Can We Communicate With the Dead?

Here’s a new commercial for my forthcoming book There is No God and He is Always With You (available now from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Indie Bound and at fine bookstores soon).

And if you need more blather from me, you can now watch and listen to the Spreecast of my talk at Hill Street Center last week. Just click on that link and you’ll have access to the whole 45 minutes. It felt like a pretty good talk.

We have launched a campaign to fund the starting of a real-live Zen space for Dogen Sangha Los Angeles. As the page says, “We hope one day to have our own dedicated center where we will host zazen seven days a week, a place that will serve as a social and cultural center for the DSLA community. We would like to be able to hire an Executive Director to run day-to-day operations. We have plans for community and prison outreach, expanded video, audio and print content… and so on and so on.”

I haven’t ever done anything like this before. But I hope to get a center going in Los Angeles and one going in Akron, Ohio. Pretty soon they’ll be like McDonalds or Starbucks, with a center on every corner!

My Living Room Tour is shaping up. But there are still a few open days. So check out the page about it and if you want to get in on the action write to Pirooz at

*   *    *

Donations to the Dogen Sangha fundraiser don’t go to me or to this blog. So if you’d like to help me personally or the blog you can still donate at the usual donation spot! Thanks!

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69 Responses

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  1. ryanjames
    ryanjames June 4, 2013 at 2:13 pm |

    ever thought about using kickstarter to fund the tour? i’d totally buy a signed book straight from you, which would accomplish more than just buying from amazon.

  2. Fred
    Fred June 4, 2013 at 2:19 pm |

    Panpsychic idealism “regards activity, movement, vitality as the characteristic of
    spirit. It regards everything as alive in this sense, treating all matter as imbued
    with spirit.”

  3. Harlan
    Harlan June 4, 2013 at 2:20 pm |

    Wow! You were visited by a dead friend you didn’t see, hear or touch? Wow! And it was at Tassajara where you had previously known him as an undead person. That is a pretty amazing claim. I guess it might have been him visiting you from beyond the grave. I guess that is possible.. But maybe it was only an intense memory triggered by your surroundings. Or maybe you had a temporary a mental disorder. Or maybe it was a reverse-deja vu. It makes me wonder what is going on underground..


  4. The Grand Canyon
    The Grand Canyon June 4, 2013 at 2:46 pm |

    What. The. Fuck.

  5. Fred
    Fred June 4, 2013 at 2:51 pm |

    ” Or maybe you had a temporary mental disorder.”

    A temporary mental disorder is experiencing reality through mental constructs,
    and seeing the representational ideation rather than the suchness of what is.

  6. gwinston99
    gwinston99 June 4, 2013 at 3:15 pm |

    Can we communicate with the dead????????

    Better question would be, can we communicate with the living?

    Meant sincerely.

    Back in the day, I knew people who were working really hard trying to astral project. When I think about this today, I laugh. Most of us our living our lives mostly “out of body.” Practice to me is much about being here and now, fully embodied, in the gooey mess of life.

    I am always very suspicious of channelers, becacause I know how I easy it is for me to lie to myself.


  7. Fred
    Fred June 4, 2013 at 3:37 pm |

    How does one lie to oneself when neither side exists?

  8. HarryB
    HarryB June 4, 2013 at 3:48 pm |

    Brad, I’d like to be clear about this; are you saying that we have an eternal ‘spiritual side’ that survives the death of the physical body?

    Are you basing this assertion on the unusual sensory experience you had when you sensed your dead friend’s presence?

    That, to me, would be quite a leap of faith… or rather it would be quite a leap of belief, if you prefer, because it seems very much like people completely disappear when they die, and have always done so. What HAS changed about this over time is the religious explanations of same… what might that indicate?

    The Tibetan Kagyu Buddhist centre I attended many moons ago tried to get me to believe ideas similar to those you express (so that I would be able to accept their doctrines on rebirth, which seemed based on a tenuous interpretation of core Buddhist teachings), but their evidence was, frankly, pretty flimsy.

    I do think human consciousness is very mysterious, but to suggest that an ‘entity’/personality that is clearly a result of questionable brain activity (and possibly genetics) from the start survives the death of the brain seems highly unlikely.



    1. grandcamel
      grandcamel June 4, 2013 at 5:05 pm |

      It is my experience that everyone who is determined, as if their hair were on fire, to sit with an open mind on “The Great Matter” will eventually have an experience where one realizes the nature of karma and rebirth for themselves even though they simultaneously realize there is no “I” who can ever claim to be reborn, even moment to moment.

