Your Brain as a Filtering Device for Your Mind: Learning from Near-Death Experiences

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By Richard Jacobs. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Does your brain function as a filtering device for your mind? It might sound strange, and you might think there’s no way. But consider that the eyes filter visual input and the ears filter auditory input, leaving us only with the stimuli we need for physical survival.

Couldn’t the brain also act as a filtering device, allowing only those thoughts which enable our survival in one way or another?

Press play to explore this idea and discover:

  • What might happen to the mind-brain connection during near-death experiences, and what this says about the function of the brain versus the mind
  • How cultural background influences the way people interpret near-death experiences
  • Whether there’s evidence that non-human animals also have near-death experiences and are similarly impacted by them
  • What terminal lucidity is, and how it might relate to near-death experiences

Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, Dr. Bruce Greyson, was raised in a scientific household void of any focus on things in the nonphysical, spiritual, or religious realm. As such, he journeyed through college and medical school with a materialistic mindset.

But it wasn’t long before he began encountering inexplicable stories of people who had come close to death, and recounted "near-death experiences." As a skeptic, Dr. Greyson wanted to test the phenomena with hypotheses that fit into his materialistic understanding of life and death.

Could near-death experiences be explained by oxygen deprivation or high levels of CO2? Could it be unusual activity in the brain? Or the drugs that are often administered to people on the verge of death? Could it be chemicals produced by the brain itself?

These hypotheses and more have been tested using data gathered over the last 20 to 30 years, and not one of them has held up in near-death situations.

“Most people find near-death experiences interesting because of what they may tell us about death and dying and what happens after death, but for me as a psychiatrist, what’s most interesting is what they tell us about life and living,” says Dr. Greyson. He continues this line of thought by sharing with listeners the profound impact that near-death experiences have on the people who experience them.

The overarching commonality is this: a near-death experience leaves the person with a new outlook on life and value, and a new desire to help people by living in accordance with the Golden Rule. Dr. Greyson has heard countless stories of people who worked in violent or competitive business professions, and following a near-death experience, could not possibly continue the same lifestyle. Instead, they entered a helping profession. In essence, the things these people had known their entire lives become foreign and nearly inconceivable to them.

Dr. Greyson has recently written a book on the topic called After: A Doctor Explores What Near-Death Experiences Reveal about Life and Beyond, which is slated for release on March 2, 2021.

Tune in to explore this other-worldly topic in more depth, and keep an eye out for Dr. Greyson’s book. Episode also available on Apple Podcasts: apple.co/30PvU9C

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