I've thought about this a lot recently thanks to a number of urm, bizarre experiences I've had over the course of the last year or so.
I highly recommend reading Chang Tzu, it's a 500BC (ish) Chinese text written by a philosopher of various names depending on what source you accept
as true, and I personally think it's an amazing piece of writing.
Directly addressing the topic is the butterfly idea, which you've likely heard of before....
"Once Zhuangzi dreamt he was a butterfly, a butterfly flitting and fluttering around, happy with himself and doing as he pleased. He didn't know he
was Zhuangzi. Suddenly he woke up and there he was, solid and unmistakable Zhuangzi. But he didn't know if he was Zhuangzi who had dreamt he was a
butterfly, or a butterfly dreaming he was Zhuangzi. Between Zhuangzi and a butterfly there must be some distinction! This is called the Transformation
He also raises the point, as several have in this thread, that you'd likely go mad trying to contemplate everything. To paraphrase from the wiki
quote from en.wikipedia.org...
...arguing that life is limited and the knowledge to be gained is unlimited, to use the limited to pursue the unlimited, he said, was foolish.
I'd suggest not worrying about it too much - whether or not this is all real or not is irrellevant in the sense that *you* are here. It's a question
of what you're going to do. Questioning the Game beyond being aware you should question it will ultimately get you nowhere.
I have a whole enormous list of books to recommend on this subject if you're genuinely into 'proper' philosophy, I'll compile a list if anyone's
To give my 2p, I'm reasonably convinced that our life here is a stage in a process, we're larvae if you like. This place is real in the sense that
our monkey-suits only have the ability to see a limited aspect of what is around us, and in any case, you're here, so deal with it as best you can.
You won't know if there's anything else until after your body fails you.
There's a common thread through various philosophies and religions going back to Egyptian times that death is not the end, and the suggestions about
what comes next can be interpreted to be almost exactly the same if you take a metaphorical view on the literal texts.
Having 'sort of' had a NDE, I'd strongly suggest it's nothing to worry about. Whether or not 'here' is real or not doesn't matter, all that
matters is your experience of it, and how you interact with others experiencing the same place.
I figure that when death comes either something will happen and I'll deal with that as best I can (I'm personally hoping for a 'Welcome to Level
), or nothing will happen, in which case I'll be unaware of it so it won't matter.
I also accept that I'm not going to figure everything out - my monkey suit just isn't capable of taking in and processing everything there is to
know, so I've decided to keep it really really simple... do positive things, be aware of others around me and how my actions & words affect them, and
to try and create an environment for others to do positive, creative and interesting things.
That way, hopefully my time here will be constructive, helpful and positive. I suspect we're all leaves on a tree, unaware of the tree. It's best to
be nice to the other leaves.