Death and not dying

MurderSo some guy goes to a Bible study meeting to commit a brutal act of terrorism that kills nine innocent people.

The guy was caught, and and the governor immediately wants to impose the death penalty.

The story feels so familiar, as if it’s just another episode of a TV crime show, another novel about a crazy serial killer, more of the same violence and response to violence with more violence. The politicking continues over gun control, seen by some as the answer. Jon Stewart said that “jackshit” would happen as a result of the latest killing. People keep getting shot and nothing keeps happening except business as usual.

Every time a big murder hits the news, I have my seasoned response:: Why don’t we as a society study death?

(I see some eyes rolling and a few stomachs turning amid the high fives. That’s OK.)

THE TORTURE MYTH

Recently John Oliver on his Last Week Tonight show discussed the misconception many people have that torture works well as an investigative tool. He said it only works in our entertainment media. It’s fiction. No study has proven that Americans should be torturing people for information.

So I wonder about death. Maybe like torture in the movies, death as it is usually portrayed might be fictitious, too. That, at least, is a view frequently expressed by people who have had classic near-death experiences. Their bodies and brains were clinically dead, but their minds were off exploring amazing new dimensions.

Death looks much different than Hollywood depictions from the point of view of the millions who have consciously left the confines of their bodies during near-death experiences, out-of-body experiences, and mystical experiences.

Mainstream thinking seems to dodge basic questions. What exactly is death? Does death really kill us? Does capital punishment really kill the killer? What happens to murder victims including those whacked by lethal injection? What about evidence that seems to support reincarnation? Does a greater system of cosmic justice exist?

I cannot offer proof that there is an afterlife, but that in itself frustrates me. Plenty of circumstantial evidence supports the premise that consciousness survives death. So why in the face of so much violence don’t we study death more seriously? If so many people think that death doesn’t really kill us, it seems ludicrous that we ignore the huge implications of the experiences so many people have had.

I HAD A DREAM

I recently had a dream where I was in a car with a friend. I suddenly realized to my horror that we were going to crash at high speed into the rear end of a truck that had stopped on the freeway. I awoke screaming out loud.

But there I was in physical reality safe in bed. No problem. Didn’t even feel the impact in either reality.

A friend of mine had a near-death experience during a real traffic accident when she was in her twenties. “I was out of the car hovering over the roof before my head hit the windshield,” she said. How familiar it sounded. Dying was painless, like waking up from a dream.

There are plenty of mystical experiences described and available for public view on the Internet. Google it. Watch YouTube videos.  There is more than enough to suggest that we should be studying this.

IMPLICATIONS

If death is transformation instead of termination, it means that at death mind separates from body. In short, we are still alive, caterpillar morphed into butterfly. It also means that mind or consciousness may not be a creation of the human brain as science has said; consciousness may instead dwell outside of the brain. Brains may be more like receivers of consciousness than generators of consciousness.

So when someone is shot to death (including suicide), it may trigger (sorry) a quick shot (sorry) to another dimension of life. Bang-bang — oops, you’re not dead.

So those nine people shot in a church in Charleston may not actually be as dead as mainstream defines death. And if the shooter is executed, his body may be snuffed out, but his consciousness may live on.

So what? If consciousness lives on, does it do any good if those who died can’t communicate with those still living physical lives? Will any social change occur if there’s no back-and-forth phone calls between flesh humans and spirit humans? That seems to be the case now when only psychic mediums can converse with the so-called dead. That procerss often sounds like woo-woo guessing games. “Do you know someone who died whose name begins with an L?”

Belief in heaven and afterlife also does not seem to automatically inhibit cruel and violent behavior. Sometimes people think that they will earn a better place in heaven if they act as a pest control company on behalf of their chosen god here on terra firma. Terrorists and kamikazes are examples. Just believing in an afterlife apparently does not turn people into sweethearts.

On the other hand. past-life regressions often indicate that there is a system of cosmic justice, usually called karma, involved in the mix. We reincarnate back in Earth School to learn lessons. If you murder someone in one life, you may get your turn being murdered in another life. To me, karma is such a tantalizing system of justice that I wonder with great impatience why we don’t investigate its reality (or non-reality) with any enthusiasm.

