Posts Tagged: NDE

The Brain Outside the Brain

Brain outside 4The 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.

Brain outside 2The 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).

Brain outside 5Is 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.

Brain outside 3But 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?

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Fear of Death

At the funeral the Italian priest addressed the mourners with a twinkle in his eye. “I’ll tell you a secret,” he said in his Mediterranean accent. “We are all here forever.” It comes as a shock to see the box containing the person we once conversed with, no electromagnetic activity inside, no emotion, no thought, only inanimate matter. Anyone who has faced death in this way, or perhaps faced their own possible extinction, cannot help but become aware of the incredible capacities of the human mind and wonder at how such a miracle can cease to exist given our relentless drive to survive.

All organisms fear being harmed. It is the most basic of instincts with its origins in the primeval soup, when unicellular organisms developed survival mechanisms against physical attack or chemical damage. Psychologists claim that we make it through life by practising denial of our ultimate fate, and that drives such as ambition and reproduction are a mask which protect us from inevitability. It is true that going through life constantly aware that we must die would prevent us from undertaking anything. The search for meaning during our short stay on earth has inspired all human action including art, religion, patriotism and education. Some sociologists go further and say that denial of death is necessary in order for society to function, for without it there would be unbridled violence against others, disregard for our peers and an absence of social solidarity.

Freud however claimed that fear of death, or thanatophobia, was simply a disguise for a deeper fear of life. In Freud’s view we cannot fear death because no one actually believes in his own death. He further theorised that the Unconscious cannot perceive of time or of the amount we have left – an interesting suggestion in the light of current quantum theories of consciousness.

There is some evidence that religious people are less anxious about death, although atheists might respond that religion itself is an expression of that fear. However, studies show that those who do not dwell on death and adopt an optimistic view of life are less prone to heart disease, and live longer. Many people go through life claiming they do not fear death at all, or they shrug it off as being inevitable and therefore unworthy of consideration, but when faced with their own demise through illness or injury become extremely anxious and even panic. Admitting to a fear of death may be seen as socially reprehensible because it suggests both cowardice, since we must all die, and pomposity, since we cannot conceive of a world without us.

Death 2Until recently the scientific, materialistic view of human life has been that we are the result of a mixture of molecules, and when we die our brain rots and only the memory of us remains in others. However, with the advent of quantum physics this is changing. Since theoretical physicists believe there is an infinite number of universes, death must therefore be an illusion. Since we exist now we must exist always, on some plane or dimension. The view that the physical reality around us is the only one is therefore not hard science, but just a belief system like any religion.

It is also beyond dispute that the moment of death may be hastened or delayed by those in their last weeks of life. Many people have flown in to be at a relative’s bedside to experience them pass finally away within hours and sometimes minutes of their arrival. People with terminal illnesses may succeed in attending a final family reunion. Death may therefore not be something that is completely beyond our control.

Those who have experienced a near death experience report the sense that the spiritual dimension is far more real than this one. In fact a consensus seems to be emerging among NDE-ers that life here on earth is a sort of playground where spirit can experience matter, where the universe can gain experience through sending parts of itself (souls) to live different lives, comparing physical existence with a cinema where we suspend our disbelief while in a dark room watching a film. Others report spiritual friends waiting eagerly to hear the story of their latest life when they pass over. Above all is the sense in NDE-ers that life should not be taken seriously, since all our experiences are of our own making, that we may  savour the many tastes life here offers. Source, God, the Universe is omniscient precisely because parts of it have descended into matter everywhere it extends, to experience and learn and expand consciousness.

No one knows yet for sure, but until we have found out – and we may do just this soon enough, as more individuals who flatlined during surgery report medical conversations and procedures to resuscitate them – let us embrace the mystery, and do so with the same dose of humour with which we may one day regard the life we are currently living.

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