Dr David, Editor / Publisher Lokkal
A New York University research hospital published a report last week that proves there is life after death. After people had been declared dead, after their brain activity has stopped, the dead, who were later revived, accurately reported conversations and sights which had been going on around them while they were dead. The study describes the phenomenon as "the brain" still working after death, that is, after the brain has stopped working, because talking about the soul is not cool; it's the kiss of death to a scientist's funding. The study was a followup to one they did in 2014 which showed similar findings, findings which were at the time, rather unscientifically, dismissed as "crazy."
There is that joke about a Hindu that arrives in heaven and is told by the doorkeeper, "Hindus are in room #7, but be quiet when you pass door #3." A Buddhist arrives and is told, "Buddhists are in room #4, but be quiet when you pass room #3." A Jew arrives and is told, "Jews are in room #6, but be quiet when you pass room #3." The Jew questions (we are always questioning), "Why do I need to be quiet when I pass room #3." "Oh," the gatekeeper replies, "The Catholics are in room #3 and they think they are the only ones here."
I've always been agnostic when it comes to the afterlife. When faced with all the competing versions of the great beyond, I tend to conclude that one's expectations color what one will experience. This conclusion has some support in both The Tibetan Book of the Dead and in Lazarus' response when the Zealots ask him what death was like, right before they kill him, because he represents a spiritual miracle and they want a political messiah; "Actually," he responds, according to Kazantzakis, "it was very much like being alive." The rabbis are famously ambivalent on the subject. So, like me, you can believe in God and still be uncertain about any personal continuance. There is even a whole, strong movement within Buddhism, that denies reincarnation, at least as a personal phenomenon.
photo: Sean Reagan
Here in San Miguel, I admit, I have always thought of the Day of the Dead activities as "crazy." Leaving mole and bottles of Dos Equis on your loved one's grave has seemed to me, at best, therapeutic for the living. It seemed to me quaint and antiquated, like the afterlife beliefs of ancient peoples, Babylonians, Egyptians, Chinese or Aztecs. But now, with the NYU study, confirming the earlier NYU study, I'm open to the whole host of possibilities: a Lakota afterlife, a Zoroastrian beyond, a Mexican heaven.
I've been doing yoga every morning for seven or ten years. I know many of you will be shocked to hear it, but I listen to books while I do it. Years ago one of those was Dr Steven Pinker's "Understanding the Mind." It really should be entitled, "Understanding the Least Interesting Parts of the Mind," because, when it comes to the really interesting aspects of Mind, we don't know anything. Consciousness, for the longest time, was dismissed as a secondary phenomenon, caused by the electrical field of the brain. But now, it is seriously and scientifically suggested, that mind is a universal force, like gravity or electro-magnetism; something that just is and is everywhere. Steven Pinker is one of those atheistic scientist elitists, who have been ridiculing any non-materialist belief, including God and leaving beer in cemeteries on November 1st, as childishness. I've been infected by their prejudice, and probably you have, too. But now, with the NYU study, I am free of it, free at last. Now we know, that when it's lights out for the brain, that the soul, or, at least, the mind lives on. Put that in your pipe and smoke it; it's very empowering.
Happy Day of the Living Dead.
photo: Alessandro Bo (cropped)
Dr David started his long publishing career as the editor of his prep school newspaper, which he immediately changed into a monthly magazine with feature length articles. He published nearly a million copies of a health magazine, Living Well. He moved to SMA six years ago this November and started publishing San Miguel Events six months later. Please visit his new project, the "new" Lokkal: www.lokkal.com/sma/magazine/2017/september/welcome.php
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