Tuesday, May 05, 2009
Review of Bruce Moen's Exploring the Afterlife series Volume 4 - "Voyage to Curiosity's Father" published 2001
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"A bridge to higher learning or pitfall, your choice as ever"
by Carl Schroeder
I'm enjoying Bruce Moen's books out of order, which is not recommended for the newcomer. So maybe I'm not the best reviewer, but as someone who is also a self-styled explorer of non-physical realms I think I see Moen's strengths and weaknesses pretty clearly. His strengths are awesome. Though often sounding like just another jargony worshipful student of Robert Monroe and the new confessional tradition of out-of-body exploration that Monroe started (Moen's back-story of Curiosity seems totally patterned after Monroe's loosh parable), Moen the pragmatic engineer went ahead with his own meditative techniques and isn't afraid to be different. He doesn't just mimic the classic experiences (necessarily so, since like many people he couldn't trigger the full-blown astral body separation), he's self-confident without being arrogant, he's conversational and approachable with lots of friendly metaphors. He covers a lot of ground, and when he's right he's gloriously correct; chapters on Hells, Hollow Heavens, and spiritual hierarchies brim with priceless observations.
The weaknesses come from clearly pumping out these books in short order to jumpstart a new, however admirable, career. Moen converts his personal growth journals and interactions with friends (physical and non-physical) into long fluffy dialogues and book chapters, with no particular research, structure, or perspective beyond chronology and his Monroe Institute connections. This is in high contrast to an author like Kurt Leland whose non-physical exploration books are reader serving distillations of decades of his own experiences with channeling, dream interpretation, and exhaustive comparison with the classic source materials of the New Age (Seth), NDE/OBE, Tibetan, Egyptian, Theosophical, and other esoteric traditions.
Consequently, some of Moen's lengthy insights are far more basic than you might expect, such as that in "Voyage to Curiosity's Father" physical life is made of sequences of events which intersect other people's events, all guided by higher planning beings, so it helps to ask clearly for what you want. Yes, and?
Without studying symbolism or history (you'd think he'd enjoy reading his predecessor Swedenborg, the seminal engineer turned afterlife explorer after all), Moen with his intellectual insistence on fleshing out objective narratives to literally illustrate his every meditative insight can get downright pathological. By putting his words in the mouths of spirit teachers, Moen sets up authorities that he never questions. His fake it til you make approach to non-physical exploration (imagine it until you feel it) is fine as long as you keep evaluating and verifying. But while Moen espouses group meditating for verifications, most of what he tells was only in his head, and his biases for paternalism, Christianity, and moral simplicity remain unexamined. Moen is clearly a sensitive guy, but does he ever wonder what happened to Curiosity's mother?
Self-satisfied on higher bliss levels but without Goddess empathy to align his thinking, Moen's rush to non-judgment leads to detestable implications such as that (1) reformed mass murderers make the best angels, (2) souls sometimes create serial killers on purpose just to collect the experience, (3) sadists who laugh at their dying victims get more love from the universe because laughter opens everyone to self-acceptance, and (4) even God for a long time didn't know that love was any better than hate for creating children. Huh? Not my angels, not my soul, not my universe, not my God, no thank you. (see footnotes for details)
Obviously there remain worlds of subjective motivation, belief, and self-reflection that Moen skipped to reach full speed ahead the first attainable top-level conclusions (male ego impatience, certainly). Just don't expect his to be the last books you'll ever need, and you'll enjoy Moen's confessions to a mystical lifestyle, warts and all. Seriously, there's so much to Bruce Moen to appreciate, I've only outlined the rare flaws as I struggled with them so you can step around more gracefully.
But if you do get impatient, try skipping to Moen's "Afterlife Knowledge Guidebook" where, in the next phase of his budding career, he took the time to better organize and summarize his experiences along with those of his new students. That final book from Moen can then serve as good preparation for Kurt Leland's first afterlife book "Otherwhere", which after all these years still remains ahead of the curve in teaching a total wisdom of dreams, altered states, and higher realities. After that, try Leland's "Unanswered Question", and his forthcoming "Multidimensional Human".
(1) "hard cases" who leave Hells are "worth their weight in gold". Never mind that the jargon "hard case" is referring to the worst of humanity, let’s assume total forgivability and redemption. Why would ex-Hitlers be so valuable, assuming that’s what the gold metaphor means? Moen is told it’s because the bad-ass angels know their way around Hells so well, enabling them to reach others. Now, I think if a sinner prefers a comparable sinner to save them, that’s fine, then they’re available. But you don’t have to do something to understand it, and God/Goddess/All-That-Is can see and guide everyone through any hell, because by definition a piece of the divine is suffering in there along with any sinner. Understand, this is not religious talk, and Moen knows it though he could acknowledge his culture more. Hells are basically dream states, as real as the reality we are in now, places where criminals and bad people gather in groups of similars. Swedenborg described Hells extensively, in the tradition of Dante and others, plus Swedenborg had a sophisticated multi-level understanding of symbols which he called the correspondances, and this Moen could learn from.
