Sharon Hewitt Rawlette Transcript

Sharon Hewitt Rawlette Interview

Rick: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer. Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of conversations with spiritually awakening people. We’ve done well over 600 of them now and if this is new to you and you’d like to check out previous ones, please go to, B-A-T-G-A-P, and look under the past interviews menu. This program is made possible through the support of appreciative listeners and viewers. So if you appreciate it and would like to help support it there’s a PayPal button on every page of the website and a page that covers a few alternatives to PayPal. My guest today is Sharon Hewitt Rawlette. Sharon is a philosopher and writer who studies extraordinary experiences and what they have to tell us about consciousness and the deeper nature of the world we live in. She has a PhD in philosophy from New York University and taught for two years at Brandeis University before leaving academia in 2010 for a career as an independent writer and researcher. Her foray into the realm of extraordinary experience began with synchronicities and her first non-academic book was The Source and Significance of Coincidences published in 2019. In 2020, she published a memoir about her personal spiritual journey The Supreme Victory of the Heart. And then in November ’21, she was named a runner-up in the Bigelow Institute for Consciousness Studies essay contest for her essay Beyond Death, on the best evidence for the survival of human consciousness after death. And that’s how I found out about her. I hadn’t even heard about the Bigelow thing until it was over and then I was looking down the list and I saw Sharon. She looked interesting so we invited her. She has also contributed to a forthcoming collaborative volume on Deep Weird and a French collective work on the role of the trickster in paranormal phenomenon. So we can talk about some of that stuff too. Oh, also, she wrote a book in 2016 called The Feeling of Value, Moral Realism Grounded in Phenomenal Consciousness, which, as I understand it, is a discussion of whether moral values, ethical values, are just human constructs, which might be somewhat arbitrary from one culture to the next, or whether they are intrinsic to consciousness or some deeper reality that we all share. So that’ll be interesting. We’ll get into that too. OK Sharon, is that a good introduction? Did I cover all the bases?

Sharon: Yeah, I think so.

Rick: Good. How did you first get interested in this kind of thing?

Sharon: Well, it was through coincidence or synchronicity experiences that I had– I mean, I probably had always had sort of a vague interest in whether phenomena like telepathy or clairvoyance were real. And so any time I would hear somewhere about some kind of research that had been done on that, I would investigate it but I really didn’t come across anything that was that convincing. I mean, it was something in the background. I was like, that would be cool if that turned out to be true, but I don’t know. So I actually grew up an evangelical Christian and then lost my faith in college when, for the first time, I could– it was kind of ironic because I went to a Christian college. But it was a very– an environment that really encouraged intellectual exploration. And so while I was there, I suddenly found myself able to conceive of the world without God in a way that I had never been able to before. And once I was able to actually conceive that that might be the case, I realized that I didn’t have any good evidence for God’s existence. So that’s kind of the background. And so I became an atheist, or at least a hopeful agnostic in my better moments. And that went on for, I don’t know, about a decade. And it was really a difficult transition for me out of religion and into atheism because it was– the religion was my whole world at that point. I was actually homeschooled through most of my growing up years. Well, not most of my growing up years. Through high– in high school, I was homeschooled. And so I was really surrounded by Christians, surrounded by Christians at my college, and just felt very at home in that community. But once I had to step away from it for intellectual reasons, I didn’t really know how to think of myself outside of that setting. So I didn’t want to become an atheist. I didn’t want to leave that community. And I prayed really fervently during that period where I was losing my faith for some kind of sign from God that really God was there. And didn’t get anything, like really just complete silence. So that went on for like 10 years. And it was after those 10 years that some big transitions were happening in my life, some really difficult transitions. And I started to have these experiences that were very much like what I had wished to have before when I was about to give up my childhood faith. And suddenly was thinking, well, OK, then what’s going on here? Is it true that there really is something else? And it was just silent for all of those years. That’s the way it felt. But at that point, the experiences that I was having, they were just sort of– they were subtle little hints. Some of them would be seeing a number that was very important to me at crucial moments where I was in a really difficult place and then it would pop up in a really improbable way.

Rick: 33.

Sharon: Yes, 33, exactly. And so you tell people who are skeptical about this, well, this number keeps showing up. And they’re like, yeah, so what? Like, you know. So no, it wasn’t something that I was blabbing to a lot of people about. But I started exploring more. And I started doing more reading. And through coincidence, a couple of really important books came to me. One of them was one of Ian Stevenson’s books about his research on reincarnation. And one of them was a book by a French philosopher, Bertrand Meilleur, about– he’s a philosopher and he was talking about the evidence for clairvoyance and telepathy, but not just saying, well, this stuff exists. But he was comparing it to the way that everyday memory processes work for us. So it was a really intriguing philosophical way of looking at this and saying, well, this is just how our brain works. So I started exploring these topics more and more. And it was about five years after that, five years after that, that suddenly the big one hit, and the one that got me actually writing a book and willing to talk about this. So the big one was something that happened in 2015. I was going up to the mountains to hang out with some friends of mine from college. And at that period of my life, I was going through a lot of emotional turmoil again, which is pretty characteristic for people that have these strong synchronicity experiences. They often come in these difficult times. And so I was thinking a lot about an ex of mine And I had fallen out of touch with him. I was wondering what was going on in his life, if things had turned out OK for him. And I was thinking about the country of France, where I had lived with him. He was French. So this was very much on my mind for a few weeks, even more, really, months before this event. So I’m driving up to Pennsylvania to see my college roommates. And on the way up there, there were some little interesting signs, well, literal signs, actually, because I was driving in this part of Virginia where there are all these French town names. So there was– I guess it was on Route 66. There was a sign that had three different names of towns. And they were all actually towns in France. I was like, oh, I could be driving on a highway in France right now. But I didn’t think that much of it. So then I get up there to Pennsylvania. I’m hanging out with my friends. We go out one afternoon to look for a grocery store and we don’t know the area so my friend gets out her smartphone and she asks it to find the nearest grocery stores and then because she’s driving the car, she hands me her phone. So when she hands me the phone, it has a list of maybe five different grocery stores in that area near Johnstown, Pennsylvania. And I hit the Map button because I want to see these things laid out visually. So it takes a second to load. But when the map comes up, it’s not those grocery stores in Pennsylvania anymore. It is five French grocery stores by the name of Eau de Claire. It’s a French grocery store chain. And each of them has the name of a French town after it, not the towns that I saw on the sign driving up there, but actual towns in France. One of them I specifically remembered the name of. I knew the town from when I had lived over there. But I couldn’t remember exactly what part of France it was in. So anyway, I see these on the map. And I asked my friend. I was like, I think your phone thinks that we’re in France. What is going on? I pushed one button. We hadn’t even been talking about the subject. There was no reason for the phone, even if it– I mean, this was the day before, in the days before, phones were really listening into your conversations. But even back then, there was no reason for the phone to know about my thoughts or feelings about this place. She said she hadn’t done any– never looked for anything in France, whatever. So I just handed the phone back to her. When I got home after that trip, I googled the town that had come up on the phone because I wanted to know where exactly in France it was. It’s the town of Cahaya. And it turned out that it was in Brittany, which is the region where I had lived with my ex and where he still lived, as far as I knew. When I saw that it was in that region, it was like something– I mean, the emotion was very powerful. But it was also like I knew at that moment that if that phone was showing me some town in Brittany, it must be because that’s where he was on that day. And this particular town wasn’t particularly close to where he lived. It was, I don’t know, maybe 60 miles or something. So it’s sort of the other side of Brittany. But so anyway, I wanted to know if perhaps he was in that place, but I wasn’t going to call him or anything. And I wasn’t going to email him about it. So I went online and just out of the blue was like, well, let me type in his name and the date that this happened and see if anything pops up. And lo and behold he had posted on his blog that he was going to be in this little town in Brittany on that particular day. And when I googled that town, it was two miles from Cahaya and that grocery store that I had seen on the phone. So that was a really big coincidence. And it actually led me eventually to catch up with him and to find out some things, some wonderful things that have been going on in his life recently. He had just had his first child, actually. And it was a really nice sharing that we had. So I feel now looking back that that huge coincidence was put there in my life in order for me to push me, who had been having these feelings, that I wanted to know what was going on with him but didn’t want to open that whole can of worms. But it pushed me to say, no, you need to do this. And then it really created this beautiful, healing, peaceful situation.

Rick: Yeah. And your book contains dozens, if not hundreds, of such stories, not just in your life but in the lives of all kinds of people, many of which are jaw-dropping. You think the odds of the statistical probability of this particular thing happening are astronomical. Like the number of atoms in the universe or something, how could this happen? But there’s a lot of these things and they happen to people all the time. And I’m sure that skeptical people like to excuse them away. I’ve heard logical arguments about how a certain number of apparently miraculous things are going to happen in a person’s life periodically anyway. But–

Sharon: Oh, sure.

Rick: Yeah. And it’s worth listening to those arguments. But I think you and I are interested in– we’re not brushing them away like that. And–

Sharon: Well, I did do a lot of research about those probabilistic arguments because I’m somebody who’s mathematically inclined I was very interested in this. I wanted to know, well, are the skeptics right about that? Is it right that even though this particular coincidence seems super convincing, it’s billions to one, the odds that this would happen by chance, or one in a billion or so. So I spent a long time, spent months, going through this, and coming to this argument, and figuring out how it worked. And I actually wrote a scholarly article about this. Because nobody had really dealt with it in the depth that it needed to be dealt with. The people who had written articles were skeptics who, in maybe five or six pages, they were just like, yeah, one in a million events happen every one in a million times. So there’s a lot of them out there. So I was really bothered by that. I wanted to know if there was anything to it. And ultimately, the thing is, yes, it’s true that a certain amount of these events are bound to happen purely by chance. But you have to look at the overall picture. The total amount of these events that are happening either to you or to people in the world as a whole, is the overall chance level of them, or the overall level of them, above chance? Or is it not? And in my experience, it’s above what you would expect to see by chance.

