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Does our conscious awareness depend upon the brain?
June 11, 2006
10:34 pm
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In a book called ‘Recollections of Death’ by Dr. Michael Sabom, MD about Near death experiences, there is a section titled ‘Thought Travel’. This section reviews the out-of-body experiences of three people who were clinically dead for a short time. It seems that their minds were ‘liberated’ from the body and able to ‘travel’ wherever they chose to be. This brings up the question of whether the mind depends on the brain for its existence or vice versa.

Has anyone here had a Near Death Experience(NDE)?

Below is the extract called by Sabom ‘Thought Travel’:
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“Three persons described the ability to move voluntarily while suspended above their body in this 'out-of-body' state. This movement was seemingly accomplished through the equivalent of 'thought travel'.

The Vietnam veteran alluded to above felt at one point as if he had 'left' the operating room where his physical body lay and had ‘traveled' back to the battlefield, where other American soldiers were picking up the dead:

“While they are doing this [surgery], I remember all of a sudden going right back to the battlefield where .I had been lost. They were cleaning up after the battle. I am watching all these men that had died that day and they were putting them in those ponchos and picking up the wounded. One of the group I knew, and I remember distinctly trying to get him to stop from picking up those bodies. I couldn't do it and all of a sudden I was right back in the medevac place … . It was almost like you materialize there and all of a sudden the next instant you were over here. It was just like you blinked your eyes.”

Such 'travel' was also described by the night watchman whose cardiac arrest and autoscopic NDE were reported at the beginning of this chapter. While 'out of body,' he had the following sensation:
“Are you familiar with a telephoto lens? I could adjust that at will. I could bring the subject closer to me or me closer to the subject. I could just think: Hey, it would be nice to be a little closer to the subject – I would just be there. ' This 'travel' purportedly carried him to nearby locations which were outside the emergency room in which his resuscitation was taking place:

“I could see anywhere I wanted to. I could see out in the parking lot, but I was still in the corridor. . . . It was just like I said, 'O.K, what's going on out in the parking lot?' and part of my brain would go over and take a look at what's going on over there and come pack and report to me, or I don't know … . I thought they were making a hell of a racket in the place where they did the laundry. They had big boilers in there and I thought: Gee, that's too much racket. I'm sure the patients above on the next floor have got to hear that. Why don't they pad those doors? Why don't they put acoustical tile up? … I did have an occasion to go in the cafeteria when I was back there visiting someone [months later], and it was just like the way it was when I visualized it. The same details - but this is something I was not going to tell you.”

Another man described a similar ability to 'travel' while 'out of body" during an autoscopic NDE and cardiac arrest in February 1976:

“I could have moved away from my body anytime I wanted to … There wasn't a thing that was mechanical about it, like an automobile or anything. It was just a thought process. I felt like I could have thought myself anywhere I wanted to be instantly … I just felt exhilarated with a sense of power. I could do what I wanted to … It's realer than here, really””
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June 12, 2006
5:06 pm
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Tez,

My granddad had bladder cancer for a long time. He fought a hard fight for 5 years, until one Thanksgiving he told us he was not going to have any more surgeries, and wanted to die at home. By March of the next year, it was over. He took 2 weeks to leave our world. I worked second shift, and would go over and relieve Grandma by sitting with him in the mornings. I watched him breathe in a pattern that they call Cheyne-Stoke respirations. Very erratic, exhaling, stopping for several seconds before resuming. Frightening. Once I counted 12 seconds before he inhaled.

On the day before he passed, he was "asleep" and Cheyne-Stoking for several hours. When he woke and looked at me, he smiled and said," I saw Mama"
I asked him how she looked, and he said " real pretty, and Daddy was with her."

My great- grandmother woke up one morning, told her maid that her husband was waiting for her, and she had to call her lawyer and get her affairs in order. She died a week later.

I have also heard similar stories from patients I have worked with through the years.
I imagine any of us who have gone through the death of a loved one slowly dying would have similar stories.

Since they died so soon afterward, I had no way to ask them what had happened.

