Passing Beyond

What if Death Were Not the End?

Part I: Near Death Experience and Dreams

Written by LLS

A friend of mine recently died – unexpectedly and much too early. His death left a deep void for many of his friends. It left an empty space in my life as well, and like so many times before I hoped he would in any way contact me, or leave me a sign. But like all other times, nothing happened, and again I thought about what may happen after death. As someone who studied psychology and neurology but also loves to go beyond scholarship, I have investigated the subject in its different aspects and had long planned to write an article about this. The death of my friend finally made me sit down and do it.

I’ll present three different approaches to the subject which come to different conclusions. At the end, there will be a more likely and a less likely outcome for the readers. I leave the conclusion to each of them.

Quo vadis?

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NDE experience: the tunnel of light

The questions are probably as old as mankind itself: what happens after we’re biologically dead? Is there life after death? Is there an Otherworld? Will we be reborn? Or is there just nothing after we close our eyes forever?

The different cultures have found different solutions for this question. For some cultures that have still shamanic background, the dead continue to exist in a world that continuously touches ours, is as real as our world and can be accessed by breaking through the thin membrane between the two realities.

In antiquity, the dead often had to undertake a long journey to another world far away and needed therefore supplies to have a safe trip and a good status in the Otherworld.

Today’s world religions don’t agree with each other concerning this question, either. In Hinduism and Buddhism exists the concept of reincarnation; Judaism, Christianity and Islam divide the souls in good and bad ones and the Otherworld in Heaven and hell.

Modern science doesn’t conceive any further existence after death at all. Western societies educate their members with the idea of life that happens by chance, with no hope for another reality. Dead is dead and there’s no doubt that everything is over for the one who passes through that doorway. This happens majorly because modern science refuses the idea of a god, of a reality beyond matter. Only what we can experience is real – all the rest is fantasy. For those who die, the world ceases to exist. Innumerable people have therefore tried to find the sense of life and got lost in the desperation of not finding a deeper meaning to their existence.

However, in the last decades, scientists have started to ponder the question whether an existence after death might be actually a possibility. As quantum physics naturally trespassed the rigid frontiers of positivism – the type of science that denies anything we have no proof for – also the concept of existence started shifting. The fact that people who had been clinically dead and were reanimated all reported the same experiences of leaving their physical bodies, entering tunnels of light and feeling extreme happiness and freedom, triggered a whole bunch of investigations that would try to scientifically explain what was actually happening.

Perception and the brain: a doorway to the explanation of near death experience?

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Enhanced brain activity

A recently published study focuses on the aspect of perception. The scientists think that the near death experiences are based on neurological processes that provoke particular pseudo-experiences when we die. When we’re about to die, we reach a state that doctors call “clinical death”. That is when the heart stops beating. Scientists observed that in the first  30 seconds after clinical death, there was strongly synchronized brain gamma-wave brain activity, similar to the moment when the brain is highly stimulated. They concluded that the reduction of sugar and oxygen supply can enhance the brain’s activity. This, so the scientists, is the reason why many people have the feeling to pass through a tunnel of light. However, they say, after that light it’s really over. The clinical death is followed by the biological death. All functions of organs and cells are finally terminated.

So far the commonly accepted scientific theory concerning near death experiences.

However, inevitably the question arises: if so, and if all near death experiences are based on mere brain stimulation given by the lack of sugar and oxygen, how come all NDE reports are the same?

Let’s compare the described situation to our dreams. Basically, we’re in front of a similar phenomenon, only that it’s not based on the lack of any vital substances. So let’s have a look at the brain.

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Depiction of the human brain

