« | Main | »

Comments

I read a report some years ago concerning 2 GIs in a jeep that were horribly mangled when their vehicle was flatenned when accidently run over by a battle tank.Witnesses claimed that in the couple of minutes it took for the men to die, they were upbeat and jovial about their misfortune. medical researchers studying that case and others suggested the body releases a powerful Morpheine type chemical that dulls the effect of unbearable pain of extremely traumatic death.The same applies to animals apparently.The example of a mouse being slowly tortured in a cats jaws was one of several cases that was studied as I recall.

The morphine theory may be true in some cases, but what's more interesting to me is that even when the person appears to be in real agony - thrashing, screaming, tearing at his clothes - he may actually not be experiencing all this pain, but merely observing it from a detached perspective. This, at least, was Montaigne's report, as cited in the article. It ties in with so-called "fear-death" experiences in which people who thought they were about to die felt a separation from their body and a sense of calm detachment. The phenomenon could be explained as a psychological defense mechanism, but I am more inclined to think of it as an actual OBE, in which the soul is provisionally removed from the body to avoid unnecessary trauma. Sort of like extracting a military team when things get too hot behind enemy lines.

Nice piece. It certainly is comforting to think that the dying experience may look like hell to an outside observer, but feel like heaven to the person who's dying (or coming close).

Reminds me of Albert Heim's classic book on falls experienced by Alpine climbers. That was one of the earliest books on NDE's (loosely defined), and one of the first bits of evidence that began to persuade me that death may not be what it seems.

Certainly, to see a mountain climber fall from a great height must be terrifying. But these guys reported experiencing the greatest ecstasy they had ever known.

Ectasy! Let's not make dieing appear too attractive now Bruce, otherwise it may encourage a spate of suicides.

However,whether the euphoria at the instant of death is either physical/chemical or spiritual, I do find the thought that my wife may not have suffered much pain when she hanged her self reasonably comforting, in as much as one can gain comfort from such an event.

Alexander, I'm aware of Keith's upcoming book, but as I understand it, the approach will be to discuss how closely mental states are connected to brain states. The purpose is to show that consciousness apart from the brain is unlikely, but I don't see how this conclusion follows. If something like the transmission theory is correct, then we would expect a close correlation between brain states and mental states. It doesn't follow that brain states *cause* mental states.

Actually I suspect the transmission theory is too simple, and that there is some dynamic interactive relationship between brain states and mental states - sort of a feedback loop. It still does not follow that consciousness cannot exist without the brain. What would follow (and what I believe) is that consciousness without the brain would take a somewhat different form. There is a difference between saying death entails a change of consciousness and saying death entails the extinction of consciousness.

Some might reply that if the change is big enough, it amounts to extinction, since the "I" that we presently identify with would be lost. But from what I can tell, based on the literature, it is more like an expansion of consciousness than a total change. If our earthly self is visualized as a small segment of a frequency spectrum, our discarnate self is a wider segment. The wider segment includes the earthly one but goes beyond it. By analogy, it would be like having seen only visible light all your life, and then suddenly obtaining the ability to see infrared and ultraviolet also. The visible light spectrum would still be part of your awareness, but it would be augmented with new information and new insights.

However, Keith is a very bright guy, and no doubt he has anticipated these objections, so we'll see what the book has to say. At the very least it should be informative on the always-fascinating subject of the brain.

"I do find the thought that my wife may not have suffered much pain when she hanged her self reasonably comforting, in as much as one can gain comfort from such an event."

Though I hesitate to comment on something so personal, I'll just say this. Your wife may not have been "present" for the event at all. Her body may have gone through the motions, operating on an animal level of consciousness (i.e., without self-awareness or ego), while her true self was dormant or detached. There are many cases of people who have performed violent acts and later say they have no memory of them. Some of these people (e.g., criminals) may be lying, of course, but I think in many cases this is a real phenomenon. I see no reason why the same can't be true of many suicides. From the "soul" perspective, perhaps your wife never committed suicide at all; only her body did that. I realize this provides little comfort, but possibly you might feel a bit better if you consider the possibility that what happened was a purely physical event that never impinged on your wife's awareness at all.

Let me go a bit further. I had a relative who died from injuries received in an accident. This person appeared to be in great distress for some hours after the event, before slipping into a coma. The person was thrashing, moaning, crying out incoherent phrases, and appeared to be greatly suffering. But when I had a session with a medium whose reading was very evidential (Georgia O'Connor), I was told repeatedly and insistently that the person did not suffer at all. I was told that the experience was over in an instant and there was no distress, no pain. The implication was that the body was still in distress, and there was enough motor activity and animal awareness to produce thrashing, moans, and even crazed shouts - but the actual mind, the real person, was not participating in any of this, was not traumatized, was not even upset about it, was not in fact even aware of it.

