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FAQ: Aren't NDEs merely the products of the dying brain?

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FAQ: Aren't NDEs merely the products of the dying brain?

Postby PsiDefender » 01 Jun 2009, 00:08

http://www.near-death.com/book/nothing_ ... l#four_one

1. Aren't NDEs merely the products of the dying brain?

Even skeptics have to admit NDEs are real experiences. The question, however, is whether NDEs are real "afterlife" experiences. Many skeptics are "reductionists" who reduce everything to their most basic elements. When the NDE is reduced in this way, there can be no denying a chemical basis in the brain exists concerning the NDE.

Such reductionism, however, may only be explaining the mechanism of the NDE, but not necessarily the NDE itself. In the same way, it is possible to reduce a television set to its basic elements: circuits and wires. However, one cannot satisfactorily explain the television show being played through these circuits and wires using reductionist terms. If the brain can be thought of as a television set, then the NDE can be thought of as the television show being played on it. Science maybe able to quantify everything concerning the television components (i.e., the brain), but science is unable to satisfactorily quantify the television show being played on it (i.e., the NDE).

Science does not yet have the tools to fully explain the NDE itself. Reducing the NDE to mere brain chemicals would be like reducing experiences such as love and childbirth to mere chemicals. Reductionism cannot quantify the experience itself. There are many reasons why reducing the NDE to only brain chemicals cannot explain the whole experience itself. Scientific evidence does show that hallucinogenic drugs can induce experiences similar to the NDE. Some scientists theorize the same process occurring with drug-induced hallucinations is involved in the NDE. Dr. Peter Fenwick, a neuro-psychiatrist and the leading authority in Britain concerning the NDE, disagrees with this theory. He explains, “The difficulty with those theories is that when you create these wonderful states by taking drugs, you're conscious. In the near-death experience, you are unconscious. One of the things we know about brain function in unconsciousness, is that you cannot create images and if you do, you cannot remember them.” Dr. Fenwick says the following about what happens to the brain during an NDE: “The brain isn't functioning. It's not there. It's destroyed. It's abnormal. But, yet, it can produce these very clear experiences ... an unconscious state is when the brain ceases to function. For example, if you faint, you fall to the floor, you don't know what's happening and the brain isn't working. The memory systems are particularly sensitive to unconsciousness. So, you won't remember anything. But, yet, after one of these experiences [an NDE], you come out with clear, lucid memories ... This is a real puzzle for science. I have not yet seen any good scientific explanation which can explain that fact.” (69)

Here are some other reasons why reducing the NDE to only brain chemicals is not sufficient.

Veridical evidence. NDEs are considered to be veridical because the evidence shows it to be objectively real. Such evidence shows that some people have seen or heard things while outside of their physical bodies during an NDE that is later verified to be true by third parties. Often, such veridical evidence are observed by NDE experiencers although they occur vast distances away from their physical body. Such aspects suggest that consciousness has the ability to leave the physical body upon death.(70)

NDEs in people born blind. People who are born without eyesight see for the first time in their lives while out of their bodies during their NDE. Interestingly enough, when they return to their physical bodies, they do not retain their eyesight. Such accounts suggest that consciousness and perception survive the death of the physical body.(65)

Standstill surgical procedures. Some people experience an NDE complete with an out-of-body experience during a rare surgical procedure called a "standstill." During this procedure, surgeons bring the patient to clinical and brain death in order to correct abnormalities such as brain aneurysms. When the patient is revived, NDEs are often reported. In such a highly controlled scientific environment, it has been documented that NDEs occur during the time of clinical and brain death. This kind of surgery and the NDE resulting from it suggests that consciousness survives clinical and brain death.(51)

Childhood NDEs. Children generally have no religious or cultural biases. Therefore, they often describe their NDEs in ways without any religious or cultural slant. Children generally have no motive to falsify their NDE. They generally are not interested in book deals or publicity. For these reasons, it is very difficult to doubt a child's testimony concerning an NDE they had. Children have described NDEs that are similar to adult NDEs. Childhood NDEs suggest NDEs occur just as many adult experiencers say they occur. Because of a child's limited vocabulary and understanding, their NDEs are often described in the "rawest" of terms.(71)