Rick: Yeah. And I’ll have you tell a story. Just this morning, I was listening to your book. And there was the story of one guy who was a pastor or a minister of some sort and he was having doubts about whether he was really having an impact with what he was doing. And then there was some other lady who was feeling suicidal. And you know the rest. You know what story I’m referring to? Tell that story.

Sharon: Yeah. So the pastor, he was out traveling around. He had a bus. He was touring around. He was talking in different places. And yeah, he was worried about whether he was having any impact, whether he should just quit what he was doing. And he pulled into a gas station or something. I think he went to get a drink. And as he is– he’s had to walk a little ways to get a drink. And as he’s walking back to his bus from this place, he passes a payphone that rings. And it keeps ringing. So finally, there’s nobody else picking it up. He’s like, well, let’s go see who this is. I’ll just let them know they’re calling a payphone. So he picks it up. And the woman on the other end asks for him. And it has been a little while since I have looked at this story. But she either said– I think what she said is that– oh, yeah, she had come across his number in a very coincidental way. She had been in a despairing state, like you were saying, like maybe suicidal and she had been praying. She thought that this pastor maybe was the only person in the world who could help her. And so she prayed, well, God, please find me a way to get in touch with him. And then these numbers had popped into her head. And so she had written them out. It looked like a phone number. And so she called him. And she thought that she was calling his office in Oregon or something. But somehow these were the numbers of this payphone that he happened to be walking by.

Rick: Yeah, and he answered it. And it not only restored his confidence, but it probably saved her life.

Sharon: Right, right. Yeah. Not only telling him you’re having an impact, but you’re divinely guided as well. You don’t have to be in charge of all this stuff. We’re bringing you the right people at the right time. And just keep on.

Rick: Yeah, and so those kinds of stories, I find them fascinating. They almost give me goosebumps sometimes. And I don’t just say, wow, isn’t that cool, and then kind of go on. But I think, OK, how does that happen? What are the mechanics? And I think you’re saying that these kinds of experiences brought you around to believing in God again, probably a different orientation to God than you had when you were an evangelical Christian. And I very much believe in that, too. But I think we need to define what God is. And perhaps we could play a little bit with what the mechanics might be of how things like this might happen. And how that is relevant to the idea of there being God or angels or whatever. So why don’t you take it away with that, and I’ll have more questions, I’m sure.

Sharon: Sure. So the way I lay things out in my book, I have different chapters for different possible sources for these events. So I talk about, well, do they come from God? Do they come from angels? Do they come from– do we create them ourselves through telepathy or through psychokinesis? Is there a law in the universe that just makes similar things happen together? And so there’s just sort of this mechanistic process that causes things to coincide in what seems like a meaningful way. So I try to break it down. And I provide a lot of stories that would lend credence to each of these different possible explanations. And ultimately, I think probably that all of those explanations are the right explanation for individual experiences that people have. Because coincidence is a very broad label for experiences, really describing anything that’s not blatantly paranormal, but that still seems like it might be meaningful in some way. So I think in certain cases, you can maybe isolate the causes in these various ways. But the more I think about it and think about it more systematically, the more I think that all of these events are still part of some underlying order to the world that we haven’t quite understood. We’re nowhere near understanding it, let’s be honest with ourselves. We haven’t understood. We’ve come a long way in our understanding of physics in this universe. But this is taking that to another level. And it’s a level that necessarily involves consciousness, like you were saying. Because these events, what makes them meaningful is the connection between them in a mind, the mind of the person who is experiencing them or the multiple people who are experiencing them. And not just the fact that they connect them, but the fact that in so many cases, they seem to fulfill a specific need that person has, or at least a desire or intention that they have, and seem to bring about some important progress in that person’s life. So the way that I have started thinking about it is that we’re all part of this invisible network. And I think it’s ultimately a mental network. We’re all part of consciousness. We’re all part of this larger mind. And when we have needs or desires or intentions, those things don’t just have an effect on the world through our physical actions that we take or the words that we say, but they automatically affect all the other conscious beings in the universe. And I think ultimately everything is conscious, even things that we normally think of as, you know, insentient like rocks or, you know, rivers or whatever. I think all of those things ultimately do have some level of consciousness. So those needs that we have or desires that we have, they spread out and they affect everything that’s going on in the rest of the universe, but particularly the things that are going to have an effect on us. And it’s like it tweaks. It like does little tweaks or little nudges to all of the decisions that other nodes in this network are making. And whatever is sort of the easiest, the way to help us or meet that need that will cause the fewest other ripples or problems for other people, that’s the little tweak that happens. So almost like there is this enormous algorithm that’s happening that’s like, okay, so we need to meet this person’s need. Here are the millions and millions of ways that we could do that. Which of them best meets the needs of all of the other conscious beings at that same time? And then that one gets actualized.

Rick: Good. More? Did you have more there or is that just a breath?

Sharon: No, I mean, I can stop there.

Rick: Yeah.

Sharon: Yeah.

Rick: Well, here’s how I see it. And I’ll try to keep it brief. Just as a wave appears to be individual and yet if you go sort of deeper into its origins you realize, oh, it’s just the ocean kind of risen up as a wave. We appear to be individual and we are just as waves are, but ultimately we are the ocean. And as such, there’s only one of us. And that one of us, I think is identical to what we might call God. God being all pervading existence, consciousness, intelligence. And there is nothing but that. You said maybe rocks are conscious a little bit. Rocks are consciousness, which as rocks don’t reflect consciousness or express consciousness very well, not as well as squirrels or monkeys or humans. But if you look at a rock closely and see the crystalline structure, what’s happening with the molecules, what’s happening with the atoms, there’s tremendous intelligence orchestrating its function on those microscopic levels. And also it has weight. So there’s gravity. Gravity is a quality of a law of nature, which I consider all laws of nature to be impulses of intelligence. But what you were saying about kind of our individual desires trickle or ripple out and interact with everybody else’s individual desires and stuff, they do. And I think, well, there’s so much more that can be said, but I don’t wanna go on too long without giving you a chance to respond ’cause you might forget.

Sharon: I would just say, I mean, I think I feel the tension that you’re feeling here. This idea that, well, it’s not really individuals that are doing this, it’s the whole-

Rick: It is and it isn’t. It’s like you can say it’s individual and that’s right, but it’s also universal and there’s different strata or dimensions of reality, all of which are true at each in their own domain.

Sharon: Yeah, well, you can come at it from two perspectives. If you’re thinking about the world as a whole, the universe as a whole, then you can talk about coincidences as, yeah, it’s the whole actualizing its intentions. But if you’re looking at it from an everyday perspective of, well, this is what I need at this time, and then here, I saw this need met in this crazy way, then you might think of it as your individual intention causing that but ultimately your individual intention is just one facet of the larger conscious mind and how it’s creating the world.

Rick: Yeah, and perhaps we could speculate, we’re kind of laying down a foundation here for our discussion, but perhaps we could speculate, and there’s some really nice writers and thinkers who’ve elaborated on this, that there is some kind of evolutionary agenda or something, underlying the universe which has resulted in the evolution of the complexity that we so far see from hydrogen, basically,

Sharon: Right.

Rick: And it’s hard to articulate exactly what that is. Some say it’s, the Hindus say it’s Leela, God wants to play, and so it creates a world in which to play, but that world is really only him kind of self-interacting, and him is obviously an inadequate word. Go ahead, respond. I have a tendency to keep going, but I want to keep it going back and forth.

Sharon: Yeah, no, it’s great. So this idea of the evolution of the world may might be going in a certain direction is very inspiring to me. I would like to believe that that’s true, but I tend to say, well, where’s the evidence? So, and I tend to try to look at the evidence from a lot of different perspectives. And so whenever I’m tempted myself to say, well, yeah, maybe the world is evolving into a better and better place, like it’s actualizing a higher level of consciousness. Like, well, in some ways, I guess it is, but in other ways, it seems like it’s getting worse or it’s at least as bad as it’s always been. So I have trouble coming out and saying that that’s what I believe, because I don’t feel like I have a global enough perspective to say whether that’s true or not.

Rick: Yeah, well, everything goes in cycles. And if you’re gonna have a relative creation, you have to have polarities and opposites and so on. So there’s gonna be suffering as well as happiness, good as well as bad. But if you zoom out and given the size of the universe and the probable number of inhabited planets, that it’s probably a daily occurrence for some planet to get blown to smithereens by an asteroid or something like that. But in the big, big, big picture, is that bad? Does it actually thwart the evolution of the inhabitants of that planet? Or do they continue on, with reference to your book that consciousness continues on after bodily death, and find new bodies, new planets, and their evolution continues, and perhaps such things are necessary. I mean, a time will come when our sun will expand and the earth will be turned into a molten blob and consumed by the sun. Go ahead.

Sharon: Two, even today, I mean, on our planet, everything is dying all the time. I mean, the longest lived organisms, well, at least– – Tortoises or something. – Maybe trees that live for thousands of years. I’m not sure. Maybe there are other smaller organisms that live longer. I don’t know. But even they, they’re constantly dying. So I mean, this apocalyptic scenario of the entire earth being consumed, well, in a way that’s happening. None of these individual consciousnesses are still gonna be here in a few thousand years. It’s gonna be complete turnover. So if you don’t, so for me, like you were saying, because I believe that our consciousness does go on, that’s not as big of an issue. But also because I think that, yeah, we’re part of one larger consciousness. But even if my particular consciousness ended and some other consciousness rose up to take its place, I don’t know that that would, I mean, that’s not necessarily a bad thing in the universe, right? I mean, it might be a bad thing for me, say, but as far as the value of the universe as a whole, if there’s new life coming in, then the fact that old life is leaving is, that’s okay. There’s a constant replenishment and a cycling. And maybe that’s actually where you were going with this from the beginning.

Rick: Kinda, but not quite. I’ll give you two verses from the Bhagavad Gita. One is, “Certain indeed is death for the born and certain is birth for the dead.” That’s one part of one verse. Another is, “There never was a time when I was not, “nor you, nor all these rulers of men, nor will there ever be a time when all of us shall cease to be.” So on the one hand, he’s saying, oh, you’re gonna die and you’re gonna be born again after you die. But on the other hand, he’s saying, you’ll never die because that which you are more essentially just doesn’t die. And he actually uses the analogy of changing clothes. Your clothes wear out, you put on new clothes, but that doesn’t mean, that’s no threat to your existence.