When I was 7, I had a tonsillectomy, and I remember thinking afterward I had dreamed looking down at the doctors and nurses operating on me. This was a long time ago.

This happened one night when I was arguing with my ex-boyfriend - an out of body thing - suddenly I felt myself looking down on us arguing. I felt myslef rising up out of the car, and could see us arguing in the car. He stopped talking, and looked at me. I could see both, him in front of me, staring at me, and looking down, at the two of us.

He was concerned, he said, because of the strange look on my face. He grabbed my shoulders and said my name, and I "came back". I felt nauseous afterward. Around this time, I had been trying alot of self-hypnosis. My dreams were extremely vivid and prophetic? came true? during that time.

I also wonder about dreams. In some dreams, I have been in places I have never physically visited. I can recall details of things I have never been exposed to before. I have wondered if we "go" to different places when we have these dreams. Especially when I awaken abruptly from these dreams, and feel disoriented, looking at the walls of my own bedroom. Thinking, where am I?

This makes me wonder if what we think are dreams are actually our mind being liberated from our body, taking a little trip. ?? And why can it happen when we are awake?

This nausea, has anyone in Dr. Sabom's book described nausea? In thinking back, if I am awakened from the deep sleep cycle, ( when I am on call, or awakened by a loud noise), and not REM, I get very sick to my stomach. When I was in my twenties, I let myself be a guinea pig for a friend who was needing practice at hypnotising people, for past-life regressions. Each time I was sick to my stomach afterward. I think this nausea is some reaction to my spirit being slammed back into my body.

I told you Tez, I am more emotional than analytical. I have always spent more time daydreaming or hypothesising than researching.

I hope you get other responses, I am looking forward to seeing what other folks say about their experiences.

Now you have to tell me about yours.....

Bevdee

June 12, 2006
6:50 pm
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Bevdee

Thanks for your response. It will be interesting to see how many people respond here as having had an NDE an OBE or any other supernatural experience that would seem to indicate that conscious awareness of the 'I' 'resides' at a 'location' independent of brain location and/or function.

You asked:

"This nausea, has anyone in Dr. Sabom's book described nausea?"

I have just started re-reading Dr. Sabom's book for the first time in many years. I cannot remember from my last reading whether any subjects had nausea after their experience. But I will let you know if I come across any cases that do.

You also said:

"Now you have to tell me about yours....."

The only out of body experience(OBE) that I have had personally was very mundane and over very quickly. I went to India and not long after arriving home in Australia I came down with 'Delhi-belly'. I was running a fever and suddenly I floated out of my body towards the ceiling. As soon as I realized what was happening I got a fright and immediately snapped back into my body.

I've never had an NDE.

I once had a very interesting experience in deep meditation in a Bramha Kumaris Raja Yoga Centre. I suddenly found myself in what appeared to me to be a Middle Eastern desert dressed in a long flowing robe like the Arabs wear. As I was walking along this track I came across this woman with a very badly burnt leg. She couldn't walk but dragged herself to the side of the track. as I passed by her she grabbed at my belt and begged me to help her. I had the impression that I was some kind of 'holy man' and she expected me to perform some miracle to fix her leg. I felt very unnerved by this not knowing what to do. I suddenly snapped out of the 'vision' or whatever it was not feeling very good.

Some three months or more passed and I went away on a weekend retreat with a 'new age' group of assorted people of various beliefs etc. They were for all intentions purposes complete strangers to me. One woman took a romantic fancy to me. Though I liked her as a person that was as far as it went. One morning at the group breakfast after a meditation session, this woman said to me: "I have just had this strange meditation experience. I had a vision. In it I had hurt my leg badly and couldn't walk. You came along and I reached up to you to heal my leg. You wouldn't or couldn't help me.I was very sad." This woman had no connection to the Brahma Kumaris Raja Yoga Sect nor to anyone who could have told her about my meditation experience that hapened some months before. I was mind blown. I left that retreat and never saw her again.

