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Are we just players on a giant stage?


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#1 canuck

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Posted 26 January 2009 - 08:01 PM

I had an interesting conversation with a couple of people recently. While on the one hand, I think that they have spent altogether too much time experimenting with recreational pharmaceuticals; on the other their ideas seem to have enough in them to merit some thinking about. (Albeit after a LOT of beer.)

Specifically, they have collected data on people who should be dead. They looked at people who had been in situations in which, except for the intervention of a random event, should have died.

For example: they looked at people who had stepped in front of buses, but a nearby person had pulled them back; at soldiers who had been pulled from a disastrous mission at the last moment; people who had fallen into water and been rescued by passers-by; people who had had a premonition and decided against taking a specific flight, etc, etc.

They found that in a statistically significant number of these people, prior to the event, their lives were “normal” with an orderly and natural trajectory; ie: they went to school, they graduated and got jobs, they formed families, etc, etc.

However, after having been saved from death, their lives seem to have fallen off the rails; it seemed that their lives just drifted, and they seemed to be disengaged from life. Their lives went nowhere; their careers tanked; etc; etc. They lost much of whatever influence on events in their lives that they once had.

To the researchers, it seemed as if these people no longer “fitted in to life anymore”; they just didn’t seem to belong amongst the living anymore.

The conclusion these researchers draw from this, is that everybody has a predetermined destiny. Included in this destiny is a time and place of death. However, this destiny can be disrupted by random events; but in the case of disruption there is no “Plan “B”. With no predetermined plan, such people end up as mere jetsam in life until their inevitable demise.

Taken on face value, this whole idea is really mind boggling. It suggests that the whole universe is just one giant stage, and we are but players on it. (Shakespeare might have got that one right!)

Thinking this through in all of its logical implications, makes for some fascinating party conversation.

#2 Cautious-Psychic13

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Posted 04 February 2009 - 06:15 AM

:ghost: This sounds kind of like the plot of those survivor movies where the ones that are saved from a plane crash, roller coaster accident and a pile up on the high-way all die in the order they would have if they hadn't gotten off.

Actually what it sounds like to me is survivours guilt. When a person is lucky enough to live through a horrific accident or tragic experience thhey start to wonder why they were the one spared. The why me syndrome. People for some reason feel this way when something bad happens to them and oddly enough when somethhing good happens. I survived a very near death experiance 9 months ago and I have a kind of opposite philosophy about these unexplanable happenings. I am a Why Not Me person. When I found out I had a form of leukemia CLL I knew that thousands of people get this disease every year for no reason. If that is true then why not me? Bad things and good things happen to people all the time and we all are in the pool so to speak so some good and some bad is going to happen to everyone. People can not come to grips with why they are here. I see nothing paranormal just acute psychological distress. Sometimes post traumatic stress. With time, love, therepy and for some drugs most people can get back on track again.

Sharon

#3 CaveRat2

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Posted 04 February 2009 - 08:28 AM

One also needs to counter that with the vast number of people where just the opposite occurs. They are living a life devoid of any purpose when the event happens. Many then attribute their change to God, turn their lives around and become what we would consider "normal" people, i.e. get married, raise a family, etc. While not neccessarily an unbiased source, many religious organizations make claims that quite a few of their followers were, "lost" until the intervention turned them around.

Point is their is a counter argument to the event causing people to become "jetsam". It seems to go both ways.

#4 Nor'Easter

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Posted 04 February 2009 - 09:22 AM

I really hope that this isn't the case. I have been yanked out of disaster after disaster for most of my life. Then again, maybe I actually am more of a failure than I give myself credit for.

I would imagine that most people are not successes in life. I remember the first time I ever had the opportunity to be around the daily life of a fairly successful person (from all official accounts) and discovered just how illusionary that success actually was - in reality and in her own perception. Three years later, I was pretty sad for her, even as outside the house, it all seemed like it was full-steam-ahead for her and her media career.

