The cause of ageing is DNA damage – this is the medically accepted view and can be verified by the measuring the length of telomeres after our cells have divided again and again over a lifetime. When the damage is so severe that life cannot be sustained, organ failure occurs. The heart stops blood flow to the brain. The patient becomes grey, and eventually cell damage and brain death occur.
Consciousness at this point stops, according to the scientific view, since it is a function of the brain.
It is only since the introduction of defibrillators and cardiac massage over the last 50 years that people have been resuscitated after cardiac arrest, and have begun to claim consciousness does not stop after all. Pim Van Lommel, a Dutch cardiologist who interviewed patients after they had suffered a heart attack in order to investigate what ‘happened’ to them after their heart stopped, tells the story of a man who said he could remember what happened because it was disturbing. No one could hear what he was saying, but then he had realised this must be because he didn’t have his teeth in. So he went down the corridor and saw the nurse placing his dentures in a box, and logging the time.
However, at that precise time in the log book, when the nurse had indeed put away his dentures, he was undergoing defibrillation in another room.
The Near Death Experience is not accepted in the scientific world. It is mostly explained by enhanced electrical activity before the brain shuts down, or by the effect of drugs. However Pim Van Lommel thinks that it is the NDE which will finally tip the balance towards a greater understanding of what we are. Resuscitation research is becoming so sophisticated that the concept of what death is has shifted. The merging of science and consciousness studies is of course nothing new : after a lifetime of looking at matter, Max Planck, father of quantum mechanics, one of the towering physicists of the twentieth century, said that consciousness was causing it : “I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness.”
That consciousness is separate from the brain is becoming an increasingly unavoidable conclusion. Our beliefs and thoughts can affect matter. The structure of the brain can be measurably altered by meditation, and the placebo effect causes changes in brain structure, effects which have been recorded in patients suffering from Parkinson’s and depression for example. The brain also changes when a person is stared at from behind, the ‘eyes on the back of the neck’ sensation – an interesting way to scientifically test the existence of a field of consciousness. The formerly held position was that the brain was a physiologically static organ. Neuroplasticity has now shown there are changes in neural pathways and synapses due to changes in thinking, emotions, behaviour or injury (see video page).
Is it possible that the brain does not produce consciousness or store memories but is instead merely the circuit board for the current of consciousness? American computer science expert Simon Berkovich and Dutch brain researcher Herms Romijn, working independently of one another, came to the same conclusion: that it is impossible for the brain to store everything you think and experience in your life. This would require a processing speed of 1024 bits per second. Simply watching an hour of television would already be too much for our brains. “If you want to store that amount of information—along with the associative thoughts produced—your brain would be pretty much full,” Van Lommel says. “Anatomically and functionally, it is simply impossible for the brain to have this level of speed. You could compare the brain instead to a television set that tunes into specific electromagnetic waves and converts them into image and sound.”
One theory which is gaining popularity therefore is that consciousness is non-local, i.e. located outside the brain, and that the brain is merely a receiver and transmitter. An experience common to all NDE-ers is that they sense their true consciousness is much bigger than the body to which it had to return. One of the arguments that suggests NDEs are more than a purely physiological phenomenon is the life-changing effect they have. 50% of NDE-ers divorce after such an experience, since they undergo a personality change, displaying less interest in the material world and a fascination with concepts such as compassion and empathy.
In the same way that the internet is stored on billions of servers all over the world, which download information onto our computers, it may be that we are all connected to Source Consciousness, and individually are downloading part of this unified whole, the part that corresponds to ‘me’.
In 2014 researchers at Oxford University published findings showing that only 8.2% of our DNA is functional. The rest is ‘junk DNA’. “We haven’t been designed. We’ve evolved and that’s a messy process. This other DNA really is just filler. It’s not garbage. It might come in useful one day,” researcher Dr. Gurton Lunter told the Guardian.
But some theorists think it already has come in useful, and is in fact crucial. Pim Van Lommel suggests the DNA acts as a sort of SIM card, a ‘chip’ that downloads our personal information from the universal field. He describes ‘junk’ DNA as an interface, which connects us to this non-local field.
It may well be that as consciousness studies progress together with the new science of epigenetics (which demonstrates how DNA interacts with the inner and outer environments), our ability to actively influence our DNA will be discovered, and as a result, our DNA will be greatly enhanced. The key to opening the non-local part of our consciousness lies in maintaining focused intentional awareness.
This would potentially mean that by focused intention we could reverse engineer age-related DNA damage, correct mutations, repair failing organs, enhance brain function….
In his acceptance speech for the 1918 Nobel Prize for Physics Max Planck said, “As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear-headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much : there is no matter as such.”
What changes would we make to our DNA today if we discovered we had the means to do so?