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Great post Michael. I would add a caveat against accepting the general uniformity of the NDE as evidence for it's transcendence; such consistency is also found in psychedelic experiences, for example, most DMT - dimethyltryptamine, the active component of the Amazonian brew Ayahuasca - accounts contain similar archetypes from geometric patterns, gleaming futuristic cities and the ubiquitous machine elves. It follows, if the DMT and other psychedelic experiences can be proved to be transcendental rather than purely neurological, then their commonalities should trouble the NDE-survival hypothesis.

ooops, that should be: "shouldn't trouble the survival-NDE hypothesis."

I enjoyed this post. I agree, many features of the NDE seem to have an archetypical significance that transcends superficial difference between accounts.

One example of a cross cultural hallmark of the NDE is being told that you must return to your body because it's not your time. In Western NDEs, the explanation is often that there is more good work that must be done, while in some Eastern NDEs, it's often attributed to being a bureaucratic error.

Reaching a barrier or point of no return also seems to be a universal NDE trait. Chris Carter recounts several NDEs in his book of people of different cultures reporting barriers taking the forms of doors, fences, or in the case of one Maori woman, a curtain of seaweed.

I agree with you, but I would like to say that someone who believes that NDEs are hallucinations could argue that the adaptive advantage of NDEs is that humans who were close to death and who had an NDE were more likely to survive after a time that humans who were close to death but did not have an NDE. So I'm thinking that the hyper-lucidity and veridical and extrasensory aspects are the elements of NDEs that strongly rule out hallucinatory hypothesis and it suggest a mind-body dissociation.

Nice post, Michael. I should also add that the cultural expectancy hypothesis isn't as lethal to a transcendent interpretation as it might seem. The Tibetan Book of the Dead says that recently dead people see images and visions projected by their minds. This dovetails with some mediumistic communications where alleged discarnate entities say that the afterlife is based around people's thoughts and expectations. Perhaps each person has their own unique afterlife after they are dead, akin to a vivid dream, and then move on to other planes of consciousness that are more communal?

Intensely religious people often 'lose their religion', yet report a deeper relationship with God after their near-death experience.
One common exception to this are those that experience distressing, especially hellish NDE's. Though exceedingly rare, hellish NDE's play into our Judeo-Christian paradigm, so it's only natural for many of these experiencer's to resort to fundamentalist religion as a coping mechanism.
The most common distressing NDE is the Void-type. Ironically, some people report the dark Void as comforting, yet others come back horrified.

Obviously, interpretation based on expectations can affect the early stages of the experience. Personally, I believe that those who have little or no clear expectations fare best.

One wonders what happens to a dogmatic skeptic upon arrival in the afterlife. Would they still be in denial, confabulating some elaborate scenario to yet deny the reality of spirits? Or do they feel contrition and vow henceforth to spread truth rather than falsehood?

Thanks for this, Michael. You've really made some strong points here.

"Realer than real" or "more real than normal" alludes to the fuzziness in a holographic projection as described by Craig Hogan, PhD, director of Fermilab. We live in the holographic projection and the place we call Heaven is the original holographic film that our universe is a projection from.

"More colors than normal" is an allusion to the ability to see the entire light spectrum while out of the body. The physical body limits what part of the light spectrum we are able to see but when "the soul" leaves the body those limitations are lifted.

"Literally feeling like they are everywhere in the Universe at once" is an allusion to the connectedness and oneness of holographic film, each piece containing the whole.

Being able to see 360 degrees is because when out of the body your consciousness exists everywhere at the same time. When you are interconnected with the whole Universe whatever you focus your attention on is what you experience.

Good discussion, Michael... here's more grist for the mill...

During the 42 years since my NDE, I came to understand the reason for my personal recall home was to remember forgotten information in order to share it with the world for the benefit of humankind and help to bring peace to the planet. Those like me around the world, are healers, teachers, writers, artists, musicians, creatives and even scientists, who have been awakened to higher consciousness through the experience of Unconditional Love.

Everyday people have been having NDEs and remembering these peeks beyond the veil in increasing numbers in recent human history. It is how consciousness is evolving, God is unfolding. Most people live at the unconscious level, unaware there is anything more. A NDE is an unexpected wake up call to other realities that we can access for knowledge that will help us solve the problems of human existence in a physical world.

