Clear minded Buddhist Monk ruminating over NDE's (Video)

#1
I felt compelled to share this YouTube video posted by a wonderfully insightful, sharp and open minded Buddhist monk.

I find his attempts to grapple with the NDE phenomena wonderfully refreshing, and tremendously helpful in broadening and enlarging the philosophical framework into which I try to squeeze the many NDE reports.

His Laptop and Docking Station analogy I found surprisingly useful not only as a pertinent metaphor, but also as an insightful instructional device helping me to see the crossover between some of the slightly complex Buddhist concepts of mind, and the NDE.

I particularly like the "speculative" idea that the body (and by extension the Brain) may act in some way as a psychic or spiritual shield, without which spiritual phenomena and certain aspects of the spiritual world would (or may) overwhelm us.

I imagined this as being a bit like a tank. While we are in it, it provides a high degree of safety from outside (spiritual or psychic) forces, but one also inevitably sacrifices a tremendous amount of freedom. It is very hard to pick or smell the flowers for example, from the inside of ones tank.

I am only half way through, but I felt compelled to share this marvellous video with the Skeptiko community. I think there is a lot of very useful material here for us to chew on and discuss as potential aids in trying to grapple with the enigmatic phenomena of the NDE data, and it's implications. I think it is always nice to find new material that helps one to think outside the boxes we stuff everything into, or at the very least, to expand the dimensions of our conceptual boxes, and for me, this video has achieved that.

Enjoy :)



It will be interesting to you guys thoughts on any of the material contained in this video.

Edit: At one point, he talks about Susan Blackmore having an out of body experience, and my heart began to sink, as for me, she has very little credibility, mainly due to her appearances on Skeptiko a while back. However, I was pleased to discover that he uses her account as an example of a powerful but mostly "imaginary" or "hallucinatory" experience, and he juxtaposes this with so called "veridical" cases of OBE's where some objective corroboration can be found to support the notion that consciousness is operating and observing outside of the body/brain. *phew*
 
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#2
Now I have watched the whole thing. I am certain that some of the material will be quite challenging for some, and will raise many more questions. But my own sentiment after watching this in it's entirety is simply - "WOW".

Serious food for thought, and a rattling and shaking of many of my assumptions. A loud and clear call for me, and hopefully for many of us, to re examine and re investigate the lens or lenses through which we have become accustomed to viewing the data around NDE phenomena.

STUNNING!
 
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#3
Nice video, soulatman. Lots to think about and even a fresh metaphor to consider.

By the way, the BBC programme he refers to can be found here:


I couldn't find a functioning version on YouTube.
 
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#4
Very interesting, well presented video.

Just to clear up one small detail that the monk wasn't aware of. Dr Cicoria's children WERE actually having their faces painted in the pavilion. That's reported in Judy Bachrach's book. I'm not posting at the moment so it's toodle pip again.
 
C

Chris

#5
His Laptop and Docking Station analogy I found surprisingly useful not only as a pertinent metaphor, but also as an insightful instructional device helping me to see the crossover between some of the slightly complex Buddhist concepts of mind, and the NDE.
I've watched only part of this, but actually I found that analogy a bit unsatisfactory. Maybe I missed it, but the brain didn't seem to be mentioned. And the memory seemed to be assigned to the body rather than the mind, which seemed problematical.

Edit: Obviously I hadn't gone far enough!
 
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#6
I agree with your assessment, soulatman, this is a very impressive talk. Thanks for sharing.

A few thoughts/observations:

The "non-veridical" aspects of Susan Blackmore's OBE can be explained through Jurgen Ziewe's observations as explained in the videos (in particular the first, IIRC) which Ian posted in the "I Think I've Found An Answer" thread: i.e. that there are expanding layers of out-of-body reality, and that the nearest layers are almost identical copies of our bodily reality except for slightly different details.

Perhaps this can be reconciled with the Buddhist account which Ashin Ottama (if that's his real name, as indicated in the "About" box of the video) puts forward: that there are both higher and lower levels (frequencies) of reality (which can be "tuned into" as by a radio) in which beings experience either the more material and hellish or the lighter and more god-like. A dialogue between these two might be interesting to uncover just exactly to what extent these two accounts are compatible.

