March 13, 2014

"Despite being declared dead and kept in a deep freezer at his ashram for six weeks, an Indian guru’s followers are confident he will return to life to lead them."

"Mission spokesman Swami Vishalanand insisted earlier this week their leader [Ashutosh Maharaj] was not dead but was in fact in a state of 'samadhi,' the highest level of meditation, and was therefore still conscious."

How different is it from the Christian belief in Jesus returning from the dead? It's different in that Maharaj's followers are asserting that he hasn't died, but is in a state of deep meditation.

But then why put him in the freezer? I see that a man petitioned a court and accused the followers of keeping the body frozen as a way to acquire his property, but Maharaj has been officially declared dead, so from a legal standpoint it's just a question about what to do with a dead body, which, I take it, is unrelated to inheriting the dead person's property.

Is freezing a permissible method for dealing with a dead body? In the United States, we have our cryonics places.

Legally, cryonics patients are treated as deceased persons. A long established legal tradition, the concept of "lost persons," permits a person who has been declared legally dead to later be declared legally alive.
Here's a great essay the now-dead David Rakoff published back in 2003. Excerpt:
The grand fantasy of cheating death... is as old as humanity itself.... What is brought up repeatedly as a worthy precedent is a letter Benjamin Franklin wrote to a friend in 1773: "I should prefer to an ordinary death, being immersed with a few friends in a cask of Madeira wine, until that time, then to be recalled to life by the solar warmth of my dear country!"...

The full-body patients are stored upside down, so that, in the unforeseen event of a nitrogen boil-off, the head would be the last to thaw. Neuros [head-only "patients"] are stacked five high.... Each head is placed in what looks like a high, narrow steel stockpot....

I ask Hixon whether any concessions are made to preserve the neuros' faces. Not really. Neuropreservation is all about the brain. The only reason it is kept in the skull is to minimize damage. Hair is removed to reduce insulation and to allow easy access to the burr holes made in the skull for the "crackphones"—seismograph-like sensors that monitor any fissures that may result from freezing. Also, the antifreeze renders the skin translucent. "This is not a cosmetic procedure" is all Hixon will say on the record.

45 comments:

Brian said...

"How different is it from the Christian belief in Jesus returning from the dead?"

Christians believe that Jesus *already* returned from the dead. There were witnesses to this, and their testimony was recorded, and we believe it. You can find our credulity on this subject silly without pretending that it's no different from a belief that a now-dead guru *will* return in the future.

Pogo is Dead said...

He's just pinin' for the fjords.

Fritz said...

It's not ridiculous at all. A dead woman voted in Detroit. . .

richlb said...

Brian beat me to it.

The comparison is phrased in such a way to diminish what Christians believe.

rhhardin said...

Imus's Rob Bartlett, suggesting a Jesus sequal, Son of God II, Revenge of the Christ.

rhhardin said...

sequel

R. Chatt said...

His followers are not being respectful of their Master's achievement of what is called Mahasamadhi or the great samadhi.

Wiki: "Mahasamādhi (the great and final samādhi) is the act of consciously and intentionally leaving one's body at the time of enlightenment.[1][2] A realized yogi (male) or yogini (female) who has attained the state of nirvikalpa samadhi (enlightenment), will, at an appropriate time, consciously exit from their body. This is known as mahasamadhi. This is not the same as the physical death that occurs for an unenlightened person.
Enlightened yogis take their mahasamadhi during their final practice of samadhi: and they expire during this final sadhana practice. Therefore, mahasamadhi occurs only once in a lifetime, when the yogi finally casts off their mortal frame and their karma is extinguished upon death."

An enlightened or realized yogi is one who has attained the nondual state of nirvikalpa samadhi where duality of subject and object are resolved and the yogi becomes permanently established in the unity of full enlightenment."

Indeed many people, myself included, believe Jesus was an enlightened man and was fully consciousness as he left his body. This is something yogis do. So the miracle was not so much that he returned to his body but that he returned to a body that under normal conditions would not have supported life. A yogi in a state of nirvikalpa samadhi (pure consciousness without seed of thought) has diminished heart rate and cessation of breath but the body is still viable.

madAsHell said...

I'm reminded of the Heaven's Gate cult. They purchased an expensive telescope to view the flying saucer shadowing the Hale-Bopp comet. When the telescope failed to reveal the UFO, they returned the telescope as defective, and settled on a pair of binoculars.

Two months later, they prepared their bodies for reincarnation on another planet.