People of higher consciousness, whether they have had a NDE or not, are going to change the world and it's not just wishful thinking! We are growing in numbers and reaching critical mass in these tumultuous times.

I was 30 years old. I was agnostic with a multi-Christian background. I thought death was the end. I was white water river rafting. Long story short-- I drowned. Everything went black then I was above my body looking down at the river in the middle of the forest. My body was trapped under the raft caught in a hydraulic. I realized I was dead (very calmly).

I was pulled into a dark tunnel-like, timeless, peaceful experience and surrounded by unconditional love as memories of all that ever was and is permeated my consciousness with universal knowledge. A being of light traveled beside me who knew all about me and loved me unconditionally (though I don't remember any life review), we communicated telepathically and every question I had was answered without words. One of the first things I remembered was that I had done this before-- died, gone home, and lived many other human lifetimes along my soul journey.

We floated into the light. I saw no religious figures or symbols. Nothing dark or frightening. I saw no deceased relatives. I flew over and around scenic landscapes, admired indescribably beautiful colorful flowers, heard no music or sounds. I was taken to healing centers and shown how newly returning souls were purified energetically through their life reviews, and reunited with their families in this dimension, and I was taught many healing techniques.

I was given the choice to stay or go back. I wanted to stay but was taken (we flew) to a crystal city to the front of the Hall of Knowledge and was told if I decided to return I'd be given knowledge that would help me along my spiritual journey back in my body. I chose to return.

I suffered years of depression and my life was turned upside down because nobody talked about or knew about NDEs back then and people thought I was crazy. I lost everything until I embarked on a path of personal and spiritual growth. I kept my secret for 15 years and after I finally told my story, my spiritual path opened before me. As part of that path I experimented with several psychedelics (none previous to NDE) and there is no comparison. The NDE stands apart is so many ways, but that's another story.

I am a completely different person than I was before my NDE. My life has gone in directions it never would have had I not had this experience. It took me 7 years to recover enough to start on my journey and I have been on it ever since. I'll be 72 in a couple of months and still going strong.

Believe me, my NDE… it was real! Consciousness does continue after the death of its host and is eternal.
Namaste!

I generally agree...but how do non-Western NDEs fit in there? Hindus being send back because the wrong person with an identical name is taken (and another person with the same name apparently actually dies in a village close by? Or of the Druzes (collected by Ian Stevenson) who are drawn towards a woman who is just giving birth with the intention to enter the baby's body) and after re-entering their old body they find out that this woman had a still-birth? Those certainly have to be considered along with the typical Western experience; I am still trying to fit them into the picture...

"Since these elements of an NDE cannot be verified by an outside observer, they are often seen as non-evidential. When a skeptical explanation is called for, the usual one is that the whole experience was a hallucination".

This is the problem I have of doctors feedback, sometimes in research, who are doing objective observations not subjective ones.

I know when I got near death years ago and had an experience where a voice came and talked to me and told me I was about to die, and did I want to? There were no doctors around, although I was put to sleep some days later when they realized that I may go into cardiac arrest. If they were now asked if I came close to dying at that point, they would say no. And this is what frequently happens I think.

Here's a little something I found while perusing. Somewhat old and some of you may have seen it. It refers to PSI and telepathy, and kind of backs up once again what 'Seth' says. That the body releases energy outside of itself as well as electrically along nerves, and produces telepathy this way. Or as research suggests, the body's cells, especially neurons, were communicating to each other outside the 'body'."Entanglement" ??

http://www.dailygrail.com/blogs/Paul-Devereux/2012/12/Head-Light-Taking-the-Psychology-Out-Parapsychology

Cheers folks. Lyn x.

In line with this, does anyone know when more details of Parnia's study come out?

I would like to hear more about the 'strongly veridical' case he mentioned.

Nice post!

The only quasi-reasonable counter I have heard skeptics make is that a chemical is released by the dying brain, probably DMT, and that causes the NDE experience. This would not be an evolutionary feature as you set up, but just a process that happens and that has side effects (i.e. an NDE).

