Summary

January 8, 2019. Orientation: Student interest in the course; professor's background; discussion about the institutionalization of set ways of thinking about academic subject matter in the academy; distribution and review of "Course Outline," "Schedule and Homework Assignments," and "Grading Criteria;" teaching both content and skills in this course. Guest lecture: Neda: a near-death experience. Writing of one-minute essays: What are you looking forward to in this course? What are you afraid of in this course? Also, any comments and questions.

January 15, 2019. Comments about one-minute essays: workload in course, importance of getting in the habit of writing every day. Rules for small groups discussions. Small groups discussions of Question 1: What is a near-death experience? Describe a near-death experience. Is there anything interesting about near-death exeperiences? Lecure: difficulty of trying to define non-ordinary experiences, circular definition of hypnosis as the phenomenon which is studied as hypnosis, definition of altered state of consciousness, comparison with psychedelic drug experiences, shamanism and the notion of three worlds, amanita muscaria, NDEs during falls from mountains, cultural factors in NDEs and death-bed visions, yamdoot, the nature of subjectivity, shared NDEs, shared death experiences, shared dreams, peak in Darien experiences, seeing the living during NDEs, the living as guides between the world of the living and that of the dead, Brian Nosek and the replicability crisis in psychology, confabulated cases, Atwater's arithmetic, Atwater's categories with ambiguous boundaries, veridical perception, remote viewing, dying brain vs. alternate theories of NDEs, focus on cardiac arrest cases, lack of brain damage after NDEs, advances in resuscitation technology, anomalous healing. Writing of one-minute essays: What was the most useful thing that you learned today? Also, any comments and questions.

January 22, 2019. Announcements. Comments about 1-minute essays: square one syndrome, regression to the mean of materialism, need to go past square one in order to consider the substance of phenomena associated with consciousness. Comments about Question 1: importance of answering all parts of the question and staying on topic, importance of pulling together material from all of the readings, inadmissibility of the use of the singular "they," pseudoskeptics and true believers in materialism; the capacity of the mind to perceive, perception vs. cognition, luminosity and cognizance, near-death experiences of the blind, critical period for the development of vision, transcendental awareness, synesthesia, example of remote viewing someone who is deceased; filter theory vs. Montague Ullman's ethical aperture which opens wider in the dark. Small groups discussions of Question 2: Define and describe deathbed visions. What is the relevance of deathbed visions for understanding near-death experiences? Lecture: end of life experiences as a transition between "here" and "there," significance of specific direction of vision, John Wren-Lewis' notion of the hyperactive survival mechanism, anomalous foreknowledge of passing, Michael Nahm and terminal lucidity, death as a journey. Watching VHS video "Life After Life: Understanding Near-Death Experience," interview of Raymond Moody by Jeffrey Mishlove (Inner Works Videotape, 1988). Writing one-minute essays: What was the most important thing that you learned today? Also, any comments and questions.

January 29, 2019. Announcements. Comments about 1-Minute Essays: End-of-life experiences in medically assisted dying; importance of learning while alive; Roberto Assagioli's egg diagram (see here), Teilhard de Chardin's noosphere, psychosynthesis, raising one's self-identity from the lower self to the higher self as a way of understanding spiritual development, Montague Ullman's ethical aperture, Douglas Baker and the elevation of consciousness, visualizing near-death experiences; the dweller on the threshold, ring-pass-not, the shadow, distortions caused by desires and fears. Comments about Question 2: Give a definition when asked for a definition; definitions are given in Rivas, Fenwick, and Atwater; get more engaged with the details in your answers; the occurrence of shared ELEs, NDEs, and death experiences. Small Groups Discussions of Question 3: Describe distressing near-death experiences. What can we learn about the nature of consciousness and reality from them? Lecture: the self under the influence of ketamine (dissipated) vs. DMT (retained), the importance of set and setting in psychedelic drug experiences; will vs. surrender; distortion caused by fear; Lloyd Rudy's patient, the logical significance of a single counter-example, lack of reaction from medical community and TBIM, children's "memories" of prenatal experiences and NDEs, transcendental awareness; Maurice Rawling's credibility; absence of distressing NDEs from Raymond Moody's accounts; Phyllis Atwater's unsubstantiated statements regarding predispositions for distressing NDEs; need for therapy after distressing NDEs, importance of mental health professionals who understand NDEs; A Course in Miracles by Helen Schucman in 1976, problems with channelled writing; left-brain/right-brain mythology. Writing one-minute essays: Write whatever you want.

February 5, 2019. Announcements. Small Groups Discussions of Question 4: Describe children's near-death experiences. What can we learn about the nature of consciousness and reality from them? Lecture: similarities and differences between adult and child NDEs; what it means to be a child, children's increased maturity, adults' increased childlikeness, merging to an archetypal youthfulness; children's experiences of ketamine as near-death-like experiences; greeters in NDEs vs. the deceased in death-bed visions. Guest Lecture by Loretta Norton about heart and brain activity during the process of biological death: neurologically determined death vs. cardio-circulatory determined death; withdrawal of life-sustaining therapy, then pronounced dead, then must wait for 5 minutes in Canada (90 seconds to 5 minutes in the USA; 15 minutes in Latvia) before harvesting organs; dead donor rule; worrisomeness of brain waves smaller than 10 microVolts; brain death if less than 2 microVolts; case of participant whose heart restarted for 40 seconds after having been pronounced dead for 1 minute and 20 seconds; spike in brain activity before being pronounced dead; implications of research findings for organ donation and consciousness. Writing of 1-minute essays: what you would like to review next week as well as anything else that you want to write.

