Mental states in a conscious afterlife

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Mental states in a conscious afterlife

Postby epiphany55 » Thu Jan 29, 2015 3:18 am

When looking at claims of the afterlife, there are varying degrees of mental activity claimed to exist after brain death.

But the clearest distinction seems to be between the two following afterlife beliefs...

1) When the brain dies, ego, mental states (including mental suffering) and all its functions die with it. All that is left is "pure consciousness", stripped of anything that would be otherwise limited to the biology of living things. This would imply an acceptance of mainstream neuroscience that mental states are a product of the brain.

2) When the brain dies, mental states are carried over as part of the conscious experience in the afterlife. The person, the self, remains intact, with all their beliefs, prejudices, desires, memories etc. This would imply that these states are intrinsic to the consciousness that carries over, and not merely conditioned stimuli within the brain. The only thing that is stripped away is the physical shell.

So the only thing these two beliefs have in common is that there is some kind of consciousness after physical death.

Where do we draw the line between biologically induced states (and therefore mental states that die with the brain) and non-physical states? For example, if someone dies with a severe mental illness, belief #2 would imply that this state would be carried over. If it weren't then how could it be claimed that mental states are important in shaping our post-death destination?

Furthermore, some believers claim that what we are thinking at the time of death determines our after life. For example, someone with anxiety problems will likely feel anxious at the time of death. How cruel and unfortunate the afterlife would be if such a person were to be engulfed in the darkness of this mental state simply because of their brain chemistry and mental conditioning.

I find it curious why people would believe such specific details about how one's mental states determines their afterlife, not to mention how calculatedly cruel it would make the universe appear.
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Re: Mental states in a conscious afterlife

Postby Webwanderer » Thu Jan 29, 2015 3:48 am

Of course there is at least a third possibility, and that neither one nor two is accurate.

I doubt anyone who is chased by a monster in their night time dream wakes up to find the monster of their fears has followed them into their waking life to continue its assault. The ego's foibles are soon dropped once they are clearly seen to be belief constructs of a limited perspective. As it is with dreams, so it is with a perspective of being that is far greater than ego.

Then there is the pure consciousness you cite. What does that even mean to a self-aware perspective within it? It surely means something, but what? If it means anything then there is an expression of self to have chosen that meaning. That does not preclude a unity of pure consciousness, only a uniqueness of perspective.

Furthermore, some believers claim that what we are thinking at the time of death determines our after life.

There may well be some who believe this way, but I doubt you will find them on this forum.

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Re: Mental states in a conscious afterlife

Postby epiphany55 » Thu Jan 29, 2015 4:17 am

The distinction I was making was between mental (brain induced) states being stripped away upon physical death vs mental states being carried over IF one is still identified with them upon death.

So on the one hand, we could be deeply identified with ego in physical life, yet it will not make a difference once we die, it will simply dissolve before us. On the other hand, we might have to work in this life to dis-identify from ego, otherwise it can follow us into our afterlife experience. For example, can pride be felt in a non-physical afterlife if we have proud egos right up to the moment we die, or does pride simply vanish from experience?

A lot of people who believe in an after life seem to suggest that we have to mentally prepare in this life in order to experience the full potential of our afterlife. We're either given our ego-free afterlife regardless or we have to want to let go of ego in order to experience an ego-free afterlife.
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Re: Mental states in a conscious afterlife

Postby tomtom1 » Fri Jan 30, 2015 9:58 am

I think you said it yourself many times in your posts here. The word 'Beliefs' here is pretty important. All these are beliefs and in my view we should remember that. The mind can't even grasp the truth of the reality we are in now let alone what lies beyond. However it is pretty fun to speculate :lol:

The distinction I was making was between mental (brain induced) states being stripped away upon physical death vs mental states being carried over IF one is still identified with them upon death.


So what if states are not brain induced? Why assume the brain induces certain states? When someone is happy for example you see certain reactions in the brain. But could this just not be the physical reflection of what is happening in the Mind. Like a visual representation so to speak.

What we call the mind is a bundle of thoughts which consciousness identifies with. It also identifies with a body as well. What if death was just complete loss of identification with the body. Everything else could remain perhaps. Although it would be perceived in a different way as of course it wouldn't be modulated from the viewpoint of a physical body anymore.

