Blog powered by Typepad

« Heaven and hell | Main | If I wrote sitcoms »


I studied near death experiences in the early nineties extensively and was not convinced for some time that they were valid phenomena. Then I started to find stories that some people who had had NDE's were able to leave the room and see their children or relatives in the waiting room and even hear what they were saying and how they were dressed while their physical body was in the operating room. This suggests that consciousness can leave the physical body.

Also some people were able to meet with dead relatives or dead twins that they never knew existed, return, and later talk about these people. One woman saw a tennis shoe out on a window ledge of her room during her NDE that was later confirmed. It appears that our beliefs in this life affect our NDE. To me the most profound outcome of an NDE is the lost of our fear of death and often people come back with a renewed interest in being more spiritual in their lives and service to others. But skeptics will always find an out.

Just today when I was telling my doctor about my wife’s and her sister’s experience at the hospital with their terminally ill brother and just minutes before he died the bed pads that came off the wall (twice) at the moment she asked "is our dad here in the room", my doctor said it was probably the air conditioner that kicked on and knocked them over.

The mysteries continue; what would life be without them? If we were born all knowing how unique would we be?

This is the anomaly that should produce a paradigm change, but it hasn't. Instead, it serves as an illustration of how people of science can be just as stubborn about not seeing reality as any mental patient.

It's almost like people have to be mentally ready to accept the paradigm change. The information is out there, but if their mind is closed, no amount of arguing will change it. I'm endlessly fascinated by the holographic paradigm and think it has everything to do with life after death.
excerpt from Rosemarie W's NDE:
"I was going backwards from what I perceived to be a place of division. One the other side, I was alive and on this side I was not breathing. I was moving slowly at first and started gaining speed away from the place of division. ... ... Did you pass into or through a tunnel or enclosure? Uncertain It wasn't a tunnel. There was a place that I can only describe as a 'surface' that on one side of that place, you were in your body and alive and on this other side, you were leaving your body and not breathing. I was going backward as if I was going away from that place of separation.

I'm slogging my way through this exhaustive book and it's extremely thorough. Another aspect where the conventional NDE explanation falls short is that the gamma-band electromagnetic activity of the brain, which comprises the neural signals that make up high-level cognition (which NDEs clearly are, complete with sensory experience, personal recognition and clear memory) is SHUT DOWN during episodes severe enough to bring on clinical death. That electrochemical activity ceases, experiments have shown. So what is creating these vivid experiences in the dying brain?

very insightful and scientific analysis. it seems that although the book is promoting the concept of non-local consciousness, it nonetheless presents both sides and questions their validity.

while it is true that it is comforting to read see possible proofs for conscious-survival after death, these researchers have shown that they were more concern with finding truth than indulging in make-believe.....which unfortunately most 'skeptics' are guilty of. by ignoring or dismissing these researches, they are just resorting to using fantasy based on their current knowledge to deny the possibility of afterlife.

It appears to me that if our paradigm is that of a materialist then one phenomenon that is accepted as paranormal completely destroys our existing paradigm and I know from experience as many of my paradigms have come tumbling down creates a lot of mental pain and anxiety. I have heard some call this the slippery slope effect.

If you are an ultra skeptic and debunker and always being asked to make comments to the media it would be nearly impossible to accept anything outside your circle of beliefs. It would be like a priest or a preacher admitting that some of their teachings may be dogma rather than reality. Maybe this whole journey is about searching for truths or the ultimate truth that we are that that is having experiences. This appears to be what the mystics tell us about our reality.

One preacher that was able to make this transition has a website called beyond religion. His is an interesting story check it out. Below is a quote from his website.

“I am a former Presbyterian minister who served the Christian church for over forty years. Yet, I am now convinced that organized religion is not the final truth in our search for God. Rather, it is the grammar school of faith, an important stage in our spiritual education but one from which we must eventually graduate.”

That's an excellent point, William. If you're hidebound to a personal paradigm of how you look at reality, you can't afford one chink in your armor or the entire edifice of your worldview might come tumbling down.

