- SHADOWS OF THE UNKNOWN DEPARTMENT -
What is Consciousness?
What is Consciousness?
Research would also subject claims of “out of body” experiences to strict test.
In science, plenty of problems are hard. But perhaps just one is so gruesomely trying that scientists themselves have termed it, well, “the hard problem.” How does consciousness arise—the living, aware experience of being?
Some theories hold that it comes from, or is even identical to, electrical and chemical processes known to unfold in the brain. Others say it arises elsewhere: in some even subtler, yet-undiscovered brain processes, or perhaps a mind-stuff quite distinct from the brain—some call it a soul.
Cessation of brain activity is recognized when a device known as an electroencephalogram, set up to record the brain's electrical activity, detects no activity beyond the inherent internal noise of the machine itself. The readout from the device then appears as flat line.
Few on either side claim to have final answers. But they often argue passionately over who’s at least in the right playing field.
Now a group of researchers has begun a study that they say might settle the issue. “We can actually test this, and put and end to all these debates,” said Sam Parnia, a critical care doctor at Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York.
Parnia has spent years studying reports that some cardiac-arrest patients keep having clear, distinct thought processes after they’re clinically dead and detectable brain activity has ceased. Patients commonly recount these mental experiences, which often include seeing a light at the end of a tunnel, after being revived.
Parnia and colleagues aim to put these reports to a test: specific sounds will be played to such patients, and they’ll be asked to recall the sounds after reviving. If they do, it would confirm the accounts of thoughts without brain activity—supporting the claims that “consciousness is a separate, yet undiscovered scientific entity” from the brain, Parnia wrote in a paper in the the April 23 advance online edition of the research journal Medical Hypotheses.
The study “looks like an interesting proposal,” wrote David Chalmers, a philosopher and director of the Centre for Consciousness at the Australian National University in Canberra, Australia, in an email. If the claims are confirmed, it would “pose an interesting challenge for scientists to explain,” remarked Chalmers, author of several books on consciousness.
But it probably wouldn’t settle the most basic, longstanding dispute: whether mind and brain are different things, Chalmers added. For instance, even if patients’ claims are verified, they “could be due to aspects of brain functioning during cardiac arrest that are not captured by the measurements” Parnia is using, Chalmers wrote. These measurements are taken by electroencephalogram, a technique in which sensitive electrodes attached to the head record electrical brain activity.
Parnia said the trials began on a pilot basis in January at two U.K. hospitals with 10 patients; he aims to expand the study to other countries and recruit over 1,000 patients.
Perhaps the most stringent test in the study is also the one that addresses the most extraordinary notion. Critically ill patients sometimes report “out-of-body” experiences in which they feel they have floated out of their own bodies and are watching themselves from above.
Mark well: Parnia is not testing whether patients genuinely feel their minds have floated away. He wants to test whether the minds actually do float away—a controversial idea to say the least. His team plans to place pictures strategically around patients’ rooms where they’re visible only from near the ceiling. Patients would later be asked about the images. “Thus, the claims of conscious awareness and out-of-body experiences will be tested independently,” he wrote in the paper.
He admitted some would find the idea outlandish. A study published in 2002 found that just electrically stimulating specific brain areas could trigger an out-of-body-like experience—evidence to some that the sensations are illusory.
Daniel Dennett, director of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University in Medford, Mass., wrote in an email that he’s never seen evidence that the events are anything more than hallucinations. The experiments, “if conducted with scrupulous care,” will surely confirm this, added Dennett, a philosopher who is also author of several books on consciousness.
Yet, said Parnia—in defense of the opposite view—patients have accurately reported events in their hospital rooms that occurred during out-of-body experiences, while they were clinically dead. “If we get 200 people, and all claim to have an out-of-body experience but none can identify the images, that would very much support the idea that this is a false memory,” Parnia said. “If on the other hand, 200 people identify these images… then we’d have to accept that maybe human consciousness, as bizarre as it may sound, could be non-local to the brain.”
