Jul 6, 2007

Oh Look, More Crazy Scientists!

In more recent posts, we've started to leave quantum physics and Buddhism behind (yes, Quek, I still owe you one more post on your Buddhist question - I will get around to that), and venture into neuroscience. See my post - "The RAS at Work".

Today we'll continue our interesting adventure by investigating some interesting theories thrown up by neuroscientists and neuro-psychiatrists:

"Thu 11 Sep 2003
Study into near-death experiences supports theory of a 'sixth sense'
RICHARD SADLER

BRITISH scientists say there is convincing evidence that a significant proportion of the population possess psychic powers.

The British Association for the Advancement of Science was told an increasing number of experiments support the theory of a human "sixth sense" - an ability which may have its roots in our past, when the ability to sense the presence of a predator was a matter of life or death.

The view that people are capable of paranormal feats, such as premonitions, telepathy, and out-of-body experiences, is supported by new research by the Institute of Psychiatry, which suggests the human mind may exist outside the body like an invisible magnetic field.

The research is being led by Dr Peter Fenwick, a neuro-psychiatrist at London University, who has just completed a survey of heart patients claiming to have had "near-death experiences" after their hearts had stopped beating.

"There is now convincing evidence to challenge the current theory that consciousness can only exist inside the brain - and if you can have consciousness without associated brain function, that is enormously important for our understanding of the mind," he said.

For his latest research, 60 patients at Southampton General Hospital’s coronary care unit were interviewed after heart attacks had left them temporarily brain-dead. Seven reported near-death experiences - defined by characteristic features such as a feeling of leaving your body, going through a tunnel and entering an area of "love, bliss and consciousness".

"The significance of this is that after a cardiac arrest you lose consciousness within eight seconds; within 11 seconds the brain’s rhythms become flat, and within 18 seconds there is no possibility of the brain creating a model of the world - so the brain is down," said Dr Fenwick.

"Yet whenever we asked people when their near-death experiences occurred, they said it was during unconsciousness. If that’s true, their experience was occurring when there was no blood flowing through the brain - and consciousness would appear to exist outside the brain." ...

For the full article, click here.

A quick point about near-death experiences. They're pretty interesting. Apparently they are also getting easier and easier to research. That's because ever since the development of cardiac resuscitation techniques in modern times, many more people have been successfully saved in medical emergencies and have come back with accounts of what happened "on the other side".

The really interesting point raised by Dr Peter Fenwick is the possibility that consciousness can exist outside, or without, the brain. If this is true, then ..... heheh, well, I can see lots of intriguing possibilities that could follow (disembodied consciousness? Something like souls? ghosts? telepathy? God without a physical body? Voices in your head?). But why should I invite a new lynch mob of angry readers. Perhaps it's better to provoke them into drawing their own conclusions.

I shall only add that completely different kinds of scientific research and experiments have been done, to investigate the possible effects of a person's consciousness (or thoughts) on physical phenomena situated in an entirely different location. I see such research as somewhat related to Fenwick's (if consciousness doesn't need a physical brain, where might it travel to, on its own, and what might it do there ...?).

In the near future, I will discuss one such interesting experiment. It was done by a Stanford professor emeritus and physicist, and the results suggest that consciousness can not only affect physical phenomena (in this case, the rate of development of fruit fly larvae), but can affect it over long distances (in other words, the person thinking thoughts about the fruit fly eggs need not even be in their physical proximity).

Stay tuned, for more TAR adventures with Mr Wang!

31 comments:

LuckySingaporean said...

Mr. Wang,

A near death experience is merely a hallucination cause by the brain shutting down. It is not due to your conscience existing outside your body.

I occurs in pilots undergoing high-G training.

Video here : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=714AS39CQ_I

Mr Wang Says So said...

You may be right.

Fenwick's point however is that in the cases he studied, the consciousness seems to have continued to exist,

AFTER the brain has already shut down.

In other words, his theory is that consciousness does not appear to depend on the brain continuing to function.

Anonymous said...

Found this interesting article on near death experience.

http://www.kheper.net/topics/bardo/tibetan.html

AnEngineer said...

