Consciousness, mind, spirit, soul, psyche, life force, vital force, vitality, divine spark, awareness, cognizance, perception, sense, etc., are just a few of the words we use to describe the phenomenon of being. This wide variety of words are used for different contexts, and have connotations suitable for different modes of expression, i.e., formal, informal, colloquial, religious, secular, etc. For the purpose of this discussion, the word consciousness will be used in all expressions.
The amount of material written about consciousness is huge, and would have one believe we understood the subject well, however, there are some real world facts that need to be considered:
Consciousness has never been observed.
Neither has it been weighed or measured.
The source of consciousness is unknown.
It's location, within or without the body, has not been found.
No one has determined what consciousness is made of, or contains.
There is no proof that consciousness is biological.
And consciousness can not be duplicated or demonstrated
Therefor, it seems, all writings about consciousness are only subjective guesses (theories).
Roger Penrose, eminent physicist and winner of the prestigious Wolf Prize, states in his book The Emperor's New Mind that "we don't have a good definition of consciousness because we don't know what it is."
True, we don't know what it is, only that it exists. Consciousness remains undefined.
"The only true knowledge is knowing that you know nothing." -- Socrates
You are Consciousness.
There are some things we have learned from the Near Death Experience. Consciousness leaves the body upon clinical death, and that consciousness is the individual whose body has just died. There is complete memory, personality, knowledge, and all other facets of consciousness present. Only the perception of life is changed. We can now demonstrate this truth through scientific medical research.
Therefor it is possible to state: "we are consciousness." We are spirit. This is in opposition to the belief that we "have" a consciousness or spirit. It is an important distinction to understand that we are consciousness, not that we "own" or "have" one.
We are the controller of the body, we are not a body. Names, position, fame or fortune are meaningless outside the physical body and the physical world.
An answer to religious critics.
There's a lot of criticism of Near Death Experiencers on the Internet by Christian web sites. It's true the typical NDE doesn't echo their church doctrine, so it is labeled false, even satanic. Some individual experiencers are targeted with inaccurate, slanderous attacks. As NDEs become more popular the number of insults grow. This writing answers a couple of the main points of contention -- that NDEs don't follow God's Biblical plan of salvation, and NDEers don't recognize the forces of evil in the world.
The Christian Bible is not God. There is not one verse in the Bible that was written by God, therefor the Bible is not the word of God. The Bible was written by men, and not one of those men was God.
However, it can be said that the Bible was inspired by God, because God created everything, therefor everything was inspired by Him. All events happen due to God's creation of the world, in Him we all have our being.
The Bible has thousands of verses. These verses were written down hundreds, even thousands of years apart. The first verses written have nothing to do with the last. But, as is well known, manipulators of the verse can take a few sentences here, and a few there, adding or changing the meaning of a word or two, and produce a new church doctrine that is said to be Biblical. Everyone will then be expected to conform to it. The so-called "plan of salvation," I believe, is one of these manufactured doctrines.
The doctrine goes: "Jesus was sacrificed for the sins of the world, and whoever believes in this and accepts Jesus as their personal saviour will be saved. They will not die, but live eternally in Heaven." Once Jesus is accepted, the saved will be saved forever. "Once saved, always saved." However, those that reject Jesus will be thrown into hell to burn, scream, be tortured, feel intense pain for eternity. Now that's what I call negative incentive.
Being saved is an act of faith, not works, you don't have to do anything. It's like a loyalty oath, a pledge of allegiance, a declaration of intent. The sad part is, there's no mention of following the teachings of Jesus. I can understand why this doctrine came about. It is much, much easier to pledge your faith in Jesus, than it is to work at compassion, loving yourself and others. To grow spiritually by returning good, and forgiving those that despitefully use you. To not judge others, to heal the sick, feed the hungry, etc.
These Christians will tell you that when one accepts Jesus as their saviour, spiritual growth comes along with it, and everyone will want to be kind and loving afterwards. This is true for a few, but I would not be writing this if it were true for the majority. Jesus' teachings of "love one another" should be the first thing taught and the last thing remembered in every sermon preached. Also, many churches put the teachings of Jesus so far on the back burner, that they fall right off the stove. I have talked to Christians who never heard the beatitudes sermonized.
Now, is this salvation doctrine Biblical. No, in my opinion, it is not. For the reasons stated below.
There is no verse in the Bible that clearly states the salvation doctrine. John 3:16 says nothing about a "sacrifice for sins." Many of the other verses used to prove this doctrine do not either. There is verse about Jesus died for us, but mention nothing about sacrifice for sin. If this is the "heart" of Christianity wouldn't it be clearly stated many times. Why does one need to read a verse here, and another there, plus do some interpretation of words to come up with it.
Now, another strange thing is no one seemed, at the time of His crucifixation, to know that it was a sacrifice for the sins of the world. The Romans didn't know because they would have called it off. Human sacrifice was against Roman law. They would have never taken part in a human sacrifice for the sins of the world. His disciples and friends didn't seem to know either. If they had known they were about to be absolved of all their sins, you would think they would have been in a better mood. No one said anything about it and no one was happy.
