THE ACADEMY OF RELIGION AND PSYCHICAL RESEARCH
Annual Conference 2008 PROCEEDINGS
BEYOND THE VEIL: EVIDENCE FOR LIFE AFTER DEATH
Abstract: This paper (a slide-illustrated presentation) covers 15 categories of evidence for survival of some aspect of consciousness after the death of the physical body: physical and mental mediumship, spontaneous communications, after death communications possession, apparitions of the dead including psychomanteum use, spirit photography, electronic voice recordings, instrumental transcommunication, experiments at the time of death, death bed experiences, place hauntings, near-death experiences, out-of-body experiences, mystical experiences, and reincarnation.
In his diary of a writer, the Russian novelist, Fyodor Dostoevsky says: There is only a single supreme idea on earth - the concept of immortality of the human soul. All other profound ideas by which men live are only an extension of it. In the midst of his trials and tribulations, the Biblical Job asks plaintively, If a man die, shall he live again? In his soliloquy that begins, To be or not to be, that is the question, Shakespeare's Hamlet refers to death as that undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveler returns.
And yet in the past 20 years, thousands of people and by one account, statistically, some 14 million people in the United States alone, have passed through that portal which we call death and have come back from that undiscovered country to tell what it is like to die. These people are clinically dead with no heart beat, no vital signs and yet, through cardio-pulmonary resuscitation techniques, are revived and tell what it is like to die. They describe passing through a dark tunnel and seeing a bright light. Some talk with persons who previously died and receive information which they would have received in no other manner. Some enter this light and encounter an unconditionally loving Being of Light in whose presence they are given a past life review in which they review their life, seeing, feeling and understanding empathetically how their words, behavior and actions affected others. This is called a near-death experience. When they come back, they are no longer afraid to die because they know what it means to die. Having encountered the unconditionally loving Being of Light, they have integrated and assimilated this unconditional love so that they themselves become unconditionally loving.
Those psychiatrists, medical doctors and scientists who are grounded in philosophical materialism give reductionistic explanations for these near-death experiences, saying they are a result of brain anoxia or hypoxia (deprivation of oxygen to the brain), a result of beta endorphins (morphine like analgesics) released in the brain, or psychological disassociation caused by the fear of death. However, such explanations do not explain adequately what is happening during the near-death experience.
Many persons, during the out-of-body phase of the near-death experience, see and experience things that are corroborated empirically when they are resuscitated. There is no way to explain this by saying it is a result of dying or pathological brain processes. And psychiatrists are unable to explain, using explanations grounded in philosophical materialism, the changes in the belief systems, personalities, and lives of those who have had near-death experiences. Hallucinations, they know, do not bring such changes.
The near-death experience is one of some 15 categories of evidence for survival of consciousness beyond the death of the physical body. Im using the word evidence - not the word proof. In this whole area, one walks a narrow path between having an open mind and a hole in the head. You've got to use considerable discernment in what you see and experience. If you have one stick, it is easy to break that stick. When you have a number of sticks, a bundle of sticks together, it is most difficult to break that bundle. For each of the categories of evidence for survival of consciousness after bodily death, there are alternative explanations which may or may not be so. Gauge the veridicality of each of those alternative explanations; do they fit? Combine all of the different categories of evidence to see what picture they make and what evidence as a whole they provide for survival of consciousness after bodily death.
In Hydesville, New York in 1848, members of the Fox family heard raps coming from the walls of their house. One night, Kate Fox who was then 12 years old, said, Do as I do and clapped several times. From the wall came raps replicating the number of times she had clapped. Over a period of time, the family evolved a method of communicating with whomever or whatever was making the raps. They were told that it was the spirit of a traveling salesman who had been invited to stay in the house over night. While he was sleeping, his throat was cut, $500.00 he was carrying was stolen and his body was buried in the basement of the house. When the Fox family dug in the basement, they found the skeleton of a man. This was the beginning of the religion of Spiritualism which spread throughout the United States and abroad. People sat in seances to communicate with the spirits of loved ones who had died.
Abraham Lincoln invited mediums into the White House to give seances during which information was given to Union generals which they used in defeating Confederate forces during the Civil War. In England, in the early 1880s, a Census of Hallucinations was conducted throughout the British Isles. It developed information on whether people had ever communicated with those who had died. Over 5,000 reports were received, giving details of such contacts. At this time in England, the Industrial Revolution was under way and as one result, people were dropping out of Christian churches. Ministers, professors and dons at Cambridge and Oxford Universities, acknowledging that the Resurrection of Jesus was the cornerstone of Christianity (the New Testament records 11 post mortem appearances of the resurrected body of Jesus), felt that if empirical evidence could be developed that man survives death, people would return to the churches. So in 1885, they founded the British Society for Psychical Research to develop evidence of survival after physical death. Frederick Myers, a classical scholar, did a pattern and content analysis of the data from the Census of Hallucinations and wrote his magnum opus, The Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death, the first scientific book covering various categories of evidence for life after death. In this book and through additional research, there are some 15 different categories of evidence for survival. The early researchers began conducting research on mediumship, one of the categories. There are two major forms of mediumship - physical and mental.
