Author Topic: Rebirth - Resources and Links ONLY--Please post opinions in The Danger Zone  (Read 12563 times)

Offline humanitas

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This thread is ONLY for resources and links to better comprehend the Buddhist concept and meaning of rebirth.  If you wish to discuss your views or gripes about rebirth, please go to Rebirth - Here's what I think! in The Danger Zone Forum and ventilate your doubts, dilemmas, observations, questions, et ceteras, there.

Good Question Good Answer with Ven S. Dhammika

How does the mind go from one body to another?

Think of it being like radio waves. The radio waves, which are not made up of words and music but energy at different frequencies, are transmitted, travel through space, are attracted to and picked up by the receiver from where they are broadcast as words and music. It is the same with the mind. At death, mental energy travels through space, is attracted to and picked up by the fertilized egg. As the embryo grows, it centers itself in the brain from where it later "broadcasts" itself as the new personality.

Is one always reborn as a human being?

No, there are several realms into which one can be reborn. Some people are reborn in heaven, some are reborn in hell, some are reborn as hungry ghosts and so on. Heaven is not a place but a state of existence where one has a subtle body and where the mind experiences mainly pleasure. Some religions strive very hard to be reborn in a heavenly existence mistakenly believing it to be a permanent state. But it is not. Like all conditioned states, heaven is impermanent and when one's life span there is finished, one could well be reborn again as a human. Hell, likewise, is not a place but a state of existence where one has a subtle body and where the mind experiences mainly anxiety and distress. Being a hungry ghost, again, is a state of existence where the body is subtle and where the mind is continually plagued by longing and dissatisfaction. So heavenly beings experience mainly pleasure, hell beings and ghosts experience mainly pain and human beings experience usually a mixture of both. So the main difference between the human realm and other realms is the body type and the quality of experience.

What decides where one will be reborn?

The most important factor, but not the only one, influencing where we will be reborn and what sort of life we shall have, is kamma. The word kamma means 'action' and refers to our intentional mental actions. In other words, what we are is determined very much by how we have thought and acted in the past. Likewise, how we think and act now will influence how we will be in the future. The gentle, loving type of person tends to be reborn in a heaven realm or as a human being who has a predominance of pleasant experiences. the anxious, worried or extremely cruel type of person tends to be reborn in a hell realm or as a human being who has a predominance of painful experiences. The person who develops obsessive craving, fierce longings, and burning ambitions that can never be satisfied tends to be reborn as a hungry ghost or as a human being frustrated by longing and wanting. Whatever mental habits are strongly developed in this life will continue in the next life. Most people, however, are reborn as human beings.

So we are not determined by our kamma. We can change it.

Of course we can. That is why one of the steps on the Noble Eightfold Path is Perfect Effort. If depends on our sincerity, how much energy we exert and how strong the habit is. But it is true that some people simply go through life under the influence of their past habits, without making an effort to change them and falling victim to these unpleasant results. Such people will continue to suffer unless they change their negative habits. The longer the negative habits remain, the more difficult they are to change. The Buddhist understands this and takes advantage of each and every opportunity to break mental habits that have unpleasant results and to develop mental habits that have a pleasant and happy result. Meditation is one of the techniques used to modify the habit patterns of the mind as does speaking or refraining to speak, acting or refraining to act m certain ways, The whole of the Buddhist life is a training to purify and free the mind. For example, if being patient and kind was a pronounced part of your character in your last life, such tendencies will re-emerge in the present life. If they are strengthened and developed in the present life, they will re-emerge even stronger and more pronounced in the future life. This is based upon the simple and observable fact that long established habits tend to be difficult to break. Now, when you are patient and kind, it tends to happen that you are not so easily ruffled by others, you don't hold grudges, people like you and thus your experiences tends to be happier. Now, let us take another example. Let us say that you came into life with a tendency to be patient and kind due to your mental habits in the past life. But in the present life, you neglect to strengthen and develop such tendencies. They would gradually weaken and die out and perhaps be completely absent in the future life. Patience and kindness being weak in this case, there is a possibility that in either this life or in the next life, a short temper, anger and cruelty could grow and develop, bringing with them all the unpleasant experiences that such attitudes create. We will take one last example. Let us say that due to your mental habits in the last life, you came into the present life with the tendency to be short-tempered and angry, and you realize that such habits only cause you unpleasantness and so you make an effort to change them. You replace them with positive emotions. If you are able to eliminate them completely, which is possible if you make an effort, you become free from the unpleasantness caused by being short tempered and angry. If you are only able to weaken such tendencies, they would re-emerge in the next life where with a bit more effort, they could be eliminated completely and you could be free from their unpleasant effects.