Our brain consists of several parts. Much of the size of the human brain comes from the cerebral cortex, especially the frontal lobes, which are associated with executive functions such as self-controlplanningreasoning, and abstract thought. The human cerebral cortex is a layer of neural tissue that covers the two cerebral hemispheres that make up most of the brain. (Wikipedia) The two hemispheres which have different tasks are interconnected by a small organ called pons (lat. “bridge”).  The pons is part of the brainstem, and in humans and other bipeds lies between the midbrain (above) and the medulla oblongata (below) and in front of the cerebellum. This region of the brainstem includes neural pathways or tracts that conduct signals from the brain down to the cerebellum and medulla, and tracts that carry the sensory signals up into the thalamus. In the research about dreams, scientists have observed that during sleep electric impulses are being fired on the cortex, coming from the area of the pons. They came to the conclusion that the pictures of our dreams are being triggered by the area of the cortex where the impulses arrive. However, the discussion between behaviorists and depth psychologists has never stopped as the depth psychologists sustain that the pictures aren’t created by chance but have something to do with the psychological situation of the dreaming individual. However it is, one thing is for sure: when we sleep, impulses reach the cortex where entire movies are being created, and whether they have a deeper psychological meaning or not, we all know that our all dreams are far from being only slightly similar. Our dreams are as individual as we are. So why should our all brains create the almost identical pictures in a situation when again our brains experience stimulation – in the moments after our clinical death? This seems illogical. A group of doctors has therefore performed an in-depth research on people who were clinically dead and could be reanimated. They came to very different conclusions.

(To be continued: NDE and Afterlife experiments)

Video

The Afterlife Investigations

Breakthrough scientific evidence for the afterlife. The Scole Experiments. For five years a group of mediums and scientists witnessed more phenomena than in any other experiment in the history of the paranormal, including recorded conversations with the dead, written messages on sealed film, video of spirit faces and even spirit forms materializing. These experiments may finally convince you there is life after death. The scientific team in change of overseeing these experiments include world renowned Cambridge Scientist – Dr. Rupert Sheldrake, Dr. David Fontana and Researcher Montague Keen who died during the filming of the documentary.

Birthmarks And Reincarnation: Is There A Link?

Millions of people around the world believe in live in reincarnation.

The idea that we have lived before and will live again after we die is thousands of years old, but is there really a connection between birthmarks and past lives?

Reincarnation is a religious or philosophical concept that the soul or spirit, after biological death, begins a new life in a new body that may be human, animal or spiritual depending on the moral quality of the previous life’s actions.

Dr. Ian Pretyman Stevenson (1918 – 2007), a Canadian American psychiatrist became known internationally for his research into reincarnation. He believed that not only emotions, memories but also physical injuries in the form of birthmarks, can be transferred from one life to another. His theories were based on the studies of 210 cases of children. In time he became convinced that birthmarks hold some significance to a past life.

In his science paper Birthmarks and Birth Defects Corresponding to Wounds on Deceased Persons, Dr. Stevenson wrote that “almost nothing is known about why pigmented birthmarks (moles or nevi) occur in particular locations of the skin. The causes of most birth defects are also unknown.
About 35% of children who claim to remember previous lives have birthmarks and/or birth defects that they (or adult informants) attribute to wounds on a person whose life the child remembers.

Among 895 cases of children who claimed to remember a previous life (or were thought by adults to have had a previous life), birthmarks and/or birth defects attributed to the previous life were reported in 309 (35%) of the subjects.

The birthmark or birth defect of the child was said to correspond to a wound (usually fatal) or other mark on the deceased person whose life the child said it remembered.

Children who claim to remember previous lives have been found in every part of the world where they have been looked for, but they are found most easily in the countries of South Asia. Typically, such a child begins to speak about a previous life almost as soon as it can speak, usually between the ages of two and three; and typically it stops doing so between the ages of five and seven.”

There are several examples birthmark cases studies by Dr. Stevenson, Among them we find a boy born in India without fingers on his right hand. He remembered another life in which he was a boy who had his fingers amputated after sticking them in a fodder chopping machine.

Another example is a boy in Turkey with a malformed right ear. This boy remembered having been shot and killed at close range on that side of his head.

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Fig. 1 – Hypopigmented macule on chest of an Indian youth who, as a child, said he remembered the life of a man, Maha Ram, who was killed with a shotgun fired at close range. Image credit: Dr. Stevenson

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The circles show the principal shotgun wounds on Maha Ram, for comparison with Figure 1. [This drawing is from the autopsy report of the deceased.] Image credit: Dr. Stevenson

A boy named Maha Ram in India could remember being killed in a previous life with a shotgun fired at close range. He remembered enough details of his past life for Stevenson to find the autopsy report of the man supposedly reincarnated as Ram. The birthmarks on Ram’s chest corresponded to the bullet wounds.