Of course its all just speculation. Perhaps best not to get too caught up in it. It's unlikely we can fully understand it from our viewpoint now and perhaps we are not really meant to.
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Re: Mental states in a conscious afterlife

Postby Rob X » Fri Jan 30, 2015 4:41 pm

tomtom1 wrote:So what if states are not brain induced? Why assume the brain induces certain states?

Because when certain areas of the brain are damaged certain states cease to be. The brain, at least, facilitates certain states.

The critical question is (and this is relevant to the 'awareness vs brain' thread next door), does the brain contain or create awareness? Well, probably no more than your computer contains or creates the internet - but what we can observe is that this awareness *as we know it* does not appear to arise without a functioning brain. What I mean by 'awareness as we know it' is this intimate, self-aware experiencing that is so familiar right now. We can see with a little investigation that this present 'condition' is composite in nature - it is a mix of sentience/sense perception, cognition/recognition, memory, attention, knowledge etc.

If certain parts of the brain were removed or disabled by surgery; the various regions of the cortex, the thalamus and limbic system etc., the above functions would cease to be. We know in everyday experience that due to injury, disease or decay, a person can lose their sight, hearing, sense of smell/taste, tactile functioning etc. They can lose sensory memory, working memory and long-term memory. In particular, long term memory which is dependent on an interconnected web of neural networking, is necessary for the functioning of imagination, story telling, narrative and abstraction/conceptualisation etc. And so on.

Again, I'm not saying that the brain creates awareness but it certainly facilitates the arising of certain 'relative' states and functions in the organism.

tomtom1 wrote:What we call the mind is a bundle of thoughts which consciousness identifies with. It also identifies with a body as well.


Hmmm, following on from above, identification requires (at the very least) cognition/recognition, working memory and long-term memory. These are states that are dependent to some degree on (or facilitated by) a functioning brain and nervous system.

tomtom1 wrote:Of course its all just speculation. Perhaps best not to get too caught up in it. It's unlikely we can fully understand it from our viewpoint now and perhaps we are not really meant to.


I totally and utterly agree. I don't think that ascertaining what the true nature of this mysterious happening of existence is is important to awakening or peace. If it is… we are all in trouble.
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Re: Mental states in a conscious afterlife

Postby smiileyjen101 » Sat Jan 31, 2015 12:44 am

Epiphany said: For example, can pride be felt in a non-physical afterlife if we have proud egos right up to the moment we die, or does pride simply vanish from experience?


Maybe it's not as delineated as all that is suggested by the two 'possibles' depicted above.

In our awareness, one feels 'balance' and notices imbalance in varying degrees. And we notice differences between our internal experience and what we see / notice / feel from in the external atmosphere.

So pride absolutely is possible amid ultimate grace, but it is soon 'felt' and seen as out of balance/harmony with the wider picture and in naked awareness where there is no thing to hide behind, the cause of the imbalance that we are experiencing/feeling is known. As with all learning once a thing is experienced, interpreted, known we shift, and we adjust our 'frequency' to that of the surrounding energies in motion. Hence coming back into harmony.

So a person full of pride must have been surrounded by an atmosphere that supported that in thought & in deed. Once one moves out of that atmosphere into an atmosphere of grace, the 'difference' is felt and responded to.

I don't think we have to die to notice this. Even in human / physical form our awareness, capacity & willingness are tested and grow all the time. We go from ignorance to awareness, from incapacity to capacity, and unwillingness to willingness when we 'wake up' to wider realities and we stop holding to our beliefs as if they are gospel when they are energetically at odds with the wider reality that rings more true and resonates more strongly.

Love dissolves fear. Grace envelops pride and melts it. It just is a more powerful energetic expression. No different to fire dissolves paper and water melts rock.

One can walk into a situation or experience with a 'mindset' and a certain level of awareness, capacity &/or willingness and have that completely blown away by a stronger, more resonant atmosphere or energetic vibration when the two are at odds. It happens all the time when our expectations and our reality are at odds. In a 'nice' surprise when things are found 'better' in experience than we expected, and in disappointment when things are found 'worse' in experience than we expected. Ego is required to hold onto an untruth in the face of reality. Grace lets it go as if no thing is lost (because in truth, the only thing that is lost is false anyway) and so it is felt as if a lifting of a burden, a throwing off a cloak of deception, not a taking away of any 'right' thing.

In my case, in the light experience, I indeed felt this distinction. It dissolved not magically, but through the realisation that it was my own thoughts & holding to them that was creating the separation of 'me' from the wider reality that was no thing but grace in resonance, love & compassion completely. In the face of all knowledge it's a really silly exercise to argue with it and because there are no physical barriers behind which to hide, all things are seen clearly and felt at their highest (uninsulated) vibration.

