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A Brain Scientist’s ‘No Brainer’ NDE


“The brain does not create consciousness,
but consciousness created the brain,
the most complex physical form on earth, for its expression.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
I regard consciousness as fundamental.
I regard matter as derivative from consciousness.
We cannot get behind consciousness.
Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing,
postulates consciousness.
~ Max Planck, Nobel laureate physicist, as quoted in The Observer (25 January 1931)
“The very study of the physical world leads to the conclusion that
consciousness is an ultimate reality and,
all the possible knowledge, concerning objects
can be given as its wave function”
~ Eugene Wigner, Nobel laureate physicist and co-founder of quantum mechanics

 



Introduction.

For millennia mystics and seers have realized experientially that our space/time/causality reality is but a play of consciousness; that all impermanent appearances, all apparent forms and phenomena – including human brains – are but holographic projections of timeless Universal Awareness.

But very few scientists have shared this revelatory mystical world view. Most scientists do not regard as “real” that which is beyond perception and conception.

Rather than recognizing consciousness as the ultimate and eternal Source of our reality, reductionistic and materialistic mainstream science says that brains generate consciousness, and that we see via our brains.

However, there have been innumerable published reports of near death and out of body experiences and other mystical experiences which contradict this mainstream brain hypothesis. (*See footnote re Near Death Experiences [NDE’s].) Nonetheless, until now most brain scientists have dismissed these reports as untrustworthy “anecdotal” evidence. Rarely have mainstream brain scientists transcended their mistaken materialistic paradigm. But there have been noteworthy exceptions. (see e.g. Atlantic Monthly: The Science of Near-Death Experiences.)

Dr. Eben Alexander

Thus, in October 2012 Dr. Eben Alexander, a neurosurgeon who has taught at Harvard Medical School, went public with an autobiographical account of a life changing dramatic and vivid near death experience (NDE) of what he called “heaven” while he was in a week-long comatose state with a non-functional brain neocortex. (His best-selling first book, ”Proof of Heaven”, was published by Simon and Schuster on October 23, 2012.)

Dr. Alexander reported being told in “heaven”:

“‘You have nothing to fear. There is nothing you can do wrong.’ The message flooded me with a vast and crazy sensation of relief.”


He has written that prior to his NDE he did not believe in such experiences, and ‘scientifically’ dismissed them.

“As a neurosurgeon, I did not believe in the phenomenon of near-death experiences. I grew up in a scientific world, the son of a neurosurgeon. I followed my father’s path and became an academic neurosurgeon, teaching at Harvard Medical School and other universities. I understand what happens to the brain when people are near death, and I had always believed there were good scientific explanations for the heavenly out-of-body journeys described by those who narrowly escaped death.”

“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.”

“There is no scientific explanation for the fact that while my body lay in coma, my mind—my conscious, inner self—was alive and well. While the neurons of my cortex were stunned to complete inactivity by the bacteria that had attacked them, my brain-free consciousness journeyed to another, larger dimension of the universe: a dimension I’d never dreamed existed and which the old, pre-coma me would have been more than happy to explain was a simple impossibility.”


Raised as a Christian, Dr. Alexander used the religious concepts of “God” and “heaven”, to describe his extraordinary experience.

“Communicating with God is the most extraordinary experience imaginable, yet at the same time it’s the most natural one of all, because God is present in us at all times. Omniscient, omnipotent, personal-and loving us without conditions. We are connected as One through our divine link with God.”


Apart from referring to God, he also identified unconditional Love as the the ultimate Reality and “basis of everything” that exists.

“Love is, without a doubt, the basis of everything. Not some abstract, hard-to-fathom kind of love but the day-to-day kind that everyone knows-the kind of love we feel when we look at our spouse and our children, or even our animals. In its purest and most powerful form, this love is not jealous or selfish, but unconditional. This is the reality of realities, the incomprehensibly glorious truth of truths that lives and breathes at the core of everything that exists or will ever exist, and no remotely accurate understanding of who and what we are can be achieved by anyone who does not know it, and embody it in all of their actions.”


