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What Should We Do with Our Visions of Heaven—and Hell?

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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Is heaven real? Eben Alexander thinks so. He is a neurosurgeon who learned his craft at Duke and honed it at Harvard. In 2008 he fell into a coma, his brain infected by bacterial meningitis. He emerged from the coma with memories of a fantastical adventure, during which he rode on a butterfly beside an angelic blue-eyed girl into “an immense void, completely dark, infinite in size, yet also infinitely comforting.” In Proof of Heaven (Simon and Schuster, 2012), his bestselling book about his experience, Alexander claims to have learned that “God and the soul are real and that death is not the end of personal existence but only a transition.”

In a cover story he wrote for NEWSWEEK and in an interview with The New York Times, Alexander sounds intelligent and sincere but a tad short on self-doubt. Pulling his rank as a neurologist, he insists that what he experienced must have been “real,” because during his coma his neo-cortex was completely “shut down” and “there is absolutely no way that I could have experienced even a dim and limited consciousness during my time in the coma, much less the hyper-vivid and completely coherent odyssey I underwent.”

Absolutely no way? Really? As Martin Samuel, who heads Alexander’s former department at Harvard, tells The Times, “There is no way to know, in fact, that his neo-cortex was shut down. It sounds scientific, but it is an interpretation made after the fact.”

I understand why skeptics like biologist P.Z. Myers deride Alexander’s claims as “bullshit,” but I can’t dismiss them so easily. I’m fascinated by mystical experiences, so much so that I wrote a book about them, Rational Mysticism (Houghton Mifflin, 2003), from which I’ve drawn some of the material that follows. Many people conclude, as Alexander did, that their experiences revealed Ultimate Reality, God, whatever. The problem is that different people discover radically different Absolute Truths.

In The Varieties of Religious Experience, more than a century old and still the best book ever written on mysticism, psychologist William James described experiences, like Alexander’s, that revealed a loving, immortal spirit at the heart of existence. But James emphasized that some mystics have perceived absolute reality as terrifyingly alien, uncaring and meaningless. James called these visions “melancholic” or “diabolical.” James himself had at least one such vision, a kind of cosmic panic attack.

One mystical expert I interviewed, German psychologist Adolf Dittrich, told me that mystical visions–whether induced by trauma, drugs, meditation, hypnosis, sensory deprivation or other means–fall into three broad categories, or “dimensions.” Borrowing a phrase that Freud used to describe mystical experiences, Dittrich called the first dimension “oceanic boundlessness.” This is the classic blissful experience reported by Alexander and many other mystics, in which you feel yourself dissolving into some benign higher power.

Dittrich labeled the second dimension “dread of ego dissolution.” This is the classic “bad trip,” in which your self-dissolution is accompanied not by bliss but by negative emotions, ranging from mild uneasiness to full-blown terror. You think you are going insane, disintegrating, dying, and all of reality may be dying with you. Dittrich’s third dimension, “visionary restructuralization,” consists of more explicit hallucinations, ranging from abstract, kaleidoscopic images to elaborate dream-like narratives. Dittrich referred to these three dimensions as “heaven, hell and visions.”

During a drug trip in 1981, I experienced all three dimensions described by Dittrich. The trip occurred in early summer, just after I had finished my junior year of college. I had left my apartment in New York City to visit friends in suburban Connecticut. One of these friends, whom I’ll call Stan, was a psychedelic enthusiast with an unusual connection: a chemist who investigated psychotropic drugs for a defense contractor in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. The chemist had recently given Stan a thimble’s worth of beige powder that was supposedly similar to LSD.*

One morning we each ingested about a matchhead-worth, a dose that Stan’s friend had recommended. Within a half hour, I felt as though a volcano was erupting within me. Sitting on a lawn, barely holding myself upright, I told Stan that I feared I had taken an overdose. Stan, who for some reason was less affected by the compound, tried to calm me down. Everything would be fine, he said; I should just relax and go with the experience. As Stan murmured reassuringly, his eyeballs exploded from their sockets, trailed by crimson streamers.

