As promised in the previous chapter, here are the states of consciousness which occur when the brain is stopped or destroyed:
(Permalink) NDE are the first case of a parapsychological phenomenon explicitly recognized as such in a «mainstream» science journal (official science) by the «Dutch study» in the reference medical journal «The Lancet». (Full text, more studies by the IANDS. Autres liens ici)
The study explicitly recognizes that a NDE can happen with a totally flat electroencephalogram (no neuronal activity), which eliminates any pseudo-scientific explanations such as the «fireworks of neurotransmitters» or «the brain which cannot consider its end and which builds a story». The study goes even further than expected, by explicitly questioning that memory and consciousness are located in the brain. I quote: «Another theory holds that NDE might be a changing state of consciousness (transcendence), in which identity, cognition, and emotion function independently from the unconscious body, but retain the possibility of non-sensory perception». The word «parapsychology» is not here, but we clearly have vocabulary of this area.
Reminder: NDE for Dummies. NDE are today part of the major facts that everybody is expected to known, like contraception or climate change. However I still meet people who are not in the know, hence this reminder.
The NDE (Near Death Experiences, or experiences at the threshold of death) is a phenomenon which is often reported by people who passed beyond the natural point of no return, but who could be brought back to life thanks to modern medicine (rare ancient cases are reported). The most typical case is cardiac arrest (as in the Dutch Study, carried out in cardiac hospital services). The person tells that, during the time where the brain is unable to function (no oxygen, flat electroencephalogram), he saw himself from a point out of his body, with the immediate environment (doctors, accident scene, etc.). ESP are often reported at this time, about the thinking of the physicians or the family in a nearby room. Then the person hears noises (buzzing, bells...) and feels sucked into a dark tunnel. The continuation is called «core experience»: the witness is confronted to a very intense white light (but not dazzling) which emanates a strong love feeling, as an infinitely loving being. The most advanced experiences continue with visions of heavenly landscapes. The return is often done following an injunction, unless the person wishes to continue something in the world (such as taking care of his children). This return to the physical world is unpleasant, as to wear muddy clothes. A minority of NDE differ from this schema, and some are terrifying (negative NDE). NDE, unlike other unexplained phenomena, have been widely publicised in mainstream society, without censorship or distortion (other than some scientistist attempts to denigrate them, note 92). However, it is better not to report our experiences to hostile doctors or family.
Explanation according to the logical self-generation theory (hey yes). In the previous chapters of this part, we understand consciousness as a logical self-generation process binding elements of the experience of consciousness (images, sounds, thoughts, emotions...). This process is in principle autonomous, except that it has the habit of «sticking» to the activity of the neurons, simply copying their content, to the point that for most people, it is the brain only which dictates their thoughts, emotions, perceptions, etc. However, we saw some exceptions, such as free will (passage of information from the process of consciousness to the physical process), the moments of superconsciousness, etc. In some deeper cases such as sleep paralysis, consciousness «takes-off» from the brain, and functions independently, and thus it has experiences of its own creation. But this take-off remains partial and short (some brain functions remaining active). On the other hand the NDE offers a forced and radical taking off: the brain sends no information to the process of consciousness, which is then forced to work with its only resources. Hence these very special and unique experiences.
But if the person comes back, it is that he is not really dead? The most vicious argument against the NDE was that, if the return is still possible, then the person would be «not really dead». «Real death» would come later, and nobody would return, since consciousness would be destroyed. This argument plays on words and on the definition of death. First, the people that modern medicine saves from the death would be really and definitively dead without it: cardiac arrest is naturally irreversible. But above all, it is a gratuitous assumption as what another event would destroy the consciousness later in the process of dying, while it survived to the natural death of the body. Nothing allows to state such a thing, and the above theory much more looks like a masochistic atheist cult rather than a scientific hypothesis, by people who hate life to the point of wishing their own annihilation.
In fact, the NDE offers a fantastic view on the process of dying. In general, natural death starts when a vital body function is stopped, the simplest case being cardiac arrest. It is only some time after that the destruction of other functions, such as the neurones, makes the process irreversible. So, there is some time during which the body remains in working order. The medicine can then reverse the process, for example by restarting the heart. But of course, when the neurones are destroyed, the medicine does not know how to repair them. Only at this moment the death is irreversible. But this is only a practical reason, not a metaphysical one! If we knew to repair the neurones, then any death would be reversible! We could even resuscitate Cro-Magnon people!
On the other hand, from the point of view of consciousness, natural death happens when the brain stops, and no longer sends information to it. Indeed, we saw in chapter V-2 that an experience of consciousness related to the brain occurs only when the corresponding area of the brain is active (contains a signal). From the moment where the brain stops emitting signals, then the consciousness has no way of knowing in which state is this brain, if it is still able to restart or if it is already destroyed. The result is therefore the same in both cases: the psychic death occurs at the time when the brain ceases to send information to the consciousness, and the latter is then completely free to run on his side, in full independence of the material world. The final destruction of the brain occurs at a time where consciousness is already causally disconnected from the brain, and it can therefore have no effect on consciousness. Only if the brain restarts, then this psychic process is interrupted. So the moment where death becomes irreversible is really when the brain is destroyed (hence the legal definition of death), but it does not match anything peculiar from the point of view of the consciousness, which is already very far at this point.
