What does It Mean “to Die”

What is happening with us when we are claimed to be dead? People of all the times desperately wanted to find an answer for this question. But what we have now? Do we know what waits us when we step over a threshold of death? We’ll try to figure it out.

Image Credit: Vinoth Chandar/flickr.com

At first, it is important to understand the meaning of the term “death”. According to the dictionary death is “the end of all functions in an organism”. So, it means death starts after our brain activity is stopped, our blood does not circulate in the body and our heart, lungs and other organs cease to perform their immediate functions.

We can agree with this definition, many people and scientists agree with it too. But then there is a logical question, “what happens with our consciousness after we are dead?”

There are two theories on this point. The first one considers consciousness as a property of brain. It says people lose mind after our brain dies. But there are a lot of people, who were at death’s door and came back to life, who heard every word, which was pronounced while they were “dead”. Their brain stopped working, so they could not keep their mind as the theory says. Now we come to the other approach, which was developed by Jim B. Tucker. This theory states an idea that consciousness exists even after the body is dead. As it is known at the basic level everything around us is only movements of protons and electrons, they only occur once they are observed. Thus, we assume the world derived from consciousness itself. Therefore, consciousness may not depend on existence and can be even without the living brain. So, consciousness can live out the human body and continue to live. Here we should speak about the reincarnation idea.

Does reincarnation really exist? Let’s see what scientists say. Psychiatrist Ian Stevenson in his book “Children Who Remembered Previous Lives” investigates 14 cases of children who knew details from their previous lives. The doctor indicated children usually start to speak about their past lives about the age of two and four. They can experience a so-called double existence identifying themselves with the persons they used to be. That’s why children usually talk about past themselves in present time, saying things like, “I have a wife”. We would like to illustrate Ian Stevenson’s words with the example of 4-year-old Ryan. “Action!” was the word which the boy constantly used during his games. But parents did not pay much attention to it until their child screamed at night saying he dreamed his heart exploded. Then the boy told their parents he had a big beautiful house in Hollywood, and was a father of three beloved sons, but could not remember their names. The parents conducted an investigation, finally they found out who their son was previous life. It turned out he was a Hollywood actor from the 1930-s, he indeed had three sons and a daughter, with whom Ryan and his parents met.

On the other hand there are people against reincarnation theory. The main reason is that such stories about reincarnation may simply be artifice. Here we can give an example from practice of Ian Stevenson. The doctor found a man Edward Ryan an Englishman, who remembered himself as John Fletcher, an Englishman who was born in 1645 died in 1685 in Somerset. Stevenson found no trace of John Fletcher in 17th century in Somerset. As no evidence of John Fletcher could be found, Edward Ryan’s story considered as his fantasy.

So, in spite of the fact that the technology is evolving day by day we still cannot look beyond death. We cannot know what we experience while dying and what waits us after it, whether it is an immortal life or the end of the road. Will we ever know? May be death will remain the greatest mystery of human life forever.

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