Monday, September 10, 2012

Some Thoughts on the Afterlife

I'm really enjoying this book, The Belief Instinct: The Psychology of Souls, Destiny, and The Meaning of Life, by Jesse Bering.
For those of you who may not already know this, those topics in the subtitle are among my favourite musing points in life. In fact, my goal is to write a book about my own original ideas on the subject of the afterlife and umm… ultimate reality, etc.
At the end of a chapter entitled Curiously Immortal, the author says:
The mind is what the brain does; the brain stops working at death; therefore; after death the mind no longer exists.
Earlier on, he asked: Why do we wonder where our mind goes when the body is dead? Shouldn't it be obvious that the mind is dead too?
These are controversial points, of course. It may not be a book for everyone, and, as you may surmise, it's definitely not published by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association©!
But I tend to agree with most, if not all, that Bering says.
In a nutshell -- there is no afterlife. Not in the traditional sense that most people might vaguely ascribe to believing in it, when pressed on the issue.
But the whole topic was making me think today, while I was at work.
The above quotes for instance -- What is retained after death?
What value [or logic] is there in speaking of an individual's "mind" after death of the body?
Obviously, testimonials are plethora… all the bright light stories and arriving at the mansion in heaven and all.
And then it hit me.
I work with a guy that was dead once.
And just as I thought this, there he was, not fifty feet away. So I sauntered on over to him.

____ [<-- name withheld] had a massive heart attack about two years ago now.
He was in his car, stopped at a red light. As it went green -- he went black! His car accelerated and slammed into a post, alerting an off-duty police officer who was filling his tank with gas at a nearby station. This officer arrived at the scene and performed CPR on ____, breaking his ribs in the process. He then revived him with a defibrillator from the trunk of his own car. Paramedics later used a defibrillator again on the way to the hospital. And then again at the hospital. In the end ____ was placed into an induced coma.
He spent upwards of a year or more, in recovery. And is alive today.
So I asked him this morning what he experienced in his mind, during the time he was actually in a state of body-deadness.
He said that he experienced absolutely nothing, having no memory of any events between seeing the green traffic light and waking up a week later, in the hospital.
I asked him what this entire experience has done to him, regarding any sort of faith in God or whatever. He said that he was more of a "believer" prior to any of these events, than he is now. When I asked him why this is the case, he said, "Because now I KNOW that after death there is nothing. No thinking about anything."
Obviously, this is but one person's experience with the beyond -- but even so, I did find his honesty and sincerity with me rather significant, especially in light of what I am now reading in this book.
Any comments regarding your own experiences or those of people you know would be greatly appreciated.
It's a topic that very much fascinates me like no other.



Stefanie said...

I'm with you, when I die I will cease to exist as a body mind and soul. My only afterlife will be wherever my atoms end up dispersing as I decompose. I kind of like thinking that I will be part of the trees and grass and other things. That sort of afterlife is much more comforting to me than imagining I will be sitting on a cloud and playing a harp, or more likely burning in the flames of Hell.

Cipriano said...

Stefanie -- my own ideas on this topic have so dramatically changed over the course of the last decade or so.
I used to be a definite believer in... all things biblical.
Now I have an entirely different outlook on it all.

Sim said...

Well aren't you being brave and controversial? I appreciate your sharing your co-worker's experience and it really makes you think.
I would so love to have a deep and abiding faith in the possiblity of an afterlife but I have so many unanswered questions that make it impossible.