat 20 Nov, 15:41

Dear all,

I have now watched and listened very carefully to every word of the discussion between Jeff Mishlove and Bernado Kastrup. My earlier words on this are totally confirmed and strengthened. A key difference of concepts necessary to grasping what Bernado is saying is the very different notions of ETERNITY and infinitely ongoing (ie linear) time. Get that absolute difference clearly and we can get the rest.

I’ll just say that Bernado is FAR more positive than Amos has realised, whilst still never going beyond what is really, rationally, logically, warranted intellectually. We need more science, better logic, more unbiased rationality. Kastrup continues to rise in my estimation. After all, if you read carefully you realise he is saying the same as I am. The only idea I have described which he does not clearly also state is the pure-physics notion of distinct but contiguous universes, but I think if asked about it Kastrup would look at the enquirer astonished and reply “Is that not a necessary consequence, implicit in what I have said? Isn’t it obvious?”

Do, please, all of you, watch and listen intently to the video more than once.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Sat 20 Nov, 13:02

The following is an addendum of sorts to my most recent comment, particularly its first para.  I was inspired by a comment to Michael’s prior post to dip again into Arthur Conan Doyle’s book ‘The New Revelation’.  Doyle writes, “Above all read the literature of this subject. It has been far too much neglected, not only by the material world but also by believers. Soak yourself with this grand truth. Make yourself familiar with the overpowering evidence. Get away from the phenomenal side and learn the lofty teaching from such beautiful books as [Julia Ames’] ‘After Death’ or from Stainton Moses’ ‘Spirit Teachings’. There is a whole library of such literature, of unequal value but of a high average. Broaden and spiritualize your thoughts. Show the results in your lives. Unselfishness, that is the keynote to progress. Realize not as a belief or a faith, but as a fact which is as tangible as the streets of London, that we are moving on soon to another life, that all will be very happy there, and that the only possible way in which that happiness can be marred or deferred is by folly and selfishness in these few fleeting years.”

Paul, Sat 20 Nov, 06:12

I watched the entire video of Bernardo Kastrup and Jeffrey Mishlove discussing possible survival of consciousness.  In that video, Mishlove brought up the case of Dr.William Lang, ophthalmologist and George Chapman and Chapman’s ability to affect cures of vision problems with the help of the spirit of Dr. Lang. (see 25:24 mark)  Kastrup seemed to admit his ignorance in this case but attempted to expound upon the case anyway which he indicated he was ignorant.  While he tried to explain the relationship between Lang and Chapman might really have been, he ignored the enhanced skill ability of Chapman to perform eye surgeries.

When Mishlove mentioned Frederic Myers and the Cross Correspondences, (see 47:45 mark) Kastrup said that he was not familiar with that case either.  I may not have understood Kastrup but it seems to me that Kastrup is grossly deficient in knowledge of the older evidence for survival as these two very good cases form part of the backbone of the evidence for survival of consciousness along with it’s memories and skills. As related to the chess game, Kastrup did not mention that it took over 7 years to finish the game.  - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Fri 19 Nov, 23:41


It was many years ago that I read about this afterlife chess game. It is good you raise the 80+ factual statements made during the course of seven years. That is compelling evidence that Bernardo was not aware of, and I forgot. He was commenting on the various moves, noting one could not really attribute to someone specific those moves as such moves apply to very many people (if I understood correctly). But you bringing up those 80+ factual statements make it far more compelling than if one simply looks at the various chess moves, in isolation, as Bernardo does, so I have to retract my initial statement to the effect that Bernardo was able to nicely dismantle this case. So thanks for reminding me that there was more to the case than just chess moves.

Bernardo is a bright guy but it makes no sense to me that he would dismiss outright 19th century mediumship evidence simply because the research took place so long ago. Unless all the highly reputable names studying mediums back then were lying (extremely unikely) or were all duped (quite unlikely) one should definitely consider 19th century mediumship research as it provides compelling evidence of the afterlife, to a fairly high degree of certainty ( I think we can all agree that nothing can provide us with 100% certainty).

It is odd that Bernardo has an interest in the topic of consciousness survival, yet does not even bother to read what researchers from the 19th century had to say on the topic.

Lee, Fri 19 Nov, 22:31


I just watched the first 32 minutes of Kastrup’s interview and am not sure when I’ll get back to the second half.  I think he completed his discussion of the Korchnoy vs. Maroczy chess game during those first 32 minutes. As I understood him, he is a mediocre chess player and one time, while in an altered state of consciousness, he played over his head.  I don’t see that having much of a relationship to the Maroczy game.  In that case, the medium didn’t play chess at all and the it involved some high-ranking players.  Kastrup was playing someone of equal ranking to him. I may have misunderstood what he was saying, but it was, to use your previous expression, comparing apples and oranges. 

As I previously mentioned, the seven-year time period for the game made me skeptical, but the most impressive thing was the personal information communicated by Maroczy.  Out of 92 personal statements made by Maroczy, 85 of them were confirmed as factual.  The other seven may have been factual, but they could not be confirmed.  Many of them required some extensive research to confirm them as fact. The debunker will say they were all researched beforehand, or something to that effect, but as with nearly all cases you have to look at the credibility of the reporter (Eisenbeiss) and make your own judgment on whether he made up the whole story.

If I further understood Kastrup, he sees survival of the human as an egoless being. At least in the 32 minutes I watched, he gave no indication of recognizing a progressive state in the afterlife—from holding on to our earthly ways to a more or less egoless being.  Perhaps if he had been familiar with the old research, which he discounted, he might have had a different view of that.  If Moses and Imperator were credible and correct that the spirit world tried to help those in the material world grasp the survival of consciousness, then, after 30 or more years, decided that they had made a mistake by misjudging our ability to absorb it all, at which time they began withdrawing, that would seem to refute Kastrup’s idea that it should all be available to us today with no need to go back and look at the early research.

Michael Tymn, Fri 19 Nov, 20:10

Dear all,

I have just watched the video Lee suggests we watch:

I hope at least some of my fellow readers of Mike Tymn’s blogs, especially those who have criticised me, realise that Bernardo Kastrup is saying, with no divergencies, exactly what I have been saying myself. He is better qualified, of course, having followed society’s normal courses of education, which I did not, and he expresses his thoughts with admirable clarity. In particular, what he says about space-time accords exactly with what I have been saying for many months in comments here.

In the video Mishlove mentions Erlendur Haraldsson and George Chapman. I have met both, and have been treated by George Chapman’s son Michael, who continues George’s work today. I received treatment from Michael Chapman some months before my cataract operation of a few years ago, and felt the hair-standing vibration we all experience from time to time, extremely strongly, throughout the whole of his treatment. The lens in my left eye was replaced by today’s normal procedure, due to Patricia Bath, about a year later. Since the operation I have felt not even a quarter of a second of the pain most people do feel after the operation, and my optometrist states that (contrary to earlier test results suggesting that the other eye was also developing a cataract) my sight in BOTH eyes is now stable. It would be impossible to prove that Michael Chapman ‘pre-healed’ my eye in readiness for the cataract operation, but the unprejudiced mind would surely regard the total lack of the usual pain as SUFFICIENT REASON to believe that a kind of pre-healing had occurred.

Perhaps the readers of Mike Tymn’s blogs will now believe they have SUFFICIENT REASON to listen to, no longer to despise and ignore, ideas connecting relativity to other universes inhabited by spirits that have been set free from the terrestrial body, and perceive the real relevance of known science, namely Einstein’s Relativity - which Kastrup also refers to in the video.

I urge all to watch and listen attentively to the video, and if you have time, see it at least twice. Kastrup makes supreme sense and is NOT a scathing and stupid sceptic, just a supremely reasonable man.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Fri 19 Nov, 13:12

Dear all,

There should be many bravos for Mike Tymn. And many thanks.

The latest cause for praise is his latest comment. He reminds lax thinkers of the need to understand words and to conscientiously apply the logic heredity gave us when interpreting the words we read, and not assume emotional and illogical inferences that simply are not there. To do that insults the writer and misleads the reader herself/himself. I shall say no more. The fact that I need some breakfast is sufficient reason for refraining, but everyone’s personal responsibility to think clearly by his/her own choice is another.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Fri 19 Nov, 09:45

Michael, I think your final para regarding ‘the conviction that consciousness survives death helps us better to live this life’ is key.  It speaks to the implicit nihilism that you frequently point out as inherent in contemporary materialism and the broader culture overwhelmingly informed by it.  As a larger point building upon this, if posthumous survival is established – something that is inherently individualistic and probabilistic, as is true for nearly all knowledge we possess, but nevertheless may certainly be done, as it has been for many here, including myself – then it is clear that to speak only in terms of ‘how better to live this life’ is profoundly limiting and myopic, for life incarnately and discarnately is a continuum.  Life goes on after the flesh is ended and one’s person and character form a continuity with what has gone before.  Further, the ordering of our life ‘here and now’ may be profoundly informed through wisdom gathered from discarnate sources – the ‘Spirit Teachings’ of Imperator through Stainton Moses that have been previously discussed in this thread are a case in point, among many other sources that might be named.

