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 Opening the Conversation About NDE: Dr. Eben Alexander & the Question of Consciousness

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PostSubject: Opening the Conversation About NDE: Dr. Eben Alexander & the Question of Consciousness   Fri Oct 12, 2012 3:09 pm

Opening the Conversation About NDE: Dr. Eben Alexander & the Question of Consciousness



By FatherMotherGod... - Posted on 12 October 2012








By David Metcalfe | Reality Sandwich



The following originally appeared on The Eyeless Owl.

There
is a slow shift in our cultural worldview surrounding the nature of
consciousness. It’s a shift that is occurring in incremental stages, its
main bulk still writhing below the surface of frothing rhetoric and
opinionated debate, but a Newsweek’s cover storymarks an important change in the public discussion. Dr. Eben Alexander, an academic neurosurgeon, with 25 years of experience, including teaching at Harvard Medical School, has had an NDE.


In his upcoming book, Proof of Heaven: A Neuroscientist’s Journey into the Afterlife, Alexander describes in detail his Near Death Experience, which is detailed in brief through the Newsweek article, Heaven Is Real: A Doctor’s Experience With the Afterlife. His
experience, as he understands it, radically altered the static
assumptions that he had developed throughout his career in academic
science.


Such
an integral moment becomes very hard to explain on the cold grounds of
academic dispassion. This is not to say that objectivity is in need of
being abandoned, however it points to a central problem that has plagued
contemporary science, which, when applied under the wrong assumptions,
has been unable to relate to our lives in any kind of holistic way.


Having
been hammered by the politicized, back and forth rhetoric of the
Neo-Atheist and Creationist movements, it may come as a surprise that
the leading edge of our current scientific investigations are pointing
to a reality that is more complex than stock answers that make for good
soundbites. While Alexander’s book is an anecdotal account, it
represents a drastic shift in our understanding of the world, a shift
which began when NDE’s were first moved out of the psychological
category of ‘delusion’ in the mid-1990′s.


At the
heart of this are advances in neuroscience, physics and biology showing
that some of the unqualified materialistic assumptions that have
undergirded popular science are difficult to fit with the evidence. Many
of these questions are arising from explorations of non-local field
effects, and the question of just how relevant they are to physical
phenomena.


Stephan A. Schwartz, a former Research Director at the Rhine Research Center,
recently pointed out, in a presentation preceding the first, global,
online Remote Viewing experiment, that peer reviewed independent
studies, across a wide range of disciplines, are more and more
indicative of the fact that there is more to be studied regarding
non-local fields, including the underlying nature of consciousness. The
scientific worldview is at a tipping point where a synthesis of the
data is going to cause a drastic change in the current model.


I’m working on an ongoing feature series for Reality Sandwichfocusing
on consciousness studies, and anomalous human experiences, and I’ve
been shocked by my overview of the field. The current reporting by the
media is far behind what 130 years of data indicates is going on. In
fact, experimental models in the area of Dynamical systems theory, such
as those being developed by mathematicians like UC Santa Cruz’ Ralph
Abraham, are coalescing insights that draw on even deeper sources.
Recent studies and experiments applying these insights have been very
provocative.


The
cultural shift we’re seeing expressed in this Newsweek piece is
beginning to make these areas of speculation more open to the public
conversation. While the conclusions regarding the ultimate meaning of
his NDE are subjective, Alexander’s account points to the fact that
there is still much to explore in our understanding of consciousness,
and ultimately the universe itself.


Alexander, himself, admits:

“The
brain is an astonishingly sophisticated but extremely delicate
mechanism. Reduce the amount of oxygen it receives by the smallest
amount and it will react. It was no big surprise that people who had
undergone severe trauma would return from their experiences with strange
stories. But that didn’t mean they had journeyed anywhere real.”



However, he continues, regarding his own experience:

“When I
entered the emergency room that morning, my chances of survival in
anything beyond a vegetative state were already low. They soon sank to
near nonexistent. For seven days I lay in a deep coma, my body
unresponsive, my higher-order brain functions totally offline.


Then,
on the morning of my seventh day in the hospital, as my doctors weighed
whether to discontinue treatment, my eyes popped open.


There
is no scientific explanation for the fact that while my body lay in
coma, my mind — my conscious, inner self — was alive and well. While the
neurons of my cortex were stunned to complete inactivity by the
bacteria that had attacked them, my brain-free consciousness journeyed
to another, larger dimension of the universe: a dimension I’d never
dreamed existed and which the old, pre-coma me would have been more than
happy to explain was a simple impossibility.


But
that dimension — in rough outline, the same one described by countless
subjects of near-death experiences and other mystical states — is there.
It exists, and what I saw and learned there has placed me quite
literally in a new world: a world where we are much more than our brains
and bodies, and where death is not the end of consciousness but rather a
chapter in a vast, and incalculably positive, journey.”


Alexander’s
experience is not proof of anything beyond the fact that we don’t know
quite as much about the workings of the universe as the proselytizing
pundits would have us believe. However, this does nothing to negate the
importance of what he is expressing. His background allows him insights
into the experience that others who have had NDE’s do not have.


It is
also an important moment when a neuroscientist comes forward with
something that goes against the publicly accepted worldview that his
discipline espouses. Each step taken to bring these questions forward
into a more open discourse is an important step in opening up our
ability as a society to explore areas that remain closed if they are
locked by a tired game being played by fundamentalist factions of faith
or scientism.


No
doubt the game will continue for some time, as evinced by LiveScience
publishing yet another inaccurate, random, but rhetorically compelling
article on the in-existence of ESP & Psychic Abilities just as
Alexander’s story begins to gain ground in the media: ESP & Psychic Powers: Claims Inconclusive.



Thanks to: http://soundofheart.org


  

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