I'm being vague about details because the more I say, the more I contaminate any future sessions with mediums. (I would wonder if they'd read the details here.) But I think I've said enough to indicate that it's at least possible that what looks horrible to an observer may not be so bad to the actual dying person, who may be safely detached, or not even present. Montaigne's story in the linked article is a good example of this.

"The implication was that the body was still in distress, and there was enough motor activity and animal awareness to produce thrashing, moans, and even crazed shouts - but the actual mind, the real person, was not participating in any of this, was not traumatized, was not even upset about it, was not in fact even aware of it. "

I have seen a fair number of people die; largely this is because I volunteer on a regular basis at a hospice house, though I have seen a few people die from severe physical truama as well.

I have to agree with what Michael wrote (and Georgia said). I think that what is often interpreted as terrible pain and mental torture is often just a physical reaction. That said, I don't think that comfort medication should be witheld if a patient has requested it.

A caveat would be that some people who are within 24 hours of death do seem to experience great anguish, both mental and physical. Not at the point of death, but in the hours preceding it. My own observations, for what they are worth, are that these people are the ones who have a lot of regrets and who really have not come to terms with their death.

I was very grateful that my own father, who had been a fighter his whole life in form or another, accepted his death and went very peacefully. I was amazed. It was like he had achieved a state of grace in the last two days.

no one

This reminds me of what the explorer David Livingston wrote about this experience being attacked by an African lion. Apparently at one point the lion had his head in its mouth:

"I heard a shout. Starting and looking half around, I saw the lion just in the act of springing upon me. I was on a little height; he caught my shoulder as he sprang and we both came to the ground below together. Growling horribly close to my ear, he shook me as a terrier does a rat. The shock produced a stupor similar to that which seems to be felt by a mouse after the first shake by a cat. It caused a sort of dreaminess in which there was no sense of pain or feeling of terror, though quite conscious of all that was happening. It was like what patients partially under the influence of chloroform describe, who see all the operation but feel not the knife. This singular condition was not the result of any mental process. The shake annihilated fear, and allowed no sense of horror in looking around at the beast. The peculiar state is probably produced in all animals killed by carnivora; and if so, is a merciful provision by our benevolent Creator for lessening the pain of death."

"If something like the transmission theory is correct"

Sadly there doesn't seem to be much in the way of researching that topic; since its almost required for dualism to work, and dualism is mostly required for afterlives to work, it seems to just be a matter of you accept that as fact because you believe in the latter. I'm not aware of any studies which directly go to help the transmission idea, only a few attempts to use it as an explanation of gaps in a few corner cases of neurology right now. I don't find it so comfortable to hold a position supported only by a few gaps.

"There is a difference between saying death entails a change of consciousness and saying death entails the extinction of consciousness [..] Some might reply that if the change is big enough, it amounts to extinction, since the "I" that we presently identify with would be lost. "

Some resources (there are a few through AECES' afterlife guide, which neatly compiles relevant quotes from many books under a topic) actually directly state that there is a case of annihilation, and others state the same that a sufficiently high sphere there is no longer an "I" concept. I think it may very well be the case that there are areas of planar residence after bodily death here, but oblivion may very well still await you.

I think it may very well be the case that there are areas of planar residence after bodily death here, but oblivion may very well still await you.

Sorry Joshua, but I don't see any of the NDE evidence suggesting that at all.

NDE reports consistently report an *expansion* of consciousness. It is an expansion of *I* to include far more than what you currently think of as *I*.

While you may argue that this amounts to a loss of you and equals personal extinction to all intents and purposes, unfortunately, no NDE experiencer interprets this expansion of consciousness in that way at all.

We can of course sit here philosophising on this matter until the cows come home, but I prefer to read the accounts of people who HAVE experienced this expansion of consciousness themselves and they certainly don't imply what you're suggesting at all.