I hope this new story has a different ending.

R. Chatt said...

PS -- If you have had out of body experiences you know you can separate from the physical body and return to it. So you experience what is called the "subtle body." Yogis do this, astral travel, etc. Why come back to the body at all? To resolve karma.

The Crack Emcee said...

R. Chatt said...
PS -- If you have had out of body experiences you know you can separate from the physical body and return to it.


Science has already proven out-of-body is bullshit.

This is all delusional thinking - which you seem to share - and an attempt to get at his (stolen) goods.

India has this kind of thing happen all the time.

Why any educated American would buy a word of it is beyond me.

Namaste,...

The Godfather said...

You've got three different "return from the dead" scenarios mixed up in this post. The guru is allegedly not dead but in a deep state of meditation, from which he is expected some day to awaken. The fact that his followers seem to think his body needs to be kept in the deep freeze might make us skeptical of the claim.

People who resort to cryogenics are not living, but their bodies (or heads) are preserved physically so that they may in the future be revivified when (if) future medical advances make it possible to correct whatever caused their deaths. This involves a lot of faith in science, both during the interim and in the future, but I suppose they figure they have nothing to lose (their heirs lose money they would otherwise inherit, of course). I wonder whether it would really be all that great to be "reborn" into an age to which you would be a complete stranger.

Christians believe not only that Jesus was resurrected from death -- a real, physical death, no if's and's or but's -- but that we, too, have received the promise that we will be resurrected into a new and perfected world ("a new heaven and a new earth"), each with a new and perfected body. Unlike the cryogenic folks, our belief requires no out-of-pocket expenses for the period while we await resurrection, although we are encouraged, while in this life, to be charitable.

Ann Althouse said...

"You can find our credulity on this subject silly without pretending that it's no different from a belief that a now-dead guru *will* return in the future."

You've simply missed the point. The followers of the Indian guru don't believe he has died.

The story of Jesus has him dying and then coming back to life. My use of the phrase "returning from the dead" in reference to Jesus was not intended to signify that Christians think he's returning from the dead some time in the future, Why would I say that? No one thinks that.

You seem overly sensitive that your Christian beliefs are foolish. Don't project your issues on to me.

Pogo is Dead said...

Personal issues aside, the phrase "Jesus returning" is easily misinterpreted, as Christians believe Jesus is still returning.

SJ said...

@Ann,

your comparison was poorly-phrased enough to generate suspicion.

I know the phrase "returning from the dead", in the future-potential-action tense, ought to be distinguished from "returning from the dead", in the action-that-happened-in-the-past tense.

Makes me wish that English had more precise tenses. Kind of like old-school Latin or Greek did.

(Speaking of Christianity: certain verses in the Bible are very hard to translate accurately, and in a way that is easy to understand. Because the author used present-and-continuing-to-the-future tense, or some such.)

Brian said...

I trust you'll send me a bill for the psychoanalysis.

Ann Althouse said...

"Personal issues aside, the phrase "Jesus returning" is easily misinterpreted, as Christians believe Jesus is still returning."

Not from the dead!

Ann Althouse said...

I think it's weird that real Christians found that confusing.

The -ing ending often refers to the past. We speak of Lincoln freeing the slaves, of going to war against the Nazis, and any number of things.

Ann Althouse said...

If you found that confusing, it suggests that you believe that Jesus is currently dead.

That possibility never crossed my mind, and I don't regret that I didn't protect you from that thought.

Look to your own mind, o ye of little faith!

Chef Mojo said...

Take the guy out of the freezer and see what happens. I figure when it gets to the maggot infested lump of rotting flesh stage, it's a foregone conclusion that he's gone, and nothing's gonna bring him back.

And if he does come back? Don't let him get close enough to bite, and blow his head off with a shotgun.

Brian said...

I didn't find it confusing. You asked a question. You provided an answer. That was answer was incomplete in what I considered an important way. I added a bit to it. Your response appears to be: yes, you knew that my addition was part of the complete answer, it's just not the part you're interested in. My response to your response is: good.

Pogo is Dead said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chef Mojo said...

And what if the guru DID resurrect in the deep freeze?

And then froze to death?

Awwwwkward!

Folks believe the silliest shit.

Pogo is Dead said...

That was the unclear part.

Did she mean "returning from the dead" in the the past tense?

Or "returning from the dead" in the future tense?

The first assume Resurrection, the latter assumes the author's incredulity thereto.

I had to read it twice myself, asking, "What does she mean by that?"

