I Love You, You Big Dummy

#1
OK, let's assume for the sake of argument that people who've had NDEs have been told the truth about ethics and the meaning of life. Apparently, they're often told that we should love everybody unconditionally.

The first problem is, the idea that we should all just love each other is incredibly vague. What does it mean to love each other? Does it mean we should stop people from having abortions or give people the freedom to have abortions? Does it mean we should kill everybody quickly and painlessly so they can go on to the afterlife or focus on maximizing happiness and well-being in this life? What we mean by 'love other people' or 'act in a loving way towards others' will change depending on our world-view and metaphysics. Just saying 'love each other' doesn't really give us any guidance. I'm not even sure whether the word 'love' has any meaning unless there's a world-view there in the background.

As for the idea of unconditional love, this is extremely controversial. Some religious thinkers, and some secular philosophers like Peter Singer, have argued that we should 'love' everybody equally and give away most of our money to the poor in Africa. But other people, including me, would say that we have special obligations to our family and friends and that we should put them first. If we felt that the suffering and happiness of distant strangers was just as important as the suffering and happiness of those close to us, then arguably there would be no more friendship, family or community. So it seems to me that unconditional love is unethical, though I do agree that we should be doing a lot more to help the poorest people in the world.

Some people seem to think that we can just bypass philosophy and get our ethics directly from these extraordinary experiences. I disagree.
 
#2
...people who've had NDEs have been told the truth about ethics and the meaning of life. Apparently, they're often told that we should love everybody unconditionally.
I'm not sure where you have gained the impression that during their experience, the NDE'r is "...often told that we should love everybody unconditionally..."?
 
#3
Plus it depends what is meant by love.

For example parents who love their children don't necessarily condone everything they do nor
let them run amok do they?
 
#4
What does it mean to love each other?
In my opinion, love is seeing others for what they actually are, even if they can't see that for themselves. To be able to do that, one needs to have a certain kind of perception. Most people have that perception in respect of those closest to them, for at least some of the time; very few have it in respect of everyone, all the time. The portrayal of Jesus in the Christian Gospels (even if one is not a Christian or even remotely religious), is of such a person.

With another perception--literal seeing--the eyes need to be open. We all find it easy to keep our eyes open, at least when awake, and then, can't help but see what is to be seen. We don't always find it easy to keep "eyes" open for the perception of love: it's as if the "eyelids" are heavy as lead, and the required muscles are weak. Doing nice things for people isn't love; but if practised sincerely, it can help develop the necessary perception: "strengthen the eyelid muscles", as it were.

Unfortunately, it's quite difficult to be sincere, because there may be a disguised motive involved: getting a kick out of feeling oneself to be a good person. But the perception of love has nothing to do with feeling good about oneself, any more than feeling good about oneself has anything to do with seeing in the literal sense.

I have no doubt, Dominic, that you've had the perception of love, for some of the people you know, for at least some of the time: we've all had that. The next time you are experiencing the perception, see if you can be alert to it, and ask yourself whether it arises from wanting to think yourself a good person, or whether your actually being a good person in that moment arises from having the perception. I think you will find that the causal chain goes in the latter direction, and once you are aware of that, you will be able to verify that love is an actual perception: you will find yourself having no choice but to be as good a person as you actually are in that moment: it will be easy as pie.

This is a subjective experiment, but then again, it's the kind of experiment that can only ever be subjective. Now and then, and I have no idea why, one can have the perception when one beholds anyone at all, even those one would normally not warm to. It's like an injection of strength to the "eyelid muscles". At these times, one can see no difference between those one is close to and complete strangers, and so it brings with it a sense of universal connectedness or unity: the realisation that one is oneself just as lovable as everyone else is, and that can be a joyous and invigorating shock to the system. Experience that just once, and one indelibly knows what it means to love everyone, even oneself, which is often the last person one loves.
 
Last edited:
#5
I'm not sure where you have gained the impression that during their experience, the NDE'r is "...often told that we should love everybody unconditionally..."?
Yeah, I guess I'm still thinking of somebody on the forum who assured me that the main message of NDEs is that of unconditional love. Some people here may dispute this, but I bet most of you would agree that the main message is something along the lines of 'love everybody' or 'love is the answer' or just 'love'. The point I'm making is that any such message is pretty much useless and offers little or no guidance.
 
#6
Yeah, I guess I'm still thinking of somebody on the forum who assured me that the main message of NDEs is that of unconditional love. Some people here may dispute this, but I bet most of you would agree that the main message is something along the lines of 'love everybody' or 'love is the answer' or just 'love'. The point I'm making is that any such message is pretty much useless and offers little or no guidance.
Experients do often report that they experience a strong feeling of being unconditionally loved during their NDE, not that "...they're often told that we should love everybody unconditionally...".
 
#7
Experients do often report that they experience a strong feeling of being unconditionally loved during their NDE, not that "...they're often told that we should love everybody unconditionally...".
Oh I see. So in that case NDEs have nothing whatsoever to do with ethics or the meaning of life. Fair enough.
 
#8
Yeah, I guess I'm still thinking of somebody on the forum who assured me that the main message of NDEs is that of unconditional love. Some people here may dispute this, but I bet most of you would agree that the main message is something along the lines of 'love everybody' or 'love is the answer' or just 'love'. The point I'm making is that any such message is pretty much useless and offers little or no guidance.
As Max pointed out, what people ' gain ' from their NDE is the sole property of their interpretation of the experience. ' I felt unconditional love so that's what life and death must be about '.
 
Top