Too Much ‘Beating Around The Bush’ on the “Afterlife”
Posted on 14 March 2023, 10:27
As a 13-year-old high-school freshman in 1951, I competed in my first running event at a track meet, the 180-yard low hurdles. I was in first place going over the final hurdle, but nobody told me that you were supposed to keep going another 20 or so yards to the finish line after clearing the final hurdle. Thus, I triumphantly slowed to a walk after clearing that last hurdle. By the time I realized that I had another 20 yards to go to the finish line, a competitor from the other school had passed me and I ended up in second place. Thus began my life-long search to identify and better understand the true finish line. In life’s race, I have already cleared the final hurdle and have only yards to go, if not just feet or inches. I want to get it right this time and I want others who haven’t been properly coached to know more about the finish line. What they do get from the “coaches” is in academic language, but most don’t understand it unless they get it in layperson’s language.
As I see it, all the chaos and turmoil, i.e., the craziness, in today’s world, has its roots in materialism as promoted by the entertainment and advertising industries, as well as the mainstream media. That materialism has extended to hedonism, of which nihilism is the core. With the decline of religion, life no longer has meaning for most people. The results are a serious decline in the work ethic, increasing cultural conflicts, the pursuit of “fun” instead of happiness, and the loss of hope that comes with recognizing that this world is part of a larger world, a conviction that can be independent of religion. Contributing to the problem is the fact that the younger generation doesn’t see the progress that was made during the last century and is trying to expedite progress by forcing acceptance of values that otherwise take time to establish themselves. In so doing, they are going in reverse. They fail to recognize that overcoming adversity is our greatest teacher and the lessons learned from overcoming adversity can’t be imposed on people. They must be nurtured over time. They are “jerking the trigger” rather than “squeezing the trigger.”
One of the major problems I see, somewhat paradoxically, is “beating around the bush” on the concern for the survival of consciousness at death. Even my terminology is tippy-toeing around the common words, afterlife and life after death. In a recent internet post, Suzanne Taylor, who is identified as a writer, networker, and transformational strategist, asked, “What is the one thing we need most to save humanity?” She answered her question by saying that “the most important thing that could happen would be to adopt a new story of who we are and what we are doing here. If we think we are sinners we create a different world than if we think we are glorious. And how we can come by that understanding is to tune into what is called the Universe Story.” She goes on to say that this involves understanding ourselves as the magnificent creation of a 3.8-billion year process of evolution, from cosmic dust to us, and the best way to arrive at that understanding is to tune into its most charismatic brilliant storyteller, Brian Swimme, whose newest book, Cosmogenesis: An Unveiling of the Expanding Universe, explains it all in detail.
I went to Professor Swimme’s book synopsis at Amazon and read that “in terms of the universe’s development, we humans are not only economic, religious, or political beings. At the most fundamental level, we are cosmological beings.” That sounds good, though I think I knew that, or at least suspected it, even if I didn’t use the same adjective before “beings.” Swimme’s latest book, it is stated, tells the story of the universe while simultaneously telling the story of the storyteller. Swimme describes how the impact of the new story deconstructed his mind then reassembled it, offering a glimpse into how cosmogenesis has transformed our understanding of both the universe and the evolution of human consciousness itself.
The Amazon synopsis further states that “Cosmogenesis is one of the greatest discoveries in human history, and it continues to have a profound impact on humanity. And yet most science books do not explore the effects it has had on our individual minds.” I also noted that two of Swimme’s primary influences are Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and Alfred North Whitehead. Having read the works of both philosophers in the past and recalling that I struggled to understand what they were saying, I doubted that I would understand Swimme. While I sometimes get the gist of what they are writing for their more intellectual readers, I am puzzled at their reluctance to use such words as “afterlife” “life after death,” or even the seemingly more academic “survival of consciousness at death.” They all seem to imply that consciousness continues after death, or they leave it to the reader to infer that’s what they are talking about. Chardin mentions souls uniting with Jesus in distant future, or something to that effect, while Whitehead’s discusses “objective immortality,” a term which apparently has no clear-cut interpretation among those subscribing to Whitehead’s “process theology.”
Religion, in fact, for the great majority of our own race means immortality, and nothing else.
Going further back, to William James, one of the pioneers of psychology and cosmology, his 1902 classic, The Varieties of Religious Experience, never really addressed the survival issue, the very crux of religion. He mentioned the “eternal,” and “salvation” several times, and ,” and said there is some evidence that there is consciousness outside of the primary consciousness, but that’s as far as he went in that direction. Not once did he mention Leonora Piper, the trance medium he called the “White Crow,” the one who proved all crows are not black – the one who offered overwhelming evidence to other researchers that consciousness does survive death. According to Professor James Hyslop, one of those researchers, Professor James asked Richard Hodgson, another of the researchers and James’s good friend, to review the proofs of his book – which was actually a collection of lectures he had given – before they were printed. Hodgson was somewhat perplexed at the fact that in the 400-plus pages of the book, James never directly addressed the survival issue. He let James know of his disappointment in that respect. Whether to appease Hodgson or to correct his oversight, James then added a postscript to the book. In it, he wrote: “Religion, in fact, for the great majority of our own race means immortality, and nothing else. God is the producer of immortality, and whoever has doubts of immortality is written down as an atheist without further trial. I have said nothing in my lectures about immortality or the belief therein, for me it seems a secondary point. If our ideals are only cared for in ‘eternity,’ I do not see why we might not be willing to resign their care to other hands than ours.”