You have talked a lot about rebirth but is there any proof that we are reborn when we die?

Not only is there scientific evidence to support the Buddhist belief in rebirth, it is the only after-life theory that has any evidence to support it. There is not a scrap of evidence to prove the existence of heaven and of course evidence of annihilation at death must be lacking. But during the last 30 years parapsychologists have been studying reports that some people have vivid memories of their former lives. For example, in England, a 5 year-old girl said she could remember her "other mother and father" and she talked vividly about what sounded like the events in the life of another person. Parapsychologists were called in and they asked her hundreds of questions to which she gave answers. She spoke of living in a particular village in what appeared to be Spain, she gave the name of the village, the name of the street she lived in, her neighbors' names and details about her everyday life there. She also fearfully spoke of how she had been struck by a car and died of her injuries two days later. When these details were checked, they were found to be accurate. There was a village in Spain with the name the five-year-old girl had given. There was a house of the type she had described in the street she had named. What is more, it was found that a 23-year-old woman living in the house had been killed in a car accident five years before. Now how is it possible for a five year- old girl living in England and who had never been to Spain to know all these details? And of course, this is not the only case of this type. Professor Ian Stevenson of the University of Virginia's Department of Psychology has described dozens of cases of this type in his books. He is an accredited scientist whose 25 year study of people who remember former lives is very strong evidence for the Buddhist teaching of rebirth.

Some people might say that the supposed ability to remember former lives is the work of devils.

You simply cannot dismiss everything that doesn't fit into your belief as being the work of devils. When cold, hard facts are produced to support an idea, you must use rational and logical arguments if you wish to counter them -not irrational and superstitious talk about devils.

You say that talk about devils is superstition but isn't talk about rebirth a bit superstitious also?

The dictionary defines 'superstition' as 'a belief which is not based on reason or fact but on an association of ideas, as in magic'. If you can show me a careful study of the existence of devils written by a scientist I will concede that belief in devils is not superstition. But I have never heard of any research into devils; scientists simply wouldn't bother to study such things, so I say there is no evidence for the existence of devils. But as we have just seen, there is evidence which seems to suggest that rebirth does take place. So if belief in rebirth is based on at least some facts, it cannot be a superstition.

Well, have there been any scientists who believe in rebirth?

Yes. Thomas Huxley, who was responsible for having science introduced into the 19th century British school system and who was the first scientist to defend Darwin's theories, believed that reincarnation was a very plausible idea. In his famous book 'Evolution and Ethics and other Essays', he says:

In the doctrine of transmigration, whatever its origin, Brahmanical and Buddhist speculation found, ready to hand, the means of constructing a plausible vindication of the ways of the Cosmos to man... Yet this plea of justification is not less plausible than others; and none but very hasty thinkers will reject it on the ground of inherent absurdity. Like the doctrine of evolution itself, that of transmigration has its roots in the world of reality; and it may claim such support as the great argument from analogy is capable of supplying.

Then, Professor Gustaf Stromberg, the famous Swedish astronomer, physicist and friend of Einstein also found the idea of rebirth appealing. Opinions differ whether human souls can be reincarnated on the earth or not. In 1936 a very interesting case was thoroughly investigated and reported by the government authorities in India. A girl (Shanti Devi from Delhi) could accurately describe her previous life (at Muttra, five hundred miles from Delhi) which ended about a year before her "second birth." She gave the name of her husband and child and described her home and life history. The investigating commission brought her to her former relatives, who verified all her statements. Among the people of India reincarnations are regarded as commonplace; the astonishing thing for them in this case was the great number of facts the girl remembered. This and similar cases can be regarded as additional evidence for the theory of the indestructibility of memory. Professor Julian Huxley, the distinguished British scientist who was Director General of UNESCO believed that rebirth was quite in harmony with scientific thinking. There is nothing against a permanently surviving spirit-individuality being in some way given off at death, as a definite wireless message is given off by a sending apparatus working in a particular way. But it must be remembered that the wireless message only becomes a message again when it comes in contact with a new, material structure - the receiver. So with our possible spirit-emanation. It... would never think or feel unless again 'embodied' in some way. Our per venalities are so based on body that it is really impossible to think of survival which would be in any true sense personal without a body of sorts... I can think of something being given off which would bear the same relation to men and women as a wireless message to the transmitting apparatus; but in that case 'the dead' would, so far as one can see, be nothing but disturbances of different patterns wandering through the universe until... they... came back to actuality of consciousness by making contact with something which could work as a receiving apparatus for mind. Even very practical and down-to-earth people like the American industrialist Henry Ford found the idea or rebirth acceptable. Ford was attracted to the idea of rebirth because, unlike the theistic idea or the materialistic idea, rebirth gives you a second chance to develop yourself. Henry Ford says: I adopted the theory of Reincarnation when I was twenty-six. Religion offered nothing to the point.. Even work could not give me complete satisfaction. Work is fume if we cannot utilize the experience we collect in one life in the next. When I discovered Reincarnation it was as if I had found a universal plan. I realized that there was a chance to work out my ideas. Time was no longer limited. I was no longer a slave to the hands of the clock... Genius is experience. Some seem to think that it is a gift or talent, but it is the fruit of long experience in many lives. Some are older souls than others, and so they know more... The discovery of Reincarnation put my mind at ease... If you preserve a record of this conversation, write it so that it puts men's minds at ease. I would like to communicate to others the calmness that the long view of life gives to us.

