Gregory Shushan, Ph.D., is the award-winning author of “The Next World: Extraordinary Experiences of the Afterlife,” “Near-Death Experience in Indigenous Religions,” and “Conceptions of the Afterlife in Early Civilizations.” He is the leading authority on near-death experiences and the afterlife across cultures and throughout history.
Dr. Shushan is a Visiting Fellow at Winchester University, a Research Fellow at the Parapsychology Foundation, and a founding editor of Afterworlds Press. He was formerly a Perrott-Warrick Researcher at the University of Oxford’s Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion; Scholar-in-Residence at the Centro Incontri Umani (The Cross-Cultural Centre), Ascona, Switzerland; and Honorary Research Fellow at the Religious Experience Research Centre, University of Wales. He has lectured at universities in the UK, Ireland, and Switzerland, given numerous talks on his research in nine countries, and appeared on the History Channel.
Please enjoy my conversation with Dr. Greg Shushan.
Listen to more great episodes at Next Level Soul Podcast
Follow Along with the Transcript – Episode 164
Dr. Greg Shushan 0:00
Is the more religion in general, but especially afterlife beliefs and rituals and practices, the more they become accessible to the people rather than just the kings. You know, like in in Egypt, for example, you know, the pyramids are the most obvious example. There's this idea that the afterlife was kind of reserved for the pharaohs for the elite, right. Which is, you know, that itself is debatable, but just kind of working with that. It was definitely not as accessible, you know, because people weren't literate. Right? They didn't have the earliest times they didn't have you know, books of the dead written on papyrus that anybody could buy for a nickel or whatever.
Alex Ferrari 0:48
I've been able to partner with Mindvalley. To present you guys FREE Masterclass is between 60 and 90 minutes, hovering Mind Body Soul Relationships, and Conscious Entrepreneurship, taught by spiritual masters, yogi's spiritual thought leaders and best selling authors. Just head over to nextlevelsoul.com/free. I'd like to welcome to the show, Greg Shushan. How are you doing, Greg?
Dr. Greg Shushan 1:25
Good. Thanks. How are you doing?
Alex Ferrari 1:26
I'm doing very well. Thank you for coming on the show. Like I was telling you before we got on, I'm super excited to talk to you because I've been studying near death experiences. And I've interviewed a lot of the leading figures in in that in the movement, I mean, Raymond Moody, and so on, and spoken to a lot of Near Death Eaters, but I've never I just kept saying, they've said it so many times on the show, Jesus is busy. He's constantly everywhere, he shows up at all these near death experiences. But what happened to Buddha what happened to these other you know, and other other deities, other, you know, Shiva, Shiva showing up? You know, like, who's where all these other cultures? And how are they experiencing near death experiences, which is what your work is all about? So my very first question is, how did you get into researching near death experiences of indigenous people?
Dr. Greg Shushan 2:16
It started, I actually started out in archaeology, and specifically Egyptian archaeology and Eastern Mediterranean. And while I was doing that research, this was in London at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. You know, you read learning hieroglyphs, and you're researching the ancient texts and learning about the afterlife beliefs and all that. And as I'm reading things like the coffin texts, and the Book of the Dead, and the Pyramid Texts, that suddenly kind of thinking, Well, that sounds a little bit familiar in a kind of general way that I started noticing, you know, they leave the body and they enter darkness, they travel through darkness, they come into a realm of light, they meet the Sun God, who is a being of light, there's a kind of association between the dead person and the go to Osiris, who's the God of the dead. And the deceased person meets the corpse of Osiris in the other world. And because the disease person is Osiris, at the same time, it's kind of like they're encountering their own corpse while they're out of their body. And seeing their own corpse, while they're out of their body is the thing that makes them realize, okay, I'm dead, but I'm still alive, I'm still conscious and and then that's also the thing that allows them to progress to the next level, and then there's the evaluation of their life on Earth, and then they reach a certain barrier, which they have to transcend. So a lot of very general things that were similar to NDE's, and it just got me thinking.
Alex Ferrari 3:47
And I'm assuming, I mean, when you started going down this research path, where your colleagues and, you know, the establishment open to a lot of these ideas, or were, you know, did you have some issues?
Dr. Greg Shushan 4:00
Yeah, it's funny, because at the institute Institute of Archaeology, they were completely fine with it. They just thought well, that's really interesting. And, and I went on to do my ma there, which I did a thesis comparing Egyptian afterlife beliefs and Vedic Indian afterlife beliefs. So like pre Hindu kind of, you know, ancient Indian religious traditions in relation to near death experience, you know, specifically, and they were completely fine with it. It was only really kind of when I went into religious studies that I encountered a little, you know, theoretical resistance. And there's, it's a long story, but the short version is basically that there's this real distinction between religious studies and Theology and Religious Studies is secular and it's more kind of anthropological, sociological. Which is fine. It's great that it exists. But there's a there's kind of a chip on their shoulder. They really want to make that distinction. between religious studies and theology, so anything that has to do with anything mystical or, or like a religious experience or something, they kind of hold it at arm's length and think that, you know, you shouldn't really be taking these kinds of things seriously. It's okay to see them as there's a cultural thing within that culture. But to say it's a universal thing across cultures. You know, that's, that's taboo, that smuggling, theology or spirituality into a secular field.
Alex Ferrari 5:28
Yeah, because God forbid you like mix them up, right? Like you can. Because that's the way the world works. Everything's very hard. We'll never realize, you know, geology is over here. Science is over here. That's just not the way the universe works. Everything kind of is all mixed up all the time. Yeah. So So from your experiences are so let's go from your studies, let's go back to the basic understanding of what a near death experiences, from my understanding from talking to a lot of the experts, the phenomenon of near deck spirit experience, which was coined by Raymond Moody back in the 70s, they really didn't start coming into play or to stories hitting more and more in the in a publicly because we started to be able to resuscitate people with you know, CPR and modern medicine. So more people were coming back from the dead. How much of that was happening in the ancient world and in different in different parts of the world?
Dr. Greg Shushan 6:19
Yeah, that's a good point. Because, you know, we know about near death experiences going way, way back. But they were, you know, much rarer, I think, than they are today because of, you know, advances and resuscitation technology and all that. So I'm so think that that's part of the reason why there aren't as many nd ease from the past. And part of the reason why they kind of took until the 20th century, and Raymond Moody to put this together and to name it. It's not that they weren't happening before that it's just that they didn't have a name. And they were, they were much more scarce that the occurred. But yeah, I mean, the, essentially, the way I approached the whole subject is I don't determine if something's a near death experience by the content, I determine it by by the context by basically like, did the person die and come back to life. And of course, we can't measure that from a past Society, an ancient society or whatever. So we just have to kind of take this culture was word for it. So you know, if there's a Pacific tribe on some island, and they said, So and so died, and we were preparing his burial. And then he came back to life. And he told us what happened in between, you know, accept that as a as a near death experience. So even if he doesn't talk about, you know, a being of light, or a tunnel, or any of the kind of familiar elements.
Alex Ferrari 7:40
So So let's talk a little bit about the familiar elements, you know, the, the, the cliche, if you will, of near death experiences, or common elements are the life review. Sometimes the council of elders, sometimes meeting either a spiritual deity, either like like a joking about Jesus, or relatives. The darkness is something that's very common into the light, love, oneness. These are all basic concepts that are general and they vary from person to person, but as a general statement, they all seem to have these at least one, if not multiple of these things, you know, from culture to culture. So, you know, from I mean, there's many, I mean, there's 1000 cultures, but, you know, from like, broad strokes from like, muscle mass of America to the Vedic Indians, to China, to Australia, that are part of the Peloponnesian. What did they did have life reviews with? What can we talk about it like a little bit by culture?