      Zen isn’t a therapy tool for nihilists around their attachment to the thought of annihilation nor does it placate eternalists (spiritual materialists) who grasp for a self which is everlasting.

  9. Alan Sailer
    Alan Sailer June 4, 2013 at 5:00 pm |

    This video really got my Depak Chopra Early Warning System into high gear.

    The sensation of unseen bodily presences and out-of-body experiences can be created by use of electrical stimulation of the brain. For a reference see :

    Speculating about events after death are highly entertaining, but other than promoting your new book in a really dubious way, really?


  10. sudhana
    sudhana June 4, 2013 at 5:39 pm |

    +1 for kickstarter, with goodies (kindle version, specially) for people outside the US to contribute. And I want more space rabbit videos!

  11. HarryB
    HarryB June 4, 2013 at 5:42 pm |

    grandcamel: “It is my experience that everyone who is determined, as if their hair were on fire, to sit with an open mind on “The Great Matter” will eventually have an experience where one realizes the nature of karma and rebirth for themselves even though they simultaneously realize there is no “I” who can ever claim to be reborn, even moment to moment.”

    …because where is there any other time in which to be reborn? Yes, well said.

    “Zen isn’t a therapy tool for nihilists around their attachment to the thought of annihilation nor does it placate eternalists (spiritual materialists) who grasp for a self which is everlasting.”

    Seems to me that there is indeed a real self that is always existing, but that it is not at all contingent on how we usually perceive time (so it can’t be said to be ‘everlasting’ in that linear thought/perception-based sense). It also seems prudent to me for the personality who foresees his/her annihilation to get used to the idea. Who knows, therapy (of a Zen nature or otherwise) might help there, depending on the circumstances.



    1. grandcamel
      grandcamel June 6, 2013 at 11:43 am |

      “Seems to me that there is indeed a real self that is always existing, but that it is not at all contingent on how we usually perceive time (so it can’t be said to be ‘everlasting’ in that linear thought/perception-based sense).”

      Yes, I was not elaborating deliberately, but “everlasting” was used in the linear sense. Our original nature cannot be described by any finite or infinite sequence of symbols/words/events/experiences/lives/deaths/thoughts/impressions/loves/gods/demons/etc. Everyone has to sit if they wish to pass through the gateless gate to understand why this is so.

      ” It also seems prudent to me for the personality who foresees his/her annihilation to get used to the idea. Who knows, therapy (of a Zen nature or otherwise) might help there, depending on the circumstances.”

      I was a person who, for reasons of my own path, chose thoughts of my annihilation as a comfort. Dropping this attachment required waking up to my original nature, then seeking annihilation through the Void, and finally returning with nothing to show for my journey except an appreciation for zazen practice and some great material for my science fiction stories. : )

      I’m not sure anyone would consider this therapy, but I’m certainly transformed.


  12. Wedged
    Wedged June 4, 2013 at 6:09 pm |

    Just bought my copy off Amazaon…6 – 10 days and it’s here! I have to say…i need to stay out of the comments section. What is with the negative frequent commentors? I don’t get it…you’re one of the first to comment, you comment on every post and you comment (only a few ppl do this) how you’re not going to buy the book. Why bother saying that? I get the comments section is a free for all but honeslty i think some people are just mean and deliberalty trying to inflict pain, like this is some highschool blog. Maybe you should sit more. I went to the bathroom a few nights ago and couldn’t go back to sleep thinking about some of the comments from previous posts. I told myself…”stay out of the f*cking comments section!”. For every Debbie Downer comment though there are 20 gems, so it’s hard to ignore. Brad could write a book on Zen and Sesame Street and i would buy it and i would f*cking love it! I can’t wait for this one!!! I think this annoying saying has much truth “if you don’t have anything nice to say…shut the f*ck up”. This isn’t Zen enough, that isn’t Zen enough…it’s all entertainment anyway…right? Watts.

  13. Fred
    Fred June 4, 2013 at 6:27 pm |

    “I went to the bathroom a few nights ago and couldn’t go back to sleep thinking about some of the comments from previous posts. I told myself…”stay out of the f*cking comments section!”.

  14. John H
    John H June 4, 2013 at 10:00 pm |

    Just when I thought Brad went (more) off the deep end, he explains this idea in such a reasonable way that it causes me to really give it some thought. Agree, or disagree, I like hearing what Brad has to say, even if I don’t understand it at the moment. This is why I buy his books, and read this blog.

