TED Conversations

Edwin Nazarian

TEDCRED 10+

This conversation is closed.

What is it like to die?

What is it like to die? - going to an eternal sleep or spending a temporarily dreamless night?

"Now, if the death is only a dreamless sleep, it must be a marvellous gain. I suppose that if anyone were told to pick out a night on which he slept so soundly as not even to dream, and then to compare with all the other nights and days of his life, and then were told to say, after due consideration, how many better and happier days ad nights than this he had spent in the course of his life - well, I think that ... (anyone) would find these days and nights easy to counts in comparison with the rest. But death is like this, the, I call it gain, because the whole of time, if you look at it in this way, can be regarded as no more than one single night." - Plato, The last day of Socrates.

This remind me Hamlet's monologue
"..................................To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause..."

being alive means not having first hand experience with death and its process.
but makes us to think if the world ended now would we be happy how you lived our life, would we done justice or would we just let it pass us by.
and finally would we be ready to face the death.

Steve Jobs said: "death is the only destination we all share"

share your ideas (before you die) :-) Thank you

Share:
  • thumb
    Nov 25 2012: You can't know until you experience it.
    Try imagining that you could communicate with a person that never lived. How would you explain life to them? You can't. It's impossible. They have absolutely no way to even imagine it because they're not alive!
    Same thing with us and death.
  • thumb
    Nov 5 2012: Hi edwin,

    In my experience (3 near death events) it goes something like this:

    Violent near-death in car accident:
    Firstly a highly sharpenned clarity of senses.
    Secondly, Accepting the likelyhood of death
    Thirdly, regret for those who will mourn.
    Fear becomes irellevant, afterlife becomes laughable.

    Undergoing general anaesthetic with chance of not ever coming out:
    Acceptance, regret for mourners, fade to white.

    Heart Fribulation (resulting in brain hypoxea).
    Momentary fear,regret for mourners, acceptance, fade to black.

    That is my personal experience.
    I have a friend who nearly died from a lacerated jugular (car accident) who reported out-of-body watching the paramedics fishing round in his neck to find the blood vessal.
    So I assume these OOB things are more common with exsanguination.
    • thumb
      Nov 5 2012: Good morning - wierdness undergoing surgical anaesthesia. White light moments and huge emotional disturbances on return. Anaesthesia still not truly known how it functions on removing consciousness. Upper spinal surgery this year, very risky as through front of neck and 'respiratory centre' damaged. Still have really croaky voice 8 months on from surgery. Permanent damage to larynx small price to pay for staying out of wheelchair but still mobility impaired. Not leaving this life until sure son is safe. Someone 'upstairs' looking after me I think. Scientific explanations about lack of oxygenation etc too cold for holistic lived experiences of so many people. BTW more than one surgical procedure in my lifetime over several years so not one unique moment of time. Would like to know what has been changed in neuro anaesthetics to normal surgical anaesthesia. Now fluids pumped into body as well as surgical gases. Definately less of a headachey type hangover with neuro procedure anaesthesia but far more emotional disturbance.
      • thumb
        Nov 5 2012: Hi elizabeth,
        I think it's generally understood that anaesthetics induce neural noise. The noise threshold overpowers normal neural signals and simply drowns consciousness out.
        The affect this has on synaptic structures is not known as far as i have heard. However, I would say that some synaptic disruption takes place. If a person is his/her conectome, you are not the same person when you wake up. However, it is likely that inherent network stabilisation dynamics will re-build something close to the original.
        • thumb
          Nov 5 2012: Hi Mitch thank you very useful word conectome. Also near drowned when 4 years old and agree with further comment about body remembering what conscious mind refuses to process. Not entirely sure inherent network stabilisation dynamics all that robust in the first place hence nasty dose of 'labelitis' according to some medical professionals. Do agree also with Edwin's comment, under not too extreme pharmautical stress get psoriasis. Skin a major organ often forgetten but one way for a body to communicate distress. Do so like science fiction stories for metaphors for complex ideas - keep thinking Star Trek materialization in transporter room. Does transporter beam transport the whole person from a to be or does a reconstructed person arrive at point b. Had freaky experience in MRI scanner which works by switching cellular polarities, tried to explain to surgeon but used wrong terminology. Plus him 'expert' and me just 'ACDF bed 2'. Reflecting on whether neural signals genetically different, family history of 'essential tremor' but then again dysfunctional family anyway. BTW washing machine analogy mind not on fast spin, mind on gentler cycle. Wind rustling in tree tops not full blown gale. Going to investigate conectome concept further. Thanks again. Good friend.
      • thumb
        Nov 5 2012: Hi Elizabeth.