Michael, when you write that only the physical body may have committed the act of suicide, are you alluding to the physical brain having made the decision separate to 'mind' or conciousness?
I was quite the Agnostic up til the day of my wifes death, but once I realised that this time I could not revive her, a strange feeling came over me after a few minutes and I didn't consider the body that lay on the ground to be her.Wishfull thinking possibly, but at the time I sensed that she had just gone away somewhere and left her body behind as she had no further use for it..Although I was feeling very distressed, in the 4 hours of dealing with Police and Ambulance personnell before the Coroners van arrived to take her body, I felt quite detached from the body itself even though it/she lay there uncovered for all that time.I really need that session with someone like Georgia, but now fear over several posts here and elsewhere, that I have disclosed too many details about my situation, and that will fuel my scepticism about the validity of any readings.

there doesn't seem to be much in the way of researching that topic; since its almost required for dualism to work, and dualism is mostly required for afterlives to work, it seems to just be a matter of you accept that as fact because you believe in the latter. I'm not aware of any studies which directly go to help the transmission idea, only a few attempts to use it as an explanation of gaps in a few corner cases of neurology right now. I don't find it so comfortable to hold a position supported only by a few gaps.

There parapsychological research that suggests that a form of dualism is true, for example: Durville experiments on the externalization of sensibility:

http://carlossalvarado.edublogs.org/2012/07/04/historical-perspectives-on-out-of-body-experiences-and-related-phenomena-ii-hector-durville-and-phantoms-of-the-living/

And Osis experiments on astral projection with psychic Tanous:

http://www.alextanous.org/sites/default/files/172_370278175.pdf

And say that the transmission hypothesis has only been used to explain the gaps of a few cases of neurology I think does not do justice to this hypothesis, because the transmission hypothesis not only serves to explain a few gaps of neuroscience, but can explain precisely those facts that could not happen if the production hypothesis is true as psi abilities and hyper-lucidity and extrasensory perception in near-death experiences.

Some resources (there are a few through AECES' afterlife guide, which neatly compiles relevant quotes from many books under a topic) actually directly state that there is a case of annihilation, and others state the same that a sufficiently high sphere there is no longer an "I" concept. I think it may very well be the case that there are areas of planar residence after bodily death here, but oblivion may very well still await you.

I do not know the sources. Evidence of near-death experiences and students of theosophy indicates that after death we perceive the world through psi abilities, hence the transformation of a sensory consciouness to an extrasensory consciouness. Then followed a period of confusion where our emotional conflicts seem to purge what theosophists call second death, where the self is shown lucid and intact.

"I started my involvement in to the afterlife after I've read the case of my favorate writer/psychologist with trance/mental medium,"

It's interesting how we each have our own doorway into spirituality, an experience or fact that begins the process of opening us up to possibilities we had formerly rejected. I've been following your posts in the Skeptiko forum, Alexander, and thinking that your doorway has been mediumship--specifically, a case reported by someone you trust completely--and that it's making you re-consider whether NDE's might be truly a glimpse of another reality.

For me, it was the opposite--It wasn't until I began studying NDE's that I began to take a look at other psi phenomena, mediumship included. So the NDE was *my* doorway.

Although, to be accurate, I doubt I would have been open to NDE's, if not for an LSD trip that I experienced many years before, and that made absolutely no sense to me at the time, and for years afterwards.

So everyone seems to enjoy their own unique variation on the spiritual journey.

Right now, you're at a place where one thing is leading you to another, and it's always fun to see someone's mind open up like that. It's an exciting time in one's life, when you realize you've been living in a self-imposed box, and begin to sense there's a larger and more beautiful world out there waiting to be discovered.

Snorkler, my opinion on this probably differs from that of most commenters on this blog. I think there is a purely biological, "animal" part of the self that can operate without any connection to the soul or spirit. It is not self-aware and is not capable of higher-level reasoning. In cases where the spirit withdraws or shuts down, this animal type of consciousness is all that's left.

Nanci Danison wrote about this. Many commenters here seemed to be repelled and offended by the idea. It struck me as probably true.

I suspect that in some cases of wildly atypical behavior of a violent, irrational, crazed nature, this animal self is in the driver's seat and the soul, like Elvis, has left the building, at least temporarily.

I could be wrong, obviously. But my own introspection suggests to me that, as animals rooted in millions of years of cutthroat evolutionary competition, we carry with us a fierce, feral, growling beast that bears little or no connection to our higher or true self. The Jeckyll & Hyde idea may be more true than we know.

“Bruce,the problem I have with NDE's that on many sites still is clamed that "dying brain" is the "only scientific" or "most successful" theory . . . I would like to have this refuted, but how?”

What convinces me, may not convince you. I started out as a long-time atheist/materialist who was 100% certain that all psychic claims were ridiculous delusions. It took years for me to study NDE’s, begin to open up to the fact of my own precognitive dreams, and to tie all this (and more) together with my own previous psychedelic experience.

Specifically, with NDE’s, the essential issue for me is this: how is it that when the brain seems least capable of producing conscious experience, a person will nevertheless report the most profound, ecstatic, loving, transformational, experience of their entire life?

