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Hi, not sure if this is the right spot for this discussion, but I didn't want to put it in the 'religion' section, even though I think it is connected, even vital to religious beliefs, because I don't want it to turn into a slinging match in the pursuit of who is wrong and right.
I am a religious person, and would describe myself as a Messianic Jew, and I have been thinking a lot about consciousness, because I think it answers a lot of questions about religion/s.
My question is, has anyone here had any near death experiences, or been at someone's side as they died and experienced any near death phenomena?
If you are interested in this topic. I have embedded a great YouTube interview with a reputable medical practitioner who explains it far better than I can, and if this resonates with you, I would love to hear of your experiences after you watch the interview.
I have had three such experiences, and they affected me deeply.
See what you think.
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Eve, interestingly, I just read a fascinating book on this exact subject a couple of nights ago. It was so riveting I read it in one night. I didn't know about your post at the time, so i t was just a coincidence.
The book is titled, "Proof of Heaven - A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife", by Eben Alexander, M.D.
Before I get into the book, I should mention that, over the years, I have read a number of books on the subject, starting with the seminal book on the subject, "Life After Life", which I read as a teenager.
As an adult, I have read several others, including the best seller, "Embraced by the Light". Despite my obvious interest in the subject, as an adult I have been a bit of a skeptic, which is one reason I was intrigued by the premise of Alexander's book and decided to read it.
At the end of his prologue he states the following:
"...I am especially eager to tell my story to the people who might have heard stories similar to mine before and wanted to believe them, but had not been able to fully do so. It is to these people, more than any other, that I direct this book, and the message within it..."
This described me to the tee. He had me irretrievably hooked. Given my natural curiosity and insatiable thirst for knowledge and new experiences, there was no way I could resist reading this book.
Now on to the book, although I won't reveal too much, as I highly urge you to read it. I think this is exactly what you are looking for.
Dr. Alexander is a neurosurgeon who was a huge skeptic of NDEs (Near Death Experiences). He was convinced that, as a neurosurgeon, he understood the scientific intricacies that proved NDEs were not real experiences. He was also convinced that he knew the real scientific explanation for these experiences. That is, until he experienced one himself. The book describes his actual experience and how it completely changed his world view on science, life, religion...and the afterlife.
Now I am not going to say that his book has me COMPLETELY convinced, but I am a lot closer than I was before reading it, and the book has certainly changed my perception of the subject. It has raised a number of questions in me that I am compelled to seek answers for.
Foremost is the age old question:
Does human consciousness exist outside the body?
When I have the time, I want to research the neuroscience on this subject. I was debating starting a thread on the religious site, asking if anyone had any knowledge of neuroscience that sheds light on this question (kind of similar to Dr. Dip's thread, though).
This is a subject Alexander delves into in depth. The scientific community (himself included, before his experience), tends to believe that it doesn't, that it is all in our brain. This is quite an overwhelming implication, that all we are, everything we feel, our very essence, is simply a function of our brain.
Such a mind-expanding topic.
I hope I have provided some helpful information.
I came to the philosophy forum for a similar reason to the OP. I wanted to post something and not incite a religious war over it. Then I saw this thread and I thought my comment was quite closely related to the discussion of life after death. My contribution is not a weighty comment, nor is it an attack on religion (nor for that matter non-religion), it's just a part of an old video I happened to watch the other day, and as it often does, something the late Christopher Hitchens said made me chuckle. I'll paraphrase:
"What upsets us about death is not that the party is over. The thing that really irks us is that the party continues on, but we are no longer invited."
This really resonates with me. When I think about death, it's not the actual event itself that bothers me, or even the great unknown beyond -- I'm reasonably confident my suspicions are correct in that regard. It is, most illogically, the regret that I don't get to play any more, that I'm missing out on something.
Anyway, I just wanted to share what I thought was a humorous observation that might be applicable to all of us who go by the name human. No offence intended to anyone.
I don't know if this is a "near death experience" or just a dream experience. But either way, it was experienced in my conscious mind and , of a non material nature. It is an experience that has greatly effected my own life, and I have shared it in different places before.
The Life changing trip of a spiritual goof
I want to share an experience I had once in my sleep. A dream? Perhaps, but in this "experience " I was whisked away to SOMEWHERE.
As this happened, I was conscious of, and feeling enraptured by a phenomenally beautiful music. The best way my mind can explain it is as a blending of the beautiful deeper tones of large wooden windchimes mixed with the commonly thought of angelic celestial "aaaaaahh" sounds.
I sensed this feeling of travelling and an incredible kaleidoscope of lights. All the while, feeling a very loving, female, non condemning "presence" over my left shoulder (Or left ear, maybe).
Towards the end of this "trip", I was left with the impression that I was being shown my whole life in front of me, AND that I couldn't deny feeling a very condemning "spirit", for lack of a better word, upon my life. (I only remember the general impression that I was totally in agreement with, and felt it a totally fair judgement upon me.)