Dr. Greg Shushan 8:46
Sure. Yeah. I guess the first point you made is a really good one that even between Western Andes, the stereotypical ones that that we read about that, you know, people write books about, I saw heaven and this kind of thing. Even they're different. So the kind of first thing to take on board is, if it's this kind of universal experience, then why are they different even within a particular culture? So and even moody recognize that and, you know, in 1975, he, he said, he identified what 15 elements or whatever it was, and said, no single, nd er has all of those experiences in their nd so it's kind of like this. I look at it as like a repertoire of of experiences from which an individual draws, for whatever reason, in their nd Yeah, and most of them, possibly all of them occur in different places around the world at different times. But there also definitely seems to be kind of cultural, culturally determined things that that happen or don't happen depending on on the culture. So one example is in small scale societies, indigenous tribal societies around the world. It's very rare to have any idea of like rushing through a tunnel, even rushing through darkness or anything like that, the way they get to the other worlds is by walking along a path or road. And they can even describe like, they see the footprints of other spirits who had been walking that path before them. Sometimes they see people who have just had an NDE on their way back, walking in the opposite direction. So the person having the nd describing it, you know, they're walking this way, and they're seeing people walk back this way going back to their bodies, which is, which is pretty interesting. So the whole idea of, you know, dying and going to the other world is there, it's just the means of, of conveyance is different depends on the culture.
Alex Ferrari 10:42
So do you think that is because of the, from my understanding on a spiritual standpoint, is that whole experience of a near death experience, or going through the dying process is custom designed to make it as easy and comfortable, generally speaking, sometimes there's darkness in it, but generally speaking, easy and comfortable for the person. So if they were raised Christian, Jesus shows up if they were raised Buddha, Buddha, in the in, you know, in the indigenous tribes, uh, you're talking about a tunnel of love, they wouldn't even conceive that. But walking a path is something that they can, oh, this is comfortable for I understand what this is. And it's like you're flying, and it would be terrifying. For them, it wouldn't be a comfortable thing. Is that a fair statement?
Dr. Greg Shushan 11:28
Yeah, I think it is. You know, there are examples. There's always exceptions that prove the rule. So. So there's, there's interesting symbolic things like there's an African indigenous example. They can't remember the, the culture, but they enter into a little hole in a tree. So that's kind of going into darkness. And then and then making them but for them, that makes sense, right? Yeah. But yeah, so the, it's almost like the whoever or whatever is creating the near death experience, even if it's our own brains, or whatever. It's, it needs some kind of symbolic expression for us to be able to even understand what's going on. So what might be happening is the soul or consciousness or whatever is moving from the body to some other state of being, the way it's getting there is irrelevant, but our minds need to, you know, process, the journey there. So for some people, it's going to be walking along the road. Others it's going to be, you know, rushing through a tunnel. But, you know, by the same token, there's not like, people know, describe driving there, or taking a cruise ship there, or whatever.
Alex Ferrari 12:35
Right. It's, it's some basic understanding, it's a basic thing that wouldn't make sense to the person it's happening to, that the consciousness can comprehend it, not the mind as much because we're dead or die. But But consciousness is just for you to just experience that we're again, this is from my, just from me, interviewing so many people and talking about this subject so much. It seems that that that seems to be the way because you generally, you know, if you were, if you're an indigenous person Jesus showing up, they'd be like, who this? Like it didn't it wouldn't make any sense. It might be terrifying, and it wouldn't be comforting. And that seems like there's a transition of breaking through the house, like pulling yourself out of a movie. Kind of like you're the actor, and now and you've been playing a part and you're pulling the act like come on. No, no, no, you're not Hannibal Lecter anymore. You need to come off the set. Look, look, there's lights. Look, there's a there's a crew, let's just keep walking, go down that go down that hallway, and everything will be explained kind of event.
Dr. Greg Shushan 13:39
Yeah, yeah, that's that sounds reasonable. Yeah. And it's also easy, but then again, there's also things like the life review you mentioned. Right? You know, we would expect that to be pretty common in different cultures. But it's actually not and and again, in small scale indigenous societies, especially, it's almost non existent. There's sometimes a kind of evaluation of the person's life like Did you know that they might be questioned or kind of evaluated in some way to the effect of did you perform the correct rituals? Did you you know, it's always some something that has to do with the community really, did you give to the poor or something like that, but like a very personal life reveal where your your life flashes before your eyes. And you often in in near death experiences that we hear about the person will say, they felt the emotions of everybody that they interacted with. So if you if you hurt somebody, then you're going to feel their pain during your your life review. And that just does not happen and in the small scale societies. And what's important about that is, you know, a lot of people will think it frustrates people because a lot of people want to see the near death experience in this very kind of cut and dried way and they want to see it according to the West. And model that the people who who write the books tell us about. And what was it, what's interesting and important about it is a lot of the scientists who are studying Andes, or, or studying death and then make speculations about indies, they use that model in formulating their theories. So just to give an example, a few months ago, there was a study where they monitored a guy's brain as he was dying. And it replicated a study that they'd done with rats who are dying, and that were dying in it. And in different kinds of studies where they found that the brain lights up at the moment of death, there's this burst of activity rather than just death, which is what they would expect. So the scientists speculate that, oh, that means neurons are firing in the brain. And that explains the life review, that explains the end, because there's a burst of, of activity flooding the mind with all of your memories, and whatever. So the response to that is, okay, but if people in indigenous societies are not having life reviews, and it's supposed to be a physiological occurrence, how can you explain that so. So on the one hand, it might seem like a challenging thing to the idea that near death experiences are real experiences of an afterlife. But at the on the other hand, it's a challenge to materialist theories, the dying brain theory that say, you know, it's just special effects of, of the dying brain, because the special effects should be the same everywhere, whoever,
Alex Ferrari 16:29
Exactly, so it should be cut and dry. If it's a physio, if it's something physical, happening in the brain, everyone should have the exact same near death experience, there shouldn't be a variation at all, if it's something physically happen, because we, you know, physically, we all generally have the same experiences, you know, we've only, you know, we break a bone, we're all going to hurt the same way. It's not gonna
Dr. Greg Shushan 16:51
Filtered through culture, you know, but, but to have entire elements that don't even exist in particularly, in particular cultures. That's, you know, that's a challenging thing that needs to be explained really?
Alex Ferrari 17:03
Well, let me ask you, then, would it make sense that a more basic culture, which is these tribal cultures, they don't have the complexities of us and again, please correct me if I'm wrong, of, let's say, you and I, who have so many different interactions, so many different complexities in our behavior, there's so much, you know, happening in our in our interactions with other human beings. You know, we're relying and we're doing this and maybe we're trying to get ahead and maybe want to hurt someone politically. All this complexity that we do they don't have these kinds of complexities. In a more tribal base, it's much more basic of like, Did you would you give to the community, like really basic meat and potatoes, kind of things that they deal with on a day in day out basis, because they're, and again, please correct me, but like, their basic understanding their basic is, the basic line is survival. And it's about being surviving the day and making we have feet meat and protecting us from the lions and protecting us from other tribes and things like that, where you and I generally don't have to deal with the lion. We have to deal with the taxman, which is much worse than the lion. But so would that make sense that the near death experience would be a little bit more basic, based on the experience that that soul, if you want to go down that road that soul had in their lifetime?
