Note to the reader:
The philosophy of the Conscious-Created Universe defines consciousness itself – our thoughts, intentions and creative ideas – as a guiding force in the formation of reality. In the Conscious-Created Universe, Part I, we explored the observations from quantum physics and cosmology which may hint to a more fundamental role for consciousness than the scientific establishment currently accepts. In part II, we will explore PSI phenomena as the experiential mechanism for influencing matter and transferring information. Additionally, we’ll look at two spiritual experiences that provide veridical and observable evidence for the independent nature of consciousness.
I. Mind-Matter Interactions
“Using the standards applied to any other area of science, it is concluded that psychic functioning has been well established. The statistical results of the studies examined are far beyond what is expected by chance. Arguments that these results could be due to methodological flaws in the experiments are soundly refuted. Remote viewing has been conceptually replicated across a number of laboratories, by various experimenters, and in different cultures. This is a robust effect that, were it not such an unusual domain, would no longer be questioned by science as a real phenomenon. It is unlikely that methodological flaws could account for its remarkable consistency.”
President, American Statistical Association
About a week before the horrific events of September 11th, 2001, my best friend Lauren spontaneously decided that we should drive into New York City. It was an unusual request because we never considered ourselves fond of the city in particular; we were far more partial to the forests and rivers of the Catskill region. I’m driving my little green ’96 Toyota Tercel, white-knuckled, avoiding mad cyclists and aggressive yellow cabs to locate some divey Irish bar that Lauren had wanted to visit. I focused on the sign for the World Trade Center, momentarily acknowledging that I had never been inside the iconic towers. Like most things in life, I assumed I’d get to it one day.
A few days after our excursion, I received a phone call from Lauren. Her sense of foreboding was palpable as she began describing a vivid dream she’d had the night before. She found herself standing in the shadow of an enormous skyscraper with fire and destruction all around her. Tank-sized chunks of concrete crashed into the street where she stood. Fear and panic seized her as billowing gray-white smoke occluded the scene. She woke up in a cold sweat, her heart still racing from the nightmare.
Before we hung up, she said something that I’ve never forgotten: “Something big is about happen, Jenn. I can feel it.”
Early in the morning of that fateful day, computer servers associated with the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Lab (PEAR) began recording increasingly erratic data signals. The Global Consciousness Project (GSP), co-founded by Dr. Dean Radin, records data from thirty-nine random number generators, called ‘eggs’, placed all over the world. Computer algorithms calculate the degree of randomness from each ‘egg’ and plot this deviation over time. The purpose of the GSP is stated directly on their homepage:
“When human consciousness becomes coherent, the behavior of random systems may change. Random number generators (RNGs) based on quantum tunneling produce completely unpredictable sequences of zeroes and ones. But when a great event synchronizes the feelings of millions of people, our network of RNGs becomes subtly structured. We calculate one in a trillion odds that the effect is due to chance. The evidence suggests an emerging noosphere or the unifying field of consciousness described by sages in all cultures.”
On September 11th, just after eight, the servers measured increasing variance as people all over the world tuned into the horror and destruction occurring in New York and Washington D.C. The formal analysis from this event states the odds at 35:1 that this pattern would occur by chance. Here is the chart from that day:
My friend’s seemingly precognitive dream and the results of the GSP experiment are only two examples of a variety of PSI phenomena, defined as the interactivity between mind, matter and information. PSI phenomena may illustrate how humans interact with the consciousness field on a personal level, sending and receiving data like a computer on a network. In Part I, we’ve discussed how quantum particles are probabilistic in nature, requiring some intervention in order to settle into a definite position in time and space. In a consciousness-created universe, PSI becomes the proposed mechanism for making fundamentally small but highly significant alterations in our reality.
