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Death Makes Life Possible

This upcoming documentary looks good: “Death Makes Life Possible“. A joint production between the Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS) and the Chopra Foundation, the film explores the ultimate question facing each and every one of us: How does understanding death inform how we live our lives? In doing so, they talk to the likes of Rupert Sheldrake, Deepak Chopra, Stu Hameroff, Bruce Greyson, Julie Beischel and Daryl Bem.

This certainly dovetails closely with a book project I’m currently working on, which I hope to tell you more about very soon (and enlist your assistance!). Find more details about “Death Makes Life Possible” at the documentary’s page at the IONS website.

  1. I can’t think of any greater
    I can’t think of any greater a shift in consciousness and culture than experiencing the NDE. In the future perhaps someone will come up with a way of giving everyone a taste of an NDE. Just look at what it does for the people who come back from the NDE. It is like a thunderbolt has hit them and awakened them to a greater reality. They nearly all become higher beings with an enlightened perspective. It would be the “trip of trips” as they used to say in the old days of hallucinogen use. I bet it can be simulated with a drug orf some sort. Since the brain would actually have to go into brain death, there would be risks, but there are plenty of people out there who gladly take that risk just to see beyond this veil just as there are plenty of people who take a rocket trip to the earth orbit which is also hugely risky. Especially people nearing death and terribly afraid of the prospect could be given the experience to allay their fears.

    One of the most fascinating series on the TV is dedicated to this subject. The experiencers’ descriptions are riveting.

  2. “The Gods envy us”
    “I’ll tell you a secret. Something they don’t teach you in your temple. The Gods envy us. They envy us because we’re mortal, because any moment might be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we’re doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again. “–Achilles, from the movie “Troy.”

    1. Awesome
      [quote=jupiter.enteract]”I’ll tell you a secret. Something they don’t teach you in your temple. The Gods envy us. They envy us because we’re mortal, because any moment might be our last. Everything is more beautiful because we’re doomed. You will never be lovelier than you are now. We will never be here again. “–Achilles, from the movie “Troy.”[/quote]

      Thanks Ray! I’m working on a book and I wanted to describe this very thing, but was finding it difficult to do. That’s a great quote to refer to in some way, really sums up what death ‘brings’ to the experience of living.

      1. Penny Arcade
        It’s interesting to consider how the Buddha was never very interested in the afterlife. There’s this story where a man named Vaccha seeks audience with him and starts to make questions trying to coax the Buddha to express his views about life after death, but the Buddhas only gives veiled and dismissive answers.

        The Buddha then illustrates the idea of a question that is so put that it has no answer by speaking of a flame that has been quenched. In which direction has the flame gone – east, west, north or south? None of the permitted answers applies. Likewise what happens after the bodily death of a Tathagata cannot be expressed in our available categories of

        When I was a kid I used to spend my summer vacation in the house of my uncle Fernando. I would go with my cousin Gustavo to the nearest strip mall where there was a video-game arcade. Playing in an arcade was a very different experience than playing in a home console: with the home console, you know that if the game is turning too difficult, and you eventually die, that you can re-spawn with a new life just where you left off; but in the arcade of those by-gone days, you only had so much money to spend in the machines, and so your focus and concentration and the adrenaline rush increased.

        Maybe there’s a reason why this appears to be the only life we’ll ever get. Maybe someone wants us to experience life to the fullest, so that in the end we can scream “Yes! double bonus! what an amazing game” 🙂

        1. Yes and No
          Clearly when you’re dead, you’re dead.

          Still, how come so many recall other times, other lives?

          I do. Often these are just glimpses; these may arrive when I’m awake or, sometimes, in dreams (and quite vividly). Certain situations seem to provoke them, most particularly when interacting with others, but not just anybody.

          When I was much younger, the only available explanations (I lived in a small rural town but there was a paperback rack in a drugstore in the next town) were of the routine “serial reincarnation” variety a la Edgar Cayce.

          I’ve come to believe it’s much more complex than that — identity itself is much more complex than I once thought; time must be, too.

          I can understand why G. Buddha refrained from providing a full explanation.

          Bill I.

          1. The Buddha was not interested
            The Buddha was not interested in the afterlife because there is no difference between the state of living and so called non living. The Buddha was already living the “after life.”

          2. No.
            The Buddha was not interested in the afterlife, because he wanted his disciples to live their lives fully and without regret, or hopes that if they mess up this life they can always start over in the next reincarnation.

            “I wanna tell you something Mark, something you do not yet know, that we K-PAXians have been around long enough to have discovered. The universe will expand, then it will collapse back on itself, then will expand again. It will repeat this process forever.