Dr. Greg Shushan 18:29
Yeah, I wouldn't say it's more basic, I would say it's just different. But it's a, it's a good point that I think what it is, is, and this, there's been in the early days of near death studies, there's a scholar, Alan Kelly, here, he's the first one, he started looking at the cross cultural indies, and especially in small indigenous societies, he found a really interesting one from 19th century Hawaii and a few others. But even based on the five or six, he found, he speculated that because the kind of whole focus of of a person was on the community, they were very community focused, in comparison to Western societies, but were very individual focused. Everything is about the self, you know, selfies and, and social media and everything, right? It's kind of very, very individualistic. We don't, we're not constantly engaged with what our neighbors are doing, helping our neighbors out, sharing things with neighbors. I mean, we do to a certain extent, but it's not like we're all living in this village based community with, you know, all our houses around a circle or whatever. So he kind of correctly predicted that when more indigenous and small scale MDS are found, that they're not going to have life reviews. And he said, it's because of that kind of community focus rather than the individual focus. And I think that's, that's gotta be corrected, and it's exactly what I found, you know, I found something like over 100 in, you know, Native American, African and Polynesian and Melanesian societies. And for the most part, there's very few life reviews. And I think that's got to be the explanation that it's just not relevant for them to be individually judged in the afterlife. They're kind of maybe judging the community or something. But yeah, it's not like up to one person to to be judged or not.
Alex Ferrari 20:17
So let me ask you in the Vedic Indian traditions or because I'm, I'm fascinated with that I want to hear I haven't heard an Indian and the E yet, or even an ancient Indian, in the E, because they have 2000 gods in there in Hinduism. And Hinduism is and then there's Jainism and then there's farther back, which I'm sure you could tell us about. What happens who shows up? Like what happens in an Indian entity is like, is the you know is, is? What's his name, the elephant, I always forget, Ganesh at this Ganesh, show up the Shiva show up. Who, who's there generally, because in Western Christian, it's always Jesus. Like I said, Jesus, very busy man. But in that culture, do they show up? And do these religious deities show up to help?
Dr. Greg Shushan 21:09
They do yeah. That, but even that, because of even within, you know, massive, diverse polytheistic I was gonna say tradition, but it's really a set of traditions, like Hinduism is like, a bunch of religions matched up, right. Yeah, so I think, you know, a vice Nova is going to have an ND e where, you know, Krishna or Vishnu or an avatar of Vishnu shows up. Same with, you know, Shiva, the ancient ones, the ones, there's a kind of interesting stream of journeys to the underworld texts in, in Indian literature, going back to the Rigveda, which is the earliest Western scholars data to like 1500 or 2000 BCE, Indian scholars data to like 10,000. So, but then it's a kind of this plot where a father of a young boy, sends him to the other world to either learn about the afterlife, or in a later version in the Upanishads. It's because he's really annoyed with his kid who keeps badgering him asking questions. So he just says, you know, just get to the underworld, which are to basically, you know, and effectively, it means that he kills him. So it kind of develops over time, but I think it's probably dict, based on, you know, an early knowledge of the near death experience. So, in the Upanishads version, which is kind of the most fleshed out in the most most formed when the little boy goes to the underworld. And his name is Natalie kitas. If anyone wants to look it up, he goes to the underworld and the God of the dead, who's never Yama isn't there. And so the kids is just waiting, and he ends up waiting there for three days. So Yama, finally turns up, and he says, you know, I'm so sorry, this lapse of hospitality, I know, You've been waiting all this time, what can I do for you, I'm going to grant you three wishes. So he grants the boy three wishes. And the boy says, interesting. One of them is he wants the love of his father, basically, the father who just killed him to send him to the other world, he wants his you know, the the love and respect and attention from his father. The other one is he wants the secret of a fire ritual, which is related to you know, the soul going to the afterlife and, and things like that. And but the main one is that he wants to know, the nature of the afterlife, and the secret of immortality. And basically, what what the afterlife and life and death are all about. And Yama kind of hems and haws for a while he doesn't really want to give him this information, but eventually does and and it's in very kind of obscure esoteric language, but it's essentially the secret that the self which in Hinduism is called the Atman. It's like the the inner unchanging Self. It's always the same through however many incarnations that you
Alex Ferrari 23:59
The soul in other words.
Dr. Greg Shushan 24:00
Right, yeah. That it's actually the same one in the same as the universal consciousness, transcended spirit where or whatever which is called a Brahman. So essentially, it's like the realization that the secret of life and death and immortality is the realization that there's no difference between you and the divine in the transcendent. So. So that's an interesting example of a very early Indian nd where, you know that he meets Yama, who's the God of the dead, and you don't really come across that in contemporary Hindu Andes very much because there's not like a vibrant continuous tradition of worship of Yama, the god of the dead, so they're often met with whichever God the particular person's most devoted to.
Alex Ferrari 24:45
It's interesting, what you just said is this is the basis of yogic philosophy and the Ascended Master and you know, when they they discover and understand at a soul level that they have, they are one With the universe is when they become enlightened Buddha did it, Jesus did it, and many others in and mastered it. So it's really fascinating that that story is essentially the basis of a truth that Yogi's have been talking about for 1000s of years, and it came from, and then the, if you will,
Dr. Greg Shushan 25:21
Exactly, yeah, and, and that is one of the, that's one of the more important cross cultural features of Indies. As far as I'm concerned, I mean, all this stuff about walking along the road and life review. It's all interesting, but the fact that the messages that people bring back from the afterlife is often like, things like we don't die, there's a better realm coming, you're not just your body, you're this kind of divine being or spirit being or whatever, what's the phrase, you're, you're you're not a, you know, you're a soul being having a human experience, or embodied experience rather than the other way around. So there's, there's also this kind of bringing back positive news from the afterlife and bringing back it's like a realm of transformation. And so when somebody comes back, they, they bring these positive things into the community. And it the idea is that it then has a positive effect and a wider effect on the community. And in fact, there's a whole with a lot of Native American accounts going back to like 19th century and even earlier, a lot of shamans would become shamans because of the fact that they had an ND E. And there's whole religious movements, in fact, that were based on the end of a particular person. So
Alex Ferrari 26:36
You could give an example? Or is there anything popular that we might know,
Dr. Greg Shushan 26:39
For sure, the, the Ghost Dance religion is a pretty famous example. And there was the person who founded that religion actually are a couple of them, but one of them was called a Wovoka, this tribal shaman elder guy, he had an NDE and he was told in the other world, basically, to come back and spread this, you know, new teachings about the afterlife, and the spirits and, and how to get information and access the other world. So he, and he was also taught this particular dance that would enable anybody to do it so and that became the what's called the Ghost Dance religion. And people would, you know, the whole tribe would would get together and with this in their mind that they're going to dance until they collapse and go together other worlds, they would, they would essentially do it. So it's effectively he was, you know, democratizing near death experiences, making making them available for anyone to have them without actually dying. But so they and the community could could receive the benefits from it, the wisdom and the knowledge and enlightenment, and sometimes even claims of like, healing powers and pre cognition and things like that.
Alex Ferrari 27:54
And would, and does, like psychedelics have anything to do with those, those kinds of traditions, because, obviously, psilocybin peyote, these kinds of psychedelics induce a kind of near death experience coming, who literally come to Jesus conversation in many instances with with that, so I've heard I mean, obviously shamanism, especially here in the in, like in the, in the north, the Northeast, and in the area here in the United States. You know, peyote is a very big thing in regard to that. Did you encounter any of that stuff? In your research?
