Mod+ 265. DR. GREGORY SHUSHAN ON CROSS-CULTURAL COMPARISON OF NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCES

#21
Well, I prefer transmodernism to postmodernism... What is "transmodernism"? A good and short explanation can be found here. I, personally, regard transmodernism as the forth, integral phase of mankind's ascension. It synthesizes the experiential unity of premodernism, social progress of modernism and intellectual relativity of postmodernism, overcoming the blunders and excesses of these three previous paradigms and harmonising their strengths and benefits.

For an example of what I describe as "transmodernism", read a book of Robert Anton Wilson (Timothy Leary, John Lilly, Ralph Abraham, Terrence McKenna and Rupert Sheldrake are also good examples).
Really interesting. I do like the idea of taking the best bits from premodernism, modernism and postmodernism.

But I don't think people like McKenna, Wilson and Sheldrake are very influential at all in the social sciences today, whereas the likes of Foucault and Derrida are still very influential.
 
#22
Waaa.
What are you talking about? Most people here are not suggesting that eleminative materialism is the mainstream paradigm. Materialism/physicalism is even mostly restricted to science anyways. Most of your average citizens are propably believing in god. They are not philosophical and they dont care about people like Chalmers, Dennett or whoever you want to pick. They just live their lifes and like it to be a bit mystical.
We are mostly talking about a small part of the whole population here at all times. Like i wrote before, in science you will find materialism quite frequently since the system teaches materialistic knowledge and propoagandates it. But even among those materialists, most still believe that they have feelings, thoughts, whatever. They state that they believe in a paradigm that is stating that matter/the physical is the foundation to everything. I imagine most people would ask what the heck i actually want from them if i would ask them if they believe that their thoughts are a interaction between matter. Those guys just dont spend that many thoughts on that and i highly doubt that they care at all. Its just logical to them. Thats not because they blindly follow some sort of paradigm, its because not everyone wants to wade through the muddy ground of philosophy. They just leave it behind them at some point.

Why do so many people here bother with elemantive materialism though? Because its the paradigm that contradicts psi and all that stuff the most. It states that even the things im experiencing now arent really there. And they state that clearly and rub in in the faces of proponents. And thats just human-like to show a reaction to that. Its also pretty common for humans to go for the enemy that seems to be the most dangerous one. Eleminative materialists are a rather small group, but they are loud and state clearly what they think. Thats all there is to that. Normal materialists that do still believe in feelings and all that stuff are still there. But they are mostly just wobbly and cant be pinned down as good as a eleminative materialist if they even care at all to discuss those things. Because most of them dont want to. They just want to live.
I hope you're right. Your views sound pretty reasonable to me. If this is what most Skeptiko listeners think, then I've got nothing to worry about.
 
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#23
I hope you're right. Your views sound pretty reasonable to me. If this is what most Skeptiko listeners think, then I've got nothing to worry about.
I dont believe that you should worry anyways. It shouldnt be important to you what we think about all those things. Your own point of view is the only thing that should really matter for you. Its the only opinion that you know that is 100% based on that what you know to be true.
 
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#24
"I recognize two major - and mutually contradictory - meanings of this word; I will call them morality-1 and morality-2."

As an NDE and OBE experiencer, that is definitely what happened to me....meaning they gave me a deeper understanding of Morality 1, and a general dismissal of societal "rules", many of which make no sense in light of a greater understanding of Morality1.
This is the reason why having an NDE can become a big sources of problems for military personnel, as Diane Corcoran (current IANDS President and former military nurse) described it.

No surprise here, since warfare is nothing but total supression of morality-1 by morality-2 on the massive scale. People's readiness to go into slaughter is based on the belief that their particular version of morality-2 is deeply right - at least, much better than any rival notion, especially the one of the people beyond on the other side of the battlefield, the "enemies". Therefore, they should eliminate all those villains, which require compliance to the orders of the authorities.

And mind-blasting encounter with a morality-1 during the transpersonal near-death journey is the highly effective way to shatter such a belief into pieces. Which left the combatant facing a dilemma: which message to follow? The shining message of unconditional love of an NDE, or the violence-mongering propaganda of state leaders and army instructors?
 
