Neurosurgeon's visit to heaven - proof of afterlife?

Exploring Theravāda's connections to other paths - what can we learn from other traditions, religions and philosophies?
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LonesomeYogurt
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Re: Neurosurgeon's visit to heaven - proof of afterlife?

Post by LonesomeYogurt »

ancientbuddhism wrote:Not necessarily. Richard Carrier humorously debunked this in Proving a Negative. A child can claim belief in God or Santa Claus, but an alternative proof is not required to dismiss these according to their logical fallacies.
The problem is that unlike Santa Clause or God, something is obviously happening here. We're observing a phenomenon (near death experiences and such, but also just emergent consciousness in general) and we're positing a logically consistent, reasoned, and parsimonious explanation that is attacked by those whose own theories are failing to explain such things.

If I posit simply that there is Santa Clause, and you never see him, then you can disprove that. But if presents appear under the tree, and no one can deny that they're there, then I would definitely consider it a better bet to side with the ones who have a reasonable explanation that fits with the observed data and not just the ones who say little more than, "We have no idea, but I'm going to assume it's not that."
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

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Alex123
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Re: Neurosurgeon's visit to heaven - proof of afterlife?

Post by Alex123 »

LonesomeYogurt wrote:The problem is that unlike Santa Clause or God, something is obviously happening here. "
Of course something is happening. One is pumped full of pain killers, tranquillizers, or whatever happens when brain malfunctions (lack of oxygen, perhaps)...
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."
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gavesako
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Re: Neurosurgeon's visit to heaven - proof of afterlife?

Post by gavesako »

Mal wrote:
gavesako wrote: Ajahn Jayasaro (a Western monk in Thailand) has talked about this issue. He said that given so many cases which suggest something like rebirth taking place (e.g. very small children remembering things they could not have learnt in this life), a true scientist who does not think that rebirth is a plausible explanation would have to come up with an alternative theory which should be at least as good as rebirth is. Is that what happens usually? No, those cases which have been described and recorded are merely ... ignored.
:shrug:
Place them on the web and provide links?

What good examples are there of things they could not have learnt in this life?

Two of my favourite Buddhist authors are Ajahn Brahm and Matthieu Ricard. I find them incredibly strong and inspirational writers on meditation and Buddhism in general. But one place where they are very weak is on "Rebirth". Neither have had memories of previous lives. They both believe in it, but their books provide incredibly unconvincing examples.

Ajahn Brahm's example, in "Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond" comes down to "students have told me they have remembered things". Ricard's example, In "Monk & Philosopher" is of a young child who "remembered" an old retainer in a "rebirth search party". Hardly convincing! For example, ambitious parents could have prompted the child.

So if there are better examples, please point them out.

I have started a separate thread about the cases of young children who remember and talk about their past lives specifically as Buddhist monks:

http://www.dhammawheel.com/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=12832" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;


Then there are other well-documented cases in the West which involve young children, consider for example the boy who remembered details of his past life as a fighter pilot shot down in WWII:

http://www.reversespins.com/proofofreincarnation.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

And this little boy in England:

http://www.reversespins.com/The_Boy_Who ... efore.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Here are some documentaries about cases of reincarnation:

http://inwardpathpublisher.blogspot.co. ... ation.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;


Someone who does not accept rebirth as the most obvious explanation should at least suggest some other way how all that information "got inside their brain" and how they acquired the special abilities which they display at a very young age.
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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daverupa
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Re: Neurosurgeon's visit to heaven - proof of afterlife?

Post by daverupa »

LonesomeYogurt wrote:positing a logically consistent, reasoned, and parsimonious explanation
Fairly useless without experimental design and predictive ability, thereby failing to distinguish itself from any other speculation.

The plural of 'anecdote' is not 'data'.
  • "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.

- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
helparcfun
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Re: Neurosurgeon's visit to heaven - proof of afterlife?

Post by helparcfun »

gavesako wrote: Someone who does not accept rebirth as the most obvious explanation should at least suggest some other way how all that information "got inside their brain" and how they acquired the special abilities which they display at a very young age.
It may be the most obvious exlanation for those who have a propensity to believe in rebirth anyway, but as has been pointed out many times in other religions, this is simply an 'argument from ignorance'. Simply stating that there is no other explanation doesn't mean that there may not be one at some point in the future. Sometimes the best explanation is simply that there is no explanation - we do not have to default to some supernatural explanation. There are many things in the universe that are unexplained just as there were in the past. We now have answers to some of those things but there is still a long way to go.
rowyourboat
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Re: Neurosurgeon's visit to heaven - proof of afterlife?