We could call this moment the «event horizon», as with the fall into a black hole. The analogy is interesting: in both cases, there is a specific and defined point where an outside observer can no longer receive any information. But for the person submitted to the phenomenon, nothing particular occurs at this moment, and he continues his experience on his side.
Added February 2021: in «Life after life», third part, Raymond Moody already posed the hypothesis of such a biological mechanism, liberating the consciousness from the body. This mechanisme could then be triggered at different moments, depending on the person. If this happens soon enough, then the person would be able to bring back NDE memories.
The beginning of the experience. We saw in the previous chapter that the beginning of a sleep paralysis looks amazingly like the beginning of an NDE, with the vision of our immediate surroundings. This most likely points to a common mechanism: consciousness, suddenly freed from the flow of information from the brain, needs new content. After the principle of economy of absurdity seen in chapter V-7, it rushes on the immediate environment, that it perceives after the modalities it uses to do with the bodily senses.
However the similarity stops there: in sleep paralysis, we see ourselves in the usual way (from a point at the level of the eyes), and the visions from another point are less common (OBE). While in the NDE, the vision almost always starts from a different point (autoscopic vision). Then the two experiences diverge radically: vision of an entity in our room, often forlorn, for the sleep paralysis, and tunnel followed by the being of light for the NDE. These differences are probably related to the fact that the disconnection is not total during sleep paralysis. The elements in this case (the sinister being) would then be induced by the primitive brain, while in the NDE the content is produced by the consciousness alone. A totally different kind of explanation however would be the meeting with real spiritual entities (other self-generation processes of consciousness) who would induce the experiences.
The being of light. One of the most fascinating aspects of the experience is undoubtedly the meeting of a «light» of a fantastic kindness, who seems to organize the whole core experience, and offer many very specific elements, such as the life review. The nature of this being is the subject of much debate. The monotheistic religious say of course that he is God, or their favourite saint. If this interpretation does not arise problem from the point of view of the spiritual consequences of the experience, I however want to offer a different explanation. We have indeed seen in chapter V-6 that God, if He exists, has little chance of having a look, or even of being a character that we could meet. He could even be reduced to a simple project, a vision of life. In such conditions, He cannot be the being of light, or in general He cannot appear personally.
The light being would then be essentially a reflection of our own consciousness, idealized. There is nothing surprising in this, and it is also the way it appears in superconsciousness instants (personally I saw another myself, idealized), and it is also the visualization of the Yidam in tantric practices: the Yidam (model deity) is visualised above us, or in front of us, and we must meditate him in the same time as a model different of us, but also as ourselves idealized. Furthermore, Buddhism precisely states that, at the time of death, we meet the «clear light», which is «the true nature of our consciousness» or «the reflection of our own mind»!
However this reflection of ourselves is far too perfect, to precisely emanate only from us! For most of the persons who saw him, it is a fantastic discovery of many things of which they were totally unaware. There is clearly another source of information, and which plays a fundamental role.
The solution to this dilemma is that these two interpretations (the being of light is God, or the being of light is a reflection of our own consciousness) are in fact non-dual, this meaning simultaneously true, despite they are contradictory after the Aristotelian logic. I warned as soon as chapter I-9 that we had to expect this kind of stuff when we meet Him.
Thus, the abstract God found in chapter V-6 can «take flesh» in some way, this meaning taking a personality with complex intentions, and more importantly someone who knows us very well, since he is built from us. Hence a both highly personal and very archetypal experience. And the unexpected source of information, which is not really one in facts: it is just another way of seeing life, which gives this feeling of a fantastic discovery. And this way being already a fundamental property of consciousness, we do not really need to receive information of somebody else, to discover it. Just the NDE situation forces this paradigm replacement, with radically eliminating all our conceptions, opinions, attachments, etc.
So, to consider the Light as being God is not an error, from the point of view of the spiritual consequences. But It is one of the explanatory point of view, which could have serious consequences. Fortunately, He is able of pouring enough wisdom in our minds to avoid the experiencers of NDE to fall into fanaticism.
Finally, Tantric meditations tell about the «clear light» (the exact name varies depending on schools) which allows to experience the contact with this light, and therefore to take benefit of the fantastic advantages of the NDE, while comfortably sitting on our cushion without risking our life. The scabrous methods such as bungee jumping, drugs, electrodes and other magnetic field are therefore completely unnecessary.
Advanced experiences generally occur after the encounter with the light: characters who appear to be residents of the after life, into complex and beautiful landscapes, such as cities of Crystal. Some experiencers report having received spiritual teachings of an ineffable beauty, simplicity, and truth, but that they are unable to remember after the return.
It is difficult to demonstrate that these experiences are not some kind of dreams, because their content is essentially about the afterlife, and is thus uncheckable here. However some elements announce the return, while referring to stakes such as the family of the experiencer. So there is indeed information coming from the other world, which makes it meet the the definition «incarnation in this other world» that we saw in chapter III-6, postulates 4 and 5.