June 13, 2006
4:11 pm
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Hey Tez, I read

"The only out of body experience(OBE) that I have had personally was very mundane and over very quickly. I went to India and not long after arriving home in Australia I came down with 'Delhi-belly'. I was running a fever and suddenly I floated out of my body towards the ceiling. As soon as I realized what was happening I got a fright and immediately snapped back into my body."

So do you think we can control it? If we can make ourselves "come back", could we make ourselves "go there?"

Because with my OBE outside the car, it seemed to happen involuntarily, but I "came back" when my ex grabbed my shoulders and said my name.

With the past life regression, I did that voluntarily, allowing my mind to go, and the hypnotist was there to help me come back to consciousness.

I think we do this in our dreams, but there is some control in "coming back". I wonder sometimes about a feeling I have had after waking. The feeling that I MADE myself wake up, from a scary dream. I have thought this was "coming back" from an out of body wandering. I think it happens alot.

The burnt leg visions you and the lady had? I wonder if this could have been a past-life regression that you both had? The past-life regressing is maybe another thread, maybe not? Maybe her attraction to you was the resonance she felt for you from the past life. (although I am not implying there would be no other reason for attraction!! ) Seeing you triggered the memory?

When I did the regression hypnoses, I had the same sick feeling afterward (nausea, hard-pounding heart)as when I awaken from strange dreams, or when I had the OBE. Each time, I had good recall, dream, or looking down, or the regression.

I have never intentionally meditated, so I have no idea about that.

Yet, I am inclined to think they are all the same thing.

So I am wondering if it is a matter of refining a technique/honing a skill?

Bevdee

June 13, 2006
4:28 pm
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http://www.600000men.com/book/.....aven2.html

http://www.wired.com/news/medt.....26,00.html

These are interesting reading. But just by putting clinically dead into your browser will bring up some interesting reading as well, if you have not already. These above are listed there.

June 13, 2006
8:01 pm
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bevdee
On the 13-Jun-06, about OBEs you wrote:

"So do you think we can control it? If we can make ourselves "come back", could we make ourselves "go there?""

With a lot of practice, I feel fairly sure that our minds could. But would all the effort required be well spent?

The Raj Yogis in India told me that 'citty' powers that enable us voluntarily to do things like this are both 'dangerous' and of little use. I think they were talking about seccumbing to the huge temptation to use them to both take advantage of and to manipulate others.

You said:

"The burnt leg visions you and the lady had? I wonder if this could have been a past-life regression that you both had?"

That's what I put it down to. You are probably right about what you said thereafter about that experience.

That reminds me - I had forgot about my own experiences in the past life hypnotic regression group that I joined for a while. From this experience I 'saw' that I was a young German girl, called Freda Wiessmann, who in 1941 was killed in a bombing raid. I 'saw' a hell of a lot more about this previous birth and its connections to my present one. I guess that it is a topic for another thread - but not to worry.

Do you think that your feelings of nausea might come from unconscious fear?

You wrote:

"So I am wondering if it is a matter of refining a technique/honing a skill?"

If you are referring to meditation techniques then I am sure that you are right - practice is required, lots of it. The human mind is somewhat undisciplined - it wanders all over the place. Our local Chinese Ch'an Buddist temple runs classes on calligraphy amongst other things. By painstakingly concentrating on using the calligraphy pen to replicate Chinese characters the mind is being taught to concentrate and focus. This is a valuable skill that comes into play in meditation - I'm sure.

The underlying keypoint in this thread is that if the mind does not depend on the brain for either its continued existence or its experiencing in this world then death may only involve changing the 'horse that we are riding'.

The Bardo Thodol claims that after we die amongst other things we can see what is happening on earth - just by thinking about something it seems that we are instantaneously there. It sounds very similar to what was experienced by that NDE'r when he confirmed the reality of his near death experience by going to where he had been in his OBE:

" I did have an occasion to go in the cafeteria when I was back there visiting someone [months later], and it was just like the way it was when I visualized it. The same details "

So it seems that we don't need eyes to see or move our body to travel nor our brain to be functioning to think.

June 13, 2006
8:03 pm
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On my way.

Thanks for the links.