Post by rowyourboat »

I think it is not a matter of proof but a matter of faith, at this point. 50 years ago some of the subatomic particles found recently would be just theoretical. No point expecting proof when the instrument which can measure it doesn't exist. All we have now is a theory. Is this theory helpful for you and how much faith do you have in the person who proclaimed this theory? Without this faith what have you reduced this practice to?

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LonesomeYogurt
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Re: Neurosurgeon's visit to heaven - proof of afterlife?

Post by LonesomeYogurt »

daverupa wrote:Fairly useless without experimental design and predictive ability, thereby failing to distinguish itself from any other speculation.

The plural of 'anecdote' is not 'data'.
A non-material explanation is hardly discounted because material evidence cannot be found.
Gain and loss, status and disgrace,
censure and praise, pleasure and pain:
these conditions among human beings are inconstant,
impermanent, subject to change.

Knowing this, the wise person, mindful,
ponders these changing conditions.
Desirable things don’t charm the mind,
undesirable ones bring no resistance.

His welcoming and rebelling are scattered,
gone to their end,
do not exist.
- Lokavipatti Sutta

Stuff I write about things.
helparcfun
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Re: Neurosurgeon's visit to heaven - proof of afterlife?

Post by helparcfun »

rowyourboat wrote:I think it is not a matter of proof but a matter of faith
Exactly! People of faith, whatever faith that may be should stick to their faith and not try to prove their beliefs scientifically! Science and faith are incompatible.
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ancientbuddhism
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Re: Neurosurgeon's visit to heaven - proof of afterlife?

Post by ancientbuddhism »

gavesako wrote: ...

Then there are other well-documented cases in the West which involve young children, consider for example the boy who remembered details of his past life as a fighter pilot shot down in WWII:

...

Someone who does not accept rebirth as the most obvious explanation should at least suggest some other way how all that information "got inside their brain" and how they acquired the special abilities which they display at a very young age.
The stories are surly fantastic, if one has not been around children much. One obvious incongruence is that “…all that information “got inside their brain”…” yet the language used to express it took the regular path of development.
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BubbaBuddhist
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Re: Neurosurgeon's visit to heaven - proof of afterlife?

Post by BubbaBuddhist »

It's an unfortunate argument when people say there is no Santa Claus. Sorry, you skeptics--there is. In fact, as the photo below proves (third from either side), he was best man at my wedding:
Image
Don't be quite so quick to dismiss the existence of things just because you haven't experienced them directly.

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yawares
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Heaven Is Real/Home Of God Is Dark !!??

Post by yawares »

Dear Members,

Heaven is real..definitely YES. Home of God is dark...NO WAY/IMPOSSIBLE!!!
This Uposatha day I read an interesting news:

Heaven is real, says neurosurgeon who claims to have visited the afterlife
[By Eric pfeiffer, yahoo news]

Dr. Eben Alexander has taught at Harvard Medical School and has earned a strong reputation as a neurosurgeon. And while Alexander says he's long called himself a Christian, he never held deeply religious beliefs or a pronounced faith in the afterlife.

But after a week in a coma during the fall of 2008, during which his neocortex ceased to function, Alexander claims he experienced a life-changing visit to the afterlife, specifically heaven.

"According to current medical understanding of the brain and mind, there is absolutely no way that I could have experienced even a dim and limited consciousness during my time in the coma, much less the hyper-vivid and completely coherent odyssey I underwent," Alexander writes in the cover story of this week's edition of Newsweek.

So what exactly does heaven look like?

Alexander says he first found himself floating above clouds before witnessing, "transparent, shimmering beings arced across the sky, leaving long, streamer like lines behind them."

He claims to have been escorted by an unknown female companion and says he communicated with these beings through a method of correspondence that transcended language. Alexander says the messages he received from those beings loosely translated as:

"You are loved and cherished, dearly, forever."

"You have nothing to fear."

"There is nothing you can do wrong."

