Near Death Experiences, Soul, Reincarnation, Consciousness and Quantum: Interesting Scientific work and new horizons

Reincarnation and after death has baffled many.  Abrahamics have vehemently denied it for long, while Eastern Mystic traditions have woven it in their entire Spiritual tapestry.  Now, as more and more scientific research into this topic and subject comes in, more people are revisiting the topic.  Faiths, that hitherto, outrightly rejected it may be forced to re-evaluate their Spiritual paradigm.

Sam Parnia, leader of the Human Consciousness Project’s AWARE study, has most significantly, been running experiments.  Why is his work so interesting?  Because he practices resuscitation medicine.  His entire job is to “bring back the dead”.  And, these “dead” don’t just stumble back without a “baggage”.  They come with stories.  Stories that are remarkably similar.  Interestingly, not just similar, but they align with the experience of the Divine Universal Consciousness that Mystics of the East have been talking about for ages.

Sam Parnia practices resuscitation medicine. In other words, he helps bring people back from the dead — and some return with stories. Their tales could help save lives, and even challenge traditional scientific ideas about the nature of consciousness.

“The evidence we have so far is that human consciousness does not become annihilated,” said Parnia, a doctor at Stony Brook University Hospital and director of the school’s resuscitation research program. “It continues for a few hours after death, albeit in a hibernated state we cannot see from the outside.”

Resuscitation medicine grew out of the mid-twentieth century discovery of CPR, the medical procedure by which hearts that have stopped beating are revived. Originally effective for a few minutes after cardiac arrest, advances in CPR have pushed that time to a half-hour or more.

New techniques promise to even further extend the boundary between life and death. At the same time, experiences reported by resuscitated people sometimes defy what’s thought to be possible. They claim to have seen and heard things, though activity in their brains appears to have stopped.

Now even the physicists are jumping into the whole question of being and our “substance”.

Soul, Nervous system and Quantum Physics

A ground-breaking new work is being done with respect to brain and Quantum state.  The findings, in their initial state surely, are extremely interesting.

A near-death experience happens when quantum substances which form the soul leave the nervous system and enter the universe at large, according to a remarkable theory proposed by two eminent scientists.

According to this idea, consciousness is a program for a quantum computer in the brain which can persist in the universe even after death, explaining the perceptions of those who have near-death experiences.

Dr Stuart Hameroff, Professor Emeritus at the Departments of Anesthesiology and Psychology and the Director of the Centre of Consciousness Studies at the University of Arizona, has advanced the quasi-religious theory.

It is based on a quantum theory of consciousness he and British physicist Sir Roger Penrose have developed which holds that the essence of our soul is contained inside structures called microtubules within brain cells.

They have argued that our experience of consciousness is the result of quantum gravity effects in these microtubules, a theory which they dubbed orchestrated objective reduction (Orch-OR).

Thus it is held that our souls are more than the interaction of neurons in the brain. They are in fact constructed from the very fabric of the universe – and may have existed since the beginning of time.

This work is still in the pioneering stage.  But let us look at some of the work that has already been done and is pushing the envelope on this topic.

Near Death Experiences and Experiments

As per a Gallup Poll, 8 million Americans have had Near Death Experiences (NDEs) [ Mauro, James "Bright lights, big mystery". Psychology Today, July 1992.]  So, worldwide, the NDE and the related experiences are widespread (in millions) and have been studied by many medical and science practitioners every year.

The NDEs of most the people have a lot in common, and the way they change after their experiences is remarkable.  But we aren’t interested in that.  We are especially interested in a unique phenomenon called “Out of Body Experience” (OBE), where a person, whose body is dead and Brain has ceased to work, remembers not only SEEING what happened in the Operation Room (sight), but also HEARD what people said (Sound).  This all happened when the person’s eyes and ears were specifically made dysfunctional.

In 1991, for example, there was a case of Pam Reynolds, where she was brought to the operation because of a giant artery aneurysm in her brain.  Neurosurgeon Robert Spetzler at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona attended to her.  He was a specialist and pioneer in hypothermic cardiac arrest—a daring surgical procedure nicknamed “Operation Standstill.”