Sharon: Yeah, well, maybe this is kind of taking us to that question of, is there ultimate value in the universe? What is valuable in the universe? And if, as long as there is consciousness, enjoying consciousness and being conscious, then it feels like the universe has fulfilled its potential, I guess.

Rick: Yeah, it’s fulfilling it, yes. And obviously when it started out, at least in any kind of concrete sense such as we experience, there couldn’t have been any conscious experience ’cause it just wasn’t, the atmosphere was not such that any biological life could live. But if consciousness is eternal and fundamental and really the essential constituent of everything, then there was just consciousness but without very adequate vehicles for its expression as a living reality. You can’t have very much fun if you’re only experiencing as hydrogen.

Sharon: Yeah, yeah, there’s a certain limited range of experience that you can have.

Rick: (laughing) Yeah, but I also, so I tend to think of the world with consciousness as the first thing that exists and as the primal, unitive consciousness here. So in my view, at least, and this is all admittedly speculative, but that consciousness doesn’t have to evolve. That’s the thing from which the physical world evolves. And so that consciousness creates this experience of, and maybe, yeah, it started by creating the experience of the hydrogen molecules, and then it worked up to the hydrogen atoms and then worked up to these other things. But even there, so I mean, when you look at the quantum mechanics of it all, right? So when you’re looking at what the physical world actually is or what these atoms are or these electrons and protons, there’s nothing there until it’s observed, until it’s measured. So the scientific community for a long time has talked about consciousness as something that’s emerging from matter. But it really, since we discovered this, since we discovered quantum mechanics, it’s looking more like matter is emerging from consciousness. And there’s a certain structure to how it emerges or these certain physical laws. And when wave functions collapse into a certain definite pattern, they do it in a way that’s consistent with all of the other observations and measurements that we have made. And so it gives the, at least the illusion of a continuous physical world. But that continuously existing physical world doesn’t actually seem to be there. In between us experiencing it, there’s only the possibilities, milling around and interfering with one another. This is something that I’m puzzling over.

Rick: Oh, me too. I puzzle over this all the time. I have big conversations with friends about it and stuff.

Sharon: Because I think, ultimately everything is mind and we have to, something has to experience it in order for it to be real. But then once it is real, once the electron becomes real, because we have observed it to have passed a certain detector, then what is it even that became real then? Is it just my experience of an electron? Is there anything to the electron itself? Is the electron having a separate experience from mine? I don’t know if the electron is having an experience that’s separate from mine, because then what was happening during all of that time when the electron wasn’t an actuality, at least in my experience, it was just a possibility. Was it experiencing during that time?

Rick: And here’s what I would say based on what you just said. That consciousness doesn’t evolve because for it to evolve, it would have to change. And we’re defining consciousness as something which doesn’t change. It’s immutable, indestructible. But its expressions evolve. It’s apparent expressions. And how does it express things? How do planets and all the things in the universe come about? There’s a whole explanation that some people get into, which is that there’s a triune nature to consciousness or a self-interacting dynamics to it, such that primordially there’s nothing but consciousness and therefore nothing else down there, nothing for it to be conscious of, but it’s conscious and its nature is to be conscious. So it becomes conscious of itself. And in becoming conscious of itself, all of a sudden you have this observer, observed process of observation situation set up. And you have three where you had one, and yet how can there be three? Because it’s all consciousness.

Sharon: What are the three? So I have the observer, observed.

Rick: Observed and process or mechanics of observation. And what do they come out of? They’re all consciousness. And you understand well, based upon what I’ve been reading in your books, that there are many sort of subtle dimensions to the universe. Perhaps, and there’ve been arguments, does the moon exist? If Rabindranath Tagore and Einstein had a big discussion about this, does the moon exist if no one’s observing it? I think it was Tagore that said it didn’t and Einstein didn’t like that idea. And I’ve said, I’ve posed this in other interviews, imagine there was some cosmic ray that blinded every living being on earth, so that nobody could see the moon anymore. And yet, if you got near the seashore and stuck your toes in the water, you’d feel the tide come in. So obviously there’s something out there that’s still pulling the water. And perhaps, we could compromise, if it’s a compromise and say that, it’s the observation of something that gives it a sort of a transactional reality in the concrete realm. Whereas otherwise it still has a fundamental, a more fundamental reality in more abstract realms. And–

Sharon: Do you like Whitehead, Alfred North Whitehead?

Rick: I read him in college, I couldn’t tell you what he said at this point.

Sharon: No, it just sounds a lot, this process of the actualization of the possibility being what consciousness is, sounds so much like his process philosophy. ‘Cause he has, yeah. That process is constantly going on in each moment of experience, it has this, the pull of the possibility that then goes through this process, which involves the exercise of will, of some measure of will that then creates particular concrete entity.

Rick: Cause in some form, obviously, the universe had to evolve to the point where there could be planets that people, that conscious beings could live on. You can’t live in molten lava or just amorphous gas. So somehow that whole evolution must have, on some level, taken place over billions of years, even though there was no biological life of any form to be conscious of it. Now, there could have been subtle forms of life, God himself, or subtle agents of God in terms of gods, small G, or devas, or angels, or whatever that were somehow instrumental in the process of the–

Sharon: Let me throw another ring on here, though, because the revolution of physics has also taught us through Einstein that time doesn’t exist, right? So for us to say, well, all there is is this molten lava and this sort of thing, and maybe that some other level there’s God, but there’s always the future, there’s always everything that this universe is going to become already exists in some way. And so it can be creating itself in a sense.

Rick: Yeah.

Sharon: This is where we’re gonna go, we’re gonna be there, and so our future selves are somehow pulling the evolution of the physical world along that.

Rick: Yeah, and we’re in this sort of stationary, isolated perspective, and so it seems to us, for instance, that it takes two million years for light to get here from the Andromeda galaxy, but from the perspective of a photon, there is no time or space, it’s instantaneous, it’s traveling at the speed of light. So why is our perspective any more valid than that of the photon, if a photon could have a perspective?

Sharon: Yeah, I mean, that’s what got Einstein started on his whole journey imagining, well, what would the universe look like if I was traveling at the speed of light? And the universe would look like everything at the very same moment, everything instantaneously.

Rick: Yeah, and would there even be things? I’m not sure. I mean, I don’t know. It’s like a lot of this is really beyond my, it’s all beyond my scientific grasp because I don’t have scientific training, but as an armchair lay person interested in science and interested in spirituality and philosophy, it’s just fascinating, I like to play with it.

Sharon: Well, it’s mind bending. I mean, the truth has to be, I mean, especially if what the world is ultimately is consciousness experiencing itself, like you’ve got this paradoxical sort of loop, at least from our perspective, I feel like the ultimate structure of the universe is going to appear paradoxical because you can’t take that larger picture and put it in this perspective. It doesn’t fit. It’s like trying to take something that’s in 3D and put it on a 2D surface. Well, yeah, you can sort of gesture at it, but there’s always going to be these weird things that don’t quite fit. There’s information that you can’t convey in that way.

Rick: Yeah. I think part of the idea of spiritual enlightenment, such as the Buddha and others have attained, is that you’re no longer restricted to understanding or perceiving the universe from an individual perspective. You have realized your identity as universality, as universal consciousness or being, or to use different terminology and different traditions. And so you’re able to sort of be in the world and not of it. You’re able to sort of live in paradoxically on dissimilar perspectives simultaneously and harmonize them within your living experience.

Sharon: Yeah, and it does seem like that’s one of the most difficult things in the world to do. We don’t like cognitive dissonance. We don’t like there being these different perspectives. We want everything unified and everything clearly laid out. So this is the way it is. I don’t have to consider any other perspective on this, but to be able to just let the world be what it is, say, yeah, well, there’s this perspective and there’s this one and this one, and they can just all be there. It takes a lot of courage, I guess, is maybe the word I’m looking for, and just sort of spiritual metal to be able to do that.

Rick: Yeah. One thing I try to do is, it’s perhaps somewhat imaginary and somewhat cognitive based upon a lifetime of spiritual practices, take a God’s eye view of things. And you think, okay, however we conceive of God, God obviously isn’t in conflict within himself or within itself. Somehow God is the all consuming container of all the diversities and polarities and apparent contradictions in the universe. And obviously we can’t quite, by a long shot, be as cosmic as that in our own experience, but we can approximate it to some extent, to the extent a human being can do so and harmonize. In fact, you may have heard of Nisargadatta Maharaj. He, a quote from him was, “A sign of spiritual maturity “is the ability to appreciate paradox and ambiguity.”

Sharon: Yeah, I think so. And I think that that applies to science as well, honestly, it’s ’cause I think that’s not the way a lot of scientists work, that they’re working within a particular paradigm and they want everything to fit in that. But I think if you’re really doing science, if you’re really exploring the world and you really wanna know how the world works, then you’ve gotta stay open to all of the data, whatever it is, you gotta go out looking for the anomalies, welcoming the anomalies, and being willing to say, “Well, this really happened, even though I have no idea what it means, and I have no idea how it’s possible, given what I know about the world.” I forget who it was, there was this great quote from somebody from the early 1900s that said, “I didn’t say it was possible, I just said that it happened.”

Rick: (laughing) That’s great. I don’t know who that was.

Sharon: I wish that more scientists approached their work that way because at least in public, at least the mainstream scientists, the ones that have to protect their reputation, they’re gonna just explain away all of this stuff and say, “Well, yeah, I mean, that’s just chance,” or, “That didn’t really happen, that person’s making it up,” or whatever. But how much more rich and interesting life is when you say, “Well, but maybe, maybe it is something that actually happened”, and “maybe it’s a clue to a level of reality that we don’t know anything about yet.”

Rick: Yeah. Yeah, people like Dean Radin and Rupert Sheldrake and others have told me in interviews that sometimes they’ll give a public talk and afterwards, some scientists will come up to them very sheepishly and say, “You know, I’m on board with everything you said, but I can’t say it publicly because I won’t get tenure, my reputation will be at stake.” So essentially, they’re admitting that they’re not really scientists. They belong to a cult, a cult of modern science in which you can be ostracized or condemned if you don’t toe the party line, and if you rock and roll too much, you’re out.

