The news of the loss of Robin Williams is saddening. I however can't help feeling that it is the shared delusion of a better place to go that was likely the cause. This is not a new idea as suicide to speed along the journey to "heaven" that caused the church to announce that it was a sin. Those who say religion isn't harmful if practiced alone I believe are mistaken or have never lost a loved one who was alone with their ideas of a better place. Maybe this idea is ill timed, but I have seen many instances where life was lost due to someone hoping for the promised land because their ideas were allowed to manifest unchallenged.
Just my thoughts
Perhaps you've heard of Rick Strassman's book "DMT: The Spirit Molecule," he speculates that the NDE may be a natural induction of endogenous N,N-DMT, that the dying brain is flooded with DMT, and you undergo a vast psychedelic experience or "mystical experience."
Terence McKenna had experienced DMT over 70 times in his lifetime (smoking the pure compound), and I want to quote something he said below, because he speaks from the perspective gained from a composite of all these psychedelic journeys into the nature of consciousness...
"You are going to die, and when you die, you are going to undergo a metamorphosis of some sort, that's not particularly going to be designed to perserve your humanness or what you call your humanness or to set you on a cloud with lier and gown for the rest of eternity, but that actually the greatest adventure, the greatest adventures still lie ahead. And intimations of immortality are vouchsafed by these plant hallucinogens. Why this should be? Why it should be possible to get a look over the great divide? I have no idea. I think about these things constantly. My life is mostly questions."
You're right, not exactly what theists are preaching. I have another way to think about it which I'll link you to, 'cause I sort of brushed over the topic of the "white light" in a different thread which I'll link here.
There's a lot of things to be said about it. You mentioned this experience as a brief experience, for all we know it is an eternity. It could be that consciousness somehow implodes in itself, like matter into a black hole, and it just falls forever... or you know, it may be an evanescent and fleeting moment that passes and then consciousness blanks out for all eternity, as you said.
You mentioned this experience as a brief experience, for all we know it is an eternity.
Perhaps there's a delusion of infinite time in that short time while the brain is dying. Maybe dying affects one's perception of time.
In Hinduism, from the standpoint of Brahman, time ceases to exist. I've been able to relate to a lot of eastern scripture and poetry because it seems to overlap with the experiences I've had with psychedelics, and I often wonder if "nirvana," "samadhi," or "satori" is one and the same with the experience that psychedelics induce, because the description of these experiences share so many qualities.
Of course, this experience isn't easily described, and some often will use the word "ineffable," but nevertheless attempt to describe it. I believe if someone were to coin the more perfect analogy, it may not retain this peripheral position in our culture and society as it does today.
I've described it dozens of times before in various threads, but I recently found a word that somewhat sums it up. Panesthesia. This is a word that means the sum of all sensations experienced by a person at one time. In the psychedelic experience, you can have a similar impression where you're in a state of mind that is somehow all possibilities cognized, the entire gamut of experience occurring at once. And, of course, that's not easily described. More commonly heard analogies are "one with everything," or "non-duality," as in the dissolution of the subject-object boundary. The subject of experience, and the objects that are being experienced completely dissolved into a unity.
This is more akin to what people are attempting to describe in the mystical experience. It's not profound awe one gains in staring at a waterfall, or the witnessing of a birth or death, or standing at the edge of The Grand Canyon, it's transcendent of all these experiences, because it is, in a way, the entire spectrum of experience, every possibility to be experienced all happening at once. It's a sort of blow out of the mind, a colossal altered state of consciousness in which all these other experiences, like standing at the edge of a waterfall, are merely aspects within it.
So, when it's said of the standpoint of Brahman, this ultimate state of consciousness, that time stands still, it is because one receives the overwhelming impression that all past, present, and future have coalesced into a single point. That everything from that perspective is static, unchanging, unmanifest, and timeless, because it is, in a way, everything that could ever happen going on at once. So, there's nothing left to be done, there's no where to go, there's nothing to say, etc.
I find it interesting in Hinduism that you will come across concepts such as nirvikalpa samadhi which is defined as "the final dissolution of consciousness into Brahman where it can no longer return to the lower states of consciousness, no longer return to 'maya,' the illusion of duration, the illusion of being a bodily being in a determined universe." It's as though in this view consciousness retracts into whatever higher dimension it came from in the first place. It's sort of the opposite of what you're saying here, Laura. I mean, I don't posit any of this as true, of course, but it's interesting food for thought. It's the opposite in that we may be deluding ourselves in this moment, that we are separate entities trapped in the duration of time when actually that's the illusion, and the "ultimate reality" is this other realm where all these possibilities are already played out. It's often said of Brahman, the Godhead of Hindu religion, that Brahman sleeps and dreams that it's all these universes within the multiverse, and all the separate entities, each and every one of us. Every node of consciousness is a subset within Brahman, a fractal adumbration of Brahman, Brahman as the "final Self of all selves."
