Life goes on

What is consciousness, and where is it located? Do our thoughts and actions have lasting effects? What makes up our identities? The answers to questions like these may be revealed in the experience of dying. That’s good and well, you think, but the information comes too late. This isn’t strictly true, however. Scientists are discovering that near-death experiences can offer a window into the mystery of life.
A typical report from a cardiac patient brought back from the brink of death goes something like this: 
I became “detached” from the body and hovered within and around it. It was possible to see the surrounding bedroom and my body even though my eyes were closed. I was suddenly able to “think” hundreds or thousands of times faster—and with greater clarity—than is humanly normal or possible. At this point I realized and accepted that I had died. It was time to move on. It was a feeling of total peace, completely without fear or pain, and didn’t involve any emotions at all.
An increasing number of researchers concur that people who are dying typically feel connected and supported. They understand how the universe works. They feel unconditional love. They experience freedom from the pressing concerns of existence. Patients are often able to describe precisely what happened during their cardiac arrests: where the nurse put their dentures or what doctors and family members had said. But it’s impossible for individuals to have such consciousness-expanding experiences while their brains register no activity, according to the current level of medical knowledge. Because most scientists believe that consciousness occurs in the brain, this creates a mystery: How can people experience consciousness while they’re unconscious, seemingly dead?
Some researchers believe these experiences must happen at a time when there is still some brain function. But former Dutch cardiologist and respected near-death researcher Pim van Lommel says that’s impossible. “When the heart stops beating, blood flow stops within a second. Then, 6.5 seconds later, EEG activity starts to change due to the shortage of oxygen. After 15 seconds there is a straight, flat line and the electrical activity in the cerebral cortex has disappeared completely. We cannot measure the brain stem, but testing on animals has demonstrated that activity has ceased there as well. Moreover, you can prove that the brain stem is no longer functioning because it regulates our basic reflexes, such as the pupil response and swallowing reflex, which no longer respond. So you can easily stick a tube down someone’s throat. The respiratory center also shuts down. If the individual is not reanimated within five to 10 minutes, their brain cells are irreversibly damaged.”
That means that near-death experiences can only be explained if you assume that consciousness, along with all our experiences and memories, is located outside the brain.  By means of this collective information field, we are not only connected to our own information but that of others and even the information from the past and future.  But how does the brain “know” what information to tune into? How can someone tune into his own memories and not those of other people? Van Lommel says the answer is in our DNA. He believes that the DNA, unique to every person and every organism, works like a receptor mechanism, a kind of simultaneous translator between the information fields and the organism.
People literally see their lives flash before them at the time of death. And they gain insight into the consequences of their actions. People who have experienced such a “life review” say it’s not so much about what they did as the intention behind it. “It’s almost scary to realize that every thought has a consequence,” says Van Lommel, “that every thought we have, positive or negative, has an impact on us, each other and nature.”
We certainly don’t want to prescribe a near-death experience to everyone, but that’s a lesson all of us should learn.
This is a description of an article that appeared in the June 2006 issue of The Intelligent Optimist. Members can read the full article here. Non-members can become a member here.

Solution News Source

Life goes on

What is consciousness, and where is it located? Do our thoughts and actions have lasting effects? What makes up our identities? The answers to questions like these may be revealed in the experience of dying. That’s good and well, you think, but the information comes too late. This isn’t strictly true, however. Scientists are discovering that near-death experiences can offer a window into the mystery of life.
A typical report from a cardiac patient brought back from the brink of death goes something like this: 
I became “detached” from the body and hovered within and around it. It was possible to see the surrounding bedroom and my body even though my eyes were closed. I was suddenly able to “think” hundreds or thousands of times faster—and with greater clarity—than is humanly normal or possible. At this point I realized and accepted that I had died. It was time to move on. It was a feeling of total peace, completely without fear or pain, and didn’t involve any emotions at all.
An increasing number of researchers concur that people who are dying typically feel connected and supported. They understand how the universe works. They feel unconditional love. They experience freedom from the pressing concerns of existence. Patients are often able to describe precisely what happened during their cardiac arrests: where the nurse put their dentures or what doctors and family members had said. But it’s impossible for individuals to have such consciousness-expanding experiences while their brains register no activity, according to the current level of medical knowledge. Because most scientists believe that consciousness occurs in the brain, this creates a mystery: How can people experience consciousness while they’re unconscious, seemingly dead?
Some researchers believe these experiences must happen at a time when there is still some brain function. But former Dutch cardiologist and respected near-death researcher Pim van Lommel says that’s impossible. “When the heart stops beating, blood flow stops within a second. Then, 6.5 seconds later, EEG activity starts to change due to the shortage of oxygen. After 15 seconds there is a straight, flat line and the electrical activity in the cerebral cortex has disappeared completely. We cannot measure the brain stem, but testing on animals has demonstrated that activity has ceased there as well. Moreover, you can prove that the brain stem is no longer functioning because it regulates our basic reflexes, such as the pupil response and swallowing reflex, which no longer respond. So you can easily stick a tube down someone’s throat. The respiratory center also shuts down. If the individual is not reanimated within five to 10 minutes, their brain cells are irreversibly damaged.”
That means that near-death experiences can only be explained if you assume that consciousness, along with all our experiences and memories, is located outside the brain.  By means of this collective information field, we are not only connected to our own information but that of others and even the information from the past and future.  But how does the brain “know” what information to tune into? How can someone tune into his own memories and not those of other people? Van Lommel says the answer is in our DNA. He believes that the DNA, unique to every person and every organism, works like a receptor mechanism, a kind of simultaneous translator between the information fields and the organism.
People literally see their lives flash before them at the time of death. And they gain insight into the consequences of their actions. People who have experienced such a “life review” say it’s not so much about what they did as the intention behind it. “It’s almost scary to realize that every thought has a consequence,” says Van Lommel, “that every thought we have, positive or negative, has an impact on us, each other and nature.”
We certainly don’t want to prescribe a near-death experience to everyone, but that’s a lesson all of us should learn.
This is a description of an article that appeared in the June 2006 issue of The Intelligent Optimist. Members can read the full article here. Non-members can become a member here.

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