« Free will is an illusion: convincing Sam Harris video | Main | Why I stayed with a religion for 35 years »

July 22, 2016


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

38 years is a very long time to waste...

Hello Brian. I am wondering what your take is on the difference between Materialism and Idealism. Materialism says that consciousness arises within or is produced by the brain or mind and idealism says that it's the opposite and that all matter including the human brain arise within consciousness which is unending, unchangeable etc. I've been interested in non duality for a long time but find it frustrating in that it reminds me of elements of the Christian faith that I gave up 35 years ago. I wanted to get enlightened but then found out that there is no one to enlighten. I feel like its contradictory in that it says that peace is found by not looking for it. It tries to explain with words that which it claims can not be explained with words. I have been watching some Bernardo Kastrup video's lately looking for some science to help out and like and understand some of what he is talking about but, can't shake the nagging fear that it is all just another non faith, faith.

Harvey, materialism appears much more likely to me. Meaning, as you said, that consciousness is a product of the material/physical brain, so it is as much material/physical as everything else in the universe.

This is a monistic view, that reality is, deep down, a single unified entity. (Assuming reality as a whole can be called an "entity.")

Viewing matter as arising within consciousness can be forced into a monistic mold -- matter only appears solid and physical, but actually is ethereal consciousness -- but this is a stretch. Mostly, a belief in soul or spirit leads to dualism. This creates a divide, both within our own experience of the world and our relationships with other people.

If I view myself as soul-stuff, while others see themselves as matter-stuff, this can (and often does) lead to religious dogmatism and higher-than-thou judgementalism. "Look at me! My destiny is eternity with God in heaven and your destiny is to be dead-and-gone worm food."

I used to lean toward idealism. Now, though, it strikes me as both scientifically and spiritually dubious -- using "spiritually" in a broadly philosophical sense.

Dear Brian, You lost it man, this is not the way to get liberation from the cycle of life and death. You lost it after 35 years of RSSB practice, hope you have read stories of Indian mythology Guru stories, they also lost it after many much years than your's, 35 year...just because they couldn't understand the tricks of the mind. Mind is a very volatile nuclear reactor man, you cannot contain it without the cadmium rods of love and devotion. Please understand there is huge difference between your physical experience and something what you experience inside. Daily meditation is kind of love story dear, and you do get signs of progress that make you feel good about yourself. You won't believe, even if I tell you unless you experience it by yourself. Don't worry, there are many cases like yours, I just feel pity for the lost battle. You gave your best....and it didn't work. But I would suggest, please give it another shot man, and this time, try to fall in love..... then it won't matter what you get or what you won't get.....your love will just make you feel better. Let me end this comment with a song..." What is Love.....baby don't hurt me...no more...." https://youtu.be/K5G1FmU-ldg . Don't give up.....Just fall in love....and Take care! Brian. Regards, Ravi

"Dear Brian, You lost it man, this is not the way to get liberation from the cycle of life and death."

Ravinder, you only live once. There's no cycle of birth or death which is why you don't remember existing as a one year old let alone as a one year old blue giraffe in another dimension.

Jesse, this comment from you "you only live once", is so disturbing. How do atheists live with this kind of belief, that there is no soul, no spirit that continues in other life forms.

I've been pondering on this and the word "atman" came to me and probably this is what keeps me going in life, otherwise there does not seem to be any point in trying to live a kind, compassionate, moral existence if there is nothing other than this one life in this physical form.

atman: the spiritual life principle of the universe, especially when regarded as immanent in the individual's real self (a person's soul)

Hi Jen,...hold on to your Faith in Reincsrnation & Karma, it the Glue that holds our sanity altogether. It is the strongest Philosophy that is the Thread that links all Religeons together. I wrote my thoughts about Reincarnation some time ago, and posted it on my Blog. A Reader liked it and asked if he could post it on Scribd, and I gave permission.

Here it is, for consideration.

REINCARNATION Vs RESURRECTION: Skeptic, Pragmatist, Atheist, or Mystic?