In physical mediumship, a person such as Daniel Douglas Home, who was never caught in fraud, had apparitions appear in his presence. Florence Cook, another early English medium, was investigated by the prominent scientist, William Crookes. In her presence, with all precautions taken to prevent fraud, beings in spirit, such as Bien Boa, appeared and were photographed in darkened rooms with infrared light. Photographs were taken that show William Crookes holding the arm of Katie King, one of the materialized spirits; other photographs show Katie King and Florence Cook together, providing evidence of their being independent of each other. In other seances, psychical researchers investigating physical mediums would tie the legs and arms of mediums to chairs with ropes. Then ectoplasm or teleplasm, an emanation which usually extrudes from an orifice of a physical mediums body, would form ectoplasmic rods to lift people and other heavy weights, support trumpets or megaphones in the air, surround the body of one in spirit so that it materializes, etc. A siance photo of Jack Webber, a physical medium in the 1920s and 1930s, show him suspending two trumpets in midair with ectoplasmic rods extruding from his mouth and solar plexus.
In direct voice mediumship, the extruded ectoplasm purportedly forms around the voice box and larynx of one in spirit and attaches itself to the narrow end of the trumpet so the voice of the one in spirit is amplified when they speak through the megaphone. As a result, the voice sounds just like that of the deceased. In mental mediumship, where a being in spirit takes possession of or communicates telepathically through the medium, the voice box and larynx of the medium are used so the voice sounds more like that of the medium than the deceased. In other cases, physical mediums are put into cabinets or other confined places to increase psychic energy that in turn assists the emanation of ectoplasm which then builds up around the body of one in spirit, perhaps the mediums control. Some psychical researchers investigating physical mediums have grasped at this ectoplasm and found that they have a handful of cheese cloth, where fraud is being practiced. Other times they encounter genuine ectoplasm which dissipates quickly when exposed to light and when examined in a laboratory under a microscope, shows signs of protein. When grasped, it quickly snaps back into the body of the medium, sometimes causing physical injury. Sometimes, when a person has an out-of-body experience, the astral body connected to the physical body by the silver cord or astral cable will snap back into the physical body, causing an astral repercussion experience, which medical doctors call a myoclonic jerk. This may raise some speculation that ectoplasm or teleplasm may be some aspect of the astral body and/or silver cord that exteriorizes from the body of physical mediums.
When Frank Kluski, a Polish medium, went into trance, beings in spirit materialized, dipped their hands or folded hands into bowls of liquid paraffin, and after the paraffin dried, dematerialized, leaving empty paraffin gloves. In their careful investigation to eliminate fraud as an explanation, researchers put certain chemicals in the liquid paraffin and later analyzed the paraffin gloves and found the same chemical in the gloves which were not of the hands of anyone in the siance room. In the early 1920s spirit photos were taken with magnesium powder flashes at Kluski seances in Warsaw, Poland and at the University of Paris in France.
In 1970 in Gould City, Michigan, the parents of Roger Nesbit received news that their son, who had been fighting in Vietnam, had been killed in battle. They received his belongings, including his Marine Corps ring. The father, who was deeply mourning the death of his only son, put on his sons ring. After a short while, hairs would grow out of the onyx of the ring and then disappear. Mediums came into the house and communicated with the spirit of the deceased son who said that he was causing the hairs to grow out of the ring to communicate to his father that he was O.K., he was all right and not to be concerned about him. Having this message brought healing to the bereavement the father was experiencing.
In St. Louis, Missouri early in the 20th century, Pearl Curran and her neighbor sat night after night with a Ouija board, attempting to communicate with spirits of the dead. Night after night they received innocuous messages. Then, one night it was as though the Ouija board had a life of its own and spelled out, "Many moons ago I lived, again I come, Patience Worth my name." The spirit claimed to be the Puritan wife of a barrister in England early in the 17th century who always wanted to write books. Over the years, Patience Worth used Mrs. Curran and the Ouija board to enter into repartee, write poetry and produce five books, one of which won a national literary award. This is one of the outstanding cases of mental mediumship.
Mrs. Piper, the wife of a physician in Boston, was one of the outstanding mediums of the 20th century. She was never caught in fraud although detectives investigated her for several years. William James, a president of the American Society for Psychical Research, conducted research with her. For example, George, an architect living in New York City, came through the medium as a drop in communicator one who no one present at the siance had ever heard. He gave his name and details of his life that allowed William James to contact over 30 persons who had known George while he was living. For over a year, James attended seances to which he brought persons who had known George when he was living. Their names and identities were concealed from the medium. During the seances, George would come through the medium to give details of events known only to him and the person at the siance. The spirit of George interacted with each of the persons who had known him as he would have had he been living.
When Rosemary Brown of England was a child, a being in spirit, the Hungarian composer and pianist, Franz Liszt appeared and told her that when she became a woman, he'd come back and write music through her. After she became an adult, he did return and starting in 1964, dictated music to her which she wrote down. Then six other great composers - Chopin, Debussy, Rachmaninoff, Beethoven, Brahms and Bach came to her and dictated music which she wrote down. When musical experts listened to this music, they asked her where it had come from. They could tell it had the unique style of a given composer, but had never before heard it. The group of composers said that they had come back to write these unique pieces through this one woman to provide evidence of survival after death.