You see, unlike most skeptics who are merely speculating on what deeply altered states of consciousness (like NDE’s) are like, and projecting onto them their own limited past experiences, because of my own psychedelic journeys, I know the amazing *power* of such experiences. So I know exactly what it is that needs to be explained away in order to maintain the materialist viewpoint. And I’m not buying those explanations.

Other than personal experience, there are other forms of refutation, too. A big part of this adventure, as you’re discovering, is engaging with people you trust, listening to their experiences, and beginning to put two and two together.

"we carry with us a fierce, feral, growling beast that bears little or no connection to our higher or true self. The Jeckyll & Hyde idea may be more true than we know."

Glad to hear you bring up Danison, Michael--you know my enthusiasm for her. But interestingly enough, while she does make a clear distinction between our two selves, I don't think she usually speaks of the animal self in such dark terms. She says, for example:

"I knew the body to be a very loving and giving human animal that consented to blend with me so I might take physical form."

Of course, it's possible I'm remembering from the book only what I want to remember!

Michael--I just realized that your quote has to do more with your own introspection than what you read in the book. But still, it's interesting to contrast that to the Danison quote.

" Psychic phenomena and paranormal stuff were completely beyond mmy mind,not that I thought it was delusions,I simply didn't think about it AT ALL."

That's true for me too. For me, that stuff wasn't WORTH thinking about. I would never have debated a psi proponent, any more than I would have debated a racist. Why argue with a crazy person?

@juan - well put.

Bruce, I'm probably exaggerating the dark side. Let's say that the animal self is capable of being vicious - think of how almost any cornered or wounded animal will act - but also capable of affection, sympathy, loyalty, etc. And it may be the case that the soul actually learns from (and adopts) some of these animal attributes and carries over the more positive ones when it returns to the other side. Maybe.

Alexander1304, I consider that there are two properties of some near-death experiences that falsify the dying brain hypothesis, because they are two properties that cannot be explained physiologically. They are hyper-lucidity while brain activity is collapsing and extrasensory perceptions in the form of extracorporeal veridical experiences or encounters with loved ones died but believed they had alive.

The hyper-lucidity is opposed to the model tacitly assumed by modern neuroscience, whereby if brain activity degrades, then mental activity degrades.

On the extracorporeal veridical experiences, sometimes unconscious sensory perceptions could be, especially if they relate to events that occurred in the same room of the patient, but in other cases this may not be, because the extracorporeal experiences referred to events that occurred outside the patient's room, which also ruled that they were hallucinations, because it corresponded with consensus reality. And it does not work to say that extrasensory experiences are just lucky hits, because there are many cases of this kind collected by nurses, but as there were not collected under laboratory conditions, the pseudo-skeptics will not accept them, when anecdotal evidence may be acceptable in some of these cases. There are also cases where the extracorporeal experiences were temporary markers that let us know that the experience occurred when brain activity was more critical, which leads us to assert that there mental activity had almost no brain activity, which leads to the first property , which is opposite to the model currently assumed by neuroscience.

And on some issues raised by the second article that you have presented, I would say the following. First, the author of the article states that if the survivalist hypothesis is true, then all the people who have been close to death would have to experience a NDE, but only 18% of patients experienced a NDE in a studio, so what is false survivalist hypothesis? This argument is flawed because the survivalist hypothesis does not imply that all the people who have been close to death to recall their near death experiences. What can happen is that only few people remember their experiences when his spirit dissociated from your body.

And second, in that article states that another failure of the survivalist hypothesis is explains how patients to remember their NDE when resuscitated if their brains were dead and had no memory. But this argument is also wrong, because it supposed that we need a functioning brain to be remembered, that is just what you need to probe, but this is something that NDEs seem to refute. The NDE suggests that there is a vehicle of consciousness is not the brain that persists after death, so that memory is stored in that vehicle, not the brain. And none of this is unnecessarily complicated or violates Ockham's razor, because because it has empirical support from other fields, such as Osis experiments with psychic Tanous.

The problem I had with Dannison regarding the animal versus the soul was that she said some people have *no* soul.

This is different from saying the soul and the biological body can bifurcate briefly under extreme duress; which I believe it does leaving the biological body to thrash blindly, yet alive, as a bundle of firing of neurons and synapses.

Whe reading Augustine and similar skeptics it is important to always keep in mind that they do NOT always accurately detail a case. There are deliberate omissions and skewed emphases. You must fact check with other sources.