Basically, her body temperature was to be lowered to a level where her brain and heart would stop functioning and then after surgery, she would be brought back to life.  Prior to the surgery, she was prepared for it thus:

Pam was brought into the operating room at 7:15 a.m., she was given general anesthesia, and she quickly lost conscious awareness. At this point, Spetzler and his team of more than 20 physicians, nurses, and technicians went to work. They lubricated Pam’s eyes to prevent drying, and taped them shut. They attached EEG electrodes to monitor the electrical activity of her cerebral cortex. Theyinserted small, molded speakers into her ears and secured them with gauze and tape. The speakers would emit repeated 100-decibel clicks—approximately the noise produced by a speeding express train—eliminating outside sounds and measuring the activity of her brainstem.

Eyes and Ears were TAPED shut!

But what she told them about what she KNEW of what happened during the surgery is mind-boggling:

Although she no longer had use of her eyes and ears, she described her observations in terms of her senses and perceptions. “I thought the way they had my head shaved was very peculiar,” she said. “I expected them to take all of the hair, but they did not.” She also described the Midas Rex bone saw (“The saw thing that I hated the sound of looked like an electric toothbrush and it had a dent in it … ”) and the dental-drill sound it made with considerable accuracy.

Meanwhile, Spetzler was removing the outermost membrane of Pamela’s brain, cutting it open with scissors. At about the same time, a female cardiac surgeon was attempting to locate the femoral artery in Pam’s right groin. Remarkably, Pam later claimed to remember a female voice saying, “We have a problem. Her arteries are too small.” And then a male voice: “Try the other side.” Medical records confirm this conversation, yet Pam could not have heard them.

Why is it mind-boggling?  Not just because her eyes and ears were taped but because she was CLINICALLY DEAD!  More importantly, Brain was SHUT!

Pam’s blood vessels were indeed too small to accept the abundant blood flow requested by the cardiopulmonary bypass machine, so at 10:50 a.m., a tube was inserted into Pam’s left femoral artery and connected to the cardiopulmonary bypass machine. The warm blood circulated from the artery into the cylinders of the bypass machine, where it was cooled down before being returned to her body. Her body temperature began to fall, and at 11:05 a.m. Pam’s heart stopped. Her EEG brain waves flattened into total silence. A few minutes later, her brain stem became totally unresponsive, and her body temperature fell to a sepulchral 60 degrees Fahrenheit. At 11:25 a.m., the team tilted up the head of the operating table, turned off the bypass machine, and drained the blood from her body. Pamela Reynolds was clinically dead.

So, this case – and it is one of the best recorded case in history – opens up an important set of questions and areas of inquiry that cannot be satisfied with existing remarkably creative, yet inadequate theories.  The article* sums it up in the best way possible.

The scientific NDE studies performed over the past decades indicate that heightened mental functions can be experienced independently of the body at a time when brain activity is greatly impaired or seemingly absent (such as during cardiac arrest). Some of these studies demonstrate that blind people can have veridical perceptions during OBEs associated with an NDE. Other investigations show that NDEs often result in deep psychological and spiritual changes.

These findings strongly challenge the mainstream neuroscientific view that mind and consciousness result solely from brain activity. As we have seen, such a view fails to account for how NDErs can experience—while their hearts are stopped—vivid and complex thoughts and acquire veridical information about objects or events remote from their bodies.

NDE studies also suggest that after physical death, mind and consciousness may continue in a transcendent level of reality that normally is not accessible to our senses and awareness.

(Article is excerpted from the book “The Brain Wars: The Scientific Battle Over the Existence of the Mind and the Proof That Will Change the Way We Live Our Lives by Mario Beauregard, who is an associate research professor at the Departments of Psychology and Radiology and the Neuroscience Research Center at the University of Montreal)

Near Death Experiences, Soul and Rebirth

If body is not the unit of consciousness, but a mere container of it, and this consciousness lives on – independently of the body – after it is gone, then the rebirth becomes more plausible.  Coupled with the NDEs and the scientific work being done around it, there is a wealth of cases which point to people who do remarkably remember their past births and can recount details of places, events and people they haven’t ever met, heard or talked to with amazing accuracy.  Hindus have always pointed out to the remarkable difference in the fates of all the people to suggest that – given the transcendence of the soul – the different capabilities and limitations are remnants of the past lives.  And with that understanding comes the profound underlying truth, that “God doesn’t play dice”.  Everyone is equal in the “Inner context”, whatever be the outer manifestation of capabilties.

Ian Stevenson has done remarkable research in this area of Reincarnation or Rebirth.