Great discernment is required, however, when working with mediums because an alternative explanation for many mediumistic communications is the super ESP hypothesis. This holds that when conscious or unconscious fraud is not involved and a medium is in a deep trance state, a known or unknown part of their own psyche uses various forms of paranormal cognition - telepathy, clairvoyance, retrocognition, clairaudience, clairsentience, claircognizance, et al. - to obtain information from the conscious/unconscious mind of the one sitting at the seance. To provide evidence for survival and counter the super ESP hypothesis, Frederic Myers, a classical scholar, came back through three different mediums in different parts of the world following his death. He gave to each one a piece of a message which made no sense by itself, but when brought together, spelled out a very clear message. A test like this transcends the ability of anyone tested in a laboratory to provide veridical data via ESP. In science there is a law called William of Occams Razor which states that whenever you have a phenomenon for which there are two explanations, one of which is very simple and explains all the facts and the other is very complicated and requires various assumptions, you always select the simpler explanation. This is known as the Law of Parsimony and using it on tests like the above provides evidence of postmortem survival.
Another category of evidence is spontaneous communication in dreams and other altered states of consciousness. For example, two years after a farmer died, his youngest son had a dream in which his father, wearing his old black overcoat, opened the coat and pointed to an inside pocket. The dream reoccurred several times and prompted the boy to ask his mother where the overcoat was. She directed him to a closet where it was hanging. He got it out, found that the inside pocket was sewn shut, opened it and found that it contained a paper saying, "Look in my Pappy's old Bible." They did and found a will leaving the farmers estate equally to his four sons. Previously, the only known will had left the entire estate to one son. The second will was dated after the first will and when probated, superseded the first will. No one living knew of the second will nor of the paper in the overcoat pocket directing people to the Bible where the second will was located.
Possession provides another category of survival evidence. In Watseka, Illinois in 1878, Lurancy Vennum a 14 year old girl, was apparently possessed by the spirit of Mary Roff who had died at the age of 19 when Lurancy was 15 months old. She claimed she was Mary Roff and asked to live for three months with the Roffs who she regarded as her parents. During the 16 weeks she stayed with the Roffs, she had total recall of virtually everything that had happened to Mary in her lifetime years before. During this time, some 30 people who knew Mary when she was living visited and Lurancy not only recognized them and called them by name but related to them just as Mary had over 12 years previously when she was alive. She remembered minor accidents, journeys, family events and habits in minute detail.(Holroyd, 1976, 111). Richard Hodgson, a psychical researcher, investigated and authenticated this case.
In Chicago, a number of patients who were possessed came to Dr. Wickland. He used electrical equipment to shock them, driving out the possessing spirits who then took possession of Mrs. Wickland, a deep trance medium. Dr. Wickland then spoke with the possessing entities, depossessed his wife, and his patients left his office, healed. Dr. Wickland documented this activity in his book, Twenty Years Among the Dead..
APPARITIONS OF THE DEAD, INCLUDING PSYCHOMANTEUM USE
F.G., a traveling salesman from Boston, returned to his hotel room to write up his accounts. As he sat at a table and looked up, he saw his deceased sister, who had been dead for over nine years, sitting in a chair across the table from him. She looked perfectly normal, except for a red scratch on her right cheek. He was startled, reached out to touch her and she disappeared. He was so discombobulated by this experience that he returned home to see his mother who he'd not seen in nearly a year. He told her what he'd seen and when she heard of the red scratch on her deceased daughters right cheek, she broke down in tears. He asked why she was crying. She told him that after his sister died, she was preparing her body for burial, accidentally scratched her right cheek and covered the scratch with powder so no one would know. Two weeks later, the mother died. This suggests that the sister - in spirit - was aware of the upcoming death of the mother and appeared to her brother to induce him to return to see his mother before she died (and also corroborate the validity of the scratch on her cheek.)
In an English study, of 153 persons who saw spirits of deceased persons, only one told their minister and none told their doctor. Many people see and some speak with the spirits of deceased persons, but are afraid to tell others because they may be thought crazy.
