Erasing Death: The Science That Is Rewriting the Boundaries Between Life and Death by Sam Parnia, Josh Young

Contrary to popular belief, death is not a moment in time, such as when the heart stops beating, respiration ceases, or the brain stops functioning. Death,rather, is a process—a process that can be interrupted well after it has begun. Innovative techniques, such as drastically reducing thepatient’s body temperature, have proven to be effective in revitalizing both the body andmind, but studies show they are only employedin approximately half of the hospitalsthroughout the United States and Europe.

In Erasing Death, Dr. Sam Parnia presents cutting-edge research from the front line of critical care and resuscitation medicine that has enabled modern doctors to routinely reverse death, while also shedding light on the ultimate mystery: what happens to human consciousness during and after death. Parnia reveals how medical discoveries focused on saving lives have also inadvertently raised the possibility that some form of “afterlife” maybe uniquely ours, as evidenced by the continuation of the human mind and psyche in the first few hours after death. Questions about the “self” and the “soul” that were once relegated to theology, philosophy, or even science fiction are now being examined afresh according to rigorous scientific research.

With physicians such as Parnia at the forefront,we are on the verge of discovering a new universal science of consciousness that reveals the nature of the mind and a future where death is not the final defeat, but is in fact reversible.
Dr Sam Parnia is one of the world’s leading experts on the scientific study of cardiac arrest, death and near-death experiences. He is director of resuscitation research at the State University of New York in Stony Brook, USA and an honorary fellow at Southampton University Hospital in the UK where he received a PhD in cell biology.

He is a former fellow in Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at the Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York and Hammersmith Hospital in London. Dr Parnia directs a number of international studies focusing on the quality of brain resuscitation following cardiac arrest. His work has featured in many newspapers and magazines all over the world including the Guardian, Telegraph, GQ, Psychology Today, Time, Newsweek, as well as on the BBC and CNN. He also contributes regularly to TV and radio discussions and divides his time between hospitals in the UK and US. He is the author of What Happens When We Die?.

JOSH YOUNG is a best-selling author whose works spans entertainment, business, politics, science and natural history. He has co-authored five New York Times best sellers and two additional national best sellers. He is the co-author of comedian Howie Mandel’s HERE’S THE DEAL: DON’T TOUCH ME; of YOU’RE ONLY AS GOOD AS YOUR NEXT ONE with Mike Medavoy; of Dr. Sam Parnia’s ERASING DEATH: THE SCIENCE THAT IS REWRITING THE BOUNDARIES BETWEEN LIFE AND DEATH, and of THE LINK: UNCOVERING OUR OLDEST ANCESTOR with Colin Tudge, which has been translated into five languages. He is the co-author of entrepreneur/actor Wayne Rogers’ MAKE YOUR OWN RULES: A RENEGADE GUIDE TO UNCONVENTIONAL SUCCESS, and the author of DINO GANGS, the story of renown paleontologist Phil Currie’s quest to uncover the mystery of how dinosaurs behaved.

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Listen here to Terry Gross interview Dr. Sam Parnia here (MP3)


This is FRESH AIR. I’m Terry Gross. What happens when we die – wouldn’t we all like to know? We can’t bring people back from the dead to tell us but in some cases, we almost can. Resuscitation medicine is now sometimes capable of reviving people after their hearts have stopped beating and their brains have flat lined. And some of those people report being conscious during the period after their heart stopped, before they’ve been restarted.

These experiences are popularly known as near-death experiences. But my guest, Dr. Sam Parnia, prefers to call them after-death experiences. He’s a critical-care doctor who is the director of resuscitation research at the Stony Brook University School of Medicine. He’s conducting research into optimal cardiac arrest care, and into the experiences some cardiac arrest patients report they have brought back from the other side of death. He says whether these experiences are psychological phenomena or actually happen, they’ve been reported so routinely they warrant further study. Dr. Parnia is the author of the new book “Erasing Death.”

Dr. Sam Parnia, welcome to FRESH AIR. As a doctor who specializes in resuscitation research, what is your interest in what people have experienced after they technically died; after cardiac arrest, when their heart has stopped?