Psychiatrist Ian Stevenson, from the University of Virginia, investigated many reports of young children who claimed to remember a past life. He conducted more than 2,500 case studies over a period of 40 years and published twelve books, including Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation and Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect. Stevenson methodically documented each child’s statements and then identified the deceased person the child identified with, and verified the facts of the deceased person’s life that matched the child’s memory. He also matched birthmarks and birth defects to wounds and scars on the deceased, verified by medical records such as autopsy photographs, in Reincarnation and Biology.[68]

Stevenson searched for disconfirming evidence and alternative explanations for the reports, and believed that his strict methods ruled out all possible “normal” explanations for the child’s memories.[69] However, a significant majority of Stevenson’s reported cases of reincarnation originated in Eastern societies, where dominant religions often permit the concept of reincarnation. Following this type of criticism, Stevenson published a book on European Cases of the Reincarnation Type. Other people who have undertaken reincarnation research include Jim B. TuckerSatwant PasrichaGodwin Samararatne, and Erlendur Haraldsson.

His main criticism – including by those like Carl Sagan – has been ” there is no mechanism known to modern science that would enable a personality to survive death and travel to another body, barring the idea of biocentrism.  In wake of the current experimentation being done in the world of today with careful scientific rigor, and where empirical research (including theoretical research) is indeed pointing to such a “mechanism”, maybe it is time to look at Reincarnation, Consciousness, and Life Beyond Death with much more seriousness than it has been.

Btw, it is not a coincidence that the experiences of the NDE survivors completely mirror the central precepts of the Hindu (and other Mystics) so closely.  What Hindus have long said to be the experience in the state of Samadhi or Enlightenment, is the experience of a person who comes back from dead.

  • An intense feeling of unconditional love
  • A sense of peace, well-being and painlessness. Positive emotions. A sense of removal from the world
  • Transcendence of egotic and spatiotemporal boundaries, being one with the Universe and the Light.

The only difference being that the Hindu Mystics found a way to mimic Life After Death withoutdying.   Experiencing the transcendent reality while being alive.  Fully alive.

 

 

Featured Image courtesy: Flickr / Chris Hawes

 

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  • Sagrav

    I’d be very wary of using the Daily Mail as a source for… well anything. It is a tabloid, so its stories should always be taken with a grain of salt.

    • drishtikone

      Sagrav – Its not about where the news is from, but what it says. And in any case, that part was the least important of the whole article. In fact the most insignificant :)

  • Y. A. Warren

    If we agree that all matter is physical manifestation of energy, and that energy is never destroyed; it only manifests in different forms, we can stop pretending that anyone will ever fully grasp all the manifestations of energy in the universe.

    • drishtikone

      Do you ever understand life? Life is only lived. In its completeness. Whatever anyone has said about life is incomplete, partial and at times nonsense when you look at it a month later. For life happens in infinite moments.

      Similarly existence can never be KNOWN. That is why, Indian Sages have said that you cannot speak of Divinity or Existence. For it cannot be expressed or described. It can be experienced. Just like life can be.

      It is only when people start expressing, explaining, swearing by scriptures, giving sermons on Divinity and the Existence…. that it becomes really ugly because it is so pretentious.

      So, you are right. You cannot “Grasp” something that is infinite. You can only live it. As for the topic itself, these experiments and “discoveries” are not telling us the full story… but they are pointing us to what is at least NOT true. Like the crap that Brain creates the consciousness or body is the unit of our existence.

      Why and how reincarnation actually happens.. what happens exactly between two births etc… will take us to be fully aware AND be in that dimension and realm to know it. Until then, it is important to know that it happens. How and why.. let’s just leave it to another time and space when we can access that.

      • Y. A. Warren

        The arrogance of humanity is in attempting to absolutely explain The Infinite and The Eternal.

        • drishtikone

          I agree fully! That is why – one who is on the Spiritual journey starts with the acknowledgement that he doesn’t know the truth. The Religious know everything, so have nothing to search or experience. :)

  • Had3

    I wonder if the nanotubes are where frogs keep their muscle-twitching thoughts so that their legs can still move when electricity is applied after they’re apparently dead?

  • jasmine999

    Pam Reynolds nde is debunked here http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/keith_augustine/HNDEs.html#pam ndes are not scientific proof of an afterlife. Using a difficult to comprehend, hence “mysterious” topic like quantum physics to bolster an unverifiable belief is oh, so convenient.