Also, when they propose material solutions it is critical that you assess how probable there explanation is. You must additonally ask yourself if their explanations explain *all* of the facts of the case. Usually they do not. The dying brain cannot possibly account for veridical perceptions beyond the physical location of that brain and its primary sense organs

"Let's say that the animal self is capable of being vicious - think of how almost any cornered or wounded animal will act - but also capable of affection, sympathy, loyalty, etc. And it may be the case that the soul actually learns from (and adopts) some of these animal attributes "

This reminds me of a schizophrenic i once knew and worked with. he thought he was a werewolf. he was actually a really cool guy, intelligent, highly creative, sensitive,very quick witted and humerous and often expressed highly evolved spiritual ideas, but his belief that he could transform into a werewolf persisted.

Eventually it became apparent that the werewolf was his base drives, instincts, fears and agressions; all of which were in conflict with this really beautiful gentle artistic soul. It's like he just couldn't, himself, reconcile, the lower impulses; couldn't face them. So he created the werewolf. His higher self and the werewolf battled frequently on the spiritual plane (as he put it). These ongoing battles were what kicked off some pronounced psychotic episodes that landed him in the hospital on numerous occasions.

I think we are treading through a psychological/spiritual mine field when we split off aspects of our existance and look at it the other. The devil made me do it, etc

I think the kundalini perspective is more healthy. The animal is as much us as is god. Which operates predominantly depends on how one's energy has progressed up the chakras.

My VHO any how.

Cheers

Hi Alexander, shared death experiences are a growing field of study. They largely bipassed more recent scholarship until highlighted by Raymond Moody. Its now clear that these episodes have always occured and continue to do so.

Raymond's study is well worth reading as it blows yet another hole in the dying brain hypothesis, as now the experience involved other brains, not just the dying person's! At this point it's really getting to the stage where it's difficult to take the DBH seriously.


Skeptics have rallied and tried to counter this latest broadside by dismissing these accounts to mass delusions and hysteria among relatives brought on by grief and extreme emotional experiences such as that of a dying relative.

Unfortunately, as soon as you read any shared death experience, it's quite obvious that the exoeriences are completely lucid, coherant and unlike any kind of disjointed hysteria related

Michael and no one, I think that a key problem in Danison's discussion of our two selves, is the use of the word animal. If you think about it, "animal" carries about as much extraneous emotional baggage as "god".

What's just about the worst thing you can say about someone? He's an animal!

So whatever "animal" means to us, is what we'll read into her explanation.

I myself feel much more comfortable talking about our spirit on the one hand, and our body, on the other, or our spiritual self and our physical self. Makes it easier, I think, to talk about these matters--and even to *think* about them--cleanly and without prejudice.

"But from what I can tell, based on the literature, it is more like an expansion of consciousness than a total change." - Michael Prescott
---------------

This is going to be difficult to explain. A long time ago when I was in college, maybe in my early 20's?) I was sitting in a Sunday School class and I was listening to the youth minister that was teaching the class all of a sudden something happened to me and I felt this "ecstasy" like feeling, sort of like a euphoria or something, and all of a sudden I knew why the church existed, what the purpose of it was. It was an exceedingly weird feeling and had absolutely nothing at all to do with what the youth minister was droning on about. It was like the information was "downloaded" into my brain and all of a sudden I knew that the Church ( at least the one I was going to) served some useful purpose and was there for a reason. It was more than just a social gathering place.

It wasn't a "salvation" thing, or saving your soul purpose, but more to do with what it was supposed to be, a little bit of heaven on earth, or a respite from the world. Like the rabbi Jesus was wanted his followers to experience the "oneness" that he felt while he was in heaven, right here on Earth.

I think the closest word I can use that come nearest maybe what I had was a "kundalini" experience? It's like a euphoric brief moment of insight. And when it happens to you, you know it. It's more than just an "Ah-Hah!" moment.

"By analogy, it would be like having seen only visible light all your life, and then suddenly obtaining the ability to see infrared and ultraviolet also. The visible light spectrum would still be part of your awareness, but it would be augmented with new information and new insights." - michael Prescott
-----------------

And that's why so many near death experiencers say things like "I saw more colors than normal," or "more colors than we have in this life." It's because they are seeing the entire light spectrum instead of just a small part of it.

"Michael and no one, I think that a key problem in Danison's discussion of our two selves, is the use of the word animal."

I don't think she makes a shred of sense regardless of what word she uses. Her discussion suffers from more than just poor word choice.

Where I get the sense that Michael has a relatively poor opinion of animals as far as being intelligent sensitive creatures, I actually like animals alot and think their aptitudes and general awareness level are too often underrated.