#25
Waaa.
What are you talking about? Most people here are not suggesting that eleminative materialism is the mainstream paradigm. Materialism/physicalism is even mostly restricted to science anyways. Most of your average citizens are propably believing in god. They are not philosophical and they dont care about people like Chalmers, Dennett or whoever you want to pick. They just live their lifes and like it to be a bit mystical.
We are mostly talking about a small part of the whole population here at all times. Like i wrote before, in science you will find materialism quite frequently since the system teaches materialistic knowledge and propoagandates it. But even among those materialists, most still believe that they have feelings, thoughts, whatever. They state that they believe in a paradigm that is stating that matter/the physical is the foundation to everything. I imagine most people would ask what the heck i actually want from them if i would ask them if they believe that their thoughts are a interaction between matter. Those guys just dont spend that many thoughts on that and i highly doubt that they care at all. Its just logical to them. Thats not because they blindly follow some sort of paradigm, its because not everyone wants to wade through the muddy ground of philosophy. They just leave it behind them at some point.

Why do so many people here bother with elemantive materialism though? Because its the paradigm that contradicts psi and all that stuff the most. It states that even the things im experiencing now arent really there. And they state that clearly and rub in in the faces of proponents. And thats just human-like to show a reaction to that. Its also pretty common for humans to go for the enemy that seems to be the most dangerous one. Eleminative materialists are a rather small group, but they are loud and state clearly what they think. Thats all there is to that. Normal materialists that do still believe in feelings and all that stuff are still there. But they are mostly just wobbly and cant be pinned down as good as a eleminative materialist if they even care at all to discuss those things. Because most of them dont want to. They just want to live.
The mass of non-eliminativist people you're talking about can be cynically (but validly) described as "the silent majority". They may have their positions about the issues we discuss, but they mostly keep these positions to themselves and the close circle of friends and relatives. They are not going to stand for them in public or to participate in any active struggle for the minds of many. So, the power is held by vocal minorities - especially the elitist ones, like academic establishment. They are the ones who distribute funds, evaluate the acceptability of publications and grant the positions to the researchers. And among them, eliminativist (or, at least, reductionist) materialism is quite popular and acclaimed - and anomalistic research is quite unpopular and supressed.
 
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#27
As for cultural perspectives, I have issues with the eastern philosophies view of detatchment. Some do have these higher selfless concepts of love like Buddhism, some even think it is an obstacle! Some seem to only relate it to desire and the spiritual goals are selfish IMO. Not just materialism but detatching from all things, relationships and even emotions has negative effects. Apathy for one. Like sticking your head in the sand, and denying your purpose here which is to contribute. You can see it in India, with all the suffering right outside supposed holy sites. Add karma and you remove compassion, as suffering is deserved from some previous wrong doing. A baby perhaps abandoned on the street would apparently deserve it. It is far too easy to lay blame this way, and removes responsibility or the moral obligation to intercede. At least a loving materialist would not abandon his or her husband or wife and children to seek selfish spiritual goals. You are doing it wrong is all I can say.
Hi I am friends with a man on Facebook and I think he is " enlightened" or as close to it, I was thinking that maybe being in this state would make you remote from the world, his reply to someone else is here, and I thought you might find it interesting ? He has meditated for decades, I don't know if he has tried drugs ?

I found it quite satisfying.

Jurgen Ziewe : "this is a dialogue many of us will recognise and relate to. Some people may use the word "God" instead of "Awareness" as it is used here. I made a startling discovery when I suddenly had the Awareness viewpoint, I felt the intensity of the pain others endured as my own. This was a new experience for me and I suddenly realised how intimately awareness is involved with our lives and everything in it. Fortunately, the saving grace is, that the stillness and inner peace is not lost. When feeling the pain of others in the past, it is easy to get overwhelmed and lose your footing. Awareness is total. It is aware of the change. It is aware of the ignorance. It is all inclusive. The biggest change in perception is there is no longer an outside world, a "them and us", a you and me. Everything is on equal footing. Consequently the mode of action completely changes, curiously though it may no seem to differ much when seen from the outside. Ironically we already lead perfect lives within the parameters of our understanding and learning, because at every stage awareness is slowly and patiently guiding us towards its full realisation. Awareness, or as I like to call it Stillness, is present every moment, now."
 
#29
Hi Jim

It's the first thread on Jurgen's home page, he wrote something similar to me in a PM. The reply above is near the end of the 30 odd replies.(Jurgen Ziewe)
 
#30
Hi I am friends with a man on Facebook and I think he is " enlightened" or as close to it, I was thinking that maybe being in this state would make you remote from the world, his reply to someone else is here, and I thought you might find it interesting ? He has meditated for decades, I don't know if he has tried drugs ?

