Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04
Welcome home! Please contact lincoln@newbuddhist.com if you have any difficulty logging in or using the site. New registrations must be manually approved which may take up to 48 hours. Can't log in? Try clearing your browser's cookies.

More NDE madness

personperson Veteran
edited April 2012 in General Banter
There's not much new in this article for those who are familiar with the arguments, but its pretty thorough and turns the skeptical eye on various brain based hypothesis. Commenters after the article provide debunking links for those interested and there's even debunking of the debunking links for even more madness.

http://www.salon.com/2012/04/21/near_death_explained/singleton/

Comments

  • zombiegirlzombiegirl beating the drum of the lifeless I say "pop" and "you guys" but live in the American SW Veteran
    Belief in NDE seems to support belief in the eternal self/soul, does it not?
  • personperson Veteran
    It really depends upon how you define what is happening. The mindstream in Buddhist thought is said to arise dependent upon the previous mind. I think in The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying it says that the OBE isn't the mind but a subtle body which the mind inhabits.

    Its fairly unclear as to what is actually happening but to me it suggests that consciousness can operate and exist independent of the physical brain.
  • Ajahn Brahm talked of NDE many times,

    linking it to the experience of jhanas.

    (for example, senses shutting down, therefore not feeling weight anymore could equal a sense of floating, narrowing visual field could = tunnel etc..., quickly learning what we are and aren't.)

    Hence the usual deep spiritual transformation in people who experience those...

    Now experiencing this at will while understanding what is happening obviously could be very beneficial... makes me want to get serious about concentration meditation again ;)
  • zombiegirlzombiegirl beating the drum of the lifeless I say "pop" and "you guys" but live in the American SW Veteran
    It really depends upon how you define what is happening. The mindstream in Buddhist thought is said to arise dependent upon the previous mind. I think in The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying it says that the OBE isn't the mind but a subtle body which the mind inhabits.

    Its fairly unclear as to what is actually happening but to me it suggests that consciousness can operate and exist independent of the physical brain.
    Hmm. I'm having trouble wrapping my mind around this, lol. Do you have more information/can you better explain the, "OBE isn't the mind but a subtle body which the mind inhabits"?

    I am still slightly skeptical, but I try to be open to new ideas. A few thoughts I had: In the article, the part where they were describing the woman's knowledge of the way they shaved her head, the tools used, etc... I realized that although I am not a doctor, because of TV and all that, I had a very clear image of what they were describing. In this day and age, I think our mind absorbs so much information and I frequently learn in dreams that I take in a lot more details than I thought. I wouldn't have thought that I knew what the saw that is used to cut through a scalp looks like, but my memory sure seems to. The bit about the quote (regarding the femoral artery in her leg being too small), now that, however... I cannot explain. That is the sort that you simply hope that nobody is fudging details to support something untrue (which we all know people do from time to time... like that guy living on sunshine).
  • personperson Veteran
    Hmm. I'm having trouble wrapping my mind around this, lol. Do you have more information/can you better explain the, "OBE isn't the mind but a subtle body which the mind inhabits"?
    Maybe its online somewhere, but this is what I remember being said in The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. Basically, what it means is that what is supposed to be floating around isn't the soul or consciousness roaming about on its own but instead the mind inhabits a subtle body (whatever that exactly means).
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Somewhere in the UK, Central-Southern.... Moderator
    I think this quotation is charming...

    You don't have a soul.
    You have a body.
    You ARE a soul.

    Similarly, we are not equipped with consciousness.
    We are consciousness, neatly packaged in 5 skandas.
    when we are done with them, we dispose of them.....
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    edited April 2012
    Belief in NDE seems to support belief in the eternal self/soul, does it not?
    Or a temporary one in that it continues to persist until nirvana. Just because it persists for 10,000 years does not necessarily mean eternal.

  • Ajahn Brahm talked of NDE many times,

    linking it to the experience of jhanas.

    (for example, senses shutting down, therefore not feeling weight anymore could equal a sense of floating, narrowing visual field could = tunnel etc..., quickly learning what we are and aren't.)

    Hence the usual deep spiritual transformation in people who experience those...

