Friday, 12 February 2016

Consciousness outside the body

Belief is belief; but when it comes to science, empirical evidence is a must. Repeatable proof. Now, the matters of which I write are, to us, in the infancy of spiritual evolution, difficult to pin down or examine in a lab bench. They belong to the philosopher and the poet - and the theologian.

Our sensitivity to the spiritual is weak, it varies from human to human (indeed from living being to living being). It comes in flashes; if we were to be subject to the fullness of Knowing in one go, it would literally blow our minds. But I believe it will grow, with each coming lifetime. Orthodox church teaching suggests one life, one shot at redemption - and if successful, eternity with God.

I tend to disagree. We can grow but a fraction of the way from zero to one; why should an eternity in Paradise await us for behaving ourselves in the short space of one life time? [The answer is, of course, social control, but that's for another post.]

We can either say - it's a spiritual thing, and the spiritual is no part of the physical universe, it is something entirely separate. This is Dualism. Or we can say - the universe is holistic, the One, spiritual and physical intertwined. This is Monism, and it is what I tend to believe in. [I say 'tend', for should experience, should things I find going forth on this lifelong quest suggest otherwise, I am open to fine-tune or even change fundamentally my belief. But it must be genuine.]

We live, we learn, we die - then what? Has that spiritual evolution - that tiny increment of distance closer to universal understanding - been lost forever with our deaths? I believe not. And I believe this on the basis of being open to signals that have been telling my consciousness over the years that this life is but a part of a continuum, witnessed in the here-and-now through our individual eyes. What we have witnessed and what we have learnt will roll forward.

But what are the mechanisms for transmission? Scientific ones? Here is gets flaky. Here I'm on shifting sands, on dodgy ground. Endless scientific discoveries push forward the boundaries and close off that which hitherto Mankind had been happy to ascribe to the existence of God. This is the concept of 'the God of the gaps'.  Once upon a time thunder and lightning were clear proof that God exists. And that a flat Earth, under the dome of the heavens, likewise.

So any attempt to explain a phenomenon that I believe to be as real as your ability to imagine the smell of an orange must be sound enough for both science and for me.

Right now, I have identified four putative ways in which our consciousness can free itself of our physical, living bodies.

The human microbiome - the trillions of bacteria we slough off daily. They live within us and on us, we excrete them, we exhale them, when we walk we shed clouds of them. Bacteria can lie dormant for 250 million years. What have they learnt of us while we hosted them?

Brain waves - science is closing in on this one: see this new research about electrical brain waves in mice here. But can those waves be detected outside the mouse's skull? Or our own ones? If so, how far away? For how long? As a teenager, this was my favoured theory. "I'm picking up transmissions from some dead guy's brain". And - er - why not gravitational waves, first detected yesterday?

Atoms as a repository of consciousness, memory, will? Atoms are around forever. The electron shells whiz round the nuclei for eternity. The hydrogen atoms of which we are made (8% of our body weight) have been around since shortly after the Big Bang. Wow! Do they carry property other than just electric charge? What will they have learned during their short time as part of us?

Dark matter. This stuff makes up 84.5% of the total mass of the Universe. And science hasn't the foggiest idea what it is, other than it exists and is pushing the Universe apart. Or if not dark matter, then dark energy, which constitutes 68.3% of all the energy in the Universe. It would be a big 'God of the gaps' for me to posit that until science does discover its nature, dark matter and/or dark matter is the will, the purpose and the intelligence of the Universe.

Now look, dear reader - I'm open about all this. I hold no view one way or another, save that one day Mankind may have a better insight into these mysteries than it does right now. In the meantime, I intend to read, to seek, to experience, to synthesise, to speculate - but above all, remain open to the mysteries of the infinite.

Tomorrow: organised religions - holding back spiritual growth with orthodoxy.

This time two years ago:
Sustainability and the feminisation of business

This time three years ago:
Lent kicks off (somewhat earlier than this year)

This time four years ago:
Feeling at home on the ice

This time seven years ago:
Wetlands in (a milder) winter

This time eight years ago:
Railway miscellany

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