        That's truly fascinating.
        Loose association is something that my wife and I call "planets".
        I can invoke the state consciously, my wife was precipitated into it as part of BPD - meds give her the capacity to take conscious control of it.
        Loose association has the remarkable property of wild creativity and the skill that DeBono calls "latteral thinking".
        In network terms, these associations are supressed by the "field of attention", but there is a qualification of "context". Context is a nested "framing" dynamic whereby the exit point of a network signal is dictated by the entry point. These entry/exit maps can have very deep nesting with each frame being constant and retaining the hierarchy of priority. The context hierarchy further supresses any exit point that does not conform to the framing hierarchy.
        If the framing hierarchy gets disrupted, you will have loose association.
        For instance, the symbol "tank" may have entry and exit point framed by "container" as in "water tank" but it also has a military frame. Loose association might see a military tank filled with water or a rainwater tank shooting projectiles.
        There is one very important role for loose association - it tends to follow the strongest association chain - that devoid of context heirarchies, can map an underlying reality that is not percieved in practical perception - at the very least as a subjective reality, but at the most - inspiration.
        Do you keep journals?
        • thumb
          Nov 6 2012: See told you good friend. BTW what meds is your wife using. The ones I have tried so far just send me to sleep. Most successful in terms of focusing is Quetiapine. Don't really know how to journal as issues about 'being perfect' and 'having true thoughts discovered'. Thank you so much for hearing me, so many people around me don't. Do appreciate some guidance otherwise focus a bit too broad-beam. Making sense to you ? Do have very loose associations at times and tend to lose track of the time whilst in these states. Sometimes typos like transposed letters maybe my true mind trying to talk to me. Did look on wikipedia about connecthome and definately feel recent surgery rebooted me. Nature metaphors always appeal to me as the most a-political words I can find. Yes framing hierachy very unusually structured in me, part nature part nurture. Desperate to find some practical application as have bills to pay and physical health really not good now. Always loads of ideas particularly about the body and filters and condensers but not seven years plus at med school so not going to get listened to. Do like Jung's book so much but there is definately something about wiring and communication and trunking going on in my head at the moment. Please, please carry on talking to me and want to know about the meds issue too please.
        • thumb
          Nov 6 2012: BTW 2nd post. Always read a great deal and found some authors more entertaining than others possibly because of fast mind and loose association skills. Just keep thinking old saying more knowledge in the bible than any other religion. Ideas never lost in translation but not always in the most obvious forms, which these days is the written word. Still can't get over the rate of illiteracy in USA. Anyway on tv news this morning Descartes quoted. 'Animals can talk but choose not to so as not to work'. Descartes did not literally say any such thing, words and meanings change over time. Am always fascinated by cultural artefacts in oral traditions and pictures as well as more formalised educational texts. Recently found word for it etiology. Have a broad span of knowledge but not much specialised vocabulary until someone else shares it with me. One sided conversations so boring. Like Chinese ideas about the animals that responded when called to work for man. A child's take on what animals humans have chosen to exploit. Focusing on the order animals 'called' actually correlates quite well about what evidence we are able to find about which animals were domesticated and when. Humans tend to eat birds rather than put them to work. Rate of reproduction ensures sufficient supply too. Really worried about what is happening to global supply of trees, particularly given they can take decades to reach maturity. Also Mother Nature is quite economical and certain patterns repeat in very different organisms so why not us too. As you said science and technology only focus on what is already known and evidenceable but past a certain point creativity is ultimately in wild conjecture and people like us with wobbly frames of reference and lived experience. Ever wonder about the lack of felidae in Oz. Oz actually the oldest continent. Humans still have sensitvity but lack awareness of how to access them eg dowsing plus neuropotential poisoned by linear metaphor.
      • thumb
        Nov 6 2012: Hi Elizabeth,
        Australia has plenty of felidae now - they are eating the native wildlife at an alarming rate.
        The marsupial population had cat-like animals, but they are all extinct or nearing extinction.

        Wife uses quetapine. However, we have discovered that it is only the start - the key is regular sleep. Qietapine helps with that. Need absolute regular dose time - thou shalt always take the dose at 7:30pm - inscribed in obsidian. Then commandment #2 is thou shalt not get disturbed during sleep, and #3 is - thou shalt not be awakened by the expectations of self or others - sleep until finished, not a second before. Then - there is about one hour spent waking-up, do not expect to do anything for 1 hour after waking, take it easy, do no work - don't let others over-ride this, they haven't a clue.
        This reduces the productive day to about 8 hours, but what the hell, it's just how it is, and a human needs only 4 hours effort per day to survive.
        If you need to get something done, start with a piece of paper - write down what the task is - in big letters, then each subtask in smaller letters - the big letters keep your framing. To keep "on-track" read the words from bottom to top and back down again. This wil train-in nested framing.
        Do a lot of writing and read it back to yourself.
        Do regular breathing in meditation. Listen to silence - it's not empty.
        Count to 10 with eyes closed while imagining a pen writing the number on a paper.
        Get foot massage.
        Make friends with your physical heart (it has a little brain and will appreciate the attention).