Dr. Dean Radin summarizes PSI effects in his book Entangled Minds: Extrasensory Experiences in a Quantum Reality:
These experiments come in two basic flavors: those designed to test whether information can be perceived without the use of the ordinary senses, and those that monitor the effects of mental influence at a distance. The former seems to involve information “flowing in” to the mind from the environment and, depending on how it manifests, is labeled clairvoyance, telepathy, precognition, and extrasensory perception (ESP). The latter seems to involve influence (or more likely, information) “flowing out” from the mind to the environment and is variously called mind-matter interaction, telekinesis, and psychokinesis (PK) (pp. 81-82)
PSI phenomena have been tested extensively in laboratories and experiments with highly significant results, despite decades of attacks by militant pseudo-skeptics. The war over PSI research is extremely contentious, and more closely rivals the feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys than usual scientific debate. Detailing the history of the debate is unfortunately beyond the scope of this post, but I would most heartily recommend a book by Chris Carter, the first in an equally excellent trilogy: Science and Psychic Phenomena: The Fall of the House of Skeptics as well as Craig Weiler’s excellent book, PSI Wars, TED, Wikipedia and the Battle for the Internet. You can also find a list of peer-reviewed PSI experiments on Dean Radin’s website: http://deanradin.com/evidence/evidence.htm.
There are signs, however, that PSI research is slowly breaking the boundaries into mainstream science. In 2010, one of the most prestigious and respectable academic journals, The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology of the American Psychological Association published a study by Daryl J. Bem, an accomplished Psychologist and professor emeritus of Cornell University. Predictably, there was some pearl-clutching among the establishment that such a prestigious journal would consider such research suitable for inclusion. As this study was funded by Cornell University and met the strict criteria and exacting requirements for publication, their admonishment lay entirely on their prejudice of the subject matter itself.
Bem’s experiment proposed the question, “Can we feel the future?”. In other words, can we sense, either consciously or subconsciously, when something positive or negative is about to happen? In the case of Bem’s experiment, the test was designed to determine if we can sense a positive occurrence, exemplified, in this case, by an erotic picture. Brian J. William wrote a detailed review of the Bem Precognition Experiments which explains how it was performed:
“During the test, a participant is seated before a computer screen. Following a short relaxation period, the participant completes a series of 36 individual test trials. At the beginning of each trial, the participant is shown digital images of two curtains side-by-side and asked to choose that curtain that he or she thinks will soon be selected to have an erotic picture behind it. Once the participant has chosen a curtain, the computer randomly selects one of the curtains to be the precognitive target (i.e. the one that will have the picture behind it). The computer then opens the curtain and reveals what is behind it to the participant. If the curtain that the participant chose was the target, then the trial is considered a success (a ‘hit’) and the erotic picture behind the curtain is shown. Otherwise there is only a blank screen behind the curtain.”
Statistically, the chance of choosing the erotic target is 1 in 2, or 50%. A hit rate above 50% over many trials would support the hypothesis that humans are capable of precognition. Bem and his team also performed the trials using neutral images as a comparison to the stimulating images. The results for the erotic images were 53.1%, which is statistically significant at 100:1 odds. In all, Bem performed nine different tests, which, according to Bem’s study, found that “Across nine experiments, the combined odds against the findings being due to chance are greater than 70 billion to 1.”
In response, the professional pseudo-skeptics came out in full-force, using disinformation, character-assassination, and outright deception in order to refute the results. The whole story is another ghastly chapter in the PSI war laid out in a highly recommended post by Craig Weiler: Precognition Basically Proven Skeptics Prove Nothing can Convince Them
PSI experiments have provided tantalizing evidence that the human mind can obtain knowledge outside of the physical senses and affect matter in minute ways. Although some scientists now accept that PSI effects have been satisfactorily proven, their relevance is often dismissed because the magnitude of the effect is small. In other words, humans cannot move large objects with their minds, and psychics don’t win the lottery at a rate greater than chance (oddly used as a mark against them by pseudo-skeptics). Rupert Sheldrake has designed experiments that test ‘everyday psi’, such as his telephone telepathy tests, which show that people can guess who is calling at rates above chance. Additionally, other experiments show that people can often sense when they are being stared at. Many of us can relate to these kinds of experiences, but we would consider the occurrences rare. Our everyday lives rarely include PSI effects. It begs the question: why are PSI effects so limited?