Sharon: Well, I mean, and honestly, to be fair to them, all of us are probably part of some community like that, and it may be more or less healthy depending on what community it is, but as human beings, we’re part of a group, whatever group we identify ourselves with, whatever group pays our bills, whatever group are our friends who give us the emotional support that we need. And it does cost a lot to step outside of the party line And so those of us who have had some really strange experiences that we want to be able to talk to people about, we end up having to maybe change our careers or change our circle of friends so that we can be surrounded by people that we feel comfortable sharing those things with. But it’s not, I mean, those are choices that I’ve made in my life, but at the same time, I know why there are lots of scientists who don’t make those choices because-

Rick: Yeah, yeah, in fact, in last week’s interview, I quoted Upton Sinclair, I’ll quote him again, he said, “Never try to get a man to understand something if his salary depends upon not understanding it.”

Sharon: Yeah, yeah, yeah, right.

Rick: Yeah, but we’re all human, like you said, and there’s a lot of pressures.

Sharon: Yeah, and we have a lot of roles to play, and it is very important that we have mainstream scientists, and it’s very important that we do pursue research, even within the physicalist paradigm. There’s a lot of good that is done there as well.

Rick: Absolutely, we wouldn’t have bridges or airplanes or a lot of other things if not for that research. I think the trick is to be able to cubbyhole yourself very narrowly in order to further a particular specialty and break ground in new areas of knowledge, and at the same time, maintain universality, or attain it if you haven’t attained it yet. So in other words, to sort of have, to harmonize or integrate boundaries and boundless. And I think that’s a lifelong process, but a lot of people don’t work on the boundless part of it too much. They just get really cubbyholed, and then they’re off on some little fragmented shard of knowledge from which perspective they can’t see the whole. It’s like being out on the end of a bicycle spoke as opposed to sitting at the hub and seeing all the spokes radiate from a common source.

Sharon: Yeah, yeah, but again, that perspective is important for doing certain kinds of work. There is certain kind of progress. We need people that are that focused, that are that narrow in what they’re spending their time on to make progress in these areas. I can’t do that. I get bored too easily. I need the bigger picture. I need the things that are gonna stimulate me to revise what I thought last week. That’s what I thrive on is the new ideas, but a universe full of me would not be great because there’s a lot of things that wouldn’t get done that I’m happy to have gotten done, so we need all different kinds of people.

Rick: Yeah, now do you think that a lot of the problems in the world, especially the problems that technology has caused like climate change and all kinds of pollution and various things like that could be attributed to what we’re talking about, this specialization without recourse to a holistic perspective such that you can be doing things that have quite an impact, but that don’t take into account all the ramifications of their influence and thereby become a very mixed blessing?

Sharon: Oh, I think you’re right. I think that’s a very important point because you’re following the lead of the people around you. You’re following the lead of whoever the leaders of your culture are and taking for granted that the goals that they have set up for your particular occupation or your profession are legitimate ones that are going to be to the benefit of humanity or the world as a whole, but we’ve certainly seen over the past few centuries that the way that our Western technological culture is going is not for the long-term benefit of humanity or the planet as a whole. And yeah, you’re absolutely right that it’s important to ask those larger questions for ethical reasons, if not because you have the particular intellectual curiosity about those things, but what is it that you’re trying to achieve by doing the work that you’re doing? What is it that we want the world to look like in 50 years and 100 years and 1,000 years?

Rick: Yeah.

Sharon: And are we doing the things today that we need to do in order to bring that world about?

Rick: Yeah, it’s very important. And you can see it play out. I mean, taking climate change as an example, there’s here in the United States, at least half the politicians downplay it or even deny that it’s happening, and because they get a lot of support, financial support from the fossil fuel industry and the coal industry and so on. And so there’s that narrowness of perspective, both in terms of the big picture of what’s actually happening right now and what is going to happen in the coming decades. But they’re thinking, all right, I like this job, being in the Senate, I need this money. And honestly, I think, honestly, in many, many cases, they don’t realize that they’ve been bought. They think they’re, they get totally convinced of the particular perspective that they are legislating.

Sharon: Yeah, well, everyone around them, yeah, shares that perspective, or at least enough people around them share that perspective.

Rick: It’s like that Upton Sinclair quote again. So in any case, the reason this is relevant, I think, to our discussion is that I think the antidote to this narrowness of thinking is to somehow have recourse to the deeper consciousness that exists within us and that we can actually all locate. And that would result in a broader, well, it has its own intrinsic, blissful, fulfilling quality, but it would also, it influences the way one operates in the world.

Sharon: Yeah, and that’s really part of the reason that I was motivated to write my book, “The Feeling of Value,” which was actually the dissertation that I wrote at New York University. Because the dominant view in the subfield of philosophy that I was in called metaethics, which is just like the foundations of ethics, like are ethics real? Where does good and bad come from? The dominant view, at least at NYU and other similar institutions was anti-realism. The idea that the good and bad are human constructions. Basically, the best we can do is to take the values that we have and make them more consistent with each other and live them out more consistently. But ultimately, ethics just comes back to what we as human beings choose to value. And that seemed like a really dangerous worldview. And to be honest, so some of my friends who held this view and my professors who held this view, themselves were very moral, ethically responsible people, like were even activists in different areas. So they themselves were very morally motivated, but I feel like they, and maybe the reason that they held this view was for the same reason that I was an atheist for 10 years was because I didn’t see any evidence for another view. I might’ve wanted there to be, or they might’ve wanted there to be a real foundation for ethics outside of human opinion or choice, but there’s no evidence that it exists. But I think it really is, if that view, and I think that view is rather widespread in our society, at least among more educated people, yeah, I mean, ultimately it’s just, it’s my perspective, it’s where I come from. And at the end of the day, there is no God and there’s nobody that’s gonna hold any of us to account. So why not just have fun while we’re here and do what we wanna do right now? If that’s being a politician and putting through this certain legislation, then that’s what I’m gonna do. But I think there’s something much deeper. And I think that there is something that, those moral convictions that we have, the ones that we do have, I feel like they come from someplace deeper. They don’t come from a place of just us deciding, well, yeah, I’m gonna care about other conscious beings now and I’m not going to torture every other person or animal that I come across. I’m gonna care about others. I think that that comes from a much deeper place than just human choice. And for myself, I think it comes from our inner experience of consciousness. I think that in experiencing our lives and in experiencing our relationships with other people in the natural world and animals, that we actually experience the intrinsic value of that, of what it is to be a conscious being. And what I wrote in “The Feeling of Value” is that value really is a feeling. So it’s when you are experiencing the deepest joy, the deepest pleasure, the most wonderful feeling that you can imagine, that that is the ground of value and of all ethical, not even obligation, but all ethical motivation in the universe, is that that thing is so majestic and beautiful, that experience that you can’t help, but want to create more of it. It’s just the kind of thing that deserves to be in existence that merits being promoted.

Rick: Yeah. It seems like some moral values are perhaps just cultural things that are kind of arbitrary, like don’t eat certain things. Even maybe I was talking to my wife over lunch, even something like polygamy. I mean, there are certain cultures in which that was the norm and maybe it worked and maybe it didn’t hurt anybody. And in our culture, it’s illegal. So there’s some things like that, which might be gray areas and maybe just cultural things. But I mean, probably you’ve given this a lot of thought and you figured out ways of where to draw the line, if it can be drawn, I don’t know if it can be drawn precisely, but roughly. And I would guess that the line, you would have drawn the line around, you’re kind of just alluding to it, that which harms others. And Jesus said, “I and my father are one.” And he also said, “Whatsoever you do unto the least of these you do unto me.” And, “Love the Lord, the God with all thy heart” and “love thy neighbor as thyself.” And I think all those quotes pertain to the reality, which is that we are all one and it’s possible to attain a state of consciousness in which that is one’s living reality, one’s daily regular experience. And when it is, you’d no sooner harm another than you would cut your own hand or something because everything is that intimate to you. But obviously that’s not most people’s experience. And so you kind of need rules and laws to try to get people to behave as though it were, even if it’s not.

Sharon: Yeah, well, I totally agree with what you were saying about how there are many aspects of our moral codes that are just human inventions, or they’re pragmatic for a particular culture or what have you. But that ultimately, if you want to find a more objective ethical ground for that, you have to go back to, well, is that promoting this kind of worthwhile, valuable experience for the most people, the most animals or whatever the conscious creatures are that are making up our world, are we promoting that by these actions or by these rules? And so if there are legitimate ethical rules, then ultimately that’s where they’re finding their foundation. And so it gives you a measure for, well, this kind of brings it back to our talk about, evolution of progress and consciousness. It does give you some kind of objective measure for are we making ethical progress as a culture or not? So are we actually promoting positive experience in conscious beings, human and otherwise, or are we not? Is the planet as a whole flourishing and enjoying the experience of being conscious as this planetary organism or not? If it’s getting better, then we’re doing better. And if it’s not, then we need to consider what we’re doing wrong.

Rick: Yeah. And obviously there are very different scales of this, but even in the little minutiae of our daily life, there are every little decision. Do I pick up this worm off the sidewalk so it doesn’t die in the sun or do I keep walking? And then it ripples out to the larger and larger considerations. And of course, whatever we do one way or the other, it bounces right back. I mean, it either softens and refines

Sharon: r coarsens our own hearts. Well, yeah. And I was gonna say too, you’re talking about the other is me, and this is such a basic tenet in so many of the world religions, you treat others as you would want to be treated because metaphysically they are you. And I think that that is deeply metaphysically true. And I think that coincidences of various kinds provide some evidence for that. Well, people talk about the law of attraction or whatever, I mean, which I think is a genuine experience of how synchronicity works. I don’t think it works as simplistically as people who promulgate that, the law of attraction say, I think it’s a little more subtle than that. But I do think that there’s something about the structure of consciousness and the universe such that anything that you do for someone else, you are doing it for yourself. Your entities are not separate. There’s a holographic nature to the world, right? So a hologram, every single piece of that hologram actually is the entire picture, actually has the information in it to reconstitute the entire picture. And each of us, I think we have the entire universe within our consciousness. And so anything we choose to bring into existence in our consciousness, or we choose to bring to other people’s consciousness, ultimately, we’re going to experience that, and we’re going to share it with others. There isn’t that.

