Shushan's Conception of the Afterlife in Early Civilizations

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Another Shushan book I started reading that I thought might be worth posting about here:


Quote:In this engaging and wide ranging book Gregory Shushan takes us on a fascinating journey through ancient ideas about the afterlife in Egypt, Mesopotamia, Vedic India, Mesoamerica, and pre-Buddhist China. But this is not simply a historical mapping of these early concepts, the author brings them to life and makes them relevant to contemporary concerns about what has become known as near-death-experiences. Part of the argument is that in these experiences people report a range of phenomena that have correlates in different cultures and different histories. Treading carefully through the difficulties of comparative religion, whether it is possible or desirable to offer comparisons, the author carefully examines the evidence from the past, offering a phenomenological account from different texts and different voices. From the phenomenological description we see that several themes emerge or more specifically the same set of thematic elements occurs, namely the idea of an afterlife journey, out of the body experiences, journeys to other non-physical worlds, encounters with deceased relatives, visions of a divine presence, and an experience of judgement about one’s earthly life.



Quote:This book is an interdisciplinary comparison of conceptions of afterlife experiences in five early civilizations characterized by a high degree of cultural independence (Old and Middle Kingdom Egypt, Sumerian and Old Babylonian Mesopotamia, Vedic India, pre-Buddhist China, and pre-Columbian Mesoamerica); and in historical and contemporary narratives of near-death experiences worldwide, which present such experiences as factual. The near-death experience (NDE) typically occurs during a period of clinical death or near-death, after which an individual, upon resuscitation, reports having had mystical or spiritual episodes. Phenomenologically similar experiences in the shamanic practices of small-scale societies will also be considered to a limited extent.
'Historically, we may regard materialism as a system of dogma set up to combat orthodox dogma...Accordingly we find that, as ancient orthodoxies disintegrate, materialism more and more gives way to scepticism.'

- Bertrand Russell


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