Notes on Deepak Chopra’s book Life After Death: The Burden of Proof Harmony Books 2006
Part One: Life After Death
Dr. Pim Van Lommel, cardiologist who conducted a major Dutch study on NDEs, was astonished by the finding that patients were having full blown NDE consciousness after their brains ceased any electrical activity; p. 37, 43.
Tibetan people who “come back to life” are called delogs (or deloks), Dawa Drolma; Lingza Chokyi p. 38.
The delog experience and NDEs are Similar p. 39, however the delog experience is of the Bardos.
Christian heaven; Buddhist Bardo; Hindu Lokas p. 40
Huston Smith: “everything we experience in the Bardos is a reflection of our own mental machinations.
What is actually real is not heaven or hell, but the clear light that lies beyond them.
If different cultures see such different things (ie, the experience is clothed in the fabric of the specific culture) after death, we must face the possibility that we create our own afterlife p. 42.
Vedanta holds that every afterlife is created to give us what we expect. P. 47.
This includes going to heaven, hell, and the “nothing” of skeptics. If you are open minded, you will die without any expectations. P. 53
In Christ’s conception heaven is present: It is an inward experience that can be felt by the righteous. It is personal; it is to be found within you. P. 61.
Science absents itself from metaphysical questions, but most people assume that science disproves metaphysics. This assumption is skepticism, not science. Science in the age of quantum physics does not deny the existence of invisible worlds. P 63.
Fragmentary Gospel of Thomas, which was written within a century AD, but was later excluded from the official cannon.
“…but the kingdom is within you, and it is outside of you…” p. 64
Whatever limits our freedom now will continue to operate after we die.: in both cases we are subject to the powers of karma.
The vedic rishis say that mental space [is full of possibilities.] Anything can be born there. They call this pregnant space Akasha. P. 84.
Akasha; the field of consciousness p. 87
We have a chance to open up to the possibilities beyond what our culture has conditioned us to believe. P. 89.
In the afterlife the mind is multidimensional (ref?) Akasha takes us out of all space time limitations. P. 91.
The highest stage the soul can attain is the Akasha: the source of creativity. P.95
Whatever our dream is right now, that dream continues. Consciousness is tied by thousands of threads to old memories, habits, preferences and relationships. P. 98
“The Akashic field is nothing more than our own potential” p. 104
Once the Vedic scriptures began to be translated at the turn
of the 19th century, their ideas began to crop up in strange places.
The Atman, for example, became the Oversoul that
Ralph Waldo Emerson helped to popularize in
Part Two: The Burden of Proof
13 Is Akasha real?
When the Michelson Morley experiment concluded there was no “ether”, even Einstein believed that space was a void without activity. This belief was wrong, since physicists now know that unoccupied space is a writhing sea of invisible quantum fluctuations; the Zero Point Field. P. 197 f.
“Matter and energy have to disappear. If they remained stable… chaos would break loose. Matter would exist only as random floating particles in interstellar space.” P. 199.
“Physics was drawn, step by step, into the void because nothing in the visible world was adequate to explain what had to be explained. The ZPF became the all-inclusive “field of fields.” Some scientists calculate the energy density of the quantum vacuum to be stupendous p. 199 f. [However, other scientists disagree with this calculation]
But in what way is the “field of fields” like a mind, the thing the rishis were looking for?
Thinking, the basic operation of the human mind, organizes reality to make sense. The universe does this physically. [Chopra may be alluding here to a new idea within the scientific community: that information is the source of everything, that “information is physical”. See the book Decoding Reality by Vlatko Vedral.] It forms complex systems..
Chopra finds an analogy to memory in the earth’s ecosystem. He compares quantum non-locality (or entanglement) with a person’s ability to keep track of two events separated in time, as how we recognize a face today that we saw years ago.
Mind and matter offer two ways of describing the same thing, but they are not the same.
“…in looking for evidence of an afterlife, it is vital to show that consciousness is everywhere, because then there would be nowhere to go after death that isn’t conscious. P. 202.
After twelve years of study, Robert Jahn and the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Lab found that roughly two-thirds of ordinary people can influence the outcome of the fall of a computer bit by will power. So, our minds are imbedded in the quantum field, but can change it. P. 204
Akasha can be interpreted as the field through which the mind operates.
Ervin Laszlo, a prominent Hungarian theorist on science, has suggested Akasha as the unfying answer to everything. P. 205.
An “ether” was not needed for a half century, durimg which time physics made enormous progress, then according to Laszlo and others, physics hit a brick wall. It could not explain how the universe managed to be so precisely coordinated. Laszlo suggests this is done by the zero point field. P. 206.
Laszlo says when two photons “collide”, they exchange information, which is stored by the ZPF.
14 Thinking Outside the Brain
The closer we can get to showing the field is intelligent, the more credible it will be that our own intelligence can survive death. P. 215.
Mind will only be proved to exist outside the brain if it leaves some kind of footprint. If information permeates the entire quantum field, it might bridge mind and matter.
It can fairly be said that life on earth consists of the sun’s atoms exchanging information with atoms on earth. (energy is information in the sense that all chemical or electrical charges can be expressed as plusses and minuss.) p. 219
Each human being is a bundle of information in mind and body. Each has unique experiences and memories. On death, none of this information vanishes, because it can’t. There is nowhere for information to go since the field contains all information. The only alternative is to recombine. How?
The answer lies in the root word of information, “form”.
The Rishis taught that ideas survive in the Akashic Field as memories. We constantly access Akashic memory when we assume we are accesssing our brain.