    • drishtikone

      Jasmine – have read the link. I think the basic quibbling is around the timing of losing consciousness. Well for that, lemme depend on the physician itself. So, what this guy is doing is showing his own analysis of his book, a methodology which itself is spurious. If he had discussed and measured everything on that day, one would listen to him.

      And, I have brought all the topics where cutting edge work is being done. Unless you have a Nobel Prize to your name, let me depend on these guys for speaking in their trade.

      • Monimonika

        So you’re going to completely ignore the fact that Pam Reynolds was NOT CLINICALLY DEAD YET when she had her head opened up and heard the conversation about her small arteries?

        Hey, it’s even proven by the very quotes in your post! Particularly, the second block-quote specifically mentions that her EEG went flat AFTER the whole thing with the arteries. You’re the one erroneously insisting that somehow the arteries conversation and EEG flat-lining must have occurred simultaneously, despite the plain words in the quoted text.

        • drishtikone

          I am going by the discussion of the Doctor who was doing the surgery. Given her situation – the heart and brain stopped – and she was CLINICALLY DEAD! (that is what the article quotes the Doc as saying) – and everything closed (eyes, ears etc); I am not sure what you would need to do to prevent her from hearing??

          Normal people cannot even hear a conversation done in the same room when they are in deep sleep, and you want me to believe that someone’s blood circulation was completely stopped, eyes and ears taped, brain thrown open, and she was listening to stuff?

          • Monimonika

            Go back to your fifth (I mistakenly claimed it was the second earlier, sorry) block-quote and look at where you bolded the following: “Her EEG brain waves flattened into total silence.”

            This is what you meant by clinically dead, right? Now, notice that PRECEDING (as in, BEFORE) this bolded sentence, is the following:

            “Pam’s blood vessels were indeed too small… so at 10:50 a.m., a tube was inserted into Pam’s left femoral artery and connected to the cardiopulmonary bypass machine… Her body temperature began to fall, and at 11:05 a.m. Pam’s heart stopped.”

            Don’t get it yet? Why would there be a discussion about being unable to use Pam’s right femoral artery when Pam has already been connected to the blood machine via her left femoral artery? Remember, in order to reach the clinically dead state she would’ve had to have had her blood cooled down by the machine FIRST. You claim that AFTER she reached this state, the conversation about being unable to hook her to the machine occurred. Please explain this paradox. Please.

            For what’s left of your objections to me (“eyes and ears taped”), I go with what was provided at jasmine999′s link but can understand if you don’t agree with those explanations. HOWEVER, you still have to explain the above paradox you created. Don’t run away from it.

    • Paul Harrison

      Jasmine Pam Reynolds NDE cannot be debunked…..its that simple…all the science is there to prove it

  • HARRY

    I think we have to believe in something, because without this believe, we are nothing, and the magic is there right in front of you, isn’t it? If we, Human race is only product of biology then we don’t need to be civil or caring and there is no point to anything we do or say in this world. I think the concept of karma comes in the picture here if you see my point. Every action has reaction. The only question I wanted to ask you was this, do you think we are biased by all this information because we already believe in this? or this is known fact that we know.

    • drishtikone

      Well, science is going on its own way. There are things that it says and things that it has worked out. There is no need to believe in any of it.. just see its truth or counter it scientifically.

      As for Spiritual journey, again, just seek to know yourself is the way to go as well. Unless I understand Karma – whatever I say about it is not in my experience, and so not the Truth for me. :)

    • Brian Westley

      If we, Human race is only product of biology then we don’t need to be civil or caring and there is no point to anything we do or say in this world.

      This sort of statement always strikes me as deeply, profoundly, stupid and anti-human. Hey, if we’re only made up of atoms, then [insert human activity] is pointless. It’s a fallacy of reductionism.

      • HARRY

        Stupid it is, but it’s about right to an opinion and that’s what makes us civil with each other. Next you are going to tell me I am not allowed to laugh at my own stupidity. LOL

        • Brian Westley

          No, you’re allowed to say any number of stupid things; I’m allowed to state that I consider your opinion stupid and anti-human.

          I can only conclude that if you were somehow convinced that there was no supernatural component to being human that you would cease to be a civil human being, which shows you aren’t, intrinsically, a civil human being but only acting so out of fear of some bad karmic reaction to being uncivil. That’s simply avoiding results that are personally unpleasant to you — a selfish justification.

          One of the problems with such a moral system is that it doesn’t take into account other people at all — the only consideration is how your actions may adversely affect YOU. And if this punishment is removed by, say, concluding that the human race is only a product of biology, you can see no reason to act civil or caring or that there is any point to doing or saying anything.