ARE WE AFRAID OF NOT DYING?

A blogging friend posted a story citing a study about why people dislike atheists so much. It concluded that an unconscious fear of death drives this response. Belief in an afterlife gives a person comfort and meaning, and atheists do not share this philosophical view. (The article focuses on believers in a religious interpretation of soul survival, which is not the only possibility.)

I wonder about the reverse. Why do skeptics and atheists have such a visceral and negative reaction to the idea of soul survival? Why do they fight the idea with such enthusiasm?

Is it that spirituality often suggests a personal accountability that would not happen if we absolutely, positively, undeniably died?  Is it too scary to think that we might have to look into the mirror of full-disclosure at some point? Is it more comfortable to think that you can get away with murder so long as you are not caught?

Again, why don’t we research this stuff as eagerly as we research new ways to kill people?

Proof of soul survival could inspire a huge shift in beliefs and attitudes. What if potential killers and other criminals (including those in government) were taught that what they do in physical reality literally creates their life experience going forward? In simplistic terms, what if that person understood that nothing is hidden from the universe? There are no secrets, and while you can destroy bodies, you cannot destroy souls.

We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when…

MURDER AND THE NEWS

I think it is instructive to observe what happens when a big murder case gets splashed all over the news. There is no talk about freed souls because that’s metaphysical, and the news doesn’t do metaphysical.

Instead the news gets caught up in the drama of the tragedy. If the murders are gruesome enough, politicians makes speeches. The old saws about gun control start buzzing. People pontificate about hatred or racism or mental illness or terrorism or tragedy. Sometimes the murder victims are famous people or upstanding citizens, and there is great rhetoric about them and the circumstances which shut them down.

I have come to see the news primarily as soap opera. The forces that present the news stick to the materialist viewpoint and heap on the drama. Political and commercials interests scare us with stories as if potential murderers are lurking around every dark corner. If all the drama scares us enough, we’ll want to buy security (which is usually an illusion — read the fine print before you buy.)

The death penalty often gets described as the ultimate punishment, the solution, the closure, justice. There seems to be no consideration that execution might spring the murderer’s mind from the body, sending the perp of heinous crimes unhealed and unrepentant into another dimension, perhaps to join friends.

But the news won’t go anywhere near there. The idea is considered preposterous.

IS DEATH SO TRAGIC?

A death is often described as tragic. Is it really? Or is death tragic because we have been taught for so long that it is? Has it become a habit to think that way? Is it just part of the program we’re taught from an early age — that we have but one life to live and when it’s used up, its end is tragic?

From the spiritual point of view, if you suddenly realize that you never die, you only change form, death is not tragic at all. It’s more like graduation. “Congratulations! You’ll make a great butterfly!”

My favorite analogy for death involves the working life of an actor. When movie production wraps, the actor stops playing a certain role. That’s a kind of death for the character, but the actor simply moves on to the next role. Any sadness for leaving the location, the cast, the crew, and the role is tempered by the promise of new roles to explore.

Death seems much more tragic to those left behind who will dearly miss their departed loved ones. It’s like being untethered from those in our orbit we were accustomed to having near. But those who have been set free, I believe, are doing just fine. It’s why in my own mind I always change “rest in peace” to “rest in ecstasy.”

THE NEWS NARRATIVE

In my idle moments when I think about the world I would prefer to live in, I imagine a modern newscast at a time when death has been proven to be morphing forms. The narrative about dying would be different. The narrative about life would be different, too.

It is really not so hard to imagine this. Attend an IANDS meeting in person and listen to how people talk about dying. It’s nothing tragic or scary to them. More scary and tragic to them is how mainstream society portrays death as the end of existence.

11 thoughts on “Death and not dying

  1. N℮üґ☼N☮☂℮ṧ says:

    “I wonder about the reverse. Why do skeptics and atheists have such a visceral and negative reaction to the idea of soul survival? Why do they fight the idea with such enthusiasm?”

    Not sure they are fighting the idea. When you look at history, its full of snake oil salesman who have taken advantage of death anxiety, and gained status, resources and a greater chance of passing on their genes. Selling eternal life is big business from an evolutionary standpoint.

