Transcript of interview #588 – Bruce Greyson
>>Rick: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer. Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of interviews with spiritually awakening people and people who are experts in various topics that pertain to spirituality or development of consciousness and other such topics. We have done nearly 590 of these now. I should just start saying six hundred. If this is new to you, and you’d like to check out some of the previous ones, please go to batgap.com and look under the past interviews menu, where you’ll see all the previous ones organized in several different ways. This program is made possible through the support of appreciative listeners and viewers so if you appreciate it and would like to help support it, there is a PayPal button on every page of the website. My guest today is Dr. Bruce Greyson, MD. Welcome, Bruce.
>>Bruce: Thank you, Rick. I’m delighted to be here with you today.
>>Rick: Great to have you. Dr. Greyson is the Chester F. Carlson Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences, and Director Emeritus of the Division of Perceptual Studies at the University of Virginia. He was one of the founders of the International Association for Near-Death Studies, and for 27 years edited the Journal of Near-Death Studies. Dr. Greyson majored in psychology at Cornell University. When did you go there, by the way, Bruce?
>>Bruce: ’64 to ‘68
>>Rick: That was before my time. I used to teach meditation in upstate New York. I used to lecture at Cornell. All right, I interrupted myself. Okay. Majored in psychology at Cornell, received his medical degree from the State University of New York, Upstate Medical College, and completed his psychiatric residency at the University of Virginia. He practiced and taught psychiatry at the University of Michigan and the University of Connecticut (I’m from Connecticut, by the way) where he was Clinical Chief of Psychiatry, before returning to the University of Virginia 25 years ago. Dr. Greyson’s research for the past four decades has focused on the after-effects and implications of near-death experiences (NDEs). He is co-author of The Near-Death Experience: Problems, Prospects, Perspectives; and of The Handbook of Near-Death Experiences: 30 years of investigation, co-author of Irreducible Mind Toward a Psychology for the 21st century; and author of After: A Doctor Explores What Near-Death Experiences Reveal about Life and Beyond. Okay, so let’s get right into it. Probably almost everybody listening to this interview has an idea of what near-death experiences are given the nature of my audience. But just to make sure we’re all on the same page and understanding our terminology in the same way, why don’t you define, give us a short definition of near-death experiences?
>>Bruce: Sure, a near-death experience is a profound event that people experience when they are near death, on the threshold of death, or sometimes just afraid they are about to die. And they include such things as a sense of leaving the physical body, going through some type of a tunnel to another realm of light where they encounter a loving being of light. They often go through a life review and at some point may see other entities such as deceased loved ones. And then at some point, they come back to their bodies. They choose to come back or are told to come back. But the entire experience is infused with a sense of peace and wellbeing which is in stark contrast to the near-death state when they are terrified, usually in a lot of pain.
>>Rick: Are there ever any scary near-death experiences where people are glad to get back because it was so frightening?
>>Bruce: Well, there are some Rick. It’s hard to know how many because people are much more reluctant to talk about the unpleasant ones. But most researchers who have looked at this think that between one in 5% of near-death experiences are unpleasant.
>>Rick: I think I remember either in your book or somewhere hearing an account of someone for whom it was very scary until he or she finally just relaxed and stopped fighting it, and then it got nice.
>>Bruce: Right. That’s actually fairly common. Many near-death experiences sound phenomenologically just like the positive blissful ones, but they are experienced in a terrifying way. For example, people may report being thirsty or tumbling at blinding speed and then seeing this flashing light. And they are terrified of that. No matter what people report about an NDE, a consistent feature is that you’re not in control of the situation. And if you’re the type of person that needs to be in control, that can be a terrifying experience. So these people will fight against it and struggle against it, at some point, get exhausted, and just surrender. And as soon as they surrender, it becomes a blissful experience.
>>Rick: Yeah, that sometimes happens with psychedelics, too. In general, I mean, I’ve heard many accounts of how having a near-death experience, or having had one, really changes a person’s life. So let’s talk about that a little bit. Tell us some ways in which near-death experiences (even you could give specific anecdotes if you want) have changed people’s lives.
>>Bruce: Right. Well, as a psychiatrist, that’s the aspect of the NDE, near-death experience, that’s most interesting to me. Because I spend my life trying to help people make changes in their lives, and I know how difficult it is in here. And here an experience comes along in a second or two that can totally transform people’s lives. It generally makes them more spiritual, more compassionate, more altruistic, and less concerned with physical things like material goods, power, prestige, fame, competition. I’ll give you some examples of this. One fellow I knew, he was a high school bully, and his goal in life was to become a Marine. And he eventually did become a Marine, this was back in the seventies. He served in Vietnam, he was a sergeant leading his platoon and he was shot in the chest and had shrapnel all over his lungs. He was air evaced to a hospital in the Philippines, where he underwent surgery. And during that surgery, he had a blissful near-death experience. And when he awoke, he was a changed person. He was kind, compassionate. When he recovered, he was sent back into Vietnam, to lead his platoon again, and he found that he could not shoot his gun. The idea of hurting someone was just unthinkable to him. So he ended up leaving the Marines, coming back to the States and becoming a medical technician. I’ve heard story after story about this. About policemen who had near-death experiences, and again, could not partake in a violent life. One person, he was a mafia employee and had to give up that career. [laughing] I’ve also heard from people who were in competitive businesses, who came back from a near-death experience thinking that competition makes no sense, that we’re all in this together, and what you do to somebody else, you’re doing to yourself. They often come back with a sense of the golden rule as being what it’s all about. And the idea is not, as they say, a goal that you should aim for, as the rest of us do. But they say this is, I realized, a law of the universe like gravity, that what you do to someone else you’re doing to yourself as well.
>>Rick: Why do you think it is that a near-death experience produces those kinds of personality changes?
>>Bruce: That’s a great question, Rick. I don’t know the answer to that. As I said, I don’t know of anything else that is that powerful in transforming people’s lives. But it changes their attitudes, their beliefs, their values, and therefore their behavior. I’ve talked to people in their nineties, who had the experience as teenagers, and they say, it’s like it happened yesterday, that I’ve never forgotten it and the changes stay with me.
>>Rick: Yeah, sometimes psychedelic experiences, under the right circumstances will have those kinds of changes. And as you probably know, they’re doing research at Johns Hopkins and places like that, you know, people are getting over alcoholism, or cigarette addiction or whatever, with just one session. And meditation, of course, can have that kind of effect, but usually not in one sitting. Although in my case when I learned in ‘68, I was a messed-up kid and within a few weeks, my whole life had changed. Mainly because the contrast was so great. So how has all this study you’ve been doing this for decades, actually impacted your life? And this is a question from a friend of mine named Bruce, who lives here in my town. He’s wondering what are the most profound effects that doing all this research has had on you.
>>Bruce: Well, I started out in this career as a diehard materialist. I grew up in a scientific family, where all we talked about, all they knew about was the physical worlds. We weren’t opposed to the spiritual it just never occurred to us, is there anything beyond the physical? So I went through college and medical school thinking, what you see is what you get. And when you die, that’s the end of it. There was nothing beyond the physical. And then when I first started my internship in psychiatry, within a couple of months, I was confronted by a patient who was unconscious when I tried to evaluate her in the emergency room. And I ended up talking to her roommate in a room down the hall to get some background information about her. When I then saw the patient again, the next day when she woke, she stunned me by describing to me the entire conversation I had with her roommate, including what we were wearing, where we’re sitting and so forth, not making any mistakes at all. And that just blew me away, frankly, it terrified me.
>>Rick: You had a stain on your tie, right? That was part of it.
>>Bruce: Yes. I had, just before I came to see her see her, I dropped some spaghetti sauce on my tie and covered it up with my lab coat, so no one would see it. And when I talked to her roommate, it was so hot in that room, I unbuttoned the coat so that she could see it. And the patient knew about that.
>>Rick: And the only way she could do that with a drug overdose in another part of the building …
>>Bruce: That’s right. And the only way she could have known about our conversation was if she had followed me down the hall to that other room and been with her. And that made no sense to me. As far as I could tell we were our bodies. How can you leave your body?
>>Rick: Yeah. And her friend hadn’t had a chance to meet with her to recount the conversation?
>>Bruce: No. She was in the intensive care unit overnight with no visitors.
>>Rick: Right. That’s interesting. Well, that’s kind of, we’re getting to what motivates me to include — near-death experiences on this show. And I’ve had Anita Moorjani and a bunch of other well-known people. And that is that, well let me ask you a question first before I say that, what percentage of the population if you know, thinks that we are just these physical bodies and that when you die, that’s the end of it, compared to the percentage that thinks that life continues in some way?
>>Bruce: I don’t know about the general population, but I can tell you something that surprised me that three different studies of scientists, one done in Scotland, one done in Belgium, and one done in Brazil, have found that 50% of scientists believe that the mind is something independent of the body –something non-physical that exists outside the brain.
>>Rick: That’s encouraging. And the reason I asked that question is I ponder sometimes what it must be like to live life if you think that this is all you are. And when this dies, that’s the end of it, you know. It would be such a radically different perspective than what I’m accustomed to. But some people seem to be fine with it. Personally, I think I would find it very disturbing.
>>Bruce: Well, let me respond to that because I started out life that way, the first 25 years, and it was not disturbing at all. It was very comforting to know that we have all the answers, and there was nothing surprising out there. And when you encounter something that can’t be explained by materialistic models, it’s quite unnerving. And it just requires you to confront everything you thought you know.