With newfound openness to “anecdotal” evidence, Dr. Alexander now expresses optimism that as science and mysticism ever more agree, humankind will evolve to wonderful new states of being.

And so may it be!

Footnote

*Near Death Experiences [NDE’s].

The term ‘Near Death Experience’ [NDE] was coined in 1975 by Raymond A. Moody, Jr., PhD, MD, in his book Life After Life which sold over thirteen million copies worldwide. Since then numerous NDE accounts have been published and discussed in mainstream media, on the internet, in films and videos, and in magazines and books. Many spiritually inspiring NDE stories have been published and researched by the International Association For Near-Death Studies [IANDS] and others. So NDE’s have become widely considered, especially by those who claim to have experienced them. And some non-materialist scientists cite NDE’s as evidence that consciousness survives physical death. For millions of people NDE’s, and other extraordinary mystical experiences, have proven to be spiritually inspirational, and transformative events, diminishing or ending fear of death and encouraging a newly open, trusting and loving lifestyle. (see e.g. Atlantic Monthly: The Science of Near-Death Experiences.)


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Power Source

“Knowing you don’t know is wholeness.
Thinking you know is a disease.
Only by recognizing that you have an illness
can you move to seek a cure.”
~ Lao Tzu
“Without stirring abroad, one can know the whole world;
Without looking out of the window one can see the way of heaven.
The further one goes the less one knows.”
~ Lao Tzu
“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift
and the rational mind is a faithful servant.
We have created a society that honors the servant
and has forgotten the gift.”
~ Albert Einstein
“Imagination is more important than knowledge.
For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand,
while imagination embraces the entire world,
and all there ever will be to know and understand.”
~ Albert Einstein



It is said that “knowledge is power”.

However, transcendent power comes
not from mental knowledge, but from thoughtless Knowing;

And, until we really Know,
it is approached from unknowing –

What we think we know, but don’t.

We become ever more powerful as we
forsake our false beliefs,

And ever open to the vast Unknown –

To the Eternal Mystery –

To the Tao –

To the Universal Source of all Power.



Ron’s audio recitation of Power Source

Listen to


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How Can We Think More Objectively?

“We are formed and molded by our thoughts.
Those whose minds are shaped by selfless thoughts
give joy when they speak or act.
Joy follows them like a shadow that never leaves them.”
~ Buddha
“Those who know how to think need no teachers.”
~  Mahatma Gandhi



Q. How can we think more objectively?

A. We can’t.

Thinking objectively is an oxymoronic illusion.
Thought is subjective; so everyone thinks subjectively.

To transcend thinking in the ‘subject-object’ box,
we can intuit our wholeness – as both subject and object.

Thus realizing that the essence of one is the essence of all,
we can more and more think holistically, compassionately and authentically.

So, think less, and intuit more;

Think with your Heart, not your head.



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Spiritual Psychology

“Be empty of worrying,
Think of Who Created Thought!
Why do you stay in prison
when the door is so wide open?”
~ Rumi
“Show me a sane man and I will cure him for you.”
~ Carl Jung
“Full of love for all things in the world;
practicing virtue in order to benefit others,
this man alone is happy.”
~ 
Buddha


The ego is a psychological prison
in which suffering is inevitable.

Secular psychology attempts to mitigate that suffering.

Spiritual psychology aims at ending our imprisonment.


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Kalu Rinpoche, the Zen Master and the Orange

“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
~ Albert Einstein


Kalu Rinpoche (1905 – May 10, 1989)



Is “reality” absolute or relative?

And how should the answer to that question influence our worldly ways?

Our phenomenal Universe is miraculous, marvelous, and meaningful.  But it is ever changing and impermanent – a “relative reality” of space, time and causality which some mystics call illusion, samsara, or maya.