One day in 1969, Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, perhaps the worlds most outstanding thanatologist, who has written books on death and dying and held many workshops throughout the world for ministers and doctors, was speaking with a minister at the University of Chicago Hospital. She was telling him how despondent she was about working with the dying and was thinking about leaving this field of work. As they spoke, a woman came up to her and said Dr. Ross, Id like to speak with you; I have something very important to say. Dr. Kübler-Ross broke off her conversation with the minister and the woman said, Lets walk down to your office. As they walked down the corridor, Dr. Kübler-Ross recognized who this woman was - Mary Swartz, a patient of hers who had died and been buried 10 1/2 months previously. Kubler-Ross began doing reality testing - touching Mary - to prove to herself that she was real. When they reached the doctors office, Mary Swartz reached out and opened the door. Kübler-Ross walked in and later recalled that When I saw the mess on my desk, I knew I was in contact with reality. She walked to her desk and sat down; Mary closed the door and walked over in front of the desk. She said, I have come back to thank you for having helped me die, but more importantly, I have come back to encourage you to continue your work with the dying; its very important. Kübler-Ross still could not believe this was happening and to prove to herself it was real, did something very shrewd - I lied to her. She told her that she'd like her to write a note to Rennie Gaines - a Unitarian Universalist minister who also had helped Mary die with dignity. But I really wanted the note for myself, she admitted later. Mary Swartz stood in front of the desk, smiling, as though she knew why the doctor really wanted the note, and agreed to write one. Dr. Kübler-Ross handed her a pen and a piece of paper. After writing the note, Mary handed it to Dr. Kübler-Ross and said, Promise me you'll continue your work with the dying. Kübler-Ross promised she would, Mary said that she had to leave, walked to the door, opened it, walked out and closed it behind her. Immediately, Kübler-Ross got up, rushed to the door, opened it, looked in the corridor - and no one was there. She wanted to have a fingerprint expert determine if Marys fingerprints were on the paper and thought of having a handwriting expert determine if the writing on the note was that of Mary Swartz, but after a while felt no need to do this and gave the note to the Rev. Renford Gaines, D.Min.
As a psychical researcher, I was interested in what the note said. I asked Dr. Kübler-Ross if I could obtain a copy. She told me she had given the note to Renny Gaines and didn't know where he was. Eventually, I located him. He had changed his name to Mwalimu Imara in line with his African heritage and was the Executive Director of the Boston Center for Religion and Psychotherapy, Inc., 110 Arlington Street, Boston, Massachusetts 02116. I wrote to him, asking for a copy of the letter that Mary Swartz had written. On July 11, 1976, he wrote to me, saying,
Dear Mr. Batey,
Enclosed is a verbatim copy of the note. After some consideration, Dr. Ross and I decided not to make facsimiles (Xerox, etc.) available for many reasons - permission of her relatives, hospital and professional confidentiality requirements, and so on. But, I do have it and will give verbatim copies out and show it to anyone interested.
On the letterhead stationery of the Boston Center for Religion and Psychotherapy, he sent the following typed statement:
This is a verbatim copy of a note written by Mary Swartz, a patient in University of Chicago Hospital in 1967-68. The note is written on University of Chicago stationary and was in an envelope addressed to Rev. Renford Gaines, Unitarian Universalist Church, Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. The note was not mailed, but delivered to the addressee by Dr. Ross at a conference at Columbia University in the middle of April, 1969.
The note reads:
Dropped in to see Dr. Ross. One of two on the top of my list. You being the other. I'll never find or know anyone to take the place of you two. I want you to know, as I've told her, I'm at peace at home now. I want you to know you helped me. The simple Thank You is not enough. But please know how much I mean it. Thank you again.
She came back for a purpose and that purpose was to encourage the foremost thanatologist in our time to continue her work with the dying when she was despondent about doing so.
Dr. Raymond Moody constructed a psychomanteum or apparition chamber to enable people to contact the spirits of deceased loved ones. It consists of a large mirror on the wall, a reclining chair in front of the mirror, a dim light source behind the chair, and black velvet drapes encompassing this space. After preparation, a person sits in the chair and stares for 90 minutes into the black depths of the mirror while thinking of the deceased with whom they wish to communicate. Over 50% of the people have an experience of seeing the apparition of the deceased in the mirror, speaking to the apparition, hearing the apparition speak to them, and in some instances, experience the apparition stepping out of the mirror, conversing with, and sometimes touching them. Dr. Moody has documented this research in his book, Reunions.
On December 20, 1979, two students from Central Connecticut State College visited the Hermitage, the former residence of Andrew Jackson. While there, they took a photograph of the guest house, and have stated that no one was near the building at the time. The photograph shows the building and the apparent spirits of a man and woman wearing clothing of the early 19th century. The man and woman dont exist from the knees down. Photo experts have examined the photos and found no fraud involved. A number of such spirit photographs have been taken, and although many have been faked, the ones that have not been faked provide evidence for postmortem survival.
ELECTRONIC VOICE RECORDINGS AND INSTRUMENTAL TRANSCOMMUNICATION
In 1959, the Swedish film maker and painter, Friedrich Jürgenson, used a tape recorder to record the call of birds. When he played it back, he heard the voice of his deceased mother speaking to him. He began experimenting and recorded the voices of hundreds of deceased persons speaking a number of different languages. Konstantin Raudive, a Latvian psychologist began experimenting in recording such spirit voices and by 1968 had recorded over 70,000 such voices and documented his research in the book, Breakthrough: Amazing Electronic Communication with the Dead. Some, but not all, such communications can be attributed to radio transmissions and the subconscious mind of the operator may psychokinetically imprint the voices on the tape.
Mark Macy, Director of Continuing Life Research in Denver, Colorado conducts research called instrumental transcommunication, in which he communicates with and receives voice recorded messages and pictures from those in spirit, using television and computer screens. Also, Lisa and Thomas Butler are co-directors of the American Association of Electronic Voice Phenomena (AAEVP) in Reno, Nevada, e-mail: email@example.com and coordinate similar research nationally.