The after-effects of NDEs. Often, a person having an NDE will have after-effects from it. These can include personality changes, psychic abilities and anomalies such as not being able to wear watches because they fail to work when worn. Profound personality changes often occur that suggests the NDE is a life-changing event profoundly affecting those who have them. Hallucinations and dreams do not have the magnitude of life-changing capabilities as NDEs have. This strongly suggests NDEs are neither hallucinations nor dreams. Experiencers, such as Dannion Brinkley, are even documented to have successfully described future events observed during their NDEs.(72)

Experiencers have been documented to successfully diagnose and heal other people due to the after-effects attributed to their NDE. One experiencer, Yvonne Kason, who was a physician at the time of her NDE, upon return, successfully diagnosed her friend as having meningitis. Dr. Kason realized her friend had meningitis after receiving a vision of a "brain covered with pus" when thinking of her friend. Her friend did not exhibit any symptoms of meningitis at that time and there was no reason to suspect she had it. Dr. Kason insisted her friend get tested for meningitis. The test proved positive for meningitis. Her friend's meningitis was caught just before it became deadly.(73) Psychic abilities such as this can be directly attributed to their NDE. It demonstrates that something more than just brain chemicals are going on here.

Similarities among NDEs. While every NDE is unique in their own way, the similarities between them cannot be denied. Similar aspects such as the out-of-body experience, the tunnel, the light, deceased relatives, being told they are not ready, are frequently found in a great many NDEs.(74)

These similarities are strong circumstantial evidence something more than just brain chemicals are going on. In a court of law, the testimony of two people witnessing the same thing and giving similar testimonies is very strong. The NDE involves millions of witnesses hearing and seeing similar things. It is equivalent to having a large number of people be given a cryptic message such as, "Where's the beef?" when they die. Instead, the strange message a vast number of experiencers hear is "it is not yet your time" or "you are not ready" or some variation of this. Brain chemicals alone cannot explain such similarities. Circumstantial evidence such as this is upheld in courts of law all over the country every day.

Experiencers bring back facts. Some experiencers have brought back from their NDE, information they could not have possibly known unless they were actually dead. One case in point is the NDE of Vi Horton, a woman who met a deceased brother she didn't know she had during her NDE. Afterwards, she told her father about the brother she met during her NDE. Her father was her only surviving family member. Her father told her, "My God, you must have died and gone to heaven because no one living knew about it but me."(75) I have personally come across several NDEs where the experiencer meets a deceased relative they have never known, only to later identify them from old photographs or the testimony of family members. Brain chemicals alone cannot explain such phenomena. Many experiencers such as Mellen-Thomas Benedict and Lynnclaire Dennis have brought back scientific discoveries from their NDE. Mellen-Thomas Benedict participated in a number of medical research projects, and due to the information he gave the researchers, their work was advanced in a significant way. He now does DNA research and works on instruments that can help doctors use certain frequencies of light in healing patients.(14) Lynnclaire Dennis was shown a geometric pattern which top quantum physicists are studying.(24) Another experiencer who lives in Sweden has copyrights on over a hundred inventions making a significant difference in society.(10)

The testimony of experiencers themselves. One of the universal aspects of the NDE is that those who have them know it was an afterlife experience. They know they saw God. They know it was a reality vastly greater than conscious reality. One can view the millions of NDEs occurring in the world as millions of testimonials that life does indeed continue after death. They are like millions of love letters from God. If the NDE involved only a handful of people, then the NDE would be merely an aberration. However, millions of people have had NDEs throughout all of recorded history. These testimonies cannot be easily dismissed as mass hallucinations due to brain chemistry.

The proverbial ball is in the court of the skeptics, not the experiencers. Experiencers do not have to explain anything. For them, the NDE is an afterlife experience. On the other hand, skeptics have much to explain. Because skeptics and reductionists cannot satisfactorily explain the NDE by brain chemicals alone, they are the ones who are inconsistent in their facts, not the experiencer. Before the 1900's, many people thought space travel would always be impossible. Many skeptics today believe the survival of consciousness after death is impossible as well. They take this position without a shred of scientific evidence. There currently exists a mountain of circumstantial evidence pointing to the survival of consciousness after death. To say there is no evidence is equivalent to standing before Mt. Everest and saying you cannot see a mountain.

An excellent critique of the Dying Brain Theory was written by Greg Stone. I am currently promoting research on my website into proving scientifically that consciousness survives physical death. (77)
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Re: NDE FAQ: Aren't NDEs merely the products of the dying brain?