    Perhaps consciousness does survive outside of the brain. But if the brain is damaged, impacting behavior, is consciousness damaged, too? Should someone who was born in an environment that turned on his/her aggression gene, be subject to karma? Should a child who experienced pons dysfunction (due to a lack of human contact), a condition quite common, and not able to form proper attachments to others, be accountable to karma? Should a child who was hit in the prefrontal cortex and then unable to develop social or moral reasoning even in adulthood, due to the injury, be accountable to karma?

    I look at it this way. If there’s an afterlife, fine. I’ll find out soon enough. I guess we have about a 50/50 chance of that being the case. But if life doesn’t exist after this life, and we go back to star dust, I am at peace with that reality. Forever may never come, so for now, I live for now. 🙂

    Josh, hope you’re doing well and not living too close to the fires.

  2. Joshua Bagby says:

    Victoria, always nice to see your comments. No worries about the fires where I am.

    My main point in this post is that given how much violence is reported as news and presented as entertainment, I would like to see more research on what death is. I have long been of the opinion that if I die and there is nothing else, it won’t then matter to me. I won’t have any consciousness.

    You ask a lot of great questions, and I am interested in the answers myself. However, we largely live in a culture, from my perspective, that doesn’t want to research those questions.

    I thoroughly agree that there are many cons and marketers in the “afterlife business,” and in my own personal explorations, I am very aware of when I sense that someone is trying to sell me something. Most of my exploring is outside of religions, and I also tend to shun (or at east not take very seriously) the words of “superstar” NDErs who have become rich in their niche and are regarded as celebrities. That said, I think that marketing based on the fear of death, tragedy, and violence far outpaces the selling of eternal bliss.

    • N℮üґ☼N☮☂℮ṧ says:

      Hey Josh, thank you for your feedback. Love the new gravatar. 🙂

      I have looked into what your talking about, and I thought Neuroscientist Michael Persinger had a very plausible hypothesis. He has well over 200 peer-reviewed publications.

      Also, Neuroscientist Todd Murphy — a hypothesis that treats rebirth as a human behavior from the perspective of biological evolution. His paper was peer-reviewed and published in the Journal for Near Death Studies.

      Both are exceptionally dry lecturers, but Persingre’s is more palatable, lol. I’m pretty sure I shared both lectures with you via email, but just in case I didn’t I’ll post them here.

      One thing we do know for a fact is that when the brain is damaged in particular areas that impact executive function and moral descisions, the person’s personality and behavior changes. Most often for the worst. If we go by traditional thinking on reincarnation and karma, then we supposedly would arrange before we are born to come to the earth to sustain brain damage so we can impact other peoples lives to teach them a lesson about their behavior, which was most likely due to an environment or biological, neurological, gene expression conditions they had no control over. It’s more humane to see anti-social behavior from a biological and neurological, gene expression, environmental perspective. We can them implement preventative measures, which we are just starting to do, thanks to the sciences and spreading awareness.

    • N℮üґ☼N☮☂℮ṧ says:

      Oops, sorry about that — my copy/paste didn’t take the first time around on the 2nd video.

      And if you would really like to see what we’ve learned about consciousness recently, this is a superb lecture.

      The Brain and the Law: How Neuroscience Will Shift Blameworthiness

      I remain open-minded, but don’t see karma as humane when it comes to using it as a form of justice, and I think you will clearly see what I’m talking about if you watch the last lecture. The belief in karma is not much different than religions like Christianity, where they made assumptions based on their lack of knowledge at the time.

      • Joshua Bagby says:

        I watched the “Brain and the Law” video. I liked it very much. Except for his insistence that consciousness does not exist outside the brain, or that consciousness depends upon the brain, I found his arguments very compelling about how jurisprudence does not consider brain states.

  3. Joshua Bagby says:

    I first heard about karma in 1972 when the Vietnam War was still in my face as a possibility for my future. As I became familiar with karma, I thought it was a much better system than anything humans had designed. Of course in later years I would discover different ways that the concept of karma was applied, different versions of it, and some of them are perhaps more like what you are protesting against. I have seen some disturbing YouTube videos where people rejoice over others who suffer as karmic retribution. That flavor of karma consciousness makes me sick. It would be the same as Christians who relish when gays suffer tragedy, for example.