Can one order one’s life ‘here and now’ in the absence of such sources?  Certainly.  But to do so requires a kind of ‘appeal to transcendence’ that, if not overt – as in traditional religion or spirituality more generally conceived – is instead (and more typically in the present context) smuggled in.  The following quote captures the essential ‘smuggling operation’ quite well: on the one hand a materialist denial of metaphysics that undercuts all notions of value; on the other hand, the adoption or assumption of a package of values that can have no support within the materialist (non-)metaphysics within which they are assumed to operate:

“What I converted to was not, as I understood it at the time, some sort of objective ‘view from nowhere’ outlook that only had beliefs to the extent their truth could be demonstrated empirically. It was rather, as [Charles] Taylor puts it, ‘a certain package uniting materialism with a moral outlook, the package we could call atheist humanism, or exclusive humanism’ (9034), or, as we could perhaps even better call it, ‘dull, platitudinous liberalism’. It’s amusing now how little this new philosophy intrinsically had to do with the materialism I’d become convinced of. Nothing about individual liberty, human rights, or civilizational progress follow automatically from the fact that ‘God is dead’.”

Paul, Fri 19 Nov, 05:28

Here is the video of Bernardo Kastrup explaining why the chess game from the “afterlife” is not convincing for him.

He also mentions that he is not impressed when people revert back to 19th century mediumship research to support an argument for the afterlife:

He makes valid points re the chess game but I disagree with him re his point about 19th century mediumship research.

Lee, Fri 19 Nov, 00:33


I don’t think anyone assumed you were saying an authority in NDE research must be an authority in other areas of consciousness survival research. It was clear what you were saying.

I still see no need for any scientist focused only on one area of research (NDEs)to have to mention that there are other areas of research which support arguments for consciousness survival, akin to NDE research findings. However, I see no real harm if they were to briefly mention that they are aware of work being done by others in these areas.

Playing the devil’s advocate, if a scientist specializing in one area of consciousness survival should see fit to mention, even briefly, other areas of research, one could argue that in your books, or articles, about 19th century mediumship, you should also mention that scientists of today are undertaking highly controlled, rigorous scientific studies of mediums with results that are statistically significant.

Perhaps in your articles about 19th century mediumship you should also briefly mention apparitions (including Marian apparitions), deathbed visions, reincarnation and the other lines of “evidence” which similarly support consciousness survival. I don’t know, perhaps you actualyh do this in your articles about 19th century mediumship.

Lee, Fri 19 Nov, 00:26

It’s interesting how words are taken out of context and given different meanings by people. In an earlier email, I said something to the effect that scientists writing about NDEs should not suggest that the NDE is the only phenomenon pointing to a mind-body separation.  That was interpreted to mean that I believe that they should all be authorities on other phenomena, which is not what I was saying.

What I was trying to say and apparently failed at was that if they are writing about “consciousness,” they should have some awareness of research going on in other areas of consciousness and at least mention in one paragraph that such research is taking place and that the findings of such research is more or less consistent with the mind-brain separation indicated by the NDE.  Certainly, Dr. Bruce Greyson,  who has been studying NDEs for 40+ years is aware of the reincarnation studies by his peers at the University of Virginia and it would have been difficult for him to not know anything about research into mediums. Yet, one might infer from his excellent book, “After,” that the NDE is the only phenomenon suggesting mind-brain separation.  A simple sentence or paragraph to that extent does not require him to be an authority in other phenomena.  Moreover, you’d think that someone studying consciousness would attempt to look at research in related fields and see if there is any relationship.

Greyson states: “The seventh lesson is that NDEs raise questions about the continuation of consciousness after death.  If it is true that minds can function in extreme circumstances without physical brains, then it may be possible that minds can continue to exist after the death of the brain.  An answer to what happens after death may be beyond today’s scientific methods—or it may be beyond our scientific imagination…..”  My point is that he could have said that research is taking place with other phenomena, including mediumship, past-life memories, etc., that support the idea of mind being separate from the brain.  To make reference to it does not require him to be an authority on the subjects or go into detail about them. 

Greyson often says that such research shouldn’t be about consciousness surviving death, but about how to better live this life.  As I see it, it is the conviction that consciousness survives death that helps us better live this life, but I infer from his writings that he sees no connection.

Michael Tymn, Thu 18 Nov, 21:16


Yes, it appears that Michael Lee Sudduth is a SF State professor.  He has recent posts on Facebook and also a blog at, where this is posted:

Winter 2022:  “The James Leininger Case Re-Examined” (forthcoming, the Journal of Scientific Exploration). This paper is a 30,000 word critical report on the well-known case of alleged reincarnation. After a two-year investigation, I’m disclosing my findings and their implications for the favorable assessment of this case by researchers such as Jim Tucker at the University of Virginia.

Michael Tymn, Thu 18 Nov, 20:31

I just watched a recording from Sanaya(Suzanne Giesemann) from 2016 with some good questions and answers about God ,suffering, reincarnation ...I (personaly) think and feel there is much Truth in that. For those who are interested to hear or read…

Chris, Thu 18 Nov, 19:54

Paul, a quick read through the below-linked Rauschenbusch quotes will demonstrate that the oft-heard characterization of the Social Gospel to which you allude is, at least in certain respects, a caricature. Who could not hear a good bit of late 19th Century spiritualist truth in these quotations?

Newton E. Finn, Thu 18 Nov, 16:43

Dear all,

Noting the direction of current comments referring to LAP and super-psi I think it is worth an attempt to describe what would surely seem to be the structure of the All-that-is: Surely there is a hierarchy of Being and also a continuum of knowledge encompassing the range from total ignorance to all knowledge (the entirety of which knowledge is of course ETERNAL, known to ‘God’, and not time-ly at all, but CONTAINING ALL times, all histories, including what WE would call future ‘times’, future histories. In more familiar words, ‘times’ foreknown by God). It is in accessing this knowledge of ALL times that superpsi, if that concept is correct and if it is indeed operating, and LAP, whether the same thing or not, have their being. But maybe they are a cynic’s invention, aimed only to debunk belief. The convincingness of spirit-world utterances that WE receive is then dependent on there being a block set by higher beings on unlimited communication to us from any other realm that contains the Akashic records or whatever we call the source of LAP and superpsi’s revelations (the block having been placed so that LAP and superpsi cannot be resorted to by debunkers to explain away truths they don’t like). The ALL-encompassing Being we traditionally denote by the word ‘God’ contains ALL the dimensions there are (in the human view a googol, or infinitely infinite number, of dimensions. This Great Being CONTAINS all the universes with ALL their dimensions of space and ‘time’. (Thus ‘God’ is in a sense static, unchanging, yet contains all the busy activity there is was or will be.) The highest of the CONTAINED universes that are thus contained within ‘God’ has an infinite-minus-one number of spatial dimensions. The remaining one dimension of this highest of the CONTAINED universes, which we might call ITS time, is a single dimension of ‘time’ which that universe experiences one moment at a time, not all-encompassingly, statically, as a Being experiences space, ie as ‘God’ experiences it. (For ‘God’ that single time dimension is space, not time, because ‘God’ is timeless, eternal.)(We have to say ‘so-called ‘time’, of course: there is not enough room to expound the UNREALITY of time here, in a blog comment, but that exposition of time’s unreality IS between the lines of this comment, for the thoughtful and non-scoffing to perceive).

A long way down this hierarchy of universes is OUR universe, having only four dimensions, three of space and one of ITS OWN so-called ‘time’. We can surely all imagine how an infinitely infinite timeless ‘God’ laughs at time, and at our attempts to use human words to describe all this to each other. But some of us can surely ‘get’ the idea, and do so without scoffing at comments containing ideas which are difficult to describe using the lousy things we call words.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Thu 18 Nov, 10:40

Is Michael Lee Sudduth a “Philosopher, author, and lecturer in philosophy and religion at San Francisco State University”?  If so, he appears to have deleted his facebook post about the Leininger case.  Or perhaps I can only see certain posts because we are not friends?

Anyway, his most recent post seems to be July 28th.

Lloyd, Thu 18 Nov, 06:35

As for Jon and Michael’s positions on whether medical doctors studying NDEs ought to at least mention – or even, gasp, seriously look into – other evidence suggestive of survival, as much as I am temperamentally aligned with Michael, I think Jon may have the best position on the matter, for reasons Lee states.  Because of the materialist bias against survival that predominates among the intellectual class, whether scientists, academics or journalists, there is a good argument for doctors writing and speaking in favor of the reality of the phenomenon of NDEs to maximally maintain their credibility by restricting their public statements to that domain alone.  On the other hand, individuals such as Raymond Moody, Peter Fenwick and Eben Alexander seem to be able to get away with speaking more broadly, so this may be of the character of general advice that admits of exceptions.

Paul, Thu 18 Nov, 05:51

Newton, I was not aware the ‘substitution’ take on the crucifixion was also in Gnosticism – very interesting.  As for Gnosticism being a precursor to Islam – just no, and for too many reasons that would diverge us far from the present post.  But very briefly, the conception of the world in Gnosticism is diametrically opposed to that in Islam: the work of an evil demiurge vs. Divine creation and theophany.  Let me leave it there.  As for Spiritualism and the Social Gospel movement, you may well be on to something, but I see the latter as characterized in large measure by the stripping away of transcendence for the sake of wholly worldly concern – laudable to be sure, but oriented in a quite different direction than that of Spiritualism, oriented as it is toward that which is larger and more expansive than this strictly embodied existence.  Here, the image that comes to mind is that of Plato and Aristotle in Raphael’s ‘The School of Athens’, Plato’s hand being cast upward, that of Aristotle on the level – the vertical and horizontal orientations artistically rendered.

Paul, Thu 18 Nov, 05:43

Hi Lee, Yes, please do link the interview with Bernardo Kastrup you mention re the Maróczy/Korchnoi chess match.  I would be very interested to see what he had to say.