SAM PARNIA: Well, I’ve been interested in this field for many years now. And the reason I got interested, really, was because I had a patient who I had taken care of, who – when I was a medical student, many years ago, now – who I saw essentially die; have a cardiac arrest in front of my eyes, and nothing could be done to save this person. And I remember thinking to myself, what is this person experiencing as they’re going through this period of death?

Now, this was more than 15 years ago, and at that time there was very little work carried out in this field. But as I have begun to grow in this field myself, I have come to realize that we have a very strong need to study what happens to the brain after people die, because R-remed(ph) – a physician like myself, who specializes in resuscitation science – R-remed is to bring people back to life after they’ve died.

And therefore, inadvertently, we have to study what happens to the brain in the minutes to hours after someone’s dead but also, not forgetting that there’s a human being in there; and that they have a consciousness, they have a mind, what classically used to be called the psyche or the soul. And what does that person experience, and what’s it like for them? And that’s why we combine both together.

GROSS: So since we’re talking about what people experience after cardiac arrest, after their heart has stopped, and then they are subsequently revived – so what they experience between the time their heart has stopped, and the time that they’re resuscitated – how has medicine changed the length of time you can be technically dead after cardiac arrest but still be resuscitated?

PARNIA: Traditionally, when somebody died – and that’s true of today – when somebody died it was really the point where the heart has stopped beating. And as a consequence of the heart stopping beating, a person would stop breathing immediately and would lose consciousness immediately. And the reason for that was that there was no blood getting to the brain, and the brain would stop functioning.

So today when we define someone as being dead, we look at those three criteria – no heartbeat, no respirations, and we check the pupils of the eye for a reflex that when it’s absent, it tells us that the brain stem and the brain is no longer functioning. The person is motionless – and they’re dead, and we define them as dead.

However, what we’ve now discovered – in the past decade or so – is that actually, it’s only after a person dies. So in other words, when someone has actually reached that point and they’ve become a corpse, that the cells inside the body start to undergo their own process of death, and that the period in which the cells die is variable depending on the organs, but it certainly goes on to hours of time.

So for instance, brain cells will die at about eight hours; again, there is some variation, but around eight hours after a person has died. And therefore, our work in resuscitation science is to try to study the processes that are going on in a person after they’ve died, but before they’ve reached the point of complete, irreversible and irretrievable cell damage such that no matter what we do, we can’t bring them back.

And if we manage to restore oxygen and nutrients back to those cells before they’ve reached that point, we are able to successfully bring someone back to life. And that’s why today, with numerous advances that have taken place in the field of resuscitation science, we have managed to push back that boundary to well beyond the 10-, 20-minute time frame that had been perceived in the past, into many hours of death.

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Related links to Sam Parnia’s works.

A New Earth with Eckhart Tolle and Oprah Winfrey

Eckhart Tolle – a New Earth Ch 05 – Oprah

Published on Oct 11, 2014
A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose

Free Spirit: A Guide to Enlightened Being ~Sundance Burke [Updated March 8, 2013]

Free Spirit is speaking as freedom, which is our Consciousness, the sweet essence of our lives. The freedom spoken here is an inner knowing. We cannot realize this liberation by catering to our bodies, emotions or minds. No, this freedom is spiritual; an altitude of perception that only arises when we are lighter than our surroundings. We can realize this lightness of being if we are willing to abide as Awareness and let go of the ego, the one who suffers mind. For this enlightenment to happen, a quiet mind is all we need. Why do anything for this, when only our stillness will suffice. Be silent, be still, be free.

Within this book you will find answered and unanswered questions, humor, poetic prose, experimentation with consciousness and passages that illuminate the sense that we are more than our thoughts, emotions, senses, body, and energy. The entire venture is directed to our essence, that we might realize our Free Spirit.

Sundance demonstrates the light-hearted wisdom and spontaneous creativity that is the energy signature of liberated Consciousness. Every word in this book is sourced by the power of silent Truth. Without contradicting this source, the writing inspires our active participation in the realization of Spirit, as only our direct experience is of any value to awakening.