As always, though, I am left with a bunch of unresolved questions (some of these might make sense only to those who have watched the video through fully):

  1. If NDEs are in some sense "merely" mental projections based (partially) on karmic potential, similar to dreams except much more potent and realistic, then how are we to interpret certain NDErs who claim to have unlimited access to truth during the experience? Were the "truths" that they experienced mere delusions? If not, then how did they gain access to those truths if not from some higher source beyond them, thus making the experience far more than a mere mental projection? And if the answer to that is: they gained access to those truths because those truths were inside them all along, then why on Earth don't they (and all of us) have access to them all along, in our everyday material reality? Who or what is blocking access, and to what end?
  2. Along similar lines, assuming Ashin is right that the Buddhist idea of endless karmic cycling through the different frequencies of reality until one achieves enlightenment is correct: to what end is/was this system set up? If not set up by (a) conscious being/s, then how? And where do we go after we finally exit the system? Do we die in an ultimate sense akin to the materialist idea of death: total annihilation of our beings? And if not, then how is our beingness on final exit not like that of existing in the highest frequency of reality?

I'm sure I could go on listing questions, but I'll just throw those out there for a start.
 
#7
My primary psi "talent" is with regards to synchronicity... Yet, I have also had several other types of psi experiences of which OBE is among them. I have had 4 very short OBEs. The first one (June of 2012) changed my life. It was that event where I no longer had any question that the individual can survive beyond the body. During my third OBE, I experienced the classic "vibration" which many speak about. You never forget how that feels.
 
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#8
I made a mental note to watch the video when the OP first appeared but forgot. Now I look again and I think "damn, I must watch it" so I'll probably do so in small chunks. However, since Laird has mentioned the "I Think I've Found an Answer" thread in which I ventured out of lurkdom, I may as well add my tuppence-worth here.

I think that we generally think of reincarnation in terms of a linear progression through time, even if we are aware that this is probably not the case. If we think of a good novel and how various storylines are followed and interlinked, I think of karma as providing the reincarnational drama with those linked storylines. They all need to be resolved before the reincarnational drama can be brought to a conclusion. However, this may not be through a succession of lives but, instead, through parallel living dramas linked by these karmic themes. Admittedly, my head begins to hurt when I think of cause and effect across simultaneous lives but I'm assuming that is because we are in some way conditioned to think in linear terms.

I'm also drawn to the idea that we, as complex souls, have chosen this earthly experience whereas others might have chosen a different route to what we call "enlightenment". Some, perhaps most, may not choose physical existence at all. Perhaps the physical is the road less travelled. Whichever route is selected, however, I'm inclined to think that evolution is the driving force. That whatever is the source of all this is ever evolving and doing so, at least in part, through our experiences. As we evolve, so does the whole because we are parts of the whole: the separation is an illusion. I don't really see an end to evolution: the possibilities to explore and evolve must be infinite. So, no, I don't see any annihilation although there is possibly a growing sense of the unity of all things until the boundaries of self are eventually unnecessary.

Coming back closer to home, Laird rightly put quotes around the word "merely":

Laird said:
NDEs are in some sense "merely" mental projections ...
Yes, as I see it, in some sense everything is a mental projection. Truth is a big word: who's truth? Is there an objective, external truth? Or is there a consensus reality? So the NDE experience may be, to some extent, subjective based upon our beliefs, expectations and conditioning but that doesn't disqualify the experience from being "real". It does not somehow relegate it to an electro-chemical phenomenon produced by a brain in crisis. Some of us who think about these things seriously still demand objective and empirical evidence. Cases like Pam Reynolds and others give us some of that kind of evidence which can be verified later and is difficult for materialists to explain. Others, such as Eben Alexander, describe what seem to us to be flights of fantasy: a psychedelic joyride which would frustrate any attempt to explain in objective terms apart from the kind of experience produced by brain under the influence of drugs. Skeptics might see Alexander's account as an open goal.

