2b - Uniting Medicine and Spirituality
There is an ever-increasing body of clinical evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of alternative treatments such as acupuncture and energy healing. This has led to more and more doctors accepting the possibility that human beings have a subtle energy body "inside" of our physical bodies. Some alternative treatments are even available on the British National Health Service, and increasing numbers of medical colleges are now offering courses in alternative medicine.
Even so, the "soul" still has no real place in the theories of scientists, doctors or academics largely because it is immaterial. It has no substance and therefore cannot be studied or proved. But this has not stopped respected doctors from going against convention and investigating higher states of consciousness and the realms of the "soul".
Doctor Sam Parnia conducts research into near-death experiences (NDEs) at Southampton Hospital in England. In his book What Happens When We Die? he describes evidence which seems to suggest that consciousness continues after the brain has stopped functioning and the patient is clinically dead. Since his study began, he and his colleagues have investigated over 3500 people with lucid memories from the period when they were clinically dead. Many had clear memories of what they experienced and reported being overwhelmed with peace and joy. Some saw a bright light and noticed that time passed at a faster rate, and some saw angels, saints or mythical creatures. One patient was a 2½ year old boy who said "When you die you see a bright light and you are connected to a cord". Dr Parnia has speculated that human consciousness may work independently of the brain, using it as a mechanism to manifest thoughts, just as a television translates radio waves into pictures and sounds. The coming chapters will explain this mechanism in some detail and describe the actual source of human consciousness.
Dr Raymond Moody, author of Life After Life, is perhaps the worlds leading authority on near death experiences, having investigated many thousands of cases. One involved an elderly woman who had been blind since childhood. But during her NDE she had regained her sight and was able to accurately describe the instruments and techniques used to resuscitate her body. After the woman was revived, she was able to tell her doctor: who came in and out of the theatre, what they said, what they wore, what they did, all of which was true. Her doctor then referred the woman to Dr Moody who he knew was doing research at the time on NDEs.
Near-death experiences can be divided into two broad types: positive / pleasant / heavenly and negative / unpleasant / hell-like. In Beyond Death's Door, cardiologist Maurice Rawlings reports of numerous near-death experiences involving unpleasant or threatening scenarios: being surrounded by grotesque human and animal forms, hearing people moaning and in pain, and witnessing demonic types of torture. Because he was present when the phenomenon actually occurred, he was able to obtain pure and unrepressed reports. This led him to formulate his theory that at least half of the near-death experiences begin as hell-like then become heaven-like as the experience proceeds, with the average individual only able to remember the heavenly part once revived. This theory implies that there are divisions in the afterlife realms with the nasty ones at the bottom and the nice ones at the top, and that the "soul" rises up through them.
A typical positive NDE begins as a regular out-of-body experience followed by a sensation of travelling through a tunnel towards a very bright light. At the end of the tunnel, deceased loved ones or "beings of light" often appear to greet them. One of these light beings may appear as a religious figure or a guardian angel. This being induces a life review in which their entire life can be instantaneously observed and experienced in every detail. Then they reach a boundary of some kind which they cannot cross. At that point they may be given a choice of returning to Earth or progressing into the afterlife, or they may be told something like: "it's not your time to die yet" or "your mission is not completed."
The dark tunnel towards the light is the journey through the dark realms on the way to the light realms. Only "bad" people are able to see the events in the dark realms because they are "tuned in" to negativity; "good" people don't see any detail, just a dark tunnel. It is also interesting to note that children never describe anything fearful or threatening in their NDEs; it is only adults that do so. I suspect this is because young children do not have fully developed minds and are therefore considered innocent up to a certain age.
Psychotherapist Allan Botkin, co-author of Induced After-Death Communication, has developed a technique to induce spiritual contact between the living and the dead in order to resolve grief. The induction technique is based upon eye-movement desensitising and reprocessing (EMDR), whereby the patient moves their eyes in a particular rhythmic fashion to induce an altered state of consciousness. The receptive state of consciousness is probably similar to the dream-state (which is usually accompanied by involuntary rapid eye movements). This open and receptive state heightens the patient's sensitivity to non-physical impressions. Patients are instructed to think about where their deceased friend or loved one is "right now" in order to discourage them from simply recollecting a memory of the deceased. They are also encouraged not to attempt to create the experience in their minds, but just to be open to whatever happens. Botkin has successfully induced after death communication in thousands of patients and reports a 98% success rate. In his first trial 94% of the people believed their communication was "actual spiritual contact", even though only 8% had believed this was possible beforehand.
Dr Brian Weiss, author of Same Soul, Many Bodies, uses hypnosis to conduct past life regressions. The belief being that our souls incarnate numerous times and they are the central hub through which we can access a whole string of lives. Weiss uses the technique therapeutically to find the causes of present-life emotional traumas by allowing the soul to take the person back to the life in which the current issue originated. This alone is often sufficient to provide immediate emotional relief or at the very least highlights what needs to be done to remedy the problem.
Dr Michael Newton, author of Journey of Souls, also uses hypnosis, but instead of taking people back to past lives, he specialises in taking people back to the times between lives on Earth, when their souls are in the afterlife realms. The fact that thousands of different subjects all give similar accounts of the afterlife surely adds weight to the argument that the soul and reincarnation are real. Perhaps the most interesting fact from Michael Newton's research is that the soul actually remains in "heaven" throughout an Earthy incarnation and that it sends down a portion of its energy field or essence to inhabit the human body. When the body dies the soul essence returns to its source, taking with it all its memories and experiences, and re-unites with the actual soul. As you will see later in the book, this information is in complete agreement with Esoterics.
Dr Ian Stevenson, author of Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect, has documented hundreds of cases where injuries sustained in past lives correlate with birthmarks or birth defects in their present life. He also writes about young children who spontaneously talk about memories of past lives, even in cultures that do not believe in reincarnation. Some of the children he interviewed had memories of a time between lives. They reported a place like heaven and being given some choice as to when and where to be reborn, and even in selecting their future parents. Some also said that being reborn is not a punishment for past bad karma, but rather an opportunity for a soul to grow spiritually, which supports the research of Michael Newton and Brian Weiss. Stevenson also wrote about a woman who was undergoing regression therapy after being raped. She was regressed to a time prior to her birth and reported that she had decided that a traumatic incident would be needed at that time of her life in order to change its path.
These accounts clearly have profound implications for human life.
Out-of-body experiences (OBEs) often form part of a near-death experience but they can also occur during the intermediate state between sleep and wakefulness – when the physical body is asleep but the mind is awake. "Astral travel" is another name for an OBE because it generally involves travelling around and exploring the so-called "astral" plane (the next dimension up from the physical).
Robert Monroe was probably the most well known and respected OBE researchers ever to have lived. His first book, Journeys out of the Body, describes his earliest out of body experiences and his attempts to understand and gain control over this condition. The book reports his bizarre activities in the out-of-body state and his repeated experiments to find some concrete proof of this phenomenon. Monroe always maintained scientific objectivity in his quest for understanding, which gave him respect and credibility.
In his second and third books, Far Journeys and Ultimate Journey, Monroe had become bored with his controlled experiments and floating around the local vicinity, so he began to explore further a field. He made the acquaintance of several intelligent beings and began to discover some of the mysteries of the universe. He identified seven "rings" around the Earth, which are the seven sub-planes of the so-called "astral" plane. He met a number of deceased people in the innermost ring who were not aware that they had died, and helped them to move on. Monroe knew that there is more to life than just the physical dimension. He knew that so-called "death" was not the end and that our numerous lives are journeys of self discovery in God's cosmic game.
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