I am curious what "brain shutting down" really means. Does it mean that there is no more blood (hence oxygen) reaching the brains? The cells do not die instantly due to lack of oxygen, or else there would not be any near-death experiences to speak of when the victims recover. If the brain cells are not dead, what are they doing during the time that they are in hypo-perfusion mode? They could be creating all these hallucinations that are later explained as "out-of-body consciousness".

Amon said...

Hey, is there a scientific experiment on an incubus kinda thingy? I am curious. Seems like those out of body experiences can be extended further leh. What say you pple?

Anonymous said...

Well, your post has certainly got me thinking...

...that if according to the article, it is true that NDEs represent a capability to be conscious outside the body. Then consciousness is not a material or physical phenomenon.

If so, then it is not the brain processes that create consciousness in the physical world. Rather, it is our consciousness that creates the physical world that each of us perceives.

Which brings us back to the premise you've been exploring in earlier posts : our thoughts create our reality.

Also, if there is a real capability to be conscious outside our physical bodies, then is there some form of existence after death?

Wah, make me think so hard so early on a Saturday morning!

Misome.

Lim Leng Hiong said...

Hi Mr. Wang,

*Huffing*

Wait up... you just ran from karma to limb regeneration to quantum mechanics to pygmalion effect to imagined muscle training to non-locality to RAS and now to near-death experiences...

I *huff* can't catch up...

"There is now convincing evidence to challenge the current theory that consciousness can only exist inside the brain - and if you can have consciousness without associated brain function, that is enormously important for our understanding of the mind," he said.

Ok so the patients were conscious when their EEGs went flatline.

"Yet whenever we asked people when their near-death experiences occurred, they said it was during unconsciousness. If that’s true, their experience was occurring when there was no blood flowing through the brain - and consciousness would appear to exist outside the brain." ...

So the patients were unconscious when their EEGs went flatline.

Huh???

You say:

Fenwick's point however is that in the cases he studied, the consciousness seems to have continued to exist,

AFTER the brain has already shut down.


The brain is still alive 18 seconds after hypoperfusion. Permanent brain damage occurs in around 4 minutes, so the brain has not "shut down" yet. The patients have no measurable EEG but are still very much alive. They are on this "side" of living.

The most parsimonious explanation is that the patients incorrectly timed their near-death experience. It could have occurred during the winding down phase or warming up phase. After all, you can't ask an unconscious person what he/she is experiencing during EEG flatline, it's always after.

When I sleep at night for 8 hours it doesn't feel like 8 hours (more like 1-2 hours if I dream) even though I have normal blood flow through the brain. Imagine how the perception of time will feel like for a patient who has no blood flow through the brain.

A mistiming of 18 seconds is an tiny mistake by comparison.

Mr Wang Says So said...

I have read quite a lot about NDEs, but I'll just reserve myself to a few brief comments here.

There have been some fairly dramatic accounts of NDE experiences whereby the person reports "floating" out of his body and then proceeding to witness what was happening at the accident scene / hospital emergency room.

In other words, although the person was supposedly "unconscious", he is later able to describe what happened at the scene; who was in the room; who came in; who went on; who said what; who was wearing what clothes; who did what to his unconscious body, and so on.

And this description turns out all to be in accordance with what actually happened.

---

The next phase of Fenwick's research is that when these heart patients collapse into "unconsciousness", they will be rushed to, and treated, in a hospital room decoated with large, distinct pictures and symbols on the walls.

After treatment (assuming they survive), they will be wheeled out of the room to another ward. Later, if any of them reports having an NDE, they will be asked if they can recall anything about the room in which they were treated.

So, if he then says: "Ah yes. It was a very strange-looking hospital room which was decorated with strange symbols and pictures on the walls. They looked like this .... [gives accurate description]."

... well, then, you know the implications.

I must be stupid said...

Firstly, i would like to point out that after one experiences a NDE, that person is ultimately revived. Otherwise it's death and not near-death. This means that the brain is not irreversibily damaged

Secondly, cardiac arrest does not mean cessation of the rest of the body's function. It merely implies that the heart's function is compromised. Neurons, the same cells that form nerves can continue to function even after physiological death, as demonstrated by an experiment in which electrical stimulation of the nerve of a dead frog's leg result is contraction of the frog's muscle.