June 14, 2006
12:55 am
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Tez, you're welcome.

Listen...both of you Bevdee and Tez...did you know that you are probably entering into or trying to enter into the other heavenly realms? And did you know that what you are being taught through your deep meditative state is being taught to you by actual spirits in these realms...which is why you are able to move from each meditative, conscious state of mind to another.....

i guess my question is...do you know these spirits that are teaching you and talking to you and do you trust them? Do you beleive that they are telling you the truth?

Bevdee it sounds as if you have left your body several times and that you do not always have control over it. Is it generally in a very emotional frame of mind that this happens to you?..as if you want to escape?

June 14, 2006
4:17 pm
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Tez,
In response to your post of 06-13-06 where you said,

"With a lot of practice, I feel fairly sure that our minds could. But would all the effort required be well spent?"

I suppose it depends on what we would want to use it for. I can't really think of anything useful. And I think you were right when you suggested the fear of the experience made me sick."

This may be why the during the couple of times it happened to me, I "came back". Because of the fear.
Maybe fear of losing control?

Bevdee

June 14, 2006
4:24 pm
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OnMyWay,

Only the one time, during the OBE, was I very emotional. This happened about 17 years ago. I was 7 when I had the surgery. This is described sometimes with surgery.

If I count the hypnosis, I did that voluntarily. I was sick afterward, possibly because of the emotions and /or emotions of death and pain I experienced in each regression.

These regressions taught me enough at the time, about my family, to give me some understanding about some of the problems I have had with them in this life.

The dreams? This has always happened to me, particularly when I am awakened suddenly. I am not aware of great emotion before or when it happens.

I have never meditated.

I am told I have thin barriers, meaning I dream in color, hypnose easily, and have a heightened perception to things unseen.

OMW - what I was wondering is if we all do this, maybe without being aware of it. It was only from hypnosis, and the similar physical manifestations, that I drew the comparison to being awakened suddenly from the dreams.

Thanks, Bevdee

June 14, 2006
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Bevdee,
Interesting what you share here. Unfortunately I don't know that much about it...but I think we have to be open to that thought process while awake in order for it to happen while we are asleep. I know i have had dreams where I am flying, but i could not tell you if i actually was doing so...and most were when i was a child, i cannot remember flying in my dreams as an adult. But even a child is more open I think.

For me personally, I happy to stay in my bed at night and not go anywhere! But it looks as if it happens or can happen during deep sleep patterns, if the subconscious is open to doing so. I know mine is not. And you had an NDE as well...yes it sounds as if you have 'thin barriers' as you say.

I wonder what the 'benefit' of being able to do this is? or if there is one?

In regard to a hightened perception to things unseen, can you tell me what you have seen?

thanks,
omw

June 14, 2006
7:53 pm
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bevdee
14-Jun-06

"i guess my question is...do you know these spirits that are teaching you and talking to you and do you trust them?"

Metholated spirits? No I've never drunk that.

June 14, 2006
7:55 pm
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Whoops!!!

That post was supposed to be addressed to On My Way in response to her question in her post of 14-Jun-06.

June 14, 2006
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Ha! Tez,

So what would you call it? How do you receive these revelations? I know this is a bit of the subject at hand,..but it all seems to apply to you and what i know of you. SO my question of you is:

When you meditate, do you enter different levels of meditation? And in those levels of meditation, who teaches you so that you move onto the next level?

I know there are different heavenly realms above us. For example, psychics appeal to these other realms. So i am trying to understand this whole concept...not being judgemental or a brat of sorts. What can you tell me...and can we keep it simple? =)

omw

June 15, 2006
9:45 pm
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On my way.

"What can you tell me..." No 'thing' exists as a separate, indivisible, independent entity including your concept of some God who is a Person, albeit with a capital P.

"and can we keep it simple?"

Pure Mind(Tathagata)is the indivisible, all encompassing, all pervading, boundless underpinning of all that appears to be.

In 'my' meditation no 'persons', 'places' or 'things' reveal anything - only pure awareness seeing what 'is'.