Rick: in all of your research, you must have come across many near-death experiences in which people had a life review. And every little thing that they did, they felt the impact of it. Not only the impact in terms of what the, like for instance, who was that guy, Danny and Brinkley, he had like four near-death experiences, and he used to be a sharpshooter in Vietnam and during the war. And during every of his near-death experiences, he experienced the sort of the ramifications, not only of the assassinations he performed, but of the ripple effects, what happened to that person’s family and so on. So if we’re all one, then again, whatsoever you do unto the least of these, you do unto me, and that could be spoken of, not only as a quote from Jesus, but as something each of us could say.

Sharon: Yeah, yeah. It used to be when I would hear those accounts from near-death experiencers, I would be like, well, okay, if it’s so obvious to them in that moment that they should have been kind to people, why aren’t we just given that knowledge all of the time so we understand automatically what we’re doing to other people when we’re not being nice? And that’s something I’ve puzzled with for a while, but it seems like, and this again, comes from a lot of near-death experiencers who talk about, well, what is the purpose of our life here? And the most plausible explanation that I’ve heard is that it’s important for us to be in a setting where the consequences of our actions aren’t immediately apparent, or the consequences of them for us aren’t immediately apparent, because it tests us in a way. It gives us an opportunity to kind of stretch our spiritual muscles and see, okay, well, are you able to understand the importance of acting kindly towards others, even when it’s not gonna have an immediately obvious effect on you?

Rick: Yeah.

Sharon: And you sort of have to, you have to build up your ability to do that.

Rick: If you went through school, being given the answers to all the exams and tests you had to take, here you are, here’s time for your test, here’s the answers. You wouldn’t study, you wouldn’t really learn anything. You just fill out the answers you were given and go out and play baseball or something. So obviously we can speculate as to why it’s set up this way but obviously it is set up such that we don’t remember everything we might have known between lives, the broader perspective we might’ve had. We don’t necessarily see the cosmic ramifications of everything we do, but we learn more that way, I think. I think that’s what you’re just saying, isn’t it?

Sharon: Yeah, no, I think so, yeah. We learn that way and– –

Rick: And life is for learning, as Joni Mitchell sang.

Sharon: But there also seems to be this idea that this universe is like a playpen of sorts, like a sort of a safe place to learn these things, even though sometimes it doesn’t feel very safe. I mean, my life has been safe, but certainly there are lots of people whose lives have not been. But ultimately when you think about the scale of what’s gonna happen to us when we die and our souls ultimately, eternally are always safe. But this universe is a place where we can try out different things. We can learn, we can make mistakes. We can take the test and we can fail several times and the consequences are gonna be limited in a certain extent. There are other beings that are watching out for us that are making sure that even when we make these terrible blunders, that ultimately they can intervene and they can make sure that things work out in a way that is the best for everyone involved. At least we hope so.

Rick: Yeah, there’s some great stories in your book about, which what you just said reminded me of, about apparently some kind of divine intervention when something terrible is about to happen. Like there was one story where some guy was gonna push the door closed to the basement but it would have knocked the little kid down the stairs or something and something stopped him as if grabbed his arm. Can you think of two or three of those kinds of stories?

Sharon: Yeah, so there’s a lot of stories with people driving on the road. So they’re like about to change lanes or something but they don’t see somebody that’s coming up behind them or whatever. And it’s like, they physically are unable to turn the steering wheel at the time and they don’t understand why. Like, why don’t just, you know, dang steering wheel turn. And then they realize that there would have been a terrible accident if they had turned. Seemed to be a lot of traffic things. Because I-

Rick: Yeah, there’s one I just heard this morning where some guy’s driving down the 101 in Los Angeles, in California and all of a sudden either he swerved the car or he moved his head like that. And then just then a bullet came through the window.

Sharon: Oh yeah, yeah. Yeah, that was a French fellow that wrote the book about angels. Yeah, that happened to him. Yeah, right? Like all of these sorts of things. And it makes me ask the question, well, okay, if that kind of divine intervention is possible, why then the terrible things happen to people, right? Like if some people are saved from car accidents or stray bullets, you know, I have like a friend of a friend who was killed by a stray bullet in DC. Like, so they weren’t told to duck at the right time. And I mean, I think that there are some, some of these mysteries, of course, that we’re never going to understand here as we were talking about earlier, but there seem to be enough indications, whether it’s from near-death experiencers or people having other spiritual experiences and communications that make it plausible in my mind that there is a larger plan and there’s a larger plan, not only for the, you know, the universe as a whole, but for each of us individually, there’s a sort of trajectory that our life is supposed to follow. And certain tragedies and certain hardships and obstacles are part of our path. That’s something that we are supposed to go through, maybe even agreed to go through. And so those things are allowed to happen. But then sometimes, you know, we’re on the highway and we’re about to accidentally kill ourselves and, you know, several other people just by not looking in our mirror when we should have. And that’s not going to serve anybody’s life plan. That’s going to mess up a whole bunch of them. And so that, it stops. And so it’s not a question of, well, you know, should people die in car accidents or not? It’s a question of, this is, you know, car accidents are going to happen. How are they going to be used to serve the ultimate spiritual goals of the people who are involved?

Rick: And obviously every near-death experience we’ve heard about is from somebody who didn’t die or we wouldn’t have heard about them. And almost always there’s some kind of being they meet who says, well, you know, it’s not your time. You have to go back. Or they might say, well, you have a choice. You know, you could stay, but you know, you have this daughter or something. You better go back and take care of her. What do you want to do? And so, where was I going with this?

Sharon: Well, yeah, I think that’s one of the elements of this evidence. I think near-death experiencers come back not only with that notion of, well, it wasn’t your time, or, you know, there’s this plan, but some of them, even in their near-death experience, they remember many more details about their life plan. They remember that certain things were supposed to happen to them, things that have already happened to them. And some of them are given a preview of the things that are supposed to happen to them in the future. And some of them they’ll remember when they come back to their body. Some of them, they just remember that they were told this stuff, but they don’t know the details of it anymore. And so they spend the rest of their life wondering when it’s going to happen. Or, you know, there are so many near-death experiencers who are told that they have a mission of a particular kind, and very few of them know what that mission is when they come back. They know they have it, but they can’t consciously go out and start doing it because that memory is somehow erased or lost when they come back. And one really interesting case-

Rick: Kind of like Richard Dreyfuss in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” That movie.

Sharon: Oh yeah, so he’s like, yeah, he’s possessed by this thing.

Rick: He’s building a mountain of mashed potatoes. This means something. I don’t know.

Sharon: Yes, yeah, no, that, yeah. And I feel like even though I haven’t had a near-death experience, there are times in my life where something happens and I’m like, yeah, this means something. There is, there’s something important here that I can’t quite explain, and I can’t quite get a grasp on. I don’t know what to do with it, but I feel the weight of it. Existential weight of it. But I remember, I can’t remember who it was now, but I think it was a near-death experience. They were talking about their life mission and that they didn’t need to worry about accomplishing it, that it was going to be accomplished in a very natural way. They just had to go back and through all of the sort of, everyday little things, normal things that happen, they would accomplish that mission that they were sent here for. We sort of naturally flow out of them.

Rick: I know what I was going to say. You’re talking about, well, how come some people are saved from car accidents or flying bullets and so on, and other people aren’t. And obviously those, well, I don’t know if it’s obvious, but it would seem that those who don’t come back from an NDE who actually do die, perhaps it was their time to die. And it doesn’t mean they have to be in their 80s or 90s. I mean, some people are destined to live short lives, but those who are about to die because of some oncoming something or other, and yet are saved through something that appears rather supernatural, perhaps we can speak of guardian angels or those who are on the other side who are looking after us in some way. They do intervene when it’s necessary to do so because we’re going off script or we’re about to, and there is a script that has to be lived.

Sharon: Yeah, I feel like in the script, there is a certain amount of ad-libbing that’s allowed. Like you can improvise a little bit in the scene, you can improvise here, but we’ve got to get to the next plot point. So at a certain point, we got to push you in that direction and make sure you show up on time for the climactic moment.

Rick: And that would be, it would be worth, interesting to talk now about guardian angels and things like that, because, I mean, we’ve talked about God as this oceanic intelligence, all pervading cosmic intelligence, but I remember, you know that story, you were a biblical student. You remember the story where the Roman centurion comes to Jesus and he’s had some brother or somebody who’s dying and he asks Jesus to help. And Jesus said, “Okay, I’ll come there.” And he said, “No, no, you don’t have to come.” He said, “I’m a military man. If I want something done, I’ll just order my men and they’ll go and do it.” So, you know, you, Jesus must have at your command beings of some sort who could take care of the situation. So don’t bother coming, just please have it taken care of. So I have the feeling that there is as many forms of life that we can’t see, more perhaps than those which we can see, and they’re all around us and they exist at various levels of reality or creation and a certain large percentage of them are very much involved in human affairs.

Sharon: Yeah, yeah, I think so. I think that that’s certainly the way the evidence that I’ve seen points. I mean, there are too many stories about, you know, not only these weird coincidences or life-saving synchronicities happening to people, but the stories where it happens and there is some sort of personal intervention, whether it’s, you know, a voice that’s there or you actually, you know, feeling some kind of physical touch, you know, moving them in a certain way or a vision of something that looks angelic or doesn’t look human in any case.

Rick: Or a book falling off a shelf, you know, things like that.

Sharon: Yeah.

Rick: Something they’re supposed to see.

Sharon: Yeah, and even beyond that, there seems to be this level of intelligence and like carefully crafted nuance to these experiences that happen that it doesn’t feel like it was just your unconscious that made it happen because there do seem like there’s some synchronicities that are just like unconscious psychokinesis. So, you know, your emotions build to such a point that, you know, a glass breaks in the room or something. I don’t know if you read that story in the book, but this one woman-

Rick: I think I did.