That was my last contact with external reality for almost twenty-four hours. Stan and a couple of friends whose help he enlisted told me later that during this period I was completely unresponsive to them, although they could with some difficulty move me about. For the most part I lay or sat quietly, staring into space. Occasionally I flailed about, raving, grunting or emitting other peculiar sounds. For a while I stuck my arms out and hissed like a five-year-old boy pretending to be a jet-fighter: “Fffffffffffffff!” My expressions tended toward extremes: beatific, enraged, terrified, lewd. Occasionally I furiously clawed holes in the lawn. My eyes were for the most part wide open, the pupils dilated to the rim. My companions said I never seemed to blink, even when particles of dirt from my excavations were visible on my eyeballs.

Subjectively, I was immersed in a visionary phantasmagoria. I became an amoeba, an antelope, a lion devouring the antelope, an ape man squatting on a savannah, an Egyptian queen, Adam and Eve, an old man and woman on a porch watching an eternal sunset. At some point, I attained a kind of lucidity, like a dreamer who realizes he’s dreaming. With a surge of power and exaltation, I realized that this is my creation, my cosmos, and I can do anything I like with it. I decided to pursue pleasure, pure pleasure, as far as it would take me. I became a bliss-seeking missile accelerating through an obsidian ether, shedding incandescent sparks, and the faster I flew, the brighter the sparks burned, the more exquisite was my rapture. This was probably when I was making the “fffffff” noise.

After eons of superluminal ecstasy, I decided that I wanted not pleasure but knowledge. I wanted to know why. I traveled backward through time, observing the births and lives and deaths of all creatures that have ever lived, human and non-human. I ventured into the future, too, watching as the Earth and then the entire cosmos was transformed into a vast grid of luminous circuitry, a computer dedicated to solving the riddle of its own existence. Yes, I became the Singularity! Before the term was even coined!

As my penetration of the past and future became indistinguishable, I became convinced that I was coming face to face with the ultimate origin and destiny of existence, which were one and the same. I felt overwhelming, blissful certainty that there is one entity, one consciousness, playing all the parts of this pageant, and there is no end to this creative consciousness, only infinite transformations.

At the same time, my astonishment that anything exists at all became unbearably acute. Why? I kept asking. Why creation? Why something rather than nothing? Finally I found myself alone, a disembodied voice in the darkness, asking, Why? And I realized that there would be, could be, no answer, because only I existed; there was nothing, no one, to answer me.

I felt overwhelmed with loneliness, and my ecstatic recognition of the improbability–no, impossibility–of my existence mutated into horror. I knew there was no reason for me to be. At any moment I might be swallowed up, forever, by this infinite darkness enveloping me. I might even bring about my own annihilation simply by imagining it; I created this world, and I could end it, forever. Recoiling from this confrontation with my own awful solitude and omnipotence, I felt myself disintegrating.

I awoke from this nightmarish trip convinced that I had discovered the secret of existence. There is a God, but He is not the omnipotent, loving God in Whom so many people have faith. Far from it. He’s totally nuts, crazed with fear of his own existential plight. In fact, God created this wondrous, pain-wracked world to distract Himself from his cosmic identity crisis. He suffers from a severe case of multiple-personality disorder, and we are the shards of His fractured psyche. Since then, I have found hints of this theology in Gnosticism, the Kabbalah and the writings of Nietzsche, Jung and Borges.

So which mystical visions should we believe? The heavenly, blissful ones, like Alexander’s, or the hellish ones, like mine? Or are both somehow true? The reasonable answer is: None of the above. The sensible, skeptical part of me knows that I was projecting my own fearful nihilism onto the universe, just as Alexander, a Christian, projected his yearnings. Our experiences were delusions brought about by aberrational brain states. The differences between our experiences—like the differences between our dreams–can be explained by our different backgrounds and personalities.

