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Life Arts    H4'ed 8/22/19

Daily Inspiration — Can we know what it is to die?

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If we can believe Socrates, all life is a preparation for death. What can he have been thinking? Death is nothing, oblivion. This life is everything. It is all we have and all we can know.

But religious traditions from Buddhism to Christianity are with Socrates. Intimate familiarity with death is a royal path to happiness.

If there's any wisdom at all in this, we in the 21st Century Western world have missed the boat completely. We have banished death from our thoughts and our experience.

Let us put our toes back in the water of the river Styx. Can we know what it is like to die? The best way is to ask people who have done it. Peter Fenwick is a neuroscientist, not a mystic. He has studied both the physiology of the brain and firsthand experiences of people who routinely attend to the dying. He ties this in with reports of thousands of people who have literally returned from the dead. What did they experience while there was no neural activity in their brains?

Is consciousness a product of the brain, or is there a transcendent reality that is filtered by the brain and rectified to materiality? Wilder Penfield devoted his life to developing a science of the brain by probing the brain with electrodes, and he concluded in the end that the "energy of mind" is a different dimension altogether from neural signaling. The brain is enormously important, but it can't explain consciousness.

Monica Renz has interviewed hundreds of dying cancer patients and their caregivers, and she reports commonalities in their experience, including

  • visits from intimate relatives who have predeceased the patient, who come and sit on his bed
  • sojourns to a spirit world and back, conversations with non-corporeal beings who may visit and abide just outside the window
  • light emanating from the room of the dying person, visible to visitors and attendants

Attachment is the source of all the pain in dying. Those who die need to let go of everything-of their possessions, their projects, their loved ones, and indeed everything to which they have devoted themselves while alive. This is the most difficult challenge of dying, and those who are able to let go make a smooth transition to an existence that is far lighter and happier than the one we are used to.

 

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Josh Mitteldorf, a senior editor at OpEdNews, blogs on aging at http://JoshMitteldorf.ScienceBlog.com. Read how to stay young at http://AgingAdvice.org.
Educated to be an astrophysicist, he has branched out from there to mathematical (more...)
 

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Josh Mitteldorf

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Good dying, for many patients, is "agreeing to die". Reaching an agreement with oneself, which presupposes that body and soul are mature enough to take such a step. Many patients choose to go into the process without sedation, their senses fully alert, despite considerable pain. They want to "be there when it happens".

- Monica Renz

Submitted on Thursday, Aug 22, 2019 at 5:16:01 PM

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Daniel Geery

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I did my best to answer this in a previous article and link. click here

My comment below the video leads to a more personal experience. Purely "anecdotal" as in at least 4,000 researched and documented others.

Submitted on Thursday, Aug 22, 2019 at 8:04:22 PM

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Josh Mitteldorf

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Reply to Daniel Geery:   New Content

Thanks, Daniel. I hope you don't mind my posting parallel perspectives on this topic. For many of us, it takes repeated exposure to sink in.

Submitted on Thursday, Aug 22, 2019 at 9:29:15 PM

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Not at all. Pleased to see it. Thanks!

Submitted on Saturday, Aug 24, 2019 at 4:11:14 PM

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Josh, how did you ever get so level-headed!

Submitted on Saturday, Aug 24, 2019 at 9:32:21 PM

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Reply to nelswight:   New Content

I think Josh always uses a straight-edge. :)

Submitted on Saturday, Aug 24, 2019 at 11:43:47 PM

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Miles Nelson

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discussions with my father about just this ... he was of the opion that "when you die you are dead!" ... i put forth the opinion that perhaps there is another form of energy in the universe that we are unaware of ... "don't bring religion into this" was his response ... a girlfriend had many out-of-body experiences where she left her body and flew around the neighborhood ... perhaps escaping a tough childhood ... maybe ... if humans don't destroy themselves, we may learn ... maybe ... thanks for the article ... i visit your agingadvice.org site ... enjoy your thoughts

Submitted on Saturday, Aug 24, 2019 at 2:20:41 AM

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