So the Buddhist teachings of rebirth does have some scientific evidence to support it. It is logically consistent and it goes a long way to answering questions that theistic and the materialistic theories fail to do. But it is also very comforting. What can be worse than a theory of life that gives you no second chance, no opportunity to amend the mistakes you have made in this life and no time to further develop the skills and abilities you have nurtured in this life. But according to the Buddha, if you fail to attain Nirvana in this life, you will have the opportunity to try again next time. If you have made mistakes in this life, you will be able to correct yourself in the next life. You will truly be able to learn from your mistakes. Things you were unable to do or achieve in this life may well become possible in the next life. What a wonderful teaching!

« Last Edit: December 11, 2009, 08:56:54 pm by 0gyen Chodzom »
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Excellent compendium.  Thank you.  :D

Offline santamonicacj

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I just saw a documentary called "Unmistaken Child". It is about the search for a Gelug lama's new incarnation. Generally excellent, you even get to see some of the more dicey aspects of it. Like the kids hands being guided to choose the correct implements, and the roles of divinations and such. But really well done, for those that are into such things. I got it from Amazon.
Warning: I'm enough of a fundamentalist Tibet style Buddhist to believe that for the last 1,000 years Tibet has produced a handful of enlightened masters in every generation. I do not ask that YOU believe it, but it will greatly simplify conversations if you understand that about me. Thanks.

Offline Will

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From MN 36 about Buddha's bodhi tree insights:

"When the mind was thus concentrated, purified, bright, unblemished, rid of defilement, pliant, malleable, steady, & attained to imperturbability, I directed it to the knowledge of recollecting my past lives. I recollected my manifold past lives, i.e., one birth, two...five, ten...fifty, a hundred, a thousand, a hundred thousand, many eons of cosmic contraction, many eons of cosmic expansion, many eons of cosmic contraction & expansion: 'There I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance. Such was my food, such my experience of pleasure & pain, such the end of my life. Passing away from that state, I re-arose there. There too I had such a name, belonged to such a clan, had such an appearance. Such was my food, such my experience of pleasure & pain, such the end of my life. Passing away from that state, I re-arose here.' Thus I remembered my manifold past lives in their modes & details.

"This was the first knowledge I attained in the first watch of the night. Ignorance was destroyed; knowledge arose; darkness was destroyed; light arose — as happens in one who is heedful, ardent, & resolute. But the pleasant feeling that arose in this way did not invade my mind or remain.

"When the mind was thus concentrated, purified, bright, unblemished, rid of defilement, pliant, malleable, steady, & attained to imperturbability, I directed it to the knowledge of the passing away & reappearance of beings. I saw — by means of the divine eye, purified & surpassing the human — beings passing away & re-appearing, and I discerned how they are inferior & superior, beautiful & ugly, fortunate & unfortunate in accordance with their kamma: 'These beings — who were endowed with bad conduct of body, speech, & mind, who reviled the noble ones, held wrong views and undertook actions under the influence of wrong views — with the break-up of the body, after death, have re-appeared in the plane of deprivation, the bad destination, the lower realms, in hell. But these beings — who were endowed with good conduct of body, speech & mind, who did not revile the noble ones, who held right views and undertook actions under the influence of right views — with the break-up of the body, after death, have re-appeared in the good destinations, in the heavenly world.' Thus — by means of the divine eye, purified & surpassing the human — I saw beings passing away & re-appearing, and I discerned how they are inferior & superior, beautiful & ugly, fortunate & unfortunate in accordance with their kamma.