Dr. Greg Shushan 28:36
Absolutely. Yeah, that's, that's definitely one of the ways that people can get to the afterlife. And there's a whole sort of shamanic tradition of, you know, taking psychedelics or other forms of entheogens, they call them drugs that, you know, bring about a sort of religious experience. Yeah, lots of examples of, for one thing, shamans taking them in order to travel to the other world, often with the intention of rescuing the soul of somebody who's about to die. So they actually travel there and to meet the soul of the person who's having the end and bring them back. But then often just to bring about an NDA, to go there and commune with the ancestors or to get advice or whatever. But there's also another kind of interesting dimension to these. They call them religious revitalization movements, where, especially during times of, you know, colonial dominance, when that was first happening when the British and the French and whoever was coming over and stealing native land and slaughtering natives and all this. There was, seemed to be a whole sort of series of nd ease, where people would go to the other world and they would come back and say, I met the creator being who is often described as radiating light by the way, it's usually a being of light. I met this being and he said, you know, resist the teachings of the Europeans. Stop drinking their alcohol stop using their weapons, you know, start doing this particular kind of ceremonial dance, start doing these kinds of offerings and rituals. And then on the other hand, there would be examples where they would go, and they would come back and say, in order to survive, we need to cooperate with the European invaders, we need to start adopting their methods of farming, we need to trade with them and all this kind of thing. So it's, it's a real kind of, it's not that these experiences were generating NDEs. But the way people what they did with the NDE, when they came back, was this kind of, you know, a very between cultures, and at that time, it became like a kind of political movement. And there's even cases where I'm in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and just north of here is Taos. And there was a big Pueblo rebellion that was started by a Pueblo Indian named Pope A. And he had, we don't know if it was a shock, shamanic experience or an actual near death experience. In other words, if it was spontaneous, or if he brought it on himself, but he was told during that experience, voyage to the other world, to you know, come back and fight the Spanish and kick them out. So yeah, it's an interesting that I can have all these different kinds of dimensions at but all of them have to do with transformation, and, and kind of enlightenment in bringing it back to Earth.
Alex Ferrari 31:28
It's so interesting, because, you know, if this was a Physiol, physiological, I can't say the word thing that happens to us when we die. It's really interesting that the people that do come back, it's always positive. It's never negative. There's never, there's never like, dude, just enjoy this man. Because the next level, oh, it's gonna be rough, like, you know, that never ever comes back like that everybody that comes back is transformed. Generally speaking, they they are positive, they are more loving, they are more connected with everyone understanding of the oneness of, of humanity. These are all basic concepts that Near Deathers have is that something that you found in through ancient Near Deathers, as well as cross cultural?
Dr. Greg Shushan 32:17
Yeah, it's, it is almost always a positive message that they come back with. Or when there isn't an overtly positive one, there just isn't one at all. So for example, there's a really the whole subset, Sub Saharan African, nd II World is really interesting, because for one thing, there are very few examples at all. And for another thing, when there are examples there, they're not like the Native American accounts where with Native Americans, there was this whole kind of vision quest idea and the shamanic Otherworld journey. So they were really open to them. But in a lot of African societies, they are concerned about possession and concerned about sorcery, and the positive possible negative influences of like ancestor spirits who live in the forest and that kind of thing. So if a person came back from the dead, and started talking, they didn't see them immediately is like, oh, you know, my wonderful relative came back to life. They thought, No, that's a corpse that's been reanimated. They didn't even think that their ancestor was in there anymore. Right? It was it was either sorcery or possession. So, you know, sometimes they would stone them to death, there are funerary rituals, where they would actually bind their hands and feet and pile rocks. So in case they did, I didn't want to say Wake up, because in their minds, it wasn't they weren't, they were waking up, in case their body was used by a sorcerer, to come back and wreak havoc on the on the village, they wouldn't be able to break free from from the grave. So that's just a really another really kind of interesting cultural difference. And, and it just kind of shows that you're getting near to the near death experiences are happening all around the world, but what people do with them are very different. And in those cases, just to go back to the question, they people didn't come back and say, I met this being of light and you said we need to stop stoning to death experiences. Or we needed to, you know, improve our the way we treat women or slaves or whatever it is. They didn't have a chance to talk about these things. So so they were an even when they're examples of, you know, myths about the afterlife, where somebody travels to the other world and comes back, it's almost never involves the person dying. It's like I followed an antelope through a hole in the ground to the other world. And from that point, it sounds more like a like an indie or like a mythologized end. But the way they get there isn't dying. It's, it's, you know, following an animal or, or one of them I felt that there was a poem that that I saw rolling down the, the road and I followed it into a hole in the ground. So So this real, it's just not okay in a lot of his cultures to die and come back to life.
Alex Ferrari 35:06
So essentially, Alice in Wonderland has a near death experience, essentially. Yeah, because you're following the rabbit down the rabbit hole, and she goes into another world and learns lessons and then brings it back.
Dr. Greg Shushan 35:16
Exactly. Yeah. Yeah.
Alex Ferrari 35:19
Psychedelic. No, let no no question she took psilocybin is what happened. That's what Alice took
Dr. Greg Shushan 35:24
That mushroom but you know,
Alex Ferrari 35:27
Exactly. There's a lot of mushrooms going on. I mean, come on. Now in across cultures as well. You mentioned this early on in our conversation, and there's something I've seen common as well, in near death experiences is that there is a point of no return. There is from what I understand, depending on cultures, there's a either a silver string, something holding the soul back to to the body. And once that you pass, and they've been in many indie years, I've spoken to have said, I was told if you go past that you can't go back. Yeah. Like there's a point of no return. Is that something cross cultural? And over the over the centuries as well?
Dr. Greg Shushan 36:09
Yeah, yeah, that's a really common element of the nd that happens, not the silver cord. Yeah, yeah. That seems to be as far as I know, that maybe came from theosophy, Madame Blavatsky. And, and that kind of, you know, Western, esoteric, sort of tradition. I don't know if it preceded that, but it's not specifically my area. But yeah, there's very few indies that that have a silver cord. And I haven't come across any, in different cultures. But yeah, there's always a barrier from which you can't return. And then there's also often some kind of symbolic. I don't know test or trial that if you fail it, then then you're not going to return. So one is, if you get hungry in the other world and you eat something, then that ensures that you're not going to be able to come back. Really? Yeah, that's interesting.
Alex Ferrari 37:03
And that cross cultural, is that cross cultural?
Dr. Greg Shushan 37:05
That's strangely cross cultural. Yeah.
Alex Ferrari 37:08
Is that more? Is that ancient? Or is that more just like within the last few 100 years or less? 500 years?
Dr. Greg Shushan 37:15
It's a little of both. It's really common in Native American accounts. But then it's also in Greek mythology, which is, which is pretty interesting. So which is, you know, absolutely no possibility of cultural connection there. You know, it's not like the Native Americans got it from the Greeks.
Alex Ferrari 37:31
Let me ask you, so a lot of these and the ease and we're talking about nd ease as someone who goes to the, to the other side and comes back? Is there any written cases in ancient texts that specifically state that not mythology, not stories of found the antelope or going through the tree? Literally, something in some sort of ancient Texas said, This person died, they saw all of this, and they were brought back, and this is what they said, What, in what cultures? Did you read that? And if you did find something.
Dr. Greg Shushan 38:03
Yeah, that's a really good question and a really important distinction to make, because at the beginning, I mentioned the Egyptian stuff and there's no example from Egypt of an actual nd they that's not what writing was even used for. It was used for religious texts and bureaucracy. There is but even earlier than then some of the Egyptian stuff. You've probably heard of the Epic of Gilgamesh, which is an ancient Mesopotamian narrative.
Alex Ferrari 38:27
Sumerian, is that Sumerian early
Dr. Greg Shushan 38:29
Yeah, yeah, there's a Sumerian Sumerian is called him Gilgamesh. So it's an it's even earlier than the Epic of Gilgamesh, Gilgamesh, but, but it has like text, that crossover that we're mostly
Alex Ferrari 38:40
What year are we talking about? Here? Are things like, what, 3 4 5000 years ago?