But I imputed no intent by the author (or the reader for that matter) into the need for clarity, just acknowledged the clumsiness of the mother tongue.

Scott said...

Didn't we already establish here that nothing is truly alive?

Pogo is Dead said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The Cracker Emcee said...

"How different is it from the Christian belief in Jesus returning from the dead?"

I'll bite. The guru isn't the son of an omnipotent God. Comes in handy when you need resurrecting.

tam said...

"How different is it from the Christian belief in Jesus returning from the dead?"

Another way it's different is that *all* of Jesus' followers who were there *knew* he was dead and assumed that was it. Reports of His return were initially disbelieved and, famously, one even wouldn't believe it was Him until he could touch the wounds in His hands and side.

Pogo is Dead said...

For those interested, if you believe the historical record that Plato or Ramses or Xerxes or the Roman emperors existed at all, then you could be persuaded by the historical record alone that Jesus was resurrected.

The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach by Michael R. Licona.

"With impressive erudition, Licona marshals all possible evidence of Jesus' resurrection and considers its significance in a careful, methodical way. He then compares several alternative explanations of the disciples' faith in the resurrection, judging them according to important criteria, and concludes that Jesus' bodily resurrection provides the best explanation of their conviction, and so is worthy of belief. This is an astonishing achievement and a major contribution to the ongoing debate."

SOJO said...

What I find most interesting about ancient translations isn't this or that word that might be wrong, but that ancient Hebrew relied more on verbs and participles rather than nouns and therefore put more emphasis on process and flow than modern English. Some rabbis are of the opinion that this has reduced God to a thing in our minds rather than meaning "existence" itself. There then is no need to "believe" in existence and flow.

The below link isn't the reference I was looking for, but it is the closest I can find quickly:

http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/433240/jewish/God.htm

Strelnikov said...

How is it different?

Jesus is not in basement, in my freezer.

Strelnikov said...

"Look to your own mind, o ye of little faith!"

Get thee behind me, Satan.

paul a'barge said...

Well, for openers Jesus is the Son of G-d and one part of the G-d Trinity.

Just for openers, that is.

Start with John 1:1 and read.

The Godfather said...

@PogoIsDead -- thanks for the reference to "The Resurrection Of Jesus", which sounds good and I will read. The thesis sounds very much like N.T. Wright's 3-volume "Christian Origins And The Question Of God", the third volume of which was published in 2003.

rhhardin said...

Returning is a non-finite verb. It has no tense.

roadgeek said...

Better hope that freezer has a Sears Maintenance Agreement.

Patrick O said...

"How different is it from the Christian belief in Jesus returning from the dead?"

habeas corpus.

Patrick O said...

"It's different in that Maharaj's followers are asserting that he hasn't died, but is in a state of deep meditation."

This gets close to some of the docetic or similar interpretations that Jesus only seemed to have died. Whether because gods can't die (the older version) or resurrections don't happen (the Enlightenment version), they wanted to push against the idea that Jesus really died.

Which is why the Apostle's Creed emphasizes it, he died, he descended to the dead. Dead as dead can be.

Then alive. No body in the grave (or morgue... or freezer).

Patrick O said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Patrick O said...

"the third volume of which was published in 2003."

4th volume published in 2013!

The Godfather said...

@Patrick O: Good catch!

a psychiatrist who learned from veterans said...

In my view the best evidence we have that he didn't rise is that believers in his rise haven't been transformed. Germany at the time of WWII was at least 50% Protestant Christian and 40% Catholic. They murdered 6 million Jews. Either they didn't believe in His message of love, they didn't believe he rose, or his message was really one of anger.

St. George said...

If you'd told someone in 1714 that in 300 years people would have flown to the Moon, zip around in the skies, carry the world's knowledge in their pockets, etc., that's no more bizarre than thinking that in 300 years or sooner we'll figure out a way to upload consciousness into a 'machine.'

Ted Williams will play baseball again.

Ralph Hyatt said...

"In my view the best evidence we have that he didn't rise is that believers in his rise haven't been transformed."

The old "Christianity isn't true because everyone who claims to be a Christian isn't perfect" argument.

Which completely ignores any good that has been done by Christians. And life's that have been transformed.

TMink said...

Jesus was dead. Stone cold dead. The guru is claimed to be in an altered state of consciousness while he is frozen solid.

Trey

Rusty said...

"Despite being declared dead and kept in a deep freezer..........."


Sounds like a weekend I once had back in '72.