Source: World Science
- THE HIDDEN SIDE DEPARTMENT -
The Outer UFO Phenomena
The Outer UFO Phenomena
This week we will look at the subject of UFOs through the eyes of Dana Redfield and also through my own experiences. This portion of her work will cover two articles: this one, which considers outer UFO phenomena, and the next one, which will consider hidden, or psychic, UFO phenomena.
In 1970, when I was 27, I went to work for a physicist and mechanical engineer, Donald Tully Elkins, who had been researching the field of the paranormal since the mid-1950s. He was also a pilot and often did charter work at Bowman Field, a private airport in Louisville, Ky.
Don was in the habit of taking his fees for such jobs as credit against his account there. When one of the several organizations collecting UFO information called him with a UFO encounter case in the Kentucky area, he would rent a small plane and do a field investigation to ascertain the facts. I went with him on some of these flights.
Perhaps the most interesting case we investigated was that of a truck driver who had lost time on his way home from his girlfriend's house. He left after the opening monologue of a late-night television show and arrived home after 2 a.m. It was a 20-minute drive. His memory of that drive home consisted of seeing a UFO in the sky ahead of his truck, his truck's engine dying and then finding himself still on the road, his car still stopped, but with the feeling that something had occurred which he could not remember.
When I met him, the experience was fresh and his eyes were still bright red from the radiation burns common to such "close encounters," as J. Allen Hynek called these direct experiences with UFOs. The young truck driver was eager to know what had occurred during those missing minutes, and Don hypnotized him and took him back to the point at which his engine died.
Under hypnosis, he recalled being on board the UFO. He underwent a kind of physical examination. The aliens were not humanoid or even creature-oid. They were shapes. One looked like a soft drink machine, a tall red box who was nervous. One was a large, white box who was calm. One was a smaller black box with a chip on its non-existent shoulder. These entities projected needles from their sides and removed various samples of DNA from him.
Do I believe UFOs are real? Do I believe UFOs are here? Yes, indeed. I know they are. My field research and the reading I did throughout the 1970s for Don offered conclusive proof to me that something is happening, something that leaves dents in the ground, measurable radiation at the scene and bloodshot eyes in the experiencers again and again.
Don asked the Ra group on Jan. 6, 1981, why the UFO visitors were here advertising their presence and why their appearances could never be proven. They replied:
"Consider, if you will, the path your life has taken. Consider the coincidences and odd circumstances by which one thing flowed to the next. Consider this well. Each entity will receive the opportunity that each needs. This information does not have uses in the life of each of those among your peoples who seek. Thus the advertisement is general and not designed to indicate the searching out of any particular material, but only to suggest the noumenal aspect of the illusion."
In other words, Ra suggested that UFO sightings, by entities such as they are, are designed to alert the experiencer to the mystery at the heart of their seemingly everyday world. They are wake-up calls.
Dana was a frequent experiencer of such visitations. She remained lighthearted about it as well as feeling burdened by them. The lighthearted side is shown well in her letter to me of April 2, 2000. "I hear these stories about people piloting spaceships myself. Maybe it's true, but it's way outta my league. I can barely navigate this dangblatted piece o' talkinwritin machine here. And it doesn't get off the ground." Trust Dana to find a way to reduce the incredible spate of experiences she had to manageable proportions!
On Page 173 of her book "Summoned," published by Hampton Roads in 1999, she got more serious about the subject. She wrote:
"Speaking from my heart, head and experience, I believe that the aliens are real, various and on the scene. I believe that some are of the angelic or demonic quality, and all coexist in our 'multiverse' (as venerable author Jacques Vallee names our multileveled reality). I believe that some are so highly advanced that they barely remember our issues with good and evil. Their purpose is to shepherd our evolution. Their devotion seems almost ruthless; their love pure and free of the sentimentality we mistake for passion."
My experience as a channel is of communications with this same advanced group, which offers a message of unconditional love and unity. This channeling was what first brought Dana and me together. When she read our Law of One material in 1983, she recognized in us kindred souls and a shared contact and wrote us at L/L Research. The contact deepened for over 20 years, enriching my life with Dana's special beauty and hilarious sense of humor.