EXPERIMENTS AT THE TIME OF DEATH
Dr. McDougal conducted experiments using a delicate beam balance scale in a Boston hospital about 1910 with nine patients as they lay dying. At the moment of death, there was a drop in weight of one quarter to three quarters of an ounce that could not be accounted for in any way - loss of body fluids, exhalation of breath, etc. - and in writing up this research, he indicated that the loss in weight represented the loss of weight of the soul. The French photographer, Bolduc, took photographs of his wife and son at the time they were dying and caught on film cloud-like images rising from their bodies. Such research provides additional evidence of survival after bodily death.
DEATH BED EXPERIENCES
Death bed experiences also provide evidence for survival of consciousness after bodily death. As some people lay dying, they will speak to those physically present in the room and also see and speak to beings in spirit, usually those who they have loved. Karlis Osis, Ph.D., while director of research for the American Society for Psychical Research, conducted research with over 1,000 doctors and nurses in the United States and India from 1959 to 1973, did pattern and content analysis of the data he collected and published the results of his research in his book, At the Hour of Death. Some 90% of those in spirit who appear to the dying are persons who they knew well when they were alive. 62% died within 24 hours after the being in spirit communicated that they had come to help the dying person pass over to the other side. This is known as the Peak in Darien experience after a poem in which Balboa can see both the familiar Atlantic Ocean and the new Pacific Ocean from a mountain Peak in Central America.
Place hauntings provide another category of evidence for survival of consciousness after bodily death. Dealing with place hauntings is also called counseling the dead or soul rescue work. Ive done this type of work for years and have investigated over 40 reports of hauntings. When people contact Yale University or the University of Connecticut because theyre experiencing a haunting, are frightened and dont know what to do, theyre put in contact with me. I then work with a team of others - parapsychologists, psychologists, clairvoyants, deep trance mediums - to investigate and resolve the situation. For example, a woman in Manchester, Connecticut called me because she was experiencing a ghost in her home and was frightened for herself and her two year old son. She told her husband about it, but he ridiculed her, saying, Why don't you cook it a cheeseburger and feed it?
Then, one night as they were in their television room, it was as though a whirlwind picked her up, whirled her into their master bedroom and slammed the door shut behind her. This frightened him and terrified her. She phoned and asked me to come out, find out who or what was in her home and get rid of it. So I took out my team of exterminators - Dr. Brian Riley, a nuclear physicist and parapsychologist, his wife, Alberta, a self-conscious clairvoyant and Terry Kullgren, a deep trance medium to investigate the case. I asked Alberta and Terry to use their psychic abilities and go about the house to see what they could detect; in advance, I told them nothing about what was reported to be happening in the house. While they did this, Brian and I interviewed the lady of the house.
After we finished this, I was going to conduct a seance so Terry could go into trance and contact the spirit of the being who she and Alberta had identified as being in the house. They both said that it was the spirit of an elderly man, that his right arm and hand hurt, and they identified a place alongside the bed in the master bedroom as being the center of activity in the house. Suddenly, a voice came through the medium, What are you doing here? I replied, We're here because the lady of the house is frightened of you. Why? Because youre dead. I'm not dead, I'm standing right here. I asked him to come over to me, put his hand on my chest and push. Through the medium to whom he was communicating telepathically, he said he'd done that. I asked him what happened and he said his hand went right through me. I asked why he thought that happened and he said he didn't know. I suggested that he was dead to his physical body but still alive in his spirit body. His response was, If that's so, why does my arm hurt? Why does my hand hurt? I told him that in spirit, mind is the creator and the builder and said, Believe that your arm and hand are whole and fine and they will be. After a while, he spoke through the medium who was still in a light trance state, saying, You're right - they no longer hurt. Then I asked him if anyone he had loved had died. When he said they had, I asked him to call to them. He called, Mom, Mom, Mom and after a while, his voice changed to indicate that he was in contact with her. Then he said, I don't need to be here any more.....I'm going...I'm leaving. At that moment, the medium, the clairvoyant and the woman of the house, who is naturally sensitive, then said, He's gone. No longer was the woman of the house frightened and no longer did she experience a ghost in the house.
We've spoken already about near-death experiences. In 1929, after a man drowned, his girl friend and life guards came out into the ocean in a life boat to save him. He was above the boat watching as they dragged his body aboard the boat and took him back to the shore where it took two hours to revive him. After being resuscitated, he recalled everything that happened during the out-of-body phase of his near-death experience. Dr. Kenneth Ring conducted research with over 100 persons who had a near-death experience and found that 60 % experienced deep levels of peace; 37 % experienced leaving their body; 23 % entered the darkness; 16 % saw the Light; and 10 % entered the Light and experienced the presence of a Being of Light. No matter the depth of their experience during the near-death experience, these persons were changed by the experience. Researchers - especially those associated with the International Association for Near-Death Studies - are studying the aftereffects of the near-death experience on those who have had the experience.