Thirdy, the inability to detect brain waves does not mean that the brain has been shut down completely. At most one can conclude that the electrical activity in the brain has diminished. After all, the brain is still in the patient's skull!!!! It's not as if the scientist can directly measure the electrical activity of the brain of the patient directly.

Therefore, i have no idea why those scientist came to the conclusion that consciousness may exist outside the body. Perhaps they know something more that is not mentioned in the article

Henry Leong said...

It seem like those who had done lots of good causes died, like having a wonderful dream.

LOL said...

Mr Wang, your own article is peppered with words like "may have", "suggests", "claiming", "if that's true", "apparently", "if this is true".

Too many weak links in your argument.

Imagine convicting a thief based not on evidence, but on conjecture: "he could have been there", "he might have done it", "if he is in debt", "possible that he needed money", "apparently he has a gambling addiction" etc.

LOL!

Mr Wang Says So said...

Well, certainly I can't say:

"the Fenwick research proves conclusively that consciousness exists outside the brain."

Fenwick himself wouldn't say that, which is why he is continuing to do research.

Mr Wang Says So said...

"Perhaps they know something more that is not mentioned in the article"

Yup, that is correct. And Fenwick's research as a whole covers a lot more than heart patients and NDEs.

I must be stupid said...

"Yup, that is correct. And Fenwick's research as a whole covers a lot more than heart patients and NDEs."

Perhaps, but the study on the heart patients in no way suggest that consciousness reside outside the brain for the reasons i've mentioned previously.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Here, Fenwick in his own words, for those who are interested. Warning: it's a very long speech. I'll just offer two short excerpts:

"So, now we come to the really important question: what happens when an NDE occurs during a cardiac arrest, and why is this important?

The first point is that signs of cardiac arrest are the same as clinical death. There is no detectable cardiac output, no respiratory effort, and brainstem reflexes are absent. If you are in this state and I put a tube down your throat, you will not cough. You will have dilated pupils. Your blood pressure has fallen to zero. You are, in fact, clinically dead. Even if I start cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), I cannot get your blood pressure any higher than 30 millimetres of mercury, and this is not going to produce an adequate blood flow to your brain.

A number of studies show that the longer CPR is continued, the more brain damage occurs. So it is not an ideal intervention. We know that after a cardiac arrest, both NDErs and non-NDErs suffer brain damage, but we do not know whether the amount of brain damage in the two groups is the same or different. During CPR, you are not going to be able to perfuse – that is, force an adequate amount of blood through – the brain. When the heart does finally start, the blood pressure rises, and there is a slow resumption of circulation and lots of technical reasons why your brain function does not return instantly. And the point to remember is that your mental state during recovery is confusional.

What should be clear to you now is that it is not a good thing to have a heart attack. In their 1999 study of cardiac arrest and brain damage, Graham Nichol and his colleagues found that out of 1,748 cardiac arrests patients, only 126 survived (Nichol, Stiell, Hebert, Wells, Vandemheen, and Laupacis, 1999). Most units range between 2 and 20 percent resuscitation rates. Eighty-six of Nichol’s survivors were interviewed, and most of the people who were resuscitated had evidence of brain damage.

Simultaneous recording of heart rate and brain output show that within 11 seconds of the heart stopping, the brainwaves go flat. Now, if you read the literature on this, some sceptical people claim that in this state there is still brain activity, but, in fact, the data are against this in both animals and humans. The brain is not functioning, and you are not going to get your electrical activity back again until the heart restarts.

The flat electroencephalogram (EEG), indicating no brain activity during cardiac arrest, and the high incidence of brain damage afterwards both point to the conclusion that the unconsciousness in cardiac arrest is total. You cannot argue that there are ‘‘bits’’ of the brain that are functioning; there are not. There is a confusional onset and offset, and there is no brain-based memory functioning. Everything that constructs our world for us is, in fact, ‘‘down.’’ There is no possibility of the brain creating any images. Memory is not functioning during this time, so it should be impossible to have clearly structured and lucid experiences, and because of brain damage, memory should be significantly impaired, and you should not be able to remember any experiences which occurred during that time. Now, that raises interesting and difficult questions for us, because the NDErs say that their experiences occur during unconsciousness, and science maintains that this is not possible

Figure 1
Changes in consciousness during cardiac arrest.