The above words though my best attempt, are totally inadequate to describe the indescribable. Since words were developed to describe what our sense organs hold to be our common experiences, I can only adequately describe 'illusions' in words.

If the above response isn't simple enough for you then I would respectfully suggest that it is because you have never experienced that about which I speak.

June 17, 2006
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On My Way

Sorry it took so long to get back to you. When you said you had/have flying dreams, I remembered mine. I always had those, too. Now, I wonder if that goes along with my theory of the mind traveling out side the body while we sleep and dream? I wonder if it could be a memory of flying, and not just a dream?

Another odd thing that happens frequently to me with my dreams is this - I will awaken from a dream, feeling unsettled, remembering vivid details. I can go back to sleep, and the dream will continue. As if it were just a movie, and my waking only paused it.

At the risk of sounding comPLETEly wacky, I will tell you about the house my mom and stepdad bought when I was 14. Over a hundred years old, there is something there. There is alot of unexplained activity in that house at night. Lights go on and off, the switches are actually flipped up and down. We can hear furniture being moved, footsteps in the middle of the day, when no one else is home.

They have lived there for 30 years now, and to this day, my stepdad says he has never heard or seen anything, but I do every time I am there. I know my mom hears things, but she says it is squirrels in the attic. OK. My sister hears them too. Sometimes there are areas in the house that look hazy to me, as if the air in front of me is shimmering. Usually at the landing of the second floor. This "shimmering" has happened to me in other houses, especially older ones. I am aware of vapor-like pockets of air, and see mist. No one else does. Photographic orbs show up in all the pictures I take in Mom's house at night, particuarly around the stairwell, at any of the three levels in the house.

When my niece was a a baby, she would have conversations with thin air, in that house, always near that stairwell.

I have felt a touch on my face, while wide awake, several times in that house.
Yet it is not a malevolent feeling, it is peaceful.

An odd thing that has happened to me since I was a very little girl was I used to hear "voices", like a radio dial being turned until the station comes in? Remember those old dial radios? That you tuned, and heard static, then the station tuning in with the voices or music. This happens anywhere, not just at the house.

OMW you said. "Bevdee, Interesting what you share here. Unfortunately I don't know that much about it...but I think we have to be open to that thought process while awake in order for it to happen while we are asleep."

I think I could have concentrated and developed these perceptions, but I never did.

I think the "voices" I heard are possibly an alternate reality breaking through my thin barrier. I don't talk about it too much, it is a part of me that I accept, but don't know what to do with. I usually ignore it.

Later - SpoookyBevdee

June 17, 2006
10:02 pm
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Wow, interesting, bevdee.

My long-ago xbf also had a house (before I knew him) with similar "activities" and unseen but heard and felt presences. He also had some paranormal experiences while staying with friends in Germany one time, who lived near a cemetery.

I believe that I have an open mind about paranormal experiences, but I don't go out of my way to hear about them. I've always been afraid of having any myself, but if I did I hope they would have a peaceful feeling as you describe, rather than a maelevolent one.

A friend of mine is Wiccan and I've been doing some reading about what they believe. Interesting ideas about energy-draining entities.... I'm not sure what I believe at this point.

As for consciousness, I've always hoped mine would continue after my body dies, but lately I'm not very confident that will happen. The scientific evidence seems against it.

June 18, 2006
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not spooky bevdee...i believe you.

June 19, 2006
7:29 am
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Is Conscious Self-Awareness like an ocean wave that thinks it is a that is separate from the ocean - the ultimate dimension - and all other waves?

Master Thich Naht Hanh wrote:-

"Eating in the ultimate dimension—because there are two dimensions to reality. The first dimension is called the historical dimension . In this dimension of reality you can see the beginning and the ending, the inside and the outside, birth and death, more or less, the coming and the going. It is the dimension of the waves, because looking at each wave you have the impression that there is a beginning to every wave, an ending to every wave, the being and the non-being of the wave. First we think that there was the non-being of the wave, and suddenly there is the being of the wave. And after that there is again the non-being of the wave. So in that historical dimension it seems that all these things exist: being, non-being, beginning, ending, high or low, more or less beautiful, and so on. These kinds of ideas create a lot of suffering and despair and jealousy and anger. So when you are in the historical dimension, please be very careful not to be caught by it.