So Dannison's use of "animal" doesn't turn *me* off in any way because of negative connotations. However, I think she did intend to imply, in a fully racist kind of way, that some humans are inferior beings that lack a higher self. And that is contradictory to a lot of other things she says about the source, etc. and that does turn me off.

As you know, I find Dannison's whole story to be highly suspect and consistency is something that is important when telling a story if you want to be believed. I would expect internal consistency in a cosmic scheme presented, ostensibly, by a prophet of "the source" of all things.

At any rate, use of the term "animal" is so imprecise as to meaningless.

Michael seems to se the term as a reference to lower impulses (much as my friend the werewolf divided and then disowned experiences at lower chakras). I see the term as a reference to the biological body which could continue autonomic functions after the soul has separated (think of a coma patient or a dying person whose body is going through some final gasps, but whose awarness is already on the other side). But who knows what Dannison actually meant. She's not a source that I would want to draw from when building a theory. Her account is far to bizarre, anomolous and suspicious to be a good solid footing.

Let me ask you this, do you know anyone you think is one of Dannison's souless animals? if so, why? I am truly curious.

BTW, I think that animals get a bad rap mostly because they do openly and without shame what humans do every day, but desperately try to hide or cloak under the guise of lofty ideals. We're embarassed by them.

Animals do it out in the open. Humans feel the need to get a room.

Some animals kill to eat. Humans invest heavily in killing each other in massive numbers for...what exactly I'm not sure...the reasons always change, but there are always these reasons that make less sense than needing to eat.

I think there is something special, more god like about humans, but I do think that most humans spend much of their time and energy engaging in the same activities and areas of focus that animals do.

no one, I agree with many of the things you're saying. I too, if anything, am biased *towards* animals rather than against them.

But you keep bringing up this one concept:

"do you know anyone you think is one of Dannison's souless animals? if so, why? I am truly curious."

Do you know that this concept is so unimportant to her that she doesn't even mention it *once* in her book? Someone pulled this idea out of a comment on her blog. It's hardly a cornerstone of her philosophy!

It does seem that you're determined to hold this thought against her as a reason to negate whatever else she says.

And no, I don't know anyone personally who I'm convinced is soulless. But it's a VERY popular metaphysical belief that the soul doesn't unite with the fetus till just before birth, at least on many occasions. Would it be so far-fetched to think that in some cases, perhaps a soul NEVER unites with the fetus?

But I have no idea whether the concept is true or not, and it's not a line of thinking I have much interest in pursuing.

" I think she did intend to imply, in a fully racist kind of way, that some humans are inferior beings that lack a higher self."

To say that her thinking bears any resemblance to racism, seems to me completely off the mark. Have you actually read her book, no one?

Please read this, from Backwards:

"The Source does not judge our actions when we are blended in human nature. There is no need for judgement because the Source cannot choose among bits of itself, among souls, and accept some of its parts and not others. ALL of Source Energy, every single one of us, every piece of dirt, every wisp of cloud, every molecule of the universe, returns to the Source because it is an *undivided part of the Source*. The Source could no more refuse to accept part of itself back into the whole than dry air could refuse to accept a molecule of water that evaporates."

Could any statement be less racist than that?

If true, this information about painlessness at the point of death could be comforting to the hearts of the grieving, but dangerous in the hands of government officials and policy makers. Think about it...

Bruce, I compared to racism because people being the way they are throughout history, the social/political implication of someone being an animal without a soul could be that, like animals, such people could be enslaved, slaughtered, etc. maybe PETA could get involved on their behalf, I don't know.

No. I haven't actually read Dannison's book. I have read her blog. I guess the soulless animal concept got more play there than in the book. However dannison does defend the notion and expand on it on her blog.

My criticism of Dannison goes far beyond the idea of people without souls.

"Would it be so far-fetched to think that in some cases, perhaps a soul NEVER unites with the fetus?"

What would that look like?

Art, your experience sounds like "cosmic consciousness" as described by Richard Maurice Bucke in his book of that name.

Bruce and No One -

Actually, as a general rule, I like animals better than people. However, it remains true that a cornered or wounded animal will lash out at you, and that even the gentlest animal can turn vicious under the right circumstances.

Perhaps the word "mammal" would be less inflammatory.

I doubt it's possible for a human being to function without a soul, except at the level of a comatose or dying body, and then only temporarily. Danison is probably wrong about that.

One of the problems with relying on NDEs ands channeled information is that if two sources disagree, there is no really objective way to resolve the disagreement. Perhaps the best approach is the one used by Robert Crookall in his books - to find the statements that many different sources agree on, and separate these from statements that are made by fewer sources or just a single source.

