[Buddha-l] Being unable to imagine dying and living

Richard Hayes rhayes at unm.edu
Tue Jun 29 14:57:45 MDT 2010

On Jun 28, 2010, at 10:42 AM, Ben Carral wrote:

> Now I would like to ask
> you  what you think (aesthetically, philosophically and
> humanly)  about,  for instance, Brian Weiss's past life
> regressions or the near-death experiences registered by
> Kübler-Ross.

There is a very large part of my consciousness into which I throw all the things I do not understand and do not feel any need to understand. Nothing that really matters to me depends on having an explanation to these things. So the short answer to your question is: "I don't think about near-death experiences." This could explain why I am such a second-rate academic; I have an impoverished curiosity.

> And I wonder why past
> life regressions or near-death experiences are not more
> more  widely  discussed and taken into account--I think
> it would be quite interesting.

I suspect these things are not more widely discussed among academics because it is not at all clear what discussion would bring to light, aside from people's predisposition to unsupported dogmatic claims. To my mind the best treatment of the topic is still Carol Zaleski's Otherworld Journeys (Oxford, 1987). She carefully explores various possible explanations of the well-documented phenomenon and skillfully avoids reaching any conclusion except the only supportable conclusion, namely, that most people who write about the topic use the phenomenon to support their own particular views of what happens to consciousness just before, during and just after the death of the physical body.


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