Anaesthesia in light of EBTs

So, general anaesthesia is something that had always impressed me. And recently we had our friend @Sylvester going through for a successful operation. Hence the questions:

What would be the understanding of the mind in anaesthesia according to the EBTs?

Has anyone got any personal account of how it felt to go through it (I have not yet “tried” it) and how or not meditation had any impact in that?

Last time I had an operation I mainly remember that as I was going under I found myself cracking lots of “hilarious” jokes with the poor nurses. Well, I thought they were hilarious!

Then you wake up and it’s done.

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I had GA once. I can remember being very disoriented coming out of it, it wasn’t like waking up in the morning. “Where am I? What year is it?” level of out of being out of it; I reoriented quickly but there was a moment of being confused. I suppose it might not be too different from going into a deep sleep at an irregular time of day.

I’ve heard of some Burmese monks going into jhāna for surgeries. Also, some people have undergone dental surgery while in hypnosis and reported experiencing no pain. I don’t think those two mental states are equivalent at all, but they each show the power of what the mind is capable of.

It is oddly disorientating. It feels too precise somehow, like they just send you down and pull you up on their schedule. But I would guess personal experiences differ.


I never have GA before, so I only comment to this:

AFAIK, we can’t find any reference to anesthesia in the early suttas, but in the Mahavagga we can read a story about how Jivaka, King Bimbisara’s doctor (later will become the Buddha’s personal doctor), performed a head surgery to a merchant of Rajagaha who had a severe headache and removed two living creatures (brain worms?) from his brain. Another story is how Jivaka performed an abdominal surgery to a merchant’s son of Benares. You can read the stories here:

There is no a mentioning of anesthesia in the stories, but I don’t think this can be done without anesthesia, which according to the historical record has been found in Mesopotamia as early as 3400 BC.


well , in srilanka traditional ayurvedic doctors use some kind of a plant( i guess it is “abhing”) which is capable of numbing the area where the surgery is done. Since srilanka was influenced with Indian culture even before the arrival of Ven.Mahinda (Mahindaagamana), we can assume that the ancient Indians ( at the time of the buddha ) used similar types of herbal medications for surgeries.


How interesting! Although I’m sure those poor patients received much less effective relief from pain and the knowledge of surgery than we do :astonished:
These ‘herbal’ medicines were probably alkaloids with analgesic (pain relieving) properties, like opium poppy. Or, you know, just getting totally blackout drunk.

As an aside, I always thought that major surgery without anaesthetic would be nigh on impossible because you would just die of the shock and wild physiological responses, but apparently that’s not completely true. :mask: (warning: gross!) Also brains have no pain receptors, but anaesthetic free abdominal surgery is pretty wild.

Thankfully, nowadays our general anaesthetics create a mixture of analgesia, paralysis, amnesia and unconsciousness.

I had only a twilight anaesthetic once for a minor procedure and the strangest thing I found about it was that my memory of that time was just deleted. It’s like a different kind of unconsciousness to sleeping, fainting or being knocked unconsciousness - during all of which I felt like I still had this sort of knowledge of time, and my consciousness. On the other hand the amnesia of anaesthetic felt like a blackout, like an actual vacuum of consciousness? Perhaps the consciousness gets…‘smothered’ for a while?