    Now experiencing this at will while understanding what is happening obviously could be very beneficial... makes me want to get serious about concentration meditation again ;)
    Ajahn Brahm and his fellow monk (I forget his name now), also talk about rebirth in the literal sense. His felow monk, he either has a scottish or a danish accent, but he once said that he finds it strange how western buddhists have this common trend to disregard rebirth and negte it from Buddhism.
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited May 2012
    I think in The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying it says that the OBE isn't the mind but a subtle body which the mind inhabits.

    Its fairly unclear as to what is actually happening but to me it suggests that consciousness can operate and exist independent of the physical brain.
    The Dalai Lama has said that OBE's are the very subtle mind leaving the body, similar to what happens after death. Through meditation someone can train themselves to cause the consciousness to leave the body.

    To add to the debate, remember we had a video posted here a few months ago, about a neuroscientist who had had an NDE, and he was convinced his consciousness had left his body. He said the experience contained elements that were not present in other phenomena ("G-forces") used to explain the experience.

  • misecmisc1misecmisc1 I am a Hindu India Veteran
    edited May 2012
    @person: nice thread.
    Belief in NDE seems to support belief in the eternal self/soul, does it not?
    My view: well, i think it is more related to convention which is used. now, whether a consciousness referred to as plain Buddha consciousness in Tibetian Buddhism - or it is referred to as Atman in Hinduism - the question is whether it really exists? the answer is only Buddha or a fully Awakened one knows. That is why, i think, Hinduism and Buddha both said to look inside as these things can only be directly experienced and not thought/analyzed/understood through our 6 senses, as it is only directly experienced after the mind is transcended.

    The difference is Hinduism tells there is Atman and Buddha said there is no-self as everything is conditioned. But both tell to look inside and realize the truth directly, rather just to believe in these things on a theoretical level. So both tell a journey inside - again because of conventions the names of this inward journey are different - Hinduism says Self-Realization and Buddha said directly experiencing the unconditioned or Nirvana.

    Till now, I have not experienced anything with direct experience, so the above is based on my theoretical understanding only.
  • edited May 2012
    Ajahn Brahm talked of NDE many times,

    linking it to the experience of jhanas.

    (for example, senses shutting down, therefore not feeling weight anymore could equal a sense of floating, narrowing visual field could = tunnel etc..., quickly learning what we are and aren't.)

    Hence the usual deep spiritual transformation in people who experience those...

    Now experiencing this at will while understanding what is happening obviously could be very beneficial... makes me want to get serious about concentration meditation again ;)
    I had a near death experience which was drug induced, unexpected and resulted in very unpleasant altered perception, sense and vision experiences.
    Fortunately, two doctors were present and one was an anaethetist who had at hand all drugs and equipment needed, including an AED (Automatic External Defibrillator ) which back in the late 1980 was very unusual, as only intensive care units had them and special training was needed to utilise them ( he was the medical director of the leading ICU in the state here ).
    My heart had stopped beating and I had stopped breathing. As I have always understood it, CPR with the advanced resuscitation methods were employed almost instantly by the 2 doctors. I would have died if no intervention had occured ... but clearly I didn't die, maybe for a few seconds I was clinically dead.
    I have always thought that this was a NDE - and possibly says little about the what happens to conciousness after actual death.
    For me it was the beginning of quite intense anxiety symptoms.
    I experienced it as my conciousness being ripped out of my body and then pulled back in abruptly.
    One minute we were partying, drinking and having fun as teenagers at a party and the next it was dark, apart from field of light - like being at the end of a very long narrow tunnel, I was weightless, deaf apart from a faint buzzing sensation.
    Then I was aware of great movement and shadows as the light disappeared and the buzzing was like an evil laughter getting increasingly louder and intense. It was unpleasant to say the least.
    I woke up briefly in the hospital emergency, although I do not remember this and awoke next the next day in hospital.
    I have had no physical health effects from the experience - I was very lucky, as were the two foolish young friends who spiked my drink.
    I certainly have had a worsening and returning of such experiences in meditation since.
    ( I did a 10 day Goenka Vipassana early in my meditation practice which was intense and helped me understand and begin the work through my anxiety).
    I have never been particularly anxious about death or dying - having been a nurse since I was 17 years old and having deaths of family members from a young person.
    I think my experience is what appeals to me about traditions which place value in and explore ideas about caring of and for the dying and preparation for death.