        btw - many animals do talk. If you take the time to learn their language.
        I have a tribe of currawongs nearby who I am feeding to get their company - they recently tried to teach me their language - I got a few words so far, mostly to do with placation, Even though they want me to, I don't want to do their territorial call - it might get interpreted as another tribe - I cant sing as well as they can.
        • thumb
          Nov 6 2012: OK, thank you. Referencing 'The Heart, Mind and Spirit' a paper by Professor Mohamed Omar Salem, 2007 on Royal College of Psychiatrists website rcpsych.ac.uk. Meds have bad effects on my heart and guts, legs literally start to swell up. Too much silence in my real-time environment broken only by neighbours rowing or ticking of the clock. Maybe heart is missing dull roar of waves or constant stimulation of wind. Always feel better outdoors. When weather is bad on the coast sometimes get seagulls inland but otherwise real lack of birdy chatter here. Local park full of escaped parakeets but even they are quiet. Love to you and your wife and thank you again.
      • thumb
        Nov 7 2012: Hi Elizabeth,

        The goal is "the window of clarity". Getting that window open gives us a chance to widen it.
        If meds do the trick, then that's what is required.
        But once you are in that window, you are presented with the task of widenning the window in such a way that meds will become less essential to get teh damn thing open.
        So the most effective use of the lucid window is to work on techniques of lucidity.
        Do you follow?
        But you have to get that window before anything can happen.
        Here it is from another angle:
        The Buddha can sit anywhere, it is necessary for us to walk.
        To be without walking is to be the Buddha.
        We become the Buddha through walking.
        I am merely asking you to become the Buddha.
        This is the challenge of all living things.

        Or:

        Take tiger mountain - by storm or strategy.
        • thumb
          Nov 7 2012: Like the last one, you noted my icon, two cats. Time management step by step and staying as high on the food chain as possible. Techniques of lucidity - explain further please. I am not ready to sit like Buddha, the beautiful young man who went over the palace wall and left his wife and son behind. The man who went wandering until he needed to sit and reflect on his entire lived experience and then gained enlightenment. I am a single parent, I have a teenage son, my needs (and that includes enough sleep) have always come second. Females who just want to sit and reflect for a while just get locked away as mad, bad and lazy. I have seen the figures of Buddha as an old man, is he laughing with joy or laughing because he is insane. Don't forget also he was a prince so no-one is going to let him starve. Misogyny is timeless as well you know. You will note in any fairy story behind the Queen, there is always her 'right hand man' or a female advisor. So window of lucidity - what will it let in, a draught of cold air or a balmy breeze.
      • thumb
        Nov 7 2012: Hi elizabeth,

        Ther have been many Buddhas. They are simply those enlightenned ones who choose to teach - we hear about those ones, we do not hear about the many Buddhas who choose not to teach. In the tradition, they are all the same. In reality, we are all the Buddha - but only in flashes.
        I know very well about mysogeny. But the aberance of others defines only our self-story.
        You must remember that the self-story is only a tool, it is the tool we take up to carve the rock of society. Mostly, we forget to put it down.
        My father would say:"Argue for your limitations .. and .. sure enough - they are yours."
        I have made some suggestions. If you choose to argue about how you cannot do these things . I wonder about how much you need them .. perhaps you don't. If they are not neccessary or important, then something else must be more necessary and important. Is it important for you to be in perpetual low-energy and helplesness? There may be some wisdom in that, I have found it does not work for me. I say to myself:"I will be good to myself first - then I will be strong for those I love. If I am low, all i have to give is low - let's see how strong I can be!". So I ask myself: "What is this thing that I should be low for?" ANd teh silence answers me "nothing".
        • thumb
          Nov 7 2012: You are quite right, I didn't mean to sound ungrateful for your guidance. I am no longer a bullied child, I am an adult, I have skills and knowledge. Today has been a bonus day in so many ways. The 'oxygen mask' theory, a metaphor from air travel. The mask goes on you first before you try and help others. Like the cats, like the tiger, keep playing the game until I am strong enough and resourced enough to change my environment. Love to you and your wife Mitch and thank you so much.
    • Nov 5 2012: Hi Mitch

      Sorry to hear that you had such an experience, but I believe after that you look at life with completely different eyes and now you are making the most of it.

      Well, I haven't had such an experience, my experience was being unconscious for like a night or day In Military Hospital about 14 years ago, there I had no idea where I was and what I was dong there. years passed after that until I learned how to use my conscious and unconscious mind to memorise and remember certain events. Then I was sure that our unconscious mind knows and remembers everything, this took me a while, but I got myself into deep hypnotic trance to find out what had exactly happened that night in Military Hospital. Well, now I know that I was there, but I wasn't really there, it was only my body laying there.

      was this a near death experience I am still not convinced.
      have I experienced it again? NO...

      thanks
      • thumb
        Nov 5 2012: Hi Edwin,

        Yes, trauma changes one's outlook.
        The car crash gave me some PTSD for a while - and would get anxiety in cars for foar a while / hyper vigilance never truly subsided.
        But cumulatively, these events have helped me become intollerant of afterlife fanatics and demonstrated the fallacies of heaven/hell and most notions of "god" - because at the point of death, none of these things matter.