"This was the second knowledge I attained in the second watch of the night. Ignorance was destroyed; knowledge arose; darkness was destroyed; light arose — as happens in one who is heedful, ardent, & resolute. But the pleasant feeling that arose in this way did not invade my mind or remain.
The bodhi resolve is like empty space, this because its marvelous qualities are boundlessly vast.  Avatamsaka Sutra, ch. 39

Yeshe Zopa

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The Mahayana schools which believe in a 'literal' or 'post-mortem' rebirth are following the plainest of Buddha's exoteric  teachings, which he repeated to several groups, and here also teaches to Ananda in the quotes below.

They are taken from the famous Maha-parinibbana Sutta: Last Days of the Buddha , translated from the Pali by Sister Vajira & Francis Story, copied from Access to Insight to ensure I am using the same source as those who do not agree with Buddha's teaching here:

22. "And whoever, Ananda, should die on such a pilgrimage with his heart established in faith, at the breaking up of the body, after death, will be reborn in a realm of heavenly happiness."

''28-31. "And why, Ananda, is a Tathagata, an Arahant, a Fully Enlightened One worthy of a stupa? Because, Ananda, at the thought: 'This is the stupa of that Blessed One, Arahant, Fully Enlightened One!' the hearts of many people will be calmed and made happy; and so calmed and with their minds established in faith therein, at the breaking up of the body, after death, they will be reborn in a realm of heavenly happiness. And so also at the thought: 'This is the stupa of that Paccekabuddha!' or 'This is the stupa of a disciple of that Tathagata, Arahant, Fully Enlightened One!' or 'This is the stupa of that righteous monarch who ruled according to Dhamma!' — the hearts of many people are calmed and made happy; and so calmed and with their minds established in faith therein, at the breaking up of the body, after death, they will be reborn in a realm of heavenly happiness. And it is because of this, Ananda, that these four persons are worthy of a stupa."

These were among Buddha's last words before his death, and therefore must represent his final view, as taught by him to his senior disciple, Ananda.

Optimus Prime has also provided many quotes on the forum, especially in the Rebirth Poll thread, from scripture which describes the process by which this rebirth takes place, and also provides a quote from Buddha explaining what happens to those whose rebirth will be less fortunate than those in my earlier quote:

''"Here, student, some woman or man is a killer of living beings, murderous, bloody-handed, given to blows and violence, merciless to living beings. Due to having performed and completed such kammas, on the dissolution of the body, after death, he reappears in a state of deprivation, in an unhappy destination, in perdition, in hell. If, on the dissolution of the body, after death, instead of his reappearing in a state of deprivation, in an unhappy destination, in perdition, in hell, he comes to the human state, he is short-lived wherever he is reborn. This is the way that leads to short life, that is to say, to be a killer of living beings, murderous, bloody-handed, given to blows and violence, merciless to living beings."


Perhaps OP may be persuaded to post more here as well? :)
« Last Edit: June 27, 2010, 03:47:39 am by Yeshe Zopa »

Offline Optimus Prime

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Here's an extract of an article written by cardiologist, Pim Van Lommel, who published a scientific paper on Near Death Experiences in Lancet, one of the most respected medical journals in the world.  This was a response to Michael Shermer who criticized Pim's paper.  I've added headings and brackets [ ] for minor explanations:

Medical Evidence for Near Death Experiences
by Pim Van Lommel

Typical reports from patients
We performed our prospective study in 344 survivors of cardiac arrest to study the frequency, the cause and the content of near-death experience (NDE). A near-death experience is the reported memory of all impressions during a special state of consciousness, including specific elements such as:
-  out-of-body experience,
-  pleasant feelings, and
-  seeing a tunnel, a light, deceased relatives, or
-  a life review.

Frequency of Near Death Experiences Reported
In our study:
- 282 patients (82%) did not have any memory of the period of unconsciousness,
- 62 patients (18%) however reported a NDE with all the “classical” elements.

What affects the Frequency of NDE's reported
Between the two groups there was no difference in the:
- duration of cardiac arrest or unconsciousness,
- intubation,
- medication,
- fear of death before cardiac arrest,
- gender,
- religion,
- education or foreknowledge about NDE.

More frequent NDE was reported:
1.  At age younger than 60 years,
2.  More than one cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) during hospital stay, and
3.  previous NDE.
Patients with memory defects after lengthy and complicated CPR reported less frequent NDE.

Possible Explanations for NDE
There are several theories that should explain the cause and content of NDE.

