We humans have a terrible habit. We tend to identify ourselves with our rational minds. This puts a great limitation on us, a trap that condemns us to think that we 'have', rather than we 'are' our bodies. According to an Asian, especially Japanese view, the rational self, or the one that answers to our name, is only a superficial part of ourselves, which we tend to assume is the entirety, when in fact it is only a small part of an immense manifestation of activities, both physical and mental, of which we are normally unaware. If we look at this phenomenon from a transcendental point of view, it would probably be correct to say that the superficial self has mistakenly usurped the place of a timeless universal entity that Yuasa called 'Bright Consciousness' (Yuasa 1993). Metaphorically speaking, we are icebergs floating in the deep sea, with one-fifth above the surface and four-fifths below. However, we usually assume that the totality of ourselves is just the one-fifth above. The NDEs are a manifestation of the remaining four-fifths. It may sound a paradox when put in words, but as we have seen in the previous chapters, it is an insight to be taken from the accounts of those who reported these kinds of experiences (or at least some of them), and it can be a meaningful insight for everyone. These people felt a strong sense of unity with the universe, and some of them took part in the fabrication of the universe itself, as if they were able to understand its constitutive principle by means of the principle within the self. But how do we relate to this totality? And, overall, how is it possible to explain such a relationship in terms of embodiment? To start with, I would like to assume the point of view of the body as experienced 'from within'. When considered in this way, the body becomes an indefinite entity, which is always changing and has no physical boundaries or delimitation such as the skin. I have called this the 'extended body' (Corazza 2007c).
Within such a wider and more comprehensive, or 'holistic', notion of the body, the near-death experience no longer challenges one's understanding of what it means to be human.
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