Monday, March 8, 2010

Notes on Experiential Evidence

In yesterday’s post, “Held Incognito Inside Bodies,” I refer to evidence drawn from the experiences of individuals. I was referring to near-death and out-of-body experience reports. This is a vast subject, and therefore some additional notes. One need not seek far for documented reports of this sort. The classical source is Raymond A. Moody’s Life After Life. In a segment titled “Out of the Body” (p. 24-29) are a number of cases where people render their own memories in their own words. Many more such experiences are available from The International Association of Near-Death Studies, Inc., accessible from here. Many other resources may be added to these two that someone wishing to look at the evidence directly can examine.

I’ve had occasion to recommend in the past Carl B. Becker’s Paranormal Experience and Survival of Death (available from here). This is the sort of thing serious students will find useful. The book covers the entire field in scholarly detail.

After I’d examined a great deal of this evidence, I came to the conclusion that in the regions beyond the border experiences are of a different kind than they are in the material world. That over there is a world of images (mundus imaginalis, as Henry Corbin called it) where energies dominate and express themselves in feelings, intuitions, and knowledge not supported by hard, physical underpinnings—but, nevertheless, by real and existent forces (animate and inanimate) that behave like matter but are not matter. Visitors to these regions, therefore, clothe these forces in images drawn from their own experience; an active imagination is stirred into action. They may all reach the same boundary, for instance; the boundary will be real; but some will see it as a river, others as a desert, yet others as a wall. For this reason, those experiencing NDEs and OBEs will accurately describe what they see on this side of the border, but what they see on that side will vary based on personal experience, knowledge, and culture. Christians will see figures from the Christian tradition; Hindus will see figures from the Hindu tradition. But indeed it is reasonable to assume that when they encounter higher entities the entities are the same. It is the interpretations given to these beings that will differ from person to person .

In Carl Becker’s book there is a very astute discussion of this subject in a segment titled “An Idealist Next World” on pages 177-188.

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