Thank you for your answer. Your response brings up other questions I have listed below. I appreciate your engagement in advance.
1. Do you believe there was a time when science was more objective than it is now?
Today’s science is dominated by the belief that life/consciousness arose/rises from matter. The science of neurology, for example, holds that the entirety of the human experience revolves around the brain. When the brain dies, that’s it. There is no soul, no consciousness, no trace of the once living entity we called Bill. Bill lives on only in the memory of others. Those who believe that Bill is a soul that continues his experience without a body are seeking to draw comfort from an impossible delusion. In the cases of so-called near-death experiences, the brain is obviously not entirely dead. Though our very sophisticated machines fail to detect brain activity, the brain is still alive. Our machines will get better. This is the only explanation for those who claim memories while flat-lined. When the brain is dead, you’re dead … period.
A number of years ago I posted on Amazon the following review on Jill Bolte Taylor’s best-selling book, My Stroke of Genius. Because I believe the review still provides a credible summary of this subject, I include it in its entirety.
Remarkably Unremarkable (2 stars)
Jill Bolte Taylor’s account into her own experience with stroke is remarkable in terms of her recovery. For those who have been touched by the experience of stroke, there is much in the way of inspiration and example as to the level of courage and attitude required to make a comeback from such a potentially debilitating experience.
What is unremarkable about the book is that Taylor uses the experience to attempt to confirm the scientific bias of her discipline: namely, that consciousness is a function of the brain. Though this unproven theory goes unquestioned among the majority of the scientific community, a single instance of a brain-dead individual demonstrating both awareness and memory topples this house of cards. Nothing of the research into the Near-Death Experience is mentioned in Taylor’s account. This field of study is completely ignored. To the average reader, the classical, materialistically-based rendition of reality remains unchallenged.
For example, Taylor attributes inner peace to a location in the right hemisphere of the brain: “Based upon my experience with losing my left mind, I wholeheartedly believe that the feeling of deep inner peace is neurological circuitry located in our right brain. This circuitry is constantly running and always available for us to hook into.”
Without actually saying it, she suggests that the condition the Buddhist describes as Nirvana is little more than the switching on of a specific area of the right brain’s neurological circuitry. That certain centers of the brain are switched on and even changed through practices such as meditation (a phenomenon known as neuroplasticity) is well known. As cardiologist Dr. Pim Van Lommel points out in his book, Consciousness Beyond Life, “A conscious experience can be the result of brain activity, but a brain activity can also be the result of consciousness.” For a brain scientist to conclude that the experience of higher states of awareness are found in physical locations of the brain simply indicates this scientist’s materialistic predisposition and her obvious unfamiliarity with the mystical traditions of the world.
The brain indeed is a marvelous instrument, but it does not come close to equaling the marvels of the consciousness that uses this three pound marvel to interface with the material world. Perhaps if Taylor’s stroke had been accompanied by an NDE, it would have changed her in a way that would actually add to our understanding of the brain/consciousness interaction. As it stands, her presentation simply supports the hypothesized treatment of consciousness as a mere byproduct of the brain, an unproven and increasingly challenged assumption that is still championed by many in her field.
I would recommend Taylor’s book only on the basis of reaching a better understanding of the needs of a stroke victim. Her running commentary on what constitutes the human being and her frequent ventures into spiritual subjects create an inconsistent patchwork of ideas that I found quite distracting–thus two rather than five stars.
If we contrast the terms, objective and subjective, we have to conclude that there has never been a time when science was more objective than it is now. Objectivity, as we define it, is a disposition that is undistorted by emotion or personal bias; based on observable phenomena. In contrast, we consider subjectivity as taking place within the mind and modified by individual bias. Objectivity is intellectually driven (senses oriented) while subjectivity is intuitively based. Today’s science does not buy Emilie Cady’s presumption that the intellect must take a back seat to intuition.
We have to remember that modern science was born out of a level of religious control and suppression that any free-thinker today, myself included, would also reject. That Church officials would not even look through Galileo’s telescope speaks volumes. One easily gets the impression from many in the scientific community that each new materially-confirming discovery drives another stake into the heart of the opiate of religious superstition, and with smug satisfaction.
Ironically, the shoe has now shifted to the other foot. Top officials of today’s science refuse to look through the “telescope” (research) of fellow scientists who are now exploring the “hard problem” of consciousness. If it can be proven that the existence of consciousness is not dependent on the brain, the most sacred shrines and scriptures of material science are as threatened as those of the once dominating Church. We are more civilized today, however, because it is only careers and not people who are burned at the stake.
When you listen to a scientific materialist defend his or her stand, you do not witness one whose argument is undistorted by emotion or personal bias. With their bias based entirely on observable phenomena, the consideration of a thing like consciousness–completely subjective though universally experienced–is simply dismissed. Which is why Australian philosopher and cognitive scientist David Chalmers named the study of consciousness the hard problem. The question, What is Consciousness? is among the 100 that orthodox science cannot answer. The oddity here is that without consciousness, science itself would not exist.