But another part of me is dissatisfied with this dismissal. My drug-induced visions possessed a mythical, archetypal quality that my dreams lack. The visions seemed not absurd and meaningless, like most of my dreams, but almost too meaningful. They seemed too artful—too laden with metaphorical and metaphysical significance—to be the products of my puny, personal brain. I felt as though I had left my individual mind behind and traveled into another, much more expansive realm. Alexander clearly feels the same way about his visions.

For the most part, I’m a hard-core materialist, but my experience—and those reported by Alexander and others—makes me suspect that our minds have untapped depths that conventional science cannot comprehend. And although I’ve reluctantly abandoned my neurotic-deity theology, I have an abiding sense of reality’s profound weirdness and improbability. What William James said in Varieties still holds true:

“Our normal waking consciousness, rational consciousness as we call it, is but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different. We may go through life without suspecting their existence; but apply the requisite stimulus, and at a touch they are there in all their completeness… No account of the universe in its totality can be final which leaves these other forms of consciousness quite disregarded… [T]hey forbid our premature closing of accounts with reality.”

Let me ask you skeptics this: If scientists invented a technology—a drug or brain-stimulating device–that could safely induce a mystical experience, wouldn’t you seize that opportunity? Wouldn’t you like to see heaven, even if you don’t believe in it?

[*After hearing me describe this drug’s effects, Harvard psychologist John Halpern, an authority on psychedelics, guessed it was 3-quinuclidin-3-yl benzylate, otherwise known BZ, or an analog thereof. BZ is a potent hallucinogen developed as a chemical "incapacitant" by the U.S. Army in the 1950's. Although BZ was apparently never deployed, the Army stockpiled canisters of the drug through at least the early 1970's, when President Richard Nixon ordered the stockpiles destroyed. Whatever the drug I took was, I don't recommend it.]

 

John Horgan About the Author: Every week, hockey-playing science writer John Horgan takes a puckish, provocative look at breaking science. A teacher at Stevens Institute of Technology, Horgan is the author of four books, including The End of Science (Addison Wesley, 1996) and The End of War (McSweeney's, 2012). Follow on Twitter @Horganism.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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  1. 1. rickvhsa 4:22 pm 11/27/2012

    Sounds like a trip to the astral plane to me. There, thoughts become realities and if you can’t control your thoughts you are likely to see and experience all kinds of things! After doing thousands of doses of LSD over the last 40 years I would like to try this stuff. I know enough to stay away from the “lower” levels of the astral plane and the “higher” levels are pleasant enough! Of Course, lower and higher are meaningless terms there as there is no time or space on the astral plane.

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  2. 2. gooner 5:05 pm 11/27/2012

    If heaven is filled with the people who think they are going there I want nothing to do with it. I’ll take my chances in hell.

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  3. 3. Acoyauh2 5:19 pm 11/27/2012

    Really? You don’t recommend sniffing chemical weapons from the 60′s? Oh, rats! That’s what I was planning to do tomorrow…
    I’m not a ‘hardcore skeptic’ but no, thanks, even if they offered me a chance to see Heaven and/or Hell it would be pointless knowing it’s a machine/drug/whatever-induced halucination. Ever tried the movies? Do that sometime, takes you out for a spin, with less brain damage – unless it’s Stalone; then I’d rather sniff the WMDs…

    Heh, fun article, overall; thank you.

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  4. 4. brmathewsg 5:59 pm 11/27/2012

    The preposition and inference is very simple.. Dr.Ebed Alexander had a true heavenly experience, being on the way to heaven..eternal bliss and on the contrary the author was truly being drawn towards a trajectory to hell..unpleasant, nightmarish experience….

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  5. 5. Mr. Natural 6:12 pm 11/27/2012

    I’m going with P.Z. Myers’ evaluation.

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  6. 6. tharriss 6:12 pm 11/27/2012

    I always cringe when people make sweeping statements like “conventional science cannot comprehend”… not because it is a sweeping statement (however dangerous they may be), but because it seems pretty short sighted to claim to know what science will eventually be able to comprehend. If you look back on the last hundred years, it seems science now comprehends many many things people thought it couldn’t shed any light on back then.

