Dr. Michael Shermer on Near-Death Experience Science |379|

Discussion in 'Skeptiko Shows' started by Alex, May 1, 2018.

  1. Michael Patterson

    Michael Patterson New

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    This is very similar to Andy Paquette's experience in Dreamer - to the extent that he had a pre-life review with a guide. Others report the same thing.
     
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  2. Michael Patterson

    Michael Patterson New

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    I am sympathetic to your point of view here. The gentle ability to be in the world without attachment and judgement is powerful. When we start to get curious about, and interested in, other states of awareness it is time to do so.

    Some say that the ideal is to be aware on several levels at once - in the physical world, but not of it in the sense that one is aware of, and in, the deeper dimension at the same time.

    I suspect that we enhance our 'being in the world' when we are aware of what is beyond it. It is when we are aware there is more that we can become more detached (less of the world) and more freely in it. Knowledge of life after death, is said to be liberating.
     
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  3. Baccarat

    Baccarat New

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    That sounds nice on the surface, but we must be in very different paths in life. I for one choose not to be consumed by worldly things such as a 9-5 jobs 5 days a week. Its hard to have any rich experience with that type of job schedule. Throw kids on top of that and its even less time. The Sufis can say say what they want, but it doesn't make them right. In fact I can google dozens of quotes which say the complete opposite. I can't figure out why people take an interest in this stuff and they claim they don't have time to hone their creative mental capabilities. Sacrificing posting on this board would free up time? Especially with the last bummer of an interview which clocked in at around an hour? I'm not telling people what to do, the post just seemed like a cop out.
     
  4. Wormwood

    Wormwood Member

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    I don’t understand why it’s hard for you to believe honestly. But anyways, I personally am trying and several others on the board have actually had experiences. So I think your assessment is off in that regard, and with regards to assuming that if people have an interest in consciousness and spirituality, that this necassarily should translate into a consuming desire to obtain out of body experiences. Even if one wants to do it, it’s not easy to do. Not at all. Maybe you’re under the impression that it’s like taking up painting, and anybody can just do it, to varying degrees.

    As Michael alluded to, if we are to take all the NDE, pre-birth, past life transgression therapy data etc etc. seriously, the purpose of life isn’t to have out of body experiences. And you don’t need to have an out of body experience to experience the wonder of creation. You’re experiencing it now by existing, by being conscious. An interest in spirituality and conscious doesn’t at all need to translate into a need to pop out of your body.

    What method are you trying to induce and out out of body experience?
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2018
  5. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    I think it is important to remember that people start here with a whole range of points of view. Initially my views were far less settled than now (if you can call my present views settled!). Back then hearing interviews like that was electrifying, because I gradually came to realise that the standard materialist position held by some well known people is unbelievably weak. There are always new people joining here who need to make that discovery for themselves.

    Skeptiko also lets people join who do hold materialist views. Provided they play nice on the forum, they are able to say what they like. I think it is remarkable how little they contribute to core discussions (politics is a different matter).

    I was recommended to read a Sufi book, and I must say I was underwhelmed! I think people vary in their approach to the nature of reality - even people on the same 'side'.

    David
     
  6. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    Just out of interest, which book was that?
     
  7. Silence

    Silence Member

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    I am quite happily consumed with my life; kids and all. I've found it to be richly rewarding. I presume you do not have kids, and thus are ignorant to that particular experience?
     
  8. Dan_LastName

    Dan_LastName Member

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    I have kept a dream journal, on and off, for about twenty years. I have been pretty good on it lately. I am trying to induce lucid dreams. I find dreaming fascinating. I've had a number of lucid dreams throughout my life, as well as just plain old mystifying dreams. I don't do much in the way of interpretation, I just like training myself to be present for my dreams. One of the strangest things is that when I'm writing and drawing dreams, I will have memories of dreams that I had years ago, that I hadn't thought about at all. It's not even a detailed memory, more like a suggestion of a memory. Hard to explain, but add memory into the aspects of mind that are extremely puzzling.

    For me, it works best if I'm sleeping a lot. If I'm short changing myself on sleep, or if I'm particularly stressed, I'm less connected to my dreams.

    This reminds me a little bit of Stephen Batchelor's secular interpretation of Zen practice. He recommended "What is this?" as a meditation mantra. As in, what is this experience of ordinary, day-to-day experience. I believe that some Western interpreters of Buddha's teachings have pointed out passages of teachings warning students to not get caught up in miraculous and mystical experiences (siddhis), which can be distractions. (I'm not advocating that position, just pointing it out.)

