Correct me if I'm wrong, but mostly as atheists, we believe in nothingness after death, or at least I think I do. But then we have all of this stuff with mediums and spirits that maybe point to evidence to an afterlife. Some mediums have told people things that no one else has known, so that really makes me wonder.
I was really just wondering what everyone's opinions were on afterlife and spirits and stuff like that. Like, what exactly do you think happens after death?

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All Hail the Towel

Dalton, if you have any thoughts that there might be something to "mediums," watch a few YouTube videos of The Amazing Randi, who started his career as a magician, or as I'm sure he would prefer, an illusionist, and has gone on to debunk psychics and mediums all over the world - he even has a 1 million-dollar offer outstanding to anyone who can prove the paranormal exists.

Many others can be found here: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&client=firefox-a&hs=lel&...

Dalton,

Interesting topic. I have never met a medium or psychic. I did however once read that the people previously started believing in spirits and the soul since they didn't understand breathing and had no knowledge of oxygen. I don't know if this is off-topic but it can explain the idea of spirits.

After death, nothing happens, the body gets decomposed if buried or is incinerated to ashes if cremated. Your belongings go where you plan it to go. That's how I would put it.

Not this, even though I love the song:

The Hindu take is very interesting, and I'm not referring to "karma." It's more like Ramesh Balsekar refers to when he says, "All there is, is consciousness." In other words, in Hinduism, there is an "ultimate consciousness" which is glimpsed in what is called "turiya," a state of pure consciousness completely devoid of thought. While that may seem anti-intellectual at first glance, it's a very difficult psychological discipline to engage in. A metaphor that Maharishi Mahesh used where he said that the conscious mind or a person's thoughts are like the ripples on the water of the pond, when the ripples become calm and the pond is completely serene, this is the state of transcendental meditation.

Ramana Maharshi taught that in deep sleep there is no I-consciousness, "I" referring to the egoic chatter of thoughts that accompanies us in our consciousness in almost every waking moment. When the egoic noise disappears, then what remains is only "That" or as in Hinduism is said, "Tat Tvam Asi," an all-encompassing unity, what's also referred to in Hinduism as "ultimate reality" or "impersonal consciousness" as Balsekar referred to it. Because in deep sleep the thought I am this body does not exist, deep sleep is the only time when the unenlightened person is in his or her natural state. I thought this take was very interesting, and there's also plenty of Alan Watts on YouTube that goes over these eastern philosophical notions, one video in particular titled "Who is it that knows there is no ego?" I also found this forum where these ideas are discussed, if this piques anyone's interest, I'll post it below.

http://www.religiousforums.com/forum/hinduism-dir/129060-difference...

Graham Hancock had an interesting take, and whether you agree with it or not, it's nevertheless still intriguing…

Graham Hancock on "death."

"A person who thinks all the time has nothing to think about except thoughts, so this person is detached from reality and lives in a world of illusions." - Alan Watts

I seem to remember that the geography of sleep states as described by Hinduism do not correspond to the actual stages of sleep as identified by science.

@Unseen This is not a sleep state, and science has studied this phenomenon by measuring the brain waves of Tibetan monks or various people who can actually calm the egoic chatter of the mind. I'll give you an example.

Ken Wilber - Cessation of Thought

@Everyone else: New age bullshit, huh? You guys do realize that Hinduism is called the "grandfather religion," so it's anything but new. So, bullshit? Oh, yeah? Y'ever try it? I challenge anyone to attempt to cease all thought. You'll find that because you've spent your entire life with this egoic noise that it will continue on almost as in auto-pilot mode, that your entire life has been, in a way, a straying away from being able to perform this. That because you have from your very first moments of self-awareness have been trapped in the assumption that "I am me," you have made it more and more difficult to return to this natural state. Close attention should be paid to your breath, as you do not will your breath in this discipline, you do not through an act of volition "breathe," but instead breath should be involuntarily as it is in sleep. It's just as if you've ever laid in bed next to someone and noticed their breathing pattern suddenly change. It's because in that very moment they had fallen to sleep.

So, in other words, you cannot make your mind be quiet. This would be like flattening the ripples in water with a flat iron. Of course, by doing that, you only create more ripples. Water will become clear and calm only when left alone.

The only thing that the Buddha ever demanded from the devotee was nothing less than the extinction of the ego, but it's funny how this is met with such close-minded disgust! Perhaps it's because most atheists are hypnotized by the very thing this discipline reveals as an illusion: The Ego.

Alan Watts - The Illusion of the Ego

A monk once asked of Descartes' ol' adage, "I think therefore I am," is that to say, "I do not think, therefore I am not"?

I watched the video. 1) apparently it's unwitnessed and the equipment was his and is not standard laboratory gear and the video was produced, it would appear, entirely under his control; 2) if you'll look at the sections where he has supposedly stopped his brain activity, there is no motion at all, meaning no sign of breathing a all, so without any indication of motion, there's no way to know if he has actually stopped his brain or if it is just a still frame repeated over and over, which seems the most likely explanation.

If you Google about in a non-hero worshipful frame of mind, you'll find out a lot of dirt about Mr. Wilber.