        Sounds like you had some injury to brain stem .. maybe the left pre-frontal cortex?

        Things in the subcosnscous are not without structure. There are core-self functions that don't require a lot of memory. they are not particularly conscious unless we focus on them - feelings/emotions which arise from body-state. And they monitor things that we have little awareness of. The hippocampus(major memory function) seems to be involved in a couple of functions - it looks like a left/right division with the right doing holistic recording, the left being more serial memory attached to awareness - recording causalities. The other main component seems to be the arrangement of behavioural "macros" (skills/habbits) which are probably associated with the cerebellum.
        i must mention that the memory is not totally stable - it gets subjected to update with fresh associations replacing synaptic atrophy.
        • Nov 7 2012: Mitch,

          I haven't had any injury to my brain. all I had was a certain virus (which later on was common in the area) and this made me to drink a lot of water, my stomach was filled with water which doesn't allow me to eat anything as there was not enough space for "extra"food. I walked about three months like a pregnant woman and yet being on duty of Flag Of Honour - (means standing straight and motionless during 2 hours) and this was over three months every God's day and night. - (there was three of us so we each had this 2 hours.)

          One morning I didn't feel well, I was sent to see a Doctor from there directly I was hospitalised for very long time, about 8 or 9 months.
          the moment I told you was during the first week when my conditions weren't getting any better but worse and not a doctor could know what was going on. Because they could see nothing but water in my stomach...
          I couldn't believe that I wasn't allowed to drink water or eat anything watery.

          Glad it is gone and over... since then, health comes first for me!

          I started to believe that MIND - BODY is a system,
          our physical conditions affect our mental condition and vice versa.
  • thumb
    Dec 2 2012: Hello Edwin:>)
    I volunteered in a terminal care facility for a couple years, and sat with many people who were going through the process of dying. I helped care for 3 friends and relatives as they were going through the process of dying, and I had an NDE/OBE because of a near fatal head/brain injury, after which I was not expected to live, and from which I was not expected to ever recover. I guest lectured at the Univ. of Vt. for years on the topic of death and dying in the class of a professor, who worked and studied with Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, who was a psychiatrist and pioneer in near death research.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elisabeth_K%C3%BCbler-Ross

    You say...."being alive means not having first hand experience with death and its process".

    There is a certain "process" that we know quite a lot about, and has some very common characteristics. For example, there is a certain order in which the body organs shut down in preperation for death. During the process of dying, it is not unusual for people to feel like they are moving back and forth from the human dimension to another dimension. This other dimension has been described as a peaceful transition to another energetic form, and I also experienced this with the NDE/OBE.

    Another common factor seems to be that people go through the dying process as they have lived. In other words, if a person was grouchy and negative throughout his/her life, that is how s/he goes through the dying process. If a person lived joyfully, lovingly, that is how s/he accepted the process of moving on. Based on this observation, I suggest that we would indeed benefit from being content in the life experience and ready to accept death.

    You ask..."What is it like to die...going into an eternal sleep...?"

    For me, the NDE, WAS kind of like sleep. I was immediately knocked unconscious (according to the human medical model), so there was no pain, discomfort or distress. I was conscious on many different levels.
  • Nov 27 2012: Sleep is good, Because, Even the most cruel men are good when they are asleep.
    Death on the other hand stops one from doing bad permenantly. (Not from doing good, because if every one stops doing bad things, then automatically only good will be left)


    I would suggest you read:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramana_Maharshi
    Copied: From the above site:
    The shock of the fear of death drove my mind inwards and I said to myself mentally, without actually framing the words: 'Now death has come; what does it mean? What is it that is dying? This body dies.' And at once I dramatised the occurrence of death. I lay with my limbs stretched out still as though rigor mortis has set in, and imitated a corpse so as to give greater reality to the enquiry. I held my breath and kept my lips tightly closed so that no sound could escape, and that neither the word 'I' nor any word could be uttered. 'Well then,' I said to myself, 'this body is dead. It will be carried stiff to the burning ground and there burnt and reduced to ashes. But with the death of the body, am I dead? Is the body I? It is silent and inert, but I feel the full force of my personality and even the voice of I within me, apart from it. So I am the Spirit transcending the body. The body dies but the spirit transcending it cannot be touched by death. That means I am the deathless Spirit.' All this was not dull thought; it flashed through me vividly as living truths which I perceived directly almost without thought process. I was something real, the only real thing about my present state, and all the conscious activity connected with the body was centered on that I. From that moment onwards, the "I" or Self focused attention on itself by a powerful fascination. Fear of death vanished once and for all. The ego was lost in the flood of Self-awareness. Absorption in the Self continued unbroken from that time.
  • thumb
    Nov 8 2012: 'being alive means not having first hand experience with death and its process.'