          And that’s because you don’t really care about other people, only yourself.

          • HARRY

            Hey Brian, by saying what you are saying to me when you even don’t know me, and who I am as a person and what I value and what I respect is very judgemental don’t you think, and that’s not even friendly or caring let alone be human and that’s being a hypocritical, don’t you think. And when I said in what I said in original comment was looking at the history of the Europe, where it didn’t stop nazi throwing 6 Millions Jews in incinerator and they called themselves civilize and good christians too. When the religion didn’t stop them doing what they did, then what makes you think that anything else will and BTW I was only giving example of that and I don’t think anywhere else that’s happen in modern day but only in western civilization. I think that was below the belt But I can live with that comparing what you said to me on one comment. And on that note have a good day. And you think you figured me out by just one comment, and that’s a JOKE but you know what I will never think about you that way.

          • Brian Westley

            Hey Brian, by saying what you are saying to me when you even don’t know me, and who I am as a person and what I value and what I respect is very judgemental don’t you think

            Certainly. I have no problem judging people by what they write.

            and that’s not even friendly or caring let alone be human and that’s being a hypocritical, don’t you think

            No, I don’t agree. By pointing out how reprehensible your original attitude was, I consider it doing you a favor of sorts.

            And when I said in what I said in original comment was looking at the history of the Europe, where it didn’t stop nazi throwing 6 Millions Jews in incinerator and they called themselves civilize and good christians too.

            Which is one reason why your statement was so strange — obviously people who don’t believe that the “human race is only product of biology” can act badly, so what was the purpose of your statement about people who do believe so?

            When the religion didn’t stop them doing what they did, then what makes you think that anything else will

            As I read from history books, stopping them involved a lot of explosions.

            and BTW I was only giving example of that and I don’t think anywhere else that’s happen in modern day but only in western civilization.

            I think that sort of thing is all too common, and not just in western civilization.

            I think that was below the belt But I can live with that comparing what you said to me on one comment.

            Well, like I said, following your moral reasoning makes me think that your moral system only involves the supernatural consequences of what happens to you, and is totally unconcerned with what happens to other people by your actions. I concluded that because taking away that supernatural threat meant — to you — that civility and caring was no longer pertinent.

          • HARRY

            Let’s sort this out once and for all. I don’t care in what you think. I don’t want to reply to your comments because I don’t have time for you.

            I have been civil with you or others because I CHOOSE BE. Not because I am scared of consequences.

            The original comment was for the writer of this article, sceptics and science professional and others who doesn’t believe in concept of soul, that’s why the word “if” was used in my first sentence and not “I”.

            This sort of statement always strikes me as deeply, profoundly, stupid and anti-human. Hey, if we’re only made up of atoms, then [insert human activity] is pointless. It’s a fallacy of reductionism

            I think human race has come this far without what I say and do and it will carry on in the future regardless in what I think. And your point being what? to above statement.

            I can only conclude that if you were somehow convinced that there was no supernatural component to being human that you would cease to be a civil human being, which shows you aren’t, intrinsically, a civil human being but only acting so out of fear of some bad karmic reaction to being uncivil. That’s simply avoiding results that are personally unpleasant to you — a selfish justification.

            I don’t care about Karmic reaction or supernatural component or a big man in the sky or a man wearing a dog collar on sunday telling me what to do. I don’t need religion to tell me what to do, but I choose to be caring and civil, because religion has done more damage to human race than any war in the past.

            And that’s because you don’t really care about other people, only yourself.

            This part is true because last time I looked at others they don’t care in what I do. I think this conclude all the things.

            The second comment was me trying to ignore you and laugh it off but you are one of those like a dog with a bone who would let it go. You come across as a conformist, who ever doesn’t agree with you, you beat them with your stick and call your self righteous. But you are more of a TROLL here rather then righteous.

            Do not reply to this comment I don’t care what you do or think, stick to subject at hand, like this article………………

          • Brian Westley

            I think human race has come this far without what I say and do and it will carry on in the future regardless in what I think. And your point being what? to above statement.

            Like I said, it shows that your morals are seriously lacking if you only consider what happens to you and not other people.

            But you are more of a TROLL here rather then righteous.

            No, trolls don’t carry on conversations.

            Do not reply to this comment I don’t care what you do

            Well then, you won’t care that I did, in fact, reply to your comment.


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