Anyway, some tests conducted by actual scientists in a laboratory setting would tell a lot more than Ken Wilber in his bedroom. I also gotta ask. Who is going to do a video like that and not tidy up their bedroom and make their bed first?

Anyway, I studied Eastern religions on the graduate level, and Hindu thinkers talk a lot about "a deep dreamless sleep" as being the deepest sleep of all, turiya. Well, that's actually not true. These are the actual stages of sleep:

Stage 1

This is the lightest stage of sleep, the transition phase, where you feel yourself drifting off. If you were to forget about the alarm clock and allow yourself to wake up naturally, Stage 1 sleep would be the last stage before you fully wake up. You don't spend too much time in Stage 1 sleep, typically five to 10 minutes, just enough to allow your body to slow down and your muscles to relax.

Stage 2

The second stage of sleep is still considered light sleep. Your brain activity starts to slow down, as well as your heart rate and breathing. Your body temperature falls a little and you're beginning to reach a state of total relaxation in preparation for the deeper sleep to come.

Stage 3

Stage 3 sleep is the start of deep sleep, also known as slow wave sleep. During stage 3, your brain waves are slow "delta waves," although there may still be short bursts of faster of brain activity (also known as beta-waves). If you were to get awakened suddenly during this stage, you would be groggy and confused, and find it difficult to focus at first.

Stage 4
Of the five stages of sleep, this is the one when you experience your deepest sleep of the night. Your brain only shows delta-wave (slow wave) activity, and it's difficult to wake someone up when they're in Stage 4 of sleep.

It's during Stage 4 sleep that children are most likely to suffer from bedwetting or sleep terrors. Stages 3 and 4 can last anywhere from 5 - 15 minutes each, but the first deep sleep of the night is more likely to be an hour or so. This is the time when the body does most of it's repair work and regeneration.

Stage 5

This is the stage of sleep when you dream. It is also referred to as "active sleep" or REM sleep, which stands for the rapid eye movements that characterize Stage 5. During REM sleep, your blood flow, breathing, and brain activity increases. An EEG would show that your brain is about as active as it is when you're awake.

Another aspect of Stage 5 sleep is that the muscles in your arms and legs will go through periods of paralysis. Scientists speculate that this may be nature's way of protecting us from acting out our dreams.

The first period of REM sleep of the night usually begins about 90 minutes after you start drifting off, and lasts for about 10 minutes. As the night passes, the periods of REM sleep become longer, with the final episode lasting an hour or so.

 

"Another aspect of Stage 5 sleep is that the muscles in your arms and legs will go through periods of paralysis. Scientists speculate that this may be nature's way of protecting us from acting out our dreams."

This is what it would look like ... Doggy demonstrates ...poor thing.

: D

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UqrhZW9xIrY"

Squeaky, my cat, asleep in my lap, will sometimes actively dream. Nothing like that dog, but her nose and little paws will twitch furiously. It's funny. Obviously, something exciting (to a cat) is going on in that little head of hers.

@Unseen You're still describing turiya as a stage of sleep. It's not noted as a stage of sleep in Hinduism. If you are going to define it as a stage of sleep, then I suppose that it would be some sort of conscious stage of sleep. A guru once defined sleep as "unconscious meditation" and meditation as "conscious sleep." 

It is considered a natural state in that it is a kind of pure consciousness containing no thought. This is what meditation is about, to cease all thought processes. This is often why there is rhetoric in eastern philosophy of a finger that cannot point at itself or an eye that cannot look at itself. So, in other words, if you're trying to understand the universe intellectually, this is a futile process, because no concept or set of concepts whatsoever could ever contain it. In meditation, the mind is likened to a pond of water. The ripples, as I mentioned, represent your thought. Now, in order for the mind to clearly reflect the universe, the pond must be completely still. In this state of mind, the universe is understood through profound intuition, and there is even talk in Hinduism about a kind of "omniscient intuition" which I would equate with the cliché saying that people often hear about "being one with the universe." You already are in a sense, but in meditation, it becomes experientially obvious. Below I'll leave a link below that more so goes over this, and the common attitudes that these ideas are often encountered with…

"Nebulous Pantheism" - Non Duality

I found this little dialogue just right now that sort of goes over these ideas, but the form it's issued (the animation) in, I admit, is ridiculous.

A dialogue on "Turiya".

And another one…

An Atheist's conversation with a Zen Monk

Apparently one gets there after going through states of sleep, so I will call it a state of sleep. And I'm not alone. This is the view of Baghwan Srhree Rajneesh who classifies it as the fourth state of sleep:

Through all three states – wakefulness, dreaming and deep sleep – turiya, the fourth state, runs like a thread through the beads of a mala. Even while you sleep there is someone awake within. When you dream there is someone witnessing the dream. When you are awake during the day there is a witness within as you go about your daily routine. This is bound to be, for that which is your nature you cannot lose no matter how deep you are in sleep. That which you are is bound to be present. It can be suppressed, hidden, forgotten, but never destroyed. (source)

Of course, he could be wrong. What evidence do you have that the man who pioneered transcendental meditationi got it wrong?

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