1.  The physiologic explanation: the NDE is experienced as a result of anoxia [i.e., no oxygen] in the brain, possibly also caused by release of endomorphines, or NMDA receptor blockade.
In our study all patients had a cardiac arrest, they were clinically dead, unconscious, caused by insufficient blood supply to the brain because of inadequate blood circulation, breathing, or both. If in this situation CPR is not started within 5-10 minutes, irreparable damage is done to the brain and the patient will die. According to this theory, all patients in our study should have had an NDE, they all were clinical dead due to anoxia of the brain caused by inadequate blood circulation to the brain, but only 18% reported NDE.

2.  The psychological explanation: NDE is caused by fear of death.
But in our study only a very small percentage of patients said they had been afraid the seconds preceding the cardiac arrest, it happened too suddenly to realize what occurred to them. However, 18 % of the patients reported NDE. And also the given medication made no difference.

The Physiology of a Heart Attack and how it affects Brain Bloodflow and Brain Function (measured by EEG)
We know that patients with cardiac arrest are unconscious within seconds, but how do we know that the electro-encephalogram (EEG) is flat-lined in those patients, and how can we study this?

Complete cessation of cerebral circulation is found in cardiac arrest due to ventricular fibrillation (VF) during threshold testing at implantation of internal defibrillators. This complete cerebral ischaemic model can be used to study the result of anoxia of the brain.

In VF => complete cardiac arrest occurs, with complete cessation of cerebral flow [this means there's no blood flow in the whole brain], and resulting in acute pancerebral anoxia [this means there's no oxygen to the whole brain]. The Vmca, the middle cerebral artery blood flow, which is a reliable trend monitor of the cerebral blood flow, decreases to 0 cm/sec immediately after the induction of VF (2). Through many studies in human, as well as in animal models, cerebral function has been shown to be severely compromised during cardiac arrest and electric activity in both cerebral cortex and the deeper structures of the brain has been shown to be absent after a very short period of time. Monitoring of the electric activity of the cortex (EEG) has shown ischaemic changes consisting of a decrease of fast high amplitude waves and an increase of slow delta waves, and sometimes also an increase in amplitude of theta activity, progressively and ultimately declining to isoelectricity.

More often initial slowing (attenuation) of the EEG waves is the first sign of cerebral ischaemia:
-  The first ischaemic changes in the EEG are detected an average of 6.5 seconds after circulatory arrest.
-  With prolongation of the cerebral ischaemia always a progress to an isoelectric (flat) line is monitored within 10 to 20 (mean 15) seconds from the onset of the cardiac arrest (3-6).
-  In case of a prolonged cardiac arrest of more than 37 seconds => the EEG activity may not return for many minutes to hours after cardiac arrest has been restored, depending of the duration of cardiac arrest, in spite of the maintenance of adequate blood pressure during the recovery phase.
-  After defibrillation the middle cerebral artery flow velocity recurred rapidly within 1-5 seconds regardless the arrest duration. HOWEVER, the EEG recovery takes more time, depending of the duration of cardiac arrest. EEG recovery underestimates metabolic recovery of the brain, and cerebral oxygen uptake may be depressed for a considerable time after restoration of circulation because the initial overshoot on reperfusion (hyperoxia) is followed by a significant decrease in cerebral blood flow. (7)

Background on how lack of oxygen affects cells
Anoxia causes loss of function of our cell systems. However, in anoxia of only some minute’s duration this loss may be transient, in prolonged anoxia cell death occurs with permanent functional loss. During an embolic event a small clot obstructs the blood flow in a small vessel of the cortex, resulting in anoxia of that part of the brain with loss of electrical activity. This results in a functional loss of the cortex like hemiplegia or aphasia.
-  When the clot is resolved or broken down within several minutes the lost cortical function is restored. This is called a transient ischaemic attack (TIA).
-  However, when the clot obstructs the cerebral vessel for minutes to hours it will result in neuronal cell death with a permanent loss of function of this part of the brain, with persistent hemiplegia or aphasia, and the diagnosis of cerebro vascular accident (CVA) is made. So transient anoxia results in transient loss of functions.

In cardiac arrest global anoxia of the brain occurs within seconds. Timely and adequate CPR reverses this functional loss of the brain because definitive damage of the brain cells, resulting in cell death, has been prevented. Long lasting anoxia, caused by cessation of blood flow to the brain for more than 5-10 minutes, results in irreversable damage and extensive cell death in the brain. This is called brain death, and most patients will ultimately die.