I found it quite satisfying.

Jurgen Ziewe : "this is a dialogue many of us will recognise and relate to. Some people may use the word "God" instead of "Awareness" as it is used here. I made a startling discovery when I suddenly had the Awareness viewpoint, I felt the intensity of the pain others endured as my own. This was a new experience for me and I suddenly realised how intimately awareness is involved with our lives and everything in it. Fortunately, the saving grace is, that the stillness and inner peace is not lost. When feeling the pain of others in the past, it is easy to get overwhelmed and lose your footing. Awareness is total. It is aware of the change. It is aware of the ignorance. It is all inclusive. The biggest change in perception is there is no longer an outside world, a "them and us", a you and me. Everything is on equal footing. Consequently the mode of action completely changes, curiously though it may no seem to differ much when seen from the outside. Ironically we already lead perfect lives within the parameters of our understanding and learning, because at every stage awareness is slowly and patiently guiding us towards its full realisation. Awareness, or as I like to call it Stillness, is present every moment, now."
I can relate to that, especially the pain of the world which was part of my experience I spoke of. It is naturally inclusive when consciousness is expanded.
I think it is our higher selves, the voice of the heart that does guide us, as he calls it awareness. Some seem unable to listen or are deaf to it. A issue of consciousness a spiritual blockage of sorts. The problems of the world reflecting the consciousness of the world.

When we become aware we face the dillema and the challenge.

"It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society." Krishnamurti.

It may pass, that total awareness inclusive of the pain, but like awareness it is always there, in this very moment. I do agree with the message. But lets not forget. I am not sure that everything is on equal footing. It is easy to post words of wisdom and enlightenment on your personal PC in the comfort of your own home. And not in a war zone or out looking for a way to feed your family. These words do not help those people, and difficult for them to find comfort in some idealistic notion of equal footing with no us and them when they are being shelled. And that awarenes will not pass away for those people to carry on "perfect" lives. You are forced to say the tradgic circumstances these people are in are leading "perfect lives within the perimeters of there understanding", or that it is required for there "karma" or something like that. I fear that some of these ideas are misused or complacent, born of dogma and not self realization. We do reap what we sow, karma if you like. But there is also forgiveness.

Jiddu would go on to say... "it is a crisis of consciousness".
 
#31
So as you see it "reasonable" is a measure of truth or actuality?
No, of course not. I'm not talking about his own views in metaphysics. I just mean he's done a reasonable job at setting out what most materialists, atheists and others actually believe, rather than caricaturing them.

What sometimes happens is that people find the worst and most embarrassing passages they can from the likes of Dawkins, Rosenberg, Dennett and Harris, put them all together, and then say, "This is what the materialist world view really is, and this is what we're up against today."

The approach I favor is to be charitable, generous and basically just realistic about what people in neuroscience and philosophy of mind really believe. Nobody thinks that consciousness and subjective experience do not exist, so let's just move on and talk about what these people really believe and why they're wrong.
 
#32
these are good questions. I hope you consider emailing him. pls let us know if you hear back.
Dr. Gregory Shushan,

I read the transcript of your interview on skeptiko podcast. You
indicated that some aspects of NDEs challenge a metaphysical belief in
them, while the cultural differences contradict a physiological
explanation for NDEs. I am wondering what aspects of NDEs challenge a
metaphysical explanation, and why cultural differences contradict a
physiological explanation? Dreams and hallucinations have cultural
differences.

Here is the part of the interview I am referring to:

http://www.skeptiko.com/265-dr-gregory-shushan-cross-cultural-comparison-near-death-experiences/

"I will say that when someone starts discussing this question with me
from a perspective of total absolute belief, I will usually raise some
issues that might seem like a challenge to their whole metaphysical
[belief in] NDE…but if someone comes to me really, really skeptical
and says there’s no way, this is [all physical], then I will argue
even more vociferously that you just can’t say that. I will say that
as you indicated all these theories about dying brains, things like
hypoxia…or REM intrusion, or the awakening brain, or any of these
things, not a single one of them actually works. None of them really
addresses NDE in all their similarities and all their differences
across cultures. So the differences really challenge the physiological
theories. I think that’s where one of the ways my research can
contribute to the current debate on the question of whether these are
real or not, because scientists really need to address why there are
differences across cultures if this is a purely physiological,
[epiphenomenal] experience"


Thanks

Jim
Dear Jim,

Those are two complex questions which are difficult to address
off-the-cuff in an interview, or briefly in an email. They're also
not the focus of my research. My point was really that I'm not fully
convinced either way and that there are reasonable arguments on both
sides.