    Also, I have to agree with Wedged’s opinion. Thanks for saying it!

  15. mika
    mika June 5, 2013 at 12:35 am |

    Brad says he’s not going to Deepak Chopra’s territory, but I remain doubtful. It seems he places way too much weight on the experiences his brain produces – however real they feel. Just because this feeling he describes in the video was not artificially produces does not mean it was induced by his recently deceased friend either (other than by being in Brad’s mind obviously when he stayed there). He insists it was not “a hallucination”, but how do you know? And for the record, “I know” is not an acceptable answer. The trouble is, our brains are really unreliable when it comes to interpreting the sensory input or other psychological experiences.

    Of course every experience you have is real, in a very true sense, but at the same time in a very true sense not all experiences correlate to the kind of reality they seem to imply.

    I know it can sound very comforting that “nothing is created, nothing is destroyed”, but alas, there is absolutely nothing according to current scientific understanding of the world that suggests the human consciousness experience is anything else than an emergent phenomena originating in the brain or that it would continue in any meaningful form after said matter has turned back to its elementary contents.

    In some other book Brad wrote about a sort of “telepathic” experience he had when he was cheating on his wife. But that sort of “everyday telepathy” – the kind when a friend calls you just when you were thinking about them – is quite a common phenomenon and can be explained adequately through cognitive psychology. No need for ESP.

    Same is true for these sort of visitors-from-the-beyond.

    Brad, and many others, would do well to brush up on their cognitive science and critical thinking. It helps in dealing with these sort of experiences without going full Chopra on them.

    It seems every video and post about the new book makes me less interested in it, as it seems Brad is diving right to the deep end with mysticism and religion. I like to stick to the reality, thank you very much.

  16. Fred
    Fred June 5, 2013 at 3:15 am |

    Yes, ” I ” likes its version of reality. It is constructed in the known and relies on the known to exist.


    “It is very important to experience the complete negation of yourself, which brings you to the other side of nothing. You go to the other side of nothing, and you are held by the hand of the absolute. You recognize yourself as the absolute, so naturally there is no more insistence of a self, of yourself. You cannot even speak of “no-self” within that absolute.”

  17. Fred
    Fred June 5, 2013 at 3:27 am |

    The self chases a dream of no-self in words and actions like meditation, but
    when will it put the dream aside and jump into the deep end?

  18. HarryB
    HarryB June 5, 2013 at 5:23 am |

    Hi Brad,

    “I try not to speculate.”

    Good. Then let’s not speculate.

    “But the idea of an eternal spiritual entity that survives our physical death does not sound reasonable to me. So, no, that’s not what I believe.

    My experience (not just the one I describe in the video, but my experience in general) leads me to the belief that our standard interpretation of the world and of what we are is absolutely incorrect. It is so incorrect that what’s actually going on is inconceivable.”

    That seems reasonable, even sensible. “I am the wisest man alive, for I know one thing, and that is that I know nothing” as Socrates put it. Often it’s not easy to follow through on as we tend to make all sorts of assumptions on what seems at the time to be the very good evidence of our senses.

    “That is to say, we cannot possibly, with our brains, really understand what we actually are and what this world actually is. So the question “Is or is there not a spiritual entity that survives the death of the physical body?” is not a reasonable question because it frames things in a way that does not correspond with reality.”

    I think, however, that with our brains and with our whole beings we can really understand what we are not, and what the world is not, and what we don’t know. If this wasn’t the case then zazen would be a waste of time (and I don’t mean that in the cute ‘Zen’ way). ““Is or is there not a spiritual entity that survives the death of the physical body?” may only be an unreasonable question if you expect a ‘reasonable’ answer. I think we are answering that question right now whether we realise it or not.

    “I didn’t hallucinate David Coady’s presence that day any more than I hallucinated his presence on other days when he was alive. That much I am certain of. I don’t have any way to convince anyone else of this. But I suppose that’s just the way things go sometimes.”

    Well, it’s true we can’t know what you experienced, and I’m sure you don’t expect people to believe in disembodied presences based on your own experience. For me, it begs the whole question of what a person’s ‘presence’ is that we feel while we’re in their presence. Who/what makes it?



    1. Harlan
      Harlan June 5, 2013 at 6:40 am |

      I’m glad Brad expanded on and Harry added to this idea because it makes a little more sense to me on reflection. A person’s presence is available to others across time and space because their presence is dependent on more than just themselves or the person feeling their presence. So in that sense what Brad was feeling was real but I think residual and dependent from his past encounters with DC and DC’s other personal interactions that indirectly made their way back to Brad. If a person with no knowledge or contact with DC was at that place at that time instead of Brad then it would seem likely that there would have been less of a presence to be encountered. But I don’t know..