Paul, Thu 18 Nov, 05:31

Michael and readers: When all is said and done, whatever the “super-psi” term in vogue at the moment may be, doesn’t the whole question boil down to basically one? Those who have done their homework or have been graced with personal experience KNOW that the phenomena of mediumship, OBEs, NDEs, etc. are real, actually occur in our world. The only question that remains, again for those adequately informed, is whether the source of these phenomena are this-worldly (in a way yet to be understood) or otherworldly. And I suspect that the answer to this final question, concerning not facts but the interpretation of them, constitutes a faith statement, along the lines of what William James called an “over-belief.”

Newton E. Finn, Thu 18 Nov, 03:56


Michael Sudduth is one of its leading advocates, and appears to equate the two terms super-psi and living agent psi. From the beginning of his abstract to his paper in the Journal of Scientific Exploration, “Super-Psi and the Survivalist Interpretation of Mediumship”:

“According to the survivalist interpretation of mediumship, the existence of discarnate persons provides the best explanation for the data associated with physical and mental mediumship. Others—advocates of what is often called the “super-psi hypothesis”—maintain that the data of mediumship may be at least equally explained in terms of living agent psi.”

I think “LAP” is just a fancy philoso-speak name for super-psi.

As to whether this term has anything to do with the “cosmic soul” or “cosmic reservoir” or “Akashic records” of Spiritualism, I have a few thoughts on this. I think there might be some connection. With living agent psi, supposedly the subconscious mind of the medium is somehow tapping into an all-inclusive library of information existing in the spiritual realm, aided by some sort of very powerful higher level of consciousness. This “heavenly library” would be the cosmic reservoir or Akashic Records. The higher level of consciousness could either be the soul of the medium or perhaps a cosmic soul encompassing all individual consciousnesses.

David Magnan, Thu 18 Nov, 02:33


Thanks for your comment on Michael Sudduth and Living-Agent Psi (LAP). I wonder if you happen to know if LAP is just a fancy new name for superpsi or if it is different. I was under the impression that they are the same thing, but I’ve also heard that they are not the same.  We also might go back to the “cosmic reservoir” or “cosmic soul” from William James’s time and ask if they were the same thing as both superpsi and LAP. If not the same, does anyone know what is included in one that is not in the other?

Michael Tymn, Wed 17 Nov, 19:45

I briefly reviewed, again, the academic “case study” (found as a free downloadable pdf file version at this URL I posted in a previous comment): .

It’s reasonably thorough—covers most of the major issues with quotes from Frederic Myers and others, plus it briefly describes the testing Jane Roberts underwent.

I would hope most readers of this blog have read _The Scole Experiment_ by Grant and Jane Solomon (1999).  Is anyone unfamiliar with it and its successor, the Norfolk Experiment?

Here’s a link to a “sensational” Italian television production (the English subtitles are less than perfect) concerning Marcello Bacci and his radio:

(Per this, voices were analyzed and found to be unlike physical voices.)

Looking for my copy of _The Scole Experiment_ I came across _Paranormal Experience and Survival of Death_ by Carl B. Becker (1991)—I must have found it at a yard sale or used book store and forgotten it, as I’ve not read it. Maybe someone here is familiar with it.

All of the above is suitable for armchair analysis but anyone who’s read my comments knows that’s not my preferred approach.

I toy with the idea of collaborating with various dead personages on this issue even as I wonder whether it’s even possible to create credible evidence for an afterlife—even if this could be accomplished, who is to say that it would make any difference in terms of current mass beliefs and, in particular, the beliefs of those wedded to science, whether actual practitioners or followers of “scientism?”

I’m impressed with the Scole Experiment, which included four mediums and scientific observers (but all they observed took place in a dark room for reasons explained early in the book—one reason many sceptics dismiss the experiment).

I don’t have the resources (at the moment, anyway) to replicate it, but were I to devote some time and energy to attempting to resolve this question one thing would be absolutely essential, something that was key to the Scole Experiment:

Working closely with “discarnates” sharing an intention to create credible evidence.

Any communication with “spirit” must involve cooperation just as you can’t have a telephone conversation with someone unless they wish to converse with you.

Bill Ingle, Wed 17 Nov, 16:21

As some people here started to post about Seth, I just wanted to note I know someone who knew Jane Roberts and was in her study group when Jane started teaching through Seth. I have no idea if Seth was Jane’s subconscious but the person I know says she believes she was channeling some entity,  based on her observations of Jane during the channeling.

I never read the Seth material but wonder if Seth ever produced any veridical information that Jane was not aware of. That would help to counter the subconscious argument the same argument which is probably made for many of the 19th century mediums as well as many present day mediums.

On another point, I want to add that I agree with Jon,and disagree with Michael when he suggested that scientists like Greyson, and others, studying ndes should also be noting in their books (or interviews) that there are also many other lines of “evidence” for consciousness survival. I don’t think any scientist should speak on any area they are not themselves studying and should only speak about areas they have experise in.  If they were to start mentioning other areas they don’t themselves research, I think they lose credibility as scientists. There are enough people out there who do no direct research of the subject matter, like Jeffrey Mishlove, who can go and talk about all the various lines of “evidence”  supporting consciousness survival.

On a final point, someone mentioned how a chess game from “the afterlife” is tremendous evidence for consciousness survival. I will find an interview with Bernardo Kastraup ( spelling?)-philosopher, computer scientist, chess player, and also winner of a Bigelow prize- who, I think explains away this ” evidence” rather nicely. I am a mediocre chess player and also thought this “afferlife” chess game was tremendous evedidence for consciousness survival, until I heard Bernardo explain why it is not.

Lee, Wed 17 Nov, 11:30

Paul, as you probably know, this sort of take on Jesus’ crucifixion goes all the way back to various Gnostic sects which, for a while, rivaled that portion of the Jesus movement which became the early church. I’ve got a friend who insists that this Gnosticism is the precursor of Islam, but I haven’t had the time to look into it. What I am looking into is what I believe to be a unstudied or understudied link between the spiritualist movement and Social Gospel movement, both prominent in late 19th/early 20th century America. Read Rauschenbusch, for example, and you can’t help but hear the voice of Imperator, Cora Scott, etc.

Newton E. Finn, Wed 17 Nov, 00:42

David Magnan’s comment is very useful. He writes: “The LAP or super-psi theory has been popular with parapsychologists because some sort of psi activity is presumably less unacceptable to orthodox materialist scientism in academia than the “woo” of claiming the existence of soul or spirit surviving in an afterlife realm.”

The proponents of ‘Super Psi’ claim to be of our scientific age, do they not? It is their greatest claim. And to repudiate the “woo-woo” religions of the past? It therefore ought to be of interest to them to realise that it is easy to prove the possibility of other whole universes right here (and further research has already given honest minds sufficient evidence that those universes are inhabited). You do not have to be a professional mathematician. Reasonable intelligence, some understanding of geometry, and a very little ability to visualise is enough. If the SCIENTIFIC possibility of totally separate universes in a single space-time were acknowledged the belief that these matters are “woo-woo” (whatever that means) could evaporate when those scientists finally do no more than show a genuinely open mind (which every scientist should). We can show that openness too, can we not?

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Tue 16 Nov, 17:25

In brief reply to Newton and Bill regarding Seth’s statements with respect to the crucifixion, it is very interesting and curious to note that Seth’s views are essentially Qur’anic on this matter.  To quote from Cyril Glassé, “The New Encyclopedia of Islam”, 5thEd: “In Islam, on the authority of the Koran, Jesus has a mission as a rasul, a Prophet of the highest degree who brings a restatement of God’s religion (3:46-60). It is said, too, that he did not die upon the cross: ‘They slew him not but it appeared so to them’ (4:157). A crucifixion took place, but Jesus is alive in a principial state, outside the world and time: ‘But God took him up to Himself. God is ever Mighty, Wise’ (4:158). The idea that someone could be taken up bodily to God was an established idea in the Old Testament: Moses, Enoch, Elijah, and Isaiah had benefited from this provision. Apocalyptic accounts also say this of Ezra, the Scribe.”  Seth’s views are, further, in line with the broader Islamic theological writings, which build upon the brief, elliptical Qur’anic statements and propose that a surrogate was crucified in Christ’s place, often identified with Barabbas.

Paul, Tue 16 Nov, 14:24

Re. Michael Sudduth’s post on Facebook.

Sudduth is an academic philosopher who has apparently made it his mission to invalidate the survivalist position with regard to all the paranormal evidence for an afterlife that has been discussed in these pages. He claims something called “living agent psi” (LAP) is responsible for all the empirical evidence including NDEs, mediumistic communications and reincarnation memories. He is essentially claiming that something akin to a powerful global conspiracy of our subconscious minds has been at work using powers of super-psi in order to fool us into thinking that these evidences and communications are real and indicate an afterlife. He thinks that actually it is just our fear of death and hopes and desires that are being unconsciously manifested in various ways.

I think that this position is patently false.

The LAP or super-psi theory has been popular with parapsychologists because some sort of psi activity is presumably less unacceptable to orthodox materialist scientism in academia, than the “woo"of claiming the existence of soul or spirit surviving in an afterlife realm. Sudduth’s paper attempting to debunk the Leininger case is probably just another attempt to whittle away at the evidential base for the survivalist position. If an apparently excellent reincarnation case like Leininger’s can be entirely or partially debunked it might presumably place doubt on the really strong cases investigated by Stevenson for instance, without having to somehow debunk these actual investigations.