>>Rick: Yeah. And it’s a major issue in the scientific world because one of the main unanswered questions in sciences is what is consciousness? And so there’s this big debate about whether it’s created by the brain or vice versa. And this, I’m just saying – you know this- I’m just saying it for the audience, but there’s this entrenched paradigm that of materialism, that is resisting an ever-growing body of evidence, anomalies that would overturn it.
>>Bruce: Yes. Well, we all say, I wouldn’t say all of us, but most of us grew up thinking that the mind is what the brain does because it seems that way in everyday life. When you get intoxicated, you don’t think very clearly, or when you have a stroke or hit your head that affects your thinking. But it does seem that in extreme circumstances, like a near-death experience, when the brain seems to be diminished, the mind seems to be doing better than ever. And there are other examples of this as well, including the studies done at Hopkins and elsewhere in the last decade with neuro imaging of psychedelic drugs, showing that the more elaborate mystical experiences are associated with a decrease in electrical activity in the brain.
>>Rick: Yeah, the filters are removed, so to speak. A question just came in from my wife. She’s sitting right here. She emailed it over. What main similarities are there in most NDEs and are there any big differences in various NDEs?
>>Bruce: Well, we have studied NDEs across the globe from different cultures. And we also have records of NDEs going back to ancient Greece and Rome. And they all sound essentially the same in terms of the phenomenology, however, how people interpret what they experience is influenced by their cultural background. An example is most people report encountering a warm, loving being of light that makes them feel welcomed and well protected. And in Western countries, that’s often interpreted as God or Christ. And you don’t hear that in Hindu and Buddhist cultures. However, even among Christians, they will say to you, I’m going to call this God, so you know what I’m talking about. But it wasn’t the God I was taught about in churches. It’s much bigger than that. I’m just using that word so we can communicate.
>>Rick: And probably the Hindus and the Buddhists would say I saw Krishna, or I saw Buddha or something,
>>Bruce: Right or Yam Du or something right.
>>Rick: Have you read Michael Newton’s books?
>>Rick: So, what was interesting, just for the audience’s sake, he was a guy who specialized in hypnotically regressing people to the period between lives. And he did so many of them, and there was so much agreement among the types of things they said that he was able to map out a kind of a topography of that territory, of that realm. And his books describe that in great detail. So it’s kind of similar to what we’re talking about here, right? I mean, is there anything you’d want to elaborate on that point?
>>Bruce: Well, actually, some of my colleagues here at the University of Virginia study very young children, preschool children, who claim to remember a past life. And in Myanmar, there were a number of children who report the period between lives as well.
>>Rick: Why Myanmar of all places?
>>Bruce: That’s a good question. Well, it’s a Buddhist country so that may have something to do with their willingness to think about these things. One of my colleagues did a study of what the afterlife is like, from the perspective of these children who describe it and compare it to new death experiences from Myanmar. And they were very, very similar.
>>Rick: Was that Ian Stevenson, or the guy who has…
>>Bruce: No, Jim Tucker. Jim Tucker succeeded him.
>>Rick: I’d like to interview Jim one of these days. A minute ago we were talking about people who have a hard time accepting that there’s anything other than the body, which might account for these experiences. And, of course, people have posited oxygen deprivation or all kinds of theories, although it’s very hard to explain, being able to see what’s happening in another part of the building, [laughing] when you’re in a total coma by oxygen deprivation. I don’t know how they get around that. But I do have a few questions here that some very intelligent people who are skeptical in that way sent in. I’d like to ask you those and see what you have to say. One of them is by a fellow named Kenneth in the Netherlands. And he said, there are people who do not seem to have measurable brain activity while they’re experiencing an out-of-body state or an NDE, I guess, Eben Alexander would be an example. Do you think that it could be possible to remain within a certain physicalist framework if we will assume that consciousness is more like a network, or a field distributed throughout the whole body? So, in other words, remaining functional aspects of the nervous system would somehow be generating those, those experiences even if the brain itself was shut down?
>>Bruce: Right, that’s an interesting question. And people have speculated about other parts of our nervous system other than the cerebral cortex being involved in consciousness, such as the cerebellum, or the brainstem, or our nervous system in the gut. But these are just speculations. There’s no data bearing on that. And people have also speculated about something outside the physical body, but it’s still in a physical framework somewhere. So that is plausible, and as a skeptic myself, I kind of like to entertain those ideas. But there’s no evidence that such a thing can really happen. So we’re stuck with what do you want to believe? There’s no evidence for any of it.
>>Rick: Yeah. One metaphor analogy I find very handy in explaining all this and explaining the possible relation of consciousness to the body is just that of the radio in relation to the electromagnetic field. I mean, the radio isn’t actually generating the music, it’s picking up fluctuations in the field and giving us music. And if you damage the radio, the music stops, but it doesn’t mean the fluctuations in the field have stopped.
>>Bruce: Exactly. I think that’s a good analogy for how the brain and the mind interact. It makes sense in terms of evolutionary theory, that the brain having evolved as part of our physical body would have this filter function, to let in from consciousness only those thoughts and feelings that are relevant to our survival in the physical world. How to find food, shelter, and a mate, etc. And if the brain is perceiving things about deceased loved ones or a deity, those aren’t relevant to physical survival. So it sort of filters those out.
>>Rick: Yeah. And that’s kind of a blessing in a way. If we could actually perceive everything that was going on, we’d be completely overwhelmed.
>>Bruce: Like listening to every radio station at the same time.
>>Rick: Yeah. I mean, as people who have sometimes taken a psychedelic and then gone out into public, where they should actually be in a more secluded environment, will tell you, it’s just too much, there’s just too much coming at you. You can’t handle it. One handy way of understanding all this and we’ll see what you think about it, is I’ll just reference Vedanta here, but I’m sure there are other traditions that talk about it, is that we have these different levels to our structure, that Vedanta talks about the kosha sheaths, and there are five of them. And the Annamaya Kosha is the physical body, but then there’s four other ones that are more and more subtle. And when the physical body dies, these other sheaths don’t die, they just don’t have a physical body to function in. And so this might be a good explanation for how NDEs work. You know, the brain shuts down, and yet your subtle body is actually perhaps then (since the physical body isn’t doing it much good) is actually a little bit liberated and can go down the hall or something like that, have out of body experiences. And this will also account for reincarnation, where the physical body dies, but the subtle body carries on and eventually takes up another physical body.
>>Bruce: Yeah. Well, I don’t know that I can comment on that meaningfully. I’m basically a scientist. I like to deal with the data. And it’s certainly plausible. I don’t know how you would try to test that in terms of scientific methods.
>>Rick: Yeah, true, although yogis claim to have come up with this idea through direct subjective exploration and to have concurred with one another after a lot of them have had this kind of exploration.
>>Bruce: Yeah, this is a problem also with near-death research, because most of the things people say happened in the NDE are things that we cannot corroborate through talking to other people. They’re subjective experiences. The only things we can corroborate are when they see things outside their physical body that they shouldn’t be able to see or hear. Or they come back from the NDE with information that only a deceased person had.
>>Rick: Yes. And there’s, I mean, there’s so many accounts of that. And I know you tried to do research where you set up targets in the room that people would see if they had a near-death experience. But I guess you decided that whole research design was not that hot. Eventually.
>>Bruce: Yeah [laughing] well you know, when I described this to near-death experiencers, they kind of laugh. They say if you’re out of your body for the first time, watching your body being operated on, why are you going to look around the room for some target you didn’t know was there and has no relevance to you?
>>Rick: Yes, like a pattern on a laptop, right?
>>Rick: Okay, here’s some more of these kinds of hard-core skeptical people. I have a friend named Julian Walker, who is one of the guys who do the Conspirituality Podcast, which you probably haven’t heard of, but he’s a very spiritual guy, dedicated meditator, has been for years. And yet he is very reluctant to accept any kind of woo-woo explanation for things. He thinks sort of a physical explanation can account for a lot of these experiences. So here’s his question. Here is how he describes himself. He is fascinated with the intersections of yoga, meditation, psychology, science, and culture. And he has three questions that I thought were all very good. The first is, given that NDEs and other spiritual experiences are common across time and cultures, can we take the variety with regard to how people interpret them based on their different cultures and religious beliefs as evidence that what we think an NDE experience means is really more relative than objective?
>>Bruce: Well, that’s a great question. I can’t argue with that. I think it is evidence that something about our perceptions is relative. Whether that’s the reality itself being relative, or just the way we have of perceiving it being relative is hard to say. You know, our brains have only a limited range of what they can do with material coming in. And that is certainly influenced by what we expect to see and what our culture trains us to pay attention to. So I’m not sure whether the relativity comes in our brains or in what’s really out there. Both are plausible to me.
>>Rick: Okay, good. Here’s the second question. Meaningful experiences can be disentangled from literalist metaphysical claims. Explaining them as altered brain states need not reduce our sense of life-changing wonder.
>>Bruce: Well, that’s true. If you could explain these things in terms of a brain change, that would not mean they’re not important spiritual, profound experiences. However, we don’t know of any way that a physical event, a chemical, or electrical change in neurons can produce a conscious thought, or a feeling, or perception. We’ve been struggling with this for centuries, and no one’s come up with a plausible idea how this could happen.
>>Rick: Yeah, and moreover, as much as we understand the brain, so far, there’s no explanation, not only for why we have consciousness, or thoughts or anything else, but certainly no explanation of why someone, in deep anesthesia with their chests opened up, could see a red sneaker on the roof of the hospital or something which they had no way of knowing was there. [pause]
Okay, so here’s the third question, can the tightly linked subjectivity of powerful altered states, experiences, and metaphysical interpretations really stand as scientific evidence? Might there be a third option that honors the experience is real without overreaching into claiming it is proof of religious beliefs about life after death?