I believe the question of limitation is a spiritual one; the purpose of limitation in physical existence is akin to asking ‘what is the meaning of life’, but instead asking ‘what is the meaning of the limitation of consciousness through physical experience’? If it is indeed true that human consciousness is freely precognitive, telepathic and can affect matter, then why encase itself in flesh in a world that functions with limited conscious access to these abilities? It is a question that we will explore more fully when we discuss the spiritual implications of a conscious-created universe in part III.
It is interesting to note that humans tend to display these abilities more overtly where there is a high emotional investment in the outcome. For example, Bem’s test showed that stimulating images, both positive (erotic) and negative (threatening) created far more response than neutral images. Instances of telepathy or precognitive awareness tend to emerge more fully when we are engaged with a person we have a strong emotional connection to, or when our lives are in danger. The Global Consciousness Project finds a greater variance during man-made tragedies than during natural disasters. PSI effects are more prevalent during times of heightened emotion and attention, something that arguably could have had an evolutionary advantage.
II. Spiritual Experiences on the Threshold of Death
A fundamental aspect of a conscious-created universe is the survival of consciousness after physical death. In this dualistic worldview, matter is derivative of consciousness rather than the other way around. Interactivity between consciousness and the physical body is often compared to a television set tuning into a broadcast for some length of time. If the reception is degraded or the television stops working altogether, the radio waves that carry the picture and sound become invisible and inaccessible, but remain whole and unharmed. With that metaphor in mind, what would we imagine should happen as consciousness separates from the body at or near death? From our perspective in the physical world, it would appear that the body simply stopped working; like the broken television set. But from a first-person perspective, the limitations imposed on consciousness through interactivity with the body would begin to decrease, and the dying person would begin to experience reality more through their non-physical perceptions rather than through the physical senses. The brain has stopped working, but the underlying consciousness remains whole and unharmed.
Near-death experiences and the associated out-of-body experience that occurs during the episode are the arguably most studied of the spiritual phenomena that occur in proximity to death itself. A near-death experience can occur when a person is near-death, clinically dead, or in a situation where death is feared (sometimes called a fear-death experience). Although every NDE is unique to the individual, NDEs typically share a common structure of experience, often beginning with the experience of separating from the body, moving toward a light or tunnel, meeting dead friends and relatives, participating in a life review, then reaching a border or point of no return from which they are told that they are meant to return to their body and resume physical life. Near-death experiences are quite prevalent, with a 1991 NDERF study approximating 774 NDEs per day in the United States alone. They have been recorded as far back as 380 BC in Plato’s Republic and today, experiencers are found in every culture and religion.
It is believed by dualists, though by no means verified, that during near-death experiences, the unit of consciousness that contains the individual personality of the experiencer has separated from the body and returned to a non-physical matrix of pure consciousness, commonly known as ‘the afterlife’. Descriptions from this environment resemble what one might think of when imagining a thought-based dimension: information transfer is often described as telepathic, for example, and movement instantaneous. Some people describe themselves as ‘energy’ or a point of light. Physical environments vary, though the feeling is often one of set dressing; an imagined environment for the sake of familiarity, changeable by intent.
Although much can be gained from studying the nature of this non-physical dimension through near-death experiences, for our purposes in this post, our focus should remain on the objective evidence that near-death experiences provide for our assertion that consciousness can survive the death of the body. This is accomplished through veridical NDEs, or observations of physical reality by the experiencer during unconsciousness or clinical death that can be later verified as factual.