These elements however appear in a symbolic form, for example a river that is to be crossed without return, to mean a stake such as the return to life, which will soon be impossible. This symbolic transformation is interesting, because it seems to indicate how the visions of the spiritual worlds appear, in a similar way to that of the dreams (chapter V-8), this meaning in the form of ready-made elements. And each person having his own representation of each element (e.g. a House appears in bricks, in wood, as an African case, a yurt, etc.) then the vision of a given place in the spiritual world is probably different for each, in the details, while bearing the same stakes for all.
How do we remember the experience? I noted in version 1 a point which was since confirmed by the «Dutch study»: how do we remember the experience, if the brain was completely stopped at this time? Indeed the today neurology assumes (as seen in the previous chapter V-8) that memories are stored by modification of the synapses of the neurons. However, we need a signal present in the said synapses, to have information written in them. However, in a state of anoxia, by lack of energy all the neural fibres are depolarized (minimum energy state), and there can be no signal, and therefore no action on the synapses. And where in the brain do we have a signal of ESP or of perception of the divine? We have no organs for this.
The only possible conclusion is equivalent to a radical questioning of the material conceptions of the operation of consciousness: the memory would simply not be written into the brain, but in the immaterial consciousness. What do I say, it would even not be «written»: from its mere existence, the information is available to the logical self-generation process of consciousness (fundamental property of the logical self generation processes, where time does not exist by itself, but appears as a consequence of the unfolding of the process).
In this vision, to recall a memory however requires an action on the neurons, similar to what we saw with the freewill in chapter V-4: the equality between the output of two neurons produces a logical paradox, which allows the desired information to influence the physical world. To make the recall of memories so easy (much more than free will) it is then required that the brain has specialized circuits to do this, designed for easily achieving the necessary material conditions.
And we really observe that the removal of certain parts of the brain causes different types of amnesia. These parts are different from the usual sensory areas, but they need to communicate with through broadband channels, using the encoding seen in the previous chapter, which must then be the same in the sensory area and in the memory. Neurology indeed shows that several areas are specialized either in writing or in reading memories, under the control of a small number of nervous centres which enable writing or reading. The three years age limit for the memories of early life probably depends on the maturation of one of these centres.
Such an organization is contradictory with the recording of memories in the neurons, because this record should necessarily be in the sensory areas. However the later would be soon totally overwhelmed by the fantastic amount of information stored there. Remember that this is definitively not their purpose: the memory of the viewing area is used for things such as recognizing plants, and this is a neural learning process which has nothing immaterial. It is most likely achieved by one of these numerous areas adjacent to the visual areas, to which the neurologists did not found clear functions.
(Added on October 31, 2017) About brain areas which destruction provokes amnesia, their role would not be to store information, the information would even not transit there. These areas would simply control the sensory areas, in order to produce there conditions of neutrality similar to the ones needed for freewill (Chapter V-3). These conditions would then allow the activation of a specific neural learning, best match to the memory the consciousness is seeking. Then the working of our memory can be observed easily, for instance when we cannot remember a word that we however know well: we have a diffuse feeling of that word, which would come from the consciousness. But to force or to get upset produces a polarisation of the neurons, which opposes the neutrality conditions, and thus makes remembering even more difficult. It is only if we relax, or we pass at something else, that the word comes back suddenly: our consciousness ended to successfully activate the neural learning of this word. (Since language is a neural learning, coded in the connectome of a specific area of the brain, where each learning is a word)
That the memory would be a parapsychological phenomenon would open up dizzying perspectives: If our brain has hardwired extrasensory perception capabilities, why are we unable to know anything, remote locations, the thoughts of others, the past and even the future? The answer is stupid: because our consciousness is simply not used to work in this way. And precisely, all the spiritual awakening theories say that we all have the capacity to develop these fantastic faculties. Just a matter of learning to function differently of what the experience of the material world taught us.
The return. NDE witnesses necessarily had to return in their body at one time or another. In the early stages, this return happens simply, as when we wake up. But in the «core experience», this return is negotiated with the being of light, or with other more humane characters encountered later. Often, it is the experiencer who requests to come back, the reason being usually not to leave his children alone. Often also, the experiencer has the feeling of encountering a limit, such as a river, beyond which the return is impossible. This limit is often interpreted after «psychological symbols» or mythological tales, but I rather see here a very concrete manifestation of the moment when the damage to the brain actually makes the return impossible. Indeed, we previously saw that this moment is not playing any role in the mechanics of the experience. However this time may be known if necessary, and as often in the spiritual realms this knowledge appears in the consciousness under the form of a symbol or a parable.
It is not uncommon to see that the return to life is medically inexplicable, miraculous. This is especially true when the experiencer requests to return. Apparently the light being has such powers, but he uses them only for altruistic requests. Most likely, seen from the other side, the return to Earth is not especially desirable, it is just one destination among others.
At last, the return itself is often unpleasant, described as like putting old muddy clothes (not to mention to find again pain and discomfort). This seems a simple consequence of the recovery of the physical senses. Indeed, these senses are working all the time, but most of their messages are suppressed, for example the contact of the clothing on our skin, otherwise we would be overwhelmed with feelings. The sudden return of these feelings makes an unpleasant shock, especially after the lightness feeling of the spiritual world.
