Ajhan Brahm talks about life after death in this video. In my experience it is unusual for a Buddhist teacher to talk this way and to be so explicit about what happens to consciousness and individuality after death. I understand that Buddha refused to say much about the afterlife or reincarnation because he felt it did not help people live this life. Too, language is designed for the experiential, physical realm not for whatever lies outside of this. Nevertheless Ajhan Brahm’s talking about the afterlife makes sense, as he says making the unknown known takes away the fear that goes with the unknown.
Ajhan Brahm has a voice that is difficult to listen to but what he says was compelling enough for me to persist for the hour that he speaks in this video. Key points for me were:
1. The notion that the mind/consciousness is more than the brain. Consciousness uses the brain while it is functional but not not need the brain. Brahm cites the case of a university student with “virtually no brain”; there are interesting discussions on this here and here.
2. The suggestion that Near Death Experiences happen when the brain stops functioning not when the heart stops.
3. In really deep meditation consciousness stops using the brain and there is a state similar somehow to an NDE.
This Facebook post prompted some thoughts on my own religious orientation:
Is pantheism really all that different from atheism?, it seems to me all the pantheist is really doing is to say that the universe is “God”, but as far as I can tell, this doesn’t mean the pantheist believes the universe is a person, or anything of the sort.
Pantheism is the only logically consistent way in which God can be omniscient and omnipresent. If you are present everywhere and aware of everything you are necessarily everything. Pantheism differs from Atheism insofar as Pantheists understand that consciousness is as fundamental to constitution of the universe as matter, energy, space and time. Universal Consciousness cannot be said to be personal without contradiction but that does not mean that we cannot have a personal relationship with It or that it is not responsive to us. Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism are essentially pantheist believing essentially in transcendent and immanent divinity (Brahman and Atman in Hinduism). Christian and Islamic mysticism are also affectively pantheist.
There were some other interesting responses among these was a link to a classic Asimov short story:
I haven’t listened to all of this yet – though I read it decades ago.
Also someone posted a link to an interesting blog Ownerless Mind.
Tolle’s discussion of the ‘Pain Body’ is important. The Pain Body is the accumulation of distress in us that takes on a life of its own. Instead of interacting with each other as human beings in the now we interact out of our past and that past is often pain.
Tolle talks about watching violence in films and in the news. Violence in the news is not to be ignored. Maybe it is an expression of a collective pain body. As we watch the pain body in ourselves, we need to watch, too, the collective pain body that results in war, torture and cruelty.