2. Is science ever compatible with seeking truth spiritually?
When the scientific process is applied to questions of a spiritual nature then yes, the discipline of science can enhance our spiritual understanding. This is in fact happening in the field of near-death research and in that branch of physics that approach reality from the nondualistic basis. Deepak Chopra is one of New Thought’s best known spokespersons for this approach, though there are many others. Science cannot use its materially-based tools of measurement to explore spiritual anomalies. Those who place their faith in these tools, which are extremely useful in solving the riddles of material phenomena, will not likely make the needed transition that could bring science and spirituality together. Revolutions, however, are never started by the status quo which is why any new era in scientific thinking will emerge, as they always have, from the shadows of unorthodoxy.
3. Can you point to evidence that your own conclusions are more objective than that of science?
No, I cannot, because my conclusions are not objective. They are subjective. I totally understand science’s rejection of subjective “evidence”. All religion, New Thought and old, is driven subjectively. The result is that some very wild claims are made, and rightfully dismissed by science. Faith is entirely subjective. If there was objective proof to substantiate our beliefs, we would not need faith. But faith is often blinded by emotion (as is science), which leaves the believer declaring, I don’t care where the evidence/data points, I believe this or that regardless. Cult leaders thrive on this type of blind acceptance. But then so do universities.
It’s not all about objectivity (intellect/science) and it’s not all about subjectivity (intuition/spirituality). There must be a blending of the two. Yet if the premise of nonduality is correct, that consciousness, not matter, is the basis of reality, then Cady’s assertion that intellect and intuition travel together, with intuition taking the lead, is correct.
I hope this answers your questions.
10 thoughts on “Further Questions”
I have just gotten used to the idea that we create our world by our perception of it, and now I am asked to believe that people having a NDE can recall floating above their “dead” bodies and being able to see and hear everything that is happening in the room. We have eyes and ears that receive sensory impressions , and brains that translate them into images and sounds. How, when these organs are not functioning, can we hear or see anything, especially from different angles? I do know that the brain can produce images and sounds for us from memory, but these OOB experiences are claimed to be of what is happening at the present time. (And yes, I have heard that the sense of hearing is functioning even in those who are comatose or under anesthesia, but not dead.)
Our physical senses apparently have a spiritual counterpart. NDE’ers claim they can see 360 degrees and hear perfectly clear at great distances. Most report telepathic communication with others on the other side. A very interesting area of research are cases of blind people who report sight. Kenneth Ring and Sharon Cooper did a book called Mindsight: Near-Death and Out-of-Body Experiences in the Blind. There is much online information on all these areas of research.
I really enjoy your perspective. I am going through a crisis of faith right now, and I am struggling again with this thing called God. I had a family crisis involving my mentally ill son. He was put in jail and beat up while in there.
The thing is, I have prayed for him since his conception, and I got no guidance, no insight as to how to help him. When we are in extreme stress, some of us revert back to our old ways. I never got away from the old parent in the sky concept of God. I set myself up for disappointment and resentment toward God for not helping my son.
I am falling back on the view that God is principle, which is hard to do, inlight of my old habits. I am also falling back on my native American religion. Native spirituality asserts that all things are alive and have spirit .The hardest thing that i have to do is wrap my head around this idea ONE DAY AT A TIME. Or for that matter ONE MOMENT AT A TIME.
The eternal now is so hard for me to grasp, but the idea that the soul is already complete is so important, and so calming to me. This is an assuring thought. Thank you so much for this perspective.
Thank you for your comment. You make a number of very important points that I would like to highlight, for I think you might find this helpful.
You are struggling with your experience of traditional religion. You feel the concept of God as principle is helpful but you are hesitant to go too far in that direction, probably because that old parent in the sky isn’t so much in the sky as sitting on your shoulder grumbling warnings. Falling back on your Native American religion indicates that you left it earlier because it had parts missing you felt you needed. Your “one day at a time” comes from your recovery program. You have found help in this, yet it too lacks something satisfying. You are trying to grasp the concept of the “eternal now” because you have heard that is a place where you might find peace. Yet your mind cannot settle into it long enough to give you the peace that should be there.
The one thing that you are responding to is this thought that your soul is already complete. There is a reason for this. It does not require you to do anything. The work is already done. Your soul is giving you the thumbs up. This is the direction it is telling you to move. How do I know this? First, the old parent in the sky does not exist. This is why you got no help from him. This god has been vividly described by a spiritually asleep clergy, internalized by spiritually sleeping followers and wreaked havoc on countless lives that have bought into the lie. Your attraction to a God of principle is probably an attempt to escape this and that other God that has been such a disappointment. Ditto for the Native American approach. There is a certain appeal and beauty in just about every religion, but what we want from them not a single one can give.