But briefly, to my way of thinking, differences challenge a
physiological explanation because if these experiences are entirely
"all in the brain" they should be more similar than they actually are
across cultures. For example, what's normally seen as a typical
element, the "being of light," is rare in indigenous societies. So
accounting for each element by reference to "epiphenomena of a dying
brain" seems premature. At the same time, NDEs across cultures do
share a set of basic thematic similarities (regardless of the cultural
interpretations and idiosyncratic elements), and they are almost
always seen in terms of life after death. In contrast, dreams and
hallucinations do not have such an objective set of similarities, nor
are they interpreted the same way across cultures as NDEs are. They
don't have the same basic meanings, and dream/hallucination content
varies wildly between individuals and indeed within individuals (we
rarely have the same dream or hallucination twice) let alone across
cultures. People who have more than one NDE, however, don't report an
entirely different experience the second time. They are simply not
comparable to dreams and hallucinations.

The NDE literature is full of arguments against a metaphysical
explanation, and obviously that is the mainstream scientific view.
One factor for me is that NDEs can happen spontaneously when a person
is not near death at all, and can be replicated with certain drugs and
shamanic practices. It's not limited to an actual near-death context.
This might suggest it actually *is* in the brain (unless we accept
that the drugs and spontaneous experiences are genuine afterlife
visits by people not near death at all). Also, as with consciousness,
it may be that we simply don't yet understand what will prove to have
a naturalistic explanation. I don't think that a current scientific
inability to account for the phenomenon means it must be metaphysical.
We also don't know enough about the interaction between culture and
experience. Sleep paralysis slightly contradicts what I wrote about
about similarities, because it has proven to be have
neurophysiological origins and culturally-variant similarities both in
content and interpretation. NDEs could conceivably be seen along
similar lines (though it's far more complex than sleep paralysis, and
the latter does not come with positive, transformative after-effects).

Hope this helps!

All the best,
Gregory
 
#33
That is what I thought he meant, simply that is not so black and white.

I disagree that there is not s thread of similarty in hallucinatory experiences. In modern terms Jung addressed this well as did Campbell.
There are several anthroplogists, psychologists, botanical researchers and the like have remarked on this As well. There seems to be icons in cultures that can even be experienced by people outside of those cultures. Ayahuasca is famous for it With the jaguar and serpents. DMT, with the dome, little people, the three ring circus and jester, elves and aliens. Huxley and Hoffman, Wasson (the list goes on) also remarked on it with others like psilocybin and mescaline from aztec patterns to mandalas.

Take my example, I have never read the bible. I am not even certain that Jesus was a real man let alone god in the flesh. I would tease christian beliefs and one night had a vision that floored me. It was just not in my framework. These others are familiar as well. And some things which feel familiar but I have no clue what they are. I think there is like a ocean of subconciousness, we are drops and sometimes we can alter consciousness to become aware of the ocean and it is multi faceted perhaps infinately so.
 
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#35
This is the reason why having an NDE can become a big sources of problems for military personnel, as Diane Corcoran (current IANDS President and former military nurse) described it.

No surprise here, since warfare is nothing but total supression of morality-1 by morality-2 on the massive scale. People's readiness to go into slaughter is based on the belief that their particular version of morality-2 is deeply right - at least, much better than any rival notion, especially the one of the people beyond on the other side of the battlefield, the "enemies". Therefore, they should eliminate all those villains, which require compliance to the orders of the authorities.

And mind-blasting encounter with a morality-1 during the transpersonal near-death journey is the highly effective way to shatter such a belief into pieces. Which left the combatant facing a dilemma: which message to follow? The shining message of unconditional love of an NDE, or the violence-mongering propaganda of state leaders and army instructors?
never thought it it that way, but you're right.
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#36
It's always amusing to see materialists try and avoid eliminativism and blame everyone else for the nihilistic implications of a paradigm that is, in any case, rather weak once that eliminativism is acknowledged by the intellectually honest.

But then directly telling people their thoughts about anything are illusions, that there is no history because matter can't record time, and their qualitative experience is an ex-nihilo trick born from nonconscious matter would probably not have sold as well as shaming tactic polemics from the likes of Dawkins and Randi.
 
#37
It's always amusing to see materialists try and avoid eliminativism and blame everyone else for the nihilistic implications of a paradigm that is, in any case, rather weak once that eliminativism is acknowledged by the intellectually honest.

