The hereafter within us

3. 0 Founding religions based on the experience of death The near-death experiences of the Kaliai people in Papua New-Guinea and those of the Hindus - without the ecstatic (light) qualities of Christian experiences - also include encounters with relatives and the ethical assessment of one’s own life after entering an “otherworldly” landscape. Its design and its effect also coincide with the prevalent religion and mentality and in its less selfdetermining way, are rather similar to the death experiences of the Middle Ages. In Amitabha Buddhism, the largest Japanese (and Chinese) Buddhistic school, the light experience that turns into Amitabha Buddha here, dominates next to the visions of paradise and hell and it can possibly be equated with Christendom due its astonishing similarity. Amitabha Buddhism (Pure Land Buddhism), whose name stems from the visions of paradise, is practically based on death experiences! These do not only have a religion supporting effect, but are at times even known to start a new religion. This confirms the assumption of the British psychiatrists Roberts and Owen: “That some and possibly a lot of popular images of the hereafter could have their origin in near-death experiences and that all cultural expectations not only determine the images of near-death experiences, but might even have their origin from within them.” (2) How can these similarly structured and interpreted experiences from all around the world be explained? It has to be said that: • Near-death experiences are not psycho-pathological phenomena, the mentally ill or those with hallucinations do not experiences them more frequently than the healthy. Those concerned are often rather healthier after their experience than the member of the various control groups. These experiences are not the product of corresponding preliminary information. The experience does often not comply with their own expectations. • Near-death experiences are not based on an enhanced imagination ability and they are also not wish fulfilment. Wishes are different from person to person - Death experiences on the other hand have similar contents. The verifiable perceptions of one’s reanimation, ergo resuscitation, can be separated from mere imaginations. The one with the experience certainly does not flee into a wished for world, on the contrary, he faces a feared situation without fear. • These experiences are also not a mere reliving of one’s own birth. • Near-death experiences are not a depersonalisation and no activation of an imaginary body schematics. The whole experience is witnessed by an intact self. • These experiences differ from subliminal perceptions the way they can occur under narcosis or when in a coma. Such perceptions are most of the time acoustic and painful, whilst near-death experiences are pain free and overwhelmingly optical. The assertion that near-death experiences are perceptions of another reality and not hallucinations cannot be refuted. We cannot establish which perceptions are “real” and which are “hallucination” with certainty. Our reality is in a psychiatric sense always an “illusion”, because we are dealing with an interpretation by the brain. • However different from phantasies, but similar to “real” perceptions, near-death experiences have common contents and consist of a meaningful sequence of scenes.