The most famous and hotly debated veridical near-death experience is, by far, the Pam Reynolds case. In 1991, Pam Reynolds was 35 years old, a songwriter by trade, when it was discovered that she had a rare and dangerous saccular aneurism at the base of her skull under the brain stem. Should this rupture, Pam would most certainly die. Due to the size and location of the aneurism, Pam was sent to neurosurgeon Robert Spetzler at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix, Arizona who specializes in a procedure known as ‘the standstill operation’. In order to operate safely, Pam’s body would be cooled to between 59 and 63 degrees F, her heart and breathing stopped. Her blood would be completely drained from her head. For all intents and purposes, Pam would be considered nearly clinically dead during the procedure with the expectation that she would be resuscitated afterward.
The Pam Reynolds case is featured in a book written by Dutch researchers called The Self Does Not Die: Verified Paranormal Phenomena from Near-Death Experiences. Here they describe the preparation for Pam’s surgery:
Once Reynolds was brought into the operating room, she received anesthetics, pain killers, and muscle relaxants, after which she was completely unconscious. Reynolds was hooked up to a machine that took over her breathing. Earbuds equipped with two little loudspeakers were inserted into her ears. The loudspeakers emitted 11 clicks per second at 95–100 decibels in one ear and loud white noise in the other; periodically, the clicking sound was switched to the opposite ear to avoid hearing damage. The earbuds were molded to completely fill her ear canals and then covered with gauze to keep them in place so that all other sound was blocked out. An anesthetist monitored her closely, including keeping track of her EEG to measure her brain activity and, particularly, possible reactions of her brain to the clicking sounds. Such reactions can indicate that the brain is inadvertently still active, even if there is an otherwise flat EEG. Her eyes were taped shut, her head was clamped in place, and the rest of her body was covered with sterile drapes (pp. 95-96).
Machines were used to keep Pam’s heart beating and her lungs breathing. Cooled blood circulated through her body, keeping her core temperature down. Pam was carefully monitored at all times to ensure that she would not regain consciousness. And yet, when Dr. Spetzler began using the brain saw to operate on her aneurysm, Pam suddenly became aware of the sound. She identified the pitch of the whirring noise made by the saw as a natural D in musical terms. Next, she felt herself floating above the operating table and observed Dr. Spetzler’s surgery from a point just over his shoulder. Pam described the brain saw as looking similar to an electric tooth-brush, with interchangeable drill bits secured in a nearby case. Pam was also aware of the conversations occurring during the operation and was able to recognize the song ‘Hotel California’ playing in the OR. She specifically noted that the Cardiac Surgeon who was monitoring the bypass machine mentioned that her groin arteries were too small. The bypass machine used the arteries in her groin to circulate the cooled blood through her body, keeping her core temperature at an icy 59 degrees. She heard Dr. Spetzler advise the Cardiac Surgeon to ‘try the other side’. This was initially puzzling to Pam, as she didn’t understand why anyone should be fussing about her lower half during brain surgery.
Later, when Pam was revived and in recovery, she related her observations to the astonished doctor, playfully admonishing him for playing such insensitive music due to the Hotel California lyric, “you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.” Pam described the brain saw used by Dr. Spetzler perfectly, including the pitch of the motor. She also relayed the conversation about her groin arteries and other details about the surgery that she couldn’t have otherwise known. Dr. Spetzler confirmed that Pam’s description of the surgery, the music, the tools used and the conversation with the Cardiac Specialist were absolutely accurate, and admitted that it was medically impossible for Pam to have either heard, saw or have been conscious during the experience.
While near-death experiences cannot be reproduced in a laboratory, Pam Reynold’s experience was as close as one can come to it. All of her vital functions were well-monitored and provide a scientific record of her level of consciousness and physical state during all stages of her experience. It provides strong evidence in favor of the claim that Pam could not have observed procedures and conversations through her normal senses.
Skeptics have spent years trying to find some mundane explanation for Pam’s observations. Some have suggested that Pam must have somehow obtained a photograph of the brain saw used in her surgery, which would have been highly unlikely in 1991, when the internet was in its infancy. Some have suggested that Pam wasn’t fully anesthetized during the procedure or that she was given a ‘tour’ of the operating theater and shown the instruments before her surgery, both of which have been soundly refuted as absurd. You can read more about the debate in The Self Does Not Die, along with many other veridical NDEs that have been thoroughly researched.