It arises and appears in an unchanging mysterious matrix of Infinite Potentiality, which some call “Absolute Reality”.

When aware or awakening to this distinction between Absolute and relative reality, we may realize that while we are apparent entities in this world, our Source and ultimate identity transcends this world;  that we are ‘in this world but not of this world’.

Thus realizing the impermanence and relativity of our phenomenal reality, we may ponder on its meaning and purpose and, accordingly, on how to best behave herein: viz. what thoughts, words or deeds (if any) are most appropriate and skillful?

SillySutras.com is dedicated to suggesting possible answers to perennial questions about how to  best be in this world.   Even spiritual masters and great scholars can disagree on such answers.

So, ultimately, each of us must intuitively answer such questions for ourselves.

In the opening chapter of “Thoughts Without a Thinker”, concerning psychotherapy from a Buddhist perspective, author psychotherapist Mark Epstein recounts this apt anecdote about a meeting at the home of a Harvard University psychology professor of two prominent teachers of Buddha-dharma with different ideas about dharma.

“In the early days of my interest in Buddhism and psychology, I was given a particularly vivid demonstation of how difficult it was going to be to forge an integration between the two.  Some friends of mine had arranged for an encounter between two prominent visiting Buddhist teachers at the house of a Harvard University psychology professor.  These were teachers from two distinctly different Buddhist traditions who had never met and whose traditions had in fact had very little contact over the past thousand years.  Before the worlds of Buddhism and Western psychology could come together, the various strands of Buddhism would have to encounter one another.  We were to witness the first such dialogue.

The teachers, seventy-year-old Kalu Rinpoche of Tibet, a veteran of years of solitary retreat, and the Zen master Seung Sahn, the first Korean Zen master to teach in the United States, were to test each other’s understanding of the Buddha’s teachings for the benefit of the onlooking Western students.  This was to be a high form of what was being called  ‘dharma’ combat (the clashing of great minds sharpened by years of study and meditation), and we were waiting with all the anticipation that such a historic encounter deserved.  The two monks entered with swirling robes — maroon and yellow for the Tibetan, austere grey and black for  the Korean — and were followed by retinues of younger monks and translators with shaven heads.  They settled onto cushions in the familiar cross-legged positions, and the host made it clear that the younger Zen master was to begin.  The Tibetan lama sat very still, fingering a wooden rosary (mala) with one hand while murmuring, “Om mani padme hum” continuously under his breath.

The Zen master, who was already gaining renown for his method of hurling questions at his students until they were forced to admit their ignorance and then bellowing, “Keep that don’t know mind!” at them, reached deep inside his robes and drew out an orange. “What is this?” he demanded of the lama.  “What is this?”  This was a typical opening question, and we could feel him ready to pounce on whatever response he was given.

The Tibetan sat quietly fingering his mala and made no move to respond.

“What is this?” the Zen master insisted, holding the orange up to the Tibetan’s nose.

Kalu Rinpoche bent very slowly to the Tibetan monk near to him who was serving as the translator, and they whispered back and forth for several minutes.  Finally the translator addressed the room: “Rinpoche says, ‘What is the matter with him?  Don’t they have oranges where he comes from?”

The dialog progressed no further.”


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Humility ~ Quotations and Sutra Sayings

“Blessed are the meek,
for they shall inherit the earth.”
~ Matthew 5.5
“Humility, like darkness, reveals the heavenly lights.”
~ Henry David Thoreau
“We come nearest to the great when we are great in humility.”
~ Rabindranath Tagore
“It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom.
It is healthy to be reminded that
the strongest might weaken
and the wisest might err.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi
“I claim to be a simple individual
liable to err like any other fellow mortal.
I own, however, that I have humility enough
to confess my errors and to retrace my steps.”
~ Mahatma Gandhi

“Humility is the solid foundation of all the virtues.”
~ Confucius





Humility grows as ego goes.
The smaller the ego, the greater the being.