Dr. Greg Shushan 38:44
Yeah, something like that. Okay. Not five more like, Yeah, more like four, I guess. Around 2000 BCE, something like that.
Alex Ferrari 38:53
So 2000 BCE would still be Oh, that's still well within the Egyptian. Oh, yeah. So the Sumerians were a different culture around the same time. Right. Right, give or take. And now they're discovering all sorts of craziness that brings our timeline back 20,000 years with some of the archaeological sites that they're fighting. That's another conversation. Yeah.
Dr. Greg Shushan 39:14
But so yeah, the the earlier version, there's a sort of story in it called the death of pilgrimage that doesn't modern scholars call it anyway. And that sounds very much like an ND the king lies down and on his deathbed, and he temporarily dies and he goes to the other world, and he meets a panel of the nine deities who review his life and they talk mostly about you know, was did he perform the correct rituals and and did he did he live a good life and all this kind of thing. And then they tell him that he will become half divine and half human. But then he goes back to Earth, prepares his coffin and prepares as his whole sort of funerary rites, gets his estate in order and then and then he dies. So I'm That might be the very first nd. But it's difficult to say because it's also a myth from, from our perspective, it's like a religious text. But from ancient China around 800 BCE, there's, you know, straight up documentary examples that are that were seen and written as historical text, where they said, you know, this particular person in this village died on this date. He went to the other world, he met this, this particular king, or governor or whatever, had these experiences, and he came back. And they even goes so far as to say, we know this, because this particular bureaucrat in this village confirmed it, and they'll be stamped and dated. And then they also go through other efforts to show that it was true by saying, No, he met in the other world, he met somebody who had also just died, who was basically he's also having an NDA at the same time. And 10 years later, he met the same person, and in a village recognized him from his NDA II, and they swapped stories and realized, you know, Dude, that was you. And, and we met the same God. And we heard the same prophecy from that God. And so it was validated. In total, if it happened completely evidential way. 10 years later,
Alex Ferrari 41:19
So instead of sticking with China for a minute, you talk, I think in your book, you talk about pre Buddhist China. So that's who so in those in the East it was governors, or what deities did they have? Probably because I don't know a lot about pre China, ancient China. You know, I mean, obviously, Buddha, Confucius and but that's much more current in in the ancient world. So what, who showed up what kind of deities that they have?
Dr. Greg Shushan 41:48
Yeah, it was it was usually there's a sky deity named Shang de. So it would either be him or it'd be some kind of his scribe, you know, the, or some kind of lower level bureaucrats
Alex Ferrari 42:01
Dr. Greg Shushan 42:03
And that's another thing that's, you know, very cultural about Chinese entities, ancient Chinese entities anyway, is that, you know, the society was super bureaucratic, and all these levels of bureaucrats and governors and counselors and all this stuff. And that's reflected in the NDS it's a incredibly bureaucratic afterlife. So even the positive examples, you know, sound like hell with me, but
Alex Ferrari 42:27
It's kind of like it's kind of like the Albert Brooks movie defending your life. All you have to see that movie. Are you kidding me? It's all about the afterlife. I can't believe Meryl Streep, Albert Brooks, it's it's all bureaucratic they go. There's a bus, there's a life review. But then you have to defend your life. And there's a there's two core, there's, there's a prosecutor and a defender and depending on how long your your days is like, is how bad your life was. So Albert Brooks was like nine days in court, and Meryl Streep was done in like two. And she was like a hero. And oh, it's, it's wonderful. You have to check it out. Yeah. But so. So in the in the Buddhist tradition, does Buddha show up?
Dr. Greg Shushan 43:08
Yeah. And in fact, it's interesting in the Tibetan Book of the Dead, I think the Tibetan Book of the Dead is of all the religious texts in the world, it's probably the one that knows the most about near death experiences, and what's going to happen in an afterlife. And I say that even as somebody who's agnostic about the whole thing, because they describe it so clearly, and so intelligently, that and ultimately, in a way that doesn't really conflict with Western science, it's ultimately an illusionary elusive experience. So um, so it even says things like, you know, the person who has an MD or who dies and you will encounter whatever deity is going to be the most relevant to them. It says, yeah, it basically says that, yeah, and just that the whole afterlife experience, especially the transition will be, you know, sort of tailor made to comfort, whatever culture you come from. So
Alex Ferrari 44:14
I mean, I know that the Book of the Dead but that is, that's fascinating. I don't actually read that book now.
Dr. Greg Shushan 44:23
Mahayana Buddhism in general, it seems to really have have nailed the afterlife, you know, they, they've taken into account the diversity of experiences, and the cultural differences between people. And they essentially describe it like, as if it's almost like a shared lucid dream between all the other different spirits in the other world. So not that it's not real, but that it's kind of created by by everybody in this kind of CO created world. And that, you know, obviously accounts for the differences between different people's accounts of near death experiences, but all So for the similarities, because you're, you're sharing this CO created world, but we all experience it in different ways. And if, if we're kind of attracted, or create these group group souls that are creating the other world, you know, it's it would make sense that we're doing with people that are mostly from our own, you know, familiar cultural perspectives.
Alex Ferrari 45:21
So, you know, with all your all your research, what part is reincarnation play in all of these ideas, because if there's a life review, there's an assumption that there's more lives to live. Because if you're just being judged on the one, I know, a lot of people are going to be very upset. You know, so the concept of reincarnation, do you in your studies? What, how far back? Does the concept of reincarnation go? Does it go back? I know to the Vedas, is there anything older than that? Even in ancient even in ancient Egyptian texts and things like that?
Dr. Greg Shushan 46:01
Yeah, not really. The the earliest Vedic texts, there's only kind of hints like in the Rigveda and early stuff, it's it's doesn't become sort of fully formed. It seems until the until the punishments, but I think it was there. It just maybe was kind of esoteric. Those texts are really difficult to read and complicated. But yeah, it's, it's interesting. I don't know if you're, I'm sure you're familiar with Ian Stevenson's studies in reincarnation, he was a University of Virginia psychiatrist, and he focused on children who remember past lives.
Alex Ferrari 46:40
Oh, yeah, I've heard of that. I've been wanting to get I wanted to get somebody on the show that talks about that.
Dr. Greg Shushan 46:44
Yeah. And they're really interesting. He was a, you know, he started off as pretty skeptical, and a very, you know, good scientist, good, honest scientist. And he found all these accounts of, of, you know, children who suddenly started saying, and like, from the age of, you know, two years old, or even even younger, sometimes, like, you know, I want to go see my other mommy or, or, I remember this, dying in a plane crash, or whatever it was, you know, really specific kinds of memories. And then sometimes, you know, he would, he would trace the account back to the child's actual previous family, or alleged previous family, and the kid would go find their, his previous house or her previous house, even say, like, you know, turn right here, turn left here. And all these kinds of very accurate statements that that crazy. Yeah, and they don't seem to be able to be explained by, you know, being coached or whatever. But of course, it's difficult, you can always find a way to say, well, he didn't, it didn't come out until he was six. And he talked about when he was two and what could have happened in the meantime or whatever. Right? But, but for my, my purposes, for my research, the really interesting ones are the children who remember the death of their previous personality. So because that's effectively a near death experience. So just for an example, there's a 19th century Japanese account of a kid who remembered not only his past life, but he remembered that past life, dying, he remembered leaving the body of that person seeing his parents mourning, and his previous parents mourning and crying at the gravesite. He saw his body there, he sat down at the grave for a while. And then he went to another world and he met the being of light, I can't remember if I guess it was probably the Buddha, some kind of spirit entity anyway. And kind of chose the parents that he was going to go into, or the village that he was going to go into next. And what's interesting about that, is they're pretty rare, but there's, you know, a good fairly good sample of these accounts, you know, maybe a few dozen. And they really correspond to near death experiences really, pretty clearly. I mean, it's it's got the leaving the body, seeing the body, going through darkness and reaching into light reading the being meeting relatives. It's just that instead of being told to come back, or or suddenly finding themselves back, they instead choose a new body or direct directed to their new body. So whether that means some people reincarnate, and some don't. I don't know.
