Culture Health

Near death experiences

A couple of weeks ago I caught a programme on Compass about near death experiences. (Compass may be billed as a religious show, but contrary to what you might think, isn’t always deadly dull and boring. They have some quite interesting stuff.)

I’ve long been interested in what might be out there after death. The programme talked to a number of people who have had near death experiences, and it was interesting that for the most part what they saw was very similar. A lot spoke of floating above their bodies, often seeing things that they couldn’t possibly have seen unless conscious, later confirmed by medical staff present. For many the experience felt like a very calm one, filled with light and feelings of love. Some spoke of regret that they had to come back, and the “pain” of re-entering their bodies.

The programme also talked to people researching the topic, with the view to shedding some light on the question of whether the mind can keep living after the body is dead. They appeared to be taking quite a detached, scientific view, relying on witness statements together with medical information logged from during the incidents.

Perhaps I’ve been thinking about death a bit too much. But I’m not religious, and not about to go and change, nor would I just “go through the motions”. (Because if you don’t actually believe, it’s pointless, I’d argue.) So as I get older, it may come of something of a comfort that so many have experienced something out there.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

4 replies on “Near death experiences”

I often wonder just how we could possibly continue on after death, but equally how we could simply not exist anymore. I can’t help but relate to sleeping – when we’re asleep and not dreaming, there is nothing… we’re… well… dead in a sense… there is nothing but nothing… I fear that’s what we face after death. But then if there is nothing how did we come to be in the first place…

Needless to say I fear death, I do not want to move on and dread the years going by… unfortunately all I can do is enjoy every moment I have here because I fear this is all I have… and even if I do come back again I start from scratch, everything I learned and achieved and loved is gone…

I could just keep going so I’ll stop now… :(

I firmly believe that life (and love) go on after death, it’s just a different plane of existence. I know there has to be something beyond this world, how else can you explain all the bad stuff, the lack of justice, the inhumanity, the terrible tragedies, except to rely on karma.

p.s. my mum, a chronic atheist, had a NDE about 10 years ago, and saw my deceased father. Now she’s quite calm about aging/dying, because she KNOWS what is going to happen.

I think about death a lot. It’s kind of scary and depressing to confront ones own mortality in that way. Losing a close family member also gets one thinking about it again.

Does the mind go on after death?
What is death? What defines death?
Surely not every cell in the body ceases at the same time, there must be some that have sufficient reserves of energy and oxygen to continue functioning for a little while after the doctor has called ‘time of death’.

This leads me to a thought that I’ve had for a while. Does a decapitated person see the end result, actually see themselves falling into a basket and then wondering how they fitted in and why they can’t turn over or get up.

Which reminds me of another thought, but I don’t think we’ll go there.

As for NDEs. I am sceptical. I believe that they are a result of the brain coming back to life after being oxygen deprived, essentially a dream. As various parts of the brain revive different scenarios are played out. The universal bright light at the end of the tunnell is most likely the opical centre of the brain coming back, vision of loved ones, etc. just memories activated by neuronal pathways being stimulated by returning oxygen. Hearing voices the combined affect of theatre noises and memories. The direction of these memories may well be influenced by the situation. “I’m in hospital, I’m on the operating table, I must be having an NDE”.

As for floating, haven’t we all floated in our dreams. And being aware of what happened in the theatre whilst dead, just because your heart isn’t beating doesn’t mean that your ears can’t hear. On top of that we can pick up ‘vibes’ and make assumptions, etc. to fill in gaps.

There is also the now faily common knowledge of what you are ‘supposed’ to experience if you do have an NDE which may influence a persons recollections.

What is the mind? That’s a whole other topic.

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