Negative NDE and variants. The human minds being extremely diversified, it is not a surprise if people have visions which are completely different of the standard model, which itself has many variations and options. Negative NDE (unpleasant ones), however focused more attention than the variants. At first, Raymond Moody feared his revelations would incite people to commit mass suicides. So he featured in his founder book a case of terrible NDE of a person who had committed suicide. This correlation between negative NDE and suicide has however proven totally wrong since, and there was no wave of suicides. Right on the contrary, NDE create a strong desire for living!
Negative NDE seem to result (we should check it) of a blockade from the person, about such or such technical aspect of the spiritual world. In these circumstances, the «normal» course of the NDE is disrupted, and the experience remains stuck at intermediate stages, where it takes a nightmarish turn, which is not unlike the visions of sleep paralysis.
However, I suggest that persons who had negative NDE do not too much worry about. They make me think of a little child scared the first time he goes on a merry-go-round, while the experience is intended for his fun. So these people receive the paradise welcome giga-orgasm, and they panic from its intensity! The experience however is still a success on one essential point: these persons returned from death, they hold the proof of survival.
Why not everybody has NDE? (After the most accurate Dutch study statistics, only 18% have one, and only 12% have a core experience). This is for now a complete mystery. There are a lot of hypothesis, ranging from organic causes (including having one, but not remembering), to really appalling spiritual causes. A serious hint however is the result of statistical studies which show a consistent link between NDE, sleep paralysis, instants of superconsciousness, and spiritual ideals, without however telling which of these ones causes the others.
The most likely explanation is that some people would have easier contact with the consciousness realm. This could alone explain their abilities in both NDE, sleep paralysis, instants of super-consciousness, and finding the right spiritual values. However this does not imply that people with lesser skills are less conscious, or that they would be intrinsically more evil (even if actually they manifest more evil opinions or emotions, from lack of mastery of their psychology).
I once read that people with uraemia do not have NDE. But uraemia has no connexion with consciousness. So that there may be purely organic causes. One of the symptoms of terminal uraemia being a coma, we can imagine that the intoxication of the neurones may harm the subtle memory processes, and forbid the recovery of NDE memories, or change the order in which the neural switches are deactivated. Other more benign organic conditions could lead to the same result, explaining that the majority of people would not have NDE.
A really dreadful hypothesis however is that some persons may simply not be conscious. They would not be aware, and not have started a consciousness self-generation process. The problem is that they would be indiscernible from conscious persons with only a psychological consciousness (chapter V-2). They may even show good will and love of their spouses or children. But in facts, they would be just robots, meat, zombies, things, biological tamagotchis, sex bots, with nobody inside. To be frank, I don't like at all such an appalling idea; but I have no argument against it. So I feel compelled to mention it, as a warning: if this is true, people with zero spiritual practice may simply disappear forever at death!
A test however is that, if long term memory is stored into the spiritual consciousness, then these persons would not have any long term memory. They would remember names, faces, stakes, languages, skills, as these things are coded into the neurones. But they would not remember past experiences, they would always do the same psychological blunder, always forget their commitments, etc. If at random they hear us, they always find some wobbly or humiliating argument to discard any truth and fall again in their rout. Well, we precisely observe a lot of such persons... Anyway, whatever the reason, it looks inefficient to try to help them.
Can we provoke NDE? Of course scientists as well as spiritual persons would like it very much.
We hear stories of magnetic fields, or drugs like ketamine, producing NDEs. I am cautious. These things may produce similar visions, but which may be still brain phenomena, and more akin to sleep paralysis, see to psychiatric disorders. However we note that authentic experiences like instants or superconsciousness happen when there is no organic trouble at all. So maybe true NDE can happen when there are still neural activities, depending on which neurones are stopped. Probably, as seen above, there is a definite neural centre which stopping may provide automatically a NDE (at least in 18% of people), but we are here in uncharted lands, and in more dangerous.
For now, the only method that we know for sure can produce genuine NDE core experiences is the total arrest of all the neurones (and still only in 12% of people). Most common situation where this happens is cardiac arrest (or stopping blood flow in the brain by strangulation, but this soon brings cardiac arrest too), or lowering the temperature of the body (which anyway requires extra-corporeal blood circulation, as the heart stops with cold). In «Life after life», third part, Raymond Moody suggested that a large dose of sedatives could do that, but no research was done in this way since. Useless to say that all these methods are dangerous, and the only way to use them is when they are required for medical reasons.
So to produce a NDE with material means would require to stop all the neurones, without stopping anything else. We can imagine a drug able of doing this. Problem is that stopping all the neurones would stop the heart too, as in strangulation. Maybe the very neural centres which stopping is «signalling» the death to the spiritual consciousness are strongly linked to the basic metabolism and autonomous neural system which control of the heart, or even the very heart beat itself! So that we are still in dangerous land, and still more uncharted anyway.
So that, in the today state of things, we don't have any available or foreseeable material mean to safely produce a genuine NDE, free of any brain hallucination.