I have no idea what James was suggesting in that last sentence. He went on to say that he believed facts are yet lacking for “spirit return,” even though he fully respected the research carried out by Hodgson and Hyslop with Mrs. Piper and others strongly suggesting such return. “I consequently leave the matter open, with this brief word to save the reader from possible perplexity as to why immortality got no mention in the body of the book.
Humbug is humbug….
While writing that survival was a “secondary” concern, James also wrote that “the luster of the present hour is always borrowed from the background of possibilities it goes with. Let our common experiences be enveloped in an eternal moral order. (emphasis mine) In concluding the book, before the postscript, James stated, “I can, of course, put myself into the sectarian scientist’s attitude, and imagine vividly that the world of sensations and of scientific laws and objects may be all. But whenever I do this, I hear that inward monitor of which W. K. Clifford once wrote, whispering the word ‘bosh!’ Humbug is humbug, even though it bear the scientific name, and the total expression of human experience, as I view it objectively, invincibly urges me beyond the narrow ‘scientific’ bounds.”
I wonder if James, Chardin, Whitehead and many others are simply “beating around the bush” in order to not offend their more ‘intellectually astute” readers – those locked into scientific fundamentalism who might scoff or sneer if they, God forbid, actually used more descriptive, unworldly words, such as immortality, afterlife, life after death, survival of consciousness, whatever. Then again, it may have been a matter of getting it past the editors or publishers who might anticipate academic and scientific rejection of the ideas.
Since Taylor invited readers to comment on her ideas, I did so and stated that, as I see it, the basic problem today is that with increasing materialism there is an increasing loss of meaning in life, resulting in a nihilistic mindset and fear of eternal extinction. While such fears are for the most part subconscious, they significantly affect our behavior and mental state. I went on to say that those who have succeeded in open-mindedly examining the evidence for survival are able to develop a conviction that consciousness does survive death in a greater reality, one that is for the most part beyond human comprehension, although all indications are that it is not the humdrum heaven and horrific hell of orthodoxy. I avoided using those simple-minded words of “afterlife” and “life after death” as I did not want to come across as a religious nut.
Taylor’s response to me was a little ambiguous, but I inferred that she had interpreted my comment as suggesting that one should be focused on the afterlife as if some cloistered monk. As I interpreted her words, the focus should be on “smelling the roses” here, not “seeing into the afterlife.” And so the language struggle usually goes, trying to get the other person to understand that examining the evidence and having a conviction that consciousness does survive death does not mean that one has forsaken this life and is anxious to make the transition to the next.
Discussing the “survival” aspect of death involves walking a language tightrope so as not to offend those stuck in the muck and mire of scientific fundamentalism or religious fundamentalism. A major obstruction in the discussion is the idea of God. Both the scientific fundamentalists and the religious fundamentalists seem to assume that an anthropomorphic God has to be identified and proven before the survival evidence can be examined. Professor James even said so. I always argue that the evidence for survival can be intelligently examined without an a priori God. The scientific fundamentalist reacts to that with a look of surprise, while the religious fundamentalist reacts with an expression of shock.
“What are you talking about?”
And therein, as I view it from my lowly porch, we have the major problem. The finger is not even on the trigger.
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: March 27
Bruce Williams, Mon 20 Mar, 12:32
You responded very quickly to the request. I was wondering if it was a coincidence or was it a thought which popped in to your mind to look at the blog.
I wonder if your Richard was connected to the After Life group and triggered you. I look for causal effects for actions.
The SNU has Union and the SNA has Association, but thanks for the suggestion. I take it that your Richard was not in to the mediumship scene.
I hope that you kept all your parents books.
Should things develop I will keep you posted.
So very true!
Yet, when one has a private conversation with such folks, they sometimes finally express their true belief of the afterlife and of spirits, etc.
On another topic…
My 92-yr-old mother passed peacefully and I saw my father, looking as in his 30s, waiting by her side. Later, a few minutes after she transitioned, I saw a clear vision of the two of them, hand in hand, and her as young-looking as him…then they disappeared from my sight. It was beautiful!
Jon, Mon 20 Mar, 10:42
Thanks for responding so quickly.
Yeah, that does sound like a live Richard Fowler, doesn’t it? I’m wondering why he doesn’t show up in the SNA (Spiritualist National Union USA, I take it)? Is it possible that the “A” is for Australia - or Austria - instead of America? Just a thought.
Congratulations on bringing through your wife’s favorite Aunt!
As for me, one side benefit I got out of misunderstanding your question is that, from just thinking about the Rich Fowler I knew, it seemed like I could feel his presence. From time to time that kind of thing happens to me. Every once in a while it will be in the form of a thought, or an energy, that’s totally disconnected from my own stream of consciousness. But this was more more in the nature of a response to my own stream of consciousness, of course.
I have it on my bucket list to join one of the Zammit mediumship development groups, so I can learn how to tell when something is for real or when it is a construction of my mind. Perhaps to channel one of my own wife’s favorite relatives? But alas, I’m just too busy at the moment.