If one is holding to a particular belief system, or perspective, they may hold to it for a little while, - and time is not relevant ... but relative, so it's like smaller than a nano-second but experienced as keenly as if for an eon - and without limitation, so truly personally 'felt', in every possible manifestation of it from it's origin to its end in a the alpha and the omega sense, (both previously outside of our awareness), then the experience and the awareness of the reason for the separation from grace lets it go without any sense of choosing to do so or needing to do anything to do so - just is.

So one who believes they must go through some purification process will find the process just silly - with no substance of truth; one who believes they will be rewarded or punished will find no true experience of joy or pain in the rewards and punishments, it will be seen as the self held belief that it is, not imposed from anything outside of our own believing of it. And as soon as we accept that (time thing again) it will be seen & known as the empty belief of thought and it will disappear in the realisation.

Whether we let go or not is totally within our own awareness, capacity, willingness - but until the light experience I didn't even know I had anything to do with any of that - if that makes sense.

Anita Moorjani's notion of being in a warehouse with all the lights switched on vs wandering around a warehouse with a torch is a really really good one. In the darkness a child might think there is a bogey-man under their bed, when the lights are turned on they can see there is no bogeyman, there was only the conjured thoughts of them, feeding into their emotional and intellectual experience.

It's kind of like that, just turning the lights on.
..................

There is a thing in grace that is not pride - it's love fuelled as distinct from ego fuelled. But it is there and allows individual perspective to continue within this wider awareness and freedom to the degrees of the atmosphere & energetic resonance in fields. The individuation of a drop of water within a stream in a way, or the arising, stretching and ebbing experience of an individual wave in the ocean.

For me this is - life is - the wondrous experience, not what we are eternally - awareness & the bed of all arising, this experience in individuation is the wonder, the miracle, the gift. We are on holiday here in a way on vacation from all knowing and all loving, and experiencing it all within filters and blinkers and emotions and senses and feelings.. if you only knew how precious it is, how fleeting and how precious. Take your eyes and hearts to this, for soon enough it will all be blended into grace again. Amazing grace, but more amazing is graceless life. Delight in pride while you can, play with ego while you can, be passionate about opinions and delight in the senses, life is a gift!! :lol:
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Re: Mental states in a conscious afterlife

Postby tomtom1 » Sat Jan 31, 2015 1:19 pm

Cheers for the reply RobX :)

Because when certain areas of the brain are damaged certain states cease to be. The brain, at least, facilitates certain states.


This is the cause and effect dilemma. I am not sure I explained what I was trying to very well.

The critical question is (and this is relevant to the 'awareness vs brain' thread next door), does the brain contain or create awareness? Well, probably no more than your computer contains or creates the internet - but what we can observe is that this awareness *as we know it* does not appear to arise without a functioning brain. What I mean by 'awareness as we know it' is this intimate, self-aware experiencing that is so familiar right now. We can see with a little investigation that this present 'condition' is composite in nature - it is a mix of sentience/sense perception, cognition/recognition, memory, attention, knowledge etc.


The idea I was trying to open up to was really has anyone ever experienced the object of a brain outside of awareness? What if the brain was a function of awareness not the cause of awareness. What if everything was a function of awareness just expressing itself in different ways.

Let me illustrate with a little fictitious story:

Imagine a computer which was able to project a really realistic hologram with really high definition. The beings within that hologram had artificial intelligence and everything worked by a set of rules. The hologram was made up of tiny little parts called holoatoms which had a type of energy which repelled each other so no object or being could just move through another, but ultimately these holoatoms which everything was made out of were essentially a special type of light. Now over time the beings within this projection start to get curious and they start to observe and measure their surroundings, this they call science. At first its really great and they start to gain more and more understandings of their world and themselves. They open up each others holoheads and observe certain affects on individual beings when they do things to their holobrains. Of course this is a built in set of rules from the computer as to what these effects are. They split everything up as small as possible until they find the holoatoms then they even manage to split those up. At this point things get a bit puzzling because they realise the world which was so solid around them was actually just made of a special kind of energy light. When they look really closely they actually realised nothing was there.