But then directly telling people their thoughts about anything are illusions, that there is no history because matter can't record time, and their qualitative experience is an ex-nihilo trick born from nonconscious matter would probably not have sold as well as shaming tactic polemics from the likes of Dawkins and Randi.
If eliminativist materialism (i.e. conscious experience does not exist) were a popular view, then I could kind of understand why you're getting so worked up about it. But I can't find anyone who actually believes it.

I think what might be happening is that you're so terrified that the more serious and more plausible versions of materialism might be true that you pretend that all materialists are really eliminativists and then just go on and on about how crazy and absurd this world view is.

I might be wrong, but I suspect that much of this caricaturing of materialism is based on fear. And frankly I'm afraid too. I really hope my conscious experiences don't end at death. But this doesn't give me the right to caricature materialists.
 
#38
never thought it it that way, but you're right.
Would be great if such revelation would be accessible to many, not just to a a few. Timothy Leary, Stanislav Grof and others was trying to provide the people with a quick way to percieve a glimpse of Infinity - controlled and careful usage of psychedelics, with accurately measured dosage, friendly set and beautiful setting... But this attempt was crushed by authorities.

Well, with the recent apparent rebirth of the psychedelic research, and the upcoming surge of societal upheaval and cultural heterodoxy through the world, we might have the second chance.

BTW, I found a great video - a recent remix of Depeche Mode's "Enjoy the Silence" - which provides a good imaginal and metaphorical picture of breakdown of morality-2 during the encounter with morality-1. These magickal flowers in the video look psychedelically, don't they? I suspect they broke into the building directly from the Outwordly Gardens of Chaos (owned by Goddess Eris Herself).

So, the agent who was entangled by the roots in the video is going to have a revelation (I don't think roots strangled him - Eris is too smart to perform bloody sacrificies, she prefers sacrifices of love). He is going to be like those soldiers who passed post-mortem realms after being badly wounded in the battle - one who felt much more than the ones who chose to run away, afraid to leave their bleak and empty mental prison...

 
#39
never thought it it that way, but you're right.
[/quote]
What he stated has some merit but the part you bolded as being correct doesn't. Morality is arbitrary so one can accurately say that war may be morality "type-x superseding morality "type y." But even that doesn't hold in all cases. "It is our duty to eradicate those who may do us harm" can be part of a moral code. So can "every adult has the responsibility to pursue and engage in warfare." So the idea the "war is the suppression of morality- period" is false. Star Trek did an excellent job of illustrating different conceptions of morality
 
S

Sciborg_S_Patel

#40
If eliminativist materialism (i.e. conscious experience does not exist) were a popular view, then I could kind of understand why you're getting so worked up about it. But I can't find anyone who actually believes it.

I think what might be happening is that you're so terrified that the more serious and more plausible versions of materialism might be true that you pretend that all materialists are really eliminativists and then just go on and on about how crazy and absurd this world view is.

I might be wrong, but I suspect that much of this caricaturing of materialism is based on fear. And frankly I'm afraid too. I really hope my conscious experiences don't end at death. But this doesn't give me the right to caricature materialists.
You've been on this particular soapbox for awhile, whining about how everyone who doesn't have free will is making a choice to be bigoted against materialists. As I recall you made multiple threads and posts insulting Alex's intelligence, continually weaseling your commentary into threads where you make the title about something supposedly unrelated.

I think it's time you got off your soapbox, stopped condescending to the rest of us, and accept that maybe - just maybe - the people here aren't dumber than you. They simply haven't seen a good reason to believe materialism as defined by skeptical cults can be anything other than nihilistic. Additionally, it also seems clear that fear of religion and God is what drives personality cults led by people like Dawkins. Beyond that it's these cults fear that people cannot believe in God without becoming savages, but I also think it's their own psycho-sexual conditioning from the varied ancient religions that starts with guilt about masturbation.

Maybe you should just try and make an argument that shows materialism by definition doesn't entail eliminativism. Because it seems to me the only people being honest about materialist materialism are the nihilists. The materialist cultists like Dennet try to claim there's a way to build humanism on a foundation where there's no free will, no objective morality, and everything ends with oblivion. In their desperate need to squeeze out even the possibility of god they've promoted a faith that is not only shaky philosophically and tries to stamp out evidence suggesting materialism's falsity. [It also] leeches meaning out of everything worthwhile in human existence.
 
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