Background

Stanislav Grof is a psychiatrist with over fifty years of research experience in non-ordinary states of consciousness and is a pioneering researcher.

Summary

Stanislav Grof explores historical perspectives on death and dying, non-ordinary states of consciousness, and consciousness research.

Interesting Ideas

In The Ultimate Journey: Consciousness and The Mystery of Death, Stanislav Grof explores a large scope of topics focusing on death and dying ranging from historical perspectives (preindustrial to current), mythology, rites of passage, karma, reincarnation, near death experiences, modern scientific research, mapping the psyche (perinatal and transpersonal domains), psychedelic therapy with the dying, case studies, and philosophical thoughts on contemplating mortality.

Grof gave examples of how preindustrial cultures viewed death as an inspiration for art and architecture. Some examples were the preoccupation with the afterlife in Egyptian pyramids, tombs, sculptures, and paintings. Mayans and Aztecs built temples and pyramids that were the sites of rituals revolving around death, and sculptures and tombs were built by Chinese emperors.

This book explored some well-known ancient books and historical texts dedicated to the problems of death and dying including the Egyptian, Tibetan, Mesoamerican, Mayan, and European “books of the dead.” Within European lore, the body of literature on the problems of death and dying is referred to as Ars moriendi (Art of Dying). The basic beliefs behind Ars moriendi literature is to reduce the degree in which people spend time pursuing multiple external goals and to live presently.

On non-ordinary states of consciousness and near-death experiences, researchers have found that these experiences leave people with an increased passion for life and a tendency to live more presently.

The main argument of the book was that we are disconnected with the topic of death and to a large extent it is a great cause of suffering.

Positives

The book was comprehensive and explored taboo subjects freely.

Some Criticisms

No major criticisms.

Check out his book, here: Amazon link

If you're interested in topics in science and human existence, check out my essay The Search for Truth (on religion, the limits of science, philosophy, language, and the purpose of life).


Bibliography

Grof, Stanislav. The Ultimate Journey: Consciousness and The Mystery of Death. Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, 2006.


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