Again, as I see it, It has been the direction of science since the so-called Enlightenment to promote objectivity and banish subjectivity. It has even shaped religious thinking. The fabulous myths that form the narrative of religious texts and ancient civilisations such as the Egyptians and Greeks have been examined as though they were literal accounts and duly dismissed as naive superstitions. Yet anyone who has read Joseph Campbell and other mythicists will realise that the value of the myth is in the subjective truth. Whether or not there was a physical grail cup (or whatever) is not the point of the story of the Holy Grail. The quest for the truth is woven into the tale. The alchemists who sought to turn lead into gold might have tried to do so literally but the subjective truth is the transformation of the human from this base existence to one of enlightenment.

So the demarcation between objective and subjective might be blurred - or even unnecessary - when considering the NDE. How will it feel to each of us when we finally cross the line between this world and the next? My guess is that it will feel every bit as "real" as this one (probably more so) but that we will gradually realise that our subjective thoughts have a power undreamed of in our earthly life.

Apologies: I tried to condense a lot of concepts into a limited space and fear I may have come up woefully short in terms of an explanation.
 
#9
Hi Kamarling... I thought your above post #8 was outstanding and a "like" was not enough.

Specifically with regards to the question of subjectivity. Based on both my experiences and a great deal of thought, my current conclusion is that there is nothing of the reality which is 100% objective for any conscious being though there appears to be mechanics which are true for all participants. My friends who follow the Left Hand Path don't like my position in this regard. Likely a debate that can never be resolved. I just live as if my conclusion were true and I don't have to prove it to myself to apply my current view. I also reserve the right to change my mind at anytime.
 
#10
I made a mental note to watch the video when the OP first appeared but forgot. Now I look again and I think "damn, I must watch it" so I'll probably do so in small chunks. However, since Laird has mentioned the "I Think I've Found an Answer" thread in which I ventured out of lurkdom, I may as well add my tuppence-worth here.

I think that we generally think of reincarnation in terms of a linear progression through time, even if we are aware that this is probably not the case. If we think of a good novel and how various storylines are followed and interlinked, I think of karma as providing the reincarnational drama with those linked storylines. They all need to be resolved before the reincarnational drama can be brought to a conclusion. However, this may not be through a succession of lives but, instead, through parallel living dramas linked by these karmic themes. Admittedly, my head begins to hurt when I think of cause and effect across simultaneous lives but I'm assuming that is because we are in some way conditioned to think in linear terms.

I'm also drawn to the idea that we, as complex souls, have chosen this earthly experience whereas others might have chosen a different route to what we call "enlightenment". Some, perhaps most, may not choose physical existence at all. Perhaps the physical is the road less travelled. Whichever route is selected, however, I'm inclined to think that evolution is the driving force. That whatever is the source of all this is ever evolving and doing so, at least in part, through our experiences. As we evolve, so does the whole because we are parts of the whole: the separation is an illusion. I don't really see an end to evolution: the possibilities to explore and evolve must be infinite. So, no, I don't see any annihilation although there is possibly a growing sense of the unity of all things until the boundaries of self are eventually unnecessary.

Coming back closer to home, Laird rightly put quotes around the word "merely":



Yes, as I see it, in some sense everything is a mental projection. Truth is a big word: who's truth? Is there an objective, external truth? Or is there a consensus reality? So the NDE experience may be, to some extent, subjective based upon our beliefs, expectations and conditioning but that doesn't disqualify the experience from being "real". It does not somehow relegate it to an electro-chemical phenomenon produced by a brain in crisis. Some of us who think about these things seriously still demand objective and empirical evidence. Cases like Pam Reynolds and others give us some of that kind of evidence which can be verified later and is difficult for materialists to explain. Others, such as Eben Alexander, describe what seem to us to be flights of fantasy: a psychedelic joyride which would frustrate any attempt to explain in objective terms apart from the kind of experience produced by brain under the influence of drugs. Skeptics might see Alexander's account as an open goal.