    That’s one thing that is cool about science, the scope of its applicability constantly widens as we learn more and more. I am pretty confident that given time, science it absolutely capable of shedding light on all the mechanisms of consciousness, and explaining in detail what’s behind experiences like the ones described in this article. Will I live to see it? Who knows, but just extrapolating from current progress in so many areas of science, it seems highly likely.

    Also, it seems strange to me that someone would use things they saw while chemically short circuiting their brain (either through drugs, or near death experiences) as a basis for drawing important conclusions. Just because you are able to over/under stimulate portions of your brain to induce hallucinations (however pretty or horrifying) doesn’t indicate that you have learned anything much about reality from the content of those hallucinations. I may not be a neurosurgeon, but I don’t think it should take one to know that you can’t bias your result set much more thoroughly than mucking around with the very brain you are using to analyze that result set. Self-diagnosis generally doesn’t turn out very well, for obvious reasons.

    Plus it always annoying when the mystics of the world dredge up one person in a scientific field to agree with them… I mean, let’s ignore the vast field of scientists out there in favor of the minority of them out there that support irrational points of view, but hey, they are “scientists”, so clearly that proves something.

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  7. 7. sonoran 6:28 pm 11/27/2012

    Honestly I think you were on the right track when ascribed your experience, and that of Eben, to the peculiarities of your brains.

    Science is, I believe, unique in its ability to view the universe on its own terms. Religion, philosophy and mysticism explore the biases, predilections, specializations and peculiarities of the human brain and then recast them as attributes of the “universe”.

    We’re certainly more attracted to the philosophical approach since the describing the universe this way tends to “make sense” to us. Is the universe a giant morality enforcement engine whose primary purpose is to separate the moral from the immoral and send each to their just desserts? To a human whose brain is so predisposed to place a high value on morality (however it may be defined during his/her moment in history) this seems compelling. To science which seeks to strip away our biases this looks absurd.

    We’ll probably always find a way to validate our brain’s biases and assign them to the universe, but this kind of thinking seems to be better suited to an earlier era.

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  8. 8. ildenizen 6:58 pm 11/27/2012

    hmm… let me get this straight… riding a butterfly is now considered completely coherent?
    Umm… right. Ok.

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  9. 9. David Undisclosed 7:00 pm 11/27/2012

    We know that conviction does not equal veracity. Rather than consider whether his claim is rational based on his conclusions, we simply need to consider the PROCESS by which he came to his conclusions. Faulty processes yield faulty results. His process was to fall into a coma, followed by what was no doubt a pharmacy-load of medications, some of which were probably psychoactive. That doesn’t sound like a very good basis for drawing any valid conclusions.

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  10. 10. marclevesque 7:25 pm 11/27/2012

    Varieties of Religious Experience, a Study in Human Nature by William James

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  11. 11. diducthat 7:52 pm 11/27/2012

    A very well written article, but I’m afraid that I have to agree with Mr.Natural – Myers nailed it. Still interesting because I’ve had similar experiences – drug or stress induced. Oxygen narcosis is a great religious experience.

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  12. 12. diducthat 8:08 pm 11/27/2012

    oops…I think I meant ‘necrosis’; still, either will do to give you a good spiritual time, and if you’re lucky, you might get a good book out of it.

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  13. 13. snailtoe 8:14 pm 11/27/2012

    @tharriss “Also, it seems strange to me that someone would use things they saw while chemically short circuiting their brain (either through drugs, or near death experiences) as a basis for drawing important conclusions.”
    Strange as it may seem this is exactly what has been done on some well documented occasions (see LSD – The Problem Solving Psychedelic 1967). Also Francis Crick , who discovered the double helix structure of DNA with James Watson, and Kary Mullis, who invented the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), had both taken LSD and attributed some of their understanding and insights to it. (I’ve basically lifted this from Prof. D. Nutt’s latest book http://www.amazon.com/Drugs-Without-Hot-David-Nutt/dp/1906860165/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1354065041&sr=1-1&keywords=drugs+without+the+hot+air).
    I believe that scientific process, i.e. creating a hypothesis and testing it, is valuable and applicable to a variety of situations and experiences. It just seems a shame that there are a lot of people who believe in science rather than practising it.

