Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What Do We Really Know About Life?

Excerpted from the book: A View Beyond the Stars, on Amazon and Lulu.

We may think we know about Life, but do we really? The greatest irony may be that in spite of the prodigious nature of Life all around us, it is also one of the greatest mysteries of modern science.

Now of course science knows about Life and speculates articulately on its origins here on Earth. We refer to this as Abiogenesis, or the study of how Life may have first begun from the earliest inanimate matter on our planet. However, scientists have never been able to agree on how it could have come into existence spontaneously, nor have they been able to isolate it outside any organic vessel, measure it or even establish that it truly exists as an independent energy, or force. Yet even the smallest child knows that inexplicably we just live.

And there is a growing body of supportive data, suggesting that Life is a lot more powerful and complex than the average human has ever imagined. There are plenty of chronicled events of people witnessing amazing paranormal feats (examples cited in Wikipedia article under paranormal) in the split second when they forgot they were mere humans - in essence stepping beyond their purely physical constraints.

Now here’s the problem with that statement. Unfortunately few can replicate their experiences under research conditions leaving them discredited. You could surmise this is because it really didn’t happen, even though credible subjects believed it happened and others may have even witnessed it first hand.

Or perhaps something did happen, but they were not able to reproduce the exact conditions which may have previously initiated a uniquely inexplicable paranormal event. And ironically, as the saying goes, you never expect the truly unexpected, so normal people are rarely standing around with cameras and recorders waiting for strange phenomena to occur.

No matter the scientific community’s usual skepticism – and who can blame them as these things are seldom able to be reproduced on demand – reputable conclusions supporting these paranormal observations are in fact hard to come by. However, the growing field of Parapsychology was created from the recognition that some things classified as paranormal do warrant closer inspection and are providing interesting data through careful and documented research.

Parapsychology could be seen as a natural offshoot from the many divisions of mainstream Psychology, though at present Psychology obviously enjoys greater credibility. However, both share the common root word “psi”, which originates from the Greek word psyche meaning soul or mind. It is remarkable that the Greeks considered the soul and mind to be synonymous, yet that barely discernible division in original concept has in modern times been widened to a gap of monumental proportion.

Today, Psychology and Psychiatry also share that root word, yet neither attempts to understand the possible existence of a soul, or spiritual entity as the source of consciousness in humans, but have opted instead for the more physiological explanation for the mind. Of course neither Psychology nor Psychiatry could be considered exact sciences either. They just have more research data to support their theories and treatments.

Parapsychology essentially attempts to fill the gap in understanding between biological phenomena and those which fall outside a purely scientific means. Parapsychologists apply scientific method to investigate psychic phenomena that fall into two primary categories: psi-gamma (referring generally to activities like extrasensory perception) and psi-kappa (which refers to physical activities that would infer a supernatural ability). Mainstream interest has steadily grown to fund further research into psychic phenomena that appears to support a view of Life as a more spiritual causation and challenges our current explanations for physical reality in general.

In fact, the U.S. Government, and those of foreign countries, have sponsored numerous research programs over the years to study these phenomena - particularly those with potential military, or intelligence agency value like Psychokinesis, Remote Viewing and Precognition to name a few. The Stargate Project is one notable example of military interest in psychic phenomena, particularly Remote Viewing, conducted at the world renowned Stanford Research Institute.

The project researched the possibility of controlled out-of-body excursions, akin to techniques using Astral Projection, to reconnoiter enemy target activity thousands of miles away from the test site. Other research focused on controlling premonitions and precognitions that might be helpful in forecasting important events that could assist our government with intelligence gathering on foreign nations. It’s nice to know that at least our military finds it credible enough to invest our hard earned tax dollars on “spooky science” isn’t it?

Tapping into extrasensory perception through gifted individuals, thereby enabling leaders to gain significant advantage over their rivals has much historical precedent. For example, it was quite common for medieval Kings to employ seers and prophets to the crown. Perhaps the best known example was Merlin the Magician, the mysterious wizard, of the Arthurian Legends.