Typical Timeframes of Various Scenarios of Heart Attacks
In acute myocardial infarction the duration of cardiac arrest (VF):
-  On the CCU is usually 60-120 seconds,
-  On the cardiac ward 2-5 minutes, and
-  In out-of-hospital arrest it usually exceeds 5-10 minutes.
Only during threshold testing of internal defibrillators or during electro physiologic stimulation studies will the duration of cardiac arrest hardly exceed 30-60 seconds.

From these studies we know that in our prospective study of patients that have been clinically dead (VF on the ECG) no electric activity of the cortex of the brain (flat EEG) must have been possible, but also the abolition of brain stem activity like:
-  the loss of the corneareflex,
-  fixed dilated pupils and
-  the loss of the gag reflex is a clinical finding in those patients.
However, patients with an NDE can report a clear consciousness, in which cognitive functioning, emotion, sense of identity, and memory from early childhood was possible, as well as perception from a position out and above their “dead” body. Because of the sometimes reported and verifiable out-of -body experiences, like the case of the dentures reported in our study, we know that the NDE must happen during the period of unconsciousness, and not in the first or last second of this period.

So we have to conclude that NDE in our study was experienced during a transient functional loss of all functions of the cortex and of the brainstem. It is important to mention that there is a well documented report of a patient with constant registration of the EEG during cerebral surgery for an gigantic cerebral aneurysm at the base of the brain, operated with a body temperature between 10 and 15 degrees, she was put on the heart-lung machine, with VF, with all blood drained from her head, with a flat line EEG, with clicking devices in both ears, with eyes taped shut, and this patient experienced an NDE with an out-of-body experience, and all details she perceived and heard could later be verified. (8)

3.  There is also a theory that consciousness can be experienced independently from the normal body-linked waking consciousness. The current concept in medical science states that consciousness is the product of the brain. This concept, however, has never been scientifically proven. Research on NDE pushes us at the limits of our medical concepts of the range of human consciousness and the relationship between consciousness and memories with the brain.

For decades, extensive research has been done to localize memories inside the brain, so far without success. In connection with the hypothesis that consciousness and memories are stored inside the brain the question also arises how a non-material activity such as concentrated attention or thinking can correspond with a visible (material) reaction in the form of a measurable electrical, magnetic and chemical activity at a certain place in the brain. Different mental activities give rise to changing patterns of activity in different parts of the brain. This has been shown in neurophysiology through EEG, magneto-encephalogram (MEG) and at present also through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET-scan). (9-11) Also an increase in cerebral blood flow is observed during such a non-material activity like thinking (12). It is also not well understood how it is to be explained that in a sensory experiment following a physical sensation the person involved in the test stated that he was aware (conscious) of the sensation a few thousands of a second following the stimulation, while the subject’s brain showed that neuronal adequacy wasn’t achieved until after a full 500 msec. following the sensation. This experiment has led to the so-called delay-and-antedating hypothesis (13).

Most body cells, and especially all neurons, show an electrical potential across cell membranes, formed by the presence of a metabolic Na/K pump. Transportation of information along neurons happens by means of action potentials, differences in membrane potential caused by synaptic depolarisation (excitatory) and hyperpolarisation (inhibitory). The sum total of changes along neurons causes transient electric fields, and therefore also transient magnetic fields, along the synchronously activated dendrites. Not the number of neurons, the precise shape of the dendrites (dendritic tree), nor the accurate position of synapses, neither the firing of individual neurons is crucial, but the derivative, the fleeting electric and/or magnetic fields generated along the dendrites. These should be shaped as optimally as possible into short-lasting meaningful patterns, constantly changing in four-dimensional shape and intensity (self-organization), and constantly mutually interacting between all neurons. This process can be considered as a biological quantum coherence phenomenon.

The influence of external localized magnetic and electric fields on these constant changing electric and/or magnetic fields during normal function of the brain should now be mentioned.

Neurophysiological research is being performed using transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), in the course of which a localized magnetic field (photons) is produced. TMS can excite or inhibit different parts of the brain, depending of the amount of energy given, allowing functional mapping of cortical regions, and creation of transient functional lesions. It allows assessing the function in focal brain regions on a millisecond scale, and it can study the contribution of cortical networks to specific cognitive functions. TMS is a non-invasive research tool to study aspects of human brain physiology including motor function, vision, language, and the pathophysiology of brain disorders as well as mood disorders like depression, and it even may be useful for therapy. In studies TMS can interfere with visual and motion perception, it gives an interruption of cortical processing with an interval of 80-100 milliseconds. Intracortical inhibition and facilitation are obtained by paired-pulse studies with TMS, and reflect the activity of interneurons in the cortex. Also TMS can alter the functioning of the brain beyond the time of stimulation, but it does not appear to leave any lasting effect. (14).