In any case, I look forward to hearing that your team’s book has been published!
All the best,
Lloyd, Mon 20 Mar, 01:09
So very true!
Yvonne Limoges, Sun 19 Mar, 20:45
Yet, when one has a private conversation with such folks, they sometimes finally express their true belief of the afterlife and of spirits, etc.
On another topic…
My 92-yr-old mother passed peacefully and I saw my father, looking as in his 30s, waiting by her side. Later, a few minutes after she transitioned, I saw a clear vision of the two of them, hand in hand, and her as young-looking as him…then they disappeared from my sight. It was beautiful!
I am based in Australia so different timezone for conversations. I will give you the background. I am writing a book (almost complete) on spiritual transformation with the help of a team of four from the After Life - I call them After Life Inc. The team leader is Marcellus Ayers (https://theclio.com/entry/63341).
I receive instructions on the content and how to proceed. I get many dead ends (sorry for the pun) mainly from trying to contact people/organisations. The team believe that they still can control their previous organisations -they expect respect.
This is a small message compared to normal transmissions but I have given it in its received form.
Saturday 5 March 2023 3:21. “Ayers here, we have allowed you time alone to sort out the estate. Respect for the “dead” is always important. (I have been 800kms from home sorting out an estate from my mother-in-law)). What we would like you to do is to contact Richard Fowler of the SNA. He has been instructed to assist. Our team/group is part of a large team. It is held together by unity - a term meaning that the linkages are firm”.
Linkages seem to be a key in my understanding.
I contacted the SNU (UK operation) as I did not know there was a SNA (US operation). RF Not known. I contacted the SNA (twice) no reply. I thought well maybe those in the group might know something.
I thought that Richard has to be alive. I have a lot of respect for trance mediums and I have my favourites but like you I live in a less spiritual family. Only when I brought through my wife’s favourite aunt did I manage to retain my spiritual outlook.
Bruce Williams, Sun 19 Mar, 01:23
Amos and Chris,
I would narrow it all down to the “pursuit of happiness,” not happiness itself, but the pursuit. If not for continuing adversity, there would be no need to pursue happiness. It would then be a constant state, with no real purpose. It would be what some people think “heaven” to be. We’d end up bored and watching “Rome burn” as Nero did. I think that’s what’s happening in the world now, i.e., we’ve reached the limits of material comforts. Consider the work ethic problem we are now having.
Back to the running analogy, it wasn’t winning or doing well that provided the ultimate joy. It was the hard training involved in the pursuit of winning. The joy of winning or meeting one’s goal lasted a day or so, the hard training and striving for the goal took months, even years.
Michael Tymn, Sat 18 Mar, 22:57
I’d like to say a few things about myself, so you know I’m not a troll waiting to pounce on you!
I’ve been reading Michaels blog since late in the twenty oughts. My parents were trance voice mediums, and you could say that Michael’s work takes me back to my roots — to the gems that lurked in my parents’ library, in books and magazines that influenced my worldview to the nth degree, but that I never bothered to read when I was a young man.
For better or worse, I married into a family consisting mostly of staunch materialists. I consider it now to be for the better, as I have come to look at the (sometimes frustrating) hobby of challenging materialism with real science to be an important part of my life’s journey. Reading Michael’s blog, and all of your comments back and forth, is certainly a part of that journey.
I understand that channeling is not a predictable art. Richard may not contact you again. Or my own excitement about the possibility of hearing from him, and maybe even being able to have a more current, veridical “miracle” to reveal to my doubtful but open minded wife, might create a static of sorts. Or maybe there will be no problem, but it wouldn’t hurt to get all this off my chest so I will stop fussing and be patient. It’s only been a half day since my reply to you was posted, already!
In any case, I will say no more, in order to give you the opportunity to provide that veridical experience, if it is the right and perfect thing to happen.
Lloyd, Sat 18 Mar, 19:38
Maybe I am deluded but I have come to think that what we call ‘planet Earth’ is just one of many spiritual spheres with a decided purpose and that Earth is a place for experience. Once one gets past the idea that people, behaviors and things e.g., governments, war, climate change, are either good or bad, one is able to see everything as an opportunity for an evolving consciousness to experience life in all of its forms on Earth and to experience a multitude of differing ways that incarnate form, whatever it may be, can learn about relationships and the importance of love as well as beauty and function as a creative force in the universe. Perhaps that applies to other planets as well as Earth.
But, one might also say that it may be that life on Earth is also a form of entertainment for an evolving spirit, An opportunity to experience the joy of comedy as well as tragedy. I have come to believe that life on earth is an opportunity to be joyful, to have fun in being alive in form. I look about me and see the myriad of forms that to me seem to have been intelligently designed with a sense of humor in mind, a sense of beauty, of color and majesty of form. Birds, tropical fish and flowers are unrivaled examples of creative and artistic color and intelligent design. I can see no purpose in those attributes from a strictly Darwinian survival of the fittest evolutionary point of view. There is something more at play in the appearances of living things on Earth. And, what seems evident to me is that part of that creativity I see incorporates humor.