Have you ever had an out-of-body experience? Scientifically, its called antigravitationaltetrasynchronicity - a state of being in four dimensional time. The Apollo 14 astronaut, Edgar Mitchell, has indicated that if consciousness can function outside of the body and brain at a discrete distance from the body and brain, its evidence that some aspect of consciousness survives the death of the physical body. Many years ago, I thought that the out-of-body experience or astral projection was a subjective psychological experience that could be explained psychologically. But now, as a result of my own research, both experimentally and experientially, Im convinced of the objectivity and the extrasomaticity of the out-of-body experience (that some component of consciousness is able to function intelligently with awareness at discrete points outside of and away from the physical body). This is important because it provides evidence of the non-locality of consciousness - that the mind and consciousness function apart from the brain and are not secreted by the brain as the liver secrets bile.
Sylvan Muldoon read a book written by the psychical researcher, Hereward Carrington, in which Carrington said that not very many people know about astral projection. Having had many out-of-body experiences since childhood, Sylvan Muldoon wrote to Hereward Carrington, saying, Ill tell you what you want to know about astral projection. Together, they wrote the book, The Projection of the Astral Body, a classic in the field. It contains various photographs and drawings such as an Egyptian painting that shows the Ka or spiritual body over the physical body; a Chinese drawing that shows the astral or spiritual body as above the physical body and connected to it by a cord; and various other drawings.
Chapter 12, Verses 6 and 7 of Ecclesiastes says: "...before the silver cord of life snaps, and the golden bowl is broken, and the pitcher is broken at the fountain, and the wheel is broken at the cistern, and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it." If you ask a minister what the silver cord in this passage means, youre likely to receive an incorrect answer.
The concept of extrasomaticity during the out-of-body experience is that when you're sleeping, in a spontaneous altered state of consciousness, or one induced through various psychospiritual technologies, the astral or spiritual body comes out of coincidence with the physical body and no matter how far distant it may travel, is always connected to the physical body by the silver cord. The silver cord extends from the medulla oblongata at the back of the head of the astral body to the middle of the forehead of the physical body. This cord can extend for thousands of miles and if severed, results in a permanent out-of-body experience which is referred to as death. It is suggested that dreams of flying or falling are ways in which the conscious mind becomes aware of having had an out-of-body experience. A jerk of the body as one goes to sleep is termed a myoclonic jerk by medical doctors. Psychical researchers call it an astral repercussion experience caused by the astral body coming back quickly into coincidence with the physical body.
Throughout history, persons have had these experiences. St. Augustine describes several instances when he was seen at a distance while his physical body was known to be at another place (a phenomenon known as bilocation). While on safari in Kenya, the little bus in which Lyall Watson, an English biologist, was traveling, rolled over twice and balanced on the edge of a gully. Lyall Watson found himself in his astral body outside the bus. He could see his physical body in the bus and an unconscious young man with his body partially through the torn canvas on the top of the bus. If the bus tipped over, he knew the young man would be injured or killed. He then came to in his physical body, pulled the young man free of the little bus which then tipped over in the gully. During World War I, a medical officer was going to be flown to the scene of a medical emergency, but as the plane was about to take off, it flipped over and he was thrown clear. The doctor was some 200 feet in the air, seeing the plane and his body below, seeing ambulances from the nearby hanger drive over and stall and attendants rush over to his physical body and administer alcohol to revive him. He drifted over the countryside, viewing the activity below, and then returned to his physical body. He could describe all that occurred as seen from his elevated perspective, lost his fear of death as a result of this experience, and later described this experience at a meeting of the British Medical Association.
Sri Sathya Sai Baba of southern India, a purported avatar, has gone out of his body, interacted with members of the Indian parliament and others and then disappeared.
In Kirlian photography, high voltage, low amperage electricity is used to take photographs without light or conventional photography equipment. One effect, known as the lost leaf effect, results from taking a photograph of a leaf from which a portion has been removed. A photo of the result shows a coronal discharge around the area from which the piece was removed. Dr. Harold Saxon Burr conducted research for 20 years at Yale University, studying this effect which he called life fields, saying there is an electrical field interpenetrating and surrounding every living plant, animal and human and that consciousness controls this field.
At William Rolls Psychical Research Foundation in Durham, North Carolina, Blue Harary and Gerald Solfvin conducted laboratory research on the out-of-body experience. Blue Harary would go out of the body under conscious control and interact with humans, animals and electromechanical devices to provide evidence of the objectivity of the out-of-body experience. He interacted with a kitten who recognized his presence and with rattlesnakes that would strike at his astral body and then, sensing there was no danger, stop striking. He appeared at random times to mediums and clairvoyants who sensed and reported his presence. More importantly, he interacted with sophisticated monitoring devices that recorded the presence of his exteriorized astral body at a discreet point outside of his physical body. Thermocouples monitored changes in heat and thermisters and photomultiplier tubes monitored changes in the permeability of the electromagnetic spectrum at the point to which he went in his astral body while out of his physical body.