That's why we find things like the Skeptic's Dictionary trashing Transcendental Meditation as bunk even though many studies have shown it to have many real health benefits, and the same for energy healing even though studies are beginning to show that qi is real and has real effects.

If you admit one, what other cherished view might you be forced to rethink? Better to maintain a science-backed stubborn ignorance and think we have all the answers. We have many answers, but we are far, far from knowing everything.

I suggest anyone who craves a deeper look into the phenomenon of why some people can't see things outside their paradigm read the wonderful "Extraordinary Knowing" by the late Elizabeth Mayer, Ph.D. It's a brilliant look not only at a skeptic's journey to reluctant acceptance of psi and anomalous cognition, but her look at why people can't see the forest for the trees.

Thanks for posting this blog post Michael, it broaders my scope of knowledge regarding the NDE Phenomenon and these supposed "triggers" of the Phenomenon.

Also, thank you everyone else for sharing your insights in the responses, it's helped me to get an even stronger view of this Phenomenon.

I'll need to revise my Article on NDEs in the near future with this updated information.

A huge factor that supports near death experiences, which people rarely mention, is how the experiencer always see's dead relatives, opposed to living relatives.

You see, skeptics believe that the NDE is a facet of our brains, and hallucinate artificial, comforting images (loved ones). But for most, nothing would be me more comforting than to be with a loved one who was ALIVE (a living wife, husband, mother, father etc). I think many people would be alarmed at seeing dead Uncle Ned again, so why would the brain produce this?

If the skeptics were right, then SOMEWHERE in NDE literature there would be an example of an individual meeting a living relative at the pearly gates. I have yet to see this. It seems to be absolutely consistent: NDE'ers encounter the dead, and only the dead.

This CAN'T be a coincidence. It sways things even further toward sincerity.

I think there are a few cases of NDErs who saw living people, but I can't remember the details. Anybody else know?

The site of has some comments about seeing living people. For example:
Webmaster note: This NDE is interesting in that the woman sees the soul of a living person (her Rabbi). This is not an unusual aspect to NDEs and there are similar documented cases of NDErs seeing living people in the spirit realm.

PMH Atwater in her book, "The Complete Idiots Guide To Near-Death Experiences", states that in those cases where children and people saw living friends and living relatives, it was merely as an introductory calming event to ease the transition of the person to the other side, and that after this initial calming phase ended, the "living person" disappeared, and did not reappear in the rest of the NDE event.

Some NDErs even said that the angels and higher beings that they met during their NDE who looked like human beings turned into a ball of light when asked, "Is that how you really are"? So, it seems that the "Living Persons" can also be hiding their true form as well, and are actually a higher light being trying to ease the person's transition in the introductory phase.

I would also like to point out that the example given above, with the Jewish Woman seeing her Living Rabbi during her NDE, makes *perfect sense* in it's full context...

"She was told it was good that she had all of these righteous people on her side, but it wasn't enough and only if she had a righteous person in this world who would beseech on her behalf would she be given merit. She mentioned the name of a righteous Hassidic Rebbe with whom she was associated.

The Rebbe at that moment was surrounded by his followers as is usual on Friday nights. His soul, however, made an appearance in the spiritual world in order to benefit E.L. She was told that there were 3 conditions for her to return. One was to continue in the repentance process she had begun. Two, she was to write a letter of thanks to the Rebbe telling him that his merit is what saved her. The third one, she wouldn't tell us about."

I wonder if any mentioned is made of John Lorber's work with hydrocephalics, one intriguing case in particular involving a young man who had less than 5% normal brain mass and yet above average IQ, having completed a mathematics degree!
Unsurprisingly, this is a neuroscientific finding hardly known about at all.

I'm also really interested in this phenomenon of regained awareness suddenly prior to death in Alzheimer's cases. Any readers know any examples of this? I too have heard it described as an occasional occurrence, but haven't ever seen any more said of it than that.