>>Bruce: Yes, I think you certainly can. You can kind of throw up your hands and say, we can’t test on these metaphysical ideas. We’ll just say that they’re due to physical changes in the brain. But I think that’s just as mysterious as saying they’re metaphysical. We don’t know how the brain could do these things. So we’re saying it’s not testable at this point in our current technology. So we’ll just say, I believe it can happen that way. And no way of testing that any more than testing metaphysical ideas.
>>Rick: I wonder why people are so resistant to the notion that well, like you say, it’s maybe half the scientists believe that the mind is somehow independent of the brain. But the people who really dig their heels in and resist this, what is it that bothers them about the idea? Maybe they just don’t want to sort of indulge in unprovable woo-woo. But to me, the idea is very appealing, and there does seem to be a heck of a lot of evidence for it. So I’m not quite sure why the skepticism,
>>Bruce: I can speak to that because I was that way myself. And I still consider myself a skeptic. But it’s more than just the idea that these woo-woo ideas are associated with mysticism and religious ideas throughout the centuries. It’s the idea that, if the physical world is all there is, then we can feel comfortable and safe in knowing more and more about the physical world. Whereas if you let in the idea of nonphysical things, which we don’t really understand, that can lead to a much more scary conception of the universe. And that can be terrifying for people who are totally unfamiliar with that. On the other hand, the vast majority of people who have near-death experiences tell me that the physical world is not only not the whole thing but is a tiny part of the whole thing. And that what is out there is not something to be afraid of, that the universe is basically a friendly place. And that what awaits us after the body dies, it’s not something to be afraid of.
>>Rick: Yeah. I mean, that seems so much more inspiring than to think that we’re just sort of biological robots in a meaningless universe and, that, you know, life sucks, and then you die.
>>Bruce: Well, yeah, I can say that a lot of my spiritual friends say that materialism is a bankrupt philosophy and leads to meaninglessness. But having been there, I didn’t feel that was a problem at all. I was very happy being materialist. I wasn’t feeling like it was meaningless. We give meaning to life. And yet, I had to give up my hardcore belief in materialism when I came across hard data that contradicted it that could not be explained in a materialistic framework.
>>Rick: Yeah. And it’s very, probably somewhat courageous of you to do so. As a matter of fact, I believe you told a story in your book about how you basically had to leave a job at a hospital and move to another state because you didn’t want to sacrifice this interest.
>>Bruce: Well, yeah, it didn’t feel so much like courage as it did intellectual honesty. I couldn’t turn my back on this and pretend it didn’t happen and still face myself in the mirror.
>>Rick: I think what you’re doing is very important, and all kinds of related things that people are doing because I think we’re undergoing a major cultural shift. And it’s critical that we do so. And that not only this understanding that you’re offering a piece of, but the experience that goes along with it, which can be developed in a permanent way through various practices, is the ultimate leverage which might save us from extinction.
>>Bruce: Right. You know, the near-death experience is not by any means the only way to get this type of enlightenment, it just seems to be one of the most common ones, most reliable ones in the current climate. But certainly, you can do it through various spiritual practices, through meditation. And it can come through, as you know, from psychedelic drugs as well.
>>Rick: Yeah. If the near-death experience were the only way of doing it, you wouldn’t want to do it voluntarily. I just meant to say that, anytime during this conversation, when something pops into your head that you’d like to bring up (and I’m not asking a question about it) feel free to just launch into it.
>>Bruce: Will do that.
>>Rick: Okay, so you sent me some points that we want to be sure to discuss. And even though we’ve touched on some of them a little bit, I think that many of them could be elaborated on. Let’s drill down a little bit more into how we might know or suspect that NDEs are real, and not simply some kind of dream due to oxygen deprivation or drugs or whatever, or our mere imagination.
>>Bruce: Yeah, that’s a great question, Rick, because that’s how I started out, assuming these were just hallucinations or delusions. And we tested one theory after another, for example, the idea that oxygen deprivation is causing these NDEs. And what studies in the UK and the US have both found is that people who report near-death experiences actually have more oxygen in their brains than people who don’t report NDEs in a similar new test situation.
>>Rick: Why is that? Why does the brain have more oxygen for them?
>>Bruce: Well, it may be a factor that if you have very low oxygen going to the brain, you’re not able to remember what happens in an NDE later on. So you’re less likely to report it. So it may not be that better oxygen allows you to have an NDE, but it allows you to remember it later.
>>Rick: Because I’m sure that in some circumstances, people have less oxygen going in the brain.
>>Bruce: Definitely. The same is true also about drugs given to people in a near-death situation. The more drugs people are given, the less likely they are to report on a near-death experience.
>>Rick: Now I’m sharing these generalities because Eben Alexander, for instance, his brain was full of pus, and I doubt that he had more oxygen, and yet he had this amazing experience.
>>Bruce: Right. It would be nice to be able to image the people’s brains while they’re having a near-death experience. But that’s not really practical to do.
>>Rick: Yeah, you’re trying to save their life, and hey, wait a minute, let me hook up these electrodes. And again one could imagine all the things NDE people are saying, but some of them are verifiable, like the spaghetti sauce stain on your tie, or the red sneaker on the roof of the building or, many, many other things. And so, even though you could imagine those very same things, the fact that they correlate with real-world circumstances rules out imagination.
>>Bruce: Yeah, it’s true. Jen Holden, at the University of North Texas, actually studied almost 100 of these cases of people who left their bodies and reported things that could be verified. And what she found was that in 92% of them, they were completely accurate.
>>Rick: And the funny thing is a lot of people who are skeptical or who will dismiss near-death experiences and are not even going to hear this or not even going to look at the evidence because, there’s that phenomenon that seems to be happening — the Galileo effect — where ‘I’m not going to look through the telescope, because there couldn’t be moons on Jupiter, so you’re wasting my time.’
>>Bruce: Exactly. There must be some trick because it can’t really happen.
>>Rick: So I’m not even gonna look at what you say is your evidence. But I think that that attitude has a limited lifespan.
>>Bruce: Yes. You know, they tend to discount anecdotes because anecdotes aren’t data. But in fact, anecdotes are the beginning of data. All science starts with anecdotes. And you collect a bunch of them and find patterns in them, and then develop hypotheses and test them. But if you don’t take the anecdote seriously, then you’ve got nothing to work with. There was a study done, published in the British Medical Journal several years ago, a tongue and cheek article, looking at whether parachutes are helpful when you jump out of an airplane. They said they’re going to restrict their review to double-blind controlled studies of whether the parachutes are used or not.
>>Rick: So in other words, you’d have a control group who didn’t use parachutes and see how it can protect.
>>Bruce: Exactly, and they couldn’t find a single study like that.
>>Rick: Yeah, they couldn’t find any volunteers to be in the control group.
>>Bruce: Right. They concluded that there’s no evidence of parachutes help.
>>Rick: Yeah. Good one. [laughing] Irene has another question. Have you ever speculated as to how an NDE might differ from a death experience? And I could just elaborate on that briefly. People sometimes say, Well, how do you know anything exists after death? Because the NDE might take you so far, but you’re still alive. And maybe when you really totally die, then there’s nothing.
>>Bruce: Well, that’s a very good point. Because these people that we’re talking to came back, and they weren’t dead for very long. And you could posit, this is plausible, that we survive death for 10 minutes, an hour, a couple of days. And then we stop existing, and the NDE itself doesn’t usually provide evidence of eternal life. However, there are some new death experiences in which people communicate with deceased loved ones who’ve been gone for decades and bring back accurate information from them which would possibly imply that these people are still surviving in some form, long after their death. There are other interpretations. I mean, the information from those deceased people could be in some type of cosmic cloud that we don’t know about, the Akashic fields. And the NDE somehow accesses them. But that’s no less unbelievable than the fact that people survive and continue to live decades after their death.
>>Rick: And when you say they bring back information from deceased relatives, it’s not just stuff that they could have learned when the relative was alive, but stuff they wouldn’t have had any way of knowing.
>>Bruce: Exactly, yeah.
>>Rick: And also, I suppose if we look at your research as one leg of the stool, and then Ian Stevenson and his successors’ research as another leg of the stool, and there’s probably a few other legs, you put it all together, then it’s a pretty stable stool.
>>Bruce: It is, and it all suggests that we don’t end our existence when the body dies. And furthermore, that what happens after death is not something to be terrified of.
>>Rick: What about the whole Christian notion of heaven and hell and you’re going to go to hell for all eternity. Do NDE people come back with a different take on that, even if they had been fundamentalist Christians?
>>Bruce: They usually do, not always. But they usually come back with idea that the spiritual world, if I can use that term, the afterlife, is something that transcends any particular one religion’s dogma, and people usually feel much more spiritual, but not necessarily much more religious. And they typically say things like I feel at home in any house of worship of any denomination.
>>Rick: It’s good, become more universal. Sometimes when I think of religious fundamentalism and how the religions on this little speck of dust are all battling each other and killing each other for so many 1000 years. Actually, my desktop photos, which change every few seconds, are pictures of galaxies because it kind of puts things in perspective. And you think of probably the likelihood of there being trillions of inhabited planets throughout the universe and gazillions of religions, each one of which thinks it’s the only one, and the whole thing gets a little absurd.
Okay, a lot of these questions, we will have covered somewhat, but now we can consider that to have been a main point introduction. And we’ll go into a little bit more detail. Are NDEs just reflections of what we expect to happen when we face death? And I could add to that by saying, well, we’ve already talked about people who expected nothing to happen, but maybe people expected, you know, heaven or Jesus or, or something. And yet something very different happened, which changed their conception of things.
