For some time now, I have toyed with the idea of writing an article for the mainstream press on the fascinating turns that have recently emerged in the mind-body discussion. Such notions included the possibility of writing for Scientific American, a magazine I have always appreciated, but also one that I have come to realize is a bastion of materialist science. Anticipated resistance by the editorial board has given me pause, but I was heartened by the recent appearance of a guest blog posted by someone whom I have come to see as an ally in some of my evolving ideas concerning the nature of consciousness.
Bernardo Kastrup’s Scientific American blog posting of March 29, 2017 is a sign of significant progress along these lines. Entitled “Transcending the Brain: At least some cases of physical damage are associated with enriched consciousness or cognitive skill,” Bernardo’s article opens as a response to Sam Harris’s blog attack on my book Proof of Heaven. Harris had scoffed at my claim that my mental experience had been greatly enhanced despite the extensive neocortical damage incurred through a global case of bacterial meningo-encephalitis. Harris joked about how a “few well-placed hammer blows should render a person of shallow intellect a spiritual genius.”
In my presentations, I offer the examples of terminal lucidity (great clarity seen in the mental worlds of elderly demented patients as they approach death) and acquired savant syndromes (in which brain damage, whether trauma, stroke, autism, etc. unmask superhuman mental capacities) as commonly observed evidence that the brain is not the producer of consciousness, but instead only functions as the receiving filter that allows in limited forms of primordial consciousness. Another example, which I wrote about in a blog posting, “Compelling Studies on Drugs and Consciousness,” on 4/18/16, concerns three recent scientific papers on the shocking findings concerning brain activity under the influence of powerful psychedelic drugs, like psilocybin, dimethyltryptamine, and LSD. Note that I do not recommend the use of these substances outside of any sacred or investigational context.
Completely contrary to what conventional physicalists like Sam Harris would expect, the studies revealed that the most extraordinary mental experiences occur in those who have the greatest inactivation of major junctional regions in the brain! This finding was so astonishing that it prompted Christof Koch, Chief Scientist for the Allen Institute for Brain Science in Seattle, to write a column in Scientific American entitled “This is Your Brain on Drugs: To the great surprise of many, psilocybin, a potent psychedelic, reduces brain activity.” His column portrayed the extraordinary nature of the findings, especially because of the dramatic reduction in activity of the most complex junctional regions in the brain, and the fact that no regions of the brain showed any increase in activity – widespread suppression was seen, and its degree correlated with the power of the psychedelic experience itself!
Bernardo has taken these same observations and written a very coherent article concerning the mind-brain relationship, in a way that clearly portrays the existence of mind as something that cannot be explained by brain alone. His article is a breath of fresh air for those who have come to realize the fatal errors of the materialist position (that consciousness arises from the brain). My hardiest congratulations go out to Bernardo for his excellent ongoing work adding some intelligence to the mind-body debate that is now entering a very fruitful phase.
The main reason I have been so occupied the last few months (and have not been posting regular blog entries) is that I have been hard at work over the winter writing my 3rd book. It is the natural extension of the story told in Proof of Heaven, but covers the nine years of growth and understanding with which I have been blessed since awakening from coma in November 2008. My life partner, Karen Newell (co-founder of Sacred Acoustics) is my co-author. Those who know us will realize her hearty contributions have greatly enhanced the quality of this offering, which will be published in North America on October 17, 2017 (foreign editions are still pending). We are most excited about the book, and feel that it will continue the robust awakening for humanity that was foretold in Proof of Heaven in 2012. I will be sharing more of that book and what it promises in blog postings over the next few months. In the interim, we have several workshops planned at which we will discuss and share some of the methods and techniques from the book.
We hope you can join us for one of these workshops, talks and retreats:
August 3-6 in Denver, CO – Explore the Extraordinary IANDS National Conference
August 11-20 in Montreal, Canada – Ancient Wisdom, Science & Spirituality IIIHS International Conference
August 25-27 in Rhinebeck, NY – Riding the Wave of Consciousness: Life in the New Paradigm Omega retreat
September 22-24 in Scotts Valley, CA – Behind the Illusion: Revealing the Soul’s Journey 1440 Multiversity retreat
And for our European friends,
November 11-12 in Madrid, Spain – Mas Allá De La Luz Symposium on NDEs and Consciousness
These events and more are listed on my Events page as soon as they are made public.