It has been said that nobody has ever come back from death to tell us in any really credible way what happens to our consciousness after we die. Of course there have been a lot of near death experiences or experiences of being flat-line technically dead and then revived. People have described a tunnel and a brilliant white light at the end of that tunnel or floating over their dead bodies and watching the people standing around, listening to them. Then they are gently pulled or yanked back into consciousness and our banal daily world.
I would venture a guess that the reason some of us experience these phenomena is that we don’t always die all at once. Once the signal is passed down to all the cells in a body that it’s time to die, the cells start to power down, to stop their functions that differentiate them from non-living organic matter, functions like organization, using energy, growing, responding to changes in the environment, and reproduction, but it takes time to shut down all the cells in a body and, while some of the cells might be dead, others might be still alive and at least partially functional.
If the brain were the first to shut down before the rest of the body, then dying would be a lot easier on us. People often say that it’s a blessing to die in one’s sleep. I think that people are more afraid of dying than they are of death. We mortals don’t seem to be equipped with the ability to conceive of our own deaths, the end of our consciousness forever and ever, in spite of the fact that we all die and many of us have seen someone else die.
But the brain is not always the first to shut down. Imagine for a moment that your conscious mind is trapped in a brain that is trapped in a body that is in the process of shutting down. Our minds are used to being in control of our body functions. Whenever we are in unpleasant situations we try our best to overcome them or to escape them. This experience of entrapment goes against our previous experience and programming. “What can’t be, is happening to me!” screams silently in the outer space of our minds. Maybe we think to ourselves, “This is finally it! I’m really dying now. But I don’t know how to do it or even what to do. I wonder how long it will last.”
But the body has its own logic. Dying is a natural consequence and part of living. The body doesn’t need the brain to tell it how to die. All the mind has to do is to relax and record what is happening for as long as it can.
I am certain that the mind achieves some wisdom or understanding in the last moments before death that would benefit all living mortals if only that dying mind could somehow pass on to us that wisdom, what it’s like to transition to the other side of consciousness.
But nobody really has, have they?