>>Bruce: Yeah, it is actually very common that people say that what they experienced was totally different from what they were taught to believe in. And I’ve talked people who were diehard Christians and fundamentalist Christians, who came back again with this more non-denominational spirituality and saying that it’s not at all what I was led to believe. We also did a study looking at people who reported near death experiences to us before Raymond Moody wrote his book in 1975, which gave us that name, and told us what to expect in NDEs. But these were reports that people told us, under the label of out of body experiences or deathbed visions or apparitions. But today, we recognize them as near-death experiences. And we collected the best two dozen of those cases we had from before the 1970s. And compared them with a match group that we collected in recent years matched in terms of age, gender, religion, religiosity, how close they came to death. And we found there was absolutely no difference. What people reported before Moody told us what to expect is the same as what they report now.
>>Rick: Have you gotten any funding or financial support for this research, or is this is kind of like a sideline and not your day job?
>>Bruce: Well, it’s a sideline, and I understand that because if you’re doing medical research, you want to put the money where the biggest practical payoff is going to be — in heart disease, or cancer or opiate abuse. So people aren’t going to waste huge bucks on something like, do we survive physical death? So most of our funding has come from private individuals in private foundations who are interested in this area.
>>Rick: Yeah. But then you’re a psychiatrist, and you get paid to help people feel better psychologically and live a happier life. And as we’ve been discussing these near-death experiences tend to have that effect profoundly.
>>Bruce: It does. I tend not to bring that up with patients spontaneously, but they often Google me and know about my interest and ask me about it. And if it’s relevant to what they’re going through, I certainly will talk about it with them, for example people who are suicidal, who are struggling with what is death all about. What’s the meaning of life? We may get into a discussion about near death experiences.
>>Rick: Yeah, I mean, regarding suicide, at a certain point, I kind of latched on to the notion that people commit suicide, presumably to escape from the unpleasantness of their life. But if this life is not the end of it, and if we continue on, and if reincarnation is true, and we’re going to end up taking on another life, then I may be wrong about this, but my feeling is that you actually make things worse, in the long run. It’s not like, Okay, I’ll kill myself and next life will be better. No, you’ve kind of copped out, you’ve kind of ducked a challenge that you failed to meet, and chances are, you’re going to have to meet, be confronted with it again, and it might even be more daunting the next time.
>>Bruce: Yeah, well, this was a good point because when I first heard from many near death experiences, that the most profound after effect of the experience was a loss of their fear of death. I started wondering about whether this is going to make people more suicidal, because many people who are thinking of trying to escape this life, are afraid of what’s going to happen when they die. But if you lose that fear of death, is that going to make you more suicidal? So of course, being a scientist, I did a study of this. And I started interviewing people in my hospital who were admitted after a suicide attempt. I compared those who had a near death experience as a result of the attempt with those who didn’t. And the ones who had a near death experience were much less suicidal afterwards. And when I asked them why, they said, Well, you know, my problems are still the same. But now I realize I’m much more than this just one bag of skin. I’m part of something much greater than myself. And I see the meaning and purpose in the universe. And in that perspective, the problems that I have seem so insignificant, and instead of something to be escaped from, it’s something to be dealt with and learned from.
>>Rick: Yeah, life is for learning as Joni Mitchell sang. I remember hearing, I think it was Larry King interviewing James Van Praagh. And he was talking about how his near-death experience was so beautiful that he really looked forward to dying. He wasn’t at all morbid or suicidal. It was like, alright, life is great. I’m loving it, but when I die, that’ll be even better. It’ll come when it comes.
>>Bruce: Right. Most near-death experiencers say that when you lose your fear of death, you also lose your fear of life. You’re not afraid of living to the fullest because you’re not afraid of losing life. You know, if something happens, that’s great, too. You seem to enjoy life much more after a near death experience.
>>Rick: That’s interesting. Okay, here’s another little skeptical question that people sometimes bring up and I’m sure you have an easy answer to. Is the light people see in NDEs just the light above the operating table?
>>Bruce: Well, you know, we see the light, just as often in people who have NDEs not in the operating room, who have a heart attack in the field or have a car accident. So it’s not just the light above you, and many people are careful is tell you, it’s not a physical light, like a light bulb or the sun. It’s a living being that is generating light.
>>Rick: And often people have their eyes taped shut during operations. And they’re totally knocked out by the anesthesia. Some of these questions — I’ll ask this anyway — are NDEs caused by chemicals produced in the brain under stress?
>>Bruce: Well, that’s an interesting hypothesis because as a skeptic, I started looking at that. And it’s certainly plausible that there are some chemicals in the brain that are released under stress. We know that endorphins make you feel good. But at this point, there is virtually no way of testing those hypotheses. These chemicals like endorphins are produced in very, very small amounts for a very short period of time, and we don’t even know where in their brain to look, even if we could look while someone’s having a near death experience, which of course, we can’t. So it’s an interesting hypothesis. But again, even if it were shown to be true, this would not establish any cause. It may be that you need a certain chemical or electrical activity in the brain in order to permit us to leave the body and not causing us to have the illusion of leaving the body.
>>Rick: And even if NDEs were caused by lack of oxygen, or drugs, or chemicals produced by the brain, that doesn’t explain — even if there were some drugs you could take that would reliably give you an NDE. But then you left the body and saw things far away that you couldn’t possibly have known about, fine, I mean, the cause of those NDEs, let’s say someone comes out with an NDE drug, couldn’t possibly explain how you would know things at a distance or see your grandmother and so on and have her tell you things that are true, but you couldn’t have known, all that stuff. So it doesn’t really resolve the whole conundrum about whether the mind or some subtler aspect of it is independent of the body.
>>Rick: Because I think that’s the main sticking point that these skeptical questions are trying to get at. People are troubled by the possibility that you could actually go and see something at a distance because it conflicts with their notion about the way the universe works, about what reality is, what we are. They’re just coming up with these different objections in order to try to avoid confronting that evidence.
>>Bruce: Right. And of course, they would deny that that’s evidence. They would say that that didn’t really happen. Just as, we used to say that it’s impossible for rocks to fall from the sky, so reports of meteors are totally ridiculous.
>>Rick: You’ve probably talked to some of these people. When somebody says to you, when you have shown them all kinds of evidence that people knew things that they couldn’t have known in an ordinary way, and then they say, that’s impossible, that couldn’t have happened. What do you say to them next?
>>Bruce: Well, I sympathize with their perspective, because I started that way. And I didn’t want to believe that these things happened. But when you look into it, it happens again, and again and again. It’s not rare by any means. So it’s a matter of do you want to deny what’s really happening in front of you in order to maintain your belief system? Or do you want to accept reality and deal with it? And to my perspective, that’s what a scientist should do. That’s what a skeptic should do — deal with the facts, not refuse to look at them.
>>Rick: So essentially, you’re saying to them, well, you can’t say that it doesn’t happen, because it actually is happening, and I can prove it to you. And so therefore, the question is, why is it happening? Or how is it happening?
>>Bruce: Exactly. Yeah. How is it happening?
>>Rick: But I imagine at that point, they’re gonna come back to well, it isn’t happening. [laughing] So round and round you go.
>>Bruce: Well, the problem is that we know that it happens because of our perceptions. We see and hear things, but we know our perceptions are faulty. So it’s plausible that we’re all being fooled. We’re all being misled. But you know, that’s true of everything we do. I’m talking with you now is something I perceive. Am I imagining that you’re there? Well, I can’t disprove it.
>>Rick: Right. They’re all kinds of cool Zen stories about this, you know, am I a man dreaming I was a butterfly or am I a butterfly dreaming I’m a man? And are we all sort of part of some alien artificial intelligence machine? You can play with all those notions.
>>Bruce: We’re living in the matrix [laughing].
>>Rick: Right. You can see why some people sometimes find those ideas appealing because there is a lot more to life than meets the eye, as you’ve been dedicating your life to discovering. So a lot of people really resonate with the idea that what you see is not what you get. There’s something more being withheld from us. And often they attribute it to the government or Bill Gates or something like that. I think they’re picking up on something. They’re just misinterpreting it.
>>Bruce: What NDE experiencers say is that it’s not that someone’s hiding it from us, but that our brains can’t understand it. So they just don’t deal with it. They filter it out.
>>Rick: Yeah, and we’re all filters. You put a human and a bat and a dog and a cow together and have them look at a tree, they’re all seeing completely different things. And yet, there apparently is some kind of objective reality that is the tree. I play with those ideas a lot. They’re fascinating. Some people think that we create the tree by perceiving it, but then, why are there so many different trees? Depending upon what is perceiving and why is everybody seeing a tree of some sort? There seems to be some objective reality to it being there. How do you think people managed to continue thinking or experiencing with their senses when their brain activity has stopped?
>>Bruce: Well, if it’s true that people continue to think when their brain is stopped, and I see evidence points that way, to me, the only solution I can see is that consciousness is not rooted in the brain. And the most plausible explanation to me is that it is a non-physical thing out there outside the body. I can’t prove that’s the best explanation. That has a lot of problems in it. For example, how does this non- physical thing relate to the physical brain? Because obviously it does in normal life, and we have no answer for that. But we also have no answer for how a physical brain can create consciousness. So both the materialistic model and the dualistic model have huge holes in them, which says to me, we’re probably not asking the question in the right way.
>>Rick: And I would just distinguish between consciousness and perception or consciousness and thinking, because in both of those cases, you have consciousness being conscious of a thought or of perception. And so we’re not only saying that consciousness exists independent of the brain, but we’re saying that perceptual and cognitive functions exist independent of the brain. And that’s interesting. The fact that that could be — what does that imply? I think it comes back to the subtle body thing, that the mind is one feature of the subtle body, so is the intellect. So are the senses. And all those things are said to exist prior to and independent of a physical form. It’s only through the physical form that we are able to use them in interaction with the world, right?