If near-death experiences are the most studied and researched spiritual experience, then terminal lucidity is surely the least. Although the phenomenon has been reported for millennia, it remains an anomalous footnote in the margins of most medical reports. And yet, terminal lucidity may be some of the strongest evidence we have supporting the dualist philosophy. Terminal lucidity is just one aspect of a collection of experiences that occur prior to death known as End-Life-Dreams and Visions, or ELDVs. These experiences have alternatively been called Deathbed Visions or Nearing Death Awareness (NDA). Terminal lucidity is of particular interest because like veridical NDEs, the phenomenon is objectively verifiable and remains medically inexplicable.
Terminal lucidity was defined by German biologist Michael Nahm, who first researched the phenomenon in 2009, through an article published in the Journal for Near Death Studies:
“The (re-)emergence of normal or unusually enhanced mental abilities in dull, unconscious, or mentally ill patients shortly before death, including considerable elevation of mood and spiritual affectation, or the ability to speak in a previously unusual spiritualized and elated manner.”
Reports of terminal lucidity include patients who have been mentally ill or neurologically impaired from birth, and patients who have acquired an illness later in life, often dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and cancers that affect the brain. In all cases, the patients will (re)gain clarity of thought and memory and control of speech and behavior, despite their medical diagnosis and history. Postmortem scans reveal no change in their brain function or condition, and there is no reasonable explanation for the complete abatement of symptoms in patients with such extensive brain damage. What makes terminal lucidity so interesting is its inexplicable and spontaneous occurrence on the threshold of death, and at no other time.
“A sick old man had lied ‘‘debilitated and entirely speechless’’ in his bed for 28 years. On the last day of his life, his awareness and ability to speak suddenly returned after he had a joyful dream in which the end of his suffering was announced.”
-Case study cited from ‘Terminal Lucidity’, Michael Nam
Terminal lucidity is a well-known phenomenon in hospices. Nurses, well-acquainted by the signs, will often warn a family that the patient is not experiencing a miraculous reversal of health, but is, in fact, near death. The purpose of terminal lucidity, should we venture a guess, seems to be a last chance to say goodbye.
“The events of terminal lucidity even in Alzheimer patients who were barely conscious, who were barely responsive, well, we hear them all the time. How suddenly a patient can, just before death, say their goodbyes to their loved ones, remembering their names, maybe recalling an event after a decade or so of not learning, of having lost first their short term memory and then their long term memory. It is a complete mystery. […] But it is undeniable that it happens, and it is amazing.”
-Rudolph Tanzi, Harvard Alzheimer’s Disease Specialist, 2012 (from http://www.michaelnahm.com/terminal-lucidity)
Doctors and scientists who support materialism have no explanation for the mystery of terminal lucidity. There are reports of humans functioning normally with as little as 5% of their brain thanks to neuroplasticity; the brain’s ability to rewire itself over time, but neuroplasticity cannot explain the sudden reversal of symptoms seen in terminal lucidity. Scans reveal no drastic physical improvement to the brain either right before or right after death has occurred. From the perspective of brain-based consciousness, terminal lucidity contradicts established neurological science. If we instead examine terminal lucidity from a dualistic perspective, then perhaps this sudden return to clarity before death is simply an indication of consciousness disengaging from the brain and utilizing its native senses to communicate.
“In sum, there seems to be no simple 1:1 relationship between brain matter and the human mind. The whole affair is more complex. Taken together, there are indications that at least some features of the mind can function independently from firing neurons. Thus, proposing explanatory models for TL based on the second, non-materialistic assumption appears not so far-fetched as it may seem at first glance. At least, it should be regarded as a scientifically valid hypothesis that can be explored in future investigations.”
-Michael Nam, Terminal Lucidity in People with Mental Illness and Other Mental Disability: An Overview and Implications for Possible Explanatory Models, from the Journal for Near Death Studies, 28(2)
If you are interested in learning more about terminal lucidity, please see my post on the subject here: Terminal Lucidity Reveals Mysteries About Consciousness.