Alex Ferrari 49:29
Right, exactly. It's fair. It's fairly interesting because I mean, reincarnation is that concept. It's been around for such a long time and it's talked about obviously in Hindu texts and things like that. I just was curious if you knew when it started, like what was the you know, the Sumerians talking about returning in life, you know, we're all even older is already Messam So, is there even a concept of reincarnation and Mesoamerica and in the Mayan or Aztec or Alltech?
Dr. Greg Shushan 49:59
No, they Go to different afterlife realms, depending on the way in which they died. So a woman who dies in childbirth or a warrior who dies in battle, they get a better afterlife than somebody who just dies of old age because they were, again more heroic. But yeah, I think it's it's probably the Vedic ancient Indian texts, the first that I can think of offhand anyway.
Alex Ferrari 50:24
And it's, it's a fairly complex system. If I remember the Hindu texts, it's like, you know, there's a difference in levels of like, if you're born in an undesirable or an undesirable or what's the Yeah, untouchable, untouchable think of the untouchables at the different stages, not stages, but what's the word? caste? Thank you The caste system. It's really specific. And it's very calm, complex, the reincarnation idea in Hinduism, but it's very structured, very, very structured. And that is that loosey goosey wisdom is one thing in a lucid?
Dr. Greg Shushan 50:58
Yeah, but none of that is, is in the earliest texts. Like it's, there's no. Yeah, yeah. So the Vedas and Upanishads, and all that there's, there's no cast distinct distinctions as far as the afterlife goes.
Alex Ferrari 51:11
So then is that is that something that was brought in? years? I mean, in later years, for more of a controlling aspect of it's more of the religious? Yeah, yeah, dogma, if you will, just to kind of control.
Dr. Greg Shushan 51:23
Yeah, and an interesting thing on that note is, one thing I noticed across cultures is, is the more religion in general, but especially after life, beliefs, and rituals and practices, the more they become accessible to the people, rather than just the kings. You know, like in Egypt, for example, you know, the pyramids are the most obvious example. There's this idea that the afterlife was kind of reserved for the pharaohs for the elite, right. Which is, you know, that itself is debatable, but just kind of working with that, it was definitely not as accessible, you know, because people weren't literate. Right, they didn't have the earliest times they didn't have, you know, books of the dead written on papyrus, and anybody could buy for a nickel or whatever. But, but as
Alex Ferrari 52:08
No iPhones, no iPhones.
Dr. Greg Shushan 52:11
But, but what's interesting, and it's also reflected in China and India and other places, as time goes by. And as the afterlife becomes democratized becomes available to the people, there's more and more descriptions of hell, and was almost like, lovingly described, like, you know, if you, if you've got up, your tongue is going to be cut out, you're gonna have a branding iron shoved down your throat for eternity, you know, whatever it is, it's like these punishments fit the crime, which, you know, you can, you can speculate on whatever the crime is, you know, you punch somebody, your arms gonna be chopped off, or whatever it is. And it's all of these like, you know, lovingly detailed, descriptive kinds of things. And to me, that's pretty obvious that the more the populace is exposed to the idea of an afterlife, the more the elite are using it as a tool of control. So here are all the horrible things you're going to suffer if you don't behave as we tell you to. And then, on the flip side, here's all the wonderful things you're going to get, you know, rivers flowing with honey,
Alex Ferrari 53:18
40 virgins, right?
Dr. Greg Shushan 53:19
Yeah. That's a very clear thing that's obviously not based on near death experiences. And it's just a kind of manipulation of the ruling elite, whether it's the priesthood or the, you know,
Alex Ferrari 53:32
Right. Like, if you sacrifice yourself and battle, you're gonna have 40 virgins. That's a pretty decent deal. Yeah, in a in a very materialistic mind. That, like, there's 40 versus 40 vert, really? Like, really, is that the thing that's like really floating your boat up there, like you're dead, but Oh, at least I got the 40 Virgins like, and it's fascinating. But even, you know, in the concept of hell, I was going to ask you about the concept of hell across cultures, because hell seems like you said to be a controlling idea of to control the masses, like it's almost kind of a societal thing to make sure that you behave a certain way. Like if you don't do this, you're going to this eternal place of like, if you gossip, someone's gonna shove a poker down your throat for eternity like, seems intense. Yeah. It seems like an intense punishment for gossip. But that was the way they controlled the masses because the masses were unruly, they weren't educated. They were instinctual, all instinctual. I mean, and you can start going back to like, you know, don't covet my wife. You know, that's my, that's my bicycle, don't steal it. These are all controlling aspects of societal controlling techniques moreso than a concept of oneness, rollino, being one with all and higher costs. consciousness and connecting to source and helping other people. These concepts are not but that's not controlling. Right? That's. So there's two different things. Did you see that across cultures?
Dr. Greg Shushan 55:10
Yeah. And in fact, the interesting thing about that is medieval European examples are a good illustration of this. There's lots and lots of medieval European indies accounts that happened usually to monks, and sometimes nuns, whose people who were already in that world in that mindset. Some of them are, you know, fairly believable, like, you know, they, they just sound like an NDE, they went to the other world, and they met a saint or God or whatever, and they gave them as information or advice, and they came back and preach to people. Others might have been based on an actual ad, but they're so full of elaborations. And, obviously, obvious Christian teachings and warnings and threats, that it's pretty clear that that if it was based on an NDE that they they transformed it into, into literary texts basically into into like, a chick Bible pamphlet, you know. So, so, and I think that's where, like, you know, some of the earliest ones are, they describe being led on a tour of the other world, they'll be met by by a particular saint, and the same, just like in Dante's Inferno, they take them by the hand, and they, they show them, you know, all these punishments and horrors, and then they show them the glory of, of sitting at the feet of God and heaven and all this kind of thing. And I think that's very much a manipulation of the concept of an NDE, and it's turning it into something that's going to be an ad for the church. And also, that's going to help, you know, encourage certain types of behavior and people.
Alex Ferrari 56:52
It's fascinating what we as humans do.
Dr. Greg Shushan 56:55
Yeah, I mean, there are there are negative entities, I should mention that,
Alex Ferrari 56:58
Yeah, and I was gonna, I was gonna ask you about that too, because I've had one negative in the out of all of them, I came on, and it turned into a positive one, Jesus came and protected them from the negative things that were happening. I haven't heard of a person we haven't heard yet have a completely negative nd II know, positivity, I went to hell and came back. Nothing good to talk about your luck. Like, I haven't heard that. What is your experience?
Dr. Greg Shushan 57:25
Yeah, there are a few. Most of them this, they seem to be in kind of two categories. On the one hand, a lot of them are kind of confusional. And they don't have the clarity and transformational aspects of a regular indie. They might describe like, I was in darkness, and I and I felt like there were hands coming from below and pulling me down. And like, that's the extent of the end, right. And then there are other examples that seem descriptively just like an ND. But the person experiences it and interprets it in a threatening way. So you know, I went rushing through darkness, and I was terrified. And I saw this being of light, and it was, you know, horrible, oppressive thing, and I couldn't wait to get away from it. And the darkness was oppressive. So it seems like
Alex Ferrari 58:20
It's their own baggage, the baggage that they're bringing into the afterlife.