None of us can ever know for certain if We will return here in a brand new incarnated material body, a latest Model of ourselves. Possibly even as the opposite gender we left in, or if our same old body will be resurrected to live again. Will the witnesses watch with surprise, as the remains of our rotting corpses in the grave crawls out of the Vault after upsetting the grave stone on top of the scraggy grass, or winter snows? Or will our ashes and remaining bone fragments that were cremated and poured into an copper urn magically take their original shape and features as if a Genie floating out of the top of a bottle? For if we are to return here to planet Earth materially and physically then our beliefs are unable to interfere with what will occur! This is a very controversial and convoluted subject to discuss. Be it openly among friends and family or let alone strangers, religious people, Agnostics, Atheists, Philosophers or with Mystics! And so may Fundamentalist Bible Believers Beware! Closed minds are unable to accept such discussions easily. Save yourself and exit now to read no further! Each to their own, is the easy way to avoid challenging belief systems or non-belief, whatever that might be, or be not! For myself, I want to at least set the record straight and to be fair to all. Instead of remaining the hypocrite I was for way too many years, saying one thing and yet secretly believing something else entirely! I mention on my blog and elsewhere, that I am a firm believer in the possibility of Reincarnation of Soul, and My own especially. Because mine is the only Soul I have any control over or interest in.

Other terminologies for the word Reincarnation from the past are: Pre-existence of the Soul (Origen), Metempsychosis (Plato), Nature of the Soul (Socrates), and Transmigration of the Soul (Eastern/Hindu Religion). I could choose to quote from the massive library stores of the many books available, as well as many past and present Celebrities and Philosophers, and from Theologians and Mystics who favor the ideal possibility of Reincarnation of Soul.

Of course there are also many and varied methodologies offered up about Reincarnation, such as "what" part of "us" does reincarnate, and IF it is, after all is said and done, even Real. The Rosicrucian teachings I studied for about 10 years do have a reasonably coherent teaching about what part of our Soul does reincarnate, along with the teachings of some Spiritualist groups.

Unbeknownst to most Homosexuals and Lesbians, I can say they were born that way after all. They didn’t suddenly "become" Gay overnight! The most likely case is a case of a slower transition from the opposite gender in their immediate past life, or even a hangover of other lives more distant. (This aspect could be another complete Article in itself worthy of future consideration on these pages.) So without quoting others here or plagiarizing any particular text past or present, the Author wishes to especially mention why Reincarnation makes the most common sense to me. Should there be any Life after Death, Eternal Life, or a continuance of our Human Consciousness once our present material bodies are pronounced dead by the Coroner, then it appears self-evident to me as the most critically important topic to engage with and not leave on the shelf to ignore or avoid. As for the resurrection of dead corpses or ash remains, of Mummies wrapped in rolls of cloth with their internal organs removed and stored in clay vessels, and more recently the Cryogenic human remains kept in tanks frozen of Nitrogen, well. Admitting that I can no longer accept that I will ever come back here, in the very same but repaired body with same features, I willing accept this labels me as a heretic Christian according to Fundamentalist Christian Dogmatists!.

This is fine because that disputed Label I have worn for many years now as it is. In fact, I have worn the label since back in 1984 when I finished my Doctoral Thesis (Th.D.) at the Christian Seminary! To earn a Doctoral Degree in any subject, one is introduced to literature and information that the normal Christian layman would never get to look at. This is because of past conditioning of the history by Fundamental Christianity since the Fifth General Council was convened by Justinian in 553 C.E.
Origin's "Pre-existence of the Soul" was stricken from the ‘sacred’ records at this event and the new compilations of the Holy Bibles were declared Canon Law by the Bishops. But the doctrine of reincarnation , regardless who had believed in the possibly and taught such to others including Jesus of Nazareth himself, was no longer to be taught in the Christian Church under pain of excommunication and possibly death. As a genuine Mystic, converted from close minded Fundamentalism, I now consider myself a Gnostic Christian Spiritist! That’s a label I can wear with some humility these days along with a willing acceptance. In other words, I freely recognize my "Master Within", the "Christ in me", and the "Hope of Glory" rather than what, as a misguided fundamentalist Christian, I used to believe in. Most born-again fundamentalist Christians believed somehow magically they had a material body of the Lord Jesus made up of real flesh, blood and bone in their hearts, inside their own bodies! Was it magic, imaginary or only hopefully?