Sharon: Yeah, who had a lot of PK events like this, she would notice that, or she noticed in this one particular case, she was talking on the phone to this person who I guess had been a friend, but she was a little frustrated with her or very frustrated with her. And as the emotion was building, a vase just shattered in the room and it happened to be a vase that this friend had given her. So it was very symbolic and just sort of broke apart. And so those sorts of things I can see is a deeper level of us just sort of lashing out in the physical world. But then there are other coincidences that are just very carefully crafted that seem to be consciously and intentionally created. And sometimes so carefully done that even we, I feel like, couldn’t have created that ourselves. It had to be an intelligence higher than ours.

Rick: Yeah, I once was with a spiritual teacher who was talking about higher states of consciousness and I engaged him in a line of questioning about some very high state of consciousness. And I said, “Well, would that be omniscience?” And he said, “No.” He said, “Omniscience, human nervous systems are not capable of omniscience.” And he said, “You need a celestial nervous system to have omniscience.” And so, I think people kind of get what I’m saying here, there are celestial levels, astral levels, subtle levels of creation. It’s not flesh and blood. And there are beings whose nervous systems are comprised of that kind of substance. And they have a, maybe it’s not universal absolute omniscience. Every atom in the universe is within your cognition, but it’s within their realm of responsibility. They have ways of knowing that a human being is too isolated to have.

Sharon: Yeah, well, certainly going back to near-death experiences, again, you have so many people who, when they are on the other side, suddenly they know so much more. Suddenly their senses are expanded to such a degree. So anything that they think about, they know the answer to, or they think of a person and suddenly they are there with the person. They can see everything that’s going on.

Rick: Yeah, the person might be a hundred miles away, but they can see what they’re doing.

Sharon: Right. And also, some people talk about being able to see things in even greater detail than they can when they’re in their body, specifically related to life reviews. I remember the NDE-er Tom Sawyer, I don’t know if you’ve ever had him on the show.

Rick: I had Huckleberry Finn, but I never-

Sharon: Yeah, I know. But he talked about how, in his life review, he had such a level of detail that it was even better than when he had actually lived those events in the past. And he could have counted the number of mosquitoes that were present at different events in his life. I mean, of course he wouldn’t have cared about that in the first place. Or there was another lady who was talking about, during her NDE, she could see on the head of the nurse who was taking care of her dead body, I guess, all of the hairs on her head and all of the follicles that were creating those hairs. Yeah, there seems to be this, like you were saying, this more subtle nervous system, this web of knowledge and information exchange that has a much higher resolution than our five senses of our body, our physical bodies have.

Rick: Yeah, that’s fascinating. A question came in a little while ago. Let’s see what this is. I haven’t read it yet, but I’m sure we can shift to it. This is from Shabnam Mirchandani in Pittsburgh. The seen and unseen morphic field of our sentient world seems to have fierce polarities which appear to be existentially threatening. Can our imaginative capacities, which seem to have a primal source, reinforce renewal or regeneration, basically save us from ourselves?

Sharon: Could you read it one more time?

Rick: I will. –

Sharon: Go ahead there.

Rick: It’s well-written. The seen and the unseen morphic field of our sentient world seems to have fierce polarities which appear to be existentially threatening. Can our imaginative capacities, which seem to have a primal source, reinforce renewal or regeneration, basically save us from ourselves?

Sharon: Well, I think if anything can, that it is those imaginative visionary capacities. I don’t know at what stage of our conversation this question came in, but it seems to me related to when we were talking about the necessity for people to envision the future and to think about where are we going and why do we want to go there? Because we certainly can’t change the trajectory that we’re on unless we’re thinking about a different destination.

Rick: Yeah, another thing I get from her question, the seen and the unseen morphic fields seem to have fierce polarities. You know, every cultural tradition and religious tradition has positive and negative entities inhabiting these subtle realms, you know, the gods and the demons or whatever. And some people interpret the surface events of our world as symptomatic of a deeper kind of cosmic battle going on between positive and negative forces. And so I think what she’s saying is our human imaginative capacities have a primal source. In other words, our roots go very deep. Can we be agents of renewal and regeneration so as to perhaps align with the positive forces that are at a more primordial level and basically save us from ourselves rather than align with the negative forces and do their bidding. That’s what I get out of her question.

Sharon: Okay. Yeah, so I do think too that we probably can’t get out of this under our own power and under even our greatest visionary capacity. At this point, we’ve dug ourselves in so deep, at least ecologically, that that’s probably not gonna happen. But it does seem like there are these higher intelligences at work that know a way out. And if we’re willing to work with them and willing to be sensitive to what they’re suggesting, that that might be the best path forward. And certainly, in the low level scale of my own personal life, something that I have learned is that when I have a problem and I’m like, I have no idea how to fix this, it’s stressing me out to try to find an answer, I just can’t. If I just trust the universe, God, and then say, okay, look, I don’t know what to do with this, I’m giving it to you, can you please fix this? That solutions, often very quickly, will appear that I never would have thought of. Suddenly, they’re very easy steps to take, and you just take one little step that’s suggested and suddenly the problem dissolves.

Rick: Yeah. And I don’t know that with the ecological or political problems that we have in our world that it’s gonna be quite that easy, but I think it might turn out to be easier than we think if we are able to tap into that deeper intelligence.

Rick: Yeah, I mean, it’s not gonna happen, but I think that if everybody in the world were to wake up tomorrow morning in an enlightened state of consciousness, most of the problems in the world would just go poof really fast. But instead, we have 8 billion people who are messed up to one degree or another, and they’re constantly spewing their influences out into the collective consciousness. And consequently, we see all kinds of problems. That’s where these problems come from. Some people hope that the extraterrestrials are gonna come and give us new technologies or something, but I don’t even know if they’d wanna show up until we clean up our own act a little bit.

Sharon: Yeah. Yeah. There’s so much fear. And we were talking earlier about different entities and whether death or terrible cataclysms were the worst thing that could happen as long as there’s a renewal of life in some other form or renewal of consciousness in some other form. And I think if more people understood that what’s really important is promoting that flourishing consciousness and that flourishing community that makes that consciousness possible, then we wouldn’t be as fearful for our own life or our own status or our own, whatever the things are that we’re working so hard to hold on to. We wouldn’t have a problem with giving up those things if it were for the betterment of the collective.

Rick: Yeah. I think it has to be more than conceptual though. It has to somehow, one has to tap into that deep wellspring of divine consciousness or whatever you want to call it within oneself. And then when one does, it naturally begins to channel out or flow out in one’s life through all one’s thoughts and activities.

Sharon: Yeah. And it’s not something that you can, yeah, you can’t just conceptualize it and suddenly your behavior changes. And you can’t even, you can make one really big sacrifice even. You make one sort of heroic act where you put others above yourself and you do that. But that doesn’t mean that 10 minutes later, you’re not gonna be in a situation where you’re struggling to do that again, or maybe even make the wrong decision. It’s never quite done. It’s this constant process of learning how to let go of that fear and that desire to protect ourselves over against other people, or protect the few people that we love the most over against all the people that we aren’t closely connected to. And to make decisions that are for the good of the whole.

Rick: But you make a good point, which is that just any step in the right direction adds to a positive momentum in one’s life. And you don’t attain instant freedom and ability to be completely perfect in your behavior or any such thing. But you either move in one direction towards greater freedom, or you move in the other towards deeper conditioning. And every moment of life is an opportunity to make that choice.

Sharon: Yeah, each choice that you make, it’s gonna make it easier for you to make a similar choice the next time.

Rick: Exactly.

Sharon: Next time, yeah.

Rick: Yeah. Like an obvious example, if you’re addicted to a drug, for instance, every time you abstain from that drug, the addiction will diminish a little bit. Every time you take the drug, it’s gonna increase. There are a million things in life that are like that, that operate in the same way.

Sharon: Yeah. Well, and I think fear operates that way too. If you’re very afraid of a certain thing happening, the best thing that you can do is to face that fear head on. I mean, that’s not to say, you should make it happen if it’s not gonna happen on its own, but whatever it is that’s controlling you because you’re afraid of that thing happening, if you can summon the courage to stand up to that fear in some small way, whatever it is, I’m thinking again of being in mainstream academia and fear of other people’s opinions. If you step out in one small area and you said, “Well, no, I really, I feel very strongly about this. And I think it’s important that I talk about this. And maybe my entire career will collapse, “but I think I need to move in this direction.” And if the first time you do that, especially if there are repercussions, especially if you do get a lot of blowback from it, that enables you to realize, “Well, the thing that I was afraid of, it wasn’t so bad after all. Like I’m still here. In fact, I feel freer than I felt before because now I’m not afraid of what other people think because I realized I can live with that. When I’m doing what I know is right, I don’t have to worry about.”

Rick: Yeah, and the people who have done that have changed society. Gandhi, King, Rosa Parks, every, probably, maybe not everyone’s heard of Rosa Parks, but she just, she was at the end of a long day’s work. She’s a black woman in Detroit. She, some white guy gets on and wants her to move to the back of the bus to give him her seat. No, I’m tired. I’m not gonna do that. I’m gonna sit here. Changed the whole society, that one decision.

Sharon: Yeah.

Rick: Yeah. Okay, well, this is a wonderful discussion. Let’s pause for a second. And, well, I don’t have to pause too much, but just think about what we’ve covered and some things that you’d like to cover in our remaining time. I have four pages of outlines of books here and there’s all kinds of things we could discuss, but what comes to your mind that maybe we haven’t gone into as much as you’d like?