Robert Monroe, a cable television executive, started having spontaneous out-of-body experiences at night while sleeping. He experienced himself floating near the ceiling of his bedroom, looked down, saw his wife in bed and himself next to her. He became frightened, thought he was dead, and this fear brought him back into his body. This occurred night after night. He sought advise from ministers and psychologists and eventually a friend advised him that these were out-of-body experiences and were a natural phenomena. He developed a technique to go out of the body under conscious control, recorded over 600 such instances, and conducted experiential research about which he wrote in his book, Journeys Out of the Body. Once he journeyed out-of-the-body several hundred miles from his home in Charlottesville, Virginia to a friend who was in New Jersey. He pinched her, she jumped, he was startled and returned to his physical body. A week later, when she was back in Charlottesville, he mentioned this to her and she raised her blouse, showed him the brown and blue mark where he had pinched her and said, Bob, next time, dont pinch so hard. Evidence like this that some extrasomatic aspect of his being was functioning and interacting with the physical world at a distance from his physical body convinced him that the work he was doing was valid. Research in laboratories was conducted with him and others who could go out of the body under conscious control. Monitoring wires were placed on them to monitor brain activity, heart and pulse rate, eye movements, etc. When they went out of the body, they would go to a shelf above their bed, view a random five digit number that had been placed there and the time on a clock before returning to their body. When they reported accurately the number they had seen and the time they saw it, researchers identified the psychoneurophysiological patterns consistent with being out of the body. Monroe then founded the Monroe Institute in Virginia that has assisted others in having out-of-body experiences by playing pink noise with a binaural beat that synchronized the activity in both brain hemispheres which research indicated was a prelude to having this experience.
Ingo Swann, an artist living in New York City, has been tested by the American Society for Psychical Research for his veridical out-of-body experiences. While out of the body, he has gone to targets in other rooms and then accurately drawn what he has seen. While in a Faraday cage that prevents passage of any known electromagnetic waves, Ingo Swann, Dr. Alex Tanous and others went out-of-body to a black box controlled by the random decay of a radioactive substance which caused one of six different figures to display on one of four quadrants of a disc. A series of mirrors inside the box and a computer generated strip chart in mathematical code indicating which figure was displayed on which quadrant overcame a possible knowledge of what was displayed by the use of paranormal cognition. The only way that subjects could identify which figure was on which quadrant was by going out of the body and looking through a small peep hole on the front of the black box. This was done accurately by various persons, including Ingo Swann and Alex Tanous, gave some understanding of the nature of perception involved in the out-of-body state, and provided robust evidence for the non-locality of consciousness, that consciousness functions independently of the brain. Video on Ingo Swan.
The American Society for Psychical Research also conducted a series of experiments with drop in communicators from out of town who would come while out of the body to the ASPR library in New York City, stand on a white paper cross on the floor, look at objects displayed on a table and describe by phone what they saw when they returned home from their trip to New York.
Through various associations for the blind, Dr. Kenneth Ring located over 30 persons who are either congenitally blind or blinded following birth and had near-death and/or out-of-body experiences. In interviewing and studying these people, he found that during out-of-body experiences and the out-of-body stage of near-death experiences, they were able to see and later describe what they had seen.
The Apollo 14 astronaut, Edgar Mitchell, who founded the Institute for Noetic Research, has said that if man can see events while out of the body, he can see without the body and without the brain. In other words, the out-of-body experience provides evidence of the non-locality of consciousness and that some aspect of consciousness survives the death of the physical body.
Overwhelming mystical experiences where people experience a great white light and know that there is no death - only life - are sufficient to persuade them of postmortem survival. Persons having such experiences are transformed by them and this provides them evidence - not proof - of survival after death.
If reincarnation is a valid phenomena, it follows that some aspect of consciousness survives the death of the physical body.
Dr. Ian Stevenson, Carlson Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the Division of Personality Studies at the Health Sciences Center, University of Virginia, is the worlds foremost researcher of reincarnation evidence. In 1997, he published his magnum opus, Reincarnation and Biology: A Contribution to the Etiology of Birthmarks and Birth Defects and an abstract of it, Where Reincarnation and Biology Intersect. He is respected for the careful and accurate research which he has done throughout the world for the past 38 years. He has conducted research primarily on children who, when they begin speaking at three and four years old, begin telling their parents and caregivers of previous lifetimes they remember. As he investigates these cases, Dr. Stevenson seeks to find a viable alternative explanation other than reincarnation. Is it genetic memory? Some form of paranormal cognition? Conscious or unconscious fraud by the child or the childs parents? Information heard in the present life and confabulation? If such explanations dont work, he'll accept a case as suggestive of reincarnation.
Over the years, hes collected and investigated over 2,600 reported cases of past life memories and writes of 225 cases in these books. They are cases in which the child remembers some details of the previous life, including how they died. What is outstanding about these cases is that the children have rare types of birthmarks and/or birth anomalies that correspond in location and configuration with the mortal wounds on the body of the one they remember having been in a previous life. When there are two such birthmarks or anomalies, the odds against it happening by chance alone are 25,600 to 1. If there are three or more such birthmarks or anomalies, the odds increase exponentially. In addition, xenoglossy is involved in some of these cases; the children speak a language spoken by the one they remember having been in a past life although they have not been exposed to that language in the present life. The books contain photographs of the birthmarks and anomalies of which Dr. Stevenson writes. A boy in India had lack of pigmentation on his chest where an autopsy showed shotgun blasts to the one he recalled having been in a past life. A boy in Turkey recalled a previous life as his own uncle who died when stabbed in the head. The boy had a large, irregular growth on his head where the uncle was stabbed and additionally, a malformed toe where the uncle had a chronic infection. Another boy in India recalled being shot in the back of the head where he had a small round birthmark; on the top of his head was a much larger irregular birthmark that corresponded to the exit wound of the bullet shown on the autopsy report of the deceased man the boy remembered having been in his previous life. A boy in Turkey who recalled having been shot in the right side of his head with a shotgun in a previous life had a deformed right ear and face. A girl in Burma who remembered having been run over by a railroad train that severed her right leg below the knee in her past life was born without a leg below the right knee. (Eye witnesses to that accident testified that the train wheel first ran over the right leg before running over the rest of the body of the decedent.) These type of cases are the best physical and empirical evidence we have for the validity of reincarnation. By the time these children are seven to eleven years old, they've lost their memories of the previous life.