Postby leo100 » 01 Jun 2009, 01:28

Well written post there, thanks for sharing :D
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Re: FAQ: Aren't NDEs merely the products of the dying brain?

Postby Scepcop » 10 Jun 2009, 12:31

Here is my spiritual advisor FaithRada's response to this FAQ:

<<Even skeptics have to admit NDEs are real experiences. The question, however, is whether NDEs are real "afterlife" experiences. Many skeptics are "reductionists" who reduce everything to their most basic elements. When the NDE is reduced in this way, there can be no denying a chemical basis in the brain exists concerning the NDE. >>


Question... WHY would anyone have to admit anything that is not part of their own direct experience? I sure would not. Yes, the CONCEPT of NDEs certainly exists, and I doubt any skeptic, pseudo or otherwise, would argue that. But but it is one thing to contemplate a vague concept with a relatively open mind, quite another to accept without the necessary direct proof.
IF one has never had a true NDE, then they MUST remain outside of the experience and remain unaware of all the extremely expansive subtleties which CAN be intruduced during such an event.

Varying degrees of NDEs. * ( A misnomer since one need not be "near death" to have one. So its just a label that unfortunately stuck.)
Some are very mild, where one's awareness of self floats above the physical form for a while while they may TRY .. in real time... to interact with the physical world, with varying degrees of success.
For some there is no sense of a Divine State, or of Unconditional Transcendent Love. Then there are those who meet their mind's image of a deity God and actually become more religious.. for a while.

For people who's NDE's are more intense, and which do have an element of Transcendent Knowledge, they are never the same afterwards, nor can they share with others this profound multi leveled "experience" in a way that would make much sense to most.

It is not unusual after an intense NDE for people who had previously aligned with a particular religious dogma to drop religion all together, recognizing in that instant that religous dogma was not only incorrect but far too inadequate to deal with the Higher Reality which they have just been exposed to. Here the typical God of Religion concept is shattered and a far more expansive "God" as Unconditional Love sans judgement is perceived.

~ ~ ~

Even with new medical technology NDE's are still fairly rare occurances. I myself have been extremely close to death four times, I mean within less than a minute at one point, and not one of those times did I experience an NDE. * At least not one my finite mind was allowed to remember. However... I did have a SHARED NDE once, where I was not the one dying, but was invited IN to the death experience of another. There really are no words to fully describe what goes on at such a time. Mine was, in part, Transcendent in nature and it changed me at my core BEing. I was NOT the same person after the event.

Just one of the advantages of being part of a 'SHARED' NDE for me was that the question of a dying brain going haywire was removed. I was NOT the one dying. My health was fine, there was no lack of oxygen or other physical issue going on. So I personally could put that question to rest.

I really can't suggest enough that whatever someone might speculate an actual NDE to be like, if you haven't had one yourself, especially a more intense type, there is an eliment involved here that simply does not translate. The best I can say is....its like having a direct download from Higher Consciousness. Fear is removed because you GET that death does not exist. It isn't something you need to figure out, you simply KNOW... Death is an illusion, and for that matter.. so is life! Nothing here is what it seems to be, and yet it is imperative that "we" experience it.

When someone shares that they have had an NDE ... great, that can add to the volume of data on the subject, which might be useful.... down the road. Still, each individual will still hold this information up to their own mind's scrutiny and past experiences. It is not advisable IMHO to go around Accepting OR Rejecting such information without having a first hand encounter of that experience for oneself ... in ALL of its ranges.

<< ...<<, but science is unable to satisfactorily quantify the television show being played on it (i.e., the NDE).>>


I would say that scientiSTS who have no direct experience with NDEs or how the non local/non physical MIND actually works ... THEY cannot satisfactorily quantify an NDE, however, there are scientists who DO have such understanding BECAUSE they have the direct validatable experience necessary to know first hand. So.. it is inappropriate to simply state.. science says.. this or that. It really depends on the awareness that a particular group of scientists is able to hold and share successfully with one another. Some DO share the experience of expanded Consciousness, while others (most) do not.

