T Nation

Vision After Death


I know we all think about death. Sometimes I feel that the thought of death is what brought forth religion assuming a possibility that religion was written as a book from theory and not experience. The thought of death is often secured by the promises from our religion and own spirituality.

But that isn't my point...

I am always in search of my religious beliefs and my spirituality. As a godfather in the catholic religion I am lean toward that side, but there are always my individual thoughts.

Outside of my religion...

When I think about death I always get caught in one area: Vision. Assuming that upon death we lose vision... what do we see?

There is a difference between not seeing and seeing nothing. So after death what does your body see? Surely you cannot say it sees nothing because the means of vision are not there. So is it possible to see nothing without vision? When you ask someone what you see after death and they answer nothing are they not wrong on technicality? Blind people see nothing... Dead people can't see nothing.

Is it possible for thought to continue on in the physical body without life? If the whole phenomenon of thought is exactly that... do we have proof that it requires life to exist?

I'd like this to open up to a nice discussion to topic as it is one that often leaves me awake.


Death is the same thing as your existence before conception; a great big nothing. The world press photo contest of 2004 had a series of pictures of terminal patients living and moments after death. The difference is startling; once the breath of life has gone, what is left is matter, a big lump of decaying cells.

From my POV, there's no life after death. You, the psychological entity thinking, exists solely due to the body, and once the body gives out, you're back where you came from.


Well I cant and wont try and tell you what happens when we die.

After living and caring for someone over the past few years that is/has been walking a line so close to death I have come to the conclusion we don't have time to worry about it.

You cant stop or predict when it will happen so your better of not even fretting over it. It doesn't scare me and at the same time doesn't take up a large amount of my time thinking about it. Just seems like another waste of the few precious moments we have here.

I am a firm believer in living the life that truly makes you happy. Whatever that entails. OK I know "self centered" you say, well it could be that boils down to the individual. Some people are Truly happy doing for themselves in totality, others find happiness through dealing with others.

That said I think 99% of people could use a good dose of healthy self centeredness. To damn many people today spend there life living and worrying about what others think. Living their life in every aspect as a show for others. At the picture they speak to the public instead of what they really care about. The first step IMO is to take a minute to find out who the hell you are. To many people don't even know this they don't take the time to really understand their own thoughts spending way to much time worrying about what others think or worrying about things like death. How the hell can you understand anything or anyone truly if you don't know where you stand.

Once you realize and recognize you then you can begin to know what make you happy for REAL. You can deal with and understand people you want to, and wont let the other people or things bug you.

OK I am getting way the hell off topic just a little blabbing / ranting that is on my mind a lot as of late.

I say don't waste time worrying about Death, live the life you know is right and most of the time that will mean a better life for not only you but those you choose to relate with. We all will die, if we go somewhere after that Ill see you there. If not Nice knowing you and I will fade knowing I did my best at being the person and doing the things I wanted to and that fulfilled my goals. Maybe that will lead to me living on in the only way that we actually have proof of. In the form of those of remain thoughts and stories. Maybe I will have touched something or someone enough to be remembered and passed to further generation.

We'll see, and who knows maybe we will get to see again. Im not leaving any possibility out.

Just my Take,


Somewhere out there is a theory that shortly after "death", your brain cells still continue to operate.

So, as things get challenging (no blood flow equals challenging) your brain cells fire off, causing memories, visions and whatever else.

However, this isn't a spiritual theory.


When was the last time your eyes were open when you were dreaming? I think it has to do with spiritual stuff like that.


I've heard that too. So what if our brain is still capable of firing off thoughts or experiencing what's going on around it, long after we are dead.

Imagine feeling everything, but not being able to express that feeling. You'd feel the fire when getting cremated, but for how long? You'd feel the mortician draining your body's fluids.

Even if your nerves are not sending signals to the brain anymore, would the brain it's self acknowledge what is going on around it, and therefore still give the sensation of pain?

I think the brain is very interesting, but unfortunately I don't know nearly enough about it to really make any theories.


i agree word for word


That is the big mystery and we will all come to that place someday. Maybe we do just become a decaying lump of cells and any conscience thought ceases to exist. Maybe our conscience energy or just our energy continues on to another place. I don't know, who really does. I would hope there is something else, but I also must be open to the fact that this is it and like Phil said make the most of what we have here and now so that it's meaning full and positive however each individual finds the means to do that.


SWR: The formulation of that theory that I have heard is not that the brain continues to operate for a long period after death, but that dying braincells (they start to die when there's no oxygen) start rapidly firing off. That kind of activity in the visual cortex is thought to produce the effect of a "tunnel of white light," and the various other NDE phenomena.


I don't think the effect would last that long SWR. Brain cells die rapidly without an oxygen supply. Once they start to die they quit "talking" to their neighbors and release a chemical that produces a morphine like effect. After that it is no longer a brain, just a collection of dying nerve cells. Back when the learning channel was about science they had a show called the human animal that described the process of non traumatic death very well.

And to answer the first question: If there is a spirit and a spirit world I don't think it would be connected to our physical reality. Sights, sounds,smells, and touch would have no meaning in a place not governed by our physical laws. It would be a whole different existence.


At the risk of getting metaphysical so early in the day..