However, there is no evidence that such a chemical exists in the brain. Strassman *proposed* that DMT is produced in the pineal gland (that ever mysterious and clever little nub in the center of the brain). There is no evidence that this is true. Nor is there evidence that DMT or any other hallucinogen is found in > threshold concentrations in the human brain post mortem.

Furthermore, there is no chemical that I am aware of that one can ingest and experience the same phenomena that NDErs do. There are some vague similarities between some of the features of certain drug induced visions and NDEs - and ambitious researchers like to stretch these similarities to the point where they heavily overlap - though in reality the are two different animals altogether.

O2 deprivation is another proposed mechanism that would not require an evolutionary history. Yet O2 deprivation can easily be shown, experimentally, to NOT replicate the clarity and consistency of NDEs. It fails miserably in this regard.

None of the endogenous drug release, O2 deprivation type arguments address the NDE that is the result of the perception - but not the actuality - of imminent death; such as the falling mountain climbers. Moreover, the fear of death causing a psychologically based hallucination does not seem to hold up either as combat veterans never describe having NDEs even as bullets and bombs are striking about them and the situation seems hopeless. They do often disassociate, but not to the point of hallucinating, which would be, when one thinks about it, counter productive in an evolutionary sense.

Just thought I'd toss all of that out there as I'm sure they would come up sooner or later.

Diane Goble said: "People of higher consciousness, whether they have had a NDE or not, are going to change the world and it's not just wishful thinking! We are growing in numbers and reaching critical mass in these tumultuous times."

This is such New Age nonsense. What on earth do you mean by critical mass? Are you hoping for a nuclear explosion?

Accept that there is simply no possibility of changing the bulk of humanity. Why would you want to, anyway? People are down here to learn from their mistakes, not be told how to behave.

no one said: "None of the endogenous drug release, O2 deprivation type arguments address the NDE that is the result of the perception - but not the actuality - of imminent death; such as the falling mountain climbers."

This reminds me of another quasi-reasonable argument I've heard: that the life review is a result of the brain desperately trying to search through all its previous memories to find an answer -a way to escape imminent death (in the case of mountain climbers - falling from a great height). Ingenious.

@Barbara

"Accept that there is simply no possibility of changing the bulk of humanity. Why would you want to, anyway?"

Civilization can and is evolving to a higher state. For most of history cultures around the world thought there was no problem in owning other human beings as slaves. Women were usually considered little better than their husband's property as well. The ancient Romans enjoyed forcing people to fight to the death as entertainment. The ancient Greeks thought it okay to rape boys. The ancient Carthaginians sacrificed children to their gods. I could go on and on listing outrageous sins of ancient cultures. Yet today we do live in an overall more compassionate culture which at least in theory recognizes the rights of every human being. Though I do admit there is still a long way to go in our hyper-materialist culture before we have a truly compassionate civilization.

I think that everybody intuitively knows that the NDE reports are real, no matter what arguments they might make. This is similar to how people (mostly kids) are fascinated with dreams, and feel that there is something significant about them, dispite the official "scientific" view that they are meaningless things your brain does when you sleep.

I do agree with Stephen, humanity does seem to becoming less violent (it's supposedly pretty pronounced in the U.S.). One reason might be the growing acceptance and mandate of democratic elections, versus the often violent overthrows of the past. Another reason may be birth control - women can control the number of their offspring, so there's less people born to mothers who don't want them, something that can really screw them up psychologically.

Excellent presentation about NDEs, Michael, you hit everything perfectly, in my opinion.

Great post, Michael! Good to see you adding to your long list of meaty commentaries on the NDE.

Once again, what you have to say has got me thinking about these things.

Excellent post,Michael. I know there is a great divide between people explaining NDE.Just recently I've ordered and read the new(relatively) book by David Wiebers "Theory Of Reality" - he provides excellent explanations why "reductionistic psychological/physiological" models fail to explain many common features of NDE - made sense to me.I recently have been in personal correspondence with few researchers,got insightful responses.I also contacted Rene Jorgensen,actual NDE experiencer and author,he moved to the town I'm living,suggested to meet personally.I've never talked directly to NDE experiences,may be interesting.I actually begin to value more their direct experience. The attempts to explain them away seem like academic exercise,having no bearing on experiencers feelings and afterward views.