Sharon: Well, we didn’t talk, we’ve talked a lot about near-death experiences, but we didn’t talk a lot about some of the other experiences that I mentioned in my book “Beyond Death.” And there may be some of them that your listeners don’t know as much about. One of them that I think is crucial for sort of cementing the evidence for life after death is the existence of intermission memories. So, ’cause one of the skeptical arguments that people bring against near-death experiences is, well, those people aren’t permanently dead. They’re just provisionally dead. Their body still has some sort of life in it, which could be supporting their consciousness. And maybe when their body is finally, permanently dead and decomposing, that consciousness disappears. So, one of the things I think is really important is that in children and also some adults who have memories of past lives, they don’t just have memories of their life in a body, but they have memory of the time after they died in that body. They have memories of things like NDEers report of being able to observe what was going on. A lot of them observed their own funerals or burials and were able to remember specific facts about what happened that were then able to be verified. So, you’ve got that. You’ve got memories of interactions with other deceased people on the other side. Sometimes there are people who were relatives of the family that they had been part of, or maybe they’re relatives of the family that they’re going to be born into in their next life. And they’re able to give details that are then verified by the family that this young child reporting these memories would have had no normal way of knowing. And they also have frequently memories of having observed things going on in their future family’s life before they’re born, and sometimes even before they’re conceived. And sometimes while they’re being conceived. There’s several stories of people who remember their parents in the sexual act and details about how that happened. There’s a really neat story about a woman who remembered her dad coming home for lunch one day, finding her mom and being like, “Let’s go in the bathroom.” And the mom was like, “I need to put in my diaphragm.” And he was like, “No, no, no, it’s okay. “It’ll be fine just this one time.” And the conscious entity that was watching this happen thought, “Oh, this is my chance. “I gotta get in there.” And once she was born, she talked to her mom about this. I think she waited until she was an adult, but she was like, “Look, I’ve got this memory of this thing happening.” And her mom was like, “Yep, that happened. That was the one time I didn’t use a diaphragm. Here you are.” So there’s all of these interesting stories about the consciousness existing between consciousness and the body. So it’s not only showing that our consciousness survives this physical body, but it can survive without any physical body in this other state. And really corroborates a lot of the things that the near-death experiencers say. There’s really this, there’s a huge overlap between the kinds of experiences that they describe. There’s even, I mean, a lot of near-death experiencers talk about realizing when they’re on the other side that reincarnation is a reality. Even people who never, a lot of them, Christians where that was not even on their radar, but they realized that they’ve had other lives and that other people have had other lives when they get to the other side. But there are a couple of cases that I’ve come across where a near-death experiencer actually was trying to get into a new body in their near-death experience. So there was one case where a fellow, I think was in some sort of accident and during his near-death experience, he went to another location and he saw a woman in the hospital giving birth. And the doctor was holding up the baby and saying, oh, the doctor said, “I think we’ve lost them both, the baby and the mother.” And the near-death experiencer said that he was trying to get himself into the baby’s body. He was trying to put his face in there where the baby’s face was, but he couldn’t get it to work. And then he ended up thinking about his mother. And so his consciousness kind of went away and he was with his mother. Then he wasn’t with that scene anymore. But when he revived, he told his mom about seeing this woman dying in childbirth. And actually he had recognized the woman as a neighbor of his. So he asked the mom, did so-and-so actually have a baby? And she confirmed that she had the child, but that both of them had died. So there’s just so many, there’s so many overlaps between all of the different kinds of extraordinary experiences that people have. And this is not even taking into account all of the experiences of after-death communication that people have with their loved ones who have died, who come to them through apparitions or dreams or what have you. But all of the different pieces fit together in such an intricate way. And for each one of those pieces, there are skeptical arguments. Some of them very compelling for a certain category of experience, but then you get a completely other category of experience that comes in like these intermission memories and says, well, no, it’s not just, this experience isn’t just the result of temporary death. People have been, their bodies have permanently died. They have memories of surviving and then they come back into another life.

Rick: Yeah, a lot of those memories are verifiable.

Sharon: Yeah, they are. Yeah, whether they’re the memories of the intermission period or the memories of being in the previous life. And another thing, there are a few cases, just a handful of cases so far, where children or adults remember having communicated from the afterlife. So they remember being an apparition or they remember appearing to their loved one in a dream or even having poltergeist effects of various kinds. And those events have been verified by living people. Because one of the strong skeptical arguments against the reality of after death communication is that, well, it’s wishful thinking or wishful thinking combined with the psychic abilities of living people. So you can sort of psychically create a simulation of communication with your loved one, but their consciousness doesn’t really go on. But when you have these cases of people who remember being on the other side of that communication, these reciprocal cases, then that skeptical argument doesn’t hold water anymore.

Rick: Yeah, it always surprises me that people can be open to the possibility of psychic abilities and yet close to the possibility of life after death. It seems to me you’ve already pretty much taken a pretty big step in that direction if you believe that we can sort of know things outside the confines of our body.

Sharon: Yeah, well, I think, I mean, I think some of it is because people are trying to be very rigorous and be very careful to only say as much as the evidence shows. But I think that it is true that once you’ve accepted that our consciousness is not limited by time or space, then the existence of our consciousness after bodily death, yeah, I mean, why wouldn’t it? There’s no reason not to accept that. It doesn’t seem strange anymore. If time, if we’re not bounded by time, then we really can’t die because we’re always, we can always communicate with people no matter what time their body is alive in.

Rick: Yeah, Vedanta has a nice explanation of it. They have what they call the pancha-kosha model. Kosha means sheath and pancha means five. So we have these five sheaths. And the first one is the physical body, the anamaya-kosha. And then there’s the mind, the manamaya-kosha. Then there’s the prana, prana-maya-kosha. Then the intellect, vijnana-maya-kosha. Then something called the bliss sheath, the anandamaya-kosha. And they say that when we die, all that happens is sheath number one, the body drops off. The other five sheaths are just the same as they were, and they carry on and go find another physical body to get into, but it’s not a big deal.

Sharon: Yeah, yeah. Well, like we were talking about earlier, our physical body is only one tiny piece of everything that’s going on in our consciousness. And that consciousness is connected to so much else and is a part of such a much wider universe. And when you understand all of that, or not understand it, but when you accept all of that and you know that it’s the case, that you have this greater awareness, then, yeah, the idea that this particular expression of that consciousness might not survive doesn’t seem like such a big deal. Because it’s not essential to who you understand yourself to be.

Rick: Right, it’s like, okay, am I gonna drive the same car for the rest of my life? Or maybe it’ll be time to trade it in at some point and get a newer one.

Sharon: Yeah.

Rick: Not a big tragedy. (laughs) As we speak, this is May 14th, I think it is. Yeah, and there are big protests taking place all over the country right now about abortion. and hundreds of other cities, protests going on. And that’s because, this is for historical perspective, ’cause somebody might be watching this five years from now, a document was leaked that the Supreme Court might overturn Roe versus Wade, which had made abortion illegal in the United States One point that I never hear raised in the discussion, but it seems to me would be a critical part of it if we could deal with the esoteric nature of it, is when does the soul enter the body? Like you were just talking about that guy that was trying to get into a body that was about to be born. Does it enter at conception, as some people claim that you’re a viable fetus at the moment of conception? Does it enter after, at the end of the first trimester? Or when? That would seem to have huge ramifications or implications for the ethical issues around abortion. If there’s no soul there, then isn’t it more like amputating some limb or something or whatever? What do you think about that?

Sharon: Well, I would say, first of all, that the evidence that I have seen points to there being many different possible entry points for the soul. So, and also that it’s not an all or nothing thing that the soul can kind of be lightly attached to the body. And like, sometimes it’s experiencing what the fetus is experiencing. And then sometimes it goes off into something more interesting, and then it comes back. And then more and more frequently as the fetus becomes more developed, it will stay, its consciousness will stay with the fetus more consistently. And some of that evidence comes from these pre-birth memories, for instance. So you’ve got some children who remember well, some of them actually who remember being aborted or miscarried. So they remember already being present with the consciousness of the fetus at that time. But then you have others who, I’m thinking of this one Indian case where this woman remembered seeing her parents at a market and like she remembered what clothes they were wearing and what they were doing. And this was about when her mom was pregnant and this was about when her mom was about four months pregnant with her. And she remembered like coming down like out of the cosmos, coming down, getting closer and closer to her parents and then entering her mom’s body and feeling like what it felt like to be inside of her womb. And that was four months along. So that’s a little ways along. But then there are other cases where it’s, you know, where these miscarriages or abortions have happened much earlier. And the consciousness is aware of that happening. And generally in these cases, they’re very accepting and matter of fact about the end of the pregnancy, whether it was intentional or not. In some cases, the soul actually initiates it. So yeah, so-

Rick: I interviewed a guy named Christian Sundberg who at around the age of 29, he ended up with this really clear recollection of his whole existence prior to birth and what inspired him to be born and how he entered his mother’s womb and all of a sudden thought, holy crap, this is much too confining. I can’t stand this, I want out. And with all of his might, he wished to leave. And sure enough, his mother had a miscarriage. And then he went back to where he had been and they said, big mistake, dude. I mean, that was a precious opportunity. You’re gonna have to go through some training before we let you have another chance. And so finally, after some time, he had another chance and then too, he wanted out, but he thought, all right, all right, I gotta go through with it this time. And that was the life that he’s now living. He kind of, he ended up getting born, but it was a fascinating interview.

Sharon: Yeah, well, in this case that I was thinking of, this young woman remembered being in the womb and hearing her parents arguing, arguing about whether to circumcise her. So at the time she was actually a male fetus and she was actually, the pregnancy was quite early on. So the parents couldn’t have known that she was a boy at that time, but the mom had had a dream or some sort of premonition and thought that it was a boy. And she started arguing with the father about whether they were gonna circumcise the child in a pretty violent argument. So the future daughter remembered this happening and she told her mom later when she was born as a girl that she had heard that and she knew that that disagreement was gonna cause her parents to divorce and that that would not allow her to do what she needed to do in this life. And so she chose to leave and come back as a girl later.

Rick: Yeah, I read that story in your book. I was wondering which one was arguing for the circumcision? Was that the father or the mother?

Sharon: I don’t know.

Rick: I know, it seems like a crazy idea anyway. One of those cultural things, you know, we wonder whether it has any basis in truth.

Sharon: Yeah, but she told her mom about it and her mom hadn’t even connected the miscarriage that happened with the argument, but she was able to confirm that the miscarriage actually happened the next day after that argument.