>>Bruce: Right. Well, we speculate about subtle bodies and sheaths. I don’t know what to do with those things. They’re like metaphors for me that help you explain and understand what’s going on. But I don’t know any way of testing whether that’s the right model or not. If it’s helpful, then it’s a good model.
>>Rick: It may be that whatever is actually happening, let’s say that’s the setup, that there are these five sheaths and so on; or maybe there’s some other reality to the way things work. But it may be that whatever it is, it won’t be testable by scientific methods. Do you think?
>>Bruce: That’s entirely possible. Being a scientist by training and by personality, I don’t want to believe that. What I want to believe is that right now, our concept of science is so limited that we’re not able to do it at this point. But at some point, we will be able to.
>>Rick: That’s a key point.
>>Bruce: That’s a non-testable hypothesis, a belief that I have.
>>Rick: Now one fascination I have always had is — well, I’ve always been interested in the relationship between science and spirituality. And I feel like each of them contribute something which the other doesn’t. And that there would be a sort of a whole that’s greater than the sum of its parts, if they could really collaborate and that the human nervous system could possibly be regarded as a scientific instrument in and of itself. One could do research in subtler states, or research in consciousness, using the mind and the nervous system, and perhaps various meditational spiritual techniques. It’s interesting to consider whether that could be done in accordance with the scientific method, because it’s so subjective, and there’s so many variables.
>>Bruce: It is, but we study a lot of subjective things by looking at their after effects. Our emotions — love, hate, fear. You can’t study those directly, because you don’t know what’s going on in someone’s own head. But you can study how they respond to that, how their body reacts to it, what they say, what they do. There are some subatomic particles that exist for such a short period of time, are so small, we can’t look at them directly. But you can shoot them through a bubble chamber full of liquid nitrogen or hydrogen and watch the trail of bubbles they leave as they go by. From the trail of bubbles, you can learn about them. So, same way, we can look at these non-physical things like our emotions and our spiritual aspects, and look at the bubble trail, and learn about them that way.
>>Rick: And as a culture, in general, we don’t deny that love and hate and the things you mentioned, exist, because they are such common experiences. Everybody goes through those things. But when you’re talking about a more uncommon experience, and there are all kinds of other more uncommon spiritual experiences that people have, that’s where people have a problem. But if those experiences became common somehow (I mean, not that everybody should have near death experiences), but let’s say everybody in the world took psychedelics or did meditation or something, then it’d be like, yeah, what’s the big deal? We all know that angels exist because we all see them.
>>Bruce: Right. Everything we do has physical and non-physical properties to it. You know, the desk that I used to work at, is a physical desk. It’s rectangular, is made of mahogany. I can tell you all the physical things about it. It’s also my grandfather’s desk, that he left to me in his will and has a lot of meaning for me in that regard. And just understanding one aspect of it the physical part, or the emotional part, doesn’t tell you everything about the desk. You need to know both to learn about them. I think that’s the way science and spirituality interact. Neither one by itself gives the complete picture of the universe.
>>Rick: And certainly what our senses reveal doesn’t give a complete picture of the desk, because if you could go down to the molecular or atomic or subatomic levels, you’re not seeing a desk anymore. It’s a very different reality. Here’s an interesting question that came in from Allison in Jupiter, Florida. I’m just curious. Have you done any studies on people like murderers, child molesters, human traffickers, etc.? If so, did they come back saying their experience was one with hellish content? Has anyone you’ve studied had the nightmare sort of experience on the other side? We touched on that a little bit, but this is interesting with regard to criminals of various kinds.
>>Bruce: Right. We haven’t done a study. But I have talked to a small number, maybe half a dozen people who were chronic prisoners, serving life sentences. Some were murderers who had near death experiences in prison when they had a heart attack or something like that. And they describe typical blissful near-death experiences, from which they come back with very different attitudes towards their crimes. It’s interesting that they don’t report a sense of a sin or being punished, but they report a sense of having to relive those events in their lives, from the viewpoint of their victims, and having to experience what the victims experienced. They come back very changed by that experience.
>>Rick: You’re probably familiar with Dannion Brinkley’s story, right? Dannion was a sharpshooter in Vietnam, and he would kill people. And he had four near-death experiences. In each one, he had a life review in which he experienced the consequences of his actions from the perspective of everyone who was influenced by them. Life review. Let’s talk about life review a little bit.
>>Bruce: Sure. About a third to a half of people who have an NDE report reviewing their lives, and they often report doing this in exquisite detail remembering things that they hadn’t thought about in decades. They in fact report re-experiencing and seeing and hearing things that they weren’t aware of seeing and hearing at the time. But the most profound part of it is that many of them report as Dannion did, re-experiencing the events in their lives, not just from their own perspectives, but from the perspective of their quote victim or other people involved as well. And to give an example of this. Tom Sawyer had an experience in his 30s when a truck he was working on, fell down and crushed his chest. And he remembered his entire life, including one incident when he was a teenager, and he was driving his hot rod truck down the road, and a drunk man ran out in front of him, and he almost hit him. He stopped the truck, rolled down his window, and being a hot-headed teenager started shouting at the man. And the man being drunk, reached his hand in the window and slapped Tom across the face. That was enough for him. He opened the door, got out and started beating the man to a pulp, and left him a bloody mess on the median strip, and then just drove away. Well, in his near-death experience, he relived that, from the perspective of him, Tom, and from the drunk man. And he saw it from the drunk man’s eyes, what his face, Tom’s face, looked like turning red and getting angry, and then felt each one of the 32 blows on his face. He felt his nose getting bloodied, his teeth going through his lower lip, and the humiliation of being beaten by this kid. And he came back thinking, what I did to him I’m doing to myself, and that we’re all one person. I hear this again and again, that people who have relived events from another person’s life. Barbara Harris had a near death experience when she had a respiratory arrest in the hospital. She relived being abused by her mother, not only from her perspective, but from her mother’s. And she realized for the first time now that her mother had also been abused as a child and was just sort of replaying the only way she knew to relate to her child. And she came back with intense forgiveness for her mother that she didn’t have before.
>>Rick: Interesting. People like Michael Newton say that. That’s the kind of stuff we realize between lives, also after we’ve actually died, and we’re kind of assessing our life and planning our next one, and so on. We review these things and kind of really see it from other perspectives. It’s cool that near death experiences could provide that insight without having to fully die. I wonder how a lot of people say, well, they had this near-death experience, and at a certain point, the grandfather, somebody, came to them and said, you can’t go any further. You’re not meant to die now; you have to go back. And then they come back. That would be something interesting to talk about. But also, if there’s like a spectrum of fully alive, fully dead, when you have a near death experience, and you go part way, and then you’re told you have to come back. I wonder how far you’ve gone, or whether there’s really quite a bit of the journey left to traverse before you would be totally on the other side and experienced the things you experienced there?
>>Bruce: That’s a good question, because we used to think that death was a single point in time. And now we know that’s not at all the case. Sam Parnia is a professor of Critical Care Medicine at NYU University, has described in detail how the dying process is a very gradual process that may take days, that different parts of the brain, different types of cells will die off at different rates. So that it’s hard to tell when someone has passed that irreversible point where they cannot come back to life again. And you never know at any given point how close you are to that irreversible point. In terms of being sent back, many people report making a decision, realizing that they had some important work to do, or that they needed to correct something they’ve been doing wrong. And many others report being sent back either by a deceased loved one or by a deity saying it’s not your time, or you have something important to do. I’m sending you back. And I don’t know why some people make the choice and some people don’t. I’m not sure that that really happened or whether that’s the way they’re interpreting what their experience was.
>>Rick: In other words, maybe they had no choice. They just had to come because they were told to go back.
>>Bruce: Maybe. One person that I knew well was an atheist, who believed there was nothing after death, and there was no deity. He said in his near-death experience he met some type of entity that told him he had to make a choice. And he chose to come back. But he said to me, I’m just blown away because I don’t know who made that decision. Who told me that I had to make a decision? If there’s nobody else, who did it, who told me I had to come back and make a choice?
>>Rick: Yeah. Sometimes they think that some people have near death experiences in order to prepare them for the mission in life of talking about near death experiences [laughing] and teaching people what they can teach them based on that experience, it’s sort of like that was their little preparation.
>>Bruce: Right. Sometimes we joke about one of the after effects of a near death experience includes writing a book about it.
>>Rick: We joke about that with spiritual awakenings too. [laughing] Okay. So, most of the people listening to this won’t have had a near death experience and won’t particularly want to have one, if they can avoid it, but would like to have the insights that an NDE provides. So what does an NDE mean for those of us who haven’t had them?
>>Bruce: Well, first, let me let me say that I think it’s likely that a lot of your listeners have had near death experiences.
>>Rick: And don’t know it?
>>Bruce: Or know, and just haven’t told you about it. Research done both in this country and in Germany has suggested that about 5% of the general population has had a near death experience, which is one out of 20. So probably somebody at your workplace or in your classroom or in your family has had a near death experience. And, actually, I had the experience myself, once my family found out I was doing this research, I started hearing from aunts and cousins about their experiences. And they had never told me this before. They just keep them to themselves. Many people feel that the NDE is something personal for them, and they don’t particularly want to share it with other people, partly because they don’t want to be ridiculed or told they’re crazy.
>>Rick: That kind of reminds me of something I was saying earlier that if somehow this could become more socially accepted, then a lot of people might come out of the woodwork and start talking about it, who are reluctant to do so right now because they don’t want to be ridiculed.