    However, in the big picture way that I see it, I still like the idea that we reap what we sow. I usually see it more as positive incentive than punishment.

    This morning I watched an IANDS webinar about NDEs among soldiers in combat. I will post it when it is up on YouTube. Whatever is actually going on during a near-death experience may be debated for a few more centuries (if humanity survives that long) but it seems important that we recognize that something profound is happening, whatever it turns out to be.

    Thank you for the links to the videos.

    • N℮üґ☼N☮☂℮ṧ says:

      Josh, you wrote: “However, in the big picture way that I see it, I still like the idea that we reap what we sow. I usually see it more as positive incentive than punishment.”

      I understand where you are coming from. It’s along the lines of “if you break the law you will be fined and/or go to jail”, sorta thing. What I’m getting at is that instead of using incentives like you suggest, we actually teach people to respect others, to value them and their rights, rather than saying “if you don’t behave you’re going to get what’s coming to you.” sort of thinking. I never raised my child that way. I taught her to respect others and I never threatened her with corporal punishment.

      I never taught her that if she misbehaves she’s going to reap what she shows. Sometimes people might misbehave because they have biological or neurological issues. For example, studies show that people who are bullies most often come from environments where they were abused. By your line of thinking, a bully should get bullied. Well, he/she has already been bullied which is why he/she is being a bully. No amount of preaching to them about reaping what they show will make a difference. You have to address the root cause of the behavior. That last video lecture I shared with you will demonstrate what I mean.

      I taught my daughter the Platinum Rule: Treat others as they would like to be treated. You see this type of rule being applied in your most peaceful countries. 🙂

  4. Joshua Bagby says:

    Victoria, I am curious how you propose that we teach people to respect others.

    One of the major results of NDEs for many people is that they suddenly become loving and nurturing where they may have previously been conniving and narcissistic.

    As for karma, it does not sound as if you really know where I am coming from. Stay tuned.

    • N℮üґ☼N☮☂℮ṧ says:

      Well, after their NDE’s they may have also gains self-esteem. Narcissism is a mental disorder. From the Mayo Clinic:

      “Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of ultraconfidence lies a fragile self-esteem that’s vulnerable to the slightest criticism.” http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/narcissistic-personality-disorder/basics/definition/con-20025568

      The shock of the experience certainly had a profound impact on them, but for most it was a positive experience, was it not? Did they feel this overwhelming love? Wasn’t it love that changed them, not some warning that if they misbehave they are going to reap what they sowed? We have learned via psychological studies that reward changes behavior far more than threats and punishment.

      We change through education. By treating our child like human beings and not property. Really for the first time in history, just in the last 100 years, children have legal rights. Before that, parents could do what ever they wanted to children. Start when they are young. They are not poison containers for adults.

      In the comprehensive paper titled: “The History of Child Abuse” it states:

      “In several hundred studies published by myself and my associates in The Journal of Psychohistory, we have provided extensive evidence that the history of childhood has been a nightmare from which we have only recently begun to awaken. The further back in history one goes–and the further away from the West one gets–the more massive the neglect and cruelty one finds and the more likely children are to have been killed, rejected, beaten, terrorized and sexually abused by their caretakers.

      Most historical families once practiced infanticide, erotic beating and incest. Most states sacrificed and mutilated their children to relieve the guilt of adults. Even today, we continue to arrange the daily killing, maiming, molestation and starvation of children through our social, military and economic activities.

      The main psychological mechanism that operates in all child abuse involves using children as what I have termed poison containers–receptacles into which adults project disowned parts of their psyches, so they can control these feelings in another body without danger to themselves.” http://psychohistory.com/articles/the-history-of-child-abuse/

      Now, we have extensive neurological studies showing that it is early experience that will greatly determine how the brain is wired and prosocial behavior.

      —–

      “It is now clear that what a child experiences in the first few years of life largely determines how his brain will develop and how he/she will interact with the world throughout his life.” —Ounce of Prevention Fund

      “Physical as well as psychological abuse of the child is not only harmful but highly dangerous. Not only for the individual but under certain circumstances for whole nations.” ~ A. Miller, Ph.D

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