Could it be possible that "vision" exists in stages? That the physical sense of sight (and subsequent act of seeing) is just phase I of vision, and that retreating within one's self (spirit) to reflect on that which one sees is the second stage of vision?

If we cease to see through an ocular lense, perhaps it is the mind's eye that goes on seeing? When you reflect on a situation or a sight, can you not reproduce it in your mind sans the use of your eyes? So, maybe it's fair to ask whether or not the act of "seeing" is defined in terms of the strict parameters of physically taking in an image, or considering "Seeing" as a cycle of intaking, processing and evaluating information.. something that requires a mind/spirit more than a set of blinkers.

quite the quagmire, I'd say.

-Brown eyed girl.


This is extremely interesting. I am curious as to what happens to the physical body as the spiritual body just opens up an entirely new debate.

So basically this theory would state that the body continues to think/see after death but just has no means to communicate this. Operational status is gone.


Yes... But can you see the nothing? If your eyes cannot see they cannot see nothing...

So what is entering the brain as a visual stimulus?


If simplified to the smallest degree aren't we all made up of chemicals?

So even without life all the chemicals, which allowed the phenomenon of the brain to occur, are still there. We can't be positive that thoughts are gone just because brain cells are "dying" from oxygen.

Is it possible that thought exists even without life in the brain... it could just be that life is needed to communicate the existence of conscience.

The theory could not be proven wrong until we communicate with the dead?


You're asking two separate questions. The first is a semantic problem. Rephrasing, you are saying:

"Commonly, people hold that when one is dead one sees nothing. But saying that one 'sees nothing' implies that one is actively seeing after death, but that there is nothing to sense. The common meaning, however, is that we 'do not see;' that, in fact, sense perception and all other thoughts cease after death. So, more properly, one ought to say that we 'do not see.'"

I don't find this first analysis to be problematic. You're identifying a common perception and identifying the language used to describe it as incorrect.

But then you continue by asking if, perhaps, the first formulation is actually correct, and that some form of thought exists after other activity in the body ceases. So, let us examine the possibilities.

The first possibility is that thinking and the physical brain are inextricably linked. If this be true, then our ability to think is a function of the amount of functioning brain matter we have. We do know that after death, brain activity ceases, and so thought must cease as well. Anecdotally, we know that after brain damage a person's behavior and thought patterns may change drastically. This kind of evidence points away from a non-physical brain. If the brain were some sort of interface between mind and body, then such disorders would largely manifest themselves physically. That is, one would have trouble moving, or putting one's thoughts into action, but thoughts themselves would be unaffected.

The other possibility is that there is some sort of mind or soul separate from the physical body, and either this soul was designed or it was accidentally emergent. If the soul were designed, it would need a purpose. Why else would it have been designed? Certainly an omnipotent God could create a thinking being without need for a soul. We can comfortably assume, then, that God would not allow a non-physical soul to be somehow attached to a physical body that was in the process of decay. The soul would need a raison d'etre beyond life itself (since we've already established that it isn't necessary for life), and would therefore need to engage in its purposeful activity after death. This is inconsistent with your fear.

If the soul is accidental, we'd have to first ask ourselves how this could be possible. We would need to show, for example, how evolution could have stumbled onto a non-physical mind to begin with, and how this would've been superior to, easier than, or more likely to occur than a physical mind. It is even less likely that evolution would select a non-physical mind that would continue to exist beyond physical life; after all, such a feature would not make allow the species to survive any better in the physical world. But even if we grant this, and we grant that the soul is non-ambulatory, and that the soul requires sensory organs to sense, then, again, your fears should be assuaged. For the surviving psyche would only be able to ponder itself, and its location or proximity to the decaying body would not be a meaningful concept.


I would accept seeing as any perceived visual stimulus. So a dream would continue. Many could argue that dreams come with all percieved physical senses.

I guess the beginning of this thought came from the realization that seeing your eyelids is entirely different then what one would "see" with a severed optical nerve.


you don't have the physical eyes when you're dead. I dont think that there is anything to see because I dont think you continue a life after you're dead, so there's no argument of vision because you aren't there to see anything.


It's my "belief" that the physical world is a manifestation of the spritual world...therefore; laws are the same, just in a different format, with the physical world being a representation of that format...forced into existence.


Your whole theory is based on the premise that the only knowns are those knowns that are known. You are failing to account for the known unknowns, the unknown knowns and the unknown unknowns. Once those have been accounted for and accepted, I believe you will have your answer.




Could one argue that thoughts are just as existent but the means of communication are just messed up.

Very interesting.

I think this goes beyond what i am saying but there is also reason for this.

I agree with pookie's arguement of dimensions of vision. I believe dreams are the closest to proving vision without eyes. This raises the question, is this an act of a non-physical presence (soul) or something that relies on the existence of physical life.

Well based on evolution could one assume that the existence of a non-physical being is a means of allowing the body to cope with its high level of thought process?

There could have been the existence of an entirely physical body trapped by the mere level of thought capability that it was not able to physically overcome thought to complete tasks to survive.

So then you open up... is it possible to feel nothing as well.

I think your statements further clarify (to me) my thoughts. Is it possible to be consciously aware of not seeing or "seeing" nothing when infact you are not able to see.