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

Science does not yet have the tools to fully explain the NDE itself. Reducing the NDE to mere brain chemicals would be like reducing experiences such as love and childbirth to mere chemicals. Reductionism cannot quantify the experience itself. There are many reasons why reducing the NDE to only brain chemicals cannot explain the whole experience itself. Scientific evidence does show that hallucinogenic drugs can induce experiences similar to the NDE. Some scientists theorize the same process occurring with drug-induced hallucinations is involved in the NDE. Dr. Peter Fenwick, a neuro-psychiatrist and the leading authority in Britain concerning the NDE, disagrees with this theory. He explains, “The difficulty with those theories is that when you create these wonderful states by taking drugs, you're conscious. In the near-death experience, you are unconscious.


I beg to differ here with Dr. Fenwick. IN the near death experience one is NOT unconscious. Far from it. One is SUPER Conscious. People assume, incorrectly, that they need the physical brain to have awareness and this is simply not so. It is not the physical brain which is the seat of awareness but the NON PHYSICAL Mind... for the individual. In fact, if it were not for the non physical MIND the physical brain... or physical ANYTHING would simply not exist. The MIND manifests AS the physical brain. The brain does not "run the show"... MIND does. The physical sciences have it backwards because the physical realm is all they currently know and can relate too. Well most.. but not all. some Do know, but few are ready to hear them yet. NOTHING here is ultimately physical at all. Everything is just a manifestation of the MIND... the creative tool of Pure Consciousness. It is a holographic universe.. and then some.

%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

One of the things we know about brain function in unconsciousness, is that you cannot create images and if you do, you cannot remember them.” Dr. Fenwick says the following about what happens to the brain during an NDE: “The brain isn't functioning. It's not there. It's destroyed. It's abnormal. But, yet, it can produce these very clear experiences ... an unconscious state is when the brain ceases to function. For example, if you faint, you fall to the floor, you don't know what's happening and the brain isn't working. The memory systems are particularly sensitive to unconsciousness. So, you won't remember anything. But, yet, after one of these experiences [an NDE], you come out with clear, lucid memories ... This is a real puzzle for science. I have not yet seen any good scientific explanation which can explain that fact.” (69)


This is NOT a puzzle though for scientists who understand that it is the non physical MIND which holds awareness and NOT the physical brain. For those who are able to grasp that Consciousness ( Awareness ) itself IS our default mode it is quite clear. Nothing actually EXISTS except for Awareness itself. .. there is *ultimately no PHYSICAL realm, there is no BRAIN, but only the EXPERIENCE of such things VIA the non local/ non physical MIND. Mind being a vertual reality machine... the creative tool of infinite Consciousness itself. The "nothing" that is actually something... the SOURCE of mind and all experiences, physical and non physical.

Even when the brain ceases reporting events of the physical body still the MIND continues to report our subtle being to us. We have a physical body and we also have a Subtle (non physical body - the seat of our emotions etc.) , then there is the Causal body and finally the SuperCausal Body.... which is Pure Awareness itself. All vibrating energy comes from this Source and becomes this entire Universe... including our minds which create the experience of a physical brain AND of a "reality" outside of and independent of our True SELF. There isn't!

Those rare beings who have been able to perceive Transcendent Awareness KNOW, from beyond the subjective mind's ability to know, that ALL comes from Pure Consciousness and also REMAINS Pure Consciousness/awareness. The essence of everything here is exactly the same. .... PURE CONSCIOUSNESS. This entire Universe is SELF AWARE.

Those who are aware of this CONSTANT all pervasive Awareness often call it The Witness State. Even while the brain is in deep sleep mode, or unconscious mode, still The WITNESS is aware that the individual brain is sleeping or unconscious. We are All this same all pervasive Witness which knows when your brain is "unconscious" from a physical perspective. The brain is ONLY reporting the physical status of the body and not all the other hightened levels of awareness that we possess. We have OTHER much higher perspectives than our physical brains OR even our finite minds. All is Awareness and we are THAT Awareness...That which is ALL Knowing.. always. We are THAT. We allow ourselves to become unaware of our Higher States in order to have this limited physical experience... which has the same basic status as our dream state.

So.. assumptions are made and take us down incorrect paths. Until eventually our infinite Awareness/Consciousness is recognized once again. Literally, the dreamer awakens and the mechanism of the NDE is finally understood. It is often a doorway to our True State of Constant awareness. It's a process of recognition... of becoming MORE aware of our true State.