  19. shade
    shade June 5, 2013 at 7:49 am |

    ah, reality… that whole ball of wax. I’ve noticed in my experience with the human race (sort of limited actually) people are always appealing to reality when they assert a cherished belief or ideological conviction. It comes up in politics a lot especially; everyone, whatever their affiliation, accusing their opponents of being “unrealistic”. And used to justify everything from compulsory education to nuclear war to cuts in social programs that constitute a tiny fraction of a percentage of the national budget. I’m also starting to wonder if this whole thing we call “reality” isn’t itself a hallucination, or at least extremely attenuated. You know, that story about the blind man and the elephant and all that.

    So what’s that got to do with ghosts and such? Well, I found this a very curious post given Brad’s strict disavowal of the supernatural. This, I think, would fall in the category of the supernatural. Did it never occur to him that this experience might be attributed to an wayward neuron firing in the back of his brain, the way you sometimes think there’s someone standing behind you and find there isn’t? Or how sometimes an armory (or the government) will receive a contract to produce mass quantities of weapons during wartime and then continue to do so long after the war is over?

    Just asking; not a challenge. Though I find the notion of ghosts hard to believe any suggestion of immortality is certainly appealing to me (yeah, I know, that’s probably not what’s being implied). Then again, according to the zen paradigm – it doesn’t make much difference does it? That is, we’re “spirits” while we’re alive, in a continual process of reincarnation from cradle to grave, no?
    (Remind me of something I saw in a trailer for a documentary on Southern music. This cat says something like: “I’m a ghost too, you know. I’m just not all the way there yet”)

    PS. A book about Zen and Sesame Street would be a GREAT idea. I would definitely read that.

    PSS. Brad – What happened to the Space Bunny Costume? Reminded me of Robot Monster. For your next series of videos, I suggest death metal makeup and a 70s era prom tux. Shot from an abandoned amusement park or decaying supermarket. With a fisheye lens. And Mt. Sinai photoshopped into the background.

  20. Proulx Michel
    Proulx Michel June 5, 2013 at 10:55 am |

    To a rationalist, what Brad says might sound slightly mad. But I have learned to mistrust rationalists: for instance, one was Voltaire who, in the 18th C., ridiculed the idea of atomic structures of matter. For a rationalist of his time, that was ridiculous. At the beginning of the 20th V., the President of the Faculty of Medicine of Paris declared was upon those who believed in micro-organisms, because he believed in spontaneous generation.

    Now, I have also, personally, had strange experiences, mostly predictive (one concerned a motorcycle accident, and probably helped me avoid it transforming into a catastrophe). In another, I visited the house my sister bought at the moment she bought it, being 5000 km away.

    My brother told me (he’s a hot shot that the World Bank sends in various countries to restructure them) that, at the time of my mother’s death, he could feel her lingering, like she had not realised she had to go. But when it was my father’s turn, he felt him gone straight away. Countless examples exist equivalent to what Brad tells of his waking up in the middle of the night, hearing John Lennon’s song “My Mummy’s Dead”. Twins, knowing at the minute, no, the second, that their twin has just died. Mothers knowing their child has died. And so on. It is disturbing for rationalists, because it contradicts their materialist view.

    But that doesn’t mean that there is an “afterlife”. It doesn’t mean that those people go “to heaven” or whatever. My take is, if we are NOT separate from the Universe, then we can communicate in such moments. If the legend, that we see our whole life go in front of our eyes, like some giant express film, when we die, then that means some others may also see that film at that moment. if they’re about to be born, I’m afraid that would be an influence on their lives. But without going so far, it seems reasonable that, for some people with whom we have tight bonds, to have such a kind of communication.

    It is harder for me to explain seeing future events, as I have, because that implies a different rationale in respect to time. But, anyway…

  21. Harlan
    Harlan June 5, 2013 at 11:08 am |

    “When you’ve seen beyond yourself – then you may find,
    peace of mind, Is waiting there.”


  22. Alan Sailer
    Alan Sailer June 5, 2013 at 11:42 am |

    Proulux Michel,

    ” But I have learned to mistrust rationalists: for instance, one was Voltaire who, in the 18th C., ridiculed the idea of atomic structures of matter. For a rationalist of his time, that was ridiculous. At the beginning of the 20th V., the President of the Faculty of Medicine of Paris declared was upon those who believed in micro-organisms, because he believed in spontaneous generation.”