Life was meant to be fun, Fun for those of us alive on Earth and perhaps for those not on Earth. That is, part of the fun was in the creation by an intelligent designer or intelligent designers. I think that even the Age of Dinosaurs must have provided great fun for the spiritual creators and designers until they took the designs as far as they could go and then trashed the whole thing and started over again.
Just how long could one endure an eternal existence of all sweetness and light. An existence of no challenges, no change, no chance to grow, no emotion other than love; no night, no rain, no snow, no hot, no cold. My soul wants to puke at that syrupiness. How boring that would be! But paradoxically, the opposite of love is just more love from another perspective. Without the negative emotions of anger, hate, fear, jealousy, pain, loss, rejection rampant on earth how would one know or feel anything? How could one love? Without ‘cold’ how could one know what ‘hot’ was. This is nothing new, It is the age-old concept of yin and yang, the idea of opposites; for everything there is its opposite, good/bad,. hot/cold, hard/soft, dark/light etc.
Amos Oliver Doyle, Sat 18 Mar, 14:47
Well what is the point of this ramble. I don’t know other than maybe the reason for a conscious life on Earth is a lot more mundane that some would like it to be. There is no high-minded reason for an incarnation on earth. It is not a place to convert its inhabitants to any religious thought or personage. No salvation, no sacrifice, no redemption, no punitive reason for incarnation. It is just an opportunity to experience, to learn something more, something new and to have fun. So that in the end, one will be omniscient and worthy of returning to its source, which by some is called God. - AOD
A few days ago I saw a channeling of Sheila Gillette ,as I mentioned earlier, and one of the questions was:’what is the purpose of life?’
Chris, Sat 18 Mar, 10:37
The answer of Theo, a collective of archangels was:‘Life’.
Maybe is the ’change’ itself, what we make in life important. Most of the time it is said that we need some bad stuff to appreciate the good stuff.
But after centuries of war you would think that most of the souls know that already, so why are we repeating it again and again. It is my opinion that love is the best and most divine choice and change you can make, but also the negative stuff are a change. Is it not said that negative emotions feed evil spirits in those ghost hunting programs? ’Change’ produces energy, maybe that’s the goal. If you choose the loving way, you just make it easier for your fellow living beings and the divinity where you are part of.
Bruce, sorry but the name Richard Fowler does not ring a bell with me.
Amos, thanks for the you-tube link. At an hour and 42 minutes, it was much too long for me to watch in one sitting, but I found what I saw very interesting and intend to get back to it.
Stafford, I agree about “reaching out.” My Catholic upbringing still kicks in when it comes to that.
As for those mentioning Henri(etta) Wriedt, it’s “i” before “e.” Some get it “right” and others spell it Wreidt. Just mentioning it here in case someone want to put her name into a search and puts the “e” before the “i” resulting in no match. I’ve long considered her the best of all mediums tested and on record.
Michael Tymn, Sat 18 Mar, 05:46
Thank you Keith and Stafford…
For amplifying on my thoughts on the “God question.” For myself, with a secure conviction in the absolute reality of a continuing existence—and with the statements from numerous other-side commentators that, even from their more advanced perspective-point, they don’t really have any greater knowledge of the “nature” of God than we do—I’m perfectly content to live (here or there) with that uncertainty until such time as greater knowledge is available. There’s so much more to learn, in so many areas, that one little gap in knowledge is hardly a game-changer…
Don Porteous, Fri 17 Mar, 23:57
Yes, Bruce, Richard Fowler is significant to me.
Please say more!:-)
Lloyd, Fri 17 Mar, 15:24
Welcome to the discussions. I liked your introduction of your path to these discussions and in particular the depth of research that you have done. Your statement - It’s a pity recording devices weren’t available for direct-voice mediums such as Emily French, John C Sloane and Emma Wreidt back in the day.
I have looked at transcript of the conversations of Sloane in Where Two Worlds Meet by Arthur Findlay. It is the closest to recordings that was possible at the time.
I like your assessment of the search for proof of the after life with dodgy mediums (I am usually providing the viewpoint from the medium). The experience that you have is the key. It transformed your appreciation.
I have a simple request to the group - does the name Richard Fowler seem familiar to any within the group?
Bruce Williams, Fri 17 Mar, 05:33
The other day I was surfing the web and came upon an interview between two men one of whom had suffered serious wounds as a result of fighting in the war in Afghanistan, I think. His story is a rather gruesome one where he suffered a serious large deep cavitation in his back as well as serious lacerations of his leg, cutting a femoral artery giving him only minutes until he would die from a loss of blood. His is a riveting story of efforts to save his life and his personal triumph allowing him to return to battle. There are a lot of messages in this interview so it might be worth the time to watch it.
How is this story relevant to the topics usually discussed on this blog? There was no overt account of an NDE or anything of that kind, nothing directly spiritual, at least in the telling. So why did that resonate with me so much and why do I think I should mention it here? I really am not recommending anyone should view the video although it is an interesting and uplifting story—-long but interesting.
Well, first of all it is occasionally mentioned here that as a spirit consciousness we come to earth with a purpose to fulfil and we say that, based upon what people who have had an NDE often say as the reason they returned to their body. They report that they were told that they had not fulfilled their purpose and had to return to their physical body. Perhaps we assume that one’s purpose is some altruistic one of helping people in a kind caring way or contributing something that will help humanity in a positive way or maybe just adding to one’s own evolution and growth toward God.
