What Happens When We Die?*

Everything in the universe exists in a continuous state of fluctuation, from extremely contracted to extremely expansive. Planets. Rocks. Galaxies. Humans too – our bodies and our minds.

I once heard a fascinating lecture by a neurobiologist who had suffered a stroke that left her temporarily unable to process visual and aural information rationally. She said it was like being on LSD. She talked about looking at her hand and not being able to distinguish between the fingers and the space between them. She said the experience helped her understand that the material world was an energy field where there are no rigid distinctions between observed phenomenon, between flesh and air, for example. She also said that it was not scary. It was, in fact, the opposite of scary. She said she felt an amazing calmness and openness as if her body were melting into the universe.

I remember thinking that this was an example of consciousness expanding beyond the normal bounds of experience. And that although her sensations could be dismissed as hallucinatory, they could also be seen as truer in some way than the “normal” experience of the world. After all, from an atomic (sub-atomic) perspective, the human body is not separate from its environment but connected to it, both in terms of proximity and composition. In other words, our bodies and the invisible space around us are essentially electronic impulses.

It could be argued that her experience was one in which the essential condition of existence was finally visible because her awareness of existential information was highlighted, while the screening process that rationalizes sensory input was diminished.

Of course, I could not help but relate it to the idea we are discussing here, the fundamental nature of everything as fluctuations between contraction/tightness and expansion/relaxation.

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