Now before I get to the "good part " of my experience, I'll back up a bit.
This was the year 2006, and upon awakening I still remember thinking , "Wow! What the heck did I just experience there?" It really stuck with me for several weeks and beyond, but what really irritates me now, is how I was such a spiritual screwup at the time of this, that many of the details, and even a very important detail, as I will share, of the most important part of the "trip", had eluded me, and still does.
The whole experience quite honestly, didn't really SEEM to effect me very much at the time . (This blows my mind today, looking back.) My only excuse might be that my wife and I had just built our "dream house " and I had been working at least 80 hrs a week for at least the last 2 years, and was very distracted by all of that.
I guess though, that I remember the parts of it that God wanted me to remember.
At the time of all this, I was a very "back slidden" Christian. (The road back has taken me several years.)
Politically and mentally I was a very different person than what I am today. I was very much "asleep" as truthseekers call It now, to the way the world really works.
I guess I believed all the lies that are perpetrated upon us, in the same way that it seems most people still do today. (very disheartening ).
I say all this to get back to my "experience".
While feeling very condemned by what seemed a review of my life and probably, I'm guessing, about to receive my judgement and "just rewards" ; I remember this VERY AUTHORITIVE presence interceding and proclaiming : "No ! No ! Your time is NOT done! You are to go back and teach people about ..." (now this is the part that irritates me the most for being a "spiritual goof " I'll call it.)
I cannot remember if it was "you are to go back and teach people about TRUTH" OR, "You are to go back and teach people about LOVE ". I have since come to think that maybe it was both, or maybe this is how God wanted me to remember it. This is what has really convinced me of my theory (nothing earthshattering) that Love and Truth and therefore God are all in essence, ONE.
Shortly after this incident (within 2 weeks ) I started experiencing severe atrial fibrilation and was hospitalized for it ; probably from swilling down way too much caffeine, and not getting enough sleep. This makes me think maybe my heart did stop in my sleep and maybe I HAD died, I don't know.
Say or think what you will of my experience, most dreams that I have ever had have been quickly forgotten. Not this one though. I know now too, from my studying of God's Word, that he often speaks to us through dreams. But whatever you want to call it, I feel that through God's Loving Grace I was given a second chance (Thank You Lord !!!).
I still don't know if my being a "truthseeker " is a result of God commanding me to do it, or if He was of course, just knowing my future. But it really matters not. I think this also goes a long way into explaining why I see almost everything and I mean dang near EVERYTHING as a spiritual battle between God and Satan ; and THIS is why I write many of the things that I do.
"What upsets us about death is not that the party is over. The thing that really irks us is that the party continues on, but we are no longer invited."
Craig, think how left out you might feel when you find out that what you thought was the party, was merely you being in the REAL party's "Green room", so to speak. And the lamentations that you will experience when you figure out that you ripped up the invitation for the REAL party , right in the face of the ONE giving the party ...merely because you didn't like what He was asking you to bring to the BIG PARTY.
Sorry, Craig . I couldn't resist. I guess you could say that I'm standing in that green room with you, trying to help you tape that invitation back together. ( A little stain from the Saviors Blood, would make it "good as NEW!" )
God DOES bless us ALL with the party in the green room.
Hi. it seems I have lots of reading to catch up on now and thank you, each one of you, for sharing on this topic. Alexander does sound like interesting reading, Bananafish.
And it certainly reads like you've had an NDE, or near death phenomena, or end of life phenomena, dj. And you don't have to be dying, or nearly dying, women in childbirth will attest to a different state of consciousness. Time goes out the window, I know the pain is a factor there, but it is still an altered state. I have a clear memory of hurling a bowl of cornflakes at my husband and swearing obscenities, but he said I didn't do any of it, and yet that is the memory I have of childbirth. And I couldn't agree more Craig, I don't think its good to go to war over thoughts on religion, politics, or any other subject. War is truly as useless as a once legged man in an arse kicking contest, no one wins in the long run.
Perhaps your experience is open ended for a reason, dj, there are lots off fruits of the spirit. They're marvellous for covering our warts and imperfections.
Love, trust, longsuffering, and all the other things we're hopeless at.
After my NDE, what can I say, it was so huge, I didn't look at anything the same way. I know grief is a factor, and shock, but it was realer than real. Technicolor and my hardwiring had shifted.
And when you talked about not forgetting that dream, that's really interesting because they're the ones that are just for you from another/linear/ what ever you want to label it, consciousness/realm/level. No one else can have them, or interpret them. Only time can really. Because we cannot share that consciousness, so any comments are very limited. But for me, they're definitely important dreams those ones. You can wake up in the middle of them, go to the loo/drink, fall back to sleep and start right where you left off as if you'd hit 'pause' on the remote. lol Shows how much they mean.