But maybe there is a lot more to it than that!
Occasionally, echoing Shakespeare that “All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players. And one man in his time plays many parts, I sometimes think that we are all just playing a part on earth, like an actor in a play and after our part is over, we take off our costume, go to the cast party and start thinking about another role in another production.
What triggered me in this interview between these two men is that the injured man thought of himself as a “warrior”, that is, his whole reason for living it seemed, was to be a Green Beret and fight in the “Special Forces” and even though he had been seriously wounded and lost a leg, he was driven to return to his role as a fighter, a warrior in battle. It was part of who he was above all other things including his wife and family.
I couldn’t help thinking that what I was seeing and hearing was a pure unencumbered example of a spirit choosing a physical form, a role in which he was a warrior. He chose this role, perhaps, before he was born in his present life. And moreover, the role of a warrior was just as legitimate a choice as any other role he might choose. We might not think that fighting and killing people were godly choices to make but maybe the ‘warrior’ carries no label of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ but that it is just a role to play in physical form. In a way, it is another way to experience life and to have—-fun. Yes, to have fun, since neither birth nor death has any real significance in the eternal existence of the soul!
Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 16 Mar, 22:28
So many things that people do we think are not godly behaviors, are not spiritual but are something to avoid or get rid of, to bring into line with what some indescribable god or religion would approve. Or, what WE would approve! Anything else would be sinful and cause for damnation. When perhaps the real God approves of everything. There is no unacceptable role for a consciousness to assume on earth. Life is just a momentary experience, to—-experience; to experience everything! And whether it be a warrior, wizard or wonder-worker, all choices to incarnate are part of God’s plan. - AOD
Thank you Michael for your interesting reply and kind words. Yes I have heard of what you say happening at the time of death. I must add that what I experienced was nothing like an hallucination or had any kind of dreamlike quality to it as I was very aware of my faculties at the time although I admit I was just coming into an awakened state but the time of around 15 seconds was long enough for me to become well aware of this amazing energy that I was engulfed in. I have had nothing happen in the whole of my life that comes near to what this was. As I mentioned my mother passed unexpectedly and we never had time to say goodbye to her although I was by her side when she passed but she was half here and half somewhere else and we weren’t really aware how bad the situation was until the last hour before she went but she did look very ill. My mother had been quite a religious person most of her life but became quite disillusioned with the church in her later years although she never seemed to give any reasons but personally I think she thought it had fallen by the wayside in many respects.
Dave Harrison, Thu 16 Mar, 22:22
It’s also a strange thing that the week before she got ill we were sitting talking one night and her little bible fell off the back of a chair and landed on the floor near me opening at the first page where her name was written in the inside cover. This was a bible presented to her on her wedding day. I immediately said to her that this was a sign for her although I didn’t associate it with anything untoward at the time. I had seen signs before in my life at various times and I always had a certain feeling when I knew it meant something. Since then I have questioned what the bible was doing on the back of the chair in the first place as it was usually tucked away in a drawer somewhere. I wish I’d asked my mother at the time why she’d had her bible out but hindsight is a wonderful thing as they say. Now after what has transpired It’s my personal belief that something or someone was trying to warn us about what was soon to happen. Or was it all just a coincidence and wishful thinking? For me no it wasn’t.
My apologies I misnamed Etta Wriedt as Emma Wriedt in my last post.
We all hold beliefs and most of us are aware of how our beliefs prejudice us. (Readers of Seth’s teachings are familiar with a much greater significance; in light of this, Seth encouraged his readers to examine their beliefs, changing them when appropriate. He spoke of how we constantly hypnotize ourselves—give ourselves suggestions—with little, if any, conscious awareness of doing so.)
Our beliefs include those concerning the afterlife and the nature of divinity; the influence of Christianity upon such beliefs, particularly for those brought up as Christians in the U.S., long ago, is very evident here but also in the output of a great number of the featured mediums of days long past.
William James didn’t share a number of conventional beliefs of his time, but then his family (and its history) was very complex. His father was an enthusiast of Emanuel Swedenborg’s teachings at one point.
James was born too soon to be a hippy or have anything to do with so called “New Age” thought, but note his willingness to experiment with nitrous oxide (laughing gas).
Some here would undoubtedly refuse to read Jane Robert’s _The Afterdeath Journal of an American Philosopher: The World View of William James_, with an Introduction by Seth, as per their beliefs they place Ms. Roberts and Seth in the nearly meaningless “New Age” category and, like skeptics dismissing all “wu wu,” automatically reject anything they imagine might have something to do with whatever they imagine the “New Age” to be.
That’s a shame, as it’s a good book.
Although I admire James, I have long wondered why he didn’t apply the same exploratory spirit of his consciousness altering adventures with nitrous oxide to his investigations of mediumship. I can understand his need to maintain “scientific objectivity” during those undertakings but wish he had ditched it, even if privately, and undertook communication with those no longer physically embodied directly.
Traditional Christian beliefs are entwined with no end of societal beliefs of very long standing, many of which can be grouped under the “symbolical masculine and feminine” and linked to the development of ego. What is the old testament god if not a symbolically masculine creation?