Of course this is just a silly story I just made up. BUT I am just trying to get across a different paradigm to the one through which those on this thread are looking through. So in the story is it the holobrain or the main computer which causes those effects? We could actually say its both. From the individual holobeaings perspective its their holobrains, but from the main frame computers perspective its that which causes it. The crux is however that the holobeings are also a part of the mainframe computer so ultimately their relative perspective is not real. When these beings start splitting up the holoatams and realise nothing is there, is it them looking at a world or is it really just the mainframe computer system observing itself through itself? If so then there is no wander that there is nothing really there underneath it all.

The holobeings still live in hope that soon their holoscientists will find the theory of everything which will completely explain the world and remove their confusion forever :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Mental states in a conscious afterlife

Postby Rob X » Sat Jan 31, 2015 4:30 pm

tomtom1 wrote:The crux is however that the holobeings are also a part of the mainframe computer so ultimately their relative perspective is not real. When these beings start splitting up the holoatams and realise nothing is there, is it them looking at a world or is it really just the mainframe computer system observing itself through itself?


Nice story tomtom. It's similar to the ocean and wave analogy. But it doesn't quite resolve a subtlety that is often overlooked.

This (as mentioned in an adjacent thread) comes down to how we use the word awareness. What exactly do we mean by this word. Do we mean:

1. Something akin to this intimate, self-reflective, perception of the world (how most people think of it.) Or:

2. As a placeholder for something inexplicable - something beyond the formulas of human cognition. Something that is the very source and 'stuff' of things.

If it's the latter then it seems needlessly confusing to call it awareness - especially since the other category is the common understanding of the word. Category 2 is equivalent to the main computer in your story.

But here's the thing; even if we think of awareness as 2, the source and substance of things, it still needs to manifest as certain relative forms, situations and scenarios in order to facilitate certain relative happenings.

For instance, in order for awareness 2 (and here's my silly story) to create a piano concerto it needs to manifest the forms of instruments, musicians and their respective talents etc. The concerto does not simply appear from the ether.

To do this it needs to manifest the various characteristics of the instruments, their origin and development etc. It needs to manifest the intellectual and emotional capacities of the players, their genetic inclinations and environmental influences etc. In other words, it needs to manifest the whole occurrence of evolution and the big bang… and so on. As Carl Sagan said; "If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you first need to invent the universe."

By now we can see that awareness 2 is presenting as a form of realism. Within this manifest realism occurs something called awareness (as in, awareness 1) and… the spiritual industry ties itself in knots confusing awareness 1 and awareness 2… and here we are. :)

So, at this point in order to make things a little clearer let's call awareness 2, Source. And awareness 1, conscious perception.

And so, back to the original point. In order for happiness to arise in an organism, Source manifests certain electro-chemical events in a brain in order to facilitate this particular state. And similarly, in order for the perception of these words to occur, Source manifests certain electro-chemical events in the brain in order to facilitate this occurrence.

As you can see, we cannot simply bypass the brain with the (quite correct) understanding that (ultimately) all is the expression of Source.
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Re: Mental states in a conscious afterlife

Postby epiphany55 » Sun Feb 01, 2015 6:09 pm

Very interesting Rob! Is your awareness #2 not simply synonymous with energy?

I agree that there are some confusing and vague semantics at play when we talk about awareness and source.

Take the rock example. It could be said that the rock is "an expression of awareness". Well. yes, it's an expression of the awareness of the living thing who senses it. Without an awareness to perceive the rock-ness of a rock, its existence as that particular perceived form becomes philosophically precarious. In that sense, awareness creates the rock!

But that's clearly different to saying a universal awareness created the rock. The being that senses the rock's presence has merely confirmed its existence in relation to itself. It makes more sense (although still a strange, spooky way to put it) that the perceiver of the rock creates the rock(ness).

It is possible to dissolve one's sense of self, to "step outside" oneself and be the experience rather than the experiencer. I believe this is partly why NDE's may feel so profound and more authentic than any prior experience - the self, a conduit and conditioner of experience, is out of the equation. But it doesn't mean you still don't need a brain to experience it. You can take the self out of experience but you can't take the brain out of experience.

In other words, the "no-self" experience is not proof we are all part of a collective and primary awareness.
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Re: Mental states in a conscious afterlife

Postby Rob X » Sun Feb 01, 2015 8:16 pm

Hi e55

I neither fall on the side of designating it as awareness OR energy (although I've been known to refer to it as creative energy.) For me, calling it awareness is a bit eighth century and calling it energy is a bit twentieth century. :D One of my particular mantras or recurring themes is that existence/reality is ultimately a metaphysical puzzle. Added to this is the realisation of the cognitive limitations of humans. I don't think that we can begin to envisage the types of potential and possibility that fall outside of the frequencies of reality that happen to be available to the currently evolved biology of this particular bipedal species at this point in time. I can't see that an explanation of exactly what reality is is even possible for human cognition (I'm not even sure that the hard problem of consciousness will ever be solved in the lifetime of Homo-sapiens.)