Humility is next to godliness.
No one enters the highest heaven
believing s/he belongs there.

We have nothing to surrender
but the idea that
we’re someone,
with something
to surrender.

We ever evolve
As our boundaries dissolve.

The essence of nobility
 is not heredity,
but humility;
not pedigree,
but integrity.

To name and define is to constrain and confine.
So, to be free, be a nameless nobody.

The more we know we’re no one,
the more we’re seen as someone.

Be nobody nowhere –

NOW!


Ron’s recitation of Humility

Listen to

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What is Life? – Quotes

“What is life?  It is the flash of a firefly in the night. 
It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. 
It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.
~ Crowfoot



“Life is like an onion; you peel off layer after layer
and then you find there is nothing in it.”
~ James Gibbons Huneker

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life.
‘It goes on.’”
~ Robert Frost

“All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on. ……
To live remains an art which everyone must learn, and which no one can teach.”
~ Havelock Ellis

“In the book of life, the answers aren’t in the back.”
~ Charlie Brown

“If A equals success, then the formula is:  A = X + Y + Z,
where X is work, Y is play, and Z is keep your mouth shut.
~ Albert Einstein

“Human beings, vegetables, or cosmic dust –
we all dance to a mysterious tune,
intoned in the distance by an invisible piper.”
~ Albert Einstein

“The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe,
to match your nature with Nature.”
~ Joseph Campbell

“Life is a long lesson in humility.”
~ James M. Barrie

“..the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.”
~ Walt Whitman, “O Me! O Life!”, Leaves of Grass

“Life is the hyphen between matter and spirit.”
~ Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare

“Life is a whim of several trillion cells to be you for a while.”
~ Author Unknown

“When we remember we are all mad,
the mysteries disappear and life stands explained.”
~ Mark Twain


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Your Religion Is Not Important



The following is a brief dialogue between  the Dalai Lama and Brazilian theologist Leonardo Boff, one of the renovators of the Theology of Freedom, as recounted by Boff:

“In a round table discussion about religion and freedom in which 
Dalai Lama and myself were participating, at recess I maliciously, and also with interest, asked him: 
“Your holiness, what is the best religion?”

“I thought he would say:      “The Tibetan Buddhism” or “The oriental religions, much older than Christianity”

“Dalai Lama paused, smiled and looked me in the eyes ….which surprised me because I knew of the malice contained in my question.  “He answered: 

“The best religion is the one that gets you closest to God. 
It is the one that makes you a better person.”


“To get out of my embarrassment with such a wise answer, I asked:

 “What is it that makes me better?”

“He responded:

“Whatever makes you
more Compassionate,
more Sensible,
more Detached,
more Loving,
more Humanitarian,
more Responsible,
more Ethical.”

 “The religion that will do that for you is the best religion”


“I was silent for a moment, marveling and even today 
thinking of his wise and irrefutable response:

“I am not interested, my friend, about your religion 
or if you are religious or not.

“What really is important to me is your behavior in 
front of your peers, family, work, community, 
and in front of the world.”

“Remember, the universe is the echo of our actions and our  thoughts.

“The law of action and reaction is not exclusively for physics.  
 It is also of human relations.
 If I act with goodness, I will receive goodness.
 If I act with evil, I will get evil.

“What our grandparents told us is the pure truth. 
 You will always have what you desire for others. 
 Being happy is not a matter of destiny. 
 It is a matter of options.”


Finally he said:

“Take care of your Thoughts because they become Words.
Take care of your Words because they will become Actions.
Take care of your Actions because they will become Habits.
Take care of your Habits because they will form your Character.
Take care of your Character because it will form your Destiny,
and your Destiny will be your Life
     … and …
“There is no religion higher than the Truth.”


Here is a link to a You Tube Powerpoint presentation of this dialogue.

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