Whoever the man “Jesus” was and whatever his place in the greater scheme of things, he certainly was never the sole son of an imaginary god construct conceived when the symbolic masculine was still gaining force. (Was the “New Age,” before it became a useless, commercialized catch-all term, actually a reference to a significant change from the symbolic masculine to an era in which a new blending of the symbolic masculine and feminine arises?)
Seth urged the combining of intellect and intuition in his readers as intuition has for far too long been associated with the symbolically feminine and, as a result, marginalized and downgraded. Note the predominance of feminine mediums in yesteryear (with important exceptions, of course). What does mediumship rely on if not “intuitive” abilities?
Great scientists would not have made any number of important discoveries had they not relied on their own intuitive abilities, yet science and its many practitioners is primarily associated with the symbolical masculine and the vaunted intellect—but intellect without intuition yields a seriously lopsided situation.
Yet it is exactly our repressed feminine or intuitive nature that, if acknowledged and actively explored, could grant us access to key experiences that would radically change questions concerning the afterlife and divinity and provide what’s required for a true understanding.
Bill Ingle, Thu 16 Mar, 17:06
I agree with you, Don, on the God question. Thus I refer to God as the Creator and leave it at that. That the universe evolved on its own without intelligent orchestration seems very unlikely to me. If I am pressed to speculate further on the nature of the Creator, I would add this: Since the highest form of intelligence that we know is personal, I am inclined to think that the Creator is an infinite Person. Pressing even further, I allow myself to think of the Creator as bipolar (in a good sense): as being the Mother/Father of the universe, a departure from textbook monotheism. That would explain why the two sexes are found everywhere we look—perhaps we are made in the image of God after all. Mother/Father is at least more plausible than Father/Son, a sterile metaphor for a Creator that Christianity is stuck with. (All the Hindu high gods, especially Krishna and Shiva, have their female consorts, which has always struck me as an improvement.) Of course, I am not at all sure this theology is correct, but I like to think it is. And there is no good reason to think it’s not. So if you are a prayerful person, why not reach out to the divine Mother as well as Father?
Stafford Betty, Thu 16 Mar, 01:57
My condolences on the transition of your mother. Thanks for sharing that dynamic experience. The “mist” experiences, at the time of death, or after, seems like an area that needs much more research. The “soul mist” witnessed at the time of death is reported much more often, but your experience is just as intriguing, if not more so. I believe the substance is the same as ectoplasm and the “life force.” You said it was witnessed a few days after her passing, which makes me wonder if she did not actually separate from her physical body until then.
Michael Tymn, Wed 15 Mar, 20:35
Just found this Blog so I’m one of the new boys:) In fact I have just come across your work in general Michael so I’m not that familiar with your writing but your books appear to be very well researched but I’ve not read any yet although that will soon change I’m sure.
Dave Harrison, Wed 15 Mar, 14:27
If I can offer my tuppence-worth speaking from my own experience. I did touch on the subject of afterlife research NDE’s etc back in my teen years. I read about Leslie Flint and his direct-voice mediumship back then to and kind of laughed it off as some kind of con trick especially the fact that quite a few communicators were apparently famous people during their lifetimes. After that I got jobs, travelled about and was distracted by the usual titbits life had to offer and so got caught up in the turmoil that is modern life. In other words I had no time to look into this afterlife stuff and to be honest it just didn’t cross my mind that much as I was enjoying life and what might or what might not come after was not really on my radar.
It wasn’t until last year when my mother without any warning and in good health suddenly passed away. I had been very close to her and she was without doubt the best friend I ever had and will ever have. To say there was a massive void left behind that could never be filled was an understatement I was absolutely devastated. She was the nicest woman anyone could ever meet always had a smile for someone and she’d always watch my back.
I’d lost grandparents before and so I knew what grief was but this was on another level completely. I couldn’t believe that this huge loving personality that my mother was had just stopped I refused to believe it. I can only say that what then followed was an intense search for answers to my question ‘where had she gone?’ I devoured information on the internet, I looked into contacting a medium and I read loads of old literature on mediumship from back in it’s heyday.
I then came across the Leslie Flint recordings again and realised I could now listen to them online. I spent months listening to these trying to evaluate them and come to some conclusion as to their authenticity as communications from those in spirit. Of course there are many sceptics who believe the recordings to be faked. My current belief is that the recordings are indeed genuine, it’s not Flint’s voice and actors are not being employed. I’ve heard fake channelling and trance mediumship so I know when something smells as bit iffy. It’s a pity recording devices weren’t available for direct-voice mediums such as Emily French, John C Sloane and Emma Wreidt back in the day.
Anyway what I’m trying to say in a roundabout way is that I didn’t really get into the subject until I had this life changing event in my life that in a way propelled me into this quest for answers as to where my mother’s personality or spirit had gone to. On reflection I think I kind of put things off not really wanting to face up to the fact that my parents would one day not be here and the devastating effect it would have on my life. I didn’t want to face that eventuality. Although I had talked to them about it on the odd occasion and my belief was that some part of us goes on in some other form but I don’t think they were to convinced so I tended to avoid bringing the subject up to much.