David Magnan, Tue 16 Nov, 12:08

Dear Newton, and all,

I cannot shed light on the question of whether a substitute was killed by crucifixion instead of Yahshua himself, though it is often asserted as true, but many things puzzled and troubled me even as a child, and still puzzle me now, about the story of the sacrifice of a ‘perfect?’ human for the sinners of the whole world that Christianity proclaims as God’s plan and a ‘necessity’. (These puzzles are among the reasons I prefer a spirituality based on well-corroborated science, which seems far more sure.) (Yet even Yahshua is firmly stated to have “learned obedience by the things that he suffered, yet without sin” which in fact suggests the contrary process of learning AFTER committing at least some childhood peccadillos. There seemed inconsistencies everywhere, despite the parental dogmatism, yet the admittedly varying translated text (from Moffat to the RSV and others) was proclaimed to be GOD’S EXACT WORD. How could it be? One was not even allowed to dare to think that claim untrue. The power of a very heavy upbringing by a quietly tyrannical father remains as a doubt and a fear, faintly and insidiously, even now (when I have a reputation among those who know me personally for precisely the contrary qualities of lovingness, reasonableness, generosity and gentleness. I am not boasting: I am rather bewailing the fact that I sometimes become angry, and do not willingly suffer the frequently-encountered dishonest and stubborn mind.

I always wondered why and how the blood sacrifice of a human was the means of saving the world’s people, and why it was not the Jewish nation itself that carried out the horrible deed, but the Roman invader and de facto overlord. And why the so-called gospel records of the event do not describe any great shedding of blood, but only the imposition of the agony of Roman (ie foreign, non-Judaic) crucifixion. And this is only the smallest part of the problems we have with the so-called records of the event, none of which were written close enough to their alleged date to be relied upon. (See many commentators of the ‘higher critical’ type rather than the apologetic type, and in particular David Bentley Hart, whose recent New Testament translation, and his notes thereto, I have read in the last few weeks). God CANNOT be demanding adherence to any one version of Christian doctrine, but must be better pleased with the honest and good heart. Eligibility for ‘salvation’ cannot be based on words, doctrines, thoughts, ideas, but on deeds that express a changed heart. There is much more to say, but the comments on this blog have long ago veered far away from the Bigelow Competition. I think we have to keep looking for evidence of continuing life from a scientific type of awareness of other-worldly experience to ground our belief that THAT is the real gospel, as you, Newton, have often said, and to suggest our real moral responsibility to ‘God’ as we each try to perceive that Great Being, and so our responsibility to our fellows - and THAT does indeed harmonise with key items of what we read, no matter how good or bad the translation, about the teachings of Yahshua. And all that strongly suggests the wisdom of publishing Don Porteous’ writing on the topic, writing that sheds important and valuable new light on the question.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Tue 16 Nov, 09:19

Newton, I recall reading Seth’s version of Jesus and wondering if Jane Roberts’s subconscious colored that part of it or if some low-level spirits interfered.  I have never been a Seth fan, although I know several people who are.

Michael Tymn, Tue 16 Nov, 07:24

This was posted by Michael Lee Sudduth on Facebook today.

The James Leininger story is widely hailed as the one of the best cases of alleged reincarnation. After a two-year investigation of this story, I will shortly make my findings public in a 30,000-word critical report in the Journal of Scientific Exploration. My report also provides an analysis of the impact of my findings on Jim Tucker’s favorable assessment of this case.

Here’s a teaser of some of the points I argue in my paper and support with considerable testimonial, written, and photographic evidence.

(1) The Leiningers have repeatedly denied that their son James was exposed to videos or images of burning planes or combat scenes prior and proximate to his nightmares of being a pilot who is shot down in combat. This is false.
(2) The Leiningers have attributed to James nearly two-dozen behaviors and claims occurring between 2000 and 2002 and which they say cannot be traced to anything James saw or read or heard. This is false.
(3) According to the Leininger’s official 2009 narrative, past-life therapist Carol Bowman initially got involved with the Leiningers in Winter 2001, six to eight months after James began making past-life claims, but several independent sources contradict this. According to the chronology Carol Bowman presents and early versions of the story the Leiningers presented but have now buried, Bowman got involved in summer 2000, months before James made any past-life claims. The chronology of events in the Leiningers’s book suggests that Bowman could not have influenced the evolving narrative. By contrast, her involvement with the case in summer 2000 makes that concern a fairly obvious one, especially since her advice was for the Leinigners to tell James his dreams were of things he had experienced before.
(4) The narrative the Leiningers present in their 2009 book Soul Survivor is a heavily redacted story in which many crucial facts besides Bowman’s role have been altered to fit facts they discovered later. These adjustments include changes to what James said and when he said it, conveniently altered to fit facts about the life and death of WW2 fighter pilot James Huston, Jr.
(5) The Leiningers claim to present historical documentation concerning the circumstances of the death of WW2 fighter pilot James Huston, Jr., documentation that allegedly confirms the claims they attribute to their son. But they have systematically misrepresented the content of primary-source documents and suppressed material that contradicts their narrative.
(6) Prominent reincarnation researcher Jim Tucker at the University of Virginia investigated this case in 2010 and thereafter provided a favorable analysis of it in multiple publications. Tucker’s investigation of the case and his subsequent favorable analysis of it fails to consider any of the points above. They weren’t even on his radar. Hence, Tucker’s claim that this case provides evidence for reincarnation is unwarranted.

Michael Tymn, Tue 16 Nov, 07:10


Without comparing it to the original text in _Seth Speaks_ that which you quoted appears to be a reasonably accurate paraphrase of Seth’s words.

As far as I know, no version of me was present at the event(s) in question; I have no easy way of determining whether Seth’s version has any validity.

Although I was brought up as a Protestant and can understand how those who treat the New Testament as an entirely accurate description of events would be quite offended by Seth’s version, I’m not bothered by it.  (I don’t treat every single word of Seth’s as being entirely accurate—channeling can never be perfect for a number of reasons—but I believe the great bulk of Seth’s teachings are valid.)

Of much greater interest to me is Seth’s prediction of the reincarnation of Saul of Tarsus:

“His message will be that of the individual in relation to All That Is. He will clearly state methods by which each individual can attain a state of intimate contact with his own entity; the entity to some extent being man’s mediator with All That Is.” (Found in Session 586. in _Seth Speaks_.  Note that per Seth, Tarsus, Jesus, and John the Baptizer share the same entity.)

Needless to say, Christianity and its origins is a massive topic (and one that is off-topic in this thread, in my opinion).

Someone might easily spend a lifetime (maybe several) studying the history of that region, learning the languages—spoken and written—in use in that time, and so on.

I’m familiar with the inconsistencies found in the NT, aware of borrowing from older sources found in the bible (for example how the tale of the infant Moses floating in a basket was borrowed from a tale concocted to support Sargon of Akkad’s usurpation of an established monarch, about 1,000 years earlier), and so on, and occasionally enjoy reading books by Paula Fredriksen and others on the topic.

I’ve also investigated this situation in non-ordinary ways every so often, but again, I feel this is off-topic.

Bill Ingle, Tue 16 Nov, 03:08

Congratulations! I very much look forward to reading your essay.

C.M. Mayo, Mon 15 Nov, 19:00

Can any of Michael’s readers—specifically, those who are into Seth—confirm the accuracy or point out the inaccuracy of the following blurb I just found on a blog supposedly devoted to Seth materials: “Seth said that Jesus was not crucified, and that it is not in the nature of enlightened individuals to sacrifice themselves. Rather, a willing and deluded surrogate, who believed himself to be the Messiah, was substituted in Jesus’ place, and it was this surrogate whom Judas betrayed (and who was then crucified). Jesus was then able to be “resurrected” because he had not actually died. Seth said that the crucifixion of Jesus did occur as a shared psychic event, but it did not occur as a physical event.”

Newton E. Finn, Mon 15 Nov, 18:39

Rick, to address your question, no I don’t know the Unz Review.  That was just the most convenient URL for the article in question.  With that said, your suggestion inspires me to look into the site.  In reply to your comments regarding it, there is a very real sense in which every one of us here is a maverick against our society and its dominant worldview.  It takes extraordinary courage – or perhaps cajones – to take such a stand, which is no less than the shaking off of a near-hegemonic ideology, what Charles Taylor terms ‘the closed immanent frame’ and what Michael calls, more pointedly, nihilistic materialism.  We too are, to borrow your words, engaged in a ‘pushback against mind control’.  So courage and cajones, yes, but at the same time humility in the face of the mystery.

Paul, Mon 15 Nov, 05:40

Bill, Thanks very much for sharing this very interesting account.  There is much to mull and at present, with the work week looming, I have little time to comment further, nor am I sure such is required in any case.  I was reminded, in reading your account, of a very obscure book I think very highly of: Harry Homewood’s “Thavis Is Here”.  Homewood was an American submariner in the Pacific during WWII and after the war had a very successful career in journalism.  He wrote six historical military novels, mainly on submarine warfare.  “Thavis Is Here”, his account of his experiments with automatic writing and of his encounter with and tutelage under ‘Thavis’, his discorporate guide, is quite unlike anything else he wrote, or engaged in professionally.  There is much to be said for direct engagement and experience.  At the same time, I have long felt that the most secure conclusions may be best obtained through careful and wide-ranging cross-correlation of testimony across many sources.  The ‘price’ of such a gain is the loss of immediacy that you speak so eloquently to.

Paul, Mon 15 Nov, 05:32


He’s a psychiatrist writing in that capacity about his experiences with patients who report NDEs. Personally, I wouldn’t expect him to mention anything else.