I think the material, physical remains of the human part of the human person of Jesus of Nazareth, would be spread real thin had he still existed in every Christian walking around today. Let alone all those millions who were born, lived and died since he was crucified on the cross 2000 odd years ago! We really need to think rationally about what we can believe versus that which we parrot by rote. That is a belief in those old sayings of religious people who tend to leave their god given reason outside the doors of the Church when they enter into it each Sabbath day.
For me at least, it is much more intelligent and wise to understand that our Master Within is the VERY same Master SPIRIT, which the material man Jesus had in his own body too. The CHRIST or LOGOS when he walked the Earth! Now, there is a bunch of Theology I can back that up with, but I choose not to because my purpose is not to try and convince anyone to believe as I do.

I AM not the Savior of anyone else's Soul, other than my own, because it is for each Soul's Free Will to either believe or disbelieve whatever brings one to Inner Peace and Tranquility! As I heard an old Priest recently say: "In all my years as a Priest, I have learned two things only: (1) There is a God and (2) I am not Him!"

The word "Salvation" is another misnomer of Theological dogma having many variables which I will leave to the paid Clergy who earn their living by recruiting another sheep to the flock as a loyal Tither. Been there, done that too! I much prefer being truthful about what I feel and believe these days rather than preach dogmas like tithing which I no longer, if ever, truly believed myself. This allows me to sleep much more peacefully when I close my eyes to find myself alone with my Inner Master. As sensible people, with any human understanding at all, educated or not, everyone at some point in their lives attempts to sort out where they came from, who or what sent them, what they are supposed to do with their lives, and if there a God. And if so, does this God have anything to do with them anyway, and if so, why does he always hide in silence and allow all the evil to continue in the world. This is basic human questioning, that almost all of us have done or are still doing. Yes, we all have our ups and downs, joys, sadness, sickness, health, success and failures. But most humans go through life, from the womb to the tomb, day to day, only in survival mode, until suddenly without warning the angel or messenger of death knocks on the material door and pulls Soul back out of the body to deposit it where? Again, belief systems are challenged. But since I consider myself a type of Christian, i.e. a Dualist Gnostic Spiritist, I would properly identify my current understanding of just who I AM with Reincarnation and Karma the only sensible methodology of how any merciful Creator Deity Lord God could continue to allow such evil to continue in our world and yet never seem to force it to cease. In other words, "What goes around comes around", "Every action causes an equal reaction" or "The wages of sin is spiritual death", or for the irreligious unbelievers, "Life's a bitch, and then you die!" But, are we all created equal, and from the start in our earthly lives? No, for certain we are not. Just look around you, for proof of this. It is ridiculous to believe each human being on earth is born in equal bodies with equal possibilities, in equal families, environments and countries and so on. Sure each individual spirit or Soul was created equal yet each spirit once incarnated in its very first material body became "a living human soul as God breathed the breath of life into him."

So from that very first incarnation the wheel of karma started turning for that individual spirit became knotted with a soul, both aspects essentially imprisoned in a material body to work out its own "Salvation with fear and trembling" as the Apostle Paul spoke of an taught! Interestingly most Christians today who "confess Jesus as Savior by his shed blood on the cross" are following a far more ancient dogma from many other Sects used long before the man Jesus of Nazareth was ever on earth! In fact, it is so easy to overlook the fact Jesus Christ was NOT EVER a Christian himself! (Warning Heresy Alert!!!!)

Much evidence now exists that Jesus was in fact a Judaic Essene which included the dreadlocked hair Nazarene or Nasserite evangelist order of which he was also a member of. Jesus had Jewish Nazarite parents and siblings plus he preached his teachings and philosophy to the local Jews. Jesus never told uncountable missionaries to go out and preach the Gospel to all nations. He only told "the eleven" ( Mark 16:14, 15, 16.). Jesus never told anybody that he was God, nor that he was his own Son! Yet he probably did say while on the cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?"

