“The only two certainties in life are death and taxes” according to Mark Twain……..and a few others that came before and after him.
So, what actually happens when we die? All faiths and wisdom traditions have something to say about the destiny of our ‘soul’ (however that is defined) when our bodies die. But what does science say? Perhaps this is one of the areas where scientific methodology really does not lend itself to providing illuminating and coherent answers? Still, it is an intriguing question that occupies the research activities of many clinicians across the globe. Investigating so-called ‘Near Death Experiences’ (NDE’s) is a contentious area of research that generates competing explanations as to what happens to the individual when they ‘die’. Vexed questions concerning the nature of consciousness are viewed in their true light and not just as philosophical abstractions. The evidence and arguments are complex, but their importance cannot be underestimated.
I came across a brief excerpt the other day of a presentation given by Bruce Greyson, MD, PhD speaking about near death experiences and the mind-body connection. This presentation was part of a Nour Foundation panel discussion at the September 11, 2008 United Nations symposium, “Beyond the Mind-Body Problem: New Paradigms in the Science of Consciousness,” inspired by the philosophy of Ostad Elahi. Dr. Greyson, who is a world-leading authority in his field, gives an excellent summary of the issues surrounding our current level of understanding of NDE’s and what they tell us about the validity of belief in an ‘afterlife’. You can watch the clip below (courtesy of youtube):