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date: 12 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Near-death experiences (NDEs) occur in 10%–20% of people who come close to death, and they are similar to mystical experiences occurring in other settings. Their incidence and features are not influenced by prior religious beliefs, although cultural background may affect the interpretation of some of those features. However, NDEs profoundly influence one's subsequent sense of spirituality, leading to increased compassion, altruism, and sense of purpose in life, and to decreased fear of death, competitiveness, and materialistic interests. They do not necessarily lead to an increased involvement in organized religion but rather tend to foster an internal sense of connection to the divine and to something greater than the self. The mechanism by which NDEs bring about these changes is unclear, but it may be related to their inescapable challenge to the materialistic model of mind-brain identity and the implication that there is a spiritual component to humans that appears, under extreme circumstances, to function independent of the physical body.

Keywords: near-death experience, spirituality, mystical experience, consciousness, mind-body problem

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