>>Bruce: Right. Now, I will say that it’s gotten easier over the decades I’ve been doing this research. When we first started talking to medical conferences, back in the 1980s, it was rare for anyone to know about NDEs before we’d give our conference. And it would be unusual for anyone to say anything in front of the audience. And now when we talk to medical conferences, it’s rare that at least one or two doctors don’t stand up for the audience and say, let me tell you about my experience. So it’s becoming more and more common to just talk about it.
>>Rick: It’s cool that they have the nerve to stand up and say it publicly.
>>Bruce: Right. There’s still a lot of controversy among doctors about what causes the NDE and about what its ultimate meaning is, but they pretty much except now that it is a phenomenon that happens to a lot of their patients, and therefore they want to know about them. But you asked before about what NDEs means for people who don’t have them. And I want to come back to that, because that’s a very important point. There has been research now looking at the effects of near-death experience on people who don’t have them, and people who learn about them. And there have been four studies in college students who take a course in near death experiences. One study among nursing students
>>Rick: An actual course on them?
>>Bruce: Yes, and actually one high school class in which the teacher had a near death experience, and then taught an elective class on near death experiences. Every one of these studies show that up to a year after the course, the students were much more compassionate and altruistic in their behavior than they were before. So I think there’s some evidence now that just learning about near death experiences, lets you absorb some of the lessons that the mind is not the brain, that death is not the end, that what happens after death is not something to be afraid of. And that we are all in this together, that I’m not separate from you, and what I do to someone else, I do it to myself, and that it makes sense, therefore, to treat people with kindness and compassion.
>>Rick: I had that experience myself, actually back in the 90s. I read a lot of NDE books — James Von Praagh, Betty Eadie, Dannion Brinkley, probably a few others, Michael Newton’s books. And I found that just focusing on my attention on that really kind of thinned, the veil or broadened my perspective a lot, and it had a beautiful effect.
>>Bruce: I think that’s true, that we see certainly in people who are in the family of a near death experiencer often broaden their perspective as well and come to terms with what this really means to make life more meaningful and fulfilling.
>>Rick: Partly perhaps because they see a big change in their family member, right? And they think, whoa, what happened to this person?
>>Bruce: Right, which isn’t always a positive thing. You know, I’ve seen relationships break up because of a near death experience. Just as I’ve seen careers fall apart after a near death experience.
>>Rick: Yeah, there’s some story in your book where, I guess it was the guy who was a truck driver, and his wife was saying, this is not the guy married. I want this meat and potatoes guy; I don’t want this woo-woo mystic. Have you ever heard of the phenomenon of walk ins? What do you make of that?
>>Bruce: I don’t make too much of it. This is the idea that when people die or come close to death, their spirit may leave their body and be replaced by someone who had died before and chooses to come back for some benevolent purpose. One of my friends who had a near death experience was identified as a walk in, in a book written by Ruth Montgomery about walk ins. She was furious because she said, I’m not a walk in. I have all the memories of the person I was before, I’m still the same person, I just know more than I did before. I’m not a different person.
>>Rick: Yes, so interesting. Another theory that some people say is that — maybe we’re getting a little off track — but this is kind of interesting. Is that our soul, or whatever we want to call it — let’s call it soul — exists, in some higher dimension, and only a portion of it incarnates and we live our life with that portion. And then we die. And it kind of goes back to the mothership, so to speak. I don’t know if you have any comment on that.
>>Bruce: It’s an interesting hypothesis. I don’t know what you do with that.
>>Rick: Yeah, I don’t know. People even say we could actually be living several lives with different portions in different bodies.
>>Bruce: It kind of explains some of the unusual things people report when they are out of body, they seem to see things in a 360-degree framework. They can see sometimes through walls. And one explanation for that is that they’re going to a higher dimension, where they can see things, look down on our three dimensions from a fourth dimension, or a fifth or six, and see things we can’t see, in our three-dimensional world.
>>Rick: It’s funny to kind of, we’re sort of drifting in and out of different degrees of speculativeness. But it’s fun to kind of play with things. I take everything as a hypothesis, and no hypothesis is really off the table, it’s just that some have a lot more evidence to support them than others. Isn’t that what science does? It seems to me you could take any principle of any religion or mystical system, and regard it as a possibility, which you may or may not have the means to investigate, but if you say no, that could not be, absolutely not, then you’re really not being scientific.
>>Bruce: Exactly. But the difference between science and religion is that if you’re a devotee of a certain religion, you believe this hypothesis, this speculation. And if you’re taking a scientific perspective, you will not say, I believe this, you’ll say, I think this is plausible. Let me try to test it. And if you can’t test it, then well, it’s a useful hypothesis to explain things, but I don’t believe it.
>>Rick: Yeah. And I think spirituality can be that way. It can be. You don’t need to believe anything, in order to be a spiritual aspirant, except the possibility that it would be worth your while to pursue this. But any scientist does that, too. He’s not going to do some big experiment if he doesn’t think it’s possible, it might bear fruit.
>>Bruce: Right. This is what the Dalai Lama says that Buddhism is like Western science, rooted in experimental evidence, in empirical evidence. And if you experience things that contradict your belief system, then the beliefs are probably wrong, and you need to modify them. Just as Western scientists are supposed to.
>>Rick: I’m remembering a story about Einstein who predicted the bending of starlight by gravity, which would prove one of his theories of relativity. And I think it was Sir Arthur Eddington went to Africa during an eclipse and proved this, that indeed it was bending, and some reporter said to Einstein, what would you have done if the theory had been disproven? And he said, I would have felt sorry for the dear Lord; that theory was correct. [laughing]
>>Bruce: You know, if you look back on what scientists thought a couple of centuries ago, we kind of laugh at their naivete. And we know the science keeps getting closer and closer to the truth, never quite reaching it. All our models are wrong. But they’re better than the previous models we had. And it’s hard to believe that a century from now, scientists won’t look back on what we think and think how naive and silly we were to believe these things. I don’t know how a scientist can have the arrogance to say, we know this is the way it is because obviously, we don’t.
>>Rick: Well, there’s a history of arrogance in not only science, but pretty much all fields of human endeavor
>>Bruce: That’s what people do.
>>Rick: If you could draw a graph of the progress of acceptance of the kinds of things we’re talking about, do you feel like the graph is getting steeper faster? Or is it sort of a gradual incline? Or what? How would you predict the more widespread acceptance of this way of thinking?
>>Bruce: I think it’s been a gradual increase. I think this increase started in the mid 20th century. It was certainly increased by the psychedelic revolution in the 60s. And bringing over more and more Eastern mysticism into western culture, it is gradually getting more and more acceptable. But we have seen such waves like this in the past. At the end of the 19th century, there was great interest in Eastern mysticism, and it rose to a certain height and then kind of faded away. And the early part of the 20th century was very much a materialistic model. So it comes and goes, and I don’t know how long this current wave is going to persist. It seems to me like it’s going and going and going, but I’m sure it felt that way 150 years ago,
>>Rick: I don’t remember having been around then, although I might have been. But my sense is that, just tracking this since the late 60s, when I got involved in this kind of thing that it’s really becoming more and more mainstream. It’s dramatically more so than it was 50 years ago. And there’s no end in sight; there seems to be some kind of epidemic of interest in spirituality and awakening.
>>Bruce: I think one of the big differences I see now, is that unlike previous waves of interest in spirituality, this one is including science in it. And we’re looking at science and spirituality as mutually helpful disciplines, not as contradictions to each other.
>>Rick: Yeah, that’s really important. And we also have tools now that we didn’t have in those previous waves, the internet for one thing to spread everything around quickly. And everybody’s a publisher these days. I couldn’t have done this even 20 years ago, the tools weren’t there. So it’s really snowballing.
>>Bruce: We also have scientific tools we didn’t have just half century ago. And we also have spiritual tools we didn’t have either, you know, things like the proliferation of artificial psychedelic drugs is much more efficient than eating a plant. So I think we have ways of increasing both scientific and spiritual exploration that we didn’t have not too long ago.
>>Rick: Yeah. That’s exciting. And it comes back to that theme of science and spirituality kind of collaborating. It might even be 100 years from now that it seems antiquated to even think of science and spirituality as separate, that they’re actually two legs of one body of gaining knowledge.
>>Bruce: In fact, it’s the scientific technology that’s increased, that allows us to bring so many more people back from the brink of death, which has allowed us more awareness of near-death experiences.
>>Rick: Good point. You’re probably friends with Pim Van Lommel, the Dutch cardiologist. I mentioned him just for the audience’s sake because he’s done a lot of study in this realm as well, having experienced so much of it as a cardiologist.
>>Bruce: Yes, right. He too, got started, not as a spiritual person, but just looking at the data his patients were bringing to him.
>>Rick: Here’s a cool quote that just came in this morning from somebody who just happened to send it to me; I thought it might pertain to our discussion. The whole secret of mysticism is this: That man can understand everything by the help of what he does not understand. The morbid logician seeks to make everything lucid and succeeds in making everything mysterious. The Mystic allows one thing to be mysterious and everything else becomes lucid. That’s from GK Chesterton. Okay, now I’ve gone through all my notes, but I still have a printout of all the chapter titles of your book. And I just want to skim through that and make sure that we’re really covering everything that we could cover. Maybe if I just read you the chapter titles, and you could either elaborate a bit or say no, we’ve already covered that, let’s go on to the next one. Okay. So, ‘a science of the unexplained.’
>>Bruce: I think we pretty much covered that. I look there at how we study things that are not easy to study. Things that don’t seem to be physical.
>>Rick: Okay. ‘Outside of time.’