Juan said:

"someone who believes that NDEs are hallucinations could argue that the adaptive advantage of NDEs is that humans who were close to death and who had an NDE were more likely to survive after a time that humans who were close to death but did not have an NDE."

Juan, this is an interesting argument, one I haven't heard before. You've got me thinking.

Tell me--according to this theory, what is it about the NDE that would make an experiencer more likely to survive than someone who came close to death, but didn't have a true NDE?

Hi.
Have you seen this video?
http://www.ndespace.org/video/evidence-for-obes

That's a very good proof of NDE's and OOBE's!! Unluckily there aren't more infos (name, place, etc.), so I'd like to know if you have more details about this extraordinary case.
TNX!

@Douglas: According to "Horizone Research "first results are going to be published in September/October 2013, so coming soon :-)

Stephen said: "Civilization can and is evolving to a higher state."

You seem to believe the propaganda, too!
We have different mores from other civilisations, but not necessarily better ones.

Hunter-gatherer groups were probably the best -that's what we evolved to be. Our current consumerist civilisation trumpets its advances in human rights - but only at the expense of the rest of the natural world (a mass extinction is underway caused by humanity -didn't you know? - and mineral resources are being used up at an unsustainable rate).

If something suits TPTB, no amount of "democracy" can fix it. Take one simple example: pesticides are killing honey bees. Nobody voted for this, but nobody can do anything to stop it. If the multinational chemical companies want to sell their neonicotinoids, governments can't and don't resist.

Giving individuals more rights is the simplest way to distract them or keep them contented enough so you can sell them something and make a big profit. Or maybe I'm just more cynical than you.

@Barbara
Don't forget that hunter-gatherers wiped out mammoths etc. so they were no better. As for neonicotinoids, the EU is going to ban them next year. But why wait? yes, so they can develop something else just as bad. It always is - remember DDT, paraquat, all those fungicides that have disappeared off the shelves...why don't they have proper safety trials? Because, as you say, that would interfere with profit.

Barbara, you are really cynical. If the world can't change, we are screwed. Even materialist atheists are vocal about changing the world, ie: Dawkins' "brights", a secular but moral society, etc. If anything it's the one commonality between different intelligent groups that disagree with one another, there's no sense in trying to shoot it down.

The consistency of DMT reports is interesting. I'd attribute this to something like the filter theory of consciousness - that when brain activity is disrupted, the mind is let loose to explore a wider spectrum of awareness, and the resulting experiences are "real," just not part of our ordinary reality.

I think NDEs, like all other experiences, are modeled in our personal M-space, which is why expectations (such as Hindu bureaucracy or Druze reincarnation) come into play. Materialists are still thinking in terms of what is (to me) an outdated paradigm of "objective reality" perceived by sense organs.

Barbara's views do strike me as a tad cynical, although cynicism can serve as a useful corrective to excessive optimism. Personally I think it's possible that humanity will reach a tipping point in which mystical experiences will actually change our culture. Global communication perhaps makes this outcome more likely. I do think we've made progress since the days of ancient Rome, or even since the days of segregated drinking fountains in the South. OTOH, it's always a case of two steps forward, one step back. Progress is slow and frustrating. Life on earth is sort of a pain in the ass.

Stephen wrote:

"For most of history cultures around the world thought there was no problem in owning other human beings as slaves. Women were usually considered little better than their husband's property as well. The ancient Romans enjoyed forcing people to fight to the death as entertainment. The ancient Greeks thought it okay to rape boys. The ancient Carthaginians sacrificed children to their gods."

In other words, nothing has changed very much. Don't you follow the news at all???

(Thought Barbara needed some moral support amongst all these starry-eyed optimists... :-)

Cyrus - " If the world can't change, we are screwed."

Agreed. But that doesn't mean we will change. The world is what it is and all indications are that the self-destructive trends in our civilization are in fact not going to change, spiritual principles or no. There is a significant probability of global disaster in the next century due to things such as super plagues, starvation, nuclear war caused by overpopulation and pollution. To recognize this is realism not cynicism.

