Near Death Experiences

There is an interesting documentary on youtube called Rethinking Death. A scientific study of death, what it means to die, and recounts physicians encounters with near death experience.

In one segment , a doctor describes his first day as a resident. he was nervous but was assured the 2nd year resident would be by his side. His first patient, as he went to greet him, dropped over in a cardiac arrest. He applied CPR, and then went to discuss the prognosis with the family, which was very negative for chances of survival.

Later as he was doing his rounds, the patience lunch was delivered. Considering the patient was in a coma, he was hungry and he ate the lunch himself. And he was worried because the 2nd year resident wasn’t around to help him.

Long story short: the man survived. Was in the hospital for a month recovering and on the last day in the hospital, called the doctor aside to discribe an experience he had while he was near death.

He said he had the experience of rising from his body, watching the doctor as he was trying to resuscitate him. He then followed him down the hall and heard the conversation with his loved ones. “You ween’t very optimistic. You should have been more optimistic. And the worst part: you ATE MY LUNCH. But I knew you were worried that the resident wasn’t guiding you enough”
The doctor had told no one about his concerns. The patient basically read his mind.

Which made me think of the promises the Buddha said would come from meditation: the ability to walk through walls, the ability to travel the world, the ability to read minds.

And I thought: is the near death experience similar to what the Buddha promised? And is the near death experience something we can all achieve through Buddhism? Is the near death experiences evidence of what the Buddha said was available to all of us, without having to die first to experience it?

I can’t stop thinking about the similarities between deep states of meditation and near death experiences.

Here is a link for those interested


No, if we will practice properly Budda promises that there should be no another birth. Near death experience merely suggest that such horrible thing as rebirth may happened.

I was speaking of what the Buddha promised as an advantage of studying the dhama in the here and now

“Having been one he becomes many; having been many he becomes one. He appears. He vanishes. He goes unimpeded through walls, ramparts, and mountains as if through space. He dives in and out of the earth as if it were water. He walks on water without sinking as if it were dry land. Sitting cross-legged he flies through the air like a winged bird. With his hand he touches and strokes even the sun and moon, so mighty and powerful… He hears — by means of the divine ear-element, purified and surpassing the human — both kinds of sounds: divine and human, whether near or far.”
Mind reading: He can discern in others states of consciousness such as those with or without passion, lust, delusion, concentration, etc.

It does seem to be a common experience for those having a near death experience to not only experience kinds of psychic phenomena during the experience but also afterwards in their daily life. And this often seems to increase over time. They seem to open us up to some of the same sort of psychic phenomena that can become available through higher levels of meditation. I think there must be some sort of relationship there.

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NDE can cure one from materialistic outlook and this seems to be the greatest advantage of it. But apart confirmation that there exists so call mental body, (anyway everyone has it during a dreams) such experience proves nothing for one who doesn’t like the idea of survival.

While my neuroscientist’s knowledge crept back slowly and timidly, my memories of what had happened during that week out of my body loomed in my memory with astonishing boldness and clarity. What had happened outside the earthly realm had everything to do with the wild happiness I’d awakened with, and the bliss that continued to stick with me. I was deliriously happy because I was back with the people I loved. But I was also happy because—to state the matter as plainly as I can—I understood for the first time who I really was, and what kind of a world we inhabit.

I was wildly—and naïvely—eager to share these experiences, especially with my fellow doctors. After all, what I’d undergone altered my long-held beliefs of what the brain is, what consciousness is, even what life itself means—and doesn’t mean. Who wouldn’t be anxious to hear of my discoveries?

Quite a few people, as it turned out. Most especially, people with medical degrees.

Make no mistake, my doctors were very happy for me. “That’s wonderful, Eben,” they would say, echoing my response to countless patients of my own who, in the past, had tried to tell me about otherworldly experiences they’d undergone during surgery. “You were very sick. Your brain was soaking in pus. We can’t believe you’re even here to talk about it. You know yourself what the brain can come up with when it’s that far gone.”

In short, they couldn’t wrap their minds around what I was so desperately trying to share.
But then, how could I blame them? After all, I certainly wouldn’t have understood it either—before.