In a holographic universe all the information is spread throughout the entire universe. The idea that we only exist in this one point in time is an illusion. Everything is connected to everything else. There is no such thing as "souls" only "soul." What's my point? Anything that exists on earth exists in heaven. This reality is a holographic projection from the universal hologram.

I still feel that reference to the living would be far more common if the NDE were an hallucination or a figment. The context of those cases, like with the Rabbi, really are important because from a neurological standpoint, the brain wouldn't have to "rationalize" the experience of encountering the living in an hallucination.

If the NDE were neurological, the trips would sound more like this: "I saw a bright light, then I was back at home with my wife and kids, and we were playing cards and watching our favorite TV show, then my wife put her arm on my hand and I was back in my body".

This is the sort of pseudo NDE I have never read.
Anyone else come across this book?I have no beliefs at all, but my parents were interested in spiritualism without having a formal belief in a god. The concept of the book would seem to have some relevance to the subjec under discussion. I have no personal experience but when my grandmother was very old we visited her in the nursing home and she looked very still in her bed. The nurse came in, gave her a shake and said "You can't go yet Milly, there's someone here to see you" She died that night. I was about 10 I think.

To me, it makes no sense whatsover to say that "consciousness can leave the body." I mean, I think everything has an *aspect* of consciousness to it (I won't go into that here), but the idea of a consciousness that can leave one's body just strikes me as ego-projection and wishful thinking.

If I can hit you in the head so hard that your thinking becomes permanently impaired, then that shows your consciousness depends on that physical hardware.

Human beings just have a hard time realizing that their egos are not solid, realistic objects that exist durably in the real world. Believing in NDEs is just clinging to a closed-minded, primitive belief that excuses itself by dressing up in the guise of profound spirituality.

Just admit that your consciousness is a temporary process resulting from this organic brain. It's amazing enough that consciousness occurs at all, and you're just muddling matters by dragging in wishful beliefs like some ego that exists above and beyond your physical self.

"All you touch, and all you see / is all your life will ever be."

>If I can hit you in the head so hard that your thinking becomes permanently impaired, then that shows your consciousness depends on that physical hardware.

If I hit my TV hard enough that the picture and sound become permanently impaired, does that show that the signal has been impaired?

To me, consciousness is the signal, and the nervous system is the receiver. William James advanced this view (not using the TV analogy, of course) more than 100 years ago. Irreducible Mind defends this view.

I suspect that when the receiver quits functioning, the signal goes on. But of course I don't know for sure.

>It's amazing enough that consciousness occurs at all

That's true! Consciousness is a kind of miracle, really. Whatever its ultimate source or nature, it's an astonishing thing to be alive and aware and self-aware.

I am glad that you are reading the Irreducible Mind as well. I was wondering who else, not being a psychologist invested in the book. Thanks for bringing attention to this book. It seems like a very good argument against strict materialism regarding the mind. In terms of ego, many spiritual traditions, even those of a non reductive mode teach to silence the ego (not saying I do not struggle with that daily). Personally I believe that ego is the one thing that does not go on because it is a social construct. I guess I still side with Aldous Huxley's idea of the brain functioning as a reducing valve. And that sort of negates the idea of the ego being anything more than a temporary state of functioning. Thank you for the great blog. It is a mile marker of a time of exciting change and discovery.

One of the common mistakes debunkers and their followers make is to confuse an untested hypothesis as a theory. When presented with a complicated phenomena, instead of dealing with the entire phenomena they offer an explanation that deals with one small part of the phenomena. As with the materialist explanations for NDEs, these hypotheses, if held up against the full extent of the phenomena clearly fall short. Debunkers are not interested in the truth, they are exactly like the cardinals who refused to look through Galilleo's telescope: they are believers in a religion (materialism) and refuse to consider anything that is heretical to that religion.

I am the wife of Montague Keen, contrary to what I read on your website, Monty materialised many times walked around chatted to several people, shook hands , he talked in his own voice. I would be happy to share this with you should you ever come to London. He gives scientific information etc. look at our website, I feel you would find it interesting. All the best, Veronica Keen

The comments to this entry are closed.