>>Bruce: We haven’t really talked much about that. That’s the sense of timelessness that people have in a near death experience. Many report that in this other realm, it’s as if time did not exist, or there was no concept of time. Everything was happening all at once, or everything happened in eternity. And when they come back and tell me about this, it seems like a paradox because they describe the NDE as a sequence of events. This happened, and this happened, and this happened. And I asked them, How can that be in a timeless environment? How can you have a sequence if there’s no progression of time? And the response I usually get is that, yes, that’s the paradox once you’re back here and your brain is thinking linearly. When I was over there, it made perfect sense. Here, I can’t make sense of it. So again, it’s the idea of our brains being so limited, we can’t really describe or appreciate all the things that happen in the other realm.
>>Rick: Aren’t there stories where people will go through like a whole detailed account of a 60-year lifetime in minute detail that would have taken perhaps, hours or days to go through. And yet when they were revived, they were only out for five minutes or something?
>>Bruce: Sure, most people who tell you about their new death experience can go on for hours and hours about what happened. And of course, it happened in a matter of seconds.
>>Rick: Dreams can be like that too. You have a dream, and there’s so much detail and who knows how long you’re actually dreaming,
>>Bruce: Time is very different when you’re not in our normal mental state. There was a Swiss geologist Albert von St. Gallen Heim, who, when he was younger, when he was in his 20s, fell while climbing in the Alps. And he fell about 60 feet repeatedly crashing into the craggy rocks. And he wrote about this saying that I had previously watched people fall, and it was terrifying to watch others fall. But when I was falling, it was a blissful experience. I was detached from my body watching it getting repeatedly bloody and bloodier. It wasn’t bothering me at all, I was blissful. He said time seemed to slow way down. So I had time to think about all sorts of things like, should I take off my glasses, so they don’t get broken? Or how can I move around, so I’ll fall into that snow pile and not the rocks below? Or what happens to my class if I don’t come back and teach it? What happens to my loved ones? And all this happened in a matter of seconds while he was falling. He was so impressed by this that he quickly asked his friends who had been mountain climbers and collected 30 other cases just like his and published this in the yearbook of the Swiss Alpine Club in 1892. The first collection we have of near-death experiences.
>>Rick: Interesting. I think sometimes athletes experience something like that, too, you know, where they’re in a very fast paced sport, and how could they possibly react so quickly. And yet their subjective experience is that they’re kind of in this zone. They’re in this kind of silent, coherent state. And everything seems to slow down for them.
>>Bruce: Yes. In the zone. I remember that. When I used to run track in college, I remember, as I was running, looking down at my legs, wondering who’s doing this. I was not there and yet it was happening.
>>Rick: A couple of questions came in. This is from a fella named Ravi. I think he’s in India. The life review seems to perform a function of resolving karma. Is there a continuum in your opinion? Some karmas are taken care of during the life review and other karmas may require reincarnation in order to fructify and be resolved.
>>Bruce: That’s interesting question. I don’t think I know the answer to that. Certainly, everything is not resolved in a life review. People learn from the life review what they have to do when they come back to life to resolve some of these issues.
>>Rick: Okay. Question. (Oh, he’s in the UAE, United Arab Emirates, that’s where he’s emailing from.) I wouldn’t hold you responsible for not being able to answer all these questions. A lot of them are very philosophical and speculative, and people have been debating them for millennia. The second question looks interesting. How do you medically explain the lack of hypoxic brain damage in some NDEs when the person has been dead for some time before resuscitation, such as Dr. Mary Neal, who was dead for over 30 minutes. We can also think of Eben Alexander whose brain was mush but who is a very coherent clear fellow again. He somehow recovered.
>>Bruce: Yeah. Mary Neal’s experience was quite remarkable, because she was trapped upside down in her kayak at the bottom of a waterfall. And she wrote two fantastic books, To Heaven and Back, and Seven Lessons from Heaven, describing her experience and what she learned from that. And by all accounts she should not have been able to survive that at all.
>>Rick: Was the water really cold? That helps.
>>Bruce: Yes, and it’s true that you have this cold reflex that slows your metabolism way down, when you’re in a cold environment. And yet she had absolutely no brain damage that we could tell when she came out of that. And this happens again and again, that people, when Eben Alexander, was in his coma, from a very rare bacterial infection, the doctors thought he had a 1% chance of surviving, and virtually no chance of ever being functional again. And yet, when you hear him talk, he sounds just like anybody else. So we don’t know how to explain this. But somehow, the mind is able to come back without being affected by damage to the brain.
>>Rick: Well, that brings up something that I heard you discuss in one of your other interviews, which I’ve heard about before, which is, you’ll give us the scientific term for it. People who basically hardly have a brain; it’s mostly like spinal fluid or something in their skull, a little thin layer of brain around the edges of the skull, and yet they’re accomplished mathematicians and fathers, and … tell us that story.
>>Bruce: Yeah, a British neurologist named John Lorber wrote about this, back in the 70s, and 80s, and published several scientific papers about people who are born with massive hydrocephaly, which is water on the brain, basically, spinal fluid on the brain, who have very little brain tissue at all. And yet, they have normal IQs. He discovered this first with one patient who was a college student, a doctoral student in mathematics, who came to him because of headaches. And when he did a brain scan, he found he had virtually no brain tissue at all. And yet he had a high IQ, he was living a normal life, he had a family, and there was no explanation for this. He published several cases like this of people who have almost no brain tissue, and yet seem to lead normal lives. And again, you can raise questions about how much brain tissue is required to have a normal life and do other parts of the brain sort of make up for the part that’s lost. Another example is something called terminal lucidity, in which people who have end stage dementia, like Alzheimer’s disease, have not been able to recognize family or communicate for a long time, suddenly become totally lucid in the moments before death. We have no medical explanation for how this could be, but they recognize family, they carry on coherent conversations, and then they die.
>>Rick: And if they have severe Alzheimer’s, their brain is like Swiss cheese, but they still have this lucidity.
>>Bruce: Yeah, and there’s no way the brain can regenerate itself at that point, and yet, they regain their functions. We have no explanation for that.
>>Rick: Is this because like Jill Bolte Taylor, for example, whose certain portion of her brain was destroyed by a stroke, and she couldn’t talk or read or do anything for quite a while, but then she regained it all. And I presume that’s because the brain can … undamaged portions of the brain can take on functions that the damaged portion used to perform, and then you can get right back in gear again.
>>Bruce: Right. The technical term for that is neuroplasticity, and the brain has a remarkable ability to adapt to losses like that and take on functions of the part of the brain that was lost. In something like end stage dementia, there’s virtually no brain left that hasn’t been affected to take over that effect. And it happens quickly. Neuroplasticity occurs over a long period of time. You gradually learn how the brain can take over those other functions. It can’t happen in a quick manner.
>>Rick: So this is we’re getting a little off of the NDE experience. But this is very interesting. I don’t know all the names of the different parts of the brain. But obviously, there’s the hippocampus and the cerebellum. And you could probably name a couple dozen of them. This guy who only had a little bit of brain tissue around the edges of his skull and all fluid in the middle, did he have some kind of like little hippocampus and other parts of the brain kind of squished up against the edge of the center of the skull? Or did he not, and yet he was functional anyway?
>>Bruce: Yeah, it was mostly the cerebral cortex, which is the huge lobes on the top of our head, so called the new brain only a few 100,000 years old, that are associated with consciousness with our conscious thoughts, and our decision making and our perceptions. And that’s the part that was squeezed up against the outside of the skull.
>>Rick: So the other components of the brain were still in there somewhere.
>>Bruce: The brainstem, which controls our respirations, and our heartbeat, and so forth, our bodily functions was still intact, as far as I know.
>>Rick: It would have to have been, I imagine. Okay, back to your chapter titles. Let’s see, ‘the life review,’ we’ve covered. ‘Getting the whole story,’ did we just discuss that one?
>>Bruce: Not really. Most of my early research was with people who came to me and said, let me tell you about my near-death experience. I started worrying about the fact that these were selected people who chose to come talk to me. Are their experiences typical of those who don’t choose to come to me? So I started doing research with cohorts of hospitalized patients, for example, everyone who was admitted to the hospital with a cardiac arrest and looked at what their experiences were like. Are they the same as those who come to me voluntarily? And the short answer is that, yes, they were the same. The longer answer is that the people who chose to come to me chose to come because they wanted to share the experience, and they had the verbal ability to do so. When I talk to a random sample of people in the hospital, many of them did not have the verbal skills to describe it in detail the way the volunteers did. But what they did tell me was just like what the people who came to me to share their experiences said.
>>Rick: They just weren’t so good at describing it.
>>Bruce: Right. Or, as willing to describe.
>>Rick: This one, ‘how do we know what’s real?’
>>Bruce: Hmm. Well, I still struggle with that question. But we know that NDEs are real, partly because there’s consistency from person-to-person across culture to culture. They describe things accurately that they couldn’t have known about otherwise. We looked at, as I said before, experiences that occurred before Moody wrote his book telling us what NDEs are supposed to be like, and what NDEs are now, and we find that they’re the same. We’ve looked at people who I’ve studied back in the early 1980s and reexamined them now to see if their stories have changed over the decades, and they have not at all. We’ve also looked at the quality of their memories of the NDE and looked at whether they are like memories of real events, or memories of imagined events, like dreams or fantasies. And three studies now done in the US, in England – I’m sorry – in Belgium and in Italy, have come up with the same answer that these NDE memories are like memories of real events, not like memories of fantasies. And the Italian team actually measured brainwaves of people when they were remembering the NDE and the length of brainwaves of people remembering real events.