    Both of whom were later corrected by rationalists….

    We need some prime examples of rationalists who were later corrected by mystics.

    If this goes on we may need a new peer reviewed magazine called the “Journal of Mystical Results”. Someone can channel Madame Blavansky as the editor…

    Hardcore Mysticism.


  23. sri_barence
    sri_barence June 5, 2013 at 2:06 pm |

    If you run into someone who is deeply attached to intellectualism or materialism, send them to a seminar (or a good book) on Quantum Mechanics. The rules of the universe on the quantum level can be expressed with mathematics, which indicates the rules are logical and consistent. But the explanations of those rules sound like insane drivel. For example, light behaves as both a wave and a particle, depending how you design your experiment. Both behaviors are logical and consistent, and can be expressed mathematically. But is light a wave or a particle? The answer really depends on “how you look at it.”

    Except for this: the speed of light is exactly the same for every observer. I have a marvelous proof for this, which this comment box is to small to contain.

  24. Proulx Michel
    Proulx Michel June 5, 2013 at 2:12 pm |

    Alan Sailer

    When I mention “rationalists” I’m not saying they are logical. I just say they rely exclusively upon what THEIR reason tells them. Which means that you can be a staunch rationalist, but if your rationale is flawed, that won’t mean much.

  25. Fred
    Fred June 5, 2013 at 3:12 pm |

    “Except for this: the speed of light is exactly the same for every observer.”


    “The MAGIC (Major Atmospheric Gamma-ray Imaging Cherenkov) telescopes have detected that among gamma-ray photons arriving from the blazar Markarian 501, some photons at different energy levels arrived at different times, suggesting that some of the photons had moved more slowly and thus contradicting the theory of general relativity’s notion of the speed of light being constant, a discrepancy which could be explained by the irregularity of quantum foam”

  26. Zafu
    Zafu June 5, 2013 at 3:18 pm |

    It’s actually a really good thing that we can’t communicate with the dead, because dead people are very boring.

  27. Alan Sailer
    Alan Sailer June 5, 2013 at 3:24 pm |

    Proulux Michael,

    “When I mention “rationalists” I’m not saying they are logical.”

    Wikipedia defines a rationalist as someone who “believe(s) reality has an intrinsically logical structure”.

    I am reminded of Humpty Dumpty who said, ‘When I use a word,it means just what I choose it to mean–neither more nor less.’

    I also found the last sentence interesting. It works with almost any noun you use in place of “rationalist”.

    For instance, try this; You can be a staunch intuisionist, but if your intuition is flawed, that won’t mean much.

    Finally, please don’t take this nit-picking too seriously. I am having a rather strong reaction to the load of meta-physics that is being dumped into these pages lately.

    I entered into sitting zazen to try and learn the truth.

    Stories about feeling the presence of a dead friend or claiming to see future events makes me feel very strange.

    I obviously can’t say that these things didn’t happen, but am extremely skeptical about what is being implied.

    It makes me question my choice to practice zazen…adding to my already great doubts.


  28. Fred
    Fred June 5, 2013 at 3:24 pm |

    What if there is an observer who dropped the observing mind, ie., they are no-self on the other side of nothingness? Does light still move at the same speed,
    and does time exist?

  29. Fred
    Fred June 5, 2013 at 3:33 pm |

    “I entered into sitting zazen to try and learn the truth.

    Stories about feeling the presence of a dead friend or claiming to see future events makes me feel very strange”

    Consider it a gift, a crack in the wall where infinite possibilities can gush forth.

  30. Mumbles
    Mumbles June 5, 2013 at 3:44 pm |

    I’m glad I can’t get Brad’s new book on Kindle; based on these promos I bet I’d be throwing that bitch at the wall every few pages.

  31. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote June 5, 2013 at 4:09 pm |

    Alan Sailer, thanks much for the article on Dr. Blanke’s research. I’ve seen his videos, concerning the artificial induction of out-of-body and other experiences. I didn’t know his research stemmed from observations of the results of electrical stimulation of the temporal-parietal junction prior to surgery for epilepsy.

    I find myself in agreement with Proulx Michel about psychic connection and even precognition, yet I question the kind of experience of presence that Brad claims, largely based on the article that you’ve referred me to today.