After the death of Jesus, his brother James the Just, as he was called, led the Ebionite Church which was actually called the Nazorene Jerusalem Church. By reading the New Testament Epistle of James one will find a much different Gospel taught by James than by the Saint Paul of Tarsus. James taught that faith without works is dead, whereas Paul taught that we are only saved by Grace through Faith and not by works alone. The Nazorenes were a Sect who claimed to have acquired their mystical teachings from James the Just.

The Apostle Peter, who denied Jesus three times before and during his crucifixion, was not the apostle who led the followers of the Inner Group of Ebionites that Jesus had initiated. This secret Initiation which Jesus shared with his inner group of disciples is still the sought after true Initiation that many still seek today in various, usually esoteric teaching sects, that is not taught by any of the Christian churches or denominations. It was instead his brother James the Just, who led the early genuine Jesus of Nazareth Church!
James led this new Ebionite (aka Nazorean, Nasarite, Nazarene, and essential Gnostic Essene) Church of the followers of Jesus from his crucifixion until 62A.D. when James was captured, persecuted and then killed by the Jewish Sanhedrin by stoning. The Apostle Peter was the one who was lifted into place as the deemed first leader of the later established Roman Catholic church. This was not done until the 4th century by Emperor Constantine who was basically the first Catholic Pope. Therefore the Popes to this day claim direct descent from the Apostle Peter and insist he was anointed by Jesus himself to lead the early ‘church’. Thus the Bible says it is so. So, who is correct then is it Saint Paul, James the Just, or the Apostle Peter? Better still if you do consider yourself a Christian, and saved by Grace, and not by works, who do YOU actually follow or align yourself to here as being the key establisher of Jesus’ church and teachings after he departed the scene? For beginners who actually was Saint Paul? Well Paul was not even one of the original Apostles that who walked with and were taught directly by Jesus. Paul never saw Jesus in the flesh either. Paul was a Roman citizen born in Tarsus, in present day Turkey to Roman parents who had converted to Judaism. (or was that Jewish parents who had converted to be ‘pagan’ Romans – I am unsure)

Christians should already know "the story" of Saint Paul persecuting Christians by reading Acts in the Bible. Yet the fact is that at the time THERE WERE NO CHRISTIANS in existence! Paul was actually persecuting these Ebionite followers of James the Just, the brother of Jesus who was then leading the followers of Jesus as well as openly challenging the teachings and leadership of the Apostle Peter.

Paul instead essentially created his own teachings about Jesus Christ, after his major Spiritist type of epiphany which came out of his ‘road to Damascus experience’. Saint Paul’s teachings are therefore those which certainly show a closer resemblance to what most of the so-called Christian denominations preach today. The present Christian Churches follow a system of dogma taught by the converted Roman Citizen born of converted Hebrews who had nothing to do with Jesus, were actually

Roman citizens living in Turkey not Palestine who never met him, when Paul was blinded on the road to Damascus by a light and a voice claiming (Paul believed) to be Jesus Christ!
Another interesting little known fact is that Qumran, where there was a large Essene community of followers communed, was called Damascus by many during that time. So more likely than not Paul was not looking for people to persecute on his way through Syria as most may assume was the case. Most Gnostics, esoterics, and spiritists also claim to see light inside, to hear inner voices and sound, and lay claim to Christ as their Hope of Glory, much as Saint Paul did all those years ago. Also, most Gnostics of the early A.D. centuries did not accept the Old Testament Jehovah as being God the Father nor the Father whom Jesus is said to have spoken about. So these various pieces of history may raise all kinds of questions for a seeker after truth, such as, are so called Christians today Christians, Jews, Ebionites, or Gnostics? Well the truth is that each of us has to decide for ourselves, or alternatively stick to that which has been chosen for us by our parents or our preacher.

My own personal belief is the Hope is the Christ in me, the Hope of Glory, of whatever is animating this present body is to survive transition to another place (when the biblical "Silver Cord" is severed from the body which Spiritists refer to as the "Perispirit" i.e. the Astral link that is joining spirit to the body and holds it there until death) releases my spirit to join Christ, where "I" will be judged and given my next assignment.