Figure 1 is an illustration I have drawn that I hope is helpful. The height of the line above the x axis shows the intensity of consciousness, and the squiggly line represents the level of consciousness. When the heart stops, the line starts to dip, and consciousness is lost. So you are going along conscious, your heart stops, and there is a very quick descent into unconsciousness. Those of you who have ever fainted will agree that when you faint you lose consciousness very quickly. So you lose consciousness, then you are unconscious, and then the heart restarts, so science says the NDE cannot occur while you are in a state of unconsciousness; that is the pink area in the diagram. Now, as you slowly regain consciousness, the slow recovery is all confusional, so the NDE cannot occur there.

So then, as far as science is concerned, the NDE cannot occur at the point the heart stops, it cannot occur at any point during the period of unconsciousness, and it is unlikely to occur at the point of confusional arousal, because it is not typical of that level of consciousness; and if it occurred after recovery, the NDErs would say it occurred after recovery, because they know they have recovered. So there are real difficulties in accepting that the NDE happens when the NDErs say it happens: during unconsciousness. So are you beginning to feel the significance of the timing of the NDE both for neuroscience as well as for our understanding of the NDE?


Second excerpt:

Responses to Selected Questions From the Audience
Question: Is there a difference between hallucinations and NDEs?
Dr. Fenwick: People tend to forget their hallucinations, whereas NDEs remain absolutely clear. If you ask people about the nature of their experiences while they are in the intensive care unit, you find they have a totally different flavour from NDEs. They have hallucinations, many of which are illusions based on what is going on in the intensive care unit, and they are usually strongly paranoid. For example, one patient felt that everybody in the unit was against her, that devils were poking her, and that she was being roasted. As she slowly came to consciousness, she realized that the roasting was being on the hot warming pad on the bed, and the devils were the nurses giving her intravenous fluids and injecting her. Now experiences like those do not have the clarity; they do not have the narrative quality; they do not certainly have the positive emotional valence of the typical near-death experience. So I think, at long last, we are beginning to be able to draw a distinction between hallucinations due to altered brain chemistry and the near-death experience. I think they are different.

allenupl said...

The best source I know of about NDEs is the website of the International Association for Near-Death Studies at www.iands.org. In particular, check under the Research tab for "Research Articles" for a talk given by Dr. Peter Fenwick which outlines his research - and those of others - quite clearly. The article by Dr. Pim Van Lommel goes into more detail about consciousness.

Many medical professionals who have seriously studied the research – and it is extensive – no longer dismiss this phenomenon as hallucinations, intense dreams, or caused by physiological or pharmacological factors. The best analysis of the many physiological theories regarding NDEs is on a DVD that has a presentation by Dr. Bruce Greyson (from the University of Virginia Medical School) titled “T3-Explanatory Models of NDEs.” It can be obtained from the website above by clicking the link on the home page for DVDs from a 2006 conference at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center.
Allen

Jimmy Mun said...

Something interestingly creepy about NDEs I just read from slashdot via reddit:

"I had a friend and former roommate who was in an apartment fire. He was sleeping in bed when his cat woke him up by clawing at his face. He startled awake and saw that the ceiling was covered in flames. He escaped, certain that he was moments away from death.

Luckily he made it out alive. But he suffered severe PTSD for a few years afterwards. He would just be walking to the grocery store and be suddenly struck with the terrifying reality that he wasn't walking to the store at all -- this was the final hallucination of his mind moments before he perished in the apartment fire. Instead of his past flashing before his eyes, this was his mind's final, desperate attempt to comfort itself, by creating a reality where he lived out the rest of his life.

I try not to think about it because it's creepy. If I really start to think about it I get terrified."

Did you have an NDE? Maybe you didnt "come back". Everything you read here, could be hallucinations generated by your dying brain...

Mr Wang Says So said...