Of course King Arthur was no slouch in the supernatural department either, in that he came to power supposedly by pulling the magic sword Excalibur from the stone when all others failed, thus fulfilling a prophesy that only the divine and true King could do so. That’s one version of the story anyway.

Merlin and King Arthur might well be fictional characters based on various actual events (no doubt embellished) passed down through the generations. But the frequent reference to magicians, wizards and various shadowy characters apparently generously endowed with psychic abilities, can either be discounted out of hand, or seen for what they were – something was happening. There are records of events of paranormal phenomena attributed to certain individuals in every part of the world and their sheer numbers should at least give one pause for consideration.

Throughout ancient history we find that soothsayers and oracles, or those supposedly endowed with prophetic vision, were quite common throughout the known world. The Oracle at Delphi was a center for psychic revelation from roughly 700 BC to almost 400 AD.

The earliest known oracle however resided in the Egyptian temple of Per-Wadjet roughly 3000 years ago. Closer to present we find famous seers and precognitionists such as French born Nostradamus from the 16th century and the even more recent American psychic Edgar Cayce, who died in 1945. Apparently unexpectedly – bad joke.

Nostradamus wrote hundreds of encoded prophesies in quatrains (to avoid persecution by religious fanatics of his time) about future world events (mainly impending disaster) many scholars are still trying to fully translate to this day. Although Nostradamus was technically more of an astrologer than clairvoyant, many believe he was a gifted prophet and foretold important events with uncanny accuracy. Others consider him vague and mysterious and lump the whole subject of Astrology pretty much in the same category.

Cayce on the other hand, whose self imposed trances were used to “see” the past and future, was a spiritual medium who used channeling for healing and answering questions for those who wished to communicate with their dead family and friends in the spirit world. A recent television program entitled Crossing Over (1999-2004), featured John Edward, a self proclaimed psychic medium, who supposedly channeled the dead for a live audience - no pun intended.

Of course two of the best known and revered prophets of all time were Jesus of Nazareth, who was also a healer and performed numerous well publicized feats of the supernatural and Mohammad who insisted he was a direct messenger from God. And prior to both Christianity and Islam, the most famous prophet of the Old Testament was Abraham, the father of Judaism who paved the way for both Jesus and Mohammad.

So you can see that despite our grounding in science, three of our major world religions were founded by psychics who performed miracles and professed great powers of prophecy. And while there is no proof of their abilities, scientists also cannot disprove their widely acclaimed gifts. Is it any wonder we have problems with this subject?

Reviewing all these cited people and events reveals the typical pattern of advocates versus detractors for any data to hand. Again, we are consistently confronted with a lack of definitive proof either way, leaving one feeling either frustrated or vindicated depending on your persuasion. Indeed, our individual set of beliefs tips the balance one way or the other on the broader subject of Life’s mysteries and their credible source, or the lack of it.

No matter the evidence we may be presented with, there is no final proof as yet, so we are persuaded by our internal preference to lean either toward a calculating science, or tenuous spirituality when weighing evidence. Still, even many scientifically inclined people intuitively believe there are and have been plenty of strange things going on all around us that science really can’t explain either. Life force energy and especially the possibility of the occurrence of Life independent of organic structures, even though as such it would be technically classified as paranormal, is a most intriguing one.

We assume we know about Life because we are all alive. But in fact, we know very little about the native qualities of this energy we can observe as distinctly separate from everything else in the physical world around us. I say “native” qualities, because it appears possible that Life might continue on after the death of the body. We can’t see this energy, measure or detect it outside the body, so of course we jump to the obvious conclusion that it has no post mortem existence. Yet we do know that when Life is in our bodies we live and that in spite of our best attempts at a scientific understanding of this phenomenon, it appears and disappears with equal intrigue. Or does it?

