INDIVIDUAL HUMAN EXPERIENCE WITH DEATH AND THE AFTERLIFE



For the past three hundred years, Western science has been fixated upon the concept that everything in the universe is subject to physical laws and exists only in terms of mass and energy—matter being transformed by energy into a variety of conditions and shapes that come into existence only to pass away eventually in time and space. Death, therefore, is the end of existence for all who succumb to its ultimate withdrawal of the life force.

From time to time, however, highly regarded scientists have protested that such a view of the universe leaves out a sizable portion of reality. British philosopher and mathematician Alfred North Whitehead (1861–1947) observed that a strictly materialistic approach to life completely ignored the subjective life of humans—or that area of existence which is commonly called the spiritual. It in no way accounted for emotions—the manner in which human beings experience the feelings of love between a woman and a man, between parents and children; the joy upon hearing a magnificent symphony; the sense of beauty and awe in sighting a rainbow; the inspiration of religious thought.

But the major tenets of Western science hold fast. Such human experiences, material scientists insist, are mere transient illusions— things that people imagine for themselves or dream for themselves—while the only true reality consists in the movement of atoms blindly obeying chemical and physical laws.

This soulless "world machine" was created three centuries ago by the genius of Rene Descartes (1596–1650), Sir Isaac Newton (1642–1727), and their predecessors; and it has proved useful for the development of physical science. The attempts of Whitehead and others to construct an approach to science that could include the experiences of people's inner lives within the framework of reality has made little impression in contemporary science, which remains rigidly devoted to the seventeenth century "world machine." Everything must be explained in terms of the physical action of material bodies being acted upon by external forces.

But even the most rigid disciple of the materialistic religion of test tubes, chemical compounds, and mathematical formulas still cannot answer the ultimate question—what lies beyond physical death?

Some scientists compromise because their instincts or desires prompt them to hope that life goes on, and they point to the research being done with those men and women who have survived the near-death experience (NDE) and the testimonies of medical personnel who have observed individuals undergoing deathbed visions. While some scientists may argue that the answers that come forth from those who have experienced NDE are subjective, other researchers insist that such reports do provide valuable clues to the dimensions of reality that lie beyond physical death.

Throughout history there have been men and women who have been somehow brought back to life after accidents, severe injuries, surgeries, and other physical traumas, and they have related their own accounts of life beyond death, the journey of the soul, and the process of judgment that awaits the spirits of the deceased on the other side. While the various representatives of religious orthodoxy may often look upon such stories as visions wrought by the severity of a painful ordeal and a subsequent misinterpretation of accepted religious teachings, and while the proponents of the material sciences may consider these experiences delusions, those who have survived such near-death encounters cannot be shaken from the testimony of their own personal experiences, regardless of the accepted dogmas and doctrines taught by the various religious bodies or the physical sciences concerning the afterlife.

Father Andrew Greeley (1928– ), who has a Ph.D. in sociology and is a best-selling novelist as well as a Roman Catholic priest, has been keeping tabs on the spiritual experiences of Americans since 1973. Together with colleagues at the University of Chicago, Greeley, a professor of sociology at the University of Arizona, released the following data in the January/February 1987 issue of American Health: Seventy-three percent of the adult population in the United States believe in life after death; 74 percent expect to be reunited with their loved ones after death.

In the fall of 1988, the editors at Better Homes and Gardens drew more than 80,000 responses when they surveyed their readership regarding their spiritual lives. Eighty-nine percent believed in eternal life; 30 percent believed in a spirit world; and 86 percent believed in miracles.


DELVING DEEPER

Kubler-Ross, Elisabeth. Living with Death and Dying. New York: Macmillan, 1997.

Morse, Melvin. Parting Visions: Uses and Meaning of Pre-Death. New York: Villard Books, 1994.

White, John. A Practical Guide to Death and Dying. Wheaton, Ill.: Theosophical Publishing House, 1988.

Willis-Brandon, Carla. One Last Hug Before I Go: The Mystery and Meaning of Deathbed Visions. Deer-field Beach, Fla.: Health Communications, 2000.

DELVING DEEPER

Atwater, P. M. H. Beyond the Light. New York: Avon, 1997.

——. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Near-Death Experiences. New York: Alpha Books, 2000.

Crookall, Robert. More Astral Projections: Analysis of Case Histories. London: Aquarian Press, 1964.

Eadie, Betty J. Embraced by the Light. New York: Ban tam Books, 1994.

Kubler-Ross, Elisabeth. On Death and Dying. New York: Macmillan, 1969.

Moody, Raymond A., Jr. Life After Life. New York: Bantam Books, 1981.

Morse, Melvin. Closer to the Light. New York: Ivy Books, 1991.

Muldoon, Sylvan, and Hereward Carrington. The Projection of the Astral Body. New York: Weiser, 1981.

Ring, Kenneth. Life at Death. New York: Coward, McCann and Geoghegan, 1980.

Steiger, Brad. Minds Through Space and Time. New York: Award Books, 1971.

Steiger, Brad and Steiger, Sherry Hansen. Children of the Light. New York: Signet, 1995.



User Contributions:

Tim
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Nov 6, 2007 @ 2:14 pm
Cutting-edge physics posits that our universe is only one of an infinite number of universes, and exists only in 4 dimensions, and that other universes may exist in any combination of the remaining 7 dimensions. So it is easy to imagine that non-human-bound minds might simply transit over to other to another universe, or one/several of the other 7 dimensions believed to exist, after death.

However, the only definitive, believable proof of this would be to watch a human brain die on some kind of brain-activity scanner (which exist, but I know nothing about), and then have the "soul" of that person re-enter and re-enliven the brain after brain death.

"Although the doctors were initially skeptical of reports in which people close to death had encounters with bright lights and heavenly beings, their new study concludes that a "number of people have almost certainly had these experiences after they were pronounced clinically dead." By carefully examining medical records, the researchers ruled out the collapse of brain functions caused by low levels of oxygen or that drugs might be responsible for the experiences."

OK, well, if the brain is still active and capable of imagination and memory, the person isn't dead! Just because the person was pronounced clinically dead doesn't mean they're dead...only that certain parts of the body have ceased to work for a specified amount of time. Furthermore, if the brain is still active (and therefore, not dead), the person COULD STILL be subject to whatever happens in the brain after clinical death. It is possible that the act of removing all sensation and control from the rest of the body has a physical, electrochemical effect on the brain that causes the illusion of peace and happiness.
hussain mehdi
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May 6, 2008 @ 3:15 pm
when human beings die:

1- they vacate eyes,
2- they vacate ears,
3- they vacate brain,
4- they vacate sensitivity,
5- they vacate feeings,
6- they vacate heart. etc...

so, it means, whereever they go, they do not need these things. it means, whereever they go, they do not need arguments and debates and reasons.you know? these are functions of brain. arguments can not take place with out brain. it means, the world towards they go, is straightfoward. it means, there is no secret any more and mystery.

the question is: if, they no more here in this world (even for short period) how can they describe such an experiencefrom the view point of this world??? this seems confusing.

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