    Spent a few minutes reading about Dylan’s experience, from “Slow Train Coming” on Wikipedia:

    Dylan believed he had experienced a vision of Christ in his Tucson hotel room. “Jesus did appear to me as King of Kings, and Lord of Lords,” he’d later say. “There was a presence in the room that couldn’t have been anybody but Jesus … Jesus put his hand on me. It was a physical thing. I felt it. I felt it all over me. I felt my whole body tremble. The glory of the Lord knocked me down and picked me up.”

    That’s great. I don’t know. My opinion, it’s possible to induce amazing states and feelings in the human body and mind, yet I’m not sure whether they inform me about anything other than the recursive relationships that are echoed everywhere as fractals. Are relationships form? Not really, ’cause they can’t quite be expressed in form. Is the form exactly the relationship? Probably can’t ever quite pin it down, like the value of pi.

    Impersonal, I guess would be my take on the universe; nevertheless, all of it is simultaneously everywhere in every thing, and acts.

  32. Alan Sailer
    Alan Sailer June 5, 2013 at 4:38 pm |


    As per Dylan’s experience, once again, I obviously wasn’t there.

    But as someone else once pointed out, it’s kind of amazing that people raised in a western tradition usually have some sort of western type religious visions. And eastern have more more eastern type experiences.

    It just seems like maybe Jesus should give his visions more equally across the ethnic landscape if you see what I mean…or Vishnu should show up in Iowa more often.

    In my more generous moments I think that the religious/spiritual experiences are all the same, people just come back afterwards and describe them according to their familiar cultural backgrounds.

    In my less generous moments I think it’s all just farting neurons….


  33. Harlan
    Harlan June 5, 2013 at 4:49 pm |

    Dylan was withdrawing from a drug habit around that time.
    It is possible that the stress of that had something to do with his vision.
    And of course there are a thousand other possible possibilities including Jesus actually being in his motel room.

    “so I shoot dope once in a while. big deal. What’s it got to do with you?” (Tarantula 1966)

    Dylan tacitly admitted that Christianity took the place of heroin in his song about his conversion entitled, Shot Of Love: “Don’t need a shot of codeine to help me to repent / I need a shot of love.”

  34. shade
    shade June 5, 2013 at 5:06 pm |

    Regarding Dylan’s visitation from the Son of God… Interestingly, Arthur Kane of the New York Dolls had a similar experience in relation to the Book of Mormon. Not in terms of contacting some divine or deceased personage, but in terms of an intense and instantaneous conviction that what he was reading was “true”. Specifically he described it like being “high” – and this was from someone who had little or no prior experience with organized religion at all (there’s an excellent movie about the late Mr. Kane called New York Doll which I recommend for anyone who hasn’t seen it)

    As much as I respect Kane and as much as I’m open to these sort of supernatural experiences this is where my alarm bells go off. Why though? Simply because the whole Mormon thing seems kind of stupid to me? And yet the whole “Christian thing” seems at least plausible. There’s nothing rational or consistent about my “beliefs” in this regard except to say that Mormonism smacks a little too much of mythology with a heavy dose of science fiction and the occult thrown in.

    Anyway this is why rationalism and reason probably play a vital role in seeking out spiritual truths. Otherwise we are shackled by sensation and emotion, neither of which are reliable indicators of anything taken on their own. Treating rationalism as the only measure of truth, on the other hand, I am equally wary of. But I’ve already been down that road, so I’ll just leave off there.

  35. Anonymous
    Anonymous June 5, 2013 at 5:47 pm |

    Just bought the new book on Kindle. I have two books to read before I get to it, but I’m looking forward to it.

    I always support the Zen bunny.

  36. Anonymous
    Anonymous June 5, 2013 at 5:47 pm |

    PS – Your site certificate is still expired, Brad.

  37. Mumbles
    Mumbles June 5, 2013 at 6:01 pm |

    Even though it is now available, my Kindle’s in no danger, but thanks for the concern.

    I asked at the end of the last post about the cover art, what happened to the punk rock/zen cartoon/sexsensational splash of color and attitude?

    Going for middle-aged acceptability w/this new one? Expect everyone to take it “seriously” and all that? The whole thing, subject matter, presentation, seems out of character, but what the fuck do I know? Good luck to you.

  38. Fred
    Fred June 5, 2013 at 6:26 pm |

    I think that the real question is Can We Communicate With the Undead in terms
    of Buddhism, or Can We Communicate From the Undead?

    The living and the dead are kind of a waste of time. The Undead and the Unformed are where it’s at.