One more thing I’d like to add is that within a few days of my mother’s passing I had what I’d describe as the most incredible experience of my life so far. In fact I have said that words cannot describe it because it went far beyond any feeling I have ever encountered. I awoke in the early hours in what I can only describe as a mist that was in very white light. I’ll try and explain but if you can imagine being enveloped in a cocoon of pure love and bliss or a vibration of pure love and bliss the most intense love you could ever imagine then it would come near but maybe if you multiply that by 100. It was like I wanted to stay in it forever like this was home, peace, love, bliss and harmony. It lasted maybe 15 seconds at the most then it was gone and I felt total sadness as whatever it was disappeared. I then sat up and said to myself ‘what was that?’ in total disbelief. I had read about people experiencing similar things but never really understood quite what it must be like but now I knew for myself for sure that these things existed. I hope that others will experience what I have and then they will know for sure that we are far more than what we think we are. It will be an experience that will live with me for the rest of my life. I’d like to think it was my mother telling me that she was still around and without doubt at least it was something connected to her passing as it was to much of a coincidence. The experience has given me much more hope and belief that we do go on after this life. I was in touch with something far beyond description that day a very special gift that I will cherish for the rest of my days.
After reading all the comments on Michael’s excellent piece, I have concluded that they only reinforce my view that the word God is totally useless and we’d benefit by junking it completely. I agree with Don that if you accept (as I do) that there most probably is a greater reality that includes survival, with probably a moral dimension involved, you must also accept that there is a creative agency in existence that is capable of intelligent design; but whether we ourselves are a constituent part of this agency seems doubtful to me. Nonetheless, the usually anthropomorphic connotations forced onto the word God by so many thinkers, religionists and churches, has made the word incapable of ever providing an agreed meaning - not least because it usually requires ‘worship’ instead of mere ‘acknowledgement’ of it.
Keith P in England (Australia actually!), Wed 15 Mar, 11:05
I don’t have a problem with William James sitting on the fence. He was away from the action and had an academic position and family reputation brother of Henry James)to protect:
WILLIAM JAMES ON PSYCHICAL RESEARCH
Published in the Proceedings of the American Society for Psychical Research , Vol. Ill, 1909, with the following note by William James:
I had myself had no sitting with Mrs. Piper and had hardly seen her for some nine years, but for most of that time I had been kept informed of what was going on by reading the typed records, furnished me by my friend Hodgson, of all the trances of which report was taken, and for which the sitters had not asked secrecy to be
observed. The “control” most frequently in evidence in these years has been the
personage calling himself Rector. Dr. Hodgson was disposed to admit the claim to reality of Rector and of the whole Imperator Band of which he is a member, while I have rather favored the idea of their all being dream-creations of Mrs. Piper,
probably having no existence except when she is in trance, but consolidated by
repetition into personalities consistent enough to play their several roles. Such at least is the dramatic impression which my acquaintance with the sittings has left on my mind.
I can see no contradiction between Rector’s being on the one hand an improvised creature of this sort, and his being on the other hand the
extraordinarily impressive personality which he unquestionably is. He has marvelous discernment of the inner states of the sitters whom he addresses, and speaks straight to their troubles as if he knew them all in advance. He addresses you as if he were the most devoted of your friends.
WILLIAM JAMES ON PSYCHICAL RESEARCH
Compiled and Edited
GARDNER MURPHY, M.D. and ROBERT O. BALLOU p115
Did his views change when Hodgson become a control?
Bruce Williams, Wed 15 Mar, 06:16
The spirit-Hodgson’s first manifestation was, as I have said, eight days after his death. There was something dramatically so like him in the utterances of those earliest days, gradually gathering “strength” as they did, that those who had cognizance of them were much impressed.
One would hope so,
PS Did the person who won the race (when you were 13) achieve fame?
Nice post. This is one of those (somewhat rare) occasions when you and I are in complete agreement…
Don Porteous, Tue 14 Mar, 21:45
Don, David, Amos,
Thank you for the comments. I think we are all in agreement on “God.” As I have stated many time, I prefer to see a hierarchy of spirits with Jesus serving as “Chairman of the Board.” Whether that chairman is for the earth planet only or for the entire universe I don’t concern myself. I’m content at this point with the conviction that consciousness survives death in a larger world that is nothing like the heaven and hell taught by religions. I like the symbolic clues we get from paranormal phenomena as to what that “afterlife” is like, at least at the lower levels, but I recognize my limitations in going beyond those clues.
Incidentally, I was watching a WWI movie. “Women at War,” on Netflix last night and the Catholic priest turned out to be one of the bad guys. It dawned on me that in every program I see involving a priest, minister, clergyman, nun, whatever, he or she is made out to be the bad guy or gal, or whatever now exists between a guy and a gal. While I recognize that there are many deviants serving churches, I feel certain there must be some good ones and even that the majority are good people. But the movies never show them. As I see it, it is part of the media propaganda efforts to destroy the churches completely and people are slowly buying into that propaganda.