Eben Alexander

Much of Harris criticism rests on an old materialist argument against NDEs: It cannot be shown that all of Alexander’s brain functions were off, so it is conceivable that there was enough brain function left to confabulate an unfathomable dream. This is as promissory as it is unfalsifiable, for there might indeed always be a neuron firing somewhere. But that’s not the point, is it? The point is whether the kind of brain function that ordinarily always correlates to the experience of complex dreams can be realistically expected to have been present in Alexander’s case. If chaotic, impaired, residual cortical function could explain the confabulation of a complex and coherent trip to “heaven,” then such residual cortical function would probably suffice ordinarily too, wouldn’t it? Harris argument is analogous to claiming that a car should still drive normally when everything in it is broken except for the spark plugs. And to claim that a bacteria-infested neocortex, at the level verified in Alexander’s case, retains enough coherent function to do this seems to stretch credulity under the materialist notion that experience is coherent brain activity. To dismiss Alexander’s experience on the basis of warped speculation about residual neocortical function amounts to dismissing extremely interesting, anomalous data. Something extraordinary has happened, and true skeptics should take a critical look at it while retaining a healthy dose of skepticism towards the standard explanations too; that’s how science historically has moved forward.

Just read a new chapter in the book on brain and consciousness . The Prof is convinced Out of Body Experiences are merely hallucinations. The brain tries to construct an overview of all kind of info and
when dramatic things happen, and certain info lacks, the brain makes a best guess. The best guess can be, under circumstances, experienced as the impression that one rises and sees ones own body.

In another book i once read that doctors have put some paper with an image on a chest to check if people really have a bird perspective, but i read no one was able to describe this figure on the paper.
Ofcourse it also needs to answer how a mind without eyes can see. But Buddhist believe this is no problem.

I read also an interesting thing about a defect that is called somatoparafrenie. This is a defect in the brain that means that persons experience certain body parts literally as not mine and not me. It can sometimes deal with half of the body but most of the time it deals with an arm or leg. The person believes that the bodypart does not belong to him/her, is not me and not mine. Even when her/his eyes see that it really belongs to the same body, other neurologic circuits are more strong and convincing. The visual informations does not convince this person at all, in this case.

This is certaintly not the same as seeing with wisdom that the bodypart is not me and mine. This shows from the patients who try, for example, to remove a leg or arm from the bed. It is felt as alien, so it must be removed.

Anyway, the prof is still gradually making his path towards an explanation of consciousness. He has allready rejected that it would exist apart from the brain. He critizes Pim van Lommel.
I think he gradually introduces the idea that the brain is always busy with making a best guess.
Consciousness, as the rich overview the brain presents of all this sense-info that is processed, and we experience as the world we live in, and also as who or what we are, is a best guess. And certain rules are followed in guessing. For example, one can use spectacles that turn all upside down. If one at some time removes the spectacles, certain things keep being perceives upside down and others not.
But, if for example, one sees a glass of water being filled the brain immediately uses the rule that water does not go upward. Immediately it is seen correct. The brain does not accept that water filling a glass goes upwarts.

I believe this is the model of predictive coding (the book is in Dutch so i do not know what the English words are. I just translated it literally).

I’ve studied more than 5,000 near death experiences. My research has convinced me without a doubt that there’s life after death.

Scientific works about life after death!


I think the near-death experience is almost literally an accident. But it proves an important Teaching of the Buddha, Rebirth. A person who has had a near-death experience can say that they almost died and if they had actually died, they would be reborn in that place they experienced, but they returned to this physical, grosser body.

What the Buddha says about powers acquired through meditation is not an accident, it is something that can be developed and improved. for you to do whenever you want.

They wield the many kinds of psychic power: multiplying themselves and becoming one again; appearing and disappearing; going unimpeded through a wall, a rampart, or a mountain as if through space; diving in and out of the earth as if it were water; walking on water as if it were earth; flying cross-legged through the sky like a bird; touching and stroking with the hand the sun and moon, so mighty and powerful. They control the body as far as the Brahmā realm.

With clairaudience that is purified and superhuman, they hear both kinds of sounds, human and divine, whether near or far. …

They understand the minds of other beings and individuals, having comprehended them with their own mind. …

They recollect many kinds of past lives, with features and details.

With clairvoyance that is purified and superhuman, they see sentient beings passing away and being reborn—inferior and superior, beautiful and ugly, in a good place or a bad place. They understand how sentient beings are reborn according to their deeds.