@ Diane Goble

Thanks for sharing your NDE. I had read it before and your story has always impressed me.

"As part of that path I experimented with several psychedelics (none previous to NDE) and there is no comparison. The NDE stands apart is so many ways, but that's another story."

Would you care to talk more about this? It sounds like you *might* be saying there is some common ground between NDEs and psychedelically induced experience, though you're certainly stressing the differences. As someone who has had some formative experiences through entheogens, I'd love to hear you talk more about this.

Thanks!
Bruce

Bruce Siegel - "Tell me--according to this theory, what is it about the NDE that would make an experiencer more likely to survive than someone who came close to death, but didn't have a true NDE?"

It's kind of a vague notion with no research support, but individuals who experience NDEs are assumed to deal with life better after surviving trauma than those who survive trauma but don't have NDEs. The aftereffects of NDE are somehow supposed to make it more likely that they would seek out mates, successfully reproduce, and spread the new genetic changes further into the population. The mechanism would be standard neoDarwinist random mutation plus selection. This explanation is kind of ridiculous for a lot of reasons. In particular, as Michael pointed out, there is no reason random genetic changes to the incredible complexities of brain development and structure could cause the particular coordinated syndrome of transcendental experiences occurring in NDEs.

This hypothesis would, however, explain a couple of things about NDEs that are otherwise obscure. Why do only 5-7% of the population have NDEs? This would be simply because the mutation is just starting to spread and is present in only a small percentage of the population. And the reason why there are mostly no elderly NDEers would be because the elderly can't reproduce (no evolutionary selection advantage). Of course another explanation could be that it is simply more likely that younger victims will survive trauma.

Whilst we are on the subject of NDEs I thought I would bring this up. Many people talk about how Pam Reynolds made an error in regards to the saw. However I have heard many people that Michael Sabom made a mistake and the groove was excatly where Pam said it was. Sabom was just confused about the location of it because of pam reynolds POV. Anyway just curious as to why its not discussed more.

Tell me--according to this theory, what is it about the NDE that would make an experiencer more likely to survive than someone who came close to death, but didn't have a true NDE?

According to this idea, people who have had an NDE are revitalized by chemical substances secreted during their NDEs, while people who have not had an NDE lack this defense. However, cases of veridical and extracorporeal/extrasensory experiences in some NDEs falsify the hallucinatory hypothesis and suggest a mind-body separation.

You can't hallucinate when your brain is not working.

I'm bored with sceptical arguments now. After 35 years of them "throwing the kitchen sink" at the experience...still no explanation that works.

Sceptics are only really denialists IMHO.

Doubter, I seem to have read NDE accounts though were the person felt WORSE off and struggled after having the NDE.

I still can't see what kind of evolutionary advantage there is to having an NDE. Just having the comforting feeling of asleep would seem to work just as well as an elaborate NDE in helping the person get through the near-death crisis.

Why do only 5-7% of the population have NDEs?

This aspect also can be explained considering that all people who are close enough to death have a NDE
because the astral body separates from the organic body to the brink of death, but only some people remember their NDE because you need a young brain to assimilate the experiences during the disembodied state.

Kathleen - Doubter, I seem to have read NDE accounts though were the person felt WORSE off and struggled after having the NDE.

I agree there are at least some such accounts. I don't know how representative they are, but my guess is they are in the minority. Usually NDEs seem to be uplifting in various ways, but to assume that this is evolutionarily advantageous seems at best barely plausible.

I still can't see what kind of evolutionary advantage there is to having an NDE. Just having the comforting feeling of asleep would seem to work just as well as an elaborate NDE in helping the person get through the near-death crisis.

In this concept consciousness has to be active at some level for the evolving "emergency recovery mode" (NDE) to be effective. For instance with a suicide - there would be much more emotional recovery power in a complex experience including encountering the Light, being reprimanded about throwing away life, choosing to come back, etc., than in just a passive coma. I am not advocating this sort of hypothesis - there are too many reasons it is untenable, but it is interesting to see how dedicated materialists try to get more sophisticated in their theorizing to deny the spiritual reality of NDEs.