    I don't know if I would call it a practice, but I like to play around with the idea that there may be some other realm, some unknowable source, and that the nature of the other realm is well and truly unknowable. If that is the case, mystical experiences such as NDEs and OBEs may have a touch of the realm beyond or they may be closer to the threshold of the realm beyond, but most of the experience, the memory, the categorization, and the description of such experiences would be mostly bound up in the material. So, according to this model, stories of OBEs, NDEs, etc, would be stories of profound fantasies. They may very well indicate closer brushes with some other realm, but the specific details, profound as they are, would be material interpretations of a very slight, mysterious perception of the other side filtered through our normal mental processor. That would be why NDE narratives oftentimes relate to a person's cultural beliefs, such seeing Christian figures or figures of the religion they grew up in.

    The idea that the other side is truly unknowable forces speculation about it back into the realm of what we do know. It's not a matter of is there or is there not some other realm, it's more a question of how have we gotten to the point where we are--culturally--and how can we go into our cultural, historical, day-to-day existence and open ourselves up to a different perspective or context.
     
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  9. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    The Sufis by Idries Shah.

    I found I was endlessly told that the Sufi way was superior to those of the rest of us, but it never seemed to get down to something more concrete. I say never, but I suppose I really meant not before I just lost interest in the book.

    I have a feeling you may have been the one to recommend it!

    Can you give me some sort of potted notion of what they know/discovered/embody, that makes them superior?

    David
     
  10. Hurmanetar

    Hurmanetar New

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    It does kind of sound like you're telling people what to do... and I get it: if you want to understand these "other realms" best thing to do is quit talking around the idea and jump right in and experience it for yourself, but honestly your comments remind me just a bit of people I used to know back in my fundy holy roller days. People have "an experience" and then its like they're Moses freshly descended from the mountain and still glowing and giving away free commandments.

    In my opinion these mountain top experiences have a creative AND destructive element to them. That destruction can be a good thing if you need a little destruction - if you've built up bad habits or bad mindsets or a big ego and need a refresh. And perhaps that is why these experiences are so positive for people when they don't constantly seek them but when these experiences happen to smack them in the face out of nowhere. There has to be a balance... can't be so heavenly minded we're of no earthly good and all that. There's a reason Jesus was a carpenter (regardless of questions about historicity).

    Yesterday I built this chair. Then I sat in it and watched the sunset while drinking a beer. Have you ever exhausted yourself building a chair and had the satisfaction of sitting in it at the end of the day? It was a damn fine spiritual experience. :) Next weekend I'll build another for my wife.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2018
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  11. Raimo

    Raimo New

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    I am doing it. Last night I had precognitive dream of an accident in which a car and a train collided. That accident happened this morning:
    http://www.iltalehti.fi/kotimaa/201805072200926429_u0.shtml

    In my opinion these hits are worth the effort to keep a dream journal.
     
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  12. dpdownsouth

    dpdownsouth Member

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    Sufism seems to me to have a rather neoplatonist flavour and sits very well with Christian/Jewish mysticism. Most of its proponents frame it as an Islamic expression of the perennial philosophy and do not claim superiority over other creeds (in fact, I've never come across this superiority thing before).

    Of course, Sufism isn't one monolithic entity and consists of various sects and traditions, including westernised 'pseudo' versions.

    Wikipedia does a decent job outlining beliefs, history, teachings, etc.:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sufism

    Seyyed Hossein Nasr wrote a wonderful book on Sufi metaphysics - The Garden of Truth: The Vision and Promise of Sufism
    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/142133.The_Garden_of_Truth

    Here he is talking on the goal of Sufism (you can get the gist, despite the Islamic phrases):


    And if anyone's really interested:


     
    Last edited: May 7, 2018
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  13. David LoVecchio

    David LoVecchio Member

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    I think the best point made by Michael Shermer had to be the one about an absence of patients reporting the images that were intentionally placed in a position that could only be viewed by a patient having an OBE in their room. I understand that probably not every patient that has an OBE (assuming that these are experiences that at some stage correlate with an "objective" reality) will probably be thinking, "I gotta look for and remember that picture!" but it is a valid point. It's a shame that no one has found (I believe) the woman who had an OBE and allegedly saw a tennis shoe sitting on a hospital ledge that she couldn't have possibly seen beforehand. That might be one white crow.

    For me the second best point that Michael made was the one about the difficulty of language and understanding. It's not that understanding is impossible but it's really easy to make assumptions about what other people mean without being aware that we are doing so.
     
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  14. Michael Larkin

    Michael Larkin Member

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    Yeah. Thing is, with Idries Shah, he does tend to heap on the mysteriousness a bit and one may get the impression that the Sufi way is the only way, but a careful reading should dispel that. If memory serves, He speaks of the Kabbala and Christian mysticism, for example, and I think he indicates that they can be functionally equivalent to Sufism.

