Field Tripping
Field Tripping
Dec 15, 2020
The Greatest Wonder in the World | BJ Miller
Play • 46 min

BJ Miller is a palliative care cancer centre physician. His TED Talk detailing his own near-death experience has been viewed over 12 million times. Now, BJ is on a mission to redesign how we die with a clear-eyed view of morality. He believes grief is something to metabolize as a transformation of love, from one form to another. BJ views separation as an illusion; that everything is life, and death is a construct to help us digest reality. Plus, ‘Field Tripping’ Producer Conrad Page joins the conversation to discuss the recent loss of his Mother – and share how his own grief has taught him to value the grief of others. Then, BJ tells Ronan about his ego dissolution with 5-MeO-DMT and how it revealed our ‘invented existence’. To learn more about BJ Miller – visit and watch his inspirational TED Talk ‘What Really Matters At The End Of Life’.Show Notes:

  • BJ talks about take aways from his near-death experience. How serious illness and trauma are universal experiences of need – and it puts us in touch with others. (3:10)
  • Ronan highlights that we all live like we’re not going to die. BJ says ‘autonomy’ and ‘ego’ is an illusion. (5:00)
  • BJ just celebrated the 30 anniversary of his accident from when he was a sophomore at Princeton University. BJ tells the story of the night of his accident as he watched parts of his body die. Electricity arched to his watch from the electric line above the commuter train he climbed with his friends. (6:00)
  • When you’re not prepared for death, you suffer more in your last minutes (7:16)
  • Lessons from death are similar to lessons from psychedelics: tune into how unimportant you are – and how incredibly important you are. You're both inconsequential and amazingly consequential. (8:00)
  • How Ketamine therapy can help some people understand death (9:00)
  • BJ talks about his memories from his ICU, what it felt like, and his ‘conscious life coming back online’ (9:30)
  • The horizon of death felt ‘matter of fact’. Most people who BJ works with find it to be a peaceful zone. (11:20)
  • Conrad joins to talk about watching and helping his mom in the ICU, and how gratitude found him within the trauma. (13:10)
  • BJ talks how grief ‘blows out our capacity’ to feel it all (16:00)
  • BJ talks ironically about how he’s almost become a ‘fan of grief’ because it opens people up (17:30)
  • BJ talks about the limitation of language, and how ‘strength’ can be misunderstood (21:00)
  • Grief helps us metabolize reality. Acknowledging what we’re losing is part of the process and shift the focus from what's gone to what you have. (22:00)
  • BJ talks about how he shortcut his own metabolic process of grief when his sister passed away 20 years ago (23:30)
  • Conrad talks about how he is metabolizing the loss of his mother – and trying to exist with it all (26:00)
  • BJ talks about how religion played a role in his early life. (30:30)
  • Even rationally, we are actually stardust. When we die, our bodies transfer energy (31:00)
  • BJ tells Ronan about his experience of ego dissolution with 5-MeO-DMT and how it revealed our ‘invented existence’ (33:00)
  • ‘Death ‘ is not on the design brief in medical treatment approaches centers (40:00)
  • Strategy should be to name death as an experience in order to reframe it (41:00)
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