  • misecmisc1misecmisc1 I am a Hindu India Veteran
    edited May 2012
    @andyrobyn: Your experience seems very unpleasant - and it also agrees with what is written in the link given by @person, where it is written that NDEs caused by hallucinations are unpleasant.

    By the way, i thought you are a male and now when you said that you have been a nurse since 17 years old, it seems you are a female. :)
  • I haven't read the link - I have heard of others having similar experiences to what I understand happened to me ( as a result of drugs and in one instance from a sudden near drowning in a traumatic situation ). I still have good recall and it is was very clear. Another woman I know nearly drowned in surf in a different situation. She became fatigued after swimming against a rip and her mind was clear and accepting that she would stop swimming and surely die and was very calm. She had some similar sensations which were all very pleasant, before she was rescued and revived.

    I am female - there are many male nurses though ... I guess fewer back 30 odd years ago but there were some male nurses even then. Yes, my name is very gender neutral.
  • CinorjerCinorjer Veteran
    @zombiegirl Don't let people use semantics to claim their beliefs are somehow different from others. A consciousness that is capable of leaving and exists outside the physical body is defined as a soul in our common language. Just calling it a "subtle body" does not change what it is, only puts a different label on it. So yes, many Buddhists do believe in a soul of some kind. They just don't like to call it that because it's the same language used by the God based religions.

  • CinorjerCinorjer Veteran
    These two NDEs are cases I had not read about before, but from experience in looking at other cases, I knew any investigation would find the same common problems with the accounts that all seemingly airtight examples have. The histories as recounted are full of lies, half-truths, guesses, and manufactured details designed to push the right buttons.

    In the case of the woman on the operating table, I already noticed her experience was supposed to have started right after she was shot full of drugs but long before her body was cooled down. Someone loaded up with mind altering drugs having strange experiences? Go figure. Also earbuds certainly do not block out all external sound like the story wants you to believe and a series of clicks certainly don't block hearing. Given that, I expected the story to be mostly exageration and that's what investigators found.

    The famous shoe on a ledge I figured would turn up to be equally exagerated, and investigators who put a shoe on the exact ledge discovered-wait for it-that the shoe could be easily seen through the woman's hospital room window. Also her room was right over the emergency room so how strange was it that she could describe the outside area of the emergency room? She had only to look out the window!

    These stories always fall apart when actually examined with a skeptical mind, because they're treated as stories where little details are less important than the message. It's fascinating how the mind works to fit reality into our beliefs.
  • I just read the article - not in depth ... it lost me after the dramatic descritption of 20 physicians etc in the operating room !!! I agree with Cinorjer's comments above. From the people I have spoken with and my own experience, it is not that special or dramatic and I honestly don't think near death experiences relate at all to any ideas of rebirth, life after death etc.
  • misecmisc1misecmisc1 I am a Hindu India Veteran
    I just read the article - not in depth ... it lost me after the dramatic descritption of 20 physicians etc in the operating room !!! I agree with Cinorjer's comments above. From the people I have spoken with and my own experience, it is not that special or dramatic and I honestly don't think near death experiences relate at all to any ideas of rebirth, life after death etc.
    @andyrobyn: well, i think NDE, OBE experiences suggest there is something subtler than we know about our body. read the article again carefully, it is showing evidences of events where people are telling about things when they are not seeing those things with tape on their eyes - So if this is really true, then there are things about consciousness, which are not known.

    Well, if we leave these NDE, OBE etc , then also there are questions whose answer are not known - for example - What is consciousness? how does consciousness arise in matter when a child is born?

    These indicate there are things about consciousness, which are not known.
  • personperson Veteran
    @zombiegirl Don't let people use semantics to claim their beliefs are somehow different from others. A consciousness that is capable of leaving and exists outside the physical body is defined as a soul in our common language. Just calling it a "subtle body" does not change what it is, only puts a different label on it. So yes, many Buddhists do believe in a soul of some kind. They just don't like to call it that because it's the same language used by the God based religions.

    Since we don't really have a strong sense of what is happening its easy to say the phenomena is the same and we just label it as different.

    To give an analogy its like if you were to take a trip, in this metaphor you are the mind. Say you leave your house (your current body), get in your car (subtle bardo body), drive 50 miles and finally end up in a new home (next rebirth). This is a different mechanism than say walking on your own to the next house. Of course this is only an analogy and I can't say that this is what happens but the two concepts are different and aren't simply different labels.