Again, as I see it, It has been the direction of science since the so-called Enlightenment to promote objectivity and banish subjectivity. It has even shaped religious thinking. The fabulous myths that form the narrative of religious texts and ancient civilisations such as the Egyptians and Greeks have been examined as though they were literal accounts and duly dismissed as naive superstitions. Yet anyone who has read Joseph Campbell and other mythicists will realise that the value of the myth is in the subjective truth. Whether or not there was a physical grail cup (or whatever) is not the point of the story of the Holy Grail. The quest for the truth is woven into the tale. The alchemists who sought to turn lead into gold might have tried to do so literally but the subjective truth is the transformation of the human from this base existence to one of enlightenment.

So the demarcation between objective and subjective might be blurred - or even unnecessary - when considering the NDE. How will it feel to each of us when we finally cross the line between this world and the next? My guess is that it will feel every bit as "real" as this one (probably more so) but that we will gradually realise that our subjective thoughts have a power undreamed of in our earthly life.

Apologies: I tried to condense a lot of concepts into a limited space and fear I may have come up woefully short in terms of an explanation.
I absolutely LOVE this response. Thank you for sharing it. You have introduced me to a few new concepts I hadn't come across before which serve to broaden the scope of possibility in this vast (and for me ever expanding) universe, and at the same time amaze me about the marvellously creative ways people are able to look at, and muse over the story of our existence, where we may come from and where we may be going, and just why it is we exist in the first place.

Kamarling, thank you. I like the way you think.
 
#12
Hi Kamarling... I thought your above post #8 was outstanding and a "like" was not enough.

Specifically with regards to the question of subjectivity. Based on both my experiences and a great deal of thought, my current conclusion is that there is nothing of the reality which is 100% objective for any conscious being though there appears to be mechanics which are true for all participants. My friends who follow the Left Hand Path don't like my position in this regard. Likely a debate that can never be resolved. I just live as if my conclusion were true and I don't have to prove it to myself to apply my current view. I also reserve the right to change my mind at anytime.
Hi Sam. Would you be willing to start a thread on the left hand path for general discussion? It isn't a topic that hits the forum very much.
 
#13
My primary psi "talent" is with regards to synchronicity... Yet, I have also had several other types of psi experiences of which OBE is among them. I have had 4 very short OBEs. The first one (June of 2012) changed my life. It was that event where I no longer had any question that the individual can survive beyond the body. During my third OBE, I experienced the classic "vibration" which many speak about. You never forget how that feels.
Thanks for sharing this Sam.

You know, I always wanted to believe the claims of people who had had OBE's but was never really able to until a few years ago. Now I am 100% convinced of the authenticity of the phenomena. My conviction stems from a number of things. The first, is perhaps finding "Skeptiko" on the web, and listening to, and finding so much wonderful scientific research into these phenomena. The second thing really has to be my attempting to practice lucid dreaming.

As a lucid dreamer, I have been up until now, a pretty poor performer, but over the last few years, enough odd things have happened for my eyes to open a little wider, and to see and experience first hand that the universe cannot be a simple material accident thrown out by an improbable (and impossible) big bang from nothing, and that we simply cannot be minds which are caused by nothing more than, hormones and electrical discharges in the pound of white meat between our ears.

When I first embarked on trying to lucid dream, a friend of mine also became interested, and we would share notes on our dreams each day at work. The first remarkable thing which started to happen, was I started having premonitory dreams.

My dreams would predict events that were to happen usually a day or two later, but sometimes as much as a week or two later. This was the first clue that I can't be an isolated lump of meat floating in water in my skull, peering out of my eye sockets at a mechanistic universe which was entirely separate from me, for if I were that and if the universe were the way we are told by our teachers, then there would be no way for me to get information about events which had not yet happened.

The next clue though did not happen to me, it happened to my friend, whom I trust implicitly not to embellish, nor have any reason to lie about what he experienced. We had both been trying to lucid dream for a couple of months, without much success, a few brief moments of lucidity, but then one morning he said to me very earnestly that "You will never believe what happened to me last night". He went on to recount that while falling asleep, and using a new technique we had just discovered, he found himself quite suddenly out of his body, looking at himself in bed. He explained that he went up through his ceiling, and flew above his house and could see his neighbourhood below in the light of the street lamps.

