Can We Freeze & Resurrect One Another?

Question: According to this news article: https://sg.news.yahoo.com/toddler-cryogenically-frozen-parents-death-002420432.html, a child’s parents cryogenically froze her body after death, in the hope that future technology can resurrect her. Do you think her consciousness had left the body? If technology later allows the body to resurrect, will the same consciousness return to the body? How should we help someone in a similar situation? Is Nianfo (mindfulness of the name of Amituofo [Amitabha Buddha] to reach his Pure Land) the only way to help?

Answer: Although the article mentioned that the child had already died, in usual cases, the consciousness will still be habitually attached to the body, for some hours at least. However, as the body became frozen for indefinite time, which would be unbearable if experienced by the consciousness, the consciousness should have left by then – unless stubbornly attached, which would be torturous as the consciousness experiences phenomena nine times more intensely.

Cryogenics is not a proven workable science yet, as it merely hopes technology in the future will be able to offer a ‘miracle cure’. Even if the body’s ailments get cured eventually, it is unlikely that the same consciousness will still be around after a long time due to habitual attachment, and as allowed by personal karma, to reinhabit the body, before there is natural or compelled rebirth to elsewhere. (Unless liberated, it is the natural karma of all beings in Samsara to undergo ongoing cycles of birth, ageing, sickness and death.)

It is also an unknown, whether a ‘recovered’ body will automatically become a viable host for any foreign consciousness or not. If it does happen, it will be similar to possession, as the consciousness did not meet the sperm and egg during conception in the usual way. Will such possession be sustainable for long? This is another unknown. It would depend on karma too. In a way, the way our consciousnesses live in our healthy bodies now is like a form of possession too, but it feels natural because our karma allows this to be. Eventually, we all have to ‘give up the ghost (consiousness)’ and move on when our bodies fail.

Although a body can be frozen to minimise changes (though it still happens at a slower rate), any consciousness cannot be ‘frozen’ (unless we are talking about being in a deep meditative state, which is still not permanent). Since the consciousness of the deceased has to move on, it always makes the most sense to Nianfo to reach Pure Land. Thus, before taking her off life support, the parents should had used support-chanting to guide and encourage her consciousness to swiftly and painlessly depart for Pure Land in bliss. If this happened, there would had been no need to take her off life support. (Note that taking anyone off life support, which hastens death, can disturb the consciousness, possibly forcing departure from the body when not yet ready. This might even condition an unfortunate rebirth.)

If there was assurance of her well-being with Nianfo, they would not have to think of going through cryogenics, the doing of which means they have strong attachment and expectations, which will prove heartbreaking over time. If support-chanting was not possible due to various reasons, onlookers who are aware can still Nianfo to dedicate merits, hoping there can be a good rebirth. However, as guidance for Nianfo is amiss, unless the child already knew how to Nianfo (sincerely with the right Faith and Aspiration) and did so, she cannot reach Pure Land.

Nianfo is not the only way to help the dying, but it is the safest and best, as it connects one to the other-power, of Amituofo’s great blessings and compassionate guidance. Other methods would be with self-power alone, depending on one’s limited meditative skills and positive karma, which will never be as excellent as the immeasurable benefits from connecting to Amituofo to be reborn in the best place possible.

Related Course:
Destination Pureland: How To Have The Best Rebirth (2nd Run)

Related Article:
How To Share The Power Of Merits & Guidance


  • Thank you for a very detailed response to the question. I guess the part where I’m uncomfortable about is that taking a person off life support may induce an unfortunate rebirth. Let’s say someone got into a serious accident and was rushed to hospital in time to have him on life support. Can we say that it is an external intervention? Meaning to say he should have already died in any case. Maybe I’m not making sense but I’ve all along felt that putting someone on life support, with almost no chance of full recovery, is a fate worse than death. (^)

  • 1. By default, in most cases, all in serious accidents with uncertainty of survival will be offered life support first. Note that life support as defined can be as simple as CPR: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life_support It is part of protocol. Later, there might be need to decide whether to put the person on advanced life support, which is why there is need to decide whether to put one off advanced life-support later.

    2. If one manages to survive, it cannot really be said that one ‘should have already died in any case’ – because that is simply not the actual case. The fact that one is put on life support already means the person karmically does not deserve death yet – unless there are changes later, which might include being taken off life support.