Most doctors believe that when brain waves flat-line on equipment measuring EEG activity, the brain is dead and therefore assume the patient is dead. This follows from the premise that the brain is the source of consciousness. In fact clinical studies of near-death-experiences (NDE’s) suggest otherwise. A long list of prominent researchers have produced a rich body of evidence that proposes brain death is not the end of consciousness, which further implies that body death may not be the end of Life.

Interest in this new field of study was initially spurred in the late 1960’s by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, whose practice specialized in treating terminally ill patients. In 1975 medical doctor and psychologist Raymond Moody wrote a seminal book entitled Life After Life, that caused much excitement and stimulated even more research into the area of Near-Death-Experience.

Later, renowned NDE authority Bruce Greyson, M.D. and Professor of Psychiatry launched the field of Near Death Studies by developing research tools that could produce defensible results in a clinical setting. He is quoted as reporting:

“A clear sensorium and complex conceptual processes during a period of apparent clinical death challenge the concept that consciousness is localized exclusively in the brain.”

Pim Van Lommel, a cardiologist from the Netherlands conducted the first study of NDE’s in 344 cardiac arrest patients and published his results in The Lancet, the oldest and most respected peer-reviewed medical journal in 2001. He reported approximately 18% experienced "classic" NDE's, which included out-of-body experiences (OBE’s). The patients remembered details of their conditions during their cardiac arrest despite being clinically dead with flat-lined brain stem activity. Van Lommel concluded that his findings supported a theory that consciousness continued despite lack of neuronal activity in the brain

Science can clearly measure the effects of Life within a living organism. Although there is evidence that at the moment of death in humans, there is a sudden minute and inexplicable drop in body weight that produced the 21 gram theory, or otherwise known as “weight of the soul”. This was also referred to in Dan Brown’s recent book: The Lost Symbol, which has been prominently featured on the front page of The Institute of Noetic Sciences’ website.

Noesis has come to define the science of consciousness and The Institute of Noetic Science is an international research facility which has also verified much earlier weight of the soul experiments. Clearly something departs from our bodies at the moment of death. We can deduce that it is Life, some refer to it as the Soul, which leaves when the body ceases to live. Apparently it has substance enough to have weight and that weight seems consistently to be roughly 21 grams.

But we can’t measure a unit of Life as itself outside the body - a bit odd don’t you think? And of course this is the fundamental problem science has always wrestled with in attempting to observe and define Life outside its organic container. It has simply never been done. If you read scientific explanations for Life, you’ll notice they tend to stay closely on point with reference to biological Life, implying evolutionary biology and steer clear of any persuasion that Life can have an existence independent of organics. Can you blame them? After all, scientists measure things. From everything they can detect, there is no evidence of a thing we can point to as Life after death, or any independent Life energy; also referred to as Vitalism.

Perhaps we therefore also jump to an erroneous conclusion that, in humans for example, Life is only passed on by a mother’s living body, initially as a zygote, which is technically two living cells: the male “seed”, or sperm and the now fertilized egg, or ovum, from the female. This subsequently grows into an embryo, then a fetus and is finally born as a complete new living human baby. Analogously, like cavemen coming across fire from a lightning strike in the forest, they were forced to carry a burning branch like an eternal torch, as their only known means to create fire was to transplant it.

What is it really that causes this material stuff of a human body, an animal, reptile, a plant, micro-organism (or even a virus though it is not technically classified as living) to become vitally animated – to live? Might it possibly be a special form of energy potential, that doesn’t originate from the material of the body itself? Could it possibly continue to exist after an organism ceases to be a viable vessel to contain it any longer?

Our failure to measure Life outside the body shouldn’t preclude the possibility, that we simply don’t have the means to measure that kind of energy.

For other interesting information on the subject, look for A View Beyond the Stars, on Amazon and Lulu. You might also want to visit The Immortals website for more interesting videos and interviews on the subject of life force energy.

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