(2) Moen gets to this point by describing with some horror what others like Leland have seen, which is a lowest pit of any Hell into which the worst acting people are cast and destroyed forever. Don’t worry, if you’re contemplating these words at all then you’re not going there, you’d have to be a totally stubborn monster of a person to get eternal damnation (there are uptight Hollow Heavens for people who worry about Hell more than do Hell, so you can go there if you like). The whole pit of Hell thing could be said less provocatively: there are lowest levels of lifeforce which are reached by acting against the harmony of the universe, and at the bottom you hit your own non-existence, returning to the background raw material of consciousness. What a difference a little jargon can make! Anyway, Moen calls the losers the lost souls. Later he hears that one’s Disk – and your Disk is the soul family of all your lifetimes, although oddly Moen doesn’t say much about reincarnation, but at least he doesn’t disown it like Swedenborg - one’s Disk can send out lost souls on purpose, just to get the experience. Moen says cooly it’s no big deal, just like Earth sending a probe to explore Venus and send back data as it burns up in the atmosphere. What!? A lost soul is by definition a Hitler type, so Moen’s saying there are souls – high spiritual beings – who make Hitlers on purpose. Did you think this one through at all Bruce? I believe that each consciousness gets choices which the soul respects profoundly, but souls don’t plan to destroy lives and wreak havoc and pain on the universe with evil personalities. Souls are injured and mourn and need forgiveness when this happens.
(3) This disturbing conclusion about humor is pretty literal. Moen was told that all laughter is self-acceptance which lets in a burst of Pure Unconditional Love, that being the food of the universe. Moen saw the moral dilemma of politically incorrect jokes, and his guide said that it’s wonderful to accept a self who finds cruelty funny. So it’s not a stretch is to say that killers who laugh as they torture (and there are people who do this, on more than one level) will be supported and loved by the universe to live longer healthier lives, so they can keep on doing what they do. I say what’s missing here, Moen is totally not getting the direction and importance of intention, to be positive or negative. Laughing is some kind of energy yes, and intention can apply any energy toward a harmonic building with the universe, or a plundering and destroying of the universe, of which they are a part. Negativity laughing may give itself a boost, but only from its own depleting reserves, because it is disconnected from the universe and destroying its life.
(4) Moen’s fourth book culminates in his personal creation myth for God, but he doesn’t present it as anything less than the highest truth. To suggest there was a time when God was totally ignorant and callous is fine I would suppose, as long as you own the conception. God grows and changes, but always as God, serving the God function. Of course God has always known the difference between love and hate, and always created with love (love is the only energy which really creates anyway). What evolves are Mankind’s conceptions of God, in ways that are very telling of the storyteller. Kant (interestingly a great critic of Swedenborg) said we don’t see the world as it is, but as we are. Moen has implied throughout the book that he came from some rough experiences. His creation myth sounds like the kernel of himself that learned to unfold and grow as a consciousness of God. Too bad Moen couldn’t psychoanalyse himself more, it’s not a reader exercise but it would be instructive to watch.
POSTSCRIPT: following excerpted from email with Kurt Leland
> KURT: I think both Moen and you are struggling to figure out the question of good and evil.
I agree that good/evil philosophy seems to be a major step for spiritual growth (it's a cornerstone of most religions), and the answers looks different at different levels. Moen actually talks about his journeying partner asking the same questions as he did of their guides but got more horror images and was very upset by Moen's pat answers. In the book Moen tries to smooth over the differences between their reports but i think they're very significant. She's a woman and had more dream-like symbolic imagery that seemed at the astral level, while Moen was being this effficient impersonal intellectual at the mental level.
I've always chafed at Moen's kind of impersonal mental conceptualizing, it seems to be liberating for some people but to me it implies the uncaringness of God and soul. Yes the soul has superhuman priorities that can lead one into hard lessons (such as attraction to difficult karmic relationships) but this comes from caring more not less. I suppose the bigger long-term picture that I see, of consequences for evolution and love and such, makes sense as being causal level. I got a lot of my perspective from Lazaris back in late 80's early 90's, so I think he set me on the right track early thankfully. I don't actually struggle with the question of good and evil much personally, more just that I react with strong opinions to people like Moen with whom I disagree. Moen felt worth debating, I usually just walk away from popular limiting beliefs. My movie review site is full of hitting those points again and again while discussing stereotype plots (part of the reason that site's in hiatus).