The meaning of Near Death Experiences

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kirk5a
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The meaning of Near Death Experiences

Post by kirk5a » Sun Apr 22, 2012 1:42 am

Very interesting article by Mario Beauregard.

http://www.salon.com/2012/04/21/near_death_explained/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

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Ben
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Re: The meaning of Near Death Experiences

Post by Ben » Sun Apr 22, 2012 3:23 am

Hi Kirk,
I am reading it and finding it most interesting!
Thanks for sharing.

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

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cooran
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Re: The meaning of Near Death Experiences

Post by cooran » Sun Apr 22, 2012 5:07 am

Hello Kirk,

Very interesting and thought provoking. Thank you!

with metta
Chris
---The trouble is that you think you have time---
---Worry is the Interest, paid in advance, on a debt you may never owe---
---It's not what happens to you in life that is important ~ it's what you do with it ---

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Lazy_eye
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Re: The meaning of Near Death Experiences

Post by Lazy_eye » Sun Apr 22, 2012 4:06 pm

Hi Kirk and all,

Assuming these accounts are valid, how might we relate them to Buddhist (and in particular Theravada Buddhist) teachings? A couple of points in the article struck me as noteworthy:

1. Very close similarity between NDE experiences and the iddhis. As the article notes: "NDErs claim that without physical bodies, they are able to penetrate through walls and doors and project themselves wherever they want. They frequently report the ability to read people’s thoughts."

Does this mean that advanced meditators are able to generate a state similar to NDEs? The connection here seems too strong to ignore, but what can we make of it?

2. Some inconsistency with the orthodox Theravada view that the first thought-moment of a new existence immediately follows the last moment of the prior existence. Not clear how this model would account for NDEs. Are they part of the former life, part of the next life, or an intermediate state? From a Buddhist perspective how would we account for experiences such as this:
She entered the presence of a brilliant, wonderfully warm and loving light, and sensed that her soul was part of God and that everything in existence was created from the light (the breathing of God). But this extraordinary experience ended abruptly, as Reynolds’s deceased uncle led her back to her body—a feeling she described as “plunging into a pool of ice.”
I do see some possible points of connection with various Mahayana/Vajrayana teachings (such as the eight/nine consciousnesses, the bardo realm and so on), particularly when Beauregard writes:
NDE studies also suggest that after physical death, mind and consciousness may continue in a transcendent level of reality that normally is not accessible to our senses and awareness.
3. Finally, it might be fruitful to relate NDEs to Pure Land Buddhism, which has always had a special emphasis on the transitional interval between lives. Devout practitioners are said to have the experience of being greeted by Amitabha and Kuan Yin, and to have visions of the the Pure Land. There is a fairly large literature in the East Asian traditions concerning death and near-death experiences and I'm surprised this has not caught the attention of NDE researchers.

Perhaps NDE experiences are conditioned by our inclinations -- that is, a pious Christian will see God, a person with strong family connections will be greeted by a beloved relative, a Pure Lander will see Amitabha, and so on.

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kirk5a
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Re: The meaning of Near Death Experiences

Post by kirk5a » Tue Apr 24, 2012 5:56 am

Mario Beauregard's book "Brain Wars: The Scientific Battle Over the Existence of the Mind and the Proof That Will Change the Way We Live Our Lives" is newly available today - I just downloaded the Kindle version. Looking forward to seeing what else is in there.
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230

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Ben
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Re: The meaning of Near Death Experiences

Post by Ben » Tue Apr 24, 2012 6:03 am

Hi Lazy Eye, Kirk and all,
Lazy_eye wrote:2. Some inconsistency with the orthodox Theravada view that the first thought-moment of a new existence immediately follows the last moment of the prior existence. Not clear how this model would account for NDEs. Are they part of the former life, part of the next life, or an intermediate state? From a Buddhist perspective how would we account for experiences such as this:..
I would say that the inconsistency is with the Abhidhammic model of rebirth where birth consciousness immediately follows death consciousness. However, there is evidence within the Nikayas of an intermdiary state "gandhabba", which according to Bhikkhu Bodhi, is probably the subtle body.

