We're all the product of our experiences. In my case people close to me have either been sources of endless self indulgent hyperbole or outright deception - lies - for their own purposes. And not strictly confned to Fortean topics either. The intent may not have been malicious but that doesn't change the net result. I may as well move to Missouri because you'll just have to show me. Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me. Thing is, I work with a man who is a deacon of some sort in his church. Roman Catholic. Very intelligent and well spoken, we've passed quite a bit of time having this exact discussion and he's far more philosophical about it than I would have given credit for initially. He spends a lot of time grief counseling and with pre-Cana classes. He surprised me by being extremely open and receptive but naturally has his own Belief. Another coworker is - not to put too fine a point on it - a kook IMO. She's Jamaican and involved with some sort of church that preaches scripture at the drop of a hat. Really wants to tell you how to live your life. Probably a Democrat She speaks of The Rapture being imminent and how Christmas might not be coming this year - that's what she hopes. Only a few select people will make it to Heaven, so she says. I guess I'm just ****ed and may as well behave like a Viking a while, eh? She gave me an odd 'never thought of that' look for that one. Really paints herself to be above the fray but doesn't see her endless proselytizing is having the opposite effect. Yet I can cite a few examples where that will all be put on hold in favor of some immediate earthly need she has. Interesting that they both tithe to their churches. Always a red flag to me - Joel Osteen was stuffing cash in his walls and probably still is. I would imagine the members of the local Palpung Thubten Choling Monastery would have their own take on all this. They are a common sight here. I really would like to ask the monks sometime but how to open that conversation without being extremely tacky? You can't. At least they are nice. The Hasidim I regularly encounter have their own perspective but are not generally approachable period, much less about something like this. I recently started working with a lovely young woman from Pakistan and as we get to know each other that'll be on my list. She's cool. My own mother told me she was Satanic and that went on for some time. Really. Told me it wasn't what people think it is and gave me some books. Never read them - I was like, nine years old at the time. Not out of bounds, always been a reader, but to inflict that on a small kid is questionable. Welcome to my mom. One of them had a picture of the author on the back cover that I thought actually WAS the Devil for a while. So how does spiritualism and religion relate to life after death? From my p.o.v it's a level playing field, all roads lead to Rome. I spent some time looking for a relevant Dennis Miller clip - and failed - where he says something like 'Hey ... you're not Yahweh ....' The people I've mentioned all have their own convictions that their path is The Way and I'm not arguing any of that. It's all a path to the same thing. You can probably include the non-believers and total atheists in there too. Comes a point where we'll all have our turn. Wouldn't surprise me if there was truth in George Carlin's old line that says you go where you think you're gonna go ........ I keep mentioning the reincarnation studies for a reason. Didn't Jacques Vallee finally get what he wanted? Enough funding to create useful database(s) to study UFOs ? If you believe Skinwalkers at the Pentagon then yes, he got his cookie and we'd all know how useful it is if it weren't locked away where nobody can see it. That helped. There are apparently several of them that have quantified things like Sign, Grudge, Blue Book etc. Long post made longer with this analogy. I have a large box of old pictures that I've pawed through my whole life. One day a couple of years ago I dumped it all out and rather than just look at the pictures I arranged them all by size and shape. To my surprise it all organized very neatly and suddenly different cameras, perspectives, times and places all just clicked into place and were obvious. Freaky. All that 'data' was very familiar to me but organizing it revealed much more that had always been there just not quantified. Now, I realize that Ian Stevenson and Jim Tucker represent a narrow slice; they represent a certain interest and point of view like a religious or spiritual belief, except they (and a number of others they network with) really are collecting accounts of children who remember past lives and building a database. Right now that includes more that 3000 case and is still counting. There are common themes that emerge from these accounts, from NDEs that might actually serve to reinforce rather than dispel various Beliefs. Again, like discovering a new species, often there are those fully aware of it long before western science catches up . I like this thread quite a bit. Glad it's gained some traction.