Book: "What Happens When We Die" by Sam Parnia

Discussion in 'Psychedelics' started by suspendedanimation, Feb 18, 2009.

  1. I heard this guy on NPR last week and afterward had to read his book, which I managed to do and ended up reading it almost non-stop in one day.

    All I can say, as it relates to why anyone here might be interested, is that the book examines near death experiences and the associated philosophical and metaphysical consequences to man's understanding of the mind-body relationship, reality, God (or nature), physics and the Universe, if one were to accept the data from NDE "survivors" as truthful proof and in this case this data having been compiled using the scientific method.

    As anyone here may have concluded through personal observation or experience while on various "drugs", while the mind (consciousness) certainly can and does reside in the physical brain by default, we know it can also roam and go elsewhere and in inexplicable or indescribable ways.

    Parnia likens the brain to a TV set that functions as an instrument that receives signals. We're all born with a TV set (a physical brain), sometimes some work better than others and by different measures. Sometimes they break down or become faulty. But when the TV finally turns off (when you die) what happens, metaphorically speaking, to the signal that made use of this instrument?

    Here's one passage from the book, a NDE experience as related by a survivor:

    "At that instant I was in a different level. Here all was soft gold, including me...All of life's fears and worries seemed so unimportant, so absolutely nothing to worry about, and all our fearful fretting seemed so unnecessary...I was aware that behind me stretched infinity, that all the people I'd ever known, knew now, and even would know were there, all made out of this golden 'light,' all made of the same stuff, and so truly we are all one. I saw this liquid-golden ocean out of which each person rose, made of the ocean, in their own individual shape, but all one originally, basically."

    And below is a small portion from a woman who was clinically dead and came back after suffering internal bleeding from an ectopic pregnancy:

    "I was told by those in spirit that I had been pregnant. I did not know that I had been pregnant before this; I just had abdominal pain. I was also told that the sprit of the child had initially consented to be born and then changed its mind...that it had experienced a very traumatic life before and just could not face life again just yet."

    When I read these passages I was totally blown away. Through the use of various "means" over time I had achieved the same vision or understanding and knowledge as described above about these exact aspects relating to the nature of life and the state of consciousness in both the pre and post physical manifestation of a human life. I think one can achieve this knowledge through the prolong practice of meditation, but certain drugs seem to act like a shortcut.

    At any rate, we all have different levels of education and knowledge of vocabulary. This means we may have a feeling about certain knowledge, but not the ability to articulate it well to other people verbally. Or one has the ability to articulate it, but depending on the level of one's education and knowledge of vocabulary, perhaps the meaning being expressed is similar, but the description varies.

    Personal pre-conceptions related to one's belief systems, to a religion for example, will of course further color ones interpretation and description of these kinds of visions or knowledge.

    But getting back to the book, it goes places that are really on the fringes of commonly accepted, conventional wisdom. So like many fringe notions it may at first sound out of the ordinary, but eventually becomes part of the common wisdom or knowledge. People are always more accepting of an idea when more people subscribe to it. That's just human nature. But when it's new, it takes courage to accept.

    Has anyone else read this book?
  2. Trips509

    Trips509 Member

    Never heard of the book, but now I will check it out for sure.
  3. yea, i might check this out. but is the book only near death experiences of people? or is it like a book that gets you thinking? is the author a scientist a philosopher?
  4. goodvibes83

    goodvibes83 Senior Member

    yeah dude im definitely gonna be looking into it. i took a class on death and dying (a religioun course) and we discussed near death experiences quite intrigued.

    also you made good points about pre-conceptions and how they will affect our interpretations of anything, but especially things of this nature. What you said about limited vocabulary restricting our ability to convey our exact ideas the way seem them. Likewise even if we think we are explaining them thoroughly other people interpret words differently (and then again pre-conceived beliefs come into play)…communication when really examined is weak

    haha sorry I just had to respond to that too but yeah I plan on reading this book this summer

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