By that method, Danison's statement about soulless humans would probably be discarded. OTOH, her claim that the soul is hosted by the physical body, which has some degree of autonomy, is consistent with a wide range of traditions and with the whole notion of soul-body dualism. It's also consistent, I think, with common-sense observation and experience.

After all, there are many respects in which our behavior is dictated by our status as mammals, irrespective of any spiritual component. The maternal instinct, the sex drive and instinct to reproduce, the fight-or-flight response, and changes in mood attributable to hunger, pain, and illness are all, it seems to me, "mammalian" traits that operate without much reference to the intellect or the soul.

We humans seem to be compounded of mammalian characteristics common to all warm-blooded creatures, and qualities of introspection, self-awareness, conscience, logical reasoning, and spiritual longing, which are seldom, if ever, observed in other species. The simplest explanation is that the mammalian body serves as a host organism for the benevolent parasite of the soul - or to put it another way, the animal body and spiritual self have a symbiotic relationship (in which they are closely intertwined, and which entails a good deal of feedback).

Ian Lawton explores this idea of the body as a host for the soul in some of his books. He obtained the idea from hypnotic regression sessions with a variety of patients, similar to the work of Michael Newton and others. I've never been sure how much credence to give to this kind of research, since hypnotic subjects are known to confabulate.

"OTOH, her claim that the soul is hosted by the physical body, which has some degree of autonomy, is consistent with a wide range of traditions and with the whole notion of soul-body dualism. It's also consistent, I think, with common-sense observation and experience. "

Agreed. Also, sorry for mis-assuming your perspective on animals.

"her claim that the soul is hosted by the physical body, which has some degree of autonomy, is consistent with a wide range of traditions and with the whole notion of soul-body dualism."

I agree, Michael. And as I've said, one of the clearest forms of this tradition is the often-repeated assertion that the soul doesn't join the fetus in the womb until relatively late in the fetus's development, sometimes just prior to birth.

"I guess the soulless animal concept got more play there than in the book. However dannison does defend the notion and expand on it on her blog."

Looks like her blog has been discontinued, so I can't find that. I did find this, though, elsewhere:

Q: Nanci, are you saying that some humans walking around have no "soul"?



A: No, I am not saying some people are walking around without souls. I saw Earth's First Epoch and saw that early humans did not have souls. We incarnated later. . . . I do not encourage anyone to label another being as "soulless," . . . 


Well, I still don't like her ;-)

From reading many NDE's I get the feeling that the soul animates the body, although I have read accounts of "people" who have been out of their bodies who have watched their bodies swim, move, have epileptic fits, etc. without them being "in" the body. I think I even recall reading NDE's where the soul watched their body cry, and seem to be in pain, without them being in the body.

So, maybe the body is capable of moving to some degree without the soul being in the body?

However, the whole concept of being "in" or "out" of the body becomes meaningless in a Universe where time and space are illusions, as in a holographic universe. Our bodies may be little more than avatars for the soul and if everything around is little more than a holographic projection then arguing if something is "in" the body or "out of" the body becomes meaningless.

"I saw Earth's First Epoch and saw that early humans did not have souls. We incarnated later."

FWIW, this dovetails with Ian Lawton's books. The material he obtained from hypnotized subjects indicates that souls tried unsuccessfully to incarnate in early humans or proto-humans, but the human nervous system was not complex enough to permit it. Souls had to wait until the nervous system had become more advanced (bigger brain, more cerebral cortex) before they could use humans as their vehicles.

I'm not endorsing this claim, just passing it on. It makes a certain amount of intuitive sense to me, but who knows?

"FWIW, this dovetails with Ian Lawton's books."

Edgar Cayce espoused something similar. There could be something to it. Seems there almost have to be unless one were to subscribe to a biblical model of creation

"Souls had to wait until the nervous system had become more advanced (bigger brain, more cerebral cortex) before they could use humans as their vehicles."

Interesting, Michael. If that's true, then the soul waiting several months before inhabiting the fetus could be, you might say, a case of ontogeny recapitulating phylogeny.

I knew my ninth-grade biology would come in handy some day.

Or the soul might have quite a different reason for waiting to enter the womb. Some people say that it flits in and out during gestation. Might be a little boring in there.

"Well, I still don't like her ;-)"

You need therapy, man. :o)

Bruce, just to present a balanced view on Danison for those not as familiar with the pros and cons, she also does say, "Moreover, the human animal I had inhabited has her own life, thoughts,emotions and personality **and is perfectly capable of living out the rest of her lifetime without me inside**"

This can be found at http://ndestories.org/nanci-danison/


So she is saying that the animal/mammal/body is capable of a living a PERFECTLY normal life without the soul.

