Monday, 12 June 2017

How could we see, hear, taste, touch and smell during an "out of body experience" (OBE)?

Someone in a Facebook group who has had a near-death experience was stumped when a nurse asked him how he could see, hear, taste, touch and smell without their five sense organs during their OBE.

Clearly the nurse, and indeed many others, think that from the fact that damage to one's eyes or visual part of the brain leads to a reduction in vision or even blindness, that both one's eyes and one's brain are crucial to being able to see. 
The same argument applies to the other four senses.

It seems to me though that this argument is without merit.  Here is an analogy. If one is in a house, the transparency of the glass within the windows is an essential condition for being able to see the sky.   However, this only applies whilst we are in the house. If we were to venture outside, the windows are an irrelevance.  We would have an unrestricted view of the sky.

I suggest exactly the same could be the case during an OBE.  Let's suppose the ability to see and hear and smell are intrinsic aspects of a non-physical self or soul.  In that case, during an OBE we should have unrestricted vision; maybe even vastly enhanced vision and the ability to see in all directions at once.  But, whilst the non-physical self or soul is "housed" within one's body, we can only see, hear and smell by virtue of a functioning brain and unimpaired senses.  Here, though, the brain and senses are only playing a similar role as the windows do within our house in the analogy outlined above.  

For many of those who believe in an afterlife, the hypothesis is that the brain suppresses or filters conscious experiences rather than creates them. 
A properly functioning brain will allow us to see, hear, taste, touch and smell. And indeed, come to that, a properly functioning brain can allow us to be able to perceive, think, feel, and deliberate too. Contrariwise, a dysfunctional brain might reduce or completely suppress our senses and mental capacities just as dirty windows or drawing the curtains can impede or completely obscure our view of the sky.

None of this of course entails that the brain does play such a role.  But the fact our five senses and mental capacities can be impaired, if not eliminated, due to a dysfunctional brain does not in itself entail that all these abilities could not be had by non-physical selves or souls. And indeed, should the above reasoning be correct, one might expect that a disembodied self or soul might well have enhanced senses and an enhanced mental capacity. This can be compared to having a greater view of the sky once we have exited from a house. 

1 comment:

  1. Got to say the analogy of the window being like a brain makes sense and is a cogent argument. When one is indoors, it's necessary for the window to be very transparent in order to see the sky outside--just like it's necessary for the brain to be intact when in the physical body in order for us to see, etc. But the window is irrelevant when one is outside; similarly, the brain becomes irrelevant when one is no longer in the physical body. I see.