We're all influence by so many things, complex critters. But my feelings are...going on the evidence just in Peter Fenwick's lifetime, there is actually a lot we can know for sure about death and the dying process. And it isn't as scary as we're deceived into believing, and interestingly, the Victorians new so much more about it as they often faced it up close and personal because they had no frontline antibiotics and immunization. Plus, Poor health practices, etc. And they referred to NDE's and end of life phenomena as ' a late awakening'.
After my 3 incidents, I came to the conclusion, that most things are preordained, so go with the flow, all things to all men, type of thing. But, having said that, I am a Judaeo/Christian, always will be even if Methuselah came back with a winning lotto ticket for all the money in the World, I'd still be of that persuasion. Purely because it is my heritage and the traditional way we share cultural and religious festivities with our family and pass them onto our children and then their children. I think continuity is so important and we should respect it.
I am convinced though there are other entities and realms besides this one and sometimes we lob over into each others aisles. That there is consciousness separate from us and our brains filters that consciousness to create our aspect for our species, the essence of us and that happens in the electrical part of the brain. The consciousness the brain filters, and our genetics, are what defines us as individual and human.
Religions are culturally derived to answer the big questions we have and to give us guidelines for social and moral standards. Imbuing our life with meaning, morality and being authentic and present. Helping us to make sense of it all.
Everyone's religions and ideas are valid, but when I had my NDE, I realized there is another level that I am going to go to when I die, and I was happy to be going there and it was universal and full of light, and it was everywhere. I also just knew we were all the same, the species humanoid, if you like, are all going to that place in spite of what you've done or how much you believe, etc. Guilt might mean you have a harder time getting there and the death with guilt makes things harder to give up. (We love a good flagellation) But it isn't going to impact on your universality/ our entity. Perhaps we go into the heart of God that is full of love and grace and that's why no one is left behind. I don't know, the possibilities are endless, but there are definitely 'others' on 'other' planes -- of consciousness. Evidence of a parallel universe because there are just too many of us that have had these experiences to discount.
It always makes you feel a bit vulnerable to share stuff like this, but in some studies done by the Doc in the video, up to 35% of care workers in hospices for the dying saw some type of end of life phenomena. And a lot of NDE's are the same, the people see the same things, or close correlations and they aren't reading of a script or related to one another, or sharing the same time frame, or location. And these people come from every social background
An NDE does frame a mindset that you take into your future though, and because of the power of the experience, you become virtually unshakeable. That's been my experience, anyway. Everything for me now is fated, and we are all going to have the same fate sooner or later. It's amazing how liberating that is. :)
Have a good week, Eve.
Sam Harris, a neuroscientist, has had some quite interesting comments about NDEs and in particular about the claims of Alexander. You might find it interesting for an alternative POV, Bill:
Thank you, have a great week, Eve.
Hi, hope everyone's had a good week. This is another example of a near death experience, which for me is absolute proof of an afterlife that is so very close to each of us. There are thousands upon thousands of these accounts, and they supersede borders, race, religion, status, etc. So, if you have one to share, I'd love to hear about it, even though most people that do have them report the same thing, which adds even more credibility to them. But please, if you haven't had an NDE, or experienced end of life phenomena, don't wade into this just to be contentious.
For me personally, it is real proof of an afterlife and another realm close to our own. And like my Great-grandfather, and great uncles who experienced the First World War, said, 'there were no atheists in the trenches'. Eve.
"Please bear in mind that you have no right to dispute anything I say in this public discussion forum. Oh, and by the way, let me take a cheap shot. Don't bother responding." It seems you're not aware the best way to get someone to do something is to say they may not.
Your ancestors weren't very original, were they? Nor, like all those who feel a need to share that pithy saying as if it were fact, were they overly concerned with truth. My own father, who occupied trenches in Africa, the Pacific and the Middle East, found plenty of fellow atheists in them, but didn't find any sign of a divinity. However, he most certainly had more than one NDE... of the real variety, not an illusion conjured by the fight for survival of a dying brain. You don't have to have had an NDE to understand them, just a particularly vivid dream.
"The Gateway Valley was filled with many Earth-like and spiritual features: vibrant and dynamic plant life, with flowers and buds blossoming richly and no signs of death or decay, waterfalls into sparkling crystal pools, thousands of beings dancing below with great joy and festivity, all fueled by swooping golden orbs in the sky above, angelic choirs emanating chants and anthems that thundered through my awareness, and a lovely girl on a butterfly wing." - Eben Alexander.
Love the final touch - and no, it's not a parody, we're meant to believe it.
In other words, you haven't had an NDE. I didn't give you a thought when I wrote the above. You have too many tickets on yourself, lol But I'll pray for you because all that anger will do you no good, whoever you are. :)
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