He has never lied to me before, and has never shown any need to compete with me for his ego, never exaggerating or giving any indication that he has ever been anything but sincere, in fact he often downplays things I find far more impressive than he does. So, as you can tell, I do not merely believe him when he told me this, I know he experienced it.

I questioned him at length, to find out if he thought it was a dream, or if there were anything indicating his experience was not somehow "real", but he was absolutely certain that on this night, he had actually left his physical body, and travelled up into the sky over his house.

From these things, my world view has been irrevocably changed, and for the better. Although I am no closer by any stretch to knowing what the universe IS, I do now know something which may be just as important. That is, "what the universe IS NOT". It cannot be a dead, random, purely material and meaningless universe, for if it were, then such experiences would be impossible.

Because I have had these experiences (dream premonitions), and by extension, someone I trust implicitly has had an OBE, I now know I cannot be convinced that the universe is as it is presented to us by our schools and teachers - materialistic. I cannot squeeze it back into that box. It no longer fits. And, although it may be messier out of it's box, I feel as liberated as the universe must by being let out of that bleak box constructed by the materialist philosopher.

Sorry for the lengthy rambling, but I wanted to express my gratitude for your sharing your experience here, and was compelled to share my own with you. I still hope for my own OBE, and could probably work a lot harder in more disciplined fashion to bring it about, and hearing people like you share their experiences inspires me to try once more, so thank you!
 
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#14
Thanks for sharing this Sam.
... a new technique we had just discovered, he found himself quite suddenly out of his body, looking at himself in bed. He explained that he went up through his ceiling, and flew above his house and could see his neighbourhood below in the light of the street lamps.
What new technique? I am interested to know. I've had a couple (I think) quick OBEs but they were all by "accident". I really would like to induce one on my own sometime.
 
#16
I'd be interested as well. I've been slowly getting better at inducing lucid dreams (still not regular, but a few real solid full fledged controlled ones, and the last few weeks I've managed to have brief moments of lucidity though they were too brief to gain control).
 
#18
Lol, wow. Well, I just had a look, and I don't think it is any longer on YouTube. It was a video we both saw, and tried to put into practice. Essentially, I think it was a "wake induced lucid dream" technique, but I remember being really enthused by the concepts presented in the video.

The gist of it was the suggestion that the body almost has a mind of it's own, and that it was smart, and tries to trick you (the conscious inhabitant of the body). Essentially, when you are falling asleep, the body sends signals out, like little itches, or the urge to swallow, or the irresistible need to move a limb - if when the body sends these signals out, you don't respond (I.e. You don't itch the itch, or swallow, or roll over, or whatever it is the body is wanting you to do) then the body believes that you are asleep and goes into sleep paralysis. So the technique was to simply get into a comfortable position, try to relax as much and as deeply as possible without actually falling asleep, and then when itches and urges to move or cough or sniff or whatever arise, to resist and do nothing.

I remember it was quite an odd feeling and notion, that I am trying to outwit my body. The sense that you are not the body, because you are trying to escape it's watchfulness, is a remarkable sensation in itself, and this also may help the whole OBE process. It felt a little like a prisoner (the conscious mind - you) trying to slip past the guard (the body).

After a while of doing this (not responding to the body's probing and prompting), one begins to feel an odd sensation, which is likened somewhat to a heavy blanket being pulled up from your feet, up your legs and torso etc, which means you are almost there. I did feel this sensation, but personally I didn't get past it. I think I got excited and maybe this alerted my body I wasn't asleep, and the whole thing unravelled, but my friend went right through and had his OBE. (Incidentally, we weren't trying for an OBE, we were trying to jump into a lucid dream, but I understand it works for both).

I found the whole concept of the body having a separate mind and method to check on your wakefulness or sleep state remarkably helpful, as it really helps to perhaps unzip us from our physical sense of self, and immediately forces us to identify with the immaterial "I" we indentify ourselves as, and entirely disconnect from the body, which now has become our opponent we are trying to outwit.

I wish I could find the link to the video guys, but for now it eludes me. Hope this description is helpful and somewhat fertile for you.
 
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