            What you don’t you know is that when the universe expands again, everything will be as it is now. Whatever mistakes you make this time around, you will live through on your next pass. Every mistake you make, you will live through again, & again, forever. So my advice to you is to get it right this time around. Because this time is all you have.”

            From the movie K-Pax

          3. That is just what the Buddha
            That is just what the Buddha said out loud to people of lesser development. His own perspective was that life did not cease anywhere and everywhere. A rock doesn’t ponder afterlife because it resides in an infinite continuum – as does the Buddha.

          4. Living in the now.
            The prospect of incessant life makes focusing in the NOW all the more pertinent 😉

          5. from the Liberation-Soda-Dept.
            i also think he was schmart and wise enough to avoid and drop any “immovable object meets irresistible force” statements…which i find in Wittgenstein when he wrote that all philosophical problems are problems of language…

  3. Synchronicity
    Hi RPJ,

    Its been a while since I last posted here, but felt compelled to do so now. Earlier this morning, I was reading through this thread and came upon the quotes that several people have posted about life, death, and the beauty of mortality. There’s some real pearls of wisdom in these posts, I think.

    In any event, the last quote I read was the one from K-PAX, which I’ve seen but had totally forgotten about. I liked the idea of cyclical birth, death and rebirth applied to the universe as a whole, but the part about being more or less “doomed” to repeat old mistakes in future existences left a sour taste in my mouth.

    A few hours later, I put my son down for a nap and picked up a book I’ve been reading (for the first time) by Lord Dunsany. Its called Gods, Men and Ghosts and includes a number of the man’s short stories. While reading a sequence of short stories called “The Gods of Pegana”, I came upon the following:

    (Note: In this story, “Kib” is a lesser god who is the originator of all earthly life, while “Mung” is essentially Death. Mana-Yood-Sushai is the dreaming God of all things, creator of all lesser gods, who periodically wakes from his slumber and refashions the universe)

    “One day as a man trod upon the road that Kib had given him to tread he came suddenly upon Mung. And when Mung said: “I am Mung!” the man cried out: “Alas, that I took this road, for had I gone any other way then had I not met with Mung.” And Mung said:

    “Had it been possible for thee to go by any other way then had the Scheme of Things been otherwise and the gods had been other gods. When Mana-Yood-Sushai forgets to rest and makes again new gods it may be that They will send thee again into the Worlds; and then thou mayest choose some other way, and so not meet with Mung.”

    I read this and immediately noted the synchronistic implications, and felt I just had to share it with you guys. If anyone is interested in reading more from Dunsany I highly, highly recommend his work. Run a search on him through Wikipedia if you aren’t familiar with the name.


      1. Apparently it is never really
        Apparently it is never really “fulfilled” though. There is real comfort in the idea that our story never ends. At first blush it looks alarmingly infinite like a Hell of Infinity, but I have come to understand that it is actually more probably the true and merciful case. We are never given quite enough memory to recall it all as we pass through it, so there is never danger of our growing bored. There should still be enough of the animal in us that we live more in the present than in the past or future which are after all just conventions we make up to give existence the appearance of having a beginning and an end.
        True enlightenment is living the idea that there is no beginning and that there is no end. It has to be lived and felt. It cannot be intellectualized. I confess to having difficulty living that all the time, but there are more and more moments in my life now when I succumb to the sweet idea. One of the delights of getting old is that I do not worship or cling to memory as much as I used to. As the brain ages there are more and more mornings in which I rise like my pet dog with no clear memory of yesterday and the sense that today is the first day and that damn near anything might happen, and it always does.

          1. It is astonishing to me that
            It is astonishing to me that our culture so brainwashes people about the necessity of their being a beginning and an end. Its starts as soon as we are lulled to sleep with bedtime stories that always have a beginning and an end. “The End” is one of the strongest memes in our cultural upbringing. Everything is a “project” with a clearly defined beginning and ending. We then move on to the next project. Some of us are sophisticated enough to pretend we are not hung up on the temporal, but really it is always there. To me the great cultural blow up happening right now with this proliferation of ghost hunting shows on television is that they are shattering the western idea of time. We see evidence of spirits who are “out of time.” They may still be wearing civil war uniforms and bustles, and some of these poor ghosts are locked in an endless loop of repeating the same movements nightly – walking the same corridors as if time had no beginning and end. Until the spell is broken and they are sent “to the light” they are doomed to be prisoners of time. It is paradoxical. We gradually start rooting for good to win and send them towards the light but the implication also is that they will then be freed from time too.

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