If no one on earth knew, then it is time to ask God about it. God would be the only one to order the sacrifice. No one else was powerful enough. So here we have God ordering the sacrifice of His son to Himself for the sins of the world. Since sacrifices are designed to please God so He will grant favors. God must have been pleased with watching His son die cruelly on the cross. Pleased enough to grant immunity from the "wages of sin" for those who believed in it and accepted the whole scenario. If this seems a bit illogical, it's because it is illogical, and if God was pleased with watching His son die, He must have been very pleased when throwing disbelievers in hell. He could listen to their screams for eternity.
I do not believe God did this, nor is like this.
Christians also criticize NDEers for not talking about demons, devils, and other things that go bump in the night. This is true that most NDEs are positive experiences, full of love and light. So, why spend your valuable time worrying about the dark side. If you keep your focus on God's unconditional love you will never have to deal with the negative. Stay on the positive path.
I can't speak for all Near Death Experiencers, but for me, the love teachings of Jesus are the same as that learned in the near death experience. A few experiencers asked about the Bible during their NDEs. I was one of them. I was told that the only thing I needed to know about the Bible could be found in I Corinthians 13. The love chapter written by Paul. So, Near Death Experiencers are not so bad, they believe in love one another. If you don't like them, just leave them alone. They have a right to their beliefs the same as you.
quote: 1 Corinthians 13
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
If I give away all I have, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.
Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends; as for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.
For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away.
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways.
For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood.
So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Being a Near Death Experiencer is not easy.
When I shared my experience with the religious folk they said: "Don't believe your experience. It can't be found in the Bible, therefore it is false. False experiences like that are caused by Satan. Him and his demons can act like God to fool people like you. You should pray a lot and talk to a priest."
When I shared my experience with the scientific folk they said: "Don't believe your experience. There are no studies, cites, theories, data, etc., etc. to support it, therefore it is false. False experiences like that are caused by hallucinations, drugs, lack of oxygen, etc., etc. These experiences can fool you and make you think funky. You should talk to a doctor and maybe take some prozac.
I, in my wide-eyed, ignorance wondered how so many people knew more about my experience than I did. Especially since none of them ever had a one. Little did I know.
So, I started a web site for Near Death Experiencers. We can talk in support groups and on the new message board about the things we felt. About the healings, the future, the peace and love of it all. It has been, in my opinion, successful.
I have decided not to take the advice above, after all, I was the one who had the experience. Most other NDEers feel the same. What happens in the Near Death Experience is real. It is just as the experiencer says it is. I do not just believe in a spirit world and eternal life, I know it exists because I was there, and can return through meditation when I want.
No judgements for the religious and scientific folk, they do what they believe is right. In the final analysis all will learn in their time, and they will be pleased. Well at least most of them, you can't please everyone.
The subject tonight is Love
And for tomorrow night as well.
As a matter of fact,
I know of no better topic
For us to discuss
Until we all
Love, compassion, and tolerance are necessities, not luxuries.
Without them, humanity cannot survive.
If you have a particular faith or religion, that is good.
But you can survive without it if you have
love, compassion, and tolerance.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama, For the Love of God
Could we but see the pattern of our days
We would perceive how devious were the ways
By which we came to this, this place in life.
And we would see the climb our souls’ have made
Up through the years.
We would perceive the wanderings, the fears,
The waste-lands of our life.
And know that we could come no other way.
The road found hard to meet, our life goes on.
And we, like weary travelers,
Go from turn to turn until we know the truth,
That life is endless,
And we, forever, are inhabitants of all eternity.
Now and then I like to lift my eyes up from the details of daily life
and remember the bigger picture, and take a breath of God, and feel and
remember that ultimately, it's all okay.
While I stood there, I saw more than I can tell, and understood more
than I saw; for I was seeing in a sacred manner…the shape of all shapes
as they must live together like one being.
To love one's self in the right way and to love one's neighbors are
absolutely analogous concepts, are at bottom one and the same…Hence the
law is: “You shall love yourself as you love your neighbor when you
love him as yourself.”
"We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark;
the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the Light."
Aristotle said: "Those who say there is only one road to Rome don't
know Rome very well." New Thought teaches us not only to tolerate but
to honor all paths to God. All religions have love at their core. We
are meant to learn to love one another, love God and love ourselves
No religion is bigger than God.
Don't squat with your spurs on.
Good judgment comes from experience, and most experience comes
from bad judgment.
If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop digging.
Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the
overcoming of it.
Do not check your soul at the door when you cross the threshold of your
workplace. Whether you are a custodian or a CEO practice work as
sacred art. Respect comes not from the work you do, but the way you do
-- Mary Manin Morrissey
Soft sweet speech is the expression of genuine Love. Hate screeches,
fear squeals, conceit trumpets, but love sings lullabies; it soothes,
it applies balm. Practice the vocabulary of love
Sathya Sai Baba
Mother Theresa purportedly had this on her wall....
People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies.
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you.
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight.
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough.
Give the world the best you've got anyway.
You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God -- It never
was between you and them anyway.
People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the
sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is
revealed only if there is a light from within.
I searched through rebellion, drugs, diets, mysticism, religions,
intellectualism and much more, only to begin to find…that truth is
basically simple—and feels good, clean and right.
'You are accepted!'....accepted by that which is greater than you and
the name of which you do not know. Do not ask the name now, perhaps
you will know it later. Do not try to do anything, perhaps later you
will do much. Do not seek for anything, do not perform anything, do
not intend anything. Simply accept the fact that you are accepted.