Another aspect is that, as we saw, instants of superconsciousness do not happen as a result of material causes, but because of a stake into the consciousness domain. If NDE obey the same law, then their main cause may be in the consciousness domain too, and the material state of the body may be only a propitious circumstance. And these consciousness stakes are well known: being innocent, having spiritual concerns, offering love or care to others who depend on us. If we fulfil one of these conditions, then spiritual guidance will come anyway by different means, and there is no need of a cardiac arrest.
As we have much safer methods for contacting the Light: common meditation, advanced meditation (where we can produce NDE-like experiences), reading hope-bearing stories. So that it is better to drop your electrodes and your syringes, and come hear my elven stories into virtual worlds... at least you risk nothing.
And if one day we have a material mean for producing a NDE, then we know that a rightful motive is required for the experience to success... If not, it may fail, or even be horrible.
Death bed visions (Added June 2022) Here is a little commented aspect of the NDE, without the NDE part so to say: people dying report visions, generally angelic, in the days, hours or minutes before death. A known example is Steve Jobs, who, in the last seconds, suddenly stared beyond the attendance, saying «Wow», after his sister. According to the Logical Self-Generation Theory, with the degradation of the brain, the consciousness would have difficulty maintaining its link with this brain, thus allowing visions of the afterlife. However, in order for the person to be able to describe his or her visions, an information path must also be established from the consciousness to the brain. The fact that this is established without any other condition tends to show that these kinds of phenomena are in fact natural and automatic, only the attachment of the consciousness to the processes of the brain would prevent them. It would be interesting to scientifically study this phenomenon, which is more «reproducible» than the NDEs.
Dream Yoga would also create similar conditions.
(Permalink) If the Bardo Thödöl is not a «scientific paper» in the modern sense of the word, it much looks like one. Just that, instead of talking about physics or technology, it describes the experiences a dying person goes through, before being reincarnated on Earth or in another world. This is certainly fascinating data, but which remained for long totally unverifiable for modern science. Of course, this book was first known through the general fascination on Tibetan Buddhism. But it drew the attention of scientists when they noticed that it precisely describes important aspects of the NDE. This was suddenly making the Bardo Thödöl verifiable, and therefore an object of science!
A detailed discussion of the convergences and differences is given in the «The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying» by Sogyal Rinpoche (the famous «Khempo Tenzin» in the film «little Buddha»). Especially the description of the «chikhai Bardo» (first step immediately after death) almost matches the scientific description of the NDE. As to the «being of light», Buddhism also describes it, explaining it as «the fundamental nature of our own consciousness», as I earlier discussed in this chapter. Which, in my opinion, does not exclude a «divine» aspect, as seen in the same discussion.
This convergence, unique for all the mythological texts about the after life, precisely places the Bardo Thödöl outside of mythology, to make of it a definitive theoretical guide in a field where verified data is scarce. Especially, it is currently the only known authority about the more advanced stages of death, spiritual worlds, or reincarnation. Hence the large quotes I do until the end of this chapter.
(Permalink) In Tibetan, «Bardo» literally means «intermediate state», but the common use of this word would rather be «state of consciousness», in the sense where I use it all along this book. Indeed, the Tibetans recognize waking state, sleep and meditation as «Bardos», although they are in no way «intermediate». Today sleep paralysis and RR4 should be added to the list.
Thus the «chonyid Bardo», or «Bardo of becoming» appears to be a state where consciousness is alone, submitted only to its own logical self-generation process, without receiving information of any other. Very varied visions appear then, of its own creation, that consciousness will immediately grasp at and hold onto, from its inveterate need to grasp at appearances, and to consider them as «the reality», after the process seen in chapter III-5. For an unprepared person, this need is so strong that it passes before fear or suffering: the consciousness can then reificate terrifying or painful visions, to which it will yet cling at desperately, as of the only «reality», totally unable to escape them. While an average practitioner of meditation can recognize these visions as simply visions, and not cling at them. I however doubt that we can get an «empty consciousness», since, by definition of consciousness, it necessarily has a content (it is necessarily aware of something, even of vacuum). The basic manoeuvre in this case is to visualize the visions becoming beautiful or interesting. This is what I did with the uninteresting visions of the sleep paralysis, with success. I therefore think that the same method applies to the Bardo of becoming, and the Bardo Thödöl indeed gives a similar advice, to visualise Buddhas who can then guide us to interesting reincarnations into spiritual paradise. Advanced meditation is to consider these visions as pure illusions, and this provides us with the ability of controlling the switches ourselves, and to join the world of our choice.
This is how the mastery of the functioning of our consciousness by meditation, brings us the freedom to choose in what kind of world we shall live, or which dreams we have.
(Permalink) In some advanced NDE, the experiencer meets other characters (wise persons, but more human-like than the light) and also paradise landscapes or grandiose monuments. It is likely that we need to take these visions by the letter, including the incredible cities of crystal and other symbolic monuments. This does however not necessarily mean that these cities are existing somewhere in a permanent way. To understand why, we need to compare with the currently available virtual worlds on the Internet (2012). These virtual worlds are not organized like the surface of a planet. Instead, their inhabitants build landscapes or scenes, often temporary or without direct connections with each other, and many versions of the same scene may exist, in a fuzzy space without fixed dimensions or plan. Into virtual worlds, we indeed do not have the concept of a limited space to occupy and manage, like the surface of a town. This absence of constraint could bring even more freedom into the spiritual worlds, where building is still easier than in the virtual, requesting only a little imagination: in the world of consciousness, the landscape is just what we visualise! (Or what we remember). Thus, a fantastic elven city can appear instantly, and last only a few minutes: why to keep it somewhere, if just remembering it is enough to recreate it an infinite number of times? Thus the very notion of a continuous space dear to physics loses its meaning, for the benefit of a fuzzy (chapter I-3), changing, dream-like space, yet very real for those who live there.