Most psychiatrists have no interest in NDEs or accept them as anything other than brain function/malfunction. Greyson’s rare in that regard. If he started talking about other psychic phenomena, which he may know little or nothing about, at least not in a research capacity, can you imagine what it would do to his credibility?

Personally, I prefer it when scientists/medics stick to their subject.

Jon, Mon 15 Nov, 00:39


Nobody is claiming that Long, Greyson, et al, have to be experts in phenomena other than the NDE.  What I am saying is that they make no reference at all to other phenomena and leave their readers thinking that the NDE is the one and only phenomenon suggesting survival.  One does not have to be an “expert to write a single paragraph pointing out” that other phenomena should be considered.

Michael Tymn, Sun 14 Nov, 23:36

Paul, 14 Nov, 18:06:

I recently read Neal Grossman’s article, and indeed it’s important and relevant to what we’re talking about here.

Yes to Renée Haynes also. Did she coin the term “boggle threshold,” do you know?

By the way, do you follow the Unz Review or were you just sent there by a search engine? The site as a whole is a cracking great platform for writers who refuse to be cowed by political correctness, “woke” indoctrination, and conventional wisdom. I certainly don’t agree with everything in it, but it’s unfailingly stimulating in its pushback against mind control.

Ron Unz, who himself writes lengthy and well-researched pieces for his site, may be the bravest man in all the United States. He carries on while knowing the globalist / corporate ruling class would love to suppress and punish him. In the U.K. he’d be in jail, I mean, gaol.

Rick Darby, Sun 14 Nov, 23:06


I’ll attempt to answer your questions in a roundabout way.

I met Ms. X in person in 1996. (She is a published author who does not wish to have tales of her unusual psychic abilities interfere with her authorial reputation and has asked that I not identify her in public comments or writings.)

She told a story of how she read of automatic writing and tried it while living in a small house that had once been a one-room school house.

Without paying conscious attention, the result was (allegedly) the thoughts of a young school girl sitting in the school house when it was a school house, daydreaming. These were quite detailed.

On the occasion when I met Ms. X, in company with two others, I felt an unusual sensation in my chest that felt like an undulating electrical current.  I asked the other three if they felt anything like this—all three assented. I asked if any of them knew what this was—none did. This was a minor mystery that we, collectively, tried to resolve over the years, with mixed results.

Later that evening, Ms. X asked if I and the other person present would like to be treated to some ouija board activity—she explained that she and her daughter (also present) sometimes entertained themselves during harsh New England winters with a board.

The other person and I looked at each other (as if to say “Ouija board?  How junior high school!” completely forgetting how Jane Robert’s Seth experience began with a ouija board (after an earlier combined OOB/automatic writing experience).

We assented, nevertheless, and Ms. X or her daughter brought an antique wooden ouija board from their small pickup truck.

They used a silver dollar as a planchette, and soon it was whizzing around the board.  Ms. X’s unique style is to whisper what she “hears” as this happens.  She is actually engaging in voice channeling but uses the board as a way to focus in the right inner direction and also as a kind of prop—by doing this, she can say she is not voice channeling; it’s only the board.

(I know several people who experimented with ouija boards and, like Jane Roberts, were soon “hearing” answers to questions and dispensed with the board, becoming accomplished voice channelers.)

Back to that late July, 1996, night. Ms. X spoke of “unfamiliar energy” as the silver dollar raced around the antique ouija board and asked: “Who is this?”

The answer:  “I am Bill’s oversoul.  You may call me William. I have a message for him.”

At that exact moment, a sensation that felt like a magnetic hemisphere, about 3 feet in diameter, erupted from the top of my head.

Ms. X was not aware of an incident that had occurred earlier in the day, hours before she arrived, in which a friend, excited by the possibilities of the WWW, had created a business web page for me (w/o asking me).  He’d used “William” but in business I’m known as “Bill.” I was quite annoyed, and told him to take the page down (it didn’t help that he’d included a photo of me I didn’t like).

So my alleged oversoul calling himself “William” was a bit of an “inside” joke.

Various information was imparted.

The sensation lasted about three days and included vivid dreams, some of which proved to be pre-cognitive.

The very next day, this sensation still quite pronounced, we visited the local pizza parlor.  A friend came up to me and said:  “Bill!  What’s happened to you?  Your crown chakra is expanded!”

At the time I had no idea what a crown chakra was, or that my own crown chakra was connected with this sensation, but I soon read up on chakras.

That ouija board session was the first of many with Ms. X and her daughter and was one of two live event streams associated with the mailing list we belonged to, the world’s first Internet mailing list devoted to the teachings of Seth.

These two streams merged, resulting in the situation I described in my previous comment regarding three dozen folks having taken up autotyping.

All of this was quite informal.  Generally, output was essay-length and typically in response to questions, many of a personal nature. (Had I known how unusual all of this would seem, years later, after it had all died down, I might have made stronger efforts to keep it going. I know of no similar developments in the world of on-line Seth readers today while the fact that most of Seth’s writings are now available in digital form means that most current activity involves posting quotes from Seth, _not_ using Seth’s writings as a source of inspiration for active exploration of all things “inner.”)

So three dozen folks were interacting on-line (the original mailing list ended—this took place on two small offshoots) with others, posting autotyped comments in response to questions.

In terms of quality, style, and content, there was quite a bit of variety.  No one had sufficient time or energy to devote to book-length items—that requires real discipline and strong desire, while nearly everyone had jobs to deal with.

I would compare the group to a group of 3 dozen artists, musicians, or poets—you would expect variety in terms of quality & content of output with such groups. All of these people were of a creative nature.

We created a number of profound experiences but at times we had no clear intention. Typically, someone might wish to know of some “past life” experience or connection with someone else during such an experience.

When the same question was put to multiple autotypers, the results varied with the autotyper to one degree or another, clearly reflecting what happens when thought energy is translated into typed (or spoken) words through the often quite different minds of the living.

At some times, gathered in person, there was a distinctive felt “energy” (felt by everyone present) and when this was pronounced, the quality of the material seemed to be much better while some experienced an acceleration in their psychic abilities.

At no point was anyone concerned with creating evidence for an afterlife.  In these circles, all believed that, per Seth, “You are as dead now as ever you shall be”—in other words, who and what we are transcends what we think of as physical reality and the usual idea of separate, physical selves who are born, live, and die.  (A good % of the Seth material deals with the nature of physical reality, although a number of Seth’s explanations were dumbed down and turned into slogans by New Age proponents.  Although sales of Seth’s books peaked during the days when the New Age became heavily commercialized, Seth began speaking well before then.)

I could put questions to any of these folks while this lasted, but I can think of no easy way to put questions to “Imperator” or any other such being from the 18th or 19th Century or, say, Leonora Piper. 

That’s one reason why I question a reliance on material from another time.  (And even the Seth material is now from another time or “past probable” reality as Seth stopped speaking when Jane Roberts died in 1984—although there have been a few personalities who claimed to give Seth voice after this, despite his statement that he would only ever speak through Jane Roberts during her life, not specifying how that might change after her death, the resulting material is clearly quite different from anything Seth ever said.)

You can examine material obtained via trance communication in terms of content no matter when it was created, but language—and nuance— changes over time, as do common associations and various beliefs.

For this reason, new material from those Seth referred to as “speakers” is required from time to time.

There is also always a serious difference between that which you read about, from a distance in time and/or space, and that which you experience in your immediate sensory reality, whether you are in a trance or merely in the company of someone who is conveying information in such a state.

In my experience, this last varies quite a bit, in accordance with unknown factors.  Whereas more than once I experienced something very unusual when with someone else was conveying information (and we experimented with multiple folks doing this simultaneously, too) this wasn’t always the case.

Once, I sat with Ms. X, her antique ouija board between us.  Two fingers of my right hand were on the silver dollar moving around the board; she had two fingers on it as well. I asked questions and struggled to write the answers down with my left hand.

The subject was ancient Egypt and life experiences we shared in that time and place.  At one moment I looked at Ms. X and she appeared as a male, wearing suitable attire from that period.  I looked away, then looked again, and she was Ms. X again. This kind of thing happened a number of times.  Someone of a sceptical mind might insist I was simply imagining things—suggestion was influencing what I perceived—and I can’t prove I wasn’t.

I was much less “ego bound” during those moments than my usual condition and I suggest, again (a bit more directly) that this “ego bound” condition is one of the major keys to the issue of obtaining evidence of an afterlife.

In the usual ego bound condition, life and reality seem quite limited compared to visions briefly obtained when that condition is temporarily reduced or alleviated. (Think of Aldous Huxley’s “reducing valve” or George Gurdjieff’s “sleep.”)

You can read about seances that took place in the 19th Century and any resulting utterances and/or writing.  You can read about Jane Roberts channeling Seth and what Seth said or any of who knows how many other voice channelers, mediums, etc., and what ever they may have conveyed.

You can analyze this content, compare this material to that material, etc.

What about your own consciousness while you are doing this?

I don’t claim to be some “enlightened” individual. Although I have taken classes in mediumship I don’t claim to be much of a medium, although I’ve had a number of successful “hits.”  Regarding those 3 dozen autotypers:  I don’t include myself; I was more of an organizer and was often the person who asked questions and took down notes (if this took place live, not on-line).

At the same time, and primarily (but not entirely) as a result of my years of exposure to and participation with such activity, I definitely know what it is like to become much less ego bound than I am in my usual condition.

I experiment to this day with ways to consistently create a less ego bound condition.