    3. Taking one off life support does not equate to relief of suffering for sure, as one might be clinging to life. One might be in more anguish due to being forced to die. This is why the article mentioned this – ‘Thus, before taking her off life support, the parents should had used support-chanting to guide and encourage her consciousness to swiftly and painlessly depart for Pure Land in bliss.’

    4. The child in the article was already on life support, which is why the parents were in position to decide whether to take her off it. To take her off might disturb her. Even if she had no chance of recovery, the point is that being alive increases her time and chances of practising Nianfo to reach Pure Land, where there is true and total recovery, with no more suffering.

    5. The article did not claim that anyone should be put on advanced life support systems in the first place. (That would be another major subject.) If one happens to already be put on life support with no hope of recovery, one should simply Nianfo to depart swiftly. The tricky part is deciding whether to put someone else on such life support. It pivots upon gauging whether the person is ready for no life support.

    6. The truth is, those who are confirmed ready for no life support should be able to depart before being put on life support. This also means those who have yet to depart probably could do with more time. Yet, advanced life support might create more suffering which distracts the person from Nianfo. Note that some forms of life support do not create as much suffering as other forms, which makes it harder to decide. When uncertain, it is good to pray to Buddha sincerely for inspired advice, for what best to do.

  • First my condolences to the family for the death of the child. This is indeed great suffering to the parents. It is very noble for the family to consider dedicating the body for scientific research towards a cure for ependymoblastoma. Below is a dispassionate discussion of theory, please forgive my insensitivity to the incident.

    My guess on this is the following:
    1) If the person is not yet dead:
    then the person’s mind would go into a dream state. The dream state can last as long as the body continues to survive, which is still subjected to old age, sickness and death. Thus when the person finally awakes, the mind stream continues.
    2) If the person is dead (before, during or after the frozen duration):
    then the person’s mind would go through the process of rebirth. When finally the body is reawaken, it would be a new body opportunity for another mind. Thus I’ll guess that a different mind stream would reborn into that body. Now here is the interesting part. The brain is different from the mind. Thus the awaken person may have the same memories, intelligence and biological preferences as the person before he/she was frozen, but it may not mean both were of the same mind stream. The awaken person may have a different set of emotional tendencies and habit. However even this may not be obvious because the brain, which controls hormones, has a large influence on emotional tendencies itself.

    Finally a comment on whether the person is dead before the freezing or not. The medical conclusion on whether a person is dead may differ from religious perspective of whether a person is dead. For example today medically we may regard that total cessation of cerebral function to mean death. However in the future when people can be revived from such condition, then the definition of death would change. In Buddhist terms, death means the process of rebirth starts. Unfortunately there is no measurable way to track the mind, hence we would not know. The only way to know would be for a highly attained meditator to try to track the mind of the person. However this meditator would not have scientific means to prove his claim. Therefore we would not scientifically know.

    Interestingly the Buddha never revived anyone from death. In Buddhism, death is regarded as certain. A good rebirth matters more to the Buddhist than devising ways of revival. Ultimately liberation is regarded as better than good rebirths.

  • 1. If the person is not yet dead, yet frozen, the person should die from the cold, and thus take rebirth. Even if the body is preserved, it would be too cold to sustain the consciousness. Being in the frozen body would be likened to be in a cold hell.

    2. If the person had died before the body is frozen, and if the body is reanimated later (if possible at all), the body is unlikely to take on a new consciousness, as it is the meeting of sperm, egg and consciousness (according to Buddhism) that brings about human life. If these three elements are not needed together, technically, any brain in a vat or even machine would be able to spring to life.

    3. In Buddhism, the cessation of breathing is usually taken to mean physical death, marking the point the consciousness is detachable from the body. However, due to force of habit of attachment, the consciousness might cling to the body for some time. This is why it should be treated respectfully. (Details on how to do so can be learnt in this course: https://thedailyenlightenment.com/2014/12/destination-pureland-how-to-have-the-best-rebirth-run-2 The next run is coming soon.) Rebirth thus does not occur immediately after physical death. It occurs swiftly only for those with strong positive or negative karma, and those who practise the Dharma very well – such as mindfulness of Amituofo, which leads to quick connection to him for guided departure.

Please Be Mindful Of Your Speech, Namo Amituofo!

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