Psychological explanations

There are various psychological explanations of the NDE. One of these was formulated by Noyes and Kletti (1976), who state the NDE should be seen as a form of depersonalization, which occurs as a defense mechanism against the perceived threat of dying. Another psychological theory considers the near-death experience to be analogous to birth, while the 'tunnel effect' and the emergence into a bright light have been interpreted as a symbolic re-living of the birth process. The tunnel is the birth...

The interconnected universe

The non-dualist view of mind-body opens up a new way of conceiving our being as part of a network of interconnections with other beings and the entire cosmos. Watsuji (1889-1960) called this network of interconnections a state of 'between-ness' (or aidagara), which for him was the most important aspect of a human being. But what does it mean to exist in a 'state of between-ness' From an etymological point of view, the term 'between' (aida) signifies a spatial distance separating thing and...

Death and life in Japan

In Japanese culture there is no clear distinction between life and death. The concept has been well expressed by Kato, who commented that in Japan 'there is a continuum between the living and the dead that makes it difficult to draw clear lines' (Kato, in Martinez 2004 207). As has been suggested, probably the easiest way to explain this intricate phenomenon is that of the Taoist symbol of yin-yang. The yang (white) never exists purely as yang, but it is always inclusive of some yin (black) and...

Differences between ketamine and neardeath experiences

What seemed to be initially a largely anecdotal observation that ketamine and near-death experiences are sometimes the same has in fact turned out to be a valid line of enquiry for providing further suggestions about the nature of both these states. Many of the participants in all three groups shared the feeling of dying, of travelling at high speed along a tunnel, of entering another 'place'. Rare in both groups was the life review. However, I would now like to focus on the major differences...

Demographic profile

The NDE group was older than the ketamine group. As noted before, the latter was mainly composed of subjects aged between 20 and 35 years old. In contrast, Fenwick's group members had an age of 35 or more. In both cases, the male component was slightly larger (53 per cent in the NDE group 56 per cent in the ketamine group). In the ketamine group, the majority were either students (36 per cent) or in full-time employment (42 per cent). In the NDE group, many of the participants were retired...

What is ketamine

Ketamine was originally synthesized in April 1962 by Calvin Stevens, a consultant for a Parke-Davis Warner Lambert1 program aimed at finding a safer anesthetic alternative to phencyclidine (PCP). From a clinical point of view, ketamine has been classified as a dissociative anesthetic. The term 'dissociative' suggests that the sensory loss and analgesia as well as amnesia are not accompanied by actual loss of consciousness (Bonta 2004). Sometimes this unique experience incorporates a strong...

Ketamine and the brain

The effects of ketamine on the brain have been studied by Karl Jansen, who proposed a ketamine model of the near-death experience (1989 2001). He suggests that both ketamine and the NDE involve events at glutamate receptors called N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors, which are fundamental for vital functions such as memory and learning. It has been discovered that a sudden deprivation of oxygen in the brain, as occurs in a heart attack or brain damage, triggers an abnormal release of a...

Mind and brain identity theories

Also called as 'neuro-reductionism or eliminativism' (Varela et al. 2001), this approach tends to confine human existence in terms of brain functions and sees consciousness as a mere product of the brain. Those who follow this approach assume that there is no physical understanding of the self or mind. A notable example is Francis Crick, who discovered the structure of DNA with James Watson and received a Nobel Prize for this work. Towards the end of his brilliant career, which embraced the...

Transcendental hypothesis

This approach, also known as the 'survivalist hypothesis', strongly supports the view that a detachable soul leaves the body at the moment of the near-death experience and that this provides evidence of our survival after the death of the body (see, for, instance, Badham and Badham 1982 Rogo, 1982 Sabom 1982). This approach is mainly based on the experience as it appears to those who have had an NDE. As Paul Badham put it The hypothesis appears to be supported by the claims made by many...

Yasuo Yuasas bodyscheme

This more holistic perspective on what it means to be a human being will now be discussed in terms of 'body-scheme'. In phenomenology, the concept was first introduced by Merleau-Ponty, who recognized the centrality of the lived body, or the 'habit body' (le corps habituel ) as a built-in-body-scheme ( le sch ma corporeal ). Its primary function is to integrate all the somatic sensations, which form the basis of kinesthesis (see below), and to direct them toward the thing-event of the external...

Experiments in voluntary death Ketamine research study

The following sections will be based on results that emerged from a research study that I carried out among a group of 36 ketamine recreational users, who tried the substance in order to experience its intriguing effects. Timothy Leary called these 'experiments in voluntary death' (Leary 1997 375). In order to fully grasp the meaning of these experiences, I suggest that you suspend any possible judgment or habitual thought about drug-related experiences, and try to assume an open and...