Dana was well aware that there were other sides to the UFO phenomena. She wrote about the UFO conspiracies, the edges of a couple of which she bumped into. In one event, applying for a job near Area 51, she was interviewed by government personnel for five straight hours. She felt this interview was unrelated to any job but rather related to determining what she knew about UFOs.
She realized that some of the physical phenomena related to UFOs, like UFO abductees' having DNA taken from them and cattle mutilations in which blood and certain organs were taken, were clearly done by those who had no respect for the free will of those on Earth. And she felt that these two groups were basically two sides of the same coin: the protagonist "good guys" on the one hand, who cared deeply about us, and the antagonist "bad guys" on the other hand, who wished to use us. She felt there was, as it says in the Bible, a war going on in "heaven" of which these UFO entities were a part. On Page 173 of "Summoned," she wrote:
"I believe we are caught up in a battle of wills we call spiritual warfare. And what is the booty? Us. Our souls. Or the powers our souls can assert, once we awaken and call them with our wills.
"And though many are here to help, only we can act, because the ones who love us cannot engage directly in battle, for to do so would be a violation against the very thing we need to survive: our wills."
The sources channeled through L/L Research quite agree. Speaking on Feb. 22, 1976, a Confederation source called Hatonn said:
"Our purpose is to aid you in your intellectual growth, so that your intellect may be able to keep pace with the spiritual knowledge that you gain through meditation. It is our fervent belief that the intellectual information which we share with you is of great benefit along your path. Each person must choose the path that he would wish to follow. And each person, in choosing that path, must realize that the path he has chosen shall lead to the ultimate point of interception with all other paths, the point of oneness.
"Consider it, if you will, as a wheel, with an infinite number of spokes. Each spoke is an entirely different path, yet all are connected to the same center. All spokes protrude from the one center, as all paths have come from the Creator."
"Each person must choose his path," says the Confederation. "Their purpose is to shepherd our evolution," says Dana. These sources speak over and over of the virtue of information-packed silence, encouraging us to shut off the mass media and open up to the vast resources of our own deep minds and hearts.
UFOs are a subject vast and enigmatic. I did not speak here about Dana's implants, or her experiences nurturing "space babies," or any of a number of other outer experiences she had. As evidential as these phenomena are, the heart of contact is in the feelings, compulsions and leadings they bring up in us. And Dana noted that herself, on Page 29 of "Summoned":
"Aug. 22, 1986 is the day I awoke to find evidence of implants in both of my hands. Almost immediately following this event, I was compelled to study quantum physics, strange for someone of an artistic temperament. I was also drawn to study ancient history, genetics, mythology and related subjects."
Was her sudden attraction to these events caused by the implants? Dana came to believe so, as the roads traveled in these studies opened up into the intricate patterns of her later work on letters, symbols, numbers and sacred geometry. Dana felt that she had been summoned or chosen to be a messenger for the UFOs in this incarnation. Her one complaint was that she was not adequate to the task. On Page 25 of the same book, she wrote:
"What I know belongs to a knowing too large for any one heart to contain, as my head cannot process the consciousness of all the information given to me in a way that can be rendered intelligible to minds unprepared."
Yet, in her writing, she quite successfully offered compelling and evidential information which, when carefully read, renders the UFO mystery not only intelligible but of an elegant design, one in which humankind is being asked to wake up and choose.
Shall we choose unconditional love of the Creator, ourselves and all others as our path? Or shall we choose instead the path of service to self and learn the art of manipulation and control of others for our benefit? The point is to choose one of those two options, and then to refine upon that choice with persistence our whole life long.
I open my arms and embrace your spirit. May we choose the path of unconditional love and service to others this day. And may we do so with light and merry hearts, knowing, as Dana taught us, that the creation is as full of divine laughter as it is of sacred meaning.
Source: Religion and Spirituality