No One Here Gets Out Alive
Today, I’ve received a reply to an old article I’ve written some time ago, and it contained a lot of questions that I already addressed several times before. I guess, these questions are boggling the minds of a lot of people, so in order to don’t repeat myself and copy-paste the same reply verbatim all over again, I decided to write a short summary as a standalone piece, which I could then reference (and copy-paste :D) later, if the need arises.
“Why is it so impossible that our brains are receivers, and like the radio in your car, when it’s turned off the broadcast still very much exists. […] How is this possibility clearly disproven [sic]?”
It’s not impossible, but it clearly does not work the way you suggest. In a sense brain is, indeed, a receiver. However, instead of working like a radio with our minds floating somewhere outside of our bodies, brain simply receives signals from environment, body, and also itself. Subsequently it constructs sensory perceptions, memories, thoughts, but also representations of signals that are beyond our sensory spectrum, and so on and so forth.
Now, since direct stimulation of brain demonstrably results in what we perceive as parts of mind (see e.g. the technology behind bionic eyes, particularly the one which uses direct stimulation of visual cortex with electrodes from a camera that serves as an artificial eye — but there are many, many more demonstrations that modern science already provided), it’s obvious that it’s the brain that is responsible for generation of a particular personal mind. And this also squares perfectly with what can be observed during meditation, et cetera.
“[What about] oceans of anecdotal accounts of NDE and OBE.”
For starters, no one ever died and lived to tell the story. Each and every NDE is just that — near death experience. Not death experience. Which may also explain why in Tibet, which is like a natural fridge (see how some Tibetans dispose of deceased due to the restrictions of environment), the actual dying after what we call clinical death can take several weeks. At least, that’s what would one gather from the way of how Bardo Thodol is read to a person on a deathbed. Also, if you witnessed onset of dying, that is, the moments very close to natural clinical death, you know that people in this state have very vivid hallucinations and, plainly, no leaving of body takes place. Well, they literally go on the last “trip”.
As for OBEs, shamanic journeys, and similar phenomena, they are technically not different from dreams. Well, even waking state is technically constructed the same way. How we can through these states access information that is seemingly outside of our reach, or how we can influence events in an anomalous way is a lengthy topic that is, at this point, prone to a lot of speculation, and I, personally, consider the actual mechanics inconsequential.
Nevertheless, let’s start with the fact that an image, a representation of the whole universe is within your brain-generated mind which merely serves as an interface. And this is really nonnegotiable. In other words, mind is just a legible rendering of otherwise incomprehensible natural forces. It’s a unique way for every particular species to make sense of their surroundings and entitic states in a way that reflects their peculiarities. Mind is, in essence, a self-referential map of the universe.
In case of so-called spiritual reality (which is what you obviously allude to), our capacity for symbolic thinking build on pattern matching (which is, again, function of brain that is also responsible for rendering of our waking state experiences) creates that perceived spiritual reality by translating the unfathomable, that is, parts of reality outside our senses and/or awareness, into coherent message expressed in combined fragments of already acquired person’s private vocabulary.
Hence you may see Moon and its gravity as a mystery woman, Sun with its electromagnetic flares as a powerful ruler, or you may perceive a psychedelic plant, with which you are in a chemical bond while high, as an entity with a distinct personality — distinct chemicals and their ratios do have distinct effects and humans share the same archetypal vocabulary from which to construct the rendering of the unknown. No doubt there is tremendous knowledge in such communication.
Next, matter-energy-information equivalence shows that e.g. what is in “spiritual circles” known as Akashic records is in essence the whole universe that is nothing more than a quantum soup of interacting matter-energy-information equivalent wave-fields. Suffice to say, we are made of the same stuff.
In practice this means that every action, no matter how insignificant, is recorded in the very fabric of the universe, influences its further evolution, and every cause and effect ever present is reflected in the current state of cosmos. And as is evident from the anecdotal evidence, even if we discard the obvious delusions and wishful thinking, we do have access to that information on a level which goes far beyond our everyday awareness. That is, our brains can generate legible representations of any of that information for consciousness to cognize.
“[H]ow you come to the conclusion that consciousness can’t think or remember though. How do you know this?”
Simply speaking, through meditation, self-inquiry, acceptance and detachment. Anyone can observe that mind with all perceptions, thoughts, memories, or what have you is what is observed, and consciousness is that which observes. But once you identify where your first person subjective perspective (that is, your sense of self or I-ness) “originates”, you also realize that it is the “real you”. You see that you, i.e. consciousness, have no properties, because all properties are what is known and observed. And all properties, aka phenomena, have a clearly defined beginning and thus also an end.
“How can you be absolutely sure that the distinct self disappears after death?”
See all of the above. And there is also the experiential way of making your personal self disappear even while alive. So, that’s that. Thus, with regard to being absolutely sure, that absolute part comes from knowing as opposed to just being informed. It’s the same case as with being told that the fire burns versus sticking your hand into the flames.
Well, knowledge changes nothing, but it makes the whole world of difference.