The brain has a locatable memory center, but mind is not confined to the brain. Consider the memory of a deeply meaningful experience. The experience can still be activated in the brain, which means that millions of molecules that could be flying randomly through the neurons have to organize in a certain way for the memory to continue.
Further, neurons, as the rest of the body, are constantly being rebuilt by new molecules. How do those new molecules keep the memory within us?
The physical basis for memory remains unknown, so perhaps memory persists on a non-physical level. Many neurologist would claim that the mind arises only in the brain, using CAT scans and MRI to prove their point. But these images are only maps. They cannot prove the brain is the mind.
P. 220 f.
A compass needle moves because it’s responding to the earth’s magnetic field. What if a similar thing is happening with brain activity? What if the mind field is sending signals, and billions of brain cells arrange patterns in response to what the field is saying? A team of innovative scientists has proposed exactly that. Henry Stapp, a theoretical physicist from Berkeley; Jeffrey Schwartz, a neuropsychiatrist from UCLA, and Mario Beauregard, a psychologist from the University of Montreal have crossed disciplines to formulate a workable theory of “quantum mind.” Central to their theory is “neuroplasticity”, the notion that brain cells are open to change, flexibly responding to will and intention. They propose that mind is controller of the brain. Like the quantum field generating real particles from virtual ones, the mind generates real brain activity from virtual activity. (more prosaically, the brain is the receiver) It has been found that through will and intention, we can change our own brain cells. This is what is predicted by this new theory of quantum mind.
There is also growing evidence that we do all share the same mind field. This would go far to support the existence of heaven and hells, Bardo and Akashic memory.
The human brain processes only a tiny fraction of the information available to it.
When sudden artistic abilities begin to appear in a small percentage of normal people who suffer from neurological disorders, researchers looked at the brains of idiot savants and discovered they too displayed brain abnormalities, particularly in the right temporal lobe. The current explanation for “savant syndrome” seems to center on physical abnormalities. It seems that when the brain’s filtering system is impaired, reality expands in some areas while it contracts in other areas.
Genius is another way to access the field beyond normal abilities.
If the Vedic seers are right, the human brain connects us to infinite consciousness. The fact that we shut most of it out doesn’t mean we have to.
Intelligence and meaning are not only “in here” as a subjective creation of the brain or “out there” as a freestanding object. The give and take by which the brain creates meaning is also how it creates the world and creates itself. Our brains are still acting out the total activity of the cosmos, but we happen to claim that “I am thinking” when its just as true to say “the mind field is thinking though me.” p. 224 f.
Another kind of filtering limits how much of the mind field we can perceive. This has to do with creating beliefs and then accepting them as real or true. A belief is an idea we hold on to. We all carry in our minds a database of everything important that we believe about the world. That represents our world view. Beliefs evolve over centuries, and some researchers look upon beliefs as being like “virtual genes” that become fixed characteristics of the brain. These mental genes were named “memes” by British evolutionist Richard Dawkins. In order to evolve, human beings try to accept only “good” memes; beliefs that promoted a coherent reliable worldview. The fact that we can track the spread of beliefs much as we can track the spread of a flu virus provides us with another clue to the nature of the mind field: it is dynamic, shared, evolving, and powerful. It is capable of “infecting” us with good or bad beliefs without us actually going thru any experience at all. P. 227.
15 The Mechanics of Creation
Oxygen, like every other atom in the brain, participates in consciousness. Yet to say that oxygen itself is conscious goes too far. So how did consciousness creep in somewhere between oxygen atoms and the cerebral cortex? This is crucial in determining whether or not consciousness survives death. Awareness can’t be found in information. P. 237-8.
[ Chopra believes consciousness is a field.]
Discusses emergent properties p. 239
Hal Puthoff, as a young scientist, tested the remote
viewing capacity of
Rupert Sheldrake, more than anyone, has tried to explain how mind extends beyond the body. P. 243.
Discusses Clive Baxter’s experiments with plants in the 1960s: plants can read our thoughts.
To say that consciousness is a field creates only an outline of a proof. No one ha accounted for the gap, and without that consciousness and fields remain totally mysterious. The gap is the empty space between events; it contains nothing, yet it seems that everything comes out of it. We are told by geneticists that life emerges not from the bits of amino acids strung on the double helix of DNA, but from the space between them. These spaces are little understood, but play a mysterious role in the sequence of genes.
In physical terms, the DNA of gorillas and humans differs by less than one percent; the gaps between visible matter create the difference between gorillas and humans. In this gap the source of consciousness must be revealed. P. 244.
Physicist John Wheeler suggested that we must find a science that combines subjectivity and objectivity; the physicist is not isolated from what he studies
Research on prayer had validated that it works. In a study
done at Duke in
The properties of this field:
It works as a whole
It correlates distant events instantly
It remembers all events
It exists beyond time and space
It creates entirely within itself
Its creation grows and expands in an evolutionary direction.
It is conscious p. 247.
The field of consciousness is primary to every phenomenon of nature because of the gap between every electron, every thought; every instant in time. The gap is the reference point; the stillness at the heart of creation, where the universe correlates all events. P. 246.
[compare with T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets: Burnt Norton:
… At the still point of the turning
world. Neither flesh nor fleshless;
Neither from nor towards; at the still point, there the dance is,
But neither arrest nor movement. … http://www.ubriaco.com/fq.html ]
Science and the rishis are consistent with one another. P. 246.