This is bizarre; soul as parasite.

And it points to internal and external inconsistencies in Danison's story(ies). No where in the body of literature pertaining to NDEs, mystical experiences, etc do we find anyone saying what Danison says.

Personally, I think she's making up the whole thing; and doing a bad job at that.

She also makes a strange twist on the life review, "I replayed every single second of Nanci’s life events and sensory input all at once for them, not for myself. These Light Beings actually entered into my life events, as me or others around me, and lived those events as though they were actually me doing it. I thought it odd at the time, but later learned how normal this is at higher evolutionary stages.

While my friends enjoyed my life review....."

Every NDE I have ever read reports the NDE as being for the experiencer's (the person having the NDE) benefit. Danison has it being for the amusement of her special "friends" and not at all for her.

This woman is really weird.

Given that Danison's claims are different from those of most NDErs, the safest course of action is probably to consider her story an outlier - i.e., a report that may or may not be true, but that requires corroboration.

I feel the same way about Eben Alexander's NDE, incidentally. (I read his book, Proof of Heaven.) While Alexander's account is interesting, it's not very evidential, and it lacks most of the standard features of an NDE (OBE, reunion with deceased loved ones, life review), while including other features that are seldom encountered (his "earthworm" experience, the girl on the giant butterfly, and other things more suggestive of an LSD/ketamine trip than an NDE). At times it reminded me of the Beatles movie Yellow Submarine. Koo-koo-ka-choo. :-)

"I feel the same way about Eben Alexander's NDE"

I think Alexander is at least sincere and accurately reporting what he actually experienced.

Agreed, though, that his experience, while remarkable and valuable in some ways, is anomolous when compared to the body of classic NDE accounts available to us. It bear more resemblance to what I've read about Ketamine intoxication (not so much LSD however). It also contains similarities to lucid dreaming.

A reason his experience might have been different could be that he didn't have a full fledged NDE. He didn't go through the cardiac arrest and brain activity cessation that the results in the classic NDE. He may have been precariously close, but he didn't clinically die.

Thus, it sounds like he was drifting in some in between state. There may have also been effects of the infection's toxins on his brain; adding to, perhaps even causing, the ketamine like experience. I could side with a materialist explanantion in Alexander's case.

"I could side with a materialist explanantion in Alexander's case."

The more I think about, I should have said I could see a materialist explanation as being reasonable concerning some aspects of Alexanders experience.

Some of what Alexander reports appears to be a true vision of the higher order.

The problem is that a coma might result in a mudding of dream states, toxin induced states and OBEs.

"Every NDE I have ever read reports the NDE as being for the experiencer's (the person having the NDE) benefit. Danison has it being for the amusement of her special "friends" and not at all for her."

I just looked over Danison's account of her life review in Backwards. To say that it was "not at all for her" is 100% untrue. She describes, in depth, what she felt and what she learned during her life review, and in that regard, it is like a million other life reviews both you and I have read.

She also describes the nonjudgemental support she received during this part of her NDE, and how wonderfully healing it was to re-experience her life in the presence of another. Again, completely familiar and typical stuff.

What is different, I agree, is that she was supported by not just one spiritual friend, but several. Does that disqualify her? Does she thereby lose all credibility?

Gimme a break. :o)

The dynamics of how her life review is shared by others who are also deeply immersed in it, reminds of shared NDEs, in which friends and loved ones at the bedside of the dying person actually seem to participate in the person's life review.

So we have examples of life reviews being shared by spiritual entities, by living persons, and does it seem ridiculous to assume that more than one person or being can be involved? Hardly.

no one, your compulsion to attack Danison because her NDE is not familiar to you in every last detail from what you've already read, reminds me of how an orthodox theologian might reject any spiritual insight that's not directly quoted in the Bible.

Michael, please read Natalie Sudman's Application of Impossible Things, available on Kindle. It is an NDE account that is profound, beautifully written, and truly fresh. If you don't enjoy it and find a multitude of things in it to chew on, I will eat my hat. (Which will be much less fun to chew on.)

I'm thinking of it at the moment because it echoes many aspects of the Danison book. She too describes being supported by more than one being during her NDE, as she shares her life's experience with spiritual friends who are as passionate about it as she is, and equally determined to squeeze every last bit of insight and meaning from it.

no one--I think you might want to stay away from this book. :o)

The comments to this entry are closed.