Another Burmese child said that she remembered the life of her deceased aunt, who had died during surgery for congenital heart disease. This child had a long, vertical linear hypopigmented birthmark close to the midline of her lower chest and upper abdomen; this birthmark corresponded to the surgical incision for the repair of the aunt’s heart.

“Persons who reject the explanation of chance combined with a secondarily confected history may consider other interpretations that include paranormal processes, but fall short of proposing a life after death. One of these supposes that the birthmark or birth defect occurs by chance and the subject then by telepathy learns about a deceased person who had a similar lesion and develops an identification with that person. The children subjects of these cases, however, never show paranormal powers of the magnitude required to explain the apparent memories in contexts outside of their seeming memories,” Dr. Stevenson wrote.

In his book Reincarnation and Biology: A Contribution to the Etiology of Birthmarks and Birth Defects Volume 1: Birthmarks Dr. Stevenson presented his comprehensive research on this subject.

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Based on some 30 years of research on people who claim to remember past lives, this work encompasses the full spectrum of theory and case study on the subject to date.
Early in his investigations, Stevenson became aware that some who remember past lives had birthmarks or birth defects that corresponded to wounds, usually fatal, on the person whose life was remembered.

The work suggests surprising answers to such questions as the following:

Why does someone born with a birth defect have the one he or she has, instead of another one?

Why do some children show phobias in early infancy when they have had no traumatic experiences and no model for the phobia in their family?

Why are some monozygotic (one-egg) twins markedly different from each other?

Why do many boys who later become homosexual show effeminate behavior in infancy before their parents can have influenced them to do so?

Writing as a scientist and a Western medical professional, Stevenson realizes that the idea that wounds on a deceased person can influence the embryo of a later-born baby is subversive to many assumptions of modern biology. Knowing that each individual case has some flaw or weakness, he decided to publish the entire corpus of cases of this sort.

Photographs of birthmarks and illustrations of weapons form part of the evidence in this daring and explorative research.

This work will be of particular interest to physicians, psychiatrists, biologists, and anthropologists. In addition, those concerned with paranormal phenomena and the mind-brain problem will find this work challenging.

Read full article, more about the book and related links at Message To Eagle

With special thanks to Kevin Montana (Message To Eagle)

For the subject of reincarnation and afterlife, Mystica recommends the 2011 movie “The Afterlife Investigations: The Scole Experiment

Scientific Proof Of Reincarnation

Scientific Proof of Reincarnation: Dr. Ian Stevenson’s Life Work

Dr. Ian Stevenson documented and analyzed from a pure scientific perspective, thousands of cases of children who spontaneously remembered a past life. Enjoy!

Reincarnation is Fact: Documented Cases (Part One);
Reincarnation is Fact: Documented Cases (Part Two);

“Either Dr. Stevenson is making a colossal mistake, or he will be known as the Galileo of the 20th century.” — Dr. Harold Lief in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease

Probably the best known, if not most respected, collection of scientific data that appears to provide scientific proof that reincarnation is real, is the life’s work of Dr. Ian Stevenson. Instead of relying on hypnosis to verify that an individual has had a previous life, he instead chose to collect thousands of cases of children who spontaneously (without hypnosis) remember a past life.

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Dr. Ian Stevenson uses this approach because spontaneous past life memories in a child can be investigated using strict scientific protocols. Hypnosis, while useful in researching into past lives, is less reliable from a purely scientific perspective. In order to collect his data, Dr. Stevenson methodically documents the child’s statements of a previous life. Then he identifies the deceased person the child remembers being, and verifies the facts of the deceased person’s life that match the child’s memory. He even matches birthmarks and birth defects to wounds and scars on the deceased, verified by medical records. His strict methods systematically rule out all possible “normal” explanations for the child’s memories. Dr. Stevenson has devoted the last forty years to the scientific documentation of past life memories of children from all over the world. He has over 3000 cases in his files. Many people, including skeptics and scholars, agree that these cases offer the best evidence yet for reincarnation.

Dr. Stevenson’s credentials are impeccable. He is a medical doctor and had many scholarly papers to his credit before he began paranormal research. He is the former head of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Virginia, and now is Director of the Division of Personality Studies at the University of Virginia.

Read interviews, case studies and more on the Humans Are Free website