    He also distinguishes Sufism from Islam, saying that Sufism always existed well before any of the current religions (which, in a way, he says Sufis invented). The transmission requires constant reformulation as cultures change, and he reckons many schools are functionally ineffective at the present time, such as the whirling dervish order started by Rumi. Apparently, the dance was in part designed originally to stir up the rather phlegmatic people in the Konya area of present-day Turkey. He reckoned the time is about ripe for a contemporary Western formulation, but doesn't really say how to find it. A lot of people think he introduced it, but there's some controversy about that.

    I don't think "superior" is quite the right word. Sufism, after all, stresses humility; but still, I can see what you're saying. If you read past the bits that hint at superiority, he does in fact supply a lot of information consonant with what you'll find in other sources.

    I think the potted version of what Sufis know isn't that different from what is known in other traditions, but usually spoken of with an Abrahamic, rather than an explicitly Hindu/Buddhist, nondualistic gloss. They concentrate, I'd say, on the ultimate aim being the complete annihilation of the self in God. Enlightenment seems to consist in the realisation that one has no choice but to comply with God's will -- of one's own free will, if that makes sense. One only has choice as long as one has an ego or lower self (nafs). Lose the nafs, and one loses the choice; at least, that's my understanding.

    Getting to this exalted condition requires that one goes through a number of stages or makams (often said to number seven), though one can sometimes have glimpses of such stages known as hal, which can come quite spontaneously. There is no necessary condition for experiencing psi phenomena, though some people are said to do so. Shah reckoned that not a few disciples fall by the wayside when they become too attached to the possession of special powers, and claimed that anyone specifically seeking such powers probably isn't suited to the Sufi way.

    Allegory plays a heavy role in Sufi teaching, and Shah's books are liberally sprinkled with them. Allegory has to be used because ordinary descriptive language can't convey meaning in the correct way. He also hinted at many exercises, maintaining that they weren't applied in all cases, but were specifically prescribed according to the status of the learner. Everyone's training schedule is different, and only a master knows which exercise is suitable.
     
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  15. David Bailey

    David Bailey Administrator

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    I read that the real problem with the AWARE study, was that it was really difficult to get a sufficient number of shelves placed in the right places in hospitals. This sounds trivial, but imagine - getting permission to add anything to an operating theatre is probably hard because of issues like infection. Many of the cardiac arrests happened in other parts of the hospital where shelves had not been placed.

    I don't think ANY of the patients would be told what to look for - they were all very sick patients - before and after the arrest!

    The thing to remember, is that a lot of people have NDE's and observe stuff relating to their specific resuscitation - one man had lost his glasses after the event, but told a nurse that he had seen her put his glasses in one particular place during the resuscitation - and bingo - he had his glasses back.

    The only reason such events are not treated as evidence, is because there is a theory that people in cardiac arrest might still have some residual brain function AND be able to observe something and/or hear something AND remember it! How much can you see while receiving a dental procedure? In that situation you are awake and not in excessive discomfort. There is a group of people who simply push scepticism beyond limits - forcing people to place special shelves above hospital beds - and then forget to mention that the real problem was the logistics of doing that!

    David
     
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  16. Baccarat

    Baccarat New

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    Its not about only OBEs, I just used that as an example. I can only imagine the progress humanity would make if they could make time to "get to know themselves" and the nature of reality
     
  17. Baccarat

    Baccarat New

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    Definitely! I've had so many hits, why would I need a hack job like Shermer to tell me they are not real, or they are ancedotal. Only thing Shermer teaches me if how to look out for half truths, lies and the such. Keep up the good work! A dream journal is not time consuming at all
     
  18. Baccarat

    Baccarat New

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    Sounds pretty boring to be honest to each their own, rather travel the world, which I am in progress to do for rich experiences
     
  19. Obiwan

    Obiwan Member

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    Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

    Even in normal day to day living it seems to me there are masses of things we see but don’t remember because they are not relevant to us at the time or aren’t striking. Evidential NDEs being reported and validated are quite rare so expecting someone to identify and remember a number (for example) placed in a particular position when undergoing an unexpected transcendent experience seems to me highly unlikely to provide many(if any) hits. I don’t have a better suggestion. People do seem to remember things unmatched bright socks on people attending to them though.

    The point you made about one white crow is, imho, exactly right. It only needs to work once. But even if that happened I can hear some saying “yes but that’s only one example and it could have been coincidence, or guessed, or a medic or visitor mentioned it” yadder yadder..

    Perhaps it’s the evidence we do have which is vital (of which there is a lot), not the evidence we don’t.
     
  20. Obiwan

    Obiwan Member

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    Sounds pretty self-focused - no offence.
     
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