That wouldn't be an NDE. If you read the NDE researchers' work, they have created some kind of list of NDE indicators. The more of these indicators your experience satisfies, the more likely that you genuinely had an NDE (as opposed to a hallucination or other type of mental process).

Some examples of NDE indicators:

1. perceiving yourself to be in a tunnel (with a light at the end of the tunnel)

2. memories of your entire lifetime emerging rapidly (that is where the phrase "my entire life flashed before my eyes" came from)

3. feelings of love, kindness, compassion etc emanating from the "light at the end of the tunnel"

4. sensation of detaching from the physical body

5. seeing long-deceased relatives, old friends who are in a friendly, welcoming mood

Jimmy, what you described, however, is .... something else. Which maybe I'll blog about in future,

Henry Leong said...

A person who done lots of good causes, he or she will died peacefully,like having a sweet dream, he/she will be reborn very soon, in a family that he choose and become the type of great person that he wish.

Lim Leng Hiong said...

So then, as far as science is concerned, the NDE cannot occur at the point the heart stops, it cannot occur at any point during the period of unconsciousness, and it is unlikely to occur at the point of confusional arousal, because it is not typical of that level of consciousness; and if it occurred after recovery, the NDErs would say it occurred after recovery, because they know they have recovered. So there are real difficulties in accepting that the NDE happens when the NDErs say it happens: during unconsciousness. So are you beginning to feel the significance of the timing of the NDE both for neuroscience as well as for our understanding of the NDE?

Wow, I saw the timing issue immediately, and I haven't even read this article at that time. Guess I've got good science "legs".

Well it's "unlikely" to happen during the confusional arousal, but still possible. The patients could have tried to make sense of the confusing experience by making the story simpler.

Even if the NDE did occur during the unconscious state, the lack of subjective continuity with normal consciousness is a problem.

What I mean is this sequence of events: patient heart stops - blacks out - has NDE - blacks out - enters confusional arousal - recovers.

Two interruptions.

It gives us a clue that the NDE is not the same "type" of consciousness as the regular type of consciousness we experience in our waking hours.

This could be a comforting or scary thought, depending on your beliefs.

Will the NDE fade as the brain becomes more damaged? Will the patient ever emerge from the other side of the tunnel? Or *gasp* will he be stuck in the tunnel forever (since the brain can no longer keep time) without any hot babes for company, no beer and worse - no chocolates?

Something interestingly creepy about NDEs I just read from slashdot via reddit...

...Instead of his past flashing before his eyes, this was his mind's final, desperate attempt to comfort itself, by creating a reality where he lived out the rest of his life.


That is some seriously spooky stuff Jimmy, and it is especially interesting to me.

You see, I have lucid dreams. Not often, but often enough that I recorded them in a little book by my bed.

Sometimes, when I am in a lucid dream, I cannot tell if I am dreaming because everything looks real. So I use a test to check the consistency of the "dream reality". If physical things seem illusory, and I have special powers such that my mind can directly affect reality, then I know I am dreaming. Then I can run off and fly, break neon signs with my mind, and shrink whole buildings.

I know as I am typing this that I am not having a lucid dream now, because try as hard as I might I cannot make my computer disappear.

Mr. Wang you should try this test too, you may find it helpful.

That wouldn't be an NDE. If you read the NDE researchers' work, they have created some kind of list of NDE indicators. The more of these indicators your experience satisfies, the more likely that you genuinely had an NDE (as opposed to a hallucination or other type of mental process)...

...Jimmy, what you described, however, is .... something else. Which maybe I'll blog about in future,


So sure you are? I recall watching a documentary where some patients experienced frightening NDEs that changed their outlook on life.

Maybe all the positive NDEs are NDEs and the negative ones are hallucinations.

No need for further scientific investigations - I just settled the issue right here only with the power of my mind!

And my fingers.

And a notebook computer.

And the Internet.

And... [/Monty Python reference]

James said...

How can such tenuous evidence be used to prove the existence of a mind divorced from one's brain? How do you now these NDEs are not mere hallucinations?