As far as trying to squeeze yourself into the eternal now, I doubt you will achieve that with effort. I never did, and I certainly tried. The concept makes so much sense, but it runs counter to everything the self-image represents, and the self-image will have none of it.
Experience is the key. The closer you get in understanding to your complete soul, the more you will find yourself consciously in the now moment. You can’t learn how to do it, and you don’t have to. The soul already knows. The now, in fact, is the only thing the soul knows.
I suggest you chuck all attempts at formal religion and make the experience of your soul the center of your spiritual quest. It’s already telling you to do that, but you feel some obligation to these other things. At the heart of every religion you will find the same suggestion I am giving you now. Go into your inner chamber, shut the door to the world and let your soul know you are ready. I don’t mean that you must separate yourself from the world. I mean as you go through your day, know your soul is complete and that completeness is asserting itself in and as you now. Imagine it dawning in your innermost mind as the morning rays of the sun easily and silently creep over the landscape.
As far as your son is concerned, he too is an expression of the complete soul. I totally understand the feeling of responsibility a parent has for their children, but I have had to let mine go and be who they are rather than who I think they should be. While mental illness is not a thing to just pass off, you may find it helpful to see your son responding to the soul in the same way you are. We all have our own ways of coming home.
I hope at least some of this helps. I appreciate your courage in stepping forward and talking about this important moment in your life.
As usual, it appears I’m a ‘day late and a dollar short!’ Just reading today’s post after replying to yesterday’s.
I agree, especially with the last comment attributed to Cady re: the necessity of intellect and intuition traveling together with the necessity of intuition taking the lead. Intellectual facts die along with the brain but intuitive knowledge (i.e. spiritual wisdom) gained during one’s lifetime continues.
Thank you for a vigorous discussion. I’m learning much!
One of the consistent features reported by many who have a NDE is that of the life review. They claim to remember every detail of their life. If this is true, then it appears we even retain the intellectual facts, though I’m sure the grace of forgetfulness kicks in. Today’s troubles are enough, are they not?
Thanks again for your continued input.
In the “near” death experience (NDE), those revived are most certainly only ‘near’ death, not dead, therefore the brain is still active and able to recall information intellectually acquired, although temporarily disabled. In those who are medically determined to be dead, no measurable brain activity is evident even though the body is being kept alive by artificial means, However, in savants or others who claim to remember conditions or ‘facts’ from a prior life, some factual information recalled can be traced to a deep impressions that carry spiritual significance. I have trouble recalling what I ate for dinner last night, but words of wisdom from my dear, departed grandmother are seared into my soul: “don’t wish your life away” (her reply to me at age 10 when I said couldn’t wait to be old enough to drive).
Most near-death researchers consider the term a misnomer for a number of reasons. A big takeaway from this research is that there is no death, that the loss of the body does not equal the loss of life and consciousness. Your embrace of reincarnation requires the same conclusion. And if we are supposedly growing through each incarnation, does this not indicate memory of lessons learned and unlearned? The usual response to this is that these are “soul” memories, different from intellectual/emotional memories. I am not interested in either. The soul has no memory because it exists only in the eternal present.
The concept of reincarnation, as a repeated opportunity for soul development, is the primary cause of people on the so-called spiritual path for wishing their life away. I’m not complete yet, but I will be in the next or the next or the next lifetime. Hmm. The Complete Soul has done more to bring me to life than any spiritual approach thus far. I can see the strain on faces who are waiting for that magic event in the future when their greatest spiritual wish is finally fulfilled. This is the “four months to harvest” set. I’m into the “lift up your eyes and see the harvest is now ready” set. It’s not what we see that determines our beliefs. It’s the premise from which we see that influences our evaluation of appearances. I’ve never been interested in arguing anyone away from their premise, but I love sharing mine.
I trust you don’t perceive me as being argumentative as that is not my intention. I so appreciate your perspective and I do agree, the harvest is at hand if only we can see it. I like this saying that I read somewhere: we are not victims of the world we see, but victims of the way we see the world.
If you mean antagonistic, no, I don’t. I would not expect everyone to agree, and it’s always helpful when another point of view is presented so we can see how things fit or not. Apparently even in Hinduism, one school of thought believes many lifetimes are required while another school of thought believes it is all achievable now. In my own western way, I have made this same shift toward agreement with the latter. Because of this, I see things in Jesus’ teachings that support this idea as well. Of course we can find things in his teachings that might support the many-lifetimes theory. So it’s not so much what Jesus believed as what we believe that impacts our experience. We are free to adopt the long, meandering road or, as Cady suggested, the shortcut to the top of the mountain. I’m not even sure she understood how short her shortcut could be.