Destiny is just the 20/20 hindsight explanation that people offer when someone stumbles into greatness. No one is destined to be great. Some people just happen to do things that achieve results that the official "they" have determined to great. "They" then look back over the trajectory that brought that great result into existence, and deem it the Destiny of the person who was the provider of that result. A pre-determined life wouldn't make any logical sense as the primary motivation for what ancillary drive must exist to ensure that everything else in existence remains in a stable continuum of organized progression. That basic premise would be completely abhorrent to the rest of the foundational structure of AND/OR circumstance and material interplay that allows material existence. Primary motivation has to be kept ahead of all other considerations when discussing existentialism. A pre-determined outcome provides no motivation whatsoever.

Edited by Nor'Easter, 04 February 2009 - 09:24 AM.


#5 chestnut

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Posted 04 February 2009 - 12:40 PM

This sort of reminds me of the book The Bridge of San Luis Rey, although it's about why these particular people died, rather than why particular people lived.

I don't believe in destiny, but I do think people interpret strings of events in such a way that can influence their choices/paths later on, either good or bad.

But then I think there are some things that just seem to happen for *some* reason, and it's not clear why, whether we're being pushed towards certain things by unseen forces, or some other things that we're not aware of.

This is a really interesting subject, canuck!

#6 canuck

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Posted 05 February 2009 - 11:24 PM

In taking a serious think about the research these guys have been doing, it seems that they may be on to something, and may have provided another piece in the jigsaw; their observations are consistent with other observations relating to life, the Universe and everything.

And the picture is starting to look decidedly scary.

There is a large volume of consistent and coherent evidence provided from mainstream science that strongly suggests that the physical universe as we know it is the result of a conscious, directed effort.

Furthermore, the evidence strongly suggests that this effort was directed at establishing the conditions required for life on Earth. Ie: planet earth, and the life on it, was no accident.

In addition to all that, there is a lot of evidence that suggests that in its early years, planet Earth was what could be termed a research and development lab for the development of the processes of life.

Once those processes were more or less perfected, they were applied to produce the millions of life forms we see on Earth today.

All of this is suggestive that there is a plan, a purpose and a driving force behind the universe.

Consistent with this, it is logical that the life forms on planet Earth have a purpose in the plan. Therefore, by extrapolation, we could say that each of we humans (and possibly even every cockroach) has a predetermined destiny; if we fulfill our destiny, then we have contributed our bit to the plan.

But if we fail to fulfill our part, for example by not dying on schedule, then we have no further part to play in the plan, and we become part of the universe’s jetsam.

So what these researchers are observing; ie: people whose lives went off the rails after they failed to die on schedule; is the result of individuals not completing their part in the plan, and having no further part to play.

This whole line of thought is mind blowing; but there is a logical consistency to it. That’s what makes it scary.

#7 Cautious-Psychic13

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Posted 06 February 2009 - 11:22 AM

:whoohoo: I am glad that so many people are taking this as an interesting idea and using it as a philosophical mind puzzle. I still stand by my stand that survivours guilt explains most of it.

This train of thought has been well analyzed though and I doubt seriously that there is any real mind blowing consequenses to this giant "WHAT IF" question. The whole of existence is a big what if question. What if I had left the house 5 minuted earlier or later, ate the fish rather then the chicken, ....anything in the universe is a series of choices and actions that effect ours and everyone elses futures. There is no fate, no pre-ordained pattern to life that can be proved. Humans millineums ago have made todays history into our futures. So many times things we will never know about made things the way they are today. Any action has an infinity of reactions.

Think on it all you want. Like someone else said about the end of the world it's fun to think about but nothing we should worry about now.

In college we sat around (probably stoned but I will deny that till the end) and ran these ideas around our minds thinking we could solve the mysteries of the universe but now we are the old fogies we never thought we would become and we know mostly we were just wasting our time trying to sound inteligent. Again have fun doing it. Everyone should at least once. Whirly Dude

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#8 chestnut

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Posted 06 February 2009 - 01:43 PM

But if we fail to fulfill our part, for example by not dying on schedule, then we have no further part to play in the plan, and we become part of the universe’s jetsam.

So what these researchers are observing; ie: people whose lives went off the rails after they failed to die on schedule; is the result of individuals not completing their part in the plan, and having no further part to play.

This whole line of thought is mind blowing; but there is a logical consistency to it. That’s what makes it scary.


I'm not sure I buy this--only because there are so many people who have brushes with death, and the outcomes of their lives are SO varied.