III. Evidence en Masse
I’ve highlighted two experiences that provide direct observational and verifiable evidence for the survival and independence of consciousness, a fundamental aspect of the philosophy of a conscious-created universe. As extraordinary as they are, both near-death experiences and terminal lucidity are quite common occurrences, lending credence to the idea that such phenomena are natural and native to our human experience. When one includes all of the spiritual and paranormal phenomena currently researched by parapsychologists, the true scope of the evidence becomes clear. These include:
- End-of-life dreams and visions/deathbed visions
- Past-life memories in children
- Out-of-body experiences
- Paranormal apparitions/hauntings
- Instrumental transcommunication
- Miracles and spontaneous healing
- After-death communication/crisis apparitions
- ‘Third man’ accounts/divine intervention
- Mediumship and Channeling
Each of these subjects is far from being rare and anecdotal. For example, mediumship has been scientifically studied in a quintuple–blind test by Dr. Julie Beischel of the Windbridge Institute. Dr. Ian Stevenson spent over 30 years meticulously studying past-life memories in children, with astounding results. There is a rich history of serious research and study in parapsychology that is nearly unknown to the mainstream population, mostly due to disinformation and negative publicity from skeptical organizations and public information sources with a strong skeptical bias such as Wikipedia.
If we consider spiritual and PSI phenomena together with observations made in quantum physics and cosmology, the evidence for universal consciousness is robust. The ‘physics’ behind consciousness is yet a scientific mystery. However, it is clear that scientific materialism is insufficient to explain all of the evidence in terms of known physical laws. If consciousness is a fundamental aspect of our reality, then our material universe is just a small part of a vast, creative intelligence. From the smallest quark to the scale of the universe and beyond, we are connected as one mind. Our humanity is just one aspect of our eternal selves delighting in a creative adventure of consciousness.
In the final part of The Conscious-Created Universe, we will explore the spiritual side of this philosophy using mediumship and channeling transcripts, out-of-body experiences and near-death experiences, as well as other sources of parapsychological and paranormal interest. Through these sources, we will attempt to discover the nature and purpose of the conscious-created universe and our place in it as conscious beings.
Sources and Recommended References:
Carter, Chris. Science and Psychic Phenomena: The Fall of the House of Skeptics. Inner Traditions/Bear & Company.
Carter, Chris. Science and the Near-Death Experience: How Consciousness Survives Death. Inner Traditions/Bear & Company.
Comella, Philip. The Collapse of Materialism: Visions of Science, Dreams of God. Rainbow Ridge Books.
Kastrup, Bernardo. Rationalist Spirituality: An exploration of the meaning of life and existence informed by logic and science. John Hunt Publishing.
Laszlo, Ervin. Science and the Akashic Field: An Integral Theory of Everything. Inner Traditions
Nam, Michael. Terminal Lucidity in People with Mental Illness and Other Mental Disability: An Overview and Implications for Possible Explanatory Models, from the Journal for Near Death Studies, 28(2)
Radin, Dean. Entangled Minds: Extrasensory Experiences in a Quantum Reality. Pocket Books.
Rivas, Titus., Dirven, Anny., Smit, Rudolf H.. The Self Does Not Die: Verified Paranormal Phenomena from Near-Death Experiences. International Association for Near-Death Studies.
Weiler, Craig. Psi Wars: TED, Wikipedia and the Battle for the Internet: The Story of a Wild and Vicious Controversy..That Anyone Can Join!. self-published
Questions to consider:
- If PSI phenomena is scientifically proven, what do you think the implications will be on science, education and our everyday lives?
- If society accepted life after death, would it change our world for the better or worse?
- Have you or someone you know had an experience where you knew someone was in danger or something was about to happen?
- Have you or someone you know had a spiritual experience such as an NDE, OBE, witnessed TL, etc? How did it change you/them?