    @zombiegirl Another way to think about the difference is that atman in rebirth would be like the string in a necklace holding the individual beads of each life together. The Buddhist concept would be more like a stack of blocks, each new block depends upon the last one for its support but they aren't tied together.
  • zombiegirlzombiegirl beating the drum of the lifeless I say "pop" and "you guys" but live in the American SW Veteran
    @zombiegirl Don't let people use semantics to claim their beliefs are somehow different from others. A consciousness that is capable of leaving and exists outside the physical body is defined as a soul in our common language. Just calling it a "subtle body" does not change what it is, only puts a different label on it. So yes, many Buddhists do believe in a soul of some kind. They just don't like to call it that because it's the same language used by the God based religions.
    I think this is where my confusion was stemming from. Different word, but sounds the same to me...

    I have a question on the topic of drug induced NDEs. I actually had this topic come up recently with some friends. One of the people present had overdosed on heroin and experienced what he described as a NDE. His experience was rather horrific and still sounded like 'a bad trip' of a sort to me. So my thought was... okay, so you died in the technical sense... but wouldn't the drug STILL alter your perception? To a skeptic that says that NDEs take place in the mind, this isn't very good evidence since the mind would still be effected by the drug.

    @person I do like your analogy of the blocks. I suppose this is something like what I believe, although really, I would be hard pressed to put my words down in any concrete way. I'm sort of living in the gray area of indecision based on the fact that it doesn't matter too much to me outside of intellectual discussion. I do know that I don't like the effect that the believe in a soul/direct rebirth based on karma has in some Buddhist nations. I don't like to follow the train of thinking that those with poor circumstances in this life are a result of their own doing from a past life and therefore should not be pitied (this is the extreme). I guess I just prefer to focus on this life.
  • seeker242seeker242 Zen Florida, USA Veteran
    edited May 2012
    @zombiegirl Don't let people use semantics to claim their beliefs are somehow different from others. A consciousness that is capable of leaving and exists outside the physical body is defined as a soul in our common language. Just calling it a "subtle body" does not change what it is, only puts a different label on it. So yes, many Buddhists do believe in a soul of some kind. They just don't like to call it that because it's the same language used by the God based religions.

    A "Soul" is generally considered some permanent, eternal thing. "Subtle body" is not necessarily permanent nor necessarily eternal. :) Big difference.

  • edited May 2012
    My understanding of " my NDE ", which has not been inconsistent with my understandings of my experience with meditation, is that it was the unexpected, traumatic and unknown experience of having my " life force", awareness, conciousness and/ or whatever you would like to refer to it as, ending which was so unpleasant.
  • CinorjerCinorjer Veteran
    edited May 2012
    @zombiegirl Don't let people use semantics to claim their beliefs are somehow different from others. A consciousness that is capable of leaving and exists outside the physical body is defined as a soul in our common language. Just calling it a "subtle body" does not change what it is, only puts a different label on it. So yes, many Buddhists do believe in a soul of some kind. They just don't like to call it that because it's the same language used by the God based religions.



    A "Soul" is generally considered some permanent, eternal thing. "Subtle body" is not necessarily permanent nor necessarily eternal. :) Big difference.

    Sure, there are differences. There are variations of belief in what a spirit or soul is made of, where it comes from, what it is capable of and what its final purpose is. The defining characteristic is that whatever you call it, we have your consciousness outside of your physical body.

    I prefer the word "spirit" because the word soul carries connotations of something created and controlled by a God. But that's not necessarily part of someone's belief in a soul. For Tibet Buddhists, I believe a much better term than "subtle body" would be astral projection, something I learned from my Dr. Strange comic books.

    It's a fascinating subject to watch people explore, though. So what do people believe the subtle body or spirit or soul or ghost is composed of? Spiritualists and people with perhaps a bit too much time on their hands have argued about that since we got the notion that everything is composed of something. We've had people claim they actually weighed the spirit as it left the dying body. The writings describing the Tibet Buddhist belief I find on the websites say "energy" as if that explains anything. The people who translate foreign religious writings into our language do the best they can, but I can guarantee the old monks had no concept of energy, no word for it, and since their science was stuck at the level of alchemical elements (earth-wind-fire-water) they added consciousness as a fifth element of the body.