For such accounts to be convincing, you need to provide real proof that the patient was conscious while his brain was inactive. For example, an experimenter can write out a word on a piece of cardboard while the patient's brain is down and place the cardboard somewhere near the patient's body. Then, he should remove the cardboard before the patient regains his brainwaves. If the patient's disembodied mind was really floating above the hospital bed while his brain was not working, then he should be able to say what word was written on the cardboard.

Mr Wang Says So said...

I think Fenwick's point is that (1) hallucinations should not be possible if electrical activity in the brain has ceased, and (2) even if they were possible, the patient, at best, should be able to give a confused, incoherent description of the hallucination (because memory should have been badly affected).

The unusual thing about NDEs are that NDErs' accounts are very lucid and very clear. NDEs have a clarity far beyond your average dream (where you wake up in the morning, remember parts of the dreams, and soon forget everythoing) and behind your average hallucination.

In your average hallucination, for example, the person will not think to himself, "Hey, this is very strange. How come I am in such a strange place, and gosh, isn't that my long-deceased grandmother standing over there waving at me? That's impossible!".

In your average NDE, the person does possess clarity and logic to analyse his circumstances in such a manner. It's a kind of clarity and logic which is thoroughly inconsistent with the fact that the brain has shut down and there is zero electrical activity being recorded.

"For example, an experimenter can write out a word on a piece of cardboard while the patient's brain is down and place the cardboard somewhere near the patient's body. Then, he should remove the cardboard before the patient regains his brainwaves."

Yup, this is the next phase of Fenwick's research. They are going to put up large pictures and unusual symbols on the walls of the hospital room and later ask if the patient remembers anything about the walls and can describe them.

LuckySingaporean said...

Mr. Wang,

It is totally premature to conclude that conscience existed outside the mind based on Fenwicks' research.

In science, it is always best to apply Occam's razor and work on the simplest explanation for a given observation rather than jump into interesting speculation.

::::The unusual thing about NDEs are that NDErs' accounts are very lucid and very clear::::

What is the meaning of lucid & clear? Our memories of events that actually occured yesterday may be hazy. People under hypnosis reported false memories that are also lucid and clear. We can't jump from saying lucid and clear = real. If they have evidence of someone in the operating theater reporting what occured at the same time somewhere else 200 miles away it still has to be checked because our subconscience and assimilate something into memory at one glance. One "past-life" case cited a danish woman who stunned her hypnotist by reciting a 1700 English poem under hypnosis when she did not know a word of english. One diligent researcher found that the woman had actual flip and glance at the poem, several years ago while at the library and that was enough to go into her memory.

The way our mind works is still a mystery. Lucid memories may not be real memories of things that happened.

::::Yup, this is the next phase of Fenwick's research. They are going to put up large pictures and unusual symbols on the walls of the hospital room and later ask if the patient remembers anything about the walls and can describe them.::::

I think Fenwick is not a bad researcher as he is going "into the next step". If done properly, I doubt he will find anything. If really there is an "out of body experience", the person should be able to "see" those symbols. However, meticulous control is important in such an experiment.

My room-mate was an ardent buddhist and a "scientific" buddhist during by undergrad days. He would spend hours explaining various "scientific findings" about conscience, reincarnation, meditation to me. I have an open mind, but a meticulously rigorous one ...keep asking the questions and the truth will eventually come out.

I must be stupid said...

Mr Wang,

A very important point you should consider is how sensitive an electroenchephalogram (EEG) is in detectecting brain activity. For example, the brain may still be working but the machine is not sensitive enough to detect it's electrical activity.

As an analogy, bat emit ultrasonic sound waves. The human ear cannot detect those waves but the ear of the bat can. Does that mean that bats do not make sounds?

Click Me said...

Yup, this is the next phase of Fenwick's research..

The sceptics will say let's wait till the results come in before we jump to conclusions.

But let's be open minded here! Anything is possible right? Believing in out-of-body experiences is so much more interesting than plain vanilla hallucinations.

Just believe leh, don't be such a wet blanket.

Anonymous said...

We can debate until the cows come home whether NDEs are real or merely hallucinatory in nature.