For those of us who desire to be free, Sundance takes us by the hand and walks with us through the entire landscape of the egoic mind, until we reach its outer boundary. Here, he invites us to take a leap of Self-faith into simply being awareness. Will we survive?

Sundance says: “Who you think you are will not survive and who you are is never threatened. However, only by the leap can this be realized. Truly, all you surrender is your suffering and Now is the time.”

Sundance Burke was born in Seattle, Washington under the given name, Donald Russell Burke III. He is a graduate of the University of Washington and the Gonzaga School of Law. While traveling for business in 1982, he experienced a profound spiritual awakening that fundamentally dissolved his concept of self.

In 1988, he met his future wife, Katie Davis, who had similarly experienced the miracle of Self-liberation. They immediately recognized their meeting as sacred and committed their lives to deepening in Loving Presence. Now an inseparable Spirit, they adventured the awakening in private until 1999 and then began to share the Truth of Being from their home. Soon, they were traveling up and down the West Coast of North America to meet with others.

In 2004, Sundance and Katie moved to Maui to marry and write the realization of Beloved Being. Side by side their books took form and expression. Currently, they are traveling throughout the world to share the realization of Free Spirit and Awake Joy.

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Sundance Burke – Buddha at the Gas Pump Interview

SUNDANCE BURKE, Spiritual Teacher and Author, was born in Seattle, Washington under the given name, Donald Russell Burke III. He is a graduate of the University of Washington and the Gonzaga School of Law. Sundance is a former lawyer and businessman. He is the father of two children and the grandfather of three.

Sundance Burke is the author of Free Spirit: A Guide to Enlightened Being, published in 2008. He offers public talks, meditation gatherings, video recordings, private meetings, intensive workshops and retreats for those who long to awaken from the fearful dream of human separation and suffering.

While traveling for law business in 1982, Sundance was graced with the profound spiritual experience of being the loving witness to the mind’s dream of personal existence. This awareness of impersonal being completely shattered his former understanding of self-identity and the nature of his world. In the years that followed, he found himself undertaking an intense inward journey into the heart of this realization.

In 1988, he met his future wife and teaching partner, Katie Davis, who had similarly experienced the miracle of Self-liberation. Recognizing their meeting as sacred, Sundance and Katie committed their lives to deepening in loving presence. An inseparable spirit, they adventured the awakening in private until 1999 and then began to share the Truth of Being from their home. Soon, they were accepting invitations to travel throughout the United States, Canada and Europe.

In 2004, Sundance and Katie moved to Maui to marry and write the realization of Beloved Being. Sitting side by side, their books took form and expression. Currently, they are again residing in the Seattle area and they continue to point to our True Presence, as conscious freedom and causeless joy. Katie Davis is the author of Awake Joy: The Essence of Enlightenment. Interviews with Sundance and Katie about awakening are included in the recently published book, Conversations on Non-Duality; Twenty-six Awakenings.

Sundance says, “Your being is not a personal or temporary existence. You are the very consciousness manifesting this life. Thus, you naturally love and embrace every perceived experience without fear. Unborn…you are timelessly awake for all the comings and goings within your conscious presence. Just by the mere turning of your attention to its source and foundation, you can awaken unto the truth of who you really are.”

The AWAKE SPIRIT TEACHINGS of Sundance and Katie have helped many people throughout the world to find inner peace, wise love and greater fulfillment in their lives. At the core of this teaching is a spiritual awakening that transcends the ego-based state of consciousness into the harmony and unity of pure awareness, a field of infinite possibility and the sacred heart of all Being.

Interview recorded 5/5/2012.

Sundance Burke 1 – ‘Free Spirit’ – Interview by Iain McNay

Sundance Burke 2 – ‘Free Spirit’ – Interview by Iain McNay

Sundance Burke 3 – ‘Free Spirit’ – Interview by Iain McNay

Sundance Burke 4 – ‘Free Spirit’ – Interview by Iain McNay

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