Bill Ingle, Sun 14 Nov, 22:42


Jeff long is a physician, Bruce Greyson, a professor of psychiatry, Pim van Lomel, a cardiologist; all, as far as I’m aware, came across the NDE phenomenon in the course of their work. They weren’t looking for it and all were initially, rightly skeptical.

I don’t think that means they have to become experts in mediumship, remote viewing, OBE’s, telepathy and so on. Others who have the time and inclination can join those dots, as many readers of your blog do.

I think that’s what Bigelow is trying to demonstrate with his competition … there are lots of dots to join. The bundle of twigs thing. That’s my take on it.

Jon, Sun 14 Nov, 22:41

What Rick says about Dr. Jeffrey Long, i.e., not mentioning any phenomenon other than NDEs in support of the survival hypothesis, can also be said of Dr. Bruce Greyson.  I discussed his recent book in my blog of May 10, 2021. And, as I have also mentioned before, most modern clairvoyants apparently know nothing about the trance and direct-voice mediumship of yesteryear. I recall discussing this with a clairvoyant at a conference some years ago.  She had come to the conclusion that all of the pre-1930 mediumship, especially the physical mediumship, was bunk, primarily because she wasn’t capable of it.

Michael Tymn, Sun 14 Nov, 21:36

In reply to Rick, yes Dr. Jeffrey Long is a very significant medical researcher in NDEs.  His most recent book “God and the Afterlife: The Groundbreaking New Evidence for God and Near-Death Experience” is one I can particularly recommend.

As to your broader observations regarding NDEs, I think your completely correct.  Here, let me nod to (yet another) lengthy comment I made to an earlier blog posting of Michael’s,, timestamped [Sun 12 Jul, 18:03], that speaks in detail to the very points you are raising here.  As a teaser, let me quote briefly from it as follows: “NDEs seem to form something of a ‘halfway step’, so far as the broader set of discarnate-related evidentiary phenomena are concerned.  This plays out in two broad ways.  In the first case, there are many individuals – including many well-established doctors and scientists – who accept the reality of NDEs and study them assiduously, but who rarely if ever venture further afield into the consideration or study of other phenomena such as mediumistic communication.  This would seem – and my judgment of the situation may be imprecise – to be more the rule than the exception among serious NDEs researchers.  As such, NDE studies have become a kind of ‘artificially closed baliwick’, isolated from a broader consideration of discarnate evidence.  In the second case – and this was the case for myself – NDEs can serve as a kind of ‘gateway drug’ that in due course opens the inquirer to the consideration of other, broader evidence.”

As for the resistance to move from NDEs to broader posthumous evidence, I think this is neatly explained by three intersecting and partly overlapping ‘takes’ on the question.  The first is that of the ‘boggle threshold’, a concept forwarded by psychical researcher Renée Haynes [see: ]] and discussed in detail in my aforementioned comment.  The second is the deeply entrenched resistance to the question of survival examined in detail in the philosopher Neal Grossman’s very valuable paper “Who’s Afraid of Life After Death?” [see: ]].  The third is the parapsychologist Deal Radin’s observations on what he terms the ‘woo woo taboo’ [see:; as well as ]]

Paul, Sun 14 Nov, 18:06

In reply to Bill, the transition from Ouija board to automatic writing is one I have seen in a few places in the literature.  The further transition from automatic writing to typewriting is one I recall seeing also in a handful of references.  A specific case I can name to hand involves transitioning directly from the Ouija board to the typewriter – that reported in the very interesting book, Darby & Joan, “Our Unseen Guest”.  I would see transitioning to a computer keyboard as essentially an equivalent move.  As for the rest, there is a great deal to sort out in your comments.

First, with regard to the communications of Imperator and his band (here, and following, let me drop for the moment the word ‘ostensible’) through Stainton Moses, you have the matter and influence of his Christian beliefs in possibly ‘coloring’ the message received essentially inverted.  Stainton Moses was an ordained Anglican priest who had served – until voice issues forced a change in profession – in active curacies for many years.  The Psi Encyclopedia entry on him (written by none other than Michael – of course) [; also see: ]] clarifies how he was, in fact, “considerably distressed by the content of the communications, some of which were in direct conflict with the Christian teachings that formed the basis of his faith.”  In other words, the message received through Stainton Moses may be judged more reliable, rather than less, given his orthodox Anglican Christian faith and the disjunction between it and Imperator’s message.  On this, see further the query “How can you be sure that the words were not your own or that your mind was not coloring the messages with your own ideas?” under ]]

Second, to your query, “why rely on such old material,” I immediately think of C.S. Lewis’s highly useful term “chronological snobbery”. [See, for instance, ]]  And yet, I’m just as guilty of it at times.  Here, let me nod to a lengthy comment I made to an earlier blog posting of Michael’s,, timestamped [Sun 19 Jul, 16:09], that speaks to this very point.  Yet, while older writings may not be to more contemporary tastes or sensibilities, and while admitting a great deal of old-fashioned ‘fustiness’ to Imperator’s language, the mere fact of age is largely an irrelevance in evaluating the significance of a given posthumous source.  There are plenty of shallow, questionable writings from the last, say, quarter century – along with a few gems – just as there are plenty of extremely valuable works that are on the verge of becoming genuine antiques.  My own personal favorites, the two posthumously authored volumes by Frederic Myers through Geraldine Cummins – “The Road to Immortality” and “Beyond Human Personality”, which I have in their original editions – are respectively copyrighted 1933 and 1935.  What of it?

On to the question of Seth and the experience of your circle of ‘autotypers’.  Yes, the Seth materials are indeed very interesting, and clearly of a different tenor than the writings of Imperator.  The fact that Seth is more recent is, again, an irrelevance, apart from not inconsiderable fact that the Seth writings are more approachable for a contemporary audience.  It is clearly not a matter – nor do I think this your view – of choosing between the two.  My own view is that we are best served by casting a wide net and then sorting the catch by quality according to our best lights.  Tastes will necessarily differ.

Finally, and as a general statement, there is much to be gained by considering a given posthumous communication by the analogous lights of how one would, in ordinary terms and as a third party, evaluate what someone (call her ‘Jane’) had reported having heard from yet another individual (call him ‘Bill’).  There is a ‘chain of trust’ that needs to be – however partially and approximately – established.  First, is Jane generally reliable accordingly to either personal knowledge or general reputation?  Second, do Bill’s words sound too much like the sort of thing Jane might know or say, or do they strike one as truly independent?  Third, does Jane have an at least plausible line of communication to Bill, one that has been demonstrated in other contexts.  Fourth, can Bill’s bona fides and reputation be established? (here, a ‘known’ individual such as Myers has a real advantage over an ‘unknown’ individual such as Imperator or Seth).  Fifth, can the communications through Jane be shown to broadly match those known to be from Bill in other, more established contexts?  Sixth, do the communications through Jane claimed to be from Bill have significance and value, whether intellectually, morally, spiritually or similarly?  If all of these may be at least partially and approximately established, then it is reasonable to given significance to the communications in question.  [Here, ‘Jane’ and ‘Bill’ might be taken in reference to Robert’s book, “The Afterdeath Journal of an American Philosopher: The World View of William James,” a work at least as interesting as the Seth material.]

I think your reference to ‘autotyping’ material from the era is very intriguing and would be interested in learning more.  I would also ask how well that material might stack up against the criteria of trust just laid out.  Let me leave it there.

Paul, Sun 14 Nov, 17:38

In reply to Newton and the ‘impotence of the spirit world’ vs. ‘obdurateness of incarnate humans’, you are certainly correct in bringing this to the fore.  To invert Hamlet, “The (lack of) readiness is all.” Or to quote Christ, “Behold, a sower went forth to sow; and when he sowed…some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them.”

Paul, Sun 14 Nov, 17:09

Dear Chris,

Your comment, addressed this morning to Newton, is similarly valuable to his own piece a day or so ago that has unaccountably produced a furore. I am very glad you have made your present comment. It brings some of the progress we seek in the growth of spiritual seriousness and maturity, so that the great worldwide spiritual awakening can become reality, at last. There is no excuse for mere curiosity regarding spiritual understanding, and the ethically better life it should produce. It is not an amusing, perhaps even interesting, fairground attraction. Awareness of the Great Being is central, so the matter is far too important for such shallowness and flippancy. With so many crises, the current world needs a spiritual revolution desperately. Thank you to both you and Newton for bringing it a step closer.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Sun 14 Nov, 11:57

Newton, don’t hold back your opinion. Nobody is forced to read your comments, everybody is free to skip it and those who are interested can read it.
Maybe humanity was not ready or ripe for a mass awakening, but I’ m sure that is changing, now that the old school religions are losing their exclusive and mostly languishing grip on most of their followers.Too many ceremonies about their messengers ,too little profoundness and attention to the messages they brought.It will change.

Chris, Sun 14 Nov, 10:24

Dear Newton,

There was nothing inappropriate about your recent comment. It was one of the most apposite we have seen on Mike’s blog. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, which were also better expressed than many. Do not grant undeserved respect to less able critics; no progress can be made in beliefs by doing that. Thought and belief would be held back, not progressed, by heeding inadequate criticisms based on inadequate understanding.

Your piece gave space for a requirement most others ignore; that we must be reverent towards a Consciousness big enough to create and sustain many universes. That sort of feeling is blatantly lacking from most comments.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Sun 14 Nov, 09:54

Paul: If, as Imperator is fond of saying, God forces his truth on no human being, is the failure of the “new dispensation” to take hold over all these years attributable to the impotence of the spirit world or to the obdurateness of incarnate humans? Either way, as you say, it’s “deeply troubling.” There is much in your past couple of posts I’ve love to explore in some depth, but, for the first time on this blog, I feel hesitant to do so. So over and out for now while I reassess things.