If there is such a thing as predestiny, then maybe a lot of them were *meant* to have a near miss? And their subsequent fall off the rails is just their own emotional reaction to the event/trauma. And who is to say when a person's "part in the plan" is over? It's very subjective.

And then think of all the other people who have faced death square in the face, in plane crashes, car crashes, terrorist attacks, natural disasters, serious diseases, etc etc....not all of them end up wasting the rest of their lives after escaping death. As CaveRat said, some people were already headed towards rock bottom, but others have seen the event as a wake-up call of sorts and straightened themselves out.

It's an extremely interesting subject, but not sure we can just say that some people "didn't die on schedule" and relegate them to "jetsam".

#9 canuck

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Posted 06 February 2009 - 11:14 PM

The difference between having this discussion in college and now is:

In college we were all absolutely certain that we knew it all, and certainly knew more than all those stupid old fogies.

Now that we are the stupid old fogies, and actually do know a lot, we can now be absolutely certain of how little we know.

That's why we can have intelligent, informed discussions about these subjects.

Regarding the previously raised responses: Yes, all valid points. Probably these will be addressed by the researchers as they build their database and sample size.

In all of this, recall that I am not advocating a position; I am just relating what I remember from a discussion I had in a pub with a couple of guys. Having said that, I think their work is worth thinking about, particularly in the context of the apparent (and admittedly controversial) plan for the universe.

In this respect, I asked them when and if they plan to publish.

They laughed hysterically, and after they had picked themselves up off the floor they said: (to paraphrase) "If our faculty colleagues knew what we do in our spare time, we would soon have to go get real jobs".

#10 Cautious-Psychic13

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Posted 07 February 2009 - 04:18 AM

[quote name='canuck' date='Feb 6 2009, 10:14 PM' post='505781']
The difference between having this discussion in college and now is:

In college we were all absolutely certain that we knew it all, and certainly knew more than all those stupid old fogies.

Now that we are the stupid old fogies, and actually do know a lot, we can now be absolutely certain of how little we know.

:whoohoo: Your definately right about being old enough to be certain of how little we know yet I am still surprised at how much humans think they do know. I really would be interested in what consensus an in depth study would show because I am always willing to admit when I am wrong.The trouble is that no matter how convincing the evidence would be the rebuttal will be just as adament and possibly just as convincing that the conclusion is wrong. I understand why those testing the hypothesis are reluctant to make it known they are investigating such things but perhaps the fear of ridicule has kept us from real knowledge since the beginning.

Like studying the paranormal or religion we may never settle on an agreement that is universally acceptable. Right now I am still not convinced in any shape or form. But I will keep my mind open to the possibility. That's more then a lot of people will do.

Sharon

#11 canuck

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Posted 15 February 2009 - 12:06 AM

I had drinks with my friend the cardio-thoracic surgeon last week, and he told me a very interesting story. This story has great relevance to the content of this thread; ie: the concept of predetermined destiny.

He was operating on an elderly lady, let’s call her Mrs.Smith, when she died on the table. About five minutes later, she popped back to life.

Later on, when she was in the recovery ward, she told her story of her near death experience to the surgeon. Most of her story is the usual one that we have all heard before; however hers had a very bizarre twist.

The following is more or less the story as she told it to the surgeon:

She saw the bright light and went towards it. On the way, she met three people that she did not know, and had never seen before.

“Hello Mrs.Jones; we have been waiting for you, and are here to escort you.”
“Hang on, I am not Mrs.Jones, I am Mrs.Smith.”
“What? Oh! So sorry, we thought you were Mrs.Jones. You will have to go back, it is not your time yet.”
“No, please take me. I am ready to die. I want to go. Please take me.”
“Sorry, we can’t take you when it is not your time. We are here for Mrs.Jones. You have to go back”.

Then she wakes up in hospital etc etc.

This raises a number of issues and questions:

1. Whoever is responsible for the time and date of death makes mistakes; he/she/it is not infallable.
2. Are the people who should have died, but didn’t, actually the result of a mistake; ie: someone else died in their place, as in a re-run of the Mrs.Smith scenario?
3. What would have happened if Mrs.Smith had not told them who she was?
4. What were the circumstances of Mrs.Jones? Ie: where was she; what was she doing; how did she die?
5. What would have happened to Mrs.Jones if Mrs.Smith had not identified herself, and had walked off into the light with the escorts?
6. Would Mrs.Jones become one of those people who should have died, but didn’t and have the rest of their lives go down the drain?
7. What would have happened to the lives of those around Mrs.Smth, and the universe in general, if she had died when she wasn’t supposed to?

