By Joshua R. Farris, Rev. Ph.D. (author of The Creation of Self)
Near Death Experiences continue to raise questions about the nature of death and the afterlife. Recent findings continue to confirm the uniqueness of NDE’s and what they tell us about humans.
Recently Dr. Karen Raj makes a startling discovery in relaying his findings potentially confirming of neuronal coherence and coupling in the dying. This startling discovery might just encourage those religiously inclined to believe there really is life after death and suggests that key moments in our life might just flash before our eyes when we are dying. What Dr. Raj doesn’t say about what else is suggestive is worth our reflection.
Dr. Raj reports a fascinating non-experimental finding conducted accidentally on a dying 87 year old man. The patient died from a heart attack during a brain scan called electroencephalography. The brain scan recorded unusual brain waves . The report shows, according to the report of the brain scan: “Shortly thereafter, electrographic activity over both hemispheres demonstrated a burst suppression pattern, which was followed by (the) development of ventricular tachycardia with apneustic respirations and clinical cardiorespiratory arrest.” Dr. Raj clarifies: “These near-death brain patterns are the same as the ones we experience during dreaming, memory recall, and meditation.” And, “neural oscillations, or brain waves, which correspond to memory retrieval” suggest, in fact that the “brain might be replaying important life events” during the transition.
What is so important about this finding is summed up here: “Our data provide the first evidence from the dying human brain in a non-experimental, real-life acute care clinical setting and advocate that the human brain may possess the capability to generate coordinated activity during the near-death period.”
But here’s what the report seem to miss. What else does this suggest about the person on his or her death bed experience? It seems to suggest more, in fact, than merely correlational data between memorial experiences triggered by a unique neural event. In fact, it might point to something beyond, as with so many other reports of NDE’s. In fact, this might point to something that has been reported by many NDE’s. That when we die we experience something beyond that captures many of the highlights in our life right before we transition to the other side. Indeed, this find by Dr. Raj is consistent with religious reports that this, in fact, does happen and is an important part of our transition—whether it be explained as a merging with a new reality, a part of the judgment before our final state in the next life, or some other transition to life after life.
In any account, it is no doubt fascinating that we have an empirical confirmation of something that is compatible with what many report occurring on their death bed. Despite what some might suggest that this is mere machinery that merely points to a novel brain capacity, the findings raise several questions that remain out of the provenance of direct empirical study. What is it that causes the neural event that correlates with this heightened summary of one’s life? Is this an event that points us to a religiously significant experience of transition, Divine judgement, new life after death? What are we to make of these ‘private’ memorial experiences that can only be accessed or experienced by persons and are only confirmed externally by correlative data?
What Dr. Raj has found is both fascinating and suggestive, once again, that there may be something more beyond this life. Some sort of life after life.
—Joshua R. Farris, Rev. Ph.D. (author of The Creation of Self)