After the death of a Dalai Lama, Tibetan lamas select his successor by locating a young boy who demonstrates that he is the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama by identifying articles that belonged to the deceased Dalai Lama. It was in this manner that the present Dalai Lama was selected.
When you go where few have gone, you see what few have seen and learn what few have learned. Four years ago while I was trekking in Tibet I climbed part way up a mountain one evening to a Tibetan Buddhist Monastery where priests were releasing the spirits from the bodies of deceased persons. They chanted, twirled prayer wheels and rang tingshas (small Tibetan prayer chimes made, as are Tibetan singing bowls, of seven different metals), before tapping the top of the heads of the deceased to permit their spirits to emerge through the crown chakra. Afterward, I went down the mountain to sleep in a tent in a field where the yaks grazed during the day.
The following morning, as I climbed the mountain again, past the monastery, toward the top of the mountain, Tibetan Buddhist priests passed me, carrying on their backs the bodies of the deceased wrapped in cloth. They had broken the hip joints of the deceased so they could fold the legs up over the body and have a smaller load to carry. At the top of the mountain, they placed the bodies on a round stone platform near which families of the deceased stood quietly. A slight breeze moved prayer flags hung in this area as the sweet smelling smoke of burning evergreen tree branches wafted through the air. Six Tibetan Buddhist priests in their dark red robes sat nearby, chanting, twirling prayer wheels and ringing tingshas. .
Then butchers with knives two and a half feet long came out from a small shed and cut the flesh from the arms and legs of the deceased. They disemboweled and scalped them. When they had finished and withdrew, some 50 small, gray vultures who had been waiting nearby flocked in. If a vulture could not swallow a piece of flesh that was too long, a butcher tapped the vulture on the head with his knife, took the piece of flesh to a log cutting block and cut it into smaller pieces which he threw back onto the platform. Within 15 minutes, the vultures consumed the flesh, flew off the platform and waited nearby while the butchers came in and with hooks, dragged the skeletons to the stone ledge of the platform. They scattered barley flour on the platform so that as they used large stone mallets to crush the skeletons and skulls into small pieces, the pieces wouldn't fly off onto the ground. As they finished, the vultures came in again to consume the bone fragments. As I watched all of this, it made a profound and lasting impact on my psyche. I was not disgusted because the context in which this occurred was sacred and this was a way of returning the body to Nature.
When you consider all these categories of evidence for postmortem survival, consider viable alternative explanations for each of them, and see how they intermesh, they provide a very strong case for survival of consciousness after bodily death. If taken into a court of law, this would be the type of case that would be tried based on the weight of the evidence. If you believe that the grave is the end of life and there is no afterlife, the result is that you live your life in one way. If you have a belief - based on faith or evidence - that consciousness survives the death of the physical body and life continues after bodily death, then you live in another way. This ultimately is the importance of survival research.
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Boyce Batey has been the Executive Director of the Academy of Spirituality and Paranormal Studies, Inc. (formerly The Academy of Religion and Psychical Research) since 1978. He is a graduate of Princeton University where he majored in English Literature and wrote his thesis on Children, the Psychopathological Environment and Moral Consciousness in the Literary Achievement of Henry James. He studied at Dr. J. B. Rhines Parapsychology Laboratory at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, was cofounder of the Communications Research Laboratory in Chicago, Illinois, and has spent the past 54 years as a psychical researcher with a primary interest and focus on survival research. For 20 years he conducted research on over 40 reports of haunted houses and poltergeist activity and conducted rescue mediumship, counseling the dead, or soul rescue work as needed. As a certified Transpersonal Hypnotherapist, he had a private practice of Past Life Therapy. He has lectured and given courses on survival research and psychical research at universities, conferences and schools, been on radio and TV talk shows, and was a co-host of a TV program for a year.. He is a world traveler, having been in 44 countries on all seven continents. Hes trekked in Tibet, sailed to Antarctica, Cuba and the Galapagos Archipelago, gone on safari in Kenya and Tanzania, and traveled in China, India, Cambodia, et al. Hes a hospice volunteer, an American Red Cross volunteer, a volunteer docent (historical interpreter) at the Noah Webster House in West Hartford, and a volunteer with the Presidents College, University of Hartford. Boyce Batey, P.O. Box 614, Bloomfield, CT 06002-0614, (860) 242-4593, firstname.lastname@example.org.