These incredible worlds are just the application of the third part of this book: despite they have no kind of absolute existence, and no need for any universe or space continuum to contain them, they appear as «real» to the consciousness who exchange information with them. More, as they exist inside these consciousnesses (as visualisations), consciousnesses exchanging information with each other will literally share their inner worlds, and feel it as much «real» than we feel the physical world. (witnesses even speak of «more real» than the physical world). It is these exchanges which create the fuzzy world, although such consciousnesses can also manage to build more permanent collective places.
The Buddhist masters state that powerful spiritual entities create such stable worlds, to be used by consciousness who do not yet master this realm. For example, each Yidam has his one, and we can choose. So we can «take birth» into such an universe, live in it (Feel it as «concrete», and the only «objective reality», according to the process described in chapter III-5) and even «die» when we decide to leave it. However this «birth» happens in a totally different way of the biological birth, which may be closer of what we see in a virtual world, where we suddenly appear in the arrival point, with a standardized appearance. People even speak of birth («rezzday») and anniversary! And they show to the «noobs» (newbies) the same affection as to babies. But just for a few days: we grow up fast!
The most advanced electronic virtual worlds show how and with which force the consciousness can become involved in what it is presented as the reality. We think at the funny example of the virtual tennis player who throws his Kinect on the screen, forgetful that he is of its local nature. But I also had the opportunity to experience force feedback: the feeling of reality is fantastic, we really feel as handling an object, hard or elastic, while there is only software. We can imagine the wonderful possibilities which will open when will be removed the strict ideological control over controls like the Kinect. Further, exoskeletons will enable a total immersion in virtual worlds without limits.
The conclusion is that consciousness can quickly adapt and involve into new conditions, possibly completely different of the material world.
(Permalink) The Bardo Thödöl also describes the process of reincarnation. There is a large number of apparently verified reincarnation stories in countries where reincarnation is recognized. Dr. Ian Stevenson gathered a lot of such testimonies. Vicki Mackenzie authored several convincing books about reincarnation of Tibetan lamas remembering their past lives. But the «science» label is hard to obtain: it is difficult to check if the reincarnation candidate really never received information before telling his story.
The Bardo Thödöl also brings a huge difference with what is expected in Western atheistic and materialistic societies. For many of us in facts, reincarnation appears as the pinnacle of the desirable: to be able to live and relive at infinity! A desire that the masters of all religions are looking condescendingly amused: why want to remain in the material world, especially on Earth, while the first encountered spiritual world is thousand times better? Especially that the reincarnations starting in these times of climate change and nuclear disasters are likely to end painfully, well before their normal term. Therefore I would not be surprised if the most advanced people actually flee this Earth where they are not heeded (or worse), and that they are warmly invited elsewhere, where their skills will be effectively appreciated and put at useful uses (see chapter VI-16).
Masters however encourage the reincarnation into this world, in a specific case: to help others to get out of it. But he must already master ourselves what we want to transmit!
The Bardo Thödöl states that the reincarnation process can begin when the consciousness feels an attraction to an uterus, in which we guess that a child is in the process of being formed. The raw attraction to the physical world could play us really ugly tricks, if the said uterus is an animal, or even a malicious or incompetent human. But this is what happens to many consciousnesses...
A difficulty arises at this point: three months take place between the fertilization and the development of consciousness activities in the brain of the baby. How is consciousness connected to the body during all the time? We need a link whatever it is, that the Bardo Thödöl traces to the fertilizing intercourse, while explaining it by the love of the parents. However this does not explain rape pregnancies, where love is not involved. We saw another solution in chapter V-7: the attachment of consciousness to the brain would be by the activity of primitive nervous centres which produce no consciousness activity. Such centres start to operate as soon as the 6th week, in the same time than the heart. In fact the attachment would be gradual, first purely emotional (vision of the parents) and then it would become more material when the first unconscious nervous centres start to operate, until the third month where the brain can start producing experiences of consciousness. And the consciousness would experience this three months process as a single «nib», this meaning as an unique consciousness event. An event which would last several months in the physical world seems instantaneous to the consciousness. Just as a night of sleep looks like an unique event. So that there is no sense at asking what the consciousness does during this time.
(Permalink) As seen in the third part on metaphysics, and especially in the chapter III-5, consciousness feels an universe as «real» when it receives information on it, when the two logical self-generation processes communicate.