Then there is another dimension called the ultimate dimension. This ultimate dimension is not separate from the historical dimension. In the case of the wave, it is water, because water cannot be separated from waves; but when you touch water, you don’t see a beginning, an ending, high or low, being or non-being--these notions that we use to speak of waves. The fact is that the wave is a wave, but while living the life of a wave, the wave can very well live the life of water at the same time. So when you live in your historical dimension, you should train yourself touch and to live the ultimate dimension at the same time. That is our practice: be the wave…okay, but you have to be the water. If you are to become stable, free, if you want to have the elements of non-fear and non-discrimination within you, then touching the ultimate dimension is a necessary practice.

A wave can be subject to fear, to jealousy, to discrimination, if she lives very superficially in the historical dimension. She sees that there is a beginning to her life, an end to her life, she sees that she is not the other waves, that she is more or less beautiful than the other waves, that she is struggling with the other waves, and that she suffers quite a lot. But if she bends down and touches the nature of water within her, she sees that she is in the other waves, the other waves are in her, and there is really no beginning and no end, and because of that she gets out of fear, and discrimination and jealousy. So touching the historical dimension deeply, you touch the ultimate dimension. And when you are able to touch the ultimate dimension, all discrimination and fear vanish, and you get the real peace that you deserve." - Thich Naht Hanh

June 19, 2006
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Hi

For anybody with access to CBC Radio, this sounds like an interesting show to listen to this coming Friday at 9:00 p.m. in any time zone in North America.

Some of these shows are podcast - you can probably find the info at cbc.ca/ideas

Friday, June 23
THE SENSE OF BEING STARED AT
Biologist and philosopher Rupert Sheldrake investigates the almost physical
sensation that we are the object of someone's attention. Is the feeling all in our
head? Sheldrake talks with IDEAS producers Max Allen and David Cayley,
and suggests that our minds are not limited to our brains but stretch outward
in a measurable way.

June 20, 2006
7:43 pm
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Kroika.

Thanks for your post.

You said:

"Sheldrake talks with IDEAS producers Max Allen and David Cayley, and suggests that our minds are not limited to our brains but stretch outward in a measurable way."

It seems that the boundaries of our mind are self-imposed.

When Ram Dass(Dr. Richard Alpert of Berkley)was going to India to meet with his guru, the guru told him exactly what was going on in his mind on his trip to India.

It appears that when the mind discovers who and what it really is all boundaries of the mind disappear together with with the delusions of 'self-hood'.

Conversely, if we believe that our minds are confined to the domain of our physical brain then our mind's boundaries shrink - loneliness and feelings of isolation soon follow.

That conscious awareness can possibly exist independently of our brain is 'mind blowing' stuff - isn't it.

June 20, 2006
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Well if you cut off the brain, the person cant have any awareness. Its from the brain, I think. Anything thinking stuff can only originate from the brain. All the awareness. Sometimes I find little bitty pieces of awareness in the bottom of the cereal box but then I dont use them, I just throw them out. I mean who knows the ants have been there ya know?

ok just being silly, sorry. :d. Hmm.

June 20, 2006
10:15 pm
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Hi Tez, i want to ask:

During these NDE's, no brain activity at all was detected? I bet there was brain activity, the electrical impulses and storms inspite of the "autoscopic NDE and cardiac arrest".

June 20, 2006
10:16 pm
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And so then if there was brain activity, conciousness does exist only in the brain.

June 20, 2006
10:19 pm
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Tez, is there solid evidence/documentation for this?

>> When Ram Dass(Dr. Richard Alpert of Berkley)was going to India to meet with his guru, the guru told him exactly what was going on in his mind on his trip to India. < < This is an extra ordinary claim. I'm doubtful its true. I mean if the guru could do this, we'd atleast see a television reality show dedicated for him where he'd go around telling people whats going on in their minds. Whazup with that.

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