  39. shade
    shade June 5, 2013 at 7:55 pm |

    Brad (or whoever) –

    So an explanation is valuable in so far as it has positive ramifications in our lives? It doesn’t matter whether or not our interpretation is accurate so long as it motivates us to become better, happier, healthier people? The way I’m phrasing this sounds like a sarcastic retort but I don’t mean it that way. I think a kind-hearted person walking around with a head full of absurd beliefs about unicorns and UFOs is far preferable to a more sober-minded person who’s a complete prick (or worse). The only problem is when a conviction or belief based on some intense emotional experience is later challenged or outright shattered. Sometimes this can so devastate a person that they can wind up in even worse shape than before.

    Obviously this didn’t happen to Kane and I’m glad for him. It’s certainly a good thing he was able to get his shit straightened out, reconcile with his bandmates and find some peace and joy in the last part of his life (Christ I sound like a damn hallmark card.) And it was eeriely fateful that he got to play that last show so soon before his death. Something like that is too beautiful and uncanny to discount completely, whatever I feel about the veracity of his religious beliefs.

    I’m not trying to suggest that your encounter with your dead friend was akin to a drug-induced hallucination. I really don’t know what to make of that, never having had a similar experience. Therefore I can’t weigh in any more than I can on the existence of angels (never met any of those either; not literally anyway). But from what I know of sorrow and loss, I certainly favor a more mystical or other-worldly explanation than the “Saul of Tarsus neurological misfire” theory (ie all spiritual experiences can be chalked up to faulty wiring in the brain).

    Some consider it very dangerous to allow our convictions to be shaped by our desires – the desire for immortality, the desire to meet up with a fallen friend, ect. They have a point, in terms of this leaving one open to exploitation from charlatans and the like. In my estimation, however, materialist belief systems are equally subject to the pitfalls desire – especially the egoist desire not to come off as a dimwit.

    No need to reply to this, if you’ve actually read it; I’m just rambling really. Good luck on the tour – traveling mercies!

  40. MJGibbs
    MJGibbs June 5, 2013 at 8:33 pm |

    The book arrived today, I’m about to dive in now.

  41. Proulx Michel
    Proulx Michel June 6, 2013 at 2:47 am |

    Alan Sailer:

    “In my more generous moments I think that the religious/spiritual experiences are all the same, people just come back afterwards and describe them according to their familiar cultural backgrounds.”

    I do agree with that. As for the “rationalist” thing, it maybe that, living in France, I meet all the time people who think of themselves as “logical” and “rationalists” but always in the narrowest sense, which makes them bypass anything that disturbs them.

    As for the precognition experiences, I always say that they have not made me any wiser, intelligent or powerful. They are thus anecdotes and ought to be treated as such.

    1. Alan Sailer
      Alan Sailer June 6, 2013 at 8:08 am |

      Fair enough. Even as a fairly hard core believer in rationalism I am painfully aware of how limited it is as a tool.

      I believe the writer Oliver Sacks described the case of a man with brain injuries that left him totally dependent on logic. He had a hard time trying to rationally figure out what to eat for breakfast.

      I can’t say often enough that I can’t judge an experience that I haven’t had. (Unless someone uses that experience to try and convince me of something).

      My last comment of precognition is this: As far as I know Western civilization has had the idea of precognition for thousands of years (Cassandra in ancient Greece).

      We have had all that time to collect hard evidence for the effect.

      The result, zero.

      Thanks for the conversation. I mean that honestly.


  42. Fred
    Fred June 6, 2013 at 4:28 am |

    When ” you ” really open up, the pre-cognition experiences are constant.

    It isn’t the misfiring of neurons. It is the opening to infinite possibilities.

    But all the stuff is just stuff, and choiceless awareness watches it come and go,
    the arising and passing away.

  43. Proulx Michel
    Proulx Michel June 6, 2013 at 5:13 am |

    I’d also like to add what the French astrophysician Trinh Xuan Thuan wrote recently:
    “The Austrian Kurt Gödel (…) demonstrated (…) that, contrarily to what was thought since Newton, reason cannot find a solution to everything, that there are mathematical enunciates of which one cannot affirm through a mere logical reasoning that they are true of false. This is what he calls “undecidable propositions” or “theorem of incompleteness”. If the mathematician cannot demonstate that the hypothesis of continuity is true, at least does he succeed in proving, in 1937, that it is impossible to assert its falsity. A good start!”

    He also adds, further:
    “How sad it were if we had no more mysteries to elucidate! It would be realy boring.”