    From my point of view I do not agree with this your statement for the reason of 'order'.

    For most of us, death is the consequence of life and therefore placed at its final end. But what happens if we also put it in front of it? By this your question 'What is it like to die?' becomes answerable, because we once have already been there. So when I tink about how it may feel like when I am dead, I think about how I felt before I sparked into existence. And just to be on the safe side, hop twelve month before your birthday... and then you know.

    We don't even need any sleep comparison, as, consequently, before we were born, we have been death too.

    So was there anything what bothered us twelve month before we screamed the first time? Anything negative or positive? Well, nothing I can remember, so the best way to name it would be 'neutral' to me, and I think, this it what it will become again on the last day of my life.
  • Nov 7 2012: Heavy energy (negative) sinks (molten lava etc) light energy (positive) rises (light)...the only catch is none of this exists if the Earth does not.

    This will relate to everything you know.
  • Nov 6 2012: Death is best left to the end,
    because the end is always the best.

    The first time, I left my body, went up and into a wonderful light, that held me, as though or like one might imagine, being held by a cloud. A very loving cloud. The light was thick.
    I did hear wonderful music (or sounds?) as I rose. I was seven.

    It was the most euphoric, peaceful, loving, serene, safe, secure and beautiful experience I have ever had. Nothing in my life has ever come close to it. (It has made me wonder if I should have just gone back on my own, instead of staying alive and looking for beauty here)
    The next time (13), I lost almost all the blood a body can lose without dying, and that too was very peaceful, like falling asleep. Well, I was I guess but if one can relate to those times as an infant, when a loved and trusted one was carrying you and you didn't have to fall asleep or stay awake and could constantly drift back and forth, in and out of both, with complete safety, security and peace. It's a lot like the nodding-out that junkies seek, where there is no pain in their world and the feeling is one of total peace, happiness,contentment and almost bliss.

    The next time, about 3 years ago, was horrible.Maybe it was because I didn't die, but I sure as hell wanted to and tried to in the ambulance rushing me to the hospital. But, the emergency personnel kept slapping me in the face, which I thought was very funny.

    What does it all mean? I don't know and even if I truly believe it means, x, y, or z, I cannot prove any of it, nor do I need to, nor does anyone else need to or can.

    But, I will take the first one, if I can. I really don't care for scientific orgasms or deaths. I prefer the real blissful ones, filled with emotion, meaning and then sleep.

    There is, I believe, a sect of Hindus that believe sleep is a form of death and I am inclined to agree with that. Perhaps that is what death is like, after of course, dying.
  • thumb
    Nov 6 2012: You see your eyelids closing slowly, lit from the inside. As you shrink inside your hollow skin, you get a last chance at glancing at your grieved relatives before the eyes are shut and the light you're emitting bounces around, encaged. You continue to constrict and wonder whether it's the body you're in that's expanding, now a cathedral with columns here and there and back walls spreading in utter silence. This goes on and your light, while not getting dimmer, is losing itself more and more as it reaches for sinking surfaces on which to spring back to you. Soon, everything is gone and your memories disband into the darkness that surrounds you. The last thought is a cry that strenches long after the oldest thing you thought you didn't remember.
    Dear life.
  • thumb
    Nov 6 2012: With regards to going to an eternal sleep or spending a temporarily dreamless night, I think it depends if you believe in the after-life or not. If you believe in it, then death is like spending a temporarily dreamless night. You died here and you wake up on the “other side of the world”. If you don’t believe in it, then you go into a continuous sleep forever. But, anyway we will never really know until we get there.

    Where we actually go after death is still not known, and so we are scared. I once experienced a near death experience and all I can feel is fear. All kinds of thoughts come to mind. We can’t really be prepared for death, it just comes to us any second. Anyhow, why do we think of death when we don’t even know how to live?
    “Makes us to think if the world ended now would we be happy how you lived our life, would we done justice or would we just let it pass us by” All I can say is if you are happy living your life with intense passion so as to believe that in the end you have given justice to your life then do so. But if you are also happy just going with the flow and letting your life pass by, then I think you have all the right to do so. I think we should live life based on how we want to and not on how “rules of life” said we should live because nobody can really judge whether you lived rightly or not. People have lead many different lives. It’s not as if in the end, Person 1 lived correctly, person 2 live wrongly, etc. I believe there is really no such thing as a right or wrong way to live. There is if you believe in religion, or on being a good citizen. By then, one can judge that you live rightly if you lived like Jesus or as the Bible says and so on. I hope know you know what I mean. But, removing all those, who can really say right? I’ve gone too far… Interesting subject you opened here…2/2
  • thumb
    Nov 6 2012: “In the midst of life comes death”. I think that death is not only limited to the ending of the physical functions of our body. There are people who are still literally alive—breathing, but are already dead. To live life without any sense of purpose, to have reflected that everything we pursue in this earth is meaningless because it disappears into nothingness, and to conclude that in the end, all of us humans who were “once so complex, so unique, so special will be reduced into something so generic” i.e., dust, is death itself. All our thoughts, emotions and intentions will be lost into the unknown. It is a struggle within us to reject these facts because to accept it would mean surrendering in the battle of finding meaning for the things we do in this world. If we slowly give in to the idea of the meaninglessness of life, then I think we are undergoing the process of dying. What is it like to die? To stop struggling, to live like a “zombie” If one gained the will to live with passion every single day of life, then that person is truly alive again. One has found “life in the midst of death”. 1/2
  • Nov 6 2012: How do you know you have not already died(just playing devils advocate)?