February 26, 2019. Announcements. Comments about one-minute essays: Brain imaging of brain activity during NDEs; the dying as spare parts. Comments about Question 4: Childrens' preconceptions about death and religious issues. Small groups discussions of Question 5: "What are some of the anomalous features of near-death experiences? What is the significance of such features for our understanding of consciousness and reality?" Lecture: Peak-in-Darien cases, seeing the deceased or living during NDEs, shared NDEs, NDEs of the blind, OBEs, ESP, clairvoyance, telepathy, Pauli effect, kundalini experiences, precognition, ADC experiences; context dependence of anomalies. Practice Names and Numbers Quiz. Review: Theories of NDEs, Lloyd Rudy's patient, meat jackets, Plato's analogy of the cave, Assagioli's egg diagram, three types of distressing NDEs, love as a common aftereffect of NDEs, specific cases of importance. Writing of one-minute essays: Make up a question for Part I or the Midterm Test and a question for Part II of the Midterm Test.

March 12, 2019. Drawing attention to Gustav Dore's woodcut of Dante and Beatrice in the tenth sphere of heaven. Taking up mid-term test. Small groups discussions of Question 6: "Describe some of the ways in which ordinary physical reality appears to be affected by near-death and death. What can we learn from such incidents, if anything? Lecture: coincidence of nosebleed at time of death, synchronous events with mechanical devices at the time of death, Jung's notion of synchronicity, Oscar the cat, blurring of limits of the self, magical thinking, apports. Lecture: a brief history of theosopy, theosophical theory of reality, planes and subplanes of reality, etheric matrix, astal bodies, astral goons, death as withdrawal from physical and etheric bodies, impressionable nature of astral material, devachan, reincarnation, lower vs. higher triads, development of the rainbow bridge, chakras, pingala, ida, and sushumna.

March 19, 2019. Comments about 1-minute essays: John Wren-Lewis' theory of the hyperactivity of a survival mechanism shutting out expanded consciousness; theosophical notions about events at the time of death. Small groups discussions about Question 7: "Explain why you think that Gustave Doré’s woodcut of Dante and Beatrice in the tenth sphere of heaven resonates with near-death experiencers. (Optional: How does this woodcut affect you?)" Lecture: Christian themes in woodcut; woodcut as a Rorschach blot, e.g., chaotic vs. comforting impressions; some drawings by experiencers are similar to Doré’s woodcut; the universal nature of light; the impression of love in the woodcut; the visual medium of the woodcut allows for the transmission of some of the ineffable features of NDEs; non-verbal nature of the psyche, Jungian archetypes, the noosphere; the unavoidability of ideological perspectives when addressing anything, shattering of usual ways of thinking about reality, learning to abide with confusion until new understanding emerges. Guest Speaker, Lina, "future memory:" near-death-like experience at age 16; five future memory episodes; opening and reading newspaper in future memory, white iPhone in image that was yet to be purchased, preliving Superbowl events, information from experiencer's point of view, living through parent's funeral with some clairvoyant features; acceptance of future memories by those around experiencer. Writing of one-minute essays: Write whatever you want.

March 26, 2019. Comments about Lina's apparent sixth future memory episode toward end of class. Photo of John Searle, Christof Koch, David Presti, et al. http://baruss.ca/ and their contributions to knowledge about consciosuness. Comments about Question 7: the woodcut is a woodcut, not a painting; could have brought more specific material from the readings into answers. Small groups discussions of Question 8: "What do you think is the best materialist argument for the near-death and death experiences discussed in this course? How well does it work?" Lecture: hypothesis that expectation releases DMT; correspondence of neural activity with psychological activity; dying brain hypothesis, hypoxia, experiences of test pilots; ketamine, NMDA, endogenous ketamine; speculative nature of materialist explanations; falling from mountains as counterexample for dying brain hypotheses; John Lorber's research with anencephalic children, comparison with terminal lucidity; existential qualia, hard problem of consciousness, supervenience theses; compromised memory during NDEs; OBEs and Charley Tart's experiment about veridical perception during OBEs; gamma brain wave theory of consciousness; enhanced mentation during NDEs, inverse relationship between  brain function and vividness of NDEs; anaesthetized vs. lack of brain activity in Pam Reynolds case; time anchors; filter theory, correspondence of activity in particular parts of the brain with psychological events necessary for the psychological events to occur; retrocognition, brain processes without consciousness; meaninglessness and meanness of reality; pluralism vs. relativism; field of information vs. survival as explanations. substance dualism, binding problem. Writing of one-minute essays: Write whatever you want.

April 2, 2019. Comments about 1-minute essays: materialist vs non-materialist approaches to reality; lecture about beliefs about consciousness and reality (the slides for the Beliefs about Consciousness and Reality Research are here: 3177beliefsresearch.pdf). Small groups discussions of Question 9: "What are some of the practical applications and consequences of the knowledge presented in this course?" Discussion: academic corruption, life changing information, Mario Beauregard's research, set science free, the art of dying, neuroscience porn, Tononi's Φ, Maurice Bucke and cosmic consciousness as the next stage of human evolution, Phyllis Atwater's speculations, the big troubles. Writing of one-minute essays: What do you want to review next week? Also, any comments and questions.

April 9, 2019. Comments about Question 9: practical applications and consequences. Review: Names and Numbers Quiz: Christof Koch, Tononi's Φ, Wilder Penfield's neurological examinations, dorsomedial thalamic nuclei as site of interconnection between the mind and the brain; four notable cases of near-death experiences, major theories, chakras, wave-particle duality as a metaphor for different experiences of inner light (Atwater, p. 325), critique of some of Phyllis Atwater's speculations. Writing of one-minute essays: Please give a definition of veridical near-death experience.