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  14. 14. alan6302 8:37 pm 11/27/2012

    My interpretation of hell is Helio ( the sun ) engulfing the earth around AD 10000.

    Thousands escape to 2 planets in “heaven”…other solar systems.

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  15. 15. RSchmidt 10:01 pm 11/27/2012

    “Let me ask you skeptics this: If scientists invented a technology—a drug or brain-stimulating device–that could safely induce a mystical experience, wouldn’t you seize that opportunity? Wouldn’t you like to see heaven, even if you don’t believe in it?”

    Back in the 80′s I moved to Eastern Europe for a teaching job. While getting my shots for the trip I met a Polish man who couldn’t believe I wanted to go to a place he spent his life trying to leave. I explained that I wanted to experience what it was like to live there. He suddenly understood and said, “If I could spend a weekend in Hell, I guess I would, just to see what it was like.” For me, experience and, through that hopefully, understanding, is a goal. So my friends think it is strange that I have stayed away from drugs. I explain, there is nothing authentic about that experience. It is only illusion. So, what could I possibly gain from experiencing a drug induced illusion of heaven or hell? How does experiencing what it is like to have my inhibitory neurons shut down enhance my life? How does loosing the ability to differentiate reality from fantasy give me a better grasp of the human condition?

    That being said, I have heard of an experiment that causes you to experience the presence of another being, who isn’t really there. It is suggested that this is what underlies the phenomenon of “ghosts”. That experience would help me better understand the conviction of those that claim they have experienced ghosts, but it certainly wouldn’t cause me to believe in them.

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  16. 16. RSchmidt 10:04 pm 11/27/2012

    @David Undisclosed, well said!

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  17. 17. macsj 11:41 pm 11/27/2012

    All beliefs are valid to the believer, but that does not make them valid to anyone else.

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  18. 18. S. N. Tiwary 12:22 am 11/28/2012

    I believe in hell and heaven. Bad work leads to hell and good work leads to heaven. Hell provides pain and heaven provides divine pleasure, i.e., bliss.
    S. N. Tiwary
    Director, ex-
    Head, Dean, acting V. C.

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  19. 19. kimberk 12:39 am 11/28/2012

    Here’s my question about Eben Alexander’s experience. How can he know that it all happened during the time period when he was in a coma? What if his brain filled it all in during the time he was coming out of the coma and nothing was happening during the coma?

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  20. 20. oldvic 4:30 am 11/28/2012

    My thanks to “tharriss” in comment 6 for saying much of what I think about this.
    I’ll simply add that I read the two articles published in “Newsweek”, and an obvious problem about Dr. Alexander’s assertions is that he completely misuses the word “proof”. As someone trained in the sciences, he must remember that proof exists when you can show others, without possibility of contradiction, that you found something new. If you can’t do that, what you have is evidence of variyng quality and believability.
    In this case, both quality and believability are residual at best.

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  21. 21. oldvic 4:41 am 11/28/2012

    Comment 20: “varying”, not “variyng”.

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  22. 22. Knyaz 7:13 am 11/28/2012

    Возможно наш создатель чувствует своё одиночество и через миры созданные им живёт и уже ему не так одиноко.Возможно так он создал свою артельнативу в другой реальности для общения.Возможно мы получили наследственную информацию об одиночестве и поэтому пытаемся связаться с инопланетными цивилизациями.

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  23. 23. SoniaStorm 8:23 am 11/28/2012

    @RSchmidt
    There’s no clear line between drug-induced experiences and “authentic” ones. Either way, your brain’s interpretation of events depends on hormones and neurotransmitters. Is a post-orgasm oxytocin surge authentic? How about a runner’s high?

    According to someone who isn’t me, certain drugs can give you insight into alternative world-views. For instance, for someone who is incapable of trust, a drug that induces the feeling of trust can allow them to experience social connection. Later, they can remember that experience and work towards recreating it without drugs. Used like this, some drugs can be hugely therapeutic.