From there, Alexander claims to have traveled to "an immense void, completely dark, infinite in size, yet also infinitely comforting." He believes this void was the home of God.

After recovering from his meningitis-induced coma, Alexander says he was reluctant to share his experience with his colleagues but found comfort inside the walls of his church. He's chronicled his experience in a new book, "Proof of Heaven: A neurosurgeon's journey into the afterlife," which will be published in late October.

"I'm still a doctor, and still a man of science every bit as much as I was before I had my experience," Alexander writes. "But on a deep level I'm very different from the person I was before, because I've caught a glimpse of this emerging picture of reality. And you can believe me when I tell you that it will be worth every bit of the work it will take us, and those who come after us, to get it right."

*************
But I don't think the 'home of God' is dark!!
Heaven must be so bright with all beautiful/splendid celestial things/celestial angels. :anjali: :heart:
yawares
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gavesako
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Re: Neurosurgeon's visit to heaven - proof of afterlife?

Post by gavesako »

Whatever problems arise, they arise right
here. “Is death followed by rebirth? By annihi-
lation? Is there a next world? Does hell exist?
Does heaven? Does evil exist? Does merit?” Ev-
erywhere I go, there’s the same question: “Do
heaven and hell exist?” I never feel like answer-
ing. I don’t see any reason to answer it, because
that which is burdened with heaven and hell
is the heart, which everyone already has. So
why waste time answering? After all, I’m not a
record-keeper for heaven and hell! Living beings
are reborn in various realms of existence through the power
of the good and bad kamma within the heart. The heart itself
is what’s reborn into those realms. If we don’t solve the
problem right in the heart, we’ll never be able to escape
the bonfires of suffering and anxiety.


-- Luangta Maha Boowa, "Samana"
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Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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gavesako
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Re: Neurosurgeon's visit to heaven - proof of afterlife?

Post by gavesako »

Here is a nice short video by Dr Woraphat Phucharoen, a Thai scientist who used to work for NASA in America. He was a Christian first, but when he discovered Buddhism, he was so attracted by it that he wanted to study it deeply, and so he calls it the Inner Science as opposed to Outer Science. He became a monk and was experimenting with natural truth by practice. Now he is a popular lay Dhamma teacher, quite funny too:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cq2LW2CC ... ure=colike" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false; (English subtitles)

:clap:
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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drifting cloud
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Re: Neurosurgeon's visit to heaven - proof of afterlife?

Post by drifting cloud »

Alex123 wrote:
gavesako wrote:When a neurosurgeon found himself in a coma, he experienced things he never thought possible—a journey to the afterlife.
It is interesting that these "journeys" tend to occur in hospital when a person is pumped with drugs or when brain malfunctions...

How do we know that these memories are not by-product of the brain and/or its malfunction?
Because in many cases of reported OBE or NDE, the individual is not "pumped full of drugs", they are clinically dead. It's not a question of "brain malfunctions"; there is literally no detectable brain function. And yet these people continue to experience.

How is it possible that a person has conscious experience, and can sometimes even report things that were said and done in their presence, with no brain function?

Now, while this does not necessarily validate any of these particular experiences, it does seem to indicate that consciousness is not simply reducible to the brain, and can operate independently of it. At the very least it suggests that present scientific models do not adequately account for consciousness.
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Alex123
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Re: Neurosurgeon's visit to heaven - proof of afterlife?

Post by Alex123 »

drifting cloud wrote:Because in many cases of reported OBE or NDE, the individual is not "pumped full of drugs", they are clinically dead.
What happens chemically when the brain is about to shut down or restart?
drifting cloud wrote: It's not a question of "brain malfunctions"; there is literally no detectable brain function. And yet these people continue to experience.
How do we know that this eхperience doesn't happen prior to brain shut down, and/or after brain restarts?

drifting cloud wrote:How is it possible that a person has conscious experience, and can sometimes even report things that were said and done in their presence, with no brain function?
It would be interesting to study this thing. Did they guess or someone told them? Did their brain work at that instant of time?
Can dying brain record some data to be used when/if brain restarts to fully functioning?
"Life is a struggle. Life will throw curveballs at you, it will humble you, it will attempt to break you down. And just when you think things are starting to look up, life will smack you back down with ruthless indifference..."
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