Dr. Greg Shushan 58:24
Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. Which is, you know, again, very, very evident in the Tibetan Book of the Dead. You know, it's, that's, that's a good explanation for it that, you know, if you die with this fear, and negativity and imprinting of all the threats of hell, and all that other stuff, then that might be what you're going to experience. But if you die more consciously and open minded, and you're not so afraid, then maybe you're gonna get a better afterlife,
Alex Ferrari 58:53
Or at least a better journey. Better trip, if you will.
Dr. Greg Shushan 58:56
Yeah. Yeah. Which is a good point. Because the end is just the journey there. We don't know what's going to happen on the other side of that journey.
Alex Ferrari 59:03
Right, exactly. We're just going to the edge of the door, but we're not allowed in the party into the party yet. We're just like, experience everything outside. We hear the party and the other side. We hear the music pounding, but we're not allowed in the bouncers. Like, if you walk through this door, you're not coming back out, is this party, you're gonna stay here forever. Do you want to go back to
Dr. Greg Shushan 59:22
Get your hand stamped
Alex Ferrari 59:25
Basically, I think that's one of the things that you're getting your hand stamped. And being said, I can feel like he's, he can come right through. He's been here before. Right through once was he's won so many. afterwards. I've had two three ordinary, near death experiences in the and I'm just always saying, when I hit when I interviewed these people, I go, What are you doing? Why are you dying so many times, so something needs to stop? Yeah. Well, I can accept to even maybe, but when you're in the threes and the fours, you need to just bubble wrap yourself up. and eat kale all day. Like I mean,
Dr. Greg Shushan 1:00:04
There's theories that some people are more susceptible not not to dying, per se, but, but more susceptible to having like these visionary kinds of experiences, so, so that might might play a role that there's Native American examples like that where we're, you know, the guy reported dying three or four times, and you're wondering, like, how did he keep having these NDEs all the time?
Alex Ferrari 1:00:28
Well, it's kind of like people who have, you know, psychic abilities or medium ships are able to see, you know, things in the future. And these kinds of ideas, there are people who are wired a little bit differently, or might have some sort of perceptions that we might not have, in one way, shape or form. So that makes sense that makes that makes all the sense of the world. Now, I heard you talk about the theory of origins and development of the afterlife beliefs across culture, do you have a theory that kind of encompasses all that? What is that theory?
Dr. Greg Shushan 1:00:59
Yeah, well, it's basically that, you know, they're largely grounded in in near death experiences and a lot of different cultures. And, yeah, my first book where I mentioned the, the Egyptian and Vedic and Mesopotamia and so American and China, that was looking at afterlife beliefs, and trying to sort of match up near death experiences to them and see, like, you know, if they're, if afterlife beliefs are this similar to indies around the world, and maybe that's what was going on. But in the second book, where I looked, that's where I looked at the indigenous societies and, you know, the Native American, African and Pacific cultures, going back to sort of 17th century to the 1940s. Ish. I found, you know, dozens and dozens of examples of people in these tribes, just saying, like, a missionary or an anthropologist or whatever, would say, you know, what are your afterlife beliefs? And how do you know, and they would describe them, and then they would say, we know, because this particular person, on this date, or in this era, whatever, went there, he died, he went there, and he came back, and he told us, so it was just a validation of that whole idea. We have dozens of people in all different cultures around the world, saying that their afterlife beliefs were based on a near death experience, which, um, you know, going back to the very beginning, where the whole idea and religious studies where you're not supposed to talk about a kind of experience that could influence or could cause religious beliefs. That's exactly what we have. So we can even call it a religious experience in a way because what it just what it does to people, and even on the sorry to interrupt it on like the individual level, it changes people's beliefs when they have them. There's a famous example of a philosopher, materialist philosopher named AJ Haire, who, you know, his whole life was based on atheist philosophy, basically. And he died and he came back to life and he said something like, I saw Divine Being I'm gonna have to rework all of my, my theories and all of my ideas that I've done for my whole life's work. A little bit later, he kind of recanted and so I'm not sure, but but the idea that that was the what he what he took from it, because that's pretty powerful.
Alex Ferrari 1:03:19
Let me ask you, what is the oldest culture that you that you studied, that you had access to study?
Dr. Greg Shushan 1:03:28
It would be the Egyptian and Sumerian. But the oldest NDE would be the, if we consider the Gilgamesh one, that would be the oldest and the I think,
Alex Ferrari 1:03:38
This It's fascinating. I mean, I'm assuming that you've when you've been doing all this research in these in these different cultures, you found common stories about creation, about the Great Flood that's in every single culture throughout the world has a version of that no matter where you are in the world. You found a lot of these similar things. Is there anything that surprised you? That you're like, Man, I can't believe this is so universal across all either in near death or in any any idea or any concept that you've had? You found? Yeah.
Dr. Greg Shushan 1:04:16
Well, actually, I would say What was surprising was that creation myths are far more different across cultures than afterlife beliefs are and that's another thing that makes me think that you know, they're probably based on this common experience of the near death experience because there's no experience to base a creation myth on you know, we don't really remember the creation of the world or the emergence of humans, however it happened.
Alex Ferrari 1:04:43
Well, you mean like going back past the flood past?
Dr. Greg Shushan 1:04:46
Yeah, we're how whatever the creation myth of particular culture is, you know, like some cultures that we came from pumpkin seeds or, or whatever it is, and in Aztec myth, we came from bones that were brought from the other world by
Alex Ferrari 1:05:05
Right, that's the one thing I have found in my studies is that that there is a, a group A either outer worldly sky beings, that's a very common in Hinduism. I mean, there's wars in the sky, and they're talking about technologies and cities in the sky 6000 years ago, that's pretty insane. But the concept of sky gods or the gods or things coming from the sky, to create is one and then the other. One I found is after the flood, some sort of wise person showing up to teach them about technology about agriculture about architecture, and that's really cross board I found it's from Mesoamerica. China, in Hinduism, are an extremely inherited Sumerian I mean, what is the what do they call the Ahmad? Oh, God, what is the Sumerian gods called? The nuna. They knew and they knew that they all have it, obviously the Egyptians as well.
Dr. Greg Shushan 1:06:14
You found this as well, correct? Yeah, it's pretty common for sure.
Alex Ferrari 1:06:19
It's really it's just you didn't then you start going down the rabbit hole. And this, this takes lifetimes. I mean, you can take absolute lifetimes digging into these into these concepts into these ideas. And the Jessa on an archaeological standpoint, you know, talking to an archaeologist, there's new new findings that they're finding that are changing the timeline, like, go back a day in Turkey. Yeah, that that moved human timeline, to basically the beginning of the last, or at the, at the end of the last Ice Age, which we were told 5000 years ago, 6000 years ago, was the cradle of civilization. Now that's being challenged. And not by one thing, but many things. What are your thoughts as academic in this space? And what do you think was, you know, what do you think of all of this? Because it just keeps, there is proof coming out? So I'm just curious what you think.
Dr. Greg Shushan 1:07:13
Yeah, I'm, I'm skeptical but open minded. The show, because there is a lot of, you know, fringy archaeology stuff out there, that's sure of ancient alien stuff, and all that, which I don't. And even some of the stuff of stuff about the Sphinx.
Alex Ferrari 1:07:34
You know, it's just the water the water erosion?