>>Rick: Good. Then you have two chapters that kind of go together – ‘out of their bodies’ or ‘out of their minds.’ We’ve kind of discussed the ‘out of their bodies’ one. What’s the ‘out of their minds’ one?
>>Bruce: Well, that’s looking at the connection between near death experiences and mental illness. Being a psychiatrist, that of course came to my mind right away. So we looked at the incidence of near-death experiences among people who present as psychiatric patients. And what we found is it is the same as among the general population, neither more common nor less common. We also looked at the incidence of mental illness among people who have NDEs. And we found again, it’s the same as it is among people who don’t have NDEs. So there does not seem to be any connection between having mental illness and having a near death experience.
>>Rick: We probably covered this one, ‘A near death experience is real.’ Anything more we want to say about that?
>>Bruce: No, I think we covered that.
>>Rick: OK, then ‘the biology of dying.’
>>Bruce: I went into detail in that chapter on the different hypotheses that have been explained that have been proposed to try to explain NDEs, like lack of oxygen. Drugs in the brain, etc.
>>Rick: People aren’t gonna have to buy the book after hearing that. This is a teaser. [laughing] But there’s a lot of great detail in the book. ‘The brain death.’ Same and we covered it. We probably covered ‘the mind is not the brain.’ Anything more you want to say about that?
>>Bruce: No, except that this is not a new idea. Hippocrates wrote about this 2000 years ago. He wrote that the brain is the messenger or the interpreter of the mind. And it’s been a minority opinion in neuroscience for 2000 years.
>>Rick: Yeah, and pretty much every spiritual tradition will tell you, the mind is not the brain, the brain is just the body’s a vehicle and so on. We’ve probably discussed ‘does consciousness continue,’ that’s kind of like basic stuff. We’ve discussed heaven and hell. What about God?
>>Bruce: Yeah, like heaven and hell, many people report seeing this warm, loving being of light that’s like a deity to them. And many will call it God but will qualify that saying it’s not the God I was taught about. It’s much bigger than that. But many others will say, you can call it God, you can call it Krishna, you can call it Buddha – it doesn’t matter what you call it, it’s all there is. And many will just refuse to put a label on it at all. So I don’t know what’s out there. But I think there is some being like that out there, some entity that that out there.
>>Rick: You’re saying that?
>>Bruce: I’m saying that I’m convinced from people say that there is something we encounter when we go there, but I don’t know what it is. I think people put labels on it and try to describe it to me, in more or less concrete terms so I’ll know what they’re saying. But I don’t take it as a literal description.
>>Rick: Right. I just say, I wouldn’t say that it’s out there. I would say it’s all pervading. So it’s in there. It’s out there, it’s right here.
>>Bruce: They say that, yes. Maybe they’ll say that that we are part of it. It’s like a wave in the ocean. You’re separate from the ocean; you’re a distinct, separate entity, the wave, but you’re part of the ocean as well.
>>Rick: And it’s right in front of our noses. I mean, you look at a single cell under a microscope and look at how complex it is. Look at the intelligence orchestrating it, and tell me that’s happening randomly or accidentally. An all-pervading intelligence, orchestrating every little iota. You want to comment on that, or shall we move on? Nope? Good. ‘This changes everything.’
>>Bruce: Yeah, that that starts with the after effects, how people’s attitudes, beliefs and values have been changed, and even their behavior.
>>Rick: Just reading these chapter titles serves as a good little summary of our conversation. Even if we’ve already discussed the thing, we’re summing it up here. And in some cases, maybe you want to embellish a bit. ‘What does it all mean?’
>>Bruce: Yeah, that goes into how we interpret these experiences; what it means about our conception of mind and brain and about life and death. And I think we did cover most of this.
>>Rick: ‘A’ new life.
>>Bruce: Yeah, this is as people’s behavior and lifestyles change after the NDE. Careers and marriages, etc.
>>Rick: ‘Hard Landings.’
>>Bruce: Ah, we didn’t talk about this. This is people who have difficulty readjusting to life again, after they come back,
>>Rick: Because this world sucks compared to what they had experienced, that kind of thing.
>>Bruce: A lot of it is because that they often are depressed or angry that they’re back. Or they may feel they don’t fit here anymore, and they don’t fit in their family anymore, in their career anymore. And it takes a lot of effort to try to learn how to live in this life again. I started out trying to do sort of therapy with these people and realized, much better than my trying to talk to them is having other NDE experiencers, talk to them. They get much more help from peer support.
>>Rick: Are there peer groups for near death experiencers?
>>Bruce: There are. The International Association for Near Death Studies, that’s IANDS.org. It has about 50 groups all over the country and some in foreign countries as well, where people can share their experiences and how they dealt with some of these problems.
>>Rick: I’m sure there’s tons of online things like that.
>>Bruce: There are. IANDS itself has online things, yes.
>>Rick: A lot of times when I’ve read about near death experiences, the person is told they need to come back. And it’s like, oh, do I have to? [laughing] And then they’re convinced that they have to and so on. But there is this reluctance because what they’re experiencing is so sweet.
>>Bruce: Particularly, if they’re coming back to a body that’s been destroyed by whatever brought them close to death.
>>Rick: Have you seen things like that? Where I mean, you just alluded to it where a person is permanently handicapped in some way by what happened to them. And yet, they’re told they have to come back and live in that handicapped body.
>>Bruce: Right. The most extreme example is a fellow who jumped off a diving board, hit his head on the bottom, and was terribly brain damaged, was confined to a wheelchair without use of his hands for the rest of his life. And yet, he came back after a blissful near-death experience, full of love and compassion for people.
>>Rick: Hmm. And he didn’t regret having come back?
>>Bruce: No, he did not. He was furious at the time, during the NDE about coming back, but once he came back, he was happy to be back and, and serve his purpose here.
>>Rick: That’s interesting. That kind of alludes to what I was saying earlier, where a lot of times it seems like one has an NDE in order to qualify as someone who can talk about profound stuff. And in his case, it was a graphic example of someone who should have been more miserable, because of his condition, and yet it gives the impression to everyone that there’s a deeper source of happiness, and he has access to it now.
>>Bruce: He actually became a painter. Learning to do that by holding the brush in his teeth.
>>Rick: The paint brush. That’s interesting. Okay, we’re getting down to the bottom here. ‘A new view of reality.’
>>Bruce: This is partly looking at my journey and how it’s changed my perspective on my career and how I see the world around me.
>>Rick: We talked about that a bit in the beginning. And finally, ‘life before death.’
>>Bruce: Right. Although many of us look towards NDEs to tell us about what happens after death, many experiencers say that what’s more important is what they tell us about life before death, about how we live in this current life. And I go through in this chapter, the different lessons people come back with, to how to make life more meaningful and more fulfilling. And a lot of it basically comes back to what all the religions have told us for centuries, that we’re not alone. We’re part of something greater than ourselves. And basically, you live by the golden rule, and you will find life much more fulfilling and meaningful.
>>Rick: Which is a good teaching. I mean, even if there’s nothing after death, if you live in the way you just described, life is better. And if there is something after death, then chances are, that would be better. Having lived the way described, yeah, you can’t lose. Well, we’ve covered quite a bit. I don’t think any other questions have come in. Do you have any other questions, Irene? She doesn’t. Thank you so much for your time, this is a great conversation, and I have really looked forward to it. We’ll get in touch with your colleague there, Jim Tucker, I’d like to talk about the whole reincarnation thing too. And you know, some people, they listen to this conversation, let’s say they’re into non-duality. And they say, you guys are just describing the details of an illusion, maya. What’s the relevance of all this stuff? Because ultimately, it’s not true. Nothing ever happened. And Mandukya Upanishad kind of stuff. But I think it is relevant, because you can’t just deny your relative experience. And the great spiritual traditions don’t advocate that you do. They say even though that ultimately the world is kind of not what you think it is, you have to take the so-called illusory world seriously enough to live ethically and productively, and so on. And that’s how you really get out of any sort of delusion that you may be under.
>>Bruce: Right, even if this is all an illusion. We’re here now in this illusion. So we need to learn how to how to make the most of it.
>>Rick: And it certainly has consequences, at least in the illusory world. There was a story about Shankara. I’ve told this many times, but I’ll tell it one more time here. Shankara was a great non-dual teacher, founder of Vedanta, and some king invited him to come and meet him, and he decided to test Shankara. Shankara was walking down the road to meet the king and the king unleashed a wild elephant. And the elephant came charging towards Shankara. And he climbed up a tree. And then the king said, aha, you phony. I mean that was an illusion, if the world’s an illusion, why did you bother to climb the tree? And Shankara said, well, the illusory elephant chased the illusory me up the illusory tree. So, Irene is groaning over here. I’ve told that story for many years. She’s groaning because elephants aren’t like that. They might be if they’re wild. Never mind. We love elephants. All right. Well, thanks, Bruce. It’s been great talking to you. And thanks to those who’ve been listening or watching. And as you know, this is an ongoing series. If you would like to be notified of future interviews, which happen just about every week, you can do several things. You can go to the upcoming interviews page on bat gap, and there’s a little thing to the right of each entry, by which you can set a calendar reminder and you’ll be notified by your Google Calendar, Outlook or whatever you use when the interview is coming up. You can also subscribe to the channel and hit that little bell after you hit the subscribe button. And then I think YouTube will pop up a notice when a live interview starts. You can watch the live ones. And you can also subscribe to our email list, and we send out an email notifying people when a new interview is posted. So thanks for listening or watching, and thanks again, Dr. Greyson. It’s really been fun talking to you.
>>Bruce: Thank you, Rick. It has been fun.
>>Rick: Take care. Bye.