Regarding the fact that 'only 5-7% of people have an NDE', this may be a recall issue.

Certainly this is the possibility that Parnia is following. He says his research indicates that most people don't recall their experiences on, or soon after, waking up, and that by getting to patients more quickly they should be able to record more experiences before they vanish.

This makes sense, since these experiences are so transcendental that most people are likely to deal with them by blanking them. Even those NDEers who do recall their experience find it almost impossible to describe in a way that we can understand and integration is a real issue.

By the way, I would be wary of statistics in any case. 5% only means 5% of those who volunteered their experiences. I'm sure many more keep silent, for a variety of reasons.

Lynn,

>> It refers to PSI and telepathy <<

Telepathy *is* psi. By saying psi “and” telepathy you seem to be indicating some distinction between them, but there’s not. Psi covers all psychic functioning: telepathy, variations of precognition, clairvoyance, and even PK. Also, “psi” should not be in all caps.

- Pat

I was recently listening to one of the major players in the NDE research field being interviewed in a you tube vid. - maybe it was Parnia - and he was saying that many NDErs struggle for years after the experience because they 1. feel that ordinary life does not compare favorably to what they experienced during the NDE and 2. because no one seems to understand or relate to them any longer in light of having had an NDE. The dichotomy - ordinary life v NDE does cause problems for survivors, apparently.

Regarding the low % of cardiac arrest resuscitation patients experiencing NDEs, Parnia (it was definitely Parnia) says his research is strongly suggesting that far more - maybe all - have NDEs, but only a few remember them. His research has shown that NDEs are most likely to remembered and remembered in greater detail the sooner after they occurred. Within days the memory of details fades even for those who remember, generally, having an NDE. Parnia suggests that recalling NDEs is a lot like recalling dreams. Everyone dreams. Some people claim they don't and most people will forget their dreams within an hour (or less) of waking up if they don't write them down.

"Within days the memory of details fades even for those who remember, generally, having an NDE."

Interesting, no one. That conflicts with what so many NDErs insist on, and in such strong terms. They say that the memory of their experience remains crystal clear after many years, even clearer than events from "real life."

One possible explanation is that NDErs tend to go over the NDE in their minds repeatedly following the actual experience. This would seem natural, since the event is ecstatic, and they long to return to that space. And I suppose any memory you repeatedly try to recollect, will remain strong.

Parnia's comment does make sense in light of my own experiences in altered states. On returning to ordinary consciousness, I always knew that I had seen and experienced so much more than I was capable of bringing back. It was always clear to me that the wealth of images, revelations, feelings, etc that I had experienced was enormous, and that I was remembering just the *tiniest* part. Very frustrating!

I haven't posted on a blog or forum for several years now, but I feel moved to do so now.

Whenever Barbara posts here or elsewhere I have found myself agreeing with 100% (well 98% maybe). To describe her as cynical - even just a tad cynical - is missing the point. She is being realistic. If you disagree just open your eyes and look around you.

Jimmy Savile was front page news again yesterday. David Cameron is going to stop people like him getting their ideas from the Internet, except that JS didn't have any Internet. Will we ever really find out what happened at Haute de la Garenne? Obama and Congress are dithering about how many more Muslims they need to kill, not to mention the FEMA camps. Need I go on?

If it wasn't for the likes of Simon Cowell, the critical masses would be drowning in the Slough of Despond.

As for the woolly mammoths, they were quick frozen, not hunted to extinction. Captain BirdsEye can explain that. That, however, is another topic in itself.

I don't know if Warren was actually agreeing with Barbara or just supporting her, but I know that I feel the same way. I have seen and wondered and puzzled about the same things as Barbara and like her I have come to the same conclusions. What amazes me is how few of us there are. Maybe you have to know people for a long time before they dare to express such views in public.

As it is, the more I look, the less I understand. If we all choose our lives as a means of learning something, what do babies who choose to be killed by a NATO bomb or by white phosphorus learn? That it is not a pleasant way to die? That one is way beyond me. Barbara seems to think the same.

I have just started to draw my pension and, at my age, I am way more confused about it all now than I ever was when I was young. Then I understood everything.