Newton E. Finn, Sun 14 Nov, 01:32

Perhaps we can return to Michael’s original subject: the almost complete ignorance today of the evidence for survival described by psychical researchers of a few generations ago, amplified by scientific and academic materialist bias.

It seems there is one partial exception to the current banishment of survival research, namely, NDEs. They are semi-respectable. Compared with mediumship it is nearly acceptable to speak of them in polite company.

There’s quite a hoard of books, articles and videos about the phenomenon, mostly published in the past 30 years. If you doubt it, enter “NDE” in the search field at YouTube. Lots of the videos are from television shows, the most popular, trend-following medium (no pun).

Why are NDEs no. 1 on the paranormal hit parade? I think it’s because (1) they are dramatic, making good uplifting stories; and (2) they can be ring-fenced to avoid any other considerations, especially “crazy” ones like materialization and direct voice mediumship.

The other day I spent an hour watching a video of Dr. Jeffrey Long, obsequiously interviewed by two followers who tossed him softball questions ( The show’s title was, “Are near-death experiences evidence of an afterlife?”

Dr. Long seems like a nice man, whose NDE research is solid. He was persuasive enough in answering yes to the question posed by the program. But what struck me is that the discussion’s format appeared to be strictly designed to avoid anything else about psychical research. You want afterlife? Step right up, your NDE is waiting. Spirit communication? What’s that?

In fairness to Dr. Long, I expect he is aware of other evidence outside his specialty. He couldn’t easily have expanded the afterlife discussion beyond what the interviewers asked. One of the questioners was a minister named Randy Kay, who guided the discussion in a Jesusward direction.

NDEs are important evidence ... and maybe an opening to raise public consciousness of other evidence equally compelling, for anyone who wants to take on that task.

Rick Darby, Sun 14 Nov, 01:17

My wife often says “something is in the air,” referring to angry and argumentative nature of people these days.  We see it mostly in politics, but we experience it almost daily in other venues and fields of endeavor, including with friends and family. We do our best to avoid it, but we also fall victim to breathing that poisonous air at times. 

Like Jon, who owns and controls this website, I believe it best not to have policies, as they can be interpreted in different ways and further confuse things.  I can only suggest that people remain civil, patient, empathetic and courteous. 

I appreciate all the comments and hope recent comments do not scare everyone away.  Hopefully, all such adversity offers a learning experience and helps us spiritually evolve.

Michael Tymn, Sun 14 Nov, 00:03

Re: Imperator and Rev. W. Stainton Moses.

I am not familiar with Moses’ publications, but I am very familiar with “autotyping”—a modern version of autowriting using a computer keyboard instead of a paper and a writing instrument. 

Between roughly 1996 and 2001 my on-line circles included about 3 dozen autotypers.  These were Seth readers. (How this came about is quite a tale but far too long for this comment. This activity began to rapidly wind down just after the events of 9/11, as though the new psychological or belief climate of the “War on Terror” wasn’t compatible.)

I consider autotyping a form of trance communication akin to the activity of skilled ouija board operators (as opposed to a group of junior high school students playing around) and voice channelers and yet distinct from the various forms of mediumship I am familiar with.

Jane Roberts and her husband experimented with a ouija board in 1963 as part of research for a book Jane intended to write on psychic matters.  At first, they “got” gobbledygook but they persisted and began to receive coherent messages, eventually from someone who called himself “Seth.”  In time, Jane “heard” Seth before the planchette moved in response to a question and she dispensed with the board and planchette, instead speaking what she “heard” out loud as her husband recorded these utterances used a self-devised form of shorthand.

She was concerned that this activity emanated from her own subconscious mind and at one point engaged a professor to test her.

(Some of the details of the tests are included in this academic paper: .)

So we have extensive published examples of trance communication taking place long after the death of Rev. Moses in the form of books dictated by Seth and the large number of sessions not part of particular books that have also been published (while of course many other people have engaged in this activity in modern times, whether they published what they “got” or not, including the 3 dozen mentioned above).

I would assume that the mindset of Moses—his personal beliefs, his vocabulary, etc.—was quite different from that of Jane Roberts, autotypers inspired by Jane’s activities and Seth’s words, and many, many others alive in the 1990s or today, long after Moses’ lifetime.

I mention this as the mind of the person involved in trance communication is an essential feature, although some are much “clearer” than others—able to “get out of the way” to a greater extent.

(I assume the conscious Moses held certain Christian beliefs during his lifetime, much as Edgar Cayce did.)

I bring all of this up as some apparently believe autowriting and related investigations from the 1870s onward are relevant to the BICS contest, but if so, why rely on such old material?

The various forms of trance communication can be learned by just about anyone (although some will be much better than others, possessing a natural flair or gift for it).  The same holds for mediumship.

Those in my dot com era on-line circles weren’t particularly interested in acquiring the best evidence for the existence of afterlife, true—I’d say our activities were based more on a desire to explore & experiment (and have fun, not just create profound experiences) but I also believe trance communication _could_ be quite useful in such an endeavor.

An example of autotyping from those informal on-line groups is found on this vintage web page:

Bill Ingle, Sat 13 Nov, 20:18

In reply to Rick, of course if Newton is condemned to stand in the dock for the length of his postings, then I shall find myself right next to him.  The problem with throwing a phrase around like ‘well-established blog protocol’ is that it has the air of authority with none of the actual substance – it is on par with invoking the always undefined ‘they’, as in ‘they say…’.  Nevertheless, his general point is taken, but with the strong proviso that we ought to be far more concerned with the substance and tenor of comments than with their length – unfortunately, and inescapably, this is to some degree ‘in the eye of the beholder’.  I would say that, as it is Michael’s blog and Jon’s moderation, if they have a problem with longer comments per se, they have every right to clarify that – so far they have not, although that in no way commits them to a position.  Enough about that.  A final note to Newton: paragraph breaks are helpful.

Regarding the word ‘progressive’, as it has been some time since I had read “Spirit Teachings” and “More Spirit Teachings” in depth, Newton’s comment inspired me to dip into the former earlier today.  I quickly realized that Newton was, in fact, simply borrowing the word from Imperator.  In this sense, ‘progressive’ is an accurate term of use for what Newton wants to say and of course in its ‘in situ’ usage has nothing to do with politics.  I still think it is best avoided, however, for the reasons I raised earlier.  Finally, let me briefly raise a point that I have occasionally mulled on for many years.  If “Spirit Teachings” was to be a ‘new dispensation’ to struggling incarnate humanity, to provide a new spiritual vision and impetus, one can only conclude that it failed utterly in this task.  This takes nothing away from the ‘majesty’ of the text – if I may speak thus – but Imperator’s message is a thing forgotten, if indeed it was ever broadly known.  A few lonely souls have come across it in their searchings and have treasured it, but that is all.  The apparently impotence of the spirit world to achieve a greater, broader impact is both remarkable and deeply troubling.

Paul, Sat 13 Nov, 19:53

Thank you, Paul, for a substantive and extremely helpful (to me, and I hope others) engagement with the ideas I wanted to share in what (I get it, Rick) was a terribly long, perhaps even inappropriate, comment. I’m going to take the advice of both of you and drop “progressive” from any further elaboration of my thoughts, while keeping future comments shorter. “Liberal” of course has its own negative connotations for many, and thus I’m not sure what word would best point to the more open-minded, less dogmatic forms of Christianity to which I refer. By the way, Rick, I do have my own little, long-neglected blog, visited about as much a Robinson Crusoe.

Newton E. Finn, Sat 13 Nov, 17:11

Oh! dear, Rick,

I am glad there are many people whose view of their fellow humans is charitable. (Not that I have met huge numbers of them in my 80 years, but a few I have certainly met, and if I ever meet Newton I know he will prove to be one of them.) There have often been longer comments than Newton’s present one.

Mike’s wonderful blog seems to be showing the inner natures of some of its commenters/participants these days, dividing them into two very distinct categories in fact.

What did Yahshua say . . . ? With what judgement ye judge ye shall yourselves be judged? And something like ‘If we did not judge others we would not be judged ourselves?’

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Sat 13 Nov, 16:45

I agree with Rick Darby.

It feels like Mike Tymn’s blog has been hijacked by an over-enthusiastic few with strong views.


Keith P in England., Sat 13 Nov, 16:07

Newton E. Finn, 12 Nov, 15:32:

Using the comments section to write your own essays violates well-established blog protocol. Since you are bursting with urgent messages to impart, why not start your own blog instead of piggybacking on Michael’s?

The comment time-stamped above is 635 words without a single paragraph break. Going on and on without giving yourself or readers a pause to draw breath turns what may be worthwhile discussion on your part into the appearance of a rant. And readable only for a select few who have more patience than the rest of us.

Rick Darby, Sat 13 Nov, 15:15

The following is in partial response to Newton’s recent long comment.  With regard to his thesis (1), to which the bulk of his discourse is directed, this seems very obviously correct to me.  With regard to his thesis (2), I would encourage a precise definition – no doubt forthcoming in any case – of the word ‘progressive’ as he applies it.  I say this, given what a problematized, even poisoned (depending on one’s perspective) term ‘progressive’ has become, particularly in the American political sphere.  It may be better to avoid the term altogether and choose another, one that will lead to less chance of misunderstanding.  Back to his first thesis.  Two obvious points must of course be immediately made: first, “Spirit Teachings” – for all of its weight and significance – is not the whole of Spiritualism; second, Spiritualism – whatever its precise bounding contours may be taken to be – is not the whole of discarnate communication ‘back’ to bodily incarnate, earthly individuals.  We are speaking of a subset of a subset.