That next assignment will either be right back here on Earth in a new Model of a material body or on some other planet or spiritual plane that will have totally different bodies to be afforded by the Creator as containers of the spirit/soul. I have no desire to be resurrected back into this exact same body that has been holding my spirit/soul prisoner here, witnessing that body getting older, more withered and wrinkled, fatter or thinner, looser and more dilapidated and slowly worn out beyond the useful Vehicle of Progression of the Soul that it once was. Cut Me loose Lord, I say! But, not quite yet please! I still have a few more messages left I would love to share with my fellow souls. Until now Grace from the Christ Spirit has treated me enduringly well. Yet I do know that karma has had a profound positive effect on my progression in life up to now. There was plenty of works, and plenty of faith, and best of all, much GRACE has made it possible for me to continue on using my own stamina and resourcefulness. As it has been said by many about Life: ‘Each to thine own heart be true!’. I am content to be at this stage in life where I now find myself in the centre point of this great wheel of karma. For alas dear friend it is true that "My Karma has completely run over and destroyed My Dogma"!

All I can do now is to remain steadfastly open for any further gifts of Grace our Creator is willing to shower upon me, along with any new assignments of Eternal Life Adventures in the near or distant future, whenever, where ever, and whomever, they may Become. Until we meet again, I remain,

Eternal Flame
Aka ‘Sri James of Southern Land’

LINKED To: http://www.scribd.com/doc/202995824/REINCARNATION-Vs-RESURRECTION-Skeptic-Pragmatist-Atheist-or-Mystic

Hi Jim, enjoyed your excellent article.

Reincarnation makes sense to me and gives our lifetime in this human form a reason to do our very best in every endeavour.

I'm going to do some research on: 'Dualist Gnostic Spiritists'

Thanks bro

Jen wrote: "Jesse, this comment from you "you only live once", is so disturbing. How do atheists live with this kind of belief, that there is no soul, no spirit that continues in other life forms.

I've been pondering on this and the word "atman" came to me and probably this is what keeps me going in life, otherwise there does not seem to be any point in trying to live a kind, compassionate, moral existence if there is nothing other than this one life in this physical form."

--I hear you, Coming to grips with what is apparent and not what is wished is a heavy blow. This could be it. What if this is it? At this point nihilists are born. What's the use? What's the purpose? Could it be there is none? Everyone running around like chickens with their heads cut off, frantically seeking meaning and purpose via the superfical and blind ambition, trying to obscure their inevitable fate. So, some say screw it, I'm going to drink myself into oblivion, or whatever.

Well, whatever it is, we, at this level, can't comprehend it and we should be extremely wary of those who say they do including atheists who are so confident in saying, "Nope, no God. That's it and I know it." How? The God they reject is just a concept, but "god" may be something else. But still, even for atheists and nihilists, kindness, compassion, morality are all better than the alternative because they work in life right now for a happier existence now which, if we're honest, is all we know.. this-here-now. When we merge into this immediacy of life, rather than an abstract fantasy, self importance and mortality lose their grip and the fears that go with them slough away in this great eternal moment of life we have now.


If you think it's disturbing not to believe in reincarnation or individual units of independent and eternal spirit, you're simply not a very intelligent person and you're dangerously superstitious. And I'm not an atheist, by the way.

Reincarnation may be real or not, but there's no good evidence for it. And contrary to what radha soami teaches, it really had no place in early Christianity and isn't a "thread that connects all religions" or whatever that other dude said about reincarnation. And even if it were talked about in every religious book ever written, who gives a damn? What value do those books have other than to make people with little to offer feel comfort in their uncertainty?

What if spirit or consciousness were simply like any other substance that dissolves and its particles get reabsorbed into a plethora of other "beings?" Would that hurt your feelings to know that your consciousness, like your body, was nothing but the amalgamation of various elements that accidentally coalesced to make a very temporary you? And when you die, just like the vitamins and minerals that will be absorbed into the earth, your consciousness will similarly be dissipated into the ether and small pieces of it will be taken up by thousands of other animals and people.

Would that hurt your ego if it were true? If so, maybe you're not as spiritual as you think. You're just desperate for answers in an uncertain world.

And once again, Tucson has the best answer, and he does it with brevity.

Hi tucson, you say: "When we merge into this immediacy of life, rather than an abstract fantasy, self importance and mortality lose their grip and the fears that go with them slough away in this great eternal moment of life we have now."