    I do however agree with you that drugs and hallucinations tell us nothing about the outside world. What they can tell us about is the diversity that’s possible within our own experience of that world.

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  24. 24. deym1 8:48 am 11/28/2012

    Drug induced mystical states in awake, living brains just mean that our brains are wired to experience “out of body” trips, perhaps to give us a glimpse of a heaven-ish or hell-ish afterlife, as a hopeful comfort or a warning call. Re Dr. Alexander’s experience, with most of his brain shut down, his is not the first.

    There’s a documentary by filmed by BBC about 4 years ago, on NEDs (near death experiences) which shows proof of consciousness existing outside the body: a man clinically pronounced “brain dead” on an operating table was brought back to life and he told of conversations he overheard in the operating room, which his brain couldn’t have possibly recorded – in addition he described the operating tools used on him and who did what, and then told of his mystical experience. Every operating room in the world should be outfitted with recording devices to provide such powerful additional proof.

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  25. 25. lamorpa 8:55 am 11/28/2012

    The difficulty with ‘heaven’ is in the root concept. There are only 2 ways it can be: 1) The people who go there passed some level of ‘goodness’ and get in, but, of course, they are not perfect in their lives now, and don’t get along perfectly with everyone and in every situation, so heaven is going to be pretty much like it is here, or 2) You are ‘changed’ into someone who can get along with everyone and every situation perfectly – but then it’s not really ‘you’ going.

    Is there some 3rd explanation/description? (and I dismiss out of hand the old “it’s a divine mystery” line, so don’t go there)

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  26. 26. vinodkumarsehgal 10:52 am 11/28/2012

    All the mystical experiences induced thru drugs, coma, NED, from birth etc EXCEPT thro meditation lead to involuntary and uncontrolled visions where subject does not gains any systematic knowledge. Drugs of any variety pushes consciousness of subject to lower heights and he/she has reduced degree of self control. As such, neither the subject gains any rational and systematic knowledge nor he/she is able to describe the same, after the experience is over, in complete rational manner. Nevertheless, this does not affects the veracity of such experiences

    Drugs, coma and NED experiences “kicks off” consciousness momentarily to astral plane of Nature. Depending upon mental state of subject, “kick off” may push the subject to higher or lower planes of Astral World and he/she may have pleasant or painful/terrible experiences accordingly. However since there is lack of “self control” during such experiences, concerned person can’t gain knowledge about such experiences in some rational, coherent and cogent manner. He/she also can not repeat those experiences at will. In view of this, it is not proper to brand such experiences as true mystical experiences.

    Real mystical experiences are gained by truly spiritually elevated people after long period of systematic meditation and that too under the guidance and grace of some Master seated firmly in the highest seat of consciousness. Such experiences bring an elevation in the consciousness while drugs etc bring down consciousness to lower heights.

    A crude analogy. There is no parallel in the experience and knowledge of an untrained person pushed forcibly deep into the depths of ocean vis a vis a trained diver who can enter into any depth of ocean, any time as per his/her will. However, even the experience of an untrained person pushed forcibly into ocean does raises question mark on the existence of ocean of water. Similarly, a temporary push into astral world brought about by inducement of drugs is no question mark on the existence of astral world. All experiences of heaven or hell or mystical ( if one prefers to call such experiences as mystical) brought thru drugs or thru electric/chemical manipulation of brain or due to shortage of oxygen are akin to forceful pushing of in depths ocean of astral plane of Nature.

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  27. 27. cccampbell38 1:35 pm 11/28/2012

    To the best of our current knowledge homo sapiens is the only species that is capable of asking “why”, or that cares, for that matter. Perhaps it is simply a “human” question, propelled by our awareness and fear of death.

    At any rate, at the present time the one provable answer to the great questions: is there a god? What is the greater purpose of existence? is there life after death? remains this: we do not know.