Problem is that conventional science cannot study this phenomenon first hand. It can only rely on accounts of those who have experienced it. If someone does leave their body, they are by definition, out of the body, so studying the body left behind will not tell us what the person (or his consciousness) is going through, or where the person (or his consciousness) is. Also, can scientists adequately measure a person's consciousness in order to study it?

Science is not going to be able to provide a universally accepted verification of NDEs. Not on this plane of existence at least.

Misome.

Jimmy Mun said...

Lim Leng Hiong said:
"Sometimes, when I am in a lucid dream, I cannot tell if I am dreaming because everything looks real. So I use a test to check the consistency of the "dream reality". If physical things seem illusory, and I have special powers such that my mind can directly affect reality, then I know I am dreaming. Then I can run off and fly, break neon signs with my mind, and shrink whole buildings."


Ever since I saw this movie Dreamscape a long long time ago (dont bother catching it now), I always wanted to try that: consciously manipulate my dream. But I never managed to attain "consciousness" in my dreams... probably never tried hard enough.

Anonymous said...

At my fathers' wake many years back, I was telling some relatives that I was going through the ritual(Toaist) to satisfy the believers wishes and expectations. One relative however cautioned me for saying so, he related to me that when he underwent a bypass operation which he thought was a major(may indeed be so) operation on his heart; he got to meet some late family members in a wonderland. When asked to describe, he related that he met his mother and two others relatives in very radiant and happy disposition. He also mentioned about his body floating and seeing the medical staff going about repairing his body(operation). When I asked if the Wonderland was inhabited by only his few relatives and at ages whence he last saw them alive, he insisted that that was what he 'witnessed'. Please form your own idea, I rather wait for a conclusion to the debate between the Creationist Faction versus the Evolutionist Camp. Honestly I do not expect to have an answer within my lifetime. It does not matter at all as I am an atheist and one with great respect for Laozi(Chinese Philosopher). And I must say I am very perplexed by believers and spiritualists who resort to science to prove their points. They are to me entirely two distinct domains, I mean the material domain and the spiritual domain are seperate entities. I am obstinate and steadfast here, anyone who can convince me shall be my master; your sincerely scb.

Mr Wang Says So said...

Ever since I saw this movie Dreamscape a long long time ago (dont bother catching it now), I always wanted to try that: consciously manipulate my dream.

It's called lucid dreaming.

Dreaming and reality are not that different, really.

The former - you spend one third of your life doing it, in sleep.

The latter - you spend two thrds of your life doing it, in your waking hours.

Both of them are as miraculous and as incoherent as you think they are.

If you think that "reality makes sense", it's because you haven't really explored your consciousness during your waking hours.

Krishnamurti, an Indian spiritual teacher, said that most people are asleep all the time anyway, and he's right ... But this is beyond the scope of my blog.

Mr Wang Says So said...

"When asked to describe, he related that he met his mother and two others relatives in very radiant and happy disposition. He also mentioned about his body floating and seeing the medical staff going about repairing his body(operation)."

Aha, the usual features of a classic NDE.

The other reason why NDEs are not hallucinations is that they have such regular features.

Anything could happen in a drug-induced halluncination; for example, one person may report flying to the moon; another may report meeting the Queen of England; another may report turning into a fish.

But NDErs have quite consistent accounts of what happens during an NDE - meeting long-deceased relatives who appear radiant and well is a very common feature.

The other interesting thing is that NDEs cut across all cultures, personalities and backgrounds.

For example, a NDEr could be a Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, atheist or whatever -

but the difference in beliefs does not affect the principal features of the NDE. For example, they will still encounter the light at the end of the tunnel, regardless of what their religion has taught them to expect (or in the case of the atheist, regardless of the fact that he expects nothing).

Anonymous said...

It's funny, with so much evidence in the world pointing towards a soul, God or higher power and spirituality, people still try to outsmart themselves into thinking, it's not possible. Well the truth will always set you free, instead of calling things like NDE's a phenomena, it actually makes more sense just to think of it as the natural human experience, all created and defined by a loving God, however you define that for yourselves. Science confuses people in that regard more than it helps, sometimes you need to separate the science from the reality of life in order to accept and truly understand many of lifes so called phenomina!