I think the scientific evidence is certainly very interesting but I remain agnostic in relation to the spiritual and materialist interpretations of near death experiences.
kind regards,

Ben
“No lists of things to be done. The day providential to itself. The hour. There is no later. This is later. All things of grace and beauty such that one holds them to one's heart have a common provenance in pain. Their birth in grief and ashes.”
- Cormac McCarthy, The Road

Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.
- Sutta Nipata 3.725

Compassionate Hands Foundation (Buddhist aid in Myanmar) • Buddhist Global ReliefUNHCR

e: ben.dhammawheel@gmail.com..

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Polar Bear
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Re: The meaning of Near Death Experiences

Post by Polar Bear » Tue Apr 24, 2012 6:22 am

Interesting story, but I still think it should be taken with a grain of salt. What we need is random number generators on top of shelves out of sight (as in, on a high shelf) and if people can remember that number when they are floating near the ceiling looking at their body and see that number on the high shelf and tell the doctors the number after they come back into their bodies and its right then I will be thoroughly convinced of a true indisputable separation between mind and body, until then I'm agnostic on the matter cause I have no idea how valid these experiences really are. I mean, people also claim that they've been to hell and back and one guy that was an atheist became a christian minister after going to hell in his near death experience after he prayed to jesus and was sent back to his body.
"I don't envision a single thing that, when developed & cultivated, leads to such great benefit as the mind. The mind, when developed & cultivated, leads to great benefit."

"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."

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Re: The meaning of Near Death Experiences

Post by Moggalana » Tue Apr 24, 2012 8:25 am

polarbuddha101 wrote:Interesting story, but I still think it should be taken with a grain of salt. What we need is random number generators on top of shelves out of sight (as in, on a high shelf) and if people can remember that number when they are floating near the ceiling looking at their body and see that number on the high shelf and tell the doctors the number after they come back into their bodies and its right then I will be thoroughly convinced of a true indisputable separation between mind and body, until then I'm agnostic on the matter cause I have no idea how valid these experiences really are. I mean, people also claim that they've been to hell and back and one guy that was an atheist became a christian minister after going to hell in his near death experience after he prayed to jesus and was sent back to his body.
Something like this has been done. The results are not that convincing, in my opinion. But see for yourself: http://www.skeptiko.com/sam-parnia-clai ... -illusion/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

And here is more from a sceptical point of view:

http://www.skepdic.com/nde.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Peace of Mind: Near-Death Experiences Now Found to Have Scientific Explanations
Let it come. Let it be. Let it go.

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daverupa
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Re: The meaning of Near Death Experiences

Post by daverupa » Tue Apr 24, 2012 11:14 am

Ben wrote:I think the scientific evidence is certainly very interesting but I remain agnostic in relation to the spiritual and materialist interpretations of near death experiences.
+1

:anjali:
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]

Moggalana
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Re: The meaning of Near Death Experiences

Post by Moggalana » Tue Apr 24, 2012 6:58 pm

And here is a direct reaction to the article linked in the OP.

http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/ ... -delusion/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

it's well worth a read despite the rather nasty writing style.
Let it come. Let it be. Let it go.

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Will
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Re: The meaning of Near Death Experiences

Post by Will » Sun Aug 28, 2016 7:21 pm

If I recall, one element of Right View concerned the reality of other realms and higher beings. Since literacy is waning in influence and the audio and visual avenues are gaining popularity, I suspect these NDE's will do more to shatter materialism than any amount of books (and I love books)!

One recent NDE example - about 30 minutes - of a greedy, harsh, worldly doctor getting turned around by his experience. He now lives a kinder, gentler, spiritual life, helping others with depression etc.; 'soul diseases' he calls them.

Wholesome virtuous behavior progressively leads to the foremost. -- AN 10.1

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Will
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Re: The meaning of Near Death Experiences

Post by Will » Mon Dec 25, 2017 9:32 pm

Wholesome virtuous behavior progressively leads to the foremost. -- AN 10.1

Winstead
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Re: The meaning of Near Death Experiences

Post by Winstead » Tue Jan 02, 2018 12:53 pm

What a fascinating story. There must be something to it if it can change a man so profoundly, I would think at least.

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