It's sort of like Michio Kaku's layman's explanation of M-Theory, that the 11-dimensional hyperspace can be thought, by analogy, as a "place where all possibilities are contained," and the manifest universe are vibrations on strings which select notes from this higher dimensional plane. So, our 3D universe is a slice of a higher 11D continuum in the very same way that a circle is a slice of a cone when it transects it. So, in order to have the illusion of experience, you cannot play all the notes at once, but select patterns of notes to give way of our perception of the universe as we see it from our humanly perspective.
Does any of this make any sense or am I rambling on about nonsense? It's sort of like an acosmist point-of-view where reality as we know it is completely rejected as illusion, an illusion because it's only a temporal three-dimensional slice of a higher dimensional source; and instead only the absolute, unmanifest is real. Unmanifest, perhaps, because it does reside in a higher dimension, and absolute because it's completely static, timeless, and the source of all infinite possibilities that are frozen in a higher dimension.
Matt, I've done some meditation and I know many people who have done it or are doing it. This is the first time I've heard it described as the art of dying now.
Leave it to the French to refer to an orgasm as "le petit morte" or the little death. It's so true.
Well, I believe "death" is meant in a very different sense than the French take. I believe it relates to the notion of "ego death." After all, all the Buddha demanded from the devotee was nothing less than the extinction of the ego.
I don't know what Robin Williams was feeling in those last hours of his life, and pretty obviously, no one ever will. What I DO know is that he was a stand-up man of the first water as it came to his friends. Case in point, his friendship with Christopher Reeve and in particular, something he did for the Superman star after his injury. The story is recorded as a part of an article in The Daily Beast:
After being thrown from a horse, suffering a cervical spinal injury that left him paralyzed from the neck down, Reeve was in a great deal of pain at the hospital. He even contemplated suicide. Since the accident had damaged his first and second cervical vertebrae, Reeve was forced to undergo a life-threatening surgery to reconnect his skull and his spine.
“As the day of the operation drew closer, it became more and more painful and frightening to contemplate,” wrote Reeve. “In spite of efforts to protect me from the truth, I already knew that I had only a fifty-fifty chance of surviving the surgery. I lay on my back, frozen, unable to avoid thinking the darkest thoughts. Then, at an especially bleak moment, the door flew open and in hurried a squat fellow with a blue scrub hat and a yellow surgical gown and glasses, speaking in a Russian accent. He announced that he was my proctologist, and that he had to examine me immediately. My first reaction was that either I was on way too many drugs or I was in fact brain damaged. But it was Robin Williams. He and his wife, Marsha, had materialized from who knows where. And for the first time since the accident, I laughed. My old friend had helped me know that somehow I was going to be okay.”
Good story. Humor is a great healer.
Loren, I read somewhere that they first became friends in college and had roomed together. After Reeves had his accident I read that Robin Williams paid all those bills. He thought Reeves might have a better chance if he didn't have that burden upon him. I don't have the link right now, but read it last night. This story can be Googled.
@Scot......The religion that may be responsible for the most suicides is Islam....Just look at the number of suicide bombers in recent memory.....They were told that they would be martyrs and live a beautiful life and have all the women they want in Heaven.....That is quite an incentive for horny young men and explains why so many volunteer ....Just another reason why religion is detrimental to society...
We may never know what happened. I saw a report that he died of asphyxiation. Maybe that was an inaccurate report. It brought to mind the death of David Carradine, who according to reports died of autoerotic asphyxiation. Out of respect for Williams, that might not be reported even if true. Asphyxiation could also indicate other causes, but I don't know. With the autopsy, I imagine they will say if drugs were present, including the often seen cocktails of opiates / tranquilizers / alcohol.
This made me sad too. I liked him.
Years ago in a history of mathematics, I read of a mathematician who predicted the day of his death. On that day he killed himself.
If people were to base their decisions solely on logic, who would not commit suicide?
Probably no one bases decisions solely on logic, so what intervenes?
What else but money, power, or sex?
At what age(s) would logic alone result in people doing the deed?
I think that a lot of younger people that kill themselves think there is no hope, but they base that thought mostly on emotion rather than logic. Just my 2 pennies worth of thought.
I base my decisions mostly on logic, and plan on checking-out when my suffering outweighs my enjoyment of life, with no reasonable possibility of improvement.