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  28. 28. poetmartin 3:43 pm 11/28/2012

    i not only agree we dont knnow, but make the point that anyone who claims to either know that or what god is or what he/she/hen is thinking…is a fool. our minds live in a finite universe, we can experience what we see, feel and touch and process this through our brain as nueroprocesses….we have no control of the way we precieve reality but with the software we are wired into. to say someone “knows” there is a god or what he’s thinking is to say that a slime mold can compute with at a level of a universal singularity computer, and understand it… how can we know what god is thinking, or for that matter, is since we are not able to know everything about everything? the only thing i know is that i am afraid of someone trying to convince me that they do have some special knowledge, some personal contact with the “universal everything”, as if they are special and had a long conversation in private about what really is. as in all things, we shall see when we get there, we cant peak beyond that curtain because we are mortal, and wont know till we arrive what that final destination will be…..

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  29. 29. poetmartin 3:48 pm 11/28/2012

    sorry, i need to use a spell checker, and maybe a tutor for some personal grammar lessons….

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  30. 30. jgrosay 5:38 pm 11/28/2012

    Yeah, theologians say heaven is real, even when nobody came back from this place to explain how it is, and you find peculiar explanations of it, as the one given by a young suffering Down’s syndrome, that when asked: “What’s heaven?”, answered: “God inside”. Enteogens, hallucinogens, and other names used for products inducing altered states of awareness may be also described not as putting you in contact with the world of spirits, but something like disconnecting a firewall that prevents some hostile intrusions into your mind to take place; an old spanish tale was about somebody having made a deal with a devil, that when in trouble, always rescued him, and allowed the man to commit many offenses in his own profit and go unpunished; finally, the man was catch and received a death penalty, and when he asked the devil that had helped him before to rescue him from the gallows, the daimon said “I always help people to arrive here”, and started pulling the rope. According to experts, good spirits do contact you in soft ways and always respecting your freedom and independence. From engaging into any kind of illicit drug use you can get nothing but your door open to very bad enemies, or to entities trying to abuse you, be them spirits, sorcerers, witches, or golem or zombi makers, and also to lose control on the copyright protection issues in your mind. Better not exploring this side of reality!

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  31. 31. rloldershaw 10:54 pm 11/28/2012

    Spinoza said god = infinite hierarchical nature and its laws/principles.

    That was good enough for Albert Einstein.

    Who needs the supernatural when the infinite cosmos is far more exquisite, all-powerful, and mysterious?

    If we don’t want Big Brother, why would we want Big Daddy?

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  32. 32. nantucketbob 7:47 am 11/29/2012

    Did anyone notice that the author was taking a drug? Clearly he was in a drug-induced state. He was experiencing (very interesting) neuronal activity. Visions of heaven such as “out of body experiences” are examples of brain activity. End of story.

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  33. 33. John Michael 6:02 pm 11/29/2012

    I was in a coma for almost one month and I too experienced a place I would describe as heaven. It is very difficult for me to describe what it was like. At first it felt as though I was in a struggle to move, but eventually I just gave in and then I was free about at will in any direction. I saw loved ones, those that have died and those who hadn’t, and tried to communicate with them. At first I couldn’t, but this too just went away, and I was free to talk with them. This happened in March of 2009, and I still cannot explain it or describe it very well. I don’t have a strong opinion of what is out there, or may be out there, but it was a very powerful experience. Since then, I don’t rule out any possibility any more… of what may or may not exist. I lost my wife when I was 32 and she was 28, our son had just turned 11 months old and we were driving to my parent’s house to celebrate her first Mother’s Day. I do know I got to see her again, during this coma, and talk with her. I’m glad I got to do that. And it was much different than dreams I’ve had about her for the past 17 years…

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  34. 34. kf123 4:43 am 12/12/2012

    I had an NDE at the age of 6.
    I was under anaesthetic at the time.
    Unconcious.
    “Died” on operating table.
    Must have been “real” because I was unconcious to start with, and at the age of 6 had absolutely zero idea of what a NDE was.
    They ere not spoken about in 1966.

    Interesting take on the common perception that NDE are only experienced by people who think they are in danger of dying.
    I had no thought at all.
    Was out of it.

    Link to this

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