    What if death just sits in entire opposition to life on earth? What I mean is what if everything was reversed, instead of fearing death one fears being born and spends a large amount of time allowing this to shape ones beliefs and actions. Freud theorized a life and death drive that was constantly at war within all of us, he tried to prove it biologically (he was a neurologist) but came up short. He believed that on the cellular level life simultaneously wishes to replicate itself and also wishes to return to its original state. When the brain dies it seems as though consciousness does and my experience tells me this is so, yet I also know that much of the functioning of the brain is a mystery.

    In "civilization and its discontents" Freud made an analogy he was talking about prior mental states and how it seems to be true that humans can revert to earlier stages in life (regression). He started talking about ancient Rome and its architecture how it has been built over prior greek architecture and other previous settlements. The point he was making is that the brain seems to be able to build over past states yet somehow these states remain intact and accessible. The brain seems to function differently than the material world yet is a part of the material world. Either that or the answers to questions about consciousness may not be accessible to our biological restraints.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_problem_of_consciousness
  • thumb
    Nov 5 2012: Edwin - all memories precious, sad or joyous. English expression 'all part of life's rich tapestry'. In the case of Steve Jobs he had possibly, at the time of his statement, knowledge that he had a life-limiting illness. Do like ancient greek texts and fables. Like to read about Herodotus, simply reporting back what he heard, a kind of early social historian and sometimes called 'the father of liars'. People often only seem to have a capacity to hear what their own lived experience has exposed them to. Personal observational experiment at the moment, self and environment. Go and chat to someone, notice number of times conversation fluent and also observe body language, go away and think about it, think about own lived experience, note to self and revise. Hours of fun for me plus social interaction. Essence, self awareness. Results in progress. Do like the idea of emoticons. Still need a shared vocabulary at times. And as you pointed out, who knows anyway !
  • thumb
    Nov 5 2012: O.K. feel like jumping all over your conversation here Edwin. Ideas from psychology include existentialism and somatisation. Other ideas to provide 'reasons'and explanations from religion and philosophy. Further potentially confusing angle - concept of linear time. Time only really calibrated exactly from factory shift patterns then from new 'railways'. Railway timetabling schedules involved synchronisation of station clock, possibly only other public clock in town apart from church clocks. Being antipodean and familiar with aboriginal 'dream-time' as way of describing long-ago, always sceptical about who is saying what time is and why. Come and work, come and pray very different from original societies where seasons and weather and crops dictate a different concept of time. Also thinking of ideas like 'Millenium bug' and in UK every fourth year 'a leap year' to keep calendar accurate. Also thinking of things like planet earth actually wobbles on it's axis and in it's orbit. Think about planet's crust not as rigid but as very slowly wrinkling and stretching (slow according to our own lifespans, unless of course if you live on a fault line). Maybe Japanese so very innovative because of genetic adaptation to synapses and link to physical environment and more than fair share of disasters. Seen some kind of referencing to Hiroshima and Nagasaki in son's anime games. Ideas and experiences 'leak' into cultural products. Ho hum.
    • Nov 5 2012: Elizabeth,

      Where are we going here?

      Time? who invented it? - Man
      why 24 house and not 1440 house (today's one minute = an hour)

      Calendar? who invented it? - Man
      why 12 months and 30/31/28/29 days in a month and not more or less... who would actually know whether the years is right with its 365 days or/and wrong with its 730? today in 21st century we would accept it as truth if the years had 730, this means each day would have 12 hours. this may make us to live long or short life.

      but death or the process of dying isn't men's invention, neither his creation. and maybe because of that it is so mysterious that not many talk about it or knows about it.