With that said, there is no question that “Spirit Teachings” forms one of the most notable ‘high water marks’ in terms of elevation of discarnate communication, both intellectually and morally.  In this, however, the demonstration of the ‘continuity of life’ through discarnate communication is a fundamental aspect of the work of ‘spiritual elevation’ that Imperator and his band had set about.  Rather than physical death being the end and unraveling of us, we are, instead, beings on one stage of a long journey, one of return to – for lack of a more suitable word – the Divine.  The manner of this return is – in broad terms – through purification, through inculcation of virtue, through, in a sense, making oneself ‘Godlike’.  From a strictly ‘earthly’, ‘material’ perspective – which invariably undermines belief in both the Divine and posthumous survival – none of this makes sense: thus the ‘distraction’ into pursuit of goods, pursuit of pleasure, pursuit of triviality and all the rest that characterizes the typical ‘lifestyle choices’ of late modernity.

Here, a brief digression into ancient philosophy may be helpful.  Although the ancient Stoics had a lively sense of Providence and a rationally ordered cosmos – unlike many of their modern (mis)interpreters – they nevertheless did not accept belief in an afterlife.  Despite this, they held that the only true good for an individual was virtue.  Not health, wealth, pleasure or other ‘externals’ – which may be ‘preferred indifferents’ (in their technical language) – but virtue.  In this, they looked particularly to Socrates, whom they considered the highest exemplar of a Stoic Sage, and who had similarly taught the centrality of virtue.  What is interesting is to consider this remarkable assertion – so strange and troubling to the modern sensibility – in light of the best discarnate teachings, such as those of Imperator and his band, that we have.  We know, on the basis of such teachings, that a) the individual survives bodily death, that b) there is a fundamental continuity of the individual ‘person’ in the passage from embodied to disembodied existence, that c) all material goods are left behind and stripped away, that d) the posthumous ‘sorting’ of the person [here, see Crookall, “The Supreme Adventure”] is, in some poorly understood way, according to their ‘quality of soul’, that is to say their virtue, and that e) their ‘elevation’ or ‘progression’ – all such terms are approximate – in accord with their fundamental telos of return to the Divine is again informed by their ‘quality of soul’ or virtue.

In light of these essential points of knowledge, we can see that the ancient Stoics were perfectly correct in their assertion that virtue was the only true good, and for reasons that they themselves did not know and would not have accepted.  Let that sink in, mull on it, return to it, again and again.  The most important matter for us to attend to here and now, the only true good for us, the only thing we ‘take with us’ and which will prove absolutely decisive – for good or for ill – in our posthumous journey following this all-too-brief sojourn in the flesh is our ‘spiritual elevation’, our ‘quality of soul’, our virtue.  How to live from this conviction?  That is the challenge before us, one that we have failed at many times before and will no doubt continue fail at.  No matter.  The soil of understanding must be ploughed over and over again, its seed planted deep, before it can at last take root in our felt lives.  Ultimately this virtue many be seen as a form of love, at once for the Divine and for that which is Divine within us.

Paul, Sat 13 Nov, 06:03

For your interest, veteran newsman George Knapp very recently did an interview with Robert Bigelow about the afterlife essay contest. It is at . There’s some good information, including a little about the judges. The expert on reincarnation evidently was Brian Weiss. Another judge was a minister with experience at more than a thousand deathbeds.

Bigelow had a few thoughts on what the next step might be - rather than another essay contest he thinks perhaps some sort of expert group brainstorming might be in order, to delve into what the evidence actually says about the nature of the afterlife. The experts would of course be mostly drawn from the contest winners.

David Magnan, Sat 13 Nov, 00:03

I have said it before: you can share your opinions and truths with others but don’t push it. Allow everyone to follow his own path! When the discussion seems endless, the wisest it the one who first stop to react. One day we all find our truths. Just keep on respecting each other. Forget past disagreements and stay with us, you are all to valuable for humanity.

Chris, Fri 12 Nov, 20:27

It would be a shame if you left the game, Amos – the back and fourth – the robust exchange.

I was wondering what Patience would have said on the matter and came up with this:

To game is to live.
When thee ceasest to game, then youth is gone.
‘Tis the heritage of youth, left to age only as a memory.
Youth leaps with joy
Like a young fawn plunging expectant.
Urged with valor, itched with desire,
He flings him like a discus toward life.
‘Tis a leap and a wager with life,
Until Age hath come, and he knows then
The Score.

Jon, Fri 12 Nov, 18:03

Dear Newton,

I’ve only read your latest comment once, (I shall read it again!) but I agree with every thought you express. I have for some time thought that (for instance) artistic inspiration is a kind of normal everyday mediumship. Inspiration comes from, and must be attributed to, the Great Being. We humans originate nothing new, let alone anything truly good, ourselves, but must credit “God’ with ALL our successes. That way we acknowledge being each a small part of that Great Being. Tat twam asi, as the Hindus put it.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Fri 12 Nov, 17:57


You should familiarise youeself with a most remarkable website -

Herewith a free pdf of Wisdom of the Gods by Badley taken from that web site, and the other books are probably on the site also.

Keith P

Keith Pin england, Fri 12 Nov, 17:52

I suppose this is as good a time as any to introduce what I expect will be a controversial take on the whole spiritualism phenomenon. Let me state my intertwined theses up front: (1) the core of spiritualism is not primarily about direct communication with those in the afterlife, but rather about the context and meaning of our earthly lives and how, accordingly, we are to live them; and (2) this core of spiritualism did not completely dissolve after the two world wars, but rather morphed imperceptibly into the most progressive manifestations of Christianity. A single comment does not permit both theses to be explained and justified, so I’ll address only the first right now. In the “bible” of traditional spiritualism known as “Spirit Teachings”—that long, connected series of messages given to Stainton Moses in the late 19th Century by a highly-elevated spirit called Imperator—the principal subject is the revision of orthodox, ossified, errant Christian doctrine. Once the spirit world had initiated this daunting task, the predominant means of accomplishing it, as indicated by Imperator, would have only in part to do with talking directly to the departed or with the signs and wonders of physical mediumship. The goal being a moral and intellectual renewal of humankind, on both personal and social levels, the pervasive and persisting forms of mediumship to be utilized would not be paranormal and occasional, but normal and continuous. I could string quote after quote here, but, for brevity’s sake, let me simply paraphrase Imperator’s words. Mediumship encompasses a wide variety of forms, ranging from the miracles of physical mediumship (necessary to fix attention and break through the materialist mindset); through verbal forms of direct communication with spirits via, for example, trance writing or speaking (to provide consolation, encouragement, and instruction); to (and this is the most significant form) the constant intuitive guidance and inspiration by the spirit world of those who commit themselves to active works of love and compassion and/or to the creation and dissemination of clearer, more elevated views of God, the duties of this life, and the nature of the next. What struck me when these words of Imperator finally hit home—and I had to read “Spirit Teachings” repeatedly, devotionally, for them to sink in—was that I (like you) had been unknowingly involved in mediumship, the most important mode of mediumship, for virtually my entire life. Every philosopher, theologian, ethicist, social theorist, historian, scientist, psychologist, novelist, poet, composer, musician, etc., from whom I had had the privilege to learn important things, who had helped to expand and deepen inside me what Schweitzer called “reverence for life,” and every person who extended to me and others lasting and unconditional love, embodying and modeling the kind of life the spirit world would have us live, each of them was as much a medium—yes, a medium—as those fascinating figures we focus on here who have been able (or, better yet, enabled) to break through apparent constraints of time and space and cross intermittently the communication divide between here and hereafter. Argue with we if you wish (and that’s the fun of a blog like this), but it will elicit a flurry of quotes from the beginning to the end of “Spirit Teachings,” all buttressing this essential point about the ubiquity and normality of most mediumship. I’ll pick this thought up in a later comment and maybe move into my second, likely even more controversial, thesis, but enough for now. Except let me hasten to defuse any false impression that I’m claiming for progressive Christianity a prideful monopoly on spiritual truth. Repeatedly, unequivocally, emphatically, Imperator says otherwise, as do all those more ordinary, largely-intuitive mediums I’ve mentioned, who (praise God) have spoken over many, many years to my (and your) mind and heart and soul.

Newton E. Finn, Fri 12 Nov, 15:32

Dear Jon,

I totally agree that discussion of the blogs should be fair and balanced, knowledgeable and polite. I am sad to see that it is not always so. My own interest is entirely the proper one of discovering the truth about our eternal livingness in the Great All - every one of us. And I think I have shown my own enduring goodwill in the services you have allowed me to give your publishing work over the past few years. We would ALL be a great deal poorer without your publishing and Mike Tymn’s erudite blog writing.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Fri 12 Nov, 12:27

Ok, I’m sorry to say, “I’m done.” - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Fri 12 Nov, 12:20

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“Life After Death – The Communicator” by Paul Beard – If the telephone rings, naturally the caller is expected to identify himself. In post-mortem communication, necessitating something far more complex than a telephone, it is not enough to seek the speakers identity. One needs to estimate also as far as is possible his present status and stature. This involves a number of factors, overlapping and hard to keep separate, each bringing its own kind of difficulty. Four such factors can readily be named. Read here
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