Saturday, May 1, 2010

Near-death experiences.

Question (Unedited)
Hello, again.  I’ve been reading about the anatta concept in Buddhism and was wondering what the Buddhist perspective toward out-of-body and near-death experiences, in which a person is physically dead, but somewhat revived, and can recall events that took place in the room while he/she was technically brain dead.  I’ve heard Ajahn Brahm mention such incidents several times to illustrate the point that there is scientific evidence that suggests that consciousness survives death, but I thought consciousness is supposed to be merely one of the components that create “self” and disband with death.

My comment: 
Hi J...,

Welcome!  A being consists of mind and matter.  Matter is quite straight forward to understand because we can see and feel.  Mind is a more difficult concept. Consciousness is another term to denote the same phenomenon.  Mental energy is another terminology.  It is only in the Buddhist domain that this mind or consciousness takes priority in the existence of life.  The physical body is just a temporary "home" for this consciousness to act out its role.  So, technically when the physical body is dead, this consciousness has to leave it and to find another suitable "home" to continue its act.  It's quite straight forward to understand this process, which is "rebirth".  

Now coming back to your question, I can only use my understanding to explain.  I don't think you can find any passage in the Buddhist text explaining this.  Since what is "knowing" is the consciousness, which means this consciousness is not "dead" but merely left the dead body.  For some unknown reason should the body revive, I would suppose the same stream of consciousness returns to the body again.  This is my own interpretation based on my Buddhist knowledge.  There will always be some very technical questions regarding this topic of life and death.  No matter how well we analyze, there are always some more lingering doubts and further questions.  The only way to understand the "unknowable" is not by our intellectual reasoning, but by the power of the mind through Buddhist meditation.

Smile from justinchoo :-)

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