      Life is given, but death is taken...

      as during the time when a woman is pregnant, she and the baby are alive, men can investigate and find out its process.
      but
      as death is taken, ... and I think while something is take, it is out of our control to find out, the HOW part, how it is taken and by who it is taken. ( except killing one another)
      • thumb
        Nov 5 2012: Fascinating debate isn't it. Lucky enough to be female and had a baby. Very interesting how hormones impact on mind during pregnancy. Very interesting to sit down in the evening and watch own abdomen wall bulge as baby decides to move around. Sister-in-law lost baby to pre-eclampsia and part of mourning process to allow her to have baby's body near her. Different to old days when baby just whisked away. Not sure if ultimately a kindness or not. Mind definately goes 'somewhere else' in labour process. Gift for treading on other's most sensitve places, hope question ultimately not linked to what has happened to a child of someone you are close to. World totally irrational, abstract, cold and cruel at times.
        • Nov 5 2012: Elizabeth,

          Sorry to recall unpleasant and emotional moments in your life. and I am sorry for the lost.
          not you, neither me, nor anybody can change the past, bring people back to life.

          why did I started this talk or asked this question?
          I was wondering in the library and I got this book of Plato, The last day of Socrates.
          Sure it was hard and difficult to understand what he was talking about, I started to pass through pages and read here and there some passages. The one I have quoted comes from there and it picked my interest... I started to remember people, talking about death, Like Hamlet and then I watched Steve Jobs' speech at Stanford University. so I ended up asking TED community,

          I admit that I didn't think that it would rise / recall some unwanted memories,
          My apologies .
  • thumb
    Nov 5 2012: Many seem to be answering a different question than you have asked. To die is an instantaneous event, where metaboplism and respiration ceases, marking the transition from Time to Eternity. Most answers here, except for the NDE folks, are describing what they think it will be like to be dead, that is, what comes AFTER the death experience. Which of these is your intended question?
    • Nov 5 2012: Hi Edward,

      My question was for the Process of dying...

      you said: "...the transition from Time to Eternity."

      can we understand that death is an asleep in Eternity by this?
      does this also mean that there is life after death which is eternal?

      Please note that I haven't brought up the religious approach to death or dying, but a mere philosophical and poetic approach.


      Thanks
      • thumb
        Nov 5 2012: Ah! The process of being dead is the question. Thank you sir for humoring me. Where you say "religious" I prefer the word "supernatural". My understanding of the supernatural comes from the Holy Bible. It says there are two possibilities regarding what happens after a person experiences the death event. One possibility consists of never-ending, timeless, eternal conscious existence in the presence of God. This is a perfect existence free from any and all negative realities. The remaining possibility is to cease consciousness and existence. This is not a state-of-being, rather it is as if you never existed. The unimaginable horror of the latter option is that there will be eventual awareness sometime prior to annihilation that one has lost the opportunity to enter into the pure joy of the former option. The Holy Bible offers hope to anyone and everyone to seek the former option. Where there is life there is hope. After the death event there is only hopelessness. Seek the LORD while he may be found.
        • Nov 5 2012: Edward,

          Thank you, I believe you are a believer and this may also be true to say that you are a follower of this supernatural power, (as you named it so).
          so as I understand you correctly you were saying that after death we end an eternal conscious existence in the process of God. How could this be Conscious when our organs don't function. I like the way Shakespeare put: "...For in that sleep of death what dreams may come."
          it can also be asked: for in that sleep of death what mind can think and be conscious?

          I just wonder why people in church tells us that it is alright to die, and Haven is a good place to be, when in actual fact NO one, absolutely no one, not even the Pope, wants to die.
          it is like we all want to go to Haven , but we don't want to die. Correct me if I am wrong in this.

          "where there is a life there is hope" - I agree, Hope is a good thing and no good thing ever dies, and where there is life, just live it.

          to me , Haven is nowhere (now here). I want to see Haven on Earth.

          God created me/ you /us in his/her shape, and he made us to be creators. so God is in me/you/us. we are the God, the Creator, the Destroyer, The EVERYTHING.
          I seek inner guideness...
  • thumb
    Nov 5 2012: I guess it will depend on whether your expectations are shattered or exceeded. In others words what 'death' really consists of.