Interrupting the electrical fields of local neuronal networks in parts of the cortex also disturbs the normal function of the brain, because by localized electrical stimulation of the temporal and parietal lobe during surgery for epilepsy the neurosurgeon and Nobel prize winner W. Penfield could sometimes induce flashes of recollection of the past (never a complete life review), experiences of light, sound or music, and rarely a kind of out-of-body experience. These experiences did not produce any transformation.(15-16) After many years of research he finally reached the conclusion that it is not possible to localize memories inside the brain. Olaf Blanke also recently described in Nature a patient with induced OBE by inhibition of cortical activity caused by more intense external electrical stimulation of the gyrus angularis in a patient with epilepsy (17).

The effect of the external magnetic or electrical stimulation is dependent of the amount of energy given. There may be no clinical effect or sometimes stimulation is seen when only a small amount of energy is given, for instance during stimulation of the motoric cortex. But during “stimulation” with higher energy inhibition of local cortical functions occurs by extinction of the electrical and magnetic fields resulting in inhibition of local neuronal networks (personal communication Blanke). Also in the patient described by Blanke in Nature stimulation with higher electric energy was given, resulting in inhibition of the function of the local neuronal networks in the gyrus angularis.

And when for instance the occipital visual cortex is stimulated by TMS, this results not in a better sight, but instead it causes temporary blindness by inhibition of this part of the cortex. We have to conclude that localized artificial stimulation with real photons (electrical or magnetic energy) disturb and also inhibit the constant changing electrical and magnetic fields of our neuronal networks, and so influence and inhibit the normal function of our brain.

Analogy of how to understand this theory
In trying to understand this concept of mutual interaction between the “invisible and not measurable” consciousness, with its enormous amount of information, and our visible, material body it seems wise to compare it with modern worldwide communication.

There is a continuous exchange of objective information by means of electromagnetic fields (real photons) for radio, TV, mobile telephone, or laptop computer. We are unaware of the innumerable amounts of electromagnetic fields that constantly, day and night, exist around us and through us as well as through structures like walls and buildings. We only become aware of these electromagnetic informational fields the moment we use our mobile telephone or by switching on our radio, TV or laptop. What we receive is not inside the instrument, nor in the components, but thanks to the receiver the information from the electromagnetic fields becomes observable to our senses and hence perception occurs in our consciousness.
-  The voice we hear in our telephone is not inside the telephone.
-  The concert we hear in our radio is transmitted to our radio.
-  The images and music we hear and see on TV is transmitted to our TV set.
-  The internet is not located inside our laptop.

We can receive at about the same time what is transmitted with the speed of light from a distance of some hundreds or thousands of miles. And if we switch off the TV set, the reception disappears, but the transmission continues. The information transmitted remains present within the electromagnetic fields. The connection has been interrupted, but it has not vanished and can still be received elsewhere by using another TV set. Again, we do not realize us the thousands of telephone calls, the hundreds of radio and TV transmissions, as well as the internet, coded as electromagnetic fields, that exist around us and through us.

Could our brain be compared with the TV set that electromagnetic waves (photons) receives and transforms into image and sound, as well as with the TV camera that image and sound transforms into electromagnetic waves (photons)? This electromagnetic radiation holds the essence of all information, but is only conceivable to our senses by suited instruments like camera and TV set.

The informational fields of our consciousness and of our memories, both evaluating by our experiences and by the informational imput from our sense organs during our lifetime, are present around us as electrical and/or magnetic fields [possible virtual photons? (18)], and these fields only become available to our waking consciousness through our functioning brain and other cells of our body.

So we need a functioning brain to receive our consciousness into our waking consciousness. And as soon as the function of brain has been lost, like in clinical death or in brain death, with iso-electricity on the EEG, memories and consciousness do still exist, but the reception ability is lost. People can experience their consciousness outside their body, with the possibility of perception out and above their body, with identity, and with heightened awareness, attention, well-structured thought processes, memories and emotions. And they also can experience their consciousness in a dimension where past, present and future exist at the same moment, without time and space, and can be experienced as soon as attention has been directed to it (life review and preview), and even sometimes they come in contact with the “fields of consciousness” of deceased relatives. And later they can experience their conscious return into their body.