This can provide a very simple and general definition of the incarnation: when consciousness establishes a communication link with an universe. The incarnation, it is when two logical self-generation processes communicate. In one way, the consciousness perceives the universe, and feels it as «existing». In the other way, the consciousness can act on the universe, what we call having spiritual powers (see chapter III-5: the dissolution of consciousness). From the point of view of the logical self-generation theory, as well as from the point of view of the Bardo Thödöl, that this universe is «material» or «spiritual» does not bring any fundamental difference: they are both «reincarnations». There are however some important technical differences: in a spiritual world, consciousness perceives directly the elements of the experience of consciousness that it contains (images, sounds...), while in a material world it needs sensory organs and a brain to interpret the world made of particles. In the other way, consciousness should be able to act easily on the spiritual world, under the form of «magical powers». But in the material world, acting on the logical self-generation process of matter is much more difficult, making such powers much more rare.
Added in February 2017:
(Permalink) The IANDS has probably become the largest NDE study organization, growing both in size and in activity. One of the most recent studies (February 2016) is about the negative NDEs. The accumulation of testimonies now allows to study them with more finesse. To summarize the article, there are basically four types of negative NDEs:
-Similar to positive, but the person finds the experience unpleasant (the most numerous cases).
-The void universe, sensation of absolute solitude and non-existence.
- Infernal experiences, sinister words, or visions of extremely distressed beings
- Negative judgement, similar to the positive NDE, but the «light» makes the person feel condemnable.
There is no statistical relationship between the type of NDE and the characteristics of the person, except that the three later types of negative NDE are more likely to happen to persons in great doubt about themselves. Negative NDE victims generally take them as a lesson, and they understand themselves the spiritual methods applicable to negative experiences.
From the standpoint of the theory of the logical self-generation of consciousness, these findings tend to confirm that NDE scenarios, until the Light included, are experiences similar to a dream, and not the true after-life. Indeed, if the Light was an objectively existing being («God» or «Jesus», etc.), it would behave in a coherent way from one experience to another. The observed statistical variations rather indicate a random scenario creation process, as in ordinary dreams. But above all, there is no sense in punishing people who have not been able to endure intense suffering, right on the contrary any true spiritual being would give them more attention.
This dream would be produced by the disembodied consciousness, instead of the brain for ordinary dreams: a psychical dream. From this nature, these dreams are often very significant for the person, who learns lessons as from an open learning book, even in case of a painful experience. There is therefore a contact with a genuine, though impersonal, spiritual influence, according to the processes described in chapter V-6 and chapter V-7.
This also confirms the interpretation of the Bardo Thödöl, which describes the first stage of the afterlife as a transitory dream.
But then when does the afterlife really begin? We are still with only assumptions at this point, but a coherent pattern is emerging. According to the Bardo Thödöl, the person goes to a «reincarnation», although in this book this word has a different meaning from our habit: indeed this reincarnation can happen in a spiritual world, which we would rather call a paradise. Therefore this does not necessarily means taking back a body of flesh. But it is nevertheless a particular event, in which the consciousness makes contact with another universe, which is no longer a dream, but an objective experience, that is shared with other consciousnesses. We can hypothesize that the paradise visions of advanced NDEs would be in this case.
Expressed according to the theory of logical self-generation, an exchange of information is established between the two processes of logical self-generation, the one of the consciousness and the one of the target world. Once this is done, this consciousness perceives this world as «the reality», «concrete» and «observable», as explained in chapter III-6.
This leaves a lot of unknowns, especially on how this information path is established. Indeed, normally two different self-generation processes do not communicate (chapter III-6). For them to do so, it takes a special event. We have no experimental data, and the Bardo Thödöl gives only one indication: it is our sensual desire which causes the attraction, and which then locks the situation when we receive the first sensations. This was expectable, since sensual desire is the «strong interaction» of consciousness.
However aversion and hatred are also desires, just to push back instead of attracting. This is in line with the many warnings dispensed by all the forms of spirituality: our state of mind before death will determine our orientation in the afterlife. And the negative NDEs tell us that this orientation begins in the early stages, before the reincarnation itself. We must therefore seriously consider the possibility of finding ourselves in very unpleasant situations: reincarnations as animals, in a hell, and so on.
This leads to at least one practical conclusion: we must be constantly ready to die, in order to be able to face it in a positive state of mind, even if this death is horrible (torture, humiliation), if it perverts our consciousness (coma, drugs, therapeutic fury) or even if it is unconscious (to die during our sleep).
On the other hand, we do not find any mention of people sent to hell because they were homosexual, of a «bad» religion, had bad marks in school, touched their willy, and so on. This indirectly confirms the modern spiritual visions of a much freer, more flexible and even hedonistic life, as long as it does not openly contradict any basic spiritual principle such as respecting others.
And even if NDEs are dreams, they are still dreams which occur in the actual afterlife: they remain valid proofs of the survival of consciousness after death.
(Added on May 12, 2020)
(Permalink) There actually are two studies: the second AWARE II is more focused on the medical aspect of restoring brain health after cardiac arrest. Very useful certainly, but not the topic here.
The one of concerns here is the AWARE I study, which sought to establish if NDE experimenters could really have verifiable ESP (extrasensory perceptions). To do so, doctors placed «targets» (drawings) on shelves, in places in the hospital where cardiac resuscitation was likely to take place.
Searching on the Internet, here are the best links I found: an analysis by the IANDS, The most detailed numbers, and a synthesis and conclusions by the University of Southampton.
