Consciousness Beyond Life
Study the science of art. Study the art of science. Develop your senses - especially learning how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else."
"While I thought that I was learning how to live, I have been learning how to die."
(Leonardo da Vinci)
Over the past four of five years my continuing passion has been researching the Near-Death Experience (NDE). I have read much of what has been written or documented to date, although new material is always appearing, such as on the website of the International Association of Near-death Studies (IANDS). At present I am half way through reading Pim van Lommel's recent book, "Consciousness Beyond Life - The Science of the Near-Death Experience", which is an amazingly thorough study, staggering actually. As an experienced cardiologist van Lommel and his research assistants conducted over a twenty-year study of NDE's in cardiac arrest survivors from various hospitals in Holland. The results of this rigorous scientific study were published in 'The Lancet' medical journal in 2001, and were sensationally received by the medical community.
Pim van Lommel later resigned from his work as a cardiologist in order to devote more of his time to writing and lecturing on the implications of what this field of research reveals. For the profound reality of the 'lucid' or 'non-localized consciousness' experienced during an NDE usually results in the subject's personality undergoing a permanent change, which is invariably described as being 'spiritual' in nature. I believe this is also true for many of the people who research this subject with passion and wonder, for the sublime experience of 'lucid consciousness' resonates deeply with the innate wisdom of the human heart, which carries deep intuitive memories of our existence as both eternal and transiently embodied beings.
"Consciousness Beyond Life" was published in English by Harper Collins in 2010, and has evidently already sold over 125,000 copies in Europe, which gives me faith in the spiritual intelligence of the human race. For as van Lommel reveals, the current materialistic views held by most physicians, neuroscientists, psychologists and philosophers on the relationship between the brain and consciousness are far too narrow for a proper understanding of the phenomena. And if ever anyone came close to that elusive "Theory of Everything", I would definitely nominate Pim van Lommel for this distinction. For the paradigm that he, and others of like mind, presents is one that is distilled from direct experience and intuitive awareness, rather than from a regurgitation of short shelf-life and redundant theories that still periodically re-emerge to gridlock our conceptual highway.
An excellent two-part video interview with Pim van Lommel can be found at:
A concise textual overview on his understanding of the NDE can also be read on the link below, with the sections on: neurophysiology in cardiac arrest; neurophysiology in a normal functioning brain; quantum mechanics and the brain, and the role of DNA, revealing something of how erudite and enlightened his scientific understanding of this phenomena and its implications actually are.
In his chapter on 'Quantum Physics and Consciousness' van Lommel concludes that quantum physics cannot explain the essence of consciousness or the secret of life, since the wave aspect of our indestructible consciousness is inherently not measurable by physical means. During life our consciousness has an aspect of waves as well as of particles, and there is a lifelong interaction between these two aspects of consciousness. But when we die our consciousness will no longer have an aspect of particles, only an eternal aspect of waves.
In a similar vein there was an interesting Horizon documentary on BBC television recently called - "Is Everything We Know About The Universe Wrong?" - which described how expansion through the standard 'Big Bang' theoretical model is being questioned by a new generation of cosmologists. It appears that stars at the outer edge of spiral galaxies consistently travel just as fast as those at the centre, and that the universe is expanding more rapidly now than it was 'at the beginning of time'. So the expansion of our universe has not been slowing down due to the effect of gravity, as was previously thought, but is accelerating instead. In order to account for this strange gravitational anomaly the theoretical presence of 'dark matter' and 'dark energy' has been postulated, with dark matter accounting for about 25% of the universe, dark energy accounting for about 70%, and visible matter only accounting for the remaining 5% of the universe. Then in 2008 it was observed that hundreds of galactic clusters that are spread over a vast expanse of a billion light-years are streaming away in a uniform directional speed, as if a gravitational force outside of the known universe was pulling them away. This stream is now known as the 'dark flow' and seems to indicate that our universe is probably a part of a much larger 'multiverse' that either exists, or perhaps darkly-exists, beyond the conceptual range of our senses.