  44. Proulx Michel
    Proulx Michel June 6, 2013 at 5:15 am |

    Sorry, I was mistaken. Trinh Xuan Thuan, though he essentially writes in French, is Americano-Vietnamese.

  45. The Grand Canyon
    The Grand Canyon June 6, 2013 at 5:40 am |

    Sam Harris – Death and the Present Moment

  46. Mark Foote
    Mark Foote June 7, 2013 at 7:48 am |

    Once upon a time, I heard a friend singing in my head. He was sitting right in front of me, but he wasn’t singing, he wasn’t saying anything. Silent. And I heard him sing a folk song in my head, clear as a bell. I asked him if he was thinking of that song. There was no context in our prior conversation to imagine he would be doing anything like that, but he said yes.

    Ever since I’ve had to wonder, whether something in his posture conveyed the song to me, although his voice in my head was very distinct; could it be that his lips responded to his thoughts ever so slightly and conveyed the song?

    A friend reminds me that there are videos out there that recount how folks who were able to float upward out of their bodies recalled afterward numbers on a piece of paper placed on a shelf above where they could have possibly seen it, or described a sock up on the roof that nobody could have known was there. Robert Monroe described pinching some woman’s behind while he was out of body, and later had the bruise described to him, even though the friend who had the experience didn’t know what to make of the whole thing and was reticent to talk about it. If I remember correctly.

    I guess my conclusion is, something’s happening, having to do maybe with the greater electrical field within which our little elecrical field takes place. Something like that. So I’m willing to allow that there could be eddies in the current, and maybe the presence Brad felt was something like that; nevertheless, the significance of such experiences is I think a matter of interpretation, as has already been mentioned.

    Denkoroku, cuckoo; at 22 Vasubandhu, and the voice of the author has changed; I suspected it in the prior story, but here for sure. Someone went to pains to dovetail with the original author just enough to disguise the insertion, but the genius is not there. I still think the text prior is Yuanwu. But here, where sitting all day, doing ceremonies, and chanting is decried, something’s odd. Not that I don’t agree, just the man is no longer speaking to himself.

  47. senorchupacabra
    senorchupacabra June 7, 2013 at 9:35 am |

    I don’t think the idea here is that there is a permanent “self” which exists during life or after it. The idea is that the, for lack of a better word, “ingredients” for the experience of the “self” are always present. From the beginning of time until the end of it (in as much as “time” actually “exists”). Therefore, as long as the ingredients for that kind of “consciousness” are there, the possibility for that consciousness is always “there” as well.

    Again, I’m agnostic on whether communicating with the dead is possible, and I actually lean more toward the idea that we can’t. But certainly, I can imagine that it might be possible. Again, as Brad says, our brains are creating the world for us, and we actually have very little idea of what actually exists beyond what our human consciousness creates for us. This is a difficult idea to grasp, I’ve found, for the vast majority of people. I think for the “Western” mind, people should study Kant to get the general gist of the idea. Kant wasn’t a “zen” man, obviously, and I don’t think he was “enlightened” in the way we tend to speak about such things. I certainly don’t agree with all of his conclusions. But he did understand that there is “something” (i.e. noumena) that exists outside the realm of human consciousness (i.e. phenomena). He’s not talking about different dimensions or realities. It’s the reality we experience every day, but it’s beyond our experience, or something more than our experience of it. Our experience is dictated by how our brains and nervous systems make sense of it. Space, time, etc. But these things have to exist “beyond” or “outside” of how our brain experiences it. They have to exist outside of space and time, essentially. And, really, that’s what much of our science now tells us. Quantum Mechanics only seems weird because it’s probably giving us a view into what the Universe looks like outside the realm of the interpretation of the human brain, at least to some extent. It even tells us, literally, that our consciousness directly effects what it observes.

  48. tox
    tox June 9, 2013 at 2:57 am |


    I remember reading the book hardcore zen some years ago, and there was this story where you had some strange experience where you had some beautiful visions etc of uniting with cosmos or something like that. Afterwards you went to see Nishijima roshi and he said something like “just forget it, it was just a makyo”.

    I dont understand how your feeling of precence of a dead friend is any different from that..

    Could there be any possibility that because you consider yourself to be experienced in zen practice, you feel that dont need to ask advice anymore from Nishijima or someone else? And now you begin to add strange esoteric makyo stuff to your teachings?

    Sorry, not so good english, hope its understandable

    1. Harlan
      Harlan June 11, 2013 at 5:58 am |

      Hi tox. I would have liked Brad to respond to your comment.

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