Veridical evidence. NDEs are considered to be veridical because the evidence shows it to be objectively real. Such evidence shows that some people have seen or heard things while outside of their physical bodies during an NDE that is later verified to be true by third parties. Often, such veridical evidence are observed by NDE experiencers although they occur vast distances away from their physical body. Such aspects suggest that consciousness has the ability to leave the physical body upon death.(70)


What is actually "happening" here is not so much that our Conscioiusness LEAVES the physical body but instead "we" ... our awareness itself which is INFINITE in its scope already, is more able to experience its already EXPANSIVE STATE. We already exist "EVERYWHERE" AS Consciousness itself, however the mind is typically operating in a contracted state in order to have EXPERIENCES, be they physical or otherwise. Basically we are simultaniously INFINITE BEing, experiencing a FINITE reality.... A contracted State from which we eventually wake up from. Very similar to a dreamer experiencing going here and there in a dream via the mind, but actually GOES nowhere.

Truly there is no "HERE" VS "There"... there is ONLY HERE.. always. What we ARE, ultimately is INFINITE Awareness.. having the EXPERIENCE via the mind... of being STUCK in a physical body. We are NOT stuck here but the mind believes it is.. so it is. The power of the mind is great.

* We CAN come and go from our physical forms at any time. It's basically a matter of learning the technique. We are NOT these bodies.. we are simply IN these physical forms temporarily, in order to have a physical experience. Later we can have other physical expereinces OR subtle body experiences... in non physical planes of reality.

Ultimately there is NOTHING physical here. Nothing existing OUTSIDE Of our True SELF. It is all just a play of the mind. Our senses are calibrated to a certain vibration we call the physical realm.. and that becomes our expereince.. for a wihile. But through all these countless EXPERIENCES we enjoy via the non physical MIND, we ARE AWARENESS which is Self Aware.

* Read Robert Monroe's Far Journey and The Ultimate Journey.... Now back in print. The Monroe INstitute in Virginia used to teach OOB ( Out of Body) Techniques. They may still be operating since Monroe's death. The technique can be learned if one wants to go to the bother. Personally I find it more useful to pursue the source of one's own awareness. Whatever.

The ancient philosophers of Kashmir Saivism knew this many MANY centuries ago. HOw? They were able to transcend the finite mind and touch the SOURCE of mind.... Pure Consciousness. THAT which vibrates everything into existance.

BTW.. the act of Creation is NOT ultimately an historic event but an ongoing Spanda A bursting forth of continual creation Bang Bang Bang Bang... NOW NOW NOW NOW. There is ONLY NOW. Past and Future are tricks of the mind. Time is NOT what most assume it to be. Time/Space exist ONLY as a way for MIND to have experiences in. ONe can experience the FLOW of TIME or, one can also "step" outside of TIME/SPACE and enjoy Pure Consciousness Aware of ITS own Perfect SELF. We are ultimately SELF AWARENESS mirroring its own Consciousness as all that is and is not.

Extremely esoteric? YES. Which is why so few can grasp it. The ONE hides from ITs own SELF as a cosmic game of hide and seek if you will. IT cannot be know via intellectual pursuit alone. One must WAKE UP and then you KNOW... that all that exists is Awareness itself and I AM THAT.

Transcendent Knowledge reveals its SELF to its self.. in its own time. Those who know enough to seek it eventually DO find it. But they rarely bother to discuss it because.. the sleeping mind will not comprehend and only get ticked off. Oh well.

Anyway... in an NDE one is SUPER AWARE.. NOT unconscious. Your physical brain is unconscious, NOT YOU. : ) We are FAR more than these globs of gray matter.

The after-effects of NDEs. Often, a person having an NDE will have after-effects from it. These can include personality changes, psychic abilities and anomalies such as not being able to wear watches because they fail to work when worn. Profound personality changes often occur that suggests the NDE is a life-changing event profoundly affecting those who have them. Hallucinations and dreams do not have the magnitude of life-changing capabilities as NDEs have. This strongly suggests NDEs are neither hallucinations nor dreams. Experiencers, such as Dannion Brinkley, are even documented to have successfully described future events observed during their NDEs.(72)


I agree since this has been my own experience also.

Peace, Faithradha
“Devotion to the truth is the hallmark of morality; there is no greater, nobler, more heroic form of devotion than the act of a man who assumes the responsibility of thinking.” - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
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