When I first had the conversation about destiny etc, it all seemed like just a good bit of chatter to talk about over beers. Now, I am beginning to think there may be something to all.

#12 Cautious-Psychic13

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Posted 15 February 2009 - 05:15 AM

:ghost: I have followed this post and given my views but again to those who believe there is something to this concept... If people have a predestined time to die and life is effected by those of us who either die before the predestined time or those who don't die when we should have, it has happened since the begining of modern man. Is the world better or worse off for it?

I was legally dead for 4 minutes last May. I was brought back through the will of those treated me with CPR and drugs. Even 50 years ago this was not possible. So are we saving people who should have died? As a person in the medical profession, an RN, do we have the right to make a decision when faced with heroic measures to save a person? Please don't cop out by saying modern medicine is a natural progression of human evolution and not part of the equation because we may only be here because someone lived or died against thier time. Accidents are also a natural progression of human evolution.

Again my friends and I discussed this very thing in our youth and found the discussion interesting until we got bored with it. Unless you can truly predict who should have lived or who should have died the subject is truly moot.

Sharon

#13 canuck

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Posted 15 February 2009 - 08:47 PM

:ghost: I have followed this post and given my views but again to those who believe there is something to this concept... If people have a predestined time to die and life is effected by those of us who either die before the predestined time or those who don't die when we should have, it has happened since the begining of modern man. Is the world better or worse off for it?

I was legally dead for 4 minutes last May. I was brought back through the will of those treated me with CPR and drugs. Even 50 years ago this was not possible. So are we saving people who should have died? As a person in the medical profession, an RN, do we have the right to make a decision when faced with heroic measures to save a person? Please don't cop out by saying modern medicine is a natural progression of human evolution and not part of the equation because we may only be here because someone lived or died against thier time. Accidents are also a natural progression of human evolution.

Again my friends and I discussed this very thing in our youth and found the discussion interesting until we got bored with it. Unless you can truly predict who should have lived or who should have died the subject is truly moot.

Sharon


So what are you saying?

Are you saying that because you got bored with the topic in college, it should be of no interest to anyone else and should not be discussed?

Please explain.

#14 Cautious-Psychic13

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Posted 15 February 2009 - 11:34 PM

:ghost: No, not at all. For me the answer is moot. Since it has always happened and always will then there is no way it could possibly be relevent. That was the answer we came up with after discussing it in depth for a period of time. We felt we looked at every possible premutation of the question before coming up with that answer.

There are certain subjects that every generation discusses and with good reason. What is the meaning of life? What is love? You grow by discussing them and coming up with your own answers. I found what I needed in my answer. There is no right or wrong answer to these questions. Discuss away. I am interested in your answers. I also understand that until you have answered these questions for yourself mine must seem suspect. Older generations, younger generations. We have more in common then you'd think. It seems when your young (and I don't have any idea how old you are) you feel that you are the first to think of these things. I know we were sure our parents never had deep thoughts, had wild sex or did anything like we did. Now at 56 I realize they did and think it's funny when I read an article about how our children think they have discovered something new. Technology has changed but not philosophy.

Sharon

#15 leonie

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Posted 16 February 2009 - 05:45 PM

“Hello Mrs.Jones; we have been waiting for you, and are here to escort you.”
“Hang on, I am not Mrs.Jones, I am Mrs.Smith.”
“What? Oh! So sorry, we thought you were Mrs.Jones. You will have to go back, it is not your time yet.”



Im sorry but I actually laughed out loud at that. What kinda "grim reapers" Or whatever they were get the wrong person. Im sorry but if she told me that I would have been hard pushed to contain my laughter. That sounds rotten of me but I mean.. seriously. Poor woman, they should have just taken her.

But No, I dont believe in destiny, we all make our own paths in life and at any time we can get off one path and onto another.

Edited by leonie, 16 February 2009 - 05:46 PM.

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