These results are somewhat disappointing, since out of 140 interviewed people, only 9 report a NDE, only one has a verified ESP, and none has seen the targets. However, this ESP is of high quality, since it reports the activity of the cardiac resuscitation device, a robot without ideology which activity indicated that the witness was indeed in cardiac arrest.
(Of course the NDE deniers pretend that the experiment was a total failure, ignoring this nice ESP)
(Much smaller percentages are circulating, but they include the dead! But the habit in NDE studies is to count only the people interviewed.
I have several interesting conclusions to draw from these results, notably on the fact that none of the interviewees noticed the targets, whereas such verified ESPs are a constant in NDEs, already reported by Raymond Moody in his seminal book «Life After Life».
The theories that I propose on parapsychological phenomena like ESP (chapter VII-4) tell that they occur only if they have a spiritual stake: evolution of the person, family love, or at an unique occasion: to provide a proof of the existence of these phenomena in order to free the experiencer from materialism. A purely intellectual scientific study is unfortunately not included in this list. Hence the chronic difficulties of these studies to reproduce these phenomena. However, knowledge of these conditions should make possible to get around this obstacle! Thus my contribution to the study would be the following suggestions:
☻ Continue the experiments, if necessary in more hospitals, seeking to provoke facts of spiritual importance, which may directly affect the witness.
☻ Instead of drawings, offer to perceive events. These can be more easily correlated with the absence of brain activity. For example, I suggest sounds in the witness's environment, or in the waiting room where the family is.
☻ Working in departments where the absolute number of survivors is the highest.
☻ Keep in mind the conditions of chapter II-9: do not announce the study in advance.
☻ Do not conduct studies aimed solely at convincing NDE deniers. They will not be convinced anyway.
(Added January 2022)
(Permalink) Recent science studies uncovered depolarisation waves in the brain during hypoxia. Basically, when the brain lacks oxygen, for example after a cardiac arrest, the neurons shut down. However, they remain polarised (electrically charged). Of course, this unstable state ends quickly: for a period of one to three minutes after the oxygen supply has stopped, they depolarise (lose their electrical charge). However, they do not do this randomly, but in waves which spread through the brain, known as cortical spreading depression (SD or CSD or Leão's Spreading Depression, after the discoverer). When the depolarisation is complete, the neurons are totally discharged and unable to recharge, so that no more neuronal activity can take place. But it is not until five to seven minutes after the oxygen is cut off that the destruction of the neurons begins, making it impossible to regain consciousness after this time. These observations were made in an «ethical» way on pigs, and also on human volunteers in terminal phase, who refused to be resuscitated.
Of course, some researchers see CSD as an «explanation» for the experiences reported during NDEs. Thus the CSD would advantageously replace Ronald Siegel's «neuromediator fireworks», which he «supposed» (Patrice Van Eersel, La Source Noire, chapter 4) but which never were observed.
I strongly doubt this assertion, for several reasons:
☻First, CSD can occur in the waking state, during migraines with aura (pubmed) (Science Direct). And the experience of consciousness it produces is unlike any of the visions of NDEs: a blurred or coloured area, slowly crossing the field of vision. This is what doctors call an «aura». Exactly zero NDE witnesses report such a thing.
☻Even worse, this vision is even not a visual signal, but a scotome, telling on the contrary a lack of neural signal producing an experience of consciousness. Which can be explained easily, if the depolarisation happens by mere leak through the membrane, without emission of an impulse along the axone. The CSD would even be a proof that only the neural discharge along the axon can produce a consciousness experience.
☻If CSD was the causal factor of a NDE experience, everybody would have one.
☻ At last, we find clear differences between the description of NDEs according to the articles of these neurologists, and the descriptions by real NDE specialists. For instance, according to our neurologists, only 22% of NDEs are positive, whereas the specialists find between 85% and 99% according to the serious data on NDEs.
So it seems that we have again a case where materialist science ignores science results on consciouness. Which allows it to «adapt» these results, as if they were just vague folk tales by ignorant people. Thus, this theory about the role of the CSD would be, at best, naive, at worst, yet another attempt to drown the fish of the NDE into the water of science.
If we want to talk seriously about the CSD, it could mark the passage between the two stages of the NDE noticed by the specialists, which I mentioned above. Indeed, as long as the neurons are polarised, they can still have an activity, even weak, and thus still send to the consciousness the basic message «I exist», the one they send during sleep. This relatively natural stage would then be the first stage of NDEs, with consciousness experiences similar to sleep paralysis: OBEs, ESP, visions of dead relatives, etc. However, after CSD, the neurons are «out of fuel», and they can no longer have any activity. Consciousness therefore no longer receives any signals from the brain. This state would produce the second stage of NDEs, with the Light, etc. And CSD could be one of the «neural switches» mentioned above, cutting off the flow of information from the brain to consciousness.
Should I count CSD as an experimental confirmation of my theory of the neural switches? Not even sure, in facts. The CSD seems to have no relevant function or effect, and the real «switch» probably is some sleep center or basal metabolism center, which keeps running while the consciousness centers are shut down (in «safe mode»). The second stage would happens only when this center runs out of oxygen and stops.
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