Michael Tymn, Tue 14 Mar, 21:36
Big surprise—I disagree with your disagreement. While I do agree entirely about the “brute fact” of the evidence for an afterlife, that proof (I’ll call it such) of the FACT of our continuing existence, says nothing whatsoever about the NATURE of that continued existence. That’s where the relevance of my comment comes in: If the afterlife were to be nothing more than a continuation of our present mode of lust for the moment, dog-eat-dog existence, I for one, would not care to prolong it. Fortunately, based on the extensive commentary from those who’ve actually been there—WE haven’t—a more ethically-based (ie, “Godlike”) standard appears to come in to play. That’s something I can live with…
Don Porteous, Tue 14 Mar, 21:36
I follow the concept of Amos. The creator, creating and creation are one. They and the same time ’it’ are All That Is. There is nothing outside it. But maybe, we are to limited to imaginate such a being, so we give it names and try to make a vision of it to make it tangible for us, while we try to communicate. Does it matter what name and what vision we give? I think not, God knows our intention and understands it…it created us and we are part of it.
Chris, Tue 14 Mar, 21:11
Michael Schmicker, Tue 14 Mar, 20:21
My thought — the reason modern writers from the 19th century on can’t use the word “afterlife” is because it historically has become associated in the public mind with a Christian afterlife. And many educated people disagree with Christian theology’s worldview. The term afterlife has been poisoned by its association with Christianity. It is too loaded. The “survival of consciousness” term , while academic, serves better. It doesn’t say what the afterlife will be, just that it exists. Readers and listeners are more likely to read or listen further.
Thanks, Michael, for another thought-provoking post.
The Spanish Inquisition, the English break with the Catholic Pope and the establishment of the Anglican Church, new thoughts promoted by the Puritans and Martin Luther etc. , all religions of very devote people caused strife among believers and nonbelievers, immoralities (depending upon one’s religious beliefs), tortures, beheadings and wars between tribes and countries. Not only in the Western World but also in the East over many centuries. So perhaps lack of religion per se is not really the cause of the hedonism, cruelty and immorality seen today promoted by the media, movies, magazines, advertisements and governments. Those atrocities existed when religion was in its heyday. They were the reason for the crucifixion of Jesus on the cross at Calvary. Organized religions with their beliefs, dogmas and rituals are not the salvation of humanity. To the contrary, history shows that for the most part organized religion was the cause of much of the social and cultural discord within human society.
The understanding that is needed==and I believe that it is immanent—-is an understanding of the underlying spiritual basis of everything. That what we see is not all that is. The interconnectedness of all peoples as the creative force of the universe is what must be acknowledged. Spiritual communicators have been woefully lacking or inadequate in conveying the true vibrational identity of all living things and perhaps, the material world as well as the universe itself as a spiritual construct. But a return to religion is not the answer.
The debate about an anthropomorphic god in this day and age is a silly discussion. Any thinking person cannot even begin to believe that there is an old bearded human with a penis as God. However, that doesn’t mean that “God” or a “Holy Spirit” doesn’t exist. The Christian God as well as the gods and goddesses of the Norse, Rome and Greece, India, China and others were good symbols of a concept way beyond the ability of the populace to understand the true nature of a Divine Creator. They had their place in time but that time has almost passed. It is just that God cannot be defined by language. God cannot be described because “he” (I use that for lack of anything else) is not the same today as he was yesterday and will not be the same tomorrow. God is all that is. “I am that I am.” And each of us is a part of that “all that is”. – AOD
Amos Oliver Doyle, Tue 14 Mar, 18:46
Don: “While the fundamentalists (of both ilks) concentrate, as you observed, on the necessity for an “anthropomorphic” God—which I would hope all here recognize the fallacy of by now—I don’t find it possible, as you suggest, to conceive of our continuing survival (which at this stage, I obviously take as a given) as occurring without the presence of at least “some type” of a priori God.”
I disagree. My view is that the very large body of empirical evidence for an afterlife remains as a brute fact and is the deciding factor as to whether an afterlife exists of not, regardless of whether or not an anthropomorphic or any other sort of God exists. Period. These two propositions (whether or not there is an afterlife, and whether or not there is a God), are clearly logically independent.
For instance: to bolster his argument an atheist can always
David Magnan, Tue 14 Mar, 18:25
claim that there was no necessity for there having been a Creator of the Universe - that space-time and the physical world may possibly have always existed. Now, whether this last proposition is true or not has no bearing on whether there is a human afterlife. These two propositions are in entirely different existential categories. Apples and oranges.
And for the most part, spoken just as forcefully by the Virgin Mary in her apparition at Quito in 1634.The fruits of materialism were quite clearly predicted then, and their inglorious visibility has grown in our own day for all to see.
Your description of the response to you by Ms. Taylor, along with the thoroughly annoying refusal by James and others to make an outright commitment to the truth of what their researches have dug up (the concluding lines to the first book by Dr. Gary Schwartz, “The Afterlife Experiments,” is a prime example) all combine to explain why I continue to take such a dim view of “mere psychology.”
On one point, I would disagree with you. While the fundamentalists (of both ilks) concentrate, as you observed, on the necessity for an “anthropomorphic” God—which I would hope all here recognize the fallacy of by now—I don’t find it possible, as you suggest, to conceive of our continuing survival (which at this stage, I obviously take as a given) as occurring without the presence of at least “some type” of a priori God. The whole concept of ethics and morality (the genuine kind) dictates against it. Anthropomorphic—No. But as an actual (if impossible to define) existence—along with Imperator and our many other correspondents—a resounding Yes.
Don Porteous, Tue 14 Mar, 12:24
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