Michael Shermer states that, in reality, all experience is mediated and produced by the brain, and that so-called paranormal phenomena like out-of body experiences are nothing more than neuronal events. The study of patients with NDE, however, clearly shows us that consciousness with memories, cognition, with emotion, self-identity, and perception out and above a life-less body is experienced during a period of a non-functioning brain (transient pancerebral anoxia). And focal functional loss by inhibition of local cortical regions happens by “stimulation” of those regions with electricity (photons) or with magnetic fields (photons), resulting sometimes in out-of-body states.

To quote Michael Shermer: it is the job of science to solve those puzzles with natural, rather than supernatural, explanations. But one has to be aware of the progress of science, and to study recent literature, to know what is going on in current science. For me science is asking questions with an open mind, and not being afraid to reconsider widely accepted but scientifically not proven concepts like the concept that consciousness and memories are a product of the brain. But also we should realize that we need a functioning brain to receive our consciousness into our waking consciousness. There are still a lot of mysteries to solve, but one has not to talk about paranormal, supernatural or pseudoscience to look for scientific answers on the intriguing relation between consciousness and memories with the brain.

* Michael Shermer, 'Demon-Haunted Brain' Scientific American, page 25, March 2003.

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« Last Edit: June 27, 2010, 07:15:42 am by Optimus Prime »

Offline Optimus Prime

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In the Digha Nikaya 2, the Buddha tells of how one can create a mind-made body (manomayakaya) during deep meditation, which sounds very similar to the out of body experience:

The Mind-made Body

"With his mind thus concentrated, purified, and bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady, and attained to imperturbability, he directs and inclines it to creating a mind-made body. From this body he creates another body, endowed with form, made of the mind, complete in all its parts, not inferior in its faculties.

Just as if a man were to draw a reed from its sheath. The thought would occur to him: 'This is the sheath, this is the reed. The sheath is one thing, the reed another, but the reed has been drawn out from the sheath.'

Or as if a man were to draw a sword from its scabbard. The thought would occur to him: 'This is the sword, this is the scabbard. The sword is one thing, the scabbard another, but the sword has been drawn out from the scabbard.'

Or as if a man were to pull a snake out from its slough. The thought would occur to him: 'This is the snake, this is the slough. The snake is one thing, the slough another, but the snake has been pulled out from the slough.'

In the same way — with his mind thus concentrated, purified, and bright, unblemished, free from defects, pliant, malleable, steady, and attained to imperturbability, the monk directs and inclines it to creating a mind-made body. From this body he creates another body, endowed with form, made of the mind, complete in all its parts, not inferior in its faculties.

Source:  "Samaññaphala Sutta: The Fruits of the Contemplative Life"(DN 2), translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. Access to Insight, June 8, 2010,

Offline Will

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Re: Rebirth - Resources and Links ONLY
« Reply #8 on: June 27, 2010, 09:30:55 am »
Here is a sutra where Buddha explains rebirth using the alaya consciousness (store consciousness):
The bodhi resolve is like empty space, this because its marvelous qualities are boundlessly vast.  Avatamsaka Sutra, ch. 39

Offline heart

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"At Savatthi. There the Blessed One said: "From an inconstruable beginning comes transmigration. A beginning point is not evident, though beings hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving are transmigrating & wandering on. What do you think, monks: Which is greater, the tears you have shed while transmigrating & wandering this long, long time — crying & weeping from being joined with what is displeasing, being separated from what is pleasing — or the water in the four great oceans?"

"As we understand the Dhamma taught to us by the Blessed One, this is the greater: the tears we have shed while transmigrating & wandering this long, long time — crying & weeping from being joined with what is displeasing, being separated from what is pleasing — not the water in the four great oceans."

"Excellent, monks. Excellent. It is excellent that you thus understand the Dhamma taught by me."


Offline Optimus Prime

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Here's a lady who had a near death experience whilst her brain wave activity (EEG) was flat, i.e., zero heart and brain activity (i.e., clinically dead) for 1 hr whilst undergoing an operation:

Part 1:
BBC: PAM SEES GOD. NDE Pam Reynolds. Amazing! Full version!

Part 2:
BBC: PAM SEES GOD. NDE Pam Reynolds. Amazing! 2 part
« Last Edit: March 28, 2011, 03:14:22 am by Optimus Prime »

Offline Deemoid

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Re: Rebirth - Resources and Links ONLY--Please post opinions in The Danger Zone
« Reply #12 on: November 12, 2016, 05:48:18 am »
25 minutes into this video Q&A someone asks Lama Jampa a question about rebirth and the refugee situation . . . .

After 30 minutes there's a more general question on rebirth.

I hope people find this useful. Lama Jampa is a wonderful teacher!

« Last Edit: November 12, 2016, 05:54:52 am by Deemoid »


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