Dr. Greg Shushan 1:07:36
Yeah, yeah. I mean, stone erodes. Stone is older than the net, which is built out of it. And if you look at the Sphinx, it's got casing on its paws, and it's got casing on its shoulders and different parts of it, the part that's eroded is the part where the casing is called out, fallen off. That's the original stone that was underneath the casing. You can't date these things by the material of which it's composed. That kind of thing. I just think you have to be really careful about these grandiose claims that that and I know, it's tempting to like want to overturn mainstream, whatever, whether it's archaeology or whatever else. But there's enough that's, that's interesting out there, like the stuff in Turkey or whatever, or this, you know, sunken ruins off the coast of India, which, which haven't been properly explored yet. So there's stuff out there that's interesting that we don't really have to go down the route of, you know, wild theories that are kind of intended to sell books and and
Alex Ferrari 1:08:48
How about the stuff they're finding in Antarctica? And those kinds I haven't heard, really heard about satellites, some satellite images of like structures that they're with radar and things like that, that there actually are LiDAR, I think it's called that they're finding their structures in the ice, but no one can get to it. And I mean, in Amazon alone, just the light that they've just flown over, and they just see tons of under, like, cities and pyramids, they've just never been, right. Yeah, there's tons of them, like tons and tons and tons that are huge.
Dr. Greg Shushan 1:09:21
Even though there's there's tons buried in the jungle that still haven't been
Alex Ferrari 1:09:25
They haven't been excavated yet. There's just so much stuff. I think the story the human stories is ever evolving. Yeah, for sure. It's not it's not as they say, no pun intended, carved in stone.
Dr. Greg Shushan 1:09:39
Yeah, good point. And, you know, to for people to to act as if, if our knowledge at this particular moment in history is the best knowledge. And it's the same with NDEs. You know, anybody who claims to fully understand them or, or that they're explained away by the dying brain, you know, we do People need to be a little more humble about what we actually know and what we don't know. Or actually what we know and what we believe. Because that's where the real distinction.
Alex Ferrari 1:10:07
Well, I mean, no matter what year you're in, in from this year to the back to 10,000 20,000 years, humans always thought that they had it all figured out. Because the ego does not allow anything else to happen. I mean, the Greeks were like, Zeus, man. It's and the Egyptians, it's Osiris. Like, I mean, what would you tell him? Like, you know, it's that's just the way it is. What do you tell it's heresy if you say anything else, but as we are evolving, you have to be open minded enough to kind of just at least investigate, have conversations, have debates about things that are coming up? I mean, even with Raymond movies showed up with the near death experiences. I mean, he got pushed back. And it's been slowly. I mean, the concept of meditation is a concept that people looked at it before, like, You're nuts. Yeah. And now science has gotten no, no.
Dr. Greg Shushan 1:10:59
Yeah, it was 20 30 years ago, there was a skepticism about whether lucid dreams exist, and scientists are saying, You're not having a lucid dream, you're dreaming that you're having a lucid dream.
Alex Ferrari 1:11:14
What's the like, really does that it's it's fascinating, even quantum physics, I mean, what we've discovered in quantum physics and how deep we can, when we, you know, and they go so far down into ourselves that there's literally space in between, like the like, there's nothing kind of like what's holding us together? There is no solid material. Yeah, that blows apart. Materialism to a certain extent. Right? It's a fascinating concept. And I love having these intellectual conversations that, that I've noticed, from my talking to quantum physicists, neuroscientists, people like yourself, academics, I'm finding that science and spirituality is starting to get closer and closer where concepts like simulation theory is essentially, Maya, which was talked about 6000 years ago, that this is all an illusion, and we're all in it, you know, that kind of stuff? It's, but I'm noticing that things are starting to get closer and closer together spirituality? Are you finding that in your work as well, I mean, your work is literally on the on the edge between those two things?
Dr. Greg Shushan 1:12:23
Yeah, I mean, the way I look at it is there shouldn't be any distinction between the two, I don't think science should be limited. To not looking at things that were traditionally the realm of religion, you know, I just think it's, yeah, I don't see a division between them. And I don't think that even necessarily that things won't be explained by science is just that science needs to be extended, to be able to explain these things. They just don't have the theories and the evidence yet to be able to adequately understand them.
Alex Ferrari 1:12:52
And, you know, just a little open mindedness, just a little, little debate, little conversation, it's okay, things change. Yeah, a little humility, a little humility, you know, but the ego is a very, very difficult thing to break my friend as you I'm sure you've seen in your in your research. Now, where can people find your book, the next world extraordinary experiences of the afterlife and, and all your other work and the work that you're doing?
Dr. Greg Shushan 1:13:17
That books everywhere, you can go wherever you buy books, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble, whatever. I also have a website, GregoryShushan.com. And I've got a Patreon page, and I'm an independent scholar. So all this is done, out of love and insane, obsessive desire drive. And that's, you know, Patreon, Gregory Shushan. Yeah, that's, and I'm on all the social media, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and all that. So and my next My, my second book, the one about the indigenous indigenous religions I was talking about, don't bother looking for that yet, because it's an academic price to book for, like $85 or something. But it will be out in paperback next year. So. So that's good. And then my first book is also going to be reissued, partially rewritten to take into into account some more of the new Vedic stuff that's come out. And that will also be out next year.
Alex Ferrari 1:14:16
And I'm going to ask you a few questions. I asked all my guests. What is your definition of living a good life?
Dr. Greg Shushan 1:14:25
The first thing that pops into my mind is doing what you want to do. I don't want to, you know, the Joseph Campbell thing of following your bliss, you know, it's I don't mean doing what you want to do in the you know, do the whole of the law Yeah, I mean, follow the your your inner drive and what what your calling is what your, your ottoman is telling you.
Alex Ferrari 1:14:51
What is your definition of God?
Dr. Greg Shushan 1:14:53
Um, I would say, I would again say that the The closest thing that I could conceptualize is probably the the Audubon Vermont thing, the, if there is such a thing, the only way I can conceive of it as a kind of universal consciousness sort of thing, which is not an external thing that's fundamentally different from a human spirit, you know?
Alex Ferrari 1:15:18
Very good. And is there any last message you'd like to say to the audience before we go? About this work?
Dr. Greg Shushan 1:15:28
Yeah, I guess I hope that it will. You know, people get so with near death experiences, people get so obsessed with the idea of, you know, is it true, is it not true, and I hope that my work will kind of expand that a little bit to say, there are different forms of near death experiences, there's a wider, more things on heaven and earth and you know, we can conceive, and that if anyone is afraid to die from, what they've been taught, and whatever religion I don't want to name names. But if there's a kind of toxic fear based beliefs about death, then I think people can learn from near death experiences that there's probably not anything to be afraid of, and that whatever your religion is teaching you it's probably not what's going to happen. It's probably going to be much more interesting, and complex and mind blowing than we expect.
Alex Ferrari 1:16:21
I mean, if we can take what Steve Jobs the last three words, last three things that Steve Jobs said on his deathbed, do you know what it is? No, I don't. Oh, wow. Oh, wow. Oh, wow. Yeah. And then he left. So and you heard that and then you heard the Mac sound. Go on. And then Greg, it has been a pleasure talking to you, my friend. You're welcome back anytime. I love I love geeking out about this stuff. So I appreciate you my friend.
Dr. Greg Shushan 1:16:50
Thanks. Thanks very much.
Links and Resources
- Dr. Greg Shushan – Official Site
- Dr. Greg Shushan – Patreon
- After Worlds Press
- Books by Dr. Greg Shushan
- Earthing.com: End Inflammation Today – Discover the Science-Based Healing Powers of Earthing/Grounding
- FREE Mindvalley Spiritual Masterclasses
- MUSE 2: The Brain Sensing Headband – Meditation Tracker Headset Device
If you enjoyed today’s episode, check us out on Apple Podcasts at NevelLevelSoul.com/apple and leave us a (hopefully) 5-star rating and a creative review.