Is consciousness a field

A further innovative contribution to the phenomenology of consciousness was made about a century ago by William James (1842-1910). In his Gifford Lectures of 1901-02, which were later published as The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902), he states that humans have 'fields of consciousness', so as to indicate that the unbroken, ever-changing flow of ideas, perceptions, feelings, and emotions that make up our lives, are going far beyond our narrow conception of the self. This is to say that...

The OBEs of Hiroshi Motoyama

For millennia, Eastern cultures have tried to experience OBEs as a result of states of deep meditation (Becker 1983). Interested in the phenomenon, in 2004, while I was a member of the 21st century Centre of Excellence on Death and Life Studies at the University of Tokyo, I was invited to a panel discussion with Hiroshi Motoyama, who is well known in Japan as a visionary and healer.161 remember I was amazingly surprised to find out that he regularly practises meditation starting at 3 in the...

Kienergy

In ordinary usage 'ki' means 'air' or 'state of mind'. In ancient Chinese philosophy, 'qi' (or 'ki') referred to the vital energy that fills each human body as well as the whole universe (Shimazono 2004 287). It is by means of the ki that we are 'animate corpses' and through which we interconnect with other human beings and the surrounding world. Ki-energy is not present in a corpse. It is applicable to various factors such as climatic conditions, an arising social condition, as well as...

Pondering the risks

Although taking ketamine in a recreational environment seems to be fun for many, it also exposes the user to a large number of risks. The most immediate one is probably the risk of an unwanted experience. For instance, Miss L., a 23-year-old who tried ketamine only once in her life at a disco club, observed I felt a bit paranoid, I was going to die. The first effects started very soon. I felt very confused and normal reality just disappeared. I was dizzy and unable to walk. I started bumping...

Bibliography

Abe, M. (1985) Zen and Western Thought. Hong Kong The Macmillan Press Ltd. Abe, M. (1988) 'Nishida's philosophy of Place', International Philosophical Quarterly 28(4) 355-71. Abram, D. (1997) The Spell of the Sensuous. New York Vintage Books. Achterberg, J., Cooke, K., Richards, T., Standish, L.J., Kozak, L. and Lake, J. (2005) 'Evidence for correlations between distant intentionality and brain function in recipients a functional magnetic resonance imaging analysis', The Journal of Alternative...

Outof Body Experience OBE

We currently know that an OBE can be part of a near-death experience but not necessarily (see, for instance, Fenwick and Fenwick 1995). It is sometimes as if the experiencing 'I' has left the body and is sometimes, but certainly not always, as if the experiencing 'I' is floating above the body. OBEs can occur in a variety of situations such as just relaxing and falling asleep, in waking moments (Green 1968), as a feature of epilepsy and migraine (Blackmore 1982), through electro-stimulation of...

NDE and children

We currently know that children of any age can have an NDE Morse 1990 Sutherland 1995 . Very young children, as soon as they are able to speak, have reported NDEs they had as infants or in the process of being born. One of these was Mark Botts, who had an NDE at the age of 9 months. His story emerged in a study that was carried out by Kenneth Ring and Evelyn Valarino 2000 . At that time, the little boy was suffering from severe bron-chiolitis, which caused a full cardiopulmonary arrest. It...

Place and the NDE

One of the most fascinating aspects of the Japanese contemporary approach to transcendental states, including the near-death experience, is their understanding in terms of space, or more specifically 'place', in Japanese basho.13 For instance, Hiroshi Motoyama called the state of Samadhi 'The World of Places'. The underlying idea is that our daily reality has an invisible deeper layer, which is different in dimension and is disclosed by the object-subject relation. Nishida called this deeper...

The afterlife in the Japanese myth of creation

The ancient myth of creation of the Japanese islands is narrated in the first book of the Kojiki or 'Record of Ancient Things' , which was completed in 712 AD.3 It tells the story of the God Izanagi and the Goddess Izanami who created the numerous islands of Japan alongside many other deities. The myth starts with the description of the gods standing on the 'Floating Bridge of Heaven' Ame no uke-hashi . Izanagi dipped a heavenly jewelled spear into the cosmological brine below and stirred it....

Space as consciousness without an object

Zen Master Dogen observed 'The ocean is experienced differently by a fish swimming in it, a heavenly being looking at it from heaven, and a person out at sea in a boat' Kasulis 1981 85 . They are distinct forms of consciousness, which cohabit the same basho Space, the ocean, which is perceived respectively as a 'jewelled palace', a 'necklace' of shining flecks of light, and a 'great circle' ibid. 85 . In this sense basho can be considered as a sort of 'container', or 'envelope'16 for various...

What happens after

The near-death experience has the wonderful power of transforming people's lives. Most of those who reported the experience claimed to have had significant changes in their lives such as a less materialistic, more spiritual, less competitive view of life and overall a reduced fear of death Moody 1975 Greyson and Stevenson 1980 Fenwick and Fenwick 1995 Fox 2003 . They seem to be convinced that we never die and that the human soul is immortal. The greatest change is usually found in those who had...