    So let's be clear about one thing. Tibet beliefs are that consciousness is a separate element from the physical body. To them, consciousness is not composed of something, but instead is a basic element with its own existance.

    That is a soul by any definition. But Tibetan Buddhism is a highly mystical version of our faith so we can expect that.
  • personperson Veteran
    Sure, there are differences. There are variations of belief in what a spirit or soul is made of, where it comes from, what it is capable of and what its final purpose is. The defining characteristic is that whatever you call it, we have your consciousness outside of your physical body.

    I prefer the word "spirit" because the word soul carries connotations of something created and controlled by a God. But that's not necessarily part of someone's belief in a soul. For Tibet Buddhists, I believe a much better term than "subtle body" would be astral projection, something I learned from my Dr. Strange comic books.
    You can use any word you like, words aren't the actual things they are just descriptions of them. Some words more accurately reflect the actuality of a phenomena than others and some are more culturaly comfortable to some than others.
    It's a fascinating subject to watch people explore, though. So what do people believe the subtle body or spirit or soul or ghost is composed of? Spiritualists and people with perhaps a bit too much time on their hands have argued about that since we got the notion that everything is composed of something. We've had people claim they actually weighed the spirit as it left the dying body. The writings describing the Tibet Buddhist belief I find on the websites say "energy" as if that explains anything. The people who translate foreign religious writings into our language do the best they can, but I can guarantee the old monks had no concept of energy, no word for it, and since their science was stuck at the level of alchemical elements (earth-wind-fire-water) they added consciousness as a fifth element of the body.
    They still use the 5 elements today even though they know about the periodic table because this is more of a metaphorical picture of reality. The wind element is how they described the concept of energy, yes they had a concept of energy, even if its not a scientific, mathmatical equation. The subtle body is made up of wind or lung in Tibetan. Lung is said to have legs but no vision, mind is said to have vision but no legs. So to go back to my original metaphor of a person (mind) leaving one house (body) and traveling to another one the car would be the subtle body. Something that acts as a vehicle for the mind to travel about.
    So let's be clear about one thing. Tibet beliefs are that consciousness is a separate element from the physical body. To them, consciousness is not composed of something, but instead is a basic element with its own existance.
    I think this statement is basically true. When you get into talking about consciousness in TB the philosophy gets pretty complicated and I don't have a very thorough understanding so there may be something off here.
    That is a soul by any definition. But Tibetan Buddhism is a highly mystical version of our faith so we can expect that.
    This is where I discredit Zen as worldly and secular.
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! Veteran
    So let's be clear about one thing. Tibet beliefs are that consciousness is a separate element from the physical body. To them, consciousness is not composed of something, but instead is a basic element with its own existance.
    Although consciousness seems to be described as a separate element in the suttas too, for example here in the Dhatu-vibangha Sutta:

    "'A person has six properties.' Thus was it said. In reference to what was it said? These are the six properties: the earth property, the liquid property, the fire property, the wind property, the space property, the consciousness property. 'A person has six properties.'

  • Buddhism uses consciousness instead of soul. When say someone go to hell realm, it's the consciousness that goes there.

    I am always wonder, don't these two means the same thing? Both are non physical.

    What's the difference between consciousness and soul?



  • CinorjerCinorjer Veteran
    So let's be clear about one thing. Tibet beliefs are that consciousness is a separate element from the physical body. To them, consciousness is not composed of something, but instead is a basic element with its own existance.


    Although consciousness seems to be described as a separate element in the suttas too, for example here in the Dhatu-vibangha Sutta:

    "'A person has six properties.' Thus was it said. In reference to what was it said? These are the six properties: the earth property, the liquid property, the fire property, the wind property, the space property, the consciousness property. 'A person has six properties.'

    True. That's why I don't worry about it one way or another. Whatever a consciousness is made of, we have one. I try to resist shoehorning ancient beliefs into our modern understanding of the world, though. Considering the old monks had only their naked eyes and imagination as tools, I'm amazed at what they did manage to come up with. The Tibetan philosophers, in particular, had a concept of space as an important separate element in itself that seemed to have escaped the mighty Greeks.
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! Veteran
    What's the difference between consciousness and soul?
    Basically consciousness is dependently arisen and impermanent, whereas soul is said to be permanent and independent of physical form - though different Buddhist traditions explain it differently.
Sign In or Register to comment.