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Observations placeholder

Leibniz - The Monadology - 02



Type of Spiritual Experience


As the functions in the monads execute, they leave a sort of log of events just like a computer system does.  The log incorporates all the functions involved in the complete transaction.  This is what we know of as perceptions and perceptions are produced by all aggregates [more correctly instances of aggregates].

The implication of this is that every aggregate has its own Higher spirit, which acts as the governing force of the monad/aggregate, the transaction co-ordinator.  Furthermore every aggregate has Will and desire.  It also has perception and perceptions.

It may be that our Model of the Mind applies in part to every aggregate, this is partly implied by Leibniz’s statements.

Where the Soul differs from this form of universal mind, however, is that the Soul has memory

A description of the experience


THE MONADOLOGY - by Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz  - translated by Robert Latta

14. The passing condition, which involves and represents a multiplicity in the unit [unite] or in the simple substance, is nothing but what is called Perception, which is to be distinguished from Apperception or Consciousness, as will afterwards appear. In this matter the Cartesian view is extremely defective, for it treats as non-existent those perceptions of which we are not consciously aware. This has also led them to believe that minds [esprits] alone are Monads, and that there are no souls of animals nor other Entelechies. Thus, like the crowd, they have failed to distinguish between a prolonged unconsciousness and absolute death, which has made them fall again into the Scholastic prejudice of souls entirely separate [from bodies], and has even confirmed ill-balanced minds in the opinion that souls are mortal.

15. The activity of the internal principle which produces change or passage from one perception to another may be called Appetition [Will plus desire]. It is true that desire [l'appetit] cannot always fully attain to the whole perception at which it aims, but it always obtains some of it and attains to new perceptions.

16. We have in ourselves experience of a multiplicity in simple substance, when we find that the least thought of which we are conscious involves variety in its object. Thus all those who admit that the soul is a simple substance should admit this multiplicity in the Monad; and M. Bayle ought not to have found any difficulty in this, as he has done in his Dictionary, article 'Rorarius.'

17. Moreover, it must be confessed that perception and that which depends upon it are inexplicable on mechanical grounds, that is to say, by means of figures and motions. And supposing there were a machine, so constructed as to think, feel, and have perception, it might be conceived as increased in size, while keeping the same proportions, so that one might go into it as into a mill. That being so, we should, on examining its interior, find only parts which work one upon another, and never anything by which to explain a perception. Thus it is in a simple substance, and not in a compound or in a machine, that perception must be sought for. Further, nothing but this (namely, perceptions and their changes) can be found in a simple substance. It is also in this alone that all the internal activities of simple substances can consist. (Theod. Pref. [E. 474; G. vi. 37].)

18. All simple substances or created Monads might be called Entelechies, for they have in them a certain perfection (echousi to enteles); they have a certain self-sufficiency (autarkeia) which makes them the sources of their internal activities and, so to speak, incorporeal automata. (Theod. 87.)

19. If we are to give the name of Soul to everything which has perceptions and desires [appetits] in the general sense which I have explained, then all simple substances or created Monads might be called souls; but as feeling [le sentiment] is something more than a bare perception, I think it right that the general name of Monads or Entelechies should suffice for simple substances which have perception only, and that the name of Souls should be given only to those in which perception is more distinct, and is accompanied by memory.

20. For we experience in ourselves a condition in which we remember nothing and have no distinguishable perception; as when we fall into a swoon or when we are overcome with a profound dreamless sleep. In this state the soul does not perceptibly differ from a bare Monad; but as this state is not lasting, and the soul comes out of it, the soul is something more than a bare Monad. (Theod. 64.)

21. And it does not follow that in this state the simple substance is without any perception. That, indeed, cannot be, for the reasons already given; for it cannot perish, and it cannot continue to exist without being affected in some way, and this affection is nothing but its perception. But when there is a great multitude of little perceptions, in which there is nothing distinct, one is stunned; as when one turns continuously round in the same way several times in succession, whence comes a giddiness which may make us swoon, and which keeps us from distinguishing anything. Death can for a time put animals into this condition.

22. And as every present state of a simple substance is naturally a consequence of its preceding state, in such a way that its present is big with its future; (Theod. 350.)

23. And as, on waking from stupor, we are conscious of our perceptions, we must have had perceptions immediately before we awoke, although we were not at all conscious of them; for one perception can in a natural way come only from another perception, as a motion can in a natural way come only from a motion. (Theod. 401-403.)

24. It thus appears that if we had in our perceptions nothing marked and, so to speak, striking and highly-flavoured, we should always be in a state of stupor. And this is the state in which the bare Monads are.

The source of the experience

Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm von

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