    :-)
  • thumb
    Nov 5 2012: I can't remember anything other than getting in the car and then waking up several km's away on the grass with someone giving me resus, I personally think people who has had a NDE can answer this Q better.
    • thumb
      Nov 5 2012: Hi Ken -hope you are well. Safe journey back home ? Seen the story in the media about the fibre glass model of Gollum at Wellington Airport ? Just like Maui chasing a fish ! Quick question - could a tiki made of ponamu potentially be used to create a spark to light a fire ? In an emergency ? Thinking read somewhere spark can be generated by hitting flint against flint so just wondering if ponamu like that or too porous if igneous rock. BTW sometimes not remembering the very best option. Beautiful Maori carving in NZ High Commission in London really badly in need of a dust-off. You can see the original and all the meanings and stories the carver wanted to tell on the N.Z. High Commission website if you ever feel inclined that way.
  • thumb
    Nov 5 2012: Good morning again - look at existential ideas. Personal experience of surviving huge earthquake when three years old, impacts on you for life. Energised by life but difficult when others not having that experience do not value every moment. More than personal resilience. Do like to read my spiritual texts and like zorastrian idea of a flame about each persons head representing individual energy. If metaphor of atmosphere of earth used as metaphor for human spiritual energy maybe some truth in mortal body returning to dust and energy of the soul returning to some communal area for reallocation. Also been watching tv program about oldest original painting of Lucifer. A red angel and a blue angel. Humans not meant to be depressed or oppressed, a warm buzz of ideas much better than regulation of creativity by those in power who dictate who says what and when for their own ends. Jobs dying when said that. Unfortunately do agree sometimes inventions and creativity building on the ideas of others. Progress happens and good but not for us to judge someoone else's truth as good or bad, for us to sort ourselves out first. A personal truth not universal truth. Truth too much like tooth and teeth bite. For me it is in the balancing of light and darkness, pain and joy and definately 'all ahead slow' when navigating minefield of inventiveness. Fun formulas C=Ettr2=C plus new one Pi*z*z*a. Pizza one saw in Sunday newspaper yesterday. Adapting for mine C=Pi r squared = C. Equals sign like double chemical bonds. Anyway what I am trying to say is balance and moderation and 'all ahead slow' when navigating any potentially hazardous space.
  • Nov 5 2012: Religions vary. There could be various interpretations of what you are asking. Avoid it as long as possible
    • Nov 5 2012: hey George

      Thanks for your note,

      surely I have got a highly respect what religion things about the event called: dying. I also believe that it differs from culture to culture. some sing for their deaths some cries, etc... we all are different and yet created by the same organs, this means none of us can escape from it.

      avoiding is another thing, so I don't do anything to avoid it .. I do everything to live the life to the fullest.

      Thank you
  • thumb
    Nov 5 2012: I gusess that there are many forms of death as defined by your religion and the culture that you are raised in.

    I know many people who are brain dead and still the body remains with us.

    Could there be a spirtual death .... how about dead tired ... dead on my feet ... or the living dead as in the movies.

    Some religions believe the flesh remains and the spirit is released .... most believe in a after life ... some believe in a cestial heaven where you are reunited with your family.

    So here is my take ... find a group that shares your comfort levels in death. It is the purpose of religions to provide answers to such philosophical questions.

    Do not go softly into that night ....

    All the best. Bob.
  • thumb
    Nov 5 2012: You asked what it's like to die, as opposed to what it's like to be dead. So I assume you are asking what it's like to transition from being alive to dead. If not, then the rest of what I'm about to say may be a bit off.

    There's quite a bit of information available on this topic. I'd start by reviewing the experiences of those that report near death experiences. Those are the people that have gone closest to physical death, and then come back to tell the story. There is quite a bit of controversy about the interpretation of these stories. There are some documentaries on this topic too, for example "National Geographic: Moment of Death" which is available on Netflix.

    Another source of information is available from those that have experienced intense drug states, most notably DMT and its stronger variant 5MEO. Some say there is a relationship between near death experiences and endogenous DMT.

    I would also look at Tibetan Buddhist literature, as they have studied this topic for 1000's of years - specifically, the Tibetan Book of the Dead.

    And finally, to turn to your actual question and try to answer it. I am unqualified to answer this question! However, I would say that what it's like to die depends entirely on how you die. It's probably a very psychedelic experience. Oh Wow!
  • Nov 5 2012: it is deep sleep state. those who get up are live, do not get up for ever are dead.
    • Nov 5 2012: Yuddandi

      it is obvious to everyone how to differ alive from death.

      I am sure hardly a few has experienced it, so we may find certain interpretation of it, which in actual fact not be truth or untruth but a mere idea.

      Thanks for sharing your idea about this with us.
  • thumb
    Nov 4 2012: It is not that big a deal no disrespect to Shakespeare, Plato, or Jobs. It feels like you are exterior because you are and more comfortable.
  • thumb
    Nov 4 2012: Lol. Only the dead can answer that question. Unfortunately, they are not here with us.
    • Nov 4 2012: thanks F,

      I have been thinking about them as well, but I couldn't find a site for special these dead people. and Halloween is gone too, so I guess they are not around any more.

      but if you have ever faced an enemy or hold a dead body in your hand you may have collected an idea what it is like being a dead person.

      Thanks anyway
      • thumb
        Nov 6 2012: Feyisayo, why do you think the loved ones you knew that have passed life aren't with you now?
        They're just a thought away. You can ask them if you like.
        • thumb
          Nov 7 2012: I wish. How can I be sure they are the ones responding to my questions?
    • Nov 7 2012: Feyisayo,

      Frans Kellner responded you
      here is his message:

      "Feyisayo,why do you think the loved ones you knew that have passed life aren't with you now?
      They're just a thought away. You can ask them if you like."
      • thumb
        Nov 7 2012: I wish. How can I be sure they are the ones responding to my questions?