Its going to take me awhile! I have left the very strong feeling of being important and a chosen one when I was a satsangi and I do my best in being in the moment and living with appreciation but at the same time I find it confronting, the very thought that this life is all there is. Why, whats the point of it all?

I think what suits me best is that there is something more than this. Something to look forward to. Maybe incarnating into a better life form and a more evolved existence on a different world, here's hoping... :)


I don't have a high IQ but then I do have high EQ. You probably have not heard of emotional intelligence because its obvious you are lacking in empathy. So, just keep on getting off on putting others down, that seems to be the role you have decided on in life. I was obviously wrong in thinking you had a nice side to your personality, anyway who cares, you're not important.


If it's "disturbing" to you that I think we only live once, it comes off as you're implying that I'm somehow soulless, evil and deficient because I don't believe in god and souls like you do. People are usually disturbed by ghosts, murders, car crash scenes but not opinions on metaphysics and spirituality.

I don't care that much, but I'm just telling you that I think it's ridiculous and retarded to assume that I or anyone else, including you, need to believe in reincarnation to think life has value or meaning. It would be a horrible error to live this life poorly because you hope to get another chance.

I have a friend who wasted years of his life blaming himself for what some nasty woman did to him, and all the while he was blaming karmas and past lives that likely don't exist. It's extremely sad and to me "disturbing" to watch lives get ruined by these speculations about god which are usually fed to us by hopeless losers who need company aka disciples to suffer with.

And this has nothing to do with iq, eq or any other human ability quotient. It's just being honest about where we are and what we know, and even what we can know. You certainly exist here and now, and it seems a waste to sit around hoping next time will be better when you don't know there will be a next time at all. This life may be all we ever get to experience and neither the genius, the dolt or average people like us have any ability to overcome this limitation of knowing. It's a mystery that remains unchanged by our hopes and desires for comfort.

And if you don't want to be replied to, then don't talk about me or my opinions and use my name. Just pretend I'm not here. You already know how I talk and you know it's a displeasure for most people to communicate with me so accept my gloriously beautiful negativity and grumpiness, or ignore me.

Jen says she wants "something to look forward to... something more than this"

-- We all like the idea of heaven and eternal life, but we always put it 'over there', somewhere else, something that will come one day. Just put on the brakes, full stop, and stay right here and see that maybe that's where it was all along. Concepts, dreams and wishes kill the present.. this instant, the only thing that is real. The next moment is imagination, the passing moments are only memories. Eternity is less than a milli-second. You have to sort of catch it between the lines.

But still, even for atheists and nihilists, kindness, compassion, morality are all better than the alternative because they work in life right now for a happier existence now which, if we're honest, is all we know.. this-here-now. When we merge into this immediacy of life, rather than an abstract fantasy, self importance and mortality lose their grip and the fears that go with them slough away in this great eternal moment of life we have now.

The immediacy of "here-now" is the ethos of mysticism too. The mystic goal, while living with this 24x7 deluge of thought is to be mindful of each and every one of them. Not to slip into draining speculation, not to chase the myriads of fantasies that accompany random thought, not get lost in the vacuous drama and spectacle of outward events.

All the while though, live an ordinary life striving for kindness, compassion, morality, remaining focused on the task within, busy watching the mind, honed in laser-like on one's own flaws rather than crusading against those of others.

Only when you reach that perfection of living entirely in the "here-now" could you ever be free. Without conquering the enemy within, self-importance never fades, bad habits don't die off. Fear remains forever.

Of course, it's a long journey. A series of individual moments. One flaw at a time. One step after another.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)


  • Welcome to the Church of the Churchless. If this is your first visit, click on "About this site--start here" in the Categories section below.
  • HinesSight
    Visit my other weblog, HinesSight, for a broader view of what's happening in the world of your Church unpastor, his wife, and dog.
  • BrianHines.com
    Take a look at my web site, which contains information about a subject of great interest to me: me.
  • Twitter with me
    Join Twitter and follow my tweets about whatever.
  • I Hate Church of the Churchless
    Can't stand this blog? Believe the guy behind it is an idiot? Rant away on our anti-site.