Rick: Interesting.

Sharon: Yeah. But I think it is really important for people to understand that, first of all, that, well, there’s variability about when the soul attaches to the body of the fetus, but also that if the pregnancy is interrupted, it doesn’t mean that the soul doesn’t get a chance. It doesn’t have the chance of that particular life, but it can come back to the same mother and father or to someone else. Sometimes children have memories of having previously been pregnancies of other relatives. And sometimes they’re upset that they didn’t get to be born to that other relative. They wanted to be, you know, their aunt and uncle’s child, but there’s another complicating factor. So, I mean, there’s always something big.

Rick: Go for it, what’s that?

Sharon: So, it actually seems like the consciousness of an individual person, we’re not one single consciousness. There’s a soul, but there’s also a separate consciousness that is like our body’s consciousness. A lot of near-death experiencers talk about this, how they, not a lot, but several, when they separate from their body, they can see the world from the perspective of their etheric body, but they can also see the world from the perspective of their physical body. And some people even have that experience without being near death, but they’re able to shift that. And so they have this dual nature of consciousness, one which is very bodily and related to the senses and one which is much more connected to the spirit realm. So, it may be the case that even if there is no soul attached to a fetus, there still is conscious life there that is going to end.

Rick: Yeah, I mean, obviously every little cell is a conscious entity.

Sharon: Right, right. So, and I mean, I’m not saying that that means, I’m not saying what that means one way or the other about abortion, because like we were talking about earlier, two, if you understand that consciousness and positive consciousness is the ultimate value in the universe, then death is not the worst thing that could happen. In some cases, well, in most cases, death is an important stage in the renewal of life. So, when a being has aged to a certain degree where they’re not able to, their body is starting to degrade, then death is a way for that energy to be recycled and to come back in a new form.

Rick: Yeah.

Sharon: So.

Rick: There’s a verse in the Bhagavad Gita again, where Lord Krishna is saying that the most important thing is that you do what is the most evolutionary thing that you’re designed to do in this life, which is summarized by the word dharma. And he said, better is death while doing one’s own dharma than trying to appropriate the dharma of another, which is not the evolutionary course for you.

Sharon: Yeah.

Rick: Yeah.

Sharon: Yeah, death is not the worst thing that can happen.

Rick: No, because it’s not a thing that can happen actually. Yeah, we’re just alluding to physical death, and many people think that’s the end of their existence, but there is no end to our existence. So, yeah. In fact, here’s a question that just came in, and I wanna entwine it with a question that I’ve been thinking about as you’ve been talking. You were an evangelical Christian, so you must know what they think. I don’t know myself, I’m gonna ask you what they think, how the soul originates. I mean, does a soul just kind of come into existence when a fetus comes into existence, and it never existed before that? And then you get born, you live a life, and then you go to heaven or hell for all eternity? Or what’s their cosmology about that?

Sharon: That does seem to be the predominant view within Christianity, is that the soul comes into existence in order to be part of that body. So, it didn’t have any pre-existence in heaven. It comes into being then. If the fetus dies before the child is born, then that soul never gets a chance at life. That soul, I mean, depending on what you think, could go to limbo, it could go to heaven, it could go to purgatory, I suppose, I don’t know. But so, yeah, it didn’t have a pre-existence. But there are, so I mean, the Church of Latter-day Saints does believe in pre-existence. They do think that we exist as souls. And a lot of the work that’s been done, the research that’s been done on children’s memories of pre-existence comes from Mormon researchers because they don’t have a problem taking seriously the things that kids say about this and compiling it. So, there are certain branches of Christianity or offshoots of Christianity that do take seriously pre-existence, but it’s definitely not the predominant view.

Rick: Okay, and here’s the question from, this is from Malcolm Engering in Toronto. When you talk about the soul, are you talking about a mind-body experience or an expression of the unlimited non-personal awareness that we experience as or believe to be an individual soul? So, this is just an opportunity to embellish a bit on our understanding of what a soul is.

Sharon: Yeah.

Rick: What do you think?

Sharon: Well, in our conversation, I was meaning to use it in the sense of that, that part of our consciousness that existed before we were in this body and will exist afterward. And it seems like it’s a piece of consciousness that has some individuality. It’s not, when you die, you don’t automatically merge back into God or the complete unity of the universe. You have some individual consciousness, even at that level. So, that’s how I was using the term soul.

Rick: But you can understand why Christians are so upset about abortion, if they think that you have one shot at life, you have never existed before. Here you are, you started your life on the day of conception and someone’s gonna take that away from you. And who knows what’s gonna happen to your soul after that. And so, yeah, you can see that would really freak them out.

Sharon: Yeah, yeah. The metaphysics definitely have consequences for, yeah, the ethics.

Rick: Which is why I think that, I mean, I don’t know if we can get a public discussion going about metaphysics like this, but we need one because that particular issue is never gonna be resolved until we actually have a more universal understanding of the way life and death work.

Sharon: Yeah, that’s very true.

Rick: Yeah, it’s just gonna be a pitched battle until there’s a kind of a deeper collective understanding.

Sharon: Yeah, and like I said, most of the people who have memories of having been aborted in a previous life are very understanding about it. Most of them understand, it wasn’t a good time for my mom or my family. So I just came back at a better time. There are a few cases where I’ve seen where people still, their souls seem to have a sense of hurt or trauma from that. They were, it was not part of the plan and the plan was disrupted in this way that does seem to have affected them and carried through into their memories of this life. So it’s not that it’s not a serious decision. Certainly abortion is a serious decision, but it’s also important to remember that that being does have a soul that is aware, that is capable of communicating with you at a non-physical level. If you’re somebody who’s considering an abortion and you can talk to it and you can try to explain your circumstances and why you’re considering the decision that you’re making and sort of ease them into it as well. So it isn’t as much of a shock and they don’t feel abandoned like you didn’t want them, but understand your reasons.

Rick: Yeah, it’s all very interesting. I think, I mean, on this particular issue, I think it would be good if people who are pro-abortion spent time reading and understanding the arguments of people who are anti and vice versa, you know? And generally the pro-abortion people don’t have the understanding that you and I are talking about here right now. They’re not getting into reincarnation and the eternality of the soul and such considerations. I think it might help them too if they did. In fact, the reason I interview people like you about topics like this is I just think that a deeper, more detailed, more nuanced understanding of the way life works will benefit anybody. It’ll just make your life much more fearless and confident and fulfilled and just beneficial in every way to have a deeper understanding of these mechanics and not to be going through life just kind of blind and thinking in the back of your mind that your death is approaching and it’s going to be the end of your existence or some such thing.

Sharon: Yeah, yeah, it kind of circles back to what we were talking about at the very beginning as the conversation about staying open to more possibilities because a lot of people view the world through a very narrow lens, the way that they were taught to growing up or the way their immediate community views it. And it can be really helpful, even if you don’t accept another viewpoint, just to consider it and say, well, it’s possible that that could be true or that this could be true. What if those things are true? I don’t have to be as fearful of these eventualities because it might turn out the death is not the end, that there’s something else there.

Rick: Yeah. Well, I think that as we move along, the kinds of ideas we’re discussing are moving more and more into the public domain. More and more people are thinking about them, more and more people are having spiritual experiences and pondering these kinds of things. So it’s a whole–

Sharon: Yeah, and being more open about them, discussing them.

Rick: Yeah. – Yeah. I mean, back in the 1950s, you had to be a member of the Theosophical Society or something to be interested in these kinds of things. And now they’re quite commonly, they’re all over YouTube and everybody’s talking about this stuff.

Sharon: Yeah. Yeah, the internet has been a real boon for connecting people. I mean, you know that better than anybody else.

Rick: Yeah. Couldn’t do this without it, certainly.

Sharon: Right.

Rick: In fact, even when I first started this, the technology was just sort of, ugh. (both laughing) A lot of difficulties and problems and it’s gotten a lot better over the last decade.

Sharon: And I think it’s so important to be able to hear people tell their stories in their own words because, I mean, I do a lot of research through the written word and that’s my medium of choice for expressing myself as well. But hearing people, near-death experiencers and people who’ve had amazing synchronicities and all sorts of visionary experiences, hearing them tell those stories in their own words and seeing them, seeing their face and their voice, it’s so inspiring. And so it just, it opens you to understand that they’re just somebody like you. They’re not some crazy person.

Rick: Yeah.

Sharon: They’re just like you or your neighbor or something and they’re just telling you about this thing that happened to you or to them. And we didn’t have that before the internet. I mean, you had a few people whose stories made it onto TV or into movies, but you didn’t have the access to that face-to-face storytelling that we have now and that you have helped make possible through your show.

Rick: Yeah, me and many others, Jeffrey Mishlove, for instance, and many others. All right, well, I’ve found this to be a really fulfilling and enlivening conversation that’s gotten a few more million neurons firing in my brain. (laughing) So, which is what I need, I think, Irene, just what I need.

Sharon: Yeah, I think I’m coming out of it with even more questions to think about, but I think that’s the right thing to come up with.

Rick: Well, write them down. Maybe we’ll do another one in a year or two. And when you’ve released some new book or something, we can just think about what we talked about today and come up with a whole new batch of topics so people could listen to two interviews consecutively and not hear a lot of repetition.

Sharon: Yeah.

Rick: Great, well, thanks, Sharon. Really appreciate it. And thanks to those who’ve been listening or watching. And next week, I’ll be interviewing a guy in Israel who’s into sort of Jewish mysticism and the Kabbalah stuff, which I haven’t really talked about, I don’t think, in any or certainly not many of my interviews. So that’ll be something new for me to learn more about, and hopefully you guys as well. So as I said in the beginning, if this interview, if Buddha at the Gas Pump is new to you and you’ve never seen any of these, you could go to the channel itself and subscribe to it. But if you go to the website,, things are organized a lot better than the YouTube channel itself. We have a categorical index page where everything’s broken down by topic. And there’s some other things that you’ll see useful if you explore the website. So thanks, Sharon.

Sharon: Thank you, Rick.

Rick: See you later.

Sharon: Bye-bye.

Rick: Bye.