I find it hard to believe that I actually agreed to come back here for another round. Looking back over the years I find that, overall, my life has been fairly pointless. Successful in some areas but mainly pointless. I haven't changed anything, but then it seems that I was never meant to. Maybe I need to have an NDE to show me the way.

Barbara, maybe you and I should get together and compare notes. After all, it seems that our lines cross at Castle Cary. We might just start to understand what is really going on.

Great post, Michael! You put a lot of thought and effort into this, and I agree with everything you say. I'm always impressed.

Re: NDEs conferring an evolutionary advantage. I think this hypothesis is prima facie false. How many prehistoric people *could* have had an NDE? Very few--most would just die in the case of extreme trauma. So, in theory, you have a certain percentage of the population experiencing near-death trauma. Most die, a few survive. Of that small number of survivors, a percentage has the "NDE gene." That tiny number of people would then have to go and prove their advantage in the area of reproduction--which is by no means guaranteed, since NDEs can have a variety of effects on a person, as we know. It's hard to imagine how NDEs could affect selection at all in prehistoric times.

Re: Spiritual evolution.

I certainly believe in this. It's what the whole "ascension" concept is about.

Re: Why the percentage of NDEs is not higher than it is.

Commentors have put forth several good reasons here. I think there is another simple potential reason: They suffer cardiac arrest but, for whatever reasons, they don't go OBE and simply stick with their body for a bit longer than other people. There could be a bunch of reasons for this. For example, maybe for genetic reasons, people self-perceive their own death differently at any given stage of brain oxygenation, blood flow, etc., and proceed out of the body. It may be that NDErs tend to be either 1) Those who, like Pam Reynolds, truly don't have any brain wave for an extended period of time, or 2) Are extra-sensitive to whatever triggers self-perception of death (or whatever is the correct way to describe the process).

It would be interesting to research whether people without brainwaves for an unambiguously long period of time tend to have a higher rate of NDE experiences. My guess would be yes, but I have not read anything on this topic.

Donbo, I too struggle with the depravity and evil of the world, and the way that things like the death of babies seem to contradict the idea that we plan our lives.

However, just because I can't make sense of everything in a neat way, just because the world isn't obviously a nice place or one that fits in a neat explanation, doesn't mean that I'm willing to ignore the evidence.

The evidence from NDEs is that reality is purposeful, carefully structured, and in the bigger picture a GOOD thing.

Put this together with (in my opinion) the overwhelming evidence that the physical universe is not random but intricately, amazingly, intelligently constructed, plus the (in my opinion) overwhelming evidence that life is not an accident, plus the incoherence of arguments that consciousness is a byproduct of physical processes... put that together with other lines of evidence and it seems to me pretty clear that the evidence points to this being a meaningful, purposeful, carefully, beautifully made reality.

So if it seems disgusting and pointless to us from our own limited personal perspective then perhaps that limited point of view is wrong. I'd rather follow the evidence than my feelings about not being able to understand why so many human beings are so vile.

So I would argue that - despite, yes, the existence of dark spiritual presences like Buddhhism's hungry ghosts or the dark presences people often experience on hallucinogenics – this appears to be a good thing, this reality.

So the hope/belief that we will become better on this earth perhaps does has some rational justification.

One other thought: the descriptions I've heard from some people who've had NDEs about how their pain, anxiety, difficulties, etc, here on earth immediately seem distant and insignificant may be a clue that the all the horrible stuff is, in the end, not important. Though obviously for people in this life it is important.

"That conflicts with what so many NDErs insist on, and in such strong terms. They say that the memory of their experience remains crystal clear after many years, even clearer than events from "real life." "

Bruce, I find it interesting too. It's what Parnia said in the question/answer portion of an interview. I'm sure there must be some qualifiers. It seems of this will be detailed when he releases his findings. Stand by.......

You might want to hear Katherine Anne Porter talk about her brush with death during the flu pandemic after WWI and compare it to her description in Pale Horse Pale Rider

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6SUfHOn3W0

The description in her short novel is one of the most compelling I've read, though until I heard her talking about it, I'd thought it was entirely the product of creative imagination instead of experience.

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