But none of this matters to my particular take on spirituality. I don't have to solve all this. My starting point and end point is here… now…. this. And here and now there is something going on… something is happening - there is a power, a creativity. And I can't see how there is anything truly independent/separate of this mysterious 'creative energy'. And when my left hemisphere agitation slows down sufficiently to let my right hemisphere apprehend the gestalt of this dynamic flux of existence, a kind of sweetness ensues.

I'm not hopeful of much more than this (or even this.) :D
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Re: Mental states in a conscious afterlife

Postby tomtom1 » Wed Feb 04, 2015 10:56 pm

Sorry took me some time to reply! :D

My first question is why can't 1 and 2 be the same thing? Do they really have to be separate or different from each other?

Are the rock and the living thing that sees it made out of different things? On a fundamental level? Even if you forget spirituality and look at science, everything is made of the same stuff.

I don't see how source as you call it needs the brain to elicit different states as the brain is source also. For example if your having a dream and in that dream you open up one of the characters brains and you remove part of it and notice that they can't see anymore. Does that mean its that characters brain which has had this affect or is it all in your consciousness as your dreaming? What is the cause? The pretend brain or your mind having the dream?

Why can't consciousness be universal. What is wrong with calling it awareness? The thing you call yourself, whatever that may be whether you identify with your body or thoughts etc. That thing appears to something else. Something is aware of it. Why not then call it awareness. And how do you know that what we call awareness is not the same thing in me as it is in you or anything else. So when you die awareness will carry on being aware as it is now. Maybe some of the objects will change but it itself won't. Of course you can never prove any of this in writing, its just opinion. Can only look inside for the truth and be it.
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Re: Mental states in a conscious afterlife

Postby Rob X » Thu Feb 05, 2015 5:10 pm

We may be going round in circles Tomtom - but I'm happy to try again:

I'm sure (I hope) that you'd agree that if, as you are reading this, someone were to crack open your head with a sledgehammer, the reading would cease to be. The conscious perception of this sentence would be no more. Right?

This is because, although Source (or Being or Life or 'Awareness' if you like) might be said to be our true, eternal nature, it expresses/manifests as this ordinary, localised, 'first-person' conscious experience that we are familiar with right now.

This relative expression is subject to biological limitation - this is why we can't feel the breeze on Mars, know the thoughts of others or outrun a speeding bullet etc.

In fact, to not consider the human brain as being the facilitator of this relative, localised experience is, ironically, extremely anthropocentric. For instance, if a fly or a snake was sitting in front of your computer right now, its experience would be totally different to the experience that you are having. Again, this current, specific, localised, experience appears in a CERTAIN WAY due to it being processed a certain way. It is facilitated by and limited by human biology including the human brain. (Unless you are suggesting that Source just happens to have the limitations of light frequencies, field of vision, hearing range, threshold of hearing etc. as a human.)

Now as to the question of how Source might experience (if indeed that terminology is at all appropriate) beyond the limited frequencies of human biology, I haven't got a clue. I'm not sure that anyone has - including scientists and spiritual teachers.
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Re: Mental states in a conscious afterlife

Postby tomtom1 » Thu Feb 05, 2015 7:58 pm

We see the world in a very different way :D and that's no bad thing. But your right it's going round in circles and I am not good at explaining but I suspect one day you may see for yourself what I was trying to get at. Good luck with whatever your trying to find :wink:
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Re: Mental states in a conscious afterlife

Postby Rob X » Thu Feb 05, 2015 9:50 pm

tomtom1 wrote:We see the world in a very different way :D and that's no bad thing. But your right it's going round in circles and I am not good at explaining but I suspect one day you may see for yourself what I was trying to get at. Good luck with whatever your trying to find :wink:


Tom, thanks for the good vibes. I've been around for a while and I do see where you're coming from - ten years ago I might have agreed with this (what amounts to a direct path) approach but I've come to detect that it is predicated on too many false but subtle assumptions. If it works for you then it's all good. And as we have both indicated earlier in this exchange, its deepest secrets are ultimately beyond our grasp.
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